Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl


Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just ... creepy.

In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening—and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger—Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

Buy link:

Amazon

Review:

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was a book I couldn't put down. I received the book as an arc from work (bookstore) and was thrilled. I watched the Youtube video and loved the creativity behind it and was not disappointed in the book.

Sunshine has just moved from sunny Texas to the Pacific Northwest and isn't really happy about it. Her mom has a new job and she struggles to fit in. The house they move into is creepy (her words) to the extreme and the uber pink bedroom resembles an exploding pepto bismal bottle. When things start to go bump in the night, Sunshine realizes there is a lot going on with her new house. She is changing too. But that is only the start of her problems. Her mother may be possessed, her new friend is creating some romantic tension and the odd teacher at school may know more than she is letting on about the goings on at her house.

If you love haunted house tales, this is one for you!

4/5

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: The Review


The review:

This collection of fairy tales is far from the sanitized versions we are used to seeing in today's media. From big bad wolves to nectar seeping goddesses, spirits of leopards, witches with fierce lusts and things that haunt the night wind, these tales are not for the faint hearted.

1.) Little Dead Red – Mercedes M. Yardley
2.) Nectar – Allison M. Dickson
3.) The Leopard’s Pelt – S.R. Cambridge
4.) Hazing Cinderella – C.W. LaSart
5.) The Night Air – Stacey Turner

I enjoyed every single one of these dark jewels but my absolute favorite was Little Dead Red by Mercedes M. Yardley. An original re-write of the Red Riding Hood tale, you won't expect the ending of this twisted little story. 

Nectar was a fantastical trip into the witches lair-futuristic style. Loved it!

The Leopard's Pelt was an exercise in the strength and weaknesses in all of us. Great story!

Hazing Cinderella was bold, sexy and  diabolically thrilling. The raw imagery was page turning. Excellent read!

The Night Air is every parents' nightmare. When children go missing how do you live your life? I too was waiting for a lottery to appear. It reminded me of Victoria Holt novels and I was enveloped in no time.

I also have to mention the gorgeous cover art. Wow! I would wear that on a shirt any day. Absolutely inspiring and beautiful!

5/5

Goodreads

Amazon

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: Stacey Turner


Today is our last visit with the ladies who haunt the Grimm...We have with us Stacey Turner.

1.      What inspired your story?
My son, who has autism, had pneumonia once and he was sleeping in our bed so I could keep a close eye on him. He was running a pretty good fever and was putting off so much heat that I was actually sweating, and the air was super close in the bedroom. So I got up and cracked the window (it was spring) and as I lay there half dosing, the breeze blew against my leg and I could hear the wind chimes on the porch. For some reason I thought of the story of “The Pied Piper” and “The Night Air” was born. There’s a scene in the story very similar to what actually happened.

2. As a woman in horror, do you find any added pressure?
As an author, no. I did somewhat as a publisher, but that’s a story for another day. I feel the same pressure I would feel in any genre, writing is a competitive sport. There are so many people writing, submitting, and publishing that you really have to bring it. I think there is some discrepancy in the horror industry, but it seems to me that women are definitely gaining ground. It all just spurs me to do my best.
3. Name three things on your desk right now.
I have a zombie doorstop my good friend Shellee gave me that sits on my desk. His name is Bob. Lots of post it notes, I can’t live without them. Lip gloss. Because, well, who wants their lips lacking in sheen?

4. Who are some writers that have influenced your work?
I don’t know that I can credit anyone with having influenced my work. I read a ton, always have. I was that girl walking around with the big book in her arms. And I read far more than just horror. I love historical fiction, horror, medical thrillers, and some contemporary fiction. For horror I love King and early Koontz. But also John Saul, Bentley Little, Michaelbrent Collings, Shirley Jackson. But I also love Wendy Webb, Susanna Kearsley, Barbara Erskine, Jeanne Kalogridis, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Berg.

5. Tell us what your future plans are? Any novels in the works?
Future plans are mainly to keep writing. Sell some more stories. I am working on a novel, and another novella or two, but they are nowhere near the stage where they’d even be submitted yet. My goal for 2015 is to finish the novel.

6. If I were your favorite dessert what would I be?
White chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Definitely. Or coconut gelato.

