Halloween Extravaganza: Hunter Shea: The Ghost of Halloween Present

After reading this guest post by the amazing Hunter Shea, all I can say is… I wish I lived closer to him because he’s definitely a house I would stop at on Halloween.


It used to be, I was happy when a Halloween consisted of me dressed up as either a hobo or vampire (I remember being a hobo, complete with packed bindle, was all the rage – not so PC now), a couple of hours to trick or treat, a visit to my grandparents, and a few mom inspected and approved candies before bed. If I was very lucky, my trick or treat bag wasn’t laden with old pennies and unwrapped circus peanuts.

For once in my life, I don’t long for the days of yesteryear. Halloween today in the Shea dungeon is a day long affair filled with indulgence and wicked fun. I tell people what our Halloweens are like and they don’t believe me… until they come and see for themselves. And once they do, they come back for more year after year.

We have the distinct pleasure of having become part of a kind of trick or treat alley. It consists of one suburban block where kids and adults from far and wide descend. On this block, the houses are decorated (One family sometimes changing the entire front façade of their house for that year’s theme. Last year it was a rocket ship. The year before, the bow of a pirate ship). Music drifts along the chilly air. You might hear some creepy horror movie tunes, or maybe some riotous Rob Zombie, and always, always, the soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We prep for the night by loading up the cooler with lots of beer. It used to be just pumpkin ale when it was hard to find, but now that it’s everywhere, the allure has worn off. First beer can be cracked open at any time, be it morning or night. Well, we never wait until night. My daughters will dress up, as will the adults, all the way to grandma and grandpa. Sometimes, if my creative daughter gets the urge, she’ll pull out her makeup effects kit and adorn our necks with bloody slashes and wounds. She’s been known to do it for random trick or treaters, too.

A carved pumpkin sits on the table, spewing massive chunks of green. That would be homemade guacamole and it’s delicious. With extended family and friends present, the first trick or treaters start to trickle in. It’s always the very young ones at first with their moms and dads. At our house, everyone gets a juice box – because trick or treating is thirsty business – and a bag of treats. Once night falls, the neighborhood is transformed into a spooky Mardi Gras, the sidewalks and street packed with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. There have been flash mobs, wedding proposals, screeching when people are scared by one of us, and even the occasional flash for a drink, which makes it all the more feel like we’ve been transported to New Orleans. By the time the night is done, we’ve usually handed out treats to over 600 kids. Adults will get beer and cigars. And a hangover to come.

One year, I dressed up as a trailer park version of Elvira. I called myself Elmira and talked like Wendy Williams, asking everyone who came by, “How you doin’?” Don’t ask me why. It was all inspired by Patron and Sam Adams. People loved taking pictures with the often lewd Elmira. Last year, I bought a giant crying baby mask from Five Below. Slipping into a pair of footie pajamas, I walked around looking tres disturbing. Turns out, moms like to hug crying babies, even if they are almost 6 feet tall and dancing around like a serial killer in his basement.

People we see just that once a year come by to hang, pizza is delivered, and the party doesn’t stop until the treats and booze run out. When all is said and done, I always vow to watch a horror movie, something special I’ve saved for this moment. Inevitably, I pass out before the first act is over. It sure beats the Halloweens of my youth. It may be why I look forward to it more now than ever. So if you ever need a juice box or something a little stronger on Halloween, come on and join the party.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books, and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Crytpozoology Museum. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. You can find him each week on the Final Guys podcast, as well as the long running Monster Men video podcast. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. Become a true Hunter’s Hellion and follow him at his website.

Slash

Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. 

With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Hunter Shea

Meghan: Hi, Hunter! Thank you SO much for agreeing to be on Meghan’s House of Books today. [insert fangirling here] Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hunter Shea: I’m a horror obsessed guy married longer than most of your readers have been alive with two amazing daughters who share my love of all things dark and scary. The fact that I got to turn my passion into a career that has allowed me to meet a lot of my horror heroes is still, I believe, the Matrix messing with me.

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

Hunter Shea: Oh boy. I’m a huge fan of Shania Twain. I once wrote a romantic comedy. I went to school with P Diddy. My all-time favorite job was as a stock boy in a supermarket. I actually like the taste of vegemite.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Hunter Shea: As a kid, I loved The Little Red Lighthouse. I read that book until it fell apart and needed a new copy. The actual lighthouse is underneath the George Washington Bridge in New York. I pass by it all the time. My very first ‘adult’ book was Stephen King’s Night Shift. That explains it all.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Hunter Shea: Riley Sager’s The Last Time I Lied. I’m halfway in and digging the hell out of it. I loved Final Girls and his latest is right on par.

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

Hunter Shea: I read anything I can get my hands on. I was gifted some romance novels last year by a friend and they surprised the heck out of me. Truly enjoyable. I can see why people love them.

