Monday, July 15, 2013

Cybernocturnalism IV: New Blood
Seven Horror Writers Discuss the State of the Genre Today

Surveys Conducted by Anthony Servante


Welcome to the Part Four of the Cybernocturnalism interviews. This time out we want to address the state of Horror as academia, entertainment, and culture in today's media (movies, books, ebooks, etc). We have gathered seven authors who've accepted the responsibility to educate readers on how they view the genre, and how they are shaping it with their books. Joining us, we have Lori R. Lopez, Richard Schiver, Mark Parker, Kevin Bufton, Dev Jarrett, Brad C. Hodson, & Adrian Chamberlin. No need to read them all in one sitting. There's plenty here for a couple of nights of good reading. 

Let's now begin with one of my favorite authors and dear friend, Lori R. Lopez.


Lori R. Lopez


Biography: 

Lori R. Lopez is the author of CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES, AN ILL WIND BLOWS, THE MACABRE MIND OF LORI R. LOPEZ, DANCE OF THE CHUPACABRAS, OUT-OF-MIND EXPERIENCES, THE FAIRY FLY, POETIC REFLECTIONS: KEEP THE HEART OF A CHILD and more. She is a resident of Southern California who has been an avid horror fan since she was born or thereabouts. A writer of prose and poetry, she pens a semi-monthly column called "Poetic Reflections" that contains dark verse and humor. She is also an artist who does her own book covers and illustrations. Although she enjoys a variety of genres, Horror is Lori's favorite and she takes delight in chilling your blood as well as your bones. Better dress warm.
You can find her stories and verse online and through bookstores. They have appeared in anthologies such as MIRAGES: TALES FROM AUTHORS OF THE MACABRE, MASTERS OF HORROR: DAMNED IF YOU DON’T, DARLINGS OF DECAY, I BELIEVE IN WEREWOLVES, SOUP OF SOULS, THIRSTY ARE THE DAMNED, and SCARE PACKAGE: 14 TALES OF TERROR. Fifteen of Lori’s poems were published for an anthology titled IN DARKNESS WE PLAY.


Let’s start with your definition of horror.

For me, Horror is anything that both scares and entertains us, be it prose or poetry or television or film or music . . . Music can actually be quite frightening, as we know from watching horror films. Our moods, anticipation, and nerves are all played like an instrument by the background music. What would a dramatic or surprising scene be without that jolt provided by an effective score, and the build-up? Who doesn’t relate creepy organ music with the genre? I believe there is a very deep and basic visceral connection between Horror and our senses, our emotions. It can even be funny to lighten the moment. But it is the dark and dismal aspects, the gloom and doom and sheer adrenaline impact we fans of Horror feed upon. It is fun to tingle with fear when it isn’t real. Sometimes we are drawn in so convincingly that we get caught believing for an instant the make-believe is happening, that we are there in the horrors. When we come down to earth and remember we are safe, what euphoria! I grew up with a lot of classic Horror such as Frankenstein of page and screen, Sleepy Hollow, Bram Stoker, Hitchcock’s Psycho, and humorous horror on T.V. in the form of The Munsters and The Addams Family. Some movies and shows were still black and white then. Wow, black and white truly conveys a grim atmosphere. It is so stark and pure! No distractions of bright pretty colors.
There are many genres and sub-categories. Thrillers are considered separate. But to me, Horror is about fear, thrills, and the macabre. Whether you mix in the paranormal, supernatural, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and whatever else, if there are monsters or something intense to fear . . . it’s all part of Horror.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was as much Science Fiction and Gothic Romance as Horror, yet it is considered a horror classic. When I read it as a child, I was enthralled by the presentation of a monster as an emotional being, a sympathetic creature. I was swept up in the drama and beautiful prose along with the darkness. The book made a huge indelible impression, the same as seeing The Birds at night alone with my brother when I was small. I was petrified, but I loved it! Just as I was riding in terror with Ichabod Crane in First Grade, pursued by The Headless Horseman. These are moments we never forget. And that wonderstruck delightful chilled sensation is what great Horror can leave us with.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition.

I’ve mentioned some films already. I was also genuinely scared by To Kill A Mockingbird, like Night Of The Hunter and Die! Die! My Darling. Thrillers like these were very frightening when I was young, as much as the Frankenstein movies. As much as John Carpenter’s creepy classic Halloween in later years. A lot of Horror is not as realistic. It deals with fantastic or alien elements, the unfamiliar. But I love suspenseful, thrilling, dark stories. I also like quirky, fantastic, grim ones. And these are usually what I write.

How have you defined or re-defined horror?

I would say I have broadened it to fit my definition. Like writing in general, I follow my own rules, my own sense of balance and scope and cadence. My writing cannot be confined to a single genre. There are always other genres mixed in, popping up here and there. Some might see it as a flaw. I like to merge and mold and craft something new, or something old with my particular slant or twist. I tend to not write about ‟normal” zombies or werewolves or vampires; I have to change them. Or make something up entirely. My Horror may not be what others call Horror. But it’s mine.

Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror?

