Posts Tagged ‘horror fiction’




I’ve been writing for over forty-one years and have gone through a lot of frustrating or downright infuriating situations with publishers and editors. Since 1981 I’ve had nine publishers and, at least, all total – including rereleases – twenty-five or more editors.  I’ve suffered 4% royalties, dreadful covers, bad editing and shoddy proof-reading, confusing statements, late royalty payments (or nonexistent ones) and other near-criminal acts committed against me by publishers and editors I’d so naively put my trust in over the years. Now days I like to look back at those occasions, write about them; smile or even laugh over them, though they weren’t so funny when they were happening. This is one of those smiling times…because the conception, writing, publishing and, finally, self-publishing of my murder mystery Scraps of Paper has had such a long vexing journey but has finally ended, for me, happily.

On January 15, 2013 I self-published it, for the first time, as an eBook on Amazon Kindle Direct, after waiting ten long years as it languished beneath a terribly unfair hardcover contract with Avalon Books that had a sell-off limit of 3,500 hard copies. Ten years where they claimed it barely sold (no joke…their asking price was ridiculously high at $26.00) and that it didn’t sell one copy in the last two years of its contract–though the book was on sale everywhere on the Internet. I never received one royalty statement and had to beg in yearly emails to be told how many copies had sold that year. Of course, since the totals never got near the 3,500, they said, I would get no royalty statements. And I never did. Not one. Ever. Last month my book was finally mine again and I was free of that atrocious contract and now, after a revision and commissioning a new stunning cover from my cover artist Dawne Dominique, I’ve released it into the world without the publisher’s shackles to imprison it. Fly little bird, fly!

Originally I wrote it be the first of a series set in this quaint, quirky little town I tongue-in-cheek called Spookie. I mean, most of my books before were horror novels and I was basically considered a horror writer, so the town’s name was a tip-of-the-hat to my horror roots. It’d be my first venture into that genre, which I’d always loved. Sherlock Holmes. Murder She Wrote. Inspector Morse. Miss Marple. I wrote it and then, quickly after, a second in the series All Things Slip Away for Avalon Books. I got a small advance up front for each one.

It was 2002. I’d come out of a lengthy publishing dry spell. My seventh paperback novel, Zebra’s The Calling, a ghost story with an ancient Egyptian theme, had come out in 1994. Then they dumped a lot of us mid-list horror writers, me included, saying horror was dying; and for eight years I couldn’t sell another book. Well, living my life got in the way during some of that time. I’d lost my long-time good-paying graphic artist job in 1994 and had to find another one. The pay was a lot less. No good for my budget or my standard of living, which really fell. I went from one of five bad jobs to another over the next six years…each worse and lower paying than the one before.  Each more demanding. I needed to make money. No longer could I live with pie-in-the-sky literary dreams. I had to face reality. So I stopped writing for a while.

When I finally came up for breath and my head was back on straight again I decided to write something different…a mystery. I’d always loved mysteries.  I began writing Scraps of Paper. About a woman, an artist named Jenny, whose husband has been missing for two years, and who’s just learned he’s been dead all that time–a victim of a gone-wrong mugging. She begins a new life and moves to a small town full of fog, quirky townspeople and mysteries. And right away she’s drawn into one of her own when she buys, renovates, a fixer-upper house and uncovers hidden in it scraps of paper written by two young children who once lived there with their mother, and who supposedly drove away thirty years before and were never seen again. The town thought they simply went somewhere else; began a new life. But Jenny suspects they never left the house; suspects they’d been murdered. Then she finds three graves in the back.

Of course, with her history of a missing husband she develops the overpowering urge to find out what happened to them. The scraps of paper she continues to find makes the bond, the desire, stronger. She forms a friendship with an ex-homicide cop, Frank, and together they try to solve the mystery. Only thing is there’s someone still living in the town that just as desperately doesn’t want them to. Someone who’d kill to keep the murderer’s identity secret.

When done I was proud of it. Thought it was good. I sent it to Avalon Books in New York. They loved it and bought it. I signed the contract, though I didn’t like some of the things in it. But I was desperate. I hadn’t had a book published in so long and, as my mom always said, beggars can’t be choosers.  I sold them the second in the series, hoping it’d help sell the first. They got great reviews. But I came to regret signing both those contracts more as every year went by because I never received one penny more for either book for the next ten years. I know, it sounds impossible. But it happened to me. I’m sure it happened to a lot of their authors. Probably one of the reasons Avalon Books sold themselves lock-stock-and-barrel to Amazon Publishing in June of 2012 and, without their authors’ knowledge or permission, including mine, sold away their authors’ contracts from under them as well.  I guess you live and learn. I was just lucky Scraps of Paper’s contract had run out. I took the book back.

