AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jon M Jefferson

Meghan: Hey, Jon. Welcome back! It’s always an… interesting pleasure… to have you on. To be honest, I think your day is one of the ones I look most forward to during this thing. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Jon: A long time ago, it was the first Nightmare on Elm Street. At the time I had two rooms in my parents house (I was maybe 15 or 16). My main bedroom was in the basement. The horrors of my parents basement scare me more than anything I have ever read or seen on a screen.

It was late at night and I was in the living room by myself. The scene where a body bag was being drug through the school halls was the last bit for me. I turned it off and couldn’t go near the basement that night.

The problem of course, to get to my other room, I needed to pass the stairs to the basement. It took a bit of convincing myself I could do it.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Jon: Monkey Shines. I can still see the damn wind up monkey smacking its cymbals.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Jon: The older version of vampires. I don’t really care as much now because of how they are seen in modern culture. The thoughts of them have been romanticized so much that they are more a misunderstood creature than something from the bowels of hell.

Mind you, this could be part of the issue we face in many aspects of our lives. We spend so much time trying to take the power away from things outside of ourselves that we relegate things that should scare us to banal tropes.

Our efforts to explain away evil hurts us more than the evils itself.

Meghan: What horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Jon: Halloween means haunted houses and weird trips through demented imaginations. My girls and I spend time in the month of October going through the haunted attractions. We go for the possibility of being scared but mostly just marvel at the work that goes into each room. And of course we spend time interacting with the actors.

I’m pretty sure for most normals we are a nightmare to go through the attraction with. Our last jaunt we lost the groups that had been attached to us. Mostly because they shifted away from us in the waiting areas.

I think they maybe go because they are searching for the scare. We go because these are our people.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Jon: Freddy is the protagonist right? He’s the star of every one of his movies.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Jon: Depends on what it is and the atmosphere of where I am. Most movies don’t really do a thing for me, not like they might have in the past. I maybe a bit more jaded than I used to be. Or maybe it’s the landscape of my mind that frightens me more than any fantasy a director tries to frighten me with.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Jon: Pumpkin spice lattes and murder. (Only one of these is true)

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Jon: See the above answer. Mind you I don’t find them disturbing now. Mostly they just make me laugh. The efforts they go to now to try and affect a jaded audience means they are pushing the limits of what might be disturbing. The sad part is, the harder they push, the less horror they are able to achieve. I have seen non-horror movies and stories now with murders and deaths that are so much more disturbing. It’s the shock value of not expecting it to happen.

With that, there is a scene in the series version of Spartacus that made me stop and stare. I don’t remember the characters but it was one of the Roman women killing another one. She slammed the woman’s head against the stone floor repeatedly. They added the sounds of the skull fracturing. Amazing work.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Jon: Do you believe in ghost stories? Because you are in one…

I have seen ghosts or visions I could not explain on several occasions. There are things out there we still can not explain with the science we currently have available.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Jon: Nightmare on Elm street. Mainly because I would be a dream beast like Freddy. I can see myself haunting people’s nightmares to feed on their fear and pain…

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Jon: Depends on the day. So much of our world and the universe is still hidden from us. New discoveries and interactions with this crazy thing called life is always something I want to know more about.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Jon: La Gripe from Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Jon: Depends on the day…

Do I succumb to ennui or do I fight on and take as many of the bastards with me before they turn me into one of them?

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Jon: Actually wasn’t a horror novel at all. Neil Gaiman’s book Trigger Warning, has a story that continues the tail of Shadow (American Gods). There is a moment in that story that I was drawn so deep into the horror that it gave me chills.

I have a few in some horror books as well.

One being a Lovecraft story. I don’t remember the name of it but the story was more a description of a house. I was doing third shift gate guard duty for the Welch’s plant in Lawton Michigan. Yeah, time alone in the middle of the night and darkness all around. I ended up seeing these rabbits toward the road with blood on their fangs. At that point I knew it was time to stop reading.

And one more… I don’t remember the name of the story or the book I read it in. But the gist of it was the bombing run of World War II. One of the planes had gone of course, and dropped the bomb on a target of opportunity. It’s only as the plane is flying away that we realize they just dropped an atomic bomb on Oz, the Emerald City. Chills I tell you…

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Jon: My father once told me the ghost story of the man who had a premonition of his own death (though he didn’t know it was his death). In the end of it the man ends up getting hit by a train.