It’s horror if I say it is! Ha ha. The genre is very open to interpretation. It is often crossing into other regions, or vice versa. I like that. When Horror is creative, the boundaries slip away. As I said, others might not think that something I wrote fits into their concept of the genre. This doesn’t bother me. I merrily Frankenstein together the parts of genres that I think will fit nicely or grotesquely in a story, and that’s what matters to me. The story. It will have its own unique style, and that is what I care about. I have always been a bit of an outsider, not fitting into groups, doing my own thing. It’s who I am, like a Tim Burton character. Ask anyone. They will tell you I’m rather odd. Almost freakish.

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

Well, there are a number of authors I’ve seen who are writing fine horror and who seem to be succeeding at it in terms of popularity, at least compared to my status. I’ve met many of them on Facebook. You’ve interviewed some. In contrast, I have much farther to go to get from being a best-unseller to a bestseller. I think readers tend to avoid me like people giving a wide berth to a weirdo on the street.

What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

That’s the best part. Nobody knows! Horror authors and fans will find out when we get there. But I’m sure there will always be a place for the classics. That’s the base. From there, it will continue to expand and spiral in a multitude of directions as vast as the imagination.
***


Richard Schiver



Biography: 

Richard Schiver grew up listening to ghost stories told by his grandmother as they sat on the front porch while screech owls punctuated her words. As a teen he survived on a steady diet of Creepy, Eerie and Weird Tales comics as well as Saturday night creature features with Count Gore Deval
In the past he has worked as a carpenter, a truck driver, in retail sales, and fast food. In that time he has read everything he could lay his hands on. Aware that one day, he would breathe life into the chills he'd first experienced on his grandmother's front porch.
Richard currently lives with his wife in Lavale, MD. When he's not spinning tales of terror he can be found in his wood shop making a mess.

Blog: Whispers from the Abyss. http://rschiver.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RickSchiver

Books:
Shadows of the Past: (Novel)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006RW9RYK
Enter Night: (Novella)  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AOSSW26
Reprisal: (Novella) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DL6UZKK
Bobo: (Short Story) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00727UILU
Music of the Gods: (Short Story) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007DM6SAE
A Family Tradition: (Short Story) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CHD155W

Let’s start with your definition of horror.

For me personally horror is the fear of the unknown, of what lies beyond our control, confronting that which should not exist. Of being no more significant than a bug crawling across a littered sidewalk as a crowd hurries though. Your odds of being crushed to death grow with every step you take. Yet to stop means certain death. A journey that mirrors our own struggle through life. Horror is a feeling of dread that reaches into our antediluvian past, awakening primitive instincts that remind us there is something deadly hidden in the shadows beyond the comfort of out well lit world.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

Where to even begin. Horror has been an integral part of literature since its inception. The ancient Greeks wrote of ghosts and hauntings, of  betrayal and revenge, of man’s inhumanity to man. Classical literature spawned the likes of  Stoker and Shelly, who each in their own way took a close look at man’s place in the cosmos as they delved into the shadowy realm of the unknown. Poe and Lovecraft shared a common interest in that which should not be, that unnamable thing inhabiting said shadowy realm that lay somewhere beyond the physical plane of mans existence. A spiritual place where all things became equal in death.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition?

I’m a child of the seventies. I grew up watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, Dracula’s Curse, The Thing from Outer Space, all great black and white horror movies from the fifties and sixties where the special effects were campy and tension grew from the directors use of shadows and cuts. Today’s horror movies are to me nothing more than a showcase for special effects artists wrapped around a plot whose sole purpose is to move the story from one grisly scene to the next.

How have you defined or re-defined horror?

Much of my work centers on a supernatural element, of a thing that cannot be seen, but can be felt on a primitive, instinctive level. An environment that reaches beyond the reality we each exist in. A place where the dead and the living coexist.

Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror?

Everything I write contains some element whose origin can be traced to  a ghostly plane of existence where the past, present, and the future coexist.
Imagine if you will a single drop of water. Within this single drop there exists thousands of trillions of molecules. Ten to the twenty third power according to the calculations I just looked up. What if each molecule represented a different universe complete with a different earth?
The possibilities are endless. Now imagine that each is connected to the other, that what happens on one, has consequences on another. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Add religious belief to this mix and you begin to see how endless the possibilities can be. How complex and varied they are.
What would happen if the gods for one reality decided they wanted to control all the realities? Remind you of Lovecraft?
How would the gods in the other realities respond?
What if this single drop of water was nothing more than a molecule in a larger drop of water? And so on into infinity. What if every molecule was the mind of a writer? And we are nothing more than fictional constructs to populate a never ending story?

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

In my opinion Robert Dunbar, Greg F Guifune, Iain Rob Wright, and Craig R Saunders,

What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

There’s no real way to predict that. I can hope it moves into a more supernatural realm, my comfort zone, but that’s not to say it will. I believe a better question would be. Will I follow it? And the answer of course would be in my own way.
***




 Mark Parker


Biography:

MARK PARKER was born in the Midwest, but has lived all over the country, partly while serving in the United States Navy. For much of his life, Mark has called coastal New England home; a place rich in literary history with authors such as Melville, Lovecraft, Poe, Hawthorne, and King, to influence his own mixed brand of horror, suspense, and mystery fiction. He currently has three published works to his credit—WAY OF THE WITCH (Part I of the Witch Saga), BIOLOGY OF BLOOD (Book One of the Southridge Vampires series), and LUCKY YOU (Part I of the “Lucky” series), a psychosexual thriller short. All are available as Kindle Exclusives on Amazon.
Mark is currently working on multiple projects: THE SCRIMSHAW MURDERS, first in a series of historical whaling mysteries; HEADLINES, DEADLINES, first in a series of cozy mysteries, set in the coastal town of Placid Point, Massachusetts; and his first full-length suspense novel, PERFECT DARKNESS—set against the scandal-plagued backdrop of the Roman Catholic Church—of which Mark has intimate knowledge, having spent six years studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood, at a Connecticut and Boston, MA seminary.
Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, and is currently working towards his Master’s. He lives in the metro Boston area, where he works as an educator in mental health.

