Another Visit with Brian Moreland

It is winter, and one of the coldest horror novels I’ve ever read is Brian Moreland’s Dead of Winter. I read it in the summer in Florida and had to sit outside in the sun to stay warm. I recommend this one as a fireside read. In daylight. I thought I check in on Brian and see what he’s been up to.

dead of winter

R: I’ve read all you novels and they are outstanding. Did you write the short stories in your collections between novels or as breaks during writing the longer works?

B: Yes, after I finish a novel, which takes about year or two to research and write, I need some time before starting another long novel project. That’s when I write short stories. I’m working on a collection right now that consists of stories that I’ve written over the years. Some I’ve published and some will be new stuff.

R: You’ve announced that you’re currently working on a horror short story collection. What made you decide to put a collection together?

B: I recently read several of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood collections. That not only inspired me to return to writing short stories, it also gave me the idea to take my favorite stories I’ve written over the years and compile them together as a collection.

R: You do all your own cover design, tell me about that process.

B: When writing a book, I start to get a sense of what I’d like to see on the cover. Usually it involves the setting where the story takes place or something that symbolizes the evil of the story. For The Witching House, it was the abandoned rock house that I had envisioned, with bloody witch symbols painted on the boarded windows.

witching house

For The Girl from the Blood Coven, I thought it needed to feature the mysterious girl covered in blood who wanders out of the woods.

blood coven

For The Devil’s Woods, I chose the entrance to the forbidden forest that borders the haunted Cree Indian reservation. That’s where people keep disappearing.

 devils woods

And for The Vagrants, I decided to feature the subway tunnel where a cult of homeless people called “The Seekers” live and do sinister things.

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I create these covers using Photoshop. All four of these covers are composites of images that I found at a stock photo site. I’ll search through hundreds of stock photos until I’ve found images that fit the cover idea I have in my head. I’ll find a background, like a forest or urban setting, and then composite individual images on top of it. For instance on The Vagrants cover above, I had found a photo of a subway tunnel and then individual shots of the creepy people and positioned them all in place with the shadowy hooded character in the foreground. The hooded character represents the mystery of the Seekers. The bald guy in the background with the tattooed face represents their cult leader, Mordecai. Then I play with color schemes, adjust the light and shadow, then add the title and my name. I originally had real dripping blood behind the title, but my art director adjusted the color and texture, along with the title font. When building a multi-layered cover composite, I’ll spend hours trying out different looks until I design a version that I’m happy with. It’s a lot of fun creating visual art for a story that I’ve written. I used to design these covers just for my own amusement and to show my editor what I think the cover should look like. It just worked out that the last few covers my publisher liked them and decided to use my versions.

R: What was the oddest inspiration for one of your novels?

It would have to be when I was writing Dead of Winter. I had been stuck on the book for some time. I was living in Dallas, Texas and ready for a career change. So I moved to Hawaii to live a year and a half on the island of Maui and just write fiction. I had just sold my first novel Shadows in the Mist to Berkley-Penguin, my first book deal, and was feeling on top of the world. While on Maui, nearly every day I went to the beach or hiked to a waterfall. Just living in the moment, I felt very inspired to write. My creative juices were flowing. Then I started getting visions of how I could get past my stuck point with Dead of Winter and jumped back into writing that novel. The irony was the story is about a fur-trading fort in Ontario, Canada that’s trapped in a snowy blizzard. While conjuring scenes with frost-bitten characters and below freezing temperatures, I was sweating my ass off in the tropical heat of Hawaii. Every day was bright and sunny, while my characters endured the hostile winter. While I may have gone a far distance from Canada to write my second book, it was that free-spirited time in Hawaii that inspired me to finish what has become my favorite novel to date.  

R: Do you have a personal favorite part from Dead of Winter?

B: There are many scary scenes in Dead of Winter I enjoyed writing. A couple come to mind. The first is near the beginning of the book. In Montreal, Father Xavier and his apprentice go down into the underground tunnels beneath Laroque Asylum to exorcise a demon from a prisoner known as the Cannery Cannibal. That whole scene gave me chills when I was writing it. Next would be the scenes at Fort Pendleton in Ontario, when the demon plague begins to spread to the fort colonists and animals and Inspector Tom Hatcher has to do detective work to solve the mystery. The fact that he is desired by two women, both belonging to his boss, Avery Pendleton, added some fun when writing those characters and subplots.    

R: What else is coming down the pike from Brian Moreland?

