Sunday, 21 July 2019

Interview with Chris Miller - By David Kempf


When did you first become interested in writing?

I think the first time was when I was in the neighborhood of 10 years old. I’d already become enamored with storytelling well before that. I loved books, movies, my parents or grandparents (or anyone, really) telling me a story. But I always wanted to “fix” the story they were telling, add my own twists, have it turn out the way I wanted it to. So the bug was formed already, but when I was ten or so, I’d just read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and actually had no idea at the time that it was a whole series of books already. So I thought I’d write a sequel to it! I only got around ten pages or so done, and it was pretty awful, but I realized just how much I really enjoyed to tell a story, even if I wasn’t very good at it yet. I never stopped. I started writing things out, in English and Reading classes in school there were times we had to write essays or stories or keep a journal, all of which I turned into fiction, and even way back then it was always dark, and sometimes darkly humorous. I also realized I was getting better at it too, the more I did it. By the time I was 18, I had decided I wanted to write books or movies or both. Star in them too, though that really was a pipe-dream, lol. In any case, that was the birth of it, and though I’ve strayed from it here and there in my earlier years, I always came back with more stories to tell. For a time, the only thing I wrote was music and lyrics, but even those lyrics were always telling a story. I got serious about writing in 2014, and started pulling out my old short stories and unfinished novels and began reworking them, as well as penning some all-new stuff. I was off to the races then.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I think the first real horror movie I ever watched was PSYCHO II. My parents never allowed me to watch anything over PG until I was well into my teens, and even then it was rare. So, I’d catch what I could at friends’s houses and such. But PSYCHO (the original) was older, black and white, and with little to no actual gore, so when my grandmother called—who lived just 100 yards up the black top from us—and wanted to know if I could come watch PSYCHO with her, they allowed it. I walked down there in the dark, through the woods, and we fired up the movie.

It wasn’t until it started that she realized it was the sequel to the Hitchcock (and Bloch) classic, and was significantly more violent and gory than the original. But she decided we’d watch it anyway. I loved it! However, upon leaving to go back home through the dark woods, there were roughly ten-thousand Norman Bates’s and other ghouls lurking out there, ready to dine on my spleen, and I got scared out of my wits running home from all the phantoms. When I got home and my parents saw the state I was in, I told them about the mistake in which movie we’d watched. They called and chastised my grandmother—sigh—and allowed me to sleep on the floor in their room since I was so freaked out.

Of course, Norman Bates was also under their bed, so I protected myself by only showing him my backside, which no self-respecting lunatic would ever attack. Still, I didn’t sleep well that night. From then on, I was fascinated with horror and the fantastique, but it was some years before I got the chance to watch another horror picture. When I did, it was actually two horror movies which I watched with some friends at a birthday party sleep-over at my pals house. The movies were TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT and HELLRAISER. I was blown away by both, but especially HELLRAISER, and I think it was there that my fascination with horror and the supernatural was solidified. You should have seen my parents’s reactions when they found out what I’d watched—even though I was in 7th grade, they didn’t think it was appropriate at all. I laugh now, especially as an author of the same kinds of things, but I got into an obscene amount of trouble.


Tell us about your first publisher.

My first publisher was me, actually. Well, sort of. You see, when I finally got my first novel finished, I had put three OLD (see ancient) short stories on Amazon as Kindle books. They sold about 4 copies between them all, and they were poorly done stories. I just wanted something to be out there. I didn’t know any other writers at the time and had zero knowledge of the publishing world. So when I stumbled across a publisher online that offered to professionally publish my book for a fee (all new authors RUN from these types of places!!!) I decided to go for it. I spent a TON of money and while I DID get a professionally manufactured book out of it in the end, I learned a lot about what not to do. Like using a vanity press. I paid them a lot of money, they didn’t deliver on most of what they offered (aside from a book that did look great), and they harassed me for a long time, always calling with offers to get my book on the NY Times list and all these other things for another fee. I declined them all and re-released my book in a different trim with a new cover and formatting as a self-published title. By then I’d met a lot of folks in the industry and figured out how to get covers made that really caught the eye and met formatters and such. It wasn’t until November of 2018 that I got picked up by a small press, Deadman’s Tome, for my first novella. Since then, I’ve worked with them and two other presses, each one bigger than the last, and I’ve actually been made an offer by a really significant press, but that fell through. Still, things continue to snowball bigger and bigger, which I’m really excited about.


How would you classify the genre you write?

I consider myself a “suspense” author. Everything I write is a suspense story. Sometimes that’s been a thriller, other times its been horror. I’ve even written some comedies, though even those are extremely suspenseful. I feel like for any story in any genre, the thing that sets a book apart as a ‘must read’ title is suspense. It’s necessary for virtually ANY kind of tale to really work and really pull the reader in. Conflict is always necessary as we all know, but I think suspense is no less important. However, the bulk of my work would most easily fall into “horror” or “thriller”. All but two of my short stories are horror. Sometimes it’s supernatural, sometimes it’s cosmic, sometimes it’s real-world. I’ve even done some extreme horror short stories. My first novel is a revenge thriller which takes on a supernatural horror element in the latter half, my second novel is a dark crime/noir story with a small element of psychological horror, and my novella is a straight, real-world thriller with a horrifying situation. My new novel, THE DAMNED PLACE, is through and through a horror story, but it’s also got cosmic horror elements and it’s a coming of age story set in 1990 East Texas. Nearly all of my unpublished work falls into the horror realm, but every single thing I write is forged in suspense.


Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

We like to be scared. That’s the long and short of it. Human beings enjoy the feeling of fear, of holding our breath to see what’s about to happen next, to feel our hackles rise. So long as we know it’s all make-believe, that is. Something about fear just resonates with us, and I think maybe it’s because we all like to think we have some great courage deep within us that would help us rise to the occasion should we ever find ourselves in a horrifying situation. We also like to see others rise to the occasion, because then we get to live out those heroics vicariously through someone else without ever putting ourselves in harm’s way and there’s never any real danger to us. It’s the moments just after something terrifying happens, or at the end of a story when we finally start breathing again, panting like dog, our heart rates slowly diminishing when it really hits us and we look around and go, “Hell yeah! That was awesome!” It was awesome because we were scared out of our wits and we made it. We, of course, always knew we would, because fiction is ultimately safe, but we were pulled in so much that we forget that for a little while. That’s why thrills connect so well with us. At least, that’s what I think.


What inspires your stories?

Oh, you name it. I’ve been inspired by events in my own life, the ‘what if?’ questions that arise from that, I’ve been inspired by things on the news. I’ve also been inspired by other literary works (I think all writers have) or movies or TV shows. Something will hit me, really connect with me, and then I start mulling over how things COULD HAVE gone, or how I might have told the story differently. In the case of the late, great Jack Ketchum, it was almost always based on something that happened in real life, something that horrified or pissed him off, and then he’d write about that. I’ve done some of that myself, but more often, I’m inspired by other storytellers of all kinds out there, and then my gears get turning and before I know it, I’ve got my own story to tell.


What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

I’m not sure I’m the best judge of this, but I’ll take a shot. I’ve read and watched a LOT more American horror than I have British, mainly because I’m from Texas here in the USA and so it’s more prevalent here. But I’ve watched plenty of foreign films from Britain and elsewhere (I especially like gritty British crime movies) and read a good many horror stories written by and set in the UK. I think the main thing I might could put my finger on—though this is by no means a comprehensive or nuanced answer—is that in America, we seem to have a good deal more retreading of old material. Zombie stories are a perfect example. I can’t think of a single genre or sub-genre that has been more overdone than Zombies. And don’t get me wrong, I like a good Zombie story. I’m a huge fan of Romero, and I loved THE RISING and CITY OF THE DEAD by Brian Keene, as well as a few other titles from lesser known authors. But by and large, if a story is about zombies, it’s hard to pull me in. You have to catch my eye with a really fantastic cover or a blurb that shows me this particular zombie story is something different and special in some way before I’ll consider reading it. Same with zombie movies. It needs to be something different, some way to tell this tired old tale in a way that’s not only unlike what I’ve seen already a thousand times, but that is ALSO interesting. A story about zombies who don’t like to eat brains and would rather drink tea would do nothing for me.

