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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lucy Leitner

Meghan: Hi Lucy! Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Lucy: Right now, it’s baking. Every Sunday, my mom and I bake together over FaceTime. From mid-September to the end of October, we’re baking exclusively Halloween-themed treats. I get a lot of inspiration from the baking shows on the Food Network.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Lucy: When I was a kid, we’d have huge Halloween parties. It would start in September when the Oriental Trading Company catalog arrived. My brother and two sisters and I would sit down with our mom and create an order for party favors and decorations. Weeks in advance, we’d start planning all the attractions. Putting macabre labels on spice mixes for the witches brew in the shed. Collecting supplies for fortune-telling in my sister’s room. I remember scouring DC-area magic stores one year trying to find an appropriate crystal ball. We never did, and my dad wound up mounting a glass orb onto a stocky cylinder. My mom had new ideas for the party every year, but some of the staples were the kids wrapping each other in toilet paper as mummies and eating small, powdered donuts hanging from a tree branch without using our hands. My dad hooked up a trailer to his lawn tractor, filled it with hay, and towed us around the backyard. The trailer would frequently detach, leaving kids at an odd angle in the yard, and my dad would just keep driving as he couldn’t hear the screams over the sound of the lawn mower.

But the best part was the haunted house. Since I’m the oldest, I was in charge of transforming the garage into a room of terrors and leading age-appropriate tours for the younger kids. My parents used the garage for storage, so we used whatever we found in there. A recurring character was Harold, my dad’s jeans and flannel shirt stuffed with pillows and newspaper that sat in an old rocking chair. Two female salsa dancer pinatas, a relic from my third birthday party, hung from the ceiling by their necks. Someone would always be waiting outside, sticking a foot through the cat door, then brandishing a leaf blower to terrify the kids who thought the nightmare was over when they had left the garage.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Lucy: The memories. Halloween was a big deal to my family when I was growing up. We’d take long drives through the changing leaves to far-off farms in search of pumpkins. We never had packaged costumes, always ones that we’d construct from seemingly disparate items around the house. When I was in kindergarten, my mom turned dining room chair cushions into turtle shells so my brother and I could dress as our favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. One year, we put stuffing in long underwear to turn my little sister into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Two years ago, my mom and I went up to Salem for the weekend a couple weeks before Halloween. We did a ghost tour, an interactive Rocky Horror, and a bunch of of witch stuff. It was so much fun. We keep talking about how we need to go back. It’s my most recent wonderful Halloween memory.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Lucy: Five years ago, I broke my face after flying off a set of gymnastics rings at the gym. I will not use that particular set of rings again. Unfortunately, the owners just rearranged the gym so I don’t know where that set is. I have to accept that it was not the rings’ fault…

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Lucy: Jack Torrance. Several years ago, I was the only copywriter at a busy ad agency and was assigned about 17 hours of work in each eight-hour day. In a meeting with the agency president and the project managers who were constantly haranguing me about status updates, I told them how every time they interrupted me, they broke my concentration. It’s like at the gym. I was cooled down and needed to warm back up again to get back in the creative zone. So, their constant interruptions were slowing me down. Nearly a year after I was fired, I was watching The Shining (as I do every Halloween) and realized Jack gave almost the identical speech/rant to Wendy — with a lot more profanity. The Shining has always been my favorite horror movie, but I got a whole new appreciation for the horror of stress-induced psychosis.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Lucy: Jack the Ripper. I like all the theories and find it interesting how many Ripperologists seem convinced that it has to be a notable person who committed the murders when the vast majority of known serial killers were losers.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Lucy: The ones with the spiders and bugs burrowing under skin. That sounds like it could actually happen.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Lucy: SPOILER ALERT. Leland Palmer. The singing, the crying, the dancing, and the emergence of BOB when he gets locked in the cell. And the scene where it’s revealed that Leland is the killer — one of the best things ever on TV. I was too young to watch Twin Peaks when it aired, but I can’t imagine many people saw that one coming.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Lucy: I remember reading Lois Duncan’s Stranger with My Face when I was 10 or 11. I loved it and was hooked on her books after that. My first horror movie was Psycho, but I can’t remember how old I was. I saw Scream as soon as it came out on VHS when I was 13. That was my first modern slasher flick. I memorized it. A few years later I won a tickets to a premiere screening of Scary Movie for calling into a local rock radio station and completing a line from it.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Lucy: The Painted Bird is more disturbing than any horror book I’ve ever read.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Lucy: For some reason in 6th grade band class we watched the Twilight Zone movie. I remember getting all freaked out by the sister with no mouth. That gave me nightmares for a couple days. We also watched the original It in that class. That one left no impression…

