Tag: Horror

Splintered Love No More…

Splintered Love No More…

The Sad Demise of Splintered Love

 

I am sad to say, Author S.J. Hermann has ended the existence of his amazing dark-love collection, Splintered Love.

Now for the good news. The stories will live on, each available as a single story!

Coming Soon to Amazon

Leap of Faith – Could one find true love again and if you can, what if it came from an unusual place.

Inner Beauty – Today’s society is based on a person’s looks and not what they carry on the inside.

Desperate Souls – What would you be willing to give up for love?

Reckless Thoughts – You find your true love, then you carelessly throw it away.

Forever Love – Love is eternal.

 

From my interview with S.J. Hermann, an excerpt from my personal favorite, “Leap of Faith.”

For more on S.J. Hermann, including his amazing series soon to be on the big screen, The Morium Trilogy

Website: www.authorsjhermann.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Writing_Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJ-Hermann-250758318466659/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.j.hermannwriter/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SJHermann

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9784255.S_J_Hermann

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

Vanessa Ravel, Author – Four O’Clock Alice

 

 

A little girl. An ancient enemy. A shared past.

Alice Davies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but death seems to follow her everywhere. And as the body count rises, people in Dolwicke start to whisper.

If you like ancient myths and portal fantasies, you’ll love this surreal tale that will pull you down the rabbit hole for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for the interview!

I just finished Four O’clock Alice and I have so many thoughts. I found it suspenseful with Alice Davies one of the most fascinating, engaging, and endearing characters I’ve read in a long time.

Now, most of us know the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but yours is a different kind of Alice and I’m still not sure of the reference between the two stories. Would you please explain?  And also, if you don’t cover this, I’d love to know where you got the idea for this amazing story!

Vanessa – Thank you for inviting me to chat, Ingrid! I’m so happy to hear you liked Four O’clock Alice. It was my first novel—my baby, if you will—so I’m really pleased to know that she turned out okay! Like most first-time parents, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing (I’m still learning with this next one, but I like to think I’m getting the hang of it!)

The relationship between my Alice and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is nuanced. I wanted to create a character with the same kind of curiosity and wonder as Lewis Carroll’s Alice, so I peppered my book with allusions to Carroll’s story. I also wanted to use Alice in Wonderland to establish exposition and setting (Edwardian England) and to show that the book was contemporary (though Carroll published his work 50 years earlier).

As it turns out, those superficial allusions opened a Pandora’s box of hidden connections between mine and Carroll’s story that, thanks to your great question, I just noticed. For example, both stories can be considered coming-of-age stories. In each story, the girl learns about herself and the world around her, and experiences fabulous and frightening things. She physically grows (and shrinks!) and for better or worse, Alice goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s all subjective—some may see Alice in Wonderland as a political allegory and my book as a paperweight, but that’s what’s fun about literature analysis, isn’t it? The meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of people have asked me where I got the idea for Alice, and unfortunately, the story is really not that interesting! I don’t know how often this happens to other authors, but in 2012, I sat down to write a completely different book (I’m not really an “outliner”). Yes, the main character was a little girl. Yes, the genre was gothic/dark fantasy. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended.

What happened was I wrote myself into a rabbit hole and instead of trunking my beloved first novel, I dug deeper and found Alice on the other side. Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!

– I really like that! “Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!” Kind of reminds me of your field “epidemiology” where you must dig through all the cases to find the “clay” so to speak. Right? Or am I way off base here?

Vanessa – Nope, you’re spot-on, that’s what epidemiologists do. They dig through a bunch of data to uncover the hidden associations between exposures and diseases. And then they write papers about it! (Clearly my favorite part about being an epidemiologist is writing the papers)

I – And like all readers who enjoy getting lost in the next big adventure, I’m not going to ask you about the ins and out of your story or your characters. Though I must say, I did marvel at how your story unfolds. Well done!! It was a crazy and wild ride and I’m so very glad I had the pleasure!