So, in the USA, I see a lot of the same kind of thing hashed out over and over again. While my experience with British horror is far more limited than that of American, I must say I’ve seen less of that problem with our brothers and sisters in the UK. When I read a British horror book or watch a British film, I’m usually in for something a little more unique, which I appreciate. It doesn’t always work, but good examples are movies like 28 Days Later. It takes all the basic, familiar elements of the zombie apocalypse story, but it adds a unique twist to it. It also is filmed in such a way that it really makes you feel like you’re there. And most importantly, it brings in the human element to the story, namely, the human villains, which are far more scary than any of the monsters. While none of this really covers the board all the way across, that’s the main thing I’ve seen. We have plenty of terrific horror novelists and filmmakers over here in the US, but the UK seems to have a larger offering of truly original material.


What are your favorite horror books?

Best I can do here is give a list, which like my answer in the previous question, will not be comprehensive. There’s so much out there I enjoy. But if I had to just pick a few, I’d go with The Shining and IT by Stephen King, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Psycho by Robert Bloch, Off Season by Jack Ketchum, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay, Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz, Live Girls and The New Neighbor by Ray Garton, YOU and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, At the Mountains of Madness by HP Lovecraft, and Ghoul by Brian Keene. There are many, MANY more, but that’s a snapshot into some of my favorites. And they all connect with me for different reasons. Some are visceral, some are subtle and in the shadows. Others are sweeping in their scope and some are tightly focused and claustrophobic. Some are even humorous, such as both the titles I mentioned by Ms. Kepnes. But they ALL unnerved me in some way or another, and they ALL had characters who came to life on the page and I fell in love with. That’s the foundation and cornerstone of ANY good story, horror or otherwise, in my opinion.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

THE THING (1982) by John Carpenter is ALWAYS at or near the very top of my list. Fantastic piece of filmmaking. Others would be Halloween (1978), Psycho (1960), Event Horizon (I love sci-fi and cosmic horror, and this one is way underrated), The Exorcist, Slither, Evil Dead (specifically Evil Dead 2, but I like them all), Re-Animator, From Beyond, Alien, Aliens, The Fly (Cronenberg), The Brood, Videodrome, The Shining (Kubrick), Hellraiser, Lord of Illusions, Dawn of the Dead (remake), 28 Days Later, and about 30,000 others. Like with the books, these all connected with me for different reasons, but they are all movies I come back to time and again and keep in my collection at home.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

just getting published by a small press is a huge thing. A lot of people never even make it that far. But my newest novel, THE DAMNED PLACE, is my greatest literary achievement, I think. It’s much longer, has much more character development, has lots of history and has birthed an entire mythos around it with a pair of overlapping trilogies (all of which are in the pipeline). It’s like I broke through a wall and discovered this entire universe to play in. My previous work I’m very fond of, but this one takes it to a whole new level, and I’m extremely proud of it.

             
Do you have any advice for new writers?

I’ll rob a line from King here: “read a lot and write a lot”. That’s the main thing. Also, sit your butt in the seat and write as often as you can, no matter how many words you’re able to get down. I don’t get to write every day, so I don’t hammer on folks for that, but make it a priority in your life and carve out as much time for it as you can. Sit down and write. Don’t second guess yourself in the process, just get it out, and once you’ve finished your story, ALWAYS go back over it several times and add, cut, expand, whatever. Fill it in where there isn’t enough, yank out the crap or redundant nonsense. You can always edit a poorly written page, but there isn’t much you can do with a blank one.
     

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

I think it’s great in a lot of ways. It’s allowed a lot of new authors—myself being one of them—to get there work out to the market who might never have gotten the chance otherwise. However, there’s a caveat: it has ALSO allowed a LOT of garbage to flood that same market. Many authors either don’t understand or don’t care about polishing their work. They want it out yesterday, so they don’t spend much time revising what they’ve written or they don’t use a professional editor (always, always, always use a professional editor!!!), and the end product shows all of this. There are some gems out there to be sure in the self-published world, and I’m very thankful that the option to self-publish is there. But now we have to sift through a lot of crap to find some decent books in the midst of all of that, and it sort of casts a poor light on the more serious authors who self-publish. Jeff Strand self-publishes much of his work, but he takes it seriously and doesn’t cut any corners. Then you have myriad authors who don’t and for every well-produced self-published book out there, you have about a hundred works of crap. They aren’t art, they aren’t just “not for me”, they’re crap. And that’s unfortunate. All that being said, I’m very thankful that option is out there, though. It’s a foot in the door for many worthy authors who would otherwise go completely unknown without it.


What are your current projects?

I’m finalizing the edits on my follow up novel to THE DAMNED PLACE—which is titled THE DAMNED ONES—as we speak, but the book is written and has had some editing done. My hope is to sell this one to Black Bed Sheet Books, who published THE DAMNED PLACE, when I’ve gone through and approved all the edits and addressed all the suggestions. I’m about to start revisions on a secret novel that will come out next year, though I’m not at liberty to discuss anything else about that one right now. I also recently completed a cosmic horror novella, which I’ll begin revisions on as soon as I finish them on this secret novel, and I plan to start the third Damned book, THE DAMNED TOWN, this fall when all of that is wrapped up. The story is already laid out in my head and has been gestating for a while now, some I’m eager to get it down on paper. It will be my biggest, most sweeping work to date. I’m also working on a couple of short story ideas, though my focus is on all of this other work I just mentioned at the moment.


Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work.

So, as you already know, my name is Chris Miller and I’m a suspense/horror/thriller/comedy….hell, I’m an author. My third novel released on July 6th from Black Bed Sheet Books (THE DAMNED PLACE), and I’ve got short stories in 5 anthologies so far, with a few more coming soon that haven’t been released yet. By day I manage the service department for our family-owned water well drilling and service company in East Texas, and I live in the quaint little town of Winnsboro with my slap-your-mamma-she’s-so-damn-beautiful wife Aliana, and our three kids Joanna, Jack, and Sloane. My work has been praised by critics and fans alike, some even giving me the title “master of suspense”, which is both an honor and humbling.

You can find me online at my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Patreon, if you’re so inclined. You can also send me a friend request to my personal account on Facebook if you like, and so long as you’re not a complete weirdo or stalker, I’ll add you and am happy to interact. 😊

www.authorchrismiller.com 
www.facebook.com/chrismiller1383 
www.twitter.com/CMWordslinger 
www.instagram.com/cmwordslinger 
www.patreon.com/chrismiller1383


Saturday, 20 July 2019

Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 announces more guests, special events & shortlist for Screen Genre Rising Star Award



Ahead of single tickets going on sale from Sat 21st July, Arrow Video FrightFest announces their current slate of guests, more details on some special events and the short list for the Screen Genre Rising Star Award.


As previously revealed, genre icon Dario Argento and The Soska Sisters will be attending and other returning alumni include Abner Pastoll, here with the closing night film A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND, alongside many of the cast, producer/director Ant Timpson for opener COME TO DADDY, BLISS director Joe Begos, joined by stars Dora Madison and Graham Skipper, DANIEL ISN'T REAL helmer Adam Egypt Mortimer and Paidraig Reynolds, director of DARK LIGHT, accompanied by his cast including Jessica Madsen (Leatherface). Plus, Jordan Barker returns with WITCHES IN THE WOODS, with lead actress Hannah Kasulka, Dan Bush with THE DARK RED, accompanied by lead actress April Billingsley and the Pierce Brothers are back with THE WRETCHED.


This year's International talent making their FrightFest debut include KNIVES AND SKIN director Jennifer Reeder, DRIVEN writer/lead actress Casey Dillard, alongside co-star Glenn Payne, EAT BRAINS LOVE director Rodman Flelder, ROCK PAPER AND SCISSORS co-director Martin Bousson, accompanied by Argentinian leading ladies Valeria Giorcelli and Agustina Cervino, Henry Jacobsen, marking his directorial debut with Blumhouse production BLOODLINE and  Ireland is represented by Paddy Murphy, who is also making his directorial debut with THE PERISHED. Plus we have Eric Pennycroft, director of SADISTIC INTENTIONS, with actress Taylor Zaudtke (who also features in FrightFest entry FINGERS), I TRAPPED THE DEVIL lead actor & producer Scott Poythress, Brandon Croft for TRUE FICTION. THE DEEPER YOU DIG co-directors John Adams and Toby Poser (who also stars in the movie), VOILITION director Tony Dean Smith, alongside star John Cassini, (who also stars in TRUE FICTION), FINGERS director Juan Ortiz, THE FURIES director Tony D'Aquino and Jason Axinn, here with TO YOUR LAST DEATH.


