AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Edmund Stone

Meghan: Hi Edmund! Welcome to Meghan’s HAUNTED House of Books. I know you’ve been a bit under the weather, so I’m glad that you were able to take a little bit of time to sit down with us today. Let’s get started: What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Edmund: Decorating and family time. I love to put together a little impromptu party for my children and grandchildren every year. We decorate the house with scary and funny items and make soups and sandwiches. Then the kids watch scary movies. It’s such a great family time tradition.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Edmund: Trick or treating. My imagination was always on alert, and I would think of scenarios where things could happen while out on a trek. From going to haunted houses to watching the corn field for the scarecrow to come after me. In those days our TV options were limited, so a good imagination was a must.

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

Edmund: Probably the mystery of the time. All things are dark and dreary, and night comes on quicker. So, it only adds to the mystery. When I was a kid, me and my friends would deliberately find an old house to walk by and see who could go up and knock on the door. All the fun and costumes are great. A time of year you can be who you want and get by with it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Edmund: Very little. I do pick pennies up when I see them lying on a parking lot, although in today’s time, probably not a good idea to be honest. I live in an area where superstition abounds, and science is looked on as evil. It’s backward and rural but the perfect back drop for many of my stories. The people are nice here and never back down from a good story.

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

Edmund: When I was younger my favorite would have been Freddy Krueger hands down. I loved his one liners and way he could turn into different manifestations of the persons fears. In recent years the new Pennywise is my favorite. Tim Curry’s was great, but Skarsgard delivers the goods for the new generation. Great stuff.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Edmund: The Lindbergh baby. Although a man went to the electric chair for the crime, the evidence against him was circumstantial at best. Just bad policing all around. It’s similar to the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Edmund: I have two. Bloody Mary is the scariest because I’ve tried it. Of course, nothing happened, but I feel she’s waiting somewhere ready to strike. The legend of the kidneys being harvested when you wake up. That one I think has some fact behind it. Very disturbing.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why? Aileen Wuornos. The one in the movie Monster. I thought she was kind of given to her circumstances. It makes you almost feel sorry for her. Richard Ramirez, The Night Stalker was another. His crime spree was on the news when I was a kid, so I remember it well. He would go in a house and kill the husband then rape and kill all the women. Pretty cold.

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

Edmund: I believe I was seven years old. My cousin made me stay up and watch Chiller Theater with him. The old Blob movie from the fifties was playing. Scared me to death. The first horror movie I remember watching the whole way through was The Thing. It gave me my first true love of horror films. I was hooked afterward and became an insatiable watcher. My sister remembers waking up to the sounds of screaming because I’d rented a bunch of films and spent the whole night watching. She wasn’t surprised at all when I became a horror writer.

I was late to the horror reading game. I cut my teeth on Edgar Allan Poe when I was around fifteen years old. A friend I lived next door to let me borrow his copy of the unabridged works. I read and read. It was so good. Then I moved on to the Books of Blood. Very unsettling but I couldn’t get enough of them. I read King’s Skeleton Crew. I liked it but wasn’t a big fan of King’s until I was much older. Clive Barker was the one I read the most then. It gave me inspiration to start writing short stories. Some I still have buried in notebooks.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Edmund: I don’t know if it’s technically considered a horror novel, but The Road by Cormac McCarthy would be the most unsettling to me, more for the subject matter than anything. The other I’d mention would be The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. The things that poor girl endured were horrible and hard to read.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Edmund: They were more like documentaries, but Faces of Death gave me nightmares when I was in my teens. I watched lots of horror movies then, but after seeing those, nothing really compared. Recently, a movie that disturbed me was The Green Inferno. It’s an indie film about a group of Greenpeace kids getting caught in the Amazon with a cannibalistic tribe. Gory and strange.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Edmund: Wow. I have so many. My mom was a seamstress. She could put together anything I wanted. One year I wanted to be the headless horseman. We came up with this elaborate cardboard and cloth get up with a plastic jack o lantern for the head. It was a great costume, but the head wouldn’t stay on.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song? Probably the one from Nightmare before Christmas. This is Halloween I think it’s called. That gets stuck in my head, and I can’t get it out. I love the Halloween theme too, so recognizable. When I was a kid, it was Monster Mash.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy or treat?

