Posts Tagged ‘halloween’


With Halloween right around the corner, thoughts are of where to go to get into the right mood, right? Joseph Spencer, author of the occult crime thriller, Wrage, is here with us to tell us!


Field of Screams: Haunts for Halloween Fanatics

Since I write occult fiction and often set up shop at horror conventions, many friends, family and readers alike often ask me where I like to go to get my share of thrills and chills. If you’re looking to get into the spirit this Halloween season, I’ve compiled a list of America’s Wrage-200x300greatest attractions for you and your best ghoul to check out.

Salem, Massachusetts

There are so many attractions here which pay tribute to the town’s colorful past. Some of the fan favorites include Count Orlock’s Nightmare Gallery & Monster Museum, Cry Innocent – a live reenactment of the witchcraft examination of Bridget Bishop, Frankenstein’s Castle Wax Museum, Gallows Hill Theater, Salem Witch Hunt reenactment, Salem Witch Museum and Salem Witch Village. For more information, visit www.salem.org.
Pennhurst Asylum – Spring City, Pennsylvania

One of America’s most notorious mental health facilities originally opened as the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded & Epileptic in 1908 was closed down by the government for patient abuse in 1987. In 2010, the administration building was reopened as a haunted house. For more information , visit www.pennhurstasylum.com.
Moundsville Penitentiary – Moundsville, West Virginia

During its more than 100 years in operation, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia was one of America’s most violent correctional facilities and the final stop for almost 1,000 criminals. Many men were hung or killed in the electric chair, while others were murdered by other prisoners. The prison closed in 1995, but according to some, the tortured spirits are still behind bars and in the bowels of the prison and may be seen or heard on a tour. To set up a tour, visit www.wvpentours.com.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum – Reston, West Virginia

Once known as the Weston State Hospital, this asylum was home to thousands of people with mental illness, starting in 1864. Hundreds of people died here before the facility closed in 1994. Spirits are said to haunt the building and grounds today, dating back to the Civil War era when the asylum’s grounds served as a military post. Paranormal tours of the facility feature 2-hour visits to the asylum’s 4 main hot spots. For more information, visit www.trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com.
French Quarter Phantoms – New Orleans, Louisiana

Master storytellers who have studied New Orleans’ colorful history lead you on an amazing tour of one of the area’s most popular hot spots. You can pick from five different tours, which include the Ghost and Vampire Tour, Cemetary Tour, Treme Tour, True Crime Tour and Saints and Sinners Tour, or customize one for yourself. For information, visit www.frenchquarterphantoms.com.
 Lincoln’s Ghost Walk – Springfield, Illinois

This is in my backyard in central Illinois and one of my favorite attractions in our great state’s capitol. Over the course of 12 city blocks and 90 minutes, you’ll learn a side of President Abraham Lincoln that you can’t find anywhere in the history books. For information, visit www.springfieldwalks.com.
Lemp Mansion – St. Louis, Missouri

Over the years, the mansion was transformed from the stately home of millionaires, to office space, decaying into a run-down boarding house, and finally restored to its current state as a fine dinner theatre, restaurant and bed and breakfast. The scene of  triumph and tragedy, with a background of intrigue, scandal and suicide, visitors have reported a wide range of phenomena at the Mansion. For information, visit www.lempmansion.com.
Moore Home – Villisca, Iowa

One the morning of June 10, 1912, the small mid-western community of Villisca, Iowa awoke to find eight of their own had been brutally murdered by an axe during the middle of the night. The walls of this old home today continue to protect the identity of the vicious murderer who bludgeoned to death the entire family of Josiah Moore and two overnight guests. Open for tours today, the old house is said to be the site of a number of paranormal activities. For information, visit www.villiscaiowa.com.

Stanley Hotel – Estes Park, Colorado

This old hotel was built in the early 1900’s by F.O. Stanley, who created the Stanley Steam Engine — a steam powered horseless carriage. The majestic Georgian style hotel opened in 1909, catering to the rich and famous.  In addition to its regular guests, the hotel is also said to play host to a number of other worldly visitors. The most notable is F.O. Stanley himself who is most often seen in the lobby and the Billiard Room, which was his favorite room when he was still alive. For information, visit www.stanleyhotel.com/tours.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, California

Resting in Long Beach Harbor is the HMS Queen Mary, a colossal ship that was bigger, faster and more powerful than the Titanic. The 1,000-foot ship began her life when the first keel plate was laid in 1930 at the John Brown shipyard in Clyde, Scotland. The depression held up her construction between 1931 and 1934, but she was finally completed, making her maiden voyage on May 27, 1936. After 1,001 successful Atlantic crossings, she was permanently docked and soon became the luxury hotel that she is today. Today, the museum-hotel ocean liner is said to be called home to a number of  ghosts including  ghostly children playing by the pool and the spirit of a seventeen-year-old sailor killed while escaping a fire. For information, visit www.queenmary.com.