Books:


Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/MARK-PARKER/e/B00CY6T5R2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mark.parker.142
Blogger: markparkerbooks@blogspot.com
Twitter: @MarkParkerBooks
WAY OF THE WITCH (Part I of the Witch Saga) – novella

BIOLOGY OF BLOOD (Book One of the Southridge Vampires series) – short story

LUCKY YOU (Part I of the Lucky series) – short story
3. List your books here and include purchase links.
WAY OF THE WITCH (Part I of the Witch Saga) – novella
BIOLOGY OF BLOOD (Book One of the Southridge Vampires series) – short story
LUCKY YOU (Part I of the Lucky series) – short story


Let’s start with your definition of horror.

For me, horror has always existed within the fabric of everyday reality—not unreality. It is often found, in my opinion, in what humanity does to itself rather than what is done unto it, by some unseen threat or force. Certainly there is a place for the metaphysical or supernatural in how I define horror, but nothing compares with what plays out in the human drama. Perhaps that is why we turn to the supernatural for our entertainments; over trivializing (for purposes of entertainment) what one human has the capacity to do to another, should the circumstances be ‘right.’ The nightly news proves this point all too well.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

I think classics such as Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stoker’s Dracula and Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum and Murders at the Rue Morgue, set the standard for what ‘horror’ would come to look like in the years to follow. I know these works, especially those of Edgar Allen Poe have come to greatly influence what I find to be frightening or horrific, and how that might effectively transition to the page or eReader.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition?

William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby
John Carpenter’s Halloween
Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot
Peter Benchley’s JAWS
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho
Henry Farrell’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Kate Coscarelli’s Phantasm
John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s The Fog (Original)

How have you defined or re-defined horror?

If anything, I think I have gone back to the early roots of horror, or at least my early roots of horror. While it has been said that I have a rather ‘quiet’ or ‘subtle’ way of telling stories, I look to writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King
and Shirley Jackson for each instilling that in me at a very young age. I have always preferred stories with the ‘creep-up-on-you’ factor. I tend to be drawn to the subtlety or nuance—or even atmosphere—of a story. That is what, in my mind, what really causes a story to have the kind of haunt that lingers.

Can you talk a bit about your writing and how it is horror?

Regarding my own writing, what makes it ‘horrific,’ I would say, is the fact that I always look for the twist, or that thing that gives a plot its edge—its creep if you will. Some of the most subtle events in life, if seen under the right light, can take on another dimension; a whole new flavor. Most of my fiction is born of real life events or situations that, for me, give them their authenticity. For instance, in my novella WAY OF THE WITCH, what the boys encounter with the witch is true to something I encountered when I had a paper route at the age of 13 or 14. I crossed paths with a woman I was convinced was a witch, and although things didn’t turn out as terrifying for me as they do for Randall and Justin in the Witch Saga trilogy, the truth or heart of the initial (real life) story is there—every bit of it. In the third installment of that trilogy (forthcoming), the story’s title, WOLF ISLAND ROAD, comes from a real life place, Wolf Island Road, which is situated on the rural borders of Rochester and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. This place has always given me the creeps. It’s chilling even in broad daylight. And forget about after dark!

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

That’s a good question. Although I’m pretty new to the indie digital-publishing scene, I have quickly become a fan of Kealan Patrick Burke’s work, as well as work by Blake Crouch, although his work isn’t horror in the strictest sense. I haven’t really found anyone in the cyber format I consider to be horror in the sense that I most naturally gravitate to. It seems with the advent of digital self-publishing, many of the traditional lines have been blurred. I notice a lot of ‘trending’ happening in cyber publishing; mostly around the use of certain literary devices (zombies, for instance) to craft a story that will SELL. I tend to come more from the Stephen King School of Writing, where stories come and I give them life in the written form. I don’t have a “kind” or “type” of writing that appeals to me, or story that most speaks to me, other than great stories that reside in a kind of atmospheric place. Nostalgia intrigues me as well. I suppose that comes with age. The further along you get in life, the more you find yourself snatching glimpses over your shoulder of what once was. That is one of King’s greatest abilities, in my opinion; the ability to tell a story with a sense of nostalgia that leaves the reader wanting more of a given time, place, or theme. His latest Joyland is a lot like that.