I grew up near the train tracks. Our house was essentially at the halfway point between Chicago and Detroit. And I grew up at a time when Shipments of cars and car parts were transported mostly by train. So there were a large number of trains going by our house on a daily basis.

On some nights if I was outside and the vibes were right I would be transported to that story where the man died trying to stop the train. I have chills every time, even now.

Meghan: Okay… let’s have some… fun??……….. Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Jon: Vampire. Vlad is one sexy beast and retains his sex appeal even as a monster. Yeah, its gotta be his type instead of the nasty things in other myths.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Jon: Zombies, you can’t turn into an alien. Best you can hope for is the probing to be fun.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Jon: Depends on how you define zombie juice. I mean if its like Powerade, no biggie.

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Jon: Poltergeist. Just avoid the pool.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Jon: Since both are actually a thing, I want to say both. I have to wonder if the wormy cheese still wiggles as you chew.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Jon: Quit trying to say Gramma can’t cook. That’s just mean.

Boo-graphy: Jon M. Jefferson writes Speculative fiction with forays into Noir and Bizarro. His stories have appeared in the 2013 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, and the Foil and Phazer Divide and Conquer Anthology. He is a longtime fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy stories in all their forms. He has spent most of his life looking for magic in the everyday moments of life. He hails from the tundra of Southwest Michigan. The monsters in his life include his wife, two daughters and two granddaughters.

Amazon

GUEST POST: Frazer Lee

Top 5 Spooky Halloween Games

Spooky season is upon us and it’s almost time kids… The pumpkin flesh is tender and ready to carve. A scary horrorthon is queued up on the telly. This year’s costume is even more fabulous than last year’s, and the candy pail is already overflowing with treats! How else can we add to the frightful fun before the clock strikes twelve on the creepiest night of the year? In my haunted house, after the dead man’s fingers and gooey eyeballs have been devoured, we always play a spooky game together. So gather around my table of terror brave ones, and feast your eyes on the…

5. Horror Top Trumps

(image © Frazer Lee)

This game will bring out the spooky strategist in you as you pit your wits against the other players in order to grave-rob them of all their cards. If you’ve ever wondered what might happen if The Invisible Man (no)faced off against Frankenstein’s Monster, then Horror Top Trumps is the game for you. As an added bonus the cards glow in the dark, casting their eerie glow across anyone willing to risk their arm! And if you don’t own a deck, why not craft your own and create scary stats for your favourite movie and book-based monsters? (Hmm… I’d really love to see a Horror Top Trump card for my monster The Skin Mechanic from my Bram Stoker Award nominated debut novel The Lamplighters…)

4. Scream Inn

(image © Frazer Lee)

“We’re only here for the fear…” After all the Halloween fun and folics, we all need to get our heads down for a while, presuming they haven’t been severed of course. And where better to relax than the Scream Inn? Check in if you’re brave enough and you’ll discover this vintage classic features a rotten rotating board, so you never know if you’re in for a cosy night’s sleep or a fatal death-trap! There’s an old saying that you might ‘wake up in the morning with a crowd ’round your bed’ and this game can definitely result in a case of ‘dead and breakfast’. Long out of print, you can sometimes snap a copy up in online auctions and hey, we’ve all wanted to bid on a genuine haunted house, right?

3. Ghost Train

(image © Frazer Lee)

Riding the ghost train at the funfair is one of my favourite activities when the carnies come to town and this game recreates the ride on your table at home. Kids love the swinging spider, which can plummet pendulum-like and knock you off the board. The rotating ‘tracks’ add tension to the game by redirecting you away from the exit and deeper into the shadows! Sadly, Ghost Train is out of print, and someone should really bring it back from the dead. (If you don’t own a copy, a good alternative is Labyrinth, which also features some spooky elements and a devilish moving board, muah ha ha.)

2. Ghost Castle

(image © Frazer Lee)

One of the oldest and also the most oft-reissued spooky board game, Ghost Castle started out with a simple cardboard board and pieces, before evolving into a cool castle diorama complete with moving coffin lid and glow in the dark skull that bounces down the staircase bringing the icy touch of death upon all in its path! This game can also be the quickest game to play in my experience, which is useful when you have a lot of activities to cram in on Halloween night! The moving floor and ghostly mirror are exciting features, bringing all the benefits of a haunting into your house… without the need for an exorcist.

