A Closer Look into the World of Jackson R. Thomas

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Last summer, I kicked off the next phase of my publishing company, ALIEN AGENDA PUBLISHING.  We decided to go with a summer package featuring re-releases of novels by Mick Ridgewell (The Nightcrawler) and David Bernstein (Skinner), and introduced Jackson R. Thomas.  The “Summer of Horror” kicked off with The Beast of Brenton Woods, a fast and ferocious short novel about a legend known in the town of Coopers Mills as “The White Wolf”.

That book was a big hit for AAP, and we sold the audio rights to the fine folks at Tantor Media (with a fine vocal performance from Joe Hempel).  That audio edition is available now (To order, click HERE)

To get to know Mr. Thomas a bit better, check out the rare interview he did with House of 1000 Books

11 Questions with Jackson R. Thomas Author of Paradise, Maine

 

And that brings us to the latest offering: Paradise, Maine

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“A short, entertaining read for fans of Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum’s Dead River series.” – Jack Bantry, Splatterpunk Zine and author of The Lucky Ones Died First

“Thomas brings the goods and packs them into bite size zip-lock freezer bags, making sure to keep the horror fresh on every page! A must read.” – Kendall Reviews 

 

This one just came out last month. If you’re into splatterpunk, check it out.

Word on the street is you have two new Thomas books to keep and eye out for coming…/

RISE (the sequel to The Beast of Brenton Woods-coming late 2019 from Alien Agenda Publishing)

and IT CAME FROM THE LAKE    (TBA, 2020)

 

 

Bio:

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Jackson R. Thomas has lived in Colorado, New York, and now resides in Coopers Mills, Maine with his cat, Gizmo.

He loathes social media, and has worked as a janitor, fast-food slave, record store clerk, and night auditor at an unnamed hotel on Route 1.

He loves horror books, horror films, and the band, Ministry.

 

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Some legends never die….

The White Wolf, the Beast of Brenton Woods, a legendary creature said to walk like a man. When the full moon rises, it will feast.

Unseen for years, truth has turned to rumor, mere folklore. Until something lures the monster from exile, calling it home.
For Tyler and Ben, a firsthand encounter leads to an exploration of the forbidden depths of Brenton woods, and for Ben, the discovery of a family secret.

When Wendy and her friends hangout in the abandoned cabin is compromised, the hunt begins. The target of a creature’s desire, Wendy is hearing whispers in the night, finding footprints outside her window, and can’t shake the dreadful feeling that something is waiting for her.

Deputy Kathy Wilcox understands the disturbances, the shredded carcasses, and the growing list of missing persons in town are connected to something larger than life. Will her acceptance of the legend end in tragedy?

There’s a full moon above, the night is coming down, and blood is about to run.

 

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They needed a place to get away from it all… they’ll never be coming back.

When Darren and Vanis set out to free themselves from life’s anxieties and rekindle their relationship, a trip to the beautiful Maine coast sounds perfect.

The breathtaking views and gorgeous cabin seem like another world. One to get lost in and from which they never want to return. But something has an eye on them…

For Zebulun Ayers, a trip to connect with nature is far more than he ever saw on Man vs. Wild or any other reality TV show. This is the real wild life.

Paradise, Maine is home to a monster rarely seen and one never mentioned, even among locals. The Watcher is waiting.

End of the Year TBR List…

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Currently reading PRACTITIONERS (Bloodshot Books) from Patrick Lacey and Matt Hayward. While I loved Lacey’s BONE SAW and really enjoyed Hayward’s THE FAITHFUL, this one maybe be the best book of the three.

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I’m going to try like hell to squeeze these last three 2018 releases into my reading schedule before making my end of the year Top 10  (or 15) list.

I’ve hear fantastic things about Sorensen’s THE NIGHTMARE ROOM and Starnd’s BRING HER BACK.  And Flower’s THE LAST HELLFIGHTER has one of the best covers (thanks to Michael Bray) of the year. And it’s only 99 cents! this very minute. Can’t pass on that.  Get a copy here: THE LAST HELLFIGHTER

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My two favorite reads of the year have definitely been RIO YOUERS- HALCYON and GWENDOLYN KISTE- THE RUST MAIDENS. It’s going to be hard for anyone to top either of those, but we’ll see.

 

Stay tuned!

Feel free to comment with what you have left to read for 2018.

 

 

THE WINDOW World Tour 2018: Part One

My new novel, THE WINDOW, has been garnering my best reviews yet. I’m humbled by the love and enjoyment many are experiencing with my 4th book.

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“To put it simply; this is Mr. Rolfe’s IT. This is his Boy’s Life.”

“At times, The Window is brutally vicious.  It’s a story which pulls no punches and is right up there with my favorite reads of 2018!”

“Gory and perverse on the outside (don’t let the inconspicuous cover fool you!), but character-driven and emotional on the inside, this book really kept me awake reading, a feat not easily achieved these nights…”

“Never gonna look in a mirror or out a window again!”

