Christmas Takeover 40: Edmund Stone: The Gift

The Gift

A Short Story by Edmund Stone
1,497 words

The stockings hung by the chimney with care. Tinsel glistened, glowing in the white lights on a small tree in the corner. Bobby worked on it for hours while his mommy slept. The nice lady at the Salvation Army gave him the supplies, along with warm cookies. He only hoped it would make mommy happy. She lay on the couch, an empty liquor bottle beside her. Her pipe still smoldering on the nightstand. If she’d known he went out today, she would yell at him, like she always did.

Bobby popped up when he heard the noise of mail falling through the shoot by the door. He’d sent a letter to Santa a month ago and was waiting for a reply. He shuffled through the envelopes until he found it, a gold one, addressed to him personally, from the North Pole! He ran down the hall to the living room.

“It came! It came!” he shouted. His mommy rolled off the couch.

“What the fuck is all this racket?!” she hissed. She raised her head and blinked her blood shot eyes at the shining lights on the little plastic tree. “Where the hell did that come from?”

“Do you like it, mommy? The lady down at the Army gave it to me. I put it up for you. It’s Christmas Eve!”

“What?! You ain’t supposed to go out when I’m sleeping! And you ain’t supposed to talk to strangers, especially those self-righteous assholes! Now, throw that shit away!”

“But, mommy.”

“Don’t but me, mister. Go to fucking bed!” she said, kicking the box the tree came in across the room. She stumbled into the kitchen, returned with a fresh bottle of vodka, took a swig, and plopped back on the couch. She reached for her pipe and took a drag. She blew the smoke in the air. Smiling with a mouth full of black teeth, she said, “You know, Santa’s not real. Now, go to your room!”

He turned, sulking away. “Is too,” he said under his breath.

He opened the bedroom door, hesitated, looked at his mommy, and sighed. Bobby jumped onto his bed, laying on his stomach. He opened the letter. It was gold and embossed with black letters; the print large and fancy. His fingers touched the lettering as he looked it over. There was one line printed in bold type:

Hi, Bobby. Have you been a good boy this year?

Bobby raised up, blinking his eyes. He considered the question. There was the time he hid his mom’s liquor from her. Bobby still felt the sting of the slap. He only tried to help. After she found it, she drank the whole bottle, and slept for a day. So, in a way he did make things better. She didn’t scream at him next morning. “Yes,” he said. Then, words began to appear on the letter.

Good to hear. I’ll be visiting soon. Think of something very special you want this year and write it here.

He thought about it. What would he like best? The possibilities are endless. But as he opened the bedroom door and saw mommy on the couch, her outstretched arm clutching the vodka bottle, he knew what he wanted more than anything.

Bobby’s mommy woke from her drunken stupor. Her head pounding, she reached for her pipe. Not there. He did it again.

“Bobby?! Give me my fucking pipe, or I’ll slap you into next week!” she said, her back cracking as she rose. She stumbled through the kitchen, pulled open a cabinet and grabbed a fresh bottle. Turning for the couch, she stopped, noticing a plate of cookies on the table. One or two had bites from them.

“The fuck?” she said. Did she buy cookies at the liquor store? As fucked up as she was yesterday, she wouldn’t have known. She shrugged, then saw a piece of gold paper near the cookie plate. She snatched it and started reading. It looked like a letter to Santa. What the hell was the little shit up to? The words, written at the bottom in Bobby’s handwriting, gave her pause.

I want a new mommy, it said. She snarled, crumpling the paper.

“Bobby?! Get out here now!” she bellowed. She’d had enough. He’d pay for this shit.

She started towards his room when she heard a knock on the door.

“Who is it?!”

“I’m here for the boy. You said come over Christmas morning,” a muffled voice came from outside the door.

She flung it open. A man stood there with a wad of cash in his hand. He considered her for a moment, then handed her the money.

“This is the right apartment? You told me to come for the boy. The deal is still on?”

She looked him up and down. His greasy hair was slicked back so tight, you would need a spatula to flip it to the side. His face was full of pock marks, and he had a gold tooth which gleamed from the light above the hall.

“Yeah, come in,” she said, stuffing the money into her dirty bra.

“Where is the boy?” he said.

“I don’t know, couldn’t find him, probably in his room.”

“Nice tree,” he said looking at the tinsel covered twig in the corner.

“Yeah, I’m trying to get into the Christmas spirit,” she said, plopping on the couch. “Go get your business done. If he screams, duct tape his fucking mouth shut. I don’t want the neighbors calling the cops.”

