Guest Author S.E. Sever introduces ‘Mash Stories’

beforemecoverHanding over the Frazerblog today to my good friend, author S.E. Sever, who has started an inspired (and inspiring) short story contest at her new website Mash Stories.

Read S.E.’s post below for more about this exciting new venture!

About Mash Stories

Are you one those people who have to align a tilted frame on the wall? Have you ever found yourself folding a piece of paper to stick it under a wobbly table?

If so, you’d know the instinct – and the pleasure – of correcting things that are desperate to be corrected. And Mash Stories is born exactly from this instinct.

I remember the day I looked into the short story competitions market for the first time. I found a website which listed competitions: The Grinder. At the time, there were over 2,300 competitions listed on The Grinder, and 28,638 submissions had already been made. I felt like a kid who had been taken to an astonishing playground with the queue of an airport security check.

In the time that has elapsed since then – roughly five months – the number of submissions on The Grinder website has nearly doubled – 42,668 as of 9th April 2014.

The number of competitions left me not knowing where to start from, and the number of submissions made me anxious about the vast amount of competitors out there. I wasn’t ready to race against writers who had already won awards, while I simply had no publishing experience.

I had assumed short story competitions would allow me to get my voice heard, gather a circle of readers, and earn small amounts now and then to support my writing. But to start with, I was asked to pay to submit my work. And when a magazine accepted to publish a story of mine, they offered me less than their submission fee for the ‘exclusive’ rights to my work. I thought there was a typo there, but apparently there wasn’t.

That was when I decided to fold a piece of paper to stick it under the wobbly market of story competitions. I knew I couldn’t write to more than 7,000 competitions listed in the endless waters of the Internet and tell them my point, but I could set up a competition which would stand straight no matter how tilted the others were.

That’s how Mash Stories was born. I dreamt of a competition that evaluated my story, instead of its formatting; that paid me reasonably, rather than charging me fees; that gave me free feedback and helped me to promote my work, rather than demanding exclusive rights to limit it.

At Mash Stories, we keep the rules to a minimum and award the winning story a professional rate. We turn all shortlisted stories into a podcast, and provide free feedback for the rejected ones so that they can improve.

I hope our efforts will help the talented writers out there to get their voices heard. And I hope you will help us to set up a model competition, which will create a change in many writers’ lives.

Please support us by donating to us or by giving us a hand with editorial matters.

Thank you for your interest and support.


About S.E. Sever:

S.E. Sever  is currently working on several projects in fantasy fiction and science fiction.
She has had several short stories published in fiction magazines across the US and the UK.
S.E.’s poetry book, Before Me, is published by Thought Catalog Books, New York.

Mash Stories website:

Official S.E. Sever website:




Samhain Guest Author: Jonathan Janz

Time to welcome fellow Samhain Horror author Jonathan Janz back to the blog. His debut The Sorrows marked the arrival of a striking new voice in horror fiction. Read on for the (ahem) Skin-ny on his new novel House of Skin and more! Let’s flay!

20120708-094901.jpgJonathan Janz’s back ! (see what i did there? Never mind….)

1.Your 2nd Samhain novel House of Skin just released, congrats! What’s the Skinny on this book?

First of all, thanks so much for having me on today, Frazer! You know I’m a fan, and hopefully those readers who enjoyed the exploits of The Skin Mechanic in your excellent The Lamplighters will also enjoy my monstrous villain Annabel in House of Skin.

To answer your first question…I’m not saying I’m the equal of these writers, but those who love horror will know the names Peter Straub and Richard Laymon. House of Skin is the kind of story that would have occurred had Straub and Laymon collaborated. First of all, the pace of House of Skin is very brisk, and pacing was one of Laymon’s best attributes as a writer. There are also real-life villains who bring about some nastily violent sequences, which was another staple of Laymon’s books.

But the overall story and structure of House of Skin harkens back to the early books of Peter Straub. Ghost Story, Julia, and Shadowland influenced this book in many important ways, so if you enjoy the Gothic framework (where the past ultimately meets and influences the present), you’ll love this novel.

2. How does it differ from The Sorrows? Or are both books similar in style?

Stylistically, they have several similarities (Gothic structure, fast pace, etc.); there are, however, some important differences. The Sorrows contained six main points of view, as well as the flashback sequences. House of Skin only really uses three main points of view in addition to its flashbacks, which means you get into these characters’ heads to an even greater degree (though, of course, I felt like you got to know my characters in The Sorrows quite intimately as well).

Another difference between The Sorrows and House of Skin is the nature of the villain. In The Sorrows, I think the audience comes to feel some sympathy for the main villain, although they ultimately despise and fear him in the end. In House of Skin, I doubt that anyone will feel anything but horror at Annabel and the terrible events she brings about. Of course, there is a strong element of eroticism with Annabel, which might make readers desire her the way the characters do…but readers will hate her even more than they’ll desire her.

