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?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: C.M. Saunders

Meghan: Welcome back to the Halloween Extravaganza. It’s always wonderful to have you here at Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Christian: The fact that for a few days each year, everyone turns into mad horror fiends and I don’t appear quite so weird. Afterwards, though, most people go back to being normal and I just stay weird.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Christian: The movies! Okay, I watch horror movies all year round, but for as long as I can remember on Halloween night, no matter where I am, who I am with and what else I have going on, I’ve always made time for a horror movie marathon, much to the displeasure of various partners over the years. Some people just can’t handle it when shit gets real.

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

Christian: The movies, the trick-or-treating, the family traditions, the blood, the gore, the serial killers, the rotting corpses rising from graves, what’s not to love?!

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Christian: I don’t know if you can call this a superstition, but I’ve always had a thing for the number 27. it follows me, and it seems to come in waves. I might go months without noticing it, and then suddenly it’s everywhere, all around me, as if the universe is trying to tell me something. For example, a few years ago, I was writing an article for a magazine about the 27 Club, all those musicians who have died at 27, when my cousin called me. He said, “I’m just ringing to tell you I’ve moved. Yeah, I live in number 27 now.”

Another time, I was telling a friend about my 27 thing. They laughed and said it was just coincidence. We went into a restaurant, and were given the table number 27. They were like, okay…

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

Christian: It has to be Freddy Krueger. What a fantastic concept. A monster that comes to get you THROUGH YOUR DREAMS! I mean, how long can you stay awake? How long can you stay safe? We all know the answer to that because we’ve all seen the movies, right? Often, when I talk about movies 30 or 40 years old, I wonder how a remake or reboot would fare with a big budget and superior special effects. In this case remakes and reboots are not necessary because the original movies are just about perfect.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Christian: That would be the murder of my wife. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. It’s so weird they never found the body. They never looked in the garden, though. Kidding. Gotcha! I’ve never been married. I’m sorry to be so unoriginal, but I’d love to know who Jack the Ripper was. I don’t buy into the stuff about him being the queen’s doctor, but I read a theory recently suggesting that he and H.H. Holmes, he of Chicago’s murder castle, were the same person. The links are tenuous, but that’s the thing, the links to every suspect are tenuous but somebody did it, so one of these mad theories has to be true.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Christian: Ooh! I can tell you a famous Welsh one. Angelystor is a mystical ghostly figure that appears twice a year (Halloween and 31st July) in the village of Llangernyw in Conwy. Standing beneath a 3000-year old Yew tree, the supernatural entity announces the names of all the people who would die in the parish that year. What a guy!

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Christian: There’s something morally wrong about having a favourite serial killer but you got me. I do have one. I’m going to go with that man H.H. Holmes again. The whole concept fascinates me. He didn’t just moider loads of people, he went to extraordinary lengths to do so and apparently took great pride in his work. He was also a conman, a trickster and a bigamist. I mean, how busy was this guy? He was convicted of 27 killings (there’s that number again, see what I mean?) but may have, and probably did, kill more than 200. That takes dedication.

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

Christian: My first horror film was either a little-known zombie flick called The Child, or American Werewolf in London, when I was ten or eleven years old. That’s a movie I must have watched a dozen times since. I didn’t start getting the humour in it until much later, and when I lived in London I made a pilgrimage to Tottenham Court Road underground station where some key scenes were filmed. It literally gave me shivers. It’s harder to remember the first book, but it was probably a Stephen King paperback nabbed from my sister. I’m going to say Pet Sematary.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Christian: I had a Richard Laymon phase in my late teens, like I guess most people do. He’s a very underrated writer. Sure, he put out some smut and he had a weird obsession with the word ‘rump,’ but nobody’s perfect! There are two books in particular I could mention, Funland and Body Rides. The most disturbing of the two is the latter. Not in a gruesome kind of way, but in the sense that when you finish it you feel as if Richard Laymon just reached inside your head, pulled out your brain, licked it, kicked it against a wall a few times, then put it back.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Christian: The original Evil Dead. I remember watching it alone when I was twelve or thirteen and my parents were away for the night, and I was too scared to turn the lights off or go to bed. That creepy refrain, “Dead by dawn!” was running through my head constantly.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Christian: I dressed up as Dracula when I was nine. See embarrassing pictorial evidence. I was certainly sullen enough, but I think the hair let me down.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Christian: The Ramones Howling at the Moon from their 1984 album Too Tough to Die. Punk forever. You’re welcome.

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

Christian: I’m British, and when I was a kid all the kids in my street used to get together and play ducking apples. You know, when you’re blindfolded and have to stick your head in a bucket of water and try to pick out apples with your teeth? Let me tell you, it got quite competitive! There’s no such thing as a disappointing treat.

