Share The Horror (Book Review) CHILDREN OF CHICAGO by Cynthia Pelayo

Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wow, this book was much darker than I thought it was going to be… and I loved it! I mean, it’s about the Pied Piper, so I should have known it was going to be grim.
The characters were done so well, as was the dialog. There were moments of terror (like when one kid is laughing like a maniac when she certainly shouldn’t be), some bloody goodness, and enough mystery to keep me turning the (Kindle) pages like a madman.

Children of Chicago was my first read from Cynthia Pelayo, but it will not be my last.
Definitely recommend this one to you horror creeps out there!



View all my reviews

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is two-time Bram Stoker Awards® nominated poet and author. She is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO will be released by Agora Books on 2/9/21. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. Find her online at www.cinapelayo.com and on Twitter @cinapelayo.

(Interview) Share the Horror Prepares to Play the Dark Game with Jonathan Janz

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I set out to become a writer the same year Samhain Publishing launched. When I saw the Leisure Horror Books head acquisition man, Don D’Auria, was at the head of this new horror line, I knew good things were on the horizon. And I was right. Don, introduced us to Kristopher Rufty, Hunter Shea, Russell James, and  a guy named, Jonathan Janz.

The books from Janz came one after another–The Sorrows, The Darkest Lullaby, The House of Skin, Savage Species, Castle of Sorrows, Dust Devils, The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, and Exorcist Road before we all got the news that Samhain was a sinking ship.

Janz put out the excellent and much acclaimed, Children of the Dark, and also the much anticipated, Exorcist Falls with Sinister Grin Press before Don D’Auria landed with Flame Tree Press and called one of his favorite sons home. The-Siren-and-The-Specter-ISBN-9781787580053.0

Following Janz’s recent release with Flame Tree Press, THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER from this past September, we prepare for his next new release, THE DARK GAME (Catch my brief review of this awesome book after the interview).

I called on Janz to join us here at Share the Horror and he obliged.

Share the Horror: Let’s go back a few years. You were one of the first Samhain authors and had built quite a catalog in a relative short amount of time. When the news that Samhain had a) fired Don D’Auria and then shortly afterwards 2) folding up shop, what were your thoughts and emotions at hearing those two things?

Jonathan Janz: The news about Don was really a shock. He’s a great editor and a great person, so mainly I just felt really bad for him. After that, the news of the publisher going under wasn’t too shocking. I figured if they were letting Don go, they were probably hurting for money, so while it was sad for the employees—many of whom remain my friends—that second piece of news wasn’t as surprising.
As far as emotions go, in addition to feeling terrible for those more directly impacted, I did experience a lot of uncertainty about the future. Everything has worked out really well, but at the time it was a giant unknown.

STHWhat did you do in the space between Samhain and then the start up of Flame Tree Press?

JJ: This sounds simplistic, but I just wrote. Even though I didn’t know where the books I was working on would end up, I knew I needed to keep writing. Fretting about events out of my control wasn’t going to be productive, so I threw myself into my work. So in the years between Samhain and Flame Tree, I wrote THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, NIGHTMARE WORLD, THE DARK GAME, THE DISMEMBERED, and I began CHILDREN OF THE DARK 2.

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STH: Let’s talk Children of the Dark for a second. This was a very well received book. It’s a part of your Savage Species (one of my personal favorites) world. I know your King influence bleeds through with this one, especially with Will Burgess. Whereas with Savage Species there was gore galore like a dark Ketchum novel or something from Richard Laymon, with COTD I get a lot of that THE BODY vibe. More about the characters and the heart of this kid rather than the all-out blitz style of its predecessor. Would you say that’s an accurate take? If so, was that intentional or did it just come out that way?
JJ: I’d say that’s very accurate. With SAVAGE SPECIES, I wanted a no-holds-barred, bloody, grueling epic. With CHILDREN OF THE DARK, the story was largely, as you allude to with your reference to THE BODY, about the pain of growing up and the difficulties this kid was experiencing. So like you said, even though the stories are in the same universe, they’re very different animals. I realized this when writing the sequel to COTD. My initial idea was to combine the worlds of SAVAGE SPECIES and CHILDREN OF THE DARK, but that changed as I wrote the sequel. So while there are some intersections, the story really remained a COTD story and true to the tone of the first book.81hj+mlkx0l
STH: So, Don and Flame Tree Press happens. Did he come to you, or were you guys in constant contact and it sort of just happened?
JJ: We kept in contact. Not constantly, but I’d say every couple of months we’d email, and a few times we spoke by phone. The one thing we knew was that, wherever we landed, we wanted to work on more projects together. I got the news about Flame Tree when my family and I were in Virginia for Scares That Care in 2017. We were walking from a beach on the James River to our van when I checked my email and found out about Don’s new gig. I think I emailed him within a half hour or so, and we started talking about THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER. Since that story was set in Virginia, and I’d just wrapped it up, it was fresh in my mind and a natural first project to do with Don and Flame Tree.

