Christmas Takeover 17: Thomas R Clark: All I Want for Christmas, the first three chapters

For Christmas Takeover, Thomas R. Clark has given us the first three chapters of his story, All I Want for Christmas: A Tale of Holiday Horror, which can be found on Amazon.

And don’t forget that his book, Good Boy, is available for order today.

A mysterious, foul-mouthed Santa offers Christmas wishes, but at what price?

All I Want for Christmas on AMAZON


All I Want for Christmas

A Story by Thomas R Clark
3,038 words

1

“Nick? You’re playing some fucking joke, right? I mean what are the odds of this happening?” Bob Clark, manager of the Great Ontario Mall said to the elderly man in a Santa Claus outfit sitting before him. This guy was on point with the familiar red suit, complete with white and black trimmings. Oh, and the classic Santa hat. He even went as far as to wear the round-lensed spectacles. He was good. “Let me guess, you changed your name to Nick when you grew that beard out and started playing Santa?” He watched the old man shake his head.

“Nope,” the applicant said. “It’s always been my name. Nick Samuel. You do know Nick is a common fucking name, right? It shouldn’t surprise the shit out of you or anyone else.”

“It’s ironic, that’s all I’m saying.” Bob opted for damage control, so they could get on with the process. He wasn’t sure if he trusted this creepy old dude. “So I assume you’re interested in becoming our Holiday-”

“Yes,” Nick interjected, “I fucking accept. I’d like to be your holiday Santa.”

“Hold on a minute, Nick. I didn’t say you had the job.” The old man released a jolly chuckle of ho’s in response. Bob cut back in, “What’s so funny.”

“What? The ho-ho-hoing? I’m Santa, it’s what I fucking do. And, we saw you were looking for Santa’s Helpers, too.”

“We?” Bob raised an eyebrow.

“I have my own assistants. We’re the remedy to your situation.” The old man made a fist with each of his black-gloved hands and pointed his thumbs behind him. A pair of sultry women stepped out from behind Nick. Bob wondered where they came from. The last he checked, only Nick here in his Santa suit entered his office. These women manifested from out of nowhere. The pair stood at Mr. Samuel’s left and right. “These are my elves, Lily and Aggie!” The women curtsied on cue and handed Bob their resumes. He reached across his desk and took them, nodding as he did.

Bob was forced to admit, this was convenient. It would save him time and headaches. His former Santa, Kenny Saint-Claire, used his daughters as his helpers for years. But they grew up and moved out of town and Ken got caught groping one of the replacement Elves last year. It was quite the scandal for a small city like Fenton. Now Ken was fired and Bob needed a new Santa.

“Well, Bob? What do you say? Is it a deal?” the old man’s tone startled Bob. It was almost rehearsed, wooden, as if Nick were playing a role, not that of Santa, but of Nick Samuel. Bob fumbled with the resumes in his hand.

“Yes, that’s nice. Do you have references?” Bob forced out to regain control of the interview.

“We’re not from around here, as you probably guessed. We only come through this way every so many years. Last year I was in Auburn at another dying mall. They had the busiest season since their catalog anchors left. But, of course, I have references! Elves, do we have references?”

“Yes we do, Santa,” the women replied in unison.

“But Bob here, he doesn’t need to check them, does he.” He wasn’t asking them a question.

“That’s right, Santa, Bob doesn’t need to check our references. We’re all set.”

“I don’t need to check your references. You’re all set,” Bob said. He felt a warmth in his groin and was surprised to find his dick was getting hard looking at Santa’s helpers. This was an odd one. Bob was gay, and for the first time in his life since coming out, he questioned his sexuality, “You start next week, on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.”

“Excellent, Mr. Clark. It’s a pleasure doing business with you. Now, one thing, for insurance purposes, all the parents must sign a waiver in order for their children to sit on my lap. It protects me, protects them. You know how it is.” This was something Bob hadn’t considered. Nick was right.

“Damn, I don’t have one. I can draw a form up-”

“No, no need to do that. I have forms they can sign. It comes with being a freelance Santa.”

