Allen Fuller saw the girl up ahead, just as he was shifting up but by the time he passed her he was already slowing the truck down.He eased the big rig to the shoulder of the entrance ramp to I-35 and came to a complete stop.
He watched her in the mirror.
Even from fifty yards back and the fading light of day, he could tell she was a looker. She tucked her long brown hair behind a near and put a hand on her hip. She didn’t move though, just stared.
Then finally, she adjusted the shoulder strap of her duffel bag and started towards the truck.
Watching her come, he’d always thought that there’s nothing better than a girl in a cowboy hat.
Her boots were worn and not for show, the faded jeans had a little rip in one knee. Her denim shirt was rolled up to the elbows and she had the walk of a ranch girl. Hard to describe that walk but it has its own slow,easy gait. Along with a touch of swagger. A little toughie, he grinned.
And she was short. Probably only went about a hundred and ten pounds or so. Damn cute and damn young. Maybe twenty. Maybe.
Then she stopped, about ten feet from the back end of the trailer and Fuller was afraid she was going to change her mind.
He rolled down the window and stuck his head out. “You comin’ or not? I gotta get goin’ here. On a tight schedule darlin’.”
Sitting back in the seat, his eyes slid back to the big mirror on the door. She disappeared behind the trailer and a moment later the passenger door opened. She stepped up on the running board, giving him a solemn look.
“Yes ma’am?” he offered his best smile.
“Where you headed sir?”
He looked at that fresh, tanned face. Those pale blue eyes. His heart skipped then did a slow roll. “Small load in Austin, then up to Cowtown to drop the rest.”
She looked down.
He waited, staring at the top of her hat and hoping. It had been so long since the last one.
Looking up again she said, “Okay. Fort Worth is where I’m headed.”
“Then let’s go girl.”
They pulled off and merged onto the interstate. Miles went by without much conversation at all. The sky had gone totally dark now and Fuller had too. The urge was too strong.
He smiled at the green dash lights. Green means go.
“What’s your name darlin’?”
“I’m Kat, short for Kathleen.”
“Born in Fort Worth?” he asked. His eyes wandered to her denim shirt first, down to her jeans and then back up again.
She gave him a tight, nervous smile. “Yessir. Born and raised.”
“Shouldn’t be hitchhiking.”
“You’re lucky girl.”
“How’s that?” She asked, watching his eyes continue to float over her.
“Lucky I ain’t some crazy ass serial killer”, he lied with a soft laugh. “Yup…lucky all I’m gonna do is roll you around back there.” Fuller thumbed back at the sleeper compartment behind him.
Their eyes locked. Then he looked back to the road.
She didn’t say anything. Didn’t know what to say.
“Just think of it as cab fare darlin’.” He reached over and stroked her arm.
“Shhh now. You’ll like it.” His voice was low and thick.
“Mister…please don’t do this”, she whispered pushing herself against the passenger door.
He put his blinker on and she saw a rest stop coming up.
The door locks clacked. He had a cold, blank expression now. “I got an override on the locks sweetheart, don’t even bother.”
There was only three cars and one parked semi. He parked in the last place before cars got back onto the interstate. Fuller shut the truck down, killed the lights and then grabbed at her, snatching one wrist with an iron grip.
If it wasn’t for the heavy traffic noise, somebody might have heard her scream.
They also might have heard the muffled gunshot and if someone would have been looking, they might have seen the gun flash inside the cab. Then two more quick flashes.
Ten minutes later, a girl with a duffel bag on her shoulder walked down to the end of the ramp. A slow, easy walk. With a little swagger to it.
Something pretty cool happened. What? The debut of a new podcast produced by Shotgun Honey alums Eric Beetner and S.W. Lauden. It features interviews, reviews, banter, and a reading from the Shotgun Honey archives. This episode Eric and Steve talk to Megan Abbott, Lou Berney, Steph Post. The dynamic duo (not Eric and Steve, or Batman and Robin) Dan and Kate Malmon with Crimespree Magazine and from balmy Minnesota look back at 2016 with a top 5 list, and a look forward at 2017 releases. This episode’s reading is from Nick Kolakowski reading “Whoops!” Plus there are some bookstore shout-outs from Gary Phillips, S.G. Redling, and Jay Stringer. They even let Shotgun Honey’s imprint publisher Down & Out Books head honcho Eric Campbell give insight into publishing.