STH: THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, like COTD, feels like another step forward in your writing. As someone that has read almost all your published works, I feel like your growing more and more comfortable with each release, and with that becoming even more fearless as a writer. Does it feel that way to you?
JJ: Thank you so much, Glenn! I truly appreciate that. Yes, it does feel like I’m progressing, but it’s an incredibly subtle and gradual progress. I’m fond of all my books, but I really noticed it a couple months ago when reading through HOUSE OF SKIN, which is the first novel I wrote (and the second one published). I really like the story, but I’m a very different writer now than I was then. It feels good, but I know I’m nowhere near a finished product and will never be finished in my writerly walk. I have to constantly strive to improve, to grow, and to learn. I’m too self-critical to ever be satisfied.
STHSIREN is landing on a lot of Top 10 lists right now, I know that’s gratifying. Do you let that good feeling linger and use it going  forward, or are you more the type that is focused on that next release and coming at it with the need to prove yourself again?

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JJ: Like you say, it is gratifying, and it feels wonderful to have one’s work acknowledged, but I don’t bask in that glow for too long. That need to create is too strong. And I also always want to make my next book better than my last. Hopefully, I did that with THE DARK GAME, and I hope to do it again with the titles coming in late 2019 and 2020.
STHTHE DARK GAME comes out in April. I’m reading an ARC now, and I believe this is my favorite book of yours so far. How much fun did you have crafting the antagonist in this one? Without giving anything away, what were your favorite aspects of Roderick Wells to create and play around with?
JJ: That’s so great to hear! I worked very hard on THE DARK GAME, so it’s awesome to hear you’re enjoying it. I had a lot of fun with it. The Roderick Wells character was at the center of the story, so I needed him to be all sorts of things: strong, elusive…incisive yet cryptic. He had to represent both writers and critics, both nurturing teachers and cruel taskmasters. Plus (and here, like you said, I’m trying not to give anything away), there are elements of his character that aren’t revealed until later. That means I have to play fair with the reader by hinting at those unexpressed character elements without completely revealing the character’s secrets. Walking that tightrope was a challenge, but it was a rewarding one. I think the aspect of Wells’s character I enjoyed the most was his love of power and how he reacted when that supremacy was threatened. There are some exchanges between him and a character named Sherilyn that were a blast to write.
STH: There’s a lot of writers in here. I’m imagining that there are aspects of your own strengths and self-perceived weaknesses in each of these characters. At this stage in your career, with regards to your writing skills, what do you see as your best assets and what areas are your constantly targeting to improve upon?
JJ: Wow, that’s extremely insightful! Yes, you do get some of that in the novel. Rick Forrester, for example, is a lot like me before I got anything published. He’s been rejected, told he’s not good enough, and basically dismissed. Like Rick, I once received a very chilly reaction from the head of a collegiate writing program, so that experience made its way directly into the novel.
Regarding the second part of your question, this doesn’t sound sexy, but I think my best assets as a writer are my support network, my willingness to learn, and my work ethic. My wife and kids always provide me with a bedrock, so I know that when a story isn’t going well or I face some other kind of adversity, what really matters—my family—will remain intact. I’ve been teaching for twenty-three years and teaching Creative Writing for seventeen of those, and I believe these experiences help me to remain grounded and focused on growing. Just as I’m helping my students evolve, I’m evolving too. I also never quit. Because that option is never on the table, I concentrate on ways to solve problems rather than allowing them to defeat me.
With regard to areas of improvement, I want to keep getting better at blazing new trails. Horror is a vast realm, and there are many untouched or rarely-trod areas in the genre. Therefore, I want to constantly aim to examine those and maximize their potential.