“A flawlessly executed character driven modern day horror tale…”

I’ve captured the links to the sites that have covered THE WINDOW so far…

 

KENDALL REVIEWS   HORROR AFTER DARK  THE HAUNTED READING ROOM

FRANK MICHAEL ERRINGTON’S HORRIBLE BOOK REVIEWS

THE HORROR FICTION REVIEW

MISSPIDER REVIEWS

Here are some links to guest posts I’ve down for the tour so far.

MUSIC FROM THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE (EYES OF MADNESS)

AM I DEMON?  (GRIM READER REVIEWS)

COMING OF AGE HORROR (FRANK MICHAEL ERRINGTON’S HORRIBLE BOOK REVIEWS)

THE WINDOW is available in paperback, e-Book, or FREE with KINDLE UNLIMITED

Get yours here: THE WINDOW

See you guys on the 2nd leg of the tour!

Stay tuned!

(Review) THE RUST MAIDENS by Gwendolyn Kiste

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Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why–except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in secret, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood apart.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens–and her own unwitting role in the transformations–before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even perhaps her own body.

 

MY REVIEW:

The Rust MaidensThe Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gwendolyn Kiste isn’t new to the horror scene, but she is new to me. I’d been hearing about this book that was coming out soon, about this writer and how this was her first novel. Kiste has collections and a novella out there (which I will be hunting down), but this –THE RUST MAIDENS-is her first full-length novel. I managed to get a hold of a pre-release copy, and I must say, I was not disappointed.

Kiste’s novel is not just a good story (It’s a great story), it’s a statement to the literary world: Kiste is here and now, one of the best young writers in the fiction world. I couldn’t understand for the life of me how THE RUST MAIDENS isn’t with one of the big publishers. This book is fantastic.

The story centers around a young woman named, Phoebe, and five of the girls from her graduating class. When the girls, including Phoebe’s cousin and best friend, Jacqueline, begin to change amidst the strike at the mill, and the mothers of the block’s disparate clutch on perceptions, the street, the town, and those families involved are turned upside down. What exactly is happening to these girls? Why would they do this now of all times? When will it all return to normal?

“The flame of the mill burned bright overhead, but its warmth might as well have been a thousand miles away.”
Phoebe finds herself in a battle against loneliness, and an uncertain future. She should be riding out of town with her best friend ,ready for college and a life outside of Cleveland, but instead, she winds up on a quest for answers she may never receive in a place that just wishes she would leave things be.
“I’m a woman with half a century of life experience, who still can’t do a convincing impression of a human being.”

It does feature Phoebe now, decades later returning to the town and problems she eventually runs away from. But most of the story is of that summer of 1980.

Kiste does a wonderful job ingraining us through Phoebe to this place in time, this dying city in 1980. You feel the desperation. The need to get out. To get out before the dead end town claims you next. You feel the squeeze of lean and mean times as her father’s job at the mill is in jeopardy. You feel the fear of being stuck in a place, doomed to give away the world you received in a never ending cycle, and how even though you know this, there’s still no way to change it. The same way Phoebe knows, the girls have a fate that she cannot stand in the way of no matter how hard she tries.
Still, she tries. She refuses to accept that all hope is gone. And Kiste transfers that hope to the reader.

I took my time reading this book because I wanted to stay there and hang with these characters, to take Phoebe’s hand and stand with her against her world. And that’s the best compliment I can offer to the author. I loved this book.

Another thing I loved was the soundtrack. Kiste’s use of a few select artists does wonders in pulling the reader deeper into the experience. You get Tom Petty’s jangly guitars lifting you up and giving you just enough hope that things will be all right. You get The Carpenter’s fraudulent, soothing lullabies that everything is normal, and then you get the all too real, working class it is what it is-our lot in life- of Bob Seger. On the east Coast, we tend to tune into Springsteen for this, but Kiste being from Ohio, uses the Mid-West equivalent and it fits perfectly. Confession time: I went to bed a number of nights after reading a few chapters listening to Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town record.

Not an outright horror novel, but THE RUST MAIDENS is a book I will not soon forget.

I give THE RUST MAIDENS 5 stars! Easily the best first novel I’ve read in a long time.

 

THE RUST MAIDENS will be released Friday November 16th. You should definitely grab a copy.

pre-order yours here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GVSDYDD/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

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Gwendolyn Kiste is a speculative fiction writer based in Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in Nightmare, Shimmer, Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, and LampLight among others. Her debut collection, AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE, was released through JournalStone in April 2017. She currently resides on an abandoned horse farm with her husband, two cats, and not nearly enough ghosts.

