AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kristopher Triana

Meghan: Hey, Kris. Welcome back to Meghan’s House of Books and our annual Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Kristopher: As a kid, it was being out on a cold night with the leaves blowing about, seeing the jack-o-lanterns glowing, running down the street in my costume and pretending I was a werewolf or vampire or whatever. That was even better than the candy! As an adult, I cherish those memories. Now, my favorite part of the holiday is its rich traditions, and the way adults can return to that childlike wonder for a night.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Kristopher: The horror movie marathon, especially when it’s with a significant other or a good friend. You carve pumpkins as the sun goes down, put on scary movies, and hope to get trick or treaters.

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

Kristopher: It is my favorite, hands down. I’m a horror writer, and also a horror fanatic. Halloween is the time of year everyone is into what I’m always into all year long.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Kristopher: Nothing, really. I don’t believe in that stuff. Give me a black cat to pet!

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

Kristopher: Oh, that’s a tough one. As for the old monsters, I’d have to say The Wolfman is my favorite. I’ve always related more to a tortured soul trying to contain his inner beast than some undead bloodsucker being all suave and perfect. I also dig The Blob!

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Kristopher: The Black Dahlia. It was such a brutal crime and so shrouded in mystery.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Kristopher: I’ve always loved the hook, with the teens at lover’s lane who hear on the radio about an escaped maniac with a hook hand, then find the bloody hook on the handle of the car door after they drive home.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Kristopher: I wouldn’t say I have a “favorite” one because I don’t like when people glorify someone like that. I see someone at a horror con wearing a Richard Ramirez t-shirt and I’m just like, “You know he raped and murdered old ladies, right?”. It’s just messed up. People need to differentiate between horror fiction and reality. But I do find true crime stories very interesting. Edmund Kemper’s story is so beyond messed up. Well worth a read if you can stomach it!

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

Kristopher: I can’t remember exactly, but probably eight or nine, watching the old Universal monster movies. I was about eleven when I saw my first slasher film, which was John Carpenter’s Halloween, and I was hooked.

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

Kristopher: I read the Crestwood Monster Series and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark as a kid. Then I moved on to Stephen King and Clive Barker. I think The Mist by King was my first adult horror story, and my first novel read was The Dark Half. Then Barker’s The Great and Secret Show opened my mind to the limitless possibilities the genre could offer. By the time I was fourteen I was devouring what is now referred to as “Paperbacks from Hell”, all the novels from the horror boom of the ’80s. I knew early on that I wanted to be a horror author too.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Kristopher: King’s The Shining was the first book I ever had to put down for a few hours because I was so freaked out. Since then, there have been many that got under my skin—brutal books like Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door and Off Season, or more recent thrillers like Come With Me by Ronald Malfi. There are even books that don’t qualify as horror but are deeply unsettling, such as Last Exit to Brooklyn and The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr. His books are incredible.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Kristopher: I saw part of Prince of Darkness when I was way too young and it scared the crap out of me! I never knew what is was, and then one day I’m watching this movie, and the scene I always remembered—the hobo impaling a man with a bicycle—comes on and I’m like, “Holy shit!”

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Kristopher: I loved being Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers, but dressing as Leatherface was the best because I hid in the bushes and then chased kids with a real chainsaw! I had removed the chain, so it was totally safe, but still loud and terrifying. They came back for more every year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Kristopher: Again, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I do love Tim Curry’s song in The Worst Witch.

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

Kristopher: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are my Halloween staple. Even the old school label screams Halloween with its autumn colors. The worst in the world is that horrible abomination known as candy corn.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by, Kris. Make sure you send Bear our love. But before you go, what are your go-to Halloween movies?

