Christmas Takeover 2022: Dani Brown

Sugarplum Roaches

Shifting grey mist filled the darkened corner until the shape of a hunched over man appeared. Cockroaches exhaled stale air while a woman slept alone in her bed.

Tendrils of decay spread from Leon’s insides, seeping into her dreams as he stepped closer to snoring heap. A trail of muddy footprints followed. A modem flashed signal in the opposite corner of her rented bedroom. The pink and fluffy evidence suggested she tried to make it feel like home.

But pink and fluffy could only hide the mould lurking underneath. It couldn’t silence the rats or disguise the smell of their bodies rotting beneath the floor and above the ceiling.

His chest rose and fell with cockroach breath. Ribs creaked wrapped in putrid gore and laced together in old rags and sticky honey. Her nearest neighbour – the girl next door, called out in her sleep through the thin walls. Leon’s neck creaked turning around to look. The sound was enough to stir dead rats until they started scratching in the ceiling and beneath the floor.

Cockroaches fell out of his mouth and ceased to pretend to be tobacco-stained teeth once he grinned. Honey filled muddy footprints left behind on the floor. The puddles caught a sliver of silver moonlight and refused to let go.

It is a common misconception that every Christmas Eve there’s a Full Moon. One calendar month is longer than one Lunar month. But Leon gave up arguing the point around the same time the cockroaches took the last of his tobacco-stained teeth.

A plastic tree hung with pound-shop baubles in a desperate attempt at Christmas cheer. Mould climbed in from the shadows and traced the plastic trunk. Mist crept in every night while the woman slept in her bed.

Mould wrapped the cheap pink baubles in long green and black fingers. The faint attempt at Christmas cheer was tainted, but that was nothing a social media filter couldn’t fix.

Leon’s patched trench coat knocked the cheap plastic branches. He held his hand out to stop it from falling to the floor. A habit he held onto from long ago. His insides splashed against his bones with the sudden movement.

Sad and alone in the single room with plastic branches that drooped and cried mouldy tears (but only when the cameras weren’t around). A fly landed on the plastic angel with her painted eyes and hair.

Worms ate Leon’s tear ducts long ago. But even if they hadn’t, he wouldn’t have a tear to shed for the likes of the woman sleeping in the bed.

The only presents underneath her sad pound shop tree were the empty boxes she wrapped herself. But, still, she told herself she had friends. So many friends. They liked so many of her social media posts.

Empty boxes didn’t make any sound when they fell to the floor. They looked great beneath a filter on social media. And earned comments from so many of her so-called friends.

An old plastic music/jewellery box leftover from childhood opened on its own. The plastic ballerina twirled into life. Forever pirouetting to music distorted in the cold mist. A few photo-filters cleaned it up for the online audience approval the woman sleeping in bed craved (needed to survive and feel alive, if only for a few seconds of happy brain chemicals celebrating before the emptiness spread).

He hovered over her bed, fresh out of Christmas cheer. Fresh out of breath, until he pounded his chest with his fist and the remaining internal cockroaches started to hiss again.

Social media influencer was a tough-sell. But, still, it didn’t hurt to dream. To brown nose and lick online boots for likes and laughs. Her blonde hair fell over her pillow. That was mouldy too, with fuzzy farms growing in between the creases. Those filters, again, concealed such despair.

Leon came for the lonely, the lost, the trapped. It was long before her time, but where he planned to take her, she wouldn’t even notice. They never did as long as their phones still chimed online approval and email signatures and newsletters wished them a Happy goddamn Holiday.

Honey dripped from the plastic ballerina trapped in a forever pirouette. Two black dots in a white circle served as eyes. The paint started to peel long before phantom bees built a hive.

Rats gnawed on the corpses of their recently fallen brothers in the ceiling, even as Leon’s presence brought them back from the brink of the void. His head rolled all the way back when he tried to look up. A mouldy scarf stolen from the woman’s floor secured it back to his neck and hid the loose flaps of skin.