Listen to it now (or save for later) at:
By Alex Segura
Angel Luis Colón is a writer’s writer – he’s the guy other writers look forward to hearing read at Noir at the Bar and an all-around good guy. He’s also fun to banter with on Twitter. I’m psyched he agreed to let me grill him for a bit here.
Angel’s novella, The Fury of Blacky Jaguar, is an insane, noir, high-octane, nonstop read featuring a memorable and entertaining protagonist in Blacky. Don’t wait to read the rest of this – you can pre-order the book now, courtesy of the One Eye Press team. When not writing like mad, Angel also seems to find the time to review mystery/crime for My Bookish Ways and edit flash crime fiction at Shotgun Honey. I can’t imagine he has much free time. Thanks to Angel for carving out a few minutes to talk with me.
Elevator pitch time – what’s The Fury of Blacky Jaguar?
Blacky Jaguar is a cartoonish, narcissistic ex-IRA Provie with a hard-on for Elvis, the 50’s, and making things explode.
Someone made a really shitty call and stole his ’59 Plymouth Fury. Now he wants it back. Heads will roll.
You’ve built a rep as not only a great short story writer, but someone who’s really precise when it comes to flash fiction and, for lack of a better word, presentation. I would never want to read after you at Noir at the Bar, for example. How important is that to you – being a strong short story writer?
Being a short story writer is incredibly important to me and I believe it should be important to any writer – beginner or pro. It’s like weightlifting or marathon training. The short circuits with the sudden bursts of speed or strength help improve conditioning for the big stuff. Flash and short fiction writing is how you work your writing muscles for the marathon sessions. They provide you with the challenge of word economy and of learning basic narrative structure. Without those skills, you’re rambling just like I am now.
I know Blacky isn’t just a one-and-done character. You have a lot of stories to tell in his world. Can you zoom out a bit and let us know why this character keeps poking at you? Maybe tease what’s in store?
In addition to writing, you also edit Shotgun Honey with a killer crew. While the seat isn’t warm yet, can you talk a bit about what that’s been like? Has it made you a better writer?
Influences – who are yours? Can you see how they play a part in your final product?
I think there’s a lot of value in promoting the work of others and I get the sense that you feel the same. How important is it for you to be part of a community of writers? Can you share some experiences in the time you’ve been part of the crime writing world that helped your career?
Shifting gears – I know you like comics. I love comics, too. Who doesn’t? What have you been reading? What did you read starting out? And which character would you kill to write?
Writer, editor and reviewer – you do the reviewing part for MyBookishWays, one of my favorite book sites. How did that come about and what kind of writing muscles does that flex? Do you find it tricky to have to review the work of people you may have to interact with in another role?
You know, it’s not like I haven’t felt a little worried about my reviews, especially in light of the fact that I do know some of the authors, but I try my best to keep it professional and to put as much thought as I can into any critique or praise I provide. Thankfully, corporate dayjob trained me to flip that switch easy.
Give me some tracks that would be on the soundtrack to BLACKY JAGUAR. What did you listen to while writing this book?
In closing – name-drop a few authors you think deserve more attention and why.
Last month saw the release of the third installment of BOTH BARRELS anthology series from Shotgun Honey Presents. LOCKED and LOADED features 25 stories of crime, hard cases, and troubled souls. A little something for everyone from writers both budding and established.
