AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Daemon Manx

Meghan: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Daemon: To be perfectly honest, my favorite part of Halloween is the dressing up and wearing of the costumes. Of course, we all love to do this as children, and many of us love this well into our adulthood. However, I have noticed far too many people who refuse to participate in this ritual once they reach a certain age. I have heard “I don’t wear costumes” and “I don’t dress up.” To that I say, “Don’t take yourself so seriously, no one else does.” I love racking my brain trying to come up with the perfect costume and have really pulled off some winners in my day. As a boy I immediately went for the zombie which was years before they had even become cliché. Then once I discovered latex I went as a werewolf attack victim complete with chunks ripped from my neck. As I got older, I have gone with friends as Kiss, Star Trek crew, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and one time my girlfriend and I went as Titanic victim’s I was the crew member with the whistle frozen to his lips. I never took myself so seriously to even think that I wouldn’t dress up for Halloween, I couldn’t even imagine it.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Daemon: It would be difficult to answer this by simply stating one aspect of Halloween as there isn’t anything about the day, the season, the mood, the vibe that I dislike. For me, Halloween is the single time of the year that I have looked forward to since my earliest childhood days. Even then it was so much more than the candy, it was the sense of mystery and the feeling of the unknown. It was a mood in the air as the leaves began to change. It was the movies that were shown on the television. And of course, it was that chance to step out of ourselves and to be someone or something else for a brief moment in time. So, with that being said, my fondest memories that have transcended throughout my latter years revolve around the Halloween Party. It is the decorating of the house and the planning of the event. Then it is the costumes and the music being played and the chance to stop taking life so seriously. I have always dressed up, and I have always had a Halloween Party. When I was in fourth grade, I built a haunted house in my garage and invited my classmates over for my first annual bash. I am not bragging when I say that I scared the crap out of them, and they would still attest to that. I have been having a yearly Halloween party ever since, sometimes dressing with others in a theme, and sometimes going solo. I don’t build the Haunted house anymore, and the party itself has matured a bit since those early days. But it is still a chance to shake off the seriousness of everyday life and live in the world of imagination, of the macabre, of the supernatural. I also appreciate seeing the ever-popular naughty nurse costume as it is guaranteed that at least one of my friends is sure to walk through the door wearing one.

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

Daemon: It absolutely is my favorite holiday and for many reasons. Halloween is probably differently experienced depending upon where in the country you grew up, or where in the world for that matter. I grew up in northern New Jersey, home of Camp Crystal Lake and a real town called Haddonfield. Halloween comes at a time when the air has turned crisp, and the leaves have begun to rattle as they fall from the trees and are scattered up the street and across the lawn. The sun sets earlier and there is sense of mystery that seems to appear as if from nowhere. You feel it as you walk home from school and pass through the graveyard. You sense that someone is watching you and you start to walk just a little bit faster. You are guaranteed to find at least one of your favorite horror films on nearly every channel, for those of us that still watch it that way. And all this seems to grow with a heightened sense of mystery and tension as All Hallows Eve approaches. There is no other time of year that holds such wonderful apprehension as Halloween. It truly feels that if there is one day out of the year when the soul’s of the dead would be allowed to cross over into our plane, it would be on Halloween, and that is terrifyingly wonderful.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Daemon: A better question would be, what am I not superstitious about, as nearly all of the old wives’ tales and warnings hold a sacred place in my heart. I would never consider walking under a ladder and can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would. That just sounds too dangerous and an unnecessary risk that I don’t need to take. I will go to great lengths to make sure that I handle all mirrors with extreme caution as I am a firm believer in luck and wouldn’t want to jinx myself. I don’t sleep on my left side if I can at all help it and hope that my heart appreciates the strides, I take for it. Black cats? Well, I have owned a few but that was before I had any say as to the pets that were allowed in the house. Now I have one cat that is orange with black and tan stripes, however, if I see one outside, I will inadvertently turn away so that it doesn’t cross my path, if I can help it. I won’t say Bloody Mary three times into the mirror with a candle burning. I won’t say Candy Man either. For that matter, I don’t think I would repeat Beetlejuice any more than twice. Why risk it? That guy would just end up trashing the house or doing something potentially worse.

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

Daemon: My favorite horror monster or villain is Frankenstein’s monster. Although let me clarify this, I am a fan of the original masterpiece written by Mary Shelley. Although I love Boris Karloff the book is the classic that gave birth to the modern horror novel and is so much more than a monster story. Victor Frankenstein has figured a way to bring life to his creation. He has dedicated himself to this task and is finally successful in doing so only to find he is repulsed by his creation and realizes that he must destroy it. The creature is unaware as a newborn and cannot fathom why the one who gave him life hates him and wants nothing to do with him. So, the creature fleas and learns to survive and understand the language. But Victor’s own hatred and loathing continues to consume him, and he goes to great lengths to hunt and kill the creature. Perhaps I should say that Victor is my favorite villain, and the creature is my favorite misunderstood monster, as monsters often are.