Kristopher: My ideal Halloween movie/TV marathon is:

John Carpenter’s Halloween
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Ginger Snaps
Trick or Treat (1986)
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes
Night of the Demons (1988)
Night of the Demons 2
The Exorcist III
The Monster Squad


Boo-graphy:
Kristopher Triana is the Splatterpunk Award-winning author of Gone to See the River Man, Full Brutal, The Thirteenth Koyote, They All Died Screaming, and many other terrifying books. His work has been published in multiple languages and has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, drawing praise from Rue Morgue Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Scream Magazine, and many more.
 
He lives in New England.

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Podcast

And the Devil Cried
When Jackie is released from prison, his boss Pino sends a limo to pick him up. Even fresh out of the joint, ruthless Jackie is ready to work, collecting money for the mob and using his special training to take care of bad accounts—permanently.

But when a drunk driver kills Pino’s young son, he gives Jackie a task that goes against every moral code. The drunk driver has a pre-teen daughter, and Pino doesn’t just want vengeance—he wants an eye for an eye.
Jackie accepts the job, but once he finds the girl he starts making plans of his own…

And the Devil Cried is a dark thriller from Kristopher Triana, the award-winning author of Gone to See the River Man and Full Brutal. It is a vicious, unflinching novel that’s bound to keep you burning.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Erica Lucke Dean

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

Erica: I’m a huge fan of all the spooky stuff. I love the pumpkins, witches and ghosts… especially the old decorations from the 30s. Somehow they’re creepier to me than the modern slasher movie props.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Erica: It isn’t Halloween without watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And Hocus Pocus. The original Halloween. I don’t know, I like it all… from trick-or-treating to picking out costumes to decorating the house (mine isn’t done yet this year, but it will be!)

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

Erica: Halloween is most definitely my favorite holiday. I think first of all, from the time I was a kid, it was like the gateway to the holidays. Mom used to pull out the velvety paper cutout decorations. We always found the biggest pumpkin to cut into a jack-o-lantern. Mom made our costumes. Our little town had a parade with prizes to the best costumes.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Erica: I can’t sleep if my feet aren’t under covers. Or if any part of my body is dangling over the side. I don’t know if that counts or not. I’m not afraid of black cats – in fact, I’ve had several growing up. And my daughter has 2 now. They love sleeping in my lap.

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

Erica: Michael Meyers from the original Halloween movie. And I don’t endorse anything between the first one and the most recent ones with Jamie Lee Curtis. Those are the best. I’ll give bonus points to the Rob Zombie version. It was good, but sooooo gross. LOL.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Erica: I don’t really follow unsolved murders that closely, but I think the Black Dahlia is the most fascinating one I can think of.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Erica: I don’t like looking into mirrors in dark rooms. I’m always afraid I’ll see Bloody Mary or the Candyman in them.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Erica: I hate to say I have a “favorite” because serial killers are bad dudes. But I can’t seem to help myself when any documentary on Ted Bundy comes on. It’s terrifying to think someone could live a normal life, have a family, a job, and just be out there killing people on the side. He could be anyone.

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

Erica: I was a huge fan of the old Abbott and Costello movies when I was a kid, especially Abbott and Costello Meet Dracula/Frankenstein/the Wolfman. I loved those movies. I was probably 7 or 8 the first time I saw them. I can’t remember how old I was when I read The Amityville Horror, but I LOVED scary books and movies as a kid. I think I read exclusively horror until I graduated college. Weird, right?

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

I loved Stephen King books when I was a teenager. To this day, ’Salem’s Lot scares the bejesus out of me.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Erica: I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my day, but the one that scared me for life was Final Destination. I still can’t fly.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Erica: I dressed a I Dream of Jeanie one year. That was my favorite adult costume. My favorite kid costume was the year my mom dressed my sister and me as a two-headed man. We won a prize at the annual Halloween parade that year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Erica: I have too many. Monster Mash, Little Red Riding Hood, Werewolves of London, I have an entire playlist that goes on loop from October 1st – 31st.

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

Erica: I actually love candy corn. Mary Janes. Sugar Daddys, Snickers. You can keep your Gushers, Smarties, and those other fruit flavored things.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. Before you go, what are your top 15 Halloween movies?