Vanessa – So glad you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole!

I – I must ask why gothic/dark fantasy?

Vanessa – I didn’t choose this genre; it chose me. Judging by my reading track record, I would probably have chosen something more steeped in horror (which is what I’m writing now) or at least supernatural. However, that isn’t to say I don’t like dark fantasy; most of my favorite films fall into this genre (Pan’s Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands, The Devil’s Backbone, etc.).  The Gothic part kind of snuck up on me too. Even though I don’t have much experience reading those kinds of books, for some reason the Edwardian setting really spoke to me for Alice. There’s a certain romantic appeal to the period around the time of the Great War, something about not having antibiotics I guess, that’s both horrific and enchanting. It would be cool to visit that period—though not without a pocket full of Azithromycin.

 I – Okay, so can you give us a sneak peek at what’s next for Alice?

Vanessa – Alice is a standalone novel, although now that you mention it, maybe there’s more story to tell…

I -I certainly hope so! Alice is truly a great character. So, what’s next from Vanessa Ravel?

Vanessa – Speaking of series, I do have one planned down the line. I’m hoping to start on it after my upcoming release, Demon Dance. This gritty short horror story collection is a big departure from Alice, and came from somewhere completely other within me. I think the strangeness of Alice is still there, though, and if you dig deep enough, so is the heart, but it’s surrounded by a lot of barbed wire.

 I – Sounds great! I love a good horror story!

 

Okay, time for some fun! You can answer any questions below you want to answer:

Where would you love to take a hot-air balloon ride real or imaginary?

Vanessa –Assuming you could tranquilizer dart me and drag me into said hot-air balloon (not a fan of heights), it would be nice to visit the past. Back when I was five and my only worry was how long I was going to get to play on the swings before it was time to go home.

I – I love your attitude, your strength, reading your bio on your website you really are amazing! Aside from writing, what are your other creative pursuits, goals, dreams, what have you?

Vanessa – I do declare, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! I don’t have much time to do anything creatively but write nowadays, but I do like to draw and make stuffed toy animals. I used to make them as Christmas gifts. I should get back to doing that!

Vanessa w Dudley before he passed in 2014

I – Stuffed toy animals, what a great gift idea!

What are your other passions?

Vanessa – Aside from writing, I’d say my passion is animals. Specifically, dogs, if my Facebook profile is any indication. I have five at the moment, but there’s always room in my heart (though not necessarily in my house) for more. I’d love to have a big plot of land to build a rescue or sanctuary. Better get working on that next book…

I – Please do! I think your readers and the homeless dogs of this world would much appreciate it.

Favorite genre to read? A genre outside your norm that you’d like to read?

Vanessa – Definitely horror! I’m a major fan of Stephen King. I actually love how boring his books are. It sounds strange, but I think the true King fans will know what I’m talking about—at least I hope so… for all I know, they’ll want to burn me at the stake for calling their idol boring. In any case, what I mean is that for me, the best parts of his work—short stories and novels alike—are the exposition, where basically nothing happens. Gives you a chance to fall in love with the characters before you even get to the story. It would be interesting to read a science fiction book, but I’m afraid I just wouldn’t ‘get’ it!

I -I totally get what you mean about the “boring bits” in Stephen King books. I LOVE those!! Mainly because you know he’s introducing you to his characters and then there’s the sudden buildup that you just weren’t expecting but, “Bam,” it hits you square in the face like a really scary snowball. I LOVE Stephen King with John Saul a close second, oh, and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was awesome. And my absolute favorite book ever so far is “IT.”

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?

Vanessa –That would have to be pistachio

I– Flip flops or sandals?

Vanessa – Flip flops all day long. I’m an L.A. girl, after all!

I– Favorite place to veg?