“Oh, okay, Mr. Samuel.”

“Call me Nick. Old Nick is what my friends call me.”

“Old Nick it is,” Bob corrected himself.

“So what would you want for Christmas, Bob?

“I wish for this Mall to have a successful, record-breaking shopping season.”

“Amen to that, Bob. Amen to that,” Old Nick said, before breaking back into a low series of ho-ho belly rolls

2

Mike Lombardo stood in the reception line at Steve’s funeral, trying to think about everything but his brother dying. It was difficult to do, to keep his mind blank, with the constant stream of mourners shaking hands, hugging or just nodding. Mike and his wife stood with his sister-in-law and mother. The line of people coming to pay their respects was a nonstop train all day. It was finally beginning to abate some, much to Mike’s relief.

Mike hated funerals, but he hated cancer more. The shit ran in the Lombardo family, rotting the men from the inside. First their father, John, and now Steve. Mike didn’t know what killed Grampa Lombardo over in Italy, but he was confident ass cancer ate him, too. Mike’s older brother came clean about how sick he was just after New Year’s, and he didn’t make it to fucking Thanksgiving. Mike didn’t feel sick. His brother hadn’t, either. But fear of a positive diagnosis prevented him from going to a doctor.

A man Mike didn’t know was approaching the line. He looked familiar, but Mike wasn’t sure. Elderly with a white beard, and accompanied by a pair of lovely, albeit much younger women- one blonde, one red-headed. Both were painted into skin-tight black mini-dresses. And as cute as those women were, this was his cue to leave.

He felt the urge to pee come on. Mike knew his bladder and feared pissing his suit pants. He excused himself and made haste to the restroom, avoiding making eye contact with anyone who might wish to stop him and make conversation. Lombardo nodded to them, mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ in a nearly inaudible whisper, and ran off.

Mike made it to the urinal in record time, dripping while in the act of unbuttoning his pants. His dick was hard, for some reason. It was odd. He wondered why he would be sporting a woody at his brother’s funeral. It made pissing and directing the stream all the more difficult. The relief of finally breaking the seal was euphoric. Much like the last ten months of Steve Lombardo’s life.

The brothers shared a bucket list year. From concerts, finally seeing KISS, their favorite band, together. A trip to the State Fair, camping at the State Park. A trip to Atlantic City where they lost more than they won. They scoured garage sales, buying toys they owned as boys growing up. Their best picks?

The Shogun Warriors they got for Christmas when Steve was five, and Mike was four. This Christmas in particular stuck with Mike. Though he was young, he remembered it clearly to this day, playing with his brother with those giant robots, nearly as tall as they were. So when Steve insisted on being buried with the Shogun, Mike didn’t find it to be odd.

“They say you can’t take it with you. Well, I say fuck them, whoever the fuck they may be! If it’s what damned me, then it’s coming with me. Fuck ‘em!” Steve told him at Halloween. His wife balked at the notion. Earlier today, Mike handed the mortician a hundred dollar bill, and he slid the Shogun Warrior into the bottom of Steve’s casket. It was there now, resting next to his legs.

Mike left the lavatory and found his way back to the reception line. It was empty, for the first time today. He saw his son, five-year-old, Brian, standing by the photo board. It was covered in pictures of Steve, from his time in diapers up to the concert back in August. Brian was focused on a single picture, looking at it with curious nods of his head. Mike went to his son’s side.

The Polaroid printed picture was from the Great Ontario Mall about forty years ago. Mike and Steve were sitting on Santa’s lap. The eyes of all captured in the picture glowed a demonic red from the reflection of the cheap camera used. Christmas 1978. The year they got the Shogun Warriors. Mike remembered this picture and the day it was taken as if it were yesterday.

“Hey, son. That was your uncle Steve and me when we were your age.”

