AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Thomas Smith

Meghan: Hi Thomas. Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. I’m glad you could join us today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Thomas: When I was younger I used to like setting up a haunted house in our basement with my brother (more about that later in the Extravaganza). I like haunted hayrides and monster movie marathons. And for the last 20 years I have enjoyed the Halloween Express that came through our neighborhood. Some of the parents started with a lawn tractor and attached a couple of wagons full of kids in their Halloween costumes. And as the years progressed and kids became more numerous, it became an ATV pulling five decorated floats with lights and sound. All loaded with trick-or-treaters. Parents and kids all having a blast.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Thomas: Not really. Unless it’s snakes. Then, all bets are off. I will run over an elderly nun to get away from a snake.

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

Thomas: I wish I could remember the title. It was probably made in the late 50s or early 60s. It had to do with a serial killer who the police thought had died at the end of the movie. When everyone had left the scene, the killer comes out of the darkness, turns to look directly at the audience (me, I know he was looking at me) and said something very close to, “If you tell them I’m alive, you’re next.” And even though I’ve seen easily hundreds of horror movies since then, that one still gives me the creeps.

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

Thomas: While this is more of a mercy killing, David Drayton’s killing of his companions (including his son) in The Mist just moments before the military shows up to rescue them is still up there at the top of the list. Especially after his expression/reaction when the unexpected help arrives.

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

Thomas: Not really. But there are some (The Human Centipede, a Serbian Film) that the descriptions were enough to make me say no thanks.

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

Thomas: Frankenstein (1931)

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

Thomas: Quatermass in Quatermass and the Pit

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

Thomas: The wolfman

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Thomas: Watching all night horror movie marathons

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

Thomas: For fun, it would be Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put a Spell on You and for just general creepiness, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells or John Carpenter’s Halloween Theme.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Thomas: When The Amityville Horror first came out, that was intense. It took me a while to finish it. Then I didn’t want to be able to see it on the shelf, so I turned it around backwards for a while.

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

Thomas: Years ago, we lived in a house on the White Oak river and on this particular night, my wife was working the night shift at the hospital. So, I was the only one at home. I had just home about 12:45 a.m. from visiting a dying church member (I was a minister back then) at a different hospital and thought I’d read a little before going to bed. I had just opened my book when I heard a drawer slide open in the kitchen (they tended to stick, so there was always a scraping noise when we opened a drawer) and heard what sounded like someone rummaging through the drawer as if looking for something. I grabbed the shotgun in the corner and ran into the kitchen. All the drawers were closed, the kitchen door was closed and locked, and there was nobody there.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Thomas: The Lost Colony has always fascinated me. How did all those people just disappear? In fact, I wrote a story recently about what might have happened to the people on Roanoke Island, the Mary Celeste, the town of Hoer Verde, Brazil, and the fishing village on Lake Anjikuni in Canada (and the editor I sent it to likes the concept). And if my theory is right, we’re all in trouble.

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

Thomas: The Haunted Doll’s House by M. R. James

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

Thomas: A Mossberg 930 SPX Tactical Shotgun and a lot of buckshot. I also wouldn’t mind having an Infantry Kukri-Sword. That 15-inch blade would relieve a zombie of his/her noggin pretty quick.

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

Thomas: Werewolf

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

Thomas: Zombie Apocalypse

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

Thomas: Drink Zombie juice

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

Thomas: The Poltergeist house

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

Thomas: Maggot infested cheese

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

Thomas: Lick cotton candy made of spider webs

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: Sarah McKnight

Meghan: Hey, Sarah! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. Thanks for joining us today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Sarah: I think the shorter answer is what isn’t my favorite part of Halloween! I love seeing all the fun and unique costumes (and occasionally dressing up myself), the crisp fall air, and of course the endless supply of horror movies.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Sarah: It really depends. Paranormal things don’t scare me so much because I’ve always had a huge interest in them. It’s the things that could cause direct harm to me, like real people, that really scare me.

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

Sarah: This is a really hard one! Off the top of my head, I think I would have to say Stephen King’s Apt Pupil. There is a particular scene in both the movie and the book involving a cat that disturbed me so much I will never, ever look at either of them again.

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

Sarah: Probably the murders that take place in Funny Games, which is incidentally probably my favorite movie of all time.