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Lucy: Sharon Tate. Halloween 2007 when I was 24. I wore a blood-soaked nightgown over a fake pregnant belly though which I stuck a plastic knife.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Lucy: “Song of Joy” by Nick Cave. Spooky, dark, and uses one of my favorite literary devices, the unreliable narrator.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Lucy: I’m one of those crazy people who love candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins. But Indian corn is disappointing. Something about that fake chocolate flavor just does not do it for me.


Boo-graphy:
Lucy Leitner is the author of horror-comedy novels Working Stiffs (2012) and Outrage: Level 10 (2021). From Arlington, VA (where the joke says people are dying to go), she lives in Pittsburgh, PA (where the movies say the dead live). She’s been making up scary stories since frightening her little sister out of sharing a room at age 10. In 2010, she earned a master’s in journalism, won an award for a piece in Justice Magazine, and promptly retired from journalism. Now she’s the writer, spokesperson, and sometimes hand model for a global vitamin company that tends to post more zombie content on social media than all its competitors… When not scaring customers into taking their vitamins, she’s working on her next horror novel.

Outrage: Level 10 was originally released through Necro, but sadly Dave Barnett died right after the book was released. It will be re-released through Blood Bound Books on November 26th.

Get Me Out of This Shimmering Oasis is a short story.


Outrage: Level 10
Alex Malone is brain damaged from a career as a legendary goon in the outlawed sport of hockey. Now he’s a cop because that’s the only job that’ll take him. His presence is enough to raise a citizen’s outrage level, putting him at constant risk of being banished—or worse, sent to the mysterious Maze.

His headaches bring the type of pain that makes plunging off one of Pittsburgh’s bridges a viable option. The bouts of unfettered rage interfere with his ability to complete even the simplest task of rounding up the centenarians with the dying brains and bionic bodies who terrorize other citizens.

Since The People assumed control of the Republic of America, death before 130 has become a thing of the pre-Revolutionary past. Cancer, heart disease, spinal cord injury—all eradicated thanks to tax dollars funding medical research instead of wars and unjust justice. If only they could figure out the brain…

So an experimental treatment sounds good to Malone. It feels good, too. The blackouts that would end with bleeding knuckles and a citizen unconscious on a sidewalk are replaced by vivid memories. The only problem is that the memories aren’t his. They’re filled with torture and more violence than even the undefeated champion of ice boxing could imagine.

With a sense of purpose not felt since his days as hockey’s premier fighter, Malone is determined to find out what’s going on in his head, even if it makes him a target of the outraged mob and the powerful sadists that manipulate it, and leads him to horrifying truths that should have remained lies.

Outrage: Level 10 is an anti-hero’s journey through the inner workings of a violent, near-future dystopia.

Get Me Out of This Shimmering Oasis
OMG this place is amazing. I can feel all the remnants of my leaky gut clearing right up. A few more days and I may even be able to tolerate dairy again. These innovative treatments are truly elevating my wellness. They are literally scaring me to death, but doing good for yourself never feels good, right? Right? 

TRAILER & EXCERPT: Brit Lunden

Bulwark 9: The Devil & Dayna Dalton
Chapter 1

I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”

–Marilyn Monroe

The crisp, clear sunlight was not her friend. Dayna Dalton winced at the bright light that squeezed in through the slats of the venetian blind. She reached over and gave the cord a hard tug, sending the pint-sized bathroom into near darkness. Behind her, the shower head dripped with a steady plop, plop that reminded her of the exposé she did on water torture in Guantanamo Bay that never got published. It was deemed too harsh to print.

The Bulwark Advance preferred her to write…fluffy pieces. She sneered thinking of the crap on her computer, the half-written article about the elusive Easter Bunny that awaited its final edit. She hung her head in shame, thinking of what her sorority sisters from Georgetown would feel if they knew where Dangerous Dayna Dalton had ended up. There’d be hell to pay in the form of eternal humiliation.

