CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Richard Langley (The Poe Predicament, Phil Thomas)

Meghan: Hi, Richard. Thank you for agreeing to sit down with me today. What is one word you would use to define yourself?

Richard Langley: Resilient.

Meghan: Do you see yourself as the “good guy” or the “bad guy”?

Richard Langley: I’m for sure the good guy, a victim of circumstance.

Meghan: What does the plot require you to be? How does this requirement limit you?

Richard Langley: It requires me to be strong and resilient. I’m a stranger in a strange land, cast into 1830s New York City from the twenty first century against my will. I’m limited in several ways, but most notably the unfamiliarity with my surroundings.

Meghan: What is your quest?

Richard Langley: After acquiring a signed book by Edgar Allan Poe at a local bookstore, I soon find myself in a different time period. My quest is to find my way back home to modern day New York.

Meghan: What do you hope to accomplish, find, or become during the course of your book/series?

Richard Langley: Along the way, I need to figure out how and why I ended up in the nineteenth century. I uncover a lot of mystery and meet many wonderful characters along the way, including another time traveler named Alice, and also Edgar Allan Poe himself, who I must help exonerate from a false murder accusation.

Meghan: What do you like about the other main characters? What do you least like about the other main characters?

Richard Langley: I like their companionship and kindness, their willingness to help me when in need. There are other main characters, antagonists that are vile to the core. I like nothing about them or their ill intentions towards me and Edgar Allan Poe.

Meghan: When was the last time you lied? What made you do it?

Richard Langley: I lied when asked about my modern-day attire. I had to lie to protect my identity.

Meghan: Who have you betrayed lately? What happened?

Richard Langley: In the context of the novel, I haven’t betrayed anyone. I’m the good guy.

Meghan: Would you say that you are an optimist or a pessimist?

Richard Langley: I’m an optimist. I have to keep my head up and hope alive if I expect to make it back to modern-day New York City.

Meghan: What is your superpower?

Richard Langley: I’m a problem solver and possess the uncanny ability of observation.

Meghan: What is your biggest secret?

Richard Langley: My biggest secret is that I’m a time traveler.

Meghan: Do you live in the right world?

Richard Langley: Well, the setting is literally not my home since I’m a time traveller. However, I feel that I’m extremely necessary to that world because I have a very important purpose for being there. If you’d like to find out just how important I am and follow my adventures, you can do so in the novel, The Poe Predicament.

Meghan: What is your role in this setting? Are you okay with this role or would you like it to change?

Richard Langley: My primary role is to help exonerate Edgar Allan Poe from a false murder accusation, as well as to help others along the way. At first it was a scary role, not knowing why or how I’d ended up in 1830s New York, but I soon learned just how important I was to keeping history’s natural timeline in order.

Meghan: Did you turn out the way you expected?

Richard Langley: Life has a way of twisting and turning, so I didn’t turn out exactly as I expected.

Meghan: What, if anything, would you change about your life?

Richard Langley: I would have told Alice about my affection for her sooner.

Meghan: How do you feel about your author?

Richard Langley: You mean Phil Thomas? I have nothing but positive feelings towards him.

Meghan: If the two of you got together for coffee, what would you want to say to them?

Richard Langley: I would tell him that my story doesn’t need to end where it does. We have more work to do.

[I hope you enjoyed this character interview of The Poe Predicament’s main protagonist, Richard Langley. If you’d like to follow his adventures further, the book is available to Amazon and other online outlets.]

Boo-graphy:
Phil Thomas is an author and screenwriter from the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is a member of the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors and The Horror Writers Association. He is also the former co-host of What Are You Afraid Of? a weekly horror and paranormal show that lasted for over 150 episodes. The show still airs on Para-X radio on Friday evenings at 9:00 pm, where you’ll find interviews with wonderful guests such as Lloyd Kaufman, Katrina Weidman, Joe R. Lansdale, Grady Hendrix, Greg Bear, Daniel Kraus, and many more.

Check out his website and sign up for his mailing list so he can further control your mind, and please direct your angry hate mail to him here. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.

His short stories have been featured in several anthologies, including Monsterthology 2, Nightside: Tales of Outré Noir, Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd, Books of Horror: Volume 3, Part 2, and the upcoming collection, Seven Doors of Fate, set to release in 2023.

His debut novel, The Poe Predicament, was published by Foundations Books on October 4, 2021 and hit the bestseller list.

Stuck in another time, Richard Langley just wants to find his way back home.