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

Sarah: That’s never happened to me!

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

Sarah: I would have to say The Haunting, that terrible 90’s movie based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It was the first horror movie I ever saw, and I always wanted to explore that gigantic house.

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

Sarah: Anything paranormal! Probably Stephen King’s IT. I want to be in the Losers Club.

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

Sarah: Pennywise the Dancing Clown, of course. Chucky is a very close second.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Sarah: Scary movies in the dark. I will never get tired of it.

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

Sarah: Oogie Boogie’s Song from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Not to brag, but I can really belt that one out!

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Sarah: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I think the reason it’s so scary is because it’s an extremely realistic situation that could happen to anyone.

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

Sarah: My friends and I had been messing around with a Ouija board (I know, I know…) I went back to my apartment and none of my roommates were home. While I was in my room, I heard something fall and break in the kitchen. I went to investigate, but nothing was out of place, and I was still there alone.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Sarah: So many! I think if I had to pick just one, I’d want to know what happened aboard the Mary Celeste.

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

Sarah: The classic Lady in White. Can you imagine picking someone up off the side of the road, driving her all the way home, only for her to disappear and discover she was dead the whole time?

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

Sarah: Probably a hammer. Easy to carry and good for bashing brains!

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

Sarah: Vampire, please! Can you imagine having to manage all that fur? Yikes!

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

Sarah: Aliens. Maybe they’re friendly after all?

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

Sarah: What exactly is “zombie juice”? Is it like Bug Juice? I’m probably going with that just to be safe.

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

Sarah: The Poltergeist house. Show me all the paranormal activity!

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

Sarah: Bitter melon with chilies please. I don’t even want the mental image of the other thing.

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

Sarah: Depends, what is the witch cooking up? A potion? A delicious soup? I’ll take the mystery cauldron!

Boo-graphy:
Sarah McKnight has been writing stories since she could pick up a pencil, and it often got her in trouble during math class. After a brief stint teaching English to unruly middle schoolers in Japan, she decided she wasn’t going to put off her dream of becoming a writer any longer and set to work. With several novels in the making, she hopes to tackle issues such as anxiety, depression, and letting go of the past – with a little humor sprinkled in, too. A St Louis native, she currently lives in Pennsylvania with her wonderful husband and three cats. You can find her on Twitter and on her website.

The Reaper Chronicles 1:
The Reaper’s Quota
Meet Grim Reaper #2497. Behind on his work, he must complete his quota of thirty Random Deaths or face termination in the worst way. Faced with an insurmountable task and very little time to complete it, Reaper #2497 struggles to hang on to the one thing he’s not supposed to have – his humanity.

GUEST POST: Robert Herold

Why We Need Horror

Horror fulfills an important part of human culture. Ancient societies were full of examples: The Chaos Monster in Mesopotamia, the Greek’s Minotaur and Gorgon, the tale of Beowulf, the Gumiho from Korea, and many others.

Confronting fearful mythic figures have been used to inspire, explain the unknowable, and to entertain. But they do more than that. Many times, a monster is pitiable, getting us to confront societal prejudices and unfair practices. For example, while Frankenstein’s monster is depicted differently in book and film, both are victims and cause us to question what is just and fair. So too with many of the figures of horror fiction and film.

While some contend that horror is inherently conservative, as the goal is to return to how things used to be, many times the reader or viewer of horror is actually asked to question the norms of society. When done well, horror can enlighten.

Ultimately, we need horror. Stephen King perhaps said it best: “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”

(This piece originally appeared in the author’s newsletter, The Haunted House of Herold. If interested in subscribing, contact the author at email@robertheroldauthor.com)

Boo-graphy:
The supernatural has always had the allure of a forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally!)

While other kids my age wanted to grow up to be doctors, firefighters, spacemen, and the like, I wanted to be a werewolf.

I have pursued my interests over the years (including playing the sax and flute, and teaching middle school history for 36 years), but supernatural writing always called to me. You could say that I was haunted. Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Website
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Email

The Eidola Project – The Eidola Project is a 19th century team of ghost hunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a young sideshow medium, and a traumatized Civil War veteran, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Will any of them survive?

