GUEST POST: Thomas Smith

Halloween via Time Machine – or – How to Haunt a House

When I received the request to write this post I was whisked away in my mental time machine and deposited smack dab in the middle of Halloween in the 1960s.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett was singing his new song, Monster Mash, on the radio. A day or so before the big day itself, televisions all over the country were following the antics of the Peanuts gang in a new TV special: It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. And in theaters everywhere, there were new movies unlike anything we’d ever seen before, each one guaranteed to make you sleep with a night light:

Night of the Living Dead, The Birds, and Norman Bates as the ultimate mama’s boy in Psycho loomed large on the big screen for those brave enough to keep their eyes open.

And when Halloween finally arrived, a legion of ghosts, goblins, clowns, ballerinas, and hobos came home with bags and plastic jack-o-lanterns filled with apples, oranges, Baby Ruths (regular and minis), Butterfingers (regular and minis), Saf-T-Pops (complete with heavy string loops instead of a stick), Dubble Bubble Gum, Snickers, Milky Ways, Forever Yours Bars, Kraft Caramels, B. B. Bats, wax lips, wax fangs, and boxes of Boston Baked Beans.

And almost every character that wasn’t created at someone’s mother’s sewing machine came from a cardboard box with a cellophane front from either Collegeville, or Ben Cooper. They were the huge Halloween costume companies in the 1950s and 1960s. If you really wanted to be cool, Ben Cooper’s clown, devil, princess, dragon, and spooky monster costumes had flashing lights in the mask. But Collegeville, not to be outdone, had some of the coolest costumes with their Gorilla, Ghoul, Monster, Body Snatcher, and Weird-O, Fink costumes.

Now none of the boxed costumes fit worth a dang, but we didn’t care. A rip here and a patch there (always in the back) and who’s to know? Besides, if you were wearing the Planet of the Apes, Batman, Superman, Hobo, Frankenstein, ghost, and mummy costumes (the very latest and greatest of the day), it was worth it.

Meanwhile, in the middle of all of this Halloween spectacle, my brother and I were waiting in the basement of our house to cap off Halloween in style. We worked for the previous two or three days to get everything just right. Then we went trick-or-treating with the first wave of costumed candy beggars so we could be back in time for the opening of Thomas and Paul’s Haunted Basement.

OK, the title wasn’t terribly original, but for the early 1960s, we were the only game in town (in our particular town at least). We took turns standing in the outdoor entrance to the basement and ushered the unsuspecting costumed customers (admission fee was one candy bar) into a maze of glowing cardboard skeletons, a ghost that moved and floated in the corner of the basement (thanks to an old screen door spring and a string), rubber bats that dropped out of the darkness above onto their victims’ various noggins, a bowl of grapes coated with a little vegetable oil and placed in a black box labeled EYEBALLS with a hole cut out just big enough for a victims hand), a Frankenstein’s monster (each of us in turn, in costume) that would jump out and growl menacingly (as if there’s any other way for the creation of Victor Frankenstein to growl) and watch the guys finch and the girls scream.

Then there was the scary movie.

We would get an 8mm copy of Frankenstein vs The Wolfman from the local Public library (the original movie condensed to approximately five minutes) and coupled with a homemade soundtrack from the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House record (copied onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder to correspond with the movie scenes), we had the perfect ending to a horrifying (hey, I was nine years old in the 60s) trek through the darkness.

I went trick-or-treating a lot after that. And I’ve been through some really good professionally staged haunted houses. But I’ve gotta be honest.

I’d love to go through Thomas and Paul’s Haunted Basement just one more time.

Boo-graphy:
Thomas is an award-winning writer, essayist, playwright, reporter, TV news producer, and a three-time American Christian Writers Association Writer of the Year. His work has appeared in numerous publications from Writer’s Digest and Exploring Alaska, to The Horror Zine and Cemetery Dance magazine.

He has written for many publishers including Grinning Skull Press, Zondervan, Barnes & Noble Books, Adams Media, Chronicle Books, Borderlands Press, Barbour Publishing, Pocket Books, and Cemetery Dance Publications. Two of his short stories (Mother and Child Reunion and The Heart is a Determined Hunter) have appeared on Tales to Terrify, and his short story, A Rustle of Owls’ Wings, has been adapted for the stage.

Thomas has written jokes for Joan Rivers and his comedy material has been performed on The Tonight Show.

He is also, quite possibly, the only writer in captivity to have been included in collections with Stephen King, and the Rev. Rick Warren in the same week.

And other than author bios, he rarely refers to himself in the third person.

Rarely.