Erica: There are really too many to choose. I might not watch all of them every year, but I might watch some of them more than once. My list might fluctuate from year to year to add or subtract one or two. But these are must watch movies!

  1. Carrie
  2. Night of the Living Dead
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  4. Scary Movie
  5. Shaun of the Dead
  6. An American Werewolf in London
  7. The Witches
  8. Fright Night
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (this one does double duty at Christmas too!)
  10. Beetlejuice
  11. Halloween
  12. The Lost Boys
  13. Practical Magic
  14. Hocus Pocus
  15. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Boo-graphy:
After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lived in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse.

Tired of being woken up in the middle of the night by a pesky poltergeist, the author of contemporary young adult, romantic comedy, and paranormal romance moved into a cute little cabin in the woods, where she lives with her husband, her dogs, and the occasional bear. Much like the characters in her books, Ms. Dean is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

You can find out more about Erica, in addition to her humorous blog posts and disasters, on her website.

Represented by: Cathie Hedrick-Armstrong of The Purcell Agency

Eve Versus the Apocalypse
When everyone she cares about is killed in an alien invasion, college color guard Eve uses her skills with a saber to battle her way through the changing landscape. Faced with monsters of more than one kind, Eve isn’t sure who to trust. After running into a group of survivors, she must decide if a new alliance with the dangerously sexy Archer is worth the risk. His offer of protection is tempting, but if she agrees to join him, her life may not be the only thing on the line.

Eve on Kindle Vella
New episodes drop every Sunday

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jack Rollins

Meghan: Hey, Jack! Welcome back to our annual Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Jack: Although I enjoy opportunities to get into a costume, as a dad, it’s all about my sons at the minute. I can never remember the UK being as into Halloween as it is now. These days there’s more of a build-up, and the kids get excited for days in advance. Decorations go up earlier and earlier each year. It’s becoming a mini-Christmas, really. My boys get excited about Halloween, and I get to go along for the ride.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Jack: Last year I started something that I hope will become a tradition. My boys and I played some board games together, all around the Halloween theme. We played Cluedo (I think you call it Clue in the States), so we solved a murder, we played King of Tokyo, so we had Kaiju battling over a city, then we played the fantastic Horrified, which has become a firm favourite in our house, all year round. I set it up so the boys won sweets and treats throughout the games, and we all had a blast.

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

Jack: I grew up in the 80s, so Christmas was always great. So many great toys back then – especially anything related to Ghostbusters. So Christmas was very much my favorite holiday.

Halloween is a close second, and it’s becoming a closer race each year now. Like I say, we Brits are getting more into Halloween these days. We seem to be shifting closer to what I always liked to see in TV shows and movies from the States.

I live in the North-East of England, so when we hit Autumn, the days get really short. I used to feel quite depressed about that, but I’ve grown to enjoy the change, and try to slow down and bit and appreciate it more.

There’s something about the time of year, that autumnal shift: you’re well past summer, but it’s not uncomfortably cold like the depth of winter. By day you’ve got all the lovely colours of autumn around you, and the smells – unlike winter, when it’s so cold that nothing smells of anything. You get wrapped up in an extra layer or two, and have this night where kids are encouraged to go out into the darkness, at a time where they’d usually be winding down towards bedtime. They’re excited about that, and even though the theme is ghosts and monsters, they aren’t afraid. It’s one night when kids aren’t afraid of all the things that usually scare them.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Jack: I don’t have any really traditional superstitions. I have a couple of family members who are very superstitious, though. For instance, if one of my aunties turns up or gets in touch randomly one morning, you know she’s had a dream that you died. The only way she thinks she can stop it happening, is if she speaks to you before noon. Unless she dislikes you, I suppose, in which case she’d probably hide all morning and wait to see if you got hit by a bus or something.

