Every time I go to the bookstore I always look at the copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to buy it for a child and watch them read it. Watch their eyes light up as they read about the March Hare or the Cook that had a pig for a baby. Which, incidentally was the part that scared me the most. I really couldn’t tell you why either. The jabberwolky never scared me…..just the cook and the pig baby. I digress though. I love retellings of many different stories, so when Titan Books asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour for Wonderland I jumped at the chance.
Synopsis: Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales the will shock, surprise and tug on the heart strings.
So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass or….But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?
Contributing Authors: Jane Yolen, M.R. Carey, Cat Rambo, Angela Slatter, Laura Mauro….and many many others.
Star Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Thoughts: Many of the stories worked really well in the wonderland type back drop. There were a couple that didn’t really work for me. But that didn’t mean that the story was great it just didn’t fit with the others. Saying that all the stories were so well written. The poems by Jane Yolen which opened and closed the anthology were so beautiful. Each story was very different then the other.
If you have an itch to return to Wonderland in a more adult manner then please check out Wonderland it does not disappoint at all. There is something there for each genre.
Make sure you go to the next stop on the blog tour!!
Big Thanks to Titan Books as always for including me in an amazing blog tour.
A couple of months ago the LOHF received an email from a lovely author that personally blew me away. He wanted to partner up and offer a grant based on the pre-sale of his poetry book he was putting together. I thought it was an amazingly generous offer that really made my heart happy. The LOHF took Steve up on his offer and a couple of us offered up guest spots to help promote the LOHF Grant. Enough of reading me waffle about. Steve sent a guest post with a little taste of The Night Crawls In by Steve Stred.
The news has been gaining steam and from what I’ve seen – many people are excited about this partnership between myself and the LOHF. We were really please to announce the 1stAnnual Writer’s Grant. I wanted to find a way to give back to the horror community and the Ladies of Horror Fiction are all about helping facilitate this!
To help fund the initial grant disbursement, I’m releasing a poetry/drabbles collection. On September 1st, 2019 The Night Crawls In will arrive. Containing 33 drabbles and 17 poems, all ebook presales and 1stday paperback sales will go towards funding the first grant. All additional sales there-after will be put towards future grants!
I worked with Mason McDonald once again to create some killer artwork for the cover, which you can see here as well!
I’m here to share two drabbles and a poem that will be featured in The Night Crawls In!
Autopsy. (A Drabble)
“Patient appears to be fifty years old. Male. Approximate height is five feet eight inches. Approximate weight is two hundred pounds. Body has multiple slash marks across his face, neck and torso, exposing his organs behind. Weapon could possibly be a machete or a large knife. Male has a large protrusion in his lower abdomen. May be a pre-existing hernia. Will begin incision at navel.”
The coroner applies light pressure to the deceased man’s stomach, the blade of the scalpel slicing easily through the skin. As the man moves along the skin ruptures.
“Good lord… there’s… something in here… moving.”
Ocean Breeze. (A Drabble)
We stood on the sandy beach, holding hands.
We thought of the old days – falling in love, our kids, our pets, the life we had lived together.
We looked at each other, waiting for the sun to rise and warm our bones.
She smiled, the lines on her face telling their tales.
I smiled back, my eyes sunken, my spirit fading.
As the sun rose, we took off our hats, our hair long since gone.
The doctor’s had tried their best, but there wasn’t any way to save us now.
With tears in our eyes, we walked into the water.
New Friends. (A Poem)
I lay on the ground and watch all of the leaves
Leap to their deaths from high in the trees.
From behind comes a noise that makes my skin shrink
A beast has appeared and is taking a drink.
It doesn’t know that I’m so very close
But it stops all movements when I kiss its nose.
Instant friends now, I hear it purr
And the woods part before us as I wrap into its fur.
Now, a bit about each of the shared drabbles and poem.
Autopsy, was an idea I had come to me when I was watching one of those amazing ‘TOP 10’ videos on Youtube. You know, those videos that take you down the worm hole of endless click bait lists. I saw a video titled something like “Ten Most Shocking Autopsy Moments.” The mortician/coroner guy was blacked out and voice disguised. I won’t tell you what was actually inside the person, but it was unique.
Ocean Breeze, is obviously (on the surface… sorry!) a sad tale, but it’s also a happy story. I was inspired by a news story I had heard years and years ago. A husband and wife who were married for 3 or 4 decades were both diagnosed with terminal cancer. They tried treatments and nothing worked. Then a few weeks later their truck was found at the end of a logging road. They’d left a note saying essentially that they wanted to spend their last moments together and simply walked into the woods, never to be seen again.
New Friends, is a poem that I wrote that was originally going to be included in my son’s story book. Then I realized after re-reading it – it’s a bit dark for a kid’s book! So here it is!