Vanessa – Being a vegetarian, it’s hard to find “acceptable,” let alone edible food at non-vegan restaurants apart from side salads and French fries and mozzarella sticks. We just discovered that Fatburger sells the Impossible Burger, which is an impossibly awesome meat-free, plant-based burger that tastes exactly like meat. So, my boyfriend and I have kind of been living at Fatburger on the weekends. Don’t judge.

I – I asked where you like to veg? Sorry, that’s probably a generational thing. I meant relax, hangout, unwind, but the food thing was awesome, didn’t know you were a vegetarian until then. 🙂 I’d like to include both if that’s acceptable to you.

VanessaOh, LOL to the generational thing. You know, I should know what that means. The first time I heard that was in the movie “Clueless” when they were talking about “vegging” out on the couch all day long. Duh. It’s actually what I thought about when I read your question! But circuitously, what I replied with actually makes sense, because I really don’t veg out except when I go out to eat. I’m kind of a shut-in! Since I’m super shy, I don’t really go out and do things apart from car rides and walks and hiking in the forest and desert (not really “vegging out” – kind of the opposite LOL). So I guess Fatburger and the local vegan place is where we kind of loiter/”veg.” And the couch with the dogs, of course!

I – Your earliest happy memory?

Vanessa – Seeing Santa in my house! I know now that it was a false memory, that there was no fat man in a red suit in my house (no wonder my mom kind of freaked out when I told her). But it sure made my four-year-old self happy!

Your favorite horror movie actor?

Vanessa – Interesting question! I’ll give two answers to this one: my female favorite would be Sigourney Weaver (gotta love the Alien movies) and the male favorite is Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs is in my top 5 movies and is my favorite book!). Of course, there are a ton of great character actors that totally make the genre but those are my two big-name actors.

I – Your favorite horror author(s)?

Vanessa – In case you hadn’t noticed… Stephen King, I also like Dean Koontz. Sadly, I don’t read enough to be able to scrape up a real list.

I – First movie or first book, both 😊

Vanessa – My first book was a picture book called Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema about an African shepherd boy that must find a way to end a drought that threatens all the wildlife in the plain. I think first movie that really left a mark on me was Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I was about four and already into scary stuff. Easy to do when your sister is ten years older than you and it’s the late eighties, i.e., the era of bad horror films!

I – Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Hysterical!

Any question I didn’t ask during the interview that you want me to ask?

Vanessa – I can’t think of anything… you were very thorough, Ingrid!

Thank you, Vanessa, for the interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

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How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

How NOT to Write a Horror Story –

What I’ve Learned So Far –

For more than seven years I’ve been working on this one horror story, off and on. It’s a story that shows great promise. Truly remarkable and unforgettable characters, one of which scares me witless, but for the life of me, I cannot get this story right.

This morning, I decided that there are a few things I’ve learned from trying to write this story, especially after publishing three others during the time I’ve been working on this one:

  1. Every story is different –

    What works for one story, does not necessarily work for another and as a writer, I must be honest enough with myself to recognize that.

  2. As a writer, I must face my fears –

    Especially while writing horror and, in this case, my fear is my antagonist. While interviewing him before writing this story, he truly unnerved me and unfortunately, I believe at some point, I chickened out.

  3. Don’t listen to other people’s well meaning advice –

    Wait, before you go off the deep end, allow me to clarify. Yes, some writing advice is good and noteworthy. But in the case of your story, no one knows your story better than you do, even if it’s still inside your head and in this particular case, part of it was research.

    In the original story, the focus was on Native Americans, Apaches to be exact, and during a research trip I interviewed a so-called Apache expert on the reservation near Flagstaff. The result of this bound me up creatively so bad that I scrapped the story.

    The other problem I had was taking the story to two different writers’ groups over the years, both of which were helpful in one fashion, but totally confusing in another. So, I put the story on the back burner to “cook” some more.