I won’t give any more away, and if you have not read it, I urge you to do so. It was written when Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron decided that they would each write a terrifying tale. Mary was the only one to finish a story and the horror world was never the same. There are huge symbolic meanings to be found in the book, as a parent chooses to destroy their own creation of innocence. One cannot help but feel for the creature and detest the man. So, hats off to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the original Goth Girl. 

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Daemon: I am fascinated by mysterious disappearances. One that I have found particularly intriguing, and one would certainly be likely to assume that murder had been involved in some way, was the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. The ship was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 4, 1872, under partial sail with its lifeboats missing. The ship was stocked and in functioning condition, but the crew had vanished. The cargo had been denatured alcohol, and the captain and crew’s belongings had been undisturbed. There was a hearing to try to determine the possible cause of the crew’s disappearance which had discussed mutiny, giant squid, supernatural intervention, and even the possibly that the crew had been overcome by the fumes from the alcohol. It has remained a mystery and a cause for great speculation, and it is one story that we will never know the answer to.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Daemon: I hate the one where if you are driving down the road at night and someone is headed toward you with their high beams on. Of course, we are all going to flash them our own so that they will turn theirs off, or will we? I am not so sure that I do that myself. I have heard the urban legend about how they turn around and follow you home, and then… I hate that one, scares the crap out of me and now I have to squint when someone forgets to turn their high beams off because I don’t want to get butchered in my own driveway. I really wish I never heard that one and simply don’t go out at night because I don’t want to be put into that situation. I prefer to sit behind my laptop and think up ways to scare other people. That’s how I get a good night sleep and avoid the hazards of driving at night.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Daemon: I must say that I do not idolize any real serial killers and do not have a favorite. However, I am a huge fan of the made-up ones and would have to say that Dexter takes the prize. He has a code, a purpose and he is doing the world a service. Yes, he is batshit crazy and often a bit to sloppy and show-offy, but when you got it, flaunt it. Although his first few seasons were far better than the latter, I am optimistic for the new installment and will be watching my favorite blood spatter analyst.

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

Daemon: I was ten years old when I saw the movie Halloween. And what a truly awesome flick to be my first real horror movie. I hadn’t been allowed to see it in the theaters and this was when HBO took about a year before movies were aired. I slept over my friend’s house and watched it the very first night it came on. This was the first time that a movie killer got up and disappeared after he had been shot… six times. Now it is expected for a villain, creature monster to continue on after they have died. But in 1978, 79 when I had seen it, we were all seeing it for the very first time. This was groundbreaking stuff, and it was frightening as hell. When Michael sat up at the top of the stairs and came after a young Jamie Lee, you felt it. I still feel much the same when I revisit this movie years later. The remakes didn’t do it for me and the only sequel I cared for was Halloween two. This is what I want from a horror movie, I want to be scared for the first time and I want it to be fresh, not a rehash of the same gimmick.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Daemon: The most unsettling novel I have read would be Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. The story of several writers who have agreed to stay in an old sealed off theater find themselves in a very desperate situation. Convinced that once they are rescued there will be movies and stories made of their adventure, they begin to cause themselves great harm to show that they have truly suffered through the ordeal. They each write short stories that are peppered throughout the tale, one more disturbing than the next. However, there is one that stands out in my mind and is forever seared into my memory banks. It is a crazy tale about a boy who loses several feet of his intestines while performing an act he calls pegging. Does this ring any bells for any of you? It is an insane tale and if you got the ‘Guts’ I suggest you read it.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Daemon: Night of the Living Dead. I had convinced my father to let me stay up and watch it as it came on at 11 on a Friday night. I was still quite young, and he had stayed up with me to keep me company. It was a good thing that he had because I never would have made it through otherwise. This was either in the very late 70s or early 80s and zombies were not a part of pop culture yet. There were seven channels on the TV and we still had phones you had to dial. I know the stone age, right? But things were scarier then, if the power went out or you got stuck on the road, you were really in trouble. Also, if zombies were about to break down your doors and try to eat you, you were probably gonna get eaten… quickly. I was scared out of my mind and recall following my father up the stairs and practically into the bathroom during a commercial break. After that night I always looked at houses and rooms as to how difficult it would be to barricade them if the undead started to swarm the property. I have always had that thought in the back of my mind and have put great care into my escape plan should the dead start walking again. Now that I am older, I realize that I will most likely be one of the first to become a snack for the dead, but I think in my day I would have made a hell of a crossbow wielding force to be reckoned with.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Daemon: My favorite costume has to be from the time I was playing in a band. We always loved to play Halloween parties and at the bars during that time of year. One year we had decided to dress up as Kiss and play nothing but Kiss music all night. As the bass player I got to dress up as the demon, Gene Simmons. We had our make up done by a professional theatre artist and had made our own costumes. I went all out and bought a smoke machine and mini pyrotechnics that allowed me to shoot fire balls from the end of my bass and the drummer had one attached to his high hat. I used blood capsules to spit the blood that Gene was famous for. I remember playing Love Gun, Strutter, Rock n Roll all Night, and was told that people actually felt as if they had gone to a micro version of a Kiss Concert.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Daemon: This is an easy one. Hands down it would have to be The Monster Mash by Bobby Boris Pickett. I think I love this song because not only does it give you a great deal of information, it also asks some very serious questions. We find out that the Wolfman, Dracula and his son have all decided to attend the party along with the ghouls who appeared to have shown up just to get a jolt from the electrodes, which seems a bit local to me, but who am I judge?