What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

I think the whole cyber thing will eventually level off and find its right balance. It is a whore’s gambit at the moment. It takes more marketing work to get your writing out there then it does to get the writing itself done. And with the ability to solicit reviews from any number of sources, how a story or book is ‘received,’ is largely based in illusion. We aren’t measuring things on an even playing field as digital self-publishers. There is no such thing as weighing oranges against oranges in this new world of Cybernocturnalism. Rather there are some authors who garner a lot of attention for their work, which naturally causes their pieces to skyrocket. While others’ work just stalls. I still have no idea how the whole Top 100 thing works on Amazon. Folks pronounce that they are currently sitting at the #10 spot or something, but, try as I might, I can’t find their title on that list to save my life. Maybe there are as many lists on Amazon, as there are self-published titles. I’m not sure. While I think self-publishing is a cool opportunity for a good number of authors, I still long for the feeling of acceptance that would come from being agented and signed with one of the dreaded Big Six publishers, or whatever. That would be cool beyond being able to upload my own stuff to Amazon, and simply hope for the best. I think cyber-horror is here to stay, but I will be happy to see the bad stuff fall away, permitting the truly great work to surface and shine as it is meant to.
***


Kevin Bufton



Biography:

Kevin G. Bufton is a thirty-something father, husband and horror writer, in that approximate order, from Birkenhead, on the Wirral. He has been writing short horror fiction since January 2009, and has seen his work appear in dozens of magazines, anthologies and websites, across the globe.

His debut novella, Cake, was released in June 2013.

He hopes, one day, to be able to scare people for a living.

Links
Main website – http://www.kevinbufton.com (not up yet – but soon!)

Books: 

As editor:
100 Horrors: Tales of Horror in the Blink of an Eye
A Fistful of Horrors: Tales of Terror from the Old West
Lucha Gore: Scares from the Squared Circle
The Dead Sea
The Dark Side of the Womb
From Their Cradle to Your Grave
Suffer the Little Children
You’d Better Watch Out
Under the Knife
Another 100 Horrors
Horror-tica (out July 2013)
War Is Hell (out July 2013)
The Best of Cruentus Libri Press (out July 2013)

As solo writer
Cake

All available at Amazon…


Let’s start with your definition of horror.

Horror is a living and breathing entity. It is far removed from the rest of speculative fiction, in that a given story needs no specific setting or trappings to be an effective horror tale, it simply needs to imbue the reader with fear. In that regard, it has more in common with romance and comedy, since the ingredients you throw into a story are of less concern than the way you mix them. Sure, you can have an horrific tale set in a graveyard, or a haunted house, with all the standard paraphernalia of the old Universal movies, but you can have an equally chilling story set in a quiet suburban street, in the middle of the day, as you go about the business of watering your garden, or painting your fence. Like love and laughter, horror is always there as a possibility, and it is my firm belief that horror will override those other, perhaps more noble, emotions every single time.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

Certainly. Most of the classics show the versatility of horror. Stripped of their distracting elements, Dracula is a straightforward adventure novel, featuring a makeshift band of misfits (a doctor, a solicitor, the solicitors wife, a cowboy, and English lord, and a ‘metaphysician) chasing their antagonist across Europe; The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a morality tale; Frankenstein is a science fiction novel, before the term even existed. As I mention above, it is not the ingredients that make these three stalwarts of the genre horror novels, but the application of their respective authors.

If you prefer more modern examples, The Silence of the Lambs is, at least in its structure, little more than a police-procedural novel (well, FBI-procedural, but the point remains valid); Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a survivalist tale of a girl lost in the woods; Dean Koontz’ Demon Seed is another science fiction story of technology run amok. Under the pen of any of a dozen other writers, the central premise of each book could be handled in a myriad of different ways, but Harris, King and Koontz let their own inner darkness take the helm to produce three novels that are wholly dissimilar to one another, but which are each undeniably horror.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition?

John Carpenter’s The Thing springs immediately to mind, and is hailed as both a science fiction, and a horror classic; likewise with (most of) the Alien franchise. I love The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, for being such an intense mindfuck even over the distance of 90+ plus years, showing that this is not a new phenomenon. Seriously, look at that film – a guy goes around strangling people at the behest of some strange Svengali figure. That could so easily have been played straight, and would be nothing more than a footnote in early cinema. Instead, Robert Wiene’s assured direction, and Conrad Veidt’s mesmerising (small pun intended) performance as the somnambulist, Cesare, makes it a creepy, haunted and, above all, horrific slice of celluloid.

How have you defined or re-defined horror?

It’s early days for me – I can hardly claim, with only one solo effort to my name, to have done either. By my own definition, Cake is a horror novella. At its heart, it is a story of isolation and of doing everything in your power to help your family, but I chose to paint that picture using eldritch abominations, body-hopping demons and living shadows.

Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror?

I have written about seventy short stories and one novella. Of late, I have been revisiting those shorts, as I’m currently compiling a collection of them, and certain things leap out. At least half of my stories involve families (or some reasonable substitute for them), being torn apart by whatever horrific entity I have chosen to be the foil in that particular tale, and I think that is a very real fear for a lot of people. So much horror fiction revolves around that sense of isolation, of picking off the family unit one at a time, stripping the protagonists of their support network, until they must face the unknown alone. If I’m feeling kind, they will succeed and be reunited with their loved ones. If not, they will either die, knowing that they are alone at their moment of passing. Sometimes, to really twist the knife, they will survive, only to live out the rest of their life alone, and scarred, feeling that somehow it was all their fault.

I can be a real bastard, when I want to be.