7. What would you tell writers new to the horror genre?
I don’t think I’d tell them anything different than I’d tell any new writer. Read a lot. Learn to show and not tell (editor pet peeve), don’t let rejection make you stop writing. Don’t ever stop trying to learn more about your craft.

8. Plotter or pantster?
Planster? I’m kind of a mix. I don’t do outlines, but I usually know the end, or where I want the story to end up, when I write the beginning. I tend to write in “scenes” and then have to link them together. So I often only write one scene a day and spend the time in between focusing on the next scene, so that by the time I sit down to write it, I have the whole thing pictured in my head. But things often change as I’m writing; the characters may take over and send the story in a different direction, or on a detour. My non writer friends think that’s odd. But seriously, sometimes I’m even surprised. I once wrote a scene where a character tells another about the mother of a girl she once dated. I had no idea she was a lesbian until I wrote that. But it totally fit so there you go.


Excerpt:

The Night Air
“I found something weird in the woods today.” Marla climbed into bed beside Nick, still rubbing lotion on her hands. He glanced up from his laptop.
“Hmm?”
“I took the kids for a walk and we found a bunch of old tombstones.”
“Well, that’s hardly strange. Lots of families had burial plots on their land in the old days.” He gazed back at the screen.
“Stop.” She reached over and flipped the computer closed. “I’m a little freaked out here. Would you just listen for a minute? You got home late and now you’re still working and I need you to focus on me for like five minutes. Can I get a few moments here?”
“I’m sorry.” Nick reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I realize it’s tough on you being out here all alone and I’m working some really long hours. The current situation shouldn’t last forever, maybe a few more weeks while I get the office set up. Promise.”
Marla sighed. “It’s fine. Lisa comes everyday so I can work; I’ll survive. I just, I don’t even understand why I’m still thinking about this. But these old gravestones were ‘hidden’ as Tommy said. And they were all children, and all from the same years. The oldest ones were written in German.”
“That’s kind of cool.”
“Might have been if I hadn’t been standing amidst the graves of children. I found it … I don’t know … eerie.”
“I can see that. But they probably had an outbreak of disease or something. Bouts of cholera or influenza used to wipe out whole towns.”
“Only the children?”
“Polio or Measles would have taken the children back then.”
Marla shrugged. “I guess so. Still creeps me out. Maybe I’ll go into Hubble, check the town records tomorrow.”
“Can I go back to working now?’
“Ugh!” Marla slapped him playfully. “Yes, please do.” She snuggled down into the covers with her back to Nick. His words made sense but unease still knotted her stomach.



BIO:
Stacey Turner lives in West Central Illinois.  Three wonderful, adult children call her “Mom,” and two beautiful little boys call her “Mimi” (Grandma). She is owned by cats. She spends her days writing and editing, but still finds time to review books & interview authors, as well as blog about her absolutely ridiculous family and other adventures.  You can find her Author blog at www.staceyturner-authorspot.blogspot.com or follow her on twitter: @Spot_Speaks or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStaceyTurner. Her Amazon Author page is found at: http://www.amazon.com/Stacey-Turner/e/B006FKXH6I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_7?qid=1423092989&sr=8-7
To contact her about editing, you can email her at princess.spot@gmail.com.
She enjoys editing because she’s bossy. And also because she revels in helping an author polish their work. She has edited several anthologies, including the upcoming No Place like Home: Tales from a Fractured Future and the more recent Fairly Wicked Tales, as well as many novels & novellas for a variety of authors.
She has been published in several anthologies and online magazines. When not working, she enjoys photographing cemeteries, playing “what if,” and discussing the imminent zombie apocalypse. She does not enjoy scarecrows, creepy dolls, birds (of any sort), snakes, clowns, or garden gnomes.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: Allison M. Dickson



Today we have Allison M. Dickson and she joins us to talk about her story in the incredible Grimm Mistresses anthology. This story was amazing and I was hooked at the very beginning!