Dayna twisted the faucet, her freckled knuckle turning bone white from the effort. It was no use; the leak continued relentlessly, driving a hole in her throbbing head. Oh, that last round of shots was totally not necessary.

No matter how hard she wrenched the faucet, the dribble continued. She thought she should ask her guest to fix it before he left. He was a plumber, after all. She was sick of this place. Dayna peered at her reflection in the mirror. She was sick of her life.

Skip Benson’s bearlike yawn turned into a growl from the bedroom. “Dayna.” His voice grated on her nerves.

“Dayna rolled her kohl-smeared eyes.

“Dayna, come on back to bed.”

Dayna took a steadying breath and used both hands to grip the sink as if it were holding her up. What was she thinking last night? Skip Benson? How low could she go? A shudder ran through her lithe frame. That left only Trout Parker, and she could now report she had officially and irrevocably scraped the bottom of the barrel of Bulwark, Georgia.

She rubbed her forehead where a hammer banged against the inside of her skull.

Skip wailed for her to return to the warmth of the bed. Dayna wrinkled her nose, thinking about Skip’s performance, or rather what she remembered about it. Oh yeah, too many tequila shots will make anyone desirable, even stupid Skippy Benson.

She ran her fuzzy tongue over her dry teeth, fighting the urge to gag.

“Skip Benson had never been on the football team, the basketball team… Hell, he’d never even made the chess team. He had been the school screw-up, and now he could brag that he and Dayna had…

Dayna turned away from the mirror with disgust, her cheeks flushing. She staggered to the doorway of the bedroom. Using the frame to hold herself erect, she shouted, “Get up!”

“Wha–?” Skip rose, the comforter bunched at his flabby waist, his chest bare and the pathetic tattoo of a red devil across the front of his right bicep.

Vague memories of kissing that image flitted through her foggy brain. Dayna picked up a pillow discarded on the floor during their frenzied arrival and threw it at his head.

“I said, get up and get out of here!”

Skip ducked, then slid off the bed, his behind exposed, another image of a werewolf on his left butt cheek. Dayna convulsed a hazy memory of talking to that tattoo.

“You weren’t so eager to get rid of me last night.” Skip stood in all his naked glory, which wasn’t much.

“Ugh. I’m never drinking again,” Dayna muttered under her breath. “I said get dressed and get out of here.” A shoe sailed past Skip’s head.

Her unwanted guest scrambled to find his clothes. “Hey, cut it out, Dayna!” Skip was living up to his namesake as he struggled into his work pants, bouncing toward the door.

Dayna’s face split into a demonic smile that was known to strike fear in the hearts of single men everywhere. Here, she thought, was the elusive Easter Bunny. She watched Skip hop toward his escape as though he were in the Fourth of July potato sack race.

Dayna picked up a shirt that had been discarded on the floor and threw it at him. The garment appeared to have a life of its own and engulfed his head. Skip’s muffled cries were nearly smothered by the material. His hands tore at the shirt to no avail.

His fingers—Dayna looked closer, grimacing at the dirt under his nails, and watched his wrestling match with the clothing. She pushed him into her shabby living room, then out the door of her condo. Mrs. Sweetpea, an antonym for sure, watched in revulsion as Dayna shoved her guest out of her apartment.

Dayna lived in Shady Oaks, a rundown condominium community, where she reluctantly shared a front porch with her neighbor. The building was a connected row of apartments that bordered undeveloped land, as though a builder had left the project unfinished halfway through. It was hot real estate when they released the first phase, and half the town bought investment properties. Then the real estate bubble burst, and the whole thing came tumbling down.”

“Dayna had an inside scoop about what was really going on, but once again, the paper wouldn’t print it. The mayor had sold the land and gotten a back-end deal for it. He made a ton of dough and then skipped off to Colombia—the country, not Columbia, South Carolina. The builder had used inferior products, and once he went to jail for money laundering, the whole place went to seed. There was no one to call when things broke.

Dayna cast Mrs. Sweetpea a jaundiced eye, daring the nosy neighbor to say something about her guest. While the old crone might have appeared to be like the proverbial sweet grandmotherly type, Dayna knew her to be an ornery bitch with a sting as sharp as an angry wasp.

She hated her; had for years. Thelma Sweetpea had been her babysitter back in the day when she was a small child. Dayna’s mother had dropped her off at the old lady’s house for the first nine years of her life.

