Mass Hysteria Has Been Unleashed! | Michael Patrick Hicks | GLAHW

MASS HYSTERIA, by Michael Patrick Hicks

Today’s the day! Mass Hysteria is officially available and on sale everywhere. The eBook costs only $3.99, and the paperback retails for $14.99 but has been discounted pretty nicely at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The eBook edition of Mass Hysteria can be found at the following:

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Google Play | Smashwords

Here’s the synopsis:

It Came From Space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

… And It Is Spreading

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.


 

What Readers Are Saying

“Fun, horrible fun, from start to finish.” – Horror Novel Reviews

“It’s fast paced, action-packed, and bloody. Really, almost everything a horror gore-hound could want. … Undeniably talented, Michael Patrick Hicks shows evidence of a rather deliciously depraved mind…” – SciFi & Scary

“Mass Hysteria is a hell of a brutal, end of the world free for all. A terrifying vision of a future gone mad with bloodlust, Mass Hysteria will haunt your nightmares.” – Hunter Shea, author of Just Add Water and We Are Always Watching

Mass Hysteria was a brutal horror novel, which reminded me of the horror being written in the late 70’s and, (all of the), 80’s. Books like James Herbert’s The Rats or Guy N. Smith’s The Night of the Crabs. There are a lot of similarities to those classics here-the fast paced action going from scene to scene-with many gory deaths and other sick events. In fact, I think Mass Hysteria beats out those books in its sheer horrific brutality.” – Char’s Horror Corner

“I’m telling you now, this book isn’t for readers with weak stomachs. It is brutal in all the right ways.” – Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

 

Purchase Mass Hysteria

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Google Play | Smashwords

WE ARE ALL MONSTERS is available for free on Kindle right now!

Cassie Carnage here. Just wanted to let you all know that my first ever Horror eBook, WE ARE ALL MONSTERS, is up on Amazon and available for free for a limited time.

Deal runs Saturday 3/18 until Wednesday 3/22.

You can get your free copy here: http://bit.ly/waam11

cascover4

“We Are All Monsters” by Cassie Carnage contains 10 original stories from a unique new voice in horror; plus an exclusive bonus introduction chapter to the Weird West monster hunters known as The Three Thieves of Night and their dark, corrupted world of gun slinging magicians.

Inside you will find vengeful ghosts, greedy demons, madness inducing gods from the Time before Man, an evil witch trapped in the mummified remains of a saint, were-sasquatches, haunted water heaters, psychics, vampires and much, much more!

Inside you will find:

HER ROTTEN EMBRACE
What the swamp takes, she also gives back.

CANCER’S REQUIEM
Cancer comes back to collect a widowed husband.

THE RING
What would you do if you could see ghosts, and your best friend dies?

DROSOPHILA (a horror poem)
Are there fruit flies everywhere, or only in the demented mind of Malachi?

THE DYING LIGHT
Two kids hear an urban legend about a monster in an abandoned copper mine. When they break into the mine, they accidentally wake it up.

HOT WATER
Sometimes, it’s not your imagination. Sometimes, there really is something inside your water heater…

BLACK HEARTS AND BLOODIED LIPS
Two bounty hunters discover unexpected package while investigating a nest of vampires.

THE CORNUCOPIA
A homeless the preacher finds a way to feed the starving people of his flock. But not all is what it seems as the magical golden box that leaves a feast each night, but only after a human sacrifice.

WALPURGISNACHT
A mummified saints body. A witch. And a terrible curse.

OF ‘SQUATCH AND MAN
Three college guys go camping and discover that one of them is not what he seems.

THREE THIEVES OF NIGHT PRELUDE (Bonus Section)
A psychic swordsman and a man with an incessantly itching wound that won’t heal discover that their brother-at-arms is missing.

If you like Tales from the Crypt, Clive Barker, Stephen King or Anne Rice, you will love WE ARE ALL MONSTERS.

Eye of Saturn series by Idalita Wright Raso Book Launch

Member Idalita has some wonderful news!

Book Launch Party!
Eye of Saturn series
by Idalita Wright Raso
The latest from Solstice Publishing

Come help me celebrate my debut with the launch of my first paranormal, Eye of Saturn: The Daughters of Saturn Book One.