- “A Boy Like Billy” by Patricia Abbott
- “Border Crossing” by Michael McGlade
- “Looking for the Death Trick” by Bracken MacLeod
- “Maybelle’s Last Stand” by Travis Richardson
- “Predators” by Marie S. Crosswell
- “Twenty to Life” by Frank Byrns
- “So Much Love” by Keith Rawson
- “Running Late” by Tess Makovesky
- “Last Supper” by Katanie Duarte
- “Danny” by Michael Bracken
- “The Plot” by Jedidiah Ayres
- “What Alva Wants” by Timothy Friend
- “Time Enough to Kill” by Kent Gowran
- “Copas” by Hector Acosta
- “Yellow Car Punch” by Nigel Bird
- “Love at First Fight” by Angel Luis Colón
- “Traps” by Owen Laukkanen
- “Down the Rickety Stairs” by Alan Orloff
- “Blackmailer’s Pep Talk” by Chris Rhatigan
- “With a Little bit of Luck” by Bill Baber
- “As Cute as a Speckled Pup Under a Red Wagon” by Tony Conaway
- “Chipping off the Old Block” by Nick Kolakowski
- “Young Turks and Old Wives” by Shane Simmons
- “The Hangover Cure” by Seth Lynch
- “Highway Six” by John L. Thompson
An Eye on Singles
Available June 8th in print and digital formats.
GUNMEN is followed by previously announced THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR by Angel Luis Colón in July and HURT HAWKS by Mike Miner in August.
We are also thrilled to announce the addition of GOLDFINCHES by Ryan Sayles, to release in September, and TEXAS, HOLD YOUR QUEENS by Marie S. Crosswell, following in November.
BLIGHT DIGEST closes submissions for issue 3, which will be due out in late June, early July. Final readings and selections are being done and we will have notices going out in the following week. Thank you for all the varied submissions. We look forward to packing the next issue of BLIGHT DIGEST with 10-12 tales of fright.
SHOTGUN HONEY, our online crime flash fiction site is always open to subs. We are looking for stories 700 words and below to fill our twice weekly story slots for the summer season. Follow in the footsteps of Shotgun Honey alumni who have gone from our flash fiction world to book contracts, writers like Rob Hart, Patricia Abbott and Brian Panowich, who all have fantastic books coming out this summer.
ONE EYE PRESS SINGLES are open to submissions until we fill out out 2015 and 2016 schedule. The novella series is looking for stories that are between 25-45k words in length, primarily crime, hard luck, noir stories. We are actively looking for at least one horror cross-genre mash-up to fill our October Singles slot. We are not looking for Sci Fi, Fantasy, Romance or Western submissions at this time.
Goodbye THE BIG ADIOS
When we decided to open shop and publish some books, it was mostly to fill publisher Ron Earl Phillips’ love of two genres: Crime and Western. The first manifestation of THE BIG ADIOS was a struggling website, eponymously named. The hope with transitioning from website to a digest format was to open a venue that had some substance, giving the writers and readers something tangible and less ephemeral than just a website. Perhaps if the digest was our singular focus, perhaps if we had foreseen how much a single issue budget requires we would have scheduled the debut issue better, and not book-ending it with sister digest BLIGHT DIGEST. The perhaps and what-ifs aside, the hard fact is when something doesn’t sell even to limited expectations, then it’s hard to justify continuing the series.
THE BIG ADIOS WESTERN DIGEST and the previous contributions will be rolled into the new One Eye Press website in June.
One Eye Press is looking for a few good novellas to fill out our 2015 schedule for our stand alone Singles series. Our 2014 catalog produced FEDERALES by Christopher Irvin, WHITE KNIGHT by Bracken MacLeod, and GOSPEL OF THE BULLET by Chris Leek. We are very proud of these first books and are eager to expand the line with 6-8 titles starting this January. You could be one of the Singles for 2015.
[button link=”http://submissions.oneeyepress.com/one-eye-press-singles-novellas/” newwindow=”yes”] Submit Today![/button]
As we complete the final touches on Blight Digest, One Eye Press has re-opened the market to fill out the second and third issues if not beyond. Send us your horror.
[button link=”http://submissions.oneeyepress.com/blight-digest/” color=”purple” newwindow=”yes”] Are you Blight[ed]?[/button]
From the first story I read on Plot with Guns to the many that Kieran has graced Shotgun Honey with since its inception, Kieran Shea has been, and continues to be, a diverse writer with a sense of drama and action, and a knack for dialogue that many envy. A veteran short story writer, we are happy to celebrate Kieran’s debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY from Titan Books. I encourage you to read his collection here, and devour every bit of information you can from his choice answers.
