Blog

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Carver Pike

Carver and I have known each other for a long time, way before he became known as Carver, and it’s a huge pleasure to have him back on the blog.

Meghan: Hey Carver. Welcome (back) to the blog. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Carver: The overall atmosphere. It’s the time of year for horror authors to shine. I love walking the aisles of stores and seeing all the fall colors, grinning jack-o-lanterns, and creepy costumes. Of course, I love the vast amount of horror movies on offer by all the different channels. Back in the day, this was the only time of year you could watch ALL the Halloween films back-to-back on cable TV.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Carver: I’m pretty basic, to be honest. I always make sure to watch Halloween (my favorites are the first one, Halloween 4, and H20). The 2018 Halloween was pretty cool too. Can’t wait for the next one.

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

Carver: I love taking the kids trick or treating in neighborhoods where homeowners really get into the holiday. I’ve heard there’s a guy down the street who stands in his window every year dressed as Jason and when kids come to his door, he chases them. That’s awesome! That, and it’s the only time of year where you’re sure to see horror-themed shit in all the stores.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Carver: I don’t mess around with Ouija boards. Fuck that. Too many scary movies start out that way. When I was a kid, I didn’t worry about it. I used them with friends all the time. I remember ripping one in half and using one of the pieces to hold up my bedroom window. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time. That probably wasn’t a great idea.

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

Carver: Definitely Michael Myers. For the longest time, I had nightmares about Michael. I had plenty of other bad dreams too, but the nightmares with Michael chasing me always scared the shit out of me.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Carver: Off the top of my head, I’d probably have to go with the Zodiac Killer, mostly just because he toyed with the police the way he did and got away with it. I mean how do we let that happen? Jack the Ripper is another one that I find fascinating, but his murders took place so long ago and detective work wasn’t quite what it is today. We should have been able to track down and take out the Zodiac.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Carver: Bloody Mary is a pretty freaky one. There was another one similar to Bloody Mary that I was always afraid to play. I can’t remember what it’s called but you stand in front of a mirror, with the light off, and say his name however many times and then you’d see this creature or demon far away inside the mirror. It would sprint toward you and if you didn’t turn the light on before it reached the mirror, it would dive through and attack you. I wouldn’t dare play that game.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Carver: What a morbid question, Meghan. It seems wrong to have a favorite serial killer. I think the one that fascinates me most is Dahmer. I mean he was into some sick shit. Drilling holes into some of his victims’ heads to try and create zombies. Of course, there was that whole thing about eating them too lol. See? Even adding that “lol” in there seems wrong. There’s really nothing funny about it. Edward Kemper was interesting too. Did you watch Mindhunter? Great show. A lot of people don’t know that Kemper’s voice was the one narrating a lot of the old audiobooks. He recorded Flowers in the Attic and even Star Wars.

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

Carver: Oh, man. Probably like three or four. I think the first one I remember watching was Friday the 13th. I used to love watching Commander USA on the USA channel. You know, the guy who’d dress up as a super hero and spoke to the face he’d drawn on his hand with cigar ash. He’d always play awesome horror movies… I think on Saturdays. I remember seeing a double feature of Friday the 13th V and April Fool’s Day at the drive-in.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Carver: To this day, and I read it after picking it up from a Goodwill when I was about 12, the horror that unsettled me most is The Devil in Connecticut by Gerald Brittle. That’s the book The Conjuring 3 was based on. For a long time it was impossible to find. After the movie came out, they republished it with the movie cover, so I was able to buy a copy. I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait to see if it still unnerves me like it did back in the day. Unlike the movie, the book focuses more on David, the little boy who ended up being possessed. The movie skipped all that and went straight to the murder case that followed. The boy’s story was a lot scarier.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Carver: Probably The Exorcist. I was really young when I saw it and I remember my dad sneaking up behind me and scaring the shit out of me. Then he told me I needed to turn it off because I was too scared. Another movie that messed me up as a kid was Lamberto Bava’s Demons. That and the sequel are still two of my favorite horror movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Carver: I can’t think of a favorite, but I can tell you my least favorite. When I was a young teenager, maybe 15, I dressed as a car crash victim. So I basically just wound gauze around myself. Around my entire body. And I did it so tight that I could barely walk. I looked like a mummy. My friend drove us around to a couple of Halloween parties that night and it sucked so bad. Everyone else was having a great time and I could barely move.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Carver: Well, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is definitely one of them. This is Halloween from A Nightmare Before Christmas is another great one. Oh, and Little Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. If we’re talking themes, I’d have to go with Halloween.