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

I have no idea. Certainly, I have read plenty of examples of this type of horror and, indeed, I have had a few such stories submitted to the anthologies that I edited for Cruentus Libri Press. David A. Riley is a fine writer, whose work is always unremittingly bleak, and who certainly dabbles in horror-tinged science fiction. Jay Wilburn is another, as his forthcoming novel The Time Eaters will surely attest.

In truth, however, the best cyber-horror comes in the form of Warhammer 40,000 series of novels, released by Games Workshop and based on their tabletop game of the same name. That might not be the answer that you want to hear, but it’s true. You have daemons of Chaos rending people limb from limb, monstrous Orks born only to fight, bio-tech monstrosities harvesting the galaxy, genetically engineered super soldiers, the ghosts of a long dead civilisation, inhabiting cyber-bodies and harvesting the souls of the living for their gods. To top it all, some of the writing is particularly stellar.

Beyond that, I’m not to sure, but if we’re looking to crown the godfather of Cybernocturnalism, then surely that accolade must go to Harlan Ellison, whose novella I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is the very epitome of what you’re after.

The aforementioned Demon Seed is also worth a look, particularly the revised 1997 edition, where Dean Koontz upgraded all of the technological fol-de-rol of the original, to bring it in line with more recent advancements, such as the internet.

What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

I think horror needs someone to come along and really shake things up. It seems that the genre has barely moved one since the boom of the seventies and eighties. Every new writer wants to be the next Stephen King, or Clive Barker and, whilst both men are legends, and rightfully admired, I fear that the genre is in real danger of stagnating. Every other book in the horror section of Amazon or your local bookshop is a zombie novel, or a vampire novel. Every new writer seems intent on producing a series based around one central character, in the hope that it gets picked up for a television show. Everybody seems content to stick rigidly to the conventions of the genre, and nobody wants to stretch its limits.

Instinctively, this runs counter to everything I believe in my heart about horror. It is (or should be) the most versatile genre in which to write, but everything seems so…regular. That’s not to say that it’s bad (I’d be a masochist, indeed, to keep on reading so much of it, if I thought that), but I’ve yet to see anything released in the last few decades that I would call ground-breaking or genre-defining.

That statement is not as bleak as it might first appear, though – it means that the next big shift in how we perceive horror might be just around the corner…in the darkness.
***


Dev Jarrett


Biography:

I’m Dev Jarrett. I’m a father of five, a lucky husband, a horror writer, and a career soldier in the US Army. I was raised in the south (Columbus, Georgia), and although I’ve lived the last two decades wherever Uncle Sam told me to, it usually only takes a beer or two to prime the pump on my southern accent. I’ve always loved to write, but only began sending my work to editors in the past seven years.
Since then, I’ve been published many times both in print and online. I’ve got thirty-odd stories out there, including my first novels Loveless (to be published by Blood Bound Books this month!) and Dolly (which will be published by Bad Moon Books this fall).


My websitehttp://devjarrett.weebly.com/
I’m also on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/dev.jarrett
And please come by the Loveless Virtual Book Release event site: https://www.facebook.com/dev.jarrett#!/events/279490202196489/

Books: 

They’re all listed on the webpage (and some are free):
http://devjarrett.weebly.com/the-work.html.



Let’s start with your definition of horror.

Horror is a feeling comprised of fear and uncertainty. If a writer can bring forth those feelings in a reader, the writer is succeeding.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

There are so many…I’m sure my responses have been given over and over. Obviously Dracula, Frankenstein, the works of Poe and Lovecraft. Additionally, we find aspects of horror in most all writing.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition.

How far back do you want to go? Nosferatu, Dracula, The Wolfman, and The Mummy are the first ones that come to my mind, but there are so many. Later ones include The Exorcist, Alien, and Rosemary’s Baby. And again, you find aspects of horror in many other genres of film. For example, Gaslight isn’t a horror movie, but it does present the fear of going insane.

How have you defined or re-defined horror?

I don’t believe it even needs to be redefined, because the stimuli that cause the most horror are themselves a moving target. Things that frightened us yesterday don’t necessarily frighten us today, and things that frighten us today might have only seemed absurd a generation ago.

Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror?

In my stories, I try to take my readers out of their comfort zone and into a place where they will face—whether they like it or not—the monsters all around them, and the monsters inside them. I’ve had stories published about ghosts, vampires, wereraccoons (yeah, no werewolves in Georgia), cannibals, and legendary monsters. But if you look at it another way, I’ve had stories published about the realities of human trafficking, murder, burglary, family secrets, and PTSD.

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

If I understand your definition, I think we are all riding that wave. The computer, and the web, is simply another vehicle, another tool for us to use to get our words out there to our readers. As with any tool, its use can also be a source of horror. Online predators, anyone?