Thank you to the amazing crew at Ladies of Horror Fiction – both for hearing my idea and jumping on board. I hope we can work to growing the grant bigger and better every year!
About Steve Stred
Steve Stred is an up-an-coming dark, bleak horror author.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: The 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will be released.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
I am really thrilled to partner with Penguin Random House today to present a interview with Craig Davidson. I love a good coming of age story, don’t forget I grew up with Wonder Years and watching Stand by Me. Now, that I am 42 when I think back to those times I can see why coming of age stories can be so powerful.
A Conversation with Craig Davidson
Author of THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB (July 9; Penguin Books)
You’ve previously published four literary fiction books, including the short story collection Rust and Bone, which was adapted into a Golden Globe-nominated feature film, and penned bestselling horror novels under your pseudonym Nick Cutter. Already a prominent writer in Canadian fiction, THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB seems poised to be your big, breakout book in the U.S. Why do you think this novel will resonate with so many people? How did your previous books and your horror novels as Nick Cutter influence THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?
Well, it would be nice to break out, sure! I think this is probably the most, I guess you’d say, the most accessible book I’ve ever written? With my earlier work, well, those are the books of a young man, full of the things that some young men worry about, obsess over, aspire to—as a result, they were kinda violent, myopic in the way that twentysomethings can occasionally be, navel-gazing, all that. They were a true expression of how I felt at the time, for sure—all the things that vexed and bothered and energized me, they’re all on display. But they may’ve been narrowly focused for all that. The Cutter books … I’m really proud of those, but again, perhaps narrowly focused. They’re likely seen (fairly) as pretty extreme in some ways. They’re a product of the horror books I grew up reading; in addition to King and McCammon and Barker—who is himself a rough pill to swallow sometimes—I enjoyed David Schow, Joe Lansdale, Poppy Z Brite, Skipp and Spector; writers who had a real dangerous edge. So again, if your influences are those, and you set out to have your writing have those kinds of sharp teeth … well, likely it won’t be for everyone. But that’s not to say The Saturday Night Ghost Clubis some sort of toothless pap. It’s just that it’s concerned, I suppose, with the things that now matter to me: being a parent, nostalgia and what it felt like to be a child, the mysteries innate to that time of one’s life. Maybe I’ve become an old softie, I don’t know.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB beautifully addresses sophisticated concepts of memory, trauma, family dynamics, and mental health, but it is also very accessible and includes fantastical elements that appeal to wide range of readers. How were you able to create a story that transcends both genre and generation and why was that important?
I suppose to be honest it was a lot of luck! Most writers will likely tell you that they aren’t 100% sure where their ideas come from—although there’s often a hint of their own selves and history in their stories, as there is for me in this one—but ultimately I just find some characters who I want to follow, to invest myself in their fictional existences, and I guess to work through some element of life (my own, or just some ambient question that I’ve wanted to try to answer, in this case about the power and frailty of human memory) that I find fascinating. Where it goes from there, how successful it eventually is in capturing those characters or addressing that question … well, that’s one of the challenges and fears of writing a book. How close did I come to accomplishing my ambition, lofty though it may have been?
The mutability and fallibility of memory is a clear theme of THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, which makes the protagonist Jake an unreliable narrator as he looks back on his summer as a twelve year old. Memory continues to be a thread throughout the narrative with adult Jake’s profession as a neurosurgeon and his eccentric Uncle Calvin’s severe brain trauma. How do you think readers will look back on Jake’s story after revealing himself to be an unreliable narrator? Why does the function of brains in relation to memories interest you?
I think we’re all fairly unreliable narrators when it comes to chronicling our own lives, or even the lives of others. Some of that is pretty harmless—say, a person’s Instagram page presenting a narrative of that person that is more glamorous or wise or instructive than their lives most likely are; so, basically a curated presentation of one’s life—and some are probably more problematic. But I mean, I’ve curated my own memories over time. I remember things differently than they happened, I’m sure. I could talk to old friends about a given event from our childhood or even our twenties, and we all may remember it slightly (or vastly) differently. Why is that? Well, we evolve as people. The things we felt and believed at one point in our lives—and acted on those beliefs—may not prevail when we look back at those events years later. So we kind of … sanitize our past selves, I guess. Make our past selves measure up in some way to the people we believe ourselves to be now. Unless there’s definitive proof to dispute our memory, then I suppose it can hold up in the only place it really matters—our own minds. So however readers react to Jake, I suppose it may inform the way they think about their own memories, and how reliable they really are.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB introduces its central characters to the supernatural world. However, they come to learn that the real monsters, and ghosts that haunt us, are human. Through the scenes depicting human violence, you weave in stories of how far one will go to protect those they love. What were you trying to convey about the challenges of protecting someone from the world and themselves and, as a father yourself, particularly the desire for parents to protect their children?
