AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Brian Asman

Meghan: Hi, Brian! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Thanks for agreeing to be a part of this year’s Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Brian: Watching a spooky veneer slowly creep over my neighborhood, transforming a sun-drenched beach community into a real-life Halloweentown. I like to imagine it’s emanating from my house, where it’s Halloween 24/7.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Brian: Making pumpkin spice everything and mainlining scary movies until my skin turns orange.

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

Brian: There are other holidays?

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Brian: Not sure if it’s superstitious per se, but super OCD about stepping on cracks. I don’t THINK anything bad is going to happen, it just bothers me.

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

Brian: Just one? Umm, as far as the big, iconic villains go it’s Michael Myers. The idea of someone who’s just a shell, no concept of empathy, walking around in the world? It’s scary because it’s true.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Brian: The Black Dahlia, by far. When I was a kid, I remember visiting my grandparents and finding this little digest-sized Unsolved Mysteries magazine in the grocery aisle. I even wrote a 300K word novel trying to puzzle out what ACTUALLY* happened.

*A ghost did it

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Brian: That one about the escaped mental patient in the backseat. Graveyard hitchhiker, too. Basically anything with cars I guess!

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

Brian: I think I was five when I saw Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Scared the pants off me, and I didn’t sleep for days! Probably just a little older when I read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and same. I was a big ‘ole fraidy cat when I was a kid.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Brian: Oh boy, tough question—I’ve got to go with an old standby, Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. The sheer callousness of everyone involved was incredibly disturbing, and knowing it was based on a true story just made the horror even more visceral. Fantastic book, not sure I’d want to read it again though.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Brian: I mean, none? Killer Klowns was the first one and definitely shaped my trajectory!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Brian: I’ve had a bunch of fun ones, but the most unique one? One year I stapled a bunch of party hats, noisemakers, condoms, balloons, and a bunch of other shit to my jeans and went as a “Party In My Paints.” Even made up invitations and passed them out at the party.

No one RVSP’ed, womp womp.

Wish I could find pics of that one, here’s some favorites:

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Brian: Easy—“Halloween” by the Misfits. Although most of the music I listen to is Halloween-themed, I really dig psychobilly and horrorpunk!

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

Brian: Candy corn or mallowcreme pumpkins. Can’t say there’s one that’s really disappointing for me, I love it all!

Meghan: Thanks again for stopping by today! It was a total pleasure!! Before for you go, what are your top five Halloween movies?

Brian:
5. Tales of Halloween – so many fun segments! I’m especially enamored of “This Means War,” where two neighbors get into a Halloween scuffle, and “Grim Grinning Ghost,” where a young woman learns the truth behind an urban legend.

4. WNUF Halloween Special – Must be seen to be believed. Shot like a lost ’80s network TV special, complete with fake period poster. The amount of care and love that went into this thing is great, with some genuinely creepy moments.

3. Trick ‘R Treat – As you can tell, I really dig anthologies for my spooky season watching. Every piece here is super strong, cohesive, and Sam has become an absolute icon.

2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Tom Atkins! Celtic magic! Robots! What else do you want? The film that boldly diverged from the Michael Myers plotline, it’s definitely gained an appreciation over the years. Deservedly – Tom Atkins’ performance as Dr. Challis is fun, and the ending is gut-wrenching!

1. Halloween 1978 – The original. The grandaddy of them all. What else can I say? It’s amazing.


Boo-graphy:
Brian Asman is the author of I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today from Eraserhead Press, Jailbroke from Mutated Media, and Nunchuck City. He’s recently published short stories in the anthologies Breaking Bizarro, Welcome to the Splatter Club, and Lost Films, and edited the parody anthology Boinking Bizarro. He also writes comics for the anthology series Tales of Horrorgasm.

Based in San Diego, he has an MFA from UCR-Palm Desert and a Halloween VI: The Curse of Michael Myers tattoo. He’s represented by Dunham Literary, Inc. Max Booth III is his hype man.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today
A Bizarro fiction tribute to the Kevin Smith cult classic CLERKS.

After a killer surf session, Scot Kring stops into his local Fasmart for a delicious, icy Slushpuppy. But before he can leave, a homeless guy outside has a stroke and accidentally recites an ancient Latin phrase that summons a very hungry demon, who just so happens to look like filmmaker Kevin Smith.