What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

I think that horror is growing in many different directions simultaneously. New things are found every day in science—those things can be helpful, but looked at in a different light, they can also be terrifying in the extreme. Additionally, those same old subtextual fears that we all have—not belonging, not being loved—will always be with us. Horror as a genre will continue to evolve as our minds and society does.
***


Brad C. Hodson


Biography:

Originally from Knoxville, TN, writer Brad C. Hodson currently hangs his hat in sunny Southern California. He began his creative career doing stand-up and improv comedy with Einstein Simplified before founding the award winning sketch comedy group “Happy Nowhere.”
Realizing how much he hated rehearsing, Hodson began focusing on writing when he moved to California. Since then, he’s done rewriting and script doctoring work on films in every genre, as well as some original projects. His non-fiction has been published in magazines nationwide and his piece on school shootings, “Slaying Dragons: The Positive Effects of Violent Media On Children,” was a runner up for the Kornbluh Award.
His short stories can be read alongside folks like George RR Martin (GAME OF THRONES), Chuck Palahniuk (FIGHT CLUB), Neil Gaiman, and many more of his literary heroes. The story “Things Unsaid” received the Roselle Lewis Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction in 2009.
His first novel, DARLING, is available through Bad Moon Books.
When not writing, Hodson is the Administrator for the Horror Writers Association and coordinates digital media work between Los Angeles and India for Technicolor. He enjoys travelling, lifting heavy things made of iron, and writing about himself in third person. 

For more information on where to find his material, please check out www.brad-hodson.com.

Books:

DARLING
A novel by Brad C. Hodson
Now available from Bad Moon Books
Check out http://www.darlingbook.com for reviews, a free preview, the trailer, purchase links, and other assorted goodness.
You can find links to my short fiction at http://brad-hodson.com/bibliography/


Let’s start with your definition of horror.

Horror is an emotion. It's one of the most primal emotions, and yet one of the most refined as well. Webster's defines horror as "a pervasive sense of dread" and, by that definition, it's also a mood. It's something born from our lizard brain, hardwired in us from millions of years of evolution, yet is learned from wandering through this mad world and all of its dangers. It's at its most sublime when deep bonds have been formed, when the love of a spouse or child is threatened, when the very things that make use human seem near to unraveling and the dark crowds in. It is fear at both its most base and its elevation by intellect.
And it's damned good fun.


Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

For some examples from classic literature, I would highly recommend the works of M.R. James. James was a master of the weird ghost story and his writings will unsettle you in bizarre and quiet ways. I wrote a short essay on James over at HWA's blog last year. If you're not familiar with his work, check it out and then check HIM out: http://www.horror.org/blog/?p=2726
Ambrose Bierce is another one I'd recommend, along with Poe and Mary Shelley and, of course, dear Mr. Stoker. Sheridan LeFanu, Arthur Machen, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Henry James... the list goes on and on.


What are some classic horror movies by your definition.

For horror movies, I have some perennial favorites that get whipped out every Halloween. "The Innocents" is a brilliant adaptation of Henry James's THE TURN OF THE SCREW. It stars Deborah Kerr. Truman Capote wrote the screenplay. This movie was the inspiration for the Nicole Kidman flick "The Others."
"The Haunting," based on Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, is brilliant. The Robert Wise directed version, that is. The newer film sucks on a bag of fetid goat dung.
The George C. Scott film "The Changeling" is creepy as hell, as is the adaptation of Peter Straub's "Julia" starring Mia Farrow. I'm also a HUGE fan of both "The Exorcist" and "Exorcist III." You can skip part two, unless you are being punished for crimes against humanity.
And virtually any Clive Barker film gets my vote. Aside from the later entries into the Hellraiser canon, of course.


How have you defined or re-defined horror?

I'm a fan of ghost stories (if that wasn't obvious) and of anything that manages to be slightly off kilter in that certain way as to be disturbing (David Lynch's work, for instance). In my own work, I have tried to play with that. There's a certain gothic ascetic that was always an attractive part of the genre that seemed to leave for awhile. There are a lot of authors seeking to return to those roots, myself among them.
But the trick in exploring that dark and mist covered ground again is to bring something new to it, to recognize that readers and viewers know the tropes, they know the cliches, and then to play with those. The best feedback I've gotten on my novel DARLING is that it starts off with these familiar tropes and then twists them around and slams them on their backs and takes readers someplace new. I hope that's the case for most people reading it. Even if you don't dig it when it's over, I hope in some way at least subverts your expectations.


Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror?

I think it was Harlan Ellison who once said that horror fiction is a way to deal with a subject that only be explored through fiction and dreams. That subject being, of course, death. My mother died when I was a month old and my family seemed to be plagued with untimely deaths ever since (there's a phrase for you - "untimely death," as though any death would be timely). So growing up, I was a little obsessed with the topic. Not that I wore black and listened to death metal and tortured pets. Far from it. But I read everything I could get my hands on about customs relating to death, theology, philosophy, the science of decomposition, ghost stories, serial killers, you name it.
That is always present in my fiction. Even when I'm not explicitly writing horror, there's a touch of the macabre in all of it.


Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

Joe Hill is doing very well for himself (and is a fantastic author to boot). I'm also a fan of Benjamin Kane Ethridge's, BLACK & ORANGE and BOTTLED ABYSS are not to be missed. John Palisano's NERVES is another great one to download, as is anything by the late and amazing Michael Louis Calvillo. Lisa Morton's new book SUMMER'S END will be a staple on every horror fan's e-reader by the end of the year, I guarantee you that.
Other authors I'd recommend are Mercedes Yardley, Em Garner, Rena Mason, P.S. Gifford, Dana Fredsti, Roh Morgan... How much time do we have?