1. Damnation: The Gothic Game

Okay, I’m biased (because I have just written the official novelisation of this game, see an exclusive extract below) but what honestly places Damnation: The Gothic Game at the top of my list is its unique goal – to kill all the other players on the board! The 1992 classic became a Halloween tradition of mine, perfect for parties, with unwitting players expiring from the dreaded ‘suffocating prunes’, drowning in the moat, or being taken out by a poisoned blow-dart from the lavatory tower! Blackletter Games’ amazing update Damnation: The Gothic Game adds a ton of frightful and fun features such as the ability to haunt other players from beyond the grave, and there is even a Night of the Vampire expansion. Who could possibly resist a deadly game of battle royale in Castle Dracula? Try it and see if you can survive Halloween night…

I hope you have found some eerie inspiration for your own table top terrors (post your favourite ghoulish games in the comments). Here’s wishing you a Happy Halloween!

Check out the video below to see Frazer Lee reading an exclusive extract from the Damnation: The Gothic Game novel, coming soon this spooky season. Follow Frazer Lee’s website for updates!

The Carpathian Mountains, 1897. An impassable storm forces a group of travellers to disembark from their steam train and take shelter in a remote castle for the night. Their enigmatic host invites them to take part in some after-dinner entertainment. But as they each explore the castle’s rooms and passageways they discover they have become part of a deadly game. Only one guest may leave in the morning and it is up to each of them to use their wits, and weapons, to survive the night. For the others, Damnation awaits.

Boo-graphy: Frazer Lee is the Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of seven novels including Damnation: The Gothic Game. Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Gothic Filmmaker Award, Frazer’s screenwriting and directing credits include the acclaimed horror films Panic Button and The Stay. Frazer is Reader in Creative Writing at Brunel University London, and resides with his family in Buckinghamshire, just across the cemetery from the real-life Hammer House of Horror. Crisps are his downfall… talk him down from the ledge at his website.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Armand Rosamilia

Meghan: Hey, Armand. I’m so excited to have you here today. It’s always a pleasure, especially since I know how busy you can get. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Armand: The candy part is easily my favorite thing, especially anything chocolate. My wife and I will set up in the driveway on Halloween with a table filled with comic books, Halloween-themed kid’s books and candy, but I make sure to give away all of the non-chocolate until my wife catches me.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Armand: As a kid I was scared of a lot of things. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten tougher skin and not much scares me. Horror movies are actually boring for me in the last few years. I don’t know if I’m just old or if my perception has changed.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Armand: As a kid, Jaws freaked me out. We saw it in the drive-in and me and my brother were in the backseat with our hands over our faces once the shark began to really get into it.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Armand: Kevin Bacon’s death scene stuck with me, before I really even knew who he was and what he’d eventually become.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Armand: No. Most of the time, especially as I got older, the jump-scares and too much blood made me not want to watch them.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Armand: Beaches and I’d be Bette Midler’s friend and have to hang out with her. Is that what you mean?

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Armand: The first Nightmare On Elm Street, before Freddie got all corny and witty and stopped being scary.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Armand: The Thing from The Thing was awesome. Still my favorite horror movie, I think.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Armand: Handing out comic books, Halloween kid’s books, and candy to trick-or-treaters. We get close to 200 and some kids say they were looking forward to the stop, which is cool.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Armand: “Halloween” by Misfits or “Halloween” by King Diamond. I love them both.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Armand: Phantoms by Dean Koontz when I was about 12.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Armand: I was sixteen and home alone and my jerk brother climbed up a ladder to my room on the second floor and started tapping on the window like in “Salem’s Lot” and freaked me out.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Armand: D.B. Cooper comes to mind, but I love all of them. Did he die and waste all that cash, or did he live and spend it?

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Armand: We had those record albums when I was a kid, telling ghost stories. I loved all of those, especially picking up the hitchhiker and it turns out she died on the road. Remember that one?

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Armand: I want to eat myself to death as quickly as possible. I think I would be awful during the zombie takeover, and hope I am patient zero or die quickly.

Meghan: Give me a minute… I have to stop laughing at that last one before we can move on. Okay okay… let’s have some fun: Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Armand: Vampire. Better control of my powers, and chicks dig vampires.

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Armand: I think it would be more fun if aliens attacked, as long as we had a fighting chance.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Armand: If I can cook the dead bodies, then I’d pick that. Tastes like chicken!

