An Unspeakable Horror Lurks in the German Woods
By Brian Moreland On September 4, 2012, 12:00 pm
My novel Shadows in the Mist is a historical horror thriller that explores the dark side of World War II and the Nazis’ fascination with the Occult. The main characters are U.S. infantry soldiers: Lt. Jack Chambers and his ragtag platoon known as “the Lucky Seven.” During the first weeks of October 1944, Lt. Chambers and his platoon have been fighting the German army tooth-and-nail in the bloody Hürtgen Forest that borders Belgium and Germany. All Lt. Chambers wants to do is get his few surviving men out of the war in one piece and return to London to find the English Red Cross nurse he fell in love with. But Fate has a different agenda for the Lucky Seven, and especially Jack Chambers who has ties to a top-secret war he didn't even know was taking place.
The Lucky Seven are chosen to lead a rogue commando team behind German lines. The mission: infiltrate a Nazi weapons camp. As Lt. Chambers and his men venture into the thick and foggy woods, they discover something evil is hunting them and it won't rest until every soldier is dead.
To make this novel as compelling and authentic as I could, I interviewed WWII veteran soldiers, both American and German, who fought in the famous Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. I traveled across Germany with historians and personally walked the battlefields, graveyards, and toured a private museum. You can see the photos here.
Shadows in the Mist weaves together war-time adventure, horror, and historical facts based on my research of the Nazis and the Occult. The Indiana Jones movies Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade depicted the Nazis on quests for the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail. There is plenty of evidence the Nazis went on such quests in search of mystical ways to gain more world power. In fact, they formed an entire division called the Ahnenerbe-SS. While the supernatural mystery I have created is a work of fiction, the inspiration behind it is terrifyingly real. Had the Nazis used their research to pull this off, we might have had a different outcome to the war.
I hope you enjoy reading Shadows in the Mist as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. You can read a sample of the book at www.BrianMoreland.wordpress.com
All the best,
By Alan Nayes On August 20, 2012, 12:00 pm
GIRL BLUE, in one word—bizarre. The story revolves around an extraordinarily talented sculptor named Jeremy Copper. His specialty is carving nude women in stone. Jeremy is one of the best in the world at creating his female erotic statues. But Jeremy is dying and he wants to make his last creation his legacy. Girl Blue will be carved from a rare block of blue granite. What Jeremy doesn’t realize is this rare block of granite is “haunted” by the vengeful spirit of a woman who lived in the 1920s. Girl Blue is an erotic supernatural tale about Jeremy’s quest for perfection. No matter how many more novels I write, I will never write another story as bizarre and sensual as Girl Blue.
So how did an idea like GIRL BLUE come to me, you ask. I was inspired by a friend who told me how he would go and get these sensual massages from sexy woman. This gave me an idea to write a story about a guy who becomes addicted to erotic massages. But that idea wasn’t going anywhere until I read an article about Auguste Rodin, the great sculpture. No one since antiquity has carved the female body as exquisitely as Rodin and maybe never will. Once I melded sculpting, female nudes and sensual massages into a workable story framework, the essence of creating a character who sculpted nude women in stone was born. Erotic massages still play a small role in the story, however Jeremy Copper's quest for the perfect work of art is the overriding theme. From that point, the novel just fell into place. I began “sculpting” GIRL BLUE that night!
Are Men Terrified of Women?
By Jonathan Janz On July 16, 2012, 12:00 pm
Because my new horror novel HOUSE OF SKIN features a terrifying female character, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question lately. Do men, despite all our bluster and muscle flexing and public genitaladjusting, secretly fear that women have some awesome hidden power with which we can’t contend?
Before you laugh at the question, consider the fact that many of horror’s finest novels (like Peter Straub’s Ghost Story) have at their dark hearts the notion that a female spirit can be so powerful and so irresistible that a man can only huddle under his blankets and pray it won’t attack.
Not that I’ve ever done that.
Since many of you reading this blog are female, allow me to let you in on a few insider secrets that, because womenfolk are better organized as a gender than we are, you probably already know. But just in case you don’t…
1. Men are afraid of rejection. Since women hold the key to rejection or acceptance, we tremble at the thought of approaching you. Sure, I’m married now and haven’t approached a woman since my wife and I first met (I promise, honey! I love you! Please don’t hurt me!), I certainly remember how nauseous I used to get before picking up the phone to call a girl, before walking up to a woman in a bar, or before settling into a well-concealed place with my binoculars…
But I wasn’t kidding about the other parts. Men really understand very little about the female psyche, and because of that, I never knew whether I’d get the date with the girl or the drink thrown in my face.