 

 

Check out Gwendolyn’s website: www.GwendolynKiste.com

And find her on Twitter: @GwendolynKiste

(Share the Horror Interview) CHAD LUTZKE and JOHN BODEN on Their New Release, OUT BEHIND THE BARN

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The boys crept to the window and watched as Miss Maggie carried the long bundle into the barn, the weight of it stooping her aging back. Rafter lights spilled from the barn doors, and Davey saw an arm fall from the canvas-wrapped parcel. He smiled.

“She got someone!”

Both children grinned and settled in their beds, eyes fixed to the ceiling.

This was family growth.

 

I recently caught up with authors Chad Lutzke and John Boden to talk about their excellent new book, OUT BEHIND THE BARN (See my review here).  It’s equal parts horror and dark fairy tail, and well worth your time.

 

First off, let’s talk about your starts. How did each of you get into writing and when did you sell your first piece?

Chad Lutzke:  I only read like one book (THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS) until I was in my early 20s.  I hated reading and stayed clear of it unless it was Fangoria, Famous Monster of Filmland, some metal magazines or Maximum Rock & Roll––stuff with pictures and articles.  Then in my mid 20s I went to college to be a teacher, sucked at writing and decided to finally start reading.  This was in the mid-to-early 90s. Everything I learned about writing was just from reading. Not any class. I read a ton for a few years and tried my hand at writing a handful of stories that turned out pretty good, but then never wrote again (other than song lyrics) for another 2 decades. I wish I would have stuck with it. Finally, I found out about people self publishing and indie publishers and all that and decided I was going be writer. That was in 2014. I had some stories published through some “exposure only” markets and that same year I sold my first piece as well as won 1st place in a small short story contest with a cash prize. It kept me from stopping for another 20 years.

John Boden: I wrote throughout my high school days and off and on after, but I sort of gave it up completely during my twenties. I only went back to it after Ken Wood asked me on board with SHOCK TOTEM. Reading all that slush was inspiring, as much as was meeting other writers, including some I had read as a teen.  The first piece I ever sold was a story called “Peter Peter” and it went to Sideshow Press for the BLACK INK HORROR #7. It’s not a great story but I was thrilled to get it in there. Before that there were a few non-paying markets that put out stuff of mine.

 

What’s your personal favorite piece you’ve written?

Lutzke:  As far as books, probably SKULLFACE BOY.

Boden: That’s always a tough one, I personally think SPUNGUNIONIt was out briefly last year and will be seeing new life next year from John Skipp’s Fungasm imprint. Maybe folks will check it out and let me know if I’m correct in thinking it’s kinda cool.

 

What books by your co-author other really stands out?

Lutzke:  John’s JEDI SUMMER is wonderful…loved every bit of it, but he wrote a weird western called WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN that is my favorite. He found a home for it but I think that’s still a secret so I can’t say anything more.

Boden:  I’ve been reading Chad for the last, what? Almost 3 years…We read almost everything the other writes. We’re beta buddies. He’s written a lot of great stuff and he’s only getting better. So far my fave would be SKULLFACE BOY. It scratches all the itches: the coming-of-age itch, the weird characters itch. The sad/melancholy itch. It’s wonderful!

I know we talked privately about this. Your styles blend really, really well together. I was not shocked in the least that OUT BEHIND THE BARN is so good.   Will we be seeing more collaborations between you two? And if so, is there one already in the works?

Lutzke:  Thanks! We had started something a few years ago that I don’t know if we’ll ever revisit, but we have talked about writing together again…maybe even a yearly novella. The thing we did came together easily enough to entertain that idea.

 

Boden: I wouldn’t say one is in the works, but I’d definitely say you’ll see one or more in the future. Chad wants us to commit to doing a collaborative novella every year. I can’t or have trouble doing that. I’m always worried about making those kind of pacts, life, day job and things always have a way of derailing the best laid plans and I absolutely hate disappointing people. I’m pretty sure we’ll cross the streams again one day though.

 

Let’s talk about the new book.  This story came from one of John’s short stories. Chad when did you decide the story had more to it and when did you step in and start working on the project?

 

Lutzke:  As soon as I read it I thought it needed more and I tried talking John into expanding it. He said he tried but felt he was ruining it.  The story kept getting rejected so finally he’d kinda had it and handed it to me to toy with. I wrote some, tossed out some ideas about creating some new characters and scenes, but I wanted to keep the very end pretty much the way he had it.

John, how did you feel about Chad’s thoughts and ideas for this thing?

Boden:  If I’m honest, and I am, I was a bit uptight about it. Probably more so a dick. I kinda of pissed and moaned about his ideas and really didn’t want anyone meddling with my story. But Chad is nothing if not stubborn and he kept at me, and when he sent me his first portion, with his changes, I began to warm. I never really stopped being nervous until we neared the finish line though. Chad and I share a very unique bond. We get one another in an almost spousal way, it made for a very tight collaboration and a gel in voices that was amazing. I’m a good mimic, I’ve written with folks before and they’ve all gone this way, but with Chad it went a slice deeper.