B: I’m currently working on that short story collection that I plan to publish at some point this year. I’m also working on a novella called The Darkness Inside that will either be a part of that collection or a standalone eBook. Then, of course, I’m plotting my next novel but it’s too soon to reveal anything about it. For booklovers who prefer audio books, I did learn from my publisher, Audio Realms, that Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, and The Vagrants will be releasing as audio books this year. Right now, The Devil’s Woods and The Girl from the Blood Coven/The Witching House are available as audio books.  

R: You share your skills with other authors. Tell me about some of the services you offer.

B: Yes, when I’m not writing novels and short stories, I provide professional services to other writers. I consult over the phone, edit manuscripts (both fiction and non-fiction), design book covers, format the interior layout for print books and format ebooks. I also help authors self-publish their books. My website is http://www.MorelandCreative.com.

R: What upcoming cons can fans expect to see you at?

B: As of now, I don’t have any signings lined up at the horror cons. I’d love to be at HorrorHound Cincinnati in March, but that will be a game time decision. In May, I will most likely attend Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas as a fan, since I live in Dallas. You should come visit Dallas for Texas Frightmare some time. It draws a few thousand horror fans and is loads of fun. Thanks so much for having me as a guest on you site.

About Brian Moreland

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Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His books include Dead of Winter, Shadows in the Mist, The Girl from the Blood Coven, The Witching House, The Devil’s Woods, and The Vagrants. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror book.

 

Website: http://www.brianmoreland.com/

Follow on Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Like Brian’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Brian’s blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

 

Now available in audio book: The Devil’s Woods and The Witching House.

The Glamorous Writing Life

Here’s a guest post by horror author and friend Hunter Shea, giving everyone a little insight into the real writing world.

Writing horror is the most glamorous job in the world. I mean, I’m surprised I didn’t do this sooner. And why isn’t everyone else trying to get in the door? 

I say this as I write at my kitchen table. My oldest cat is eating at my feet and the smell of her Fancy Feast is nauseating, to say the least. There’s so much stuff on the table that I barely have room for my laptop. A wedge of Irish soda bread is at one elbow, a bag of Bear Naked granola at the other. My wife just did the laundry and the indoor rack is at my back. If I slide back in my chair too fast, all those clean clothes are flopping on the floor.

I’m at the kitchen table because my desk is swamped under holiday boxes and bags that need to be brought to storage. My perfectly crafted little writing corner is MIA.

The day job kept me busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger, so I have a headache and flagging energy. In a few minutes, I have to pick up dinner (we’re eating out tonight!) across town. After we eat, I have to help my daughter with her homework, and feed the other cat who was too lazy to get up earlier. We’re having a family night tonight, so we’ll either attempt the Big Bang Theory game we got for Christmas (thanks sis) or find something On-Demand to watch together. I may or may not have time to get in a few pages on my novella before my brain shuts down. And I can’t sleep without reading. Tonight, I’m working on the second half of fellow Samhainer Glenn Rolfe’s book, Abram’s Bridge.

And tomorrow? Wash, rinse repeat. Though I do plan to spend some quality time on my book. That will be my time to indulge my id and rage against the world.

When Island of the Forbidden was released, I celebrated by going to work, taking care of the sick members of my family and spending more time than usual on social media. I think I also went to the store to get cold meds and tissues. And I also steam cleaned the living room carpet. That, my friends, is a productive day.

Yes, it’s all Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at the Shea abode. I even believe we may have some faux caviar cat food and apple cider in those fancy champagne bottles you get at the supermarket.

And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. I never had grand dreams of becoming the next Stephen King sitting atop piles of money I couldn’t spend in several lifetimes. I just wanted to write stories. Somewhere along the line, the editor of my dreams liked one of those stories, and here I am. I don’t want a fancy cocktail party in New York City when one of my books is released, sycophants circling me like sharks while I scratch at the discomfort of my rental tux. Give me a quiet night with the family, sharing stories over dinner while the cats circle our legs, waiting to be fed. Or, if you want to go big, we can gather some close friends at a dive bar, drink cold bottles of Lone Star and laugh until our voices are raw.

That’s glamour to me. Thank God I get to keep writing, all thanks to folks like you, those precious readers of horror.

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Grab Hunter’s excellent Island of the Forbidden on Amazon or anywhere books by the mentally twisted are sold.

Interview with Glenn Rolfe

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Glenn Rolfe is new to the horror writing scene. His first novel The Haunted Halls came out last year and he just released the wonderful Abram’s Bridge novella through Samhain Horror this week. I met him at World Horror Con last year and they guy is a creative dynamo.

