AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Russell Coy

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


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

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

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

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

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

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

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

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

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

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

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

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

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

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

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

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

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

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

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

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

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

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

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

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

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

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

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

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

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

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

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

Russell:
Books:

Movies:


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

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

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

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

Halloween Extravaganza: Dev Jarrett: The Rise and Fall of the King of Halloween

Let’s welcome Dev Jarrett today, who has a story to tell us about his Halloween memories.


My eighth Halloween began on Christmas Day when I was seven years old. Looking back, I don’t even know if Halloween was that big of a deal to me until that age. I mean, make-believe is the realm of children, and pretending to be someone else is just another day in the life of a child. Trying on different masks and different identities is a normal part of finding out who we are. Some of us realize that we enjoy trying on ALL the masks, ALL the time, I suppose, and turn into writers—or maybe schizophrenics.

When I woke up on Christmas morning in 1978—yeah, I’m that old, so what—I found the most amazing gift ever. A “King of the Gorillas Movie Makeup Kit” was nestled under the tree next to the handheld Electronic Football and Simon. I loved all three of these gifts, and I think I played both of the electronic games until I wore out the buttons, but the biggest deal was the movie makeup kit. Yeah, the age recommendation was ten and up, but thankfully Dad (as he usually did) ignored that shit.

I remembered the Planet of the Apes movies and I thought of how cool it had looked in those movies that the actors spoke and their makeup moved with them. This was like that. Realism! Instead of simple face paint, this amazing kit had individual molds of facial features. You had to mix the gelatin stuff together, then pour it into the molds and wait for it to set. When they were cured, you had rubbery appliances to attach to your face with the special glue. After that, paint the appliances and the exposed parts of your skin and put the cowl thing on—clearly the lamest part of the kit. I mean, it doesn’t even really look like hair.

It had enough of the mix for two applications, so I knew I couldn’t wait. I asked Dad to make me up – and I guess in that sense, it was a big kid’s toy, and Dad was the big kid. He made the pieces and trimmed them to fit me, and painstakingly painted me up. And it was so friggin’ cool! Somewhere in my parents’ house is a dusty photo album containing a picture of me in a Star Wars t-shirt and gorilla movie makeup. I knew, absolutely, that this was what I wanted to be for Halloween next year.

I would be the King of Halloween. The KING. After so many years of wearing boxed costumes with dead plastic mouthslits, I was going to look REAL. Next fall, I’d be the scariest monster roaming the streets of my neighborhood. We packed everything away carefully and I waited for the calendar to roll around to October of 1979. While the other kids would have plain plastic masks with eyeholes and stupid costumes, their “Trick or Treat!” muffled and lifeless, I’d be able to show a moving gorilla mouth and say something super pithy and cool, like “Trick or Treat, human.” This would be SO badass.

Halloween finally came. I was excited, ready to take my place as King of the jungle and the neighborhood King of Halloween. Dad hooked me up, carefully constructing the disguise that would make me look like something out of a movie. The mixing, the placement, and the painting took so much time, and all I could do was sit still while he created my alter ego. When he finished, he took my sister and me out to walk the neighborhood. Mom stayed home to pass out candy.

Dad walked from house to house with us, but stayed on the street while we went up to the doors. The first few houses marveled at my glorious disguise, oohing and ahhing over the intricacy of my makeup. In all honesty, the rest of the costume was regular streetclothes, but the makeup more than made up for any shortcoming in the wardrobe department. I began to think I was receiving more candy than the other kids because my gorilla makeup was absolutely the best. My pumpkin-shaped bucket of candy was heavy with the good stuff, none of that orange- or black-wrapped peanut butter taffy shit.

Damn right. The King of Halloween. The King, baby.

But I didn’t know what waited around the corner.

Barely out of sight of our house, already riding high on the idea that I had absolutely the best costume anyone was going to see this year, we went to a house with streamers hanging across the entry to the front porch. The porch stretched all the way across the front of the house, and it was festooned with hanging cobwebs and more streamers. They’d swapped out their usual porch lightbulb for a bright orange bulb. It was cool to see someone else in the neighborhood making an effort for the holiday. We went up the walk to the door and rang the bell, and Dad waited at the curb.

The timing was perfect. The front door opened, and I was already expecting new praises for my amazing getup. I was distracted, and didn’t see the maniac. He jumped over the side railing of the front porch and charged toward us, howling like a monster.

When I look back on it now, I think he must’ve been dressed as Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but at the time, it was only a giant (a grownup? dressed for Halloween? WTF?) guy in a bloody shirt and lumpy plastic mask lumbering toward us and screeching. He may have even had a chainsaw, I don’t know.