I think a lot of that comes from being a parent now. Someone wrote that being a parent opens up this new intensity of love—like, something that registers on a different tenor or timbre than romantic love, or love for a friend. I’m not sure that’s the case. It could be for some, that’s not for me to say. But I do feel that it unlocked a new level of fear. I feel fear that I never really dreamt was possible when I think of all the terrible things that could happen to my kid. A lot of it is stupid, daydream-y ridiculous things, shark attacks and bizarre unfeasible threats, but they feel real to me! But in the end, I won’t always be there to protect my son. I won’t be there when he needs me, not always, and anyway, he may not take any advice I have to offer. So a great deal of that kind of love—of all love, really—is helplessness. You’re helpless to make someone love you, and you’re helpless sometimes to help those you love so much.
In THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB, you alternate between scenes of twelve-year-old Jake and adult Jake’s perspective, which creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the experiences that shape us as children and who we become as adults. How do you write such complex children?
I just came back from picking up our six-year-old from daycare, and it always amazes me the innocence of emotion and, I guess, need, on display. As adults, we withhold things, don’t say what we mean (or not quite), and sometimes fail to let other people know how we feel about them, good or bad. And that’s likely the way it needs to be to have a functioning adult society. But the kids in this novel (and in a way, Uncle Calvin, who exists in somewhat of a permanent, willfully childlike state) are in that middle zone: old enough to know you can’t just blurt out your feelings like you did when you were five, but not yet cynical or wounded that they might chastise themselves for feeling things as deeply as they do. So, to be honest, I think any ability I may have on the front is really a “feel” kind of thing; you try different ideas and different thoughts out, as presented through your younger characters—and if they feel accurate, representative of how you yourself may have felt at that age, then you go with them.
Niagara Falls is not only the perfect setting for a ghost story given its surrounding lore, such as the “Maid of the Mist,” but it is also your hometown. As someone who grew up in Cataract City, how much of the book is inspired by your own childhood? Why was it an important setting for the narrative?
A great deal, yes. A huge amount. The Niagara Falls of the book is more the Niagara Falls of my childhood and teenagehood: the taffy stands, the cheap tourist junk shops, the cheesy haunted houses and wax museums. Clifton Hill’s really corporate now! They’ve got Starbucks and IHOPs on the strip now. All the mom and pop places are kinda gone. So again, it’s that feeling of going back, for me. The more I write, the older I get, the more I inevitably seem to retreat to those times and places and people in my past. It’s not that I don’t love my life now. I do. I’m so lucky, so grateful for it. But the world now has a complexity and threat that unnerves me sometimes. You’ve got people in positions of great power who don’t seem like they belong there, aren’t doing the right things, and vast swathes of people who support them anyway. So maybe I just skedaddle back into the past as a mental health measure!
From Stranger Things to GLOW to The Americans, eighties nostalgia has become increasingly prevalent in media and pop culture over the last five years. Why do you think that decade is captivating viewers and readers right now? Why did you choose it as the time period for THE SATURDAY NIGHT GHOST CLUB?
Yes, well, the simplest answer is: I grew up and came of age in the 80s. I basically thought, what year was it when I was Jake’s age? 1988. So I tried to put myself there, at the tail end of the 80s, and write from that perspective. I would guess the popularity may be due to simple nostalgia value, plus the fact that a lot of creative people from that generation are now in their thirties and forties, and are writing books and TV shows and films, and that’s the time-frame they gravitate to for the same reasons I do. The 80s feel like such a lightweight, untroubled decade now. The Amblin decade, right? The nineties, everyone became Wall Streeters. So it feels like the right decade to tell stories for some of us who grew up at the time, and it’s perhaps an embraceable decade for those who didn’t.
About Craig Davidson
Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter
Born in Toronto, Ontario, he was raised in Calgary and St. Catharines.
His first short story collection, Rust and Bone, was published in September 2005 by Penguin Books Canada, and was a finalist for the 2006 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Stories in Rust and Bone have also been adapted into a play by Australian playwright Caleb Lewis and a film by French director Jacques Audiard.
Davidson also released a novel in 2007 named The Fighter. During the course of his research of the novel, Davidson went on a 16-week steroid cycle. To promote the release of the novel, Davidson participated in a fully sanctioned boxing match against Toronto poet Michael Knox at Florida Jack’s Boxing Gym; for the novel’s subsequent release in the United States, he organized a similar promotional boxing match against Jonathan Ames. Davidson lost both matches.