Four plastic pillars tried to create the illusion of a four-poster bed. Pink feathers strung together for a princess-effect. But the feathers were plastic too. LED fairy lights twinkled in the dullness of a dying battery. Mould climbed down from the ceiling and wrapped around the fake four-poster bed. She forgot to put curtains around it to keep out the Christmas chill.

Cockroaches flew landing on the walls until Leon called for them again. The plastic ballerina’s painted lips melted into a scream. Honey dripped onto old plastic bracelets and smudged high school love letters.

Shouldn’t that have been sent via text, my dear? Leon chortled, dislodging a sleeping rat from deep inside his bowels. It scratched at his insides, searching for the way out. Only to end up like its distant cousins in the ceiling and floor.

Leon looked at the sleeping woman. She kept meaningless letters through the years. Not like there were many, but Leon liked the little touches of sentiment kept by the desperate and lonely. Some old thing from the past to remind them of their humanity beneath the fake filters designed to make them look like a Barbie.

He looked around. She forgot to string up plastic mistletoe to lure her plastic man into a meaningless kiss before they fell into the single bed for one night of meaningless sex. He’d be the one doing the walk of shame in the morning. Or, maybe he’d stick around all winter?

There wouldn’t be the opportunity now. Leon doubted she’d notice. They never did.

All relationship-style transactions were now carried out by mobile phones and laptop computers with specialised USB attachments and controls for the other party. It didn’t matter if the more specialised attention came from a pay-per-click website.

Honey weighed heavy on the cheap plastic baubles hanging from the pound shop Christmas tree. It couldn’t wash away the mould. Phantom bees buzzed inside Leon’s head. Honey filled the cavity that used to house his heart.

Long fingernails sharpened into claws curled into Qs and scarped against her temples. They took a little sampling of her skin and a single strand of her blonde hair.

But it wasn’t enough to satisfy the phantom bees buzzing in Leon’s head. They should all be dead now, except for the hibernating queen.

The modem’s lights declared their full-strength in green. Dreamwaves twirled into Leon’s decaying brain landing in an arabesque to disturb the phantom bees and force them into stinging his skull.

That’s where they stuck. Tormenting him forever. But there was a way out, once his auditorium was full.

She didn’t have a name beyond that of Principle Dancer (and occasionally princess for the right online Daddy with all the proper credit cards – American Express isn’t accepted here). Principle Dancer that was her online handle too.

Mist traced pink flower wallpaper patterns in an outline of black mould. His toothless smile widened letting old cockroaches fall out. A cheap plastic Father Christmas wall decoration mirrored Leon’s smile, but it couldn’t imitate his laugh.

Fits of laughter sent Leon’s breathing roaches into coughing fits and woke another internal rat. The rats above and the rats below searched for holes to crawl out of and plant poison for the occupants of the HMO.

A pimple burst on the sleeping woman’s chin. Pus called cockroaches over for midnight lunch. A filter could erase any imperfections and make her look just like everyone else in the social media feeds. And that’s what they were, feeds for the lonely, the desperate and the lost.

Hours spent in front of the mirror. Her dance instructor held a riding crop. Bare thighs no longer felt the sting until she craved it at night and begged for it on her knees at some back street private members club. She wasn’t allowed her phone while on her knees begging to feel. So, no photos existed, but the PD in bed believed it was real.

The dance started again. She smiled through it all in the way she was trained to do. Big pearly whites, expensive Veneers covered up the screaming from the void.

Yellow-tinted curly-Q fingernails swallowed silver moonlight poking through the grey mist. Long strands of greasy hair fell over Leon’s face. His fingernails traced her lips. She recoiled from her dance instructor’s whip.

Cockroaches hissed. The audience cheered. A bit too rowdy for the ballet but every Christmas, every single person played pretend at airs and graces for the approval of their social media feeds.

Social media notifications, a cruel dancer instructor and BDSM silenced the Principle Dancer’s childhood friends. They leered somewhere out in the crowd. Drunk on cheap imported beer.

But she was too wrapped up in the social media approval of eating a burger dripping with grease while wearing a tutu and leg warmers to notice.

Leon’s fingers burst their black stitching on her face. The cockroaches paused their breath. If he dissolves, they cease to exist and become part of the creeping mist.  