After you read the interview, we know that you will want to read KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY, right? We want to help you out with a copy of the novel from Kieran Shea. And the guy is a man after my own heart, because he wants you to work for it. Here’s the carrot: In roughly 140 characters (just like Twitter) describe your most brutal ‘holiday’ experience in the comments below. And on Friday we’ll announce the winner via Twitter and Facebook.
A very big thanks to Kieran for his support and stories, now read the Q&A.
How’d you get the gun? Or rather what drew you to crime fiction?
I forget who but someone wiser than me once said all stories are crime stories. Betrayal, transgressions, the folly of the best laid plans going cockeyed. Sometimes there’s a gun involved, sometimes not. Ever since I can remember my reading has veered all over the place., If I were to lay the blame at the feet of anyone for being drawn to the genre let’s just go with Willeford, Crumley, and maybe early Tom McGuane.
We’ve been lucky to publish several of your short stories here on Shotgun Honey since our beginning. The most notable aspect of your stories is the way you use form to add a layer to the storytelling. How did that come about?
The form you’re referring to is the all dialogue format. Yeah, it’s taxing because you really can’t run far with it, but it works for short-short fiction. I get a huge kick out of shifting expectations. No great shock here, but I’ve embarrassingly useless background in dramatic theater, so rather than muck about with stage directions like pause or beat I use the ellipses to heighten and frame the natural tensions in the dialogue. Everybody knows good dialogue has rhythms and, like in theater, you need to trust your audience to ride the rhythms you’ve laid out as a writer. This style prompts a sense of immediate intimacy and urgency and (I think) takes the story from zero to sixty in the first few seconds.
You do excel when it comes to dialogue, managing to convey context normally fed outside the dialogue. Is this dialogue format something you developed over the course of writing or where you inspired by other writers?
Well, people talk about guys like Huston, but I really–I ain’t no freakin’ Charlie Huston. Truthfully, I think this jagged stuff all goes back to some my formative interests in dramatic form. Unfortunately in this country (outside of major cities) people have a dwindling exposure to bare bones, work-without-a-net drama. I’ve read a lot of plays (have one on my nightstand right now) and lots of the material is mind-blowingly hardcore and important vis a vis crime fiction. Think early Bogosian. Think Shepard. Guare’s Landscape of the Body or Pinter’s “theater of menace”—God–Shakespeare for crying out loud. Screenplays? That’s a totally different visual mindset. Theater is raw and in your face. I can spend the afternoon talking about plays with violence and betrayal.
When you started putting your work out there, tell us about those first stories. What, where and when?
Well, the stuff with you guys is different from the rest of my stories, at least in form. Thuglit and the now shuttered Plots with Guns and Thrilling Detective were some early successes. Getting past those gates I think gave me the confidence (because I saw some great writers in their ranks) to try other venues like Ellery Queen and Word Riot. You learn along the way and take a lot of kicks to the face. Rejections…everybody has their own story, but you learn from the good rejections if an editor is kind enough to tell you why your story sucked.
In your opinion, and as a writer I know they are all your darlings, what is your favorite short story and why?
Mine? Or short stories in general? In general, my vote is for Jorge Luis Borges‘ “The Secret Miracle.” As for my own, I don’t like going backward because every time I re-read something I’ve written I want to tweak it some more. I guess I like “Indirection, In Wait” which was in Thuglit because I finally figured out how to write non-linearly. I was nominated for the StorySouth’s Million Writers Award for that piece.
I was talking about your work, but any opportunity to recommend writers to readers is a good one. On reading Indirection, In Wait, which is still available in the Thuglit archives, I’d say you pulled off non-linear story telling very well, along with the dialogue I love. What’s your process in writing a story? Does it vary depending on length or theme?
It’s all the same. If I’m entertaining or scaring myself I know I’m on the right track. I just bear down, find the rhythms, get through the bulk of it until I think I’ve reached the end and then I revise, revise, revise until I feel sick.
I’ve read a lot of your stories, either by virtue of managing Shotgun Honey and the anthology or the other venues that were mentioned previously. What I’m most looking forward to is your next story, your debut novel, KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY which if all goes well releases today. Give our readers the pitch.
