Tag Archives: horror

14Aug/20

J Warren

August 14, 2020

It gives us great pleasure to welcome J. Warren back as the guest on Episode 281 – A Minor Character Named Sharkey!

J. Warren is a scholar, an author, a comic book reader, a lover of all things science fiction, a drinker of Belgian beers, and transgressive fiction fanatic.

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Books Mentioned in this Episode:

Bio:

J. Warren is a scholar, an author, a comic book reader, a lover of all things science fiction, a drinker of Belgian beers, and transgressive fiction fanatic.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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July 21, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to announce J. Warren as the guest on Episode 121: So That’s a Thing!

This week J. Warren joins us to discuss his latest novel, Remains, the allure of transgressive fiction, and the echoes of Greek myth in his horror.

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*** At one point in the interview, Joe said “The Lost Boys by Burroughs.” It should have been: “The Wild Boys by Burroughs.”
*** At another point, Baz said “Brian Fischer” while referencing Star Trek Discovery on CBS. It should have been: “Bryan Fuller.”
All three of us apologize for missing it before the audio went live! ***

Bio:

J. Warren is a scholar, an author, a comic book reader, a lover of all things science fiction, a drinker of Belgian beers, and transgressive fiction fanatic.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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Or right here:

22Jun/20

Borderland by F E Feeley Jr and Jamie Fessenden

F. E. Feeley Jr will be on WROTE to talk about Borderland later in the summer, so don’t miss it!

Okay, so on first reading the blurb, this book doesn’t sound like a whole barrel of laughs. Borderland is the story of a young married couple, but of the MC’s has a one-way ticket to the next realm, via a terminal cancer diagnosis. Their final journey to George’s home town is hindered by their car breaking down in a ferocious storm, just outside the gates of an old hotel, the Borderland. This hotel has all the elements of “don’t go there or you won’t come out,” but George and Jason have no choice. George is sick and needs looking after.

In less accomplished hands, this premise could turn into a horrible, excruciating mess, but the authors are none other than F E Feeley Jr (author of the majestic When Heaven Strikes and Hallelujah) and Jamie Fessenden, whose genres include the searing (Violated) and the cheeky (Bigfoot Hunters In Love.) That mix of spirituality, horror, gut-wrenching emotion and dark humour is just what a story like this needs. Cancer is a serious subject, and it is treated with respect., but it is married with a good dose of black comedy and genuine creeps.

After a slightly muddled start of their stay, George and Jason begin to twig that All Is Not As It Seems. There are some great visuals, from the pristine hotel turning to a cold dusty wreck and back again, to the guests being alive one moment and very dead the next. There is a hall of mirrors feel about the place, and a garden maze that never seems to end. The genteel owner of the hotel, Rebecca Thibault, is part-Mrs. Danvers/part-Mary Poppins, and Harry, the gardener, is a deceptively simple man who misses nothing. There are tiny dramas occurring amongst the staff, from the young couple who want to be together to the torrid three-way affair of a travelling theatre troupe. The way this story plays out is hideously sinister, with the two MC’s running down endless corridors filled with unearthly screams, being pursued by a demon whose goal is endless misery for guests past and present.

And yet… just read this.

It had been months, and now he needed this man—his lover, his husband—more than ever. He needed him to suspend time. Here in this moment, he wasn’t dying. Here in this moment, as they made love touched by the silver moonlight from the window, he was immortal.

It’s a tiny taste of which tells you all you need to know about the beauty of this book. The prose is beautiful, elegant, poignant and heartbreaking at times.

There are nods to the Eagles’ classic, Hotel California, and the plot also weaves in the Spanish Flu epidemic from 1920, together with colourful characters from the Jazz Age. It’s a glorious technicolour chase for the truth through a haunted house where the walls come alive and yawning pits will swallow the unwary. George and Jason are the unwitting witnesses to a drama which has been going on behind the fetid walls for decades, but their presence, their love and their sexuality is unnerving the inhabitants of the hotel and encouraging them to let go of the narratives they have held onto for a century.

I’ve never read a ghost story quite like this one before, but I’m so glad I took a chance on it. Despite the unlikely premise, the ending is curiously uplifting. Fessenden and Feeley make a formidable writing team and I hope they collaborate on another novel soon.

BLURB

They were young.
In the prime of life and recently married.
And then the diagnosis came.
Cancer.

