Archive for October, 2008

Let me share some news!

DARK LULLABY is now available from Fantastic Literature Ltd, UK’s largest and best online purveyor of out of print books, rare books and used books in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, thrillers, ghost stories, weird tales and macabre fiction both in paperback, hardcover and magazine format.

At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her–her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.
The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.
But nothing, not even the stunning splendor of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…


“Mayra Calvani is a masterful storyteller… Dark Lullaby is complex and compelling…” –Habitual Reader

“Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end.” –ePinions

“Dark Lullaby is a page-turner. A horror story from the top shelf! You’ll love it.” –5 stars from Euro-Reviews

“This is a terrific horror…” –Harriet Klausner

“Dark Lullaby will capture you with its rich descriptions, its exotic location, and the need to uncover the dark secrets hidden within its pages.” –Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

Dark Lullaby
By Mayra Calvani
Whiskey Creek Press
EBook formats ISBN: 978-1-59374-908-8, $5.99
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-59374-907-1, $13.95
September 2007
Supernatural Thriller
Available from Fictionwise, Amazon, and Whiskey Creek Press
* Discounts for bookstores and libraries
Contact the publisher: Phone: 307-265-8585, Fax: 307-265-4640

Thank you, Simon and Laraine, for stocking my book in your wonderful store! I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon as part of my Halloween Festival Interviews this October. Read my interview with this bookseller here.

Read some of my interviews about the writing of Dark Lullaby at:
Patricia’s Vampire Notes (note: my book is NOT about vampires)
Fiction Scribe

Watch the trailer!

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Pop culture critic, blogger and commentator Bill Sherman is the founder of Pop Culture Gadabout, a blog focusing on comics, music, TV and film criticism. He's also the Comics Review Editor at Blogcritics Magazine. In this interview, Sherman talks about his blog, the reason why zombies are the 'hard-core champions' of all horror fiends, and what's popular in horror books and films at the moment.

Why don't you start by telling us a little about yourself and your blog, Pop Culture Gadabout?

I'm a fifty-ish free-lancer who works in social services by day. I've played with pop culture criticism most of my life, writing for giveaway music papers and the like in the past – as well as more focused periodicals like The Comics Journal. Per its title, "Pop Culture Gadabout" reflects my generalist take on things pop cultural: on any given day, the blog might focus on a comics title, a new music release, something from TV and/or movies – with an occasional half-assed digression into social commentary. In this, it reflects the flibbertigibbet nature of my own mental processes. I've been blogging for six-plus years now, which sort of amazes me . . . Beyond my home blogging, I'm also the Comics Review editor at Blogcritics.

Vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies, ghosts…. who's the enduring champion after all these years and why?

At the risk of coming across too Hank Yarbo-like ("Robots or werewolves – who would win?"), zombies remain the hard-core champion. Apart from the gore, I think the one thing that most resonates with modern zombie horror (as opposed to the old-fashioned voodoo type best repped by I Walked with A Zombie) is the fear that we all can become mindless and indistinguishable, part of the slavering mob, so quickly. I have a soft spot for vampires from all those Hammer Films that I watched as a teen, but vampires generally feed only on the young and pretty. Zombies bite anybody and fact of becoming one isn't the least bit sexy – to geezerly me, that's the creepiest.

Some people think that horror writers, just because they write horror, must be 'twisted' in some way, but when you look at some of the famous horror authors, you see that most of them are decent, highly moral people. Some would view this as a type of contradiction between an author's persona and the books he writes. Could you comment on this?

Me, I think anybody who writes for a living must be twisted. But, seriously, when I was younger I would've probably pulled out the old catharsis line to help explicate this seeming contradiction, but these days I'm less sure how valid it is.

You review a fair amount of horror books in your blog. What are some of the titles you've particularly enjoyed these past few years? Any emerging talents you think deserve more recognition?