500 years from now, retired-corporate mercenary Koko Penelope Martstellar runs a brothel on The Sixty Islands, a manufactured tropical resort archipelago known for its sex and simulated violence. Her old comrade and executive benefactor on resort, Portia Delacompte, dispatches a squad of security personnel to kill our girl one morning out of the blue, and it’s pretty much run and gun for Koko from there. Kind of looney, very violent, satirical (at least I hope so), and definitely not for the squeamish. Not even close to your Daddy’s sci-fi–rated a heavy-heavy, “redband” R. Huge, city-sized airships, environmental chaos, psychedelic drugs, pulse guns, romance, betrayal, hijacked airborne septic tankers, paraplegic gun runners and blah, blah, blah…how’s that for starters?
Would you consider this a departure from your previous work, or just something longer with a sci-fi twist?
Technically it’s science fiction. But there’s crime and western elements too. I think it’s a departure only because it’s the longest thing I’ve written.
Tell us about your book journey.
Long, confusing, plenty of missteps and luck.
So pretty standard for any emerging writer? Your work is diverse, so I imagine your influences are many. What influences you now as a writer?
I guess work that transcends the expectations of the genre and cuts deeper. I was taught that good fiction (short or long) should be an examination of societal dilemmas and say something bigger than the story itself. Fiction written solely for the sake of entrainment (and there’s plenty out there) seems like such a tragic waste of effort. Don’t get me wrong, fun is fun…you want to turn your brain off and escape? That’s cool, but when I read writers who go that extra mile and get me charged up about an issue…that’s inspiring.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
I’m finally getting around to DBC Pierre’s VERNON GOD LITTLE.
With KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY now available from Titan, what is your next project and what can you tell your future readers about it?
Just handed in the draft of Koko Takes a Holiday‘s sequel Koko the Mighty, so edits on that.
We wish you much luck on this and future KOKO novels, I know I’ll have a copy in my hand within the day. Before you go, do you have any advice or parting words for our readers and writers?
In writing (like everything else) do your best to speak as your true self…censoring yourself to conform is always a bad bet.
Our second Singles release has garnered some nice advanced praise:
“Bracken MacLeod writes with the verve of someone who understands the genre in which he works well enough to know exactly when to turn tropes on their heads and twist them around one another. Like Vachss, his work in infused with a raging anger at the injustices which surround us but although the world he creates is etched in darkness it is the glints of light within that world which make it so appealing – even if the glint is coming from the razor-edge of a butcher’s knife.”
—Simon Logan, author of KATJA FROM THE PUNK BAND and GET KATJA
“Bracken MacLeod’s WHITE KNIGHT is a tense, high suspense action ride that carries the reader along like a hit and run Mack truck. It is dark and delicious and well worth the read. Very highly recommended!”
—James A. Moore, author of THE WILD HUNT and ALIEN: SEA OF SHADOWS
“WHITE KNIGHT is a harrowing portrait of a man drowning in the riptide created by an imperfect legal system and his own best intentions. Bracken MacLeod packs a lot of story into this thoughtful, propulsive read.”
—Rob Hart, author of THE LAST SAFE PLACE: A ZOMBIE NOVELLA and the upcoming NEW YORKED
And many more that you can find on the White Knight page.
What about WINNING, do you ask?
Well, we want to see your pre-orders. And we’re willing to throw a little icing on the cake to get you to pre-order. If you pre-order a copy of White Knight by Bracken MacLeod prior to June 10th, the release date for the novella, you are eligible to be one (1) of three (3) readers to get their money back. And as a bonus—yes … but wait there’s more—you will receive an advance copy of Gospel of the Bullet: Old Ghosts by Chris Leek when they become available.
So how does it work?
- Pre-order the White Knight by Bracken MacLeod prior to June 10, 2014.
- Forward us a copy of your receipt to [email protected]
- When you receive your copy take a photo of your book and email it to the same address. Zany photos are appreciated.
Three lucky winners will be drawn on June 24th, giving buyers a chance to complete their entries.
[button link=”http://amzn.com/0692024069″ type=”big” color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] Pre-order Now![/button]
Disclaimer: Only valid for US sales. Editors of One Eye Press, and their immediate family members, and its affiliates are not eligible to win.