George and Jason make arrangements to travel back to George’s home state of Vermont so he may pass away in the town where he grew up, but a terrible storm diverts the couple into the gates of an out-of-the-way hotel called Borderland.

Sure, the employees are well dressed and polite. Sure, the food and entertainment are old-time fare. But it’s all a schtick, right?

Or is there something far more sinister at work here?

Welcome to the Borderland Hotel, where you may check in, but you’ll never, ever leave.

12Jun/20

Jo Quenell

June 12, 2020

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Jo Quenell as the guest on Episode 272 – Transgressive Trashy Stuff!

Jo Quenell joins us for a fun look at their current release, The Mud Ballad, their current anthology, Bleak Friday, and a talk about various subgenres of horror.

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Books Mentioned in this Episode:

Bio:

Jo Quenell uses They/them and She/her pronouns. Their short fiction has been featured in Zombie Punks Fuck Off, Dark Moon Digest, Bleak Friday, When the Sirens Have Faded, and LAZERMALL. They are the author of THE MUD BALLAD.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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01May/20

Kim Fielding

May 1, 2020

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Kim Fielding as the guest on Episode 266 – Marry In A Cemetery!

Kim Fielding shares her current releases, The Bureau 2 and Hallelujah, and the necessity of quality research when writing about anything to do with the Criminal Justice System.

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Bio:

Kim Fielding has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full-time. She also dreams of having two perfectly-behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.
Kim donates 100% of the royalties from her self-published stories and audiobooks to Doctors Without Borders.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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December 27, 2019

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Kim Fielding, LA (Lori) Gallagher Witt & FE Feeley Jr as the guests on Episode 248 – 2019 Authors Roundtable!

LA (Lori) Witt, Kim Fielding, Frederick Feeley, Jr, and SA “Baz” Collins are herded by Vance Bastian as they reflect on their careers, struggles writers face, and what we look forward to in the future. A great discussion for rounding out the year!

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Bio:

Kim Fielding has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full-time. She also dreams of having two perfectly-behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others.
Kim donates 100% of the royalties from her self-published stories and audiobooks to Doctors Without Borders.

L.A. Witt and her husband have been exiled from Spain and sent to live in Maine because rhymes are fun. She now divides her time between writing, assuring people she is aware that Maine is cold, wondering where to put her next tattoo, and trying to reason with a surly Maine coon. Rumor has it her arch nemesis, Lauren Gallagher, is also somewhere in the wilds of New England, which is why L.A. is also spending a portion of her time training a team of special ops lobsters. Authors Ann Gallagher and Lori A. Witt have been asked to assist in lobster training, but they “have books to write” and “need to focus on our careers” and “don’t you think this rivalry has gotten a little out of hand?” They’re probably just helping Lauren raise her army of squirrels trained to ride moose into battle.

F.E.Feeley Jr is married to his wonderful husband, John. Freddie is an avid reader of Mysteries, Horror, and Suspense, and biographies. He’s also a gamer. His favorites include Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Star Trek Online, Skyrim, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout, and Civilization Five. He LOVES to cook and dives into trying new recipes. He’s an avid music junkie from POPular music to Opera, to Showtunes, Gospel, Rock, Rap, and Hip Hop.

SA “Baz” Collins hails from the San Francisco Bay Area where he lives with his husband, and a kitten named Taki. A classically trained singer/actor (under a different name), Baz knows a good yarn when he sees it.
Based on years of his work as an actor, Baz specializes in character study pieces. It is more important for him that the reader comes away with a greater understanding of the characters and the reasons they make the decisions they do, rather than the situations they are in. It is this deep dive into their manners, their experiences and how they process the world around them that make up the body of Mr. Collins’ work.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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17Jul/18

Magic or Die (Inner Demons 1) by J P Jackson

J. P. Jackson has recently been on our show to tell us about Magic or Die. To find links and support his work, check out Episode 169: Put Strange Things In Your Mouth

Nice bit of world building from J.P. Jackson, author of Daimonion, and a great addition to the horror/fantasy genres. This is his second novel and it shows, with a surer hand and confidence in the writing. It’s unfair to compare the two books because they are so different. Daimonion was a good, gory read, but with Magic Or Die, the self-assured plotting, scene-building and dialogue make for a book that is more accessible to people unused to the demon genre.

