AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Rebecca Rowland

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

Rebecca: It used to be the dressing up in costume, coming up with the wittiest ensemble for a party. One year, a guy I was dating dressed up like Bob Ross and I was a “happy cloud.” The year I got married, my spouse went as Jesus and I went as a nun. Nowadays, what I like about the holiday is much subtler: I like the smell of the air at that time of year, the leaves, the fact that it gets dark earlier and there’s always a classic scary movie playing on television somewhere.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Rebecca: I don’t, not at traditional things anyway. I worry about things, and I am definitely a bit high-strung, but it’s difficult to really scare me. Every now and then, something in a book or movie will take me by surprise, though.

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

Rebecca: There really hasn’t been a movie as a whole that frightened me. There are scenes that have scared the bejesus out of me the first time I saw them, though—don’t get me wrong. Tim Curry’s mouth full of sharp teeth in It. The way the camera motion changes at the very end of The Blair Witch Project. The eyeball peeking out from the crack in the door in Black Christmas. Toni Collette crouched on the bedroom ceiling in Hereditary. Come to think of it, that last one still creeps the heck out of me!

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

Rebecca: When I first saw Midsommar, I thought the big hammer on the cliff-diving survivor was shocking. A silver lining is, when I saw the film in the theater, a group of chatty women were seated nearby; after that scene, they got up and left.

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

Rebecca: As a kid, there was one movie commercial that terrified me: the one for the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. Granted, I was very young, but I remember the montage very well: Freddy Krueger’s arms stretched wide across a narrow alleyway. I was grateful that the rating made it impossible for me to see it in the theaters.

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

Rebecca: I’d have to say Rosemary’s Baby. The late 60s in Manhattan was a swinging time, and the Castevets seem like decent neighbors—as long as I’m not sharing a wall with them (I’m a light sleeper). I’d double up on the birth control, though.

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

Rebecca: Nightbreed, hands down. The book and the movie always spoke to me; I felt like a bit of an outsider growing up. Still do, to be honest. Being secretly dosed with LSD, set up for murders I didn’t commit, shot, and well, bitten doesn’t sound like very much fun, but being able to look at David Cronenberg for hours on end and then having a squad of fellow misfits to feel at home with: that seems like a fair trade off.

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

Rebecca: The boogeyman, for sure. I was never much frightened of vampires or werewolves or anything like that. To me, those creatures exist outside, and you can avoid them. Boogeymen, though: they make your home their own, and they creep about when you least expect them.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Rebecca: The decorations. When I worked as a librarian, I’d change the décor of the space with the seasons. I had a giant box for each: a winter box, a St. Patrick’s Day box, even a Mardi Gras box. For Halloween, I had seven giant boxes, including one with an unsettlingly large and hairy stuffed spider I’d string up in a dark corner.

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

Rebecca: “Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo. I’m a diehard Danny Elfman fan, and that’s one of their catchiest tunes, for certain!

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Rebecca: I read Stephen King at an age that I think was much too young to be reading him. When I first read The Shining, I was sharing a bedroom with my little sister, and there was a small bathroom right across the hall from our room. It had a nightlight, so the room glowed that eerie bluish-white color until morning. From my bed, I could see the edge of the shower curtain, and after reading King’s scene with the woman in the bathtub, that’s all I could think of when I woke up at night. For weeks, I couldn’t get up to pee because I was too scared.

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

Rebecca: I live in a very small Cape Cod-style house, and the second floor is unfinished. The area is a giant storage space, for all intents and purposes. At night, it sounds like someone is walking around it, and over the past few years—since before the pandemic, even—I’ve found random things missing from the first floor: a lipstick here, an unwrapped bar of soap there…things I remember putting one place only to find them totally gone the next day. Sometimes I really do wonder if someone is secretly living on my second floor, and every once in a while, when I am home alone and writing, the house dead quiet, I swear I hear someone creeping down the stairs and into my kitchen.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Rebecca: I’d like to be that stoic scholar and say I want to know if God exists, how the universe was created, or what happens to us after we die, but truth be told, I’d rather know what happened to D.B. Cooper, what wiped out the hikers on the Dyatlov Pass, and of course, the real identity of Jack the Ripper.

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

Rebecca: Someone told me that urban legend of the black-eyed children, and there’s something about it that truly unsettles me. I will likely weave them into a short story someday, just to shake their residual creepiness from my mind.