    In the meantime, I tried changing the layout of the story, adding a prologue, taking away the prologue, because prologues are “bad” right? I’m laughing now, but not then. Then to make the story fit I added two more scenes completely changing the dynamics to fit the new story. Sheesh! Crazy stuff…

  4. When all else fails, rewrite –

    Which is what I am now preparing to do. The first seventeen pages are great and then I get off track. So, that’s where I hope to pick up this afternoon. Sound be interesting as I’m working on the Esme Bohlin series this morning.

  5. Relax. Meditate. But, whatever you do, stay true –

    To your characters and your story. Maybe that’s how Stephen King does it?

    I don’t know. Yeah, I’ve read On Writing, maybe I need to reread it.

    Bottom line, in the process of writing the first version of my story, I knew I’d lost my antagonist somewhere along the way, but had no idea where. Then, to make matters worse, I made him into a love-obsessed “clown.” Maybe he really is a clown…

    Nah, he’s a seven-foot effin’ bone-obsessed, angry, red-eyed dude that can scare people into sticking knifes in their bodies… He’s definitely no clown!

    (Disclaimer – this is in absolutely NO reference to Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, even though he really was more than just a clown.)

    Venting Over –

    Okay, thanks for listening. Now onto writing and rewriting and hopefully I’ll finally get this horror story done…hopefully, this year. Of course, if you find me with a long, sharp knife sticking out of my chest, you’ll know why.

    As for the picture above, yeah, there’s definitely a cave involved…

 

Stephen King’s IT

Stephen King’s IT

An old blog post revisited… IT by Stephen King –

Living an Adventure –

A few days back, I finally overcame my fear and reservations and once again started reading Stephen King’s IT. Truly one of the most well-crafted books I’ve ever read, I’m 454 pages in and though it’s scary and unnerving in parts, the characters are so well written, so well developed, that I feel as though I know them personally. As a reader, I am no longer reading a book, but living an adventure.

IT, the Movie –

 If you’ve ever seen the the movie, IT, and like most Stephen King movies, thought, it’s just a horror flick intended to scare the beejeebies out of me, you’re right. Hollywood tends to distort King’s masterful stories, eliminating major and amazing parts to give their audience what they believe they want.

Never Judge a Book by the Movie –

So, please never judge the book, IT, based on the movie, because the book is an amazing story, one I always find hard to put down…and I have no doubt that it’s one I will cherish and forever applaud as being a masterful example of story telling.

Update –

I loved the book so much, I cried for the characters at the end. But, not for the reasons you may guess.
And, to be noted, as this is a revisit to an old blog post, I haven’t seen the most current movie.
Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

As my study of the horror genre continues, next stop, THE HAUNTING OF HELL HOUSE…

When I was in Junior High, like most eighth graders, I read Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery.” To this day, Ms. Jackson’s visuals are permanent etchings upon the haunted corridors of my mind. The fear upon Tessie Hutchinson’s face, previously so cocky, so full of bravado now shattered beneath the grim realization that it is her life that is in jeopardy. Honestly, I need to go back and read that story again.

But no true fan or determined writer of scary stories, should leave The Haunting of Hill House off their syllabus of must reads. After not being able to find a copy of Ms. Jackson’s, dare I say, “haunting” masterpiece for so long, I was finally able to locate and read the story of Hill House.

Like my memories of The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, is a very clever and suspenseful tale. I won’t go into details or elaborate, no doubt that’s been done, re-done and over done.

 

No, what struck me about the story, more than anything was how the two young woman, Theodora and Eleanor bonded that first day, two complete strangers forming an alliance against the unknown.

Then through the course of the story, how their relationship slowly and purposefully unraveled. But who was the cause of this unraveling? Was it one of the women? Perhaps. Maybe Theodora in her flighty shallowness or Eleanor in her insecurity. But, better yet, maybe the house itself caused the unraveling of their friendship or as the Doctor so eloquently stated, “Divide and conquer.”