Q: Tell me a bit about the story in your recent release Abram’s Bridge

Abram’s Bridge is my first piece with Samhain. It is a ghost story, a mystery, and a thriller/horror tale all wrapped up in a neat little novella. I think it deals with a lot of inner demons that people will be able to relate to, and also, it zones in on the darker side of humanity. It’s definitely one of those man as the monster type stories. It is my favorite piece I’ve written in my relatively short time as a writer. I’m happy that Don and Samhain picked it up, and I can’t wait to get it out there.

AbramsBridge

 Q: How long did it take you to write this novella and what inspired it?

I started it in late October of 2013 and finished it at the end of November. I was trying to beat a deadline for another publishers open call. I made the deadline, but they passed on the story. The editor told me they were picking one story out of eight great ones–Abram’s Bridge was one of the eight. That really validated the way I felt about the story and I decided to take the piece and try my luck again with Samhain. Don had passed on the first novel I sent to him earlier that year, but he told me he wanted me to send him whatever I finished next.

The inspiration was Bruce Springsteen, man. At the time, I was trying to conjure up a ghost story for my writing group and I had the Boss on in the background. In the song, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, there’s a line that says, “Tell ‘em there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge, and tell ‘em there’s a darkness on the edge of town.” I’d listened to that song a million times, but it was like I heard that line for the first time. I just said to myself, “what happened out by Abram’s Bridge?” It all came together. It was going to be a straight up ghost story, but then as I was writing it went in a few unexpected directions. I’d never written a mystery before, and honestly, the thought of Abram’s Bridge taking that path scared the shit out of me. I just reminded myself that if it turned out horrible I could junk it, re-write it. I ended surprising myself. 

Q: In your not so spare time, you are in a band. Tell me about the history of The Never Nudes and your musical influences. 

The Never Nudes happened after I decided I was dropping music to focus my “free” time on writing. Some old buds put together a new band and said they wanted me to sing for them. Just when you think you’re out, they pull you right back in. We recorded six song EP last year and play when we can. There is a batch of new tunes waiting to be recorded so it looks like we’ll head back into the studio some time next spring.

I won’t speak for the guys in the band, but influences for me are all over the musical map. I love Bruce, as I know you do, as well. Then there’s the obvious ones: The Ramones, The Clash, Rancid, Green Day. But I’ve always loved Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, GNR, Metallica. New stuff that still inspires me would be The Gaslight Anthem, and for real, Taylor Swift. I don’t care what anyone says, that girl can write.  
Q: Describe the route you took to become a published author?

 I started writing in 2011. I’d never written more than a bad short story here and there just for fun, but I had this one piece that felt like the beginning of something, so I started working on it. Three months later, I had written my first novel. Next to my kids being born, it was the biggest, most energizing thing I’d ever done. That feeling was awesome, and I wanted more.

I had been a member of the Leisure Book Horror Club. I knew Don was the publisher I wanted to aim for. Those LB titles are what made me want to write horror in the first place. Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, John Everson. Right as I was working on that first novel, I searched Don’s name and saw that Samhain Publishing had taken him on to start their horror line. I thought, shit, this would be the perfect time to get him a story. New company, they need authors…but I was a long way from being good enough, and I knew it.

I dove in. I started reading up on publishing and creative writing. I joined the Horror Writers Association; I started trying to write decent short stories, figuring I might be able to get in the business that way. I knew my novel wasn’t good enough to be published, but I was determined to learn, to gather all of the tools of the trade and write something better.
I sold my first pro story to EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy for their anthology, Coins of Chaos. That was in July of 2012. I started writing my next novel, The Haunted Halls, in December of that year. The real deal for me though was getting the email from Don for Abram’s Bridge in March of this year. That was my goal, and I achieved it. 

Q: What’s coming next from Glenn? 

Lots. I have Boom Town, my second novella for Samhain coming in April. And my first full length novel for Samhain, Blood and Rain, will see the light of day sometime later on. I have another novella and two more novels that I’m trying to finish up before spring…but who knows what will come of those.

 Q: Do you have critique partners or beta readers? 

I’m a firm believer in beta readers. I need someone else to at least look at what I’ve written. As the author, I only see through my eyes, and can easily miss the most obvious things. Whether that’s a simple misspelled word, or a name change/spelling, or something that a character does in a scene that doesn’t sync up with how they are in the rest of the story. My beta readers will call me on that shit. I tell them not to hold back, and they don’t.