2. Men are afraid of falling in love. Yeah, we want to fall in love, but we’re deathly afraid of being possessed by someone. It all goes back to the universal human need for control. When a man becomes emotionally consumed by a woman, he has no more control of himself than a drunk octogenarian has of his bladder.
In my horror novel HOUSE OF SKIN (on sale now!), men both desire a woman named Annabel and fear being possessed by her. If she rejects their advances, they’ll never fulfill their desire for her; far worse, if she chooses them, they’ll lose everything in the bargain—including their souls.
3. Lastly, men are terribly frightened of making women angry. And the fact that we’re blunderers by nature (often causing harm with the best intentions) makes the prospect inevitable: every man, at some point in his life, will incur the wrath of a woman.
But what if the wronged woman is no normal woman? What if she’s actually an ageless female spirit hell-bent on destroying every man she meets, generation after generation, century after century?
That’s my Annabel. She’s lovely, and she’s monstrous, and she’s waiting to meet you in my new novel HOUSE OF SKIN
By David Searls On July 9, 2012, 12:00 pm
Horror writers have a knack for finding the dark underside of mundane life. For seeing incidents playing out in normal fashion, but thinking, “Okay, but what if…?”
What if that car runs the red light just as I pull into the intersection?
What if the stranger I keep seeing everywhere is stalking me?
What if that noise in the attic isn’t old wood settling?
It’s a matter of inventing an underbelly to everyday life. For making the glass not only half empty, but toxic. For instance, I was once (actually, twice) chased from a girlfriend’s apartment in the middle of the night by my allergic reaction to her cat. My sinuses dripped, throat clenched tight and I wheezed and sneezed so violently that I could barely see out my windshield on the wee-hours drive home.
True story. A real-life occurrence that’s merely semi-interesting unless it’s amped up. So let’s make it more than one cat – much more – in that dander-clogged home. And say that the place is sealed tight against escape and the summer heat. No way out, and no food for the cats or the three frail women trapped with them.
And there you have just one of many plot angles to my new novel, MALEVOLENT. It’s about an entity that probes until it finds the points of weakness in each of us. Like those three women in their house full of cats growing edgier and meaner and more desperate by the day.
And what if…well, what if you bought MALEVOLENT and found out?
You can reach David Searls at his blog, davidsearls.com. Or tweet him at @davidsearls1.
By Russell R. James On July 9, 2012, 12:00 pm
I spent last week in Paris with my wife, a twentieth wedding anniversary special event. We boarded a train identified on the side as bound for Versailles. Before it left, an announcement came on from the tranquil female voice of SNCF. She apologized but this train was going out of service. The travelers all groaned and everyone exited the train.
The train was still marked as Versailles bound. As we were all standing around, a harried family of four, stroller in the lead at the speed of sound, barreled around a corner and slipped in just before the train’s doors swept closed. The train pulled away and the Versailles destination flipped over to “Out of Service”.
I wondered about that family; the feeling of elation as they crossed the railcar’s threshold, the shift to foreboding as they saw the car was empty, the transition to fear as it pulled away to an unknown destination.
And a story was born. The first draft of the short tale Out of Service was done before our flight home.
New experiences spark creativity, in writing or in whatever you do for a living. Traveling the same path and performing the same tasks each day limit the breadth of events we can draw on for inspiration. Novel undertakings renew that sense of wonder we had as children when everything was fresh and amazing and force us to change our perspective.
So today break trail somewhere new. Take a different route home from work. Eat that weird looking fruit you always see in the produce section. Read a book outside your usual genre. Spark your imagination.
What adventure do you think that family ended up on that train to nowhere? Post your two sentence take on it under this post at www.russellrjames.com. Then take in a few free short stories in the Reading Room.
Lured by Lust. Seduced by the Dark. How far would you go?
By John Everson On July 12, 2012, 12:00 pm
Have you ever wanted to do something you knew you shouldn’t? Maybe just something small, like driving 80 mph on the highway in a 55 mph zone? Who hasn’t done that?
Or calling in to work and saying you’re sick, when actually, you’re going to spend the day lounging on the couch, reading a good book?
Or how about slipping next door through that creaking, come-hither open gate in the middle of the afternoon and having raw, animal, passionate sex with your neighbor who is lounging half-dressed outside by the pool… when you’re both wearing someone else’s ring?
