Join Me at the West Hollywood Book Fair Today!

 

I’ll be at the WeHo Bookfair today. It promises to be a great day for readers, with authors (including such notables as William Friedkin).  There will be all sorts of exhibitors, from my favorite radio station, The Sound LA, to writer’s clubs, book clubs, book stores, publicists and publishers of every stripe.  Personally, I can’t wait!

I’ll be on the 4:30 panel, Horror and Supernatural Fiction, at the Mystery and More stage, then signing The Sorority directly afterward. Come say howdy if you’re in the neighborhood!

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Los Angeles Area Ghost Stories for Halloween!

LA Metro pals : I just agreed to do a big Halloween feature which will run in the following newspapers: San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier News, Pasadena Star-Bulletin, Torrance Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press-Telegram, and the L.A. Daily News.

I will be talking about a dozen hauntings in public places in the areas the papers run. I’ve already chosen most of them, but if you know of something special – or especially scary – I have until Monday to make up my mind. Let me know if you’ve had something scary happen in the LA area that you feel deserves a write-up!

Thirteen Questions with Alistair Cross

 

Alistair Cross is a man of many talents. His prose is powerful, by turn horrifying, humorous, or humane, his poetry faultless, and his bon mots as sharp and funny as a sixer of knife-wielding clowns.  While you may not yet know his work offhand  — his first novel was published under a pseudonym — I have every confidence you will soon count him as one of the best new horror writers to hit the stands.

Alistair and I met well over a year ago, shortly after his novel was published.  I remember the first night he phoned; the chemistry was instantaneous. Within five minutes, we were both laughing maniacally, barely able to catch our breaths.  We found ourselves accidentally brainstorming and, eventually, despite a promise to myself never to collaborate again, I asked if he’d like to try it because I knew he intimately understood the logistics of such an undertaking.

And, oh, what fun we’re having now.  Look for our first novella later this year with a full length novel to  follow.  While neither of us intend to give up our individual projects, we have three or four other collaborations ready to go after that — and one of them just might trump nearly everything else.  Read on…

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Q: What made you decide to write horror?

A: I don’t think I really chose to write horror. I love to write, and what comes out is just usually classified as horror.

Q: What qualities do you think a good horror writer should have?

A: Any writer of horror needs to at least have a good, solid love of the genre. Also, good horror writers need to have a slightly twisted sense of humor. Without humor, horror just isn’t as good.

Q: What is the difference between good horror and bad horror?

A: Good horror is written by people who understand that fear is one of the cardinal passageways into the core of humanity. Good horror is generally written by folks who grew up on horror; books, movies, etc. You can’t simply decide to write—in any genre—if you don’t first have an understanding of the topic and a strong mental backlog of reference.

Q: What is the scariest book you’ve ever read, and why?

A: The “Space Cowboy” in Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game scared me. The description of that character is just creepy. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin also made me a little ill-at-ease. The scariest book though, was The Stranger Beside Me, by Ann Rule. This book is a non-fiction account of Ted Bundy. Real life is always more terrifying than fiction. Horror is, after all, extracted from the real world.

Q: What are your favorite monsters, and why?

A: Vampires, because at their core, they are the essence of slow death. They are not, to me, romantic or glamorous figures—even though contemporary fiction demands it. They are creatures who depend solely on other life forms to sustain; parasites of the cruelest, most horrifying kind. They are death, animated.

Q: How would you advise a budding horror author?

A: Know your horror. The 80s are over and readers don’t accept slashers-for-the-sake-of-gore anymore. Also, you need to be unafraid of being afraid. You need to be on a first-name basis with fear if you plan to effectively write about it.

Q: What do you think prompts people to read horror?

A: They want to be stimulated. They want to read something that can get under their skin and hang out there for a while.

Q: Do you think horror writers are born or made?

A: Born. Absolutely. Just like any profession, the good writers of any genre will have the personality and character traits that make them good at it. You can get somewhat good at doing something outside of your element, but I don’t believe you can ever excel without the edge of that natural-born understructure.

Q: What surprises you most about the horror authors you’ve met?

A: That they aren’t scary. At all. In fact, they are funnier and quirkier than most writers I’ve met.

Q: Who is the scariest famous horror figure, and why?