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

Carver: Favorite: Butterfingers, Twizzlers, and candy corn. Most Disappointing: Apples or raisins (I like both but it’s a damn shame when people put them in kids’ candy bags)

Meghan: Before we go, what are your top 5 Halloween movies?

Carver: Trick ‘R Treat, Halloween 4, Night of the Demons, Hocus Pocus (if the kids are around), I’m a fan of the old made for TV movie The Midnight Hour (yes, the cheesy one starring Peter DeLuise and Levar Burton), and I’m going to cheat and add the 3 new Fear Street movies (1, 2, 3) as one. I don’t think they were necessarily Halloween movies, but they were fun and I think fit in well.


Boo-graphy:
My name is Carver Pike. Since as far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by everything horror. I’d sit cross-legged in front of the TV and watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre while devouring a bowl of Kaboom cereal. I always wished the ghost at the end of each episode of Scooby-Doo wouldn’t be just another man behind the mask. I wanted real ghastly ghouls, dastardly demons, and malevolent monsters.

At some point, I knew I couldn’t sit back and keep watching this horror world from the stands. I wanted to be in the game. So, now I wield this virtual pen and sling ink onto the page from my home in West Virginia where the people are friendly, the scenery is gorgeous, and horror story inspiration is in every nook, cranny, and holler.

I want to create those worlds you visit, feed that fear that keeps you up at night, and entertain you in ways only the greatest storytellers can.

Be advised, most of my books are very graphic in nature. Most are packed with violence, gore, sex, and more. I’m tastefully twisted at telling tasteless tales.

That’s enough about me. This is about you, the reader, enjoying the ride. Hopefully, we’ll form a great author-reader relationship and you’ll come to trust that Carver Pike will always keep you entertained.

The Maddening: Diablo Snuff 3
You don’t go looking for Diablo Snuff. It comes looking for you.

You should have heeded the warning. You should have gotten the message. Evil isn’t coming. It’s already here, and it’s wiping the world out in phases.

Step 1: Seep into the sexual underbelly – Through hotels, hostels, nightclubs, and pornography, they will steal the seed needed to create the bastard maniacs of the future: children created to dominate and destroy life as we know it.

Step 2: Rip through the world in the written form – Through novels of all genres, use the written word to drive readers violently mad.

Step 3: Destroy the rest by digital means – Through an app created by Diablo Snuff, convince the world’s wolves to slaughter the sheep. Highest paycheck goes to the most creative kills.

Step 4: Kill EVERYONE left.

Sooner or later we all go mad.

The Maddening is the final book in the Diablo Snuff series. This is where it all ends… or does it?

Be advised, all the other books in the Diablo Snuff world (A Foreign Evil, The Grindhouse, Passion & Pain, and Slaughter Box) can be read in any order. The Maddening, however, should be read after all the others. Thank you for reading.

SHORT STORY: The Meaning of Halloween by Frank Oreto

The Meaning of Halloween

“Trick or Treat.” Sidney repeated the words, then pointed to Meikare. Teaching the Amawaka boy bits of English helped pass the time. Even the Brazilian rainforest got tedious after a month of daylong marches.

Meikare grinned but said nothing.

“Come on, kid. You’re going to like this.” Sidney pulled a fun-sized Snickers bar from the pocket of his cargo shorts.

Meikare reached for the candy, but Sidney closed his hand.

“Trick or treat,” he repeated.

The ten-year-old’s grin straightened into a hard line. His hand blurred, drawing the machete that hung at his waist.

“Whoa.” Sidney stepped back, dropping the candy into the grass.

The boy shoved against him. Sidney, already unbalanced, fell to the ground. Meikare brought the machete around in a vicious arc, neatly beheading a long, striped snake. The snake’s fangs bit convulsively at the empty air.

Meikare knelt and picked up the fallen Snickers bar, handing it back to Sidney. “Trickertreat?”

“Yeah, I think you earned it.”

Oket, Sidney’s guide, squatted nearby, rearranging supplies.

“I’m going to give your grandson a Snickers bar,” Sidney said. “It has nuts in it.” Were nut allergies even a thing down here?

Oket regarded Sidney with disinterest.

“And he killed a snake.”

The guide nodded and turned his attention back to the supplies.

“Okay then.” Sidney handed over the treat, smiling as Meikare shoved the chocolate into his mouth. “Happy Halloween, kid.” He stood and stretched. Sweat rolling down his skin. October 31st should not be this damned hot. Sidney wished he were back in Pittsburgh.