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

Rebecca: That would be a tie between a machete axe and an entrenchment tool. My spouse has been giving me weapons as Christmas gifts for nearly a decade—it started out as a joke that I was preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve acquired quite the arsenal, and I know how to use all of them, and trust me when I tell you: the machete axe or the entrenchment tool is the way to go.

Meghan: Okay, let’s have some fun – Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf?

Rebecca: Vampire. I’m not a hairy person naturally, and I think the werewolf upkeep would throw me for a loop, even if it were only once a month.

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

Rebecca: Aliens. I can’t even imagine how the world would smell in a zombie apocalypse.

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

Rebecca: As a vegetarian, I’d have to choose the zombie juice, though had the dead bodies been fresh, it might have been a toss-up.

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

Rebecca: Poltergeist, for sure, no matter how sexy James Brolin and Ryan Reynolds are in those beards.

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

Rebecca: I can’t do maggots, even though cheese is my favorite food. It almost seems like an extra terrible punishment to ruin it that way! Bring on the melon.

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

Rebecca: It all comes down to the smell of the cauldron. Is it putrid or soup-like, and how hungry am I? All things even, I’d say, give me both!

Boo-graphy: Rebecca Rowland is the dark fiction author of The Horrors Hiding in Plain Sight, Pieces, Shagging the Boss, Optic Nerve, and the upcoming White Trash & Recycled Nightmares and is the curator of seven horror anthologies. Her short fiction, critical essays, and book reviews regularly appear in a variety of online and print venues. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association and lives in a chilly corner of New England with her family. To surreptitiously stalk her, visit her website. To take a peek at what shiny object she’s fixating on these days, follow her on Instagram.

Shagging the Boss“Lesson number one: don’t get attached to anyone. Being a cannibal is the only way to truly succeed in this business.”

He placed one hand on the door handle, then thought a moment and smiled to himself. “The problem is, once you take a bite, it will never be enough.”

After a fortuitous encounter at a local book convention, a liberal arts graduate accepts a position at a flashy publishing company under the tutelage of its charismatic owner only to learn that the press is led, and fed, by a literal boogeyman.

Optic Nerve – Shawn is a scientist developing the formula for a drug that may cure blindness by stimulating another area of the brain that controls perception. When he surreptitiously tests the drug on himself, he accidentally accesses a neural pathway that appears to allow him to communicate with a complete stranger through telepathy instead. When Shawn finally discovers the significance of their connection and of the drug’s true effects, it is too late to stop the damage their intimate friendship has set in motion to unfold

Terror for Teetotalers – What might your favorite scary movie taste like if someone were to make it into its own signature cocktail? With more than thirty recipes inspired by some of the greatest staples in horror cinema, even the most novice of bartenders can experiment with shaking and mixing a new concoction for every evening of October leading up to Halloween.

Generation X-ed – In a unique anthology of monster, folk, paranormal, and psychological horror as glimpsed through the lens of the latchkey generation, twenty-two voices shine a strobe light on the cultural demons that lurked in the background while they came of age in the heyday of Satanic panic and slasher flicks, milk carton missing and music television, video rentals and riot grrrls. These Gen-X storytellers once stayed out unsupervised until the streetlights came on, and what they brought home with them will terrify you.

Dancing in the Shadows – With her hauntingly beautiful reimagining of archetypal monsters from classic horror, Anne Rice was the undisputed queen of contemporary gothic literature. Her contribution to the movement first established by Shelley, Stoker, and Stevenson revitalized and continues to inspire dark fiction writers and readers. Dancing in the Shadows pays tribute to Rice’s legacy with tales from today’s most innovative authors, drawing from the darkness where vampires and witches, mummies and rougarous, spirits and demons move to the music of nightmares. 

Featuring stories by C. W. Blackwell, Anthony S. Buoni, Holley Cornetto, Stephanie Ellis, Douglas Ford, Lee Andrew Forman, Holly Rae Garcia, KC Grifant, Greg Herren, Christine Lajewski, Tim Mendees, Scotty Milder, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, E. F. Schraeder, Angela Yuriko Smith, Morgan Sylvia, Lamont A. Turner, Gordon B. White, and Trish Wilson; co-edited by Elaine Pascale and Rebecca Rowland; Foreword by Lisa Kroger

All proceeds from the sale of Dancing in the Shadows benefit ARNO. Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) is an organization created and dedicated to the rescue and aid of abandoned and homeless animals in the New Orleans area, including responding to the immediate needs of those in need of medical care or those too old, too young, too sick, neglected, abused and deprived of love. ARNO promotes the foster, adoption and reunion of pets with caretakers as well as spaying and neutering all companion animals through their no-kill shelter.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Jonathan Janz

Meghan: Welcome back, Jonathan. This has become so much of a tradition, you and me, that I can’t imagine Halloween without you. Thanks for joining us again this year. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Jonathan: Cheesy answer here, but I love taking my kids trick-or-treating. My oldest is a junior now, and my middle child is a freshman, so they do things with their friends now, but my youngest (Peach) is still all-in for trick-or treating. I love going with her!