But, all that is in the past, and my rewritten Scraps of PaperRevised Author’s Edition is now available, on sale for $3.99 (much better than $26.00), at Amazon Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B1W4A2K   And I hope people will have the chance to read it this time around and like it.


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 seventeen (ten romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press and Amazon Kindle Direct.

I’ve been married to Russell for almost thirty-five 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

Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:

Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 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 2010)

You Tube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZU77j_q4S8

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

All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…Amazon Kindle Direct ebook & paperback 2013)

Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) My self-made

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 song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-U9c2Lwfo

The Woman in Crimson (Eternal Press 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)

4 Spooky Short Stories (Amazon Kindle 2012)

Telling Tales of Terror (I did the chapter on Putting the Occult into your Fiction)

Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)

Human No Longer (Amazon Kindle 2013)

Scraps of Paper –Revised Author’s Edition (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003; Amazon Kindle 2013)


My Websites:

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













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A Satan Carol by spiritual horror author Alan Steven Kessler combines elements of the macabre and parody/satire to explore the concepts of free will and evil. Not having read in this horror subcategory before, I was intrigued when I received a copy of this ebook for review.

The story begins in 1848 Ireland during a time of intense famine. A poor, nearly starved boy dies in the countryside, releasing a ‘golden soul,’ a special soul full of kindness and healing power. Had he lived, he would have infected generations with goodness.

The tale then moves 180 years later to Christmas Eve in Massachusetts, where we encounter Katie Katz, a troubled, pregnant 14-year old who’s planning an abortion. Revolving around her are various characters who are interconnected in some way, either by family ties or by Mr. Green—aka the Devil—who has an agenda and will stop at nothing to tempt them and play with their conscience.

Among these characters are Katie’s father, Harvey Katz, a top notch lawyer who defends rapists and killers, does drugs and treats women like objects; her grandfather Orem, who’s cursed with prophesies and visions no one believes; Fritz Mueller, a gruesome doctor who performs abortions and uses the fetuses to extract a serum that could affect people’s growth. There are others, too, such as Katie’s mother and Harvey’s assistant.

Through the generations, Mr. Green has been following these people since birth, trying to shape their destinies to suit his purposes. At the top of his agenda, of course, is the golden soul and the way it could affect his son Pal. Though we have an idea that all the characters are pawns in Mr. Green’s evil games, it isn’t until the middle that we get a clearer picture of what’s really going on.

Mr Green tries to convince and trick his victims with dreams and hallucinations, but in the end, they have free will. As the plot evolves and the characters opt to follow the right path, Mr. Green grows increasingly frustrated. In fact, he becomes exhausted and whiny, prone to temper tantrums. After all, it isn’t easy bending the fabric of time and trying to be everywhere at once.

Who is the ghost of Christmas Eve? Is it Pal, Satan’s son? Is it Katie’s unborn child? Or is it the golden soul itself? Will Satan get his way in the end?

A Satan Carol moves back and forth in time and is told from multiple points of view. It is a well-written story with a heavy message that will especially appeal to Christian readers. Though some of the segments are gruesome and bordering on the bizarre, at times Kessler uses dark, twisted humor to lighten the prose. The story explores the universal theme of good versus evil with a particular focus on the power of free will. Kessler writes with a lot of attention to detail and some of the paragraphs are quite long, especially in the first half of the book. The pacing is faster in the second half, with less exposition and lots more dialogue.

A Satan Carol is an out-of-the-ordinary read that invites self pondering. Recommended for readers of horror and Christian fiction who’d like to try something different.

A Satan Carol
by Alan Steven Kessler
Wild Child Publishing
ISNB: 978-1-61798-013-8
Copyright 2009
290 pages
Formats: PDF, HTML, ePub, Mobi, Lit, PRC
Spiritual/Christian Horror
Author’s website: http://www.askessler.com
Listen to the first chapter online: http://www.askessler.com/listen.html

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primitive_smallMy special guest this Halloween is horror writer J. F. Gonzalez, author of several acclaimed novels of terror and suspense including Clickers (with Mark Williams), Clickers II: The Next Wave (with Brian Keene), Survivor, Bully, Fetish, and many others, as well as over sixty short stories and numerous articles. Gonzalez was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk about his life and works.