1. What inspired your story?
When I was invited to join this anthology, I wanted to do a story inspired by Hansel & Gretel, because it’s already a bit of a horror story, and it always scared me when I heard it as a kid. Except I wanted to take the concept to a really weird and abstract level.
2. As a woman in horror, do you find any added pressure?
Sometimes. Occasionally, I’ll receive reviews from people who are either disturbed by what I write because I’m a woman (apparently think I should be writing “softer” things), or they’re pleasantly surprised a woman would write such dark stuff (because I guess women only write “softer” things). And that’s provided they even give my stuff a chance due to whatever preconceived notions they might have about a writer’s gender. That being said, I’m seeing this old bias starting to evaporate, and I don’t let it get me down. I proudly stamp my name on everything I write, and I think the more women put themselves out there, the better things will become for women in speculative genres.
3. Name three things on your desk right now.
My cat. My Sigmund Freud action figure. A pile of books.
4. What are some writers that have influenced your work?
Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Robert Heinlein, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, Joe Hill, Kelly Braffet
5. Tell us what your future plans are? Any novels in the works?
I just finished revisions on a dark suspense novel currently with my agent, and it’s about to go on submission. Fingers crossed! I also have the next volume in my sci-fi pulp Colt Coltrane series coming out on March 17th. COLT COLTRANE AND THE STOLEN SKY. I have so much fun working on this series, and I urge anyone who likes robots mixed in with their noir detective stories to give it a shot.
6. If I were your favorite dessert what would I be?
I was trying to decide between cheesecake and key lime pie, but then I thought why not a key lime cheesecake?!
7. What would you tell writers new to the horror genre?
It’s more than just shocking blood and guts. It’s character. It’s atmosphere. It’s digging deep and finding there is always more than one conflict at work. People who try to write horror and fill it with cheap thrills are really not getting at the heart of what truly scares people.
8. Plotter or pantster?
A little bit of both. I will often write the first act with little more than a general concept in mind, but once I start getting deeper, that’s when I start plotting out the rest of the story so I can make sure I get to the end in one piece. It’s hard to pants something all the way through.




Bio:
Allison M. Dickson is the author of two published novels: horror-thriller STRINGS, and the dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, which received a starred review in Publishers weekly. She also has published nearly two dozen short stories covering speculative and realistic realms, both independently and in various anthologies and magazines like Apex. Her independently-produced Colt Coltrane series, featuring a detective and his robot sidekick in 1940s Los Angeles, has become a regular fixture at local comic conventions. When she isn't writing, she's usually hanging with her family, gaming, or wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH, in search of great coffee and microbrew.

Links:

Excerpt from “Nectar”

I follow her sweet scent into her apartment on the west side, feeling like a dog being enticed by fresh meat. My tongue is swimming in a river of saliva. I wonder if her skin feels as soft as it looks, and how energetic and flexible she must be with few miles on her sturdy chassis. Crude images pile up in my head like a train wreck, and I wonder what else might have been in all the scotch I drank.
The inside of her place is dark, and like most apartments on this side of town, roughly the size of a walk-in closet. In addition to the cotton candy, I smell baking cookies, caramelized vanilla, earthy ginger, rich chocolate. It reminds me of the Christmases spent at my grandmother’s house growing up, and all the delicious sweets she produced, seemingly out of thin air like a confectionary sorceress. When she died, she passed down an ancient tome of recipes she and other family members had devised and collected over the years, and eventually the book made it to me. Then Heather got her mitts on it, and I never saw it again. I realized such a thing was not so much a family heirloom as it was a possession of the woman of the house. As far as I know, it’s somewhere out in California, and the idea that I’ll never get to enjoy another recipe from my grandmother’s collection fills me with an immeasurable sadness not even the promise of wild sex with a gorgeous woman half my age can completely ease.
She turns on a lamp and my eyes immediately land on a mural taking up almost the entirety of a living room wall. It’s a wooded scene, striking in its dimension and fecundity. The detail is almost photorealistic. I can see the ribs and veins on all the leaves, infinite shades of green with splashes of reds and pinks and yellows from flower blossoms unlike any I’ve ever seen. But I can even see a fine mist of dew on their petals, highlighted in painstaking detail.
The plants even look like they’re swaying gently in a breeze. A breeze I can feel on my forehead. It’s probably coming from the ceiling fan over my head, but when I look up, I see no fan.
A window must be open somewhere. It has to be, because I’m hearing crickets, an uncommon feature in a Manhattan apartment. Maybe she has one of those ambient sound machines. Forest sounds, bladder-stimulating burbling brooks.
“What an interesting painting,” I say, because I have to say something. Spoken words cut through the unreality a little.
She looks at it for a moment and she smiles, but she comes off looking a little sad. “It’s home to me.”
“You lived in a jungle? Were you raised by tigers?” I’m feeling a little goofy. Definitely the scotch kicking in, but my other senses are going completely haywire. Beneath the sugary cotton candy and cookie smells is something undeniably green and earthy. Damp peat. It reminds me of when Heather and I vacationed in Panama many years ago.
“Oh, you’ll get to hear all about my family soon enough. But right now, I think we have more important matters at hand.” She pushes me gently down onto the couch and straddles me, her skirt riding high enough so I can see the black lace edges of her panties. An hour ago, I was looking for any excuse to bail on this date. A voice, now muffled by my mounting arousal, still insists on it, but I like the comfortable weight of her, and it’s been years since I’ve let myself feel any kind of simple, uninhibited human attraction, even in its basest form. So many dates cut short at the door of a taxi over some perceived flaw I insisted I couldn’t ignore. Her politics were wrong, her religion too heavy, her kids too young, her voice reminiscent of an un-oiled hinge. My fault for not being ready to risk breaking what little of myself I have left.