Dayna looked at Mrs. Sweetpea and shivered. The old woman had moved into the complex a year and a half ago, cutting up Dayna’s peace. What were the odds they’d end up living next door to each other? She was a mean old woman, and Dayna felt judged every time those beady eyes settled on her.

Dayna considered moving but was so underwater with her mortgage, she couldn’t think of selling. She was stuck at Shady Oaks, and she was stuck with the prying eyes of Thelma Sweetpea.

Mrs. Thelma Sweetpea took out her aggression with a broom and started to sweep as though the hounds of hell had just taken a shit there. Dayna fought the urge to say something. Speaking with Mrs. Sweetpea usually ended up in a hissing contest. Dayna’s compressed lips turned up just a bit with a smile at the result of this morning meeting. Mrs. Sweetpea was in a frenzy of spring cleaning, as if she could wipe the interlopers from reality.”

“The sky was overcast, and even though it was springtime, the air was decidedly chilly. A wave of cold air stole under Dayna’s shirt, making it billow out. She tried not to shiver. Her bare feet felt the shock of the freezing concrete. She’d be damned if she would show that old biddy any weakness, even if it was unseasonably cold.

Dayna looked up at the watery sky, searching for a glimpse of the sun. Global warming was playing havoc with Georgia’s weather. Either it was extremely hot when it was supposed to be cold or freezing when the time of year dictated heat. It didn’t rain anymore; it stormed with funnel clouds that touched down, ripping homes and trailers from their moorings.

Mrs. Sweetpea stopped her sweeping to look at Dayna, her lips pursed as if she’d eaten something sour. Dayna returned the stare, her eyes observing the wrinkled face, watching the older woman judge her half-naked form.

“Dayna’s freckled shoulder peeked out from an oversized tee shirt. It was paired with her long, bare, coltish legs underneath. Dayna looked down and cursed when she realized she was wearing Skip’s tee. Glancing up, she realized he was struggling with her shirt from last night.
Watching her neighbor’s shocked face, Dayna ripped Skip’s shirt over her head and tossed it to him. He paused in his scuffle with her clothing to admire her perfect breasts.

“I don’t have to leave,” Skip said with a broad smile.

“Oh yes you do, and don’t come back here.” Dayna turned around, her shoulders straight. She paused to look at the older woman, who stood with her jaw hanging in shock.

“Have you no shame?” Thelma Sweetpea sputtered.

Dayna looked back at the gawking plumber, then her scandalized neighbor. She shrugged indifferently. “Apparently I have no shame at all.”


Boo-graphy:
Brit Lunden is a prolific author who’s written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology. Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.

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Bulwark Anthology .5: Bulwark
Clay Finnes is the sheriff of a small town in Georgia called Bulwark. Recently separated from his wife, all he can think about is what went wrong, and will Jenna ever come back to him. He’s troubled by a bothersome reporter trying to build a story from what he thinks is a normal day in his life. Clay has to admit that the fantastical stories, told by an accident victim as well as unusual sightings of wolves, things are getting a bit strange. A visit to the ominous Gingerbread House makes him realize that his life as he knows it will never be the same.

Bulwark Anthology 1: The Knowing
Bulwark- a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world.

Bulwark, Georgia, isolated, hidden. Who knows what strange things can happen when the rest of the world can’t see you? JB Stratton is alone in the world, and all he has left are the memories of his beloved Ellie. Dirt poor JB and wealthy Ellie feel an instant connection that is as intense and primal as the blood red earth of their home. Unseen roots connect them, pulling them into an impossible relationship. Will the memories of past lives help or hinder the path of their love? Based on the original novella Bulwark, by Brit Lunden, The Knowing continues the story of a town isolated from the rest of the world where the impossible becomes plausible, and logic is determined by reality.

Bulwark Anthology 9: The Devil & Dayna Dalton
Reporter Dayna Dalton’s reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother’s footsteps; never given a chance to prove she’s different. Dayna’s been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty. He’s happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening. Dayna is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character. Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Katherine Silva

Meghan: Hi, Katherine! Welcome welcome. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Katherine: There are so many facets to love about celebrating Halloween. My favorites are decorating, baking spooky-inspired treats, and watching horror movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Katherine: We don’t tend to get many trick or treaters at our house, so we’ll often go to my parent’s place just to see some of the fun costumes that the kids have. They will usually get between 100 and 150 kids that night (and this is a small midcoast town in Maine!).

