<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - INTERVIEWS]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 08:15:53 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[FIVE MINUTES WITH MARJORIE KAYE]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/five-minutes-with-marjorie-kaye
Marjorie Kaye lives in Southern California. After working as an actress and then for many years as a casting director in film, she decided to get a real job, and  became a credentialed English teacher working in East LA and the San Fernando Valley. Ah, good plan. As usual, her  timing was impeccable. The economy tanked and she lost her teaching job, however all was not lost: While she was teaching English, she started to write.

She has  always loved a good horror novel so decided to write one. The Demon Rift is her first novel, 

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
 
My family history includes Great Uncle Arthur, who had been an inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary, which famously burned to the ground in 1930, killing 320 prisoners.   No one knows what caused the prison to burn, but there are stories of ghosts--prisoners still trapped where the prison once stood. The early part of the 20th century was a hard time to be poor, especially if you were a child. I grew up hearing my grandfather's (Uncle Arthur’s brother) stories about being a “charity kid” in an Ohio orphanage during the early 1900’s. These stories led to my novel, The Demon Rift.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
 
I watch a lot of TV news (mostly MSNBC) trying to make sense of the alternate universe that I now inhabit. I do lots of crossword puzzles (they’re very soothing) and I read magazines, a habit I developed when I was working in casting. I’m interested in science news—in fact I wrote my second book after reading an article by Ray Kurzweil about mind uploading.


Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
 
When I was fifteen, we moved from Kentucky to a small house in Glendale, California, where I discovered a treasure--a cardboard box filled with science fiction paperbacks.  Heinlein's Have Spacesuit Will Travel was the only sci fi novel that I had come across in the small Kentucky library I left behind.  It was a blissful summer.  There were stories by Asimov, Sturgeon, Bradbury and eerie novels like The Circus of Dr. Lao. I have loved science fiction since the house in Glendale. My second book, Tales From Babylon Dreams is science fiction. It takes place in an “after death destination,” where people can continue to exist, provided they can afford it. 

The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?


You’re right; these connotations imply “for less sophisticated readers.” I’m all for great prose and profundity, just don’t bore me. On my own blog, I reviewed Alex Shakar’s novel, Luminarium a book that deals with the nature of reality. It was very dense, but I stayed with it because I cared about the character and what happens. A critic in the New York Sunday Times Book Review, lamented that it  “. . . might have yielded a schematic novel of ideas, if Shakar weren’t so committed to showing his readers a good time." You can’t do both? I don’t have any answers when it comes to these assumptions. I wish I did.
 
Horror addresses an important part of being human: our sense of vulnerability when confronting the unknown. When we read a horror novel or see a scary movie, while enjoying a safe ride through a nightmare, we witness terrible things. Feeling a kinship with the characters, we sigh in relief when it all turns out well. On occasion, there’s an unhappy ending and most of us can shrug it off because it isn’t personal; it’s pretend. I think any horror novel that offers a new approach to old material, strong characters, sound structure and a clearly defined conflict deserves respect. An example is David Mitchell’s Slade House a novel tied to his earlier, much longer book, The Bone Clocks. I felt that in The Bone Clocks, his prose dazzled but upstaged everything else and I stopped caring about the outcome. I appreciate reading something that takes a fresh look at what scares us, but I need to care about the characters and what happens. Mitchell does this with the nasty soul eaters in Slade House, a shorter novel where the prose serves the story rather than the opposite.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
 
Social media is a proven source of real life horror. It has played a role in a few pieces, mostly film.  I think it can also yield some interesting plotlines. Perhaps North Korean zombies are on Snapchat. No? How about a Facebook page for Ku Klux cross-burning vampires?  I used a social media setting in a short story, “The Seventh Folding of Willow Sprite.” It concerns a gamer, whose romantic interludes with her online lover take place in an alternate reality. The boyfriend lives in the Seventh Dimension. Ultimately, she becomes two dimensional before her unfortunate end.
 
Then there’s virtual reality, a whole new medium that requires the development of a different story telling language and new conventions. VR technology offers opportunities, challenges and hopefully, very exciting horror. It may be a little too real for some people.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
 
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens comments on doors and that behind each, there’s a story. Whether or not you choose to write it, every character in a narrative, no matter how minor, has a story. When I was a teenager, I read Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. It was a post apocalyptic novel, written in the late 40’s. I remember being touched by the scene where Bridget, a bewildered Irish setter cries for her master. Her grief expresses something profound: the loss of a world. I’ve read several novels by James Michener. I was fascinated by his use of a single setting as he built one story upon another, as time built layers of soil on the ground where they all took place. When I began to write the novel, The Demon Rift, I based it on a screenplay that I had co-written with a friend who was a professional screenwriter. Reading Michener had an influence on the way I chose to structure my book. To answer my own questions about these characters, I expanded the time frame and built my novel by interweaving their family histories into a tapestry that unfolds in a single setting.
 
Nabokov was another influence. Gunter, an amoral narcissist, is the narrator of my second book. Gunter has a lot in common with Humbert Humbert, the pedophile narrator of Lolita.

What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
 
I have read several authors, who though established, were new to me. I’ve recently discovered Claire North’s work. After reading The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, I am currently reading two more of her works. I was very impressed by the simple but chilling The Bird Box, Josh Molerman’s 2014 novel, but a bit disappointed by the new novel by Victor LaSalle, The Changeling. The story meandered and fell apart at the end, but LaSalle’s prose is lovely so I’m open to reading more.
 
Paul Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts was powerful and unsettling, however I think his second book, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock, was weaker. Though working with the same elements of character relationships, a possible supernatural event and tragedy, it lacked the fierce, unsettling madness that made the first one so compelling.
 
One new writer, Dennis E. Taylor, self-published his first science fiction novel, We Are Legion, We Are Bob. He had me at the title. The novel is a witty take on AI and space exploration. Bob, the AI first person narrator, is very likeable and quite funny. I was invested for much of the story, enough that I bought the two sequels, which predictably aren’t as good but still engaging.
 
How would you describe your writing style?
 
Although it’s not a necessary part of writing a horror novel (The Bird Box has none but still manages to pack a considerable scare) I use a lot of humor. It’s a family thing. We’re all that way. It’s one zinger after another when we get together. I can’t help it.
 
There’s much to love about Charles Dickens, but it’s his humor, his sly observations of human nature that I love the most. It’s been years since I read The Shining, but I still remember the dialogue from the scene where the old man briefed Jack Torrance on caring for the boiler. When Stephen King sends a chill up the spine, it’s often via the funnybone.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
 
Yes, several readers complained that the timeline changed so frequently in first pages that they were confused. In response, I created a narrator, a sort of guide to help the reader follow the story and understand the relationships.
 
I was very pleased when a reviewer said he was touched by the way I handled scenes that involved the deaths of different characters.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?


I wish I were more disciplined. Sometimes writing is the most fun I’ll ever have. More often, it’s rolling that rock up a hill and wondering if I’ll ever get there. Technically, pacing is difficult—building the action to a satisfying conclusion, one that your readers haven’t already anticipated.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?


My family. That’s not to say I don’t mine aspects of my own life and character or use things that I’ve observed in others. I don’t want to hurt or insult anyone, especially people I care for. It’s also self-preservation. I don’t want to be dodging zingers at family get-togethers. They know all the right buttons to push. There will be no tell-alls. Sorry Oprah.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
 
Names are important. Often, I’ll choose a name for its sound or because I knew someone who reminded me of the character. In the case of my second novel, I named the protagonist Gunter Holden, a privileged but troubled “golden boy,” for Gunter Gräss who wrote The Tin Drum, a nightmarish look at the Third Reich and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield.
 
And, of course titles are extremely important—the first thing that catches your attention.
 
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years? 


I keep an open mind when given feedback, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts. And again, it’s discipline. None of us like staring at the monitor, knowing that the first rattle out of the creative brain box is usually a tuning process, revving the system so that it might yield something useful. I’ve learned more about the craft. For a short time, I committed to writing movie reviews for a website.  Those craft-related skills helped me meet deadlines. It’s amazing, when you have to produce, you do.  

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?  
 
An interest in what goes on around you—the littlest thing can spark an idea. Years ago, I knew someone who collected thimbles. In The Demon Rift, a character collects thimbles. It is her way of connecting with places outside her rural existence. Another example is when a friend remarked that his coffee always tasted better in a white cup. I loved the sound of the words “better in a white cup.” It seemed one of those personal bits of magic we use to create our own reality. In my second book, Gunter always wants his coffee in a “white cup.” This character quirk reveals something important about him at the end.
 
It’s important to keep reading the work of other writers.
 
A good vocabulary and a grasp of the basics of grammar are a must.
 
I value friends who will read my work and give honest feedback, especially one who loves me but who will be ruthless when necessary.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?


One of my sisters is a lifelong and dedicated reader of horror and science fiction. When I started writing, she schooled me on the conventions common to horror, like making sure that all the important women in the story, which spans 120 years, shared certain traits and that they were connected in some way. She was very helpful when it came to setting and exposition details. She would give an example; I would run with it, and we would both marvel at the result.

Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
 
By far, this is the most difficult for me. I’ve tried several avenues like chat groups, which can be a minefield if they think you’re there only to promote your work. I did find a readers group I liked, but it was a strain to stay with it. I’m not a social animal. I have a book page on Facebook, an author’s page on Amazon and a wordpress blog where I promote my book and post book and movie reviews I’ve written—mostly horror and sci fi.
 
And here I am, waving my white hanky at you.
 
To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
 
My goodness, you’re asking me to choose among my book children? Okay. In The Demon Rift, there’s a hardened eleven-year old orphan, Patty, whom I call “The fragile warrior.” Her courage and the way she protects those she loves touches me. I love her voice—she has no illusions.  My least favorite is the villain, Bernie. To understand him, I wrote a number of scenes from his point of view. Several are in the book. His mind is pathetic and totally icky.


In the second novel, I can’t help it; I’m in love with my incorrigible narcissist, Gunter. Is that so wrong?

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
 
That’s a tough one. I’m proud of different work for different reasons. When it comes to The Demon Rift, I’m proud that I kept working on it and didn’t give up. My first priority was to write a story with a new supernatural twist that people would enjoy.  I wanted to know how the supernatural part came about and why, so I kept asking questions. Why did these rules of magic exist and why were they binding? Some writers allow the reader to fill in the blanks and it works just fine. I chose to develop both sides of the good vs evil equation. It helped me strengthen the relationships and reach, in my opinion, a more satisfying conclusion.

And are there any that you would like to forget about?
 
I wouldn’t want people to read some of the early drafts of The Demon Rift. There are the beginnings of stories that I will regret if I don’t revisit them at some point. When it comes to writing, I was a late bloomer—very late. I started writing because I needed a creative outlet and teaching left me little free time. It’s been an enlightening process. I had always assumed that good writers were born that way. I’ve known several writers and was always a bit in awe of them. Now, because of self-publishing, everyone and their Aunt Tilly is a writer. And there are a lot of good writers named Tilly. It’s easy to get lost in the Amazon jungle. I dearly wish I could navigate the world of social media more effectively. Still, I don’t regret all the time and effort and I love to research.
 
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
 
I’ve written two. One is unpublished. The first one is The Demon Rift, a horror novel with a timeline of 120 years so there are historical aspects. It has a lot of characters and a high stakes conflict (the entire universe is in peril). The Rift is about the need to survive versus what we owe our fellow humans and society in general.
 
Like everyone, I’m a work in progress. Truthfully, I can’t say anything I’ve written is completely representative. Different facets of me are reflected in my work.

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us? 
 
From The Demon Rift, the end of a scene that takes place in a turn-of-the century Cleveland orphanage:
 
“Mrs. Murphy was trying to say something. Her lips were wide ridges supporting the drooping folds of what had been her nose.  As she opened her mouth, the tissue formed an oblong opening the size of a jellybean. Steam began to leak out, along with a long whistle. 
        A teakettle, thought Mrs. Kray.  Still whistling, Mrs. Murphy collapsed on the floor.  Maryanne was whimpering.  Mrs. Kray scooped the little girl into her arms, as the other children continued to cry. As she comforted Maryanne and began to collect her senses, Mrs. Kray saw Bernie standing in the kitchen doorway. He’s finally grown a little, she thought; it’s about time. He was eating something.  It was a potato peel, the lunch she discovered later, that Mrs. Murphy ordered served to him on his tray.”



Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
 
The second one is Tales From Babylon Dreams (unpublished). It’s a sci fi novel, taking place almost entirely in virtual reality. The virtual reality setting is portrayed as an unremarkable product of society, so prevalent that there are lobbyists promoting the rights of virtuals—citizens, who as they die, have their minds scanned by nanobots and uploaded to their chosen virtual environment program. These programs are expensive and marketed like high tech gated communities. Compared to the Rift, there are fewer characters. The voice of Gunter, the first person narrator is very important. Within this world, which changes after a company merger, the mind data of its citizens is vulnerable. Gunter’s secrets, buried in his memory folders, are revealed. A breach in his file results in his being forced to confront events in his life and he learns hard truths about his family and his past.


I’m working on two new novels at present. The Daevas is about a woman who since childhood, has been stalked by a family of demi-gods. The protagonist and I have a lot in common (though demi-gods rarely trail me). The other one, Shemathra’s Realm is a sequel to Tales From Babylon Dreams. It takes place in the same VR program, now controlled by a different VR company, owned by a media mogul (think Rupert Murdoch) who has transitioned to VR as a god and leader of a new cult. Rather than first person, it’s a third person narrative about the worship of power and how group-think can destroy civilization. Within this virtual reality environment, members of the cult manifest as herd animals. They dominate, exploit and marginalize non-members—the virtual humans who remained after the take over.
 
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?


This is a comment from a review I wrote about McCammon’s Swan Song mentions a plot device, overused in post apocalyptic novels. Since writing this, I have read and greatly enjoyed almost all of his work, including his Matthew Corbett mysteries.


“This novel was long, way too long--over 800 pages. McCammon could have carved out at least two hundred pages of that fruit-and-nut ingredient necessary to every post apocalypse mix: the military mad men, the crazies and the religious zealots.”

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
 
In terms of horror novels, the clinging dread of The Bird Box stayed with me for days after I finished it. The madness of the “possessed” teenage girl, Marjorie, in Tremblay’s Head Full of Ghosts unsettled me. There was one scene in LaSalle’s The Changeling that made me gasp. Currently, I’m reading Michael McDowell’s The Elementals. I’ve read so many positive reviews of it that I have high expectations, often a disadvantage.
 
I was disappointed in Cronin’s The Passage. The first two hundred pages were really good. I thought the 600 plus pages that followed weren’t even close to good. It was a major letdown.

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?
 
Considering all the effort, time and frustration involved, is writing worth it? Yes it is.
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In a dark universe, a planet churns in the bowels of chaos.

It was old when, peering though the shifting folds of the barrier, it glimpsed our world. It witnessed Earth’s smoldering beginning, the parade of life and the rise of Man. And it entered our dreams, whispering, cajoling and hissing promises of glory and power. Instead, it means to feed on our destruction. To gain unfettered access, there must be a rift in the barrier and so, it creates a saboteur.

It's 2004. There are no smart phones, no Facebook, no Snapchat or Instagram. "The Mall" is the new town square, a place to hang for mall rats and best friends and a mecca for shoppers.

With the Grand Opening of Redhill Mall many hope that it will revive the Ohio town's dying economy. As Christmas approaches, it seems they may be right. Then the murders begin. On Christmas Eve in 2004, the saboteur has plans for Mall shoppers searching for last minute gifts. 

Madonna Bedonne, a young mall worker, knows that unless she can defeat the saboteur, she, her friends and hundreds of shoppers will die in . . . THE DEMON RIFT.

PURCHASE A COPY HERE
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<![CDATA[GINGER NUTS OF HORROR DIVES IN AT THE DEEP END WITH PRODUCER  OF DEATH POOL GABRIEL CAMPISI]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/ginger-nuts-of-horror-dives-in-at-the-deep-end-with-producer-of-death-pool-gabriel-campisi
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Gabriel, how did you get into producing?

I think it was mostly a natural progression of making movies, something I started doing as a kid.  I was 8 years old when Star Wars came out, and I found my father’s Super8mm film camera around the same time.  I started shooting short films with my siblings and cousins, and the projects got more elaborate over the years.

By the time I was 15, I was winning film festivals across the nation, and I began working professional in the industry around that time as well.  Making movies is a business, so the older I got, I just started to take the reins and make things happen.

I’m one of the owners of Traplight Pictures, along with my two amazing partners, Jared Cohn and Demtrius Stear.  A big shout out to them!
 
And was it a given that you’d go into doing horror?

I love genre filmmaking.  Horror, science-fiction and fantasy.  There was never a plan to do so much horror.  It’s just the way things worked out over the years, and all the pieces fell into place.  It’s funny how things come together sometimes.
As a producer, I might pitch a slate of movies to an investor, and it’s always a coin toss which movie or movies they’ll agree to finance.  I’ve had the most elaborate projects I believed in get rejected, and my least preferred get greenlit.  That’s just the way things out sometimes.  You can never second-guess an audience’s reaction.
 
Where does Death Pool fall – it is a straight-up horror or something more of a psychological thriller?

I think it’s definitely a combination of the two.  It’s not a straight-up horror film by any means.  It’s more a study of the character Johnny Taylor and how he becomes a serial killer.  So it’s also very much a psychological thriller, in that regard.
The audience is literally there the first time he commits a crime, and we stay with him as he commits more and more, until he becomes famous on social media.
 
How would you describe the tone?

The tone of the movie is dark and ominous.  There’s something very twisted about our main character, and then things become even more sinister when his thoughts and actions rub off on his best friend.

When you think about it, there’s nothing fun about what the main character does.  But like with any dark comedy or dark drama, audiences will resonate with the anti-hero of the story.  As much as you dislike this type of character, audiences are still engaged with his or her malevolence, and you want to see where his twisted psyche will take him.

Think of the movies American Psycho, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Natural Born Killers or even Silence of the Lambs.  Audiences loved those movies, and Death Pool is similar in nature to all of them.
 
What kind of direction did Jared Cohn give Randy Wayne?  Guess he had to make sure he didn’t play things too over the top?

Randy brought the character of Johnny Taylor to life.  He knew the character and his motivations very well before we began shooting, and he knew exactly how much to bring to the surface, and how much to hold back.  I can’t say enough how talented Randy is.
Jared of course gave direction, but the collaboration between them was very smooth and the result very convincing.  Randy comes across as a truly psychotic serial killer.  Hats off to both actor and director!
 
The ‘shock factor’ seems to be a big thing with the film.  Did you intentionally want to push the boundaries on this one?

It was definitely something we did on purpose.  The scenes were already written in the screenplay, and we tried to make the death scenes as believable as possible, as well as the party scenes with all the drug abuse.  If we held back on that stuff, the movie wouldn’t have looked as real and gritty as it came out.
We had not only amazing actors in the starring roles, but some amazing supporting actors as well, who helped flesh everything out.  Jordan Preston, Shawn Philips, Delpaneaux Wills, Walker Mintz and Jessica Lousie Long, for example, gave amazing performances.
I should mention as much as we pushed the drownings to look real, we pushed even more for safety at all times.  As executive producer, that was definitely something that was always on my mind.
 
The film is getting great reviews.  Why do you think audiences are taking to it?

I’ll be honest and say I’m surprised in a good way that there are such great reviews of the movie coming out.  I think it has a lot to do with the realism that Randy and all the other actors brought to the characters.  There’s a very real feel to the movie, and it comes across as very gritty and ominous.
The locations we shot on were all real, and our production designer Richard Calderon made everything else look so legitimate and realistic.  The sets and the props were carefully designed and assembled, but you could never tell.  I mean, even the beer bottles were fake!  I walked on the set one day, and Richard was putting fake labels on bottles filled with water, but they looked like something he just bought from the liquor store.
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<![CDATA[THE LONG CON: AN INTERVIEW WITH LIVERPOOL HORROR CONVENTION EXTRAORDINAIRE VICTOR WRIGHT]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/the-long-con-an-interview-with-liverpool-horror-convention-extraordinaire-victor-wright
Can you remember what first triggered your love for the horror genre?

It started when I was very young in the early 70's - Hammer Horror films were a big part of early viewing and then I was obsessed with Horror Comics and build up plastic kits(Aurora glow in the Dark).  Once the mid to late 70's hit there were so many good films on VHS that I couldn't help fall in love with horror.

Horror in all of its artistic forms is generally held in low regard by the population as a whole, what film, book and piece of art would you use to change someone's opinion on the genre.  

I would say read a horror book that isn't just a blood bath. Most horror films and books centralise on being bloody - hence why some people may view it as just nasty.  Books such as Joe Hill's - Heart Shaped Box are a good example as are the films Sinister (for modern fans) and The Exorcist (For the old boys like me).  In my opinion too many writers focus on being overly gory and forget about story - mind you this can be said about almost all genres today. 

 And on the flip side of the previous question, what film, book, and a piece of art would you confine to room 101 for crimes against the genre?

Oh that's a hard one.  I'm not a huge fan of remakes, but I'm also not opposed to them.  Personally, I think the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street did nothing for the franchise other than make Freddy K out to be nothing more than a pedophile which in my opinion wasn't the major feeling from the first films.

This has been a terrible year for fans with regards to the deaths of some of the genres finest, not that anyone could replace the likes of Hooper or Romero, but who do you think are new directors that could step into their shoes?

Again it depends on which era your are from I guess as I'm a huge fan of both directors already mentioned - I'd however love to see more from Rob Zombie as his films are top notch!

How does one go from being a horror fan to a horror fan who also happens to run the biggest and most successful series of horror conventions in the UK?  

Lol thanks for the very kind compliment.  I'm one of those people who always wants to break new ground.  What I learn from attending shows, I try to expand upon and deliver in a more exciting manner.  When I went to my first couple of Horror Cons in the UK,  I quickly realised that there was so much scope for improvement and hopefully that's showing in the events I'm now putting on.  

 Looking back at the first couple of conventions, how far have you evolved as a convention runner, and what are the main lessons you have learned from those conventions?

I've learnt so much it's incredible.  I think the main thing to do is to listen to your audience and where possible give them what they want.  It's nothing new and exciting just good business sense.

Do you still get a buzz when you open the doors for the first day of a convention?  
Always - there's no feeling quite like it.

How much work goes into a convention, and how do you keep track of all the things that require attention?

There is a big team of people working on the conventions at any one time.  Without them I'd be lost. The planning starts 12 months before any event and never stops till we close the doors at the end of the show.

Many conventions turn their noses up at the whole Cosplay scene, but yours always have embraced them, is there a reason for this?

Yes, the whole concept of going to a convention is to have a fun day out. I can't think of a better way of expressing yourself than by being someone else for a few hours and let's face it - everyone loves to be centre of attention for a few moments.

Out of all of the guests who have appeared over the years who have been your personal favourites?  

Ah that's like asking me which of my kids do I prefer lol!  I have a great relationship with all of my guests, but as I'm a fan of the Hammer films and the scream queens from them adorned my bedroom walls for many years, I'd have to go with the beautiful Caroline Munro.  Not only is she gorgeous, but she's a wonderful woman too. 

 And how do you deal with a "difficult guest of honour"?

Lol, everyone wants to be number one don't they!  We just make sure everyone is treated as number one!

 And who is the one guest that you love to have but have never been able to secure?  

There are a couple - it's not so much we can't secure them, it's cost against return.  I won't mention names as we are in talks still.  But for me one awesome guest would have been the late Christopher Lee.

Liverpool Horror Con is not far away now, how prepared are you for the event?

We're pretty much on top of it  There's still lots to do but it's shaping up nicely.

At what point after the event, can you finally draw breath and relax?  

Once all the doors shut on Sunday night.......not really.  Once the traders are all set up and sorted I know things will go smooth from there on in.

What can attendees expect from this convention, who are some of the special guests you have lined up?  

Fun!  Excitement.  Horror!  Special guests - CJ Graham, Jamison Newlander, Sean Whalen, need I say more!

For those who have never been to one of your conventions, what would you say to convince them to come along?  

If you are looking to attend a show that is genre specific then please check us out.  We have guests, talks and panels, exhibits, traders, cosplay, films and more.  It's not scary and it's not comic con - it's somewhere that you and likeminded horror fans can express your love for the world of the unknown.