Now Scot’s stuck in a time loop along with the other occupants of the convenience store who may or may not be demonically possessed and he’s fighting back with nothing but a fistful of greasy hot dogs and a souvenir Slushpuppy cup as the giant menacing kaiju Kevin Smith threatens to kill them all.

I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today is a demon apocalypse comedy for the slacker generation.

Jailbroke
Future slacker Kelso’s got the easiest gig in the galaxy, working the Gordita Especial! pod on board an interstellar cruiser, although that doesn’t stop him from complaining about it to anyone who’ll listen.

Cyborg Security Officer Londa James spends her days wrangling idiot tourists and keeping an artificial eye out for any passengers or crew who might be on the verge of snapping from space sicknesses.

But after a colleague is brutally murdered, Kelso and James are going to have to work together if they want to survive! Man-eating machines, cybernetically-enhanced badasses, septuagenarian toddlers, an opioid algorithm-addicted bucket of bolts, a cult that worships the reincarnation of a 400-year-old God Genius, and one very unusual sex robot come together in JAILBROKE, a heartwarming/ripping tale about what it means to be human in a galaxy run by artificial intelligence.

Nunchuck City
You better nun-check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Disgraced ex-ninja Nunchuck “Nick” Nikolopoulis just wants to open a drive-thru fondue restaurant with his best friend Rondell. But when an old enemy kidnaps the mayor, and a former flame arrives in hot pursuit, Nick’s going to have to dust off his fighting skills and face his past. Plus an army of heavily-armed ninjas, a very well-dressed street gang, an Australian sumo wrestler with a gnarly skin condition, giant robots, municipal paperwork, and much, much more! From the rooftops to the sewers, Nick and his ex-girlfriend Kanna Kikuchi are in for the fight of their lives!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Eric Butler

Meghan: Hi, Eric. Welcome to Meghan’s (Haunted) House of Books AND our annual Halloween Extravaganza. It’s a pleasure to have you join us here today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Eric: Years ago I started to decorate my yard with recreations of famous horror movie characters. While the project has grown to an almost annoying level of work, the reaction of the trick ‘r treaters is worth it. Added to that, is the reaction of the neighborhood and people who have seen previous years as they begin to drive by the house to see if I’ve started to set up.

When my son was in school, the way his friends or classmates would let their parents know where he lived was to tell them he was at the “scary house”. Everyone in Elementary and Middle School called our house this.

One time when I was getting my wife’s sewing machine fixed in a little shop about 30 minutes away from my house, and one town over, the guy taking my information stopped and looked at me when I gave my street address. He said, “You know that house that does the Halloween stuff … that place is so cool. My kids make me start driving by there the first week of October to see if it’s up.” I offered a smile and said, “Yeah, that’s my house.”

It’s great to see all the parents, teenagers, and kids stop and take pictures and discuss their favorite scary movies.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Eric: My favorite tradition when my son was younger was taking him trick ‘r treating. Now though I think my favorite tradition is one I hated just 10 years ago – carving pumpkins. My family and friends get together the night before and everyone carves a pumpkin to display at my son’s Godparents’ house. I hated doing it in the beginning but I’ve embraced it as I look for unique and obscure stuff to carve now. Everyone always did cute and popular characters but I wanted to make sure horror movies were represented and started doing 2 or 3 every year to get more stuff out there. I enjoy seeing which ones get the biggest reaction.

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

Eric: Halloween was always special to me. It’s one of the few times my dad and I could come together over the horror genre. He hates anything scary but he loved coming up with awesome and terrifying costumes when I was younger. Plus there’s something magical about Halloween: the costumes, the sense of adventure when you head out to trick or treat, and the sense of the unknown that comes with it.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Eric: Just about everything. I’m a “knock on wood” kind of guy. I like to think I’ve mellowed out on superstitions as I’ve grown older, but I’m sure my wife would say I’ve gotten worse.

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

Eric: This is a tough question and one I’m not sure I have a clear answer for. I love the old classics from Universal and redone at Hammer – The Wolfman, The Mummy, & The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I think Vincent Price’s performance of Nicholas Medina in The Pit and the Pendulum is one of my favorite singular villain performances; although if we were being fair to the characters, he was much more the victim than the true villain. Yet in the end, Price is diabolical as he embraces his madness and takes actions into his own hands.