Was it easy to work together in this?  I don’t think I could ever write a book with someone else, it’s such a personal private thing. Did that ever make it hard for either of you?  Did either of you hold back or feel at any time that the other was holding back?

Lutzke:  It was easy, though at first we both had different ideas on how Maggie should be.  That character was all John’s and it was important to him that she not be this evil villain but wanted the reader to have some empathy for her. Once I was able to see that character through his eyes then the rest flowed really well.  The hardest part, honestly, was trying to come up with an attractive synopsis that didn’t give anything away. We kind of hit a wall for a while on that.  As far as writing this together, John was worried at first because some parts of the original story were very personal to him and here he was handing it to me “Here, you feed this baby.” It’s one thing to enjoy another writer’s work, but it’s another thing to have them touch something you’ve created that has sentimental value. I respected that the whole way through, to the point that I even emulated John’s style in some scenes, so much so that even he had a hard time remembering if he’d written it or not. It’d be difficult for anyone reading it who is familiar with both our work to be able to tell who wrote what.  And by the time we were done, John was really proud of it.  We both were.

Boden:  I touched on this in the answer above but I’ll state again. It was difficult for me, not because I had little faith in Chad. I knew he knew what we needed to do. But I was all “Dammit, I wrote this story, these are my characters, I can’t let the leash into another’s hand that easy.  I know I pissed Chad off on more than a few occasions.

The story is fantastic. You have the two “brothers” who love to read or be read to, and the books they love are mostly darker Poe and Lovecraft type books.  I’m guessing the love for these books and authors mentioned are favorites of yours.  Reading along, I just thought it was another neat way to slip in another layer of the dark side into what reads like an almost fairy tale type story.  That’s something I really love and appreciate from each of your works that I’m familiar with, they almost transcend horror yet you manage to tether them to our genre with these neat little add -ins.  Is that intentional at all?  Or do these dark things just bleed out into the story naturally?

Lutzke:  Good question. For me, I love the horror genre, but I’ve grown tired of old tropes decades ago so I shoot for original concepts. But it’s not forced. It just comes. I think it’d be harder for me to write something completely traditional than it would be to come up with something like a kid who leaves his rotting mom at home while he attends a spelling bee. Though, coming up with those types of concepts sometimes raises an eyebrow before they get to reading.  When I told my wife the idea I had for OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES she looked at me like I was nuts, and rightly so. The elevator pitch for that book feels like it shouldn’t work, but people seem to like it. Same goes for SKULLFACE BOY and even STIRRING THE SHEETS. But in every one of them, the darkness does dwell and I suppose that’s because it has bled out. I never really set out to write something that is “borderline” horror and then feel like I need to add some horror element just to make it horror.  My thing is when I started writing I wanted to be Joe Lansdale and Robert McCammon, authors who are adored by the horror community but who write a ton of non-horror stuff.  I mean, who else can get you to read a western or a period piece more than those guys?  You can’t put them in a box and I didn’t want to be put in one either. I will add this. John and I joke with each other about how often our stuff is full of heartache. That’s never on purpose. It just happens. But it happens so much it’s almost comical. I think we’re both empathetic people who have experienced some things that maybe we’re continually feeding on when we write and it’s therapeutic. But you could probably say that about most writers. I hope that answered your question in some roundabout way.

Boden: I grew up adoring books and horror. In almost anything I write, if there’s a kid in it, it’s little Johnny.  And in this one Maggie was a helluva a lot my Mom.  I write very personal and I think the book love, especially in this was important to show that.  It somehow makes them real and gives an instant connection…if you’re reading this in the first place, chances are you’re familiar with and at least appreciate Bradbury, Poe and the others we lace in there. So when you read that, you’re inner giddy fan gets to fidgeting.  It’s kind of like cheating for a little extra bump of love.

What are some of your favorite pieces to this story that your co-author brought in? Can you give us a specific scene or subtle touch?

Lutzke:  The very end, which for the most part is the same end as the original short. It hit me pretty hard when I read it and I think I kind of choked up a little. I eventually read it out loud to my wife and when I got to the end I had to keep my cool or my voice would have gotten a little shaky and she probably would have laughed.  She knows I’m a softy. Also, there’s a paragraph in there that’s sandwiched by the line “Summer was sliding away, like carrion from bone.” I love that.

Boden:  I wanna be careful not to spill any beans, I think Chad’s addition of the character Rose was a smart one, and a great move…and also one that I initially pitched a hissy over. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

I won’t ask about the ending because I don’t want to spoil that for anyone.  Is it something you guys intentionally did. Did you want the reader to fill in any of the blanks there? Or is that just the way it felt best to close the door for you guys?