3. How did House of Skin evolve & become your 2nd Samhain book?

Well, it was the second book I submitted to Don D’Auria, the editor you and I (thankfully) share at Samhain, but it was also the first book I ever tried to write. I say “tried” because when I first attempted to capture the basic story (which had been with me since my early twenties), I didn’t have the chops to pull it off. I wrote and threw out seven drafts of the novel, which went by a few different names. After I wrote The Sorrows, I felt like I had grown enough as an author to take another stab (hah!) at this book. What resulted was House of Skin, and I’m extremely proud of the way it turned out.

4. Say you could wear another’s Skin for a day… Who – or what – and why?

Whoa…that’s a weird, wonderful question, Frazer. I think I’d wear Alexander Payne’s skin; he’s the screenwriter and the director of Sideways, The Descendants, and other great films. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how he tells a story. If I could wear his skin, I assume I could also share his brain, and in doing so I could take with me his abilities and amazing traits as a storyteller.

5. What’s up next for Jonathan Janz?

My third book will be published by Samhain Horror in early 2013. It’s called The Darkest Lullaby and has a bit of Paranormal Activity and Rosemary’s Baby in it, which I find to be very cool. After that I’ve got something very strange and wonderful planned, but since I’m still editing it right now, I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about it.

In addition to novel #3 (and hopefully novel #4) coming out in 2013, my first three novels are likely going to be published in audio form next year as well, which I’m really jazzed about.

I’m currently working on my fifth novel, which will likely turn out to be the first book in a trilogy. I’ve never done a sequel before, so if this one keeps going as well as it has thus far, following it up will also pose a new and exciting challenge.

Thanks muchly for dropping by and sharing your thoughts, here’s wishing you all the very best for your new releases and projects, can’t wait to read ’em!

Thank you so much for having me back on your blog, Frazer! I can’t wait to read Panic Button and anything else you cook up!

Keep up on all the latest Jonathan Janz-based goodness at his official site:


Samhain Guest Author: Hunter Shea

It’s an honor to welcome fellow Samhainer Hunter Shea back to the blog. Hunter blazed a trail onto the horror fiction scene with his Samhain debut Forest of Shadows, and his new release Evil Eternal is out now from Samhain Horror. So crack open a bottle of awesome sauce, kick back and read on to learn more about Hunter’s new release, his thoughts on ‘evil’ and news on his new projects – take it away Hunter!

Evil Eternal by Hunter Shea - out now from Samhain Horror

Evil Eternal by Hunter Shea – out now from Samhain Horror

So your new novel EVIL ETERNAL just released with Samhain Publishing, congrats! Pray tell what it is about?

It’s a complete departure from my first novel with Samhain, Forest of Shadows. Evil Eternal is about an undead priest who is called from his home in the Vatican catacombs to fly to America to battle the recently resurrected demon, Cain (he of the Cain and Abel story). Cain has a penchant for violence and demon-making and has taken on the flesh of the mayor of New York City. It’s Father Michael’s job to stop Armageddon, if he can. Along the way, he comes across a homeless guy named Shane who has special abilities he was never even aware of, and he’s reluctantly recruited in the ultimate battle. Poor guy is an atheist and now he’s fighting alongside God’s most treasured monster.  It’s very over-the-top with sweeping scenes of carnage, but it also has a heart and a bit of an untraditional love story. There have been many attempts at the angels vs. demons storyline, and I wanted mine to add a little more depth while maintaining a non-stop action pace.

How did the story of EVIL ETERNAL unfold and become your second Samhain Horror book?

I originally wrote it as a short story to test out my new computer! I liked it, wrote another, then asked a friend who is an artist if he would be interested in making a go at building this into a graphic comic. He did some preliminary artwork that was awesome, but we both got distracted by other things. I couldn’t give up on the story, though, so in time it became an e-serial on a horror website, then a novella, and finally a full length novel. As soon as the ink was dry on the Forest of Shadows agreement, our editor, Don D’Auria, asked me what else I might have in the old manuscript drawer. I was thrilled that he wanted to give life to Father Michael and company.

I read on your blog that you wrote this novel in a different style to your debut FOREST OF SHADOWS?

You couldn’t get any different. This is my ode to comic books and the way action moves from one panel to the next. These are larger than life characters, and it was fun coming up with dialogue for them all. I threw subtlety out the door when I wrote Evil Eternal. Forest of Shadows was a deeper examination of the human condition and how very real people reacted to an environment that was out to get them. Evil Eternal takes readers to a world that I hope never, ever exists.

What is the true evil in Hunter Shea’s world?

If I ever faced a fraction of the true evil in Evil Eternal, I’d probably drop dead from heart failure before I had time to piss my pants. Being raised a good Catholic, a lot of the themes came from the fear that was hammered in to me by the priests and nuns that taught me. The very concepts of the devil, hell, exorcisms and possession still make me uneasy. I was an altar boy for years and have always been fascinated by the history and lore of the church. For a believer, these things are very real, more so than the boogeyman or a vampire.

What’s coming up next, any new projects you’d like to tell us about?

Oh, so much. I’m busy at work at the moment on a novella for Samhain. Fingers crossed, we hope it sees the light of day later this year. This one is very different from both novels and has been a ton of fun to write. I’m mashing up crime noir with a monster tale. There is also a sequel to Forest of Shadows, though I’m not at liberty yet to say when it will be out. It can be read as a standalone novel, but takes a few of the characters from FOS and moves them to a new time and place. I think fans of FOS will be stoked to see what I’ve done. I also have a story that will be out in Cemetery Dance’s Shockline: New Voices in Terror. I’ve been a fan of CD for almost 2 decades, so it’s a thrill and an honor to publish anything with them! And then it’s on to writing the next book, which I plan to start this summer. And of course, there will be new episodes of the Monster Men podcast every month. We hope to add author and director interviews over the next few months. The few minutes of downtime I have will be spent with my amazingly supportive family and watching the Mets struggle to have a winning season.

I certainly wish you all the best with all of that, Hunter! Great to welcome you back to the blog, thanks for stopping by as part of your busy blog tour.

For all things Hunter Shea, and to purchase his amazing horror fiction, check out these links…

Official Author Page:

Monster Men (vlog):


Barnes & Noble:


Samhain Guest Author: Brian Moreland

Welcome to the latest Guest Author spot featuring a fellow Samhain Horror writer. Brian Moreland‘s incredible ‘Dead of Winter‘ exploded  (like blood on snow!) onto the horror fiction scene as part of the new Samhain Horror line back in October 2011. Brian was kind enough to drop by and answer a few questions about his life and work. So read on to discover more about Brian, his fiction, and what horrors are yet to come…

Dead of Winter - out now

out now

1. Your novel ‘Dead of Winter’ debuted as part of the Samhain Horror line October 2011. Can you tell us about the novel and the inspiration behind it?

My latest horror novel is a historical story about a horrific cannibal plague that breaks out at an isolated fur-trading fort deep in the Ontario wilderness near the end of the 19th Century. The main character is Inspector Tom Hatcher, a troubled detective from Montreal who had recently captured an infamous serial killer, Gustav Meraux, known as the Cannery Cannibal. Gustav is Jack-the-the-Ripper meets Hannibal Lecter. Even though the cannibal is behind bars, Tom is still haunted from the case, so he decides to move himself and his rebellious teenage son out to the wilderness. At the beginning of the story, Tom has taken a job at Fort Pendleton to solve a case of strange murders that are happening to the fur traders that involve another cannibal, one more savage than Gustav Meraux. Some predator in the woods surrounding the fort is attacking colonists and spreading a gruesome plague—the victims turn into ravenous cannibals with an unending hunger for human flesh. In Tom’s search for answers, he discovers that the Jesuits know something about this plague. My second main character is Father Xavier, an exorcist from Montreal who is ordered by the Vatican to travel to Ontario to help Tom battle the killer causing the outbreak. Tom also joins forces with a native shaman, Anika Moonblood, who is feared by the colonists to be a witch. But Anika knows something about the spirits that haunt the woods surrounding the fort. She also knows something about Tom Hatcher that he’s not willing to face. And to battle the menace that is terrorizing the fort, Tom must confront his past and everything he believes.

Dead of Winter is based partly on true events and an old Algonquin Indian legend that still haunts the Great Lakes tribes to this day. It’s also a detective mystery and even has a couple of love triangles thrown in for fun.