Bracken MacLeod is one of the submission editors behind BLIGHT Digest, our new quarterly dark fiction and horror magazine. He is a past contributor to Shotgun Honey, The Big Adios and Reloaded, so who better to know what it’s like to submit to One Eye Press and face the gauntlet? Read his stories (hint: the links in the previous sentence) and the wisdom of his answers.
What was your first introduction to Dark Fiction and Horror?
My earliest memory of reading dark fiction and horror was when I read Steven Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in fifth grade. I devoured that book, keeping it out way past when it was due back at the library. I asked our librarian for more like it, but this was long before Goosebumps or anything like that and she told me they didn’t have anything appropriate I could read. So instead, I asked my mother for something. She gave me a copy of Cujo. I loved the book because Tad was close to my age and we’d once had a St. Bernard. That neither one fares well in the end (am I allowed to spoil a thirty year old book?) didn’t bother me. After that I was hooked on horror (and age-inappropriate reading). I also suspect that it’s Cujo’s fault that I am not a big fan of tidy endings where everyone is A-okay.
What is the scariest real life moment you experienced?
I’ve seen and lived through a lot of scary things and more than a couple are too personal to share. I’ve been a legal observer at crime scenes, been threatened by really bad people, and have almost died more than once (from causes both external and internal). Instead of picking one, I’ll tell you instead about the scariest place I’ve ever been: Pocatello, Idaho. The last six months I lived there they arrested James Edward Wood, a serial rapist and killer who’d done unspeakable things to a local papergirl, there were official warnings of a homeless man stabbing people who refused to give him money, and an armed, day-long stand-off in the bank across the parking lot from my apartment. That doesn’t count living above the guy who’d strangled, bludgeoned, ran over, and then burned his girlfriend one afternoon, or the various people I knew who were “randomly” attacked in years prior. It was the scariest place I’ve ever been and I’ve lived in both Imperial Beach, California back when it was still known as “Whiskey Flats” and New Haven, Connecticut. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of really great people in Pocatello, but the ones who aren’t nice don’t play around. You want to know why I set my first novel in Idaho? Look at the crime blotter.
Stephen King or Robert McCammon?
McCammon. Although I’ve read more King solely by virtue of him being more prolific, and despite my formative experience detailed above, I prefer McCammon’s style. The Wolf’s Hour remains my favorite of his.
What are five books that have most influenced you as a writer, any genre?
- Strega by Andrew Vachss — This is the book that got me interested in crime, noir and hardboiled when I was a teenager. As a writer, it’s my go-to for remembering how to write a protagonist who isn’t above his or her antagonist. As Vachss would say, an angel is a lousy tour guide through Hell.
- The Damnation Game by Clive Barker — TDG was a game changer for me in terms of dark sensuality in fiction. Reading Barker’s work was the first time I connected with real body horror in literature. When I want to write something that is close and imbued with bodily terror, this is where I go for inspiration.
- Closing Time and Other Stories by Jack Ketchum — Specifically the titular novella in this collection is what moves me. Ketchum does profound feeling like few other writers I know. Whatever it is you should be feeling in a story–horror, revulsion, longing, regret–he can make you feel it in spades. If you don’t believe me, just try to read Closing Time and not be left feeling like you’ve lost something you can’t live without. I dare you.
- The Plague by Albert Camus — If you’ve ever wanted to understand how symbolism works in fiction, read The Plague. The citizens of Oran exemplify isolation, solidarity, and resistance in the face of cosmic indifference and the absurdity of existence. This is scarier than any tentacled monster Lovecraft could imagine. When I’m trying to work out theme in my writing, Camus is my teacher, The Plague is the preacher!
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy — this is the book that taught me how to really write horror. Take good people, do horrible things to them. But not just that. You can’t be content saying that these are good people. You have to really show it, in this case by making them the last two people in the world dedicated to preserving goodness and love by keeping the other alive and on the right path. Now put them in constant peril of losing each other and their way. That’s how you write horror. The reader shouldn’t just want them to persevere–they should need those characters to prevail, need it right down to the core of their being because the alternative means the literal end of everything.
What are you looking for in a good horror story?