Truth be told, he wished he’d never come. This was supposed to be an adventure.

“You go in under the radar. You and one guide,” the company rep had said. “You verify the mineral deposits, do some sightseeing, and there’s a big fat paycheck waiting when you get back. A lot more than you make teaching geology.”

Sure, the whole thing was a bit hinky. The indigenous zone was off limits to mining. But Sidney wasn’t mining. Just scouting and taking samples where Nav-Corp was already sure the rare earth deposits would be. Besides, weren’t adventures supposed to be a bit hinky?

It turned out Sidney didn’t much like adventure. The rainforest was mostly mosquitoes and humidity. And the mineral deposits were not such sure things after all. To top it off, they were a week and a half behind schedule, and he was missing his favorite holiday, Halloween.

Oket drew his own machete “We go,” he said. The guide spoke English but was so taciturn it hardly mattered. This strong-silent act had been why Sidney hired the man. The other guides had bragged. Oket simply said, “This is my world. You listen. I keep you alive.”

They had a system. Oket walked ahead to scout the best route and get rid of any immediate dangers. A few minutes later, Meikare would follow, babysitting the soft American. Sidney had to admit he liked the arrangement. Despite his early misgivings about Oket’s grandson coming along, he soon realized he preferred the boy’s company to the old man’s.

Meikare spoke almost no English but had the decency to smile and nod a lot. “Trickertreat?” the boy asked.

“Maybe later, kid.”

“Okay.” Okay was the first word Meikare had learned, and he used it often.

Sidney figured they would hike a few hours before Oket doubled back and called out “We sleep” or “We eat.” So, to pass the time, he talked about home. “Back in my world, it’s cold in October. The leaves turn colors, and you rake them up into piles and jump in them.”

Meikare nodded and smiled.

“On Halloween, people give out candy by the pound. As long as you’re dressed up and know the magic words.”

They reached the top of a rise and paused for breath. A narrow valley spread out below them. Within the green expanse, Sidney spotted a burst of red and gold. He blinked, waiting for the colors to resolve into some flowering tree or maybe a flock of exotic birds. “That’s an oak tree,” he finally said. “And the leaves are changing.” Sidney really couldn’t be sure. The tree was pretty far away. But the shape and color seemed right. “That’s impossible.” Or maybe not. Sidney was no botany expert. He only knew it looked like home.

He tapped Meikare on the shoulder and pointed toward the colored leaves.

“Okay,” the boy said.

“We go,” said Sidney, pointing again.

Meikare frowned.

Sidney could see the boy wanted to run ahead and ask his grandfather. Oket would scowl and turn back to his chosen route. If Sidney argued, Oket would simply answer, “I keep you alive.”

This is ridiculous, Sidney thought. I paid good money for a guide; shouldn’t he take me where I want to go? Then inspiration struck. “Trick or treat?” he asked, and patted his pocket.

“Trickertreat okay,” said Meikare.

Sidney pointed toward the tree again. “We go there, then trick or treat.” Suddenly, going to that tree was all Sidney wanted. To stand under branches full of fall leaves and perform the ancient ritual of Trick-or-Treat with his last two snickers. A little taste of home.

Meikare hesitated, but the lure of chocolate proved too much.

The forest thickened as they moved downhill, swinging their machetes. Sidney expected Oket’s harsh voice at any moment, but it never came. Abruptly, there was nothing left to cut. They stepped into a clearing. It wasn’t large, only twenty yards or so. In the center stood Sidney’s tree. It was perfect. Pure Norman Rockwell. Red-gold leaves hung from the tree limbs, practically glowing in the afternoon sunlight. More formed a circular carpet beneath the spreading branches.

Sidney stared, a dopey grin on his face.

Meikare pulled on his sleeve hard enough to make Sidney take a step back. The boy pointed up the hill and tugged again. He looked unhappy. “We Go.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll tell Oket I made you come. I wanted you to see this. It’s what I was talking about. Halloween.” He said the word again, pointing at the tree. “Halloween.”

“Trick or Treat?” asked Meikare.

Sidney nodded.

They ate the last candy bars while looking at the tree that shouldn’t be there. Meikare licked chocolate from his fingers and turned back to the path.

Sidney knew he should follow, but he was not quite finished with his little miracle. With a whoop, he ran to the carpet of leaves, kicking them high in the air. Surrounding himself in a shower of red and gold. Leaves swooped and twirled. But they did not fall.