In a nutshell, we have James who has his own demons, namely guilt, grief and alcohol. The blurb describes him as an alcoholic, but I wouldn’t have gone that far. Yes, he uses drink to numb his pain, but he seems to function perfectly well once he has his five students on-side and they are fighting for survival. He only has a few months to get them under control and able to use their powers in a way convenient to a sinister organisation (CMRD – read blurb). If he fails, it’s curtains for all of them. I won’t say more because this is a review, not a synopsis, but you get the idea.

I love the way the author has made everything very clear. From the start, I knew what the modus was, and the problems James has to overcome in order to achieve it. I understood the difference between Arcanes and Elementals because all that information is right there, and so often in these genres it just isn’t. He manages this without patronising the newbie or alienating readers experienced in the genre. In short, it’s a bloody good, enjoyable read.

The students all had their own demons (surely an allegory for real life.) I was waiting for the poison pill, the one to screw things up for everyone else. There is a candidate, but I won’t spoil it. The real boo-hiss villain is Miriam, a cross between Cruella de Ville and that evil witch from The Emperor’s New Groove. Maybe she is a little too much of a caricature, but it’s a small point in a book of interesting characters and curious dilemmas, all set within the confines of a strange, maze-like building without any obvious means of escape. The students are a lively bunch, honey-toned Isaiah and his lascivious, blue-eyed demon, enraged Chris, unable to fully control his inner fire wolf, the anime-like Ning and ethereal Camila and Annabelle. All have spectacular skills which, if not harnessed, are a threat to civilisation. The atmosphere is eery, with beautiful descriptions as each display their power. The sexual tension between James and Isaiah is subtle rather than full-on. It was a fun, spooky, tense mix, with a good building of atmosphere and an exciting finale. A solid start to a promising series.

BLURB

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James is forced to return to the CMRD, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

 

29Jun/18

Blood-Bound (Ace Assassin Book 1) by Kaelan Rhywiol

Kaelan Rhywiol was on our show back in April To find out more about xyr and get links to xyr work, check out Episode 161: The Vale Between Worlds!

Blood-Bound is a haunting and Gothic vampire novel, the first part of the Ace Assassin series, yet can be read as a standalone novel. The story features a strong female lead who is described as grey-aromantic. I wouldn’t normally bang on about a character’s chosen gender or sexuality but it does form a major aspect of the book, and to understand the characters, you kind of have to get a handle on what their preferences are. In this book, the author is very clear from the start, so the main character’s relationships with their closest friends are not in any doubt. Xie has also included a comprehensive glossary at the back of the book, which proved invaluable when I was losing my way with some of the unfamiliar words and meanings, especially pertaining to Welsh folklore. (Welsh does seem a language where consonants are thrown up in the air and where they land, there forms a word….)

So the story revolves around Rhian, who resents being sent to Ontario as an ambassador as it brings her too close to her husband, who she believes betrayed her. Inevitably their paths cross, with messy and sticky circumstances. There are trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, referring to self-harm, violence and sexual violence, but actually, it all worked and didn’t feel gratuitous at all. At times it was a fetid, sometimes sexy, always lusciously described brew of the good, the bad and the ugly. I felt I was in safe hands with the author, despite an initial mis-step. There was an element of confusion to start with, as xie mentioned London, so I started out thinking the action was based in the UK. Rhian definitely speaks with a British accent, so this caused a mental switcheroo when I realised the book was based in Canada. It’s a small thing, but I didn’t need that element of doubt right at the start of the book. It threw me off for a while.

When I did find my stride again, there were two things I really liked about this novel. Despite the brooding atmosphere, there is a slash of humour which tells me it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s very subtle, a hint of a wry smile, but it’s there.

The other thing is the author’s mix of Welsh folklore and unabashed attempts to challenge the reader’s expectations of a character’s sexuality and gender. It was cleverly done and didn’t feel arch or “topic of the moment.” In a world of shape-shifters and vampires, it was a good introduction to the challenges of being a world-class human being.

And, of course, there are the lashings of sex and violence, which is always welcome (by me, anyway) set against a glamorous backdrop that I could picture perfectly. The cover, though, beautiful, almost suggests a book of sparkling vampires and teenage angst, but this is far from it. This is a very adult book, and a challenging, exciting read.