Save the Date!

Friday, April 22, 2016 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

You and your guest(s) are cordially invited to celebrate the official book release party.

Please RSVP: eosbooklaunchpartyrsvp [AT} gmail DOT com

Loganberry Books
13015 Larchmere Blvd.
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44120
(216) 795-9800

Free and convenient on-street parking on Larchmere and side street parking on Cheshire and adjacent streets.

There will be two dramatic presentations, a dramatic reading, Q&A session, book signing, giveaways, food, sangria, and cake will be served.

The book will be available for purchase at this event at Loganberry Books. For more information about Author Idalita Wright Raso, or to purchase the book online visit:

Author Central
Description
Purchase

People We Love (and think you should love, too)!

We here at GLAHW have met so many amazing and talented people out in the big wide world (you know, OFF the internets) and thought it was high-time we introduced them to you. Who knows? You may end up discovering a favorite new artist, photographer, writer, or all-around awesome human. This time around, Ken MacGregor will be talking to the prolific and talented Jonathan Maberry.  http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/

jonathan_maberry

GLAHW: How long have you been writing? Has it always been the kind of fiction you write now?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I sold my first professional piece –a magazine feature article—when I was an undergrad at Temple U. Way back in 1978. I went to school on a scholarship with every intention of being either Woodward or Bernstein. Funny thing is that probably the only thing I haven’t done as a writer is work as a reporter. While still a journalism student I got hooked on writing features for magazines. At first it was for martial arts magazines because I knew a lot about that, but then I branched out and wrote about music, travel, skydiving, relationships, and a ton of other things. In 1991 I wrote my first book, which was a textbook for Temple’s judo class. I went on to write a bunch of textbooks for my classes and those of friends who were good teachers but not writers. Then I expanded out and began doing nonfiction books for the mass market, including several martial arts books. I shifted gears and began writing about folklore –a lifelong passion—and while researching legends of vampires, werewolves and other critters I got an itch to try my hand at fiction. In 2003 I began writing my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES. I landed an agent at the end of 2004, she sold the book and its two sequels in early 2005 and it was published in 2006. The book went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. Until then I was on the fence about continuing in fiction or going back to nonfiction. That changed because the award was powerfully validating.

Now I’ve mostly left nonfiction behind except for the occasional article. I’m writing three to five novels per year, about twenty short stories and some comics every year. The change from nonfiction to fiction also switched me from part-time writer to full-time novelist.

 

GLAHW: What draws you to write horror?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Horror allows us to explore the complexities of our minds. We are fearful creatures by nature. We come into the world totally helpless, and much of our life is spent trying to understand life’s mysteries, protect against its threats, and build walls of personal security. Even a guy like me –six-four, built like Bigfoot, and an 8th degree black belt—feels fear of one kind or another every day. Anyone who says they are totally fearless is either lying or delusional.

So in fiction we get to take our fears and examine them, deconstruct them, play with them, understand them, and even have some fun with them. We get to pose ‘what if’ questions about threats large and small. And we can write that story all the way to a point of closure –and the real world doesn’t always allow that.

This is not to say that horror should always have a tidy ending or a happy resolution. Not at all, but in the process of writing the story we take ownership of it. We control the fearful elements and direct those forces elsewhere.

And, also, let’s face it, we all like to stretch our hand out to the fire or lean a little too close to the tiger’s cage. Fear is also a great stimulant. I didn’t start skydiving because I liked the geographical perspective. I was in it for the adrenaline rush. The thrill. The fear.

 

GLAHW: Is anyone in your family ever bothered by the things you write?

JONATHAN MABERRY: They probably are, but I’m kind of the black sheep of my clan. I don’t talk to most of them and can only imagine what they think about their weird brother.

 

GLAHW: Do you outline or are you more of a “pantser”?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a structure guy. I was trained as a journalist and I spent the first twenty-five years of my career writing nonfiction articles, columns, reviews, how-to manuals, package copy, greeting cards, college textbooks and mass-market nonfiction books. All of that requires a deliberate and structured approach.