I've had less time recently to read much prose fiction these past few years, so my primary focus has been on horror graphic novels and manga. Of these, I've particularly enjoyed the horror manga of Junji Ito and Hideshi Hino – the latter has a talent for the disturbing that lingers far longer than you initially think it might, based on his caricature-y drawing style. I've also grown hooked on ghost-centric manga series like Mail, which at their best are as creepily evocative as any of the best Japanese ghost flicks.

With western comics, I'm most heartened by the reprints of a classic hallucinatory undergrounder Rory Hayes (So That's Where the Demented Wented), who combined a primitive art style with some gleefully disturbing storytelling, as well as the new Creepy Archives, which reprints the more conservative, but still-enjoyable old-school storytelling of the Warren magazines of the sixties. Some great art in that set by the likes of Reed Crandall, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta and more.

I did want to remind folks of Mike Dubisch's Weirdling, a sci-fi horror graphic novel from the end of last year with a strong Lovecraftian feel. The book deserves to be remembered.

What types of horror seem more popular at the moment? Is atmospheric, traditional horror still thriving? If so, what do you think is the reason for its enduring value?

In box office terms, the slasher/psychological wham-bang of Se7en-inspired flicks like Saw seem to be the biggest draw these days. You can even see their influence in teleseries like Criminal Minds. The best ones aren't short on atmosphere, though I've gotta admit a steady diet of dingy warehouse settings and chain-bedecked basements can get pretty wearying. There will always be a place for so-called "traditional" horror, if only because the material is so conducive to metaphor.

What about movies? What are some of the best horror movies ever made? the worst?

I'm fairly unsurprising when it comes to a best-of list: Freaks, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead, Eyes without a Face, The Brood. For me, the worst horror flicks are the ones that elicit no response at all, that just sit there. I can enjoy myself at a bad low-budget horror flick like, oh, Horror of Party Beach, or a pure piece of schlock exploitation like one of Herschel Gordon Lewis' flicks because they have an energy to 'em that keeps you watching. But when a flick can't get up the gumption to generate even a simple jump-in-yer-seat fright, that's when I'm gone.

How do you see the horror book market at the moment–thriving or declining?

Far as I can tell, the book market in general has been hurting, though great genre work of all strips has its steady devotees. Don't seem to see as many cheapie horror paperbacks as I used to in the drugstore, though, so maybe that says something about the market.

What does a pop culture blogger do on Halloween?

This year, I plan to take the day off from work and watch cheap Dollar Store DVDs of public domain grade-z horror flicks – which, come to think of it, is exactly what I've done the last three Halloweens. Guess I'm stuck in a rut . . .

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Just to advise 'em to have a safe and scary holiday.

Thanks for this interview, Bill!

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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Having already worked in publishing for a number of years, I was not naive when I entered the submission fray. I knew I would have only one chance to submit my fiction to my agent, and that she would have only one chance to submit it to publishers.

So I held on to it, revising and polishing obsessively over twenty-three drafts before I shared it with my agent. I knew there was nothing harder than writing fiction, and I needed to convince her (and myself) that I could write a story that breathed and sweated and sang with life. I also knew enough to hire a number of editors and professional advisors to tell me when it didn’t.

Finally, when it was ready to go out to publishers, I was the one who was sweating. It is hard to convey the night-waking, body-trembling experience of putting a creation of one’s soul out into the world for acceptance and rejection. But the day finally came when I was able to pry it out of my Muse’s clawed and nervous hands.

As my agent prepared to send out the manuscript, she heard from a Brazilian scout who had gotten ahold of the manuscript early and already had an offer from a Brazilian publisher. Wow. I was amazed. I had lived in Brazil, loved Brazil and its people, knew no one in the publishing world there, but now loved Brazil even more for their early embrace of my Muse. I guess it is fitting, since The Lost Diary of Don Juan is about love, romance, and passion, and my caged North American heart had been broken open in Brazil (that’s another story!).