For my novels and my novellas, I use my best friend, Ben, and a gal that a lot of us in the know at Samhain turn to, Erin Al-Mehairi. They are both worthy of riches! I ask a lot of them, and they let me have it. I am forever grateful to have them as a part of my journey.

 Q: What the hell is it with Maine churning out horror writers?

 It has to be the crappy whether. The summers are so short; it just gets us all in a miserable mood. Maybe being so close to that guy in Bangor has something to do with it, too. 

Q: Your great first novel, The Haunted Halls is set in a hotel, also the location of your day job. Have you had any real life creepy hotel experiences? 

The only thing weird that I can think of happened when I was writing one of the scarier scenes in The Haunted Halls (I was writing on my overnight shift). A set of keys fell from the key holders next to me. It seriously scared the bejesus out of me. I got up and saw the keys and then one of our touch pad locks to a door on the other side of our back office beeped. You have to touch those things to activate them. I looked out and there was not a soul to be seen. My feelers were raised, for sure. Creepy.

Q: Money is no object. Where would you take your dream vacation?

 Australia, Jamaica, Hawaii. Someplace warm and sunny and exuding a lot of culture.

 Q: Do you have a Website or Blog? How can fans get in touch with you? 

Yeah, my blog, Glenn Rolfe Scribbles Madness : https://glennrolfescribbles.wordpress.com

Also, my Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Glenn-Rolfe/e/B00AXYEBTY

My Good Read page:   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6939496.Glenn_Rolfe

 

Thanks for having me, Russell. I’m super-psyched to have my first piece at Samhain coming out the same day as your new novel, Dreamwalker! I’m reading it right now, and it is awesome. Also cool to share that date with Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz. All three of you guys have been very supportive to me and my career this last year. I appreciate it so much. Love this family. Go Samhain!

 

Back in Black-Horror Resurgent

muscle car trio

1970 was a golden year for what are called “pony cars.” Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers ruled the road with big motors and rumbling exhausts. Insurance costs, emission regs and gas prices did all that in. But while driving today, in the course of under a minute I passed a Mustang, a Camaro and a Challenger, all new. Each had more horsepower than anything from 1970. I realized I am living through a pony car renaissance.

Horror writing is doing the same thing. Stephen King sparked a horror fire that burned bright for decades until market saturation and quality dilution turned readers to other genres. But this January is an example of horror rekindled as Samhain Horror adds four serious logs to the pyre. I had the chance to read all of them early. What a treat.

Hunter Shea’s Island of the Forbidden

Jessica Backman and Eddie Home are back after surviving Shea’s Sinister Entity. These two can connect with ghosts, Jessica as an attractor and power source, and Eddie as a communicator. They end up on Ormsby Island, where multiple spirits haunt a long abandoned house. A non-stop adventure from start to finish with some very creepy mass haunting scenes and a dynamite finish. Shea delivers every time.

Jonathan Janz’ Nightmare Girl

Contractor Joe Crawford steps up and does that “right thing” we all hope we would do in the same situation. He stops a mother abusing her son in public. From that moment on, Joe’s world starts to unravel as he finds out the depths of crazy the abuser and her family possess. Joe uncovers some awful secrets about the area’s past, and they are all tied to his present, threating him, his business, and his family. As always, Janz has uses some masterful language to pen a spellbinding story, populated by engaging characters and punctuated with sheer terror.

Glenn Rolfe’s Abrams’ Bridge

In Glenn Rolfe’s Samhain debut novella, a boy named Ron discovers the spirit of a murdered girl named Kate under a bridge in town. He sets out to discover her past, solve her murder, and set her free. Little does he know that doing so puts him in danger himself and digs up a past he’d rather not know. Glenn packs a tight storyline and great characters into a small space and delivers a dynamic read.

Russell James’ Dreamwalker

Rounding out the Class of January ’15 is my own Dreamwalker, a novel about a young man, Pete, who can dream himself into an alternate reality. Unfortunately, he can die in both. In our world, he runs afoul of Atlantic City drug lord Jean St. Croix, and in the other reality he is hunted by a voodoo god’s zombies through the ruins of a major city. A girl seems to link both worlds, and he must save her as well as himself. Click on the cover below to read the first few pages on Amazon.

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Horror is definitely back, and biting as hard as ever. Here are four reasons to get in out of the January cold, curl up under a blanket, and get scared.