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Night Terrors

(This one’s for the horror fans.)

From my good friend Dave Buchert, director of Blood Oath comes this trailer for a series of projects called Night Terrors.

Caution: It is very much Rated R and NSFW.

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You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Yes, Blood Oath is actually available.

The movie that I wrote about in Beauty and Dynamite has finally — after almost ten years — been released from Troma Films.

You can order it via Amazon (from which I get a very small kickback) if you click on the DVD cover here. I will also be working with the director and purchasing a bunch of them so that I can sell them at Dragon*Con (and possibly Capclave…and whatever other convention I can get roped into this year).

If you’re a fan of low budget independent slasher films, you’re going to love this. Lots of blood, nude girls, and even a quotable line or three.

We had so much fun making this movie. (Well, I did, anyway.) One of my favorite moments in Tennessee last month was when the Fairy Goddaughters dropped a photo album and it fell open to a spread of photos displaying a massively bloody Tina Krause.What a thing to find in the Princess’s collection, right? Heeheehee…

Needless to say, their expressions were priceless.

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I Am Totally Good With “Kontis.”

Because it falls on the shelf between Stephen King and Jay Lake. Like, for instance, in this section of the list from Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year 2010 Honorable Mentions!


King, Stephen “1922,” (novella) Full Dark, No Stars.
King, Stephen “Big Driver,” Full Dark, No Stars.
Knight, Brian “Deathbed,” Cemetery Dance #64.
Knippling, DeAnna “The Edge of the World,” Three-Lobed Burning Eye #20.
Knutsson, Catherine “Lily,” Cabinet des Fées volume 1, No. 3.
Kofmel, Kim “Crossroads,” Cabinet des Fées volume 1, No. 3.
Kontis, Alethea “Blue and Gray & Black and Green,” Legends of the Mountain State 4.
Kornher-Stace, Nicole “Two Views from the Shore,” (poem), Goblin Fruit spring.
Kosyrev, Dmitry “The Coat That Smelled Like Earth,” Moscow Noir.
Kuch, Terence “Other Things,” Sybil’s Garage #7.
Kuznetsov, Sergei “Moscow Reincarnations,” Moscow Noir.
Laben, Carrie “Plastic Sargasso,” Chizine #44.
Lackey, Jamie “The Other Side,” The Living Dead 2.
Lake, Jay “The Houses of the Favored,” Visitants.


*happy dance*

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Genre Chick Interview: Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough, the British Grace Kelly of the horror genre, is riding high–having just won a British Fantasy Award for her short story “Do You See”–and in a few weeks she is up for the World Fantasy Award for her short “Our Man in the Sudan.” Anyone who follows her on Twitter knows that she’s […]

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Genre Chick Interview: Brian Keene

Influenced by such notables as Stephen King, among others, Brian Keene is a horror writer who hopes to bring his readers a release from the horrors of today’s society. His latest book, The Conqueror Worms, is set to release in May. He shares with Genre Chick Alethea Kontis, his earliest memories of horror writing and the latest on his forthcoming works.


Alethea Kontis: What do you think is the appeal of horror?
Brian Keene:
Our daily lives are filled with real monsters that fly airplanes into buildings and abduct eleven-year-old girls from behind car washes and butcher their pregnant wives and strap their own children with bombs and send them to blow up other children. These are dark times that we live in, and people want an escape. People are scared of everyday life, and sometimes, it’s good to curl up with a make believe monster, rather than the one outside your door. Make believe monsters offer us a release valve–an escape from the very real terrors that surround us.

AK: What got you into horror? What prompted you to start writing it?
Like most boys, I loved monsters and scary stuff. Unlike other boys, I just never outgrew it. My first introduction was probably the same as everyone else: comic books and kids’ movies and kids’ books, and then graduating to adult novels and R-rated movies (although I still read comic books).

I’ve written as long as I can remember. My mother has stories I wrote when I was five years old. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my parent’s living room, watching Sesame Street and writing and drawing a little comic book where stick figure superheroes fought a stick figure monster. First time I got in serious trouble at school was over a story I wrote for Halloween, something about giant, mutant beavers eating a bunch of loggers. It was pretty graphic–especially for a fifth-grade assignment. Needless to say, the teacher didn’t like it.

AK: Who are your influences?
BK: Well, I don’t think we ever truly stop being influenced, but in general, my literary influences include Steve Gerber, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Richard Laymon, Graham Masterton, Robert E. Howard, William Hope Hodgson, Skipp & Spector, J.M. DeMatteis, Jim Starlin, and Alan Moore. And, of course, like every other writer my age, Stephen King. King has had such a huge impact on an entire generation of writers. He really is another Twain or Hemingway.