Most of your conventions are based in England, do you have any plans to host one in Scotland?  (Hint, hint, Edinburgh has some good convention halls).  

Funnily enough I'm on my way up to view a premises in Edinburgh on 18th September!
PURCHASE TICKETS FOR LIVERPOOL HORROR CON HERE
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<![CDATA[AUTHOR INTERVIEW: FIVE MINUTES WITH LIAM RONAN]]>Sun, 03 Sep 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/author-interview-five-minutes-with-liam-ronan

With a limited edition hardback featuring a stunning painted cover by legendary poster artist Graham Humphreys (The Evil Dead, A Nightmare On Elm Street) and a series of eerie black and white interior illustrations from Cardiff artist Adam Blandon, new author Liam Ronan is making his debut in style. He’s written screenplays and has had his work showcased on ITV, but ‘Creeping Stick’, out now from Pendragon Press, marks his first foray into horror fiction. 

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m a first generation Star Wars kid, a child of the video shop era. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that prolonged exposure to the dreaded video nasties had a profound effect on me. That probably explains why I asked Graham Humphreys to do the cover for ‘Creeping Stick’, he did some of his best work on sleeves for Palace and the like... 

I grew up in a Welsh steel town during what I consider to be a minor golden age of independent music and great genre film and literature. Not that it was easy getting hold of any of it - it’s all at your fingertips now, but back then, we had to really work at hunting down our guilty pleasures.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I still have a day job – I’m a communications manager working directly with the media – so most of my spare time is also my writing time. But I like to read, watch cult films, have fun with my wife and sons. We walk a lot. Most of the places we visit end up featuring in my writing in one form or another – the Welsh valleys, Kenfig National Nature Reserve, Sker Beach, Margam Country Park, places like that. South Wales has a great haunted landscape.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

Music, without a doubt. I play a lot of soundtracks when I write –‘Halloween III’, ‘28 Weeks Later’, ‘Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue’, ‘Angel Heart’…  You can’t listen to the score for ‘The Fog’ without getting serious chills. I just find it inspiring. If it’s an action set piece, something like ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ or ‘The Warriors’ will do the job. Those cheap ambient albums you find in gift shops and garden centres can do the trick, too – the ones with titles like ‘Thunderstorm Symphony’ or ‘Coastal Melodies’. Seriously!

I was also lucky in that my father owned some land and kept animals, so a lot of my childhood was spent building stables, driving tractors, helping hill farmers bring in the harvest, that sort of thing. I loved working with my dad. He would tell me stories from growing up in Ireland, stuff about hearing the banshee on the night his brother died or how his mother had been bewitched by fairies while walking home along a dark country lane. All good ‘folk horror’ stuff.

It definitely helped shape my interests later on. I learned as much as I could about our own Welsh legends – the sin eaters, the sweet-smelling death poppies that foretold disaster, the ghostly hounds of Annwn loping along Morfa Beach, the death-knock of the Tolaeth, the voices of the judged locked within the stone walls of the Prince of Wales pub in Kenfig ... have you ever seen the Mari Llwyd? It’s more of a benevolent tradition than a legend, but it involves someone going from house to house dressed in a white shroud with a horse’s skull for a head. I’ve seen it for myself, and was amazed at how grotesque and eerie it looked! 

That’s what I love about living and writing in Wales, though. There’s a real sense of otherworldliness here, and I try to put that across in my writing. 

The term horror, especially when applied to fiction, always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions

Personally, I don’t care if someone likes the term or not. It’s a badge of honour. Stephen King once said that being labelled a horror writer put him in the same company as HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Bloch, all those guys... That’s not too shabby, is it? 

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years? 
Well, let’s see… the ‘70s were angry and disenfranchised and gave us ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’, ‘Last House On the Left’ and so on. The ‘80s were greedy – lots of consumer classics like ‘Reanimator’ and ‘Society’ there. The ‘90s seemed a little bit lost, really, but from 2000 to now, I think we’ve basically been paving the way for a return to the anger of the ‘70s. God, I hope so… There’s plenty to feel angry about.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

‘The Outsiders’ by SE Hinton. It still blows my mind that she wrote it while still a teenager. They teach about it now in the school my kids attend, but I discovered it at Taibach Library in Port Talbot, where I spent many a rainy Saturday afternoon as a child, and loved it. It really, really moved me. I mean, I can still quote the lines where Johnny dies in the hospital. 

‘The Keep’ by F Paul Wilson taught me the power of a good hook via the classic blurb line ‘Request immediate relocation. Something is murdering my men’.  ‘The Tomb’ was great too, I always imagined an in-his-prime Mickey Rourke playing Repairman Jack… 

Anything, and I mean anything, by Joe Lansdale, but especially ‘The Bottoms’, ‘The Big Blow’ and ‘Mucho Mojo’. I also love John Connolly’s work. He does something with the landscape, makes it a character all of its own… I could talk about this stuff all day.

What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice of? 

Hmm… well, there’s me, for a start! ‘Creeping Stick’ is my debut, and I have a few others on the way. ‘Mist Angels’ will probably be next. I also have an idea for a follow-up to ‘Creeping Stick’ that is vaguely related to its themes without being a direct sequel. We’ll see.

How would you describe your writing style?

It depends on the nature and topic of what I’m writing. With ‘Creeping Stick’ there is a sense of forbidden knowledge and the unknown at play, but wherever the ‘real life’ aspects are concerned, I’m a big believer in tying up loose ends and making sure everything makes sense. No room for half measures… 

Back in 2007 ITV screened a comedy I’d written called ‘What Goes On Tour’. I packed it full of colloquial terms and phrases, the sort of very broad humour that you would find in the Welsh valleys. 

‘Creeping Stick’ is my first published book, but in many ways it is not typical of the sort of thing I normally write. It’s set during some unspecified, pseudo-Victorian era, so I’ve presented the text accordingly. It also moves from Victorian Gothic to American Gothic, so there’s a shift there, too. It is partly inspired by what I thought Lucio Fulci didn’t show us in his classic horror film ‘The House By the Cemetery’, all those ghastly processes and procedures that Doctor Freudstein must have developed to keep himself alive down in his basement lair.

I have something else I am working on, a horror story that takes place during the Vietnam war, so I’ve been heavily researching that to try and capture the authentic feel and tone that kind of very specific setting demands. 

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

Well I’m only just starting out, but ‘Creeping Stick’ has earned a full five star review at the Good Reads website, and has been mentioned as a book to look out for by ‘The Dark Side’ magazine. But my favourite review has compared it with the work of a well-known horror titan – “Vivid descriptive prose abounds here with some startling, not to say, disturbing imagery on display. The writing here is reminiscent of Books of Blood-era Clive Barker, that’s how good it is, and presents a potent mix of body horror, creeping tension and even a dash or two of steampunk imagery.” I’m not going to argue with that!

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Probably just finding enough time to sit down and write without being interrupted… I guess we all start off in similar circumstances, with day jobs and parental responsibilities and whatnot. Nobody ever has it easy first time out, so you just find ways that are suitable to whatever those circumstances may be. 

For example, I wrote ‘Creeping Stick’ in a series of different phases, usually inbetween feeds while the baby was sleeping or while leaning off the edge of my bed using a laptop, just trying to grab twenty minutes here and there. But ‘Mist Angels’ has been written at a desk I set up in my garage. That may sound a bit odd or uncomfortable, but it was perfect - no phone calls, no distractions. I put on the ‘Stranger Things’ soundtrack, listened to the rain hitting the roof and just sailed through that one.   

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? 

Not really… probably sex scenes, to be honest. They bore the hell out of me in books, I always skip over them. Although there was an ace book doing the rounds in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s called ‘The Burning’, a real literary nasty – no relation to the slasher film – which the kids at school used to read out loud. Pardon the pun, but my 13 year old self remembers that one as being fairly scorching. But no, there’s not much chance of me ever being shortlisted for one of those Bad Sex In Fiction awards.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

Oh, the names are hugely important… in ‘Creeping Stick’, the villain was originally called Uriah Spindle. I thought it was a good, old-fashioned, penny dreadful type of name, and originally pictured him as a cross between Quilp from Charles Dickens’ ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ and a diseased version of the Child Catcher as seen in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. But as the story evolved, I needed something more exotic to suggest his nomadic, privileged upbringing in the far flung corners of the British Empire, also wanting to evoke something more metaphysical as he has been exposed to a multitude of faiths and beliefs. 

I settled on calling him Raziel, which was the name of an archangel entrusted with the secrets of God himself, adding Menelaus as a middle name. In Greek it means ‘wrath of the people’.  The wasting disease that he suffers from marks him as being visibly different, but he doesn’t become a true monster until later in the book, and under very specific circumstances. That’s the point at which Graham Humphreys has depicted him on the cover.

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?  

I’d like to think I’ve developed intolerance for poor or lazy writing. Have you ever seen ‘Demons 2’? There’s a scene where a couple have to get off the top of a building using ropes, and the husband turns to the wife and says “Remember those rescue courses we did last summer?” I mean, come on… They had four writers on that thing, and that was the best they could come up with?

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?        
 
Coffee, persistence and a dedication to making it the best that you can - no half-measures. Just because it’s horror or sci-fi or whatever, if you can’t believe what a character is saying or doing, the reader isn’t going to buy into it, either.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

I was lucky in that my first boss, a guy called Derek Hooper, was a former old-school London journalist who taught me how to write effectively. I can’t think of a way in which he didn’t have an impact on my writing… He used to say “Write me some copy so crisp it crackles!” And I think Joe Lansdale once described the secret of writing as being something like: put paper in typewriter. Plant ass in chair. Start typing. 

Incidentally, Joe Lansdale is hugely generous when it comes to advice - he’s been patient enough to answer every question I have ever sent him. I’ve also been impressed by something a good friend who has recorded several excellent albums once told me – you can be the most talented person in your chosen field, but it’s the ones who never give up that will ultimately succeed. Just set yourself a deadline, find a way to write whenever you can, and work your way towards hitting that deadline. And then never stop until it is out there.

Getting your work noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?

Write a bunch of killer hooks to catch people’s attention, set up a webpage, use social media, tap into other mediums like images and book trailers, all that kind of stuff. ‘Creeping Stick’ has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, for example. I took note of advice from established writers, again thanks to the wonders of social media... 

A lot of first time writers try to get ahead with some kind of recommendation from an established writer, and there’s nothing wrong with this. The internet may have made it easier to connect with established writers, but I think it is important to be respectful and not to expect any free handouts – people are busy and get asked all the time, so a ‘no’ should not be taken personally. 

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

At the moment? ‘Creeping Stick’. If it ended up being the only book I ever have published, I’d still be damned proud of it. And grateful, too – especially to Chris Teague of Pendragon Press and sub-editor Ross Warren.
 
And are there any that you would like to forget about?

Not really… at this stage I’m more focused on bringing my stuff out into the light, so there’s quite a bit of quality control going on.
 
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

Anyone reading my work for the first time – which is going to be whoever picks up a copy, let’s face it – will be starting with ‘Creeping Stick’. I submitted it to Pendragon, and they liked it enough to publish it as a limited edition hardback with a beautiful cover by Graham Humphreys, who did the iconic film posters for ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’, ‘The Evil Dead’, ‘Evil Dead II’ and more. 

The hardback also features a series of seriously creepy black and white interior illustrations by a Welsh artist called Adam Blandon, whose work is just superb –he deserves every bit of the praise that this has earned him. 

But the style of the book, its language and descriptive approach, is not typical of my overall writing – it’s just what ‘Creeping Stick’ called for. There’s a bonus short story included with the hardback called ‘Scaring Crows’ which demonstrates this, and I think the epilogue does too. The next book will be different again. 

Do you have a favourite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us? 

“Eleven year old boys have many reasons for wanting to burn down their schools. Rory only needed one, and it went by the name of Mr Hopkiss.” That’s the opening line of a short story I did called ‘Teachers Are Evil’, I quite like that one.

If it was something from ‘Creeping Stick’, it would probably have to be: “Tend to your fire and stand guard against the dusk. Do not mistake the scattering of sand against your pane as something you can afford to dismiss, lest you turn a blind eye to the grim affairs of Raziel Menelaus Spindle, also known in certain parts as Mister Stick, or the Stickman, or Creeping Stick. For your children may yet come to know the horrors that lurk within his House of Perpetual Lament, in the company of laughing shadows, and in the shade of the beckoning dark.”