Edmund: Mary Janes. I love those chewy peanut buttery treats. My kids couldn’t figure out why I always wanted to steal them from their stash. They would give them up no problem. What is your most disappointing? Gobstoppers or jawbreakers. I never had a like for hard candies.

Meghan: Thanks for stopping by today, Edmund. Before we go, what are your Top 6 things we should take the time to watch or read at Halloween?

Edmund:

  • Halloween movie. I love the Halloween movies and at least watch the first one during Halloween.
  • American Horror Story Halloween episode. The dead walk the Earth. Can it get any better?
  • Hocus Pocus. We always watched this one with the kids and now the grandkids.
  • Goosebumps. I read these stories to my kids when they were little around Halloween. I also told them scary stories so they would have a hard time sleeping.
  • Trick r Treat movie. I watched it last Halloween on a whim and it’s become a favorite of mine.
  • Tales from the Darkside Halloween pilot episode. It was called Trick or Treat. The one where the man ends up going to hell and the devil tells him he’s getting warmer. That creeped me out back in the day.

Boo-graphy:
Edmund Stone is a writer, poet and artist who spins tales of strange worlds and horrifying encounters with the unknown. He lives in a quaint town on the Ohio River with his wife, a son, four dogs and two mischievous cats.

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Tent Revival
Salt Flat, Kentucky is a sleepy town. Until a mysterious Tent shows up one day, with a charismatic preacher, inviting the people to an old-fashioned tent revival. Everyone’s mesmerized by his presence, entranced by the magic he performs.

Sy Sutton isn’t fooled by what’s going on. But as his son becomes entrenched in the craziness around him, he has no choice but to get involved. With the help of an unlikely friend, He’ll try to save his son and the town he’s fond of.

Unknown to him, something lurks below. An ancient being with an agenda. When she comes to the surface, all hell will break loose on the night of the Tent Revival.

Halloween Extravaganza: Dean H. Wild: What Price, Trick or Treat?

What Price, Trick or Treat?
(Musings from “The Scary House”)

I’m in the horror business. In my case, as a writer, I dwell in the more reflective end of the pool, not as direct and hypercharged as the filmmakers, not as broad and showman-like as the haunted attraction mavens. But I, too, take my scares seriously. And like so many others, I wait anxiously each year for the arrival of what I hold in my heart as an additional national holiday- Halloween. Do the wife and I throw a costume party? Of course. Do we decorate our home? Copiously inside, with a sprinkling on the exterior. And as for participation in the ultimate Halloween ritual, trick or treat, let’s say ringing my doorbell is an experience with a price of admission all its own.

My small Wisconsin town, I am proud to say, still holds its trick or treat hours on the evening of Halloween, starting shortly after school is dismissed (should Halloween fall on a weekday) and ending shortly after sunset. I’m not sure what possessed me to answer my door in full costume that first year, but I knew it needed to be good (no simple rubber mask and a goofy slogan T-shirt) and it needed to be hardcore. Not a fan of the splattery or body trauma type of costume, I decided to go the route of the sinister, the brooding—not “in your face” but “in your nightmares.” The first year was an articulated foam skull mask, gray and green with grave mold. I popped in my red contact lenses, disguised any visible signs of living flesh with grease paint, a long black wig and top hat, a high collar Edwardian shirt complete with cravat, black gloves and a black Victorian style wool coat. I thought, if nothing else, it would be great fun to pull such a theatrical-grade stunt. Most of the candy-snatching kids at my door would think “oh, look, another lame grownup dressing up for Halloween” and a few might actually appreciate the authenticity or at least the effort. The result proved to be a little more than that.