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Katherine: I’ve always had a love for horror films, scary books, and haunting decor. Halloween is a celebration of all of that and is my favorite season of the year with autumn being in full swing.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Katherine: I’ve definitely tossed salt over my shoulder when I’ve tipped over a salt shaker. I also tend to think that Friday the 13th is usually an unpredictable and chaotic day.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Katherine: The shark in Jaws, Dracula, and Rose the Hat from Doctor Sleep.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Katherine: I watched a documentary about Cropsey, a boogeyman myth originating in New York. This is a particularly haunting case (and a brilliantly filmed documentary).

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Katherine: The Red Spot. I remember reading the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark version when I was younger and having nightmares about it long after.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Katherine: The most interesting serial killer to me is Jack the Ripper.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Katherine: I saw Jaws when I was probably ten or eleven. It was edited for television, so there were parts edited. I loved it. I’ve had a fascination with creature features, sharks, and monsters ever since. My first horror book was actually more of a Halloween book called The Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything. I was probably four or five and learning to read with my mom. We’d read that year round and I absolutely adored it.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Katherine: When I was in fifth grade at school, my class took a trip to the library. I pulled Stephen King’s IT off the shelf and read the prologue. I didn’t get any further. I’ve had a fear of clowns ever since.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Katherine: The Ring. I’ll never, ever watch that movie again.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Katherine: One year, I dressed up as Ernest P. Worrell. Absolutely no one knew who I was. It was hilarious.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Katherine: It’s a tie. I love “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas but I also really love “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Katherine: Snickers were always my favorite. As a kid, I was always disappointed with Mounds or Almond Joy (love them now though!).

Meghan: Before we go, what are your Top Halloween Movies and Books?

Katherine:
Movies: Scream, The Nightmare Before Christmas, What We Do in the Shadows, Underworld, Blade, Hocus Pocus

Books: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, The Shining by Stephen King, The Night Will Find Us by Matthew Lyons


Boo-graphy:
Katherine Silva is a Maine author of dark fiction, a connoisseur of coffee, and victim of cat shenanigans. She is a two-time Maine Literary Award finalist for speculative fiction and a member of the Horror Writers of Maine, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and New England Horror Writers Association. Katherine is also the founder of Strange Wilds Press, Dark Taiga Creative Writing Consultations, and The Kat at Night Blog. Her latest book, The Wild Dark, is due out October 12th.

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The Wild Dark —
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Raleigh has lost everything: her job as a police detective, her partner, her fiancé, and her peace of mind. After a month of solitude at a cabin in the woods, she finally feels as though she’s ready to move on.

But in one terrifying night, everything changes. Liz’s partner, Brody, appears in the form of a ghost. He’s one of millions that have returned to haunt their loved ones. Brody can’t remember how he died and Liz is determined to keep the secret of it buried, for it means dredging up crushing memories. Along with him comes an unearthly forest purgatory that swallows up every sign of human civilization across the world. The woods are fraught with disturbing architecture and monstrous wolves hungry for human souls. Brody says he escaped from them and that the wolves are trying to drag him and others ghosts back.

As winter closes in and chaos erupts across New England, Liz fights desolation, resurfacing guilt, and absolute terror as she tries to survive one of the most brutal winters she’s ever seen.

GUEST POST: Frank J. Edler

Demand the World’s Greatest Candy

We need to talk. About Halloween candy. You’ve got it all wrong, I guarantee it. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, no way Mr. Frank, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best Halloween candy, I’m certain of it. And, while you make a good case, Reece’s are an incredible Halloween candy to score in your trick-or-treat bag (and I maintain that Reece’s Pieces are superior to the peanut butter cup, but that’s another argument for another time), they are not the ultimate score.

The problem is, the ultimate Halloween candy goes criminally unnoticed year after year. It’s not right. The greatest Halloween candy to land in your trick-or-treat bag (or bucket, which you shouldn’t be using anyway because trick-or-treat buckets are limited and cumbersome) is Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps. See? I know, you just smacked yourself in the forehead and said, Duh!