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

‘Creeping Stick’ takes the form of a written death bed confession from a former priest who has been cut off by the church. He has no one to give him last rites or absolve him from his sins, of which there are many, so he turns to paper and ink, intending it to also serve as a warning about what happened to his home village, which has been utterly devastated, and what may still be lurking out there. 

As the confession unfolds, we discover that the title ‘Creeping Stick’ was the nickname given by the village children to Raziel Spindle, a rich merchant who wanted to build an orphanage in the area. He suffers from a terrible disease and is a ruthless businessman, but is no villain – not at the start. A series of events occur throughout the book that make him that way, and when he takes on the mantle of monster, he really applies himself. 

 There are all kinds of deranged insanity once the characters discover the House of Perpetual Lament, and the true nature of Spindle’s revenge against them. It’s grim with a capital ‘G’, and I hope readers will find it scary and atmospheric as well.

My next book will probably be ‘Mist Angels’. It’s completed and undergoing a rewrite at the moment. That one is set around an old colliery high in the Welsh valleys, and has strong elements of folk horror as well as violent action set pieces. It also has vague links with ‘Creeping Stick’. 

After that, I have a Vietnam horror novel called ‘The Teeth In The Darkness’ on the go, and ‘The House At Gallows Drop’, which is a ghost story. Plus I have an idea for a possible follow-up to ‘Creeping Stick’. That would take place during a different time period altogether, and would be presented very differently to the original.

If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?

I think it’s more fun to take a cliché and twist it on its head rather than abolish it completely. 

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I’m a big fan of the Dexter novels, but that final one didn’t work at all for me. I think it was because I had high expectations going in that the book would round off the series in a far more satisfying way than the television show managed, so I was setting myself up for a fall... 

As for the last ‘great’ book I read, it’s probably ‘The Pilo Family Circus’, which has been out for several years now, but I re-read it recently and enjoyed it just as much as I did first time round. It’s about a guy who is forced to join a troop of bad-ass circus clowns, the kind who carry switchblades and rob people in dark alleyways. On the second reading, I realized that it was also an allegory for schizophrenia. I love that, coming back to a book and discovering something new. 

What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

There’s actually two questions – the first being “John Carpenter wants you to develop your idea for a proper sequel to ‘The Thing’, will you do it?”, and the second being “Will you sign this multi-million pound book deal, please?” 

I’ll let you guess what my answers would be…
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As the eternal hunger of Creeping Stick consumes the grim secrets of a small coastal town, venture into the House of Perpetual Lament with Raziel Spindle. . . And discover a new reason to be afraid of the dark.
The debut novella from a promising new writer of the dark and supernatural, Liam Ronan.
Published as a limited edition of 100 hardcovers, signed by Liam, with cover art from cult film poster artist Graham Humphreys along with a gallery of interior artwork courtesy of talented new artist Adam Blandon, including these two sample images:

PURCHASE A COPY HERE
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<![CDATA[I DON'T KNOW WHO THE DADDY IS, BUT CHARLES PINION SURE KNOWS HIS MUMMIES]]>Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:53:39 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/i-dont-know-who-the-daddy-is-but-charles-pinion-sure-knows-his-mummies
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Charles Pinion is a visual artist and director who made the punk rock skateboard zombie movie Twisted Issues (1988), the post-Cinema of Transgression witches in the snow movie Red Spirit Lake (1992) and the gritty San Francisco cannibal movie We Await (1996). His 3D feature American Mummy premiered at the Revelation Film Festival in Australia (2014). His latest is the short film Try Again, "a hopeful film about suicide". Charles lives in Los Angeles.
 
Charles, the movie has quite an elongated history I believe? It started out with another title I believe?

Elongated is a good word, especially in terms of how many years it took to get this project finished!
It started out as American Mummy in 2004. We planned to shoot the movie in 2006. We were going to go into the desert for a couple of weeks and use the tents we slept in as the sets. It would have been shot in DV (or then-nascent HDV) and would have been a bloody shot-on-video version of the story. The movie was cast and we were scouting locations, when the money fell through.

After Avatar came out, there was renewed interest in 3D, so American Mummy was re-born as a 3D feature. It had its world premiere at Revelation Film Festival in Perth, Australia in 2014, and it’s Americas premiere later that summer at Macabro Film Festival in Mexico City.

We were advised that having “American” in the title was a bad idea for the international market, so it was briefly named Aztec Blood, but it is now American Mummy again!

And the plans initially encompassed a trilogy of films. Is that still the plan?

Absolutely! There’s a lot of story left about what happens to the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca after he is un-buried and reawakened.

How has the movie changed since that very first draft?

It hasn’t really changed that much. All the gore gags in the movie are still there. I think one tweak is that we made Professor Jensen female, and increased the amount of intrigue and sneakiness on her part and on the part of the Russian doctor.  

How would you describe the tone?

I would say that it has a psychotronic, drive-in movie tone, with bright red lovable gore-splat instead of the rusty slaughterhouse of torture porn.

Did you do most of the effects in it practically?

Yes, all the effects are practical. Adding 3D digital blood would have been cost-prohibitive and would risk looking fake.



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How does your Mummy differ from its predecessors?

We knew from its inception that our movie was unique in that ours was a mummy from the Americas rather than Egypt.

Of course, it didn’t take us long to learn that there have been a lot of Aztec mummy films made in Mexico since the ‘50s.

Finally, I discovered that there’s an American 3D movie from 1961 called The Mask. The mask in that movie is based on our mummy Tezcatlipoca. There is nothing new under the sun.

Are you personally fascinated by the history of Mummys? Any interesting findings along the way?

I think mummies suggest immortality, so they are intrinsically fascinating.

On a personal level, if I were confined and asleep for centuries, suddenly brought awake by a writhing graduate student (spoiler, folks) I think I would take a fervent interest in remaining in this world. In our subsequent movies as Tezcatlipoca becomes more embodied (which will take a lot of blood) he will want to experience the physical world in all its fullness. That’s where the sequels go.
PURCHASE FROM AMAZON
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<![CDATA[MALCOLM DEVLIN ENSURES THAT WE WILL GROW INTO THEM.]]>Sun, 25 Jun 2017 23:00:00 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/malcolm-devlin-ensures-that-we-will-grow-into-themINTERVIEW BY JONATHAN THORNTON 
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Malcom Devlin's, You Will Grow Into It has just been released, and it is already receiving a number of rave reviews.  Published by Unsung Stories, it contains ten stories, each a strange sort of coming of age tale. There are ghost stories without any ghosts in them, werewolf stories without any werewolves in them, a city that turns into forest, a barren planet with a peculiar sort of harvest celebration and a suburban street suffering a very personal and rather embarrassing apocalypse. 

Ginger Nuts of Horror's Jonathan Thornton, was at the UK launch of the collection, and managed to grab some time with the author for an exclusive interview about this must read collection.  

You've described the stories in your collection 'You Will Grow Into Them' as 'strange sort of coming of age tales'. What is it about the coming of age tale that both inspires you and makes you want to play with or subvert it?

There's a universal quality to coming of age stories, I think, so I hope they can be relatable on that level. What interested me most was the idea that 'coming of age' is a continuous process, not a one-and-done switch that quickly and painlessly graduates children into adults. We get older and we keep finding ourselves in situations where we realise just how far we have to go.
So while the first few stories in the collection are about kids having their eyes opened to a broader world, the protagonists get progressively older as the collection progresses, but they're still finding they have a lot to learn.

In particular your stories seem fascinated with states of transition. Can you tell us why you find these so compelling, especially in regards to a source of horror?

I think this ties into the previous question. Coming of age stories by definition are about some sort of transformation -- sometimes physical, sometimes otherwise -- and it's no accident that many 'body horror' stories serve as metaphors of puberty, growing old, degenerative disease and so on. I think there's potent material for horror there: the idea that your own biology might betray you, or that you might become something that might betray the ones you love. On the other hand, there are many examples in literature -- horror and otherwise -- of transformation being empowering or revolutionary instead, and taken together that's incredibly rich territory.

Your stories rely heavily on suggestion and the power of the imagination rather than showing us the source of the Horror directly, from 'Dogsbody' which is set after the werewolf transformations are all over to the cross-hatch man in 'Passion Play'. How do you decide what to show the reader and what to leave to suggestion?

This isn't always a conscious decision. I'm perfectly happy reading or watching stories which put the horror front and centre, and many of the stories in the collection started with an idea for some big horror set piece. More often than not, I end up whittling these ideas down to the bone or skipping them completely -- it's a weird thing, but the story around those moments often seems more appealing than describing the moments themselves.

The original idea for Dogsbody, for example, would have started on the day of the event where all the werewolves (if that's what they are) changed. So in the very first draft, it was about a guy waking up in his office and finding himself tied to a filing cabinet, but the actual mechanics of that story didn't really interest me much. The idea that five years later, absolutely nothing more has happened but people still look at him kind of funny? That seemed a lot riper to me. The very British horror of the social awkwardness of it all.

I think it's something that short fiction can do particularly well. This idea of distilling everything down to the most disquieting scene, but at the same time, implying everything that has gone on before and foreshadowing what will happen later. In some ways, readers' imaginations are brilliantly nasty things and worth exploiting. Explaining everything that happens can short-change them, I'd much rather wind them up and point them in the right direction.
The collection is being published by Unsung Stories. What has your experience been like working with them?

It's been great. Unsung have a wonderful line up already and I'm ridiculously lucky to sneak my stuff into the same catalogue as the likes of Aliya Whiteley and Oliver Langmead. George Sandison and Gary Budden have been incredibly supportive throughout, and while I always knew that Unsung Stories produce beautiful looking books, I was still floored by just how smart You Will Grow Into Them looks, inside and out.

Your story 'Two Brothers' was published in the anthology 'Aickman's Heirs' (2015 ed. Simon Stranzas, Undertow Publications). Can you tell us a bit about Aickman's influence on your writing, and your experience writing for the anthology?

Like many, I suspect, I came to Robert Aickman late, and mostly thanks to the championing from the likes of Jeremy Dyson and Mark Gatiss from The League of Gentlemen. I couldn't afford the beautiful Tarturus Press complete editions, but snapped up the Faber Finds reprints when they were published, wrestling with the pages spotted with OCR errors that, if anything, made the stories even stranger.

To me, Aickman is one of those writers with a very unique grammar that is nearly impossible to replicate -- Kelly Link is another example there, no-one writes Kelly Link stories except Kelly Link. In some ways, Aickman doesn't really write ghost stories at all, he writes stories that happen to have ghosts in them and the conflicting tensions play merry havoc with the reader's expectations. Aickman doesn't so much wind his readers up and then set them loose, as abandon them somewhere familiar and yet slightly off, and then let them find their own damn way home. His stories disorientating, framed and lit from unexpected angles and they're often genuinely funny or absurd.

The brief for Aickman's Heirs was very specific about avoiding pastiche, so in a lot of respects, Two Brothers is nothing like an Aickman story. I would absolutely say that most of what I write is influenced by his work in some way, but it's probably its own thing, and I hope it proves discombobulating in its own way.

Stories like 'Breadcrumbs' and 'Her First Harvest' tap into some of the strangeness of the New Weird whilst harking back to fairy tales and Regency period comedy of manners respectively. Do you feel a kinship with writers like Jeff VanderMeer? How do these older forms influence your writing?

I very much admire Jeff VanderMeer's work, both his fiction and the anthologies he edits with Anne VanderMeer, which are always thoughtfully chosen and brilliantly contextualised. Their New Weird collection is almost worth getting for the non-fiction alone.

Also, through their small press and their anthologies, I was first introduced to the work of authors like Karin Tidbeck, Leena Krohn and Michael Cisco, each of whom upended my brain in one way or another and made other, less weird fiction look considerably more anaemic by comparison. I don't know if I would claim 'kinship' with any of them, that all sounds a bit forward to me, but the spores of their influence undoubtedly settled into some of the stories and made them stranger.

Stories like 'The End Of Hope Street', 'Two Brothers' and 'Dogsbody' have strong elements of the British class system running through them, particularly about social stigma. Do you find this a rich source of ideas for horror stories?