More leaves rose from the ground, arching themselves through the air. Beneath them lay a second carpet. This one of bones. A leaf landed on top of Sidney’s hand. He felt a pinch, like a doctor’s needle. He grabbed the leaf, crushing it. The thing was leathery. Its body cracked as Sidney squeezed. He tossed it to the ground. The top of his hand welled blood. Two more of the leathery things dove onto the wound. Another landed on his cheek, biting.

Sidney flailed, scraping the creatures off as fast as he could. More bites stung his arms and legs.

Meikare stood frozen at the forest’s edge, his eyes wide, mouth still rimmed with chocolate. Sidney moved toward the boy. He had made a mistake, that’s all. He had forgotten this wasn’t his world. This was Oket’s world and Meikare’s. If he could get back to them, they would know what to do. They would save him.

He stumbled forward one-step, two. Shrill cries rent the air like a children’s choir gone mad. Sidney looked up at the thousands of reddish-gold shapes hanging from the branches above him. No. Not hanging, Sidney realized. The things above him crouched, waiting for prey. Waiting for me. They burst from the branches then, filling the air. Shrieking as they came. Red and gold shapes poured over Sidney. Tiny needle-sharp teeth tearing flesh, draining away his life sip by sip.

Meikare ran. Tears half-blinding him as he stumbled through the forest. He found his grandfather, grim-faced with anger at the top of the hill. The boy dragged the old man down to the clearing, but they were too late. All was quiet now. The leaf things once again hung unmoving in the branches. Where Sidney had last stood lay a mound of leaves, more red than gold, rising from the forest floor as if raked up and ready to be jumped in.

Meikare knew his forest home could kill. His grandfather had taught him to avoid a thousand dangers. And more importantly, that there were always more to learn. Now, it was Meikare’s turn to teach his grandfather about this new threat. He even had a name for it. The one his American friend had taught him. He pointed to the beautiful tree whose leaves bit and killed and pronounced the word with slow precision. “Halloween.”


Frank Oreto writes in deepest darkest Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His stories have appeared or are upcoming at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Pseudopod, and the Corpus Press anthology series In Darkness Delight amongst many others. When not telling lies and writing them down, Frank spends his time creating elaborate meals for his wife and ever-hungering children. You can follow his exploits, both culinary and literally, on Twitter and at his Facebook page.

A sampling of anthologies and magazines featuring stories by Frank Oreto include: Beyond the Veil, edited by Mark Morris; In Darkness Delight: Fear the Future; Unnerving Magazine 16; Vastarien Volume 4; The Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 4; In Darkness Delight: Creatures of the Night; plus a bunch of audio adaptations at various podcasts, like Pseudopod, Tales to Terrify, The No Sleep Podcast, and Centropic Oracle.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Dan Zeidler

For those of y’all who don’t have the pleasure of knowing Dan, this is your chance to get to know him. (Dan – my people; my people – Dan.) We are currently coming to the end of a project together (him the author, me the editor) and, even without my help, I think he’s a pretty fantastic author. (I can’t wait til y’all get to read his book.)

Meghan: Hey, Dan! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to welcome you here today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Dan: My favorite part of Halloween would have to be… costumes. Definitely costumes. I have lots of fun memories associated with Halloween costumes. When my sisters and I were little kids, around Halloween time the local supermarket would pretty much line the front wall with stacks of Halloween costumes in boxes. They weren’t particularly fancy costumes – just a cheap little mask and a plastic or vinyl coverall with a graphic and text identifying what the costume was meant to be. We thought they were awesome though.

The opportunities were rare and far apart as an adult, but when the chance arose the fun was more making or improvising a cool or amusing costume. More on that in a later question.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Dan: My favorite Halloween tradition is more of a family Halloween tradition, I suppose. Growing up, every year we would watch the Disney Halloween special on TV – this was before streaming services, DVRs, DVDs, etc. so the only time those particular Halloween themed Disney cartoons (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, narrated by Bing Crosby, in particular) were on was whatever night it was broadcast every year around Halloween. It was a big family social event. One of my sisters made sure to acquire the animated Headless Horseman on DVD and every year around Halloween we still have our showing.

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

Dan: I would say it is my second favorite (with Christmas being my favorite). It’s fun to decorate the house, check out some of the really elaborate decorations some people put up, hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters, and the occasional fun costume party with friends and family.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Dan: As a modern man of science I, of course, have acquired no superstitions whatsoever, knock on wood. Sure, if I spill some salt I throw a pinch over my shoulder, but that’s just good common sense. Naturally, I avoid walking under ladders because that’s just wrong – I mean, who would do that?