The man gave her a tepid smile and started for the bedroom. He returned a moment later.

“That was fast. You get your rocks off already?”

“No. There’s nobody in the room,” he said, his shoulders turned in.

“What? Bobby?! Where the fuck you hiding?!” she screamed, making the man wince.

Suddenly, they heard a noise coming from the chimney. Bobby’s mother smiled. She crept toward the fireplace opening, the man close behind. Pieces of soot fell onto the fireless hearth. She reached into the chimney, her arm buried to the shoulder. Feeling nothing, she sat on her bottom to extend her reach. She fished her arm around inside, trying to grasp Bobby’s feet.

“Bobby, you little shit! You’re gonna be sorry when I get a hold of you!”

She pulled her soot covered arm out and shook it. Her back turned to the fireplace, she couldn’t help but notice the expression on the greasy man’s face. His mouth open and eyes wide, looking just above her head. She gave him an indignant expression.

“What?” she said, then turned to the fireplace. What she saw made her want to scream, but in her shock, she was unable to breath. A creature stood there, slime dripping from its large fangs onto a forked tongue. Its face resembled a hideous elf with an elongated chin and pointed ears. The thing had disjointed arms. They were long and nearly touched the floor. Its fingers snaked down with jagged nails at the tip. It wore an old ragged Santa suit with a red toboggin hat. The tongue protruded from its mouth like an appendage and wrapped around her throat. In the split of the tongue, small needle-like protrusions dug into her flesh. It squeezed, and she began to make gurgling sounds as her hands went immediately to her throat

The greasy man found the voice she couldn’t. A low sound, between a grunt and a squeal, came from him, as he began to back pedal for the door. He turned but before he could move, an arm shot out from the creature, grasping him on his collar and jerking him backward. He screamed, as he landed on his back, the air released from his lungs. The jagged fingernails of the creature’s hand found purchase and dug into his nostrils. He tried to yell but couldn’t find the breath. The elfin-thing raked the man’s nose from his face. He made gurgling sounds, as blood filled his throat.

Bobby’s mother coughed blood from her mouth. The veins protruded from her neck, as the forked tongue continued to squeeze. Her eyes bulged, the ocular vessels burst, and blood mixed with clear fluids ran down her cheeks. She lost her grip on the piece of gold paper in her hand. The creature considered the letter and smiled. The tongue pulled her closer. Its mouth widened, and the fangs chomped into her face.

Bobby opened the door humming the hymns sung by the carolers at the Army. The aroma of eggs and bacon met his nose, wafting from the kitchen.


“Yes, dear?” a female voice answered from the other room.

Bobby stepped into the kitchen. A lady stood there, young and beautiful, smiling ear to ear.

“Good Christmas morning, Bobby! I made your favorite.”

Bobby shook his head, trying to take this in. He noticed the gold Santa letter lying on the table. He picked it up and read.

Merry Christmas, Bobby.

He smiled.

Edmund Stone is a writer and poet of horror and fantasy living in a quaint river town in the Ohio Valley. He writes at night, spinning tales of strange worlds and horrifying encounters with the unknown. He lives with his wife, a son, four dogs and a group of mischievous cats. He also has two wonderful daughters, and three granddaughters, who he likes to tell scary stories, then send them home to their parents.

Edmund is an active member of The Write Practice, a member only writer’s forum, where he served as a judge for their Summer contest 2018. Edmund’s poetry is featured in the Horror Zine, Summer 2017 issue and in issue #6 of Jitter by Jitter Press. He has two poems in issue 39, one poem in issue 41, and a story in issue 42, of Siren’s Call ezine. He also has three short stories in separate anthologies, See Through My Eyes by Fantasia Divinity, Year’s Best Body Horror anthology 2017 by Gehenna & Hinnom, and Hell’s Talisman anthology by Schreyer Ink Publishing. Most of these stories can also be read in Hush my Little Baby: A Collection by Edmund Stone.

Website ** Email ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram

Halloween Extravaganza: Edmund Stone: STORY: Blackjacks Revenge

Blackjack’s Revenge

I’ve always thought Halloween droll. A holiday for children and way beneath a man like me, a college professor with a master’s degree. But here I am, picking out a pumpkin to carve from the local farmer’s market. I came with my trusted friend, Bojangles. All twenty pounds of the best little Jack Russell Terrier a man could own.