Joseph-Spencer-200x300As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013.  The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”

Visit his website at www.JosephBSpencer.com.


Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family’s stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus’ heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero’s name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.

Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


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About the book

There are witches in the world…some are good and some of them are downright evil. Amanda Givens is careful how she uses her powers. She doesn’t want the people of Canaan, Connecticut, to know they have a witch among them…even a good, white witch. For years, she’s lived quietly in a remote cabin in the woods with Amadeus, her feline familiar. When she’s wrongly blamed for a rash of ritualistic murders committed by a satanic cult, she knows she can’t hide any longer. She’s the one the cult’s after. More than that, she’s the only one who can stop them and prove her innocence. In doing this, she’s drawn back in time by the ghost of the malevolent witch, Rachel Coxe, who was drowned for practicing black magic in the 17th century. Now, as Amanda tries to rehabilitate Rachel’s reputation in an effort to save lives, as well as her own, she has to rely on a sister’s love and magical knowledge, and a powerful sect of witches called the Guardians, to help her get home safely.

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My thoughts…

First of all, I’d like to say that I LOVE the cover and that’s the main reason I initially decided to read the book. How can you not be persuaded by a cover like that? Also, this being the Halloween season, I thought the topic appealing. That said, I did have my reservations. I don’t like books about witchcraft if things get too grim and graphic. Fortunately, the author didn’t disappoint me in this aspect. Witches is a light horror novel with an old traditional quality to it. It’s spooky at times, and certainly suspenseful, but not scary.

Apart from this, there are many other things I liked about this novel. Let me talk first about the main character, the good witch Amanda Givens. Except for the part about being a witch and having her shape-shifting familiar Amadeus, she’s your regular, next-door widow in her mid thirties. Pretty yes, but not beautiful or in any way extraordinary. She’s quiet, with a kind heart, and lives a solitary life in the woods. She also has a mature, thoughtful voice that I enjoyed a lot. So Amanda certainly is a sympathetic character that made me care for her and her predicament.

I also enjoyed the well-plotted storyline which includes all the elements paranormal fans enjoy: magic, shape-shifting, ghosts, and even there’s a little of time-travel thrown into the mix. Add to that a dash of love and you have a very entertaining story to sit by the fire this Halloween.

The prose flows well and, as I mentioned, the style is kind of traditional, taking me back to those horror novels I used to love reading in the 80’s. Some of the descriptions are beautiful, with vivid images. In addition, the author does a good job in bringing the ‘small New England town’ to life, making her fictional world real to the reader.

In sum, this is a novel about good vs. evil with a good share of twists and turns and exciting scenes, some spooky, others sad, yet others humorous. If you’re looking for a light horror about witches to read this Halloween, pick this one up!

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Author’s Revised Edition by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

A rerelease of my 1991 Zebra paperback romantic vampire novel

Damnation Books Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615724253


All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

In 1990 or so I’d just got done releasing my first three paperback novels with Leisure Books, a romantic historical (The Heart of the Rose 1985) and two romantic horror books (Evil Stalks the Night, 1984 and Blood Forge, 1989), and because I wasn’t making much money on them, was looking, as most so-called restless young authors were doing, to move up in the publishing industry.

So I wrote snail mail letters to three established authors of the day – Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Peter Straub – asking for a little advice and a little help. What do I do next? I want to be one of the big dogs running in the big races. I want to make the big bucks. Be famous like you. (Ha, ha. I was so naïve in those days!)

Well, Stephen King and Peter Straub never answered my letters but one rainy fall night I got a phone call from Gerda Koontz (Dean Koontz’s wife) and she said Dean had gotten my letter and wanted me to have a name of a brand new agent who I should call or write to and say I was recommended by him. If I thought it strange that Dean Koontz himself wasn’t actually talking to me I was told by Gerda that he was a shy man and had had a particularly hard couple of months because of family problems (I think it had something to do with his father in a nursing home or something, but can’t exactly recall now) and he’d asked her to call me. She often did that for him, as well as helping him with the business side of his writing career. He (through her…and I got the impression that he was actually nearby telling her what to say the whole time) said I had to have an agent (I didn’t have one) and then he gave me the name of an ambitious one, Lori Perkins, just starting out and his advice on what I should do to advance as a writer.

I do remember being incredibly touched that he, a famous busy novelist that I admired – I loved his Twilight Eyes – would take the time to talk to me, even through his wife. They were both so sweet and we talked for nearly an hour all about writing, books and everything.