What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

Horror has always thrived on its ability to buck trends and subvert expectations. There have been periods where it's rested on its laurels or latched on to one idea and driven it into the ground or been flooded with people who really have no business writing it, but at its skin-crawling best it has thrown bloody curveballs at readers from the end of a dark, dank hall. I don't know what the next big thing in horror is going to be, but I will tell you this: whatever it is, no one will see it coming. Writers will bring forth untold misery and a legion of nightmares.
And we will love them for it.
***


Adrian Chamberlin


Biography: 

Adrian Chamberlin is a British writer of dark fiction and lives in the small south Oxfordshire town of Wallingford that serves as a backdrop to the UK television series Midsomer Murders, not far from where Agatha Christie lies buried, dreaming in darkness. He is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural thriller The Caretakers as well as numerous short stories in a variety of anthologies, mostly historical or futuristic based supernatural horror. He co-edited Read the End First, an apocalyptic anthology with Suzanne Robb (author of the acclaimed thriller Z-Boat) and also helped out with the editing of the anthologies Alt-Dead, Alt-Zombie, and Fogbound From 5 for Hersham Horror Books.

His most recent release is the English Civil War thriller “Shadrach Besieged” in the Lovecraftian novella collection Dreaming In Darkness, which introduces the 17th century warrior Shadrach to Lovecraft fans. He’ll be promoting the hell out of this in October’s SCardiff, the Welsh Horror Expo, where he’ll be dressed as Shadrach himself, in full English Civil War regalia – complete with Shadrach’s devastating hybrid weapon!

Live readings of his work are extremely popular and well-attended. He is aware of the concept of “spare time” but swears it’s just a myth.

Links:

All can be found on:

Or my Amazon author page here:



Let’s start with your definition of horror. 

What we think of as horror as a genre is continually changing, to encompass science fiction, historical fiction, dark fantasy, literary fiction, not to mention the healthy growth of subgenres such as zombie apocalypse, bizarro, body horror, mashups… personally, I see horror not so much as a genre as a label, covering a field of dark speculative fiction that is rich and fertile, and constantly changing - never lying fallow!

But if you want a definition, I would say this: fear is a physical, mental and emotional reaction to a perceived threat or danger; horror is the same reaction to the actualisation of those fears. Your worst nightmare has come to pass, and that affects people in ways they’d never have thought possible. The challenge for the writer is to not only make that fear, that otherworldly threat plausible – to make the reader feel the fear – but to show, through effective characterisation and strong storytelling, how human beings react to that situation. It’s a tough call, and very easy to get wrong.

Can you give us a few examples from literature of old?

MR James is a quality example of 19th century supernatural storytelling, but many modern readers new to the genre may find the style a bit too mannered and sedate. I’d urge them to read his work, though, because the payoffs are so good, and his storytelling techniques are worth studying.

Lovecraft was the master of creating otherworldly horrors, and his influence is felt strongly today. By fusing supernatural with extraterrestrial, he created the concept of “cosmic horror”, and that to me is far more terrifying than ghosts or zombies: the prospect that humanity is nothing but an insignificant speck in an uncaring universe, and that Earth is home to older beings who want the planet back, is terrifying – and in many ways, speaks more to our jaded 21st century mindset than the straightforward battles of good versus evil you see in works by writers such as Dennis Wheatley or those Hammer films of the 1960s. Again, his style can be hard going, but the work is rewarding.

What are some classic horror movies by your definition?

The best horror films, like books, are subtle and leave more to the imagination; they make the reader imagine the horror for themselves, rather than splatter it across the screen in a CGI mess. The Innocents and The Haunting are prime examples of this. Having said that, in-your-face horror works well in a way that the printed page can’t really match: witness the themes of Lovecraft and body horror in John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Alien. Interestingly, it’s easy to forget that in Alien we hardly see the xenomorph until the end – Scott knew tension is increased by offering glimpses of the monster. Very similar to how Stoker created Dracula – aside from the opening chapters in Harker’s journal, we hardly see Dracula until the end, but we feel his presence throughout.

Can you talk a bit about your writings and how it is horror? How have you defined or re-defined horror?

My work is heavily influenced by Lovecraft in themes, but writers such as Graham Masterton, F Paul Wilson, Steve Harris, and James Herbert have inspired me in terms of characterisation and storytelling. I’ve always been a huge fan of the supernatural thriller, where terror is combined with page-turning suspense. That’s a very hard thing to do, and the writers of the 1970s/80s were masters of it. The Caretakers was described by Nerine Dorman as “a return to classic horror”; to me it’s a return to the supernatural thrillers of the 80s and 90s. It wouldn’t have been touched by a mainstream publisher when I first began, but if I was twenty years younger…ah, how different my writing career may have been!

Now I write more science-fiction and historical based horror. My recently published short stories “The Third Day”, “T is for Titivillus”, “Resisting Ragnarok”, “Rupture” and many others are futuristic, as I’m fascinated to consider the challenges that face humanity in the future – and how they retain that humanity. But I also feel the call of the past for the same reason: how people coped with horror in times far distant – and different from our own.