This small New England town is full of charm and since I’m new to this block, I thought it a good idea to blend in. Some of the displays people put on their front porches would be better suited for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They really get into Halloween here. Even though I despise the holiday, I don’t want a good egging or toilet paper draped around my house. So, why not?

I peruse through the selection, while the smell of hot apple cider and fresh baked donuts prick my nose. Bojangles pulls at his leash, trying to veer me in the direction of the heavenly aroma. But I persist with my hunt. I can’t find the one I like. I want it to be right. A pumpkin to say, “Hello, I’ve arrived people!” The bigger and gaudier, the better. I’ll decorate smaller pumpkins and gourds around it. It’ll look like Halloween meets harvest moon. I should get some good nods around the neighborhood.

A farmer spots me and jumps out of his lawn chair, nearly tipping it backwards. He’s the typical bumpkin with bib overalls, chewing on a toothpick or piece of straw. I notice his hat has a logo; McCormick’s farm. He puts a grubby hand out but I only smile. He looks down at his hand, seeming a bit confused, then tucks it away in his pocket.

“Mawnin’, young fella! Can I help you find somethin’?” he says in a Yankee accent.

“Yes. I think I’ll take about twenty gourds. I need lots of them for the porch I have.”

“I got all yaw need. What about punkins? Can’t have a good porch decoration without a nice punkin.”

I look around his display but find nothing large enough to suit my needs. Then, just beyond his cart, I see it! The one I’m looking for. It’s large, with nodules adorning it. They look like warts. It’s a witch pumpkin. Perfect!

“I’ll take that one!” I say, pointing behind the man.

“Which one?” the man says, turning to look over his shoulder. His eyes widen. “Why, I’m not sure where that come from. Maude? You know anything about the warty punkin over there?” he says to an old woman in a rocking chair close by.

“Billy left it this mawnin’, brought a whole wagon of ‘em. That’s the last one, fer now. Said he’d bring more tommaw mawnin’” she said, never lifting her head.

“Hmm, musta come from the patch over next to the cemetery,” he says, taking off his hat and scratching his head. “Well then, fella. Looks like you got yerself a nice punkin!”

I bid the farmer farewell, as he finishes loading my car, then stop for a few of those donuts and some cider. Two for me and one for Bojangles, who yips in appreciation. When I get home, I consider the porch layout before putting the pumpkins and gourds there. I notice my neighbor’s porch and see a fodder shock. Why didn’t I think of that? Oh well, I have more gourds to go around my large pumpkin than they do.

I set everything down and go in the house for a carving knife. As I’m looking through drawers something hits the window. I stop. Then hear it again. Are the kids starting early? I walk over and peek out the front window. Nothing. All I see is the porch with my large pumpkin in the middle. I do notice some of the gourds are out of place, scattered about the porch.

“Hmm, odd. I was sure I put them in tight around the pumpkin,” I say aloud. “Better check.

I put on my shoes and jacket, then walk onto the porch with Bojangles on my heels. I start to pick up the gourds. While I’m stooped over one hits me on the backside. I turn to see who the culprit is. No one is there. Bojangles is barking furiously at the bottom step.

Damn kids, but, where are they? I pick up one of the gourds and ease down the porch steps. If they want to play, I’ll play. They can’t outsmart me. One of those little pricks is going to eat a gourd.

I ease around the end of the porch, holding the small projectile over my head. I lunge forward, letting the squash fly from my hand.

“Take that, you asshole!” I say. I see no one, except Bojangles running into the yard, after the gourd, barking the whole way. Then, I hear a noise from the front porch. Ah-ha, they doubled back. I run toward it and I’m faced with a bombardment of gourds. Three of them come flying over my head, as I duck for cover. My dog jumps up and grabs one out of the air, as if it were a tennis ball.

“Hey! Get off my porch! I’m going to call your parents!”

I hear no response, only laughter. A strange kind of laughter. It doesn’t sound like a kid. Bojangles barks, as he runs up the steps to the porch. I run close behind him. When I get to the top step, I’m confronted with a sight I can’t believe. The large pumpkin is staring at me. It has dark eyes and a mouth full of yellow teeth. It grins, then produces a gourd from its mouth, spitting it at me. The thing nearly takes my head off!

“The Hell!?” I say, as I jump back, stumbling down the steps, scraping my knee. I land in the grass on my side. Bojangles steps in front of me, his chest swelled, yapping hoarse barks. I look at the pumpkin. Its moving now, rolling toward the steps! It plops down each one and stops at the bottom. The thing considers me with empty black eyes and dripping teeth.

