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: Adam Howe

Meghan: Hey Adam!! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books and this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Adam: It’s gotta be trick or treating as a kid, right? Except I missed out on that. My fault entirely. The one (and only) time my mum let me go trick or treating around the block of flats where we then lived, I objected when one of our neighbors refused to cough up the candy, saying they “didn’t believe in Halloween.” (This was in Australia.) Well, I wrote the lousy bastards the proverbial “sternly worded letter,” replete with an offensive caricature of my neighbors, and a monster defecating on their heads – my idea of a Halloween ‘trick,’ I guess. They of course forwarded this poison pen letter to my mum, and from that day on I was never allowed to go trick or treating. So I kind of missed out on my Halloween glory years… Wish I still had that picture. Wonder if my mum kept it in the scrapbook?

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Adam: We don’t celebrate Halloween in the UK like you guys, at least not in my neck of the woods, I’m sure it differs from place to place. I remember driving through a small village down south a few years ago around Halloween-time, and seeing that every house had a “corn dolly” – a kind of scarecrow figure – posted outside. None of the other villages had ‘em, just this one little place, and I always wondered exactly what that little tradition/ritual was about… kind of spooky thinking back on it.

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

Adam: Oh, I’m far too grouchy to have anything like a “favorite” holiday. I tolerate these things for the sake of the kids. I do enjoy seeing Halloween through my daughter’s eyes, seeing her pluck up the courage to knock on the door of an especially spooky house. Kids really will do about anything for confectionery.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Adam: My superstitions tend to be writing rituals – writing at the same time of the day (crack of dawn) in the same place (for fear of upsetting my writer’s feng shui). I don’t really consider myself superstitious, but I’d probably give serious thought before boarding a #13 plane, so I guess I am susceptible to the ‘classics.’

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

Adam: Always been partial to ole Leatherface and the Sawyer Clan.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Adam: I’m currently researching an unsolved British murder for what I think may be my next horror novel, the Charles Walton witchcraft murder. It occurred in a sleepy village of a couple hundred people in 1945 (around the time the Allies were firebombing Dresden). An elderly farm laborer named Charles Walton, believed by his neighbors to be involved in witchcraft/folk medicine, was discovered dead in a field, impaled to the ground with a pitchfork, and with crucifixes slashed in his face and chest with a sickle (an ancient way of dispatching “witches”). When the local law couldn’t solve the crime, Scotland Yard sent their best man, the Sherlock Holmes of his day, Robert Fabian, to investigate… and that’s when things got seriously witchy… The case is like a real-like “Sleepy Hollow” or “Wicker Man.” I don’t want to say too much more about it, because like I say I’m currently researching for my next project, but I’d encourage people to check out the Wiki entry for Charles Walton – it’s a fascinating case.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Adam: The insect laying eggs in a sleeping person’s ear.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Adam: I’m leery of using the word “favorite” here, and the guy I’m going to choose didn’t kill anyone as far as I know… but check out the serial sex offender named Ed Paisnel aka The Beast of Jersey. Not Jersey, USA, but the British Channel Isle. For thirteen years (60s-70s) the Beast of Jersey terrorized the tiny island, breaking into homes while people slept, abducting children from their beds, taking them to locations with historical occult significance, and performing satanic rituals as he raped them. Paisnel was a practitioner of black magic, and claimed to be descended from Gilles de Rais; he was said to have used “magic” to elude the police for so many years. What’s most disturbing about him – well, there are many disturbing things about this freak – is the nightmarish costume he would wear when he performed his nighttime raids. Words don’t do it justice; I would urge people to Google “The Beast of Jersey,” and imagine being woken in the dead of night by that horror.

