AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Edmund Stone

Meghan: Hi Edmund! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. I know you’ve been a bit under the weather, so I’m glad that you were able to take a little bit of time to sit down with us today. Let’s get started: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Edmund: Decorating and family time. I love to put together a little impromptu party for my children and grandchildren every year. We decorate the house with scary and funny items and make soups and sandwiches. Then the kids watch scary movies. It’s such a great family time tradition.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Edmund: Trick or treating. My imagination was always on alert, and I would think of scenarios where things could happen while out on a trek. From going to haunted houses to watching the corn field for the scarecrow to come after me. In those days our TV options were limited, so a good imagination was a must.

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

Edmund: Probably the mystery of the time. All things are dark and dreary, and night comes on quicker. So, it only adds to the mystery. When I was a kid, me and my friends would deliberately find an old house to walk by and see who could go up and knock on the door. All the fun and costumes are great. A time of year you can be who you want and get by with it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Edmund: Very little. I do pick pennies up when I see them lying on a parking lot, although in today’s time, probably not a good idea to be honest. I live in an area where superstition abounds, and science is looked on as evil. It’s backward and rural but the perfect back drop for many of my stories. The people are nice here and never back down from a good story.

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

Edmund: When I was younger my favorite would have been Freddy Krueger hands down. I loved his one liners and way he could turn into different manifestations of the persons fears. In recent years the new Pennywise is my favorite. Tim Curry’s was great, but Skarsgard delivers the goods for the new generation. Great stuff.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Edmund: The Lindbergh baby. Although a man went to the electric chair for the crime, the evidence against him was circumstantial at best. Just bad policing all around. It’s similar to the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Edmund: I have two. Bloody Mary is the scariest because I’ve tried it. Of course, nothing happened, but I feel she’s waiting somewhere ready to strike. The legend of the kidneys being harvested when you wake up. That one I think has some fact behind it. Very disturbing.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why? Aileen Wuornos. The one in the movie Monster. I thought she was kind of given to her circumstances. It makes you almost feel sorry for her. Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker was another. His crime spree was on the news when I was a kid, so I remember it well. He would go in a house and kill the husband then rape and kill all the women. Pretty cold.

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

Edmund: I believe I was seven years old. My cousin made me stay up and watch Chiller Theater with him. The old Blob movie from the fifties was playing. Scared me to death. The first horror movie I remember watching the whole way through was The Thing. It gave me my first true love of horror films. I was hooked afterward and became an insatiable watcher. My sister remembers waking up to the sounds of screaming because I’d rented a bunch of films and spent the whole night watching. She wasn’t surprised at all when I became a horror writer.

I was late to the horror reading game. I cut my teeth on Edgar Allan Poe when I was around fifteen years old. A friend I lived next door to let me borrow his copy of the unabridged works. I read and read. It was so good. Then I moved on to the Books of Blood. Very unsettling but I couldn’t get enough of them. I read King’s Skeleton Crew. I liked it but wasn’t a big fan of King’s until I was much older. Clive Barker was the one I read the most then. It gave me inspiration to start writing short stories. Some I still have buried in notebooks.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Edmund: I don’t know if it’s technically considered a horror novel, but The Road by Cormac McCarthy would be the most unsettling to me, more for the subject matter than anything. The other I’d mention would be The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. The things that poor girl endured were horrible and hard to read.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Edmund: They were more like documentaries, but Faces of Death gave me nightmares when I was in my teens. I watched lots of horror movies then, but after seeing those, nothing really compared. Recently, a movie that disturbed me was The Green Inferno. It’s an indie film about a group of Greenpeace kids getting caught in the Amazon with a cannibalistic tribe. Gory and strange.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Edmund: Wow. I have so many. My mom was a seamstress. She could put together anything I wanted. One year I wanted to be the headless horseman. We came up with this elaborate cardboard and cloth get up with a plastic jack o lantern for the head. It was a great costume, but the head wouldn’t stay on.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song? Probably the one from Nightmare before Christmas. This is Halloween I think it’s called. That gets stuck in my head, and I can’t get it out. I love the Halloween theme too, so recognizable. When I was a kid, it was Monster Mash.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat?