In more modern films, I find choosing a favorite monster like picking a favorite child, just impossible. If I had to rate the big 4 it would be Jason, Freddy, Michael, Leatherface, but that doesn’t mean I love any of them more or less than the other. I’d throw in the Thing and the Jeepers Creepers monster as favorites, but I’m not sure I’d have the same top monster if you asked me tomorrow.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Eric: 6 & 8 are connected. When I was younger I had a fascination with serial killers. I read as much as I could and watched all the specials as I tried to understand what made these people tick. Now, I’m not sure I care but one killer has always intrigued me. Jack the Ripper.

I read everything I could get my hands on when I was a kid. I worked through the clues, and enthusiastically tried to solve the case – when I was 10. Now I am still interested, watching movies and documentaries on the subject whenever I have the time. But I stopped really researching it. I may have to go back and see if, with some distance and more life experience, I can piece it together.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Eric: I was always terrified of the people living in the sewers. When I was a kid, like 6 or so, I saw a TV ad for a Hill Street Blues episode when a group of homeless come from the sewers and take a police officer. They hold him underground and then cue the ominous music and fade to black. Since I wasn’t old enough to watch or really care about the show, I never found out what happened to the guy. So in my imagination, they tortured, cooked, and ate this guy. So that’s the one that haunted me for a very long time.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Eric: So as I mentioned in 6, I’m not sure I have a list of favorite serial killers, but I do find the whole idea of Jack the Ripper to be fascinating. The setting, the conditions, the back story, and the brutality all add up to an amazing story.

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

Eric: I remember seeing the last 5 minutes or so of Friday the 13th Part 2 on TMC. I was watching it while I was supposed to be watching cartoons or something. I think I was 7 or 8. It was both terrifying and thrilling to experience.

The first full-length horror movie I watched by myself was A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was home alone; my parents were at a party nearby. I think it was a premiere and I was 9ish. In my blog, I went over a list of movies that weren’t horror but were scary that my father showed me at a young age. I believe these may be the movies that helped me develop a love for the horror genre. So I wasn’t all that bothered by violence or nudity at this point… or so I thought. Freddy and the idea of someone coming for you in your sleep really rocked my world. The scene where Tina is killed was the kicker, and I had all the lights on in the house and every stuffed animal I could find piled around me. I made sure our Doberman was sitting with me for the rest of the night until my parents got home. Funny thing, I finished the movie and had no trouble going to sleep. Most importantly, I was hooked.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Eric: The Exorcist is the one that freaked me out the most, but I was 10 or 11 when I read it. My mother played a part in this particular book freaking me out. I was up late reading, into the good parts and I decided I needed some water. My mom and I were the only ones home as my father was off on a business trip. My bedroom was at the end of an L-shaped hall. I left my room, walked the turn (where my parents’ room was), and turned to walk to the end of the hall where there was a door that opened to the rest of the house. Because it was so late, I was trying to be quiet. As I turned the knob to open the door, my mom put her hand on my shoulder, totally unaware of what I was doing or what I had just read.

It always surprised me that no one called the Base Police that night as I’m sure I screamed louder than I ever had before or ever would again. If the door wasn’t in front of me, I may have just run and kept going until I couldn’t run anymore. Of course, my mother is the kind of person who screams at anything that shocks her or startles her, so I’m sure she yelled as well. I’m just happy I didn’t piss myself, lol.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Eric: I’m not sure any scarred me for life. Off the top of my head, I can think of 3 that left an impression on me in the theater. I saw Event Horizon in a newly constructed super theater. Now when you go to the theater you expect a totally immersed experience. That wasn’t always the case, in fact, I’ve been to theaters where there 1 working speaker – and we liked it fine. But in the 90s big movie houses started popping up with huge screens and so many speakers, Marshmello would be jealous.

The reason Event Horizon left an impression, other than it’s awesome, was the use of sound throughout the speakers. It added a new level of unexpected pleasure to the horror experience.

The second movie that comes to mind is The Strangers. It stood out because of the way the director and editor were able to add to the tension and build a tangible sense of dread throughout the theater. I mean, it tells you at the beginning how it’s going to end, and yet they still do an amazing job of putting you on the edge of your seat.

The last movie is the Blair Witch Project. I saw this one opening night with 3 friends in a packed theater. I’m not sure there was one open seat by the time it started. Sometimes with a full house, you’ll get a couple of people who throughout the film pull your attention away, not this night. It was one of those unique experiences where the entire theater bought into the experience. It was amazing. Everyone laughed, gasped, jumped, and lost their minds at the exact time; most important, they did it at the correct times. And the ending… so perfect for that environment; it ended, the room exploded in loud voices and screams of horror and everyone ran to leave the theater. It was like someone had announced a bomb threat, that’s how fast the place emptied.