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

Dan: Well, if we are talking classic movie monsters I would say Dracula or classic vampires in general. From a story point of view I think they are great monsters – very powerful, terrifying foes with specific strengths and weaknesses. My hometown library had a great selection of books on vampire lore which as a kid I probably borrowed and read as often as I borrowed and read books on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

As for more modern movie monsters, the xenomorph from Alien is pretty cool as is the thing from, well, The Thing.

An honorable mention goes to the villain/monster from The Incredible Melting Man. My sisters and I caught the tail end of that movie on TV one Saturday afternoon and, well, villain/monster was neither cool nor scary. We thought he looked like a guy covered in applesauce. Our parents thought it would be fun to go out to dinner that night and the restaurant they brought us to just happened to be having a special on apple pie filling topped sundaes. My sisters and I pretty much spent the entire time entertaining ourselves with tales of the Applesauce Man and apple pie ice cream sundaes. At one point an elderly couple sitting unnoticed at the table next to ours rose from their seats, paused by our table, and thanked us for the funniest evening they had had in a long time. Yay for the Applesauce Man!

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Dan: I can’t really say that I have a favorite unsolved murder. Unsolved murders are vexing – it means one of the bad guys got away with something.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Dan: My favorite urban legend, not because it’s scary (although it is supposed to be), is one about a bunny suit-wearing, axe murder who lurks or haunts a railroad bridge down in Virginia. I’ve heard several variations of the killer/evil spirit that lurks in remote places waiting for victims. They all have some sort of weapon: a hook for a hand, a knife, a hammer, or an axe. The wearing of the bunny suit is a unique, and pretty funny, variation.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Dan: I don’t have a favorite serial killer, but I do have a favorite book on the catching of serial killers: Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker.

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

Dan: I would say I was around 10 or 12 when I saw my first horror movie although it would have been an old school horror movie, filmed in black and white, and shown on rainy Saturday afternoon on one local TV channel or another – it might have been Dracula (with Bela Lugosi) or the Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.). I was 14 or 15 when I saw a more modern horror movie, John Carpenter‘s The Thing. A friend got a copy of the movie on VHS and invited a bunch of us over one Saturday afternoon to watch it. I can’t say that any of us thought it was scary, but we did think it was pretty cool.

I was 17 when I read my first horror book: Stephen King‘s The Tommyknockers. I thought it was more Twilight Zone-ish than horrifying – you know, one of those stories that you read or see that gives you an eerie feeling. I also recall thinking that the characters in that story cussed more than even the most prolific of cussers I knew in real life.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Dan: The book that unsettled me the most wasn’t actually a horror novel, it was a historical fiction novel set in Appalachia just before, during, and just after the American Revolution. I don’t remember the name of the novel, but for the more graphically violent sections he used actual entries of diaries from the era to describe some of the more horrific ways human beings can kill one another… slowly and, as I mentioned, horrifically. It was quite unsettling.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Dan: The answer to this question is, clearly, the movie starring the Applesauce Man. Why, to this very day, I never trust an open jar of applesauce past its expiration date. No one should. Not even you, there in the back row.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Dan: Favorite costume… all right, gather ’round friends. It’s story time. Heh.

When I was in the Air Force, stationed in Korea, there were these two other service members I knew who spent some of their spare time volunteering at a… for lack of a better phrase, a local after-school school off base helping the kids practice English, serving as chaperones for field trips, and things like that. When Halloween rolled around the Korean couple who ran the school decided it would be fun to throw the kids an American-style Halloween party so they asked the two guys invite some friends to come out the school join in the fun and help out with teaching the kids how to carve jack-o-lanterns, helping them pretend to go trick-or-treating, and stuff like that. One of the six people who were supposed to go canceled last minute so I got drafted to go along. “We even have a costume you can use,” they said. It was a dark, hooded robe with a goofy rubber monster mask and a set of goofy rubber monster hand gloves. I told them to keep the mask and the gloves, but the robe I could as the start to a good costume.

One of my hobbies was studying Medieval swordsmanship and that hooded robe was perfect for a costume based on one of the figures in my favorite Medieval swordsmanship book (and who doesn’t have a favorite Medieval swordsmanship manuscript, right?) – The Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33.