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

Jack: I’m watching a French series on Netflix at the moment, called Marianne. It’s very cool, really tense, but there’s a level of humour to it, too. The evil entity in that show is my current favourite. She strikes the sort of notes I aim for in my writing.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Jack: Different cases interest me more at different times. It might be a TV show like Making of a Murderer, that makes me wonder what really happened. Tiger King doesn’t count… I think we all know what happened there!

On a very local level, there was a murder in the 1990s, in the town where I live. A local organised crime figure was shot dead outside a bar. He was well-known as a wild man, really brutal. Shootings are most uncommon in the UK, and it was a bit easier to get a gun back then than it is now, but still, gun crime wasn’t common. I’d love to know if it was one of his enemies, or did someone on his own side maybe decide it was time for him to go? Maybe his reputation was attracting too much attention and they couldn’t get on with business. I guess we’ll never know.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Jack: There’s one that makes me feel sick when I think about it. All I have to say is McDonalds, and you’ll immediately think of some variant, I’m sure. The one I’m thinking of involves and woman and her child going to McDonalds, and both of them becoming very ill. Their lips, tongues, gums and all down the insides of their throats were covered in blisters and weeping lesions. Stool samples were taken, and traces of herpes-infected semen was found in the Big Mac special sauce. But it’s just an urban legend… isn’t it? Tell yourself that next time you go for a Big Mac.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Jack: Jack the Ripper fascinates me. I was thinking about his killings when you asked about the unsolved murders. It’s such an evocative case, embedded in our culture now. Everyone imagines that top-hat and cloak with the edge of a blade glinting in the gaslight. Did he do it because those women were so vulnerable? Was it purely the opportunity, and the perception that nobody would really care about murdered prostitutes? I’ve always leaned towards the theory posed in Alan Moore’s amazing graphic novel From Hell, that it may have all been to cover up a royal scandal… but of course, no member of the royal family would ever do anything sexually inappropriate, would they?

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

Jack: I was such a wimp when it came to horror. My mother described The Shining and A Nightmare on Elm Street to me, when I was really young. I think they’d made a real impression on her and she’d really enjoyed them. Of course, she had seen them. Me? I was left with an image of Freddy Kreuger conjured up from someone’s description. My mind filled in the blanks and I was terrified of the idea of him. You watch the Nightmare movies now and see how much humour was in them, but all that was missing from what I was told and what I imagined, so I avoided horror movies like the plague! Thanks, mother.

I didn’t come around to them until Scream 2 came out, so I was about 17. One of my friends wanted to watch it at the cinema, and I hadn’t seen the first one. So he got Scream on VHS, we watched it in the afternoon and I loved it, and we watched the second one that night. Those movies made the genre really accessible for me, through the slasher subgenre.

In horror books, again, I got to them late. I was probably about 19 or 20. I lived with a girl who had a great collection of James Herbert books. I started out with Haunted, which I loved. I carried on from there. I’ve read more James Herbert books than the work of any other horror writer.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Jack: Without a doubt it was Last Days by Adam Nevill. There are some moments in that book that I found really creepy. I got a similar feeling when I read The Ritual, also by Nevill. He must have the inside track on what scares me. His work always seems to get inside my head.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Jack: Last year I watched a movie called Baskin. I think it’s a Turkish film. I’m not really into torture movies. I’m not interested in Hostel and things like that. There is a certain amount of torturing goes on in Baskin, but it’s not there just for the sake of it – it has a reason for being there. There’s a character who turns up at the end, played by a guy who had never acted before, but who has this genetic condition that gives him a really unnerving appearance that played on my mind long after the movie ended. That sounds awful really, because that’s the guy’s actual face – but that’s why they cast him, and it worked.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Jack: I once dressed up as Alex from A Clockwork Orange. I loved that costume. In fact, I might just walk about like that all the time.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Jack: When I try to think of any music relating to Halloween, all I can think about is this tune called Spooky, Spooky that my kids listened to when they were really little. It’s on YouTube and we had to put it on for them a hundred times in a row when we had Halloween parties for them and their little pals, and now that I’ve remembered it, I’m stuck with it in my head again.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat?

