Scary Critters in the Canadian Woods- Katie Berry

Canada is underrated for scariness. You think everyone’s nice (which is a great cover for a serial killer if you think about it) and it’s all outdoorsy and stuff. But if you’ve ever been alone in the woods at night, there’s a high creep factor. A writer from my home province of British Columbia has it figured out. I came across Katie Berry’s book Claw and figured I should introduce her to you so…

Katie, been years since I spoke to anyone from Castlegar! What should we know about you?

First of all, thank you so much for having me here today. It’s great to have a chance to speak to everyone and let them know a little about myself. Where to start? I am from Ottawa, Ontario, originally. Moved out west in a family migration when I was young. We ended up in the Okanagan in what was then called Westbank. After moving around the province several times over the years, I have settled down finally, and now live and write in the beautiful West Kootenays of British Columbia.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. My first story was written in grade three. It was a four-page murder mystery. My teacher wanted the class to write a short story. Mine was the only story with a hand drawn cover. It really stood out, since it was hand-typed (thanks to my dad’s assistance) and had a lovely colourful cover: a large pool of bright-red blood lay on a sidewalk next to a vibrant green lawn surrounded by a white picket fence. I was a regular Rembrandt. 😊 Got an A- on it, too!

Canada has plenty of scary critters, but CLAW goes way above and beyond. Tell us about it.

CLAW is about a small town in BC that has several problems. Right about this time of year, they suffer a major earthquake, the town’s sole mountain pass cut off from the world. The other problem is with the ‘wildlife’ that keeps eating people wandering around in the local forests. Finally, there is a greedy cartel of murderous morons trying to hide a massive gold strike recently discovered in the area. The main protagonists, Austin Murphy and Christine Moon have been well received, with Christine being called a ‘kick-ass conservationist’ by one reader. I have had many people write to me telling me that they know these people, or people just like them in their own communities, and how the novel all seemed very real to them.

I always feel that the more you can ground your story in a realistic world that surrounds the reader, the easier it can be to introduce the more unbelievable elements. I recently heard from a zoologist who teaches at a university in the UK who just loved the book, saying it has everything he looks for in a novel, from story, action and characters, all the way to the title cryptid villain, who is actually not called CLAW, interestingly. It’s nice to have the scientific community at your back, I must say.

As someone who grew up in a hub for Sasquatch sightings (Bigfoot is so American), I love me a good cryptid. Where did the story come from?

The roots of the story. I had a dream. After that dream, I got to wondering about certain things in my area, and it all just sort of fell into place (eventually). It was a four year journey from that dream to reality, but I feel it was worth it. I am truly proud of that novel, and especially so when people tell me they rank it right up there with stories by King, Koontz and Crichton. I truly feel blessed to have done so well. CLAW has been in the top 5,000-10,000 on Amazon.com since just about a month after its release in December 2019. As of yesterday, I have sold just a little over 10,000 copies and counting. And the two new prequel novelettes I have recently released are also doing quite well. Another aspect of the novel was that I wanted to write something like a big-action blockbuster monster movie set here in the mountains of BC. With CLAW and its upcoming sequel and prequel, I think I have achieved that. CLAW is also available in paperback and audiobook (14.5 hours of fun!)

What is it about this kind of story that appeals to you?

I have always had an affinity for the horrific side of movies and television, and especially things that go bump in the night or with monsters in them. I remember watching the old Universal horror movies with my mom, such as the Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, etc. One of the things we also watched were reruns of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with Darren McGavin. It was that show that inspired me to be a writer. I actually wanted to be an investigative journalist like Carl Kolchak and bust monsters each week like he did. Hey, I was only ten at the time.

(WAYNE HAS TO INTERRUPT>>>LOVED Night Stalker! I actually had a dream the other night I got a TV deal to write a reboot of Night Stalker with Randall Park as the reporter. How do we make that happen?)

But that set me up with the writing bug and I never looked back. I actually did study journalism in college for a while along with abnormal psychology. Personally, I like things with the unknown in it. But unknown of the fantastic nature. I know that some people love a good psycho killer novel, but with all the horror in the world these days, I like to escape when I read, or write. Man’s inhumanity against man is something that holds little appeal to me, but nature’s inhumanity to man, or the supernatural’s, well, that’s another thing.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

For any reader that would like to keep up with my writing, my website is always up to date with links to all of my books at https://katieberry.ca.

Also, my Amazon Author Page is a great place to go

Let’s not forget Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19756937.Katie_Berry.