It was a very basic, last minute kind of costume – I just wore a black t-shirt with pair of black pants tucked them into my combat boots, then I put on that hooded robe and hitched it up like in illustrations found in I.33, and then, as one does, I grabbed my trusty wooden sparring sword and buckler. My friends all thought I looked like Darth Zeidler, Lord of the Sith.

When we arrived at the school, one of the teachers had some fun identifying what each of us was dressed as and when she got to me she said “Oh! And a handsome knight!”

“What?!” my friends exclaimed. “He’s Darth Zeidler.”

The teacher shook her head. “Noooo – he’s clearly a handsome knight.

Clearly.

Favorite. Costume. Ever.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Dan: Let’s see… The Monster Mash is an oldie but a goodie. Spooky Scary Skeletons is also pretty amusing.

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

Dan: My favorite Halloween candies would be: the various varieties of miniature Hershey bars, Nestle Crunch bars, Milky Way bars, and Peanut Butter Cups. The most disappointing Halloween candy for me was anything with ground coconut in it – I just don’t care for the texture.

Meghan: Before we go, what are your top 10 Halloween movies?

Dan: It’s more an animated short than a movie, but Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is fun and an American classic.

Segueing into classics, I say you can’t go wrong with these classic monster movies: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Wolfman (1941), and The Mummy (1932). For Classic monster fun on the other hand, try Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Abbot and Costello meet the Mummy. (As an aside, after church on Sundays we would all go over to my grandparents’ house and the adults would all hang out in the kitchen, talking over a cup of coffee or two or three. My sisters and I would play outside or play board games inside or read or watch Abbot and Costello movies on TV. Every Sunday afternoon one of the local TV stations would always show an Abbot and Costello movie and since those were considered reliably child-friendly, that’s what was always on TV Sunday afternoons when we went over our grandparents’ house.

Anyway, back to Halloween movies…)

For modern horror movies, my top Halloween choices would be Alien, The Thing (1982… although for fun you can also watch the 1951 version in all its “man in a rubber monster suit” glory), and Resident Evil.


Boo-graphy:
Dan Zeidler is a writer of science fiction and fantasy and the author of the upcoming science fiction adventure novel Ghosts of a Fallen Empire. Dan began expressing his love of writing at an early age with the parentally acclaimed poem Trains are Great which, along with other early examples of his work, earned a place on the prestigious Refrigerator Magnet Gallery. While nothing can be done for his poetry skills, which haven’t improved a whit since that train poem, a steady diet of great stories ranging from ancient mythological tales to Arthurian legends to classic sci-fi and fantasy and on up to Star Trek and Star Wars have improved his storytelling abilities considerably. To further refine and enhance his writing and storytelling skills, Dan lived a life of adventure first by getting a degree in geoscience, then by serving in the US Air Force, then by embarking on a career as a data analyst… hmmm… okay, let’s go back a bit to the part about how a lifetime of reading as many great stories (and many not so great stories) as he could have inspired Dan to write his own stories; stories that above all strive to be fun and entertaining reads.

Dan currently resides with his family among the rugged, forested hills of his home state of Connecticut.

GUEST POST: Somer Canon

The Halloween Mood

It’s that time of year again. Summer has come to an end, the days are getting shorter, and the color orange is starting to saturate our world of capitalistic vice and consumption. There’s pumpkin spice, well, everything and the general cozy feeling that comes with the season, and then we have the people who are annoyed with the deliriously evangelical followers of the autumnal cult of joy. Fall is the favorite season of many, and the favorite punching bag of others. Personally, I’m a big fan of the season and the mood it sets. I haven’t even touched on the best day of the season, in my opinion at least: Halloween.

I sit pretty comfortably in the opinion that Halloween is one of the best holidays. I’m not even close to being alone in that belief. In 2019, almost 70% of Americans celebrated Halloween. It dropped a bit in 2020 and looks like the downward trend may continue this year, thanks to the pandemic. But still, more than half of Americans, pandemic or not, are going to be indulging in the spooky, in the morbid, and in the deliciously decadent delights that horror can give. Children and adults alike love Halloween. Horror fans and otherwise love Halloween. The love of Halloween spans various belief systems and religions. How is this so? Why is Halloween such a hit?