Mist seeped behind the cracks and the wallpaper started to peel. The audience determined to show social media that they too had some class. Phones flashed despite the signs that said NO.  

That reminded him. Leon reached into his pocket, grateful for the upgrade to the new waterproof model just one week before his death. A little gift from his grandchildren that found him to be oh-so unkewl.

Even in death, followers demanded a near-constant stream of meaningless content. It kept them fed.

He snapped a selfie of himself with the sleeping woman. The camera focused on grave fluids seeping through his burst stitches and his fingers clutching a few strands of her blonde hair.

Young cockroaches exhaled in Leon’s decaying lungs. The sleeping woman twitched. Dreamwaves paused; Leon urged continuation with as much force as he could muster from some deep cavern where his heart used to sit.  

He put all the right hashtags on his photo and waited for the likes. Likes gave him some sort of weird half-life with rats chewing through the rags that held his body together. And the cockroaches that would cease to exist if he didn’t fill his damned quota.

The woman’s moans looked for a wall to bounce. Basic backwards borrées made her trip. A rat became lost in Leon’s decayed intestines and started to eat. It too needed to be fed. The audience were too wrapped up in whatever else they saw up there on that very same stage.

Cockroaches dropped from the walls. The mould traced the pink flower pattern they left behind and tried to pull the wallpaper back to the wall. The rat fell out of what remained of Leon’s butthole. Phantom bees buzzed in his head. The rat scratched at his muddy boots before it ran off to join its cousins and friends somewhere in the ceilings or floors.

Her ankle twisted with a threatening break. The end of her career. Only then did her smile falter. Leon leant over her lips as if searching for a dream-kiss.

He tasted her sour breath intermingled with her sour soul. Phantom bees dropped dead. They finally felt a Christmas chill.

Strands of greasy hair clumped together in long, dirty rats’ tails and fell over his face. He couldn’t push them away with the phone still in his hand. Every moment recorded and uploaded for instant shallow approval.

Tendrils of black mist pregnant with rats and cockroaches seeped in from stage left. The P.D didn’t notice spotting too many chaîné turns for the audience to count until they slowed down their recorded footage. Leon kept the phantom bees for himself.

Leon breathed in exhaled moans for the baby cockroaches creating a sense of warm breath. The ballerina on stage glowed even as she realised she couldn’t draw another breath. Cold mist traced her ankles. Her pink ballet shoes were damp and covered in pink worms fat on the feast found in fresh graves.

Auditorium lights buzzed on just as she reached into a breathless arabesque. Cockroaches twitched their brown wings. Leon’s lips covered her sleeping mouth. Mould sped up its race down her fake four-poster bed.

The audience didn’t clap as they normally did. Hollow eyes stared. Relevé then bourée all while what remained in her lungs caught on fire.

A bulb burst and wires sparked somewhere above the audience. They sat watching a series of dizzying chaîné turns with their hollow eyes.

Party-eyes makeup couldn’t hide the creeping hollowness inside. Cameras paused the dizzying display from the stage for the pleasure of the online audience. No one existed beyond their social media profiles and filters.

The tendrils of decay only just started to climb Leon’s fingers. Mist circled his legs and dropped worms onto the luxury carpet. The dance started again. Forever on repeat.

A ballerina twirled landing in an arabesque with her leg to the audience and a cheeky grin thrown over her shoulder. Tendrils of decay waited at stage left, strangling the corpse de ballet. Tentacles caressed their throats and pried apart their lips for the most tender of a kiss.

One final leap and the Principle Dancer would belong to Leon. The corpse de ballet was nothing more than her dream rehashing old memories. But the audience were as real as the mist.

His excitement sped the rot seeping in from his insides. His knuckle brushed against the dreamer’s cheek. Soon, he’d be free.

Cockroaches fell from every mouth watching the girl on stage. Leon couldn’t breathe and neither could the audience in the women’s dreams. The cockroaches created an illusion of sour breath though. They, at least, were alive.

The Principle Dancer watched herself piqué from her dusty seat.  Leon left behind muddy footprints in the rented bedroom. The cheap plastic Christmas tree fell to the floor. The plastic ballerina continued her twirl slowly drowning in the honey left behind.