You don’t get that at home. Hell, you rarely get it at the theater, but when you do it is such a sweet memory.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Eric: I hate dressing up now. I’m a fuddy-duddy as the kids like to say. I loved costumes as a kid and I even won for scariest costume when I was 10. It was a pain, literally, to get in and out of, but it was pretty cool. I was wrapped like a mummy, but my face looked like all the skin had been burned off and it was just red muscle and flesh. I also dressed up as a werewolf once, and that was a cool costume.

That said, my favorite costume was my son’s first Halloween. He was a big kid and already walking when the time came. In fact, he was so big he’d outgrown the 18-month old costume I got him the year before thinking he’d be a cute gorilla. So we went to the store and got him an alligator costume. It had a long tail, I think it helped with balance, but with my son, it just added to the memory of how cute he was as it swished back and forth as he ran down the hall all dressed up to trick ‘r treat.

The next year he was a dragon and I was a skeleton knight and his mom was a witch. I think that was the last time we dressed up… at least themed.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Eric: It’s probably Time Warp from Rocky Horror or This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas. That said, I’m a big music fan and like most of the themed or monster stuff.

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

Eric: Favorite is Snickers or Twizzlers. I’m a big guy so I’m not really disappointed with any candy choice, but my least favorite would be Mounds or Almond Joy.

Meghan: Thanks again, Eric, for stopping by. Before we go, what movies and books should we stay awake on Halloween enjoying?

Eric: There are so many to choose from… movie I’d say Trick ‘r Treat as #1, then I’d go with Halloween 3 or 2. Just depends if I’m in the mood for a slasher movie or supernatural.

Books that take place at Halloween or in October that I like or think people should check out – Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge / A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny / Allhallow’s Eve by Richard Laymon.

Lastly, when I was a kid we didn’t have all these ways to watch things. Most people didn’t own a lot of VHS tapes, and there were no streaming services so when holidays approached you would know that one of the big 3 networks would play some of the old (and create new) classics. Usually, it would be a few days before the big day and many times they would be on back to back depending on who had the rights and what else was being shown. 2 that I enjoyed when I was a kid and make a point to still watch today are It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown & Garfield In Disguise Halloween Special. And so with that, I’ll leave you with words of wisdom from everyone’s favorite fat cat: Candy, Candy, Candy, Candy…


Boo-graphy:
Eric Butler is an Army brat who now calls Texas home. A lifelong fan of horror and pop culture, he finally decided to sit in front of a computer to share all the stories rattling around his head. He lives with his incredibly patient wife and teenage son in a house overrun with Huskies and cats.

Donn, TX
There’s a place in Texas the locals avoid at all cost, where the lost go missing and the damned reside. You won’t find it on any map, there are no road signs to guide you, and once there, may God have mercy on your soul. For when the scarecrow awakens, the harvest of the living begins.

Welcome to Donn, TX
Gateway to Hell

1952
On the back roads of Texas, Debbie grows ill and her husband, Jerry, stops at the only motel they’ve seen for miles. He hopes a little rest will help calm her stomach, but in Donn, TX, there can be no rest once the harvest begins.

1969
Frank is back from Vietnam but struggling to reconnect with the world he once knew. Jane is convinced a road trip to Houston will help them both find the connection they are missing. First, they need to drop off her younger sister and her best friend at the university, and then the honeymoon the war put on hold can finally begin.

Except now they are lost on the back roads, and each mile brings them closer to Donn. If only they hadn’t exited the highway …

But now it’s too late; for the harvest is nearing its end, and the scarecrow requires its due.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: William Meikle

Meghan: Hi, William. Welcome back to our annual Halloween Extravaganza. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

William: I have a confession.

I don’t celebrate Halloween, and haven’t since I was a kid. Back in Scotland when I was growing up, Halloween was for kids, and just for kids. I never saw an adult dressed up, never saw a house decorated for Hallowen. We kids went out ‘acting the gloshes’ which translates as ‘pretending to be ghosts’ and, as we were all poor as church mice, that mostly consisted of an old sheet with holes cut for eyes.