Richard is a former college professor, wandering a local neighborhood bookstore, where he stumbles upon the find of a lifetime: a signed copy of Tamerlane and other poems.

He is soon swept to another era. He is alone, confused, and his only mission is to get back to where he came from.

While struggling to adapt to his nineteenth-century environment, Richard meets a man he must help exonerate from false accusations in order to restore history’s original timeline and, ultimately, find his way back.

What Richard did not count on, was that man being the owner of the signature—Edgar Allan Poe.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Phil Thomas

Meghan: Hi, Phil. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Phil: My favorite part of Halloween is everything. When summer ends its kind of a downer, but with Halloween looming on the horizon, it seems to make everything better. To answer your question straightforward though, my favorite part of Halloween is the memories of the holiday growing up and the amazing times I had. My upcoming novel is actually set almost entirely on Halloween.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Phil: No I don’t, which is why I like Halloween so much. It’s like chasing a high.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Phil: Honestly I think it might be The Conjuring. It’s unnerving on another level.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Phil: Pretty much anything in the Saw movie franchise.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Phil: I have to say no. The scarier the better.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Phil: Halloween 1978.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Phil: Tommy Jarvis, Friday the 13th part 6.

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Phil: If we’re talking monsters, then probably Dracula, or vampires in general.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Phil: Going to some haunted houses and haunted hayrides.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Phil: The Halloween 1978 theme. It encompasses the spirit of Halloween.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Phil: I would have to say either Funland by Richard Laymon, or The Shining by Stephen King.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Phil: I once heard footsteps on my porch late at night. When I turned on the outside light, no one was there.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Phil: The Jersey Devil. We need to find it asap!

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Phil: If we’re talking hauntings, then probably The Conjuring’s story.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Phil: A double-barreled shotgun.

Meghan: Okay, Phil. Let’s have some fun… Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Phil: A vampire for sure!

Meghan: Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion?

Phil: Probably a zombie apocalypse because they’re slow, and when it comes to aliens, they might have technology far superior to ours.

Meghan: Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard?

Phil: Aren’t they the same thing? Ha! Probably drink zombie juice.

Meghan: Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week?

Phil: Definitely the Poltergeist house. It’s one of my favorite movies.

Meghan: Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese?

Phil: I’ll take the bitter melon with chilies.

Meghan: Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs?

Phil: I’d rather lick cotton candy spider webs. It might even taste good.

Boo-graphy:
Phil Thomas is an author and screenwriter from the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is a member of the International Association of Professional Writers & Editors and The Horror Writers Association. He is also the former co-host of What Are You Afraid Of? a weekly horror and paranormal show that lasted for over 150 episodes. The show still airs on Para-X radio on Friday evenings at 9:00 pm, where you’ll find interviews with wonderful guests such as Lloyd Kaufman, Katrina Weidman, Joe R. Lansdale, Grady Hendrix, Greg Bear, Daniel Kraus, and many more.

Check out his website and sign up for his mailing list so he can further control your mind, and please direct your angry hate mail to him here. You can stalk him on Twitter and Facebook.

His short stories have been featured in several anthologies, including Monsterthology 2, Nightside: Tales of Outré Noir, Coming Through in Waves: Crime Fiction inspired by the Songs of Pink Floyd, Books of Horror: Volume 3, Part 2, and the upcoming collection, Seven Doors of Fate, set to release in 2023.

His debut novel, The Poe Predicament, was published by Foundations Books on October 4, 2021 and hit the bestseller list.

Stuck in another time, Richard Langley just wants to find his way back home.

Richard is a former college professor, wandering a local neighborhood bookstore, where he stumbles upon the find of a lifetime: a signed copy of Tamerlane and other poems.

He is soon swept to another era. He is alone, confused, and his only mission is to get back to where he came from.

While struggling to adapt to his nineteenth-century environment, Richard meets a man he must help exonerate from false accusations in order to restore history’s original timeline and, ultimately, find his way back.

What Richard did not count on, was that man being the owner of the signature—Edgar Allan Poe.

GUEST POST: Joseph Sale

The Slasher Genre Finally Gets a Sequel

The Slasher is a unique artifact in literature and cinema. In my view, there is no horror experience quite like it. It is a formula that on the surface of things seems almost ludicrously simple, yet this simplicity is precisely its power.

