Special Holiday Season Promotion and 2016 recap

Hi all - well, what a year huh? I can't say that 2016 was a particularly good year on a global scale, as I'm sure most of you would agree. In fact the mounting evidence that the West is in a state of decline seems to be more evident now than ever before with world events taking some sad and bizarre twists. Despite all the doom and gloom and the changing face of international politics and global relationships, 2016 was, if not anything else, scarily interesting to say the least. The silver lining is that events certainly provided lots of fodder for potential stories. 

My own year has been very busy, with the re-release of a few titles and the inclusion of a few stories in various anthologies. As a result of expired contracts and rights reversion, I am nearly pure 'indie' with most of my books now finding a home under my publishing imprint, King Billy Publications. 

https://kingbillypublications.wordpress.com/
Book sales have been steady and, all going well, I should be on track to be able make a full-time living as an author in 2018 - thanks largely to you, dear reader. Next year will see the arrival of lots of new titles including a range of children's books that I have been working on with my talented 8-year-old daughter, Sienna. I am very excited about entering this market as it has always been a goal of mine to write books that appeal to kids, much as the books I read when I was of a similar age appealed to me. Such a magical reading age.

Anyway, the silly season is upon us and I have priced ALL my kindle titles to a low price of $0.99. Hopefully there is something there that you haven't read. Maybe you'd like to consider buying a paperback copy of one of my titles for someone this Christmas? If so, my top pick would have to be Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror - with over 450 pages of solid horror from established masters and rising stars of the horror genre. All my paperback titles are also priced at the minimum over the holiday period. Just click on the book cover images below to go to the Amazon page to purchase.

https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fear-Anthology-Macabre-Horror/dp/153486427X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Free Fiction! Dead Memories - a short story

https://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/halloween-horror-free-read-2016-best-horror-stories-on-the-internet/

This story recently won 'Runner-Up' in the Parlor of Horror's 2016 short fiction awards and is also part of my collection 'Dreams of Thanatos' - now available to all new subscribers for free - click on the image at the end of this post to download your copy.

Dead Memories

1.

I had a dream on the anniversary of her death. In the dream, I heard her unmistakable voice calling me, then I saw her and she was so real, I could almost touch her again. Everything about her hit me deep in the chest, I sat bolt upright in our big empty bed. My breath gasped, sweat beaded itself on my cold skin. I could still hear her voice in the dark. I rationalized there were only two possible reasons why I could hear such a thing. I was either hallucinating, or what I heard was her ghost whispering in my ear. Then she was gone again.

Guest Author Interview: Mort Castle




Mort Castle is a veteran of American genre-fiction. Mr Castle is a respected horror author, editor and writing teacher, a prolific short fiction author and a novelist. Among other awards that he has won he is a three-time winner of (and nominated eleven times for) the Bram Stoker Award. Today I present to you a great interview with Mr Castle and it is truly an honour as a fan – my favorite works of his are the collection ‘Moon on the Water’ and his novel ‘The Strangers.’ As his bibliography testifies I have a lot of reading of Mr Castle’s work still in front of me (rubs hands with glee). Please make sure to check out his books and grab some copies off Amazon - you won't be disappointed if you are new to Mr Castle's work (just click on the book cover images below). Here is he, the horror maestro himself, Mr Mort Castle:

Q: How have you managed to maintain your literary career for as long as you have? Do you have any tips for other writers starting off on their careers in terms of long-term strategies to maintain a career as an author?

A: Oh, man, it's perseverance. You don't give up, period. There were some very bleak times, times of serious "career reversals," when I wished I could just pack it in. Was supposed to be editor of Horror, The Illustrated Book of Fears, which would be the country's largest circulation B&W comics horror magazine; that fell through at the last minute when the distributor reneged, saying he had had a moral revelation and was convinced the magazine would encourage mental illness and criminal behavior. Had movies come close and never happen. Book contracts blow up at last minute. Markets disappearing (go take a look at today's convenience stores for the behind the counter men's magazines that used to pay my mortgage!)