There is quite the ensemble at the party, Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds. The instruments were played by the Coffin Bangers who like most musicians were always late to the party. And the sensational vocal sounds of the Crypt Kicker Five. There used to be six of them, but the lead guy thought he was better off as a solo act. I do have to wonder what kind of gigs the Crypt Kickers might find the rest of the year and imagine that the venues come rather infrequently. Not to worry though, they are playing the Mash, which happens to be a graveyard smash. If you were wondering how it grew in popularity, well, it caught on in a flash, my friend.

Perhaps the question that leaves so much to ponder is, whatever happened to the Transylvania Twist. Well, the answer is easy, It’s now the Mash. You see the song has progressed over time and what was once the Twist is now the Mash. Times change, fads fade, and the world moves on. Easy Igor, you impetuous you boy.

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

Daemon: Another easy one. Reese’s peanut butter cups are the greatest candy ever invented and covers all of your five basic food groups. It is the perfect snack at anytime of year.

The biggest disappointment to find in my trick-or-treat bag would be the Mary Jane. I don’t even know what this candy is pretending to be, but if it is going for disgusting, it has certainly hit the mark. I would rather you toss me a rotten apple or a handful of pennies than you even come close to my bag with one of those vile putrid excuse for a candy.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, Daemon. Before you go, what are your top two books and movies for Halloween?

Daemon: Wow, and you ask me for only two. Well as you can see by the rest of the interview, I don’t like to hold back so hear you go.

First here are my books that should be read during the Halloween season.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes is the story that first filled me with a sense of wonder and mystery and fright for the supernatural. It reminds me of how Halloween felt as a child and each sentence is crafted like a masterpiece. The paragraphs are works of art, the language is impeccable. This is the true definitive tale of the supernatural and the story that inspired them all.

Abigail by Daemon Manx — I recommend Abigail for all those who have ever found themselves thinking or feeling different than others. If you have ever been picked on or mistreated or made to feel less than. This creepy tale of what one man finds on his doorstep may not be what you expect to read. But never judge a book by its cover, a lesson that we all could stand to relearn.

And here are my books that should be watched at Halloween.

HalloweenJohn Carpenter’s original for obvious reasons. Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations and don’t settle for anything but the pure stuff. This 1978 horror classic still freaks me out, enough said.

Night of the Living DeadGeorge Romero’s classic taught us that the undead will eat you if they get their hands on you. Barricade your windows and seal up your doors. They’re Coming to Get You Barbera. The remake of this wasn’t all that bad either but nothing compares to the feel of the black n white picture and that claustrophobic sense of isolation.


Boo-graphy:
Daemon Manx writes horror and speculative fiction. He is a member of the Horror Authors Guild (HAG) and has had stories featured in magazines in both the U.S. and the U.K. His short story, The Dead Girl, became a finalist in The Green Shoe Sanctuary’s summer writing prompt contest in August 2021. His debut novelette, Abigail, was released through Terror Tract Publishing and has received 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon and Goodreads. He lives with his sister and their narcoleptic cat Sydney in a remote cabin off the grid, where they patiently prepare for the apocalypse. There is a good chance there they will run out of coffee.

Abigail
Strange things come in small packages. Adrian Billard believes he knows what it’s like to be different, and has nearly given up hope of ever finding happiness. But, a strange package left on his doorstep is about to turn his entire world upside down. Everything Adrian thinks he knows is about to change. He is about to meet…Abigail.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Karissa Laurel

Meghan: Hey, Karissa! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books! What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Karissa: I like that Halloween makes it culturally acceptable to indulge the darker side of our human natures. We can explore our feelings about monstrous and evil things without explicitly approving of them. The world is both light and dark, and most of the times we’re not supposed to acknowledge the dark stuff, but on Halloween, it’s acceptable.