In some ways, I think it's a hard thing to avoid. If drama requires conflict, there'll never be any shortage of it in a stratified society.

Sometimes I do write stories out of anger, although their initial spikiness often gets sanded down a bit as I rework them until they come across more as wearily disappointed instead.

Hope Street is an interesting one for me, because it's the first time I've really seen the meaning of a story I've written evolve given the political climate. It was originally written before the EU referendum, but published afterwards. I've seen a number of comments suggesting that it reads like a post-Brexit story instead. This is alarming in one sense, given that it's not something I was really thinking about when I first wrote it, but quite satisfying in another, in that it's apparently robust enough to reflect more contemporary concerns.

'Songs They Used To Play', 'The Bridge' and 'Two Brothers' remind me of Philip K. Dick and Thomas Ligotti in the way they call into question our experienced reality, the way they portray our perceived world as a shadow of the real thing. Can you talk about why this is such an effective theme in Horror?

I think one of the straight-forward things that makes effective horror is to first reconfirm any certainties the reader has, and then knock them down. In pretty much all fiction, there are assumptions made on the part of the reader -- there has to be really, otherwise every writer would have to explain every single detail every single time, and that's no fun at all. But those assumptions can be subverted. Those objects you thought were inanimate? They're not anymore. That kid you thought was the dorkiest girl in class? Turns out she's telekinetic. The doors are locked and you're alone in the house, so who's that standing next to the window?

Our perception of reality is the big one, so it's always going to be fun to play with and undermine. Ligotti is an interesting example there, because he paints his worlds in such a way that the reader feels wrong-footed from the outset. A lot of the time, it's very hard to tell if he's subverting reality or just subverting your expectation that he will. To say the effect is dizzying doesn't quite do it justice.

'Songs They Used To Play' is a very timely look at the toxic nostalgia that's affecting so much of Britain at the moment, tied into the distortion of memory. Can you tell us a bit about what you were feeling when you wrote it?

I was absolutely interested in how memory gets distorted, yes. There's a whole industry based on a particularly unctuous sort of nostalgia, from Keep Calm and Carry On merchandise to the The Great British Bake Off, and I can only see it growing post-Brexit as if the only thing we'll have left to offer the world is a blinkered re-packaging of the past.

I was particularly interested in inherited memories, such as that oddly intangible sense of the "good old days", which are often cited by those far too young to know what days they were referring to in the first place. So it stems from the idea that most people are actually nostalgic about their own youth, yearning after a time when their own understanding of the world was considerably less sophisticated, and confusing that blissful ignorance with actual history.

So, in Songs Like They Used to Play, the protagonist's own childhood is conflated (confusingly) with a reality TV version of British history, which has left him slightly out of sync with the world. I also think this has an interesting perspective regarding the 'coming of age' theme of the collection. The story is in the second half of the book, and already its protagonists are looking backwards and seeing completely the wrong things.

So, your short story collection has just been published, and 'The End Of Hope Street' was nominated for the BSFA award. What are you working on next?

I have a story called The New Man in the current issue of Interzone (#270), and I have stories in the new (or upcoming) volumes of Shadows And Tall Trees and Nightscript. I also have a story due in 2084, and by that I don't mean the year, I mean Unsung Stories' upcoming collection of dystopian fiction.

Other than that, I'm working on something a little bit longer than I'm used to, so we'll have to see how that goes.
YOU WILL GROW INTO THEM BY MALCOLM DEVLIN
The world is a far stranger place than we give it credit for. There, in the things we think familiar, safe, are certain aspects. Our fears and desires given form. Moments that defy explanation. Shadows in our home.

In Malcolm Devlin’s debut collection, change is the only constant. Across nine stories he tackles the unease of transformation, growth and change in a world where horror seeps from the mundane. Childhood anxieties manifest as debased and degraded doppelgängers, fungal blooms are harvested from the backs of dancers and lycanthropes become the new social pariahs. The demons we carry inside us are very real indeed, but You Will Grow Into Them.

Taking weird fiction and horror and bending them into strange and wondrous new shapes, You Will Grow Into Them follows in the grand tradition of Aickman, Ligotti and Vandermeer, reminding us that the mundane world is a much stranger place than it seems.

PURCHASE A COPY FROM AMAZON
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<![CDATA[SANDBOX HOPPING WITH PHILIP FRACASSI]]>Thu, 08 Jun 2017 05:26:37 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/sandbox-hopping-with-philip-fracassiInterview by John Boden 
Philip Fracassi is an author and screenwriter, lives in Los Angeles.

His brand-new collection of stories, BEHOLD THE VOID, was published by JournalStone on March 10, 2017. He has a novella, FRAGILE DREAMS, that was released in November 2016, and a second novella, SACCULINA, was published  in May 2017, both from JournalStone. He is published in several current and upcoming publications, including Strange Aeons, Lovecraft eZine, Ravenwood Quarterly and Dark Discoveries Magazine. See his completely bibliography here.

He has worked in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and was the founder of Equator Books, a publishing house and rare, out-of-print bookstore in Venice, CA.

Prior to publishing, he spent seven years as a live music producer for House of Blues Entertainment, producing concert DVD’s for The Psychedelic Furs and Public Enemy and more than 3,000 live internet broadcasts with bands such as The Cure, Motley Crue and Depeche Mode.  He also produced the first live streaming concert ever broadcast over the internet.

Philip currently works full-time in the film industry and on his writing.  His screenplay credits include “Girl Missing,” distributed by Mar Vista Entertainment (2015) for Lifetime Television and “Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups,” distributed by Disney Home Entertainment (2012).  Films in development include “Escape the Night,” “The Boys in the Valley,” “Gothic,” and “Vintage.” Visit his IMDB page for more on his film projects.

His debut horror novelettes, “ALTAR,” and “MOTHER” are currently available as individual  Kindle eBooks via Amazon.com. (NOTE: Both of these stories are included in “Behold the Void”).
You can follow Philip on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@philipfracassi).


Read Tony Jones' review of Sacculina here 
 
JB: I have read and enjoyed everything you have released so far, and count you among one of my closer friends in the business. We chat and talk shop regularly. I still find it extremely interesting that you balance two careers--both of them as a writer--but on wholly differing sides of the field. Horror and family films are about as opposite as you can get. Care to explain a little of how this works for you and how you keep from going insane?

PF: To be a working screenwriter, you have to be adaptable to the content, and you need to have a large cache of voices and character sensibilities in your head. An army of them. It primarily comes down to compartmentalization. It is hard for me to switch from one script to another, or from a script to a short story or novel, because it’s mentally jarring. So I try to work on one project at a time, one “tone” at a time. So today, it might be kids. Tomorrow, a screenplay. The day after, a horror story. If it’s kids, then my mind thinks like a 6-year-old. If it’s horror, well, my mind still thinks like a 6-year-old, but writes like a 40-year-old. What are the primal fears you have as a child? Because the bad news is whatever those deep-rooted fears are that you had growing up? Guess what – you still got ‘em. So I exploit that as best as I’m able. Whether it’s to make you laugh or make you cry, I’m preying on your childhood. I’m preying on your primal self.

JB: Your debut novel, The Egotist, while being what you tout as a "literary novel" and not horror is not without its moments of pitch black humor and often uncomfortable nastiness. The fictitious memoirs of a right bastard so to speak. How was that to write and do you think you'll venture back into the non-horror end of the pool?

PF: The Egotist was my first novel. And I’m very proud of it because, like a first-born who is a little slow and ungainly, it’s still the first, and there will always be that connection. That said, it was self-published, it sold a thousand copies, and now it’s out of print. For now anyway, I’m going to keep it there.

In the 90’s and early aughts I was all about literary stories and novels. I actually wrote three novels during that span. The Egotist, Don’t Let Them Get You Down, and Happy Holly. They’re all pretty good in their own way, and some day – who knows – they may see the light of day. With a serious rewrite first, of course.

In regards to future work, I’m all about the horror and genre spectrum. I want to play in that sandbox for a while. Noir, crime, horror, supertnatural thrillers… that’s my wheelhouse until the muse says differently. That said, the last few short stories I’ve written, although dark, could likely be classified as literary. Who knows? I don’t track it too closely… whatever comes, comes. Some editors are okay with that, and like seeing something a little bit different. Other editors want the same movie they just saw, and that’s fine, but to me it’s a bit boring. I’m always going to be pushing to do something different.

JB: I read Mother and Altar almost back to back and adored them both. I have also had the pleasure of reading in early stage, almost all of the stories that appear in Behold The Void. While your style has remained yours, I have noticed an almost surreal tone creeping into much of your more recent work. Is this a conscious effort on your part , to kind of up the weird?

PF: I don’t think of myself as a writer of the Weird. I think of myself as a horror writer. If you had to sub-classify it, I’d say I’m a writer of supernatural thrillers.

But like I said earlier, I try not to worry about classification. I write what feels good. What makes sense to me in the moment. Sometimes that means a creature-feature like SACCULINA, sometimes it means a more internal story like FRAGILE DREAMS, and sometimes, yeah, I like to break barriers a little bit. I wrote a story called ID, that is appearing in a Necronomicon anthology this year, that is a very non-traditional horror story, and could be considered somewhat deconstructionist. Other stories may dip into surrealism, but I’ll never forgo a linear plot. I’m here to entertain, not fill your time with what I call “nowhere prose.” I’m here to tell you a story.

But at the same time it’s important to push yourself. Lately I’ve been integrating layman's elements of noumenon according to Kant and playing a bit with deconstructionism as a tool versus as a form of critique or analysis. Trying to integrate an "unreliable author" element - sort of taking the unreliable narrator to a different level. Pecking at the fourth wall. I’ve been playing with adding layers of subtext without making the story too obtuse or abstract. A satisfying narrative with more going on beneath the surface if anyone ever cared enough to dig deeper, but hopefully those layers add a subconscious heft to the more obvious beats.

I was chatting with someone recently who had read MANDALA, the final story in BEHOLD THE VOID, and they were so entertained that they sort of flew right by a critical development of the finale. But that in no way impaired their enjoyment of the story, which is on its surface a pretty straight-forward thriller. But on a re-read, or critical read, there’s a hell of a lot more going on. All that pretensious writer-y stuff said, the next story might be about brain-eating ants. Period. I guess I like to keep all doors open.

JB: Who and what are some of your biggest influences on all of your writing--and who are some of the new crop that you're digging on? I ask because I love the answers to these sorts of questions in interviews I read, and usually end up grabbing a notepad and writing down a handful of folks I've never read.

PF: Grab your notepad and write the following: Laird Barron, Laird Barron, Laird Barron.

Brian Evenson is so talented it hurts. John Langan. Dennis Etchison. Ray Garton. Ralph Robert Moore. Stephen King. Cormac McCarthy. Rick Bass. Annie Proulx. Jeffrey Ford. Nathan Ballingrud. Ernest Hemingway. J.D. Salinger. William Faulkner. Raymond Chandler. Dashiel Hammett. Bentley Little. Flanner O’Connor. Richard Matheson. Robert McCammon. Frederick Exley. John Fante. Charles Bukowski. Graham Joyce. Influencers all.

New crop? Hard to say, I read a lot for research purposes, so I read very little from new authors. But of what I’ve read the last few years, I’d go with Christopher Slatsky, Michael Wehunt, Jonathan Raab, Rich Hawkins, Ted Grau. I enjoy Nick Cutter, S.P. Miskowski, Ronald Malfi, Joe Hill. Books by Bracken MacLeod, Tom Deady, Alan Baxter, Josh Malerman, Paul F. Olson have knocked me back on my heels. I could go on forever. There’s no shortage of great work if you know where to look. Ask me this question in a month and I’d have a whole new list. We readers are a blessed folk.

JB: Where do you stand in the battle lines: The horror is dead/Nobody buys or reads books anymore/Nepotism and support are synonymous people who dont share opinions cannot possibly be friends...so many quibbles and quarrels these days.  Pick one and throw your stones.
 
PF: Haha… I prefer to avoid this sort of thing. Especially in social media. You know how people say you should never have a serious discussion or argument over email or text because it negates the context of inflection? I feel similarly when it comes to expressing views of importance on social media. You wanna have a beer and talk politics or the state of horror? I’m all in. You want to tweet or post on Facebook? Here’s a picture of my cat, my new book, and what I made for dinner. My dogs don’t fight. My dogs write.
 