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STHOne last thing, before we go. Looking back on THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE, which has remained one of my very favorite stories you wrote, what are your thoughts and memories on that story and its release?
JJ: I’m so glad you liked that one! That story was a major moment of growth for me because it forced me to use dialogue to carry a story. Yes, there’s description; yes, there are the other essentials of storytelling. But it’s the dialogue that reveals character, that unveils plot twists, that adds mystery and depth. I had to develop my dialogue-writing skills in “The Clearing of Travis Coble,” and looking back, I view that exercise as a moment of profound growth for me. Thanks again for mentioning it! 

STH:I love it and THE DARK GAME, so I will keep praising them from the mountains! Thanks for taking the time, good sir.

JJ: Thank you, Glenn. I had a blast!

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Don’t let our smiling faces fool you…

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, and Jack Ketchum; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal.
His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children.
You can sign up for his newsletter, and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Flame Tree Press is re-releasing Jonathan Janz’s entire Samhain Publishing catalog.
This month sees the re-release of SAVAGE SPECIES. You can also grab his debut novel,
THE SORROWS.
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MY REVIEW of THE DARK GAME

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quite possibly Janz’s best work yet. His skills continue to sharpen, and it really feels like he’s comfortable as hell behind that keyboard now. There’s a piece about fearlessness in this book, and I think it’s safe to say Janz is feeling just that-fearless. This was by far my favorite cast of characters in any of his books, and the story read like something straight out of the Leisure Books Horror Club heyday!
THE DARK GAME is a horror gem.

 

(Interview) Share the Horror talks haunting tales with Catherine Cavendish

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Catherine Cavendish is the British author of THE PENDLE CURSE, WAKING THE ANCIENTS, and many more.  She’s got a thing for Gothic tales and writes a damn near perfect one herself. Her latest release, THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE (Flame Tree Press, Out January 10th!) , adds to her growing legacy of wonderful ghost stories.

She sits down for a quick chat with Share the Horror to talk about the new book and her new publisher, Flame Tree Press.

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Share The Horror: What’s done is done. Samhain Publishing implodes, you did well for yourself between that happening and now, landing back with our bud, Don D’Auria, you’ve found a home with Flame Tree Press. Congratulations!

Let’s talk about the new book, THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE. It’s a fabulous read. When did you start writing this one and is there any of the stories “history” that is based of real life?
Catherine Cavendish:  Thank you. Yes, I’m delighted to be working with Don again and impressed with Flame Tree Press.

As for THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE, the location is inspired by one of Edinburgh’s leading tourist attractions – The Real Mary King’s Close – which is located on the Royal Mile, in the city’s Old Town, between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Edinburgh was built on a granite rock and over the centuries became so crowded, they had to build upwards and as close together as possible – hence the creation of the Closes. The buildings were several stories high, and were effectively the world’s first skyscrapers.

As time went by, the richer folk moved out to the newly built New Town and the Closes became poorly maintained tenements. I reference all of this in my story. In common with my creation of Henderson Close, The Real Mary King’s Close is reputed to be extremely haunted. It’s a fascinating and spooky place to visit. I’ve been there at least three times and will be going back. Likewise, some scenes occur in Greyfriars Kirkyard which is real and has many legends associated with it – including the infamous Mackenzie Poltergeist.
STH:  I loved the way you flawlessly and seamlessly went back and forth to the past and present day within the story. I know some authors get off track. I’ve read stories where the back and forth is jarring and I find myself wanting to get back to the present story line. Yours was done extremely well. Do you find that an easy thing to do in a book? How much attention do you place on making sure it doesn’t take away from the current story you’re trying to tell?
CC:  I have always been comfortable writing about the past – in some ways more than the present. I’m one of these nerdy types who actually enjoys doing the research to get historical details as accurate as possible, although I do try and avoid getting too bogged down in it where the story is concerned. It does help me to have the back story in my head when I write though. It’s a balancing act and I have to stop myself getting so wrapped up in the historical bit that I neglect the present day. I have to remind myself
that the past is generally there because it is influencing what is happening in the present.
STH:  Who was your favorite character to write in this one and why?
That’s a tough one. I probably felt closest to Hannah because of where she is in her life, but I have a real soft spot for Miss Carmichael who was quite courageous in her own quiet way. George is a great guy I would love to have as a friend and go for a ‘wee dram’ with.  Mairead was fun to write because, of all of them, her character is the most complex.  Donald Bain was a nasty piece of work so I enjoyed writing him too. I haven’t done very well with this question, have I? 😉
STH: Ha! No worries. You did a fantastic crafting each of them. I can see how it’d be hard to choose. 