Cockroaches ate the Principle Dancer’s eyes. But she could still see and watch herself repeat the same steps on stage. The woman sat next to her saw something else up there and documented it all. If it didn’t get posted online, she’d cease to exist.

It took years before the last of the milky-white orbs were nothing more than hollows sat in a grinning skull. But the same phone she had when Leon took her in the night captured the entire ballet. The approval of followers gave whatever remained, trapped and screaming somewhere inside her skull, a little glimmer of hope and the pretence of life.

A man towards the back started to break the spell when he heard jingle bells. The rags wore thin and couldn’t support his neck. His head rolled off and hit the floor.

His nearest neighbours turned from watching themselves on stage and snapped some photos, adding a few filters for their social media accounts. An extra filter of Christmas tree tinsel made the decapitated skull that bit festive for a bit of Christmas cheer. Rats chewed out of his stomach and spilled onto the floor in a puddle of gore to increase his nearest neighbour’s social media popularity.

Leon flexed his fingers, listening for the pop. The auditorium was nearly full. He was nearly through. Jingle bells sounded outside somewhere. Christmas always filled the lonely with extra despair. Their existence ready to fizzle out if the Wi-Fi and 5G goes down.

<Pose and wait for social media approval and online cheers>

Boo-graphy: Suitably labelled “The Queen of Filth”, extremist author Dani Brown’s style of dark and twisted writing and deeply disturbing stories has amassed a worrying sized cult following featuring horrifying tales such as “Ghetto Super Skank”, “Becoming,” “56 Seconds”, “Sparky the Spunky Robot” and the hugely popular “Ketamine Addicted Pandas”. Merging eroticism with horror, torture and other areas that most authors wouldn’t dare, each of Dani’s titles will crawl under your skin, burrow inside you, and make you question why you are coming back for more.

For more information and online approval

EXCERPT: The Midnight Pumpkin F&cker by Dani Brown

NOTE FROM AUTHOR: “This is a relatively clean section from last year’s Halloween story. Despite the title, it is rather juvenile and has the teenage boy appeal. If I had print copies, I wouldn’t sell to anyone below 15, possibly 13 with parent permission. The full version is available here. It is somewhat based on Cinderella. In this case, Cinderella is a lad named Trevor and the two step sisters are ugly and mean stepbrothers. And the prince is the don’s daughter. The Ball is a 1980s themed Halloween Ball.”

By Dani “The Queen of Filth” Brown

He counted the stairs on the way down. There was a light but he didn’t trust it not to shine out of the square in the floor and alert his stepbrothers if they came stumbling home early. Another door waited at the bottom of the stairs. Once inside he pushed dirty linen against the crack at the bottom and pulled down an old blanket he kept hanging over the entire doorframe before he switched on the lights.

He was lucky. The root cellar was equipped with a dimmer switch as if someone foresaw that Trevor would only find peace down here when the house was hooked up to the mains.

He learned to move silently through the secret passageways and servant quarters over the years. His hearing was sharp to pick up any changes within the house. If he stood in the passage running along side his stepmother’s bedroom he’d be able to tell when she entered a deep sleep from the drunken stupor by the rhythm of her snores.

The distant relations that set up this root cellar thought of a lot of things beyond a dimmer switch. It was like they could see into the future and knew.

The familiar ritual tools were set up just how he left them (and how the generations before him left them, Trevor always made sure he put them back in the same place). His ancestors must have used a crystal ball but he found no evidence of one in the passages. The pentagram carved into the floor more indicated a direct line to Satan himself, but Trevor never considered this.

He placed the jar of Marmite on the black alter. The same skull that was always there grinned beneath the thin layer of dust. He used to clean down here but no longer had the energy, as his stepfamily became more demanding. Either Satan himself would come and claim it or Trevor could scoop it out with his fingers later and enjoy pure Marmite without his stepbrother’s spunk for once. After his expired chocolate feast, Trevor wasn’t hungry.