I also love the aesthetics of Halloween—skeletons and bats and spiders and gothic clothing. I love costumes and how, for one night, you can be something or someone completely different. I love the idea of trick-or-treating, that we let down our guards and open our homes, even temporarily, to the community. It’s one activity that will never work as a virtual, on-line event. You only get the candy if you’re willing to go door to door and actually meet your neighbors. Some people hate that part of it, but I always liked the human interaction aspect of trick-or-treating.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Karissa: In my day job, I work in an office in a historical home in the downtown area of my city. My office/house is adjacent to one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and that neighborhood goes ALL OUT at Halloween. They put up very elaborate decorations. The city shuts down one of the main streets in the neighborhood to keep cars out, and there’s a huge street party and tons and tons of trick-or-treating. Ever since I started working near that neighborhood about six years ago, I’ve been taking my family there on Halloween night. My kid is too old to trick-or-treat any more, but we enjoy going to see the decorations and the costumes. There’s also a Krispy Kreme nearby and we always stop in and grab some of the Halloween themed donuts.

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

Karissa: I don’t know that I have a favorite holiday because there’s something I like about most of them. I guess, if I had to choose, I like Thanksgiving most of all because it’s all the best stuff about Christmas but without all the commerciality and pressure to spend money and give gifts. I love to eat, I love spending time with my family, and there are fewer expectations. But Halloween might be my second favorite (even though we don’t get any days off from work for it. Why not? Who do I send a petition to about that?) because of all the things mentioned previously. So many holidays are similar, but there’s nothing else quite like Halloween, culturally speaking. It’s all about having fun, letting loose, indulging in fantasies.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Karissa: I am not really a superstitious person, although I do sometimes feel afraid to acknowledge out loud when something is going well or when I’ve had a streak of good fortune. Some part of me seems to think that acknowledging good luck is the fastest way of making sure that good luck comes to an end. But I’m not afraid of anything like broken mirrors, walking under ladders, or black cats.

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

Karissa: This is a hard one, mainly because there are so many good ones. I conferred with my kid (who is 19 y.o. and not much of a kid anymore) and he chose the demon from the Jeepers Creepers franchise, and I agree he’s a good choice. He only shows up every so often, but once he does, he’s impossible to kill. No matter what you do (like run him over with the car until he’s pulp in the road), he just keeps coming back. And he has the scariest face ever. That is some quality special effects make-up right there.

But while the Creeper is high on my list, I think Tim Curry’s performance as the demon clown in Stephen King’s It is probably top of my list. He was utterly terrifying in the most subtle way. He could just stand there in his clown make-up and pointy yellow teeth and scare the bejeezus out of me.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Karissa: I do watch quite a lot of true crime shows and listen to podcasts, but I can’t say there’s one that really fascinates me more than another. I was intrigued by the story of Hae Min Lee’s death, and whether or not Adnan Syed, convicted for killing her, really did it. Check out Season one of the Serial podcast for the whole story. I have to say, based on what I’ve heard and what we know in the years since…I think there’s a really good chance Adnan didn’t do it.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Karissa: Not so much an urban legend but when I was little, I had a book of local, North Carolina ghost stories that fascinated me. Ever since then, I’ve had a special place in my heart for local stories like the Devil’s Tramping Ground and The Maco Light.

The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a camping spot located in a forest near the Harper’s Crossroads area in Bear Creek, North Carolina. Lore says that the Devil “tramps” and haunts a barren circle of ground in which nothing is supposed to grow. Things left there will disappear overnight. Of course, there are some scientific explanations for why this place is so strange, but speculating about the devil is more forum

As for the Maco Light, according to the most common version of the legend, Joe Baldwin was in the rear car of a Wilmington, NC-bound train on a rainy night in 1867. As the train neared Maco, Baldwin realized the car had become detached from the rest of the train. He knew another train was following, so he ran to the rear platform and frantically waved a lantern to signal the oncoming train. The engineer failed to see the stranded railroad car in time, and Baldwin was decapitated in the collision. Some say the head was never found

Shortly after the accident, residents of Maco and railroad employees reported sightings of a white light along a section of railroad track through swamps west of Maco station, and word spread that Joe Baldwin had returned to search for his missing head. The light was said to appear in the distance, before approaching along the tracks facing East, bobbing at a height of about 5 feet, and either flying to the side of the track in an arc or receding from the viewer. Other reports spoke of green or red lights, or other patterns of movement

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Karissa: Although I like true crime a lot, I don’t tend to care for serial killer stories. It’s one thing to get a thrill from a fictional murderer like Mike Myers, but I don’t like anything that smacks of glorification of real-life killers in any sort of way. I tend to shy away from serial killer mythology.