I took their advice and contacted that agent and she agreed immediately to represent me on my fourth book, Vampire Blood, no doubt, because I said Dean Koontz had recommended her to me. Name dropper! But Vampire Blood wasthe reason I’d contacted those famous authors in the first place. I thought it was the best book I’d done so far and wanted it to go to (what I thought at the time) would be a better publisher than Leisure Books, which contracted and hog-tied their writers with a horrible ‘potboiler’ one-size-fits-all ten year contract with low advances and 4% royalties. Yes, I got a whole whopping 14 cents a book in those days, but, I must confess, they did print thousands of paperbacks each run and had a huge distribution area.  I thought I could do a lot better. Anyway, Lori Perkins wanted me to send her the book and she did like it and eventually sold it, and then three others zip-zip-zip right after, to Zebra Books (now known more as Kensington Publishing) at 6% royalties and double the advances I was used to getting. They slapped a sexy blond vampire with a low dress on the cover and a hazy theater behind her. Lovely colors. I thought it was an eye-catching cover. I was so happy. I thought I’d made it! Again, so naïve.

Vampire Blood. A little story about a family of vicious killing vampires who settle ina small Florida town called Summer Haven and end up buying and fixing up an old theater palace to run, and pluck their victims from, and a divorced, down-on-her-luck ex-novelist and her worn-out father, who along with friends, help thwart them.

Now to how and why I wrote it.

My husband and I lived in this small Illinois town, Cahokia, at the time and there was the neatest little hole-in-the-wall theater in a nearby shopping center we used to go to all the time…run by a family of a sweet man, Terry, and his wife, Ann, and sometimes their three children, two teenage boys and a girl named Irene.  Such a friendly, but odd couple. The run-down theater was their whole world it seemed. The kids helped take in the tickets, pop the popcorn and sell the candy snacks.

Now the minute Terry and Ann found out, in one of our earliest conversations, that I was a published novelist they were my greatest fans. Terry went right out and bought all three of my books and they all read them. Terry always thought they’d make great movies. Next time my husband and I went to the little theater Terry and Ann greeted us like old friends, so delighted to see us, and refused to take a dime from us for anything. We got in free whenever we went from then on. Now in those days my husband, my son, James, and I were pretty broke. I worked as a graphic designer at a big brokerage firm in downtown St. Louis (across the Poplar Bridge from our Illinois town) but my husband was in between jobs. We lived on a shoestring. Hard times. So I always was so tickled that we could get into the local movies for free. We went a lot, too, as we loved movies, especially science fiction and horror films.

One night I was watching Terry and Ann and their joy in running that little theater, with the kids bustling around doing their jobs, and I got the idea for Vampire Blood. Just like that! Use them and the theater as a backdrop for a vampire novel. Hey, wouldn’t it be neat, I off-handedly mentioned to Terry one night, if I wrote a book about a family of vampires that was trying to pass as a real human family, the man and woman wanting so badly to fit in and lead a normal life for a while, renovating and then running a theater together…but the kids are wild and, as kids always do, make trouble for them in the town…killing people? Terry loved the idea and I asked him if it’d be all right to use him and his family as a template for the vampires. He was thrilled to be part of anything to do with my books and said yes. So…I wrote this book about them (sort of), the theater (making it much grander than it was, of course), a small town terrorized by cruel, powerful vampires who can change into wolves at will….and a saddened lonely woman, her brother, and her ex-husband (who she still loves and ultimately ends up with again after he saves her life) who finds herself again, but loses a lot, as well, fighting these vampires. Vampires she doesn’t believe in at first.

I was very happy with the book when it was done and dedicated it to Terry and Ann when it came out in 1991. Terry and Ann were thrilled, too.

So Vampire Blood came out and did very well for me, second only to my Zebra 1993 Witches. As the years went by it went out of print and when, twenty years later, Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks – and I said a resounding yes!

So…here it is…Vampire Blood…twenty years later, alive again and better, I believe,  than the original because my writing then was done on an electric typewriter, with gobs of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. And in those days, editors told an author what to change and then the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. Who knew what those sneaky editors were slipping in inbetween and before the final book was in an author’s greedy little hands. Hey, and I was working full time, raising a son, living a life and caring for my big extended family in one way or another, too. Busy, exciting, loving, happy and sad times.

For this new version, Damnation Book’s cover artist Dawné Dominique made me an astonishingly intriguing cover of a lovely vampire (Irene the youngest vampire who turns out to be the most brutal and ancient in the end)…but, thank goodness, without the low sexy top. And my DB editor, April Duncan, helped me make it a better novel.

A lot has happened to me and my family in these twenty years, as well. Both my parents, and my beloved maternal grandmother, the storyteller of her generation, have since passed away. Many people we used to know have. Old boyfriends, old friends and relatives. I miss them all! I no longer have that agent; she went on to bigger advances and bigger writers.  I lost my good job at the brokerage firm, bumped around in lesser jobs for years, always writing in my spare time, and now, at long last, write full time while my husband works way too hard in a machine shop to support us.