Lutzke:  Personally, I hate being spoon-fed, and I love stories and films that leave me wondering, and giving me just enough to maybe come up with my own conclusion, yet still wonder if I’m right. I felt the very last line in the story was like a shovel to the face and to add anything after such a powerful line I thought would take away a moment that held such emotion. Here you finally find out exactly what is going on, and there is resolve for characters you really care about, and anything that kind of leaves you on a note like that can have a very powerful sustain, where you’re just thinking about it long after you’re done reading it. That’s what we were going for.

Boden: The ending is exactly as the short story ended, final draft that is. I had an earlier version that ended on a different beat but I cut it.  I’d love to expound more but I don’t want to spoil things for any who’ve not read it but ending it that way, was important. It put the focus where I/we wanted it to be.

Anyways, the story and characters are terrific. You guys are amazing writers.  Is there anything you want to say to people considering picking up a copy of OUT BEHIND THE BARN?

Lutzke:  Thanks for considering it. We had a lot of fun writing it. And if you’re already familiar with our stuff then I don’t think you’ll be surprised at the contents.  Also, I really appreciate these questions you created, Glenn. I’m sure you know as well as we that the best interviews are the ones that didn’t come from a template but are personalized, so thank you!

Boden:  I think the simplest and most honest thing I could say to those folks is: I hope you’ll take a chance on it and I hope you’ll like it. We’re very proud of this little book and the world we built within it.

 

Praise for OUT BEHIND THE BARN:

“Boden and Lutzke weave heartache and a backwoods tale as easily as telling a story around a campfire, delivered in an incredible voice.” ~Robert Ford, author of BORDERTOWN

“Poetic, unnerving, and heartbreaking. The partnership between Boden and Lutzke yields the kind of story that leaves you aching and unsettled. Long after finishing, I couldn’t stop thinking about Maggie, her boys, and what happens out behind the barn.” ~ Kristi DeMeester, Author of BENEATH

“Lawdy mercy. This story was amazing. There’s something magical and sad about it. I dig it a lot.”~ Michelle Garza (half of the Sisters of Slaughter) authors of MAYAN BLUE & THOSE WHO FOLLOW

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is available now!  Grab a copy HERE

 

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John Boden lives a stones throw from Three Mile Island with his wonderful wife and sons.

A baker by day, he spends his off time writing, working on Shock Totem or watching M*A*S*H re-runs.

He likes Diet Pepsi, cheeseburgers, heavy metal and sports ferocious sideburns.

He is the author of JEDI SUMMER with the MAGNIFICENT KID, SPUNGUNION, and DOMINOES, and more

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PRAISE FOR JEDI SUMMER

“Jedi Summer drops the floor right out from under you, leaves you standing in a childhood that’s been roiling around inside your chest for too long. But you’d trade anything to stay there just one more day.”
– Stephen Graham Jones, author of Mongrels 

“[I] could not put it down. It moved me more than any novel in recent memory. Highly, highly, highly recommended, and I’m almost certain it will be one of the ten best books I’ll read this year.”
– Brian Keene, award winning author of the The Rising

 

 

 

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Chad Lutzke lives in Michigan with his wife and children. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene, offering articles, reviews, and artwork. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance, and Scream magazine. He’s had a few dozen stories published, and some of his books include: OF FOSTER HOMES & FLIES, WALLFLOWER, STIRRING THE SHEETS, SKULLFACE BOY, and OUT BEHIND THE BARN co-written with John Boden. Lutzke’s work as been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, James Newman, Stephen Graham Jones and his own mother. He can be found lurking the internet at www.chadlutzke.com.

 

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PRAISE for SKULLFACE BOY

“I was captivated by the first sentence…The pages fly by. I was utterly absorbed into the world of this transient teenager and his endearing, poignant and often hilarious take on every situation.”
~Cemetery Dance

“I’ll summarize with this: Chad Lutzke is an author to watch. With SKULLFACE BOY, he’s moving up on my favorite author’s list!” 

–Char’s Horror Corner

 

 

(Review) BONE WHITE by Ronald Malfi

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A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.
The scrape of bone on bone. . .

Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims’ graves, in remote Dread’s Hand, Alaska.

It’s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.

But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what’s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.

And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .

 

MY REVIEW:

 

Bone WhiteBone White by Ronald Malfi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Like it was something real. Something out there in the woods with claws.”

Every time I sit down with a Ronald Malfi book, I’m reminded of why I want to be a writer. He reminds me of the power in the art. How words can come together to evoke visions and stir feelings, how characters can become flesh and blood on the page, and how a story can work its way into your bones. We expect that as readers, but as a writer, when we see it done so well, it ignites within us the reason we’re doing this in the first place.

“Snowflakes, like little filaments of pillow stuffing, floated about the atmosphere without ever touching the ground.”

Malfi is the master of description, often giving us subtle lines that flow so effortlessly we ride their waves between actions and dialog, thoughts and observations, trusting he’ll bring us to shore. And when our feet touch sand, the story is there, impossible to ignore, forget, or escape. In his latest effort, BONE WHITE, Malfi brings his entire bag of tricks and treats, delivering the kind of novel we (his fans) have come to expect.