For me, you’re the current queen of Gothic ghost tales. Would you ever consider switching it up, trying a slasher or vampire or werewolf story, or are you quite comfortable in your lane?

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CC:  That’s kind of you to say. I am up against some tough competition for that title ☺. I will confess that I don’t feel comfortable delving too deep into slasher territory – although there is some violence in my stories, where the story warrants it. I think others write that type of graphic horror much better than I do. I’m talking to one just now, aren’t I?

Ditto with vampires and werewolves. I don’t exclusively write Gothic but do feel very much at home among the shadows, the darkness and all things ghostly…

STH:  I know Don always wants to know what we have for him next. So, I know this book is just coming out, but is there another story ready or in-progress that we might see on the Flame Tree line?

CC: Well, there is a novel I have recently completed…

STH:  Thanks for the quick chat, Cat. Much luck and success for you and THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE.

CC: Thank you so much, Glenn. Always a pleasure to chat with you.

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Grab your copy of THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Flame Tree Press

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Hello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction – frequently with ghostly, supernatural, Gothic and haunted house themes.

Out now- from Kensington-Lyrical – the third in a trilogy – DAMNED BY THE ANCIENTS – set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave. This completes the NEMESIS OF THE GODS trilogy which started with WRATH OF THE ANCIENTS, followed by WAKING THE ANCIENTS.

My novellas COLD REVENGE, MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER and THE SECOND WIFE have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.

My novels THE DEVIL’S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have also been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches – THE PENDLE CURSE – and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL.

I live with a long-suffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

Our home is in a rambling building dating back to the mid 18th century, haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Follow her on Twitter

 

My short review:

The Haunting of Henderson CloseThe Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

Another great ghost tale from Catherine Cavendish. The end of the book was awesome! I couldn’t put it down!

Come to Henderson Close and find out what haunts these old streets!
Highly recommended for anyone that loves a good ghost story!

View all my reviews

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 Alien Agenda Project

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2018 marked the expansion of my own publishing company, ALIEN AGENDA PUBLISHING.  I’ve used the name to self-publish pieces from time to time between traditionally published works, but this year I reached out to some fellow writers to see if they’d be interested in having some of their works under my umbrella.

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It is definitely a hard thing to do. Gathering covers, reviews, making sure the product looks good, and making sure everyone involved is happy. It’s time consuming,but it is a true labor of love.  I haven’t figured out how much I’ll have time for in 2019, but it looks good that we will get the sequel to THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS from Jackson R. Thomas  (RISE), plus my sequel to my own werewolf novel, BLOOD AND RAIN.

The biggest project will be SURVIVE WITH ME, our first official anthology. Aiming for July on that one. It should include a number of great stories from my old Samhain Publishing cohorts, with each tale built around the survival theme. This one will be for charity.  Stay tuned for much more in the months to come.

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Other than that, I have a couple projects that I’m looking at for possible release. I just want to make sure I can put the right amount of effort into each of them. Writing and promoting my own works certainly made things a little more difficult, but it was a learning experience and one I hope will lead to more success going forward.

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Thank you so very much to my team: Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Jason Lynch, Michael Bray, and Lori Michelle for their contributions behind the scenes.

Also, thanks to David Bernstein, Mick Ridgewell, and Jackson R. Thomas for trusting me with their stories.