We went into the American auction with a sense of excitement and Brazilian ginga (sway). I was fortunate that the best offer came from a brilliant editor named Emily Bestler at Atria Books, a very skillful and commercially savvy arm of Simon & Schuster. To my amazement, Emily wanted a two-book deal, The Lost Diary of Don Juan and an untitled next book. Outer-body-experiences are hard to describe, since all we really know are our five senses. Suffice it to say that there was a tingling sensation and a sense of the laws of gravity loosening their grip on my body, much like being an astronaut floating above the surface of my house.

And then remarkably, the book started to sell in other countries around the world, from Brazil to Bulgaria and Taiwan to Turkey. As the Dutch publisher later confided in me during a tour of Seville with journalists from around the world (another unimaginable dream come true), “I had to have it and your agent knew it.”

What would Don Juan do? We had to celebrate. So we got period costumes (the novel takes place in Golden Age Spain, about the time of Shakespeare–men were not meant to wear tights), hired a sword-fighting instructor and a Spanish dance teacher (I had taken lessons in both while I was writing the novel), made a big vat of sangria, and reenacted scenes from the novel. Unimaginable fun.

Perhaps the most truly unimaginable experience, however, was going to the Frankfurt Book Fair to meet what ultimately became thirty publishers around the world. I was asked to address the publishers. I held my glass of rioja and could hardly speak. I had been a dyslexic boy, who took a long time to read, and to this day I still break out in a sweat every time I enter a bookstore. My English teacher had told me I would never be a writer (why did teachers use to say stuff like that?), but I persevered and pursued the dream of being a novelist.

And then there I was, looking out at a room full of publishers from around the world, all expressing their gratitude for the book that I had given them and their readers. I could not believe that I was awake. But it was not a dream.

–Douglas Carlton Abrams

About the author:

Douglas Carlton Abrams is a former editor at the University of California Press and HarperSanFrancisco. He is the co-author of a number of books on love, sexuality, and spirituality, including books written with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and three children. In his life and work, he is interested in cultivating all aspects of our humanity —body, emotions, mind, and spirit. His goal in writing fiction is to create stories that not only entertain, but also attempt to question, enchant, and transform.

Doug’s desire in writing the book was not only to resurrect this greatest of historical lovers and to give voice to his true motives; he was also moved to write a book that would explore the tension between lust and love and that would confront the human question of how any man or woman can find lifelong satisfaction in one committed relationship. To find out more about the origins of The Lost Diary and the myth of Don Juan, and to learn about forthcoming novels, please visit www.LostDiaryofDonJuan.com or www.DouglasCarltonAbrams.com

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Thanks for stopping at the Dark Phantom today, Christine. How long have you been writing dark stories?

For a while now. Funny as while I lean towards mystery first, I always seem to want to write horror. Blame it on Stephen King. Ha!

Tell us about your story, The Witch Tree. What inspired it?

Jimmy Grayson thinks he’s found utopia – a new house, a nice porch to relax on… and then THEY came…. Day by day, they arrive by the dozens, the hundreds, their beady eyes, watching, waiting. Jimmy fears for his sanity.

How will it end?

Who will survive?

Will it be him-or them?

I can tell it’s spring out here in Wisconsin when the red-winged blackbirds appear. We’ll get hundreds sitting in the trees, swinging on the cattails. They flock in hundreds, then do the same in fall, until they suddenly disappear, flying off to wherever they go until next spring. It’s a screeching, noisy, eerie mass.

Have you written other books with paranormal or supernatural elements?

My middle grade book, Searching For A Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, from Quake/Echelon Press, has some spooky elements and a creepy family legend. Sam and her friend, Lita, are staying at her great aunt’s old Victorian while they search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh’s famous painting, Starry Night. They’re working in an old shed that Aunt Hilda once used as her painting studio, and where a family barn burned down, inspiring the family legend. Plus, Sam tends to like to tease Lita, who is kind of skittish about ghosts.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Readers are welcome to stop by my website, http://cverstraete.com and also see some of the miniatures I collect. I also am featuring various Halloween miniatures at my blog, Candid Canine.