From the beginning, you know something terrible is going to happen. The author has set the stage perfectly, pulling you in gradually page by page. And then there’s the pounding, the knocking on doors and walls, but is the noise real or just the imagination or imaginations of the four visitors. There is even a point where Eleanor seems to be the only one hearing “things.”

What was so amazing to me about The Haunting of Hill House was how one minute I, as the reader, wanted to slam the book shut (can you do that with a paperback) and run for the proverbial hills and the next, because Ms. Jackson’s characters are so enticing, I had to read more. She orchestrated her highs of intense anxiety and lulls of engaging verbal frolic between the house guests perfectly. And then, as the suspense rose to its climax, two more characters, outsiders, were thrown in, and I felt compelled to defend the actions of the original four. Well done!

Oh, and I must ad, as Eleanor is pushed into the vehicle at the end, I actually felt her fear of the future, her sense of abandonment and betrayal. I didn’t want her to leave.

Was The Haunting of Hill House the most brilliant book I’ve ever read? No, but it was certainly one of the most clever.

 

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Originally posted January 17, 2010

One of the requirements of my horror-writing education is to read every story listed on pages 18 – 22 of ON WRITING HORROR by the Horror Writers Association

ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin is on this list.

As a child sitting on the sofa between my two older sisters and often through the cracks between my fingers, I watched the movie ROSEMARY’S BABY. To this day I still have a vivid recollection of semi-naked old people and the black bassinet that gave me nightmares for weeks to come. But, in spite of those memories, I was determined to fulfill my horror-education requirements. So, yes, not only did I read the book, but I loved it.

Ira Levin is truly one of the greatest writers I have ever read. He has the rare gift of horrifying you one minute and making you laugh hysterically the next. In truth, as I sit here, six years later, revising this blog post, Rosemary’s Baby is still on of my favorite books of any genre and one I am sure I will read again and again.

Mr. Levin’s main character, Rosemary Woodhouse, is a naive mid-western Catholic girl transplanted into the big city with her actor husband. As in all good suspense stories, there were subtle clues dropped here and there as the story unfolded. Rosemary was everything a woman in her situation should have been. The rape scene midway through the book was intense, the result of ultimate betrayal by her devious husband.

Ira Levin wrote his story at a time when everything was in question, including religion. Mr. Levin accurately portrayed society’s mindset during the 1960s with a conclusion grounded in the most basic of human relationships, the bond between a mother and her child.

On a personal note, I think reading Stephen King’s Introduction, though profoundly well-written, may have been too in-depth a read prior to the story itself.  Because the information given was so complete I do not believe I enjoyed the story as much as I may have if I had read the story first before the Introduction.

Other books on the list from ON WRITING HORROR:

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

I AM LEGEND and HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson

….and many others

A HOME FOR ROSE – A Dark Desert Tale

A HOME FOR ROSE – A Dark Desert Tale

One of the things that attracted us to moving to the desert, was the lack of grass to mow. But, likewise, we also quickly noted that with no grass or ground cover, everything living or buried within the sandy earth was hard to hide.

So, as we began our gardening adventures, we found things that the desert had long ago claimed. In my office, I have a lion and a small dragon. Both are made of brass and both were found buried in the crusted dirt around our home.

But when my husband presented me with the dragon, it occurred to me, “What if he found something that was actually best left buried?” What if the object he unearthed only appeared to be treasure, but was actually so much worse?

And so, in the tradition of creepy stories everywhere, I wrote my second dark desert tale, “A HOME FOR ROSE.”

FRESH MEAT – A Dark Desert Tale

FRESH MEAT – A Dark Desert Tale

While living in a small town in southern Arizona a few years back, I was out walking my dog around our apartment complex when I spotted, high in the sky, a flock of large black birds. They were circling a grove of cottonwood trees.

My imagination, being a sometimes strange and dark place, began to wander, to form the “what ifs.”

What if someone lived in that grove of cottonwood trees? And what if that someone were to feed those large black birds much like one might feed the wrens and cardinals? 