What? You didn’t smack yourself in the forehead and say, Duh? There’s no possible way in the name of all the ghosts, ghouls, witches and Whatchamacallits that Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps are the ultimate Halloween candy? They can’t possibly be better than a Reece’s (in any form), Snickers, 3 Musketeers or Skittles. You are a fool if that is your mindset.

Listen, I get it. You’ve been bombarded with big chocolate advertising you’re whole life. It started out with the chocolate bar, graduated to chocolate covered candies that refuse to melt in your mouth. From there it was peanuts and nougat. Add in a cookie and cover it with caramel. All wonderful, to be sure. But the more the big candy companies vie for your Halloween dollar, they more complex and over-thought the offerings become. With clever marketing they sell you on overindulgence. It’s unnecessary. You need to find your roots.

Let’s get back to basics, the sugar!

The heart of any candy, chocolate or otherwise, is sugar. Nope, it isn’t the cocoa bean that makes the confectionery world go ‘round. It’s the sugar cane!

Willy Wonka’s Bottle Caps are masterpieces of the use of sugar in candy.

When you think sugar you think candy, cake, flavored juice bastardizations and, of course, soda. Soda! Liquid candy! Mr. Wonka, when not slaving away over the Ultimate Gobstopper, married the best of both sugary worlds and created a soda flavored candy! Bottle Caps!

You must’ve tried them at some point. They are hard and disc-shaped like Smarties (another fine and underrated Halloween addition to any discerning trick-or-treat bag). They are chewable Necco Wafers but with a less chalky finish. They are fruity and vibrant like Skittles or Starburst. And, most amazing of all, when you bite into them there is a sort of effervescence on the tongue. No, they aren’t carbonated candy but they taste like carbonated candy. You’re favorite soda pop in a fun little bite-sized candy!

Does your precious peanut butter cup do that? Didn’t think so.

It’s cool. I know I’ve got your attention now. Its that marketing thing. Willy Wonka doesn’t wield the advertising budget of the other guys. But, Willy Wonka doesn’t need to invest in a Wall Street marketing firm to get his goodies sold. Nope, he puts his money where his mouth is. He takes it on down to Flavortown!

Still, its hard as hell to score yourself one of these little treasures on Halloween. The best you can hope for is that you’re local trick-or-treat stop has invested in a Willy Wonka Halloween candy mix ‘n match bag. They’ll have Nerds, Sweet Tarts, Laffy Taffy, and Gobstoppers. And of course, they’ll have those precious treasures, a sleeve of Bottle Caps.

Don’t be shy. Demand the Bottle Caps. Let it be known you want Bottle Caps and nothing less! Dip your grubby little hands into that bowl full of sugar overdoses and go for the Bottle Caps. Take two, you are in the know now.

Demand Bottle Caps when all they have is m&m’s and Twix (which, by the way, we all know that the Left Twix is the superior Twix.) Say nay when you are offered a Dum-Dum lollipop and tell the sugar dispenser they are the dumb-dumb for not stocking Bottle Caps this Halloween. Turn your nose up at Hershey bars, Crunch bars and Dove medallions.

Make a stand! Demand Bottle Caps.

This is a process. It won’t change in the course of one or two Halloweens. Play the long game. Get the word out around the neighborhood that the kids demand Bottle Caps first and foremost! Soon the adults will be stocking up on bulk purchases of Bottle Caps to be the most talked about house on the block that Halloween. Sooner or later you’ll get that one adult who has to stand out all around town. They will be giving out full sized tubes of Bottle Caps, the ultimate score! Greater than a full sized chocolate bar, more treasured than a two-cup Reece’s package. The full sized, large disced tube of Willy Wonka Bottle Caps is the greatest treasure anyone can hope for at Halloween.

We can get there. You and I. Together.

Happy Halloween!


Boo-graphy:
Frank J. Edler is the author of many twisted novels and uncanny short stories often cited as ‘laugh out loud’ reads. His writing walks the fine line between horror and the bizarre. He resides in New Jersey, a land that is both horrific and bizarre. When not writing, Mr. Frank hosts the wildly popular Bizzong! The Weird & Wacky Fiction Podcast heard exclusively on Project Entertainment Network.

Death Gets a Book
Vincent and his nagging wife, Wanda wind up getting themselves killed in Tijuana. Vincent wakes to find that he is now the Grim Reaper. With minimal training he is cast into the world of Deaths to collect the souls of the dead. The only wrinkle is his dead wife has come back as a screaming Banshee. She is hellbent on getting her husband to realize that its not ’til death do they part and he is set on getting through his first day on the job.