Rewriting the book brought back so many good memories…and tears over those no longer here. The theater closed sixteen years ago, the owner believing it’d served its purpose and used up its time. Terry and Ann, heartbroken, were never the same. They had other jobs, none they truly cared about.  Ann is still with us, but Terry died a few years ago, I heard from someone. We lost contact once they stopped running the theater and we moved from Cahokia to a nicer town miles away.

But I’ll never forget those early days and the stories that came with them. Days of high hopes and far distance future dreams…some of which have come true and some which haven’t. I’ve never made the big bucks, never gotten truly famous, but now, at long last and to my great delight, all twelve of my older books, from Leisure, Zebra, and The Wild Rose Press are being rewritten and reissued from Damnation Books and Eternal Press between June 2010 and June 2012. Better than ever after I’d rewritten them. I have plans to write more books and short stories, too, when they’re done. Most importantly, I’m living a good life with a husband I adore and brothers and sisters I love. Writing the stories I was born to write and happy I am. I have my memories. All in all, I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, all you writers out there…never give up and never stop writing!

Thank you!


About Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (eleven romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.***


All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith



Kathryn Meyer Griffith has had fourteen novels and seven short stories published since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, and now Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Her novels have been in the genres of paranormal romance, horror, romantic horror, time travel, romance, suspense, and murder mysteries. Her books: Evil Stalks the Night (1984); The Heart of the Rose (1985); Blood Forge (1989); Vampire Blood (1991); The Last Vampire (1992); Witches (1993); The Nameless One (erotic horror short story 1993); The Calling (1994); Scraps of Paper (2003); All Things Slip Away (2006); Egyptian Heart (2007); Winter’s Journey (2008); The Ice Bridge (2008); Don’t Look Back, Agnes (ghostly short story 2008); In This House (ghostly short story 2008); BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (2010); The Woman in Crimson (2010); Always & Forever (erotic contemporary short story 2011).  All in paperback – and in e-books for the first time ever – from Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Look for them. Along with her new book, Dinosaur Lake and four SPOOKY SHORT STORIES from Amazon Kindle Direct.

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Buy Link: http://damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615723553


All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith

Now, first off, let me say, that by no means, am I or have I ever been a…witch. Nothing against Wicca but I’m just not one. I have no magical powers or cannot foresee the future. Nada.

I have seen a ghost, though. Right after my Great Aunt Mary passed away, the night before her burial, I saw her ghost in my parent’s hallway (I was sixteen and still at home) and, let me tell you, it scared the bejesus out of me. But she was just looking for my grandmother, whom she’d lived the last ten years of her life with, and I knew she meant me no harm. It was still a shock. She appeared in a ghostly halo of mist at the end of the hallway beckoning me…in German. I couldn’t spell German but I got the idea. She was lost, didn’t know she was dead and was looking for my grandmother, whom she’d loved so much in life. I ran, hid in my bed and pretended it’d never happened. Hey, but I know it did.

I have, though, always loved the eerie, the unexplained. The spooky. Horror.

Anyway, we’re talking about my book WitchesRevised Author’s Edition.

In 1991 I’d already been writing for about twenty years, on and off (though there was a long gap where I didn’t write because of a divorce, the finding of a full time job to support myself and my son, and a remarriage…life) when I contracted my fourth novel, my first of four to Zebra paperbacks, a romantic horror called Vampire Blood, about a family of vampires who ran a movie theater in a small town. I’d already had a fifth novel, The Last Vampire, completed and in with them when they asked me for another novel.

Got anything about witches, they asked. Witches are hot right now. Hmmm.

For many years I’d played around with an idea about a present day white witch who finds a diary of a long dead witch – either good or bad, I hadn’t decided – in her old house’s attic, or basement, or under a floorboard. The story would have been about the good witch reliving the other dead witch’s life through the diary. I’d always called that possible book Rachel’s Diary in my head.

So in 1991 or 1992 I began the witch book and it quickly metamorphosed into a story of a present day good witch, Amanda Givens,  who’s yanked into a perilous seventeenth century past by an evil witch, Rachel Coxe, to take her place…and die a horrible death as an accused witch. I had the idea then to actually send Amanda into the past to live (for a while) the other witch’s life. Of course, being a good witch, Amanda, changes the other witch’s unsavory reputation but still ends up in a prison waiting to die for Rachel’s earlier crimes. The story, simply put, would be how Amanda overcomes her trials and tribulations, finds her lost eternal love again in the past, and finds a way to return to the present alive. In the process, learning some important life lessons about accepting what life has dealt her and the value of sisters, friendships and the love of those around her. Or good versus evil and, in the end, good wins and is rewarded. I also threw in a few touches of humor in the form of three precocious witches’ familiars…a mind-reading and speaking cat called Amadeus, a mouse, Tituba, and a tiny bat, Gibbiewackett …all with feisty personalities and quirks of their own.