So, yeah, I outline. To me a novel is a mathematical formula. It’s cause and effect –this action plus that reaction results in such-and-such an outcome. Having an outline allows me to plan ahead, to foreshadow, to lay clues. It also allows me the freedom to write in a nonlinear fashion. If I know the whole story I’m free to jump around and write the chapters or scenes that most appeal to me and then fit them in.

That said, it’s irrational to believe that you’ve had all your best ideas on the day you sit down to write an outline. That’s why I allow for the organic growth of characters and plotlines. If something changes in the story while I’m writing, then I have to respect it because there is usually a logic to that new growth.

So, I view the plot as a trellis and the actual writing as the rose plant growing on that framework. I know that the story has to reach the end but I cannot possibly predict exactly how I will get there. And imposing too much rigid structure on the new growth is a good way of killing it.

 

GLAHW: Tell us something interesting about you not related to your books.

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m a lifelong martial arts practitioner. I started when I was six, taking lessons on the sly from a friend’s dad. My home life and neighborhood were very violent, and martial arts was probably what kept me alive. In my teens and early twenties I competed in full-contact martial arts, boxing, wrestling and fencing. I worked as a bodyguard in the entertainment industry, taught college classes on martial arts history and self-defense, and was the Expert Witness for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for murder cases involving martial arts. In 2004 I was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

 

GLAHW: You write a lot of tense, politically charged stuff. Has any of it been a cause for concern by our country’s security forces?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I am probably on watch lists just based on my Google search history. For example, ASSASSIN’S CODE –the fourth in the Joe Ledger series—was set in Iran. I did searches on Iran, its politics and culture, its nuclear program, street maps of Tehran, its police system and location of police stations, and so on. I also did research on nuclear weapons, smuggling, the placement of oil refineries, and so on. Tell me that doesn’t look suspicious from a distance.

But when I was doing research for PREDATOR ONE, my drone novel, I had to complete a background check by the FBI because I wanted to speak to some folks working on government drone projects. I spent some very uncomfortable hours in a room talking to unsmiling men wearing wires behind their ears. For a while it seemed that I was not going to able to convince them that I wanted this information for a novel. They are a very suspicious breed, those Feds. I guess they have to be, and I suppose we want them to be…but damn if I didn’t sweat gallons!

 

GLAHW: Are you superstitious at all?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve always been superstitious, despite all of the valid arguments against it. Sue me. I have to turn over a heads-down penny, I knock wood, I toss salt over my shoulder, and I own lucky charms. Actually, I always wear a pendant of the Hindu god Ganesha because he’s the patron god of writers and the remover of obstacles. Am I Hindu? No, but I play the odds.

 

GLAHW:  If you had to give up writing, what’s your second career choice?

JONATHAN MABERRY: There is no plan B. I did all of that already. Though, if pressed on the point, I suppose I’d teach. I’ve always loved to do that, and I still teach writing workshops around the country.

 

GLAHW: How often do you write? Do you have a daily word-count goal?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I am a working writer, which means I write every day. Not counting interviews, social media posts, and business-related writing, I wrote between three and four thousand words most days. When I’m at a convention or traveling that might drop down to two thousand per day. I seldom take a full day off.

 

GLAHW: Do you keep a journal?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I used to journal all the time, and kept a dream diary from age six through age thirty. Now I’m too busy writing to keep a diary. However I have tapped my old dream journals for ideas. In fact my new middle-grade series, THE NIGHTSIDERS, of which THE ORPHAN ARMY is the first book, is a direct collaboration with my eleven-year-old self. I took notes from dreams I had in fifth grade and expanded them into a series of adventure fantasies.

 

GLAHW: What’s your favorite thing to write – short stories, poetry, novels, scripts, etc.?

JONATHAN MABERRY: That answer will be different depending on what I’m writing at the moment. I’m fickle in my affections –I love whatever I’m currently working on.

Novels are my bread and butter and I love them because of how far down I can swim. With novels I have the chance to peel back the layers of characters and situations, and to delve into the story behind the story.

Short stories are different in that I like the faster pace. You have to get right to the heart of the tale and then it’s a race to the end. I usually write the last scene first, then back up and aim everything at that.