A: Jack the Ripper, because we have no idea who he was. Facelessness is one of the core instigators of terror. On top of this, he was savage, shrewd, and elusive. Jack had it all…

Q: Who is your favorite famous horror figure, and why?

A: Aside from Jack the Ripper, I’d say Elizabeth Bathory or Delphine LaLaurie… because these women were truly wicked in a time when we weren’t socially equipped to accept, let alone deal with, evil women.

Q: Is there anything you strictly prohibit in your writing?

A: I have a few rules, yes. One, I never hurt animals. It’s a cheap shot. Two, I never write sexual assault for the sake of titillation, and three, I will not walk reader’s through the abuse of a child.

Q: Recently, an idea you and I are working on has interested a major player, which means we are about to go on a research road-trip in California. What excites you most about this get together?

A: Rolling down the window and singing at the top of our lungs. I’m also very excited about the haunted cabin up in gold country your friend has arranged for us to stay in. That will rock. Finally it’s going to be seriously cool having the meeting with that big guy down in LA.

* * *

Alistair’s website will be live soon, and we’ll announce it here. Meanwhile, you can hook up with him at
www.alistaircross.com

 

HORROR, DARK SHADOWS AND ME

Tomorrow, Saturday the 14th,  I’m signing books at Dark Delicacies alongside one of my childhood idols, Lara Parker, who played Angelique on the original Dark Shadows, and I’m just a wee bit giddy about it.  Woohoo! I get to sit next to Angelique!  Very little arouses my inner fangirl, but this sure does!

Quentin Angelique

Dark Shadows came on when I was in elementary school.  Because it had a spooky feel I raced home to watch it every day.  At first, I hung in with the series simply because gothically spooky old Collinwood looked like it should be full of ghosts, but when vampire Barnabus Collins was barnaintroduced – quickly followed by witches (Angelique!), ghosts (Quentin!), werewolves and all sorts of other delights – I was well and truly hooked.

Dark Shadows touched every facet of my life.  From earliest childhood I could never get enough of ghosts and folklore, and this show fed me more and more variations, frequently sending me on library adventures to research whatever the occult theme of the month was.  Thanks to Dark Shadows I knew about things like witchcraft, the I Ching and tarot  at a very tender age.  I wrote my own Dark Shadows (and Star Trek) “novels” by night, and even wrote my first satires using those series.  I even became more interested in my STpiano lessons because I loved the song, “Quentin’s Theme,” and worked out a sweepingly long version on my own before finally finding the sheet music.  I figured out “Josette’s Theme ,too and made my music teacher proud.  Too bad I wouldn’t practice anything else. (Except The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer,” which became my personal theme the first time I heard it. That hasn’t changed – some things never do.)

But back to Dark Shadows. While my soon-to-burgeon hormones couldn’t get enough of Quentin Collins, my favorite character was Angelique, the beautiful witch with an spell to grind with Barnabus and Quentin. My mother made me such a beautiful Angelique gown for Halloween that I wore it two years in a row – I never do anything twice.  How does Dark Shadows impact my life these days?  Well, I’m thoroughly hooked on the Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie – it’s pastiche made with love and my favorite character DSis Michelle Pfeiffer’s Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. Ms. Pfeiffer has every movement of Joan Bennett’s original down pat. She shows her love of the original. And I often incorporate names from Dark Shadows into my books, usually using them for minor chararacters.  Why? Makes me smile and it’s kind of a tip of the hat and most definitely a thank you for all the inspiration the original show gave me.  Overall, that show informs my work; it was a huge influence in my life.

And now I get to sit next to Lara Parker!  She’s signing her new book, Dark Shadows: Wolf Moon Rising.  At my other side is horror great, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, signing her new Saint-Germaine novel, Night Pilgrims. Quinn is an official Living nightpLegend of horror, and knighted in Romania. We met before my first Chris Curry novel was even on the stands, when she invited me to take over as HWA treasurer back around 1990. We instantly became and have remained close friends.  Also at the table is Amber Benson, Tara of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who will be signing the 2014 Buffy calendar. What can I say about Buffy?  One of the best-written shows, ever!