Guest Author Interview: Brian Evenson


Today it is my distinct pleasure to bring you this recent interview I did with the talented author, Brian Evenson. I recently read his early collection Fugue State and thought it a fantastic book. Here’s my review, which doesn’t really do it justice – I encourage you to read this and any of Brian’s other superb books (click on the book cover images below to be taken direct to the Amazon book page):

“Brian Evenson's Fugue State is a very surrealistic, slip-stream kind of collection soaked with dark themes and nightmarish allegories that make the reader think! A bit of a rarity these days. I especially liked the way the stories encouraged a second reading. Stand-outs for me were 'In the Greenhouse', 'Life Without Father', 'Fugue State' and 'The Adjudicator.' Will definitely be reading more from this fine author.”

https://www.amazon.com/Fugue-State-Brian-Evenson/dp/1566892252/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Without further ado, here is my interview with Brian.


BRIAN EVENSON is the author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection A Collapse of Horses (Coffee House Press, 2016) and the novella The Warren (Tor.com, 2016). His collection Windeye (Coffee House Press 2012) and novel Immobility (Tor 2012) were both finalists for a Shirley Jackson Award. His novel Last Days won the American Library Association's award for Best Horror Novel of 2009. The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press, 2006) was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an International Horror Guild Award. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection), Dark Property, and Altmann's Tongue.  He is the recipient of three O. Henry Prizes as well as an NEA fellowship. His work has been translated into French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Slovenian. He lives and works in California, and teaches at CalArts.


Q: You have recently been in Transylvania teaching at the Horror Writer’s Workshop, did you get an opportunity to explore the countryside and were you inspired by your experience?

A: We did.  The Horror Writer’s Workshop was held just outside of the town that houses Bran Castle, the basis for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, so I spent some time there, also explored some of the nearby towns and medieval villages and fortresses, places like Sighisoara and Brasov, took my son to a decaying Communist playground complete with scary cartoon figures, passed through a gypsy village in which on a Sunday morning everyone was carrying a broom, spent time in the forest, etc.  It’s an amazing place, and it reminded me a lot of what parts of Europe used to be like 30 or 35 years ago, back when I visited as a kid.  I do think I got a lot out of it and that it’ll figure in my writing in various ways.

News and special discounted books promotion

Hi Folks

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts lately - some of you may know that I recently began my Masters in English Lit. program and it is proving to be the inevitable time-guzzler that I thought it would be! So, less fiction, more academic writing . . . Grrrrrr. Despite the time consuming factor, I am learning a lot as I go and it's valuable information which will hopefully benefit my writing. The topic of my thesis is: American Postmodern Serial Killer Fiction, and I'm analyzing the following select works - Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me, James Ellroy’s Killer on the Road, Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, Poppy Z. Brite’s Exquisite Corpse and Joyce Carol Oates’s Zombie. Here's a slice of the intro - as you will notice, the style is not my usual pared-down prose. Bear in mind that this is the first draft, but you get the idea:

"The vast body of published texts, which constitute the genre of serial killer fiction, reveal common narrative technique and tropes that signal a prevalence of clichéd formulaic novels representing the majority of works within this genre. However, amongst this stylistic and thematic majority, works exist that extend the boundaries of serial killer fiction through the import of different genre concerns and attributes. This thesis considers the impact and importance of these works and how they have influenced the stylistic and thematic direction of the genre as a whole. Focussing on twentieth century American post-war serial killer fiction, this study examines select works to exemplify aspects of the narratives that directly, or indirectly, transform, challenge and critique the genre conventions in which they are written. Of primary concern is the charting of the trajectory of the genre as a postmodern phenomenon, the evolution and expansion of the genre in terms of its popularity with the reading public in line with the growth of media interest in factual representations of serial killers, and the growing interest in the genre and its possibilities by those authors who usually write outside of it."

Right, now my excuse is out of the way we can get down to the good stuff. I have recently discounted a few of my titles so I thought I'd share it with you here before the price goes up again. Here are the bargains:



Discounted to only $0.99 for a limited time - grab your copy now! (U.S & U.K. links below) - Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales. (250 pgs)

Supernatural demons, murderers and ghosts roam these pages although the most horrifying aspect Cook describes, is the dark soul of humanity. Whether writing about the psychological horrors of modern life, or things that go ‘bump in the night,’ Cook’s writing is always “intense” and often “visceral” in his portrayal of the macabre. Included in this collection of fifteen stories is a novelette (Dead and Buried) and the origin story (Legacy: The Eternal Now and Thereafter) behind the novel, Blood Related.

Recommended for adult readers only. Contains scenes of psychological and supernatural horror


This book is also available FREE to all new subscribers of this website - if you are not already subscribed, why not grab a free copy here instead?