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by. Before you go, can you share your favorite Halloween reads and movies?

Christian: Even though I’m a writer, I’m going to give you my Top Three Halloween movies because I think reading more than one book in a night would be a challenge, but we can all squeeze in enough time for a classic horror movie marathon!

  1. The Fog (1980)
  2. The Howling (1981)
  3. Pet Sematary (1989)

FYI, every month I watch a classic horror film and post about it over on my blog. You’re welcome to take a look.


Boo-graphy:
Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, is a freelance journalist and editor from south Wales. His work has appeared in almost 100 magazines, ezines and anthologies worldwide including Fortean Times, the Literary Hatchet, ParABnormal, Fantastic Horror, Haunted MTL, Feverish Fiction and Crimson Streets, and he has held staff positions at several leading UK magazines ranging from Staff Writer to Associate Editor. His books have been both traditionally and independently published, the latest release being Back from the Dead: A Collection of Zombie Fiction.

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Back from the Dead
A collection of zombie fiction from British journalist and dark fiction writer C.M. Saunders, featuring two complete novellas alongside short stories previously published in the likes of Morpheus Tales and Crimson Streets, plus a brand-new novelette. Also includes an exclusive introduction and artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman.

Featuring:

Dead of Night: young lovers Nick and Maggie go camping in the woods, only to come face-to-face with a group of long-dead Confederate soldiers who don’t know, or care, that the war is over.

Human Waste: Dan Pallister wakes up one morning to find the zombie apocalypse has started. Luckily, he’s been preparing for it most of his life. He just needs to grab some supplies from the supermarket…

‘Til Death do us Part: When the world as we know it comes to an abrupt end, an elderly couple are trapped in their apartment. They get by as best they can, until they run out of food.

Roadkill: A freelance ambulance crew are plunged into a living nightmare when a traffic accident victim they pick up just won’t stay dead. He has revenge on his mind.

Plague Pit: A curious teenager goes exploring the Welsh countryside one summer afternoon and stumbles across a long-abandoned chapel. What he finds there might change the world, and not for the better.

Dead Men Don’t Bleed: A gumshoe private eye is faced with his most challenging case yet when a dead man walks into his office and asks for help solving his own murder.

Drawn from a variety of sources, all these tales have one thing in common; they explore what might happen if our worst nightmares are realized and people came BACK FROM THE DEAD.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Christine Morgan

Meghan: Hey Christine! Welcome back. As always, we love to have you here. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Christine: The weeks leading up to it, when all the good stuff starts hitting the shelves, the Halloween stores appear overnight like mushrooms, the various cooking channel shows like Halloween Wars and Halloween Baking Championship, the horror-themed episodes of shows such as Forged in Fire, there are horror movie marathons. Also, the half-off sales in the days after.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Christine: Trick-or-treating, seeing all the costumes, the fun and excitement, people really getting into it, the kids, the parents. These past few years haven’t been the best for that, partly because of living in the upstairs unit of an apartment complex that didn’t see much trick-or-treat traffic. This year, however, I’ve moved into what was my grandparents’ house, in an established neighborhood with community activities, so I’m optimistic (aside from the damn pandemic, that is).

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

Christine: Just always been a spooky weirdo at heart! Didn’t hurt that my dad was always a kind of closeted weirdo, with Halloween being the one time he could cut loose. Later in life, he’d come out and go nuts as a Civil War reenactor, but before that, dressing up and having fun on Halloween was his favorite thing. I remember one year, he went as Jesus — he already had long hair and a full beard — and we used red nail polish instead of fake blood for the wounds, which is a helpful trick I’ve never forgotten.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Christine: I’m into folklore, so I’ve picked up several of the little habits over the years, if not to the full point of observing or following them, at least to the point of feeling uncomfortable letting them go unacknowledged. I knock on wood, I toss salt over my shoulder, when I first see the moon at night I say the little rhyme I learned somewhere as a kid, that sort of thing. Except for black cats crossing my path; I have no problem with that. Black cats got a bad rap, very undeserved.

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

Christine: Of the movie classics, always had a soft spot for the Gillman. He wasn’t bothering anybody, just swimming around in his lagoon, until arrogant know-it-all humans came along to interfere. Then HE got the blame. I tend to sympathize with those kind of “monsters,” who are just doing their own thing. Even sharks. We go into their environment, then get upset when they do what’s only natural? So bogus.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Christine: Unlike many in my middle-aged white woman demographic, I don’t seem to have as much obsessive fascination for serial killers, unsolved crimes, and murder shows. If it counts, though, I really want to know what’s up with all those severed feet that keep washing ashore. Why just the feet? Is it the shoes? Where’s the rest of the bodies? What’s happening out there?

