REVIEW: The Captivating Flames of Madness

Jeff Parsons – HellBound Books – 4.2.2018 – 298 – Horror Short Stories

This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever. 

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out? 

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…


When it comes to reading a new author, I like to start with their short stories or short story collections. It allows me a chance to really see the range of story they have in them, as well as see their writing style and how much they put into their characters, which, to me, are a very important part of the story.

At the same time, short story collections are difficult. It’s hard for authors to hit a middle-ground with them, so they’re either total perfection or completely terrible, and I go in with that thought in my head every time. Especially after reading ones that were just so disappointing to me. I can’t be the only reader that expects a theme to be utilized in every story included or all of the stories selected for the collection to be strong stories, but for some reason, I read a lot of collections that just don’t hit either of those marks.

I agreed to read this one knowing that HellBound Books was the publisher, which gave me a little more faith in the collection than I usually have going into these. They’re a publisher that has not failed me yet when it comes to their books.

The cover itself was not a complete win for me, but the title… captivated my attention. (I know, I know… worst “dad” joke ever haha.)

I was hooked with story number one – Lost Souls. It’s not often that a collection by one author is begun with such a strong story. World War II. German military on a submarine. One member of the crew who questions whether what they are doing is right or wrong. And things that happen on this U-boat that lead to a conclusion I did not expect.

I’ll admit, after that story I was worried – “Don’t tell me that he began the collection with the best!” – but that was so far from the truth. Every single story was better than good. Every single story was strong. Every single story was different, but all stuck to the same theme that I had assumed was there with the title. In fact, there was not a single story in the collection that I either didn’t like or thought should not have been included. I mean, I was impressed. So impressed that it was actually really hard for me to choose a favorite, but I finally was able to decide on two, which, interestingly enough, are the first two stories in the collection:

Lost Souls
The New Law

If you’re looking for a new author to read and haven’t read anything by Jeff Parsons yet, I recommend you read this collection. It was well worth the time that I put into reading it, and I’ll definitely read more of his work in the future.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW Part 2: Halloween Edition: Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons was really interested in taking part in all of this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, but he just could not think of a guest post topic, so, joking around, I gave him some suggestions, in question form, and he answered all three. He has some interesting answers…


Meghan: What do you think is the worst Halloween candy ever created?

Jeff Parsons: Wax Bottle candy. Nip the top off, get wax on your lips, tongue, and teeth, spit it out in a slimy gob, and suck down the eyedropper squirt of bland sugar water. I think the sugar offsets the gag reflex, for undoubtedly, the liquid is some type of industrial waste discharge. Also, not part of any known food group is the related Candy Corn apostacy. Is it wax or non-fructose opioid? All I want to know is how to stop eating them…

Meghan: What was the best Halloween costume you wore as a kid?

Jeff Parsons: This will date me, but there was only one type of costume available. Store bought. The outfit came in a box that showed the costume through a clear cellophane window. The outfit was a plastic strap-on mask of Frankenstein, King Kong, Superman, etc. and a faux-silk matching tunic. The mask had two nose hole openings and a slit for a mouth. You couldn’t breathe. Sweat fogged up my glasses, further complicating the tunnel vision view. The mask’s rubber band bit into my head and broke too soon with a zinging snap to my ears. So, I’d have to hold the mask up to my face. After a while, I got tired of that. I’d just show the mask when the door opened to prove I was legit. By then, I was already exhausted by the marathon of getting as much candy as possible before the 6PM-get-your-butt-back-home curfew.

Meghan: Do you think it sucks for kids these days to not know the awesomeness of Halloween when we were kids?

Jeff Parsons: We were less jaded in the olden days. A good scary story really worked us over. Witches and goblins seemed to be a lot more believable back then… When I was young, seeing bizarre costumed people walking about on the street was like seeing a sign of civilizations sudden collapse into insanity. Nowadays, weird is normal and normal is weird. And, around late October, winter was on its way. When it got colder and darker, the leaves fell off the trees – my parents said not to worry, spring will return, but couldn’t it be they were protecting me from the awful truth… it may not return? Nowadays, everything can be Googled… no mystery.

Jeff is a professional engineer enjoying life in sunny California, USA. He has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. He was inspired to write by two wonderful teachers: William Forstchen and Gary Braver. In addition to his two books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, he is published in SNM Horror Magazine, Bonded by Blood IV/ V, The Horror Zine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4. For more details, visit his Facebook Author Page.

The Captivating Flames of Madness

This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever. 

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out? 