There’s a part in all of us that yearns to peer over the fence and indulge in the forbidden. To take what isn’t ours. To let out the lusts that we’re taught from birth to hold inside.
OK, maybe you’ve never wanted to have sex with your neighbor. Maybe you’ve never wanted to reach out and kiss that waiter with the mermaid tattoo peeking out of his shirtsleeve or the waitress who bares most of her amazing breasts to you as she bends over to hand you a menu.
But have you ever wanted your lover to blindfold you so that you didn’t know what was going to happen next? Maybe bind your arms so that you’re helpless to his or her desires? Because, if you’re bound, well, you have an excuse to indulge all of those secret desires, right? I mean… he/she made you do it. You were trapped!
Sometimes giving up your power is the moral loophole — the “out” — for allowing yourself to live out those deep, hidden, forbidden fantasies.
Or sometimes holding the power, flogger in hand, and forcing someone else to do your sexual bidding answers that hidden, “non-acceptable” sexual streak hidden under the conservative business suit from 9-5.
The base, lustful desire to throw off the constraining “clothes” of societal mores and follow our bliss is at the heart of both the genres of erotica and horror. As is the push-pull of power and sexuality. And erotica and horror have intersected and cross-bred for as long as they have existed as genres. Why are the Marquis de Sade’s writings, rife with erotic power plays and sexual torture, still talked about over 200 years later?
Why did Anne Rice take a break from vampires to write not one, but three books in the BDSM Beauty series – that have remained in print for the past thirty years?
Because they both tapped into those dark desires that hide somewhere within all of us. They speak, even if indirectly, to our desires to take our sexual fantasies and live them out, no matter what the consequence.
The genres of romance and erotica allow us to live out those fantasies vicariously, generally with a positive outcome. In erotica, you can stare into the waitress’s eyes, and see the spark of heat there. When she bends over to put the napkin on your lap, she’ll let one more button pop on her blouse. And maybe you’ll be brave enough to reach up and trace your tongue across the swell of her breast, as she slips a piece of paper with her phone number into your hand. (As if you’d ever tongue a waitress – in public — on a first meeting?)
In erotica, you’d visit her house and have the most amazing sex of your life. And maybe be joined by her girlfriend or boyfriend to boot.
In horror, you might have exactly the same setup. Except that when you got to the waitress’s apartment, joined her in her bed and finally, after much erotic build-up, slipped inside her with one exquisitely warm stroke… you might find that she has an extra set of teeth in an unexpected place.
Erotica generally celebrates the freedom of letting our sexuality go rampant, while Horror often takes the more “Christian” conceit that if you do let your lusts out for a walk… you’re going to pay for it. Boy, are you going to pay for it.
I think as readers, in both scenarios, we’re getting turned on by the steamy buildup, and rooting for the lead character – living vicariously – and hoping they “get away” with slipping through the fence and indulging in the forbidden. Cuz really, we’d like to do that!
In horror, we often see the indulger punished for their pleasure, and in a way, that makes us feel good too: we get to enjoy their crazy sex romp… but then before we can get too depressed about the lack of such carnal excess in our own life, the axe falls (or the monster wakes).
See? That’s what happens when you’re a bad boy or girl!
Most of us with a healthy libido yearn for that “safe” place that we could go to in order to indulge our inner fantasies without retribution. A little bondage? Sex on the beach? Sex in an elevator?
Streaking through a crowd? Joining an orgy in the back room of a bar?
Lying naked in the center of a circle of hungry lovers? We’d secretly love a place where, no matter how twisted your kink, you would be accepted and allowed to indulge. No consequences.
In the erotica realm, that place was perfectly appointed in Anne Rice’s Exit to Eden.
In the horror realm, I’ve tried to create it in NightWhere.
Both are places where you can go to give up all of your power and become the slave to those who use you until you can’t stand the mingled pleasure and pain any longer. Both have stock in leather manufacturers. Both are clothing optional.
Both are difficult places to find on the map.
In NightWhere, Mark and Rae are a “swinging” couple who yearn for something more. Well… Rae yearns. She’s got a kink that Mark simply can’t fulfill. And when they receive the blood-red invitation to NightWhere, a club that takes over a different address every month, there is nothing that can keep her from getting inside. And pretty quickly, after watching the simulated sex on the dancefloor and the hard bites of the lash on the racks in the back, she gets herself invited into the secret club within the club. The Red. Where the walls run with the color of passion. And blood.
Mark meets his own liaison, but her message is pretty clear: Get out while you still can. But Mark won’t leave… he wants to save his wife.