I was excited about the book as I was writing it and when it was done, pleased with it, but had no idea that over the years it’d become the jewel of my writing career and the book that my fans would love the best of all my books. I loved the cat face cover Zebra did for it (a rare occurrence as I’d learned the hard way that covers weren’t always what I’d envisioned and in the early days I had no choice but to accept whatever the publisher’s gave me…and some weren’t so hot, let me tell you!).

Witches came out in 1993 and did well. I noticed soon after as I went on to publish other books that I got the most response and admiration for it. Readers loved the three sisters, Amadeus and Amanda, Gibbiewackett and Tituba. In those days I was too busy working full time as a graphic artist, living my life and writing new books to notice. It went into a second printing in 2000 and after that, sadly, went out of print. But my fans never forgot it. I’d find comments on it and discussions on the Internet…even customer reviews raving about it years and years later. I tried talking Zebra into reissuing it but after Zebra and I parted ways there was no talking them into it.

Then in 2010 when Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, the publisher, Kim Richards, asked about all (there was 7 at the time) my out-of-print Zebra and Leisure backlist novels and if I’d like to have them reissued as new paperbacks and, for the first time ever, in e-books. Sure, that’d be great! I told her. And, as they say, the rest is history. Between June 2010 and June 2012 all 7 of them (and now another 3 of my Wild Rose Press novels and two short stories from 2007) updated, rewritten and with stunning new covers will be out again. All in e-books for the first time.

Of course, that’s meant a heck of a lot of rewriting. A lot of work. Those early novels go back twenty-seven years and were first written in the days of snail mail and on an electric typewriter before the Internet, e-mails and Windows Track Changes (for editing). Oh, boy, did they need revising. As of today I can happily say they’re all rewritten now except the very first one, Evil Stalks the Night, 1984; yet even that one will be completed soon.

I’ve often been asked what I think of e-books and I have to say it feels strange, all these years later, to be so into them. I think it’s fantastic to be able to put thousands of books on one little lightweight hand-held contraption and sell them as inexpensively as we do. I started publishing e-books four years ago and have seen such great changes in even that short a time. I love the editing process now. With Track Changes it’s truly a collaborative effort between the editor and the writer and it’s taught me far more about the craft of writing than the old way of just sending off the manuscript, being asked to change certain things, but then never seeing any of those changes or the basic edits until the book was printed and in my hand. Now, no more pages added by an editor (That actually happened in Evil Stalks the Night. The editor, who I never met, added three pages of his own and I didn’t even know about it until I held the book in my hand. And the three pages didn’t make sense…ech!) that I never know about or see until the book comes out. Yeah.

With a chuckle I recall a writer’s convention I attended in 1990 – yes, that far back – and the main topic back then was…OMG the electronic books are coming! They’re going to make us authors obsolete! Print books are going to die a terrible lonely death…etc., etc. Lack and alas, what are we going to do? Ha, ha. It’s ironic that 21 years later I’m in love with e-books. They’re the future. And I think there’ll always be room for print books as well as electronic ones.

So Witches…(Damnation Books) was rereleased 2011. I’m thrilled. The cover is still of Amadeus, the cat, and Dawne Dominique did an amazing job on it. My editor, Alison O’Byrne, helped me make it a better book than eighteen years ago. Of all my novels, I’m most proud of it. It’s held up pretty well. I hope it finds many more readers and fans.

So that’s the story of Witches…the little book that wouldn’t die.

Thank you!   E-mail me at rdgriff@htc.net


Kathryn Meyer Griffith has had fourteen novels and seven short stories published since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, and now Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Her novels have been in the genres of paranormal romance, horror, romantic horror, time travel, romance, suspense, and murder mysteries. Her books: Evil Stalks the Night (1984); The Heart of the Rose (1985); Blood Forge (1989); Vampire Blood (1991); The Last Vampire (1992); Witches (1993); The Nameless One (erotic horror short story 1993); The Calling (1994); Scraps of Paper (2003); All Things Slip Away (2006); Egyptian Heart (2007); Winter’s Journey (2008); The Ice Bridge (2008); Don’t Look Back, Agnes (ghostly short story 2008); In This House (ghostly short story 2008); BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (2010); The Woman in Crimson (2010); Always & Forever (erotic contemporary short story 2011).  All in paperback – and in e-books for the first time ever – from Damnation Books and Eternal Press. Look for them. Along with her new book, Dinosaur Lake and four SPOOKY SHORT STORIES from Amazon Kindle Direct.

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Of all my 16 novels Dinosaur Lake has the strangest story attached to its creation, death and rebirth…20 years later…of any of them.