Homegrown talent will be present in abundance this year. CRAWL star Kaya Scodelario is in the house, alongside cast and crew from MADNESS IN THE METHOD, including Busted singer/songwriter and actor Matt Willis. TALES FROM THE LODGE director Abigail Blackmore is joining us with her all-star cast, including Mackenzie Crook and Laura Fraser. Plus, Lawrie Brewster returns with anthology FOR WE ARE MANY, accompanied by crew and cast including Nicholas Vince. Tom Paton is also back with STAIRS, along with HERE COMES HELL director Jack McHenry and Andrew Desmond, director of THE SONATA.


Staying with UK talent, the FIRST BLOOD strand goes from strength to strength and all the helmers will be around, supported by their cast and crews: So let's welcome DEATH OF A VLOGGER director Graham Hughes, A SERIAL KILLER'S GUIDE TO LIFE director Staten Cousns-Roe, CRIMINAL AUDITION  director Samuel Gridley, DARK SENSE director Magnus Wake and Fredi Nwaka, director of ARE WE DEAD YET?


Established in 2016 to celebrate the work of emerging UK genre talent, FrightFest is proud to team up for the fourth year running with Screen International to present the 'Screen Genre Rising Star Award'. This year's short list salutes the work of Abigail Blackmore, director of twisty, terrifying black comedy horror TALES FROM THE LODGE, Staten Cousins-Roe for his highly original and compelling debut feature A SERIAL KILLER'S GUIDE TO LIFE, actress Rebecca Rogers for her stunning lead performance in STALKED, Jack McHenry for his exuberant genre cocktail of caviar and carnage HERE COMES HELL and director/actor Fredi Nwaka for his devilishly clever feature ARE WE DEAD YET?. The winner will be revealed on Monday 26 Aug, 6,30pm at the Cineworld Leicester Sq.


Other events this year include the UK launch of Dario Argento's autobiography 'Fear'. The genre icon and giallo legend will take to the stage to talk about the book and life at the top during Rome's Golden Horror Era. Argento's life-long friend and FrightFest co-director Alan Jones, who adapted, edited, annotated and illustrated the FAB Press publication, will be the master of ceremonies at this must-attend event followed by a signing session.


The discovery of new voices in the world of genre filmmaking is close to FrightFest's darkly beating heart and the festival has teamed up with UK distribution outfit Blue Finch Films and short film funding company Genera, to launch a new initiative to help finance genre short films that are in the latter stages of development.  With a £1000 fund on offer, the finalists will pitch their films to an industry panel and the winning film will be announced at the end of the festival. Hosted by FrightFest's Short Film programmer Shelagh Rowan-Legg, the panel will  include filmmaker actress Joanne Mitchell and Blue Finch Films' Mike Chapman.


Rosie Fletcher, editor of Den Of Geek, will host FROM PAGE TO SCREAM, featuring top horror authors whose work has been adapted or optioned for the screen. They'll talk about the processes and pitfalls of getting a novel turned into a show or film, what it's like seeing their creations come to life and about how the landscape of horror is changing in books, film and TV.


There's no party like a film party and to celebrate FrightFest's 20th year the Duke Mitchell team have once again scoured the Earth to find the weirdest pieces of film & cinema ever to have flashed into our eyeballs. Add to the mix some very SPECIAL guests, endless giveaways and brilliant trailers and it means the 'DUKE MITCHELL FILM PARTY' is the only place to be on a late night Saturday at FrightFest!


Arrow Video FrightFest runs from 22nd-26th August 2019 at Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema.


Single tickets go on sale Sat 20th July at noon and, alongside the few remaining Festival and day pass sales, are available to buy online: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html

Friday, 5 July 2019

Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 announces 20th year record-breaking line-up


The UK’s biggest and boldest horror and fantasy film festival is celebrating its 20th bloody year. Since 2000 it has made its indelible mark, not only on the ever-burgeoning horror community but also on the UK genre landscape as a whole. The internationally renowned event leads the way in attesting to the versatility of the genre, its reinvention and its growing importance in the cultural landscape and this year is no exception.

Arrow Video FrightFest 2019 is back at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema from Aug 22 - Aug 26. Hosting a record-breaking seventy-eight films, embracing fourteen countries and spanning six continents, this year’s five-day fear-a-thon includes 20 World, 20 International / European and 28 UK Premieres.


As previously announced, this year’s festivities begin with the UK premiere of Ant Timpson’s deviously edgy stunner COME TO DADDY, starring Elijah Wood and reaches its bloody conclusion with the World premiere of Abner Pastoll’s superbly crafted crime story, A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND. Other main screen international attractions include producer Guillermo del Toro and director AndrĂ© Øvredal’s SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, producer Sam Raimi and director Alexandre Aja’s gruesome ‘gator yarn CRAWL, the Radio Silence gang’s lethal thriller READY OR NOT, director Kiah Roache-Turner’s futuristic Ozploitation classic NEKROTRONIC, Pedro C. Alonso’s startling captive chiller FEEDBACK, with a career-defining performance from Eddie Marsan, Kirill Sokolov’s splatterpunk action comedy WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! and Jason Mewes’ insanely brilliant MADNESS IN THE METHOD, starring Mewes, Vinnie Jones, Kevin Smith, Teri Hatcher, Dean Cain and with a final on-screen appearance from Stan Lee.

Making their second, very welcome appearance at the festival will be The Soska Sisters, attending for the World Premiere of RABID, their eagerly anticipated re-imagining of the Cronenberg classic. The sisters will also introduce a special retrospective screening of the original. Also attending is the legendary Dario Argento, here for a special screening of his giallo masterpiece TENEBRAE. He’ll also be in conversation with Festival co-director Alan Jones and signing copies of his autobiography, ‘Fear’, which Jones has adapted and edited. More attending guests will be announced later this month.


FrightFest’s 20th year sees the return of directorial alumni like Adam Egypt Mortimer with his provocative psychological horror DANIEL ISN’T REAL, Christian Alvart with his twisted blockbuster CUT-OFF, Lucky McKee with the startling KINDRED SPIRITS, starring Thora Birch, Joe Begos with his terror trip BLISS, Larry Fessenden with DEPRAVED, a post-modern take on the Frankenstein legend, Padraig Reynolds with belligerent creature feature DARK LIGHT, producer Eli Roth with the grindhouse-inspired HAUNT, The Pierce Brothers’ bring us their chiller THE WRETCHED, Dan Bush is back with seat-edge shocker THE DARK RED, Jordan ‘Zombeavers’ Rubin teases us with tongue-in-chic horror comedy THE DRONE and ‘Level 16’ director Danishka Esterhazy gives us her fun-packed body-counter THE BANANA SPLITS. There is also the UK premiere of GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR, the directorial debut from returning producer Travis Stevens and DARLIN’, the directorial debut of past FrightFest ‘darling’ Pollyanna McIntosh  Plus, those fur balls with teeth are back. CRITTERS ATTACK!, with original star Dee Wallace, will enjoy its European Premiere.

FrightFest continues to present the films that are currently shaking up the genre scene and allowing it to transform and continually excite. Like Michael Goi’s MARY starring Gary Oldman and Emily Mortimer, the inventive EAT BRAINS LOVE from Rodman Flender, Seann William Scott’s stunning serial killer turn in BLOODLINE, Chelsea Stardust’s hilarious SATANIC PANIC, the unforgettable coming-of-ager KNIVES AND SKIN, THE BLACK STRING, marking the comeback of Frankie Muniz, Kelola Racela’s lustfully demonic  PORNO, the incredible animation attraction TO YOUR LAST DEATH, Emma Tammi’s critically acclaimed THE WIND, Fernando Alle’s Troma-inspired MUTANT BLAST. and the two craziest Midnight Movies you will ever see – Valeri Milev’s fabulously inventive BULLETS OF JUSTICE and Fabricio Bittar’s Brazilian gorefest GHOST KILLERS VS. BLOODY MARY.