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Christine: After the previous question, this is going to seem even stranger, but, the one where gang members, as part of their initiation, would hide under a lady’s car in a dark parking lot and then slash her Achilles tendon and steal her shoes as proof. Maybe it’s that I can imagine it all too vividly. Even as I type this, I shifted my feet up onto the coffee table, though I know damn well there’s nobody under the couch with a straight razor. Also, that was the scene in the original Pet Sematary movie to freak me out the most.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Christine: See above, was never all that into them the way a lot of people are. The old-timey ones, though, like H.H. Holmes with his entire murder hotel, or the angel-of-death types, nurses who’d smother patients in the belief it was putting them out of their misery and doing the right thing.

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

Christine: It probably wasn’t the first I ever saw, but the first movie to scare the crap out of me as a kid was that old black and white sci-fi Invaders From Mars. The sand whirlpools were bad, but the people with the alien takeover staples in their necks… legit gave me nightmares. There was a DVD of it among my late uncle’s movie collection and I kept it for nostalgia, but have no intention of watching it! As for books, my grandfather kept a shelf of horror paperbacks in the garage (Grandma didn’t want them in the house), so I’d browse those whenever we visited. Lots of nature-run-amok books, killer critters, but I still have the copy of The Shining I found out there when I was ten.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Christine: I read, and dearly love, a lot of sick, sick, wrong, evil, grotesque, extreme horror. And yet, none of them have gotten under my skin a fraction so much as I Am Not Sam, by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee. So subtle. So masterful. It lets/makes your own mind do all the work, with results far more traumatizing and horrifying than if the scenes were spelled out on the page.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Christine: Again, see above, Invaders From Mars when I was little. Lately, I’ve been viewing too many cinematic masterpieces suggested by Edward Lee, and if “stabbed me in the eyes and gave me brain-damage” sheer WTF-ery counts as being scarred for life, well, I now have a whole list. Such as Birdemic and House Shark. Also The Greasy Strangler, though I can’t blame Lee for that one; if anything, he should blame me, even if it was Gina Ranalli who told me about it in the first place.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Christine: One year, Dad went as Captain Hook and I was Peter Pan (the chonky little girl version) and my baby sister was Tinkerbell. I love it when people coordinate their costumes like that, and the whole family gets into it. My craft and makeup skills may be pretty good, but my sewing skills are basically nonexistent, so I am somewhat hampered in that regard.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Christine: Forever a soft spot in my heart for Thriller, I gotta say. I am old enough to remember rushing home from school to turn on MTV and wait anxiously for the video’s world premiere. The Vincent Price bit is perfection. And, hokey though it is, I love how the zombie dance permeated the entire culture.

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

Christine: The fun-size 100,000 Dollar Bars. Full-size ones are too hard to eat before they melt and get all messy. Fun-size Twix, too. I’m a fan of the fun-size because then I can tell myself it’s not like I’m eating a whole candy bar, right? So I can then eat like six of them and it’s still all good. Also, because it seems to come up every year, I am pro-candy corn. Yes, it tastes like sugary wax and leaves a filmy coating in your mouth, but, you can tuck them under your upper lip like vampire teeth and that’s what matters. As for disappointing, anything with coconut or licorice is a hard NOPE from me.

Meghan: As always, Christine, it has been a pleasure. Before you go, though, what are your op Halloween movies?

Christine: I may lose some horror cred for this, but when I think of Halloween movies, the first place my mind goes is Tim Burton. The Nightmare Before Christmas, obviously. Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride. Even stuff like Edward Scissorhands (Vincent Price again, yay!) and Sweeney Todd. Okay, so maybe a mad crush on Johnny Depp has something to do with it — my own, I mean, not Tim Burton’s, though you know he totally has one. And as long as I’m losing horror cred anyway, I’ll go ahead and say I liked Halloween 3. It didn’t belong in the franchise, and should have had a different title, but on its own, it’s a neat premise/idea and lots of fun.


Boo-graphy:
Christine Morgan recently quit her night-shift job and moved from rainy Portland to sunny Southern California to help out her mom and hopefully make a plunge as a full-time writer. Several months later, she’s still reeling from the culture shock of adjusting to daytime life, but finally has a real office/library full of bookshelves and critter skeletons, as well as a dinosaur-themed bedroom. Because she is a) a grown up and b) a professional.

Christine Morgan’s World of Words
Amazon

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Russell Coy

I had the pleasure of meeting Russell at a convention we were both attending, and he quickly became one of my favorite people. He was almost shy, which surprised me, and as we hung around together in a group where we had mutual friends, as the games and conversations continued, I realized just how much he loved horror as a whole and how knowledgeable he was on the subject. After reading one of his stories, I could not believe my luck in meeting him that night, before he became the big author I expect him to become. Such a talented writer, someone who truly inspires me, though I realize that, until this moment, I’ve probably never shared that with him.