Something Stirs
Ben Chalmers is a successful novelist. His wife, Rachel, is a fledgling artist with a promising career, and their daughter, Stacy, is the joy of their lives. Ben’s novels have made enough money for him to provide a dream home for his family. But there is a force at work-a dark, chilling, ruthless force that has become part of the very fabric of their new home.

A malevolent entity becomes trapped in the wood and stone of the house and it will do whatever it takes to find a way to complete its bloody transference to our world.

Local sheriff, Elizabeth Cantrell, and former pastor-turned-cabinetmaker, Jim Perry, are drawn into the family’s life as the entity manipulates the house with devastating results. And it won’t stop until it gets what it wants. Even if it costs them their faith, their sanity, and their lives.

Monsters
“I killed my parents when I was thirteen years old.”

And now, with the murder of Missy Blake twenty-two years later, it’s time for Jack Greene to finish what he started.

When the co-ed’s mutilated body is found, the police are clueless, but Jack knows what killed the pretty college student; he’s been hunting it for years. The hunt has been going on for too long, though, and Jack wants to end it, but he can’t do it alone. The local police aren’t equipped to handle the monster in their midst, so Jack recruits Major Kelly Langston, and together they set out to rid the world of this murdering creature once and for all.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: David A Riley

Meghan: Hey, David! Welcome back. It’s always a pleasure to have you here on Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

David: Until recent years Halloween wasn’t really regarded by most people here in the UK as a holiday as such. It’s only been in the last few decades, for instance, that trick or treating has followed in the footsteps of the United States, influenced by films such as ET. Even now I don’t think we make as much fuss of it as in the US. I must admit I don’t do much to celebrate it myself, other than watch a few favourite horror movies.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

David: Not at all. Which possibly helps when it comes to writing horror stories.

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

David: On first viewing, probably the original Night of the Living Dead which I viewed for the first time at a British Fantasy Convention sometime in the late 70’s. I had never before watched a more relentlessly nihilistic movie in which everyone is doomed to face a violent death. It’s bleakness was possibly even more disturbing than the image of the marauding zombies.

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

David: Martyrs. I found the whole film highly disturbing, especially the addiction the main character gradually developed for being tortured. It’s not a film I would ever willingly watch again. Once was more than enough.

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

David: I can’t say I have. Commercials have sometimes put me off watching certain movies, but not because they looked too scary.

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

David: Well, definitely not a slasher movie! It would have to be one where there was a reasonable chance of surviving till the end. Not that the survival rate in most scary movies is particularly high. They wouldn’t be scary if there was. Ghostbusters would seem to be the obvious choice.

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

David: Any with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, probably the Horror of Dracula.

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

David: That’s a difficult one as there are so many great ones, but probably Dracula as portrayed by Christopher Lee. At least there are several films to follow him through.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

David: I’m afraid I don’t have one other than try and watch a few appropriate movies. As I mentioned above, Halloween has never been much of a celebration here in the UK, possibly because it comes only a few days before Bonfire Night on the 5th of November which has always been a big festivity here, with fireworks and a huge roaring fire made up of piles of wood on top of which we burn Guy Fawkes, added to which we have treacle toffee and jacket potatoes cooked in the embers of the fire.

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

David: That would have to be the theme from The Rocky Horror Show. That gets in so many horror and science fiction references, it’s amazing.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

David: The Devil Rides Out by Dennis Wheatley with its satanists and the Devil himself, plus the Angel of Death. It’s a great adventure story too.

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

David: Hearing footsteps running along the landing outside my bedroom when I knew there was no one there. This has only happened the once in thirty years, but this is a very old house (over two centuries old). I must admit, though, I was more intrigued than frightened. Indeed, I wasn’t frightened at all, even when the footsteps stopped at my bedroom door.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

David: The Yeti ever since I watched that old Hammer movie The Abominable Snowman.

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

David: A View from a Hill by M.R. James, which is my all-time favourite Jamesian story. The image of the man being carried away through the streets by invisible spirits of the dead he’d used in his alchemical experiments is uniquely vivid.

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

David: An axe. I’ve always thought the ease with which everyone in The Walking Dead manage to pierce zombie skulls with their knives and daggers particularly unrealistic, as if their skull bones had turned to cardboard. You need something with a bit more weight to reach their brains.

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

David: A vampire – at least that usually still has a mind of its own, whereas a werewolf is just a ravening beast.

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

David: Neither is appealing, of course, but an alien invasion is probably the one I would choose, as for zombies to exist in reality would be a bit too much to absorb. Reanimated dead bodies just do not make sense.