The genre scene in the UK continues to innovate and thrive, reflected in this year’s FIRST BLOOD strand. Life coaches become dead coaches in Staten Cousins-Poe’s gem of a feature debut A SERIAL KILLER’S GUIDE TO LIFE and Graham Hughes’ viral mockumentary DEATH OF A VLOGGER, gives the found footage format a much-needed shot in the arm. Then there’s Samuel Gridley’s darkly funny CRIMINAL AUDITION, Magnus Wake’s cleverly plotted and heart-pounding DARK SENSE and making up the fearsome five is Fredi Nwaka’s ARE WE DEAD YET, a cleverly crafted supernatural comedy-crime thriller.

Other home-grown selections include the European premiere of TALES FROM THE LODGE Abigail Blackmore’s portmanteau shocker, starring Mackenzie Crook and Johnny Vegas, Carl Strathe’s disturbing DARK ENCOUNTER, starring Laura Fraser and Alice Lowe, and the world premiere of Charlie Steeds’ flesh-eating horror THE BARGE PEOPLE. There are also world premieres for Justin Edgar’s nail-biting suspense thriller STALKED (AKA ‘Unseen’), Tom Paton’s heightened horror STAIRS and producer/director Lawrie Brewster’s FOR WE ARE MANY, in which directors from around the world unleash a legion of demons.  And let’s not forget director Jack McHenry, who makes a welcome return with his crowd-pleasing HERE COMES HELL, which made huge waves at our Glasgow edition earlier this year.


Over the years FrightFest has showcased the best genre films Canada has to offer and this year a special strand has been created – ‘Canadian Chills’ – to highlight an exceptional bumper crop, which, apart from RABID, embraces the International premiere of Colin Minihan and director Kurtis David Harder’s smart chiller SPIRAL and the UK premieres of Tony Dean Smith’s sci-fi mind-bender VOLITION, Ray Xue’s entertainingly nasty EXTRACURRICULAR, starring Luke Goss, Chad Archibald’s deadly thriller I'LL TAKE YOUR DEAD, Cameron Macgowan’s dark comedy chiller RED LETTER DAY and Jordan Barker’s unrelenting assault of pure terror, WITCHES IN THE WOODS. Then there are World premieres for Jay Dahl’s malevolent HALLOWEEN PARTY and Braden Croft’s compelling TRUE FICTION, Completing the line-up are Zack Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s FrightFest Glasgow hit FREAKS, the International premiere of Rob Grant’s sick, sea-faring adventure HARPOON and the UK premiere of the sinister and challenging HAPPY FACE, this year’s Duke Mitchell presentation.

Another country with a fine FrightFest pedigree is Argentina and this year is no exception; with the World Premiere of producer Javier Diment’s chilling chamber piece ROCK, PAPER AND SCISSORS, plus the European premiere of Herman Finding’s IMPOSSIBLE CRIMES and the UK premiere of Pablo Pares’ apocalyptic powerhouse I AM TOXIC.

The global cabinet of fear holds more…Tunisia is represented for the first time with the UK premiere of DACHRA, an intense folk horror that has broken box office records in North Africa and Japan offers up a forgotten musical cult gem from 1985 - THE LEGEND OF THE STARDUST BROTHERS. Ireland’s entry is Paddy Murphy’s THE PERISHED. Mixing horror and pertinent social issues, the film marks the debut of a new Irish genre voice.

Further indie discoveries on the monstrous menu are: Australian chase chiller THE FURIES, the elegantly scary THE SONATA, social media shocker DEADCON, DRIVEN, a smart, meter-running battle against evil, Eric Pennycroft’s brooding SADISTIC INTENTIONS, with Larry Fessenden, the horrifying Christmas cracker I TRAPPED THE DEVIL, the quirky, cutting FINGERS and THE DEEPER YOU DIG, a Coen-Brothers-esque story of grief and survival  from Toby Poser and John Adams.

Documentary lovers will enjoy Dima Ballin’s THE MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION OF MICHAEL REEVES, charting the life and early death of the man who gave us WITCHFINDER GENERAL and two documentaries from director David Gregory, MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS , an in-depth look at the talents of Dan Curtis, the ‘King of TV horror’ and SICK! SAVAGE! SENSUAL! THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON, which tells the bizarre and grim demise of one of Hollywood’s exploitation bad boys.


In a first for FrightFest, there will be a special preview of MAN OF MEDAN, the first game in The Dark Pictures anthology. This will be followed by a Q&A session with the key development talent behind the game. The much anticipated interactive narrative horror adventure, developed by Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe, brings supernatural horror on board a ghost-ship adrift in the South Pacific. It is set to be released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Aug 30, 2019.

Festival co-director Alan Jones, said today: “Over the last two decades we have tirelessly introduced our committed audiences to every trend, every new talent and every innovation that has put horror back in the collective cinephile conscious. Even after 20 years. FrightFest’s August event remains a key destination to see the latest genre movies in the manner for which they were made - on the Big Screen surrounded by fellow fear-mongers. Remember, it’s our party and we’ll scream if we want to!”

This year’s guest list, special events and the Short Film Showcase entries will all be announced in the coming weeks.

Festival passes will go on sale Sat 6 July at noon and will only be available to buy online:  http://www.frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html

Single tickets will go on sale on Sat 20 July from 9am.


Thursday, 4 July 2019

Interview with Richard Alan Scott by David Kempf



When did you first become interested in writing? 

I have been writing since I learned to do it, at six years old. I wrote a story on our old typewriter called The Zany Zoo-lion. I even did Richard Alan Scott for the byline. That story became the film Madagascar. No, it didn't, and my Mom is the only person who ever read it. But the lion ran away from the zoo and joined the circus. I had a lot of comments on my writing down through the years, and I've talked all about them in a blog on my website. At 20, one of my stories was held for a long long time by Twilight Zone Magazine, but eventually rejected. That was Rod Serling's wife Carol running that. My blog is about how many times I was encouraged but didn't believe it, so we come to age 49 and my resolve to take the business seriously.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

As a kid I was just in love with The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. I was the baby and had three older brothers. My brothers and I all loved horror and science fiction, and read everything we could. We passed along most of the books in Paperbacks from Hell. Once when I was about seven, my Mom walked into the living room and I was sitting there looking at Playboy. My brothers were a lot older and one of them left it out by accident. I was actually reading a short story by Ian Fleming in there. I had no clue about the naked ladies, hahaha. But she went berserk.

My first book I can remember reading was a Burroughs. We couldn't get enough of that stuff.


Tell us about your first publisher. 

I got a story into Ireland's premiere magazine for Horror, SciFi and Fantasy, called Albedo One. One of the editors, Frank Laidlaw, sent me a very long letter about how my submission had woken him from a numbness looking at all the regular submissions. That sent me reeling. There was a stringent set of rules they followed to accept a submission, and one of them was that it had to go through 3 editors and get the okay. My story was called "Stoker's Benefactor" and was about Bram Stoker, who worked as the manager of a theater, having the real Count Dracula coming in to donate money because of his being enchanted with one of their actresses. Well, one of the editors I had to go through was a Stoker expert, and it took me quite a while to make enough changes to get his approval. Of course it then appeared about a year later and I was stoked, stokered I guess, to get my name on the cover. That was about ten years ago. I thought writing is going to be great, and always like this. I've only had about 4 acceptances since then, ugh.


How would you classify the genre you write?

There are so many labels I can't keep up with them. My stories start in a place of complete reality and I work hard to get that right and believable. Then they go off into magical realism or fantasy while trying to stay within the boundaries I set up. I've heard that called slipstream but I am not sure if that's correct. I really have always shot for writing a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode as a story. I always have an ending, which I'm sure drives editors crazy, since they all seem to be in love with ambiguity. But I write so that people like me will like it, the sort of working class guy or gal, and no one I know likes that cryptic or ambiguous stuff except other writers. I'm not writing to get their approval. I want the regular schmoe to read my stories or novels and say, "Man that was good. And what a great ending."


Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

I think with the baby boomers like me passing on this stuff, it is even more popular. My daughter is a reader and she is not opposed to some paranormal or supernatural elements sneaking in to anything she reads. The main reason it's always been around and will never go away is that we are all fascinated with the unknown part of death. That taps in to the universe and what exactly is out there, the constantly progressing idea of multi-verses, what happens when you die, our unknowns. I started this quest to get closer to the reality of death, and to my surprise, I ended up becoming an Atheist. My search for all of it led me to see that there really is none of it. But it didn't change my enjoyment for the subject. If anything it got stronger. I love shit that takes me all over the place in the human experience.


What inspires your stories?

It's that "what if" which drives, I guess you could say speculative literature. What if Bram Stoker met the real Dracula, and was forced to deal with him. What if Mercy Brown (a Rhode Island legend) was really a vampire and H.P. Lovecraft had to fight her whole family? What if a demon that thrives on tears was born out of the muck during the crucifixion and still haunts Palestine? What if Innsmouth was real and your car broke down there?  What if a banshee was real and a man fell in love with her? What if a particular strain of lepers were really visitors from the future to the time of Christ? And so on. If any of your readers find these questions interesting, know that I get very very close but the editors who hold sway ultimately stop you from seeing my work. It's that simple.


What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

We come to an interesting conundrum here. Three of my six sales, and I do mean sales, as in, we give you money, not "placed" at a "for the love" market, happened in the UK. I believe that the people over there are "old school." They grow up with a respect for the classics, the gothic and folklore. It's ingrained in them. They just seem to "get me" and my work more. I believe they respect the writer more, and understand the skills. They don't mind vampires and werewolves and they enjoy your spin on them, they enjoy a great old tale by the fire.

In the USA, everything is a microcosm of the Hollywood ideal. It is a huge popularity contest. It is a party and you are not one of the "cool kids" invited. This could be a national release or something even in your local region. Once you've made it into the cool kids, send whatever you want. They're thrilled to add your name to the same list everyone else has. Oh, I know Josh Malerman, I hang out with him" He's made it to Netflix, you see. Granted there are people who are old school and try to respect your effort, like Ellen Datlow and Tom Monteleone.

They are constantly showcasing new writers. In the trenches there are a lot of very nice people who are editing, but they can't resist it. They have to get those same names in there, and you're out. You can come and set up chairs but you aren't invited to the party. And now with the political correctness off the rails, many people have a say, that should have nothing to do with writing. Writing is raw and comes from inside you. You can't change every other word to suit the
tender sensibilities.

I may very well go down as a name in England before anyone here will publish me. and as a reader I am more interested in the next Stephen Volk or Tim Lebbon, to be honest.


What are your favorite horror books?

Well Salem's Lot and Ghost Story had a huge effect on me, especially since I was a kid when I read them. Then the Exorcist came along and blew me out of the water as they say. We were Catholic and we were believers so nothing since has scared the shit out of me like those three. Also, I've read and seen everything horror. When everyone goes gaga over someone's book, I always feel like, were these readers just born? It's the same old same old. It always comes back to who do they want to be seen to drool over. I am in the search for a book that will please me to no end. And it's why I write, to please myself. If I had to name someone now, it would be Michael Faber and Lynda E. Rucker. They hit me on a certain level I can't get. These anthologies people put out are a dime a dozen. Do they get bought and read outside of the circle of friends? Who knows?


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

The Exorcist, Halloween, Jaws. I like things A-24 has been doing like A Ghost Story, Ex Machina. Under the Skin has been my favorite genre fair in years. I'm a Universal and Hammer kid, through and through. I like Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's Sunshine.  I love The Wicker Man and Kill List. I thought The Witch was the most perfect film since The Shining.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

For now, it just has to be that I have not given up on my dream to appear in the top magazines and to have my novel traditionally published by one of the big publishers. I do not share table space with the cool kids at conventions yet.

Also, just finishing a novel with the size and scope I wanted for myself. That encouraged me.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

I've often said I would never, because I am just some regular schmoe who grew up in a project and right outside that project. Personally I don't subscribe to much in the way of advice, because I break it all anyway. Jack Haringa and Nick Mamatas were my initial guardian angels.

"...the idea that giving away stories (i.e. for the love and non-paying markets) to websites in exchange for exposure will actually help one's career. Those who neither write well nor publish well are...staples of ...online forums and the shadowy fringes of many writers' conventions, and their advice ...is useless." Jack Haringa, Writers Workshop of Horror, 2009 Woodland Press, ed. Michael Knost, article, The Agnotology of Horror. or Lies the Internet Told You

"What do these days off matter...If the novel sells and is well-received, taking days off is, by definition, a successful strategy for writing a novel." Nick Mamatas, Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life, 2011 Apex Publications

I know two women here in New England, one who has at least 40 credits in her Bio, which appears on her book. I checked them. They are all non-paying but for one which proffered her $5 to $10. To me, that is a fraudulent Bio that gives the appearance of professional success, when it is precisely the opposite.  Another lady of my acquaintance once boasted, "Nominated for a Pushcart Prize." She had hoped we'd forgotten that the nominating entity was a website run by her best friend, for which she had also done work.

This is fraud, and it is a reflection on your integrity, and hurts other serious, professionally paid writers.


What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

In accordance with all I've stated above, RUBBISH, which gluts the market for those with serious ambitions and skills. And if your "Independent Publisher" is your best friend, well, you are not far from self-published.


What are your current projects?

A literary novel for which I may swallow my pride and seek out an independent who doesn't know me from Adam, because I consider it a side project.

And a huge trilogy about psychics and Russians and a down and out family with some inconvenient gifts.


Please in your own words, write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

I have about twenty short stories and one novel, meticulously researched and written, waiting for homes that will care for them. I had a thirty year career in the professional theater and I am a member of the Actors Equity Association.

I am 62 years old and I started writing seriously at about 49. I think I am cool, though I have a bad heart and diabetes and every allergy you can imagine.  I have very little stamina. When my wife says "Let's go upstairs and make love," I have to reply, "It's either one or the other."
Nevertheless my mind is all there, lol. I think I can write up there with anyone half my age.

I described my work above and my ambitions for it. I really don't begrudge anyone for whatever they want to do with their work, it just isn't for me. So don't be upset, I'd say the same if we were talking one-on-one.

I love movies and books and music, though it's tough to find good cinema amidst the absolute dredge of remakes and sequels. There is very little original work in Hollywood. That's why I wait for Christopher Nolan and Refn and Von Trier and Lynch and the like, and some newbies like Villeneuve and Robert Eggers.

I challenge my fellow writers to aim for the public arena, with real pro editors and publishers, and top paying markets. If I die having never been discovered, I'll know I reached for the top.

Check out Richard's site at https://richardalanscott.com

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

UK premieres provide summer chills on Horror Channel in July


Saturday nights on Horror Channel in July sees the UK TV premieres of Casey La Scala’s disaster shocker THE REMAINING, based on the Book of Revelations; Mark Young’s contagious chiller FERAL; Robbie Pickering’s comedy horror FREAKS OF NATURE and Nils Taylor’s fearsome female thriller QUARRIES.


Full film details:


Sat 6 Feb @ 21:00 – THE REMAINING (2014) *UK TV Premiere
A group of close friends gathers for a wedding, but the celebration is shattered by a series of cataclysmic events and enemies foretold by apocalyptic biblical prophecies. The survivors face a horrifying, uncertain future as they scramble for safety, but as their world collapses around them in chaos and terror, will they choose real life through faith, or just try to survive?


Sat 13 July @ 21:00 – FERAL (2017) – *UK TV Premiere
A wild animal attacks six medical students on a weekend hike in the woods. One by one, they become infected with a “feral disease”, turning them into rabid, bloodthirsty creatures, and the vacation becomes a nightmare as they fight to survive each other.