Bonus: Visit my blog for a Scavenger Hunt this week and a chance to win some Halloween miniatures and a pdf copy of “The Witch Tree.” See question at end.

What’s your favorite horror novel? What about movies?

I have several favorites, Salem’s Lot, Dracula, Pet Sematery… Movies: We’ve gotten into a tradition of seeing a creepy movie near Halloween, probably Saw. I like suspense too.

What do you usually do on Halloween?

I usually go with my sister to a few local Haunted house events. Nothing like a good scare!

Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Visit Candid Canine this week for details on how to follow my Spooky Scavenger Hunt.

Scavenger Hunt Clue 1:

On Halloween, we go door to door

To get candy, look up to get scared and more

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Prolific, multi-genre, award-winning author Karen Wiesner has written over 55 books in the past 10 years, many of which have been nominated or won awards. She's the founder of ‘Jewels of the Quill’, a group of 12 award-winning women authors from the Midwest who help to promote each other. Karen’s books cover such genres as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror and action/adventure. She also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles such as her bestseller, First Draft in 30 Days, available from Writer’s Digest Books.

Thanks for this interview, Karen. Please tell us about your romantic horror short story collection, Woodcutter's Grim Series: Classic Tales of Horror Retold.

For the ten generations since the evil first came to Woodcutter's Grim, the Guardians have sworn an oath to protect the town from the childhood horrors that lurk in the black woods. Without them, the town would be defenseless…and the terrors would escape to the world at large.

The collection contains my previously published books in the Woodcutter's Grim Series: "Papa" (Book 1) and "Blood of Amethyst" (Book 2), plus 2 bonus stories in the series never before published: “Dancing to the Grave” (Book 3) and "The Amethyst Tower" (The Final Chapter).

"Papa," (Book 1)

A wickedly horrifying rendering of the classic children’s story “Hansel and Gretel”, in which modern revenge is served up sweet…

Less than a year after Randall Parker left his family for elementary school teacher, Amy, the unthinkable happens–is ex-wife and two children are killed in a car accident. Ever since the accident, Amy has had terrible nightmares in which Rand’s son and daughter return to exact revenge on their father and Amy herself (the wicked step-mother) for abandoning them. When Rand convinces her to come away with him for a healing respite to an isolated cabin in the woods, Amy’s guilt-filled nightmares turn into pure horror.

"Blood of Amethyst," (Book 2)

A blood-curdling answer as to why the childhood-nightmare creature Rumpelstiltskin so wanted a child of his own…

Amethyst Phillip's father–her only family–disappears in Woodcutter Grim's evil woods. Town Sheriff and Guardian Gabe Reece sends out a search party and eventually they find the body, completely drained of blood. A devastated Amethyst refuses to do anything but carry on all by herself in the isolated area she grew up.

But something strange is happening, and Gabe realizes it every time he drops by to check on the woman who's held his heart for long years. She's grown pale, cold. She's sleeping all the time, waking only in the night, when her taste for blood overwhelmes her. Then Gabe becomes aware that something in the woods is calling to her, something that's stealing her life…

Gabe will face his deadliest foe yet when the woman he loves falls prey to a nameless creature who wants her very soul.

"Dancing to the Grave" (Book 3)

Loosely based on “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” The children of Woodcutter’s Grim are changing…and only one person, music teacher Diana Anders, realizes the truth. Can she and her husband, Kurt Jones, a member of the ancient lineage of the Protectorate’s Chosen Seven, save them and the future of their town?

"The Amethyst Tower" (The Final Chapter)

Loosely based on "Rapunzel." The isolated maiden meets her knight in a time-traveler who's come into the future to rescue her from the Warlock Lord holding her captive in the amethyst tower. Where else but in the fairy-tale-horror town of Woodcutter's Grim?