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

David: Lovely choice! I think both would result in almost immediate vomiting! I suppose the zombie juice. At least you could drink that down quickly with your eyes shut. Yuck!

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

David: As I do not believe in all the razzamatazz about the Amityville house that would easily be my choice. Of course, if you mean the one as portrayed in the movies then maybe the Poltergeist house.

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

David: The melon any day, though there are some connoisseurs who would go for some rare but special cheeses which are actually infested with maggots. Those are definitely not for me.

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

David: Am I partial to “eye of newt” and all the other icky stuff that goes in it? Possibly. I’m definitely not partial to cotton candy in its usual form so I think I would try my luck with the cauldron. I must admit these are some of the worst alternative foodstuffs I have ever come across!

Boo-graphy:
David A Riley writes horror, fantasy and SF stories. His first story was in the 11th Pan Book of Horror in 1970. He has had stories published by Doubleday, DAW, Corgi, Sphere, Roc, Playboy Paperbacks, Robinsons, etc, and in magazines such as Aboriginal Science Fiction, Dark Discoveries, Fear, Whispers, Savage Realms Monthly and Fantasy Tales. His first collection of stories was published by Hazardous Press in 2012, His Old Man Demons. A Lovecraftian novel, The Return, was published by Blood Bound Books in 2013. A 2nd collection of stories, The Lurkers in the Abyss & Other Tales of Terror, was launched at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013 by Shadow Publishing. Hazardous Press published his 3rd collection, Their Cramped Dark World & Other Tales, in 2016. Both Hazardous Press collections have been reprinted by Parallel Universe Publications, plus two new collections After Nightfall & Other Weird Tales (illustrated by Jim Pitts) and A Grim God’s Revenge. A fantasy novel, Goblin Mire, and a horror novel, Moloch’s Children, were published in 2015. He and his wife Linden recently relaunched Parallel Universe Publications, which originally published Beyond magazine in 1995, and have now published around 50 books, including two art books.

Along with the award-winning artist Jim Pitts he edits a twice-yearly anthology of swords and sorcery stories: Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy. The fifth volume will be published as a paperback and ebook in November. Recent publications containing his stories are: Savage Realms Monthly #12 “The Carpetmaker of Arana”; Summer of Sci-Fi & Fantasy “The Storyteller of Koss”; Sword & Sorcery Magazine #118 “The God in the Keep”; Mythic #17 “Baal the Necromancer.” I also have a novelette due in the next issue of Lovecraftiana “The Psychic Investigator.”

Fourteen dark tales of fantasy and horror ranging from 1971 to 2020.

Dead Ronnie and I was first published in Sanitarium issue 44, 2016
Corpse-Maker was first published in Weird Window issue 2, 1971
The Urn was first published in Whispers issue 1, 1972
Gwargens was first published in Beyond issue 3, 1995
Retribution was first published in Peeping Tom issue 3, 1991
The Bequest was first published in Dark Horizons, 2008
They Pissed on My Sofa was first published in Malicious Deviance, 2011
Old Grudge Ender was first published in The Screaming Book of Horror, 2012
A Girl, a Toad and a Cask was first published in The Unspoken, 2013
Scrap was first published in Dark Visions 1, 2013
Lem was first published in The Eleventh Black Book of Horror, 2015
A Grim God’s Revenge was first published in Mythic issue 4, 2017
Grudge End Cloggers was first published in Scare Me, 2020
Hanuman was first published in Phantasmagoria issue 16, 2020

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: John Everson

Meghan: Hey, John! Welcome back to Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

John: The imagery! Halloween is when all of the gothic, spooky stuff comes out to play. Haunted houses, giant spiderwebs, eerie candlelight emanating from grotesquely carved pumpkins… I love it all. In Chicagoland, the weather turns from the fading light of summer to the crisp and bone-chilling cool breezes that signal the coming of winter, and the leaves that were so vibrantly red and orange just a couple weeks before litter the ground as brown, dried husks. Desiccated memories of the vibrance of summer. Halloween is the between time, the dying time between the days of warmth and sunlight and the frozen deathscape that freezes and kills the land in December and January. I can’t imagine Halloween in a warmer climate because the weather provides as much a part of the chill as the dying landscape and early nightfalls.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

John: My personal Halloween tradition is pretty standard — I watch horror movies. I do that year-round, of course, but I used to spend a whole weekend binging on horror movies leading up to Halloween, which was awesome. I’d get through a handful each day. I haven’t been able to wallow in the creepy crazy for that much dedicated time the past few years… but one of these days I’ll be able to do nothing but watch old Euro-horror movies for a solid weekend to celebrate Halloween again! And host the Halloween movie nights for friends that I used to before everyone’s lives got so crazy busy we couldn’t get them scheduled anymore!