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

Hunter Shea: I’ve always loved reading and the horror genre especially. My friend Norman Hendircks (also an author) infected me with the writing bug when we worked together in hell, aka the phone company – in the 1990s. Once I started, I was hooked. As he will tell you, it’s a compulsion with me.

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

Hunter Shea: It changes from book to book. Right now, I prefer the back yard. Before that, it was the kitchen. Who knows, next book might find me in the attic.

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

Hunter Shea: Just plant my butt in a chair and get to tapping keys. Although, when I think about it, I usually go to the bathroom before I write. Weird, right?

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

Hunter Shea: I’m not alone when I say it’s finding the time to write all of the projects I want to take on. I’ve published 27 books in 8 years, and it seems harder and harder to carve out the time I need. So many stories to tell.

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

Hunter Shea: Wow, that’s a tough one. The Montauk Monster was my most commercially successful novel. One of the things on my bucket list was having a mass market paperback, and that took care of that. But I think Creature, which was very autobiographical and difficult to write, might top the list. The fact that I made it to THE END still amazes me. It took a physical and mental toll on me.

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

Hunter Shea: I once met Elmore Leonard who taught me the two rules of writing – read and write… a lot. I started reading more of his work and loved his lean, mean style. It was so much an extension of how Hemingway wrote, and I’m a huge Hemingway fan (despite his personal shortcomings). They above all others taught me how to trim the fat and just tell a good story.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Hunter Shea: Simple – good characters that engage the readers. If you have compelling characters, you can put them in any situation and it will work.

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

Hunter Shea: I grow to love certain characters. I’ve yet to experience love at first write. 😉 Sometimes they just get in your head and you become one with them. Their voice rattles around your brain all the time. And yes, I’ve killed my loved ones when the story calls for it.

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

Hunter Shea: Definitely West from We Are Always Watching. I mean, that’s just me when I was 14, though he’s much better behaved.

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

Hunter Shea: Absolutely. A bad cover screams amateur. Most times, you can judge a book by its cover. But there are some that surprise you. As for my covers, sometimes the artist will ask for some input, but I trust them as artists to knock it out of the park.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Hunter Shea: That writing is the reason I was put on this blue marble. All I want to do is create and entertain people. This world can really suck sometimes. Everyone needs an escape.

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

Hunter Shea: That would be the inner thoughts and turmoil of Andrew and Kate in Creature. I may have overshared what my wife and I go through, but it was crucial to put it in the book. SO many people with similar medical conditions have written to me thanking me for letting them know they’re not the only ones going through similar trials with similar thoughts. Totally worth it.

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

Hunter Shea: On one side, I’ve carved out this little niche as the cryptid guy. So if you’re looking for cyrtid monsters, I have a book for you. On the other side, I’ve been told that my books have made quite a few people tear up. I love to write characters with heart… and then shatter them, of course.

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)?

Hunter Shea: I learned long ago not to fall in love with my titles. Odds are, your editor will change it or ask you for another one. Some titles you get I think don’t always convey what’s between the pages, but I feel I’ve been fortunate so far. I’ve only changed one title for my book, Ghost Mine. It was initially called Hell Hole when it was published by Samhain. We changed it when it came back out this year with Flame Tree Press. The former was too Spinal Tap-ian for me.

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

Hunter Shea: Definitely a novel. I loved getting lost in my characters. A novel gives you room to explore and experiment.

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

Hunter Shea: My books run the gamut, from ghosts to monsters, killers to demons, urban legends to B movie madness. You don’t have to just love horror. There’s action, romance, adventure, gore, flighty books, weighty books, you name it.

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

Hunter Shea: Funny thing about deleted scenes, they’re always deleted for a reason. But for my book Tortures of the Damned, I had prewritten 5 different endings. When I actually wrote the last chapter, it was something entirely different. In one of the endings, all of the children were murdered and the parents basically went feral.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Hunter Shea: I wrote the first book in what I hope to be a middle grade series. Think Goosebumps, but with a recurring character who lives in a very unique place where she encounters everything that goes bump in the night.

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

Hunter Shea: I’m going old school slasher this October with the release of my next book from Flame Tree Press, Slash. I came of horror age in the 80s and I wanted to finally add my take on the slasher genre. There’s an abandoned resort in the Catskills that harbors a mysterious killer called The Wraith. The fiancé of a final girl goes urban exploring, looking for answers, and gets more than he bargained for.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Hunter Shea: Best place is at my website. You’ll find links to all of my social media there, podcasts and more.

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?

Hunter Shea: I believe the past decade has been the true golden age of horror. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books, and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Crytpozoology Museum. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. You can find him each week on the Final Guys podcast, as well as the long running Monster Men video podcast. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. Become a true Hunter’s Hellion and follow him at his website.

Slash

Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. 

With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.