We went round the local houses, not trick or treating as such… we had to tell a joke or sing a song to get a reward which in those days was often a toffee apple. I always enjoyed the singing (I found out later that I perform well in front of audiences with guitar in hand).

About the only thing I recognize when watching North American Halloween is dunking for apples in a big bucket of water. Some of the old folk in town still insisted we did that before we’d get a treat… an apple usually.

It being the end of October, in the West of Scotland, Halloween was often damp, windy and sometimes downright miserable as a lot of folks didn’t bother to participate.

So my favorite part of Hallowween these days is watching in bemusement what a big deal gets made of it over here in the New World.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

William: We didn’t have pumpkins in Scotland. We carved swedes (we call them tumchies) with kitchen knives, a process that took hours and caused many a bruised knuckle, then stuck a candle in them. I can still smell the roasted turnip even now fifty years and more on.

It’s a very old tradition. Carved swedes have been found in old graves all the way back to the Neolithic.

And there’s something spooky about the manic grin on a carved turnip that no amount of artistry in pumpkin carving can match. That was always my favorite part of the night.

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

William: See above. I do like seeing kids enjoy themselves, but I’m a bit bemused as to how much adults get into it here in North America.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

William: Not a lot really. I am a believer in the supernatural, having had several encounters that leads me to think that the land of Faerie is close by us, so if I’m somewhere with a faerie tradition (there are more than a few places in Scotland and also some here in Newfoundland) I try not to piss off the wee folk and always say hello and thank you when crossing ‘their’ bridges.

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

William: The same one it has been for fifty years. It’s not strictly horror, but it has to be KONG. I first saw the big guy back in the late ’60s in his 1933 incarnation, and around the same time I caught the Japanese Godzilla vs Kong movie, and that was it, I was hooked on big beasties.

The recent resurgence, firstly with Jackson‘s Kong ( which I loathe in places and love in other places) through to Skull Island and Godzilla vs Kong has me like a kid in a toy shop.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

William: It’s always been the Whitechapel Ripper case. I’ve read numerous books, seen all the movies, and remain no closer to having a clue as to who Jack might have been.

His crimes cast a shadow over the whole late-Victorian era in London, and his effect on popular culture down the years has been remarkable. He’s become almost mythic. I wonder if the perpetrator had any idea what he was starting… and indeed, was that the point?

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

William: Back in the 1950s, in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, about 20 miles north of where I lived, stories were going around about missing children, believed killed. The culprit was said to be a seven-foot vampire, with iron teeth, lurking in the Southern Necropolis graveyard.

One night after school, hundreds of children of all ages armed themselves with blades and crosses, stakes and dogs and descended upon the Necropolis to hunt it. The children prowled the graveyard as night fell, checking behind trees and headstones for the awful creature that might be lurking.

They never caught it of course, but the story passed into legend.

I heard about it when I was around ten years old in ’68 and it gave me a recurring nightmare that still pops up every few years.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

William: I don’t have a ‘favorite’ serial killer. I find the idea of having that kind of empathy with them to be a strange concept. But there’s one or two that intrigue me.

Again in 1968, which was kind of a formative time for my horror roots, a serial killer was operating in Glasgow, as I said before only 20 miles from us. Bible John, as he was known, was stalking a nightclub, quoting bible verse, abducting young women and killing them. It filled the news at the time and we schoolkids were obviously fascinated.

There were 3 confirmed deaths, several other possibles.

He was never caught.

When I was at university in the late ’70s in Glasgow rumours spread that he was still around, still working the same area. We all kept a close eye on our female friends when we were out and about town.

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

William: The first time I remember being terrified at the movies was not at a horror movie as such, but at the transformation scene in Jerry LewisThe Nutty Professor which I was taken to see by my mum… I can’t have been more than six years old at the time. All that strobing red lighting and screaming soundtrack had me getting out of my seat and heading for the door before fascination had me turning back to see…

The first horror movie I remember seeing was a rerun of the original The Blob in around 1967 when I was nine. I thought it was a hoot and loved every minute of it, and it gave me a lifelong love of big blobs in film. There’s a particularly good one in one of the early B&W Hammer movies X-The Unknown that I love to bits.

The first X-rated horror movie I saw in the cinema was when I sneaked in to The Exorcist on its first run in 1973. I’d already read the book so knew broadly what to expect, but it certainly made an impact.