…and so, Fresh Meat came into being…

“Do you want to feed my birds?” A soft voice broke through Timmy’s thoughts as the old woman turned toward him. – Copyright – Ingrid Foster 2015

 

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

In 1994, I had a horrific car accident almost ending my life, since that fifteen-day stint in the hospital I have vowed to live my life fully which includes facing my fears. My first confession, I am afraid of things that don’t go bump in the night.

Seriously, I can handle the occasional “bump.” Like when you hear a click in the night that wakes you up only to hear the next sound being the heater starting up. Or the loud thud that scared me so bad I caught my breathe and wanted to wake my sleeping husband. No, he was not in bed beside me and yes, he was the originator of the thud as he moved around the house in the dark.

These things have explanations and I can handle them. What I can’t handle are the noiseless things that move in the night or the unseen things that a part of you senses, but you cannot physically see or hear them. These are the things that totally freak me out. Sure, they may be part of my overactive imagination, but what if they’re not?

My husband has spoken a few times about going to California for a week on business. I would be left home alone to write to my heart’s content. My second confession, I really don’t want to be alone at night in this big house. Because of the design of this room I call my office; I must sit with my back to the doorway. Last night when I couldn’t sleep and sat here diligently working at my desk, every once and while I would look up at the open door leading to the rest of the house. Just in case. You never know what lurks silently in old houses.

My third confession is that when I was a child and yes sometimes still, I would fear cars and trucks Car Grillescoming up the road by my home.  Don’t ask me the origin of this phobia; it really makes no sense. All I can think is that the grill on the cars from the 1950s and 60s left a deep, tortured impression upon my psyche. Anyway, to this day I sometimes fear a vehicle “sneaking up” on me.

So why do I love scary stories enough to write them, am I in some subconscious way a masochist desiring to scare myself into insanity? No, probably not.

I think it’s for the same reason that as a child I use to love reading ghost stories or as a teenager babysitting my niece I read the THE AMITYVILLE HORROR in one setting. Reading horror does for me what other books don’t. It entertains me and at the same time forces me to face my fears.

And so I continue writing my own dark fiction, The Gathering, based on a place I once lived. My last confession, I am so glad we moved because in a certain point in the story my heroine, who is roughly based on me, has a near fatal fall… Yes, my own writing really does scare me!

Interviewing Your Characters

Interviewing Your Characters

Upon inspiration of the essay by Tina Jens in ON WRITING HORROR, I have created a character sketch I am using much like an interview sheet. In my mind’s eye I invite my fictional characters into my office for an interview. So far it has worked like a charm. My questions are pretty much standard but the difference is it is not me who is answering the questions. They are.  My approach is that this is their story and I want to know them as I would an old friend from high school (per suggestion by Tina Jens.)

I had created a list of characters using my previous method of simply coming up with them as I wrote my new novel but the process was tedious and boring. Following Tina’s suggestions, I created a new character sketch to get to know my characters for who they are, separate from me. My protagonist, who I had previously named Sandy, was a middle aged woman and I had given her blond hair with gray streaks and gray eyes much like my own, was all wrong.

The woman who walked in my office was entirely different, even her name. She was younger, tougher with dark hair and eyes. Her entire persona is one of a lonely but self-assured widow on her own and looking for a change. While Sandy was also looking for a change she was married and more dependent upon her husband.

My second “interview” was with my evil, sadistic antagonist. I was nervous about the interview because this character was to be the epitome of evil complete with horrific appearance and behavior. The “man” who entered my office was again, very different. I found him compelling and alluring with a definite darker side concealed beneath his attractive appearance. At the same time, he was forthright with a definite sense of humor about the story that is to come.

I have four more interviews to do with my previous version of this story still in the back of my mind. What will become of this story? I have no idea. It’s truly in the hands of these fascinating new characters. One thing for certain, I won’t be bored!

Thanks for visiting my site. I would love to hear your thoughts…