Meghan: Hey Russell. Welcome BACK to the annual Halloween Extravaganza. Always awesome to have you here and I’m so glad you could once again join in the shenanigans. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Russell: I have two. Firstly, seeing my daughter in the moments after donning her costume. It’s the dividing line where her eyes widen and she crosses fully over into the Halloween spirit, which nothing can bring her down from the rest of the evening.

The second would be how the world around us changes as the season kicks in–the yard decorations and costume aisles, the horror movie-thons and haunted houses.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Russell: Out in the country here there’s a place called Fashion Farm, an old homestead turned restaurant/antique shop. It becomes a Fall attraction in October: straw maze, hayrides, cider and donuts, and Pumpkin Fantasyland, which is like a wax museum but in an old animal barn with faces drawn on pumpkins. My parents took me every year, and now I take my own family.

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

Russell: I grew up at the very edge of town with no other kids in the neighborhood, so if I wasn’t reading or watching movies, I’d be wandering through the fair-sized patch of woods beside our house, or the local cemetery behind that. Of course, that developed a good sense of the scary and otherworldly in me, which Halloween fed right into, as did horror in general.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Russell: If you trip over something in the first few minutes after getting up, don’t leave the house for that entire day.

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

Russell: The villain of the 1999 movie Ravenous—who I’ll leave unnamed for those who haven’t seen it—is fascinating to me. He’s a pure predator that kills to live, but he’s also refined and cunning, with big ambitions. Come to think of it, he’s like Count Dracula in many ways.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Russell: What really freaks me out is when bodies are found but the circumstances are unknown, like the Yuba County Five or the Lead Masks Case. You can spend a lot of time on YouTube going down those rabbit holes.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Russell: Snakes in toilets. Just typing that gives me the willies.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Russell: Joseph Kallinger is up there. He’s less-known but his story is a lot like the movie Frailty, only a hundred times weirder and more brutal.

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

Russell: From what I’m told, I saw David Cronenberg’s The Fly when I was three. Judging by some of what I write, it stayed in my brain whether I knew it or not.

The first horror book I read was The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I remember very clearly reading the scene where Hyde knocks down and stomps over the young girl. It hit a nerve with me as a bullied kid, but I had to keep reading, which I now realize was because I wanted to see Hyde get punished.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Russell: The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. It’s known for its most violent scenes, but even the moments which seem innocent have a subtle violence to them, like when David is at the pond with Meg and feels driven to prod her about the scars on her legs, even though she doesn’t want to talk about it. You’d think it would get easier to read the second or third time, but Ketchum just keeps giving you new layers to be disturbed by.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Russell: This is a tough one, but I’ll go with Martyrs. I’ve got a strong constitution for violence and depravity in film, but that’s probably the most emotionally draining horror movie I’ve ever seen, in addition to the violence.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Russell: I was an obsessive Superman fan as a kid, and I wore that costume to bed and on weekends until it came apart at the seams.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Russell: “Pet Sematary” by the Ramones pretty well captures the early 90’s pre-Scream horror vibe I get nostalgic for.

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

Russell: Love some Snickers, hate that rock-hard bubblegum you get, whatever it’s called.

Meghan: We have a fair few things in common I see from reading this interview (like snakes in toilets – eek!! haha). Before you go, what books and movies are on your top list for this time of year?

Russell:
Books:

Movies:


Boo-graphy:
Russell Coy lives with his family in their cat Penelope’s house in Northern Indiana. He is also the author of the novelette The One Who Lies Next to You. His weird horror novella, Dimentia, is available now from Clash Books.

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Dimentia
After giving up on his dream of being a published writer, Chris is plagued by a series of nightmarish visions of grotesque creatures. As the visions manifest with greater frequency they start targeting his young daughter. They are finding their way into his world and only he can fight them. Chris must uncover the truth about his connection to this strange, sadistic realm, and plunge headfirst into the unknown if he wants to save his daughter and himself.

The One Who Lies Next to You
When Angie Berg suspects her husband is having an affair, it has an impact on every aspect of her life. Confiding in her boss, Angie learns Carol’s husband had also been unfaithful, and it was the reason for their divorce. Carol wants to help Angie get to the truth, and she has the means to do so — a handmade Amish quilt. Thinking her boss has gone off the deep end, Angie accepts the gift in the spirit in which it had been intended.

Later that night, still plagued with doubts, Angie figures there’s no harm in throwing the quilt on the bed. What does she have to lose? What she discovers is worse than she imagined, and now Angie finds herself in mortal peril as she tries to figure out what to do next.