Resurrection on Q Island

In 2015, Samhain Publishing released my post-apocalyptic horror novel Q Island. At the time, editor Don D’Auria, a legend in horror publishing, added a note to the acceptance letter reading “This could be big.” While he had been enthusiastic about my five previous novels, this was the first time he’d been predictive.

The cover proof came in and it matched my design request, except better. Even I wanted to buy the thing, and I knew the ending.

Q Island released with a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, being selected as the Editor’s Pick of the month for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and garnering a series of excellent reviews from some trusted, picky review sites. It was advertised at SXSW and other major markets. I thought Don’s crystal ball had been right. This was going to be big.

Then it wasn’t.

For whatever reason, it didn’t hit public consciousness. Maybe it was an issue being from a small press, maybe it was just bad luck. But when I sold the book at horror conventions, I would sell out the first day. People saw the cover, came to check it out, and then frequently cut me off mid-sales pitch to buy it.

When Samhain folded their horror line, I bought the cover art. Rather than farm the book out as backlist to another publisher, I opted to re-release it myself. It couldn’t hurt, plus I could opt into Kindle Unlimited, which my publisher could not. I ran a 99 cent promo and hoped for the best.

Instead I got amazing.

That promotion did what the earlier advertising could not. Q Island has taken off like it should have, the ignition on the engines finally lit. It is finding an audience in sales, as well as on Kindle Unlimited, and the audience is worldwide, moving pages in the UK, Australia, Canada, and India. Wow. Reviews are kicking in on Amazon and Goodreads, and they are excellent.

So to authors, never give up on something you’ve written. Even years later, the audience may find it.

To all the new readers, thank you for giving Q Island a try. All the reviews, social media support, and personal messages are really appreciated.

If you enjoyed your stay on Q Island, there’s more where that came from. Keep an eye out for Return to Q Island later this year. Millions long to leave, but one man stranded in Connecticut must go back to save his mother and pregnant sister. In the year since the first book, Q Island has gotten worse.

Much worse.

You can sample some Q Island here.

Christmas on Q Island

Copy editors are excellent. They have the detail-oriented personality to read through a text, catch every typo, flag every incorrect reference, and erase any continuity errors. Their value cannot be underestimated and no book should EVER be sent out to the world without one.

Copy editors are also on the lookout for the publisher, keeping them from being legally entangled in some mess, especially a copyright issue. Q Island raised that red flag a number of times, all about the same thing.

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The lead character, Melanie Bailey, has an autistic son, Aiden. His autism brings on terrible panic attacks, and Melanie can calm him by singing to him.

When he was still just two years old, before his diagnosis, Melanie and her husband didn’t know what to do to calm this poor, sleepless child who seemed in constant distress. Then a song came on the radio and Aiden just relaxed, relaxed enough to finally go to sleep after an exhausting day. Their prayer was answered. Since then, Melanie used that song to calm Aiden in the most stressful circumstances. The first time he heard it was in December. It was a Christmas carol. So Melanie sometimes sings a Christmas carol year round.

Well, every time she sings the song in the book, the copy editor comments stain the margins like spilled wine, reviewing all the dire consequences possible when this copyright violation comes to light after publication. The good news was that I already had permission to use the song. Because I wrote it. The lyrics for it anyway. They are:

Angels in heaven, look down on the child,

Perfect and lovely, tender and mild.

Shepherds that evening, tending their flocks,

Kneel without pain on nettles and rocks.

The rams and the ewes, surround him in awe.

First to acknowledge our Savior and Lord.

Wise men who travel, came from afar,

Guided by faith and the light of a star.

 

Okay, “awe” and “Lord” is a stretch for a rhyme.

I’m thrilled when someone reads a book I’ve written and says the characters ring true, or the locations are vivid and real. But I was stunned that I might have written something that could pass as real song lyrics.

So if anyone wants to volunteer the melody, I’m willing to bang out a chorus and two more verses. Let’s get it done by December.

 

 

 

A Visit from Hunter Shea

Hunter has been a friend since we both were in the initial crop of Samhain Horror authors to debut in 2011. His latest is Tortures of the Damned and he offered to give us all some insight into this latest terrifying treat. Who am I to refuse?