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Armand: Amityville, since nothing really happened there supernatural. All a hoax.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Armand: Maggots are protein, right? And I like cheese.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Armand: Can I do both? They both sound like fun. Maybe wash down my cotton candy with a glass from the cauldron!

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. I mean… is it really Halloween without THE devilishly handsome Armand Rosamilia?

Armand: Thanks for the cool questions, as per the usual!

Author of Crime Thrillers. Horror. Contemporary Fiction. Nonfiction. In no discernible order.

Website

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by Christa Carmen: Reluctant Immortals

Reluctant Immortals

Gwendolyn Kiste
Genre: Horror, Gothic
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication Date: 8.23.2022
Pages: 317

For fans of Mexican Gothic, from three-time Bram Stoker Award–winning author Gwendolyn Kiste comes a novel inspired by the untold stories of forgotten women in classic literature–from Lucy Westenra, a victim of Stoker’s Dracula, and Bertha Mason, from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre–as they band together to combat the toxic men bent on destroying their lives, set against the backdrop of the Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury, 1967.

Reluctant Immortals is a historical horror novel that looks at two men of classic literature, Dracula and Mr. Rochester, and the two women who survived them, Bertha and Lucy, who are now undead immortals residing in Los Angeles in 1967 when Dracula and Rochester make a shocking return in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

Combining elements of historical and gothic fiction with a modern perspective, in a tale of love and betrayal and coercion, Reluctant Immortals is the lyrical and harrowing journey of two women from classic literature as they bravely claim their own destiny in a man’s world.

When I was a teenager, I read Jane Eyre. I also read Rebecca, The Castle of Otranto, The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Haunting of Hill House, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wuthering Heights, and every other classic Gothic novel I found on either my mother’s or the local library’s shelves. Like a lot of teen-aged girls obsessed with these types of novels, I pictured myself as the protagonist of each, descending to the abbey basement, journeying to an ancestral home, exploring the secret dungeon or attic or passageway beneath the floorboards. I was Jane learning her true identity, the second Mrs. de Winter gazing upon Manderley for the first time, Eleanor Vance drinking from her cup of stars. But here’s the thing: many of these women weren’t actually great role models to aspire to, or even appropriate “costumes” to try on. Their autonomy, their ability to be the heroine of their own story, was a carefully orchestrated illusion. Jane was a pawn for Mr. Rochester. Emily St. Aubert was imprisoned in Castle Udolpho by Signor Montoni. Isabella was persecuted and traumatized by generations of men who’ve ruled Otranto. In fact, I would be far, far removed from my adolescence before I found a pair of Gothic heroines truly worthy of my aspirations; I thank Gwendolyn Kiste, and her gorgeous novel, Reluctant Immortals, for finally delivering them to me.

Bertha, or “Bee,” Mason and Lucy Westenra fight back, take control, have teeth (no pun intended). They possess true autonomy in that they drive the events of their story. These are not your mother’s or your childhood librarian’s gothic heroines. They are far more powerful than either Edward Fairfax Rochester or Count Dracula ever were. And that’s one of Gwendolyn’s many talents: writing her female characters in a way that naturally balances the scales. They’re believable in their actions, admirable in their strength, understandable in their motives—and their flaws. Gwendolyn captures all the magic and beauty and excitement (not to mention the eeriness, dread, and horror) of Gothic novels with none of the misogynistic stifling of her characters. And her prose? Do we even bother talking about Gwendolyn’s prose in reviews of her work anymore? It’s transcendent (examples: “The pool glitters in the moonlight, the shape of a teardrop, blue and spotless as a phony lagoon from a movie set,” and “The rest of me turns to dust, and I can’t hold on to the urn anymore. It falls through my crumbling fingers, shattering into a thousand pieces on the floor. Overhead, Dracula’s muddy form smears across the ceiling before dripping down to meet himself, the parts of him mingling together, his body becoming stronger, while mine becomes nothing at all. I won’t watch him now. I close what’s left of my eyes and let the darkness rush in to greet me.”). Her weaving of words is on a whole other level.

Some novels can’t help but sacrifice pacing for characterization and language, but Reluctant Immortals is not one of them. One of my favorite sections of the novel (and there are many) was Bee and Lucy’s arrival in San Francisco with Daisy, a young hitchhiker interested in helping them locate Jane Eyre after she’s inadvertently loosed some of Dracula’s ashes on Los Angeles. It’s right about the dead-center of the narrative, and yet it screams forward with as much momentum as the women’s Buick ricocheting up the 101. And the stakes (again, no pun intended) only increase from there.