Tickle Me Elmo stared from the corner. His mother gave it to him. No matter how much he meditated on what his father told him of the moment, he didn’t remember. Trevor memories of Tickle Me Elmo stretch to the doll always being by his side, until Frances moved in with her rotten sons.

His stepbrothers found it amusing to take it from him one day for circuit bending. Frances slapped Trevor in front of his father for telling her that they took away his Tickle Me Elmo. She was his mother now and he needed to share. Poor Nigel and Tom never had nice things.

Social media loved Tickle Me Elmo’s surgery. Nigel sat on his lap while Tom held his eyes open to make him watch the video. Trevor was forced to read them the comments.

After a few days, the batteries died and they grew bored. Trevor rescued Tickle Me Elmo and brought the toy into his refuge. He didn’t dare try to fix the wiring and restore it to its former glory.

The damn thing sounded possessed now. If his stepbrothers were smarter they would have taken off the head, sealed up the stitching and forced it to rotate on a metal rod.
Trevor lit the black candles on each point of the pentagram. As he bent down the ad for the Fairytale Halloween Ball poked him in the balls. He took it out of his underwear and looked at it.

The ad said everyone within a fifty-mile radius must attend. He re-read the same line dozens of times. There was no way he couldn’t attend. The mafia knew of Trevor’s existence. His father had dealings with them. Pleasant dealings as far as Trevor remembers.

Everyone knew the mafia owned the nightclub and every other nightclub and bar. They owned over half the restaurants too.

You don’t disobey the mafia. Not even Frances was dumb enough to disobey direct orders from the mob. She knew better. Even her sons knew better. They skated the boundaries and struggled to understand where those boundaries lie but once the goons took notice of their bum pinching, they knew to back off and go home. It was one of the few times the police didn’t bring them home.

He had better find something suitable to wear. Showing up in rags would be just as disrespectful as not attending.

He left the ad on the alter, propped up against the smiling skull. He had a feeling that face belonged to a real human once. It wasn’t his parents. They were both still alive when he first found the root cellar.

He saved some of his father’s old things, but they were in a different secret passage. His father was a much smaller man than he was. Frances still put up a front of appearing normal with a normal diet before his father disappeared. She cooked three meals per day and all of them were healthy. Pudding only happened on a Sunday.

Besides, the Halloween Ball had an 80s fancy dress theme. His father may have lived through the 80s but his fashion sense was much better than that. Trevor recalled a time before Frances weaselled her way into their lives watching TV with his father and his father wanted nothing more than to cut off all the mullets.

A tunnel connected the old root cellar to the rest of the passages and hidden rooms. The candles blew out when he left. Tickle Me Elmo’s eyes started to glow. His stepbrothers never did fit the toy with a rod to turn its head, but Elmo’s head turned to watch Trevor.

He looked back over his shoulder. In all his years of devil worship, that never happened. The candles stayed lit and Elmo never moved. He more lit them out of habit than worship.

He didn’t have the faintest clue of what he was doing. He never found any books on Witchcraft, Satanic or otherwise, in the passageways to explain things. A lot of the estate remained unexplored. Trevor was aware of loose floorboards, both down here and throughout the lived-in part of the house. Sometimes he found strange items underneath them. Like that time he found a doll covered in dusty leather. Her eyes had been stuffed with straw and a linen gagged rotted over her mouth. He left her where he found her.

The passages were long and winding, circling around every room in the giant house. Cold and warm drafts met around sharp corners. Lights flickered but the only switch he ever used was the dimmer in the root cellar. He was surprised his stepmother never noticed the missing two feet between each wall or how hollow they were when she stumbled against them in a drunken stupor.

When he reached his stepmother’s suite he heard the computer blaring. Some televangelist-cum-internet conspiracy theorist was bellowing on about something. He sucked in his gut and pushed his ear against the wall to her bedroom. He had no reason to pull in his stomach but did so as a matter of habit.

From the sounds of the frantic screaming coming from the computer speakers she dived deep looking for hidden meanings in music videos. She just needed someone with a loud and brass accent to point out all the Illuminati symbolism. Of course her and her fellow Tin Foil Hat Society posted everything they found on each other’s social media accounts.

