Thursday 3 May 2012

Eddy Eder

Eddy Eder is an occupational therapy assistant and the President/Director of The Grand Guignol Horror Society. He studies karate at the New Paltz Karate Academy.He is also a very talented artist who depicts macabre images in his drawings and paintings. He is a frequent attendee of Monster Mania and other horror convention events.

Why the interest in horror?
I got into the genre of horror when I was a child and I developed a passion for it ever since then. I actually do not remember a time when I wasn’t into horror or monsters. I was fascinated by shows like The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, One Step Beyond as well as horror comic books such as House of Mystery, House of Secrets and Creepy and Eerie Magazine. I collected Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine and Monster Movie Books. My very first horror movie book was “A Pictorial History of Horror Movies” by Dennis Gifford.

I remember looking over and over again at the pictures. I enjoyed going to the library and reading collected horror and ghost story anthologies. There were horror sound effects albums that I would put on and close the lights in my room and scare myself while my imagination ran wild. I built Aurora Glow in the Dark Model Kits.

Back before there were DVD players and VHS players we basically caught horror movies on shows like Fright Night and Chiller Theatre. These shows hosted a collection of classic horror movies. I remember waiting up late, with a box of Oreo cookies and milk, to watch the shows. Sometimes on Sunday Afternoons I would lie down on my parent’s bed and watch horror movies that were aired then. Part of enjoying horror movies now kind of reminds me of that comfort level.

It was an interesting time when I grew up. There were all these really cool tourist traps and odd places to go to which my parents brought me to. I saw a real human shrunken head at Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in St. Augustine, Florida when I was very young. I remember screaming and running out of the room when I recognized it for what it was. I remember a Niagara Falls museum which had a wax display of a bloody woman being led away by two men from a wooden barrel which she went over the Falls in. In Atlantic City there was a Louis Tussand Wax Museum with an incredibly brutal chamber of horrors. The scenes were a mixture of historical torture and Classic Monster Movies. I remember one display was of a man who was hanging by a large hook through his abdomen over a fire. Other influences were circuses, fairs and particularly Dark Rides. The walk-through ones were the creepiest. Growing up I went to the Haunted Mansion at Long Branch and Brigatine Castle in New Jersey. Many of these places do not exist anymore. They were the predecessors of the Modern Halloween Haunted Attractions.

On a more serious note there was a history of religious persecution in my family’s history. My father, my uncle and my grandfather were holocaust survivors and my grandmother, on my mother’s side, survived a pogrom in Russia. I was exposed to knowledge of this inhumanity when I was very young even before they taught about it in school. I remember other kids thinking I was joking when I told them about it. My father was very haunted by it as you can imagine anyone would be who lived through it. He would watch any show that had to deal with the holocaust (usually with actual footage) and he told me things they do not tell you in school. Perhaps part of my interest in the genre is a way of dealing with my early knowledge of real horror. I can certainly watch and look at the more extreme aspects of the horror genre without flinching.  

You've done some amazing artwork dealing with horror themes and the macabre. Where do you get your ideas from?
Thank you. I always loved drawing monsters and fantasy creatures. All of my school notebooks were full of doodles and drawings of some sort of monster. My ideas for my artwork vary in origin. Sometimes they are my interpretation from something I’ve read, something I’ve wrote or even from dreams. I was and still am into horror Role Playing Games and have drawn many of my ideas for them. Recently a lot of my artwork is for the flyers for my horror society events. My girlfriend Tracy actually encouraged me to draw those.  

  Who are your influences with horror themed paintings and sketches? Is Clive Barker among them?
Yes, Clive Barker is certainly an inspiration. I love the mythos he has created in his books and art. I am also inspired by such artists as Gustave Dore, Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos, James Bama, Boris Vallejo, H.R. Giger, Stephen Gammell who illustrates the Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories books, the incredible artists of EC Comics, Creepy, Eerie and Heavy Metal Magazine.  

What is your day job?
I am an Occupational Therapy Assistant. I currently work in a Head Trauma Center. In the past I’ve worked in nursing homes, elementary schools, in group homes for people with developmental disabilities and a long term Mental Health Facility.  

You attend many conventions such as Monster Mania. Is it to meet the famous members or the horror community or to meet others who enjoy the same things you do?
I do enjoy meeting the guests as well as talking to people who are promoting their artwork and literature. I like checking out the costumes people wear to the conventions. In addition I also enjoy the Q and A’s and Vendor’s rooms. The conventions tend to be fast paced which makes intermingling with other horror fans difficult.  

  What are your favorite horror books?
It’s tough to pick favorites; there are so many great books out there. Authors who have influenced me are Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Joe Lansdale, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, Roald Dahl, Brian Lumley, Mary Shelley, David Schow, Poppy Z. Brite, Charles L. Grant, Graham Masterson, John Skipp and Craig Spector, M.R. James, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood, Robert W. Chambers, Frank Belknap Long, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, H.G. Wells and so many others. I enjoy horror related non-fiction books such as those written by David Skal.  

What are your favorite horror movies?
Again it’s a tough question because there really are so many and I own so many. Starting off I like the classic Universal Monster Movies, Hammer Horror Films, AIP films and Amicus Anthology Horror Movies, Val Lewton Films, movies by Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, Tobe Hooper, George Romero, just about anything starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre Films. I love Santa Sangre and really everything else by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Classic Japanese horror movies such as Kuroneko, Kwaidan and Onibaba. I like modern Japanese horror movies like Uzumaki and Battle Royale. I like the classic silent films such as Nosferatu, Faust, The Golem as well as the films of Lon Chaney Sr. I love the staple horror movies such as The Exorcist, The Haunting, Eyes Without a Face and The Shining. I am a big fan of An American Werewolf in London. Again there are so many I am not mentioning. I could probably write an entire book on my favorites.  