Moonlight Becomes You – The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

Totem of Terror – The Eidola Project, a team of 19th Century ghost hunters, have been tasked with trying to stop a deadly shapeshifting demon attacking the native people of La Push, on the Washington Coast. The team brings their own demons with them, in the form of drug addiction, a werewolf’s curse, and being in mourning from the death of a loved one. Can they rise to this new challenge, or will they face the same grisly end as the shapeshifter’s other victims?

Witch Ever Way You Go
When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Robert Herold

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

Robert: Where do I start! I love the energy associated with the holiday. For a while, even those who say they don’t like scary books and films, get filled with the spirit. (Pun intended!) One of my favorite parts of Halloween is the great yard displays. My wife and I discovered an amazing display last year. It’s on 17th Ave NE, one half block north of NE 125th, for all you Seattle area folks!!

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Robert: Hmmm… Not really, but I do get a tingly feeling on the back of my neck as the hairs stand up.

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

Robert: Black Sunday (aka The Mask of Satan). This 1960 Mario Bava movie about witchcraft featured Barbara Steele as a witch who was put to death in a gruesome way. A spiked mask was hammered onto her head in the prologue. At this point, as a ten-year-old, I turned off the TV and hid under the covers of my bed! I revisited the film as an adult, and it holds up well. For you readers who like classic horror flicks, check this out!

For modern chills, I recommend The Witch (a masterpiece of folk horror), the original Exorcist, and Alien for tension and scares.

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

Robert: Janet Leigh’s death in Psycho. We are all vulnerable in the shower! Her character just decided to return the money she stole, making her that much more sympathetic. Hitchcock did a masterful job!

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

Robert: Nope. In fact, a pet peeve of mine is movie trailers that reveal too much and thereby ruin the film. Far too common nowadays. Trailers should convey the premise and tone of the film, enticing the viewer, not reveal 95% of the plot.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?
The Exorcist, Ellen Burstyn was hot!

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

Robert: I’d choose Dana Andrews’ character in Curse of the Demon. Peggy Cummins was hot!

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

Robert: Hands down, or paws down, it would be the Wolfman. As a child I wanted nothing more than to be the Wolfman. Fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.)

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Robert: Checking out Halloween displays in the area.

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

Robert: There so many! I guess my favorite would be “The Monster Mash.” On my Facebook page is a film clip of me singing (apologies to Bobby “Boris” Pickett) my rendition when performing with a local band, The Rainy City Riff Raff. Here’s the link, if you dare (sorry the video quality is poor).

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Robert: My first reading of The Shining. I was alone in my apartment at the time, it was evening, and just as I was reading the scene about room 217 (Kubrick changed it to 237 for the movie), a thunder and lightning storm occurred. Then the power went out!

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

Robert: See previous answer. ☺

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Robert: Loch Ness Monster. It would be pretty nifty to have the Nessie in there paddling about!

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

Robert: A movie theater in Seattle, The Harvard Exit, is now the Mexican Consulate. In its movie house days, there were a number of ghostly events. I spoke to the staff and they mentioned several spooky encounters. One was the sound of women talking, but when staff person entered the room, no one was there. She also reported that a radio would turn on inexplicably. A manager reportedly came to work one day before anyone else. When she entered the lobby, the fire was lit, lights were on, and chairs were circled around the fire. The place used to be women’s club. I attended many films there over the years, and the spookiest thing I ever saw was a rat running across the stage!

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

Robert: A pen. As we all know, the pen is mightier than the sword. In this case, I would write myself a survival scenario!

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

Robert: A werewolf. Not only have I wanted to be one since I was a boy, but you would get to live normally for most of each month.

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

Robert: An alien invasion has more opportunities for interesting technology and perhaps alien sympathizers. You can’t reason with a zombie!

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

Robert: How old are the bodies? Can they be served up with gravy? Hollandaise sauce? Bearnaise?

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

Robert: The Poltergeist house. It has a swimming pool!

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

Robert: Cheese. I like cheese. (Maggots would provide extra protein!)

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

Robert: A witch’s caldron. It might be tasty, having subtle flavors that can only come from fillet of a fenny snake, along with eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing!

Boo-graphy:
The supernatural has always had the allure of a forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved in. (Well, not literally!)