But none of those concerns are hovering nearby now as I pull her closer, desperate to taste the invisible sweetness on her skin, certain she’ll melt beneath me like spun sugar.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: Mercedes M. Yardley


Today we have with us one of my absolute favorite horror writers of all time. Her lyrical prose wraps you in gossamer then slams your head against the side of a brick. It's beautiful. It's poetic...sigh.

Her story "Little Dead Red" was a masterful look into the fairy tale of Red Riding Hood and also very unique.



1.      What inspired your story?

MMY: We were asked to update a story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I’ve always been interested in Little Red Riding Hood, but it’s been done so many times. Sexy Red Riding Hood. The dangerous, seductive wolf. A sweet little girl protected by the wolf. All of these different takes are fascinating but have been done before. So how do I write something unique that still keeps my interest as a writer?

I thought deeply about the story, and realized that it isn’t a story about a young girl traipsing through the woods. It’s a tale about a mother who sends her child directly into the claws of a wolf. If Mother had taken the basket herself, Little Red would be just fine. So that’s the route I took, a mother’s anguish, when I wrote Little Dead Red.

2.      As a woman in horror, do you find any added pressure?

MMY: Sometimes. Sometimes it feels like people are watching to see if you fail. On the other hand, there are so many people cheering you on. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what others think, really. You just write the best story you can and be true to who you are as an author.

3.      Name three things on your desk right now.

MMY: I have an adorable Maleficent doll, a glass of Coke Zero, and a voodoo doll. I’ll throw in an extra and say that I have a gothic Little Red Riding Hood doll on there, too. Wow. I have a thing for dark little dolls, I guess.

4.      What are some writers that have influenced your work.
MMY: I’m influenced a bit by Roald Dahl, Joyce Carol Oates, and Erma Bombeck.  Shake them all up, add glitter, and my work pours out.

5.      Tell us what your future plans are? Any novels in the works?
MMY: Absolutely! I’m currently finishing up another novella. As soon as I’m finished with that, I’m diving into the second Bone Angel Trilogy book. It’s titled Heartless: Carnival of Isolation. Then I have a standalone novel I’m dreaming of working on, temporarily titled The Kitchen Witch. After that, it’s the third Bone Angel Trilogy book. All of this is interspersed with short stories and the like. I’m happily busy.

6.      If I were your favorite dessert what would I be?

MMY: You, Madam, would most likely be Burnt Almond Fudge ice cream spooned onto a Chips Ahoy cookie. Aren’t you delicious!

7.      What would you tell writers new to the horror genre?

MMY: Horror is so much fun! It should be taken seriously, but not too seriously. It’s a big, beautiful playground.  Explore it and enjoy doing so.

8.      Plotter or pantster?

MMY: I’m an extreme pantser.  Doing a trilogy was different for me because I had to do some plotting, and that broke my brain a little bit. But I love to dive deep into my WIP and swim around without having an ultimate destination. There’s so much freedom that way.





Little Dead Red Excerpt



The second she saw the policeman, the look in his dark eyes, her hand flew to her mouth.

“Ma’am, we believe we found your daughter.”

Two months had passed. Two months of looking out the window and doors and standing on the

front porch in the wind and rain and sunshine, just in case Aimee forgot what home looked like. If her

little girl happened to wander by, confused, looking at houses and porches and trying to remember

which apartment had been hers, why, there would be her mother! To love and hold and greet her. To

smooth her hair back from her eyes and promise she’d love her always, no matter what had happened,

no matter what she had been forced to do.