Edmund: Mary Janes. I love those chewy peanut buttery treats. My kids couldn’t figure out why I always wanted to steal them from their stash. They would give them up no problem. What is your most disappointing? Gobstoppers or jawbreakers. I never had a like for hard candies.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by today, Edmund. Before we go, what are your Top 6 things we should take the time to watch or read at Halloween?

Edmund:

  • Halloween movie. I love the Halloween movies and at least watch the first one during Halloween.
  • American Horror Story Halloween episode. The dead walk the Earth. Can it get any better?
  • Hocus Pocus. We always watched this one with the kids and now the grandkids.
  • Goosebumps. I read these stories to my kids when they were little around Halloween. I also told them scary stories so they would have a hard time sleeping.
  • Trick r Treat movie. I watched it last Halloween on a whim and it’s become a favorite of mine.
  • Tales from the Darkside Halloween pilot episode. It was called Trick or Treat. The one where the man ends up going to hell and the devil tells him he’s getting warmer. That creeped me out back in the day.

Boo-graphy:
Edmund Stone is a writer, poet and artist who spins tales of strange worlds and horrifying encounters with the unknown. He lives in a quaint town on the Ohio River with his wife, a son, four dogs and two mischievous cats.

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Tent Revival
Salt Flat, Kentucky is a sleepy town. Until a mysterious Tent shows up one day, with a charismatic preacher, inviting the people to an old-fashioned tent revival. Everyone’s mesmerized by his presence, entranced by the magic he performs.

Sy Sutton isn’t fooled by what’s going on. But as his son becomes entrenched in the craziness around him, he has no choice but to get involved. With the help of an unlikely friend, He’ll try to save his son and the town he’s fond of.

Unknown to him, something lurks below. An ancient being with an agenda. When she comes to the surface, all hell will break loose on the night of the Tent Revival.

GUEST BOOK REVIEW by Christina Bergling: Halloween Land

Halloween Land by Kevin J. Kennedy

I read horror books all year round. Every season is horror season for me. However, fall time puts me in a particularly festive and nostalgic mood. When the days get darker and colder, when the leaves crunch and the pumpkin spice flows freely, I want to read a specific kind of spooky. I want to read something with a Halloween vibe.

Halloween Land by Kevin J. Kennedy delivers the nostalgia-laden plot that I need beside a crackling fire with a stiff whisky and some mellowcreme pumpkins lifted off my children. The novella is bite-sized, like the candy, and I was able to binge it in one sitting.

Halloween Land introduces us to two teenaged children, Zak and Wendy, as they search for fun and frights on Halloween night. A traveling carnival has appeared in their town for the night, and the two feel compelled to explore it. They don their costumes and push their way through the crowd to get inside. Yet they quickly discover that the carnival is not normal. Instead, it is a gateway to something far more terrifying.

I know Kennedy more than the average reader. He and I co-authored the post-apocalyptic horror novella Screechers. I am also featured in several of his horror anthologies. I personally know how deep of a horror lover Kennedy is and how much genre knowledge he has. That passion, focused on Halloween itself, is very evident in Halloween Land.

Like any deep horror author, Kennedy takes his favorite toys out of the box to play with in his world. This produces a reliance on tropes and archetypes, appearances of familiar characters and ideas. Especially when we approach concepts steeped in motifs, like Halloween itself or a carnival. Kennedy blends horror with Halloween and a carnival in Halloween Land. This blending relies on the tropes you would expect to see in such a recipe, but I was not exasperated to see reliance on these archetypes. Rather, it was like coming home to familiar friends, smiling at the comfort.

The subtitle of Halloween Land is “A Coming of Age Story.” That aptly describes the journey of Zak and Wendy and sets the tone of their adventure. The two dressing up and heading to the Halloween carnival has a distinctly Goosebumps vibe to it, especially since Goosebumps laid the foundation for all my later horror indulgence. That tickle of my childhood only amplified the nostalgia already conjured by the Halloween and carnival imagery.

Yet Halloween Land does not remain in childlike fantasy. When Zak and Wendy cross the threshold into Halloween Land’s other dimension, we too step into Kennedy’s world of monsters.

I am familiar with Kennedy’s world of monsters. I have written there. When we were writing Screechers, I handled the human survivors while Kennedy concocted the mutated monsters. He imagined fantastical beasts. I cannot fathom what all is lurking in his imagination. I will not betray Halloween Land with spoilers, but the same sort of blood-thirsty beasts are unleashed from his mind. With the appearance of these monsters, you can expect epic battles and harrowing fights for Zak and Wendy.