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

Karissa: I probably had seen movies that were considered horror at an earlier age, but don’t remember anything specific. However, I do remember having a Halloween sleepover with some girlfriends when I was in middle school, I was probably about 12 years-old, and my mom let us rent The Lost Boys. I was absolutely enthralled. I don’t know if that can actually be considered a horror movie, but Kiefer Sutherland and his band of vampire misfits were certainly no vegetarian, sparkly Twilight vampires. I still love that movie to this day.

I can’t specifically remember when I picked up my first horror novel, but I do remember that The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree was one of my most favorite books as a little kid—I was always drawn to spooky things and didn’t scare easily. I read way ahead of my grade level, and I grew up reading Stephen King, Christopher Pike, V.C. Andrews, and Dean Koontz. My mom was very open minded about reading, and I have no memory of her discouraging me from reading anything.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

As a kid, I remember reading The Tommyknockers by Stephen King and being so freaked out that I had to go outside in the daylight to finish reading it. But the most recent thing I’ve read that made me feel deeply unsettled is The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. The whole book is full of moments that took my outside of myself in a frightening, disturbing way, but there is a climactic chase scene near the end that is one of the most downright horrifying things I’ve read in a long, long time. Jones establishes a prolonged period of heightened tension that is torturous, but in a really good way, and it’s never boring or tedious. If you love horror and haven’t read that book yet, you must.

I also have to shout out to I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. It’s nothing like the Will Smith movie, by the way. It’s one of the most gorgeously written books I’ve ever read and filled me with so much existential dread. It’s also extremely timely and relatable to the current pandemic culture we’re all experiencing.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Karissa: Horror, like comedy, is highly subjective, right? What scares one person won’t scare the next. I’ve watched tons of horror over the years and little of it has actually scared me. However, I can’t stand movies that are classified as horror but are actually just torture porn, such as House of 1000 Corpses. My husband, when we first started dating years ago, asked me to watch that movie with him and his friends. I ended up putting a blanket over my head and going to sleep instead of watching it. It didn’t scare me so much as sicken me. I still won’t go anywhere near that franchise, and I’m reluctant to watch any Rob Zombie productions because of that movie.

I wouldn’t say it scarred me, but George A. Romero’s ’68 Night of the Living Dead scared the crap out of my when I saw it years ago. It still gives me chills, and it’s still my favorite zombie movie, ever. With little in the way of special effects and nothing like CGI even remotely possible, Romero had to be clever. He used music and sound effects, lighting, and careful pacing to create a highly atmospheric movie that is thick with dread and horror. The opening scene, with that slow shambling zombie in the background, out of focus, slowly coming closer and closer… That was pure cinematic genius. I still prefer it over newer zombie movies that rely too much on CGI.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Karissa: As a kid, I was kind of spoiled and precocious about costumes. My mom was crafty and could sew. I always insisted that she make me one-of-a-kind costumes, and she indulged me. The biggest hit of my childhood costume career was when I went as a whole bag of M&Ms. My mom sewed me a costume that looked like a classic bag of regular M&Ms complete with the logo and barcode—it was kind of like a giant, brown, rectangular dress. I painted my face to look like a green M&M poking out of the top and put M&Ms made from balloons on my shoulders. I won a costume contest, and my mom sent pictures of me to the Mars chocolate company that owns M&Ms. They sent back stickers, coupons, and a personalized thank you letter.

I don’t sew like my mom can, but I like making things, so I’ve managed to make some pretty good costumes for my kid over the years. He’s been Popeye (that was a big hit with the old folks in my neighborhood), a Ghost Buster, the Ghost Rider, Gene Simmons from Kiss, and many more. When I used to work in a bigger office, I once made fancy witch hats for all the ladies in my section to wear on Halloween.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Karissa: Easily the answer to that is Thriller. I am Gen-X and was a little kid when that album came out. I loved everything Michael Jackson in those days. I didn’t see the video until I was a little older, maybe around seven or eight years old, and I remember being absolutely captivated by it. I still love the song and the video after all these years, even when it’s not Halloween.

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

Karissa: When my son was still trick-or-treating, I always looked forward to taking his Mounds or Almond Joys. I love coconut, but he didn’t, so it worked out well for me to take those and leave the rest for him. I especially like Mounds because I prefer dark chocolate. I absolutely cannot stand Twizzlers. They taste like wax to me. Ugh.

Meghan: Karissa, this was fantastic! Thanks for stopping by. Before you go, can you leave us with your go-to Halloween movies and books?