The self-proclaimed King of Halloween lost his shit. He dropped his bucket of candy, yelled, and ran for his goddamned life. My little sister ran too, but I think my reaction probably scared her more than Leatherface. I sprinted back down the front walk to the street, screaming at the top of my lungs, and launched myself into my Dad’s arms, crying. I ruined his shirt, burying my face in his chest. He was laughing, and in the same situation, I suppose I’d do the same.

He held me for a moment, and protected me, and he told me everything was okay, and soon the effects of the jump scare passed. When I turned to look, tears still streaming down my tiny gorilla face, the Leatherface guy was apologizing while laughing, and had brought my dropped bucket of candy out to the street. Dad assured him everything was cool, that I was okay, and in a few minutes, we continued on our way.

The King of Halloween, the kid with the awesome movie-quality makeup job, had been handily dethroned by a guy in a lumpy plastic mask whose mouth couldn’t even move. Ugh. How embarrassing.

I’ll always remember that Halloween. Halloween is such a fun day that it’s celebrated practically every day in our house, but that one was the one that truly scared me for the first time.

I was super terrified, and you know what?

It was fun.

So now my wife and I have carried on our own Halloween tradition for the past 25 years, and every year our neighbors know us as the “Halloween House.” We dress up, we play our parts, and really get into the spirit. One year, Jennie actually built a working guillotine for a dungeon-themed Halloween! Last year we had a Pet Sematary, and this year’s theme is a Witches’ Sabbath. Let’s see how many kids (and adults) we can scare this time. Come visit!

Happy Halloween.

Dev Jarrett is a writer, a father of five, a husband, and one of those guys the US Army trained too much. He speaks Arabic, he can break ciphers in his sleep, and can still break down and reassemble an M4 rifle and an M9 pistol while blindfolded.

He’s visited many different countries in the past quarter century, and can’t talk about most of the adventures he’s had. On the other hand, it’s public record that he’s received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, so make what you will of that.

He’s represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and all he wants is to scare the hell out of you.

Loveless

Till death do us part… sometimes.

When a hapless explorer disturbs the watery grave of Muriel Wallace, a terrifying chain of events is put into motion. Corey Rockland, sheriff of a sleepy Georgia town, must now unravel the mystery behind a corrupt family and a broken heart dating back to the Civil War. Unless he can find a way to stop her, Muriel will unleash her vengeance on anyone she deems loveless.

Dark Crescent

If you could change the future, would you?

Bud Primrose, assistant coach of a Little League team, gets smacked in the head with a line drive and wakes up in the hospital with a kind of second sight.

If you saw a stranger’s death coming, would you try to save her?

He sees others’ deaths hours before they occur. When he uses this strange new ability to save a woman from a brutal murder, he becomes the thwarted next target.

If you had the power, would you use it?

Now he must do everything he can to save himself and the woman he loves from the razor-wielding maniac bent on payback.

If you had to face a killer, could you do it?

Casualties

Fresh from Afghanistan, crippled by both a crumbling marriage and growing paranoia, can a soldier save his family from the ancient evil in his own house? 

Sergeant First Class Chris Williams is back home, and he and his family are move to Fort Huachuca, a small Army post deep in the southeastern corner of Arizona.

From the time they move in, Chris and his wife Molly are struck by the preponderance of ghost stories surrounding their new home. Chris wonders why nightmares still plague him—then, he realizes the reason. He and his family are not alone in their house. An evil older than Fort Huachuca, older than time itself, lives there. Now, enough sacrifices have been made to its blood hunger that it can finally give birth to a powerful, deadly offspring intent on dominating our world.

Chris, Molly, and their two children become pawns of the evil spirit inhabiting their new neighborhood. Already casualties of life, crippled by both a crumbling marriage and growing paranoia, can Chris and Molly save their family from the evil already living under their own roof?

Little Sister

Seven year old Lucinda has a homemade doll that has a special kind of magic. When someone tries to hurt Lucinda and her mother, perhaps he’ll see the doll’s magic too.

For her seventh birthday Lucinda’s grandfather sends her a homemade doll. Her mother Sharon had a little sister once—and now Lucinda has a “little sister” of her own.    

Sharon’s boyfriend Deke is not the man she thought he was—he’s hateful and abusive, like something out of a nightmare. Now he’s on the run from the police and he’s taken Sharon and Lucinda with him.

Mother and daughter must find some way to escape his blood-soaked grasp before he kills them both. They have no way out.

All they have is Lucinda’s homemade doll.