Jack: There was some sort of little cake slice I found last year. I got a pack of them to eat with the kids, and as soon as I tasted it, I wished I’d hidden them and kept them all for myself. It was some sort of chocolate-covered cinder toffee, digestive biscuit bar by McVitie’s. I hope I find them again this year. No sharing this time, though.


Boo-graphy:
Jack Rollins was born in North East England in 1980. He is an author of dark fiction, including horror and dark fantasy. Best known for carving out a bloody niche in Victorian horror stories, including The Seance, The Cabinet of Doctor Blessing, and Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows, he also writes compelling contemporary stories, approaching the horror genre from unique angles. He has also published a collection of short stories, Scattered Ashes. The author lives in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England.

Website
(Visit the website for a free copy of The Seance.)

The Seance
Albert Kench is summoned back to London from his travels in Australia, and is shocked to find that his sister has suffered horrific mental and physical damage. A man of science and progress, when Albert is told that Sally attended a seance prior to her collapse and has been touched by otherworldly forces, he believes there must be another, more rational explanation. Albert learns of a man who claims mastery of the dark arts, who may hold the key to Sally’s salvation. Albert sets off in search of answers, but can he emerge victorious without faith, or will he be forced to accept the existence of a realm beyond the world around him?

The Cabinet of Dr Blessing
A chilling tale of gothic horror, told in three parts, collected in one volume. Dr George Blessing operates in his Victorian London hospital. Sympathetic to the poor, Blessing is summoned to a traumatic childbirth. There he discovers a creature of nightmarish power and malevolent intent, whose unearthly abilities he wants to harness for the good of mankind. When he reveals the secret to a friend after a dinner party, Dr Blessing’s obsession triggers events threatening to destroy his reputation, his family and the entire city. As the creature grows ever more powerful and suspicious investigators close in, the doctor is one step from death at every turn. Told in the tradition of a penny-dreadful, each part intricately spins a gripping web of secrets, lies and death, blending “Hammer House of Horror” style scares with fast paced action.

Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows
A series of night-time disappearances among the workforce of railway engineer Oliver Stroud threaten to bring the construction of a new railway bridge to a standstill as local superstitions give rise to unrest and desertion. Stroud is left with no choice but to investigate an ancient burial site to bring closure to the matter once and for all but there is no peace to be found among the barrows of Old Uppsala, for neither the dead, nor the creatures of myth who live among them.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: John Wayne Comunale

Meghan: Hey John!! Welcome back!! What is your favorite part of Halloween?

John: It’s hard to say when your life is pretty much Halloween all-day every day, but living in Texas where it’s hot as hell all the time I would have to say my favorite thing is the change in weather that comes with the time of year. Halloween is usually accompanied by the first cold-snap of the year in Houston, and I always look forward to that.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

John: I can’t say I have one as I’m not super big on traditions. I like that I get to see other people do their thing especially since it requires no work on my part.

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

John: Well, I mean it directly involves death and somehow the devil gets roped into the mix to create the perfect recipe. Everybody knows nothing is cooler than dying or Satan.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

John: Not a goddamn thing. Chaos isn’t dictated by superstition.

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

John: Freddy Krueger. I love the character he became and the killer one-liners (pun intended). I even like the ones everyone hates. There is so much room in that universe to give Freddy adventures for, well, for-fucking-ever. I’d like to see some new Freddy stuff out there, but only if Robert Englund still plays him.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

John: Eh, I’m not really into that too much.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

John: See my answer regarding superstitions. There’s way scarier shit out there than urban legends.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

John: I don’t celebrate serial killer culture. Those are real people who committed real atrocities that affect family and friends of victims to this day. I don’t want to shine a light on any of them to make them seem ‘cool’ in some way. I don’t hate on people who are into serial killer stuff, this is just my own opinion. It’s not for me.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

John: Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

John: A Nightmare on Elm Street Part One. I truly had nightmares for weeks.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

John: I did a pretty bad ass Captain Spaulding costume a few years ago. I did the bald cap and makeup, clown shoes, all that shit. It was awesome.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

John: Jesus Is Just Alright – The Doobie Brothers

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

John: I don’t really eat any candy. I’ll take an apple with or without the razor blade.