Karissa:

Top Ten Horror/Halloween Movies:
10 The Cabin in the Woods
9 It (The 1990 Miniseries)
8 Jeepers Creepers
7 Blade (1 and 2)
6 Bram Stoker’s Dracula
5 Three Witches of Eastwick
4 The Lost Boys
3 Alien (I and 2, especially 2)
2 Tumbbad
1 Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968)

Top Halloween Books:
10 The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (much more terrifying than the musical version)
9 Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
8 Dracula by Bram Stoker
7 Prodigal Son (Frankenstein Series) by Dean Koontz
7 The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
6 The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
5 The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
4 Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
3 The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (The BBC audio production is wonderful)
2 The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
1 I am Legend by Richard Matheson


Boo-graphy:
Karissa Laurel lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, superheroes, and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer, she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s skiing or curled up with a good book. She is the author of the Urban Fantasy trilogy, The Norse Chronicles; Touch of Smoke, a stand-alone paranormal romance; and The Stormbourne Chronicles, a YA second-world fantasy trilogy.

Serendipity at the End of the World
Serendipity Blite and her sister, Bloom, use their unique talents to survive the apocalyptic aftermath of the Dead Disease. When Bloom is kidnapped, Sera is determined to get her back. Attempting a rescue mission in an undead-infested city would be suicidal, so Sera forms a specialized team to help retrieve her sister. But unfortunate accident sets Sera teetering on the edge of death. She must fight to save her own life, because surviving could mean finding family, love, and possibly a cure.

You can find it on Kindle Vella
New episodes come out every Saturday

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Erica Lucke Dean

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

Erica: I’m a huge fan of all the spooky stuff. I love the pumpkins, witches and ghosts… especially the old decorations from the 30s. Somehow they’re creepier to me than the modern slasher movie props.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Erica: It isn’t Halloween without watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. And Hocus Pocus. The original Halloween. I don’t know, I like it all… from trick-or-treating to picking out costumes to decorating the house (mine isn’t done yet this year, but it will be!)

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

Erica: Halloween is most definitely my favorite holiday. I think first of all, from the time I was a kid, it was like the gateway to the holidays. Mom used to pull out the velvety paper cutout decorations. We always found the biggest pumpkin to cut into a jack-o-lantern. Mom made our costumes. Our little town had a parade with prizes to the best costumes.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Erica: I can’t sleep if my feet aren’t under covers. Or if any part of my body is dangling over the side. I don’t know if that counts or not. I’m not afraid of black cats – in fact, I’ve had several growing up. And my daughter has 2 now. They love sleeping in my lap.

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

Erica: Michael Meyers from the original Halloween movie. And I don’t endorse anything between the first one and the most recent ones with Jamie Lee Curtis. Those are the best. I’ll give bonus points to the Rob Zombie version. It was good, but sooooo gross. LOL.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Erica: I don’t really follow unsolved murders that closely, but I think the Black Dahlia is the most fascinating one I can think of.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Erica: I don’t like looking into mirrors in dark rooms. I’m always afraid I’ll see Bloody Mary or the Candyman in them.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Erica: I hate to say I have a “favorite” because serial killers are bad dudes. But I can’t seem to help myself when any documentary on Ted Bundy comes on. It’s terrifying to think someone could live a normal life, have a family, a job, and just be out there killing people on the side. He could be anyone.

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

Erica: I was a huge fan of the old Abbott and Costello movies when I was a kid, especially Abbott and Costello Meet Dracula/Frankenstein/the Wolfman. I loved those movies. I was probably 7 or 8 the first time I saw them. I can’t remember how old I was when I read The Amityville Horror, but I LOVED scary books and movies as a kid. I think I read exclusively horror until I graduated college. Weird, right?

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

I loved Stephen King books when I was a teenager. To this day, ’Salem’s Lot scares the bejesus out of me.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Erica: I’ve seen a lot of horror movies in my day, but the one that scared me for life was Final Destination. I still can’t fly.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Erica: I dressed a I Dream of Jeanie one year. That was my favorite adult costume. My favorite kid costume was the year my mom dressed my sister and me as a two-headed man. We won a prize at the annual Halloween parade that year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Erica: I have too many. Monster Mash, Little Red Riding Hood, Werewolves of London, I have an entire playlist that goes on loop from October 1st – 31st.

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

Erica: I actually love candy corn. Mary Janes. Sugar Daddys, Snickers. You can keep your Gushers, Smarties, and those other fruit flavored things.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. Before you go, what are your top 15 Halloween movies?

Erica: There are really too many to choose. I might not watch all of them every year, but I might watch some of them more than once. My list might fluctuate from year to year to add or subtract one or two. But these are must watch movies!