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

John: I love everything spooky, supernatural and gothic, and Halloween is the one time of year that everyone in the world gives a nod to the creepy stuff that I love to see and talk about all year round. For a little while, everyone is into horror movies and lawns are decorated with all manner of “haunted house” style decorations. I love it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

John: I don’t know that I’m really superstitious. But sometimes I do wonder if my pinball machines are possessed by a spirit who likes to taunt me. Anyone who knows me knows I love pinball almost as much as horror and music, and I own five classic machines in my basement that I play all the time. Some nights, particularly if I hit the restart button because I start a game with a bad ball and don’t feel like finishing the game with a handicap, it’s almost like the machine knows I’m “cheating” and starting over – and the next half dozen balls will all go straight down the middle or side with no chance for me to hit them with the flipper. It’s as if the game demon says “oh, you want a do-over do you? Take that. And that. And that. C’mon, can’t you handle it sucker?” It’s creepy when it feels like the game suddenly turns on you and consistently does unusual things with the ball.

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

John: The title character of The Living Dead Girl by French director Jean Rollin. She is both a horrific and pathetic character – a “zombie/ghoul” who slowly comes back from the dead and rebels against her blood-drinking nature and her best friend who feeds her with victims out of misguided love.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

John: I honestly couldn’t name one. I don’t ever read or watch anything about “true crime.”

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

John: Bloody Mary used to creep the hell out of me as a kid. Some people call her Mary Worth. The whole idea of going into a dark candlelit room, saying her name in the mirror multiple times and having her spirit come through the mirror in answer to potentially claw your eyes out… it’s such a perfect way to build dread. Kids do it on a dare, but all you need is just a hair of fear that the legend could be true and by the time you say Bloody Mary’s name the third time, your heart is racing.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

John: Again… don’t like true crime stuff, so none of them. I read “escapist” supernatural horror so that I don’t have to be faced with the real life monsters that walk the earth.

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

John: Geez, I couldn’t answer that with any surety. I’ve watched the old black and white classic horrors since I can remember. We had WGN – Channel 9 TV in Chicago that used to play a Creature Features program on Friday or Saturday nights that I saw a lot while I was in grade school. I do remember being in probably 3rd or 4th grade and watching a PBS color production of Dracula that I really thought was great at the time. Loved the whole gothic setting with coffins and dusty castles. That probably set the stage for my love of Hammer Films later in life.

As far as first horror book… again, my memory just doesn’t go that far back! I remember reading ghost story books I bought from the Scholastic Book catalog in grade school and loving the spooky factor. And I remember buying a complete collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction at a garage sale once and reading and re-reading that book (which is still on my shelf). Maybe one of the earliest printed impacts on me was a comic book that I bought in probably first or second grade. It might have been an Eerie Tales or something like that. I don’t really remember the stories, but I do know they stuck with me a long time and I still retain one image of a skeletal woman in a bridal headdress driving down the street at the end of one. Apparently whatever that twist was creeped me out enough to remember a snippet of that image almost 50 years later.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

John: Probably Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game. It was the first novel of his I read, and I read it during one of my first trips away from home alone when I was probably 22 – I’d flown to Memphis to spend a weekend with some other journalists on a “PR junket” hosted by the city. We went there to see Graceland and the Handy Blues awards and to generally get a 36-hour tour of the city to go home and write travel stories about how great Memphis was for our newspapers. I remember the first night I was in the hotel room alone, reading that novel and the scene about people being skinned alive and when I turned out the lights to go to sleep… I was severely creeped out!

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

John: I don’t know about “scarred” but Alien impacted me severely. The atmosphere, the slow brooding, building suspense, the wildly otherworldly and ominous spaceship architecture… it was a genius sci-fi horror film and has been in my top 5 horror and top 5 sci-fi movie lists since the day I first saw it. It’s an unsettling, scary and darkly beautiful film.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

John: I have never been a “dress up” person myself, but I do appreciate creative costumes and makeup. Always love good zombie, ghoul or witch makeup!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

John: That one’s easy. “(Every Day is) Halloween” by Ministry. It’s an amazing track both for the Halloween theme and for synth pop. One of my favorite dance club tracks ever, bar none.

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

John: Best treat is definitely Almond Joy bars. Worst? Dental floss. (Assholes).

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by, John. It is ALWAYS a pleasure to have you visit. One more thing before you go: What are you top 10 go-to Halloween movies?