 
JB: Where do you see yourself, in regard to your wiritng in the next five years. Considering that you've really kicked ass in the last year alone.  I mean. In just under a year an a half, that Im aware of, you've kicked out three novellas, a collection and have a new novella that just dropped.  That is pretty damned impressive.
 
PF: I’ve been lucky to find homes for the work, and fortunate to find publishers and editors willing to publish my stories. I’m not sure what the future holds. I have a few ideas about what I’d like to do, but other than one-off shorts, nothing under contract. I have some stories already sold for anthologies and magazines coming out in 2017, and I’m still writing new stories that I’d like to find homes for. But I’m also a screenwriter, so I have a few projects that are drawing deep breaths on that side of things that need my attention, and I have a couple novels that need my attention. Since signing on with an agent last year, my focus has shifted somewhat to writing a novel, and I have a big doorstop-type horror novel currently being shopped that I think will be a lot of fun. In the next five years, if I get a novel and a handful of stories into the market, maybe a 2nd collection at some point, I’d be thrilled.
 
JB: I ask this in every interview, because I'm a big old music nerd. Do you listen to anything while you write and if so, what? 
 
PF: I can’t listen to music with lyrics. Way too distracting when trying to formulate a sentence of prose or a line of dialogue. I can’t listen to stuff that’s too sleepy, or too aggressive, because again, distracting. Rachmaninoff is my go-to. But depending on the mood of the story, I’ll put on Audrey Fall, Russian Circles, Explosions in the Sky, Seas of Years, Survive, U137, Red Sparowes… I also listen to a lot of Trent Reznor’s stuff. The soundtracks but also an album of NIN instrumentals he did called “Ghosts.” Other soundtracks that get play are Roque Banos’s “Evil Dead,” Disasterpeace’s “It Follows,” and Johann Johannsson’s “The Theory of Everything.” All this is on Spotify if interested.
 
 
JB:  I want to first thank you for taking the time to bat around my questions and second let you know how much I enjoy your work. I can say I have enjoyed everything I have read.
 
 
PF: I appreciate the interview. I’m a big fan of Jim and the Ginger Nuts of Horror website. There are a lot of folks studying the genre right now – and sites like Ginger Nuts, This Is Horror, Smash Dragons, Shotgun Logic, Dark Musings, RisingShadow… I could go on forever, are all such great resources for fans of horror worldwide. It’s always staggering to me when someone wants to write a review of one of my books, or do an interview like this one. I’m just incredibly grateful. It sounds cliché, but I’m so humbled when readers buy my books, or post about them, or write and review them. The best thing I can do to show my appreciation is to keep working as hard as I can, write the best stuff I can, and keep the red meat coming. I don’t want readers to starve. I want them belly-full, gorged, with fresh blood on their faces. And hopefully a grin. Or, at worst, a grimace. Thanks for having me.
 
 
Philip Fracassi's work is available as follows:
The Egotist is available from Equator Books
Mother and Altar are both available from Dunhams Manor Press
Fragile Dreams, Behold The Void and Sacculina are all available from Journalstone Publishing

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"SACCULINA is a smart, terrifying, and poignant tale of creeping menace. I devoured it in one frenzied sitting... this Fracassi guy is damn good." --Richard Chizmar, author of A Long December and co-author (with Stephen King) of Gwendy's Button Box 

When Jim's big brother Jack is released from prison, the brothers - along with their broken father and Jack's menacing best friend - decide to charter an ocean fishing boat to celebrate Jack's new freedom.

Once the small crew is far out to sea, however, a mutant species rises from the deep abyssal darkness to terrorize the vessel and its occupants.

As the horror of their situation becomes clear, the small group must find a way to fend off the attack and somehow, someway, return to safety; but as the strange parasitic creatures overrun them, they must use more extreme - and deadly - measures to survive.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT PHILIPS BOOKS ON AMAZON 

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<![CDATA[JEREMEY HEplER TALKS ABOUT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 09:17:35 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/jeremey-helper-talks-about-the-boulevard-monsterInterview by DeAnna Knippling
DeAnna Knippling makes her Ginger Nuts of Horror interview debut with an in-depth and entertaining interview with Jeremy Hepler about his latest novel The Boulevard Monster.  

Native to the Texas Panhandle, Jeremy Hepler now lives in a small rural community in central Texas with his wife Tricia and son Noah. Throughout his life, he has worked jobs ranging from welder's hand to health care assistant, but writing has always been his passion.

Jeremy is a member of the Horror Writer's Association (HWA) and is currently working on his second novel, Demigod Dreams. In the last five years, he has had twenty-four short stories published in various small and professional markets, and in 2014, he placed second in the Panhandle Professional Writers Short Story Competition

His debut novel, The Boulevard Monster, published by Bloodshot Books, is available now on Amazon and you can read DeAnna's review of it here.  
I read elsewhere that this is your first novel.  Is this really your first novel?  My first novel was terrible.  What road brought you to writing such a good one?  Short stories?  Poetry?  Deal with the devil?  Did you sacrifice your real first novel on a bloodstained altar?
 
This is actually my second novel that I’ve written. I wrote the first and then entered it on #PITMAD on Twitter— a contest where published authors offer to mentor new authors if they choose your pitch. You then work with the published author for months, and they help you edit and revise your novel. The novel I submitted won a spot. It was a supernatural mystery, but like many new authors, I changed and tweaked it to fit what I (and my mentor) thought agents or publishers would like better. In the end, my story wasn't MY story anymore, so after a few rejections, I put it away. Looking back at it, I probably should consider burning it on an altar, but someday I hope to go back to it and pick out the gems and rewrite it with the darker, weirder elements reinserted like I'd initially planned.      

THE BOULEVARD MONSTER is my first published novel, though. I had been writing short stories for years, and once I started getting published in anthologies alongside people like Joe McKinney and Jeff Strand and Cat Rambo, I felt confident enough to start a novel. But after the #PITMAD experience, I wanted to write the story I wanted with no outside influence. Years earlier I had started a short story after I saw a couple of Hugh's Construction trucks parked on a site where a new strip mall was being constructed. Three or four of the workers were standing by the truck, laughing and eating, but there was a separate worker off in the distance behind a porta potty, digging with a small shovel. The digger kept glancing at the others, and he appeared both paranoid and unhappy. I had been brainstorming ideas for an anthology I wanted to submit to,so later that afternoon while my son napped, I started writing a story about the worker, his relationship with the other guys, what he could've been burying, and how that linked to why he looked so paranoid and unhappy. When I reached the 10,000 word mark, I knew it was too deep for a short story and set it aside because I wasn't confident enough to write a novel.When I was ready to start my second novel six years later, I pulled it back out and took off with it.

PS: I've offered the devil a deal, multiple deals in fact, but he hasn't responded, yet.J
 
One the things that impressed me the most about your story was that you had a simple (although perhaps not easily-written) solution to the problem of people making stupid choices in horror novels:  you made your protagonist a genuinely nice guy.  Was that intentional?
 
It was somewhat intentional. I needed Seth to be relatable and likable. I needed him to be believable. Since I was going to tell the story from his point of view and tell all the horrible decisions he'd made, he couldn't be seen as a pure idiot, or evil, or an arrogant asshole. I neededhim to be an everyday guy, a neighbor, someone who would do anything to protect his family or help a friend when he could, in order for the reader to be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and pull for him despite his horrific, selfish choices.
 
Tell me more about where Lurth came from. 
 
Lurth stemmed from the word lummox. When I started the original short story, which I titled FOR LOVE AND MONEY, I began with a description of Seth, labeling him a lummox based on the walking habits of one the construction workers I'd seen that day. As I continued to explore his life, the word lummox blossomed into something that connected him to his mom and separated him from his dad. I like to believe it was Seth's mom who invented Lurth rather than me. It was born out of her love and sympathy for him. She mixed lummox and earth together and named their "secret planet" in order to give them a special place to connect, a home within a home, as well as a place that explained away his dad's hurtful words and actions.
 
Did you consciously pace the tension in your book, or just let it flow?  I often have to take breaks from thriller books--read a chapter, read something else for a while because the writer doesn't release tension very often, and I get twitchy.  There were two places at the end of The Boulevard Monster where I had to put the book down for a moment, but by then I was hooked enough that it was maybe a minute at most.  I read this in two sittings, which is rare for me on any book with thriller elements.  How did you do it?
 
I'm glad you enjoyed the pacing and the tension of the climax so much!
When I did the initial writing, the vomiting of the idea, I didn't think about pace or tension; I just wanted to get the entire story out. I let it flow, like you said, but in the editing and revising process, one of the elements I developed and worked hardest on was pace and tension. I tried to make sure that each character and chapter had a driving purpose, and that each chapter and character left you intrigued, wanting to know more. Since my protagonist was working hand-in-hand with my antagonist and they weren't pitted against one another for large chunks of the story, I needed to keep the pace and tension as tight as I could in other areas (Seth's internal struggle, mostly) in order to keep the story flowing, and at times that was my biggest challenge, but also a great learning experience. 
 
Openings:  One of the things that I've been trying to point out to people is that in a good book opening, it's very hook-y to explain the rules of your book in an opening.  When I read yours, I laughed out loud, because it was almost a textbook case:
 
My name's Seth Fowler, and I'm not delusional.  Not in my understanding of the role I played in the Boulevard murders, or in my understanding of what telling my story can accomplish.
 
Did you do this on purpose, or was it more of a challenge to see how much of the story you could give away without blowing the ending?  What's your theory on the openings of your stories?
 
I really didn't do it intentionally or as a challenge. My original opening was the first chapter, "Corpse in a Burlap Sack," but after rereading the story, I felt that there was something missingat the beginning. I needed something more. I needed for Seth to give a brief explanation as to why he was sitting in a rundown hotel typing his story on a laptop. I needed him to give just enough to pique interest in Luther and the birds and his role in the Boulevard murders in order for it to be believable. If the reader was to believe he really did write this for his wife and daughter, and that the media and cops were investigating him, I felt he needed to give at least a hint of that in his explanation in the beginning. I wrote and rewrote the prologue probably twenty or thirty times, took it out and put it back in time and again. In the end I felt it had to be included to make the story complete,to make the beginning and the end come full circle, much like Michael Laimo did in DEEP IN THE DARKNESS and Anne Rivers Siddons did in THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, two great first-person novels where the protags start with an intriguing prologue that hints at what led to their current situation.
When it comes to opening stories in general, I feel like there are many good ways to hook a reader. When I write third person, especially in short stories, I typically jump right into the action, but when I write first person like with this story, I feel like a direct, subtle, personal approach to the protagonist's dilemma can be just as effective.
 
And last but not least, the bonus question: Is there any note that you'd like to leave your readers on?  (Hint:  the additional promo question.)
 
If you want to buy THE BOULEVRD MONSTER, ask me any questions, tell me what you think of my writing, or simply follow my work, here some links you can hit me up on:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeremyHepler
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.hepler.5
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeremyhepler
Wordpress: http://jeremyhepler.wordpress.com/

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I KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT ME

You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…

I AM NOT A KILLER

I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…

I AM NOT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER

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DeAnna Knippling is a writer and editor of dark speculative fiction, mystery, and horror.  She has ghostwritten over a million words since 2013, and has had multiple short stories published in Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Black Static, and more.  She's currently working on a series of cheesy 80s horror novels involving fairies.  The first novelette, By Dawn's Bloody Light, about three women who take revenge on a serial killer, will be released July 1.  You can find out more at www.WonderlandPress.com.  You can also find her on Facebook andTwitter.

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<![CDATA[FIVE MINUTES WITH: RAVEN DANE]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 10:06:24 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/five-minutes-with-raven-dane
Raven Dane is a UK based author of dark fantasy and steampunk novels and horror short stories.  Her first books were the dark fantasy Legacy of the Dark Kind trilogy, Blood Tears, Blood Lament and Blood Alliance. These were followed by a High Fantasy spoof, The Unwise Woman of Fuggis Mire.   Her steampunk novels so far are the award winning Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron and sequel Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde. She has had many short stories published, including one in a celebration of forty years of the British Fantasy Society and in many international horror anthologies. Her story Constance Craving is featured in Billie Sue Mosiman’s anthology Frightmare, Women in Horror which is on the short list for a prestigious Stoker award for anthologies.  In 2013, Telos Publishing brought out her collection of Victorian ghost stories, Absinthe and Arsenic and in 2015, the alternative history/ supernatural novel, On Death’s Dark Wings.  The latest in the Cyrus Darian series is due out in 2017.