Sat 20 July @ 21:00 – FREAKS OF NATURE (2015) * Channel Premiere
Welcome to Dillford, where, three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle.  But this delicate balance is ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrives. Now it's humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat


Sat 27 July @ 21:00 – QUARRIES (2016) *UK TV Premiere
In order to escape her abusive boyfriend, Kat joins a wilderness expedition with a group of women, all of whom are struggling against the uncertainty of life. But what was supposed to be an opportunity for personal discovery quickly becomes a fight for survival when they are viciously stalked by a pack of predators.  They are forced to uncover the strength even they didn’t know they possessed


Horror Channel: Be Afraid
TV: Sky 317 / Virgin 149 / Freeview 70 / Freesat 138
Website: http://www.horrorchannel.co.uk/

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

FrightFest wants fresh blood!


Arrow Video FrightFest, in conjunction with UK distribution outfit Blue Finch Films and short film funding company Genera, has launched a new initiative to help finance genre short films

Called ‘Fresh Blood’, the partners will look to help finance short form projects in the latter stages of development in the bid to discover new voices in the world of genre filmmaking.

Submissions for the fund will start on the 5th June 2019 and filmmakers can apply at www.generafilms.com. The closing date is 31st July and the shortlisted finalists will be announced on 14th August.

Shortlisted finalists will then have the opportunity to pitch their project in front of an industry panel during the festival, who will then decide the winning film.

This year will be the festival’s 20th edition, with their full line-up to be announced on Thurs 4th July.

Genera’s CEO, Christian Parton commented: “Short films are notoriously hard to fund. Partnering and creating exciting opportunities to support short filmmakers is paramount to Genera. We are incredibly excited to be partnering with FrightFest and Blue Finch Films in launching this round to encourage the financing of more genre films”

Ian Rattray, FrightFest co-director, added: “We’re thrilled to join forces with these two dynamic companies to help continue the festival’s tradition of seeking out and supporting fresh talent”.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Killer Thriller season sends shock waves through June on Horror Channel


Summer kicks off on Horror Channel in suspenseful style with KILLER THRILLER SEASON - a selection of tense shockers including the channel premieres of Rod Lurie’s 2011 pulsating remake of STRAW DOGS, starring James Marsden and Kate Bosworth; the murder motel chiller VACANCY, starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson; and the 2009 remake of kin killer slasher THE STEPFATHER. The Saturday night primetime season also features psychological thriller HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET, starring Jennifer Lawrence, and Neil LaBute’s horrifying racial drama LAKEVIEW TERRACE, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Patrick Wilson.


Full film details:

Sat 1 June @ 21:00 – STRAW DOGS (2011) *Channel Premiere

David and Amy Sumner (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth), a Hollywood screenwriter and his actress wife, return to her small hometown in the deep South to prepare the family home for sale after her father’s death. Once there, tensions build in their marriage and old conflicts re-emerge with the locals, including Amy’s ex-boyfriend Charlie (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd), leading to a violent confrontation. 


Sat 8 June @ 21:00 – VACANCY (2007) *Channel Premiere

When David (Luke Wilson) and Amy (Kate Beckinsale) Fox's car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, they are forced to spend the night at the only motel around, with only the TV to entertain them... Until they discover that the low-budget slasher movies they've been watching were all filmed in the very room they're sitting in. With hidden cameras now aimed at them and filming their every move, David and Amy must get out alive before whomever is watching them can finish their latest masterpiece.


Sat 15 June @ 21:00 – THE STEPFATHER (2009) *Channel Premiere

Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) returns home from military school to find his mother (Sela Ward) happily in love and living with her new boyfriend, David (Dylan Walsh). As the two men get to know each other, Michael becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand. Is he really the man of Michael’s mother’s dreams, or could David be hiding a dark side?


Sat 22 June @ 21:00 – HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (2012)

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother (Elizabeth Shue) move to a new town only to find that they are living next door to a house where a young girl murdered her parents. Locals claim that the girl mysteriously vanished after the incident, but as Elissa becomes close to the girl’s brother, she learns that a dark and terrible secret still lurks within those walls and this sinister story of murder is far from over.


Sat 29 June @ 21:00 – LAKEVIEW TERRACE (2008)

A young couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) has just moved into their California dream home when they become the target of their next-door neighbour, LAPD officer Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson). Turner has appointed himself the watchdog of the neighbourhood and disapproves of their interracial relationship. As he increasingly harasses the newlyweds, the angered couple decides to fight back.


There are also channel premieres for mutant monster gripper INANIMATE, (Fri 21 June, 9pm) starring Lance Henriksen; the twisty neo-noir thriller THE DISAPPEARENCE OF ALICE CREED (Fri 28 June, 10.45pm), starring Gemma Arterton and Eddie Marsan; and Phillippe Mora’s real-life rooted alien abduction drama COMMUNION (Sun 30 June, 9pm), starring Christopher Walken.



Horror Channel: Be Afraid
TV: Sky 317 / Virgin 149 / Freeview 70 / Freesat 138
Website: http://www.horrorchannel.co.uk/

Friday, 17 May 2019

Interview with Andrea Dawn - By David Kempf


When did you first become interested in writing?

 Before I could actually write! I taught myself to read when I was eighteen months old. From there, I would draw a stick-figure mouse character right into my books who would add his own story along with the story I was reading. Then I started making picture books. Once I learned how to write, I wrote stories quite a lot. I majored in English in college with an emphasis in literature and creative writing, and I have been a technical writer and editor my entire working life.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I have always loved both fantasy and horror (and sci-fi) since I was a kid. So I went to a horror convention for the first time in 2016 where I met a local publisher. I offered my editing services, and things took off from there. I don’t work with that publisher anymore for various reasons, so I started Tell-Tale Press to offer publishing and editing services for writers and free online fiction for readers.


Is this a full time job?

No. I am also an at-home transcriptionist. I do work for a lot of different companies, including the UFC, SyFy Channel, government entities, and lots of Fortune 500s. Right now my focus is completely on Tell-Tale Press for our table at the Phoenix Fan Fusion pop culture convention, but transcription is an easy job (for me) that I’m very good at.


How would you classify the genre you write about?

I don’t write right now. I’m an editor and publisher. I publish horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery/crime. When I first started working in horror publishing, I was in extreme horror, and I still edit for extreme horror writers and publishers. I don’t publish extreme right now solely because I find it’s too niche—I like to provide a wide variety of stories to my readers. I may do so in the future, though.

When I do write, mostly my horror is psychological. I much prefer exploring personal demons through horror. I am drawn to that type of writing as well, in both books and films.


Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

Escapism and societal truths. We all want to escape from the real world for a while, and fantasy and horror provide that escape. But we also get served really good themes that resonate in society right on a silver platter, in ways that are easy to swallow. I think fantasy, sci-fi and horror are the best ways to explore the real world in a package that’s manageable for the average reader/viewer.

Horror is also our way of dealing with death and taboo subjects. It wasn’t that long ago that we were close to death: lots of people would attend a public execution, families would dress and bury their dead themselves. Nowadays we shuffle dead bodies off to the funeral home for them to take care of it, and people want executions to take place in buildings far away from our towns and cities. Modern medicine makes us live longer these days, possibly longer than we should be living. We have created a lack of respect for death and a real fear for it. So horror helps us deal with our instincts about death, that death is a part of life and that we need to understand it. We still have base instincts that need to be addressed, and sometimes watching death onscreen, even though we know it’s fake, helps us deal with our ever-present primitive side.

Fantasy has always been a place of equality, for all sexes and races to get equal time and consideration, and even be superior to the typical social norms. Possibly it’s because so many who read and write fantasy see themselves as misfits, so they want to see their world represented in a safe environment.


What inspires your stories?

I am inspired to publish because I want readers to read good stories, and I want writers to have a chance to get their work out there. I believe that we are seeing a lot of stories out there that are either poorly executed or rehashes of stories that have already been told. I want to make sure that readers and writers get quality time and entertainment through my website.


Tell us about Tell Tale Press. You are obviously a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. 

Tell-Tale Press came about from the combination of a bad relationship with a business owner and an experience at an airport. I was looking around at people while waiting for my flight, and while there were a few of us with physical books, most people were looking at something electronic. I don’t know what they were reading—the news, a book, whatever—but I thought to myself all of these people here could be reading something I could produce.