Comics are a dream job because I grew up as a comic book kid. I bought Fantastic Four #66 hot off the stands. It came out in 1967, when I was nine. Getting approached by Marvel to write for them was surreal, and I got to work with so many of my favorite characters, like Captain America, the Black Panther, the X-Men, Wolverine, Deadpool, Spider-Man, and more. And the horror comics I’ve done for Dark Horse (BAD BLOOD) and IDW (ROT & RUIN and V-WARS) have allowed me to bring my own characters to that genre. I’ve got some new stuff in the works, including a science fiction limited series and an urban fantasy project.

As for screenplays, I’m actually just starting to write my first one, so I’m still at the beginning of the learning curve. I’m writing a pilot for a potential series based on my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES.

 

GLAHW: Is there anything that scares you?

JONATHAN MABERRY: Horror writers write about what scares them. As much as I’m a science geek I’m also deeply concerned about the many easy ways there are to misuse technology. Not just accidents but deliberate misuse by bad guys –foreign and domestic. The era when security is defined by a powerful military you can put in the field is coming to an end, and it will be replaced by armies fighting cyber-warfare, social media wars, and with the use of drones, artificial intelligence, autonomous drive systems, directed-energy weapons, and robotics. These are great technologies that have many humanitarian benefits, but they’re also absurdly easy to use for the wrong reasons. I wrote PREDATOR ONE to explore some of that, and by the time the book hit the stores this past April the headlines were shouting about the exact kinds of problems I put in the book. So…sure, there are real threats out there. I’m not paranoid and certainly not a conspiracy theorist, but I do a lot of research with world-class scientists, military, law enforcement, and medical experts. They stuff they tell me scares the absolute crap out of me. I, in turn, use it to scare the crap out of my readers. And, maybe in the process I open a few eyes and open a few minds.

 

GLAHW: What do you read for pleasure? Favorite authors? Recommendations?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I read absolutely anything. I read fast and I read across genre lines. Some authors are on my absolute must-have list, including John Sandford, Michael Connelly, John Conolly, Robert McCammon, James Lee Burke, Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Scott Sigler and Peter Clines. I also devour the Hellboy comics by Mike Mignola, Eric Powell’s Goon, and a few others.

 

GLAHW: What do you think makes a good story?

JONATHAN MABERRY: All good stories start with characters and their motivation. What do they want and why do they want it? For me, I think about what my bad guys want, why they want it and what they’re willing to do to get it. Then I put the good guys in their path. But I also have to understand why the good guys are, in fact, heroes or merely opponents. Everyone has an agenda, and no one is purely black or white. If a writer had clearly done his/her psychological homework, then I’m on board.

 

GLAHW: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’ve always wanted to write. Even before I could read and write I was telling stories with toys. It’s been my most enduring defining characteristic. However, I’ve only been a full-time author for ten years. Like most writers I had to do other jobs along the way to pay the bills –and I’ve worked as a bodyguard, bouncer, martial arts instructor, salesman, graphic artist, telemarketer and college teacher.

 

GLAHW: What are you reading right now?

JONATHAN MABERRY: I’m in a retro mood and have been reading some old pulps, including my all-time favorite, DOC SAVAGE, plus some SHADOW, G8 AND HIS BATTLE ACES, THE SPIDER and THE AVENGER. And I’ve been reading the pulp thrillers, westerns and science fiction written by my wife’s late grandfather, Oscar J. Friend. I’m toying with the idea of taking some his stories and updating them for modern audiences. A kind of posthumous collaboration.

 

GLAHW: What’s your favorite way to unwind?

JONATHAN MABERRY: My wife, Sara Jo, and I moved to southern California two years ago and we have a condo on the ocean. All I need to do to relax is go out on the balcony, open a cold bottle of beer, and watch the whales and dolphins. Maybe put some Joe Pass jazz guitar on the iPod, or a mix of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Steely Dan. I can be in a nice zone very quickly these days.