Many critics have written about the mythological origins of the Slasher. Arguably, one could trace the roots back to Beowulf, an epic penned circa 900 A.D. in Old English (which more closely resembles German, in many respects, than Modern English). In this legendary tale, the monster Grendel attacks the mead-hall of King Hrothgar, each night killing two of his servants and warriors. When Grendel is finally defeated, the hero Beowulf then has to contend with the monster’s mother, who proves a far worse foe. Giving Beowulf even a cursory analysis already reveals some fascinating insights. For a start, Grendel emerges from the swamps and fens, which seem to represent the roiling unconscious with their serpentine, reptilian forms. He attacks the bright hall of Heorot, which is illuminated by blazing fires, and seems to represent the conscious mind. Whilst Grendel could well represent a very real-world fear of the killer brute who comes for us at night, there is another fear, perhaps a deeper one, one what dwells in the depths of our quagmire-like minds.

One can also immediately see how Beowulf has informed Slashers. Grendel is a monster, a killer who emerges from a dismal swamp and picks off a group of victims one by one in increasingly gruesome and disturbing ways. He is inhuman – trollish, giant, hideous – but also disturbingly pathetic at the same time. Grendel even has a strange relationship with his uncanny mother. If your mind immediately leapt to Jason Vorhees, or even Norman Bates from Hitchcock’s Psycho (which is often consider a cinematic “proto-Slasher”), then you can easily be forgiven. Vorhees is certainly a Grendel in more ways than one. The fact he haunts a lake is not simply a reference to this classical source, but also another psychological dynamic. Water often symbolises sex, for reasons too numerous to list here. Suffice to say, the human mind naturally associates the two. Vorhees has a particularly distaste for sex, and one of the tropes of the Slasher genre is that only the pure or virginal survive. As I said before, what seems a simple formula is layered with meaning, and it is this layered meaning that makes Slashers so powerful.

In Grady Hendrix’s recent novel, The Final Girls Support Group, which utlises clever meta-narrative devices to deconstruct and analyse the genre, Hendrix also draws parallels between Slashers and the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the minotaur. The minotaur is the bestial killer, haunting a labyrinth. The hero Theseus can only overcome the killer with the help of Ariadne, the plucky “final girl” who helps him navigate and escape the labyrinth. Again, labyrinths are often psychological: they represent the human mind. Notice how the runnels of a brain seem like the paths in a maze. So, the killers are not only embodiments of things we fear—monsters and things that go bump in the night—they are also fear itself, the things dwelling in our mind that we do not consciously acknowledge, waiting deep at the heart of the labyrinth.

What we are dealing with is an archetype, something that speaks to the very depths of the human condition. A frightening monster on one hand, and some form of heroine who is capable of surviving the monster, or even overcoming them at times, on the other. It could be argued that the “final girls” who are so vital to the genre represent the better part of ourselves, the part that is able to face the id of our own mind. Whatever the truth, these images are seemingly hardwired into us, which explains why the Slashers of the ‘80s and ‘90s remain so iconic.

However, Slashers fell away during the Noughties and early 2010s. Perhaps the market was oversaturated? Perhaps the law of diminishing returns finally kicked in? A few failed reboots and sequels kicked the reputation of the genre into the dust. The creative spark was lost. All of these are possible, but I think these reasons are only part of why Slashers went away. The other part has to do with how our tastes and interests reflect what is really going on in our cultural psyche.

In the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, a certain type of horror was in. But, at the turn of the millennium, we saw the rise of the Psychological Thriller and the decline of Horror in general. Thrillers dominated the Noughties and 2010s, both in cinema and in the literary world. Titles such as Before I Go To Sleep, The Girl On The Train, and Gone Girl (all of which are books and movies), in which the real enemy is often memory or perspective, replaced the crazed killers of an earlier epoch. There are a number of reasons why our tastes could have shifted so drastically. One is perhaps that the escalation of mass-shootings in the US, and the terrorist attack of 9/11, which made the killers of old-school Slashers seem, relatively speaking, quaint. With the rise of Psychological Thrillers also came a rise in Spy and Crime Thrillers, in which Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, or another hero with the initials J. B. has to stop a terrorist attack: a bomb, a WMD, a catastrophe of nuclear proportions. One might argue that James Bond existed long before any of these and contemporaneously with the Slashers of the ‘70s and ‘80s, but note how Bond has changed from a suave spy into an action hero, how the plots he must foil are increasingly global in scale. This shift from fearing sickos with knives to fearing bombs going off in the middle of populated cities reflects a (very understandable) cultural anxiety that has dominated for 20 years.