More important than coming up with the clever idea, the monster, apocalypse, or possession, make me feel something. It can be scared, it can be sad, it can be despairing, but it better be something that’s twisting my guts up. Honestly, if your story doesn’t scare you, you have no chance of doing that to me. See what I say above about Closing Time and The Road.
Jan Kozlowski is one of the submission editors behind BLIGHT Digest, our new quarterly dark fiction and horror magazine. We’ve asked her five questions for you to get to know her a bit more. If your interested in passing the gauntlet to publication in BLIGHT Digest, you might find the keys to passage within her answers.
What was your first introduction to Dark Fiction and Horror?
My childhood sucked in most ways, but the one positive thing I can say for my parents is they really didn’t care what I read, as long as I was reading. Being a smart kid, I figured out pretty early on that disappearing into books was the closest I could get to physical escape, so I read omnivorously. I haunted the tall, squeaky, metal bookracks at the local grocery & department stores and since paperbacks were usually under a buck I could talk my mother into slipping one or two into the cart. One day in 1975 one of those books featured an etched black cover with a single drop of red blood on it. It had a weird title, ‘Salem’s Lot with the extra apostrophe and was by some guy from Maine named King. That was it, I was hooked.
What is the scariest real life moment you experienced?
Hmmm…tough to pick just one. Dad was an abusive SOB who liked to play with guns, so the 17 years I spent at home were pretty much one long fright fest. Then there was my urban EMS career, which consisted of 12-hour over night shifts that often went from grinding tedium to sheer terror in 3 seconds flat. I’ve been shot at, had too many knives pulled on me to remember and could count on being assaulted on a regular monthly basis by a 300lb drug addict who liked to direct traffic naked. And then there are those normal white knuckle life moments like getting married, buying a home, losing loved ones and, most recently, becoming a post menopausal woman in a pubescent obsessed world.
To paraphrase The Princess Bride’s Man in Black- Life IS fear Highness, anyone who says differently is selling something.
Stephen King or Robert McCammon?
As far as novels go, I will not choose and you can’t make me. For short stories Night Shift by King, hands down. I will ALWAYS love Grey Matter and count it as one of the creepiest stories I’ve ever read.
What are five books that have most influenced you as a writer, any genre?
The books that have made me say, “Damn, I want to be able to write like that one day” are, in no particular order:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher
- The Pine Deep Trilogy by Jonathan Maberry
- ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- Whispers by Dean Koontz
My top 5 books about writing, also in no particular order:
- Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury
- Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writers’ Manual by Rita Mae Brown
- Telling Lies for Fun and Profit: A Manual for Fiction Writers by Lawrence Block
What are you looking for in a good horror story?
Like every fiction editor, I’m looking for a compelling plot, memorable characters and a satisfying ending, but beyond those things, I want to be transported. I want to be sucked into your story so completely that when I finally close your story file and look at the readout on my treadmill desk I am shocked to find out that minutes and miles have passed while I was immersed in your world.
BLIGHT Digest debuts on October 13, 2014 with ten tales of terror, and one of them might be yours.
One Eye Press is pleased to announce the launch of the first submission cycle for BLIGHT Digest, a quarterly dark fiction and horror magazine, and the launch of the BLIGHT Digest subsite at http://www.blightdigest.com.
For the next three months editors Bracken MacLeod, Jan Kozlowski and publisher Ron Earl Phillips will be looking for fiction to raise our collective hairs, and given the hairstyle of Bracken and Ron that’s going to be a task indeed. So give us your best, but don’t forget to tell a tale. Jump over to the BLIGHT Digest page and submit today. And you will submit.
Keep an eye out for updates and announcements.
Not long now. The first piece of flash fiction will be posted here on Shotgun Honey tomorrow morning sometime around 5 AM. Maybe earlier, but that’s not too likely as I don’t exactly jump up out of bed these days.
While I’m not going to divulge who we have coming up in the days ahead, I will say that it looks like we will be able to go with the plan of posting new stories on a Monday – Wednesday – Friday schedule.
And why do I keep saying ‘we’? There’s a reason, of course, but there are details to tend to. So… More on that another time.
I hope you all drop in here tomorrow and check out the first story. It’s a hoot, I’ll say that much right now.
And please feel free to leave comments. Honesty is just as appreciated as praise, but remember: