Book Review: Lost Girl by Adam Nevill

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Title: Lost Girl

Author: Adam Nevill

Release date: October 22, 2015

There’s been a few books over the last number of years that have fallen into the category of “this book is the best book I’ve ever read but the worst reading experience I’ve ever had.” What I mean is that the book is phenomenal, lights out in every way possible, but also such a horrifying, gripping, emotional rollercoaster that tugs at certain core areas of your soul that you wish you’d never read it. Books such as Red X by David Demchuk, Odd Man Out by James Newman and Crossroads by Laurel Hightower. Now, enter, Lost Girl by Adam Nevill.

Over the last three or so years, I’ve been devouring all of Adam’s work and he’s become a sought after, must-read author for me. With an impending new arrival coming in October, fans of his work are getting excited. There’s still a few of his books I’ve not got to yet, but Lost Girl was one that I’ve been eyeballing with great excitement watching it climb up my TBR list.

Now that it’s not only arrived at the top but I’ve finished reading it, maybe I would’ve picked a different emotion than ‘excitement’ over what this book has done to.

Quick aside – my wife and I have been together for many, many years. In fact, September of this year (2022) will mark 25 years together and eight years married. We met in high school and other than a couple one or two day spats where we ‘broke up’ (ah those were the old days eh? well before cell phones and Facebook etc), we’ve been together through thick and thin. When we were significantly younger, we were told that most likely we’d never have kids. At least not unless we considered invitro. We were fine with that and we always lived with the understanding that if it happened, it happened, if not, it didn’t. As of writing this review, we’re two weeks away from our son turning six, which is truly crazy.

One thing I always mentally thought about when we didn’t have kids was that this world is a messed up place and I often had that discussion with friends and family about the “imagine bringing a kid into this world” trope. Funny enough, over the last few years, since Covid hit, everything that I used to bring up has essentially happened. Global pandemic, world leaders having temper tantrums and having to lay their man hoods on the table to show just how big their military penis’ are, the rich getting richer while the poor continue to get beat down and pay higher taxes and of course, let’s not forget, no body who has any say or power regarding Global Warming and Climate Crisis issues seems to truly give a damn and are willing to do anything. The summer’s are hotter, the winters are colder, the crops are suffering, food cost is skyrocketing and all the while we keep trucking along.

So, what’s the point of my aside?

Well, that in a nut shell is the road Nevill goes down. Only, like a maniacal jerk who wanted to punish the reader with the worst torture possible, he decided to open this up with a heart breaking chapter and focus the book on a father trying to find his kidnapped daughter.

This book’s not for the weak of heart.

What I liked: The book begins with the character of the father, one whose name we never learn, getting ready to send a flirtatious email, while his four year old daughter plays outside. His wife comes into the house, they chat and she asks him to watch her. He’s preoccupied with this email and before he knows it, his daughter is grabbed. From there, Nevill never lets up and completely crushes every single ounce of humanity the reader has.

Set in the near future, food production has all but stopped, the rich funneling supplies to their personal pantries. The sea levels have risen drastically, people having to move and flee entire sections of the continents now that they’re underwater and through this governments have fallen and crime has increased 1000 fold. Add in International tensions, new and mutating viruses and pandemics and the reality that the world has become infinitely hotter, Nevill has crammed so much emotional damage within even the first 100 pages, that it’s hard to pull yourself out of the downward spiral of depression that leaks off each page.

But that’s not the worst aspect. The worst aspect is that kidnapping, child trafficking and sex trafficking has run amok, the police forces too overwhelmed to prioritize a few missing kids each day when so much more is happening in their jurisdictions. So, what does Nevill do? He has the father go after his daughter. A sort of John Wick meets Liam Neeson’s Taken character. A guy willing to do whatever it takes to find her and bring her back. It’s brutal, violent, unhinged and has an impact on him as he goes from a seeker to an active blood participant on viciousness, all the while justifying it knowing he’s looking when no one else is.

I loved seeing the downfall this singular act of his daughter being taken had on him, his wife and their family unit. It was heartbreaking and excruciating to read, but so solidly grounded in reality and how I imagine most families would fall apart and struggle to carry on after such an act.