However, whilst this shift was inevitable and certainly had just cause, it moved prevailing cinema and literature away from archetypal and mythological roots that imbue it with deeper meaning. Bombs are scary but they are impersonal. We can represent explosions on the screen, but often it devolves into spectacle over emotional resonance. There is a reason that, with this shift towards modern fears, came a pining for ‘80s and ‘90s memorabilia like never before. And furthermore, much criticism levelled at the “emptiness” of modern cinema. Whilst it would be easy to dismiss these kind of remarks as simply one generation’s nostalgia, or comments by people who are out of touch with today’s society, there is clearly a disconcerting ring of truth to it. It isn’t just one generation saying it, either: many younger creators and critics I know remark often that “they don’t make them like they used to”. Whilst I don’t fall strictly into either camp—there are plenty of recent films I adore, though they tend to be independently produced—it’s worth reflecting on what this means, because a society’s artistic output reflects its fears, hopes, and psychological abherrances. Horror in particular exemplifies this. What are we really scared of? Once it was clowns and dream-rapists and swamp-things. Now, it is something else. We’ve shifted from highly personalised demons such as Freddy Krueger to the impersonal fear of societal destruction and catastrophe. Or, we had. Things are changing.

The world moves in seasons and cycles, and we’re currently experiencing something of a revival of Slashers. The Halloween reboot exploded onto the cinema screen in 2018, and the sequel, Halloween Kills, which came out October of this year. Stephen Graham JonesThe Only Good Indians won not only the Bram Stoker but also the Shirley Jackson award. Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group is a love-letter to the genre that has smashed the bestseller lists. Whilst there is a healthy dose of trepidation for Scream 5, given that it will lack the brilliance of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson, there is also a great deal of excitement. Love them or hate them (I am personally in the former camp), the Fear Street movies on Netflix have been voraciously devoured across the world. This resurrection of the genre indicates yet another cultural shift, and perhaps a welcome one.

The intimacy of the Slasher genre seems more appropriate to us, given that most of our worlds shrank drastically as a result of Covid-19 and lockdown. Sadly, domestic violence rose dramatically during this period, and it is likely that many of us had to confront demons, be they people we live with, skeletons in our families’ past, or even more profoundly: within our own minds. The modern world, with its rapid pace and relentless insistence of busyness, has a tendency to drown out reflection. Lockdown forced many of us to turn our attention inward for the first time, and perhaps not all of us liked what we saw in this interior and neglected world. The swamp of the unconscious is a perfect home, after all, for the Grendel-terror to come forth from. I am only guessing, of course, and there is no single, true answer to “why”. But certainly, the personal nature of Slashers, where people are not just blown up en masse but almost lovingly killed (and yes, often psycho-sexually as well), does seem to correlate with our current psychological temperament and the altered cultural norm.

We’re not quite there yet, however. The new Slasher revival has some teething problems, the main one being that we still seem to be either regurgitating the same franchises, or else deconstructing the genre with modern twists to such an extent that it no longer has the mythological feel and scope of the haunting originals. I cannot help but think we are due a true, original Slasher, something condensed from the psychic cultch of the western world, fermented in the fear of Covid and the pressures of lockdown, and imbued with a mania born out of 20 years of repression. We are due not just the sequel and reboot of the Slasher, but the glorious claw-out-of-the-grave resurrection.

And I want to be in the front row seat when it airs.


Boo-graphy:
Joseph Sale is a novelist and writing coach. His first novel, The Darkest Touch, was published by Dark Hall Press in 2014. He currently writes and is published with The Writing Collective. He has authored more than ten novels, including his Black Gate trilogy, and his fantasy epic Dark Hilarity. He grew up in he Lovecraftian seaside town of Bournemouth.

His short fiction has appeared in Tales from the Shadow Booth, edited by Dan Coxon, as well as in Idle Ink, Silver Blade, Fiction Vortex, Nonbinary Review, Edgar Allan Poet and Storgy Magazine. His stories have also appeared in anthologies such as You Are Not Alone (Storgy), Lost Voices (The Writing Collective), Technological Horror (Dark Hall Press), Burnt Fur (Blood Bound Books) and Exit Earth (Storgy). In 2017 he was nominated for The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize.