2. Care to reveal more about your clear fascination with historical horror?

My first two novels have been historical for a couple of reasons. One, I love history and believe there is a lot of gold to be mined from writing stories based on events that really happened. Two, it seems like the more contemporary horror I read or watch in movies, the more I’m seeing the same general story ideas over and over. I strive to write fresh stories that readers haven’t experienced. I want to take their minds to some place new. And I find that bringing the classic horror elements to a historical setting offers some new adventures to readers. Also, if they already know something about the history I’m writing about it adds dimension to the reader’s enjoyment. For instance, in my novel SHADOWS IN THE MIST (to be re-released in September 2012 by Samhain Horror), the story is set during World War II Germany and involves the Nazis and their fascination with the Occult. Many readers have expressed how much they enjoy the rich war history of the book, because they have their own relationships with World War II. Either they had a father or grandfather who fought in the war, or they’ve read many history books on the subject and already know about the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest, where my novel is set. (This preceded the famous Battle of the Bulge. Thanks to movies, documentaries, and books, readers also have in their minds an idea of what the Nazis were like. So when people read about the Nazi villains in SHADOWS IN THE MIST, readers can enjoy the book all the more since they have some historical background. My book interweaves a lot of historical facts, and many readers have expressed that they learned a lot of about the Nazis and their Occult practices that the readers weren’t even aware of. When something terrifying really happened in our past and is forever branded in the collective consciousness, those true facts add a whole new element to reading horror fiction. That’s why I like to combine history and horror.

3. Samhain Publishing is a new player in the horror literature field. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has it been working with them?

My agent and I were trying to find a good fit for my new book. I had finished DEAD OF WINTER in November of 2009 and was eager to sell it to a publisher right away. That’s how I feel after finishing a novel. I just can’t wait to share it with readers. But in 2009, publishing houses were shuffling their editors like Vegas dealer shuffling cards. My agent was afraid my book would get bought up and then lost in the chaos, so she told me let’s wait it out. It was tough to do, but we held out from submitting my book for over a year. I’m glad we did, because was were ready and waiting for the right opportunity. And then in January of this year my agent told me that Leisure Books was dissolving their horror line and that their editor, Don D’Auria had moved over to Samhain Publishing to start up a brand new horror line called Samhain Horror. Don wanted to start the line in October 2011 and was looking for submissions. We submitted my book within about two weeks of Don starting his new job. My agent sold me on Don, saying he was a legend in the horror business. I hadn’t heard of him, but I did a little research and discovered that he had been the editor for many of my favorite authors—Brian Keene, Richard Laymon, Ronald Malfi, and Jack Ketchum, to name a few. On his blog, Brian Keene wrote a post about how much he loved working with Don D’Auria. I flipped through a dozen books by Leisure authors and read the Acknowledgements. Again and again, I kept seeing Don’s name being praised, many describing him as the nicest editor to work with. That sold me, so I told my agent let’s submit DEAD OF WINTER to Don at Samhain. Less than 30 days later in February, my agent called back and said that Don loves my book and wants it to be one of the first books to release in October. I was so excited. My first novel I had to wait over a year to see my book in print. With Samhain, my novel released eight months after we concluded the book deal. And working with Don has been a dream. Like everyone says, he is the nicest guy and very diplomatic in his style of editing. He made some great suggestions on how to improve my novel while keeping most of the book intact. With Don and Samhain, I definitely feel like I’ve found a home to publish my future books as well.

4. The Dead of Winter has descended and you are snowed in at a remote log cabin. The stove is piping hot and a cauldron of broth is on the simmer. Around the table are 6 chairs. Who’s snowed in with you, and why?

The broth smells delicious and gathered around my table are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Joseph Campbell, Stephen Spielberg, Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Aniston.

I’m a huge fan of books and movies. From Steven King and Dean Koontz–two masters of writing horror and dark suspense thrillers–I’d pick their brains on how to become a better storyteller and how to create a successful career as they have. I’d also have their books on hand to read and I’d ask them to read my latest manuscript and provide feedback.

Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is just fascinating with his books and talks on mythology. I think he’d keep us entertained for hours and would be my sage. Same with Stephen Spielberg, who has made some incredible movies in his career. I’d love to bounce some story ideas off of him and, who knows, maybe after spending some time with him he’d option my books to become movies. I wouldn’t want to be snowed in a cabin with just men, so I picked two smart, sexy, beautiful actresses who I feel have a wonderful combination of personality, sense of humor, and charm. I’d have a steamy romance with each to keep warm on those cold winter nights.

5. Where do you feel the horror genre stands nowadays and what does your crystal ball predict for the genre’s future?

I definitely see horror on the rise for books. Movies have been pretty steady for the past decade. The type of horror keeps changing. Whether they’re slasher films, movies like SAW, or about ghosts, vampires, or zombies, it seems like every year there are at least a dozen horror films to go see at the movies or rent at Blockbuster. Right now, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel Prometheus. Alien was my all-time favorite movie when I saw it as a kid back in the ‘80s.

As for books, the horror genre was down in the ‘90s through the mid 2000s. I couldn’t sell anything. Every agent and editor I submitted to kept telling me, “Horror is dead.” But that seems to have changed in that last four to five years, and now people are reading vampire, werewolf, and zombie novels and talking about horror feverishly on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. My agent was right about being patient. She told me to just ride out the slow years and keep writing fiction. That’s what I did and now with two books out and more on the way, I’m in great position to feed the rabid horror readers with more fiction.