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Jeff Parsons

Meghan: Hi, Jeff. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jeff Parsons: I’m married with 3 children. I’m a Mechanical Engineer with Nuclear Engineering experience working in a Civil Engineering position doing IT work (well lately, that’s mostly true). So, my thoughts are more than a few standard deviations away from familiar territory, a mindset that’s perfect for writing, btw. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting back into pen & pencil artwork for my upcoming book. Over 20 of my short stories have been published as well as two books of short story collections. I am a servant to 2 cats named Buddy and Holly. They are benevolent overlords.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Jeff Parsons:

  • I collect ancient coins. My oldest coin is from Sicily 5th Century B.C.
  • I volunteer medical services for the fire department’s Community Emergency Response Team.
  • I’ve co-authored four classified scientific papers. Luckily, I’ve forgotten everything relevant about them so I’m no longer a target for kidnapping by disgruntled nations (and I’m sure the gruntled ones never cared either).
  • I used to fly airplanes solo as a student pilot. My longest solo flight visited two airports for about 500 miles total. Yeah, that was scary, especially flying through an unexpected thunderstorm.
  • I love computer games that are in an open immersive world setting like Assassin’s Creed Olympos. I feel like I’m living in the past except there’s no fear of dying (I only fear boredom).

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Jeff Parsons: I first read a lot of horror comics and Mad Magazine.

My first book was Fire-Hunter by Jim Kjelgaard. It’s about living in prehistoric times. It had a simple plot but was fun to read.

My first serious book was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. It had beautiful woodblock drawings in it. The plot had an enormous amount of depth to it – something quite new to me. I got hooked on books after that.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Jeff Parsons: Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne. He knows his military tech and the book is written with an extraordinary sense of realism to it.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Jeff Parsons: The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It was hilarious, even funnier than the movie.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Jeff Parsons: For the longest time, I’ve done technical and marketing writing at work. I knew that fictional writing was fun and it was a great way to feel creative. I felt I could make a contribution due to my background and life experiences (actually, I think many people can do the same if they want to). I always wondered what it would take to get published. I searched on the internet for the best way to get started. The simplest way was to submit short stories to small press magazines that accept new authors. From there, be persistent, keep on getting published, building up a resume of accomplishments that shows your commitment (street cred). In my early writing years, about a decade ago, I received excellent feedback from some editors. I used that constructive criticism to sharpen my skills while holding onto my own ideas about what I wanted to write. Since then, as painful as the process can be, I treasure objective critical evaluations from editors and my writers’ group.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Jeff Parsons: I often write while watching tv. I think it’s because my thoughts become more spontaneous if I’m a little bit distracted. I used to study while listening to music, so I think the theory works for me. Sometimes, to get a different point of view, I go to a noisy coffee shop to write.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Jeff Parsons: I don’t write a story immediately. I let an idea simmer. I let it gather along with other ideas to form a plot. For me, I need the plot to be solid before I start writing in the details. It’s like building a house – you need the foundation and framework up first before you do everything else (excluding utilities). Nothing is worse than writing something contradictory that makes no sense. Speaking of making no sense, sometimes the characters write the story for me and I just sit back and get all the credit.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Jeff Parsons: I write first drafts on paper. It’s more flexible for me and I can do it practically anywhere, but eventually the mad scribbling needs to go into the software. I hate typing my edits into my computer. It’s agony. I mean, have you seen my handwriting? Seriously.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Jeff Parsons: A recent sci-fi story about how a post-apocalyptic human fights back against titan invaders with the help of some aliens. The story absolutely resounds with rah-rah courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Jeff Parsons: City Infernal by Edward Lee. Pompeii by Robert Harris. Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Armor by John Steakley. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. The Conan the Barbarian series by Robert E. Howard. Short story – A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. And everything H.P. Lovecraft.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Jeff Parsons: A good story affects you on a personal level. It’s relatable. The scenes are real. It provokes emotions. It makes you think. You can apply it to your life. You learn something useful to you. Also, it has to flow seamlessly like water when you read it. Using too much description distracts away from the story. From my Toastmaster years, I’ve learned that reading a story aloud can help you detect any awkward parts.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Jeff Parsons: The characters must be real. No perfect people are allowed. There are many sides to everyone; no one is completely good or evil. Also, everyone has their own personality but strangely, we often share common life experiences. This is really scary when you consider that even the worst people can occasionally do good deeds – perhaps in some aspects of our lives, we’re not as unique as we think we are.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Jeff Parsons: Recently, I wrote a story about a Maine State Detective. He had an intuitive knack for solving cases. In a similar way, I think I’m clever simply because I think differently than most people. Despite unverified anecdotes to the contrary, I’m only mildly afflicted with the ravages of intelligence.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Jeff Parsons: I’m definitely turned off by a bad cover. Like most people, I make an initial visual judgement based on the cover, then if it’s interesting, I’d scan the book summary. It’s not fair, but it’s an effective way to quickly choose what you’d think about buying. Also, if they took the time to make a decent cover, it makes me think that the rest of the book will also have the same level of attention. My current book was a collaboration between me and my fabulous publisher Hellbound Books. (Shout out to HBB – woot woot)