He will not go it alone. Along the way he is helped by his co-workers: a cowboy, a midget, an action figure and a bumbling grim reaper from Salem.

Will Death get the soul to Charon’s skiff by the end of the work day or will a squadron of maniac Banshee’s stop Death and upend the balance of power in the underworld? And, will Vincent ever be rid of his nagging wife?

Death gets a book and now you do too!

Scared Silly
What do you get when you mix a penis eating zombie with a downtrodden grim reaper then add a pinch of lycanthopic mad scientist, sprinkle it with a grocery store full of living food and mash it into a frightening red eyed monster?

You get SCARED SILLY!

Let author, Frank J Edler, take you into a world of not-so-serious horror. This collection features five frighteningly funny tales from the wicked and wacky writer. Laugh yourself to death as you read the stories: Old Scrote, SPLAT!, Death Gets A Life, GROSSeries and Wolfberries.

Brats in Hell
Otto Van Der Noodle has just been crowned the Bratwurst King of Wisconsin when he is gunned down in cold blood. Otto finds himself in line at the pearly gates when he is accidentally cast through the gates of Hell.

Otto lands in the middle of a power struggle for the throne of Hell. Satan rules the underworld with an iron fist and a delicious bratwurst. Satan’s brother, Dagobert has just found his secret weapon, Otto Van Der Noodle and his prize-winning bratwurst.

Dagobert will try to tip the balance of control in Hell using Otto’s delectable bratwursts. But Satan may have found the ultimate weapon in his new favorite pet demon.

Souls will be tortured, demons will fight demons and bratwursts will be cooked. Who will come out as the top chef and leader of Hell when the cook-off to end all cook-offs is fought?

Read BRATS IN HELL to find out. Its the WURST book ever written!

Scatterbrain
It’s hard being a Killer Brain. Just ask Scatter, a Killer Brain who just wants to be a Killer Brain. But he can’t, his parents want him to get a job. Scatter would rather do what he does best, terrorize the city with his pack of Killer Brain friends. But Scatter is about to find out life isn’t fair.

Crazed neurosurgeon, Dr. Justin Case is out to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of the Killer Brains. And now he has Scatter in his sights. Along with his cohort, Coda, Dr. Case will stop at nothing to exact his revenge and seek the closure he has sought since he watched his parents get devoured by Killer Brains as a child.

The odds are stacked against Scatter. He must navigate life while trying not to fall into the clutches of his would-be nemesis. Can Scatter get by without a little help from family and friends. He just wants to live life doing what he loves but sometimes responsibility has a way of rearranging your priorities. Join Scatter as he navigates through life, the job market and a city full of crazies all keeping him from doing what he loves, being a Killer Brain.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Henry L. Herz

Meghan: Hi, Henry. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books and thank you again for agreeing to take part in this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Henry: As a kid, my favorite part of Halloween was the candy, of course. Now, it is the costumes. Any excuse for a party is a good excuse.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Henry: Seeing groups of kids happily wandering through the neighborhoods, their pillowcases bulging with sugary loot.

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday (or even second favorite holiday), why?

Henry: Free candy and costumes! What’s not to like? It gives us all an excuse to slip into an alter ego.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Henry: Nothing.

Meghan: What/who is your favorite horror monster or villain?

Henry: Dracula. Think of how terrifyingly unstoppable a vampire would be with its powers and wisdom from existing for centuries.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Henry: The murders committed in 1888 London by Jack the Ripper. Who was he? Why did he do it?

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Henry: The Licked Hand – a scared girl hears an ominous dripping coming from within her home. She is reassured by her faithful dog, who licks her hand from under the bed. Eventually, she investigates the noise only to find her dog slaughtered and a message written in blood – “humans can lick hands too”.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Henry: Hannibal Lecter because he is so intelligent, depraved, creepy, and sophisticated. If he sets his eyes on you, you are toast… with some fava beans and a nice bottle of Chianti.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie? How old were you when you read your first horror book?