Raven is currently working on more short stories and a post-Apocalyptic steampunk novel.

Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
 
Hi, I am a batty, ageing disgracefully woman who lives in a small market town in
The Chilterns, Buckinghamshire, known locally for her multi-colored hair, Goth clothes and too much pagan jewelry.  I have a son, a menagerie of pets, horses and a tankful of tropical fish, all called Neville. The fish that is, nothing else is called Neville.  I am half Southern Irish, half North Welsh, so a true child of the Celtic Twilight. I began my working life as a cub reporter with a local newspaper in Essex and went on to feature writing for magazines and PR jobs. I have also been a library assistant, a shop worker and a qualified horse trainer and riding instructor, specializing in film and stunt work.  Enormous fun, teaching the stunt people to fall off and the actors to stay on their horses.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I used to be far more active, charging about the countryside on horseback but now have more sedate activities, reading, cinema, making truly awful art and craft items and taking part in local amateur dramatics. I love playing the annual Panto baddy…oh yes I do…. I am also a keen member of the British steampunk community, attending as many gatherings as I can…such splendid fun and lovely people.

Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

Early on it was fantasy and SF. I was an avid and precocious reader, working my way through all the adult SF and fantasy novels at our local library as a child.  Later employed there as a library assistant, I read a wide range of genres that added to my influences.  I have always soaked up film and TV, the darker the better, again from an early age.  I remember being a five year old, sneaking downstairs with my brother to peer through a gap in the living room door to watch grown up TV, frightening ourselves with Quatermass and scary films. I also had an early empathy for the baddies…Frankenstein’s monster did not ask to be made, or the Werewolf to be bitten on an ill thought out stroll through moonlit woods. Nor did poor King Kong want to be hauled off his island in chains by horrible little humans.
 
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations.  What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?

Gosh, such huge subject in a five minute interview!  So many people shy away from horror as readers, perhaps put off by images of torture porn and slasher movies. Others love that subgenre in both books and film. Many do not realise horror fiction has so many aspects beyond the clichés and well-worn tropes. For example, someone may not enjoy splatter and gore novels but be an avid reader of creepy, atmospheric ghost stories. The range is huge, with so many cross overs into SF, fantasy, political and ecological thrillers and alternative history.   I also feel readers are often content to remain in their comfort zone with their choice of horror books. I am certainly guilty of that and this could mean missing out on wonderful stories and exciting authors. This is why I enjoy reading the other contributions in anthologies I have stories in; they bring an awareness of other, very different visions in horror. For example Bizarro is a sub-genre that is totally unknown to me, but it led me to read Ricochet, a novella by Tim Dry which I thoroughly enjoyed. I think horror is a much misunderstood and too easily dismissed genre especially among the literati…their loss.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

I can already feel a strong growth in very dark, politically triggered satire and also dystopian horror happening.   For example, I leapt at the opportunity to submit to a recent call for Trump-inspired horror anthology. I have never felt such an urgent need to vent my anger and fear, the story wrote itself. The negative energy being released by these bizarre, morally bleak times is feeding imagination all around the world and is the only form of protest for many people in repressive societies. It is empowering, important and much needed.  This movement is already at work in art, film and TV as well as literature. I was delighted to see the direction that season four of the popular Marvel’s Agents of Shield is heading - to an alternative America, where Hydra is in control and the nation is under a repressive fascist regime. There is a resistance movement in the series, perhaps something to give hope in an increasingly dark, dangerous world. That you are not alone in being appalled by these changes.  #resist

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

Early days, anything written by Ray Bradbury, Alan Garner and Anne MacCaffrey.  I would say Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes’ was the ultimate early influence and still is.  I can still hear the skewed, backwards music of the carousel in my mind.  I love dark carnivals, circus and theatre in my stories. As a teenager, I loved reading Edgar Allen Poe, Michael Moorcock and Mervyn Peake. I also was addicted to old black and white horror films and TV series like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and The Invaders.  My early love of  the work of Jules Verne, HG Wells and MR James all helped add inspiration to my later steampunk  novels and Victorian ghost stories

What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
 
I am useless at this at the moment!  Increasing age and infirmity has turned me from a voracious reader devouring several novels a week to one struggling to get through anything.  So frustrating!  I don’t think the ‘scary as hell’ and incredible Adam Nevill counts as an upcoming author anymore, but his books blow me away at their brilliance and my need to sleep with the lights on.  I must find time to discover new writers and I am open to suggestions. I am looking for quality writing and horror that is high on chills and scares and low on entrails and brain splatter.

How would you describe your writing style?

Hmm, difficult.  Ray Bradbury made me fall in love with the beauty of the written English language but I am also aware from my journalism training never say in ten words what you can in one.  How about lyrical but also spare and fast moving?

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

I welcome all reviews, good, bad and indifferent but my favourite has to be a one star review of Blood Tears from an American reader. I cherish it for its inspired insanity and introduction of the word ‘flusterated’ and his/her desire to throw the book across the room.
 
As a newbie with only this, my first novel, a wonderful review of Blood Tears by Karen Stevens for the British Fantasy Society was truly life changing.  I’ve chosen one section of the long, detailed review.
 
‘I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Tears; a fast paced and taut story, I was hooked from the first few pages. The characters, both vampire and human, are that rare breed: characters the reader can emphasize with and care about, and the story itself is beautifully written. Raven Dane clearly knows her subject very well, and she tells her story with a deft, sure touch which is a pleasure to read.
I can’t praise Blood Tears too much; over the years I’ve read dozens of novels about vampires and would rate this book among the top five.’

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

 I love the actual writing, but like so many others, I find composing a synopsis is like pulling teeth.  They are so important which makes the pressure to get it right almost unbearable. I would happily pay money I haven’t actually got to have someone write mine for me.  The other is promotion, which is idiotic in my case as I have a past career in journalism and PR.  Publishers play their part of course, but these days in an over-crowded and competitive market, no author can live in an ivory tower and expect to sell books.  There is no easy answer to this, I cannot bear those who spam Facebook and Twitter trying to sell their books, usually just to other writers. Before the arrival of eBooks and self -publishing, I was doing well with Blood Tears just from word of mouth from online forums and attending events like Whitby Goth Festival and the Elf Fantasy Fair in Utrecht to do signings. Now, non-celebrity fiction authors can feel overwhelmed by an ever increasing tidal wave of books.  No matter how hard you wave, no one can see you in the flood.  Trouble is I am far too old to sleep with a footballer, tell all in a tabloid and end up a ‘celeb ‘in the Big Brother house with a huge book deal at the end.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

Torture porn, especially involving children or animals.  

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

I spend a great deal of time and research getting names right.  The criteria varies,
I did a lot of research for my alternative history novels and stories to get time appropriate names. One of the pivotal characters in Death’s Dark Wings is called Brandan, an Irish mercenary warrior, which means Prince of Ravens, the original title of the book.  Sometimes I struggle to get the right name; others seem to be channeled directly from an alternative universe…Cyrus Darian just popped out of nowhere and was perfect. He is Persian, so he was named after a great Persian king and a real town in Iran.
 
Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years? 

I have become braver and more confident and able to take on writing challenges well out of my comfort zone. One of the main factors to this has been the demand for my short horror stories over the past three years. This was unexpected and exciting and pushed me from being a fantasy only author to a newbie horror writer. I could never have written short stories at the beginning of my career, it is a very different art form with a specialist set of skills I simply did not possess.  Time, experience and more confidence has helped me make the transition. The next hurdle to overcome is to be able to write a whole horror novel. This could take another ten years though…I need to be able to learn how to develop suspense and growing terror over a longer time frame. I may never be able to.  That’s OK, it will be an interesting challenge.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?     
 
Stamina, perseverance, talent, imagination, humility combined with passion, an ability to accept and learn from criticism and advice yet still have total belief in your worth and work.    And a good PC or laptop that won’t crash and obliterate your work, with plenty of backups.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

‘Finish the bloody thing!’ and ‘don’t be afraid to kill your babies’…from my non-fiction writer father, my harshest and best critic.  
 
Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?

With gritted teeth, dogged determination and a big smile. My strategy has always been getting out and about as much as possible to meet my existing readers and make new ones at events and conventions. I prefer comic cons, SF and fantasy events to mainly author gatherings like Edgelit.  They can be good for making contacts but for exposure and sales, I’d rather go to events like SF Weekender and the huge Asylum Steampunk event in Lincoln. I am not shy in engaging with total strangers, chatting to them and making a friendly connection with them.  On line social media, like Twitter and Facebook is a desert zone now. Too many voices clamouring to be noticed.  Meeting new people face to face is my preferred method of getting my work noticed. I have a talking raven automaton in a cage on my table, which is a great ice breaker too!

The other thing I rely on is successful short story submissions; many are international like the anthologies edited by Dean M Drinkel and The Tales From the Lake series of anthologies from Crystal Lake, a wonderful, positive way to get work better known beyond these shores. The only PR where you also get paid.
 

To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?

Mine certainly do!  I have two favourites, both unredeemable bad boys and rivals for my attention. My insecure, reckless, drug-addled, Dark Kind blood drinker and male whore Jazriel and the all too human Cyrus Darian, alchemist, hedonist, liar, murderer, necromancer and thief.
I don’t actually have a least favourite character to be honest.  I don’t think I could write a character that wasn’t enjoyable to work with, however repellent. I try never to have two dimensional characters in my work, even the most minor ones have a backstory which I may not use but gives them a solidity and purpose.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
 

You do love the tough questions!  As you mentioned before, to many of us, our characters are like children, and so picking the work I am most proud of seems a betrayal to the others.  I love them all.  Blood Tears was my first published novel in 2006 and has never stopped selling. Cyrus Darian and The Technomicron won the VSS Steampunk Novel of the Year award in 2012 up against work by Jonathan Green and Gail Carriger. But I guess it has to be my collection of Victorian ghost stories Absinthe and Arsenic. I have no idea where the flow of inspiration came from but it felt like magic at the time and many readers love the book as much as I do...

And are there any that you would like to forget about?
 
Most definitely!  My first ever novel, Starborn, was a space opera of vast length and even vaster pretention. It was utter pants. It was written on an old tripewriter, there was only one copy of the weighty MS and one day it vanished.  To this day, I have no idea how such a large, weighty lump of A4 paper could disappear in such a small house with not even a dog to eat it, maybe I had a critic among the house ghosts. It had taken five years to write between commuting to and working in London and I was devastated. Its loss was the best thing that could have happened to my career. Once I recovered, I began working on the gothic dark fantasy Blood Tears and the rest as they (whoever they are) say is history.

For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

I would recommend Absinthe and Arsenic, my collection. It is easy to dip into, has varied stories and was written with much love and passion. It has had nothing but excellent reviews and recommendations too. It is a book I am proud of and happy with the content, a rare thing in a notoriously insecure profession.

Do you have a favorite line or passage from your work, and would you like to share it with us?
 
‘I remember it rained. The morning my wife washed away with cigarette butts,  crisp packets, a few fallen leaves. Sluiced down a nearby drain with three teenagers and an elderly couple, their remains merging briefly in a swirl of grey sludge. At least she was not alone during her last moments above ground.’
 
From ‘Chalk Face’, a short story that appeared in Tales of the Lake 2, published by Crystal Lake.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

My last book was the alternative history/supernatural novel, Death’s Dark Wings. It is set in the year before and during the Norman invasion of England and in an alternative world where Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany are still openly pagan. It combines old earth magic and mythical creatures of the time, with the events leading up to the invasion.  It has a decidedly different ending to the actual 1066 conquest.

I am currently working on more short stories submissions and hoping for a return of my creative and physical energy to continue work on a novel in progress.  Set in a brutal post-Apocalyptic world, centuries after a disaster hit in Victorian times,  one caused by Cyrus Darian meddling with occult forces beyond his control. He is the man who broke the world.
 
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?