When the business owner forced me to depart, I decided to do something that I presented but he never wanted to follow through on, and that is providing free online fiction for anyone to read. Tell-Tale Press has four “libraries” for each of the four genres we specialize in, and you can read the stories for free anywhere at any time from any electronic device. So if you have time between classes, at the doctor’s office, before a movie, you can get a quick story in to pass the time.

As for the name, I chose it of course because Poe is my favorite author, but also because the term “tell-tale” indicates telling someone information with no holds barred. And “The Tell-Tale Heart” is the scariest story I’ve ever read! I believe Poe was a natural master at understanding fear and human emotions. His personal tragedies and mistakes were very clear to him, so he dealt with them by writing about them. I hope that Tell-Tale Press can reflect those kinds of writers—those who want to speak to our cores by holding up a mirror to both themselves and to ourselves. And I also want to publish writers who just want to get good stories out there, like Poe wanted. He simply wanted to make a living as a writer, and I hope that I can offer a small part of that for modern independent writers.


What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

The differences are based in the histories of both. America is a younger country that has a faster pace and specific conditions that we have created. My favorite example of good American horror is THE VVITCH. The tagline was “A Puritan horror story”, and I believe that is truly uniquely American and something that wouldn’t necessarily be understood in other countries. Great Britain is older and has evolved slower than we have, so their horror has a more organic feel to it, like it comes from an old world that existed long before us. I recently watched GHOST STORIES on Hulu, and I loved every minute of it because it had that feeling throughout. However, we can still see a lot of the same societal problems being addressed in British and American films and books. Humans, no matter where they come from, all have the same instincts, fears, and emotions, so we’re going to connect to all types personal and societal problems no matter where we originated. It’s part of the human condition.


What are your favorite horror books?

I like a lot of older fiction, like Jaws by Peter Benchley, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, and The Shining by Stephen King. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is the scariest story I’ve ever read—scared me to death when I first read it in junior high school. To me, “Annabel Lee” is the most beautiful poem in the world. I also love Lovecraft’s work, specifically At the Mountains of Madness, The Call of Cthulhu and “The Statement of Randolph Carter”. But I’m also really amazed by new stuff that is coming out, such as Josh Malerman’s Bird Box (I read it long before it was a film) and the work of Nick Cutter (The Troop and The Deep in particular). also really love the independent extreme horror work by Christine Morgan and Betty Rocksteady. Christine’s White Death is extremely well written historical horror fiction, and Betty’s The Writhing Skies is beautiful surrealism. And I will always recommend Kristopher Triana as my favorite indie horror author. I loved The Ruin Season and Shepherd of the Black Sheep, and Body Art is the most disgusting yet incredible extreme horror I’ve ever read.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Jaws is my absolute favorite movie of all time, in general. I like a variety of horror films, though. Event Horizon, Alien, Cujo, The Mist, The Orphanage, The Shape of Water, Signs, Hereditary… those are movies that got under my skin and had both visceral and emotional impacts on me. There is also a special place in my heart for Jaws 3D. It is my guilty pleasure. I mean, Dennis Quaid in shorty shorts? Yowzer!


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an editor?

Being able to help authors take apart their work and rework it so it becomes a four- and five-star masterpiece. I am so lucky to get to work with people with such talent and drive to create high-quality entertainment for readers.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

Learn the craft of writing. It’s the best advice I can give you. I receive too many manuscripts that have wonderful ideas, but the execution is extremely poor because the person has never really learned how to write. This includes grammar and syntax, learning about pacing, learning what needs to go and what needs to stay in your story. I like to direct writers to learning about Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which is a great base guideline to help you organize and refine your story. I wrote about it in Tell-Tale Press’s blog, The Raven’s Writing Desk. Plus there are always local community college classes, online workshops, and plenty of beta readers out there to help you. We are very lucky to live in a time where information is right at our fingertips!
   

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

I believe it’s a great opportunity for authors to be able to get their work out there. The problem is that too many people who don’t care about the craft of writing are putting work out there for cheap prices. That drives the prices down with readers expecting to be able to read something for next to nothing, and it hurts authors who truly have amazing stories to tell. Writers now have to be expert marketers in order to get their work noticed, when it used to be that they could safely rely on the big publishers to do all the heavy lifting for them. I believe the days of authors being able to make a living off writing—like Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, and others—are completely gone. We will never see books in mass market like that anymore.


What are your current projects?

Phoenix Fan Fusion is coming up May 23-26, which is our local pop culture convention. I have a table there and will have a computer available to show folks how the website works. I will publish our next round of anthologies, Creatures, starting May 23. It will be a total of fifty short stories and eight novelettes. All of the stories are free to read on the website, then each anthology by genre will be released on Kindle for 99 cents. We will be selling handmade dice bags, book bags, and pencil pouches at the table. And we will have a raffle for AZ CARE Rescue, a local foster-based, no-kill cat and dog rescue that I volunteer for and adopted three of my cats from.

After that, I have lots of plans for bringing in more writers and readers, so I hope people will stay tuned to the website and Facebook and Instagram pages to learn more.


Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work. 

I am someone who has a lot of classic training and real-world experience in editing and writing. However, I am always willing to learn more about what I can do to help writers do better in their own works I believe that if you choose to tackle something, whether it’s a job or a hobby, you go all the way and do it right. I also do my best to learn from my mistakes and to help others learn from them as well.

Personally, I am a nerd/geek and have been since I was a kid. I love movies and books. My current pop culture obsession is Game of Thrones. I’m also an animal person with four cats, three dogs, and four horses. I’ve done a lot of work in animal welfare, specifically to help our government and horse owners enforce and revise the Horse Protection Act, which makes it a felon to inflict a specific type of cruelty on show horses. I currently volunteer once a week with the above mentioned animal rescue.

Link
telltalepress.net

Monday, 6 May 2019

Interview with Duncan Ralston - By David Kempf


Duncan Ralston is the author of the horror collections Gristle & Bone and Video Nasties, the novellas Wildfire, WOOM, Where the Monsters Live, Scavengers and Ebenezer, and the novels Salvage and The Method. His screenplays have won and placed in several major competitions.


When did you first become interested in writing?

That's a great question.

I guess I'd been interested in writing since I was very young but I started writing horror for myself, as in not for school, when I was 15. I'd begun reading Stephen King and Clive Barker around the same time, so I'm sure the two are correlated – but a fair amount of credit should go to my younger brother, who'd started taking art more seriously. Until then, drawing had been what I loved to do most, aside from playing with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. I gave drawing up entirely, partly out of spite, to concentrate on writing. And aside from a few minor transgressions – doodling while on the phone, etc. – I never went back to it.


How did you get involved in fantasy/horror?

I used to write a fair amount of fantasy-tinged horror in my teens due to my love of Barker and King. I typically write horror and thrillers now. I'm more interested in horror that's grounded in reality. The dark corners of the human psyche and all that. Which is likely why I prefer writing about ghosts over other supernatural creatures.

Anyway, I've always been interested in dark stuff, and I've always had an affinity for scaring people, grossing them out and making them laugh. It helps when I can do all three at the same time, which I can while writing horror.


Is this a full time job?

I work in television, behind the scenes. Writing is a hobby that takes up a fair amount of my free time. Much as I would love for it to be a full-time job, I worry attempting to make it my only source of income would take much of the fun out of it. Fortunately, I like the job I'm in.


How would you classify the genre you write about?

I usually use the term "dark fiction," as it encompasses anything from splatterpunk to crime fiction to transgressive, which gives me a fair amount of leeway in regards to what I can write.


Why do you think horror and fantasy books remain so popular?

There are countless studies about the appeal of horror, the psychological basis behind it, but I don't buy into most of that junk. Is it the sort of "thrill-seeking behavior" psychopaths exhibit? Or Jung's "primordial archetypes" buried deep within our "collective subconscious"?

It probably seems odd to call horror "escapist," but I think a fair bit of its appeal is escapism. Horror is a safe place to explore not only our darkest fears but our darkest urges. Is horror more popular now because the world is generally a safer place? Maybe. I doubt if we were living in a state of constant fear we'd appreciate horror as much as we currently do.


What inspires your stories?