  1. Carrie
  2. Night of the Living Dead
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  4. Scary Movie
  5. Shaun of the Dead
  6. An American Werewolf in London
  7. The Witches
  8. Fright Night
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (this one does double duty at Christmas too!)
  10. Beetlejuice
  11. Halloween
  12. The Lost Boys
  13. Practical Magic
  14. Hocus Pocus
  15. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Boo-graphy:
After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lived in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse.

Tired of being woken up in the middle of the night by a pesky poltergeist, the author of contemporary young adult, romantic comedy, and paranormal romance moved into a cute little cabin in the woods, where she lives with her husband, her dogs, and the occasional bear. Much like the characters in her books, Ms. Dean is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.

You can find out more about Erica, in addition to her humorous blog posts and disasters, on her website.

Represented by: Cathie Hedrick-Armstrong of The Purcell Agency

Eve Versus the Apocalypse
When everyone she cares about is killed in an alien invasion, college color guard Eve uses her skills with a saber to battle her way through the changing landscape. Faced with monsters of more than one kind, Eve isn’t sure who to trust. After running into a group of survivors, she must decide if a new alliance with the dangerously sexy Archer is worth the risk. His offer of protection is tempting, but if she agrees to join him, her life may not be the only thing on the line.

Eve on Kindle Vella
New episodes drop every Sunday

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Robert Essig

Meghan: Hey Robert. Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. Thanks for agreeing to stop by today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Robert: When I was young trick ‘r treating was my favorite part. As an adult with a child, it still is. I like going out and wandering through neighborhoods (I live in the sticks these days, so I have to find a neighborhood for my son to trick ‘r treat in), and seeing all the costumes and houses decorated. In some neighborhoods people just get it, and they almost all decorate and hang out outside. I remember one year someone was walking around aimlessly in a Michael Myers costume, just sort of creeping up on people. It was great.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Robert: Watching John Carpenter’s Halloween, preferably on Halloween night, but certainly once or twice in the month of October doesn’t hurt. I’ve seen the movie countless times and I love it every single viewing. Just hearing the score puts me into a serious Halloween mood.

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

Robert: I’ve always loved spooky shit. Always. When I was a kid I loved those old Disney cartoons with dancing skeletons and ghosts and stuff. Halloween’s that time of year when everyone digs creepy stuff for a night (well, almost everyone).

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Robert: Nothing. I’ve never been one for superstition. I mean, I used to pick up pennies thinking I’d have good luck, used to knock on wood, but I think it’s all horseshit these days.

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

Robert: Nowadays that would probably be Jarod from House of Wax with Vincent Price. An artist with useless hands after a fire who kills for his art, but has the persona of a kind and gentle man. The level of deception is chilling. On the other hand, when I was young my favorite was Freddy Kruger. Somehow he made being the villain cool. He was frightening and hilarious all at the tame time. Like you could have a drink with him and shoot the shit, but chances are you’d end up disemboweled in the end.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Robert: Well, despite being a horror junkie, these are things I rarely think about. Off the top of my head I recall seeing an old black and white photo of a woman hanging from a tree. Her legs are touching the ground, so she’s not hanging like an execution. It’s a bizarre photo, and apparently an unsolved murder. Another that always stuck with me is Bobby Fuller, a musician who died in 1966 in his car in Hollywood. He had a hit with the song I Fought the Law.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Robert: Well, I don’t have a good answer for this one, unfortunately. I never really paid much mind to urban legends. I mean, I suppose they were creepy when I was younger, but I never really believed in them. They were just stories. Could be because I grew up in San Diego. Maybe urban legends are stronger in other parts of the country.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Robert: H. H. Holmes. Somehow this guy had fallen under my radar for years. I saw a documentary on him maybe ten years ago and was shocked and amazed at what he accomplished. And I’m not talking about how many people he killed. That would be one sick thing to call an accomplishment. I’m talking about his massive house. The way he had parts of the house built by different contractors and different blue prints so no one would know that he’d been building a house that allowed him to sneak around in the walls and spy on his guests. It’s so bizarre. Talk about dedication. A house isn’t built overnight. He had to have been dreaming about tormenting people all the while as he hired contractor after contractor to build the house is sections. Despite the murders, it would have been fascinating to actually walk the halls and corridors and secret chambers. I guess I know where I’m going if I ever get the time machine up and running.