The showdown between Dracula and Lucy—and Rochester and Bee—is as fantastic and satisfying as one could hope for (and surprisingly biting in its humor at times… When Lucy considers breaking an end table to use on Dracula, he points out that it’s Formica, to which Lucy replies, “Maybe it’s the ideal way to finish you. Death by tacky wood paneling.”). This climax is rife with decay and blood, secrets centuries in the making coming to light and vampires doing, well, what vampires do, and sucking the souls of innumerable victims. But the showdown also vibrates with originality and heart (Lucy and Dracula grappling atop the Golden Gate Bridge, ruin and rot against the “painfully quaint” backdrop of Playland at the Beach), and the worthiness of these Gothic women as heroines strikes me all over again. Gosh, it’s a joy to read about kickass, supernatural women banishing the classic monsters of our past.

“There are no Hollywood endings, not even in Hollywood,” Gwendolyn writes. But with Reluctant Immortals, we do get a Hollywood ending, in a sense. Without spoiling anything, the idea that Lucy and Bee don’t have to be monsters, despite coming from them, is a lifeline I’m more than willing to follow. There may still be “gloom brimming” in our heroines’ hearts, but they have more than achieved what Gwendolyn set out for them to accomplish. Bee’s story, “the one they tried so hard to steal” from her, remains unwritten. Lucy is “more than just the girl who withers in… shadow.” They are as immortal as Gwendolyn’s transcendent novel deserves to be.

Boo-graphy: Christa Carmen lives in Rhode Island, and is the author of the short story collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked. Her debut novel, The Daughters of Block Island, is forthcoming from Thomas & Mercer in fall 2023, and her second novel with the mystery, thriller, and true crime imprint will be out in the fall of 2024. Christa studied English and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, has an MA from Boston College, and an MFA from the University of Southern Maine.

When she’s not writing, she keeps chickens, uses a Ouija board to ghost-hug her dear departed beagle, and sets out an adventures with her husband, and bloodhound/golden retriever mix. Most of her work comes from gazing upon the ghosts of the past or else into the dark corners of nature, those places where whorls of bark become owl eyes and deer step through tunnels of hanging leaves and creeping briers only to disappear.

A young woman’s fears regarding the gruesome photos appearing on her cell phone prove justified in a ghastly and unexpected way. A chainsaw-wielding Evil Dead fan defends herself against a trio of undead intruders. A bride-to-be comes to wish that the door between the physical and spiritual worlds had stayed shut on All Hallows’ Eve. A lone passenger on a midnight train finds that the engineer has rerouted them toward a past she’d prefer to forget. A mother abandons a life she no longer recognizes as her own to walk up a mysterious staircase in the woods. In her debut collection, Christa Carmen combines horror, charm, humor, and social critique to shape thirteen haunting, harrowing narratives of women struggling with both otherworldly and real-world problems. From grief, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, to a post-apocalyptic exodus, a seemingly sinister babysitter with unusual motivations, and a group of pesky ex-boyfriends who won’t stay dead, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Joe Scipione

Meghan: Hi, Joe. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Horror. This is your first time here so thank you from all of us for taking time out of your schedule to join in our frivolities. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Joe: Even though I’m a horror writer, Halloween has always been more about dressing up in a funny way as opposed to being scary. The last few years, my daughter has decided that my family should dress up in themed costumes for Halloween. A few years ago we were all characters from the show Phineas & Ferb, last year we were Winnie the Pooh characters (I was Winnie the Pooh of course—I do a pretty mean Winnie the Pooh impression) and this year we will be doing Curious George characters. My son, who is going to be 16 even plays along every year so recently that has been a lot of fun.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Joe: Not really. Things that scare me the most are real life things as opposed to books and movies. If I was going to say one thing scares me the most it is something happening to my family. I do like when books, movies or TV shows make me feel uncomfortable and that’s the feeling I go for when I write something. If I make someone feel uncomfortable, or if they are cheering for the hero (Or hoping something terrible happens to the villain) in one of my stories then I think I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Joe: After saying movies don’t usually scare me, I will saw Jaws is probably the movie that sticks with me the most. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent many summers on Cape Cod. Jaws was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard which is just off Cape Cod and there is always that little thought in the back of your head when you’re in the ocean there when you think a shark could come up and rip you in half. That is certainly and uncomfortable feeling I was talking about earlier.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Joe: I could go with Jaws again, but another of my favorite horror movies is Hellraiser. The death of Frank at the end when he has the hooks attached to him and they are pulling him in all different directions and stretching his face out always stuck with me as particularly brutal.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Joe: No. I was actually never a big horror movie fan when I was younger (though I’ve always read a ton of horror) so I find that now that I’m older I’m trying to go back and see the horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s that I never saw.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Joe: I’d have to go with Beetlejuice here. If I was going to be stuck in a scary movie, at least this way I’d be entertained at the same time. Also, who wouldn’t want to be a ghost?