While other kids my age wanted to grow up to be doctors, firefighters, spacemen, and the like, I wanted to be a werewolf.

I have pursued my interests over the years (including playing the sax and flute, and teaching middle school history for 36 years), but supernatural writing always called to me. You could say that I was haunted. Ultimately, I hope my books give you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Website
Amazon
Facebook
Twitter
Email

The Eidola Project – The Eidola Project is a 19th century team of ghost hunters who become ensnared in a deadly investigation of a haunted house. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a young sideshow medium, and a traumatized Civil War veteran, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Will any of them survive?

Moonlight Becomes You – The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

Totem of Terror – The Eidola Project, a team of 19th Century ghost hunters, have been tasked with trying to stop a deadly shapeshifting demon attacking the native people of La Push, on the Washington Coast. The team brings their own demons with them, in the form of drug addiction, a werewolf’s curse, and being in mourning from the death of a loved one. Can they rise to this new challenge, or will they face the same grisly end as the shapeshifter’s other victims?

Witch Ever Way You Go
When an ill-fated graduate student and his girlfriend are lured into a terrifying world of witchcraft and murder, they become targets for human sacrifice. Is there a chance they can escape a bloodthirsty coven of witches and certain death until the curse is lifted? A spellbinding story of modern horror.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ramsey Campbell

Meghan: Hey Ramsey!! Welcome back to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. It’s always a pleasure to have you here, and I thank you for taking time on this busy book-release day to join us here.

Yes, you read that right, everybody. Fellstones is out today.
You can pick it up by following the link below:
Flame Tree Publishing

Sorry about that. What were we talking about? Oh yeah… What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Ramsey: I have to say it has no great significance as a festival in Britain. There were attempts a few years back to situate it as an alternative Autumn event to Guy Fawkes Night, since it was felt there were too many accidents at private firework displays on 5 November. When I was a child it wasn’t celebrated locally at all, and so my only sense of it was through fiction—specifically, some of the great tales of Ray Bradbury. Ray made October uniquely his, both capturing its flavours and adding individual ones of his own. While you can read them at any time, they have a particular relevance to Halloween, and so I’ll name them as my favourite aspect thereof.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Ramsey: No longer, but as a child I was—by films, by books, by my domestic life. I must have been three, maybe a little older, when I saw my first film, Disney’s Snow White. Elements in it terrified me—the unstable face in the magic mirror that doesn’t reflect the person in front of it, and even the sight of darkness beyond a window in the dwarfs’ cottage while they perform their song and dance, because I was sure something would appear out of the dark. M.R. James gave me many uneasy nights jut a few years later. As for my everyday experience, my parents were estranged when I was three but continued to live in the same house, which meant I hardly ever saw my father face to face—he became the footsteps on the stairs at night, the presence beyond a door that I dreaded might open. All this was exacerbated by my mother’s schizophrenic fantasies: for example, that he would poison us or creep into the bedroom to commit some terrible act. The neighbours were conspiring against her and writing a nightly radio soap opera that contained references to her and secret messages addressed to her, and so on. I had an interesting childhood, which has subsequently produced much literary material.

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

Ramsey: Apart from Not I, that terrifying Beckettian tour de force performed by Billie Whitelaw (and enacted less intensely by Julianne Moore), all my candidates are the work of David Lynch. Some scenes in Fire Walk With Me affected me so profoundly I was close to leaving the first time I saw it, but I’ll go with Lost Highway, the first extended section of which in particular frightens me afresh on every viewing. I’ve concluded Lynch uses every element of film—lighting, camera placement and movement, staging, especially sound—as skillfully (if possibly instinctively) as Hitchcock, to convey the uncanny at its most indefinable and disturbing.

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

Ramsey: The protracted finale of Megan is Missing, a film I analyse and defend at length in Ramsey’s Rambles. The scene is appallingly convincing, not least in its banality.

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

Ramsey: The trailer, do you mean? No, never. As for the other kind of commercials, I’d do my best to avoid any film interrupted by them and see it uninterrupted elsewhere.

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

Ramsey: Night of the Demon, my all-time favourite, since you can avoid falling victim to the demon if you know how.

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

Ramsey: The same, for the same reason.