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Jeff Parsons: An outline is essential. Your first draft should just capture the framework of your ideas, not be anything remotely perfect. It should be extremely drafty (like at hurricane level F5). Also, take some time off from writing if you’re starting to feel burnt out. You have to find a way to make this fun. I often listen to music or a movie while doing the various aspects of writing (outlining, wordsmithing, editing, editing, editing, weeping bitter tears, staring into the abyss, wallowing in willful ignorance, more editing, etc.). Overall, what’s the point of writing if you don’t want to? And why choose writing? There are far easier ways to accomplish goals, make money, or get attention.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Jeff Parsons: I wrote a story about an android saying goodbye to his dying cat. I drew from my own experience at the vet with my cat Princess. Heart-breaking but happy in a way. I’m glad her pain was taken away quickly and that I was there for her in her last moments.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Jeff Parsons: Bold, daring, and unique is what I’ve heard about my writing, at least on the up side. I shall not utter the words of the dark side (they come from Mordor, bad juju). When I write using technical jargon, I often know what I’m talking about. If I writing about feelings or romance, it’s a good idea for me to reach out for another’s perspective. (e.g. Jeff, are you daft? A woman would never say that… ahhh, I say)

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Jeff Parsons: Lately I’ve been shopping online. The title is what I see after the book cover. If the title is silly or something that doesn’t interest me, I move on, leaving my brief emotional commitment behind. Coming up with a thought-provoking title is difficult. For my latest book, I thought about what the meaning of horror to me: life is unpredictable, like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, of decision away from things that could change our lives forever. Thus, my book was named, The Captivating Flames of Madness. The Victorian goth cover shows a pair of hands carefully holding a candle and in the flame is a death’s head.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Jeff Parsons: My two published books are collections of my short stories. I’m working on a novel now and it’s quite the long-term learning experience. I know so much more now than I ever did, but it’s difficult at times to keep at it. Taking a break from writing helps from time to time. In contrast, short stories give me almost immediate gratification and since I’m easily distracted by shiny objects and chocolate, the Pavlovian write story/ get reward dynamic works well for me.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Jeff Parsons: I usually write about real people in the world around us. Then, I ease in the unusual or supernatural into the story. I’d like for people to think there’s a greater world out there we don’t know anything about. I’m also curious about what the past was like. Not all fictional tales have to be sunshine, rainbows, and puppies… Horror is like the safety in riding a roller coaster, being close to danger but not in actually in danger. I like stories that make us think outside our comfort zone.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Jeff Parsons: Not much to say. I often delete parts that interrupt the flow of the story. Usually, they’re small snippets because I keep the plot line snug and tight. It’s difficult to let an interesting description go… the decision process is about as easy as doing algebra in a foreign language. A good writer’s critique group is helpful for trimming away the fluff.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Jeff Parsons: I’ve been working on an alternative history Lovecraftian book for the last three years. In maybe another year, I’ll be ready to set it loose on the world.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Jeff Parsons: More short stories books. I’m also getting interested in sci-fi horror. I think I’ll be flexing my technical muscles more and reaching out more for critical help. I’d like to receive some gratis art work for my book, from those who’d wish to get known by PR…

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Jeff Parsons: Facebook

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Jeff Parsons: If you’re writing, make sure it’s fun. Pay attention to how people behave – go watch them… Write about what interests you, not what you think others want to read.

Thank you for your kindly invite to share.

Jeff is a professional engineer enjoying life in sunny California, USA. He has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. He was inspired to write by two wonderful teachers: William Forstchen and Gary Braver. In addition to his two books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, he is published in SNM Horror Magazine, Bonded by Blood IV/ V, The Horror Zine, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, and Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4. For more details, visit his Facebook Author Page.

This book’s title comes from the reality that – like a moth to the flame – we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever. 

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?

If you dare, why not find out? 