It used to be the large publishers were defining the horror market by publishing big name authors like Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Peter Straub, while snubbing us yet-to-be-discovered authors. Now, I believe that small and medium-sized publishing houses (like Samhain Horror) are introducing a fresh batch of horror authors to the genre and bringing in a lot of diversity. It’s also bringing American authors like myself and British authors like yourself to play on the same field together. I’ve always loved reading British horror, and to be released alongside a legend like Ramsey Campbell is truly an honor. E-books are also changing the publishing landscape and making it easier and less expensive for readers to download our books and give us a look. It’s an exciting time to be a horror author and I feel we’re just now gaining momentum.

6. What is your favorite work of fiction (horror or otherwise) and why?

There are so many books that I have loved from horror and other genres: The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Torro, Dan Simmons’ The Terror, Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song, Charlee Jacob’s Haunter, David Seltzer’s novelization of the 1979 movie Prophecy, and too many by Stephen King to choose a favorite.

But if I had to pick just one book, I’d say Dean Koontz’s Phantoms. I read that novel in college and it had an impact on my love of horror books and writing. It has a great set up from page one where two sisters return home to a small mountain town where they grew up. Immediately they discover that everyone in town is missing–including their parents. I found the book so intriguing as the sisters search the town for what happened to all its inhabitants. It’s very scary and I remember being in a state of joy while reading it.

7. Please give us an insight into the personal journey behind your experiences with the military.

While I’ve never served in the military, twice I got to travel with the USO and Tostitos to military bases in Baghdad, Iraq. When not writing novels, I still work part-time as a video editor. A production company I was working for took me with them to Iraq to film commercials for the USO. We traveled with several celebrity football coaches and players. We filmed the troops playing a college-bowl like football game with the celebrity football players. Some of the highlights of my trip were hanging out with some of my football heroes, donning a helmet and flak jacket and flying in a C-130, visiting Saddam Hussein’s palaces, and surviving a mortar attack–running for cover while mortar shells exploded nearby. That was a wild adventure! You can see photos from my first tour to Iraq at my blog (

8. As many people will know, Samhain Publishing is named for the ancient tradition that became every horrorhead’s favorite festival of Halloween. What would make for your best ever Samhain celebration?

First, I’d have to have a killer costume. Then it’s all about the party. I’d go with my girlfriend and a group of friends to some exotic place that throws a great Samhain celebration like the French Quarter in New Orleans or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Two years ago I was living on Maui, and a group of us went to a beach town called Lahaina. They blocked off the main street for a mega Halloween party and every bar was packed. I saw some of the craziest costumes and a lot of risqué ones too, where people are half-naked. Now that was a party to remember. What I’m really looking forward to doing in the future is meeting up with fellow Samhain Horror authors at a horror convention and celebrating the success of our books.

Frazer, thanks so much for the interview. Hopefully next time I find myself in England, we can talk about writing over a few pints. Cheers.

You are most welcome Brian, thank you for stopping by and answering my questions. Mine’s a pint of Type O Negative – Cheers!

Author Bio:

Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels are Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist. He just completed his third novel, The Devil’s Woods, and plans to release it in 2013. He loves hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and dancing. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at or on Twitter @BrianMoreland. Brian’s blog for news about his books:

Shadows in the Mist - coming soon

coming September 2012

Samhain Guest Author: Jonathan Janz

Fellow Samhain Horror author Jonathan Janz just published his modern-gothic nightmare ‘The Sorrows‘ in ebook (the trade paperback follows in 2012) and has already announced his next, the sublimely-titled and cover-illustrated ‘House of Skin‘. Mr Janz took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for my blog and I’m very glad he did as the answers are very insightful indeed. So, without further ado, take it away Mr Janz!

The Sorrows - out now

The Sorrows - out now1. Your novel 'The Sorrows' debuts as part of the Samhain Horror line this December. Can you tell us about the novel and the inspiration behind it?

1. Your novel ‘The Sorrows’ debuts as part of the Samhain Horror line this December. Can you tell us about the novel and the inspiration behind it?

Absolutely! The synopsis, of course, can be found at the Samhain Horror website and just about anywhere else books are sold, but I don’t want to give you a canned answer. Therefore, I’ll say that The Sorrows, while completely original and unique, is essentially a fresh take on the themes covered in several famous horror novels. Arthur Machen and Brian Keene, to name just two, have examined the legend of the god Pan and how a Pan-like antagonist might behave in contemporary society–particularly in a milieu where his bestial powers would be the most potent. In my novel the Pan-like creature is given what I think is a unique origin story and then unleashed on several sympathetic and unsympathetic characters.

