Book and Movie Reviews

I Go Willingly Into the Darkness with The King of Pain

848x300_NewTEIAB_011515 I have read many books that fall under different genres. But most of the stories I read are stories I love to write: Thrillers and Horror.

As I have said, I was introduced to Stephen King at an early age, and then, Edgar Allan Poe by my seventh grade English Teacher. I discovered H.P. Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson along the way. They were definitely ahead of their time; the stories they penned are timeless and frightening still.

There are many authors out there that I admire. But right now, there is only one I adore.
John F.D. Taff.
My favorite books of his, Little Deaths ,and most recent, The End In All Beginnings. They are positively the best collections I have read in quite some time.

There are a lot of people who consider themselves die-hard horror fans. I used to think of myself that way. But my idea of horror is not the blood and gore or the, you can see it coming, jump scares.

What I consider horror is not just the idea that there are possibly monsters out there, but that you can be the monster. When you feel for a character, even though he has done awful things, that’s good horror. And when you read a story that can make your skin crawl while you’re wiping away a tear, that’s great horror. That is what Mr. Taff has done.

Each of his stories are unique, and in your face. They are dreadful, yet intelligent– terrifying and lovely. Yes, they fall under the genre of Horror but for reasons that run far deeper than your heart dares to explain.

John F.D. Taff has been named Horror’s New King of Pain and rightfully so. His stories take his readers on strange and fearful journeys. But I grab his hand and go willingly because I know even in the darkness I am safe with this author.

Author Talk, Short & Dark

A Kiss in the Dark~

Horror is indistinct, misunderstood and often portrayed poorly.So to set the record straight, these horror writers give their definition of horror.

Horror defined by Adam Ickes:

Horror is an exploration into the dark recesses of the unknown and the misunderstood. It is a candid look at what terrifies us at a subconscious level and gives those feelings of dread and fright a face that we can relate to. Good horror blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. It makes you look into shadowy corners and wonder if you just saw something move in the blackness. It instills a sense of fear where there should be none.

 

adam bookHe returned to the back of the truck and yanked the sheet off the girl. The stench of decomposition caught in his nostrils and brought him to a halt. He twisted his head in disgust and grabbed the side of the truck to steady himself until he could regain his composure. With a shake of his head, the compulsion to vomit faded, but the smell still lingered.

From Sins of a Father by Adam Ickes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Brian Moreland:

Horror is anything that produces dread, fright or fear. It can take over your senses while watching a scary movie, reading dark fiction, or touring through a haunted house on Halloween. The adrenaline rush can be felt as a fun, exhilarating thrill-ride or so terrifying you want to crawl within yourself and hide. Horror can be a dark adversary faced in real life, such as a serial killer, the brutalities of war, or a violent accident that’s so gruesome you have to look away. It can be news that’s so shocking that time stands still. Whether in reality or through entertaining mediums of fantasy, Horror is confronting Death and all the dark emotions it brings up. For those lucky enough to survive, facing fears takes us to the pinnacle of what it feels like to be Alive.

 

 

witchinghouseThe house that ate people stood within a coven of pine trees like an ancient god being worshipped. The high branches touched its shingled roof with reverence. Towering three stories, the rock house was far from being a flawless god. The moss-covered stones that cobbled its walls were pocked from years of rot and abandon. Fungus and creeper vines had spread across its facade, leafy tentacles invading cracks where boards covered the windows. The glass within their frames had long ago shattered. The Old Blevins House, as it came to be called, was set miles deep within the East Texas forest and rumored to be haunted.

From The Witching House by Brian Moreland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Clarissa Johal:

Horror knots your stomach and pulls the breath from your lips. A horror/gothic horror novel should make you look over your shoulder and ask the question, “What if?”

 

struck-bookThey were in a house. A Victorian. Fire burned in the fireplace. She could smell the burning wood. The light reflected off elaborate, but worn, wallpaper and furniture. A half-eaten biscuit lay on a delicate-looking plate. An empty teacup lay on its side. Julian took her by the hand and led her up a winding staircase. She studied him from behind. Tall and lean, he was quite broad-shouldered. Fine white hair draped across his back like silk. His form-fitting, tailored jacket hit mid-thigh, and matching black pants were tucked into knee-high leather boots. He walked with catlike grace, his boots making light sounds on the stairs.

Otherworldly, her thoughts whispered. Still in her hospital gown, Gwynneth felt vulnerable and naked. Her bare feet pressed against the wooden floor. Grit stuck to her toes. He led her down a hallway lit by fluted glass light fixtures along the walls. At the end of the hallway was a door.Never taking his eyes off hers, Julian opened it.
Dark figures scattered like exploding glass. Red, so much red. There was blood everywhere. Blood-soaked sheets, pillows; blood pooled onto the wooden floor and soaked into an ornate carpet. A woman lay across the bed. She wore an old-fashioned white nightgown, which was plastered to her body. Her long dark hair spilled across the sheets. Gaping wounds covered her chest. A knife lay on the floor. The windows were open, and white curtains fluttered in the evening breeze.
The creatures writhed in the corners as light from the hallway shattered their darkness.
From Struck by Clarissa Johal
Horror defined by C.J. Sellers:
The aim of horror is to provoke emotions within the realm of fear. The genre’s villains are not merely mean, vile, or impure — they are monstrously so. The ordinary is violated by a perfidious chaos wherein the world ceases to provide ample comfort or quarry. In this sudden atmosphere of dread, readers cannot tear our eyes away as our nightmares manifest into life.