You write a fair share of romantic horror. What is romantic horror and how is it different from paranormal romances?

There’s very little difference between these genres. I guess I’d have to say the main and maybe only real difference is that I consider romantic horror a harder version of scary—paranormal romances are generally much “lighter” than romantic horror. Some paranormals aren’t even scary. They’re simply unusual or include some unnatural elements. My romantic horror is the kind that you don’t want to be alone in a dark room while reading, not unless you like being scared stupid, lol! Also, with a romantic horror, there may or may not be a happy ending and certainly the ending wouldn’t be “traditional”. Two carnivorous creatures, for instance, going off to spend an eternity together isn’t exactly your typical romantic ending. In a paranormal romance, there’s the usual happily-ever-after you’d expect to find.

There are many subgenres under Horror. Do you think some have more literary value than others–traditional vs. extreme body slashers?

I can’t really answer this with anything other than my own opinion. I don’t see the point of gratuitous violence in movies or books, especially if there’s no real purpose for it. If the story can get across the impression without, it’s best not to go slasher. I don’t read or watch either. If it’s realistic and furthers plot and characters, okay, include it, though you’ll get an “Eew, that wasn’t necessary!” out of me. I do love a good scare though, and that’s what I write…stories that will make you scared of your own shadow.

An atmosphere of dread is important when writing horror. How do you achieve this? Do you have any special writing quirks–lighting up candelabra, moody music, etc?

I try to listen to music that fits the story I’m writing, and I have an absolutely huge CD collection that allows me to have on hand just about any genre of music to do this. It also doesn’t hurt to write a scary story when it’s night and you’re in the dark with only a candle lit. Plus, I think watching a movie in the genre that you’re writing before you start writing helps immensely, too. Not to get ideas, but just to get that feeling of dread deep in the chest.

What are the most important elements of a horror story?

Suspense. That’s the true key to writing a horror. Moving slowly, using all of the senses, painting a picture in the mind of the reader that gets the short hairs standing up all over their body. Also, setting the terror up well in advance makes a story irresistible. The reader knows something awful has happened, you’ve given them a taste of it, but when it comes…that reader will be shivering in his shoes. Really, really good characters (and the word “good” here refers to both well-drawn, sympathetic, intriguing characters as well as to their moral goodness) are also a cornerstone of any great story, but if you don’t have a balance to the evil you’ve presented in your story it won’t be anywhere near as satisfying. Dracula had his Van Helsing. The aliens had Lieutenant Ellen Ripley. Keep in mind, of course, that the “good” character may not set his goal to vanquish evil but might end up doing so because there’s no one else to do it. But this character shows his quality by not quitting when it might be easier to do so.

Who are your favorite supernatural fiends? Why?

Aliens (from the Alien movies). Vampires. Loved ones coming back from the dead (isn’t that a horrible thing to even admit to? but they make for the most excruciatingly scary fiends!). Dinosaurs—I just adore big, terrifying dinosaurs, and nobody does them better than Michael Crichton in my opinion. I also just read The Ruins by Scott Smith. It’s been so many years since I read a horror this good, I honestly can’t remember anything that captured me this much. The movie was terrible (gratuitous), but I read the book in a single day. I couldn’t put it down. The “fiend” in this one is totally unexpected and unique.

Who are your favorite horror authors?

A slew of the classics with a mix of some modern authors: Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Stephen King’s old stuff, Michael Crichton, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Anne Rice’s vampires and witches. Some Dean Koontz (I’m still waiting for him to finish his Christopher Snow trilogy).

Are you dressing up this Halloween? If yes, what as?

No. Until I was older than should have been allowed, I trick or treated, usually dressed as a witch. Sometimes, as an adult, I’ll dress up as a cat. Come Halloween, you’ll find me passing out candy and trying not to eat too much of it as I do!

Will there be a second collection of the Woodcutter's Grim Series?