“Despite the shroudlike fog that blocked out the sun, the thing’s shadow stretched like black taffy along the pavement behind it.”

The story of twin brothers, Paul and Danny Gallo, and a small, mysterious Alaskan town (Dread’s Hand), BONE WHITE unfurls at a perfect pace, digging its claws in and never letting you go. Things get off to a bang when resident, Joe Mallory, reappears at the local diner after months away, and confesses to a slew of murders. Detective Jill Ryerson arrives on the scene, doubting the seriousness of Mallory’s claims, but finds out the man speaks the truth. After the bodies are discovered, Paul Gallo flies to Alaska (via Maryland) to see if his brother, Danny, is among the victims. From there, Paul finds himself in Dread’s Hand, an unwanted stranger, asking too many questions and fumbling around in corner’s the town would prefer remained dark.

BONE WHITE might be my pick for Novel of the Year, it’s that freaking good. My favorite Malfi book since his tremendous FLOATING STAIRCASE, BONE WHITE needs to be on your To Be Read list, whether you’re a horror fan or not.

I give BONE WHITE 5 stars!

View all my reviews

 

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Ronald Malfi is the award-winning author of the novels Floating Staircase, Snow, The Ascent, and several others. Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. He currently lives along the Chesapeake Bay where he is at work on his next book.

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Bone White, Synopsis

  • File Size: 1616 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (July 25, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services

A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.

The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.

The scrape of bone on bone. . .

Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims’ graves, in remote Dread’s Hand, Alaska.

It’s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.

But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what’s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.

And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. 

Praise for Ronald Malfi

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting, the words, the ending. Color me impressed.” –Melissa Reads on The Night Parade

“The Night Parade has a creepy vibe and some genuinely terrifying moments. I even teared up a time or two. It’s everything I look for in a great read.” – Frank Errington on The Night Parade

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
—FearNet

“Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

“Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”
Suspense Magazine

Purchase Links

Amazon


Want to feature this book/author?

 

If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature Bone White or Ronald Malfi in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, athookofabook@hotmail.com. Thanks!

(Review) CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by Russell James

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Broke and desperate, paleontologist Grant Coleman gets the chance of a lifetime exploring a long-sealed cave, the fabled home of a gigantic creatures.

NPS Ranger McKinley Stinson discovers a rancher’s prize bull has been butchered by an airborne killer, and tracks the blood trail back to the re-opened cavern. But as she’s about to arrest the trespassers, the unstable roof collapses, trapping all.

Their only way out is at the cave system’s far end. But an eco-system of terrifying mega fauna stands between them and freedom. Death, double-crosses, and a slew of monstrous cave creatures take their toll as the group battles to what they pray is an exit.

Will anyone survive this cavern of the damned?

MY REVIEW:

Cavern Of The DamnedCavern Of The Damned by Russell James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James at the top of his game!

From start to finish, Cavern of the Damned is a thrilling, well-written, kick ass piece of dark fiction.
James crafts real characters to life and places them next to impossible pre-historic creatures. Part The Descent, part reality TV, Cavern of the Damned delivers big.

One of the most fun stories I’ve read this year and a top 5 contender for best horror novel of 2017.
Highly recommended!

I give CAVERN OF THE DAMNED 5 stars!

View all my reviews

(REVIEW) WE CAME BACK by Patrick Lacey

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Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin’s death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School’s smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

(REVIEW)

We Came BackWe Came Back by Patrick Lacey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WE CAME BACK is the second novel from Patrick Lacey. After reading his novella, A DEBT TO BE PAID, his collection, SLEEP PARALYSIS, and his debut, DREAM WOODS, I thought I had this guy figured out. I assumed he was gonna slip into a comfortable little spot a lot of horror writers find themselves in and stay there. And he could, but Lacey doesn’t seem to care for complacency. He’s eager, he’s productive, and guess what? He’s pretty damn good. His previous works showed promise. WE CAME BACK delivers on that promise, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s just a hint of things to come.

WE CAME BACK isn’t just a great horror novel, it’s a horror novel with depth. Multiple characters deal with loss throughout, and find themselves figuring out how to move forward. The problem is that, in Lynwood, there may be no future. A past incident at the old Lynwood High School sets into motion the eventual troubles that spring up in town in the present. The Lynwood Vampires, a new and ever-growing clique of honor roll students gone all Marylin Manson, are upsetting expectations and smearing their darkness across this quiet little town. Are they just a pack of good kids going through a rebellious phase, or is there more behind the black outfits and sudden change in moods?

Lacey does a wonderful job drawing these characters–their hurts, their losses, their frustrations, and their faults—on his way to delivering a fantastic piece of horror fiction. The emotional undercurrent is what pulls this dark story along. Lacey crafts and executes some wonderfully frightening scenes throughout and does not disappoint in the blood and carnage department, a playground he’s proved himself as adept at running as a chambered bullet exploding your brains against the wall.