“Blackjack is back!” the large pumpkin calls out.

Then it rolls toward me, chomping. I get to my feet, stumbling backward, falling then getting up again. What the hell is happening? What is this creature? Bojangles makes a surprised yelp as I pick him up. I make a dash for the car, aware its right behind me. I reach into my pocket. The keys! They’re in the house! Along with my cell phone. Damn!

I turn to see the pumpkin opening its large mouth. Damn if the thing isn’t growing! It’s as tall as a man now, at least six feet, and just as wide! It chomps down, as I move behind the car. Its teeth take off the side mirror. The sound of screeching metal and cracking plastic pierces my ears. The big squash rolls around the front of the car. It’s not as fast now but picking up speed, adjusting to its rapid growth. Bojangles is pulling at my arms, frantically barking, trying to break free. I hold on, I won’t let that thing have my dog!

I scan the area, looking for help. No one is on the street. It’s Halloween for God’s sake, you think someone would be out! I must get out of here! I see a bike leaning next to a light pole. It’s a BMX style, only twenty inches tall, much too small for me, but better than trying to outrun this thing. Thankfully, the bike has a basket. I jump on. Putting Bojangles on the front and start to pedal. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a kid running toward me.

“Hey, mister! You stole my bike!”

“Run, kid!” I say. The kid looks to the street and seeing the chomping jack-o-lantern rolling toward him, decides to make a run for the bushes. Too late! The thing swallows the kid up to his midsection. He didn’t even have time to scream. Legs dangle from the pumpkin’s mouth. Another chomp, and the kid is gone!

“Blackjack!” it screams.

My, God! What am I going to do! I must get away, but I have no idea where I’m going. I don’t know this town. My only hope is, Blackjack doesn’t either. I look over my shoulder and pedal faster, as the monster is bearing down on me. What is this thing, and why is it chasing me? Is this revenge for hating Halloween?

I furiously rotate my legs, until my feet can no longer stay up with the pedals, so I start to coast. I see cars, coming fast at me. I can’t get to the brake. I’m surely going to die! A car screeches to a halt right in front of me. I swerve into an alleyway, Bojangles is standing in the basket, protesting the insurrection. Blackjack rolls onto the car’s hood, smashing the windshield and getting to the people inside. I keep pedaling, hearing the screams behind me. I want to stop but know I can do nothing to help them. I must keep pedaling!

I emerge from the alley and see a cemetery. The gate looks too small for the creature to enter. I may be safe there. I ride the bike through the entrance. Throwing it down, I quickly close the gate and latch it. In the distance, I hear the creature bellow out, an inhuman cry! Cars are crashing, and people are screaming! I cover my ears. I’m shaking and sweating, trying to catch my breath after the ride. I hold my little dog close for comfort. He’s stopped barking but utters a light growl.

I feel safer now. Looking around the cemetery, I notice the strangest thing, there are vines growing everywhere; pumpkin vines. They snake throughout the ground and into the graves. Then I see where they are coming from. There’s a fenced in field next to the cemetery with a sign hanging from the metal lattice. It reads:


I raise my hands, letting out an exasperated sigh. I should have known those country bumpkins had something to do with this. Monsanto probably paid them to grow this stupid stuff!

I notice the pumpkins growing on the vines have lumpy protrusions all over them. Just like my pumpkin! Many of the vines growing into the graves have been picked clean. One I notice especially. Its growing into a grave, the earth looking recently disturbed. It has an ominous grave marker that says:

Here Lies the Body of Jack Burton
Better known as Blackjack Burton
The deadliest pirate and outlaw in
New England

Blackjack? No, that’s not possible. How could a GMO pumpkin take on the personality of a dead pirate? This is insane! Then I see something to help verify my suspicions. A bunching of vines growing over a post. This doesn’t seem out of place, but on closer inspection, I see it’s no post at all. It’s a man in a uniform. He’s covered with vines up to his neck and his expression is one of pure terror. His mouth is open, and vines are growing into it and down his throat. I turn away, starting to wretch, but then gather myself. Part of his outfit is showing through the vines. It’s his name tag. It says, Bill.

“Well, Billy, I guess you’re not bringing the next shipment in the morning after all,” I say to him.

A thought strikes me, what about the other pumpkins? Who will be the unwitting sap to get one, and will they be targeted also? I must do something! But what? Fumbling through my pocket, I find a box of matches. The one I was going to light the jack-o-lantern with. I’ll burn the whole patch, then no one will get an evil squash!