Link to all of the books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nxDvBv

Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is now available in paperback and kindle, and available almost anywhere from #BlackRoseWriting. It’s an American Book Festival Finalist for Best Horror of 2020. “Like Dresden Files with Bite.”

Are You Ready for the Werewolf Apocalypse? Steve Morris

I was a fan of werewolves long before Johnny Lycan entered my brain, and have been reading a fair number of Lycanthropic novels lately just to see what’s out there. One of my latest favorites is Wolf Blood: The Werewolf Apocalypse Begins. As you can imagine it’s a very different tale than mine, although it plays with some similar themes: Lycanthrophy as a disease, making conscious choices about what to do with it. That’s about where the similarities end. This is a flat out, badass thriller. I was happy to talk to Steve Morris about his series…

Steve, it’s great to meet another werewolf junkie. Please introduce yourself.

Hi, my name is Steve Morris, and I did several different jobs before becoming a writer. After university I spent ten years working as a nuclear scientist. I then ran my own internet company for a while, before coming up with the crazy and misguided notion that a fresh start as an author would be a smart career move.

I really enjoyed Wolf Blood and look forward to the others. Tell us what it’s about.

Short answer – werewolves taking over the world! A virus originating in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania is brought back to London by scientific researchers. Once established in the city, it begins to spread exponentially. Back in 2017, when I started writing the series, a pandemic felt like an unlikely apocalyptic event rather than something we would all soon experience first-hand.

Long answer – all kinds of things. I’m interested in good and evil, and how it can manifest in each and every one of us, and how the dividing line can sometimes be paper thin. I wanted to explore the theme of diversity, and whether opposing groups of people can find a way to live together, or whether conflict is inevitable. The predator-prey division between werewolves and humans can be viewed as a metaphor for our times.

That’s what I love about werewolf stories, that we all have that inside of us and it’s how we cope that matters. What are the roots of the story?

The title of my series is “Lycanthropic.” The word came to me one day and I thought it would make a cool title for a book. I searched on Amazon, but no one had written a book with that title. So it dawned on me that I would have to write it myself.

I’d enjoyed a lot of zombie apocalypse stories, and so it seemed like an obvious move to write a story about a werewolf apocalypse. Most traditional werewolf stories involve lone werewolves in isolated settings, or else they are coming of age stories where the condition is often regarded as a curse to be overcome. I wondered what it would be like if lycanthropy wasn’t necessarily a curse, and if the werewolves weren’t hunted down and killed at the end of the book. I also wanted to explore what it would be like to be a werewolf.

I know why werewolves fascinate me, and my readers are probably sick about hearing why. But what’s their appeal for you?

I have always loved werewolves. I think that when I was a teenager, I would have liked to be one. The idea that you have this incredible power inside you that can be unleashed, even if you have little or no control over it, can be very seductive. I remember reading about them when I played Dungeons & Dragons, and realising that they didn’t have to be magical, but that lycanthropy might be an actual disease. That made them seem far more real, more plausible, and much more interesting to me.

I’m also very interested in transformation and reinvention, and werewolves and other shapeshifters are the embodiment of these qualities.

Who are you reading people should know about?

I read quite widely. I’ve just finished “Dracul” by Dacre Stoker, which I really enjoyed, and now I’m reading “The Terror” by Dan Simmons, who also wrote the amazing “Hyperion” books. Other authors I have greatly enjoyed include Frank Herbert, George R R Martin, Patrick Ness and Joe Abercrombie.

How can people learn more about you and the Lycanthropic series?

The best place to go is my website at https://www.stevemorrisbooks.com – here you’ll find links to Amazon.

I’m on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17204478.Steve_Morris

and my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/stevemorrisauthor

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog!

Of course, for those who want to compare werewolf takes, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is now available in paperback and kindle, and available almost anywhere from #BlackRoseWriting. It’s an American Book Festival Finalist for Best Horror of 2020. “Like Dresden Files with Bite.”

The Other Inside with JM White

There’s something evil inside me trying to get out. That premise is as old as mankind and has served as the basis of a lot of dark fantasy and horror stories. Hell, it’s why I have a thing for werewolves and what inspired the character of Johnny Lycan in my new book. It’s also the idea behind JM White’s new novel, The Other Inside.

J M, great to talk to another Black Rose Writing author. Besides the fact we share a publisher, what should we know about you?

My love affair with horror started when I was a kid. I was never much into reading. In fact, I hated it. One day I stumbled across the Goosebump series at the library, and my life changed. I went from dreading library days to stuffing three or four Goosebumps books into my backpack at a time. I realized then I didn’t hate reading—I just hadn’t found my genre. It just so happens my genre involves monsters, ghosts, and lots of blood and guts. As I got older, I graduated from R. L. Stine to Stephen King, and so on. 