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…

REVIEW: Rose

Rami Ungar — Castrum Press — 19 June 2019 — 208 pages — Psychological Thriller

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

Rose

Rose wakes after almost dying – apparently at the hands of her stalker – in what she finds to be the penthouse apartment of her boyfriend, Paris, a man and a relationship she doesn’t remember at all. He has done a spell from an ancient book, traded with the Japanese to get and passed down over generations, to save her life, unwilling to live without her, but the spell had some side-effects that Paris had not expected. Changes immediately begin to happen to her body… and that’s just the beginning of this story.

I fell in love with the cover and agreed to read this book based on that. I know I know, but for those of y’all who have been following my reviews for awhile, this should be something that doesn’t surprise you. I possibly skimmed through the book description, but… honestly… I don’t remember reading any of what I posted above [the cover image]. So who knows.

Despite my hinky reasoning behind agreeing to read a book…

This book was definitely not a disappointment. In fact, it was so good that I began it one night before bed (a habit I may one day blog about) and finished reading it around 3 in the morning, followed by writing pages – lots of them – in my journal about the book and how I felt about it. I just… had to let it all out and get my mind around everything that happened… and at 3 in the morning, there aren’t many people awake to hear you go on and on about a book you just finished.

It was one of those moments where you shut your Kindle and just sit there for a few minutes, unsure of what to do next.

The story was something quite different than what I normally find out there.

It was almost a mystery, with Rose having to figure out what is going on, not just to her physically, but around her as well, unsure of what to believe and who to trust. The addition of certain clues that make even the reader wonder if they are false or not really added to the story. Her changes made me think of a fantasy book, especially with magic being involved, and as usual with magic, things don’t always go the way that you have planned. The psychological thriller aspects of the whole thing were evident from almost the very beginning, when you see how characters interact with each other, and start finding out about their different pasts. There was even some horror added to the mix, when you consider one particular character you meet along the way, one who ends up being far more important to the story than you originally think.

Characters

Usually I can pick one or two characters from a story that I absolutely loved, but in this story I can’t say that I particularly liked any of them, but I must have, on some level, in order to have been unable to put the book down.

I was very curious about Rose and who she really was. As the description says, she can’t remember what’s happened over the last two years, but she knows herself and knows that some things that are being said just don’t make sense. Stories being told about her didn’t always add up to that knowledge, which left her confused at times, wondering if she could have really changed that much over the two years she seems to have lost. I found the way the author wrote her intriguing. In almost every story, the main character grows, but her growth was different, as it was more an actual finding herself, rather than a changing to become who she was truly meant to be. A well-done character.

Not all of the characters were who they originally seemed to be, and as more depth was added to them as the story progressed, you found out that some characters you didn’t like were ones that maybe weren’t as bad as they were made out to be, or once you heard their reasoning, you looked at them a little differently. That also happened with characters you took a liking to because, as the story progressed and you found out more about them, things came out that made you question your first impressions.

I wasn’t sure, as the story went on, if Rose was going to turn out to be the hero that the story needed, but in the end, she was definitely that.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Interesting characters.
  • The ever-changing settings were not always described as much as I would have liked them to be, but all had a point and added to the story.
  • The underlying story of magic was intriguing and was obviously well-researched. The magic itself was almost like another character, as it had a lot of parts in the story, not just his use of magic to save her life.

Cons:

  • As I stated above, there wasn’t any particular character that, in the end, I can say was my favorite. Not an actual “con,” but something that usually bothers me when it comes to a story. In this case, though, it didn’t actually cause harm to the story, as the characters were interesting enough – and the story was intriguing enough – that I plowed through.
  • There were some editing issues that drove me bonkers, but I am hoping that they were just in the copy I received and didn’t make it to the final copy.

Final Thoughts

This is definitely a story that I would recommend to others, especially people who enjoy several genres, as this one could fit perfectly in more than one.