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

Ramsey: The original King Kong, the greatest of all monsters in the greatest monster film.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Ramsey: Alas, for reasons outlined above, I have none. Oddly enough, I’ve often been at World Fantasy Conventions in America over the season, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen signs of the celebrations. Ah, hang on—in Baltimore in 1980 all the check-in staff at the Park Plaza were dressed as witches and pumpkins and the like. I think it was a pumpkin who proved loath to let Steve King have his room because he presented not a credit card (he had none in those days) but cash.

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

Ramsey: Horror uncanny enough for Halloween—Schubert’s Opus 1.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Ramsey: Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable—one of the books I celebrated in an essay in The Book of Lists: Horror. It may be a protracted cry from the afterlife, or a narration by a limbless body displayed in a jar on a street, or by something even more featureless. I read it in a sitting one afternoon and have been haunted by it ever since. If it isn’t horror, I don’t know what is.

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

Ramsey: The room next to my workroom (where I’m writing this) has seen various uncanny manifestations over the decades we’ve lived in this house, and here’s the most extreme. Jenny and I had discussed befriending the room by spending the night up there together. During one of my attempts to let her sleep without my snoring I wakened at about two in the morning to discover that she’d decided to try the experiment. It was only when I opened my eyes and reached for her that I realised the silhouette next to me, its head on the other pillow, wasn’t Jenny. I tried for a very long time to move and cry out. Apparently I achieved the latter. In our bedroom on the floor below Jenny heard me make some kind of protest, but I’ve often exhorted her not to wake me if I’m having a nightmare, because I believe these dreams contain their own release mechanism, and I resent being taken out of them before the end. Jenny headed for the toilet on the middle floor, and when she returned I was still making the noise. Perhaps I was dreaming, in which case it had to be the longest nightmare, measured in objective time, that I’ve ever experienced. It consisted purely of lying in the bed I was actually in and trying to retreat from my companion. I admit to never having been so intensely terrified in my life. After minutes I found myself alone in the bed. I made myself turn over and close my eyes, but had a strong impression that a face was hovering very close to mine and waiting for me to look. Meanwhile, downstairs, Jenny felt an intruder sit beside her on our bed.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Ramsey: I believe the Marie Celeste.

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

Ramsey: I heard Graham Watkins tell this tale onstage at an American convention. He investigated haunted places, and had arranged to spend a night at a deserted mansion notorious for manifestations. He chose an upstairs room as his base of operations, and for several hours he heard ordinary domestic noises from downstairs—people talking, kitchen sounds and the like. After some hours he lost patience with them, as I recall, and declared as much aloud. At once there was silence, and he realised he’d alerted whatever was there to his presence. And then all the noises recommenced—directly outside the room he was in…

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

Ramsey: My brain.

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

Ramsey: A vampire, since it might give me a chance to experience immortality until I tired of it. A trip to Vasilema should do the job.

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

Ramsey: Aliens—the less boring option, I’d hope.

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

Ramsey: Neither. I find disgust nothing except tedious.

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

Ramsey: Amityville if I wanted a quiet time, since the entire thing was a cynical hoax (which I said in a review as soon as I’d read the original book).

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

Ramsey: I’ll take the melon.

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

Ramsey: If the cauldron conferred magical powers I’d take the risk.

Boo-graphy: Ramsey Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1946 and now lives in Wallasey. The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”, and the Washington Post sums up his work as “one of the monumental accomplishments of modern popular fiction”. He has received the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for outstanding services to literature. PS Publishing have brought out two volumes of Phantasmagorical Stories, a sixty-year retrospective of his short fiction, and a companion collection, The Village Killings and Other Novellas, while their Electric Dreamhouse imprint has his collected film reviews, Ramsey’s Rambles. His latest novel is Fellstones from Flame Tree Press, who have also recently published his Brichester Mythos trilogy.

Fellstones takes its name from seven objects on the village green. It’s where Paul Dunstan was adopted by the Staveleys after his parents died in an accident for which he blames himself. The way the Staveleys tried to control him made him move away and change his name. Why were they obsessed with a strange song he seemed to have made up as a child?

Now their daughter Adele has found him. By the time he discovers the cosmic truth about the stones, he may be trapped. There are other dark secrets he’ll discover, and memories to confront. The Fellstones dream, but they’re about to waken.