Because there is another place beyond The Red. And nobody who survives the one returns from the other.
How far would you go to sate your lusts, if you were given the keys to a club where everything – and anything – goes?
How far would you go to save your lover, especially if you were, ultimately, trying to save them from themselves?
Those are the questions NightWhere asks. And along the way, it shines a light on a pretty lurid club where you can do exactly what you want, to whoever you want.
But, you know… while the idea of no consequences is alluring, I’m at heart a realist, and that idea is false. To follow your darkest dreams, there is always a price.
What price would you pay?
From Don D’Auria, Samhain Horror Editor
By Don D'Auria On June 11 2012, 12:00 pm
For lots of people the arrival of summer means baseball season, or maybe beach season. But to a horror editor, like myself, it can mean only one thing—convention season. Summer is traditionally when horror writers, editors, agents and fans gather in groups ranging from a couple hundred to many thousand to talk about horror, learn about the business and craft aspects of it, meet friends old and new, network, socialize, hang out in the bar, and generally celebrate the genre they love surrounded by folks who feel the same way.
So far this year I’ve already attended the World Horror Convention and HWA Bram Stoker Weekend in Salt Lake City, and I’m looking forward to being at:
- the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear in Toronto August 23-26 (http://www.rue-morgue.com/festival-of-fear)
- followed almost immediately by HorrorFind in Gettysburgh, August 31-September 2 (http://www.horrorfindweekend.com/)
- and then KillerCon in Las Vegas, September 20-23, where I’m extremely honored to be a guest. (http://killercon.com/)
Samhain will have a very large presence at all of these, with booths, tables and authors, and I truly hope anyone interested in Samhain or horror in general will be there so I can meet them.
Meeting people is really the main reason I go to conventions. Whether you’re an aspiring author, an established one, or a horror fan in general, I’m very happy to say hello and chat. If you have any questions about Samhain, ask away. And if you have a question about a manuscript, that’s fine too.
In fact, just about all conventions have pitch sessions, which are one-on-one meetings between authors and editors or agents. A writer is guaranteed about ten minutes of uninterrupted time with someone who wants to hear about your work. Lots of writers get nervous going into a pitch session, but, honest, there’s no need to be. After all, we’re going to talk about you and your manuscript, so I won’t be asking any questions you don’t know the answer to. And I’ve done many pitch sessions in my time, so I’ll help you out. All I ask is that your manuscript be finished (or very, very close) and that it would fit the Samhain horror line, so check out our guidelines: (http://www.samhainpublishing.com/submissions/)
But whether you have a pitch session or just find me in the lobby or the bar, I look forward to talking to as many of you as I can. Hey, that’s what I’m there for.
From Don D'Auria, Samhain Horror Editor
As we launch the New Year, I wanted to give readers and authors – both current and prospective – a look at what’s new and exciting at Samhain Horror.
- With much fanfare in late 2011, we launched Samhain Horror, which we’re committed to building into the pre-eminent home for international horror. Your response exceeded our expectations, and we have big plans for continuing to build readership and generate excitement in 2012.
- Our first stop on the trail of horror in 2012 takes us to the Horror Writers Association Bram Stokers Awards banquet, at the World Horror Convention. As they indicate on their site: The World Horror Convention is an annual gathering of professionals in the horror industry; publishers, authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, dealers and, of course, horror fans. WHC serves as both an industry insider’s networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field, and generally spend a weekend celebrating All Things Scary. At Samhain Horror, we’re pleased to be a Platinum Sponsor of the Bram Stoker Banquet. I’ll be there, and I hope to see many of our authors and readers there as well. We’ll have a booth and additional information available so you can see the newest and most exciting tales in horror up close and personal.
- Response to our initial calls for submission has been even better than we expected and has allowed us to find some extraordinary new authors. Our current list of authors is headlined by Horror Master Ramsey Campbell, but also includes such exciting voices as Ronald Malfi, Greg F. Gifune, Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland, W. D. Gagliani, Elena Hearty, Russell James, Frazer Lee, Alan Spencer, David Searls, Maynard Sims, Peter Mark May, Aaron Dries, Nile Limbaugh, Kristopher Rufty and Hunter Shea. Congratulations to these authors on their exceptional work – and to those of you with a tale of horror to share, submissions are open. Just click here for all the details.
We’re very excited to be a part of the horror community, and we look forward to honoring our commitment to bring readers the best in horror fiction every month. Welcome!