 

GLAHW: What’s the best piece of non-writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

JONATHAN MABERRY: When I was a kid, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury mentored me for nearly three years. Bradbury drummed into my head that a writer needs to be one of the good guys –not a selfish jerk but someone willing to help his fellow writers. That really resonated with me, then and now. But it was Matheson who told me that in order to become successful a writer needed to understand the difference between writing and publishing. Writing, he told me, was an art –it was an intimate conversation between author and reader. Publishing, on the other hand, was a business whose sole concern was to sell copies of art. They are not the same thing and it is important for a writer to understand what each is, what it requires, how it works….and then to become very good at both.

 

 

Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in dozens of anthologies and magazines. His story collection, “An Aberrant Mind” is available online and in select bookstores. Ken is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. He edits an annual horror-themed anthology for the former. He has also dabbled in TV, radio, movies and sketch comedy. Recently, he co-wrote a novel and is working on the sequel. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two “domesticated” predators.

Website:  http://ken-macgregor.com

Twitter: @kenmacgregor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenMacGregorAuthor?ref=hl

People We Love (and think you should love, too)!

We here at GLAHW have met so many amazing and talented people out in the big wide world (you know, OFF the internets) and thought it was high-time we introduced them to you. Who knows? You may end up discovering a favorite new artist, photographer, writer, or all-around awesome human. This time around, Ken MacGregor spoke to the legendary Graham Masterton.

(image from likesuccess.com)
(image from likesuccess.com)

http://www.grahammasterton.co.uk/news.html

 

GLAHW: Your first book came out almost forty years ago, and you’re still going strong. How do you keep yourself excited about writing?

Graham: Writing is always exciting because it’s about people and the conflicts they have to face in their lives. I was trained from the age of 17 as a newspaper reporter which gave me the facility to be able to question people about the most intimate details of their lives and all the stresses and strains they have to deal with,  and that is endlessly interesting.  You will notice that most of my novels are about very ordinary people having to cope with extraordinary threats – such as demons, or ghosts, or murderers, or catastrophic disasters like plagues and droughts.  As you know I have also written 29 non-fiction books of sexual advice, which entailed interviewing scores of men and women about their relationships and every story they had to tell was different and fascinating.  It is a privilege as a writer to be able to give advice and encouragement to readers, as well as entertain them (which of course is the primary job of fiction.)  There is always a story out there to be told, which is why I have never understood “writers’ block.”  To me “writer’s block” sounds like a dismal downtown apartment building crowded with people who want to be writers but actually don’t have the drive or the understanding of other people to be able to do it.  I have more ideas for short stories and novels than I will ever be able to complete in my lifetime.

 

GLAHW: What drew you to write horror?

Graham: I used to like horror when I was very young.  I read Edgar Allan Poe stories when I was nine or ten and I was also a Jules Verne enthusiast.  I used to write short horror stories for my friends at school and read them out loud during recess.  When I was 13 I wrote a novel set in the days of the Peninsula War which involved the evil influence of monster crabs (which I still have,  all written by hand!) and a 400-page vampire novel which has been lost (probably just as well!).  I liked to write horror because I enjoyed shocking my readers but I also liked the supernatural element which meant that anything was possible. I gave up writing horror in the 1960s when I was a newspaper reporter and then an editor of men’s magazines, but at the same time I developed a strong interest in the frank and fearless and experimental writing styles of the Beats like Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso.  When The Naked Lunch came out and caused such a stir I started to correspond with William Burroughs when he was still living in Tangiers, and when he came to live in London for a while I saw him often and we became friends.  We talked endlessly about writing techniques and how to write so that as authors we “disappeared” and our readers felt that they were actually living inside the stories that we were writing about.  William called it being “El Hombre Invisible”…the Invisible Man. This involves a very thorough and comprehensive knowledge of grammar and syntax, a very extensive vocabulary and a fine sense of rhythm.  Writing to me is like music:  the reader should be unaware that he or she is reading, but instead can hear the voices and smell the smells and feel the wind that’s blowing on their back.  After four years editing Penthouse I quit to write sex books full-time because in those days they were very profitable.  I had a five-day space in between contracts so I amused myself by writing THE MANITOU, which was inspired by my wife’s pregnancy and an article about Native American spirits which I had read in The Buffalo Bill Annual 1955.  You see how the reporter’s training came into play…an ordinary woman is pregnant but the pregnancy is something highly unusual because it is affected by a demonic spirit.  Play off the ordinary against the extraordinary.  THE MANITOU was hugely successful and when it was published in the United States sold half-a-million copies in six months.  Later it was picked up for a movie with Tony Curtis playing the lead role, as well as Susan Strasberg, Burgess Meredith and Michael Ansara.  (All dead now, so we couldn’t make a sequel!) Obviously it made sense for me to continue writing horror novels, so THE MANITOU was followed by THE DJINN and THE REVENGE OF THE MANITOU.  Unwisely at that point I branched out into writing historical sagas, and wrote an immense 750-page novel about oil tycoons called RICH.  This was very successful, too, and I followed it with other historical sagas,  RAILROAD and LADY OF FORTUNE and MAIDEN VOYAGE.  But I had lost the early momentum with my horror audience, while Stephen King at the same time continued to build on the audience that he had attracted with Salem’s Lot.  I returned to horror with TENGU,  a novel about a Japanese demon exacting revenge for Hiroshima and Nagasaki,  and that did well,  but it took me years to regain that roller-coaster effect of writing a series of books in the same genre for an audience that constantly demands more.  Many readers don’t seem to appreciate that a book that took them five hours to read took five months to write!