I sit Bojangles on the ground and go to the edge of the fence. I strike one of the matches. A whisper of smoke begins to rise. Its then I feel it, the hot wind, a smell of sulfur behind me. I turn to see Blackjack. He’s larger than before, at least ten feet tall, and just as wide; warts surround his eyes and all along his side. They’re seeping yellow goo! He doesn’t look happy. He blows the flame out before the fire has a chance to spread. His frown turns into a large smile with blood-stained yellow teeth.

“Ha ha ha. Blackjack is back!” he says to me. I jump into the pumpkin patch to take refuge. Bojangles runs ahead of me, disappearing into the brush.

“Brother’s arise!”

I gasp as I see who he’s talking too. The pumpkins in the patch start to move, vines wriggle toward me, taking my arms and holding them. I pull an arm loose, breaking a few. But they quickly regroup and pull me back. In my struggle, I drop the matches onto the grass. All the while Blackjack is getting closer. His mouth in a snarled grin. A large tongue snakes out from between his teeth and licks my face. The irony is not lost on me. I’m about to be eaten by a pie ingredient!

I look to my feet and see the matches. If only I can get free. Blackjack is almost on me. He opens his mouth and I can smell the horrid odor of rotted meat and decaying vegetables. Blood and pieces of flesh are stuck in his teeth. I close my eyes and wait for the worst. Then the brush begins to move, something is coming up quick. Blackjack and the rest of the pumpkin hoard look to the commotion. Like a cannonball emerging from a barrel, Bojangles flies from the undergrowth and attacks Blackjack.

“Good boy, Bojangles!” I say. The pumpkins release me and go for the pup, who is now chewing and burrowing his way into the side of Blackjack. The large pumpkin begins to scream, and the other pumpkins try to lend aid. But Bojangles is too fast. He’s inside Blackjack before they get to him.

Blackjack screams, bouncing erratically from side to side. The pumpkins hesitate, not sure if they should help their leader or stop me. I see my chance and grab the matches. I light one and then the whole box, sending it hurling into the dry underbrush. The wind picks up and the flames begin to fan out through the patch.

The pumpkins scream, as the flames lick at their heads. They begin to explode from the expanding heat, and whatever chemicals they are saturated in, starting a chain reaction. Screams of anguish rise from the patch, as vines wither. I look for Bojangles but don’t see him. Blackjack is tittering back and forth. He opens his mouth as if to say something and out pops an orange covered Jack Russel Terrier. He jumps into my arms. I clean the strings from his eyes and he licks my face in appreciation. The flames rise around us and I feel the heat on my skin.

“C’mon, boy! We have to go!” I say to my pup.

My shoes crunch the dry grass with flames traveling close behind. I hold my breath, shielding Bojangles from the intense heat. We step into the cemetery and I exhale the breath in my lungs. Bojangles is voicing his anger in the form of raspy protest barks. I turn toward the patch to see a large pumpkin bursting from the field, flames surrounding it; mouth open and ready to bite.

“Blackjack is back!”

I turn to run, as Bojangles jumps from my arms, leaping toward Blackjack.

“Bojangles! No!” I scream.

He jumps into the open mouth of the great pumpkin. Blackjack snaps his teeth together and grins.

“Mmm, tasty,” He says, as he laughs.

An October wind picks up, blowing the flames out on Blackjack, but giving fuel to the fire in the field behind him. It chills me to the bone, as he rolls toward me, I’m sure to deal the death blow, just as he did to my pup. Then he stops, looking at me with a pained expression. In the distance, I hear the faint yapping of a small dog.


The little terrier comes bursting out of Blackjack’s eye. The pumpkin screams, rolling and undulating to the side; his eye spewing orange and black liquid. The gargantuan squash lands in the fire and begins to spin, protesting the barrage of heat. But to no avail, he succumbs to the torrid blaze, as pieces of pumpkin burst in every direction.

“I think we can say the pumpkin pie is burnt. Hunh, Bojangles?” I say relieved, as he licks my face. The flames rise high into the dusky Autumn sky. Small sparks fly above them and go out, raining ash below. I sigh and turn to the road. Bojangles is at my feet, yipping and dancing in approval. We walk down the main street through town. My dog begins to bark and growl.

“What is it boy? That old pumpkin won’t bother us anymore.”