John: I am a huge movie buff, and literally own hundreds of horror and giallo DVDs and Blu-Rays. That makes it super hard to pick a top 5 or 10 or even 25… There are so many good ones. So… I’ve tried to note the movies that have really stuck with me the most across multiple genres of horror. Films that I’ve watched multiple times. There are dozens of films I could point to as “oh yeah, that’s a great one!” but here are films that really moved me. From the extreme horror of the French new wave in the 90s with High Tension and Martyrs to the claustrophobic indie horror of Cronenberg’s early Rabid and Shivers, I come back to these again and again. Though my main favorites tend to be older – ‘70s and ‘80s films are my jam. I’m not that much of a modern horror fan. My “Top 3” below are films that have all actually been my #1 at one time or another. I used to say Alien until the Suspiria 4K remaster happened a few years ago! And Jean Rollin’s sexy and horrible beautiful pathos of Living Dead Girl has occupied my #2 or #3 spot since I first saw it some 20 years ago:

Best Movies:
SuspiriaDario Argento (1977)
AlienRidley Scott (1979)
The Living Dead GirlJean Rollin (1982)
The BeyondLucio Fulci (1981)
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the GraveEmilio Miraglia (1971)
PhantasmDon Coscarelli (1979)
Night of the Living DeadGeorge Romero (1968)
RabidDavid Cronenberg (1977)
DagonStuart Gordon (2001)
MartyrsPascal Laugier (2008)

I have to give honorary mentions to horror-humor films which I think live in a class by themselves:
BeetlejuiceTim Burton (1988)
Shaun of the DeadEdgar Wright (2004)
Dead AlivePeter Jackson (1992)
Evil Dead IISam Raimi (1987)
ScreamWes Craven (1996)


Boo-graphy:
John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Covenant, Sacrifice, The 13th, Siren, and The Pumpkin Man, all released by Dorchester/Leisure Books in paperback. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a 2012 Bram Stoker Award Finalist. Other novels include The Family Tree, Violet Eyes, Redemption, and The House By The Cemetery. His 11th novel, The Devil’s Equinox, was released by Flame Tree Press in June 2019. He is also the creator of the characters Danika and Mila Dubov, now seen on the new Netflix series V-Wars, based on the books and comics created and edited by Jonathan Maberry.

A wide selection of his short fiction has been collected in six short story collections – Sacrificing Virgins (Samhain Publishing, 2015), Deadly Nightlusts (Blasphemous Books, 2010), Creeptych (Delirium Books, 2010), Needles & Sins (Necro Books, 2007), Vigilantes of Love (Twilight Tales, 2003) and Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions (Delirium Books, 2000).

John is also the editor of the anthologies Sins of the Sirens (Dark Arts Books, 2008) and In Delirium II (Delirium Books, 2007) and co-editor of the Spooks! ghost story anthology (Twilight Tales, 2004). In 2006, he co-founded Dark Arts Books to produce trade paperback collections spotlighting the cutting edge work of some of the best authors working in short dark fantasy fiction today.

John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies, Alan Clark illustrations and a large stuffed Eeyore. There’s also a mounted Chinese fowling spider named Stoker courtesy of fellow horror author Charlee Jacob, an ever-growing shelf of custom mix CDs and an acoustic guitar that he can’t really play but that his son likes to hear him beat on anyway. Sometimes his wife is surprised to find him shuffling through more public areas of the house, but it’s usually only to brew another cup of coffee. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs book covers for a variety of small presses, loses hours in expanding an array of gardens and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of ’70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a pint of Revolution Anti-Hero IPA.

Website

Voodoo Heart
When Detective Lawrence Ribaud wakes alone in a bloody bed with his wife missing, he knows this is more than just a mysterious case of murder. His wife is the latest victim in a string of bizarre disappearances. All across New Orleans, on one night each month, people are vanishing, leaving behind nothing but a pool of blood on the bedsheets… and an abandoned heart. Ribaud doesn’t believe in voodoo, but he soon finds himself moving through the underbelly of a secret society of snakes, sacrifices and obscene rituals in search of the mysterious Black Queen … and the curse of her Voodoo Heart.

The Devil’s Equinox
Austin secretly wishes his wife would drop dead. He even says so one boozy midnight at the bar to a sultry stranger with a mysterious tattoo. When his wife later introduces that stranger as Regina, their new neighbor, Austin hopes she will be a good influence on his wife. Instead, one night he comes home to find his wife dead. Soon he’s entranced with Regina, who introduces him to a strange world of bloodletting, rituals and magic. A world that puts everything he loves in peril. Can Austin save his daughter, and himself, before the planets align for the Devil’s Equinox?

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