BLURB

Rhian is content in her life. As a pwca, a Welsh shapeshifter, she is bound to the Dark God Arawn as an assassin. So when he assigns her as ambassador to oversee Ontario for him, it’s a shock.

Her new job? To find out who murdered her predecessor and bring them to justice, as well as to oversee the otherkin and clean up their messes before the humans find them—all to preserve the illusion that magic and supernatural creatures do not exist.

The problem? One of the otherkin she’s supposed to oversee is her estranged husband, Kai, the only person Rhian never regretted having sex with, and the only one she can’t forgive.

22Jun/18

J.P. Jackson

June 22, 2018


It gives us great pleasure to welcome J.P. Jackson as the guest on Episode 169 – Put Strange Things in Your Mouth!!

This week JP Jackson returns to the show to give us a behind-the-scenes on his new novel Magic or Die, explains the continued percolation of the apocalypse, and encourages you to try new things!

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Bio:

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

This Podcast episode is available on these channels (in order alphabetical):
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July 7, 2017


It gives us great pleasure to announce J.P. Jackson as the guest on Episode 119: I Like Flirting with the Darkness!

This week JP Jackson joins us to discuss his first novel, what happens when you flirt with darkness, finding your genre, and the year of too many projects.

Follow J.P. and support his work:

Bio:

J.P. Jackson works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night however, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shape shifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. The insurance company refuses to accept any more claims of ‘acts of the un-god’, and his husband of almost 20 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summoning’s in the basement. And apparently imps aren’t house-trainable. Occasionally the odd ghost or member of the Fae community stops in for a glass of wine and stories are exchanged. Although the husband doesn’t know it, the two Chihuahuas are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive travelling and believe it or not, knitting.

 

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13May/18

Read by Strangers: Stories by Philip Dean Walker

We had the pleasure of interviewing Philip Dean Walker back in November 2016. To listen to his episode and get links to his work, check out Episode 084: Bars Are Where Our History Happened!

I was very much looking forward to this next collection of stories from Philip Dean Walker, after enjoying the superb At Danceteria and other Stories. Whilst that book concentrated on definitive moments in our history, and real people, this anthology has a mixed bag of stories and characters plucked from Walker’s imagination.

And what an imagination it is, from the woman who endangers her baby whilst engaging in an illicit affair to the man whose fantasies take a very dark turn. Despite the lurking horror, there is a playfulness to the writing, a chance for Walker to play with different styles from lilting to staccato, poetic to erotic. Perhaps because the stories were written over a few years, some being published elsewhere before now, the mix of styles could seem a little disjointed, although I enjoyed the unpredictability of it. In all cases though, the quality was outstanding.

Here we have a writer not afraid to experiment. A Cup of Fur was distinctly odd, and took it’s sweet time to get to the point. In various cases, there doesn’t seem to be a point per se. Each piece seems to be a cold, hard look at the human condition, and what some people are capable of.

I enjoyed the sense of experimentation, of testing himself with the viewpoints of people of various genders and sexuality. There is no doubt this is a literary collection, yet balancing the gravitas with a sense of mischievousness to stop the stories becoming dry and worthy. There is no consistency with the length of stories, so each one is a surprise.

Standouts for me were Unicorn, where lads trespassing in an abandoned house learn more about a family tragedy, A Goddess Lying Breathless In Carnage, beautiful and sinister, And Three-Sink Sink. I still don’t understand the title but the writing was pure, savage and totally compelling.

BLURB

Read by Strangers is a collection of sixteen stories exploring the complexities of the human experience. From weary men seeking a ride back from a club but find themselves trapped to a woman addicted to a virtual reality game who is neglecting her child to a man whose fantasies about of his neighbor’s wife have begun to take over his life, the characters in each of these stories are enveloped in their commitment to their own personal desires. 

29Mar/18

Closer by F.E. Feeley Jr.

Listen to F.E. Feeley Jr’s latest interview on Episode 155: A Fun Return to the Dark Side!

This book had a lot to live up to. After the sublime When Heaven Strikes, I put a lot of (rather unfair) expectations on this book. The author’s writing skill and storytelling ability isn’t in doubt, but would I feel the same about Closer as I did about Heaven?

The truth is, they cannot be compared, because they are intrinsically different. Yes, there is a new relationship at the heart of the novel, when Hayden moves into his new lakeside house and meets the gorgeous, straight-seeming Tommy, but then the mystery begins. At first, I thought it would be a straight-up ghost story, but the horrors begin to build, and Maplewood, the eponymous small town on a lake, is the centre of some very disturbing activity.