Incorporating pain and heartache with touches of humor, and pound-after-pound of fear and creepiness, Lacey proves that scars are not the exclusive property of weathered vets. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re not paying attention to Patrick Lacey yet, now is the time, and WE CAME BACK is the book. This author is something special. Introduce yourself to his work now, you won’t regret it.

I give WE CAME BACK 4.5 stars!

View all my reviews

we-came-back-tour-graphic

Follow along the tour with these hashtags:
#WeCameBack #monstersandcults #AmericanCancerSociety

**Patrick Lacey will be donating all his proceeds from this book to the American Cancer Society in memory of his dad, who lost his battle with cancer.**

We Came Back, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Press
  • Publication Date: April 15, 2017

Patrick Lacey, Biography

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit his website.

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Praise for Patrick Lacey

“WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I’ve read in years.”–Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT, DESOLATION, and JAGGER.

“The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author of A Mixed Bag of Blood

“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, author of The One Who Lies Next to You

Patrick Lacey’s Dream Woods works a razor’s edge into an after school special.”
– Unnerving Magazine

Purchase Links

Amazon

Also find at other online retailers like B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. Also ask your local indie bookstore to order or ask for your local library to order it!

Want to Feature?

If you’d like to feature Patrick Lacey on your blog or site, or review We Came Back, please give Erin Al-Mehairi, marketing and publicity at Sinister Grin Press, a shout out at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

(INTERVIEW) A Quick Chat with Jeremy Hepler, Author of THE BOULEVARD MONSTER

 

 

 

The Boulevard Monster cover

Jeremy Hepler headshot

Jeremy Hepler is a new name to me. His debut novel, THE BOULEVARD MONSTER (2017, Bloodshot Books) is getting some great reviews, and I trust Pete Kahle over at Bloodshot. I’m getting ready to dig into the novel this week, but I had a chance to harass Mr. Hepler early.  So, here’s how that went:

 

GLENN: Hi, Jeremy!
First off, congrats on your debut novel, THE BOULEVARD MONSTER. I’m getting ready to start it myself, but how about telling everyone where the initial idea for the story came from. Also, how close to the original idea did the final product turn out?
JEREMY: Thanks for having me, Glenn! The initial idea for The Boulevard Monster came many years ago when my son Noah and I left story time at the library. We stopped at a red light, and when I glanced to my left, I saw a couple of Hugh’s Construction trucks parked on a site where a new strip mall was being constructed. Three or four of the workers were standing by the truck, laughing and eating, but there was a separate worker off in the distance behind a porta potty, digging with a small shovel. The digger kept glancing at the others, and he appeared both paranoid and unhappy. I had been brainstorming ideas for an anthology I wanted to submit to so later that afternoon while Noah took a nap I started writing a short story I called For Love and Money. It was about the worker, his relationship with the other guys, what he could’ve been burying, and how that linked to why he looked so paranoid and unhappy. When I reached the 10,000 word mark, I knew it was too deep for a short story and I wasn’t confident to write a novel at the time, so I set it aside. Six years later, after I finished my first novel and wanted to start a second, I remembered For Love and Money, pulled it out, and took off with it.
When it comes to the blue jays on the cover, after I’d written the first three or four chapters, I knew something was missing from the story, but I couldn’t put my finger on what. Then one day when Noah and Tricia and I were chalking on the back porch, a blue jay landed on top of our A-frame swing. It watched us draw for a while before hopping down onto the cement right next to us. It stayed for an hour before flying off, seemingly playing a game of cat and mouse when Noah chased it around. Over the next week or so it came back, sat on the swing nearly every day, and watched us. We named it Mr. Blue, and while we were outside one afternoon, Noah, prodded by a slew of recent break-ins on our street, asked me, “Dad, do you think Mr. Blue protects the house for us while we’re gone?” A spark went off in my head, and I immediately knew that was what was missing from my story. That night I worked until dawn rewriting the first few chapters, adding blue jays into the story as the antagonist’s deliverers, watchers, spies, but more importantly, his companions.
In the end, the final novel turned out similar to the original idea, but there were some major changes I didn’t see coming until I got there. The birds were a big one and many of the side characters—Seth’s adopted daughter and dementia-ridden father, for example— were too. They didn’t exist in the original. Also, the ending turned out way different than I’d first imagined it would when I started the short story.
GLENN: I find that I learn things about my stories that I didn’t even realize I was putting into a character or situation, secondary themes. Looking back on THE BOULEVARD MONSTER, did you make any of these discoveries? Did you surprise yourself?
JEREMY: I did. An example that immediately comes to mind is that I named the fictional town my protagonist Seth lives in, Mercy—a name I actually pulled from one of my wife’s foreign exchange student’s names—not realizing until the editing stage that mercy was what Seth was searching for the entire time.
GLENN: I checked out your blog and see you like doing Top 5’s. Upon also reading that you’re working on a coming-of-age novel, how about Jeremy’s Top 5 coming-of-age horror books?
JEREMY: Thanks for checking out my blog! You’re one of the few  Like many readers, I love coming-of-age novels. My top five, in no particular order, are:
1. December Park by Ronald Malfi
2. It by Stephen King
3. Ghoul by Brian Keene
4. The Traveling Vampire Show by Richard Laymon
5. The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (I know this one is categorized as a mystery not horror, but it’s still a dark, thrilling, kick-ass coming-of-age tale.)
GLENN: What are you currently reading?
JEREMY: I’m late to the party on this one, but I’m currently reading John Dies at the End by David Wong. So far, I’m digging it.
GLENN: All right, last one: Would you rather…. Enter Thunderdome with Glenn Danzig or be thrown into the ocean with Jaws–your boat (and safety) twenty yards away?
JEREMY: I love heavy metal, grew up on Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, White Zombie, etc., and would therefore much rather enter the Thunderdome with Glenn Danzig than swim around with a blood-thirsty shark. I feel like I’d at least have a sporting chance at convincing Danzig that I’m a fan who spent hours of my youth riding around in cars jamming out to “Mother,” and that I’m a writer and love Poe, too, and that we should rock out together, discuss dark ideas for comics, not fight. In the ocean, there’d be no convincing Jaws of anything.
GLENN: Thanks for stopping by Jeremy. Anything you want to say to potential readers?
JEREMY: Thanks for having me. I’m a huge fan and feel privileged to be here. To potential readers out there: Please give my story a taste and see if you like it.