Suitably labelled “The Queen of Filth”, extremist author Dani Brown’s style of dark and twisted writing and deeply disturbing stories has amassed a worrying sized cult following featuring horrifying tales such as Ghetto Super Skank, Becoming, 56 Seconds, Sparky the Spunky Robot, and the hugely popular Ketamine Addicted Pandas. Merging eroticism with horror, torture and other areas that most authors wouldn’t dare, each of Dani’s titles will crawl under your skin, burrow inside you, and make you question why you are coming back for more.

Jo-Jo needs attention from online lovers. Her baby cries from the box room. Her baby is sick. The online lovers shower her with sympathy and their bank account details. Old Woman Mabel downstairs doesn’t like the sound of the baby crying. She bangs on her ceiling with her broom handle. Comforting the baby takes Jo-Jo away from her computer screen.


Meghan: Hey Dani… or should I say Queenie? Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. I’ve honestly never had a Queen on the blog yet… especially a Queen of Filth. Thanks for joining in this year’s frivolities. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Dani: Halloween in the United States and Halloween in the UK are two very different things. I lived in America from about the age of 3 until I was 16. I did have a last Halloween in America when I was 16. I went trick or treating with my friends. Americans go all out for Halloween with the decorations. I was too young for the American parties unless it involved a keg in the woods. When I was growing up, I was looking forward to the parties and nightclubs I was too young to attend. But the parties never happened and I’ve been to one club on Halloween (it wasn’t that exciting).

I know there’s parties about and clubs put on a theme night, but before having my son my mother wouldn’t let me leave the house or do anything a functional person might wish to do (society over here, instead of telling someone who had a traumatic experience, like my mother’s entire time spent living in the USA that it is over now and offering help to move past it, instead encourages people who have experienced trauma to never heal, so any time I went for help for her, it was always, ‘your mother had a rough time blah blah blah’ and of course, society likes to write off the children of these people regardless of whether we ended up traumatised by our experiences).

Then I had my son. I was sick after having him so I don’t think I dressed him up and took him trick or treating until his third Halloween. I don’t even think I had the energy for pumpkin carving before then (unknown post natal infection, lots of tests, lots of anti-biotics, virals and fungals but no diagnosis, I eventually mostly recovered). Children over here go as something scary instead of the latest Disney Princess or whatever comic book character. I would dress him up and take him trick or treating, but not as many homes hand out sweets as they do in America. I did find a cute pumpkin costume for him one year though. And a lot of British children aren’t allowed to ‘go begging at people’s door steps’ as some parents say. My son is too old for Halloween now. And unfortunately, he doesn’t really like it apart from the bucket of sweets and chocolates I buy for him (in one of those plastic pumpkin buckets).

These days, I usually carve a pumpkin and hand out sweets. I don’t really do much in terms of decorations, but that’s more to do with lacking in the time and energy. If I had the energy levels required, I would love to go to a themed night at a club now that some legal changes over here mean I’m away from miserable people. And a haunted hayride (I think we have those over here).

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Dani: I’m squeamish, but I don’t scare easily. I’m not keen on jump scares but that’s more to do with the people mentioned above who don’t want you to move on from your bad experiences (they’re more vocal than ever in using something bad that happened to you once, happened through no fault of your own and using that experience to define who you are) giving me a pretty nasty case of PTSD (please note, the PTSD is literally from dealing with people who decided to create every obstacle imaginable because all their books and websites said someone who went through what I did should be traumatised, it wasn’t the traumatic experiences of my childhood and very early adulthood, when my mother’s mental health took a worse turn, but the people claiming they were ‘helping’ who gave me the PTSD). I had to watch The Haunting of Hill House with the lights on and in short segments despite really enjoying it because the jump scares were pushing my physical responses to the point my body wouldn’t be able to handle it. But that applied to one of the Harry Potter films as well so it isn’t restricted to things traditionally seen as horror.

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

Dani: This is easy to answer, The Wizard of Oz. My American grandmother put it on one Thanksgiving as a treat and I’ve had nightmares about it since. I didn’t like that pink dress worn by the ‘Good Witch’. All of Munchkin Land was like what I would later describe as a bad trip. Even before Dorothy crash-landed her house on whatever Wicked Witch, her neighbour was horrible. I haven’t watched that horrible film since. But I did watch it in its entirety when I was a child, and the entire thing was unpleasant. I haven’t read the books and I think I’m going to have to give Wicked a miss. I have not put on the film for my son. I still can’t decide if I’m more frightened of the Good Witch, the Lion or the Flying Monkeys.

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

Dani: I’m not too sure. They kinda blurred together years ago, especially with the extreme stuff. Murder in itself is disturbing, so I guess they’re all pretty disturbing but you aren’t watching horror films for a happy ending or no bloodshed.

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

Dani: I’ve refused to watch Human Centipede. I’m too squeamish for that one, although I don’t think I’ve seen any advertising for that or any of the squeals. It obviously sunk into popular culture rather well. It seems everyone has seen it, except for me and I will keep it that way.

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

Dani: I would go with Scream. I had this horrible boyfriend in my late teens and early twenties who would call films like Scream ‘mainstream Hollywood slashers’ in the most derogatory way imaginable (but of course, the very violent Japanese films were apparently works of art). But Scream for me, was the horror franchise of my youth. I think I was 12, maybe 13 when the first one came out, so prime age for the beginning of a horror franchise. I saw the first few at the cinema. It is just one of those special things from childhood. Plus, Ghostface isn’t the brightest of killers, so I think I would make it out alive.

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

Dani: I’m not really sure. After getting away from my mother, I had to deal with people similar to her and then a society that did not want me to move on with my life, so I would say my life has played out like a horror movie until some legal changes took place in this country (and post pandemic, people that way inclined have shown that they want things to return to when there was a ‘pecking order’ and get back to bullying people who experienced adverse events that were beyond their control). Life in the United States is still that same horror movie for me though. Unfortunately, you can’t dissociate real life in the same way you can a film when the end credits roll and you are getting up from your seat.

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

Dani: I’ve never really thought about this. Does El Chupacabras count? It is more of a cryptozoology thing, but ever since I first heard the legend, I found them fascinating.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Dani: Probably more of a harvest thing than a Halloween thing, but I like what the American’s call ‘candy apples’ or what we call ‘toffee apples’. They’re available over here for the entire month of October. Unfortunately my expensive dental work doesn’t like them as much so I try to ration myself.

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

Dani: This is a tricky one. When you listen to Skinny Puppy, it is impossible to answer unless you move away from Skinny Puppy (this is really like asking what is your favourite Skinny Puppy song and you just can’t decide). So I guess, let’s pretend Skinny Puppy don’t exist and hop on over to a dark sci-fi theme and go with Gary Numan’s Down in the Park. I can pick a Gary Numan song that stands above the rest, but I can’t do it with Skinny Puppy. And obviously, there’s a lot of songs out there with darker and horror themes.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Dani: This honour goes to Adam Neville with No One Gets Out Alive. This influenced my own writing as well. But it was very unsettling to read. The sheer length of it ensured it took about a week so I was with that book for a week and it became creepier and weirder. I imagine him sitting there laughing when he came up with Black Maggie but I found her terrifying.

A close second goes to Clive Barker and his hybrid filmstar-exotic animal creatures in Coldheart Canyon. The creatures weren’t created in a lab but through sex. That was a bit unsettling. In fact, the way Barker takes the outright disgusting and distasteful and turns it into something weird and beautiful is unsettling and it is something he has done repeatedly through his career.

And these are my two most favourite books.

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

Dani: One of my childhood friends lived in a real life haunted house and sometimes in our teens, I’d stay with him overnight (needed a break from the family). I’ve seen some strange shit in that house when everyone else was asleep. His mother said they had exorcisms on it, but they obviously weren’t very effective. They eventually sold it when I was in my early 20s. But before it was sold, every night something would happen and sometimes I would be alone, sometimes not. I suppose you just became used to it, ‘oh that’s just the spirits’.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Dani: This isn’t something that has been on my mind since I was very little. I guess I used to like the Bermuda Triangle. I don’t know if science ever explained that. When you grow and get saddled with a bunch of responsibilities at too young of an age, you don’t really have time for unsolved mysteries.