It has to be the well-worn cliché of idiotic  ‘teenagers’ who always look about thirty, going into spooky woods in the dark and splitting up to make it easier for the monsters , aliens, zombies, chain-saw wielding maniacs to kill them, one by one.  After the excellent take on this in the film, The Cabin in the Woods, no more of this cliché need to be made. Time to bring something new to the table.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I loved Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel. I was drawn to it after the excellent BBC series based on the book and loved her atmospheric, dark yet playful depiction of an alternative time  in history where magic existed. Just wish I had written it!   I am currently reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods after many recommendations and struggling to be captivated by it. This could be totally down to me. My heart condition makes me get tired  very easily and this effects my concentration.  I will persevere though.  An author of his stature deserves that.
 
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do?  And what would be the answer?

‘So, Raven, what do you think of Guillermo Del Toro’s choice of Tom Hiddleston to play Cyrus Darian in the forthcoming film?’

An answering silence….as too overwhelmed by such an awesome prospect…
 

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From deep within a dark dimension beyond all that is known by the world of men, the soul of a great raven broke free, tearing through the Veil between worlds. The brutal rent in the Veil gave out a scream of warning resonating through the minds of human and Sidhe alike. The eerie sound tainted all souls, though only a few could hear it, and even fewer understood its meaning.

The raven’s cold, jet eyes took in the world of the living beneath the steady beat of its great wings. Its time was near.

Death’s Dark Wings is a bold and visceral revisiting of the story of 1066, in a world where magic and technology clash.


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<![CDATA[THE CREATURE BELOW: AN INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR STEWART SPARKE]]>Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:33:43 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/the-creature-below-an-interview-with-director-stewart-sparke
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Stewart Sparke is an Independent Filmmaker from East Yorkshire, UK. Stewart studied an BA in Film and Television Production at York St. John University before studying a MA in Directing Film and Television at Bournemouth University. In 2012 he co-founded the film and animation production company, Glass Cannon, based in York, North Yorkshire. Through Glass Cannon, Stewart has directed a number of short films and continues to work with local talent to produce ambitious film and television projects on a small budget.  His  feature film The Creature Below released in February is a wonderful creature feature tribute where a young scientist discovers a malevolent entity which sets her on a bloody descent into the jaws of insanity.
It must be an odd time for you, with the lead up to the full release of "The Creature Below." How are you feeling after having a great critical response to the film at film festivals, that the film is now about to see a wider audience?

It’s been absolutely fantastic to see the buzz about The Creature Below online and the reaction from our world premiere at Frightfest last year. When we (myself and writer Paul Butler) first set out to make our first film we just wanted to get it made and now that it’s getting traction in the horror community we are just overwhelmed and very excited that it’s now getting a DVD & VOD release. We always wanted to make a film that we really wanted to see and thankfully it seems other people want to see it too!


How does releasing your film through the festival circuit help a relatively new director?

The festival’s we attended were an absolutely fantastic experience and I would recommend any first time directors go to them, even if your film is not shortlisted. Frightfest was fantastic for meeting other people who are doing exactly the same thing we are and everyone was very down to earth and approachable. I met some amazing people there and made contacts that I hope to work with in the future. The festivals were also an essential part of spreading word about the film. The fact that we got into Frightfest, which is a very big genre festival here in the UK, was a huge badge of honor for the film and the Creature Below got to play next to some spectacular, big name horror films.


I have a vague recollection of the film being called "The Dark Below" when the teaser trailer was first released, is this correct and if so what brought about the name change?

When we first began production the film did have that title as we thought it was very mysterious and invoked images of the unknown deep beneath the oceans. Unfortunately, since we were living in our very own British filmmaker bubble we didn’t realize that a film based in the USA already had that title and was hitting festivals later that year. We started working on alternative titles as soon as we found out and didn’t stray too far in the end, settling on The Creature Below. Speaking to a lot of my indie filmmaker friends, title changes seem to be quite common when their film’s finally get distribution and I’m very happy with the title we have ended up with.


How did you and the writer, Paul Butler come to work on this? 

Paul started working with me back in 2012 and whilst we made a number of short films together we always wanted to make a feature. Finally in 2015 we believed we had enough experience (and saved up enough money) to make something. Paul had a script about a love triangle in a domestic setting that had elements of horror but I suggested that it needed something else to make it more unique. I had also been reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft at the time and that inspired us to draw inspiration from his work. Thus, the love triangle between three people became two people and an unnamable creature from the depths! We thought that was a fun and exciting idea and not something we had seen very much.


The film itself is a triumph budget versus payoff, did you really make this film on a budget of £12,000?

With this being our first film and only having a handful of short films under our belt we knew that getting funding would be quite hard. At the same time we both worked full time day jobs so we began saving money from each paycheck to finance the film ourselves. When we finally had enough saved up we both took two weeks vacation from work and shot almost everything in just 14 days, picking up anything we missed on weekends and evenings after work. I’m proud to say that we kept to our £12,000 limit and it was a very valuable learning experience trying to keep it under control!


That's incredible, what were the biggest challenges that faced you regarding keeping the budget under control?

There are so many little things that added to the cost that are easy to forget about when you are in the planning stages. Transport and accommodation was one of the biggest to consider as our cast came from all over the UK so it was important to make sure we could afford to bring them to us and give them somewhere to stay. Making sure that all their scenes were shot consecutively was essential as was ensuring we had all the footage we needed since bringing them back would have cost much more money. Also, buying little things like paper towels to mop up fake blood were always chipping into the budget and planning for these things early on are essential on these types of films! Overall though I think we did a good job of budgeting the film considering this was our first and if I could give any advice to someone planning to self finance their first feature they must account for essential paperwork like insurance and any licenses they will need to pay for, even into postproduction.


With the film being made on a shoestring budget, and in those fleeting moments of spare time, did you ever hit the "creative wall" and feel like enough was enough?

There were certainly times when myself and Paul were very stressed and felt like the whole world was caving in around us but the great cast and crew were always there to support us and could always lift our spirits when things went wrong. I found that having a close collaborator like Paul to share my concerns with and come up with solutions together was essential.


One of the themes of the film is the lengths that people will go to hide and develop their own obsessions, were there any parallels in the film and your own obsession to get the film made?

You could certainly say our obsession to get the film made is paralleled in Olive’s character. Most of our spare time for a year was spent on the film to the extent where I didn’t really have a personal life during that time! Also, having a full time day job at the same time meant that as soon as I got home from work I would start work again and my Playstation gathered a lot of dust over the year. After the brief 14 day shoot I became like Olive hiding away in the dark editing the film and became obsessed getting it to a standard I was happy with. It was a tremendous learning experience where I feel like I emerged as a completely different person and now that it is soon to be released it’s like a big weight has been lifted! Having said that, I can’t wait to get started on the next one and for the obsession to begin all over again.


The film follows an exciting and much-needed trend in films with having a strong and independent female lead. Was this something you intended to go for from the start? It must have been easy to have Olive fall into the trap of being another victim on the screen?

We knew a female lead was a must once we started writing the script as the maternal themes we wanted to play with were essential to the story and Olive’s growth as a character. Paul and I watch horror films together regularly and so often in horror we see female characters reduced to eye candy, running a screaming while the men save the day. There have been fantastic examples of how it should be done with films like the Soska Sister’s American Mary which was a big inspiration to us. We actually wrote the male characters as more of a stereotypical ‘female in a horror film’ role whereas Olive and Ellie were two strong women who know what they want and how to get it.


One of the things I loved about the film was the subtle references to many of the genres great films. In particular, the way in which the creature has at least three three distinct stages of its lifecycle. Was this a deliberate nod to the Alien franchise? 

Alien is one of my favorite films so it’s probably not a coincidence! I’m a big fanboy when it comes to creature features as is Paul so we wanted to do our own take on the sub-genre. Giving the creature a lifecycle was not only a great opportunity to have more monsters in the film but also as the creature grows larger so do the stakes in the film and the creature’s influence over Olive’s mind.


And like Alien, you tease the audience with a deft hand with a slow reveal of the creature in all it's glory. While some of this must have been down to budgetary constraints, I can't help but feel that there was also a feeling of as soon as you have the big creature reveal, where do you go next. I strongly believe that the more you see, the less impact a creature has. Is this something you felt as well?

One of the reasons I liked Cloverfield so much is that we go such little glimpses of the creature that it let our imagination fill in the gaps. We heard its roar and saw the destruction in its wake but only got little teases of claws and teeth and it gave the creature a brilliant mystery and made you want to know more. Obviously the budget of the film was on our minds while writing the film and the practicalities of filming with a huge puppet add to the challenge. However, I still feel that by the end the audience deserved to stare it right in the face and I think we showed just enough to keep it mysterious. The teases of the larger creature throughout the film do work much better in building tension and anticipation of it’s reveal and it was a real balancing act all the way through to editing of how much do we show.


The creature design is excellent, in particular, I loved how in the early stages of the film the creature comes across as sympathetic being, not quite as cute and adorable as a lost kitten. Much of this sense came from the sounds the creature made. What did you use to create those noises? 

Dave Walker our composer made the sounds of the creature vocally and combined them with real animal sounds, one of which I believe is a baby Crocodile. He did an absolutely fantastic job making it feel alive through the sound design. We wanted the baby creature to be almost cute and seem pretty harmless so that, like Olive, the audience would sympathize with it and share her level of emotional connection.


As the relationship between Olive and the creature develops she goes to greater and greater lengths to provide for her "baby" and yet despite the things she does, she still comes across as a sympathetic character, in particular, the scene with the old lady. How important was it to you that we felt for Olive and her struggles with sanity and the moral choices that she made? 

It was vital that the audience empathized with Olive during the film and Anna Dawson did a superb job in the role. She was able to show a woman slowly stripped of her humanity and like in the scene with the old lady, she was fantastic and displaying flickers of humanity as the madness overwhelms her. Olive goes from protecting her ‘child’ to truly believing she is bringing about something of a glorious new world and getting the audience to understand her motivations was key and Anna did an amazing job.


A key strength of the film is the way in the "otherworldliness" is grounded in the real world. The scenes in the basement were akin to the way in which the Cenobites existed in the first Hellraiser film? Did you draw any parallels to that film while creating those scenes? 

Hellraiser was not a direct inspiration on the way we showed the basement in the film but there are certainly parallels there. I wanted to contrast the rest of Olive’s home with the basement and using creative lighting and smoke gives Olive’s lair an otherworldly quality. Over the course of the film it gets darker and the colors shift to the other end of the spectrum to fit with Olive’s decent into madness. By the end of the film the basement is a warped reality and is representative of what the outside world could look like if the creature were to have its way!


The biggest influence on the film has to be Lovecraft; the film shares the same sense of dread brought about by our almost pointless existence in a universe populated by creatures such as this? How did you go about capturing this feeling of dread and despair in the film?

Lovecraft was hugely inspirational in shaping the tone of the film and we tried very hard to portray the overwhelming dread that his characters feel as they learn about forces older and more powerful than they could ever imagine. Much of this was down to the performance of Anna Dawson (Olive) who was great at showing a woman slowly loosing her mind as she comes to comprehend the truth of what she saw on her deep sea dive and what the creature in her basement truly is. Focusing on her home life with Matt and her sister Ellie gave us the chance to see what knowledge of the unfathomable does to a domestic relationship and this gives the film a grounded reality that everyone can associate with. Add to that the incredible sound design and score by Dave S. Walker and we ended up with a suitably grim and gritty tone which I hope feels refreshing for a film of this type.


Would you ever consider doing an adaptation of a Lovecraft story, and if so which one?

If I were to dare adapting one of Lovecraft’s stories Shadow over Innsmouth would be my choice as I absolutely love that story. It’s got a great journey for the protagonist who has to survive a terrifying night in a town of madness before discovering something even more horrifying about himself along the way. An absolute page turner and one I would love to see as a period film if done right.

What are you working on next?

We are currently developing a slate of genre films which we hope will entertain and scare the hell out of you! I can't go into too much detail yet but we're certainly not done with monsters and we have what we think are some really fun, original films we hope to bring to the screen very soon!


Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I loved the film, do you have any final words for the readers of the site? 

Thanks for having me! I really hope everyone enjoys the film and gets a chance to check it out. We had such a great time making it and I really hope that any other filmmakers thinking of making their first feature get out there and do it!
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