Cinema-wise, the original Dawn of the Dead, John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, and Phantasm. All three films were strong influences. I saw them at an early age and they had a profound impact on me.

AK: What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
BK: As embarrassing as it sounds, The Amityville Horror. I read it at a very early age and it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t sleep without a light on for weeks. Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot also really messed me up–but in a good way.

AK: What’s next on your writing agenda?
BK: My post-apocalyptic/Lovecraftian/giant monster tribute, The Conqueror Worms, hits stores on May 2nd. As we’re doing this interview, I’ve just finished my next novel, Ghouls. That will be out in 2007 from Leisure. Other novels in the works (for various publishers) include: Ghost Walk, The Labyrinth, Alone, Love and Worms, and a few more I can’t talk about yet.

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Genre Chick Interview: Tom Piccirilli

“She was a girl of many half-completed movements.” –the line that made me throw November Mourns across the room because nobody should be able to write that beautifully.


Alethea Kontis: Tell me a little about how your latest novel November Mourns came about.
Tom Piccirilli:
In terms of setting and themes, it’s something of a carryover from my previous novel A Choir of Ill Children, which also deals with an isolated, southern backwoods area where superstition and the supernatural seem to meet up. The word “haunted” is applicable in so many ways to so many people, who are haunted by guilt, by fear, by the past, by familial or sexual or religious matters. Choir was very much a fantastical book, with outlandish, freakish characters, and ghosts and swamp witches. When I finished the novel though, I realized I wanted to deal with some of the same themes but play it much closer to the vest, keeping the fantasy and supernatural elements much more ambiguous. Are these things actually happening, are they in the mind of the protagonist, or is everybody just going mad from bad moonshine?

AK: There is an amazing amount of information in November Mourns about moonshine, snake handlers, and prison life. How did you approach your research?
TP: It’s easy for a writer to over-research a subject and then feel the urge to do an info-dump in the middle of a book. Knowing that’s a possibility, I prefer to only do a minimum amount, to answer the questions I have and provide the details I need to make the story work to the best of my ability. This isn’t hard science fiction here—this is phantasm. I’ll either visit the library or hop around on the Net to get whatever I need for the story to make it sound credible.

AK: November Mourns could almost be considered a mystery or suspense novel instead of horror. You have a background in writing mysteries (The Dead Past, Sorrow’s Crown) but what made you use it here to catapult your story?
It’s a backwoods story where an ex-con returns to his moonshine-running mountain town to investigate the death of his sister, who was found in an area of the hills long-thought to be haunted. Superstition and ignorance caused the townsfolk to abandon plague-stricken citizens deep in the backwoods, and now it appears those diseases are having some kind of a rippling effect across the decades. Even their churches seem corrupted by poisons of one kind or another, as snakes take precedence in the snake-handling rituals.

Since my protagonist Shad has been away from the Hollow, in prison for two years, he now has the clarity of distance. He’s been elsewhere, he’s learned new things, and he’s lived through a wealth of new experiences. I specifically wanted prison to have a positive effect on him. It has a large library, he learns about the rest of the world, he meets men from all walks of life. That in this world, going to jail is actually a move up on the ladder of life. When he returns to his hometown, he sees everyone with a different point of reference. A good deal of the basic crime novel set-up here is actually reversed. It’s not about a man who’s been in hell returning to the comfort of his beloved hometown. It winds up becoming the complete opposite as Shad leaves the comfort of prison to return to a doomed and dying town that threatens to take him with it.

AK: Many of the characters consider themselves to be the product, as well as victims, of Moon Run Hollow, yet they are greatly conflicted about their love/hate relationship with the town. What caused you to focus on such a premise?
TP: All of drama is based on conflict, and the more a writer can balance out the reasons for that conflict, the more he can show both sides of a potentially insoluble problem. We are as much the product of our evils, fears, and character flaws as we are our strengths and decency. It’s on that lynchpin that I set the basic premise of the book. What do you do when everyone around you is going a little mad, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it? How resolved would you be in the nature of your own beliefs if you awoke one day and realized everything you knew up to that point might be wrong? Emotional turmoil is always the impetus that gets the action of my work to move forward. I hate the easy out of some crime novels, like the killer leaves a button behind and all the hero has to do is match the button to a coat and voila, the brilliant murderer who’s escaped Interpol is caught. Too many authors rely on forced facts like that, things that don’t occur naturally in the unfolding of the story.