Boo-graphy:
John Wayne Comunale lives in Houston Texas to prepare himself for the heat in Hell. He is the author of books such as Death Pacts and Left-Hand Paths, Scummer, As Seen on TV, and Sinkhole, and also hosts the weekly storytelling podcast John Wayne Lied to You. He fronts the punk rock disaster, johnwayneisdead, and travels around the country giving truly unique performances of the written word.

John Wayne was an American actor who died in 1979.

Website
John Wayne Lied to You
johnwayneisdead

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Eric Butler

Meghan: Hi, Eric. Welcome to Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books AND our annual Halloween Extravaganza. It’s a pleasure to have you join us here today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Eric: Years ago I started to decorate my yard with recreations of famous horror movie characters. While the project has grown to an almost annoying level of work, the reaction of the trick ‘r treaters is worth it. Added to that, is the reaction of the neighborhood and people who have seen previous years as they begin to drive by the house to see if I’ve started to set up.

When my son was in school, the way his friends or classmates would let their parents know where he lived was to tell them he was at the “scary house”. Everyone in Elementary and Middle School called our house this.

One time when I was getting my wife’s sewing machine fixed in a little shop about 30 minutes away from my house, and one town over, the guy taking my information stopped and looked at me when I gave my street address. He said, “You know that house that does the Halloween stuff … that place is so cool. My kids make me start driving by there the first week of October to see if it’s up.” I offered a smile and said, “Yeah, that’s my house.”

It’s great to see all the parents, teenagers, and kids stop and take pictures and discuss their favorite scary movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Eric: My favorite tradition when my son was younger was taking him trick ‘r treating. Now though I think my favorite tradition is one I hated just 10 years ago – carving pumpkins. My family and friends get together the night before and everyone carves a pumpkin to display at my son’s Godparents’ house. I hated doing it in the beginning but I’ve embraced it as I look for unique and obscure stuff to carve now. Everyone always did cute and popular characters but I wanted to make sure horror movies were represented and started doing 2 or 3 every year to get more stuff out there. I enjoy seeing which ones get the biggest reaction.

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

Eric: Halloween was always special to me. It’s one of the few times my dad and I could come together over the horror genre. He hates anything scary but he loved coming up with awesome and terrifying costumes when I was younger. Plus there’s something magical about Halloween: the costumes, the sense of adventure when you head out to trick or treat, and the sense of the unknown that comes with it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Eric: Just about everything. I’m a “knock on wood” kind of guy. I like to think I’ve mellowed out on superstitions as I’ve grown older, but I’m sure my wife would say I’ve gotten worse.

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

Eric: This is a tough question and one I’m not sure I have a clear answer for. I love the old classics from Universal and redone at Hammer – The Wolfman, The Mummy, & The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I think Vincent Price’s performance of Nicholas Medina in The Pit and the Pendulum is one of my favorite singular villain performances; although if we were being fair to the characters, he was much more the victim than the true villain. Yet in the end, Price is diabolical as he embraces his madness and takes actions into his own hands.

In more modern films, I find choosing a favorite monster like picking a favorite child, just impossible. If I had to rate the big 4 it would be Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface, but that doesn’t mean I love any of them more or less than the other. I’d throw in the Thing and the Jeepers Creepers monster as favorites, but I’m not sure I’d have the same top monster if you asked me tomorrow.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Eric: 6 & 8 are connected. When I was younger I had a fascination with serial killers. I read as much as I could and watched all the specials as I tried to understand what made these people tick. Now, I’m not sure I care but one killer has always intrigued me. Jack the Ripper.