The English Civil War and World War II are favourite areas of mine to write in, but with the latter you have to be very careful to avoid exploitation if you’re writing about the Holocaust. My Auchswitz-based story “Kriegsmaterial” in Hersham Horror’s Fogbound From 5 was a difficult balancing act, but thankfully many reviewers saw what I was aiming for. Jim McLeod of the Ginger Nuts of Horror said “…a subject matter that even after all these years could be seen as being a rather insensitive topic for a horror story. However, Adrian has given this story about a mysterious prisoner of Auschwitz a moving and touching treatment…the tale skilfully combines the horrors of war, the horrors of just what a man will do to survive and a brilliant use of folklore.”

I don’t set out to redefine horror in my work, but I like to keep things fresh, to try something new, and above all focus on what makes us human in the face of evil. Whatever I write, I discover one constant: people remain the same, whether two thousand years in the future or four hundred years ago.

Who is leading the way today in the new wave of cyber-horror, or as I call it Cybernocturnalism?

It’s the independent writers and small presses that have carried the flag for horror, ever since the mid-1990s and the Great Horror Cull when mainstream publishers deleted the genre from their midlists. The cull was understandable (if excessive) from a business perspective; the genre had reached saturation point, and very little innovation was visible. Crime as a genre soared in popularity and in many ways adopted the tropes that we associate with horror; Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs is a classic example of this, and the serial-killer subgenre soared in popularity at the same time as the forensic thriller, with all its gristly exploration of body trauma. The taste for fantasy in horror had gone from the mainstream, and there’s nothing more terrifying than what one human being can do to another.

But horror readers found little in the way of supernatural terror in the bookshops and libraries. For many years a market was unsatisfied by the mainstream, and only the small presses kept the flame alive. Then came the digital revolution and print on demand technology, and it’s now an excellent time for readers and fans of the genre; there’s plenty to choose from.

The independent writers who have utilised the internet and digital revolution who are doing extremely well in this genre are too numerous to list here, but three British examples are Graeme Reynolds, GR Yeates, and Ian Woodhead.

Across the pond, Hugh Howey’s Wool marked a first in that a mainstream publisher picked it up and agreed to only having the print rights for the book; the author maintained the eBook rights. That is a huge step forward for the independent writer, and proof that the mainstream publishing world was caught napping.

There’s real ingenuity in online marketing from the independent writers: everything from online launch parties and shared media (live readings of writers’ works, animated book trailers, and so forth) to animal promotion; my friend Suzanne Robb regularly promotes writers’ works by having her Boston Terrier Loki pose with one of their books and posts the pictures online. It’s a great technique that works in two ways: the Power of Cute sells books, and the writers who’ve enjoyed this remember the favour and will return it in other ways when Suzanne has new works of her own to promote.


What’s the next step for horror? Where is it headed?

It’s a publicity challenge, without a doubt. In the UK the writers who’ve made the mainstream, such as Alison Littlewood, Adam Nevill, Dave Moody and Wayne Simmons, are enjoying success, yet their books won’t sport the label “horror”; British mainstream publishers here are still frightened of the word, and the books from Nevill and Littlewood are classified as General Fiction. There’s still that misconception that the genre is all about blood, guts & gore and nothing else; a misconception that the new breed of writers and publishers have been working to disprove for the last twenty years.

I think horror will continually to be served better by the independent and midlevel presses rather than the Big Five. It’s a dream for all us writers to have mainstream success, but very few of the major publishers have the same passion for the genre – or indeed, the same marketing ingenuity - as their financially poorer counterparts in the small press. Having said that, there’s a downside to this digital revolution: it seems a new small press comes into existence every month, a new anthology every week, and it looks like we’re heading for saturation point once again.

I firmly believe crossover is the future for horror. The potential to reach new readers is greater if you expand your work’s appeal – so a futuristic/dystopian horror novel will, in theory, attract fans of both genres. I know mashups have a bad reputation, but again: think of the readership. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – you have three markets there straightaway: comedy, classical literature and horror. Fans of Jane Austen were intrigued to see what a modern writer did with a canonical work, zombie fans had a field day, and lovers of comedic fiction had a ball as well. I know I did! I dabbled in mashups myself, and wrote (what I think) is the first ever Daphne du maurier and HP Lovecraft mashup in “False Light” which uses the wrecking scene from Jamaica Inn and imports Lovecraft’s Deep Ones, with a few knowing nods to the Stuart Gordon film Dagon. One day I’ll get around to writing a full-length novel on this…

But ultimately it’s the readers who will decide the way forward. They have the choices that the mainstream denied them from the mind 1990s onward, and the power is in their hands rather than agents and publishers. What we as writers have to do is to ensure that the work we put out is nothing but the very best; these readers deserve nothing less.
***

Thank you, authors, for your participation in this Servante of Darkness look at Cybernocturnalism from those who have been defining it today in their writing. So, readers, until we meet again for Cybernocks V, keep reading the Horror and give these participants a round of applause. 


3 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting piece! I very much enjoyed reading the other views. Fantastic job, everyone! I am thrilled as always to visit Servante Of Darkness, Anthony. My deepest gratitude for including me and for all of your support! Also, a big congrats! Happy Anniversary to you and your blog!!! :D

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  2. Very nicely done Anthony. Some very illuminating views. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this.

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  3. I actually owe my "breakthrough" to Mr. Bufton; he included a story of mine in The Dark Side of the Womb. It's really cool to hear his thoughts on these points, and I'm all the more honored to be included in the anthology :)

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