“Why is one blurry?” Brian asked, pointing to Steve, sitting on Santa’s knee. His image was a blur. His face, his hands, all clouded up. You could tell someone was in the picture, but who they were, you couldn’t tell. Mike only knew it was Steve because he knew the picture. He pulled the picture off the poster board and put it in his pocket.

“Come on, let’s go stand over here with Mommy and Gramma and say hello to people coming to say goodbye to Uncle Steve.”

“Okay, Daddy.” The little boy took his father’s hand, and the duo joined their family in the reception line…

3

Snow assaulted Fenton, New York on Black Friday. A freak lake effect storm with a below-freezing wind chill struck from the north of Canada. The snow was dropping an inch an hour on the Ontario shoreline city. Visibility was next to nothing. But that didn’t stop the regional shoppers from filling the parking lot of the Great Ontario Mall with their cars, trucks, and vans. If this were an indication of the shopping season to come, the mall was in store for a record year.

Retailers within the complex’s walls were holding incredible sales, drawing out the local residents. The mall was alive with activity, including the seasonal debut of Santa Claus and his helpers, taking Christmas wishes from the young brave enough to sit on Santa’s lap and have their picture taken.

Lines of traffic, headlights burning white circles into the falling snow, circled the building. Stuck in this jam, trapped in their Chevy Cruze, Mike and Lexie Lombardo waited patiently. Their son was sound asleep in his car seat. They were doing this for him, taking him to see Santa on the day he appeared at the mall.

For weeks little Brian had looked forward to this event. The little boy nagged his mother until she made a treat to bring Santa. Sugar cookies covered in green sprinkles. And yes, they brought enough to share with Santa’s helpers. After all, the elves were important, too! They made the toys.

The only positive thing? There were so many cars in line, the snow wasn’t covering the road. It was covering the cars, instead. The wipers of the Cruze pushed piling snow off the windshield. It was falling fast enough to cover the hood, the hot engine melting patterns in the accumulations. The farting sound of rubber squee-geeing across glass filled the car.

“Can you turn the wipers off? That sound is driving me up a wall.” Lexie asked her husband.

“I wish. The snow is falling too fast. I can’t believe this weather, Lexie.”

“Remind me again why we came out in it.” She said, rubbing her hands together.

“For Brian. To see Santa and give the jolly old elf some cookies and a Christmas wish-list.”

An hour and another inch of snow later, they found parking. Once inside the mall, the congestion wasn’t any better. Sure, there was no snow, but the heat of the mall combined with the heat of the bodies in the mall made for tropical conditions. Mike was sweating his balls off, beads of it poured down his forehead and neck. Lexie was flushed, her ponytail dripping in her own perspiration. But little Brian was a smiling bundle of joy.

The boy was here to see Santa and tell the legend what he wanted for Christmas. He was a good boy all year, so no coal in his stocking. He gave zero fucks about the temperature. He cared even less about the line to see Santa, which curled through the mall and moved at a snail’s pace.

He stood there, holding a bag of snacks for Santa in one hand, and his mother’s hand in the other, being

Good.

With all the stress of the moment and location, Mike and Lexie had to admit their son was not a contribution to the trouble. The little things in life were working in their favor here. All of this made enduring the experience tolerable. As did Santa’s helpers.

Mike noticed the scantily clad beauties as soon as they rounded the bend. Santa was smack dab in the middle of a fake Christmas Village, but these ladies were shifting duties. And they looked familiar, as did the Santa. One blonde and one redhead. The sight of them made him forget about how uncomfortable he was standing in this line. Now the only thing uncomfortable was the unexplained boner Mike was popping in his jeans.

He put his arm around his wife. She reciprocated, dropped her hand and squeezed his ass. He never expected this from her in the mall, the sign she was horny. Maybe being drenched in sweat after being stuck in traffic during a whiteout of snow was a turn on. If it paid off, they’d have to do it again.

Another hour passed before they got near enough to the front of the line to fill out the paperwork for the pictures. They wouldn’t want anything more than the one complimentary shot, but there were still release forms and whatnot requiring signatures. It seemed like too much of a big to-do over something as simple as pictures with Santa.