Not so much because, as a few of my books, it took so long to write or publish, but because in 1993 it was contracted, edited and the final galleys had been proofed by me for a 5th paperback book release from Zebra (Kensington Publishing) after 3 earlier novels with Leisure Books. I even had a stack of the full-color, printed and embossed covers; it was only weeks before it was to go to the bookshelves (in those days the brick & mortar stores were still king, no Internet or ebooks). I strongly believed it’d be my breakout book. You know, the book that’d make my career and launch me into the stratosphere with Stephen King and Anne Rice? How wrong I’d be. But, hey, I thought who wouldn’t love a tale of a cunning but malevolent rampaging prehistoric dinosaur living in Crater Lake, Oregon, and the Park Ranger who, along with a ragtag gang of heroes who’d try to stop it? I mean, I’d always loved anything about dinosaurs…dinosaur books, playing with those little plastic figurines and watching old stop-action dinosaur movies of the 1950’s and 60’s…who hadn’t?

Apparently someone. My new editor at Zebra.

By 1994, after four novels with them, I’d lost my sweet editor there and a new one took her place…and over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my book (Predator…which never came out but still lingers to this very day like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. When we were editing the book and deciding on the title and the cover, I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator (his choice as they hadn’t liked my American Loch Ness Monster title), bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and the movie, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, was nothing about a dinosaur, and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book–my first ever–dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and my final edits were done! But nothing my agent or I could say or do would change their minds. They said they were cutting their horror lines and setting adrift a lot of their mid-list horror authors because horror (in 1994) was on the decline. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “And no one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.”

Yeah, sure.

And six months later Jurassic Park the book came out! We all know how that story ended, don’t we? People loved the book, the movies; they loved dinosaurs.

I’ll never know the real reason they cut the book but that male editor never bought another book from me…which was another weird thing because when I’d met him in New York (I went for a Horror Convention) in the summer of 1993 he’d taken my husband and I out to lunch and gushed over me and said how much he’d loved my last release WITCHES. Hmmm.

Anyway, I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. It never came out. I grieved.
I was so disgusted I stashed it in a drawer somewhere and tried to forget it.

Until now. After I’d finished revising and rereleasing all my new/old 15 books (and besides paperbacks they’re in ebooks for the first time ever) from Eternal Press/Damnation Books in June of 2012 I remembered about my American Loch Ness Monster novel, took it out and reread it.

Whoa, like a lot of my older novels now years later I could see what was wrong with it and how to fix it. Back then I hadn’t seen the head-hopping I did or the awkward phrasing, stiff or overly dramatic dialogue, repetitive words and other things I’ve learned since to recognize and stay away from. Of course, computers help make the editing so much easier. I think I’d done the original book on my electric typewriter.

Anyway, telling myself the dumping of that book had been a turning point in my writing life–sending me in the wrong direction for a long time apparently…I couldn’t sell a book for eight long years after that–I decided to rewrite and finally release it. In fact, I was going to do something that twenty years ago would have been unheard of and frowned on…self-publish the book myself. With Kindle Direct. For the first time in forty years I was walking away from the traditional publishers and going on my own. Thank you J.A. Konrath’s blog! I figured I could sell the Kindle ebook a lot cheaper and, thus, use it to introduce (as enticement) more readers to my writing and perhaps, if they liked it, they’d buy more of my other fifteen novels, novellas and various short stories.

It could work, right?

So here it is, retitled, rewritten, updated and with an amazing new cover I love by Dawne Dominique… Dinosaur Lake. I hope my readers will like it.

Amazon Kindle


About Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith.

All available on Amazon.com on my page:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith#/ref=sr_pg_3?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AKathryn+Meyer+Griffith&page=3&keywords=Kathryn+Meyer+Griffith&ie=UTF8&qid=1346360338

Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, June 2012)

The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010)

Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)

Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)

The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2010)  You Tube Book Trailer:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZU77j_q4S8

Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition out 2011)

The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)

The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011)

Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)

All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006)

Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011)  You Tube Book Trailer:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cogCNYKzPqc

Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) You Tube Book Trailer address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZYCs2DVhHg

The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28HZqu-my1g

Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012)

You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3q9rZryFMo

BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010)

You Tube self-made Book trailer with original songhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-U9c2Lwfo

The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010)

You Tube Book Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRBvDI5G4Y

The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)

My Websites:

http://www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)







E-mail me at rdgriff@htc.net  I love to hear from my readers. 


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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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Inanna Arthen is the author of The Vampires of New England series and founder of By Light Unseen Media, a publishing company specializing in vampire fiction and nonfiction. She’s also a regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine. An expert in vampire folklore, Arthen is here today to talk about her series, her new press, vampires, and their endless appeal through history since the release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She also shares with us the titles of some of her favorite vampire books and movies.

When did your fascination with vampires begin?