Stephen King explored the concept of an edifice or a locale existing as a sort of psychic battery in The Shining; I explore that concept in The Sorrows because the entire island is a magnet for vengeful spirits.

And answering your question from a third perspective, I’ve long been fascinated by the art of movie music composition. How did Bernard Herrmann write the scores for Psycho and Vertigo? What about John Williams and his numerous masterpieces? My protagonists are movie music composers, and they’re scoring a big budget horror film by a director so evil he seems to be straight out of a horror movie. And, of course, by the end of the novel, the composers and the director are both pitted against an evil so diabolical that there’s no escaping it.

2. Care to reveal more about your clear fascination with gothic horror?

I love the gothic structure for a number of reasons, but above all I’m enthralled by the idea that evil is a living, breathing entity. Sin never really dies, at least sin for which there has been no atonement or remorse. All of us are fallible and all of us make mistakes. But there are human monsters in our midst all the time even if we don’t recognize them as such. People can perform unspeakable acts and appear perfectly normal to their peers. I explore that idea in The Sorrows, and further, through the gothic structure I can dramatize the sin that left such an indelible stain before I depict the manner in which that individual faces his or her reckoning. Only the gothic sub genre, I believe, allows the storyteller that specific angle of dread and horror.

3. Samhain Publishing is a new player in the horror literature field. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has it been working with them?

Don D’Auria. Simple answer, I know, but it’s the truth. Because of Don, I became familiar with Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon, who’ve both been incredibly important in my walk as an author. Additionally, Don has discovered or published other authors (like Brian Keene) who continue to influence me. Working with Don and Samhain has been amazing. He’s grounded yet incredibly skilled, patient yet very driven, and he never makes me feel stupid even when the questions I ask could be characterized by that adjective. I’m very thankful for Don, and working with him has been even better than I thought it would be.

4. Winter has descended over Castle Blackwood and you are snowed in. Luckily there is plenty of food to keep The Sorrows at bay. Around the banqueting table are 6 chairs. Who’s dining with you, and why?

This will be incredibly cheesy, but to quote John Mellencamp, that’s the kind of fella I am. I would choose my wife, my four-year-old daughter (gotta put her first to ward off middle-child syndrome), my six-year-old son, and my baby daughter. Assuming I take one of the remaining two chairs, that leaves one place. And though my conscience tells me I should choose another family member or a friend to inhabit that chair, let me instead say at least one interesting thing in this answer and choose Stephen King. I doubt I’ll ever get the chance to meet him, but if I did, I’d likely be a blithering idiot, and dinner would be a disaster. But I’d still get to break bread with him, which would make my embarrassment worth it.

5. Where do you feel the horror genre stands nowadays and what does your crystal ball predict for the genre’s future?

There’s a writer named James Macdonald (I think) who’s referred to as Uncle Jim on the AbsoluteWrite website. He makes an awesome analogy about the attitude of some literary fiction writers versus the attitude of most commercial fiction writers. He imagines the former standing around cupping single grains of sand in their hands, cherishing those grains, and jealously (and perhaps haughtily) guarding them from the rest of the world. Then he imagines himself (as a stand-in, I assume, for all commercial fiction writers) in an ice-cream stand on the beach inviting anyone within shouting distance to come enjoy a cone. That, in my opinion, is how we as a genre need to grow. Horror is a universal emotion, and it should be a universal genre. We should welcome writers who write horror but don’t call it that (Cormac McCarthy, for instance) just as much as we should welcome writers who deal in werewolves and zombies. The more inclusive we are, the larger readership we’ll eventually reach. So blow up the gates, I say, and make it one huge party.

6. What is your favorite work of fiction (horror or otherwise) and why?

My favorite horror novel is Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. My favorite novel overall is Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. I love the Straub book because it showed me that much of what I’d often dreamed about and felt could be expressed in a novel. I love Dandelion Wine because, as cheesy as this sounds, it’s love on paper. I cherish that book and can’t wait to read it with my children. Ghost Story, too, of course, but that one will have to wait until they’re at least seven-years-old. 🙂

house of skin - coming 2012

House of Skin - coming 2012

7. What next from Jonathan Janz? What are your hopes, dreams…and nightmares for the future?

This summer will see my second Samhain Horror release, a gothic novel titled House of Skin. I’m very proud of it and anxious for the world to read it. After that, hopefully, will come the novel I’m just about done editing (Loving Demons) and the novel I’m about eighty-percent finished with (Native). My career dream is to write full-time, but as long as my family and I are healthy and happy and together, I’ll have all I need.

8. As many people will know, Samhain Publishing is named for the ancient tradition that became every horrorhead’s favorite festival of Halloween. What would make for your best ever Samhain celebration?