When I’m not working on fiction, I am a freelance writer. I specialize in video game news and other entertainment topics like film and TV. It’s a fun gig that allows me to flex my pop culture nerdiness. My background is in psychology. I don’t do much with my degree but enjoy using it in my novels. 

What is the story about?

The Other Inside is a psychological horror novel. It follows Billie. He doesn’t have a family. Eleven years ago, his mother was murdered, and his stepfather was locked up for the crime. Because of this trauma, he fled to a small New Hampshire town to start a new life.

But Billie isn’t like everyone else. He struggles to control an animalistic thing inside him that needs blood. His affliction becomes harder to hide when his childhood best friend shows up. As Billie reconnects with her, secrets of his past unravel. He is left wondering if his stepfather really did kill his mother. And if he didn’t, who did? 

For me, the idea of having something creepy inside an otherwise normal person creeps me out. What are the roots of this story?

Despite Billie’s affliction, he is relatable. The reader knows from the get-go that Billie is a killer, but they are still rooting for him. I wanted to explore a character that viciously kills but would be the type of person to back down in a fight because they know it’s wrong. That required me to create a vampire-inspired story with a character that broke stereotypes, so no seductive good looks and sparkling skin. In fact, vampire lore is left out of the book almost entirely. Instead, I focus on a disorder I learned about in my undergrad called Renfield syndrome or Clinical Vampirism, which involves an obsession with drinking blood. Although Renfield Syndrome is not acknowledged by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it’s an interesting disorder documented by psychologists for over a hundred years. 

The Other Inside is a horror story with elements of mystery and the tiniest bit of romance. My main goal was to keep readers guessing. Is Billie an actual vampire, or is he afflicted with this disorder? While writing, I also kept in mind that there is a large “vampire” community. People that engage in the vampire lifestyle are not synonymous with having Renfield Syndrome. As I say in my Note From the Author—this book is vampire friendly, and I have no intentions to offend. 

Good luck with that- I have found there’s always someone who will be miffed, but that’s half the fun. Who did you read that inspired you?

Well, as I mentioned before, my framework started with R. L. Stine and Stephen King. I’m not sure you’ll ever meet a horror author who doesn’t pay tribute to King. It’s almost a cliché at this point.

Other than those legends, I enjoy classics like Thomas Harris (he is a must-read), Robert Bloch, Jack Ketchum, Shirley Jackson, and Nathaniel Hawthorn. I also really like Grady Hendrix, Josh Malerman, Kealan Patrick Burke, Ania Ahlborn, Gillian Flynn, and Riley Sager for some fresher names. 

It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t give a shout out to the vampire man himself—Bram Stoker—whose novel Dracula I’ve read probably five times thanks to school. If it weren’t for him, I might never have thought up Billie. 

Shameless plug time. Where can people find out more about you?

The Other Inside and my debut novel Shattered can both be found on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Links to all my books and socials can be found on my website jmwhitefiction.com. 

While on my website, check out my blog, Thirst for Thrillers, where I pair books with cocktail recipes.  

Instagram is where I am most active thanks to the lovely people of the #bookstagram community. I always post book updates, sales, giveaways, and, of course, the results of my somewhat artistic book photoshoots. Follow me on IG @jmwhitefiction

Hey everyone, just a note that we are a month and a half from the launch of Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. If you are a blogger or reviewer on Goodreads or anywhere else and want a review copy, drop a brother a line. Preorders for EBook and on Amazon and other places start in early October!

In which the author pleads for bloggers, reviewers, and podcasters

Great oogly woogly, the publication date for Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is only 3 months away. This means I’m in that horrible limbo between relief that the damned thing is finished, and awaiting its emergence into the world.

Because I want the book to hit the ground running, I’m beginning to line up reviewers, bloggers, and other folks who can help spread the (hopefully positive) word. One of the ways Amazon deems a book worthy of promotion is if there are a lot of reviews early on.

Unlike all my other books, I’ve hired a publicist to help with this process. The talented Stephanie Caruso at Paste Creative and Frolic Blog Tours is organizing the blog tour (sounds fancy, doesn’t it?)

Here’s what you need to know:

We have PDF copies of the book available right now

Epub and Mobi copies are available probably October 1

Paperback ARCs are available now in very limited supply. First choice will go to those with established blogs, reviewers for magazines and press, especially in the Urban Fantasy/Horror area, or who are prominent reviewers on Amazon or Goodreads.