 

GLAHW: Some of your work is very dark and (ahem) mature. Is anyone in your family ever bothered by the things you write?

Graham: No…I come from a very liberal-minded family.   On my mother’s side, anyway. I’m not sure what my Scottish grandfather would have thought about HOW TO DRIVE YOUR MAN WILD  IN BED,  because he was rather conservative and severe.  However he was chief inspector of mines in Scotland and contracted a lung disease from going down mines that had suffered various disasters, and died young.  His youngest brother fell down a mine shaft at the age of 17, and when I look back over the Masterton family website I see that an awful lot of them died fell down mines.  That’s why I try to avoid them myself.

 

GLAHW: Do you outline or are you more of a “pantser”?

Graham: I always have a strong basic idea but I think it is a mistake to outline a novel too precisely.  The characters take on a life of their own as I write about them and they write the book for me.  Events that I write early in the story for no particular reason that I can think of eventually turn out to be integral to the plot.  New characters will appear that I had never planned in advance.  A novel should live and breathe, and not be strictly regimented according to a pre-arranged plan.  Otherwise it will end up like stories by Agatha Christie, which (successful as they were)  were once described as “typing, with clues.”

 

GLAHW: I saw in your biography that your Grandfather invented DayGlo. Tell us something else interesting about you not related to your books.

Graham: Apart from writing, one of my main interests has been the welfare of sick or disadvantaged children.  I regularly donate to The Children’s Trust, which is a hospital close to where I live which takes care of children with brain damage and other chronic problems.  I also support Dom Dziecka, which is an orphanage in Gorzec in southern Poland, where they look after children of all ages from very young to teenage years.  Every time I finish a book I print out one copy of the manuscript which I auction and donate the proceeds to a charity in Wroclaw which gives shelter and support to children who have been trafficked into prostitution. This is a difficult subject to discuss in Poland, but I have been working hard to raise the profile of this work.  My late wife Wiescka was Polish and because she was born in Germany and had never been to Poland she encouraged me to have my books published in Poland.  This has meant that I now visit Poland several times a year, attending horror and fantasy festivals and book fairs all over the country, and have many friends there. In the Planty Park in Krakow there is a bench with my picture and name on it, and a QR symbol which enables anybody sitting there to listen to me on their cellphone reading an excerpt from one of my books.  In Ireland I used to read stories to Traveller children in the local library, and supported the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.  Another interest has been to encourage and support new writers, and I have been working for the past four years with a very talented young woman Dawn Harris to develop her debut novel.  I have also written agony columns for American women’s magazines.

 

GLAHW: Are you superstitious at all?