 

The Boulevard Monster tour graphic (3)

 

Follow along the tour with these hashtags:
#TheBoulevardMonster #bluebirds #birdsofhorror #BloodshotBooks

The Boulevard Monster
by Jeremy Hepler
Bloodshot Books
Pub date: April 7, 2017

A debut novel you won’t want to miss!

The Boulevard Monster, Synopsis –

I KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT ME

You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…

I AM NOT A KILLER

I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…

I AM NOT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER

Purchase –

Amazon

And it’s available at other online retailers too. Plus, ask your indie bookstore to order for you or tell your local library about it!

Jeremy Hepler, Biography –

Native to the Texas Panhandle, Jeremy Hepler now lives in a small rural community in central Texas with his wife Tricia and son Noah. Throughout his life, he has worked jobs ranging from welder’s hand to health care assistant, but writing has always been his passion.

Jeremy is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) and is currently working on his second novel, Demigod Dreams. In the last five years, he has had twenty-four short stories published in various small and professional markets, and in 2014, he placed second in the Panhandle Professional Writers Short Story Competition. You can contact him via Facebook or Twitter (@jeremyhepler) where you will find links to his blog and Amazon author page.

Want to Feature?

If you’re a book blogger or media site and would like to feature Jeremy Hepler or review The Boulevard Monster, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

(REVIEW) BLUE DEMON by David Bernstein

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When the meek need defending, they call on Blue Demon, a guardian of bloodshed and retribution. Its loyalty is forever, as long as you remain righteous. For those that oppress the demon’s flock, life grows short. It kills in the most brutal fashion, and maims those it most despises. It has no feelings, only loyalty and devotion for the ones it protects.

Of course, this is all from the Blue Demon television show and Cal Langston, Blue Demon’s biggest fan, knows such things can’t be real, at least not until the people who messed with him start dying in the most horrific of ways.

Frightened and not sure what to believe, he sets out to discover what is truly going on, and if Blue Demon is for real, does he want it watching over him?

First off, look at that freaking cover! Beautiful!

Here’s my review:

Blue DemonBlue Demon by David Bernstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderfully entertaining and ruthless novella.

David Bernstein’s BLUE DEMON is about a blue demon action figure that holds the ability to exact revenge upon command. It’s a fun idea that Bernstein runs with and executes like a boss.

The main character here is Cal Langston. He suffers a horrible amount of shitty things in the 100-plus page story. There were multiple times I found myself saying, “Holy fuck, Bernstein!” There’s two scenes in the hospital that got me for different reason. The first shocked me, the second was just a perfectly executed horror scene. Great stuff.

I love how Bernstein’s twisted mind works. He has a vision and follows through fearlessly. I won’t give anything away, but even the most Sherlock of you readers out there are in for some surprises.

The blue demon’s viciousness might seem like a bad thing, but these people have it coming.

I give BLUE DEMON 5 stars!

View all my reviews

Blue Demon tour graphic

Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #BlueDemon  #SinisterGrinPress

 

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Biography of David Bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

 

Praise for David Bernstein

 

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

 

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

Add to GoodReads

Purchase Link

Amazon

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