 

The Real Life Event Behind Tortures of the Damned

by Hunter Shea, Author

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Back in late 2013, I spent a lot of time puzzling over the next book I was contracted to write for Pinnacle. The Montauk Monster was getting final edits before its print run in the summer of 2014. I was dead set on spinning an elaborate Bigfoot tale, one that I was sure had never been told before. Hell, I was ready to go travel and do some of my own squatching just to get a feel for things.
All that changed on a cold night in January.
My family was sitting in our living room, watching TV at around 10:30.
Suddenly, three tremendous explosions rocked the house! My first thoughts were – our furnace exploded, someone set off a bomb, or a plane exploded in the sky. The walls and floor literally shook. My kids were terrified, tears brimming in their eyes. I ran outside to see what had happened.
The frigid night air was as still as the calmest winter night. I waited. Neighbors came out to see what had happened. But there was nothing to see. We didn’t even hear a single siren.
Calls to 911 were answered by operators who were inundated by frightened people all across lower New York. We were told that the blast could be heard for a 50 mile radius. We all went to bed not knowing what the hell had happened. Even the news was silent. How was that even possible? When I say it sounded like a plane exploding, I’m not exaggerating.
The next day, the early news said someone had gotten hold of industrial fireworks and set them off in the Bronx. The lot they showed where they’d been set off looked to have zero damage. We’ve been suspicious ever since. In a few days, it slipped from our collective conscious. No one died, so why dwell on it?

There was one casualty. Bigfoot died that night. The fear my family experienced, the total lack of knowing what had happened was the seed for my latest book, Tortures of the Damned.
That night could have been much worse. Tortures of the Damned explores a world where the unthinkable happens when you least expect it. The damned are not the dead. It’s those left behind who are forced to trek through a hell they never saw coming.

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You can purchase Tortures of the Damned in mass market paperback at more retail stores nationwide, as well as bookstores, both independent and chain.

You can also buy online at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble-

And there’s a giveaway here.

 

 

Interview With Kristopher Rufty

I’ve met Kristopher Rufty at several horror cons and he’s a great guy as well as a prolific, horrific author. I pulled him out of his creative juggenaut for a few minutes to share some thoughts on his latest work and the writing process.

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  1. Your new release from Samhain is The Lurking Season. When did you decide to write a sequel to The Lurkers?

I guess the idea was there even when I’d just finished writing The Lurkers. I was very happy and satisfied with how I left it. I pictured the ending like a movie, when the audience thinks somebody is about to get away, there’s happiness, smiles, and then BAM! It turns out they don’t make it and the credits roll. I giggled as I wrote that final page. But some readers didn’t like that, while others got it and were happy.

But that wasn’t what made me decide to write a sequel. Like I said earlier, I think I knew I’d be returning to Doverton sooner or later. A year ago, the story’s formula popped into my head as I was drifting off to sleep one night. I wanted to explore Doverton a bit more, get in touch with some of the locals. It’s a few years after the events of The Lurkers and nobody has forgotten what’s happened. The neighboring town lives in fear of suffering the same fate as those in Doverton. Just so much campfire story material I could play around with. I sat down the next morning and started on my notes, piecing together the idea and adding to it. When I finished my notes, I started on the novel right away.

I was a bit surprised how easily it was to go back to Haunchyville. Man, things had changed while I was away, but Doverton, and the little vicious minions hiding in the shadows seemed eager to have me back.

  1. You’ve written movie scripts and written novels. How is the approach to each one different?

I’m almost ashamed to admit this—but I haven’t written a script in two years. I’ve sat down and typed up a few treatments, but haven’t gotten to them yet. I hope to finally write them this year between novels.