  What is Grand Guignol Horror Society of the Hudson Valley?
The Grand Guignol Horror Society is group of people who share the love of the genre of horror and the many ways it is expressed though the arts. We are based in Highland, New York in the Mid Hudson region. We have monthly events from May to October where we present classic horror films as well as creative activities and interactive exhibits for Adults and Children. We often conduct shows outdoors however we also have alternative locations in case of inclement weather. This current season we are beginning our contests which will initially kick off with a short story contest. We have a pretty cool first place trophy which I designed and was sculpted by my friend Giovanni Zorloza. We will follow this with short film contests, art contests, etc.  

What is your ultimate goal in terms of your artwork and the Grand Guignol Horror Society?
Mostly my artwork is currently focused on promoting The Grand Guignol Horror Society. I have been asked to make prints of my work as well as T-Shirts which I eventually will. It would be fun to do some illustration work. The ultimate goal for the Grand Guignol Horror Society is to create an interactive and immersive Horror Faire somewhat like a cross between a Carnival and the Renaissance Fair but geared towards the Horror Genre.  

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.
I am not sure what else I can write about myself. I live with my sweetheart Tracy, two cats who are Ultima and Fry and two ferrets who are Fergie and Banshee. I study Karate at the New Paltz Karate Academy. In addition to drawing I also enjoy building model kits particularly figure kits. In addition to my passion for horror movies, I also enjoy Comedy, Fantasy and Sci Fi movies.

We are currently working with my friend Giovanni Zorloza on his horror/revenge movie called Jeffreak. I just played a delivery doctor in it and Tracy plays a major role. Tracy and I met on a paranormal investigation weekend in Western Pennsylvania. We continue to enjoy doing paranormal research.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Donna Galanti

Donna Galanti is another talented author from my native Bucks County, PA. Her novel A HUMAN ELEMENT is an exciting thriller and first rate debut novel. I spoke with Donna about what inspired her to write this critically well received first book.

What is "A HUMAN ELEMENT" about?
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next.

Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test.

With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

Why did you choose that theme for your first novel?
I was inspired to create the world of Laura Armstrong in A HUMAN ELEMENT on her idealistic belief that we all have a redeemable human element inside us, no matter the evil we’ve done – or that’s been done to us. Being adopted, parentless, and raised alone runs through three characters in my book. These are threads from my own life. The characters all react in different ways, so is it their genes that shape who they are or their environment? Ultimately it’s revealed that if we can overcome our genes and thrive through love, we can conquer our obstacles and achieve anything. But without love, we are lost.

How did you get involved with writing? Do you prefer short stories or novels in terms of telling a story?
I’ve written since I could put words together. I wrote short stories and poems in my youth, but prefer the depth of writing a novel. It allows me to get deep into a character and take them through life changing events.

Who are some of your influences?
Early on it was Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis. Later it became Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Grisham and Robert James Waller.

Because they create endearing characters that suffer but transform through some change.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I’m not always able to get a creative word quota in each day so I look at the week as a whole which can average 3,000 to 5,000. The days I do write it’s anywhere from one hour to four. Does writing interviews and guest posts count? I seem to be doing a lot of that lately!

You’ve accomplished writing a well received first novel. What would you like to write about next?
I am already deep into the sequel, A HIDDEN ELEMENT. This book is grittier and darker with an evil villain who shatters the life of one family. This book happens over a much shorter span as well, about a month. However, I’m also getting ready to shop out a middle grade adventure fantasy that is a fun romp.

What do you love most about fiction?
That we can create stories as movies in our mind. That words on a page can make us feel strong things – loss, pain, hope.

How does your environment influence your writing?
I have woven my experiences through my writing. Being adopted, being in the Navy, having lived in many places in the U.S., including Hawaii, and England. I relate to the nomad and I think that comes across in the characters I write. They aren’t bound by any one environment, like me. I get restless in the same spot for too long.

What are your favorite horror movies and books?
For a novel, it’s The Stand by Stephen King. It changed my life one summer as a teen. I also enjoy his short story collections. His images stay with me. I am fearful of the garbage disposal thanks to his story, The Mangler. Horror movies that terrify me are Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser. More recently The Ring and The Blair Witch Project (I made the mistake of watching this last one home alone and slept with the lights on all night).

What would your book be like if it was made into a movie?
Phenomenon meets The Dead Zone. Could I please get Hugh Jackman to play the hero, Ben Fieldstone? Hugh?

Tell us about why you love to write.
I love that we can create stories that no one else in the world can create. Then I get to share them with others and hope they enjoy as much as I do.

Please in your own words write a paragraph about yourself & your work.
I now do freelance copywriting for an advertising agency part time while writing novels. If I couldn’t write I would bike, hike, and kayak my days away. I was a photographer in the U.S. Navy before completing a degree in English. After working in corporate communications and marketing for years I launched a resume writing service for some time. I closed up shop to find time to write and lean towards writing dark fiction for adults. I like to call it dark with a dash of hope – and steam. However, I did challenge myself to write a middle grade novel last year, inspired by my son.

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of ASSASSIN’S CODE and DEAD OF NIGHT

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is a haunting look at what it means to be human. It’s a suspenseful ride through life and love…and death, with a killer so evil you can’t help but be afraid. An excellent read.” –Janice Gable Bashman, author of WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

“A thrilling ride full of believable characters, a terrifying villain, an epic battle for survival, and a love worth killing for. A page-turner filled with fascinating twists and turns!” – Marie Lamba, author of WHAT I MEANT and DRAWN.

Donna Galanti is the author of the dark novel A Human Element (Echelon Press). Donna has a B.A. in English and a background in marketing. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania in the U.S. with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs. Visit her at:
Donna’s Author Facebook page for news and updates!

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