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Jonathan: Yes. I have a deliriously overactive imagination, so I get scared pretty frequently. The things I’m most scared of involve something happening to my loved ones, but I guess most people worry about that. Some more obscure things that scare me are waking in the middle of the night and worrying someone is going to seize my hand. I’m also creeped out when I’m in the school alone (where I teach). Schools can be really eerie places.

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

Jonathan: My favorite horror movie is Jaws, but the scariest? I don’t know which one wins, but there are some that genuinely freak me out: The Taking of Deborah Logan, Lake Mungo, Hell House LLC, Smile, Gondjiam: Haunted Asylum, Host, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and Hereditary.

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

Jonathan: You know one that really bothered me? I think it fit the movie, but it really hit me hard. In Summer of ’84, there’s a death near the end that really stunned me. I still can’t quite believe they went there, but I do think it was the right decision.

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

Jonathan: Naw. If the commercials were scary, I’d be there. The only ones I don’t watch are ones I just know I wouldn’t dig from the stuff I’ve heard. Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Film come to mind. I’m not against them or anything. I just don’t have any interest in them.

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

Jonathan: Weeellll, I guess I’d choose one from which I could escape? One that would be a lot of fun? So that being said, maybe Slaxx or Psycho Goreman? Or Love & Monsters, which I enjoyed quite a bit.

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

Jonathan: If survival were the goal, I’d have to choose a pretty resourceful one, so I’d say… Ash from the Evil Dead series.

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

Jonathan: Wow, great question. I love both vampires (when they’re ferocious) and werewolves, but if I HAD to pick one, it’d be the werewolf. I just love that concept.

Meghan:What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Jonathan: My birthday is right around Halloween (the 27th), so it’s always fun to celebrate both around the same time. I get to have my family with me even more than usual!

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

Jonathan: I love “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s just perfect.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Jonathan: Hmmm… for that one, let’s go with Ghost Story. I’ve been re-reading it for an upcoming podcast and remembering all the ways it freaked me out. Straub made something permanent there.

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

Jonathan: I sleepwalked a great deal as a kid, so I woke up in some scary places. I remember waking up in a friend’s new house where they’d just moved in, and I was stuck in a pitch-black room in a maze of boxes for a good twenty minutes before I felt my way out. It felt like twenty hours.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Jonathan: The stuff with alien abductions fascinates me. I’m sure most accounts aren’t true, but what if? Also, I’m really taken with the notion of ghosts, so any haunting piques my interest.

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

Jonathan: I’ll go way back for this one. The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens scared the hell out of me as a little kid. My mom brought in home on album from the Delphi Public Library. It had sound effects, the creepiest music, and a really good narrator. I still get chills thinking about it.

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

Jonathan: Got to be the crossbow (after I mastered it, of course). Or a sword. I’ve watched too much Walking Dead, obviously.

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

Jonathan: Werewolf. You don’t HAVE to kill to survive. I’d have my family lock me up as a precaution. Then again, if they were MY kind of werewolves (who changed because of a strong negative emotion), I might be a danger to my family. So let me think about it some more!

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

Jonathan: It would depend on the nature of the aliens, but I’d lean toward the former because the latter seems more invincible.

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

Jonathan: Yikes! I guess the latter if they were seasoned properly *shivers*

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

Jonathan: Amityville. The Poltergeist held too many terrors. Although I don’t like the way the Amityville House made him turn on his family.

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

Jonathan: Yikes again! The former. No question at all. I’m not a maggot fan.

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

Jonathan: Is that code for something? I’m gonna assume no and go with the former.