Halloween Land is the quick, easy read to sit down with to get you in the Halloween mood. It is the story to curl up with when you are feeling nostalgic and want to go to the Halloween carnival and also hint at your own youth. Halloween Land is horror comfort food to be consumed in one sitting, perhaps by a fire with a stiff drink and some leftover candy (like I did). Get in line to see if you survive the Fun House!


Boo-graphy:
Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade. In college, she pursued a professional writing degree and started publishing small scale. With the realities of paying bills, she started working as a technical writer and document manager, traveling to Iraq as a contractor and eventually becoming a trainer and software developer. She avidly hosted multiple blogs on Iraq, bipolar, pregnancy, running. Limitless Publishing released her novel The Rest Will Come. HellBound Books Publishing published her two novellas Savages and The Waning. She is also featured in over ten horror anthologies, including Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, Graveyard Girls, Carnival of Nightmares, and Demonic Wildlife. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her non-writing time running, doing yoga and barre, belly dancing, taking pictures, traveling, and sucking all the marrow out of life.

Followers
Sidney, a single mother with a menial day job, has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good for her Elvira-esque aspirations. In fact, Sidney has so many followers that chatting with them is getting to be a job in itself. More than a job, it might be getting a risky….

When Sidney is attacked on a dark trail late one night, it becomes clear that the horror she loves is bleeding into her real life. She learns that real-life horror is not a game, and being stalked isn’t flattering—it’s terrifying, and it could get her killed.

Sidney—and her loved ones—are now in serious danger. This follower isn’t just another online fan: he knows her movements, and he knows her routine. In fact, he’s right behind her… and when he gets close enough, he won’t take no for an answer.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Christina Bergling

Meghan: Hi Christina! Thanks for stopping by. I know you’re busy, what with your book release today, so let’s get started right away. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Christina: Not to be the cliché horror author but… EVERYTHING! I have loved Halloween since I was a child, and I probably indulge in every part of it. If I had to select a favorite, it would be the costume. When I was young, I loved dressing up (on Halloween or any other day). The same is still true and likely contributes to why I like to dance and perform on-stage (costumes!). Yet the excitement of selecting a costume held me rapt for months. My mother often made my costume, so I had full creative freedom. Then we made the costume together. It all culminated when I could wear the final product, which of course had an elaborate backstory, to school, then later around the neighborhood trick-or-treating. Then the costumes lived on as long as they fit me. The best was when my mother made me a mermaid costume with a shimmering tale and shiny shells sewn on a flesh-colored bodice.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Christina: As a child, trick-or-treating was the best part of Halloween. While I still enjoy taking my children, we have struggled to find a neighborhood that is really into it. As an adult, my favorite has evolved to horror movies, especially at Telluride Horror Show every October, and/or haunted houses. Telluride Horror Show allows me to watch horror movies with genre fanatics in gorgeous mountain scenery for three straight days. Nothing but horror movies and maybe some horror movie trivia. And I love a good scare at a haunted house. I startle very easily, so the actors (and my friends) have plenty of fun with me.

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

Christina: Are there other holidays? Halloween is undoubtedly my favorite. It always has been. Christmas with Santa and presents did not even compete when I was young. Halloween always had my heart. Perhaps it was because my heart was always dark. I was always drawn to the macabre and the spooky. I am not sure why, but it resonated with me. Then with the addition of costumes and candy and running around in the dark and fear for fun, I was in for life.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Christina: I am not a superstitious person. However, I am a habitual person. If I do something and I love it, it becomes a “thing.” Traditions are forged very easily in my circle. Halloween has started to take over my life because I seem to add a new tradition every year, and I am completely unreasonable about skipping some or simplifying at all. It is never “or.” It is always “more.”