I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that it happens at the end of October, just as fall is getting into full swing. Like Christmas, we start celebrating Halloween before the actual day with trips to pop-up stores for new costumes and goodies for our homes, visiting haunted houses and hay rides, and scary movies play on the television every night. Summer is the season that we spend mostly out of our homes, away on vacations and with school being out, mostly on a relaxed or nonexistent schedule. Fall begins with school going back into session, the return to routine and to the end of the vacation season. We’re home, we’re settling in, we’re getting cozy, and we get to do that as the lush beauty of nature prepares to wow us one last time. In the autumnal season, nature proves that she saves the best for last. The sweet smell of dead leaves and their lovely crunch under our feet as we walk, it romances us. Death woos and charms us. Pumpkins start appearing everywhere, flanked by decorative baskets of chrysanthemums. But alongside that magazine-cover pretty picture, there are skeletons, spiders, black cats, corpses, vampires, bats…all of the ambassadors of the decidedly spooky. And they go together wonderfully. I put a seven-foot werewolf on my front porch, but I’ve also got mums and pumpkins. I put out a small cemetery in my side yard with zombies and skeletons climbing out of the graves, but they’re surrounded by beautiful falling leaves from the large tree. The beauty of nature’s death pairs nicely with the human macabre.

Halloween also has the distinguished position of being a holiday that normally doesn’t come with family obligations. Every season comes with a holiday that carries some sort of requirement that can stress us out. Halloween has no such demand. It stands as one of the special days on the calendar that is set aside purely for fun. Obligations are minimal, usually, and having to eat a big dinner next to your judgmental aunt is still at least a month away. Halloween is so much more casual. I know the history of Halloween and I know the pagan-held beliefs of the day, but it has become a day of laughter, fun, sweets, and ridiculousness. It has a few songs, it has a lot of movies, and it has costumes. Halloween is an absolute delight, and I know that I start looking forward to it every August. I sometimes hold out through September before bringing out my spooky and corny decorations, and sometimes I don’t. But, at the very least, the month of October is dedicated to Halloween in my house. My giant porch werewolf and the many other outdoor decorations pale in comparison to what I have inside of my house. A disassembled skeleton hangs from my dining room chandelier, I drink my coffee from Halloween mugs and have my evening tipple in Halloween glasses. For crying out loud, I have Halloween bedding and bathroom hand towels! I love every stitch of it. All of it.

The U.S. is an enormous country with many different regions and not all of them necessarily have four seasons, and yet, they still celebrate Halloween. I live in Eastern Pennsylvania where we certainly experience the full four seasons, but Halloween is pervasive in this country of ours regardless of whether autumn happens or not. Again, why? I’m not an academic and I have no deep philosophical answer for you. What I do have is my observation, and my knowledge of both your average person and the horror community. Halloween is popular because it’s fun. Being scared is fun. Horror carries a stigma of being sick and taboo, and yet I rarely meet a person who doesn’t have a favorite scary movie. People tell me all the time that they don’t like horror, but they love Halloween. Yes, it’s the day for the horror-lovers, but it’s also the day for the “normies” to take a walk on the spooky side and it turns out, they have just as much fun as us horror folk. It’s fun! That’s not a deep answer, but it is an obvious one, and a truthful one.

So, if you’re like more than half of us and celebrating Halloween, enjoy it. Have the fun. Watch the movies, eat the treats, put up the decorations, and do it with people that enjoy it as much as you. Do a Halloween night recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” and eat some apple dumplings. But could you do this horror author a favor? Pick up a scary book from an author you’ve never read. Give a smaller name a chance. Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree is a terrific book and everything by Stephen King can be appropriate at this time of year. But there are so many horror authors out there who are putting out works that will surprise you with the imaginative takes and amazing storytelling and it’s a shame to only read the biggest names, or only a few names. Try something new, someone new, and allow yourself to be surprised and delighted. After all, ‘tis the season!

I’ll start you off. I’ll throw some authors at you, and you pick what thrills you most.

If you love monster books, authors Hunter Shea and Mary SanGiovanni write some of the best monster-based fiction out there. Wile E. Young is really climbing the ranks here as well.

If you love a good haunted house book or gothic horror, check out Catherine Cavendish.

If you like really strange, creative horror that takes unexpected turns, Wesley Southard, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Armand Rosamilia deliver.

If you like it spicy and want your horror a little sexy, check out Sephera Giron and Jessica McHugh. But don’t be fooled by the erotic bent of these works, they are every bit as brutal and horrifying as any other horror book, just with an added bonus.

Do you like horror that doesn’t really fit into a category but can be emotional and somehow beautiful? Robert Ford and John Boden belong on your shelves, then.

Grab a short story collection from a new author. As a reader, I find the best authors out there put together amazing short story collections. Most of the authors I mention here have short story collections in their bibliography. Also, try one of Matt Wildasin’s Horrors Untold volumes. They’re wonderful and varied fun.