I’m not sure if my approach is terribly different, if at all. I prepare the same way for scripts as I do novels, novellas, and short stories. I start with my notes. I sit down and either type my ideas or write them out longhand. It’s a way I can spend time alone with the idea, a conversation with myself without sounding psychotic (though I bet if somebody were to read my early notes, they’d argue that). I’ve prepared that way since I first started writing stories back when I was an eleven-year-old kid, pecking away at a typewriter that was big enough to live in. I also think I’ve carried a lot of my fiction traditions into the script procedure and vice versa. In fiction, I tend to use a lot of dialogue to carry the scenes forward, just as I would have to do in a script. But in scripts, I tend to be very descriptive with the action, hitting the points with a lot of details. Actors seem to love that aspect of it, but not every director likes how much emphasis I put on characterization in the script form.

  1. How old are your kids and how much do they know about the bizarre stuff Daddy writes?

Our son will be twelve soon, and our daughter is ten. We just found out (this weekend, actually) that we have a third child on the way. They know very little about what happens in my books. They ask a lot of questions, though, and I’ll tell them a little bit, usually editing out the juicy stuff. They know I’m censoring it, and pester me to tell them more, claiming they can handle it.  Sometimes my kids play games, where they’re fighting monsters and have now added the Haunchies to their enemy list. It does tickle me to hear them fighting imaginary Haunchies in the backyard. Whenever we find the trash can has been knocked over and rummaged through, I like to tell them Haunchies are to blame. Or on certain spooky nights, we pretend Haunchies are outside scratching at the windows. It’s all fun and games, but I actually kind of dread the day they read one of my books. I hope whatever they decide to read is enjoyable to them.

But they’re my biggest supporters. They got me a gig at their school last year on career day. Days before I was to show up and teach kids about the difficult journey of a writer, I had to sit through a long phone call with the guidance counselor. He decided to look into what my kids’ daddy liked to write, then immediately called to give me a long list of dos and don’ts. I had to promise him I would not read from my books and that I would not pass them around so the kids could flip through the pages. I was limited to which covers I could show them. Of course, I hadn’t planned to do that anyway, but it was just one of those things he had to make sure I wouldn’t do.

I have a new book coming out this spring called Bigfoot Beach and that was an idea that emanated from a conversation I had with my kids. My kids have very big feet for their ages and my son was talking about how he was already outgrowing his new shoes. I joked that if somebody saw his footprints in the sand at the beach, he’d think there was a Sasquatch loose on the beach. My kids told me I should write a book about that. I laughed at first, but the idea exploded in my head. I tested out my notes process on them, speaking the ideas instead of writing them. They laughed and cheered me on. I decided I would write it and if nobody I liked it, I at least knew they would.

  1. For the aspiring writer reading this, tell me about your path to publication?

Wow, what a very long path that has been. It’s ongoing. Angel Board was my first published book. I worked on it for almost three years. With the help of Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, Edward Lee, Heather Graham, Kathleen Pickering, and a slew of other talented authors’ suggestions, I finally had something that I felt confident enough to submit. Malfi sent it over to Don D’Auria and suggested I send over a follow-up email, which I did. A month later, I got the letter that us writers have dreamed about all of our lives. This came after three years of rejection, false starts, and multiple occasions where I received a letter in the mail from a publisher in an envelope I’d filled out and stamped myself. Angel Board was the first novel I wrote, but I wrote three more after, submitted those as well and received the heartbreaking news months later. In the meantime, I just kept writing and writing.

Finally, I returned to Angel Board after a great weekend in New Orleans at Heather Graham’s writing conference. Keeping all the aforementioned authors’ suggestions in mind, I rewrote the book from scratch. When that letter came from Don, I bawled. My son was with me when I read the letter and he thought something bad had happened. I told him the good news and he was the first person to congratulate me.

It has been a wild four years since that letter. Four years! There was a time when I thought this would never happen, and here I’ve been blessed to do it for four years and I have contracts to carry me through 2017. I can’t believe it. Sure, not everybody loves my books, but I have fun writing them, and I thank God every day that I get to do it.

  1. I’m jealous that you have over a dozen works up on Amazon and around the world. What’s your process for being so prolific?

I try to write something every day. But I understand life gets busy at times and I’ve found myself going two or three days without writing anything at all. I hate it. Plus, the writing neglect makes me very cranky. My wife can usually tell if I’ve had the chance to write and she’s good about making it so I do. Sometimes making sure I stick to that plan, I find myself working late at night after everyone’s gone to bed.