Then I see it. People running. A car screeches onto the road and swerves into a pole, knocking it down. An electric line sparks, as it falls across the street. It looks like a large black snake wriggling on the ground. It moves along until it hits the car. I see something rolls out that makes my blood go cold. It’s a warty pumpkin. It’s grinning with blood stained teeth. It hits the electric line and explodes along with the car. Bojangles is barking incessantly. I step back and look around at the houses. There are no pumpkins for decoration anywhere to be seen. I call for Bojangles to jump into my arms. I stroke his fur.

“Oh my, boy. This is going to be a long night.”

Edmund Stone is a writer and poet of horror and fantasy living in a quaint river town in the Ohio Valley. He writes at night, spinning tales of strange worlds and horrifying encounters with the unknown. He lives with his wife, a son, four dogs and a group of mischievous cats. He also has two wonderful daughters, and three granddaughters, who he likes to tell scary stories, then send them home to their parents.

Edmund is an active member of The Write Practice, a member only writer’s forum, where he served as a judge for their Summer contest 2018. Edmund’s poetry is featured in the Horror Zine, Summer 2017 issue and in issue #6 of Jitter by Jitter Press. He has two poems in issue 39, one poem in issue 41, and a story in issue 42, of Siren’s Call ezine. He also has three short stories in separate anthologies, See Through My Eyes by Fantasia Divinity, Year’s Best Body Horror anthology 2017 by Gehenna & Hinnom, and Hell’s Talisman anthology by Schreyer Ink Publishing. Most of these stories can also be read in Hush my Little Baby: A Collection by Edmund Stone.

Website ** Email ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Edmund Stone

Meghan: Hi, Edmund. Thanks for coming here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Edmund Stone: My name is Edmund Stone and I’m a Horror writer, artist, poet but not necessarily in that order. I love all things out of the ordinary and take inspiration from odd occurrences and people. I’m constantly seeking out characters who I think would fit well in my books. You can find strange individuals everywhere you look but the state I live in, Kentucky, has an abundance of them. My current WIP novel has many of those same people and I feel readers will enjoy reading about them when the time is right.

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

Edmund Stone: I work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant during the day and I’m a grandpa x3; we start young here. I’m an amateur artist and I drew my own book cover for my ebook. I have other concepts ready for future books I may use or let a graphic artist fix up. By drawing out my characters it gives me a way to see them in a physical form before writing them, making for a richer, more rounded character. I would love to develop my skills as a graphic artist further. I play guitar and have for years. It helps me to relax and get my mind open for writing.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Edmund Stone: I read lots of comics before I started reading short stories and novels. The first horror I remember reading was Clive Barker’s Books of Blood (I have the whole collection) and the Unabridged Works of Edgar Allan Poe. I spent lots of time and nightmares on that one!

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Edmund Stone: In the last few years I’ve been concentrating on the master. I’ve read several King books, in audio and paperback/ebook format. I read his On Writing book when I first decided to become a writer and I love his mind set and passion for writing. I had read his short stories in the past and watched all the movies. He’s an inspiration to me, as he is to other writers. If you want to be a writer, it’s best to emulate the best. I’m in the middle of Justin Cronin’s The Passage and I’m reading Cujo. I just read In the Tall Grass by King and Joe Hill, craziest thing I’ve read in awhile! I also read Indie writers on my Kindle. I recently read Trespass by Chris Miller. He’s really good and you would owe yourself a favor to check him out.

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

Edmund Stone: I would think Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card or maybe Yancey’s The Fifth Wave. I love Sci-fi, especially the kind that has a horror element to it. The Fifth Wave probably has more of it than the first but either novel is worth reading. I’ve read romance as well. Some stories by Nicholas Sparks and the Indie author Michelle Dalton. I helped her beta read her Epona novel via my writer’s group, The Write Practice. She’s a good author in the romance genre.

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

Edmund Stone: I began to write when I was ten years old. I also began to draw. I loved both but wasn’t sure which one I would concentrate on the most. I’ve written poetry for the last Thirty-five years. I wooed many a fair maiden with it back in the day and caught my wife in the snare of my poetry web (we’ve been together for 28 years). I only started writing short stories and novels since 2016. I’ve always wanted to expand my writing endeavors but never thought I could. It takes lots of reading and practice, practice, practice. But I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend my time!

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

Edmund Stone: I have an office converted from my daughters old bedroom that I do most of my work in. It helps to get away from everything in the house for awhile. I have my computer there, as well as an artist’s easel and my guitar. Sometimes I go from one to the other but art has many expressions and as long as I’m working on something, I feel productive.