“What’s up with all of this paperwork?” Mike asked the redheaded elf. Her name badge said ‘Aggie’.

“Legal mumbo jumbo. It’s the Twenty-First Century. Santa can’t afford any legal trouble, handsome.” She wiggled her eyebrows and shook her tits. Jingle bells hung off her tight sweater. They jingled and jangled as a result.

“Jesus, it’s like I’m taking a test. I’ve filled out auto loans and mortgages with less paperwork.”

“You can just flip through and sign at the ‘X’ on the bottom of each page if that will make it easier for you,” she suggested. He hesitated.

“But, what if we’re giving you permission to sell our child into slavery?” Aggie laughed out loud.

“With some parents, you’d think they wished for that. But no. It’s worse. You’re signing his soul away.” Mike shot Aggie an inquisitive eye. “Isn’t that what remote tribes of people think when you take their photograph, that you’re stealing their soul?”

“I forgot about- ” Mike started.

“Just do it, honey,” Lexie interjected. And Mike did, signing his name at the ‘X’ on a dozen more pages.

Fifteen minutes later Lexie handed little Brian off to Lily the Elf. A shit-eating grin covering the boy’s face with his eyes as wide open as they could go. A half dozen steps later, he found himself sitting on Santa’s lap.

“Hello Brian,” Santa said, following the boy’s name with a jolly roll of ho’s. “That’s a keen name!”

“This is for you and your helpers!” Brian handed Santa the bag of cookies.

“Oh isn’t this nice! Thank you very much, Brian. Lilly, could you take these and put them with our snacks for tonight?” The blonde Elf shimmied over to Santa and took the bag of goodies.

“I hope you like them!”

“What is your Christmas wish, young man?”

“My Christmas wish is for a puppy! I want a puppy for Christmas, Santa. I’ve been a good boy! My Christmas wish is a puppy! That’s it, nothing more!” Mike and Lexie heard their son. They looked at each other, sadness in their eyes.

“Well, that’s an easy one, Brian. It’s something Santa can handle. You keep being good until Christmas Eve.”

“I will, Santa. You know I will!”

“Okay, Brian. Look at the camera and say ‘Amen’ with Santa on three!” Lily the Elf said. “One… two… three… Amen!” Brian laughed as he repeated the words with Santa. Lilly snapped the photo and the flash lit up the Holiday set. The digital print captured the moment. Aggie handed it to Lexie. Brian took his father’s hand.

“I asked Santa for a puppy. Not a toy puppy but a real dog. Do you think he can swing it? He said he would! He said all Christmas wishes come true for good little boys, amen.” Brian eagerly spewed words out to his mother and father. They looked at Santa.

“I don’t know about that one, sport. We’ll see,” Mike replied.

“But Santa said my wish would come true if I was a good boy! And I’ve been a good boy, I’ve been the best boy, ever!” The tone of voice was downtrodden and dejected.

“Is there a problem with the boy getting a pet?” Santa asked.

Mike looked at Lexie.

“We live in a rental. The landlord has a strict rule. No pets,” Lexie told Santa. She held Santa’s gloved hand. He was strict about it. Not even a hamster in a ball or a goldfish in a bowl, ”I wish I could do something to change it for him.”

“Stranger things have happened. Amen.” Santa said, grasping Lexie’s hand with both of his.

“Yeah, whatever. Amen and all of that stuff. Merry Christmas, Santa.”

“Merry Christmas to all of you in the Lombardo family.”

Mike shook his head in denial. He hated disappointing Brian. Lexie hugged her husband and hung her head so Brian couldn’t see her face. Mike held her tight for another moment. Then, the three of them walked away from Santa and his helpers at the Great Ontario Mall.

Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer and podcast producer & engineer. His podcasts, including the popular Necrocasticon, can be heard on the Project Entertainment Network. He is the author of the novellas Bella’s Boys and Good Boy, published through Stitched Smile Publications. You can find Tom’s short story collection, A Book of Light & Shadow, on Amazon through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Thomas R Clark

Meghan: Hi, Tommy. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thomas R Clark: My writing name, Thomas R Clark, is an homage to both Robert E. Howard and Cormac McCarthy, who doesn’t like using punctuation.