His 2013 novel Cataract City was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
I have been on a roll lately with books. Most of them I have really liked for the fun story or how they made me feel. But Salvation Day was different. It was a fast paced read but there is a lot to unpack in this book. The difference between haves and have nots. The cult of personality etc….elitism. There was a lot to think about all wrapped up in a space story with a virus. Wanna see the book trailer!! Salvation Day will be out in the wild on July 9th, 2019
Synopsis: A spaceship is hijacked by a cult. They are on a mission to get to a ship which has been decommissioned due to a virus.
What I liked: The story was well paced. I didn’t feel like it dragged at any part. Wallace’s characters were well written and three dimensional. The reader was able to connect with both the main protagonist and antagonist. I thought many of the threads through out the story were interesting and well written. Wallace brought the story arcs together neatly. To be honest that is a hard thing for a writer to do but she pulled it off wonderfully. The story itself is told from two different POV each of the POV were woven together perfectly. I really enjoyed the idea of space, virus and HELLO CULT. Wallace really did pull it off with this one.
What I didn’t Like: I would have liked more information collapse. But I put that together in my head.
Star Rating: 4.5 Stars
My Thoughts: So lets talk a little about some of the themes in this books. The cult of personality is one that I thought was handled very impressively. There are aspects throughout the story you are thinking to yourself this could totally be today….especially when talking about misinformation or rather who is privy to information. I felt like Wallace was drawing inspiration from many of the dramas that are played out on our screens everyday. There was a twist that I wasn’t expecting to be honest. I was like OH well okay, sometimes twists don’t necessarily fit the story but this one totally did. It made sense to where Wallace was taking the story. I really appreciated the story and can’t wait to see what Wallace releases next.
NOW for the really exciting news Berkley is holding a 24 hour giveaway for Salvation Day!! Click here to enter the giveaway.
I love working with Titan Books. I have been introduced to new authors and so many different stories. Today I am super excited to participate in a blog tour for The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion.
After World War iii, Earth is in ruins, and the final armies have come to a reluctant truce. Everyone must obey the law – in every way- or risk shattering the fragile peace and endangering the entire human race.
Although Arika Cobane is a member of the race whose backbreaking labor provides food for the remnants of humanity, she is destined to become a member of the Kongo elite. After ten grueling years of training, she is on the threshold of taking her place of privilege far from the fields. But everything changes when a new student arrives. Hosea Khan spews dangerous words of treason: what does peace matter if innocent lives are lost to maintain it?
As Arika is exposed to new beliefs, she realizes that the laws that she has dedicated herself to uphold are the root of her people’s misery. If Arika is to liberate her people, she must unearth her fierce heart and discover the true meaning of freedom: finding the courage to live – or die -without fear.
About Agnes Gomillion
Agnes Gomillion is a speaker and writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. Homegrown in the Sunshine State, Agnes studied English Literature at the University of Florida before transitioning to Levin College of Law, where she earned both a Juris Doctorate and Legal Master degree. Agnes is a voracious reader of the African-American literary canon and a dedicated advocate for marginalized people everywhere.
What I liked: There is so much to unpack with this story. The story feels very personal. The first thought I had was that this was the history of the US but set in the future. Gomillion’s writing style draws the reader into the story and doesn’t let you go. The feeling of danger through the book was palatable. The characters are third dimensional and well fleshed out. There are parts of the Novel that are hard to read, emtionally. But Gomillion deals with each of these issues in the novel with such grace that the reader is put at ease.
My thoughts: The scene where Arika is being locked away in the pit was so well written. When you are reading you feel the dark and the claustrophobia that Arika must have been feeling at the time. The story was in the vein of The Handmaids Tale. It is one of those stories that are going to stay with me for a while. I want to push this book into everyone’s hand to read.
Next Stop on the Blog Tour
I want to thank Titan for allowing me to participate on the Blog Tour for The Record Keeper. The next stop on the tour is Travel the Shelves and Angry Angel Books.
I read The Mermaid by Christina Henry last year so when I was asked to share the animated cover for The Girl in Red I jumped at the chance. Just LOOK AT THIS BEAUTY!!!
Synopsis: From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems. It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago. There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined. Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…
I can’t wait to get my hands on it and read it!! Doesn’t the synopsis sound delicious! If you haven’t checked out any of Christina’s work I would suggest you do so as soon as possible!!
About Christina Henry: is the author of Alice, Red Queen, Lost Boy, The Mermaid, and the national bestselling Black Wings series, featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle, Beezle. She lives in Chicago and can be found online at christinahenry.net and on Twitter @C_Henry_Author.
The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.
The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?
As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?
How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction
By Aliya Whiteley
I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.
When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.
Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:
Use research to work out what your character knows
There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.
Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know
At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.
Don’t feel constrained by what others have done
When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.
There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.
What can I tell you?
I write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.
My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.
I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.