Extra special thanks to Michelle Garza, Melissa Lason, and Somer Canon for contributing to our freebie 2018 sampler (which you can get for free from Barnes and Noble  or Smashwords).

Check out all the releases from 2018 below.  Click on the covers to purchase.

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THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS by Jackson R. Thomas (June 2018) 37722398_10155587289225986_5092526805718401024_n

THE NIGHTCRAWLER by Mick Ridgewell (July 2018)

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SKINNER by David Bernstein (August 2018)

 

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LAND OF BONES by Glenn Rolfe  (February 2018)

THE WINDOW by Glenn Rolfe (September 2018)

(Review) THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY by John Everson

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John Everson strikes again!

Ever since the Leisure Books Horror Club sent me his novel, The 13th, I have been a huge fan of John Everson’s.  His style is no bull, straight at ya, good old fashion horror. There’s always blood, guts, sex, monsters, and usually, beer.

With his latest THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (Flame Tree Press), Everson continues his run of fun horror novels that will get under your skin and make it hard to sleep.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is about a haunted house where witches had sacrificed and sliced and diced folks back in the day. Now, a new owner wants to turn this haunted shell into a full-on bloody house of horror attractions for Halloween.

The main character in the book, Mike, is a contractor brought on to repair the rotting floors and secure the place to make sure it’s safe for the thousands of expected attendees.

But is the house truly empty? Or is there something patiently waiting for all that is coming.

You’ll have to read it yourself to find out!

While I did prefer the fantastic first half of the book ( and the end of the first part really had me on the edge of my seat and needing to know what was going to happen), the second half, while bloody and full of nice death scenes, lost a little of the momentum for me.

All in all, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is another solid effort in the Everson canon.  There’s plenty of wicked fun for all you horror book lovers out there.

 

I give THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY 4 stars!

 

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John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Covenant, Sacrifice, The 13th, Siren and The Pumpkin Man, all released by Dorchester/Leisure Books in paperback and by Delirium, Necro and Bad Moon Books in limited hardcover. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a 2012 Bram Stoker Award Finalist. The Family TreeNightWhere and Violet Eyes, his “creepy spider novel” were released from Samhain Publishing. In January 2017, Redemption, the long-awaited sequel to his novels Covenant and Sacrifice was released. His 10th novel, The House By The Cemetery will be released in October 2018 from Flame Tree Press.

Grab your copy of THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY HERE

Find more on John and his books at his website JOHN EVERSON.COM

(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

 

 

THE WINDOW WORLD TOUR!

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I’m so excited for you all to read this novel. Can’t believe it comes out this Friday. It has been years in the making. And I’m happy to finally get to talk about it and share the journey this baby took to get here.

Stay tuned for many guest posts/articles, interviews, and reviews in the weeks and months ahead.

We started things off with Kendall Reviews and Ink Heist.

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Interview with KENDALL REVIEWS: http://kendallreviews.com/kendall-reviews-talks-with-glenn-rolfe-author-of-land-of-bones-becoming-and-the-forthcoming-novel-the-window/

And this guest post at INK HEIST: https://inkheist.com/2018/09/25/the-price-you-pay-by-glenn-rolfe/#more-575

Thanks to both for having me!

If you guys have any questions for me, THE WINDOW is Horror Aficionados (Author-Invite) group read for October! I’ll be checking in every day from now until we finish, so click this link and join us: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/19548778-october-2018-group-read-2-with-guest-author-glenn-rolfe  

And thanks to Ken at Horror Aficionados for letting me come back!

Pre-order your copy of THE WINDOW here: E-Book $2.99  

Stay tuned for the print edition announcement. It looks like I’ll be working with Lori Michelle and Michael Bray to get this baby nice and pretty.

Expect it sometime in October.

 

 

Barnes and Noble and my Land of Bones

 

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Today, I had my second book signing event at Barnes & Noble here at home (Augusta, Maine).  I wanted to thank the fantastic staff for having me and treating me so well. I also wanted to thank the friends and family that showed up, along with the great folks that just wandered over to ask about the book and chat horror with me.

Sales for my latest, LAND OF BONES,  were terrific, and hopefully, I made a few new fans.