As for books…

I got early nightmares in around ’67 from a first read of The Hobbit, my dreams being plagued by Gollum and red eyes in dark places for a while.

The first outright horror book I remember reading was one of the Pan Books of Horror collections, probably some time in 1969 IIRC. My granddad was an avid reader and had boxes of paperbacks lying around. I’d pick them up and read them, which is how I discovered the likes of Alistair MacLean, Ed McBain, Louis L’Amour and many more. One day I picked up #6 in the PBOH series and was immediately hooked. That led me on almost directly to Dennis Wheatley, then H.P. Lovecraft and then, in ’74, a chap called Stephen King came along and everything changed.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

William: T.E.D. Klein‘s The Ceremonies

Dread is a word you don’t see used much in association with horror fiction any more. And it’s a shame, because used properly, slow building dread can be more horrific than any gore or bloodletting.

Fortunately, there are writers who understand this, and one of the best examples can be found in The Ceremonies, which starts slow, gets slower, but accumulates dread along the way like a wool suit collecting cat hairs. And it’s a marvel of timing, precision and skill, with its cast of great characters all circling around the central motifs, each of them catching glimpses of the whole but none completely understanding what they are being shown, or why.

The slow build, taking care and attention to let us get to know, if not like, the main characters, gives their respective fates at the climax emotional resonance, and a depth that’s often lacking in fiction in the field.

The book is one of the wonders of modern weird fiction.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

William: Don’t Look Now

I was only 17 when I first saw this classic, and wasn’t really prepared for the depth of sadness and misery that has hold of the main characters all the way through. It’s a simply stunning piece of work, with the director Roeg keeping us unsure as to what’s going on all the way through to the shock at the end. It’s lived with me ever since. Donald Sutherland‘s best movie, Roeg‘s best movie, and one of the all time great horror movies.

As an aside, Roeg‘s use of color, in particular red, to highlight important plot points meant that when I first saw The Sixth Sense and saw that Shamalyan had done the same, I saw the end coming a long way off…

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

William: I still have a nostalgic fondness for that white sheet I mentioned earlier but if I were to do it today (and had the money) I’d splash out on a good gorilla suit and go round as KONG for the night. That would be lovely.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

William: That would have to be THE MONSTER MASH, not the Boris Pickett version but the one by the very silly Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, a bunch of English eccentrics who did a brilliant cover version.

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

William: As I don’t really do Halloween, I don’t really have one. And in Scotland we didn’t have ‘candy’, we had ‘sweeties’. My favourite as a lad was black liquorice dipped in sherbet – I’m weird that way.

I remember being disappointed as a kid by a very old and sad Tangerine.

Meghan: Thanks, William. This has been great, learning more about you. Before you go, what are your top three Halloween movies and books.

William:
Top films

Top books


Boo-graphy:
William Meikle is a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with more than thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.

He has books available from a variety of publishers including Dark Regions Press, Crossroad Press and Severed Press, and his work has appeared in a number of professional anthologies and magazines.

He lives in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company.

When he’s not writing he drinks beer, plays guitar, and dreams of fortune and glory.

Website

The Green & the Black
A small group of industrial archaeologists head into the center of Newfoundland, investigating a rumor of a lost prospecting team of Irish miners in the late Nineteenth century.

They find the remains of a mining operation, and a journal and papers detailing the extent of the miners’ activities. But there is something else on the site, something older than the miners, as old as the rock itself.

Soon the archaeologists are coming under assault, from a strange infection that spreads like wildfire through mind and body, one that doctors seem powerless to define let alone control.

The survivors only have one option. They must return to the mine, and face what waits for them, down in the deep dark places, where the green meets the black.

William’s Halloween Giveaway

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lex H. Jones

Meghan: Hey Lex! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. You haven’t been here yet, but were a regular over on The Gal in the Blue Mask. It’s a little different here, but definitely interesting. We appreciate you stopping by today. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Lex: I love decorating the house for the big Halloween party I host every year. “Trick or Treating” isn’t really a huge thing in Britain in the way it is in America, so you don’t generally see a lot of houses that have really gone crazy with it. The ones that do tend to be having some sort of party, whether it’s for children of adults. Having grown up watching American films and shows, I always wanted to do big Halloween parties with everything from theme music, themed foods, games, costumes, and of course decorations inside and out. Now that I own my own house, I get to that every year.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Lex: Planning the decorating for the house. I like planning and organizing, it helps me enjoy things better as I don’t do well with outright spontaneity and chaos. So I’ll have a notebook with sections for each room (and the garden), and I’ll work out a different theme for each. After I’ve worked that out, I’ll see what I can get from the shops, how much of it I might need, and then as a rule, buy far more than that. I always end up needing more cobweb. However much cobweb you think you’ve bought, I promise you it’s not enough.