I’m a journalist, podcast engineer & producer, musician, and author. I’ve written entertainment journalism for This Is Infamous & Rue Morgue to name a few.

I love animals, dogs in particular. A trio of Jack Russell Terrorists, er I mean Terriers, cohabitate with my wife and me.

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

Thomas R Clark: Since we’re all friends here

  • I like Lima Beans. I don’t care if they’re in butter and bacon.
  • My favorite lunch as a boy was potted meat sammiches with yellow mustard, spaghetti oh’s, and strawberry quick milk.
  • My nickname as a boy was ‘Toot.’ If you have to ask, then you’re daft…
  • I like cottage cheese, too. No. You can’t have any. It’s mine.
  • I stopped watching baseball for 10 years after Thurman Munson died.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Thomas R Clark: Back to the Stone Age by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was in second grade.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Thomas R Clark: I’m revisiting Glen Cook’s The Black Company.

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

Thomas R Clark: Watership Down

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

Thomas R Clark: I read an anthology called More Science Fiction Tales when I was in third grade. It led to me writing my own stories down. The first story I remember writing was about alien crab creatures attacking an underwater city.

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

Thomas R Clark: Yes. My office nook in my bedroom. The dogs can sit on my bed and watch me.

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

Thomas R Clark: I make soundtracks and fake covers for every piece I write.

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

Thomas R Clark: I have ADHD, so sitting in one space and focusing on the work at hand is difficult.

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

Thomas R Clark: Bella’s Boys, my cosmic horror novella. It was fun to write.

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

Thomas R Clark: This is fairly direct, and each line answers both:

Sunglasses After DarkNancy A. Collins
The LotteryShirley Jackson
More Science Fiction TalesTom Monteleone (under various pen names)
Red NailsRobert E. Howard
The Dreaming CityMichael Moorcock
The ScreamJohn Skipp & Craig Spector
I Am LegendRichard Matheson
The StandStephen King
Watership DownRichard Adams
The RoadCormac McCarthy

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Thomas R Clark: Memorable characters.

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

Thomas R Clark: I have to be able to bond with them in some manner. In my own characters, I try to place common traits that might be shared by a large demographic.

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

Thomas R Clark: None of them are… yet.

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

Thomas R Clark: Yes. I hate bad book covers. Thus far in my career, I’ve had complete creative control over my cover art.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Thomas R Clark: This is too broad. I am under mentoring and in workshops constantly. So I’m always learning. So… what I can say is this: I learn every day. And this is the advice I give to my peers. We can always learn more.

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

Thomas R Clark: A reimagining of when I was nearly abducted by a bad person.

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

Thomas R Clark: I think outside of the boxes we have pigeonholed cliche tropes into. I blend genres, which makes me difficult to pin down and typecast. With the exception of Good Boy, most of my fiction is related in some manner, yet the subject matter of each is vastly different. Bella’s Boys is a cosmic horror story. Its follow up, Epic Fail is a slasher killer piece. Whirlwind, my current WIP, is a monsters on a rampage eating people book…

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Thomas R Clark: Book titles grab a person’s attention as much as the cover art. I take a cue from King and look for simplicity. Good Boy is pretty forthwith. Bella’s Boys uses alliteration. Epic Fail is a vernacular of the modern era. All are memorable, each tells you something about the story.

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

Thomas R Clark: Although I love writing short stories, I’m finding the more I write longer pieces, the more comfortable I am becoming with them. So, I’ll go with novel/novella for my answer here.

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

Thomas R Clark: I’ve already answered a bit of this, regarding my books. My target audience is horror and dark fantasy fans. And I’d like my readers to learn a moral lesson or two in my narratives.