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

Dani: I spent my formative years in New England. Those aren’t stories. It really is like that and everything is haunted. When I went back to my homeland, I thought it would be more haunted here, because you hear about the English stories growing up in America, but it was nothing like living in New England. I’ve heard so many it is hard to pick a favourite and at some point they all blur together. And when they aren’t really stories because everything and everywhere where you spent your formative years is haunted, I think I’ll go with something real life.

I suppose the spookiest experience I ever had was checking the travel reports before a day trip into London (this was when I lived down south, London is a bit difficult, although can be done on a day trip from Liverpool). I swear I saw that there were numerous problems on the Underground and decided against travelling to London on that particular day. We went to Oxford instead (this was when my mother would let me out every now and again, before her mental health really declined – I was allowed a boyfriend, but not allowed friends, minus letters sent back and forth to my childhood friends – this day trip was planned with the awful boyfriend mentioned above). A few hours later, I had a phone call from my mother asking where I was and I told her ‘Oxford’. And she replied, ‘there’s been some explosions reported on the Underground’. Turns out it was the 07/07 bombings. There also weren’t any reported problems on the Underground that morning. I imagined there were, or maybe it was foresight. It took a few weeks for how spooky that was to really sink in. I still swear it was reported on the BBC 24 hours news channel that morning that there were problems on the Underground. We didn’t go to London that day because of me watching the travel reports, which apparently didn’t exist in the way I saw them.

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

Dani: I would probably improvise and pick whatever is closest to me, it is the English way.

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

Dani: I like sleeping in the day, but also really like undercooked meat. I think I’d probably go with vampire, they have some table manners and are a bit more refined than a werewolf. I just wish there was some meaty texture to all that blood, like a blue or raw steak.

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

Dani: I’m going with zombie apocalypse. Their brains have decayed a bit, plus you know what you are up against so have a better chance than fighting the unknown. Not to mention, the aliens would need advanced technology to make it to an outside arm of the galaxy regardless of where they’re coming from, so they would obviously be much smarter than us.

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

Dani: This is absolutely disgusting, not to mention that embalming fluid is pretty toxic for consumption and if the body is fresh enough to be eaten, there’s still going to be a lot of embalming fluid in it, so I’m going with the zombie juice. Besides, I’m sure someone somewhere has invented something with a high alcohol content and dry ice and called it zombie juice.

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

Dani: I don’t recall watching either of these films, although I probably have seen both at some point, so I can’t pick. They’re probably as bad as each other, and possibly as bad as the house my friend lived in growing up.

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

Dani: I know some people like maggots jumping out of their cheese, but ewww that is disgusting. I’m going to have to pick bitter melon with chilies. I like chilies. A strong enough chili will override the bitterness of the melon and please note, I drink absinthe and regular gin – neither are known for their sweetness.

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

Dani: You don’t really know what it is that witch’s cauldron, but the spiders are known. However, I check my bananas to ensure there’s no spiders or cocaine in them, or worse, coked-up spiders and I’m pretty sure someone has invented a highly alcoholic drink also with dry ice like the zombie juice, shoved it into a plastic cauldron and called it ‘the witch’s cauldron’ so it’ll be witch’s cauldron.

Suitably labelled “The Queen of Filth”, extremist author Dani Brown’s style of dark and twisted writing and deeply disturbing stories has amassed a worrying sized cult following featuring horrifying tales such as Ghetto Super Skank, Becoming, 56 Seconds, Sparky the Spunky Robot, and the hugely popular Ketamine Addicted Pandas. Merging eroticism with horror, torture and other areas that most authors wouldn’t dare, each of Dani’s titles will crawl under your skin, burrow inside you, and make you question why you are coming back for more.

Jo-Jo needs attention from online lovers. Her baby cries from the box room. Her baby is sick. The online lovers shower her with sympathy and their bank account details. Old Woman Mabel downstairs doesn’t like the sound of the baby crying. She bangs on her ceiling with her broom handle. Comforting the baby takes Jo-Jo away from her computer screen.