But the eyes of this man, of the way he held her gaze far too carefully while his partner couldn’t

manage to hold her gaze at all, told her she had no need to stand in that doorway ever again.

Her fingers fluttered on the ground, useless.

Broken butterflies.

Shredded sparrows.

“Ma’am,” the first officer said again, and his voice was so kindly that it hurt her. Be cruel to her.

Yell and scream at her for losing her child. Tell her all of the things she told herself every day,

but please don’t be kind. Nobody can stand up to that kind of thing.




Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantastic who wears red lipstick and poisonous flowers in her hair. She writes short stories, novellas, and novels. Her latest release is Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, from Ragnarok Publications. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at www.mercedesyardley.com.



Twitter: @mercedesmy
Facebook: Mercedes M. Yardley (author page)
Mercedes Murdock Yardley (personal)
Author's Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-M.-Yardley/e/B006B9MFA2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1423115301&sr=8-2

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dreamwalker Blog Tour and Giveaway


Dreamwalker is the sixth novel that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria!
Dreamwalker Synopsis
Two realities. One hope.
What if you lived in two worlds, and could die in either?  Pete Holm can. He is a dreamwalker, able to travel to the realm of dreams, including the devastated world of Twin Moon City, where an evil voodoo spirit holds living souls in terror with his army of the walking dead.
In the waking world, drug lord Jean St. Croix knows only the power of the dreamwalker can stop him, so St. Croix vows Pete must die.
Pete is the only hope to rescue the lost souls in Twin Moon City…unless St. Croix kills him first. Can anyone survive when two realities collide? 



Purchase Links
GoodReads:
Amazon:
Samhain Horror:
Barnes and Noble:
Giveaways
1)      Open reviewer giveaway: Anyone who reviews Dreamwalker on Amazon and one other site like GoodReads, etc. and sends Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, their links to hookofabook@hotmail.com will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card. This contest ends on Feb. 28, 2015.

2)      Rafflecoper giveaway for two copies of Russell’s previous books. Two winners will each win one of two books, Black Magic and Dark Inspiration. US only, no international shipping. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Direct Link:

Review:

This novel hooked me from the get go. You can't get better than Russell James for setting up an action packed story that will have you up way past your bed time. What would you do if every time you fell asleep you traveled into the realm of dreams with the very real threat of dying in either one. Very scary and intense and I couldn't stop reading. This voice of the book, characters and plot all were stunning. Top notch read!

5/5

Praise for Russell R. James
“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”
—Library Journal on Black Magic
(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”
—Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration
“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you're a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”
—Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration


Russell R. James, Biography
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.
After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, Q Island, releases in 2015.
His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you."
Visit his website at www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.
He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.

To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at 
rrj@russellrjames.com.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 13, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: S. R. Cambridge


Today we have the second of our Grimm Mistresses series of posts. Please welcome S. R. Cambridge as we delve into the tricky task of making deals with the devil and shape shifters.

1. What inspired your story?
My Grimm Mistresses story, “The Leopard’s Pelt,” is based on one of the lesser-known fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, “Bearskin.” The original tale is fairly dark. The short version of “Bearskin” is that a young man, usually a soldier, encounters the devil and makes a bargain with him. The young man agrees to wear a bear’s pelt and never wash or groom himself for seven years, and if he makes it through, he’ll have riches unimaginable. The bear’s pelt gives out unlimited money. But if he fails or dies during the seven years, the devil will get his soul. (I think the devil really could have made it simpler, honestly.)

Partway through the seven years, by which time the young man is fairly gross, the young man meets a gentleman (an innkeeper or a farmer) and helps him out, and in return, the gentleman tells the young man he will give him one of his three daughters for a bride. The oldest daughters spurn him because’s he’s terrifying and disgusting, but the youngest agrees to marry him and he gives her half a ring.

When his deal with the devil is complete, the young man gets cleaned up and returns to his bride as a rich young gentleman. She doesn’t know him at first, and her sisters get dressed up, since they’re excited about this new prospect. The little sister then recognizes him by his ring. When the older sisters see him and realize what they gave up, they kill themselves out of rage and envy. The devil is pleased at this turn of events, for he’s received two souls for the price of one.