The second discounted title is the popular collection I edited, Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror. I have reduced the price and the kindle version is $2.99 for a limited time. 


https://www.amazon.com/Fresh-Fear-Anthology-Macabre-Horror-ebook/dp/B01HYASBBI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8#nav-subnav

New Release: Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror - available now!


It is with great pleasure that I can finally announce the release of Fresh Fear: An Anthology of Macabre Horror (2nd edition). This new edition has a new lay-out, formatting and a cover featuring the amazing photography of renowned French photographer, Louis Blanc (http://loublancphotos.com/). Formatting and interior work done by the talented Cyrus Wraith Walker from Cyrusfiction Productions.

FRESH FEAR: An Anthology of Macabre Horror* is a collection of horror from some of the genre's best writers of dark fiction. In the introduction, a selection from W.J. Renehan's The Art of Darkness: Meditations on the Effect of Horror Fiction, we are reminded that, "Horror serves to reconnect us with our primal selves, provides temporary respite from the droning conditions of modern life."

With over 450 pages, Fresh Fear is packed with stories written by both masters and up-and-coming maestros of the horror genre. Tales steeped in psychological horror sit alongside visions of strange worlds and fantastical landscapes drenched in blood. 'Quiet horror' sits comfortably next to more visceral portrayals of the monsters that lurk deep within the human heart. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, famously once said, "where there is no imagination there is no horror" - the horror expressed by the authors in Fresh Fear show that imagination is indeed tantamount to excellent story-telling.

Prepare yourself for 28 tales of fear-inducing horror from some of today's best authors of dark fiction.


Authors/Stories 

Scathe meic Beorh – God of the Wind 

Robert Dunbar – High Rise 

Ramsey Campbell – Welcomeland 

Lily Childs – Strange Tastes 

Lincoln Crisler – Nouri and the Beetles 

Jack Dann – Camps 

Thomas Erb – Spencer Weaver Gets Rebooted 

Brandon Ford – Scare Me 

Carole Gill – Raised 

Lindsey Beth Goddard – The Tooth Collector 

JF Gonzalez – Love Hurts 

Dane Hatchell – ‘takers 

Charlee Jacob – Inside the Buzzword Box 

K Trap Jones – Demon Eyed Blind 

Tim Jones – Protein 

James Ward Kirk – Block 

Roy C Booth & Axel Kohagen – Just Another Ex 

Shane McKenzie – So Much Death 

Shaun Meeks – Perfection Through Silence 

Adam Millard – The Incongruous Mr Marwick 

Christine Morgan – Nails of The Dead 

Billie Sue Mosiman – Verboten 

Chantal Noordeloos – The Door 

Don Noble – Psych 

WH Pugmire – Darkness Dancing in Your Eyes 

William Todd Rose – The Grave Dancer 

EA Irwin – Justice through Twelve Step 

Anna Taborska – Out of the Light 



*WARNING: R 18+ - Contains graphic scenes of violence and psychological horror. Not suitable for younger readers.



Grab your copy now - you will not be disappointed (please share this post). 


purchase at:




kindle and paperback

New Zealand Horror Fiction - Does It Exist?

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with fellow New Zealand author, Lee Murray. She asked questions - I responded, oh yes, that's right, it was an interview! And here it is (please make sure to check out Lee's great blog and subscribe). Thanks for reading.

Welcome William! Give us your personal definition of horror. How would you describe it: blood curdling spatter, or through the looking glass, darkly? 

I’m not sure my personal definition of horror is different than standard definitions, but here goes: Horror, in its many guises ‒ fiction, cinema, real events ‒ is a highly subjective phenomena directly related to the individual’s own interpretation of things that inspire fear in the imagination. Fear is the greatest component of horror as an experience. The fear of losing one’s life, the fear of someone close to you losing their life, the fear of a threat that borders on the incomprehensible . . . and so on. Horror is an experience that builds in the mind with the enormity of its potential effect on the individual. It is apprehension that builds terror in the imagination, to the point where madness threatens to eclipse the fear with the suffocating and sublime realization that our greatest fear is real and present. The imagination is a huge determining aspect of the scope of the horror experience; and an essential ingredient that must be considered when writing horror or portraying it [horror] cinematically. If the author cannot engage the reader’s imagination, to the point where the reader can visualize and emotionally trigger their own fears in response to what is in front of them, then the author cannot hope to instill fear and thereby ‘horror’ in their writing. As Arthur Conan Doyle suggested: “Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.”