The action and tension builds very nicely. Tommy seems devoid of the angst that straight people can have when faced with unfamiliar feelings for a member of their own sex. It makes a refreshing change and as a result, doesn’t get in the way of the main story. The good people and bad people are established quickly and don’t really change. In the best tradition of horror novels, you kind of know who is going to get offed, yet there definitely some I didn’t expect. I liked the way the characters were drawn, reminiscent of Dean Koontz. (It’s a compliment. I LIKE Dean Koontz’s work. It seems more accessible and human than some of Stephen King’s…) There is a touch of religion without pulpit posturing, some vivid imagery, and an exciting denouement, leading on to another book whilst nicely rounding off this one. The author likes to leave things tidy, and so he does, with very satisfactory results.

The two leads were very personable and believable. Hayden’s grief over losing his partner was raw and handled brilliantly. Tommy’s love for Hayden, being devoid of the gay-for-you angst I mentioned earlier, was very touching without being sugar-sweet. Yes, a leap of believability was needed at the end in regards to both Hayden and Tommy’s incipient powers (no spoilers,) but I was beguiled by the author’s storytelling. If the reader goes with it, they will be well-rewarded.

Finally, there is an alluring ‘To be continued…’ at the end, but this book can easily be read as a standalone. However, this couple are shaping up to be an interesting team, and I’m curious to know what else the author has in store for them!

BLURB

Maplewood, Vermont is a picturesque town filled with unique shops, unique homes, and a quaint familiarity all centered around a lake with an unusual history.

Legends, old as well as Urban, float around like the mist that hovers above the lake at break of dawn.

But they’re just stories, right?

Hayden Moore’s life was destroyed when his husband, Malcolm, was murdered. Giving up his job as an assistant district attorney in Boston, Hayden moved to the little burg of Maplewood to recover.

A new life.

A fresh start.

However, something underneath the water is stirring. Something rotten. A deadly secret wakes underneath the black waters of Lake Veronica so disturbing it haunts the nightmares of the local residents.

It’s coming closer…

11Dec/17

Resurrected (Alpha’s Warlock Book 2) by Sid Love writing as Kris Sawyer

Resurrected is the second installment of the Alpha’s Warlock series, and I have to say, it’s an improvement on the first one, Cursed, in that the plot is a lot more complex, with a wider range of characters. The plot was fast-paced, never dragging, and not too complicated to follow. The dialogue and descriptions were good and balanced just right. I also loved the world-building, which was convincing and intriguing to read. Despite the alluring front cover, the sex is fade to black, which is kind of refreshing in a book about shifters and werewolves.

It’s almost impossible to argue the plausibility of a plot device in a book about werewolves and warlocks, but there are occasions where events happen that are slightly too convenient; Clyde’s method of enabling Terry to communicate with him via telepathy is one, but these are minor issues in a book which has introduced some fun extra characters to alleviate some of the angst. Sebastian the vampire is a welcome addition. There is no comedy as such, but light relief to contrast with all the death and destruction between the werewolves, headed by Luke, and an enemy who can shape-shift into anyone they choose.

There is a genuine sense of tension and menace. The two at the centre of this story, lovers Clyde and Terry, are appealing and believable, but their love is threatened by the fact that Clyde’s pack no longer trusts Terry, after the events in Cursed. Terry is desperate to clear his name and find out the truth about his past, leading to some surprising twists and turns.

Once again the ending felt a little neat, but it leads smoothly into a third installment, which I believe is due out in April 2018. All in all, it was a great read, and it will be fun to find out how Clyde and Terry’s futures pan out.

BLURB

Terry has returned from the shadows of death to be with Clyde, but he has more questions than he has answers. The pack is suspicious, and even his lover has doubts about his outlandish story. Desperate to clear his name and learn more about his forgotten past, Terry embarks on a journey of discovery. What he finds will change everything.

Deep in the pine forest, a tormented creature seeks revenge on the pack that has held him captive. More powerful than the werewolves, he wants to destroy. The hybrid hides among them and waits for his chance to pounce. The Alpha senses that his pack is once again on the brink of destruction, but without Clyde’s warlock, he fears all hell is about to break loose.