Patreon
Website
Twitter

Dark Hilarity
Tara Dufrain and Nicola Morgan are eleven year old girls growing up in the ‘90s, obsessed by Valentine Killshot, a metal screamo band. In particular, they’re enamoured by the lead singer, the mysterious yet charismatic Jed Maine who bears the epithet “The Cretin”. In Jed’s lyrics, he describes a world beyond the Dark Stars that he hopes one day to reach. The girls think it’s all just make-believe they share together, until a freak, traumatic incident makes this world very real. As adults, Tara and Nicola try to come to terms with the devastating catastrophe that changed their lives growing up, but to do so they will have to step once more into Jed Maine’s world, and confront the man who took everything from them. Dark Hilarity is My Best Friend’s Exorcism meets The Never-Ending Story, a fantasy that explores addiction, depression, and the healing power of friendship.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Katherine Silva

Meghan: Hi, Katherine! Welcome welcome. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Katherine: There are so many facets to love about celebrating Halloween. My favorites are decorating, baking spooky-inspired treats, and watching horror movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Katherine: We don’t tend to get many trick or treaters at our house, so we’ll often go to my parent’s place just to see some of the fun costumes that the kids have. They will usually get between 100 and 150 kids that night (and this is a small midcoast town in Maine!).

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

Katherine: I’ve always had a love for horror films, scary books, and haunting decor. Halloween is a celebration of all of that and is my favorite season of the year with autumn being in full swing.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Katherine: I’ve definitely tossed salt over my shoulder when I’ve tipped over a salt shaker. I also tend to think that Friday the 13th is usually an unpredictable and chaotic day.

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

Katherine: The shark in Jaws, Dracula, and Rose the Hat from Doctor Sleep.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Katherine: I watched a documentary about Cropsey, a boogeyman myth originating in New York. This is a particularly haunting case (and a brilliantly filmed documentary).

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Katherine: The Red Spot. I remember reading the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark version when I was younger and having nightmares about it long after.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Katherine: The most interesting serial killer to me is Jack the Ripper.

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

Katherine: I saw Jaws when I was probably ten or eleven. It was edited for television, so there were parts edited. I loved it. I’ve had a fascination with creature features, sharks, and monsters ever since. My first horror book was actually more of a Halloween book called The Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything. I was probably four or five and learning to read with my mom. We’d read that year round and I absolutely adored it.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Katherine: When I was in fifth grade at school, my class took a trip to the library. I pulled Stephen King’s IT off the shelf and read the prologue. I didn’t get any further. I’ve had a fear of clowns ever since.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Katherine: The Ring. I’ll never, ever watch that movie again.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Katherine: One year, I dressed up as Ernest P. Worrell. Absolutely no one knew who I was. It was hilarious.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Katherine: It’s a tie. I love “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas but I also really love “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon.

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

Katherine: Snickers were always my favorite. As a kid, I was always disappointed with Mounds or Almond Joy (love them now though!).

Meghan: Before we go, what are your Top Halloween Movies and Books?

Katherine:
Movies: Scream, The Nightmare Before Christmas, What We Do in the Shadows, Underworld, Blade, Hocus Pocus

Books: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, In the Forests of the Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, The Shining by Stephen King, The Night Will Find Us by Matthew Lyons


Boo-graphy:
Katherine Silva is a Maine author of dark fiction, a connoisseur of coffee, and victim of cat shenanigans. She is a two-time Maine Literary Award finalist for speculative fiction and a member of the Horror Writers of Maine, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and New England Horror Writers Association. Katherine is also the founder of Strange Wilds Press, Dark Taiga Creative Writing Consultations, and The Kat at Night Blog. Her latest book, The Wild Dark, is due out October 12th.

Email
Website

The Wild Dark —
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Raleigh has lost everything: her job as a police detective, her partner, her fiancé, and her peace of mind. After a month of solitude at a cabin in the woods, she finally feels as though she’s ready to move on.

But in one terrifying night, everything changes. Liz’s partner, Brody, appears in the form of a ghost. He’s one of millions that have returned to haunt their loved ones. Brody can’t remember how he died and Liz is determined to keep the secret of it buried, for it means dredging up crushing memories. Along with him comes an unearthly forest purgatory that swallows up every sign of human civilization across the world. The woods are fraught with disturbing architecture and monstrous wolves hungry for human souls. Brody says he escaped from them and that the wolves are trying to drag him and others ghosts back.

As winter closes in and chaos erupts across New England, Liz fights desolation, resurfacing guilt, and absolute terror as she tries to survive one of the most brutal winters she’s ever seen.