 

cynthia book

“I shivered in my solitude, not only from the cold, but also from a growing terror. I was actually beginning to believe this superstitious nonsense on some level and could not reason myself away from it.”

From Pale Hunter by C.J. Sellers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by K.Z. Morano:

Horror is life… or a milder reflection of it. Horror as a genre captures people’s capacity for love and hope and courage. It shows people’s will to survive under seemingly impossible circumstances. In the end, horror shows you how precious life is and it leaves you with the question of how hard are you willing to fight just to cling to it.

 

KZMaranoKatie came home from school, the delicious aroma from the kitchen greeting her.

“Mom?”

An eerie voice reverberated through the hallway.

Her mother was singing some strange, fragmented lullaby…

The door creaked open.

“Shhh…“ Katie’s mother warned. “You’ll wake the baby.”

Part of the blanket fell away to reveal raw turkey cradled in her mother’s arms.

She held it to her breast, lovingly patting its wet pimpled flesh.

“W-Where’s the baby?” Katie quavered.

Her mother’s face split into a demented grin. “Dinner will be ready soon.”

Slowly, numbly, Katie walked towards the kitchen. Something hissed and sputtered in the oven.

Mommy Makes Dinner (from 100 Nightmares) by K.Z. Morano

 

Horror defined by Lucian Barnes:

I must admit, I do not share the same sentiments as a majority of the population. If a story is written and would be considered for a PG-13 rating if a movie were made of it, in my eyes it shouldn’t be classified as horror. To me, true horror isn’t made up of situations that only make you jump a little; they make you cringe, cover your eyes, and sometimes tickle your gag reflex and make you want to vomit. In order to accomplish these things, I believe a good horror story needs to employ plays on the emotional stability of a character, a healthy dose of elements that ignite a fearful reaction in the audience, tension and unpredictability (a book is usually not very good if you can see what’s coming before it happens), and lastly, gore.  There are many ways to achieve this result, whether by psychological means or the use of supernatural entities.

 

Lucian Barnes Destined for DarknessHis dreams were very bizarre and disturbing, but from them an idea formed about how to feed his family. Why let the victims he hunted down wither and rot in the ground when they could provide his family with meat. They were already cut into pieces when he buried them and it would only be a little more work to carve the flesh from their bones.

From Destined for Darkness by Lucian Barnes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror defined by Thomas Amo:

When suddenly everything normal suddenly becomes clear something is wrong.
That feeling you get when you’re alone and you know, someone is watching you. You’re alone in your home downstairs
and you hear footsteps above you. The fact you’ve realized something is wrong..usually means, it’s already too late.

 

thomas bookMatilda could hear her father’s sobs in the distance, and it tore at her tiny heart. She slipped from under her covers, pulled her overnight case out from under the bed and opened it. Inside was Rosie’s book of witchcraft and book of spells. Matilda turned the soiled pages and looked at ink drawings of covens dancing around fires, goats being worshipped, and a faceless white creature with a single horn growing from the side of its head, until the tip of the horn, was nothing more than a wisp. Matilda stared at it for a long time. It had thin slits where its eyes should have been and no mouth. It was chained to a demon that went by the name Zagan. Matilda eyed the caption under the picture. It read: Zagan, keeper of the faceless one that does the unthinkable things death will not. 

The image troubled her, as it certainly looked terrifying enough to her.

“Zagan, I wish you could help my daddy,” she whispered.

From Midnight Never Ends by Thomas Amo

 

 

 

Horror defined by Latashia Figueroa

Imagine you are in a small room, the lights are out and you can see nothing. Not even your own hand in front of you. You believe you are alone until you hear breathing. Your breaths become quick and shallow. The breaths you hear are slow and deep. They surround you. Your hairs become prickly, your mouth dries. And then lips land flush on yours. It is sudden. You are surprised,shocked and filled with anxiety. Before you can release a scream, a door opens. It brings forth light. It is your escape and yet you do not flee. You are both haunted and captivated by the kiss in the dark.

Every direction looked the same. The coolness of the air did not stop the sweat from pouring down his face and into his eyes. His stomach turned, his heart fluttered violently within him. He instinctively reached into his pants pocket for his cell phone but quickly remembered all cell phones had been confiscated upon arrival.

They were told “no outside distractions.” It would limit their experience here. No smart phones, or iPads, or even a camera. It was to be a weekend without distractions, a chance to focus on himself for a change and make some very necessary improvements to his life. For the past two days, he and the others had endured intense physical and spiritual labor. But it was worth it, Brad had thought. It would all pay off in the end. He had felt lucky to be here, that he had been chosen to experience this spiritual awakening.