Just don’t blame me if you, too, are up until after 3 in the morning unable to put it down…

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, was released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Rami Ungar

Meghan: Hey, Rami. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. It’s great to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rami Ungar: My name is Rami Ungar, and I’m a horror author from Columbus, Ohio. I first started writing with the goal of being published around age ten, and started gravitating towards horror after reading the works of Stephen King. I’ve previously self-published four books, with Rose being my first with a publisher. Along with King, my major influences include Anne Rice and HP Lovecraft.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Rami Ungar: Tough question, as I’m an open book. But if I had to pick five, I would go with that I hate wearing socks; I am fascinated with Victorian England; I sometimes make homemade sushi, though it’s never restaurant-quality; the last movie I watched was The Best of Enemies with Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell; and I’ve been to the FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Rami Ungar: Probably Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m sure there are others, but that one’s prominent in my memory, and was first responsible for making me want to write in the first place.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Rami Ungar: At this moment, I’m reading The Institute by Stephen King, which is proving hard to put down. I’m also listening to The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on audio book.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Rami Ungar: When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson. I first saw the movie, but the book has its own special magic to it.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Rami Ungar: I can’t remember what impetus made me decide to write. At some point around age ten, I realized I liked coming up with and writing down stories, so I decided to pursue that career. Sixteen years later, that dream’s coming to fruition, though there’s still a long road ahead of me.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Rami Ungar: Not exactly, I just sit at my desk at home and write on my laptop. That being said, I do try to make it as comfortable and conducive to creativity as possible.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Rami Ungar: Not especially. I do tend to outline most of my stories I write them. And I like to have incense burning while I write and some music playing in the background, but that’s about it.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Rami Ungar: Staying focused on task, which is the bane of everyone who has ADHD like myself.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Rami Ungar: I suppose my horror-thriller novel Snake. Throughout the writing process of that, it was just a lot of fun to work on, and I still think of that story when I think of stories that I had the most fun with.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Rami Ungar: Obviously, King has been a great influence. IT made me realize what power horror has, and I’ve been trying to bring out the feeling that book left in young me in my readers ever since. I also think HP Lovecraft’s stories have been a powerful influence on me. I am fascinated by the idea of powerful entities that have no care for us but whose very presence can have profound effects on our lives.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Rami Ungar: That is so subjective, I’m not sure how to answer it. I guess with the stories I write, if it at least stays with you, maybe leaves you with a sense of disquiet, then that’s a good story.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Rami Ungar: You know, I don’t know. I guess I fall in love with characters whom I want to hug and tell them it’s going to be alright, even when I’m the source for most of their problems. Which creates a conflict in me, so I don’t always use those sorts of characters.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Rami Ungar: Probably the protagonist of Snake, if only we have such a love of horror and slasher films, especially Jason Voorhees.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Rami Ungar: Not always. Sometimes the covers hide the best stories. And except for Rose, I had a big hand in the creation of the covers for my stories. For Rose, my publisher took a bigger part in that, and I have to say, I like the results.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Rami Ungar: That good storytelling is always an ongoing process, and there’s always something new to learn.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Rami Ungar: There was a scene that left me so shaken that I had to take a walk to the convenience store, in the pouring rain, just to get my head on straight. However, since that story is unpublished and I still would like to put it out someday, I will keep that a secret.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Rami Ungar: If I had to guess, I’d say my embracing of the weird. My stories involve girls turning into plant creatures, car races involving ghosts, and more stuff that just seems so ludicrous and strange that you wonder where they come from. It enhances the joy to put that stuff in the story, and I don’t know of any other writer who includes that sort of thing in their work.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Rami Ungar: Not really. More often than not, the title makes itself known to me early on. If it doesn’t, it comes to me while writing the story, and I am like, “That works. Let’s use it.”

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Rami Ungar: Writing a novel. Novels require a lot more research, planning, and work, so seeing them through to the end, as well as watching each subsequent draft become better and better, is extremely satisfying. Not to mention seeing the book possibly published.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Rami Ungar: One book is called The Quiet Game, and it’s a short collection of stories I wrote in college. I also have a sci-fi trilogy called the Reborn City series, about street gangs in a dystopian future. So far, two books in the series, Reborn City and Video Rage, have been published. Snake is a horror-thriller about a serial killer hunting down members of a powerful mafia family in New York. And Rose follows a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems).

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Rami Ungar: The only ones worthy of mentioning are from Rose. In that book, there were a lot of flashback scenes in earlier drafts, which really made the protagonist a complex character. However, those scenes didn’t contribute much to the plot, so I ended up cutting them out around draft four or five. Was worth it, in the end.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Rami Ungar: I have another novel I plan to edit as soon as the beta reader is done with it. I also have a project I plan to start in November for National Novel Writing Month. And I’m putting together a collection of short stories, though I’m not sure at this time when it will be done.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Rami Ungar: Blog ** Email ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram ** YouTube

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Rami Ungar: If you’re a horror fan, never let anyone shame you for it. Just enjoy the stories you enjoy, and let others know that you do. There’s a lovely group of fans around the world, full of some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and they love a good story as much as you do.

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, was released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

Snake

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

Rose

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.