When I was eleven, back in the 1960s. I vividly recall the very first vampire movie I ever saw, The Brides of Dracula, on TV during the afternoon. (My mother was not home at the time.) In the sixth grade, I decided to dress as a vampire for Halloween, and I designed my own costume. Rather than the stereotype caped, Goth or sexy look, I worked up a costume from stained, ragged sheets, like a tattered shroud, latex fangs that I made with one of those "plastigoop" molding kits and a blood-smeared face. I have absolutely no memory of where I got this impression of a vampire as a ghoulish revenant, but it was a rather effective costume.

In 1968 I joined the teeming hordes of Baby Boomers who watched Dark Shadows every day, but I was already mad for vampires, so it didn't start with Barnabas Collins. That same year I began collecting vampire fiction and anthologies, read Dracula in one sitting and discovered Montague Summers' seminal compilation of vampire folklore, The Vampire In Europe. My passion for vampires has only intensified in the years since then. When I was in high school, one friend and I coined the word, "vampiromaniac" to describe ourselves. "Vampirophile" wasn't strong enough.

Tell us about your New England Vampire series. Why did you choose New England as the setting? Is it because you're from there? What is it about small New England towns and horror stories?

The Vampires of New England series was born when I decided to link together three sets of characters I'd created for different stories in progress and connect their narratives and history into one fictional universe. All the stories were based in New England primarily because it's where I live and it's a region that I'm familiar with. The characters will wander quite a bit as the series goes on, but they'll always come back home. More information about the series is on my author website, http://inannaarthen.com.

There's an obvious advantage for a writer to set stories in locations that you know well, and can easily research and fact-check because you're right there. I was born in Springfield, Vermont, and I've lived all but ten years of my life in New England. I plan to retire in Maine. I've always had a deep love for this region. After all, it's my native earth.

New England has a convenient combination of characteristics as a setting for horror stories. It has a long and deep history, more like Europe than most of the United States. It's not empty and remote like a wilderness area, but it's not too densely populated to be mysterious. Many people automatically associate New England with witchcraft and the paranormal, because of Salem. Some of the best known horror writers, from H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King, set many of their stories in New England because they lived here. I think New England is often associated with a pleasant, genteel facade that hides a lurking dark side, and that is a classic pattern in horror fiction. Other regions of the United States don't carry that association. If you think of places like Chicago or New York or New Orleans, the dark side is right out in the open.

You're also the mind behind the company, By Light Unseen Media. Tell us about this venture and its mission?

My lifelong passion for vampires is matched by my fervent love for books. Since I started reading at the age of four, I've loved books, writing, libraries, bookstores, and the whole process of making books from start to finish. I had a fantasy of running my own small press, with a print shop that would run only at night, combining my two loves by publishing books about vampires. But I never thought I'd be able to afford it.

In 2006 I came into some money, and I started researching the publishing industry seriously to see what my options were. I found that digital printing technology would allow me to have my publishing company without the large capital outlay upfront that I'd always assumed I would need. I also realized that I'd been collecting relevant skill sets all my life, such as graphic design, web design, editing, typesetting, page layout, and small business management, to name a few. It seemed like the universe was finally giving me a chance to do the work I was born to do.

Unfortunately, the universe then threw all kinds of hurdles into my path. My mother and one of my authors passed away from cancer, and now the economy is going into a recession. In consequence, By Light Unseen Media has had a slower start than I originally planned. I'm not discouraged. Creative problem solving is my gift. I think the future of publishing will include much more electronic and audio media, and I'm staying right on top of that. I'll be releasing titles in multiple formats, including print editions, e-books and audiobooks. Mortal Touch was among the first batch of books to be available for the Amazon Kindle last year.

My mission is to publish high-quality vampire fiction with strong characters and great stories that avoid camp humor and cliches, and non-fiction works with primary source research and new ideas. I'm accepting queries, and authors are welcome to check the submission guidelines.

How has the vampire evolved through the decades since the writing of Stoker's Dracula?

As Nina Auerbach describes in Our Vampires, Ourselves, every decade gets the vampire fiction that it deserves. Bram Stoker changed everything when he wrote Dracula, to begin with. He freely invented a number of the vampire traits that immediately became fictional canon, including vampires not having reflections, having to be invited into a dwelling before they could enter, and needing special soil or earth to rest in. Those are all inventions by Stoker, they have nothing to do with "legend" or earlier fiction.

In 1922 silent film director F.W. Murnau invented the idea that vampires are destroyed by mere sunlight for his movie, Nosferatu. That original notion, which isn't found in folklore or any earlier fiction, became the most lasting "vampire trait" of the Twentieth Century. At first sun-struck vampires just withered into ashes. Now they explode into flames or even blow up like bombs in some movies. It makes no sense whatsoever, but it looks dramatic onscreen and sets up all kinds of potential story conflicts, so most writers use the incendiary sunlight device.