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Joe: Defintely Danny Torrance from The Shining. Obviously there would be some trauma I’d have to work though, but at least I know I’d survive and then I’d have this incredible superpower for the rest of my life.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Joe: One of my favorite books of all time is It by Stephen King. I love the cast of characters and the fact that we get to see them as children and as adults. Pennywise has long been my favorite monster in movies or in books. What could be better than an evil clown with cosmic powers beyond anything most people would be able to comprehend?

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Joe: As I mentioned before, it’s a newer tradition, but themed family costumes has become my favorite thing about Halloween.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Joe: Its not necessarily Halloween-themed, but there is a song by Aerosmith called Voodoo, Medicine Man and it always gave off some creepy vibes for me. I listen to that song a lot when I’m trying to get in the mood to write a certain type of scene. The song is dark and starts off slow but builds to a loud, fast-paced ending that I always loved. The intro to the song was creepy as hell too.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Joe: I always have the same answer to this question and it’s a fairly newer book. The Cabin At the End of the World by Paul Tremblay is always going to be at the top of my list for questions like this. I can’t put my finger on one specific thing about the book that cause this to happen, but I read it in two days and the night after I started reading it, I couldn’t sleep. I kept falling asleep and waking up thinking about that book. The premise was great and the characters were so well written I think it just stuck with me like only a few other books have ever been able to do.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Joe: I wasn’t alone, but I was driving home from high school late one night for some reason. I was with a friend and we had to drive by a church in my hometown, which is directly across the street from the town common. It was probably around 7 or 8 at night, it was dark and cold out. Ass we drove by, I looked over into the common and there was a kid—maybe 6 years old—kneeling in the middle of the grass just staring up at the church. There was no one else around. I was so freaked out I made my friend turn around to see if the kid needed help. We hadn’t gone that far and when we got back the kid was gone. We would have been able to see him if he’d got up and left, he just disappeared. That creeped me out for a long time—still does.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Joe: I don’t know if this counts as an unsolved mystery or not, but the existence of life on other planets is fascinating to me and it always has been. The more we learn about just how large space is and how much stuff is out there, the more likely it becomes that there is other intelligent life somewhere on one of those planets. I hope in my life time we get some definitive proof of life outside of our little planet. Even if we do, it will continue to fascinate me. Of course, there might already be definitive proof that the public just doesn’t know about. 😊

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Joe: I can’t think of a specific one, but any ghost story that is based in reality I find so interesting. Just like I want aliens to be a real thing, I would love if there was some way to prove that ghosts exist.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Joe: I don’t think I’d be able to kill all the zombies in a zombie apocalypse, so give me a good bomb shelter with plenty of food and water and plenty of books and I think I’ll be ok for a while.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Joe: Vampire, 100%. Who wouldn’t want to be a vampire?

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Joe: Alien invasion. Put me right up front.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Joe: I hate putting gross things in my mouth, even the thought of it makes me gag a little. That said, I could drink zombie juice like a shot and I’d have to chew up the dead body before I ate it, so give me those zombie juice shots all day.

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Joe: Poltergeist house.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Joe: I love spicy foods so I’ll take the melon with chilies.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Joe: That’s a though one, but I don’t know what that witch is going to try to do to me, might turn me into a rat or something, so I’ll take the spider web cotton candy.

Boo-graphy: Joe Scipione lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two kids. He is the author of Perhaps She Will Die, Zoo: Eight Tales of Animal Horror, and Decay. His novellas, The Life & Times of Edward Morgan and Justice, are due out in 2023 from D&T Publishing. He is also a Senior Contributor at HorrorBound.net. When he’s not reading or writing, you can usually find him cheering on one of the Boston sports teams or walking around the lakes near his home.

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