Henry: I think my first horror movie was Jaws. I did not want to go swimming for quite some time after that. I unexpectedly slipped into reading horror when I discovered how good a writer Stephen King is with Different Seasons, which was comprised of four novellas, more dramatic than horrific. So, after that, my first horror book was Salem’s Lot. Vampires, yeah. Scary.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Henry: I was less scared by Cujo, Christine, or Carrie than I was It. An alien clown. Why did it have to be an alien clown? Preying on kids. Want a balloon, little boy?

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Henry: There’s a scene in An American Werewolf in London when the two friends are out walking in the fields at night, scared by wolf howling. One slips and falls and they have a good laugh. Right in the middle of that comic moment, the werewolf slams into one of them. Scary!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Henry: Being a fantasy fan and San Diego Comic-Con attendee, I’ve seen some amazing costumes. Inside jokes, like the cabbage merchant from Avatar: The Last Airbender crack me up. I also like authentic “recreations”, like a group of eight women dressed as Adapta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) from Warhammer 40K. I love mashups, like a little girl in a pastel-colored Predator costume and tutu, or a mashup of Boba Fett and the giant chicken Ernie from Family Guy.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Henry: Ooh, it’s hard to pick just one. Dragula by Rob Zombie, Thriller by Michael Jackson, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr., Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo. Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult, and of course, Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat? What is your most disappointing?

Henry: The 100 Grand candy bar from Ferrero is the king of Halloween candy. Fight me. Chocolate, caramel, and krispies, undiluted by gratuitous peanut butter, coconut, or whole nuts. The three most disappointing candies of my youth were candy corn (all the candy corn ever made was made in 1911), elephant “peanuts” (stale marshmallow formed into large peanut shapes, flavored with a hint of self-loathing), and Necco wafers (sad pastel-colored discs of brittle chalk).

Meghan: Before we go, what are some of your top Halloween movies and books?

Henry: Some of my favorites scary movies include Ghostbusters, The Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, and Kiss the Girls. For scary books, you can’t go wrong with horror written by Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, and Neil Gaiman.


Boo-graphy:
Henry L. Herz is the author of 11 traditionally published children’s books. He also writes scary adult and young adult stories, including: “Cheating Death” in The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie anthology (Blackstone Publishing), “The Castle on the Loch” in Castle of Horror IV anthology (Castle Bridge Media), “Demon Hunter Vashti” in the Jewish Book of Horror anthology (Denver Horror Collective), “Gluttony” in Classics Remixed anthology (Left Hand Publishing), and “The Kelpie of Loch Ness” in If I Die Before I Wake: Tales of Nightmare Creatures anthology (Sinister Smile Press).

Website

I Am Smoke
Smoke speaks in mesmerizing riddles: “I lack a mouth, but I can speak…. I lack hands, but I can push out unwanted guests…. I’m gentler than a feather, but I can cause harm….”This rhythmically powerful narration is complemented by illustrations in which swirling smoke was captured on art paper held over smoky candle flames, and the dancing smoke textures were then deepened and elaborated with watercolors and Photoshop finishes. With this unique method, Mercè López “let the smoke decide how the idea I had in mind would dance with it, giving freedom to the images.” The resulting illustrations are astounding, and they resonate with the otherworldly text.

Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes
Enter an enchanted land of mythical creatures where manticores reign and ogres roar-a land of mystery and fright. A unique twist on traditional rhymes of everyone’s youth, “Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes” presents a more sinister approach to these childhood classics, and yet the sing-song nature of the poems renders them playful and jovial at the same time. Little Witch Muffet is not frightened by a silly, little spider; she simply adds him to her stew!

Rotten zombies, giants, dwarves, and goblins mingle with werewolves, centaurs, and fauns. Follow along the skeleton stepping stones, scale up a palisade, claw at the window of a tasty child and bake him into a pumpkin shell. Monsters cook up delicious elvish pie, too! Every kid who has an eensy weensy bit of sense wants a pet with feathers white as snow, who flies like an eagle and bleats like a goat-a hippogriff, of course!

Six forest sprites with four times as many pixies escape from a loaf of bread atop the elaborate table of the fey queen; her feast has flown away! If you enjoy mischief and have a penchant for the morbidly hilarious, the Herzs’ rhymes will satisfy your mythological curiosities.

Larson’s illustrations give new life to these ancient figures, and her artistic style employs the bold lines and colorful movement of an action-packed comic book. The author also includes a “bestiary” with information about the book’s legendary creatures, which hail from Scotland, Germany, Italy, Persia, Haiti, and Scandinavia.