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

Lex: It’s my second, as my first is Christmas. I know a lot of people don’t like Christmas and have their own reasons for that, and that’s fine. But I love it and always have.

Halloween, though, comes a close second as it’s the time of year when everyone is suddenly ‘into’ the stuff that I’ve always liked. I particularly liked, as a child, that for one month of the year the shops would suddenly be full of skeletons and ghosts and such. Essentially all the kinds of toys and decorations that I coveted the year round.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Lex: To be honest, I’m not. I’m an absolutely rational atheist (not the militant dickhead kind like Dawkins, don’t worry) so I don’t really do superstitions. The one thing I have which is kind of close to that, is we have a phrase you hear a lot in Britain is “don’t speak ill of the dead”. Now from a purely ‘absolute honesty’ point of view (which I’m often guilty of, given that I’m autistic) I admit that I find it odd when I hear folk describing a dead man as an absolute angel, when in life he’d been an unrepentant career criminal. But, it’s not about them. They’re dead, they can’t hear and don’t care. But their relatives, already grieving from their loss, don’t need to hear someone bad-mouthing them. So we tell little lies and say they were nicer than they were. Or, at the least, don’t point out the (still true) bad things about them. I always try to adhere to that. But it’s out of politeness to the living, rather than fearing the wrath of the dead.

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

Lex: I love ghosts. They’ve always been my favorite. Just the ethereal nature of them, the floatiness, the fact they’re sort of there and sort of not. I find anything purely physical less frightening as a ‘monster’, because ultimately it’s just another thing to shoot or stab or run away from. Yeah a werewolf is scary, but ultimately it’s a just a big dog isn’t it? A zombie is just a diseased human. These things still exist within the confines of the natural world and must operate within it. Shoot it in the head and it’s done. Get home and lock the doors and you’re safe. But a ghost? Well that’s a different matter entirely.

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

Lex: It’s probably an obvious one to say, but the Jack The Ripper murders. It’s not as though there’s no information about them, because actually there’s a fair bit. And many expert criminologists and investigators and outright historians have dug into it to try and figure out the case. And yet they never come up with the same answer. I do think we’ll never know the truth of that one.

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Lex: There’s that one about a man waiting for a phone call that will tell him if he’s about to lose his business or not. The thing he’s worked all his life for. If he gets a call at 4pm then he’s fine. If he doesn’t, he’s lost everything. The story goes that 4pm comes, the phone fails to ring, so he goes up to the roof and jumps off. As he’s falling past his office window, he hears the phone ring. They were a couple of minutes late.

Now, like any urban legend, it’s absolute nonsense. How would we know any of this, for one thing? But what makes this one chilling to me is because, nonsense it may be, but it’s a cautionary tale about giving up too quickly. How many times do you nearly give up on that dream or ambition today, only for something amazing to happen next week which really pushes it along? As shitty as today may be, you have no idea how good tomorrow might be. So don’t ever give up.

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Lex: Boring as it may sound, I don’t have one. I’m not really ‘into’ serial killers, they don’t interest me that much, so I’d struggle to pick any out of a lineup. Manson seems vaguely interesting to me, I guess, because he wasn’t the typical serial killer and was more of a cult leader. I’m fascinated by cults, because I never quite understand how people can fall into them. Seemingly intelligent people can fall down these rabbit holes of absolute nonsense and refuse to climb out of it, even when their own health is at stake.

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

Lex: As a child I had that classic ‘slightly older friend’ who was a gateway to more grown-up things that I’d otherwise not have access to. Through him I saw bits and pieces from Alien, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night and The Terminator, but the first horror film I saw all the way through was Predator. Now, I know there’ll be some debate about whether this is horror, sci-fi, action, or a mix of all three. But I think it’s fair to class it as horror. Predator was shown to me (probably far too young, aged about 8, I think) by my grandad. He loved horror movies and knew I was into monsters, so without my parents’ knowledge he showed it to me one day. And I loved it.