I read everything I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I worked through the clues, and enthusiastically tried to solve the case – when I was 10. Now I am still interested, watching movies and documentaries on the subject whenever I have the time. But I stopped really researching it. I may have to go back and see if, with some distance and more life experience, I can piece it together.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Eric: I was always terrified of the people living in the sewers. When I was a kid, like 6 or so, I saw a TV ad for a Hill Street Blues episode when a group of homeless come from the sewers and take a police officer. They hold him underground and then cue the ominous music and fade to black. Since I wasn’t old enough to watch or really care about the show, I never found out what happened to the guy. So in my imagination, they tortured, cooked, and ate this guy. So that’s the one that haunted me for a very long time.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Eric: So as I mentioned in 6, I’m not sure I have a list of favorite serial killers, but I do find the whole idea of Jack the Ripper to be fascinating. The setting, the conditions, the back story, and the brutality all add up to an amazing story.

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

Eric: I remember seeing the last 5 minutes or so of Friday the 13th Part 2 on TMC. I was watching it while I was supposed to be watching cartoons or something. I think I was 7 or 8. It was both terrifying and thrilling to experience.

The first full-length horror movie I watched by myself was A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was home alone; my parents were at a party nearby. I think it was a premiere and I was 9ish. In my blog, I went over a list of movies that weren’t horror but were scary that my father showed me at a young age. I believe these may be the movies that helped me develop a love for the horror genre. So I wasn’t all that bothered by violence or nudity at this point… or so I thought. Freddy and the idea of someone coming for you in your sleep really rocked my world. The scene where Tina is killed was the kicker, and I had all the lights on in the house and every stuffed animal I could find piled around me. I made sure our Doberman was sitting with me for the rest of the night until my parents got home. Funny thing, I finished the movie and had no trouble going to sleep. Most importantly, I was hooked.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Eric: The Exorcist is the one that freaked me out the most, but I was 10 or 11 when I read it. My mother played a part in this particular book freaking me out. I was up late reading, into the good parts and I decided I needed some water. My mom and I were the only ones home as my father was off on a business trip. My bedroom was at the end of an L-shaped hall. I left my room, walked the turn (where my parents’ room was), and turned to walk to the end of the hall where there was a door that opened to the rest of the house. Because it was so late, I was trying to be quiet. As I turned the knob to open the door, my mom put her hand on my shoulder, totally unaware of what I was doing or what I had just read.

It always surprised me that no one called the Base Police that night as I’m sure I screamed louder than I ever had before or ever would again. If the door wasn’t in front of me, I may have just run and kept going until I couldn’t run anymore. Of course, my mother is the kind of person who screams at anything that shocks her or startles her, so I’m sure she yelled as well. I’m just happy I didn’t piss myself, lol.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Eric: I’m not sure any scarred me for life. Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 that left an impression on me in the theater. I saw Event Horizon in a newly constructed super theater. Now when you go to the theater you expect a totally immersed experience. That wasn’t always the case, in fact, I’ve been to theaters where there 1 working speaker – and we liked it fine. But in the 90s big movie houses started popping up with huge screens and so many speakers, Marshmello would be jealous.

The reason Event Horizon left an impression, other than it’s awesome, was the use of sound throughout the speakers. It added a new level of unexpected pleasure to the horror experience.

The second movie that comes to mind is The Strangers. It stood out because of the way the director and editor were able to add to the tension and build a tangible sense of dread throughout the theater. I mean, it tells you at the beginning how it’s going to end, and yet they still do an amazing job of putting you on the edge of your seat.