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

Thomas R Clark: Much of my “deleted scenes” go into a file for me to pilfer from when needed. I believe in recycling.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Thomas R Clark: My trunk is overflowing with bits and pieces of fiction from over 30 years of writing. Actually, the piece I’m working on now is a trunk piece I keep shelving. And I kept doing it because the book was getting too long and I was losing track of where I was and what to do. The last year I’ve learned a few new tricks to help me get over this hump, regarding note-taking on index cards and in a handwritten notebook.

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

Thomas R Clark: After Good Boy and Bella’s Boys, I have Epic Fail and Imaginos: The Eternal Light Anthology, a collection of short stories based on the music of Blue Oyster Cult, coming in 2020. It features some pretty big names in horror and the music industry. I’m also finishing a novel, Whirlwind, and two other novellas: a dark fantasy period piece called The Witch of November, and Falls Brook, a 70s grindhouse homage.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Thomas R Clark: On Twitter and Facebook. You can also listen to my weekly podcast dedicated to horror and heavy metal, The Necrocasticon, at Project Entertainment Network.

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Thomas R Clark: Nope. Read my stuff.

Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer and podcast producer & engineer. His podcasts, including the popular Necrocasticon, can be heard on the Project Entertainment Network. He is the author of the novellas Bella’s Boys and Good Boy, published through Stitched Smile Publications. You can find Tom’s short story collection, A Book of Light & Shadow, on Amazon through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Feind Gottes

Meghan: Hi, Feind. It’s so wonderful to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Feind Gottes: Starting at the beginning… my name is Feind Gottes [Fee-nd Gotz]. I write horror. I listen to heavy metal. I attempt to fuse horror & metal in my own way to create stories that will make you soil yourself and stick with you long after you put the book down.

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

Feind Gottes: Wow! Well here goes nothing…5) I worked in debt collections for nearly 15 years 4) I possess somewhere around 4,000 albums3) My favorite view is a mountain view 2) I grew up in an area where I’m pretty sure cows outnumbered people, now I live where corn outnumbers people1) When I was about 5 yrs old I got bit in the crotch by a German shepherd.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Feind Gottes: Little Arliss by Fred Gipson. I was probably about 7 and it lit a spark in me for reading. I have never forgotten that book.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Feind Gottes: I don’t read as much as I used to for many reasons, but mainly because I tend to pick up on other authors’ syntax easily. I want to have my own voice, not simply mimic whoever I read last. However, I recently found a graphic novel adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Great And Secret Show and I’m reading that!

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

Feind Gottes: People who know me personally may not be surprised, but I think The Watchmen written by Alan Moore is one of the most brilliant books ever written. Ignore that it’s a graphic novel, the story is just as poignant today as when it was first penned perhaps even more so today.

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

Feind Gottes: I was an avid reader for years devouring books. Then I read several in a row where I mainly hated how they ended. I started thinking I could do better, but it was a brief thought. A few years and several more books later, I kept having that same thought so I decided it was time I either did better or just shut up about it. After a few stops and starts, I sat down in 2012 and wrote my first tale from start to finish. After several edits and title changes, that story became my first solo published work, my novella, Essence Asunder.

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

Feind Gottes: I always write at my desk with headphones on and the music pumping!

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

Feind Gottes: I really don’t think so. I’m a pantser, in general, which means I get a simple idea and begin writing without making a very detailed outline. I may make a few notes but that’s usually about it though there are exceptions to that rule.

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

Feind Gottes: Trying to avoid interruptions and distractions. If I could write in a cabin, alone in the middle of nowhere, with no internet, I could pump out a half dozen novels a month. Maybe someday I’ll have that, but I doubt it.

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

Feind Gottes: The most satisfying and most frustrating would be my first novel, Piece It All Back Together, due out soon (sorry I don’t have the exact release date as of this interview). The story came out better than it was in my head when I began, but I’m also glad to be done with it.