My first horror book was a book of ghost stories called Ghostly Tales, which I was bought when I was four or five, I think. It was a beautiful hard cover book with illustrations (I still have a copy, actually). The stories, whilst ostensibly for children, were actually legitimately quite chilling. I must have read that thing so many times, as I remember having to stick some of the pages back into the spine with sticky tape.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Lex: I remember reading Slugs by Shaun Hutson, again probably far too young, and finding it very off-putting. I’d never liked slugs as a creature in the real world. They just don’t look right. I think it was horror writer Arthur Machen who once described the eerie nature of slugs and snails and grubs in some of his writing, saying that they look like something from another world. Something that we, as denizens of the upper world, shouldn’t see, shouldn’t encounter. They’re things of darkness and slime, devoid of structure and organs and movements in the way the creatures above the ground are formed. It’s the same as when we see creatures that live deep under the ocean, and they lack any sort of cuteness, resembling instead some nightmare beings from a realm that we should avoid at all costs. Slugs were always like that to me, as a child. As an adult I’ve got a garden now so I regularly have to move them away from my plants, so I’ve gotten over my dislike of them somewhat through necessity. But Hutson’s book takes a creature that I already found disturbing, and made them into a carnivorous source of actual horror.

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Lex: I think the first time I saw The Fly (the 1980s version, not the B-Movie original) it stuck with me a long while. I always find body horror has that effect on me, because it’s the worst kind of thing imaginable. It’s not a foe to be fought, a monster to be hacked at or a demon to be exorcised. It’s the betrayal of your own body, twisted and broken into something it shouldn’t be. I’ve lost too many people close to me through dreadful illnesses, and body horror is always a little too close to that for me, so I tend to steer clear of it these days.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Lex: A couple of years back, when it was the 20th Anniversary of Buffy starting, I think, we decided to have a Buffy/Angel themed Halloween party. Everyone dressed as different characters, and I went as Spike. He’d always been my favorite character on the show. My friend Zoe was coming as Drusilla, which I didn’t know, so that worked out perfectly for photos. I put a picture of me and her together on Twitter, and the actual Drusilla, Juliette Landau, commented to say how great we looked. I particularly enjoyed wearing that costume because, prosthetics aside, it wasn’t particularly uncomfortable. Often the costumes that look the best are the most uncomfortable to wear, so it’s nice when you find one that’s a good compromise.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Lex: I don’t know if you’d call it strictly Halloween-themed, but ‘Killing Moon’ by Echo and The Bunnymen. I just feel like, from the 80s onwards, if you watch pretty much any film or show set at Halloween, you’d hear that song. It was ingrained in my psyche as the perfect Halloween Party song, so when I started hosting my own such events I whacked it straight on the playlist.

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

Lex: Don’t be too horrified, but we don’t really get Halloween-specific sweets in the UK! What tends to happen is, stuff that’s available all year round, will have a slight Halloween makeover. So the chocolate mini rolls with jam in them now have green-colored jam instead. The gingerbread men will have little fangs added to their smiles. That’s about the best we get. Weep for us.

Meghan: Before you go, can you share with us your top 5 Halloween movies?

Lex:


Boo-graphy:
Lex H Jones is a British author, horror fan and rock music enthusiast who lives in Sheffield, North England.

He has written articles for premier horror websites the Gingernuts of Horror and the Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog, and appeared on multiple podcasts covering various subjects such as books, films, video games and music.

Lex’s first novel, Nick and Abe, a religious fantasy about God and the Devil spending a year on earth as mortal men, was published in 2016. This was followed in 2019 by noir crime novel The Other Side of the Mirror and illustrated children’s weird fiction book The Old One and The Sea. His latest release is a collection of ghost stories, Whistling Past The Graveyard. Lex also has a growing number of short horror stories published in collections alongside some of the greats of the genre, and in 2020 he co-created the comic strip series The Anti-Climactic Adventures of Detective Vampire with Liam ‘Pais’ Hill.

When not working on his own writing, Lex also contributes to the proofing and editing process for other authors.

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Whistling Past the Graveyard
A hilltop cemetery where the dead just won’t stay sleeping. An ill-fated voyage to an uncharted region off the coast of Iceland. An English village reminded of its heritage through the discovery of ancient bones.These tales and more can be found within the first short story collection from author Lex H Jones. Light the fire, make yourself a comforting drink, make sure the doors and windows are lined with salt, and settle in to enjoy this gathering of haunts and horrors.