The last movie is the Blair Witch Project. I saw this one opening night with 3 friends in a packed theater. I’m not sure there was one open seat by the time it started. Sometimes with a full house, you’ll get a couple of people who throughout the film pull your attention away, not this night. It was one of those unique experiences where the entire theater bought into the experience. It was amazing. Everyone laughed, gasped, jumped, and lost their minds at the exact time; most important, they did it at the correct times. And the ending… so perfect for that environment; it ended, the room exploded in loud voices and screams of horror and everyone ran to leave the theater. It was like someone had announced a bomb threat, that’s how fast the place emptied.

You don’t get that at home. Hell, you rarely get it at the theater, but when you do it is such a sweet memory.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Eric: I hate dressing up now. I’m a fuddy-duddy as the kids like to say. I loved costumes as a kid and I even won for scariest costume when I was 10. It was a pain, literally, to get in and out of, but it was pretty cool. I was wrapped like a mummy, but my face looked like all the skin had been burned off and it was just red muscle and flesh. I also dressed up as a werewolf once, and that was a cool costume.

That said, my favorite costume was my son’s first Halloween. He was a big kid and already walking when the time came. In fact, he was so big he’d outgrown the 18-month old costume I got him the year before thinking he’d be a cute gorilla. So we went to the store and got him an alligator costume. It had a long tail, I think it helped with balance, but with my son, it just added to the memory of how cute he was as it swished back and forth as he ran down the hall all dressed up to trick ‘r treat.

The next year he was a dragon and I was a skeleton knight and his mom was a witch. I think that was the last time we dressed up… at least themed.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Eric: It’s probably Time Warp from Rocky Horror or This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas. That said, I’m a big music fan and like most of the themed or monster stuff.

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

Eric: Favorite is Snickers or Twizzlers. I’m a big guy so I’m not really disappointed with any candy choice, but my least favorite would be Mounds or Almond Joy.

Meghan: Thanks again, Eric, for stopping by. Before we go, what movies and books should we stay awake on Halloween enjoying?

Eric: There are so many to choose from… movie I’d say Trick ‘r Treat as #1, then I’d go with Halloween 3 or 2. Just depends if I’m in the mood for a slasher movie or supernatural.

Books that take place at Halloween or in October that I like or think people should check out – Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge / A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny / Allhallow’s Eve by Richard Laymon.

Lastly, when I was a kid we didn’t have all these ways to watch things. Most people didn’t own a lot of VHS tapes, and there were no streaming services so when holidays approached you would know that one of the big 3 networks would play some of the old (and create new) classics. Usually, it would be a few days before the big day and many times they would be on back to back depending on who had the rights and what else was being shown. 2 that I enjoyed when I was a kid and make a point to still watch today are It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown & Garfield In Disguise Halloween Special. And so with that, I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from everyone’s favorite fat cat: Candy, Candy, Candy, Candy…


Boo-graphy:
Eric Butler is an Army brat who now calls Texas home. A lifelong fan of horror and pop culture, he finally decided to sit in front of a computer to share all the stories rattling around his head. He lives with his incredibly patient wife and teenage son in a house overrun with Huskies and cats.

Donn, TX
There’s a place in Texas the locals avoid at all cost, where the lost go missing and the damned reside. You won’t find it on any map, there are no road signs to guide you, and once there, may God have mercy on your soul. For when the scarecrow awakens, the harvest of the living begins.

Welcome to Donn, TX
Gateway to Hell

1952
On the back roads of Texas, Debbie grows ill and her husband, Jerry, stops at the only motel they’ve seen for miles. He hopes a little rest will help calm her stomach, but in Donn, TX, there can be no rest once the harvest begins.

1969
Frank is back from Vietnam but struggling to reconnect with the world he once knew. Jane is convinced a road trip to Houston will help them both find the connection they are missing. First, they need to drop off her younger sister and her best friend at the university, and then the honeymoon the war put on hold can finally begin.

Except now they are lost on the back roads, and each mile brings them closer to Donn. If only they hadn’t exited the highway …

But now it’s too late; for the harvest is nearing its end, and the scarecrow requires its due.