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

Feind Gottes: Every book I’ve read in my life has inspired me in some way, whether they were so bad I wanted to write something better or so great I can only hope to come close some day. I’ve read books in pretty much every genre other than romance; for the record, I don’t just hate romance I despise it. Obviously, it’s fine in real life, in my personal life, but I enjoy watching or reading it about as much as smashing my crotch with a cinder block. The author part is easy and difficult because the answer is kind of the same. Clive Barker is someone I aspire to be able to write like, but style-wise we’re very different. Some have told me my writing style reminds them of Dean Koontz which is actually weird because I think I’ve read maybe two books by Koontz and I couldn’t tell you what they were. I consider myself an amalgamation of all the writers I’ve read which is too many to count.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Feind Gottes: A good story to me is one you don’t want to put down. Personally a little mystery does that well for me. Basically I want answers to the questions a book raises. The catch is the answers have to be worth the wait.

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

Feind Gottes: I’ve always been drawn to the villain or the “bad guy,” whether it’s in a book or movie. I want to know what makes them tick. Why do they do the terrible things they do? But again the catch is it better be interesting or you’ll just piss me off. I use that myself when creating my baddies. I want the reader to want to learn more and what I like to do more than anything is show you the character you felt sympathy for never deserved an ounce of your sympathy. Yes, I laugh when I reveal the “good guy” was really a big fat SOB the whole time. Sorry not sorry.

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

Feind Gottes: As a writer I can tell you there is a little of me in every character I write. Which one was the most like me? Well, I could tell you but then I’d have to sacrifice you to our dark lord and savior Cthulu!

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

Feind Gottes: I think everyone is turned off by a cover that isn’t visually appealing to them. Comics were a main avenue in creating the reader I became so I truly enjoy graphic art. So far because I haven’t self-published I’ve had very little, if any, say in my book covers though honestly they’ve all been great so far.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Feind Gottes: I’m completely self-taught in every aspect of writing thus far. I hold no degrees from a fancy university other than graduating summa cum laude from the School of Life. I had some great teachers when I was younger and I remember some of their lessons well, which helps the actual writing and my self-editing. I do all my own research. I’ve taught myself how to format Word docs. Basically everything you need to do as a writer I’ve taught myself. One of the coolest though was trying to learn some time specific ‘60s slang for a story that will come out about the same time as this interview. The story is Kairos Chamber which will appear in the anthology Tenebrous from Stitched Smile Publications.

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

Feind Gottes: I can name two so far. The first is in a tale that no one has ever read but myself. I wrote a necrophilia scene from the assaulter’s perspective in the 1st person. I wanted the reader to be uncontrollably turned on but absolutely repulsed by themselves for being turned on. Putting myself in that person’s skin was disturbing to say the least. When I write a character, I am that character and this particular one shook me to the core. Someday I’ll finish that tale so I can see if I get that reaction from readers. The second is a scene in my debut novel, Piece It All Back Together. I started with a couple of pretty sick ideas then decided to push myself to see how nasty I could make it. It involves the torturous murder of a child abusing pedophile but I don’t want to say too much on that. My goal was to make the reader want to throw up but be unable to stop reading at the same time. I spent about two hours on a single paragraph in that scene trying to achieve that goal.

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

Feind Gottes: I write horror for adult horror fans by an adult horror fan. I am not trying to appeal to everyone from 8 to 80 so I can sell a bajillion books. I toss in references here and there that only horror fans will get. I write adult horror that pulls no punches for adults who want to have some bloody good fun with their books. I don’t build my stories around the “ultimate gross out” but when I have an opportunity to turn a reader’s stomach I try to make sure they actually spew.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Feind Gottes: This is actually an easy one for me. Every story I write shares a title with a song or album that helped inspire it. I am a huge heavy metal fan, a metalhead, and doing this is my way of paying respect to the music that has given me so much in my life. I often use band member names or variations of them for my characters. Like my horror references these are little winks and nods to other metal fans. If you don’t recognize them your reading experience is not affected in any way, shape or form but if you do then they should bring a knowing smile to your face.