Now, running in the woods alone, in the middle of nowhere, terror scalding him from head to toe, he didn’t feel so lucky anymore.

The Retreat (from This Way Darkness) by Latashia Figueroa

 

Author Talk

My Writing Process- Blog Tour

I want to thank my good friend and fellow writer, Adam Ickes for inviting me on this “Writing Process Blog Tour.” If you haven’t already, check out Adam’s great horror shorts Zombie Tree and 101 Tales of Terror.

I read my first horror novel in 7th grade- Pet Sematary by Stephen King and never looked back. 

The dark and macabre, the strange and unknown has always captivated me. Why? Well, I believe there is very little separating us all from shadow and light, sanity and lunacy. And since those malevolent little thoughts constantly haunt my mind, I decided to explore them, because they won’t allow me to subdue them. And although my stories may be a little disturbing, I assure you, I am not. (My husband disagrees).

My debut horror anthology “This Way Darkness” will be available May 2014. 

What am I working on?

I am in the editing process of my short story anthology This Way Darkness and I am currently working on my second anthology. Yes, it is horror. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t how to answer that question. There are many people out there when they hear Horror they automatically think blood and guts. I don’t necessarily go for gory but I try to write stories that will cause the reader to say, “Hey that’s definitely possible”, and because it is, the reader becomes afraid.  

 Why do I write what I do?

 I don’t know, because I’m strange? That’s what my husband said after reading one of my stories. I remember as a child hearing the Twilight Zone theme music and being entranced by it. I knew something scary and cool was about to happen. Then I read Stephen King’s Pet Semetary and I loved the fear I felt. I wanted more. Horror makes you feel trapped. It causes anxiety. And yet the reader/viewer does not want out. They hang on, sometimes forgetting to exhale, waiting to see where they will end up. 

 How does your writing process work?

When I get a story idea I create a vision in my head, a movie so to speak,  and ask myself “Would I pay to see this?” If the answer is yes, I write down a sentence. Sometimes I can write an entire synopsis but that’s rare. Then I plug headphones in my ears and listen to music that gets my imagination flowing. John Murphy, God is an Astronaut, Emarosa to name a few.  I can write some days for hours. Other days I can only write for an hour.  It’s a slow process, sometimes painful. But I love every minute. 

 Next week, the Writing Process Blog Tour continues with

Adam Booth-

Adam is the author of zombie horror THE END. THE END is one woman’s account of the end of her life, her family and everything, and is a unique and acclaimed take on the genre. Adam is based in Shropshire in the UK but hopes to travel both far and wide shortly and his second book, a gothic horror provisionally called ALISON, is scheduled to be released this Summer. www.thefirstmanscrapbook.com.
adam booth

 

 

 

John F.D. Taff-
John F.D. Taff has published more than 70 short stories in markets that include Cemetery Dance, Deathrealm, Big Pulp, Postscripts to Darkness, Hot Blood: Fear the Fever, Hot Blood: Seeds of Fear and Shock Rock II.  Over the years, six of his shorts have been named honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror.  His first collection of short stories, Little Deaths, was published in 2012 and has been well-reviewed by critics and readers alike. The collection made it to the Bram Stoker Reading List, has been the No. 1 Bestseller at Amazon in the Horror/Short Stories category and was named the No. 1 Horror Collection of 2012 by HorrorTalk.  Taff’s The Bell Witch is an historical novel inspired by the events of a real-life haunting and was released in August 2013. His thriller Kill/Off was published in December 2013. His novella collection The End in All Beginnings will be published by Grey Matter Press this summer.  More information about John F.D. Taff is available athttp://www.johnfdtaff.com

 

  John F.D. Taff

 

Wendy Potocki-

Wendy Potocki lives and writes in NYC. If that isn’t scary enough, she writes in the genre of horror. She feels creating good horror is an art form. She religiously devotes herself to pursuing it over hill and dale — and in the crevices of her keyboard.

Named one of the Top Ten “New” Horror Authors by Horror Novel Reviews, she has seven self-published novels. Book trailers for many of her works may be found on her official website http://www.wendypotocki.com/. Her newest frightmare is THRILL. It’s a non-stop chillfest and has been attracting a lot of attention. Her next planned projects are The Witch’s Stone, The Virgin, One Night in the Woods, and ZaSo, a Gothic tale of horror. Please subscribe to her mailing list for updates and giveaway information.
http://bicameralwriting.wordpress.com/join-my-mailing-list/

In her spare time, she loves to go for long walks, drink Starbucks Apple Chai Lattes, make devotional offerings to her cat named Persephone and be stilled by the grace, beauty and magic of ballet.

 

wpotocki

Author Talk

A Shout Out To: BOOKS of the DEAD PRESS

booksofthedead

I was in search of a book cover for my soon to be released Horror anthology. My friend John F.D. Taff (Author of The Bell Witch, Kill/Off and Little Deaths), advised me to check out Books of the Dead Press created by James Roy Daley. Not only did I purchase a cool book cover design (to be revealed next month) but I also discovered a great bunch of Horror Writers, including a few from the founder of the small publication, James Roy Daley. Check it out Horror fans!

james