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

Adam: Not sure for certain how old I was, but let’s say around seven or eight, an irresponsible adult (my mum) rented me a double-bill of An American Werewolf in London and Carpenter’s The Thing. I watched “Werewolf” first. My mum watched five minutes with me to make sure it was suitable for a child (it isn’t), before she went off to bed. And of course in the sixth minute, the werewolf appeared, savaging the kids on the Moors – terrifying! And if anything The Thing was even more traumatizing. Making it from the TV room to my bedroom that night, alone, in the shadowy dark, and with all those images rattling round the ole noodle – that was the longest walk (or eyes-closed scurry) I can remember… And I guess an experience like that either makes or breaks you as a horror fan for life. After surviving that double-bill, I realized I quite enjoyed that scared-shitless experience.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Adam: I was most susceptible to book scares as a “latchkey” teen, reading Stephen King late at night in an empty house – Pet Sematary, The Shining, Salem’s Lot. Before that, when I was maybe eight or nine, I bought from the school book fair the paperback of Carrie with the illustration of a blood-spattered Sissy Spacek on the cover. (I knew the name Stephen King from my mum’s bookshelf.) In my nightmares, Carrie in her telekinetic rage became the girl who lived across the street from me. Again, that’s the kind of experience that either makes or breaks you as a horror fan… When I met Stephen King (part of the prize for winning a King-judged writing contest) he was delighted to hear that his books gave me nightmares.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Adam: Jaws. After seeing that movie at an impressionable age, not only was I terrified of swimming in the ocean, but the pool too. Wouldn’t be surprised if most people answer Jaws to this question. That goddamn movie!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Adam: As I’ve already said, I blew my Halloween glory years thanks to that poison pen letter I sent. So now I have to live vicariously through my daughter’s costumes. I think we’ll get a little more adventurous this year than the witch/princess she went as last Halloween – I’d like to see her as Snake Plissken.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Adam: Purple People Eater. And did I imagine it, or did someone make a movie from that song? I swear I rented that back in the VHS days.

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

Adam: I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I’m not even much of a snack guy. (Come to think of it, jeez, I really suck at Halloween.)

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by, Adam. Before you go, what are your top 3 go-to Halloween movies?

Adam:
Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Not the best of the series, I’ll grant you – that’s clearly JC’s original, and the sequel ain’t too shabby either – but this is easily my favorite, and the one that bears repeated viewings. Not only is the story batshit insane, but the anti-heroic character Tom Fuckin’ Atkins plays, deadbeat dad and functional alcoholic, Dr. Daniel Challis, has to be the most offbeat protagonist in all of horror cinema.

Ghostwatch. The pseudo-documentary/reality-TV hook for this show seems old hat now, but at the time it aired, must’ve been early/mid-90s, this “live” investigation of a haunted house, anchored by a host of respectable British broadcasters, was revelatory… and scared the living piss out of me.

Whistle and I’ll Come to You. This adaptation of the M.R. James classic was first billed in the 60s as a ghost story for Christmas. (Apparently, Christmas was the traditional season for ghost stories in the UK.) This one remains chillingly effective, and in actor Michael Hordern’s depiction of repressed scholar Professor Parkin, features one of the ATG oddball performances.

Boo-graphy:
ADAM HOWE writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. He lives in Greater London with his partner, their daughter, and a hellhound named Gino. His short fiction has been widely published in places like Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the international On Writing contest, and published in the digital/PB editions of King’s Memoir of the Craft. He is the author of such wholesome titles as Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Tijuana Donkey Showdown, and Scapegoat (with James Newman). His most recent novel is the “buddy cop” action/comedy One Tough Bastard, in which a washed-up 80s action star partners with a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee to smash an organized crime syndicate headed by a Schwarzenegger-style supervillain. Coming soon: grit-lit 30s pulp The Polack, co-written with Joseph Hirsch, and “starring” Charles Bronson. And a new Reggie Levine yarn entitled Of Moose and Men. You can stalk Adam Howe on FB, Goodreads, and Twitter.

One Tough Bastard
Shane Moxie: a washed-up 80s action star who refuses to believe his best days are behind him… Duke: a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee and arguably the greatest animal actor of his generation…

Reunited for an anniversary movie screening, when Moxie and Duke are targeted by assassins, the feuding co-stars reluctantly join forces to smash an organized crime syndicate headed by an iconic German action star dealing death from his movie-themed fast food franchise.

One’s a big dumb animal. The other’s a chimpanzee. Shit just got real.

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.