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

Edmund Stone: I drink a cup or two of coffee to get myself ready to write my novels and short stories. I drink a glass of wine or beer to write poetry and Drabbles. My mind has a way of wandering if I drink too much, so I try to take it slow. I have a wooden sculpture I call my muse, looking over me as I write. I always talked about my muse but never had a tangible object to call such. She showed up one day in a box of items and she’s been on my desk ever since. I’m a terrible procrastinator and will do the dishes, mow the yard, or whatever needs to be done to get out of writing sometimes. Sometimes the words just aren’t coming so I work to get them there.

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

Edmund Stone: Yes, finding the time to balance writing with family time and keeping up with the day job and all the responsibilities of being a husband. It’s not easy making it all work but as any author would probably tell you, the challenge is what makes you better. You put forth your best work when you’re under stress. I feel when deadlines and my time are pulling me in all directions, I come up with some inspiration to keep going. I love to write and create. It makes me the author I want to be.

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

Edmund Stone: Probably the Tent Revival series and the Rebecca mythos. I have a novel in the works called Tent Revival that I hope to release soon. It started as as synopsis of my hometown but has turned into a whole universe of characters. It has even spawned a sci-fi horror novella that takes the reader to another planet. I’m also very satisfied with my first self-published book, Hush my Little Baby. It’s a collection of short stories and poems. I’ve had a bunch of people wanting a copy. It was a challenge but fun too, to do that. I will continue to pursue the traditional publishing route but may have some more self-pubbed titles down the road unless I sign a contract and can no longer do so.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you?

Edmund Stone: If I were to pick one, I would say the works of Poe. I cut my horror teeth on his stuff. The Tell-Tale Heart is still one of my favorite horror stories.

Meghan: Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Edmund Stone: Stephen King, Clive Barker, even some Dean Koontz, but not as much as the first two. I try to read as many other authors as I can for better reference. I’ve read the classic authors such as Stoker, Lovecraft, Matheson. They all inspired the modern authors of horror so I’m keeping in good company.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Edmund Stone: Great characters and natural dialogue. A story that keeps the action going; a real page turner. I like there to be some humor to lighten things up occasionally. King is good at that.

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

Edmund Stone: I love all my characters, especially the ones in my novels, probably because I spend so much time with them. I like to get in their heads and think like they do. Most of the time they’re trying to get away from something or causing something to happen; horrible things.

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

Edmund Stone: Probably Sy Sutton in Tent Revival. He’s and older empty nester kind of guy who’s son has gone into a coma and he can’t figure out why. He has a feeling something he did in his past is responsible. So, he kidnaps his boy from the hospital to try and help him, because he feels guilty and thinks the doctors and nurses are unable to heal him. Although, unbeknownst to him, an evil is brewing from somewhere within the town they live in and his son and several others are taken in by it. I feel his desperation as a father and know I would do the same for my kids if needed.

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

Edmund Stone: I am. I think the cover should grab your attention. If it sucks I think readers won’t take a chance on it. I’ve bought books based on the cover. Sometimes it pays off and other times it doesn’t but it’s the first impression when a reader buys a book, so it should be good. I spent a lot of time on mine. The ebook version anyway. Not so much on the paperback. I ended up liking it the best though. It was simple. A black background with eerie letters. I thought they both turned out great but I’m partial to the paperback. I’m an amateur artist and drew many concepts, one of which is in the book. The ebook cover is also featured within the paperback. I drew a collage of characters found in the stories within the book to give credence to them. I think it turned out well. I spent countless hours drawing and redrawing concepts I thought would go on the cover. It was a lot of work but well worth it. They turned out well when put on the printed page.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Edmund Stone: How hard and how easy it is. Getting the Amazon account and setting up all the details was pretty easy. The hard part was formatting. I use Scrivener, so it takes out a lot of the guesswork and compiles things in easy to use formats. I liked that. I didn’t put page numbers or chapter references in my book. I did place the stories in order as they appear in the book. If I do it again, I’ll pay more attention to those details.

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

Edmund Stone: Probably love scenes. I write them well but feel I want to go to the dark side rather quickly. I think my characters take me there. I write them the way they want to be written and it can consume me. I feel like I may be going too far sometimes but then think I want my writing to be genuine. Sometimes it’s better to let the muse win. Actually, I think it’s always better to let her win.