I won’t give you a boring answer about my kids here, so how about this: Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Peter Straub, Richard Matheson, and Joe R. Lansdale journey to a haunted castle with the Samhain Horror writers (including you, of course*), and we stage our own Lake Geneva Lord Byron/Mary Shelley all-night ghost story session in front of a fire while the storm and the winds outside rage. That’d make for one fine Samhain!

My thanks to Jonathan Janz for the awesome and insightful Q&A!

Be sure to check out a spine-tingling excerpt & pick up a copy of ‘The Sorrows’ at the Samhain Horror Store.

And to keep up-to-date on all things Jonathan Janz, visit his website:

*Cheers! See you there dude…i’ll bring the ‘Transylvanian Red’ 🙂

The Lamplighters: news digest!

Wow, what a week it’s been for The Lamplighters!

The ebook held the #1 spot in Samhain Publishing’s Horror Bestsellers for 10 days since its release on November 1st.

The first review of The Lamplighters came in and it’s a goody!

I did a guest blog about all things Lamplighters at The Top Shelf, my thanks to Misty Rayburn:

Then, my publisher Samhain got in touch and informed me I was “voted a close 2nd to Ramsey Campbell in their favorite horror author election.” I had no idea! Thanks to all the kind readers who voted, and am looking forward to cosying up in my Samhain Horror hoodie while working on my next book 🙂

"*model not included" dammit. she looks like she could keep a feller cosy!

And hey, if you’d like to win a Samhain Book Voucher worth $5 to spend on The Lamplighters or any other title, just ‘like’ this Facebook page. Go there now and do it folks. The winner will be drawn at random on November 13th.

Last but not least, a 2-page ad for the Samhain Horror line appeared in HorrorHound #32, go here to see a snapshot in all its glory.

What’s next? Well, the movie novelization of ‘Panic Button‘ (out now on UK DVD/Blu-ray to tons of great reviews) is coming soon, and I am working on book #3 along with new feature film projects. Yup, as the freezing English fog draws in, that hoodie is gonna be very handy!

‘Til next slime, take scare my f(r)iends.

Samhain Guest Author: Hunter Shea

The October festival of Samhain sees the veil between worlds growing thinner. What better time then to break the veil between horror author blogs and bring you a special guest interview with Hunter Shea. His paranormal horror ‘Forest of Shadows‘ is out now from Samhain Horror. Take it away Hunter!

e-book 4th Oct 2011
trade paper Jan 2012

Your novel ‘Forest of Shadows’ debuts as part of the Samhain Horror line this October. Can you tell us about the novel and the inspiration behind it?

Hunter Shea: Forest of Shadows is about a man who wins the lottery on the same day his wife dies in her sleep. The bulk of the story picks up 5 years after the eventful day and we see John, the main character, as a man plagued by deep anxieties who has used his financial freedom to delve into the paranormal. He’s been raising his daughter with the help of Eve, a family friend with an infant of her own. When he hears about a haunted cabin in Alaska, he uses it as the springboard to move on with his life and start a new chapter, so he moves his makeshift family into the literal middle of nowhere. Of course, he gets much more than he bargained for as the cold season approaches and the cabin is beset by every type of haunting known to man. He’s forced to face his deepest fears in a situation that could mean life or death.
When writing Forest of Shadows, I had a strong desire to do more than just write a simple ghost story. I wanted to tackle heavy issues like death and mourning, survivor’s guilt, anxiety disorders, and even discrimination. A haunted man, to me, is always a more fascinating subject than a haunted house, though there’s plenty of that in there as well.

A recent podcast on your website featured your overnight stay on a haunted ship. Care to reveal more about your clear fascination with the paranormal?

HS: That night on the Queen Mary, was, if anything, a total blast. I blame Leonard Nimoy and his creepy narration on In Search Of for my obsession with the paranormal. I hung on every word and image when I was a kid. Of course, I also devoured episodes of The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, you name it. My grandmother was, according to the family, a psychic, and I’ve been surrounded by people who believe there’s more around us than we can see. In fact, I’ve had two startling experiences of my own that have kind of changed my view on death and what lies beyond. One experience lasted for almost a year and involved a phantom boy that ran about my house and watched over my wife when she was very ill and on life support (she’s well now, in case anyone was wondering). Another happened briefly in a hotel room in Spain that scared the crap out of me. I used to say I like to think there are ghosts because that just makes the world a more interesting place. Now I say I know there are ghosts, and the quest for answers has only begun. 

Samhain Publishing is a new player in the horror literature field. What drew you to them as a publisher and how has it been working with them?