But my process is to write every day. Even if I don’t get to work on the current project, I make sure I at least write something. Whether it’s a random exchange of dialogue or a paragraph of something unknown, I write. Doing story notes is a good way to make sure I write every day.

When my health went south in 2013, I still had two books with deadlines drawing near. So my wife helped me set up in our bed, with a makeshift table made from a pillow, a cooling pad, and books on my lap and the notebook computer on top. I wrote most of Proud Parents and The Skin Show in bed with an illness. I was finally moving around more as I reached the final pages of The Skin Show and got to finish I at my desk. I think working on the books helped a lot with my recovery and if my wife wouldn’t have been so adamant about me reaching those goals, I might not have ever finished those books. Even now, those two books are two of my favorites.

  1. Time and money are no object. Where would you take your dream vacation?

So many places. My wife and I would love to go on a tour of the New England states. Stay in one for two weeks, then move on to the next. I hope to visit New Zealand before my time’s up on this planet. Another place is the Hemingway house, take the tour and see his writing desk. Maybe carve my name in it. Just kidding! But I would love to see the place he wrote so many classics from. Just being close to it would be an honor to me.

  1. Calories and cost are no object. Favorite food?

Anything from the carnival or fair. The Ruftys love a good carnival. When we go, we make sure we ride all the rides first, then spend the remaining time of our visit gorging ourselves on hot dogs, corn dogs, funnel cakes, deep-fried anything, caramel apples, cotton candy, and hoagies. By the time we’re finished, our sated bellies are gurgling and about ready to burst.

  1. Authors are way more critical than the average reader. There were sections in The Lurking Season where I paused, backed up, a re-read a paragraph because there was such a sharp description, or an exceptional action sequence. What have you read recently that made you stop and say “Damn, that’s good.”

Wow, Russell, thank you so much. That means a lot to me, especially from somebody who can write like you can. I remember having admiring thoughts when I read your book, Sacrifice. Seriously, that was a wonderful book.

Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of those moments here lately. Jonathan Janz’s Exorcist Road had me saying that with nearly every page. David Bernstein’s Apartment 7C was also filled with writing that inspired me.

I read a lot of old horror paperbacks, pulp crime novels, westerns and I’ve began to delve into old sci-fi and action books. Gil Brewer was a pulp crime fiction writer and the books of his I’ve read have had that effect on me.

I also just finished reading Bryan Smith’s forthcoming Slowly We Rot. And wow…that is an amazing book. That’s a horror novel that will stand the test of time, like King’s The Shining or The Stand.

  1. The Lurking Season has some evil Haunchies, vicious little fictional creatures. But the town’s top cop is terrifying, and he could be straight out of real life. Which type of villain do you think is more frightening?

The human villain is much more frightening. There is a certain safety with monsters that makes it fun being scared, but with a human monster, that makes the book or movie a different experience entirely. It becomes less safe, makes you look at strangers around you and wonder if they might be as sadistic as a character you read about.

  1. What’s coming down the Kristopher Rufty pipeline?

The Lurking Season was just released from Samhain Publishing. Jagger will be out in March from Sinister Grin Press. Bigfoot Beach will be out in April from Thunderstorm Books. The Vampire of Plainfield comes out this summer from Thunderstorm Books, and Desolation releases from Samhain in September.

I worked really hard through 2014 to make up for all that I missed from my illness in 2013. This year, I’m going to try to work just as hard to make sure 2016 is just as full. With a new baby on the way, I need to write and write and write while I can.

  1. Any upcoming cons or signings fans can meet you at?

I’ll be doing a lot more book signings. Ronald Malfi and I are doing a couple books tours together this summer, which I’m excited about. We’re going to hit multiple places and I plan to do a few around North Carolina as well to promote my new releases.

Hopefully I’ll you all very soon!

Thanks a lot, Russell, for interviewing me for your blog. It was an honor to be here. And I look forward to hanging out again sometime down the road and chatting about writing stories.

Here’s my website: Last Krist on the Left. Anybody is more than welcome to contact me through my blog. My email is on there.

Amazon page: Amazon.com: Kristopher Rufty: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.