My story doesn’t have men bartering off their daughters or sisters so foolish as to commit suicide over not snagging a man, but I’ve tried to be faithful to the general plot and tone of the original fairy tale. In my story, the young man is a poor sailor lost during World War II, and it’s meant to be a bit vague whether his deal with the devil is real, or a result of PTSD (which was an unnamed and poorly understood thing at that time). The young bride is a bookish student, and the older sisters hopefully aren’t so shallow, but nonetheless might, in the end, find their souls in peril.

2. As a woman in horror, do you find any added pressure?
Not yet! I’d like to believe that gender is mattering less, though I suppose we’re not totally there.

3. Name three things on your desk right now.
A stack of unopened mail, a dying orchid (I’m a notorious plant-murderer) and a fat, happy cat.

4. Who are some writers that have influenced your work?
It’s hard to pick one, because I read very widely, and I think I’m influenced a tiny bit by everything I read. My favourite author of all time is Margaret Atwood. She is just a stone-cold boss, and her writing is so wonderful. In the context of fairy tales, I love Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, which is a collection of beautiful shorts inspired by fairy tales: just as dark as the originals, but rather more focused on the female characters, and their agency.

5. Tell us what your future plans are? Any novels in the works?
I always have stuff on the go and I’m hoping to publish more in 2015. I have another story coming out in another anthology, Ragnarok Publications’ Blackguards, a bit later this year. It’s called “The Betyár and the Magus” and it’s set in an alternate, 19-century Hungary.

6. If I were your favorite dessert what would I be?
A butter tart. Butter tarts are a Canadian thing. Basically, they’re baked tarts filled with butter, sugar, egg and syrup. They are terrible for you, and they are glorious.

7. What would  you tell writers new to the horror genre?
I’m no veteran, so all I can say is keep writing. It’s like any other skill, in that the doing is what makes you better and better at it. Sometimes I’ll look at things I wrote a long time ago and think, Well, that’s a load of hot garbage, but you learn from writing bad things, and nothing is completely unsalveagable.

8. Plotter or pantster?
Plotter. I’m hopelessly nerdy that way, and I do research quite a bit, especially when writing something set in the past. Without the Internet, in particular Wikipedia, I’d be lost. I can’t deal with having anachronisms!




Excerpt:
And one morning at the pond, as he knelt down to fill his canteen like he always did, his joints popping like an old man’s, his head bent toward the water, he was suffused with the sense that he was no longer alone.
Henry looked up, and she was there. A leopard, skinny but sinuous, built for violence. Her golden eyes fixed on him. He froze. He had not heard the trees rustling at the leopard’s approach, or her paws squelching on the muddy ground, but yet here she was, as though she had appeared from nowhere.
Henry knew, right away, that the leopard was a she. He knew, too, that she was what had been watching him, what had fed on that skeleton until every scrap of meat on it was gone. He expected her eyes to be filled with feral cruelty, but instead they were calm and knowing. The leopard bent to the pond, her long pink tongue lapping up the water.
“You don’t mean to eat me?” Henry asked. He had not spoken aloud for so long, and he shuddered at the sound of himself: so different, growly and rusty. Don’t be slow, he thought. She can’t understand you.
            But the leopard peered up at him. Her tail swished back and forth as though she were pondering his question. She stepped forward, and Henry’s hand went to his knife. It was a short-bladed thing, more suited for spearing bits of food than sparring with big cats, but it was better than nothing. He held it out at her, his hand shaking.
            The leopard gazed at the knife, unblinking, and then Henry heard, You show me your weapon, yet it is you who have come here, and eaten from my trees, and slaked your thirst with my water, and made your bed upon my sand.
            It wasn’t that the leopard had spoken. It was that Henry heard a voice, her voice, in his head, like a thought that wasn’t his own but had wormed its way into his brain nonetheless. The leopard had a sweet, knowledgeable voice, not unlike Miss Baker’s voice when she got to a good part in a story. “I’m hallucinating,” Henry croaked. This is it, Lowery. You’ve lost it.
            The leopard was still, but, again, Henry heard, You have come here, and eaten from my trees, and slaked your thirst with my water, and made your bed upon my sand.
            “I didn’t come here on purpose,” Henry whispered. Oh, his head hurt, as though someone had taken a bat to his skull. He couldn’t think. “If you’re going to eat me, sweetheart, don’t give me a speech first.”
            You would taste of death. The leopard licked her paw, flicking her tongue around her claws. She did not move her eyes from his. The other tasted of death. All of you taste of death.