Below are a few shots taken by my co-worker, Virginia.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of LAND OF BONES yet, please take a look and consider grabbing one for you or a friend. Purchase here: LAND OF BONES

Can’t wait to do this again! (Maybe closer to Halloween after my next novel, THE WINDOW, is released)

Stay tuned!

 

And this photo was taken by my daughter, Ruby.

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(SHARE THE HORROR) MY BEST OF 2017

There are always so many great books I miss out on during their year of release (this year, Grady Hendrix’s MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM meets that criteria—such a fun book from 2016).
I did manage to squeeze in a few more in the early weeks of January that I’d been interested in. As always, you don’t have to be the most original, the best writer in town, or the scariest MFer on the planet to make my list. Just have your book come out in 2017 and entertain the heck  out of me. So, here is my list of the Top 12 horror books of 2017.

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12. THE SOUND OF BROKEN RIBS by EDWARD LORN   Despite our differences, I still enjoyed this novel from Mr. Lorn. A bit like a lost Laymon or Ketchum novel, maybe not THE CELLAR or OFF SEASON, but a good one.

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11. BLACK MAD WHEEL by JOSH MALERMAN   This one started off slow, got really, really good, and then fizzled out. But that good center was really good.  Different without being obnoxiously so.

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10. WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING by HUNTER SHEA  Shea always delivers the goods. This has some of his best characters yet.

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9. EXORCIST FALLS by JONATHAN JANZ  My most-anticipated read of 2017 and my favorite book cover of the year. Not what I expected–it went in a different direction than I thought–but still an awesome, action-packed thrill-ride.

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8. THOSE WHO FOLLOW by MICHELLE GARZA & MELISSA LASON  Just as crazy and weird and fun as their debut, The Sisters of Slaughter give us another deliciously macabre offering.

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7. WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? By MATT HAYWARD  Another favorite cover of mine, Matt Hayward’s debut novel is a cool mash-up of  ...Cukoo’s Nest and The Thing….Beware PHOBOS!

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6. FUNGOID by WILLIAM MEIKLE    Meikle does horror/sci-fi so freaking well.  The spores will spread….  (This one is currently out of print. Go find a used copy, or message the author!)

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5. WE CAME BACK by PATRICK LACEY   Lacey’s deeply personal novel showcases his growing talent and dares you not to become a fan.

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4. AGENTS OF DREAMLAND by CAITLIN R. KIERNAN  I’ve never been so enthralled, yet so confused by a book in all my life. AoD is terrific horror/sci-fi madness.

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3. THE WARBLERS by AMBER FALLON   I read this just after reading Joe R. Lansdale’s THE BOTTOMS. Had you taken the name off the cover, I would have thought this was another one of his books.  Blew me away. Just the style and voice.

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2. CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by RUSSELL JAMES   I haven’t seen many people talking about this one, but if you miss Samhain Publishing or Leisure Books, you should buy this now. You will LOVE it. My favorite book from Russell James yet. And the most fun I had with horror this year.

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1. BONE WHITE by RONALD MALFI    Hands down my favorite read of the year. Malfi is one of THE best writers out there. Malfi casts his spell from the first page on and you will have no choice but to go up into these Alaskan hills…. Soooo good!
Honorable Mentions:
SYMBIOSIS by TIM CURRAN
THE BOULEVARD MONSTER by JEREMY HEPLER
FAIRY LIGHTS by EDWARD LORN
THE LUCKY ONES DIED FIRST by JACK BANTRY

Also,
You should read PAPERBACKS FROM HELL by GRADY HENDRIX (non-fiction) Excellent stuff, and it will make you seek out more books for your TBR pile.

PS: Most of my friends and followers may be surprised to find one of these authors on my list. I know. Haters gonna hate.  That said, if I read a book (all the way through, mind you) and I enjoy it, I’m going to say so.

Here’s to another great year of reading!

There are always disappointments and other good books that didn’t make the cut….

To see all the books I read  go to 2017 HERE  and 2018 HERE

#ShareTheHorror  #StayTrue #GrudgeFreeCommunity  #KeepItOnThePos  #RonaldMalfiFanClub  #BestOf2017