Sign up to get your review copies and be part of the blog tour which will run Noveber 12-26th By clicking here and going to the Paste Creative site. Or just drop me a line and request a copy.

You can pre-order now by clicking here and going to Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. The Paperback is available for pre-order at Amazon with Kindle and Audible coming in November. And look to the side of the page to sign up for my newsletter.

A Creepy New Tale About the Fountain of Youth- Maybe

A while back I really enjoyed a sort-of Urban Fantasy book called Markus, by an author I didn’t know, but share a publisher with. (Peace be upon Black Rose Writing.) I reached out to David Odle, and while nothing happened initially, he has a new book out and we arranged this interview. (Pro hint… if you want to get a response from an author, catch them in a pre-launch panic.)

This was a chance to talk to David about his newest effort, more of a horror/thriller thing called Kate’s Lake. Enjoy.

David, tell us about you.

Tell you about me? Whenever I’m asked this question, I always feel like there’s shockingly little to tell. Perhaps that’s why I write stories; to create fantastical characters who provide a vicarious escape into other worlds and interesting circumstances. But if it’s just me, my main love beyond family and friends (and craft beer), is simply a good story. Whether it’s a book, an article, a movie, or a TV show, a story well-told is what I find most satisfying.

I really enjoyed Markus, and was a bit surprised you shifted gears a bit. Tell me about Kate’s Lake.

I’m super-stoked about newest novel, Kate’s Lake, (released at the end of June)! I loved writing it and it may very well be the story that contains the most of my own personal characterization due to the military background of the character. The story is about a former Marine named Mick Smith, a recovering alcoholic and Iraqi combat veteran, who discovers what he believes may be the Fountain of Youth. While attending the funeral of an old friend, Mick’s dark past catches up with him as strange events spark a cascade of horrible circumstances that ultimately lead Mick to Kate’s Lake, where he discovers the horrific truth about its healing water.

You shifted away from Urban Fantasy a bit. I thought you’d be setting up a sequel to Markus, since the book ended as it did. What about this story attracted you?

Different than my debut novel, Markus, which is an Urban Fantasy, Kate’s Lake is a horror novel written in first person which allowed me to create Mick in my own image. The story is based loosely on one of my oldest friendships from the Marine Corps and was sparked one morning when I thought, what if I suddenly received a phone call that JT had died. Would I go to his funeral? And what if I decided to go and then learned that something strange was happening there. What if he wasn’t really dead? And the story began to unfold from there. I actually wrote the opening chapter several years before adding the story after it. 

The “what if” game has sent a lot of us in weird directions. It’s where Johnny Lycan came from after 3 historical novels. Who do you read?

My literary hero is Stephen King. I became hooked on books after reading Cujo when I was thirteen and from then on, I couldn’t get enough of Stephen King. I wanted to be just like him! But since then, I’ve grown more diverse and discovered a huge world of wonderful writers. Over the past year, I’ve really enjoyed Paul Tremblay, Alma Katsu, Brian Keene, Delia Owens, Pierce Brown, and Erik Larson (I love reading history). 

Besides ordering your books directly from Black Rose, where can people find your work and more about you?

Yes, I’m still learning to navigate this cyber-world, but I’m trying to establish multiple ways people can connect with me. Folks can find me at:

www.davidodle.com

Facebook – David Odle (@DavidOdleBooks)

Twitter – (@d.leroy1970)

Instagram – David Odle (@Odle.author)

Linkedin – David Odle

Not to crash the party, but Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk is coming in November. Order now by clicking here and going to Black Rose Writing. Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Audible coming in November. And look to the side of the page to sign up for my newsletter.

Sarah Tasz- You Think Dead Malls Are Creepy? You Don’t Even Know

I’ve said before that there is a surprising amount of writing talent here in Las Vegas. One of the more prolific and involved folks is Sara Tasz. We met through Sin City Writers, which is a growing and eclectic group. She heads up the efforts on the Tuesday night group (Check Meetup for details) and heads up the online critique group that’s gotten us through this time we can’t meet in person. I’m a Thursday person, so I don’t get to see her or read her stuff in utero as I’d like. But, she has a new installment in her Dead Mawl novellas, so this was a good time to introduce her to all of you. BTW You can pre-order it here.

Sarah, tell the nice people about yourself and what you do.