AK: Communication plays an intriguing role in November Mourns. How conscious were you about creating this atmosphere where communication is a challenge? Where verbal and writing skills are at a minimum?
TP: It was very conscious on my part because it added so much atmosphere to the tale. If we could get a direct answer to every question we ever asked, nobody would have high blood pressure. It’s when you’re getting conflicting answers, riddles, grunts, barks, and nonsensical responses that your frustrations grow. And that’s what most of us have to deal with on a daily basis. I just distilled it and worked it into the tapestry of the novel.

In the book, Shad’s father calls him in prison to tell him that his sister has died. And that’s all the man says. No details, no commiserating, no words of grief or advice. In a way, it’s a thrown gauntlet. Here’s the barest minimum you need to know, now let’s see if you can rise to the challenge.

AK: The concept of family is an extremely important one in the novel, as well as the search for family and identity. Was it your intention to explore these issues? Or was the familial element something that developed during the writing process?
TP: Family matters are the crux of much of my fiction. My own father died when I was quite young, and so in a manner of speaking, he’s always been more of a myth to me than a man. An invisible force that exists in pictures and in vague memories, but without any direct hand in my life. I think most people feel this to a lesser extent, in one manner or another. The weight of their family’s experiences and situations somehow molds us through our entire lives, even after those family members are gone. It’s a theme I’ve returned to time and again, one of the wells from which I draw my material.

In November Mourns, Shad is actually investigating the death of his half-sister. Her mother remarried and now has a brood of freakish children; some have no bones in their legs, one has a head the size and shape of a pumpkin. When Shad meets up with them later on he’s terrified by just how narrow the channels of blood are. How these ill children are very close to being his own brothers and sisters, and how close he was to becoming one of them.

AK: You deal in the gray areas between good and evil, humor and horror. Do you make a conscious effort to upset notions of the clearly defined lines between these opposing concepts?
TP: To me, ambiguity is more interesting and more realistic than clearly drawn lines between the heroic and the malicious. My brand of fantasy/supernatural/horror fiction puts an emphasis on unsettling and displacing the reader rather than actually “terrifying” them. Horrifying someone can be relatively easy in some respects—you can write about babies being dropped in boiling water or give graphic details of evisceration or rape. But without some emotional context, without really caring for the characters, then those might merely be exercises in sadism.

AK: You recently won the Bram Stoker award for editing the poetry anthology The Devil’s Wine, and you are a poet yourself. How do you think writing poetry affects your prose?
TP: Poetry is a form that celebrates compression. It allows me to use ambiance with an even greater focus. It’s a distillation of narrative. You have to keep squeezing and squeezing the piece of coal until you compress it into a diamond. Novels on the other hand offer plenty of room to move. You can toy with dialogue, mood, the pace of the action, but in learning how to self-edit down to the raw material, my novels hopefully move with a great emotional context—with less fat, less of the ordinary in them.

AK: At the rear of November Mourns there’s a chapter-long sneak preview of your next novel Headstone City, which doesn’t seem to be a southern gothic crime novel at all. Tell us about it. And what else do you have coming up?
TP: Headstone City returns to my urban stomping grounds, taking place in New York. It’s the story of two former friends, one now a mob boss and the other an ex-con limo driver, who went through a windshield together when they were kids and got caught stealing a car. Now each has a particular psychic/supernatural gift. The mob boss blames the other guy for the death of a family member, and right from the get-go you know they’re headed for a showdown.

I’m currently finishing up my latest novel The Repentance of Killjoy, which is about a child murderer who, after a cycle of butchery, goes quiet for several years. When he returns, he’s apparently had a change of heart and steals children from abusive surroundings to return to the families of the children he originally murdered. The novel follows one father as he tracks Killjoy through a series of ever-stranger circumstances.

AK: Any really fabulous library anecdotes you’d like to share?
TP: When I was researching comparative religions and occult history for my A Lower Deep,  which is about a modern-day warlock and his demonic companion heading off to Jerusalem to try to stop Armageddon, I would walk up and ask the information staff, “Hi, do you have The Satanic Bible on hand? How about a translated copy of the Malleus Malefacarum?” Back when I lived in NY, that probably wouldn’t have raised even an eyebrow from the staff, but the nice ladies in my local library in Colorado definitely had me marked as being in league with Satan.

You can learn more about Tom Piccirilli at his official website:

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