Thanks for stopping on The Dark Phantom today. To start with, would you tell us a little about your background and how you started writing?

I was born in Inglewood, California on May 8, 1964. I am of Spanish and Anglo-Saxon stock. My father’s family can be traced back to Spain. My great-great-great grandmother was born there in 1870. She and her husband emigrated to Mexico and, eventually, my grandmother emigrated to the US with my grandfather. On the other hand, we’ve traced my mother’s family as far back as 1690, to the Strong family in England. This pedigree also includes the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Princess Diana Spencer and, I’m sorry to say, Sarah Palin. I do share lineage on my father’s side with the acclaimed poet, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez; he’s my father’s first cousin.

I’ve been a book geek for as long as I can remember, and as a child I was constantly coming up stories to amuse myself. I was a voracious reader, and devoured everything from comic books to classic literature (Mark Twain was a childhood favorite), to mysteries and science-fiction and fantasy, to poetry. I made the conscious decision to be a writer in my senior year of high school when I read the famous Ray Bradbury story “The October Game”. The feeling that story gave me, especially the impact of that final line – And then some idiot turned on the lights. – made an incredible impact on me like nothing else. I remember the feeling of shock and surprise it had and decided that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to do that to people. I wanted to write stories that would shock them, make them clickersdeliriumsmallthink, provide them with a sense of awe, wonder, and terror.

When did your passion for the supernatural begin?

In addition to always being drawn to tales of science-fiction and fantasy, I was drawn to tales of terror by television. Primarily, reruns of Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and the Outer Limits. I remember watching Night Gallery and Kolchak the Night Stalker during their first run. At the same time, my family on my dad’s side were voracious oral story-tellers. Everybody from my aunts and cousins, to my grandparents all told me various ghost stories or tales of urban legend based on Meso-American myth. They fascinated me.

Not many Latino authors write in this genre. Why do you think this is?

I’ve always wondered this myself since Latino culture is rich with legends that can be utilized in tales of dark fantasy. The tale of La Llorona is a prime example. Latin cultures have many legends and ghost stories. Because I work primarily in U.S. publishing, I am not exposed to work by Spanish or Mexican authors who are published in their native countries and languages. I’m sure there’s some excellent dark fantasy and horror fiction being written in Latin American countries; I’m just not aware of them. Spanish wasn’t spoken much in my house growing up, and I can understand it better than I can speak it. Reading it is a challenge too, and anything I’ve ever read that has been published in Spanish has been in English translations.

clickers2In the early 1990’s I co-edited two magazines of dark fantasy and horror fiction and bought a science fiction story by a Latino author named Octavio Ramos, Jr. that was really good. Around the same time, a guy named Dan Perez was sending me stuff, but I never bought anything from him. The only Latino author I can think of off-hand with serious publishing credentials is Guillermo Del Toro, who just published his first novel. Guillermo is more known as a screenwriter/director than a prose writer, though. I love his films. The Devil’s Backbone is a powerful film, set during the Spanish Civil War. Robert Rodriguez is another director who comes to mind, but he seems to operate on a more pulpy level, like me. The Mexican film industry, in particular, has long had a fascination with the macabre. I’ve seen some pretty good (and some really horrible) Mexican horror movies over the years, and some really good ones from Spain.

So while there are no Mexican or Spanish counterparts to US writers like Stephen King or H. P. Lovecraft, plenty of Latino writers with serious publishing and critical acclaim are occasionally producing works of dark fantasy and terror. Most academics call this type of work “magic realism”, but its all fantasy. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a prime example. Aura by the great Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes is another. I’d recommend that short novel (or any of his work) in a heart beat for anybody interested in reading good supernatural horror fiction, period.

Would you tell us a little about the type of books you enjoy writing?

While I enjoy reading all kinds of fiction, I seem to be only good at writing strict genre fiction. I’ve tried writing all kinds of fiction, everything from simple mainstream literature to romance and erotica to westerns. I seem to excel in thrillers, horror fiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Since I excel in those, they are the genres I spend the most time working in.

Do you outline books beforehand?