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

Christina: My favorite monster is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I love the psychology involved in his character. I think he embodies the wild duality in all of us. My horror villain is Hannibal Lecter. Once again, psychology. He is brilliant and yet profoundly savage. That duality, the way he blatantly ignores social convention to define his own ethical code makes his fascinating. Both have a deep intelligence under the evil, monster, and violence in their character. They are not mindless killing machines. They make very calculated decisions, which I think make them all the more terrifying.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Christina: I want to know who Jack the Ripper is. I know there are plenty of solid theories, and I’m not anywhere near researched enough. But I want to KNOW.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Christina: The Licked Hand haunts me. Of all the urban legends I have heard or read, that one left a mark on the back of my brain. To summarize, a girl puts her hand out of bed for a dog to lick it all night. Later, she finds the dog dead and realizes the killer has been licking her hand all night. I have heard many different versions of this same legend, but all versions just cause me to shudder. It used to keep me up at night when I was babysitting or home alone. And I surely never let my dog lick my hand at night.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Christina: I find Ted Bundy very interesting. His charisma and pathological lying make him quite fascinating. Plus representing himself in court and jumping out of the courtroom window to escape and continue his killing spree. His story is consistently so outlandish. The fact that he was able to get away with so much and garner so much attention for being attractive says some very frightening things about our culture.

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

Christina: Scream was my first horror movie at age 12. My father showed it to me after my parents divorced. While I lacked the genre knowledge to truly appreciate the meta nature of Scream, I adored it. I fell in love with the movie and the genre. I never looked back. I don’t think my father knew what he was starting. I don’t remember my first horror book. I started with Goosebumps and Fear Street and read numerous ones in elementary school. After that, I graduated to Stephen King. I devoured horror books at the library. Books lay the groundwork for my love of the horror genre and my eventual horror writing.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Christina: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum deeply unnerved me. The novel is brilliant and so well written. The premise of child abuse and torture is visceral enough. However, the violence Meg endures is so haunting. I physically flinched. The prose made my nauseous. I love the book and appreciate everything it was able to do to me.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Christina: It might be a tie between the French movies Inside and Martyrs. French horror is extremely bloody. I am glad I saw Inside before I even had children because I do not know if I could handle the subject matter after being pregnant. Martyrs contained so much graphic torture. Ultimately, it influenced me so much that it helped to inspire my torture book The Waning. However, the most traumatic movie I have ever seen is by Dario Argento’s daughter, Asia Argento. The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things is traumatic to a level from which I may never recover. It just is not really “horror.”

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume? (This could be from when you were a child or after you became an adult. Or maybe something you never dressed as but wish you had.)

Christina: My most fun Halloween costume was dressing up as Dora the Explorer as an adult. I had her backpack full of very inappropriate tools. I wandered around the party showing everyone what I had in my backpack and taking way too many shots. When I had my daughter, my family went as the Addams family. I made yarn braids for her to be Wednesday Addams.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Christina: I love Black No. 1 by Type O Negative. I’m definitely partial to it because I know a choreography to it and have performed to it. Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie is another good one. And the theme song from Halloween by John Carpenter is a classic. Ice Nine Kills has a whole album (with another coming out in October) of songs based on horror movies.

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

Christina: Mellowcreme pumpkins are my favorite. I could eat myself sick on them. And also have. Those peanut butter taffy things in the orange and black wrappers are disgusting though. Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins are also quite delicious. Though candy paired with booze always makes me pretty happy.

Meghan: Before we finish, what are your Top 10 Halloween movies?

Christina:


Boo-graphy:
Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade. In college, she pursued a professional writing degree and started publishing small scale. With the realities of paying bills, she started working as a technical writer and document manager, traveling to Iraq as a contractor and eventually becoming a trainer and software developer. She avidly hosted multiple blogs on Iraq, bipolar, pregnancy, running. Limitless Publishing released her novel The Rest Will Come. HellBound Books Publishing published her two novellas Savages and The Waning. She is also featured in over ten horror anthologies, including Collected Christmas Horror Shorts, Graveyard Girls, Carnival of Nightmares, and Demonic Wildlife. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado. She spends her non-writing time running, doing yoga and barre, belly dancing, taking pictures, traveling, and sucking all the marrow out of life.

Followers
Sidney, a single mother with a menial day job, has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good for her Elvira-esque aspirations. In fact, Sidney has so many followers that chatting with them is getting to be a job in itself. More than a job, it might be getting a risky….

When Sidney is attacked on a dark trail late one night, it becomes clear that the horror she loves is bleeding into her real life. She learns that real-life horror is not a game, and being stalked isn’t flattering—it’s terrifying, and it could get her killed.

Sidney—and her loved ones—are now in serious danger. This follower isn’t just another online fan: he knows her movements, and he knows her routine. In fact, he’s right behind her… and when he gets close enough, he won’t take no for an answer.