Boo-graphy: Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels. He is represented for Film & TV by Ryan Lewis (executive producer of Bird Box). His work has been championed by authors like Josh Malerman, Caroline Kepnes, Stephen Graham Jones, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brian Keene. His ghost story The Siren &the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novels Children of the Dark and The Dark Game were chosen by Booklist and Library Journal as Top Ten Horror Books of the Year. He also teaches high school Film Literature, Creative Writing, and English. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter, and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.

The Raven 2: Blood Country
Three years ago the world ended when a group of rogue scientists unleashed a virus that awakened long-dormant strands of human DNA. They awakened the bestial side of humankind: werewolves, satyrs, and all manner of bloodthirsty creatures. Within months, nearly every man, woman, or child was transformed into a monster…or slaughtered by one.

A rare survivor without special powers, Dez McClane has been fighting for his life since mankind fell, including a tense barfight that ended in a cataclysmic inferno. Dez would never have survived the battle without Iris, a woman he’s falling for but can never be with because of the monster inside her. Now Dez’s ex-girlfriend and Iris’s young daughter have been taken hostage by an even greater evil, the dominant species in this hellish new world:

Vampires.

The bloodthirsty creatures have transformed a four-story school building into their fortress, and they’re holding Dez’s ex-girlfriend and Iris’s young daughter captive. To save them, Dez and his friends must risk everything. They must infiltrate the vampires’ stronghold and face unspeakable terrors.

Because death awaits them in the fortress. Or something far worse.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Davide Tarsitano

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

Davide: I like the atmosphere, the weather and I love the costumes and the masking.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Davide: I don’t get spooked very easily.

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

Davide: One that I found really disturbing is The Strangers. People are capable of real horror; reality is way scarier than any horror fiction.

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

Davide: In the movie Hereditary I found Charlie’s death to be quite disturbing

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

Davide: Nope, the scarier the better.

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

Davide: The Mist would be a pretty cool set. I love that story from Stephen King.

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

Davide: Norman Bates in Psycho.

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

Davide: Pennywise.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Davide: Read, read and read, then watch a scary movie and start reading horror books again.

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

Davide: The theme from the movie “Halloween” is just something else.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Davide: If I exclude my novels ☺, probably Desperation by Stephen King.

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

Davide: While I was sleeping in a teepee tent in the monument valley I kept hearing someone thumping at the tent from outside. Every time I went checking outside there was no one. No prints in the sand, nothing. I’m pretty sure it was an unfriendly native American spirit.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Davide: The assassination of JFK is probably at the top of the list.

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

Davide: Stolen Tongues by Felix Blackwell is such a well-crafted and creepy story. The Haunting of Hill House is also among my favorites.

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

Davide: Shotgun.

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

Davide: Vampire

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

Davide: Zombie apocalypse

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

Davide: Jeez. I’m going to have to go with zombie juice, whatever that is.

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

Davide: Amityville

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

Davide: Melon.

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

Davide: Drink from the witch’s cauldron.

Boo-graphy:
Davide Tarsitano is an author of novels and short stories.

He was born in Italy in 1989. He was raised in Cosenza, a small town in the south, and educated in its public schools. He eventually found his way to University of Calabria and to University of Modena and Reggio Emilia where he graduated, respectively, in Mechanical Engineering and Automotive Engineering. He currently works in the race car industry in North America.

Meanwhile, at the age of seven, he found the passion of his life when his dad brought him a book from the Goosebumps series by RL Stine named Night of the Living Dummy. This escalated quickly, inevitably leading him to Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft, and Stephen King.

By the time he was fourteen, he had written short stories and a full screenplay of a horror movie, never produced. In the following years his interest broadened towards cosmic horror, science fiction, and dystopian fiction.

He met his wife in 2016 and married her in 2019.

In 2018 he started to write his first horror novel, The Tooth Fairy, which represents his debut as an author.

Johnny Hawk is a successful entrepreneur in the tech field, escaping from his former life after an utter breakdown. During his trip across the country, his route crosses with Wendy Jag, a beautiful woman who works as a dentist in New Mexico.

As the attraction between the two lost souls escalates furiously, they engage in a passionate and daring physical affair. For the first time in a while Johnny finds some peace and hope for the future. 

But he cannot imagine that behind those innocent and deep eyes Wendy is a profoundly disturbed woman, tormented by the demons of her past: a childhood made of abuses, losses and nightmares filled with darkness. As Wendy’s feelings for Johnny grow stronger, the fight inside Wendy’s chaotic subconscious begins. 

The Tooth Fairy, a dormant and malevolent side of her personality is reawakening, silently awaiting…to take over.