I don’t outline too heavily. Ideas for novels come to me from different sources. A central image, a news story I might have read that festers in the back of my mind. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea by simply day dreaming and letting my mind wander. I think a lot of “what if?” thoughts. Like, what if we, as a species, lost our sense of humanity and our sense of being civilized and we were reduced to a very primal state? That sparked the seed that became my latest novel, Primitive, which is a post-Apocalyptic thriller with heavy SF and supernatural horror overtones to it.

While my main objective is to provide entertainment for my readers (because, after all, mainstream US Publishing is an entertainment business), I do try to provide some kind of subtext. Primitive is a prime example. While on the surface it can be seen as a post-apocalyptic thriller, at the heart it examines religious belief, racism, and survival. My next novel, The Corporation, while on the surface can be seen as a horror novel about an evil force that has taken over the people who work at a large corporation, at the heart its about the corporatization of America and how greed can turn into a soulless feeding frenzy where the bottom line is the only thing that matters. People’s lives are worthless; the almighty dollar is our God.

HerosmallThis is probably why I enjoy working in horror and dark fantasy fiction more than other genres. I can give people entertainment and at the same time I can try to illuminate them, make them think. That’s what the best horror fiction does. Shirley Jackson’s famous story “The Lottery” is covered in literature classes all over the country for various reasons (its exploration of mob mentality, for example), but at its heart it’s a horror story. You can find other examples from writers as diverse as Poe, Hawthorne, Le Fanu, and Bierce to Richard Matheson and Stephen King.

In general, though, once I get a central idea for a novel or a short story, I don’t outline too heavily. I’ll sketch out the basic arc of the story, the establishment of the setting and characters, the conflict, and then simply let the characters and their situation carry me along. Things like theme and mood and subtext will arise naturally during the the writing of the first draft. Sometimes I have an idea for a resolution, but many times I don’t. I figure if the ending comes as a surprise, it will please my readers too.

How would you describe your creative process? Do you have any ‘horror author’ quirks?
The creative process is simple. I sit my butt in my chair, put my fingers on the keyboard and produce.

Ideas for stories will come at the oddest times, and when they do I always try to jot them down quickly on a pad of paper, which I then transfer to a file of story ideas on my computer. As far as horror author quirks, no. I realize many people who normally do not read horror fiction think that those of us who make our livings writing it are weird, and maybe we are in a way. However, I’ve had the good fortune of meeting and being friends with many horror writers. They’re all quite normal.

Of all your books, which one is closest to your heart? Why?

Primitive is my favorite for several reasons. The main character is an ordinary guy who becomes a hero by simply surviving and being an inspiration for others to survive in what has become of the world after the majority of the human population has been reduced to ravenous animals. It’s only him, his wife and young daughter and a handful of other survivors that band together. Of course, there are other people unaffected too, but they’re spread across the world. The story mainly focuses on David Spires, the narrator, and details what they must go through to ensure their survival. I’ve had readers tell me they were very affected by David’s courage in the face of extreme adversity. I’m proud of that.

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

Absolutely. www.jfgonzalez.com. I have a blog linked to my website, and readers can learn about me there, read info on my work, and communicate with me through myspace, my message board, or through twitter (www.twitter.com/jfgonzalez)

What do you do on Halloween?

My opinion on Halloween is like a drunk’s opinion of New Year’s Eve. It’s the one day of the year that everybody else goes out of their way to try to scare each other for fun. I do that as part of most of my everyday work, so Halloween is no big deal for me.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers?

Somebody I’d like to explore my Latino/Southwest heritage in a novel. I have an unfinished novel with large Latino cast. The novel is set in my father’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, and it also takes place in Ciudad Juarez, across the border. It’s sort of a modern day gothic novel because its scope is very sprawling, with different storylines that intersect with each other. It’s very hard to describe. I set it aside to work on something else (my novel Primitive, which a publisher paid me to write). Someday, I’d like to return to it.

Aside from that…I live a very private life. I have a wife and daughter. Politically I’m a left-leaning independent. I love to go target shooting with my friends and I’m an ardent supporter of same-sex marriage. I’m an Agnostic, yet I’m very spiritual. I love to take my dog on long walks, and I love to browse for hours in used bookstores. I love all kinds of music and I love to travel. My favorite novel of all time is probably John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and my favorite movie of all time is probably Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! I love Japanese food, especially sushi. I love Mexican food too, and I’ve sampled most cuisines from across the Latin spectrum. I never did take a liking to menudo though, but I love chorizo. Yeah, I know, it’s weird, but what can I say?

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