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

Feind Gottes: The cop-out answer is to say they’re both the same. Every story I finish fills me with an awesome sense of accomplishment. I love the short ones and the long ones. I would say finishing a novel was slightly more satisfying but there’s a reason for that. I spent nearly two years of my life working on my novel from the writing through the re-writes and editing. I’ve lived the thing for two dang years! I’m proud of it. I want people to read and love it. I also want to never see it again… like ever!

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

Feind Gottes: So far the bulk of my published work has been short stories in anthologies. The themes have covered demons, possession, serial killers, monsters and much more. My novella, Essence Asunder, is a work of “body horror,” which is a nice sounding phrase meaning it deals with massive amounts of torture. My debut novel is mostly a mystery along the lines of Dexter if he were placed in the movie Seven. I write for adult horror lovers, if you’re just starting to dabble into horror then my work likely is not for you but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. My mother says my stories are like Stephen King on steroids, but her drug knowledge is limited so I’d probably say meth. I want my stories to stick with a reader long after you’ve put the book down. I want them to swirl around in people’s brains and possibly inspire some to take up a pen and try doing it themselves.

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

Feind Gottes: I try not to pull any punches and so far I’ve worked with publishers who want exactly that. However, there was a scene in Piece It All Back Together that an editor suggested I change. It was the first murder scene. She felt what I wrote was pretty cool but a little too farfetched with the realistic tone I was setting unless there was going to be a paranormal/supernatural element which there is not. I had my killer stab a couple while they are having sex but, of course, I couldn’t be normal about it. Using a long thin spear I had my killer stab the man through his manhood into the woman. I agreed it was unlikely to be possible even though it pained me to change it.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Feind Gottes: I have a potential novel in the “trunk” that I hinted at earlier (with the necrophilia scene). It’s a story I started as a short story but it grew out of control until I got to about 40K words with no end in sight and no idea what I wanted the ending to be. I still don’t know but the story is too good to leave unfinished forever. At some point I will figure out an ending and then you’ll all be sorry!

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

Feind Gottes: Right now I’m working on a short story for an anthology called Blood & Blasphemy to be edited by my author friend Gerri Gray through Hellbound Books. Hopefully what I’ve come up with will make the cut. After that I have a pretty epic undertaking with a planned novel trilogy. I’ve been dying to get started on it for so long it felt like the day I’d start working on it would never come. I don’t want to give away too much this early, but I will say it involves Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Satan, Lilith, curses, wars in Hell and much, much more. If I do it right, it will be the most blasphemous thing written since Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. Does that make me sound egotistical? I hope not, my ego isn’t that big in all honesty.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Feind Gottes: Amazon ** Website ** Facebook ** Twitter

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Feind Gottes: I’d like to close, the way I close every post on my website, with my personal motto that I try hard to live by every single day…

Stay Positive & Make. Good. Art.

Feind Gottes [Fee-nd Gotz] is a horror nut, metal lover and an award winning horror author. Feind currently resides near Omaha, NE with his girlfriend, son, and two crazy cats.

Feind has short stories and flash fiction appearing in over a dozen anthologies with several more scheduled for release including his first ever published poem.

The first draft of Feind’s debut novel won the 2016 Dark Chapter Press Prize followed in 2017 by a Top Ten finish in The Next Great Horror Writer Contest and winning the Vincent Price Scariest Writer Award from Tell-Tale Publishing.

2018 marked a milestone for Feind with the publication of his first solo work with the unleashing of his novella, Essence Asunder, by Hellbound Books. Feind’s debut novel, Piece It All Back Together, is currently being edited for a late 2019 release by Hellbound Books.

Essence Asunder

A gut-wrenching, stomach-churning journey into one man’s private hell – Essence Asunder is one brutal novella! 

One man. Two fiends. A cold, dark basement. A table of torture devices. A garrote chair. Jacob Falgoust has woken into his own private Hell where Pain and Misery greet him with open arms. A reason wrapped in riddles of beauty and pain may be his only chance to escape the suffering. Jacob must find the answer before his very essence is torn asunder.