Anything can trigger a new story idea. My wife likes to joke that I'll find some way to twist even a nice memory into a horror story. She's not wrong. After a great dinner on our first trip together I jotted down notes for a cannibalism story from Gristle & Bone, "Fat of the Land." A story in Video Nasties was inspired by Robin Williams's death. Woom came to mind almost instantly while watching the movie Room, with inspiration drawn from Black Mirror's "White Christmas" episode, Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac, and the early books of Chuck Palahnuik. The short story "Baby Teeth" arose from finding what looked like a baby's tooth in the cupboard of a house I'd been renting at the time. Some ideas hit me so strongly I have to follow them to their conclusion. Most fizzle out before I even write the first paragraph.


Tell us about your book Video Nasties: A Horror Collection. You must be a fan of anthology film and TV shows. Which one is your favorite?

I have a deep appreciation for the anthology format, and fortunately there's no shortage of it on television these days. My favorites at the moment are American Horror Story and Black Mirror, despite a few weaker stories here and there.

Video Nasties was born out of my love for '80s horror of all kinds, but in particular, Tales from the Crypt and John Carpenter. I'm not a huge fan of themed collections, and I wanted to provide a wide range of horror, from psychological to "creature features" to body horror – the sort of hodgepodge you might find over the course of an anthology series. The title story is my most obvious homage to those stories that inspired me, featuring a dead horror director trapped in one of his own VHS movies for decades, and the film buff who literally stumbles across it.

The original version of the collection was bookended with stories about video horror (the Twilight Zone-inspired "How to Kill a Celebrity," in which a young woman becomes an editor of "standby" obituaries for TV news, once opened the book), and I'd planned to have my spec pilot screenplay, Imaginary Monsters close the book. But I dropped the screenplay as the collection was already fairly long, and I didn't think "Celebrity" was a good indicator of the other stories within, so I moved that as well. The titular story is a novella, and I think it's a decent story to end on – asking the reader to question what is fact and what is fiction.


What do you think the difference between American horror and British horror is?

Difficult for me to say, as I'm kind of stuck in the middle in Canada. The subgenres are all relatively the same. Gothic horror in the UK has its US equivalent in Southern Gothic. Both places have their own brand of folk horror. Both sides of "the pond" have their "literary" writers and their "pulp" writers. I guess the only real difference are the subtle variations in the language.


What are your favorite horror books?

My top three haven't fluctuated much over the years. Stephen King's The Shining, which I've loved since I was 15, has held up very well (just reread it last year). It's a masterclass in tension and dread. Also Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho, for its obsessive portrait of a serial killing yuppie. Then Richard Matheson's Hell House. Because Matheson.


What are some of your favorite horror movies?

Jacob's Ladder, Candyman and In the Mouth of Madness. I could watch any of them over and over again.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as an author?

Not quitting the business when I've had plenty of opportunities.

Kidding.

Oddly, my biggest accomplishments so far haven't been for writing horror. My crime thriller screenplay, Ebenezer – an adaptation of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, with Scrooge as a hitman in the "Bleak House Syndicate" – placed highly in a handful of prestigious contests this past year. I'm pretty proud of that, although the accompanying novella hasn't fared so well.
             

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. You don't have to be a scholar, but at least learn the basics of grammar and punctuation. (You can't be a carpenter without the proper tools.) Always be learning, both in your writing and the business side. Be prepared for plenty of failures and rejections. Find likeminded people, whether in person or on the internet. Play nice. But don't compromise with yourself.
     

What is your opinion of the new self-publishing trend?

It's where I started, and my refuge when publishers go under or cause me grief. In 2016, I created a small press, Shadow Work Publishing, to republish my first two books and the novels of a few fellow ex-Booktrope writers. I've helped put out a bunch of great books over the past few years, including the VS charity anthologies and even non-fiction (Chad A. Clark's Tracing the Trails, a huge book about Stephen King's writing career, co-published with Darker Worlds). Some recent successes for Shadow Work have been Chad Lutzke and John Boden's Out Behind the Barn, which was just nominated for a This Is Horror award, and VS:X (the second VS anthology), nominated for a Splatterpunk Award last year. One of our latest books, Palace of Ghosts by Thomas S. Flowers, has been getting some excellent word of mouth – I think it's a great book and I'm proud to have helped put it out into the world.

I do feel like there may be a glut of new writers who don't have the necessary tools when it comes to grammar, sentence structure, etc. – but I'm not going to fault them for giving it a go. It seems like even the trad pubs aren't immune to typos and grammatical errors these days anyway.

It does mean, however, that it's becoming increasingly difficult to get seen. This has always been a problem for indies, but it now seems to be the case for established writers as much as newbies.


What are your current projects?

I've just finished a large novel about ghosts, which may or may not lead to a series. I'm currently working a spiritual sequel to my "extreme horror" novella, Woom, and revising a novel in wrote in 2012 about some supernaturally endowed older women.

Also, I'm tinkering with screenplay adaptations of my first novel, Salvage (about a ghost town submerged beneath a manmade lake) and my novella Where the Monsters Live (about a father hunting a pedophile while living undercover in Miami's former sex offender colony, "Bookville").



For six free short stories/novellas and to get the latest updates, join his website: www.duncanralston.com

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Interview with David McGillivray



Ahead of Horror Channel’s premiere of Pete Walker’s SCHIZO, horror and sexploitation movie writer/director David McGillivray reflects on disastrous scripts, his volatile relationship with Walker and writing smut for Julian Clary

Q: SCHIZO is unusual in your body of work with director Pete Walker because the concept and narrative were not of your choosing. How much of a problem was that for you?

Huge. I thought the script that we re-worked was terribly old-fashioned and this led to big arguments with Walker that ended our relationship.

Q: You often play a cameo in the movies you’ve written – you’re ‘Man at SĂ©ance’ in SCHIZO. Any particular reason?

I liked to write myself parts so that I could observe Walker at work. He was an extremely talented exploitation director who influenced the remainder of my career. 

Q: SCHIZO exhibits many Hitchcockian references and Pete Walker cites Hitch as a hero. Is he for you too?

Yes, of course. Psycho is one of my favourite horror films. 

Q: You’ve written many films for many people in so many genres, but what’s your own personal favourite?

My first film for Pete Walker, House of Whipcord. It was very exciting because it was the kind of film I’d dreamed of writing.


Scene from SCHIZO

Q: Just prior to SCHIZO you wrote a pop opera in the ROCKY HORROR vein for Pete Walker titled SVENGALI based on George du Maurier’s Gothic melodrama. Do you regret that project being shelved?

No, it would have been a disaster. Walker realised this and cancelled it almost before I’d typed the final page of the script. 

Q: Your autobiography Little Did You Know is published in June. Rumour says it’s not your typical memoir though, so what’s it all about?

I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it to say that after its publication I will never work again.

Q: Your love/hate relationship with Pete Walker is common knowledge. Are there any more scandalous revelations about that in the book?

Oh yes…

Q: You write a lot of the material for comedian Julian Clary. How did that business relationship begin and is this the nearest you can get to the Golden Era of the British sexploitation film you so brilliantly essayed in your book Doing Rude Things? 

Writing smut for Julian Clary is my day job. I enjoy it immensely. I have written for him for something like 37 years. In Julian’s latest show, which tours the UK before playing the London Palladium on 8th June, unsuspecting audience members are subjected to so-called ‘Heterosexual Aversion Therapy.’ If you sit in the front row, you deserve all you get.

Q: You’ve announced your next film project is The Wrong People based on the novel by Robin Maugham. So you have no intention of retiring from the film industry just yet?

I love movies. I am fresh from a meeting with a director who bravely has chosen to take on this project. But In all likelihood it is so controversial that probably it will finish both our careers. If Little Did You Know hasn’t finished mine already. 

Q: Finally, SCHIZO receives its Horror Channel premiere on Sat April 27th. Will you be watching?

I’m pleased Horror Channel viewers will get the chance to see it, but will I be watching? Certainly not. I can’t bear to see my own work, which is all dreadful.

SCHIZO has its Channel premiere on Horror Channel, Sat 27, 10.40pm.

LITTLE DID YOU KNOW: THE CONFESSIONS OF DAVID McGILLIVRAY is published by FAB Press and it out from June 1.