Many writers describe the "good guy vampire" as a modern innovation. In fact, vampires in folklore always had a strong element of ambiguity to them. These were your friends and family members returning home, and they weren't always unwelcome. I talk more about this in my paper on Greek vrykolakas folklore. When Dracula was first presented on stage, women were fascinated by the Count, regardless of the fact that he was depicted as irredeemably evil. The "bad boy" has always had appeal, and the vampire is too complex an archetype to have only one aspect. The real change since Dracula is the depth and complexity of vampire characters, so they're now more likely to be good with a bad side, or bad with a good side.

Two other major fictional conventions have become ubiquitous since 1980. The first is the concept of vampire "clans" that have an elaborate underground society, with leaders, hierarchies, enforcers, outcasts, feuds, politics, an independent economy with their own night clubs and hangouts, and so on. This idea owes a lot to Anne Rice and White Wolf's role-playing games, but many authors and filmmakers have adopted it. The second is the vampire as superhero. Vampire characters, especially in television and film, now have super strength, super speed, super senses, and are impervious to harm. They bound through the air, stop cars with their hands and kung-fu fight like Neo in the Matrix movies. The 21st century vampire is defined more by his or her superpowers than by immortality or blood drinking. Along with this trend, vampires are interpreted less often as the walking dead and more as an alternate species or victims of a virus.

What is it about vampires that strikes such a deep core in young people? No other supernatural creature has had such an effect on society. Or am I wrong?

You're not wrong. You could fill an entire book with a discussion of the vampire's universal and timeless appeal. It's not a simple question, because the fictional vampire is so complicated and multi-faceted. Whether you like noble heroes, tortured antiheroes, romantic leading men, average joes, stone-evil villains or ravening mindless monsters, there are vampire tales for you.

The stories that earn the broadest popularity, however, definitely have common elements. A big part of the vampire's appeal is the initiation fantasy. The most popular vampire stories either have sympathetic vampire characters or are told from the vampire's point of view, and they feature humans who are chosen as special and then are transformed. By being "turned," humans are inducted into a secret society where they belong by right. They leave behind the boring mundane world for an exotic subculture where everyone knows them and they don't have to struggle to fit in. In some popular stories the human character never takes the step of being turned, but the possibility is always there. You can see the attraction of this fantasy for anyone who feels "different" or awkward or lonely.

Vampires also are superior beings who nevertheless need humans to survive. They don't age, they're immune to diseases, they heal from almost any injury and they have superpowers, but they're dependent on humans for blood, if nothing else. This makes them different from other supernatural creatures, such as werewolves or zombies. Vampires are the dark twins that look back at us from the mirror–they're "other" but they're not completely alien. They're ourselves transformed in ways that are enviable and desirable, at least in the most popular stories. Even "vampire hunter" stories like the Blade series or Buffy the Vampire Slayer can't get away from this appeal. Both series were drawn into depicting more sympathetic vampires and playing with the idea of humans transforming into vampires without becoming irredeemably evil.

The most popular vampire stories affirm that death is not the end of existence, and suggest that we can transcend human frailties, if we're willing to pay a price. At the same time, the vampire retains more of its humanity than any other supernatural creature. It's hard to imagine being a ghost or a zombie, or a werewolf in animal form. It's not at all difficult to identify with a vampire character. We all know what it’s like to hunger for something that we can’t have.

What are some of your favorite vampire novels and/or movies?

One of the main reasons I wanted to launch By Light Unseen Media is that I was so often disappointed by the vampire fiction and movies that were out there. I'm not a fan of most of the "big name" vampire writers. I don't care for the fiction of Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton, for example. But I'm addicted to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain series, and I own all of the Jack Fleming and Jonathan Barrett series by P.N. Elrod. Those would be among my favorites. I love Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I think is the greatest thriller in the English language.

I'm still waiting for a really good vampire movie to be made! But I do enjoy a number of them, with various reservations. I still like the first one I ever saw, The Brides of Dracula. Roman Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers, Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Shadow of the Vampire, and an odd little 1959 movie, Curse of the Undead are among my Top Ten vampire movies. But my favorite filmed vampire story isn't a movie, but a British miniseries–Ultraviolet starring Jack Davenport. I'll never stop sulking that they only made six episodes. I have it on VHS and DVD.

What do you usually do on Halloween? Do you dress as a vampire?

I've dressed as a vampire a few times, many years ago. But I'm a Pagan, so Halloween, or Samhain, is a sacred holiday for me. I don't party on Halloween, I'm usually doing something much more solemn. I almost always carve a vampire jack o'lantern, though.

If supernatural vampires were for real and one offered you immortality in exchange for your soul… what would you do?

It would depend a lot on the circumstances, but honestly? The odds are pretty high that I'd accept the offer.

Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

I'd encourage people who are interested in fictional vampires to delve into the history of the genre, including folklore and reality. There is a lot of misinformation circulating around, and you'd be surprised what's true and what isn't.

Thanks, Inanna!

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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