Graham: I do not believe in conventional ghosts and ghouls,  but I am very interested in what William Burroughs called “intersections” – that is,  coincidences of a sort when a name or a fact will come up unexpectedly that relates uncannily to something that you are doing or working on.  A typical instance was when Dawn and I went to visit my agent in London’s theatre district.  We were unexpectedly early, so we went for a coffee into a nearby café.  On the way out, we saw a rather grand memorial by the side of the street for Augustus Harris, a theatrical impresario in Victorian times who almost single-handedly invented modern pantomime.  Underneath a bronze bust of Mr. Harris were two terracotta Cupids.  Not only did it turn out that Dawn is remotely related to Augustus Harris (which she didn’t know before) but one of the supernatural characters in her novel is Cupid.  On top of that,  my great-grandfather was also a theatrical impresario in Victorian times and managed Dan Leno,  who was a famous music-hall artiste and a favorite of Queen Victoria (you can actually hear him on YouTube cracking a joke in a very early phonograph recording.)   Dan Leno was regularly employed by Augustus Harris so my great-grandfather and him would have inevitably known each other well.  That is what William and I called an “intersection.”

 

GLAHW:  If you had to give up writing, what’s your second career choice?

Graham: Comedian.  Then if all of my jokes fell flat a cartoonist.  See this link, filmed in a cemetery last year in the Czech Republic.  http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/porady/10924720972-skotska-citanka-don-t-worry-be-scottish/314294340090011/

 

GLAHW: Do you have a daily word-count goal?

Graham: No…I’m not turning out cans of Spam or auto parts.  A story has its own changing rhythms and pace, and some scenes will take longer to write than others.  I do have deadlines.  I am writing a series of gruesome Irish crime novels at the moment featuring Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire and these have proved so popular that my publisher has contracted me to write more and more.  They are producing the covers and promoting publication dates even before I have half-finished the novels, which is a lot of pressure. But often it is good to take things slowly, because your mind will develop new ways of solving your characters’ problems and inspire you to write memorable and dramatic scenes which hadn’t occurred to you when you started on page one.

 

GLAHW: What’s your favorite thing to write – short stories, novels, scripts, etc.?

Graham: I like novels because they give me plenty of room to breathe and introduce new scenes and new characters, but short stories are a very good discipline because every word has to be exact, and there has to be plot and character development and a good twist in them, all within 6 – 10, 000 words.  I am also very keen on poetry.  It is a tremendous aid to writing precisely and rhythmically and also emotionally.  Even if you never submit it for publication, you should do it whenever you can.  I also like writing humor.  I started a humorous novel called IF PIGS COULD SING about the Indigestible Brothers, a country/rock duo from Iowa, which you can read in the Fiction section of my website www.grahammasterton.co.uk   Sadly (or perhaps happily) I have never had the time to finish it.

 

GLAHW: Is there anything that scares you?

Graham: Income tax

 

GLAHW: What do you read for pleasure? Favorite authors? Recommendations?

Graham: One of the regrettable consequences of writing fiction for a living is that I can no longer read anybody else’s fiction.  I used to love Nelson Algren and Herman Wouk and those hard-boiled American writers of the 1960s but I am like a chef now…if I have been cooking all day I don’t want to cook in the evening. Besides that, I am hyper-critical of my own work and hyper-critical of any other writers.  So I read newspapers and non-fiction books related to whatever I am writing at the moment.  I tend not to comment on the work of other horror/thriller writers because whatever you say it sounds as if you’re being patronising,  or (if you’re critical)  sour grapes.

 

GLAHW: What do you think makes a good story?

Graham: A feeling when you have finished it that you have been given a perception into life that you didn’t have before.  I also try to make my readers cry at least once in every book.  Crying is good for them.  Read it and weep!

 

GLAHW: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Graham: An artist or a writer.  I was offered an art scholarship which I turned down the day before I was due to start because I was offered a job on my local paper.

 

GLAHW: What are you reading right now?

Graham: My Home On The Lee, an historical and pictorial record of Cork City.  Also The Process,  a novel about a black professor’s journey across the Sahara which was given to me in 1970 by the artist and writer Brion Gysin and which I have never managed to finish.  It is beautifully written, though, and one sentence per evening is more than enough.  When shaken, a box of matches “chuckles”…brilliant.

 

GLAHW: What’s your favorite way to unwind?

Graham: Having a drink and talking to friends.

 

GLAHW: What do you believe is the most important thing for beginning writers to know?