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

Edmund Stone: I don’t know. Maybe the intimacy of my characters. I try to make them front and center, as I think a story should have strong characters, or at least someone you feel for, or are rooting for. The only problem is, my stories usually don’t have happy endings. I will probably try to emulate King quite a bit, or attempt to while writing, but no one author has the same style. I’ve noticed my style is developing more every day. I started by trying to write like my favorite authors but feel I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin.

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)?

Edmund Stone: Mine wrote itself. It’s named for the first story in the book, coincidentally the first short story I ever had accepted for publication. Really, no coincidence at all. ‘Hush my Little Baby’ meant something to me. It’s all about a girl out on her own, trying to make it after a relationship gone bad. My daughter was going through a similar situation and it gave me inspiration to write it. She still won’t read it, as it scares her too much.

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

Edmund Stone: I love both but the novel has to be the most fulfilling. When I finished the rough draft to my first novel, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven. It was such a difficult thing to get it down, and even though it needs a bunch of work, I can still say I did it. Short stories are my go between. My distraction from the edits needed to finish my novel. I have a novella closer to being ready than my novel and it was satisfying to get it completed as well. But until the novel is ready, I’ll always feel as though there is a hole in my life. Rewrites and revisions are coming soon. It will probably take me into the beginning of next year before it’s ready to send out to publishers.

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

Edmund Stone: My target audience is usually older teens to adults. My writing is not always for everyone and it does deal with some controversial things. Of course, they also have a good dose of horror and creepiness in them as well. I want my readers to be , first and foremost, scared to turn the lights off. But I also want them to feel as though my characters could be them or someone they know.

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

Edmund Stone: I really don’t delete too much. Only if the wording sucks or something along those lines. I may put a disclaimer out there if I feel the work may be read by a younger audience, but I make no apologies for a scene that may be deemed too controversial or racy. Writing is all about expression, as any art form is. I know my readers would think me disingenuous if I were to hold back in any way. My novel has some pretty crazy stuff in it, I hope it will be well received, we’ll see.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Edmund Stone: Mine is my rough draft novel, Tent Revival and Lost Hope, my novella. I’ve also been writing Drabbles lately, which is something I didn’t think I had the discipline to do. It’s funny, it’s easier to write the long stuff than the short stuff, for me anyway. I would like to develop my artwork, especially the graphic art. I’ve dabbled with computer generated stuff but haven’t been able to nail it down. I think I need some classes.

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

Edmund Stone: A novel for starters. It’s the next step in this process and the one that scares me the most. But I’m ready for the challenge. I actually have, at present, two novels in rough draft and a novella. So, it’s a matter of getting busy more than anything. Another area I’ve been interested in, is children’s literature, or maybe YA. I have a story in mind, an old draft of a novel I started but never finished called the Boldman’s Prophecy. Once I have the other projects finished, I may revisit that one. My grandchildren will be in the age range for reading YA sooner than I expect and I would love to have something out there they could get into. I’ll continue to do Drabbles and poetry as my practice and distraction between novel writing, so expect to see more of those, maybe even on my website as giveaways.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Edmund Stone: My website is a great way to find me and get an idea of some of the things I’m doing. I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, or on Facebook. There’s a link on my webpage for my book also.

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?

Edmund Stone: I’m thankful for all the people who’ve read my stories and I hope to keep you coming. Expect some bigger things coming from me in the near future. My first little collection has been an intimate undertaking and I’m quite pleased with Hush my Little Baby. I can’t wait until my next book is out and I hope to have you all along for the journey. Thank you for the support and thanks for reading.

Edmund Stone is a writer and poet of horror and fantasy living in a quaint river town in the Ohio Valley. He writes at night, spinning tales of strange worlds and horrifying encounters with the unknown. He lives with his wife, a son, four dogs and a group of mischievous cats. He also has two wonderful daughters, and three granddaughters, who he likes to tell scary stories, then send them home to their parents.

Edmund is an active member of The Write Practice, a member only writer’s forum, where he served as a judge for their Summer contest 2018. Edmund’s poetry is featured in the Horror Zine, Summer 2017 issue and in issue #6 of Jitter by Jitter Press. He has two poems in issue 39, one poem in issue 41, and a story in issue 42, of Siren’s Call ezine. He also has three short stories in separate anthologies, See Through My Eyes by Fantasia Divinity, Year’s Best Body Horror anthology 2017 by Gehenna & Hinnom, and Hell’s Talisman anthology by Schreyer Ink Publishing. Most of these stories can also be read in Hush my Little Baby: A Collection by Edmund Stone.

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