Definitely! This second, four book volume will be based on the oldest family in Woodcutter's Grim, the Shaussgenys (yes, owners of the cursed cabin spoken of in the first volume stories).

I'll be writing the first story, "A Friend in Need" (Book 4 of the Woodcutter’s Grim Series) This one is loosely tailored after "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse". It'll be included in Jewels of the Quill's third Christmas Anthology, Christmas Gems, coming September 2011 as well as in the Woodcutter's Grim Series collection, Volume II (early 2014 release).

Other stories in this collection will be: "Bewitched" (Book 5), based on "The Little Mermaid", to be published in Bewitched and Bejeweled, a Halloween Anthology (September 2013 release), and two bonus stories: "One Night of Eternity" (Book 6, based on "The House That Jack Built") and "Beauty is the Beast" (Book 7, based on "Beauty and the Beast"). Find our more here.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Check out my backlist of other paranormal-themed, Halloween suitable titles:

The Bloodmoon Curse
Gothic Inspirational Paranormal Romance

"Blood of Amethyst" (Woodcutter's Grim Series–Classic Tales of Horror Retold, Book 2)
Romantic Horror Novella

"Papa" (Woodcutter's Grim Series–Classic Tales of Horror Retold, Book 1)           Romantic Horror Novella

"Creatures of the Night"
Romantic Paranormal Novella

Mirror Mirror, Book 3 of the Wounded Warriors Series
Romantic Psychological Thriller

Sweet Dreams
Paranormal Romance

Thanks, Karen!

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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Bitten by Books is having a truly spooktacular event this Halloween Season. Over $3,000 in cash and prizes. For full details and list of prizes, visit Bitten by Books.

Good luck!
The Phantom

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California native Alexandra Sokoloff is a professional screenwriter, director, choreographer and author of the supernatural thrillers, The Harrowing and The Price. The first was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel and for an Anthony Award for Best First Mystery. She has adapted numerous novels for film for companies such as Sony, Fox, Disney, and Miramax. Sokoloff is a regular blogger at Murderati.com and Muse, a new collective of female dark suspense authors.

It's a pleasure having you here today, Alexandra. Tell us, when did you start writing?

Well, in hindsight I could say that I started writing when I was about eight or nine – not stories, but some friends and I would write little plays and put them on in a neighbor's garage, charge admission, all that! But I was really much more into the acting side of it for a long time. I was a theater kid all through high school, mostly loved doing musicals – was an avid singer and dancer and still am – but I quickly became more interested in the big picture of production. I directed the senior class play when I was 16, and from there I kept directing and also choreographing, but got more and more interested in playwriting. The moment that I committed to writing for all time, though, was when I wrote my first one-act play in a class at Berkeley and the professor chose it to have a graduate student direct it. The moment my characters walked out on that stage, real, live people, I felt like God. It's been writing for me ever since! And I’ve been a professional writer most of my adult life – I only recently made the transition from screenwriter to full-time novelist.

When did your love for the darker side of things begin? Did you read paranormal books as a teen?

I blame my Dad! He's a huge genre fan and we had all kinds of horror and mystery and sci-fi classics around the house. Anything with a spooky cover, I'd read, and I particularly liked the supernatural and paranormal, but my preference was always for the more psychological supernatural. Dad grew up in Mexico City and had some whopping good ghost stories of his own, too.

But I also had some pretty scary things happen to me, or rather almost happen to me, as a kid – I was almost abducted by a child predator when I was very young, but thankfully got away, and since my family traveled a lot I was exposed to some pretty dark things – poverty, desperation, oppression, madness. My particular obsession with portraying the dark side is very much about exploring a constant battle between good and evil, even on a very small, person-to-person level, and seeing how good can triumph, at least one battle at a time.

You're the author of two supernatural thrillers/horror novels, The Harrowing and The Price. Would you tell our readers a bit about each book and what was your inspiration for them?