Graham: Success in writing can be very much a matter of luck and chance.  Stephen King published Salem’s Lot at just the right moment, and (as I said before) he kept up the momentum.  JK Rowling was extremely lucky with Harry Potter and caught a public appetite for magic and what amounts to an old-fashioned boarding-school story.  Mainly, though, it’s all about being totally original.  Don’t write another vampire/zombie/werewolf story.  THE MANITOU was successful because almost nobody had written about Native American demons before, apart from Algernon Blackwood and his great story about the Wendigo.  Know your craft.  Know how to spell and how to construct a sentence properly (the number of times I’ve seen “lose” spelled “loose.”)  Do your research but don’t bore the reader with it…just so long as you sound as if you know what you’re talking about.  I have a few Rules of Writing in the Fiction section of my website but they are guidelines only…not the Ten Commandments.  Don’t take any notice of Stephen King’s rules of writing.  He says that the road to hell is paved with adverbs, but you can use as many adverbs as you like so long as you use them welly.  Above all remember that writing is extremely hard and laborious.  It’s surprising how many readers don’t understand that your novel is all invented inside your head and you’re not just describing some events that you happen to have witnessed.  Remember, too, that only a minority of writers make a living out of it.  Sorry to be depressing!  It’s very hard work, but you can do it.

 

GLAHW: What’s the best piece of non-writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Graham: Don’t turn on the faucet full-blast in the kitchen sink when there’s an upturned teaspoon in it.

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Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in dozens of anthologies and magazines. His story collection, “An Aberrant Mind” is available online and in select bookstores. Ken is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. He edits an annual horror-themed anthology for the former. He has also dabbled in TV, radio, movies and sketch comedy. Recently, he co-wrote a novel and is working on the sequel. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two “domesticated” predators.

Website:  http://ken-macgregor.com

Twitter: @kenmacgregor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenMacGregorAuthor?ref=hl

 

Dark Screams Vol 3 — The Best So FAr

Disclaimer:  This is a review of a book which I received as a free ARC.

Dark Screams: Vol 3 is the best addition to the series to date.  Every story in this collection works and the work well with each other.  Granted, this is to be assumed when you put together some of the giants of the horror community in a collection edited by two masterful editors.

The short stories in this collection are:

“The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero” by Peter Straub

All right, I have a confession: I’m not really a big fan of Peter Straub.  For the most part the only works of his which I have enjoyed were his collaborations with Stephen King.  “The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothereo” has definitely been added to my list of great things by Straub.  It is written in the psuedo-intellectual style of many literary reviews.  What makes this rather tongue in cheek is that the collected works being reviewed are the almost incoherent, yet terrifying, ramblings of a young boy.  They start out when the child is barely older than a toddler and continue for only a few years.  The interplay between the high-brow criticism and the style of the stories themselves only accentuates the creepy nature of what the child is writing about.

“Group of Thirty” by Jack Ketchum

This was my favorite of the book.  Ketchum explores the oft asked question “Who is ultimately responsible for the actions of a reader?  Is the creator of a work of fiction culpable if a reader then goes on to mimic the horrific acts in that work of fiction?”  These themes are examined through this tale of an author who is invited to an intimate gathering of fans.  Naturally, this being Ketchum, things aren’t quite what they seem on the surface.  The ending was extremely satisfying.

“Nancy” by Darynda Jones

What is worse than being the new girl in school?  Being the new girl in school and knowing that eventually the popular kids will find you out and you will end up a social outcast, just as you have been in every school before.  Standing up to the popular crowd and befriending the other downtrodden students seems like a good idea, but it goes awry when one student is not only being picked on by the in crowd, but also by a poltergeist.  A twisty tale of haunting and social cliques.

“I Love You, Charlie Pearson” by Jacquelyn Frank

The other side of the high school popularity coin, this is the story of an outcast who knows that he and a high school beauty are destined for each other…if only he could get her to see that truth.  Frank does an admirable job of portraying how the filter of obsession can change the view of the world.

“The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away” by Brian Hodge

In lesser hands this would have just been a tale of free-runners and the horror that they stumble upon.  Instead we have a masterful story of human interaction, how people can fall in and out of love, and how emotions can force people out of their comfort zones and into a world of horror.