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

Robert: I was eleven or twelve when I saw my first horror movie. It was A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. That one doesn’t really fit in with the series, but it scared the hell out of me. I watched it with my cousin. She fell asleep toward the end and I struggled with not waking her up for fear that Freddy would get her. The first horror book I read was probably Thinner by Stephen King. I read it for a book report in junior high school. I liked it quite a bit, but I wasn’t into reading yet, and it didn’t do anything to change that. What completely changed my mind about reading was Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery. That story literally changed my life. I have been a diehard reader ever since.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most? Most horror novels aren’t really that scary, and that’s probably because I’m jaded. One that sticks out as truly unsettling me was Stephen King’s Pet Semetery. The scenes dealing with the Indian burial ground in particular. Actually, the most unnerving book I ever read was Helter Skelter. Not fiction, but damn that had me paranoid that someone could just break into my house and kill me for no good reason.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Robert: Cannibal Holocaust. I’d watched it when I was a teenager and it didn’t affect me all that much. Years later I watched it with my wife and it was like watching a goddamned snuff film. The scenes that are “caught on film” seem so real it’s ridiculous. The descent into madness that the Americans take as they travel through the jungle is creepy and upsetting. Though I don’t think I’ll ever watch that movie again, it really was one of the most effective horror films I’ve ever seen.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Robert: I took my son trick ‘r treating several years ago and wore a cloth sack with a hole cut into it for one eye to see out of, like Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2. Freaked people out. That was fun.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Robert: I’m gonna cheat and say my favorite Halloween album is Halloween Hootenanny. It’s a collection of surf rock type Halloween songs that Rob Zombie compiled in the late 90s. I listen to it every year. Hell, it’s a damn fine album to listen to all year long, but especially good in October.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat?

Robert: What is your most disappointing? Since I pretty much don’t ever eat candy bars, I look forward to snagging a snickers or milky way from my son’s Halloween loot. The worst is candy corn. And circus peanuts. I haven’t seen those in years, but I used to get them when I was a kid. They’re inedible trash as far as I’m concerned.

Meghan: It was a pleasure talking to you today, Robert. Before you go, what are your top three Halloween movies?

Robert: These are the three horror movies I would like to watch on Halloween night, so not all are Halloween themed. I’d start with Return of the Living Dead. One of my favorites. It’s funny and has all kinds of memorable dialogue, plus all kinds of gory horror goodness. Then Halloween. Can’t go wrong with John Carpenter’s masterpiece on Halloween night. Then I’d finish with Night of the Living Dead. I’ve watched both Halloween and Night of the Living Dead on Halloween night and it just feels right.


Boo-graphy:
Robert Essig is the author of over a dozen books and over a hundred and forty short stories. He has edited several anthologies, his latest being Chew on This!, which was nominated for a Splatterpunk Award. Robert’s forthcoming novel is a splatter western that will be published in 2022 with Death’s Head Press. Robert lives with his family in east Tennessee. Look for him on social media, as well as his blog.

Chew On This!
Chew on This! has everything you need to satiate your appetite for the strange and macabre.

Tonight’s menu is a fifteen-course meal of subtle and atmospheric tales all the way down to the grisly, blood-drenched extremes.

Creepy restaurants, treacherous take-out, forbidden feasts, and more!

We’ve got horror so good you can taste it!

Dig in!

Death Obsessed
Remember those old VHS tapes with labels that said “banned in 40 countries” and “not for the faint of heart,” with titles like Faces of Death and Mondo Violence? Well, they’re back, only this time it’s a book. This book. Death Obsessed is Faces of Death with an identity crisis. Get ready for something mondo macabre!

Back when he was a teenager, Calvin was into the morbid stuff. He thought he outgrew it, but he’s only a video clip away from becoming obsessed, and what’s Ronnie going to think about that? She’s not the kind of girl who digs cemeteries and dead things. But Hazel, she’s something else altogether, and oh how persuasive is a woman who knows what she wants.

Drawn back to a place Calvin had forgotten about, and lured by the baritone drawl of Mr. Ghastly, who promises the much sought-after death scenes classic known as Death’s Door, Calvin trips down one hell of a rabbit hole, and everything is at stake. Can he leave his nine-to-five life in the dust for some real action, or will he be left sick, all alone, and death obsessed?

Shallow Graves
Did you wake to the sound of the garden gate rattling in the night, or an unexplained creak in the living room floorboards? Is something stirring in the basement?

Are you, the reader, safe in the train carriage on your commute home from work? Are you safe at night reading in the comfort of your favourite armchair or do you lay awake at night clutching the baseball bat?

In this terrifying collection you’ll find renegade filmmakers, masked maniacs, opportune thieves, and disturbed individuals. People you interact with every day who have dirty little secrets. Do you really know what your neighbours are up to?

From Robert Essig, author of Stronger Than Hate, In Black and Death Obsessed; and Jack Bantry, editor of Splatterpunk Zine, comes 11 tales of horror and examination of the dark side of human behaviour that will fray your nerves, leaving you to double and triple check that you’ve locked the door at night.

Listen closely. Is that the sound of a shovel you can hear, digging your shallow grave?