I wrote my first (what I would consider) “professional” piece when I was in the eleventh grade. It was a one-act comedy play for my community theatre group. When I saw people interacting with the story I’d written, both the actors putting their own spin on the words and the audience laughing and smiling as they watched, I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to tell stories that people wanted to engage with and experience. I did a fair amount of scriptwriting through college and shortly after, both for stage and film, but fiction is the one place I can make anything happen regardless of time or budget—both of which are pretty big roadblocks when you’re writing in fantastical genres, like I tend to do. Maybe I’ll return to scriptwriting at some point, but I think that would only be for the fun and collaboration. But novels, novellas, etc give me the freedom to tell the stories I really want to tell.

Your new book is “The Mourning Sun.” What’s the deal there?

The Mourning Sun, will be the fourth book in the Dead Mawl novella series (technically, it’s the fifth, but only if you count the prequel/origin story released in the omnibus and just recently as a standalone). The series is about a group of blue-collar workers—custodians and security guards—who strive to vanquish the evil entities lurking in the partially-abandoned Edensgate Shopping Center. The town they live in was once a prosperous mining city, but it was wrecked by these entities. Our heroes managed to trap the creatures (somewhat) in Edensgate, but they still try to escape again pretty much nightly.

It’s an ensemble cast—it jumps around into a few different heads depending on the installment—but it mostly focuses teenager Cari Hembert who stumbles onto the secret in the first novella and who we follow continue to follow in some capacity throughout the series. The Mourning Sun picks up right where the third book left off, and without giving too much away, on the morning after a very intense night that culminated in Cari arriving home to see her mother being attacked by a monster.

I love that your heroes are janitors and regular Joes. I mostly deal with the same kind of folks. What is it that inspired you to write this?

The heroes in Dead Mawl don’t really have magic powers in the traditional sense—they are more like D&D fighter class heroes, if that means anything to you. They each have a weapon proficiency that gives them extra skills in combat (accuracy, strength, etc), and the longer they work at the mall they gain higher endurance, faster healing, and even the ability to go for a long time without sleep. The villains, on the other hand, have a lot of magical abilities–summoning monsters and creating illusions are the big two we have seen so far—so there’s an element of research and experience that affects our heroes’ chances of being successful too. I think I like that part the most. I really don’t favor stories that have a superpowered badass just show up and fix things immediately (or they could fix things if his/her personality didn’t get in the way somehow). I like uneven matchups where the good guys must rely partially on knowledge and grit to get through it. And these heroes get hurt, even with the healing—I think every installment has seen at least one injury to a major character—so the stakes are personal as well as metaphysical.

As far as roots—the quick answer is that back in 2014 I wrote a couple pieces of Army of Darkness fan fiction. They were just for fun, but I liked the characters I created so much I cut out all the borrowed IP, reconfigured the plot, changed the setting from an S-Mart in Michigan to a semi-abandoned mall in Nevada, and here we are.

The longer answer is that I worked several blue-collar jobs when I was in high school and into college, including cashier and custodian, and I’ve had it in my head to do a hero story about characters in those fields ever since. These jobs are physically demanding, they are often boring and repetitive, they are looked down on as unskilled, and yet without people in these roles we would be lost. With everything that has happened over the past few months I think people are starting to get it, which is nice. Hopefully, it translates into higher wages, but we will see.

I’m going to smile, nod, and pretend I know what a D &D Fighter Class whatever is, but I get it. And Fan Fiction has started the careers of a lot of writers. Who do you read that people should know about?

This is always a tough question for me because I’m pretty all over the place. As far as writers in and adjacent to my genre, I’m a big fan of Grady Hendrix, Drew Magary, Jim Butcher and Stephen King (of course). I also enjoy some of the more delicate contemporary fantasies that have come out in recent years, like The Night Circus, An Unkindness of Magicians, and The Rook. Currently, however, I’m reading through James Ellroy’s L.A. Quarter series—I just finished The Big Nowhere and will move on to L.A. Confidential next–and I’m loving pretty much every minute despite having no magic at all. There’s very little genre-wise that I won’t try, except for maybe straight-up romance—and even then I might roll the dice if the premise sounds interesting enough.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

ou can preorder The Mourning Sun on Amazon or buy my books on my website: www.sgtasz.com. That’s where I have my blog, which I try to keep up with once a week or so. I also have a Medium publication (https://medium.com/the-uglycat) where I exclusively feature pieces about Vegas/by Vegas writers.

And here is my social media:

Twitter: @ugylcat24

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sgtaszauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sgtasz/

Amazon Author Profile link: http://amzn.to/2EvT4oV

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18849380.S_G_Tasz

Sign up for my newsletter using the form on the left hand side of the page and get secret free stuff plus the first look at my upcoming book Johnny Lycan & the Anubis Disk. Of course, you can find all my novels on my Amazon author page.