https://www.amazon.com/William-Cook/e/B003PA513I

My view is that good, well-crafted, horror must create an emotional and intellectual response in the reader that both engages and entertains. It is not enough to bombard the reader with ‘gore for gore’s sake’ or gross depictions of violence without basis or necessity as part of the story – horror, must build to the point where it is inescapable, where the reader has not become desensitized to the point where at the intersection of plot, action and narrative, they feel nothing. It is in the apprehension and the emotional interplay of fear where the best horror lurks. It is a rare skill for an author to be able to build an experience of horror, which gains purchase via the reader’s subjective experience of fear; that triggers a deep intellectual response which, whilst frightening, also provides an element of resolution or satisfaction in the experience.

The confrontational aspect of horror fiction (and film) can either harm or heal depending on how it is done. For example, I distinctly remember, after reading Stephen King’s The Shining, the thrilling but exhaustive feeling that coursed through me as I put the book down for the last time. The story replayed in my mind and my heart beat rapidly as I marveled at the effect that the book had on me. Tied in with my emotional response was a sense of accomplishment: that I had got all the way to the end of this massive book, that I had confronted all the terrible ghosts that haunted the Overlook Hotel, that I had battled the demonic hedge-maze monsters and that I had survived the worst monster of all, the frightening and all-too-human monster, Jack Torrance. It wasn’t a quick read, it didn’t have an abundance of gore and gross-out violence, and the horror experience wasn’t completely realized until the final chapter where it seems as though everything has worked out well for Halloran, Wendy and Danny after the tragic death of Jack and the destruction of the hotel. There is that lingering sense that beneath the surface, beyond the brightness of those who ‘shine on’, the darkness threatens to return.

So, in light of my own personal opinions about horror, you have probably guessed by now that I prefer ‘quiet horror’, the kind that creeps up on you for maximum sublimity. I also like reading more visceral and extreme horror by authors like Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum, but I don’t get the same response to it as I do with more subtle and intricately crafted works like King’s The Shining, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, or Ghost Story by Peter Straub.

In many countries, genre fiction is considered the stepchild to mainstream literature, and horror even more so. Do you think this true of New Zealand? [And what can we do?]

Mention NZ Horror and most people would cite Peter Jackson as being its main proponent. Indeed, the history of NZ Horror is evident in a relatively short film history dating back to the late ‘70s, but not so in the history of our literature. Examples of works exhibiting various tropes and themes found in international mainstream horror fiction can be traced back through select works by some of NZ’s leading writers of their day. The likes of past (and present) NZ literary notables: Maurice Gee (Under the Mountain, and Firestarter), Ronald Hugh Morrieson (The Scarecrow), and Katherine Mansfield (The Daughters of the Late Colonel). All had elements of the horrific in their work, usually of the quasi-gothic variety with dark and ghostly romanticised scenes. Indeed, many of New Zealand’s leading fiction authors have been noted as having various ‘dark’ themes, a synchronicity shared with our cinematic productions. Much has been made of the Kiwi Gothic, but usually only in reference to film in this country:

The Kiwi Gothic constructs New Zealand not as a place of some pastoral idyll but rather as an environment where danger and horror lurk everywhere. The Antipodean gothic is generally considered to be an expression of the settler anxiety that derived from the confrontation with a hostile and alien environment, such as the native New Zealand bush. Unlike the European gothic, which often tells ghost stories set in old castles, the Kiwi version of the gothic often deals with alienation, family traumas and uncanny experiences in very familiar places.
The concept of Kiwi Gothic in NZ cinema can be quite easily aligned to our fiction.  The same characteristics and tropes are readily available in most contemporary NZ fiction. Unfortunately, the best and brightest of New Zealand authors of dark genre fiction have found more success overseas than here in our own country. I don’t even think that the literary elite of this country even consider horror to be a literary genre, let alone a part of the NZ literary canon and in some ways they would be correct. We don’t really have a firm tradition of stereo-typical horror fiction being written in this country (or at least being set here in NZ). I can’t recall ever reading or seeing a book written by a New Zealander about werewolves, zombies or vampires, roaming about our green countryside.

Interview with best-selling thriller author, Dan Padavona

Dan Padavona: The Business of Writing (Interview)   Welcome to Thriller author Dan Padavona!   You are going to love this...