The Harrowing is set on an isolated college campus just as it's emptying out for the long Thanksgiving break. Five troubled and very disparate students have all decided to stay in their spooky old Victorian dorm because they don't want to go home to their dysfunctional families. And as they start to bond, as college students will do, and realize that they have more in common than they think, they also start to realize that they are not alone in that dorm. But they don't know if one of them is playing a prank, or if someone else has stayed to mess with them, or if they're really starting to experience a genuine haunting.

And I guarantee the story will keep you guessing, even though the clues are all right there.

The inspiration for that one was a poltergeist experience I had when I was sixteen, which got me fascinated by the question of whether paranormal experiences are supernatural or psychological or perhaps a combination of both.

The Price is a completely different kind of haunting. Boston District Attorney Will Sullivan has it all – a beautiful and devoted wife, an adorable five year old daughter, Sydney, and he's considered a shoo-in for the Massachusetts governor's race. But on the eve of his candidacy Sydney is diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable tumor. Will and Joanna move into labyrinthine Briarwood Medical Center and are basically waiting for their baby to die, and going out of their minds with grief. But in the twilight world of the hospital, terminal patients seem to be recovering, against all odds, and the recoveries all revolve around a mysterious hospital counselor who takes a special interest in Will and his family. When Sydney miraculously goes into remission, Will suspects that his wife has made a terrible bargain to save their daughter's life, and must race to uncover the truth in order to save them all.

The inspiration for The Price was partly a longtime obsession with the theme of a deal with the devil (probably from working in Hollywood for so long), and partly the very sad death of the baby daughter of a friend, which got me thinking about the lengths to which we would go to save a loved one. Of course we say we’d do anything, anything at all – but what does that really mean, when it’s time to sign on the bottom line? And is it necessarily a good thing?

And my third novel, The Unseen, will be coming out in June of 2009 – it's a mystery/thriller based on the real-life parapsychology experiments done at Duke University in the 1960's.

And I have a story I like very much in the new The Darker Mask anthology of noir superhero stories. http://www.amazon.com/Darker-Mask-Gary-Phillips/dp/other-editions/0765318504/ref=dp_ed_all

You can see the trailers and read excerpts here:

The Harrowing was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. How does that make you feel as an author? Has the nomination been a good marketing tool?

It was a huge honor, and especially thrilling to be nominated for the Stoker for Best First Horror and the Anthony for Best First Mystery, because my intention is always to cross mystery and the supernatural. So the dual nomination made me feel I'd succeeded in that quest.

The nominations certainly got me a lot of attention, and I think the Stoker turned out to be particularly good for marketing because of the power of Bram Stoker's name, and the kind of elegant horror it conveys. And of course the recognition was a lovely entrée to the mystery and horror communities.

How long does it take you to write a novel? Do you outline the full plot first?

How long is a hard question to answer because an author always has another full-time job – which is book promotion. But it seems to take me about six months, non-stop, writing every day. And yes, I do extensive, 70 or 80 page outlines. Unfortunately I like complex stories so it's essential for me to map out the twists and turns and red herrings along the way.

And I’m a structure fanatic – I’m currently writing a very in-depth series of blogs on the process at http://thedarksalon.blogspot.com.

How was your experience in looking for an agent and/or publisher? Would you offer some advice to fledgling authors?

My experience was completely atypical – since I've worked as a screenwriter for a long time, all I had to do was give The Harrowing to my film agent, he gave it to a book acquisitions agent at the agency, and she passed it on to several good literary agents in New York. I had a great agent within a week and a two-book deal from St. Martin's within the month. But I paid my dues in the Hollywood trenches!

I have lots of advice on seeking representation – here are two blog posts I've compiled on the subject, with links to other essential resources.



What do you do on Halloween?

These days I always have a book signing event! Because of what I write, I'll never have a Halloween to myself again. At least I can still dress up.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

I’m always happy to answer questions and dialogue on my blog – http://thedarksalon.blogspot.com

And Happy Halloween!

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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