Buffy

I feel like a kid in a horror candy story!  I hope, if you’re in the vicinity of Dark Delicacies (On Magnolia a couple short blocks east of Hollywood Way) you can stop in and say howdy and maybe even pick up some signed books tomorrow.  All of my in-print books will be available.  The new ones are The Sorority (in a trade paperback omnibus at last), the Halloween-themed Bad Things, the town-full-of-ghosts tale, The Forgotten, and my Jack the Ripper whodunnit, Eternity. (Betcha can’t guess the ending.)  Also available in small quantity are last year’s releases, Haunted (skeptical horror writer buys a haunted house), Moonfall (Halloween-themed featuring evil nuns wreaking havoc in a place very similar to the apple-growing tourist town of Oak Glen, California) and Candle Bay, all about the Darlings, a family of neurotic vampires. (I’m currently finishing up the sequel!)

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If you would like signed or personalized books but can’t make it, just go to http://darkdel.com and click “Signings/Events” up in the left corner.  Then choose your books.  Haunted, Candle Bay, and Moonfall aren’t listed, but if you’d like one of those, just add them in in the notes section at the bottom of the invoice. (This is also where you specify your personalizations.) Those three books are still just $4.99 a piece.

Happy haunting and I hope to see you tomorrow!

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Upcoming Work

My collaborator for some projects, Alistair Cross, dishes a little dirt about our upcoming projects. And it’s all true;-)

Cross Talk

Good afternoon, fellow Hounds of Horror,

I have felt a bit under the weather the past few days and have taken some time off . However, as of next week, I am back to writing full swing.

I’m working on two projects ~ and next week, I’m turning my attention to the novella I am co-authoring with Tamara Thorne. It’s a fun little romp through a small town of our own design, complete with several generations of a particularly interesting bloodline… with a set of particularly eerie talents.

I’m not at liberty to elaborate any further, but as for the collaboration itself, it’s going grand. Tamara and I have taken turns on the scenes, choosing the characters who speak to us most clearly, and following them down their dark, twisted, little adventures. It’s been a ride.

As for the story, I dare say we are about half-finished. But don’t quote me on…

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Jack the Ripper, Bigfoot, and Elvis: Exploring Eternity

Now that Eternity has hit the stands, I want to call your attention to Mike Aronovitz’s discussion and review of Eternity,  recently Eternitypublished on Hellnotes.  Take a look and please give it a “like” if you think it’s as awesome as I do.  I’ve gotta tell you, I’m in heaven!  Alice Walks, his first novel,  is officially one of my all-time favorite ghostly tales.

Eternity is one of my favorites. I always love research and this book required lots of it.  I became an expert on Jack the Ripper, Bigfoot, and the lore that belongs to Mt. Shasta, a sacred site way up at the north end of California.  While the town of Eternity is much smaller and quainter than the real city of Mt. Shasta, Icehouse Mountain  is very much like Shasta itself. I patterned the geography and roads on those of the real mountain. And the lore.  Mt. Shasta, scene of a crystal-packing “Harmonic Convergence” some years ago, has everything from UFOs to golden cities built inside the mountain. It’s said the Count St. Germain wanders the slopes dispensing wisdom, and that Lemurians still live deep in the bowels of this sacred mountain.  Add Jack the Ripper and a couple of Elvises to the mix, and you’ve got Eternity instead of Shasta.

I’d say more, but Mike’s review sums things up better than I can.

If you’ve read Candle Bay, you’ve seen references to Eternity and Icehouse Mountain there.  In Candle Bay’s sequel, currently being written, some of the vampires of Candle Bay head north for a huge vampire family reunion taking place there.  Look for plenty of cross-references and meetings, but you don’t need to read Candle Bay or enjoy Eternity or vice versa. They’re all stand alone, but I love putting everyone – and every book – in the same world.  Most of all, I love sneaking in tiny references and seeing if anyone notices.

For instance, Sheriff John Lawson, of Moonfall, is the younger cousin of Sheriff Frank Lawson of Eternity.  And Sheriff Tully, Eternity’s new sheriff, is from the town of Santo Verde. (Santo Verde is loosely based on Redlands, CA.)  I suspect he probably went to the carnival with Ricky Piper of Bad Things.  Both undoubtedly went apple-picking up at Moonfall, loosely based on Oak Glen) since it’s only thirty minutes up the mountain.