I have long been fascinated by performances of various villains and wicked background players in movies, plays, etc. and I am amazed at how proper body language becomes crucial to making or breaking the part. How the head tilts when speaking or when listening, how the hands move (or do not move), the power of a well-placed, slow smile. No thespian myself, these things still translate into my own trick-or-treat “performance” when my doorbell rings. Here is the formula: I wait a few beats after the bell to build a little anxiety, then jerk the door open just a crack to start, and finally sweep the door open slowly. Then I stand and stare, and wait for the words “trick or treat” to waft my way. Sometimes they come. Sometimes they are barely a whisper. Sometimes…well, we’ll get to that. Slow and silent, I dole out candy with an understated flair, a funeral director still accommodating his visitors despite the fact he’s been dead for a decade or more.

Some bell ringers are unable to find the ritual words but merely hold out their candy sacks. I recall a small fairy princess or two running tearfully back to their adult chaperones, their interest in candy replaced by the need for a safe, warm and living bosom to which they can cling. Over the years, my wife and I have gotten into the habit of counting how many “cryers” I get. A response I remember most fondly happened on the year my costume was a heavy monk’s robe with a full blackout face inside the hood. A flaming candelabra was clutched in one black-gloved hand, and as always the movement was slow and silent. A lone youngster in a Robin Hood outfit, complete with longbow, stared into the waiting black hole of a face and, with a type of controlled panic, demanded “don’t do that.” Other than leveling a silent stare, I wasn’t doing anything. However, I nearly broke character with a burst of laughter. I believe I rewarded him with extra candy.

Already, by the second year, one of the neighborhood mothers confided in us that word was on the local school age circuit: At Halloween time, my home was known as “the scary house.” What a prideful moment it was! Of course, that put me at the base of budding tradition, and so the need to change up the outfits and keep the experience fresh each Halloween loomed up and has been a challenge ever since. Faceless princes of darkness, crazed clowns, even Darth Vader himself have manned the candy dish at “the scary house” over the years, met with smiles, goggling uncertainty, and sometimes bleats of fear. Cruel, you might say. Traumatizing, you may protest. But there is no harshness behind the man at The Scary House. I do not yowl or lash out, there is no aggression. Merely presence. It adds an extra dimension to the formula trade off: child dresses up and gets free candy for their efforts. At The Scary House, the owner, too, dresses up and you must endure a moment of discomfort, trepidation, or dark wonderment before the sweet treats land in your plastic pumpkin. It’s Halloween, after all. Its traditions are built around the belief malevolent dark spirits are roaming the land and your only hope to remain safe is to cover your identity during the cold dark hours between sunset and dawn. Should you choose to rove, there is no telling what may answer the door upon which you knock.

Dean H. Wild grew up in east central Wisconsin and has lived in the area, primarily in small towns surrounding the city of Fond du Lac, all his life. He wrote his first short horror story at the tender age of seven and continued to write dark fiction while he pursued careers in retail, the newspaper industry, and retail pharmacy. His short stories have seen publication in various magazines and anthologies including Bell, Book & Beyond, A Feast of Frights, Night Terrors II, and Horror Library 6. His novel, The Crymost, is an exploration of tradition, superstition, and encroaching horrir in a small Wisconsin town. He and his wife, Julia, currently reside in the village of Brownsville.

The Crymost

There is a place just outside of town where the people of Knoll, Wisconsin take their sorrows and their worries. They don’t talk much about it, and they don’t discuss the small tokens they bring as offerings to the place known as the Crymost. After all, this is Knoll, where certain things are best left unsaid. The Crymost, however, will not remain quiet for much longer. Something ancient has awakened in that remote, sorrowful place, and time is running out for its inhabitants. Long-kept secrets will need to be unearthed before the entire town succumbs to the will of a powerful, dark stranger who works hand in hand with a hungry entity crossing Knoll’s borders, invading its homes and executing a soul-draining grip on its citizens.