BIO: S.R. Cambridge is a lawyer and writer living in Toronto, Ontario. Apart from her fiction, her biggest claim to fame is losing on Jeopardy! You can also read her work in Ragnarok Publications' anthology Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries and Roguesand follow her on Twitter (twitter.com/SRCambridge).



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grimm Mistresses: C.W. LaSart


Greetings and welcome to the first of a series of posts to introduce some of today's most splendid female horror writers. The new anthology Grimm Mistresses will soon be out and you are going to want to snag yourself a copy of this amazing book. First up is the amazing C.W. Lasart...

1.   1.What inspired your story?  A friend of mine asked me to do a story that involved the killing of cheerleaders. She’s always pressing me to battle clichés and give them my spin. I got to thinking about hazing, and how brutal it can be, even amongst cheerleading squads and I’d always wanted to do a twist on Cinderella, one where she wasn’t the victim, but maybe a bit of a monster herself.

2. As a woman in horror, do you find any added pressure? I don’t know if there’s any added pressure from the outside, but I certainly put some on myself. I don’t want to give the impression I’m trying too hard. I was once on a panel about Extreme Horror where I was the only female. My first impulse was to dress severely, to keep a professional look that would fit in with the guys. After much thought though, I decided to wear a floral skirt, pale pink blouse, and put my hair up in a very high ponytail. It went over very well. Instead of trying to camouflage the fact that I was the only female on the panel, I flaunted it. Life is too short to care about gender.

3. Name three things on your desk right now. A can of coke, a voodoo doll, and about five million pens.

4. Who are some writers that have influenced your work? I love to read. I love books of all kinds. I think every book I read influences me in some way, whether it helps me see what I want to be, or what I don’t. My biggest influences would definitely be Robert McCammon, Stephen King and Bentley Little. Love those guys!

5. Tell us what your future plans are? Any novels in the works? Ha. I hate this question. I’ve been quite the slacker lately, but I do have more than one novel in the first draft stage. Other than that, it’s mostly just short stories for now. I know the pressure is on to release that First Novel, especially since three years have passed since I released my collection, but I want it to be the right one. You only get one first, I won’t rush just to get something out there. I want it to be brilliant.

6. If I were your favorite dessert what would I be? I can only pick one? Cheesecake. Definitely cheesecake. With chocolate.

7. What would you tell writers new to the horror genre? Pick a different genre! No, I kid… Mostly. Horror is a small genre and very difficult to earn respect in (forget money). I often wish I wrote paranormal romance instead. That stuff SELLS. But I love horror, and it’s what I write. I guess I would tell them to keep writing, but don’t expect to make a living at it. Too few are so fortunate. Make sure you get paid to write, don’t give it away, but don’t quit your day job either.


8. Plotter or pantster? Pantster. 100% The closest I have ever gotten to plotting is writing a scribbled note on a napkin. If I write too many notes, the drive to write the story is satisfied and it never gets written.



Now an excerpt:

From Hazing Cinderella
As the last of the light left the sky, the woods came alive again with the sounds of night creatures. Katie hugged her arms to her chest, wishing she had a jacket and a flashlight. Hell, she wished she was back home in her room, or locked in the bathroom the girls shared, soaking in a warm tub and reading a book. Jamie could have the damned cheerleading squad to herself; Katie had never wanted any part of it. She wished they were back in South Carolina, where her mother had met Don while waiting tables at local Pub, or in New Jersey, where Katie herself had been waitressing in greasy diner. Or even in New Orleans where they’d slept in a one room shack and wondered where there next meal would come from. Anywhere would be better than sitting alone in the dark woods, waiting for Jaimie to deliver the punchline to her great big joke.

Something large moved in the forest to her left, nothing but a shadow in her peripheral vision. Trying to ignore it, Katie slid off her perch and turned so she kneeled before the rocks. Leaning forward with her hands before her, she began to pray.

A lifelong fan of all things horror, C.W. LaSart resides in Watertown, South Dakota with her family and a menagerie of rescue pets. Her stories have been published by Cemetery Dance Publications, Dark Moon Digest, Eirelander Press and many others. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association and also a member of the Bram Stoker Awards® Committee. For more information on her writing, go to CWLasart.com or drop her a line at C.W.LaSart@hotmail.com.