Lots of authors write Halloween-themed works. Ronald Kelly, Kevin Lucia, Douglas Clegg, and yours truly have Halloween works out there.

I’m barely scratching the surface here, and could spend all day pointing you to terrific authors, but if you start here, and do a little digging of your own, I guarantee you’ll find your new favorite author. Happy Halloween!


Somer Canon lives in Eastern PA with her husband, two sons, and three cats. She loves to read and write and although she is polyamorous when it comes to genres, horror always seems to be her favorite.

Boneyard
Halloween is a night of spooky fun…at least it is for the living. What about the dead? What kind of fun do they have? Read and find out how the no-longer-living entertain themselves at the expense of very much alive and disrespectful people!

A Fresh Start
Still hurting from her divorce, Melissa Caan makes a drastic life change for herself and her two young children by moving them out to a rural home.But the country life came with some extras that she wasn’t counting on. Doors are slamming, she and her children are violently attacked by unseen hands, and her elderly neighbor doesn’t like to talk about the murders that happened in the strangely named hollow all those years ago.Ghost hunters, witches, and a sassy cancer survivor come together to help Melissa fight for the safety of her children and herself.All she wanted was a fresh start, will she get it?

Slaves to Gravity (with Wesley Southard) —
After waking up in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the waist down, Charlie Snyder had no idea where life would take her. Dejected, broken, and permanently bound to a wheelchair, she believed her life was truly over. That is…until gravity no longer applied.It started out slow. Floating from room to room. Menial tasks without assistance. When she decided to venture outside and take some real risks with her newfound ability, she rose above her own constraints to reveal a whole new world, and found other damaged individuals just like her to confide in.But there are other things out there, waiting in the dark. Repulsive, secretive creatures that don’t want Charlie to touch the sky. And they’ll stop at nothing to keep her on the ground.

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by Sue Rovens: Harvest Home

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon

Both the movie (the made for television mini-series from 1978) and the book (written in 1973) are absolute wins. Harvest Home is the story about Cornwall Coombe, a tiny, almost forgotten hamlet tucked away somewhere within the Connecticut countryside and follows a young family (the Constantines) who desire a more quiet and peaceful life.

It’s part folk and part cult, but all solidly horror-based. The book does take its time “getting there”, but what Tryon does masterfully is set the scenes and create the world, so by the time hell breaks loose (and trust me, it does), you are all in.

The characters are riveting and truly jump off the page. Like ‘em or hate ‘em, you’ll get to know and understand them. And while we might not live in a world like ‘the Coombe’, there’s enough folk horror of today for readers to have a firm grasp on the entirety of the story. Think Midsommar, The Wicker Man (the original), and to a degree, The Stepford Wives (the original), and even The Witch.

I recommend this book (and the made for tv movie – you can find a fairly decent offering on YouTube. It’s not the cleanest version, but you’ll get the gist.) It’s perfect for the fall, for Halloween, or anytime you want a fantastic story and pulls you in and refuses to let go long after you’ve finished with it.


Boo-graphy:
Sue Rovens is an indie suspense/horror author who hails from Normal, Illinois. She has written four novels and two books of short horror stories, with her latest book, Rage, having “hit the shelves” in July 2021.

Track 9, her second novel, snagged a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly (May 2018), her short story, “Coming Over”, from her book In a Corner, Darkly (Volume 1), was turned into a screenplay and short student indie film by the theater department of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and another short story, “When the Earth Bled”, won 2nd place in the Support Indie Authors short story contest earlier this year. Her two most recent books (Buried and Rage) are under Plump Toad Press.

Sue owns a blog which includes interviews with authors, musicians, podcasters, and artists. She is an Executive Producer for an indie (short) horror film which is currently in production called “Let’s Do Things that Make Us Happy”. Sue is also a co-host and story writer for the new horror podcast, Ye Olde Terror Inn.

Sue is a member of The Chicago Writers Association and the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi). 

Blog/Website
Email
Amazon

Rage
Weston Cross is a bullied and abused man who wants nothing more than to escape from his agonizing mental anguish and excruciating misery. After a harrowing brush with death, he discovers a better way to twist his depression and self-despair into something different…something sinister.Lindsay Yager, the therapist assigned to help Weston with his internal battles, is fighting her own demons. On the verge of a nasty divorce, she finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. Her anger and vitriol take no prisoners, even when lives are at stake – including her own.Depression sets the stage, but RAGE will have the final say.