HS: Forest of Shadows was initially offered a contract with Dorchester Publishing’s Leisure horror line. They and their editor, the amazing Don D’Auria, were, for my money, the gold standard of horror publishing. I only sent the book to Don and waited years to see if it made it out of the slush pile. I had no agent at the time and decided to take a gamble. Unlike most gambles in my life, it paid off, but the timing was horrible. Leisure imploded last year and Don left the company. Thankfully, the contract was never signed. My agent and I sat patiently, working on other things, and were thrilled when Don landed at Samhain and asked if he could publish the book with the new horror line he was developing. Everyone there has been a wonder to work with. I couldn’t ask for more. They have put together a great team and they are committed to promoting this line so much that other authors at other houses I’ve spoken to are quite envious. I have a strong feeling people are going to be banging on their doors wanting to get in in very short order.

Hunter Shea – playin’ solitaire
 at the back o’ the spook shack!
©Hunter Shea

The spooky shack in the Forest of Shadows is open for business. Inside, on the table is a ouija board. Around the table are 6 chairs. Who’s invited, and why?

HS: I’m going to absent myself because I refuse to mess with the things. I’ll be in the corner playing solitaire. If I could invite anyone, I might as well assemble a group that will help prove or disprove the validity of the ouija board. So, I’d first get someone who is tops in the paranormal field, like, say, Alexandra Holzer (daughter of Hans Holzer). I’d invite three of the top scientists in the world today. It’s funny, all of these paranormal groups talk about wanting to take a scientific approach to the field, but no one is an actual scientist. Next, I’d add Stephen King to the mix, just because I’d love to see what book it inspires. Finally, I’d invite the CEO of Hasbro, who sells ouija boards in toy stores, to show him he’s either marketing something that’s dangerous or he’s selling kids on a line of b.s.

Another of your recent podcasts discussed the vampire subgenre, including your honest opinion on “sparkly” vampires. Where do you feel horror stands nowadays and what does your crystal ball predict for the genre’s future?

HS: I admit that horror, especially in literature, has been in a bit of a downswing. It was enormously popular in the 1980s, but then the bookstores were flooded with a lot of crap because publishers had to scoop up whatever they could to meet the demand. Leisure horror brought it back in the mid 90s, and it’s tailed off a bit the last few years. I do think we’re ready for another upswing as a ton of top notch authors are putting work out with myriad smaller publishers, who will only get bigger thanks to their new posse of writers. Horror for YA is huge right now, but I feel that will tail off a bit over the next few years. I hear YA publishers are looking for dystopian stories now. Some people say werewolves will be the next big thing. That would be cool. We’ve cycled through vampires and zombies. Personally, I’d like to see more original monster books and movies. All in all, I think it will thrive. There are too many people who love horror (just go to a horror convention and see for yourself) and too many talented men and women working in the field for it not to be successful.

What is your favorite work of fiction (horror or otherwise) and why?

HS: I love Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden because of its complete raw look at the disintegration of a love triangle gone to flames. It’s a powerful, painful, despondent work. I also read his novel, A Moveable Feast, every year as a sort of inspiration for myself to keep writing. With horror, I think Robert McCammon’s Swan Song  is nothing short of brilliant.

suffering for his art
©Hunter Shea

Please give us an insight into the journey behind your recent tattoo (the words “Never give up” with an image of a quill pen).

HS: Ah, my newest ink. It had been a few years since my last tattoo and I wanted this one to commemorate my book. I kept thinking, what writerly type image will work here? I type on a laptop, but I sure as hell don’t want a laptop tattoo. So I went traditional with the quill pen, but to show my love of horror, we added a skull at the top, made it black and orange and put my initials in the pen itself. The words “Never Give Up” have been my motto all these years working at the craft of writing, many of the earlier years filled with nothing but failure and obstacles. I truly believe what separates the successful author from the one who never ‘makes it’ is sheer determination. You have to tirelessly work, learn and improve if you want to succeed in this field. Like Alex Baldwin said, coffee is for closers, and dammit, I wanted my coffee! 

As many people will know, Samhain Publishing is named for the ancient tradition that became every horrorhead’s favorite festival of Halloween. What would make for your best ever Samhain celebration?

HS: Have you ever seen the movie Trick ‘r Treat? They have an awesome Halloween parade in the town and every house is decorated to the max. That would be fun to do with the family. When it’s time for the adults, I’d like to pick a different haunted location each year and explore (that is, after a few cocktails and a round of ghost stories). Then we head back to my place for a party and classic horror movie marathon, with Elvira hosting the event in the wonderful flesh! On Samhain, you should have fun, get scared and let your freak flag fly.

Thanks to Hunter Shea and all at Samhain Horror.

Be sure to check out Hunter’s novel ‘Forest of Shadows‘!

Look out for more Samhain treats around the publication of my novel ‘The Lamplighters‘ on 1st Nov ~ and here’s to a happy, haunty Hallowe’en for all!