The ending is truly powerful and it speaks to the masterful storytelling that Nevill possesses that it isn’t a Disney ending, it isn’t wrapped up in a neat bow and they sail off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

What I didn’t like: It worked so well for the storyline but I wasn’t a fan of the dark almost supernatural leanings that come along with a specific character and related to the gang that the father has to face down throughout. It almost felt as though some of Nevill’s novel Last Days was seeping into this story and honestly, while that would be great and would’ve been a solid thing to see on the written page again, I wanted this to remain grounded in the reality of the ‘real world’ and have no otherworldly interference.

Why you should buy this: If you like blindfolding yourself, spreading your legs and having the closest person to your heart continuously kick you as hard as they can in your privates, then this book is for you. Over and over and over and over and over again Nevill crushes you and then increased the soul-brutalizing even within the next sentence. God, how I bawled throughout this. Look, we all know Nevill can write dark and scary and frightening stories. Look at The Ritual, Last Days, Apartment 16, The Reddening, Cunning Folk, Banquet for the Damned and No One Gets Out Alive as novels that people rave about time and time again. I myself still have to read the last two I listed up there, but I have no reason to believe they won’t rip me apart like the other books listed.

But this one. This one’s different. This was released in 2015, but now this novel will forever seem timeless. Pandemics and Climate Crises and just the downward trajectory we seem to be on create a stench that seeps off of these pages and permeates the air around you as you read it. This is a book with a stench, but one so horrifically powerful you’ll push it aside to see what happens.

I’m on the fence if this is my favorite Nevill book, but I do know this is a book I’ll never forget and one I think everyone who’s yet to read it to take a weekend, turn off the cellphone and clear your schedule and curl up in a ball and dive in. You’ll be cursing his name the entire time, but you won’t be able to put it down. Just amazing.

Well done, Adam. You’re a jerk of the worst kind.

5/5

3Q’s – Lee Murray is here to share the love!

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Man, I am excited for today’s guest.

Lee Murray is an award winning author, editor and simply put – one of the nicest and most encouraging people in all of the Horror Community! Lee is always willing to go above and beyond and displays that generosity in her answers!

Please do welcome, Lee!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?
Lee: I’m a full-time writer, so I work all hours, usually from around 8:00 AM (or earlier if I have meetings with US colleagues) and continuing into the wee small hours because when you work from home the boundary between work life and home life is blurry. Being a writer from downunder makes the hours worse. For example, I’m a regular guest on a UK show, and on those occasions, I’ll get up at 3:00 AM—not so bad in the summer but nightmarish in the dead of winter—and once the show is over, well, I figure I might as well stay up. This past year, I’ve been working to deadline on some secret projects, liaising with colleagues abroad, and since they could be game-changing projects, it’s meant a couple of all-nighters. I didn’t even do all-nighters when I was at university! I already look pretty awful even with my full complement of beauty sleep, so those sleepless days after the aforementioned sleepless nights are ugly. There’s no such thing as a day off either because my writing goes with me, or I’ll organize my holiday around some writing event or another. Like those not so halcyon student days, there’s always some assignment or another to complete. If only the pay was commensurate with the hours! I’m a painfully slow writer, especially when it comes to fiction. I’m not a natural writer. More of a hardworking plodder. I’m so in awe of those Jonathan Maberry sorts who can bang out 10,000 words of action-packed uncluttered flair-filled prose in a day, and with barely a typo. By contrast, my prose wordcount is Hemingwayesque, at around 500 words daily, and a single poem can take a whole day. Non-fiction is quicker: things like this, where I am mainly talking about myself (really, does anyone read this stuff?) and therefore require little or no research. Those research rabbit holes, though. They take time. And there are the social media interludes, because, you never know, while I’m slogging away, one of my friends might have announced some great news. The thing is though, even though I call myself a writer, most of my day isn’t spent writing. Instead, I spend it doing everything but writing: tasks like editing and critiquing other folks’ work, mentoring, teaching, curating anthologies, plotting anthologies I want to curate, judging literary competitions, reading my lovely colleagues’ work so I can write them blurbs (that’s my late-night bedtime reading), chatting with podcasters or contributing to panels, writing heart-filled online messages to Angela Yuriko Smith and Geneve Flynn, working on committees and with writing groups, writing more heart-filled online messages to Angela Yuriko Smith and Geneve Flynn, and all the other networking and community work that is essential to being a writer. [Except writing my newsletter because that can wait until next month. Or writing grant applications, because I’ve wasted the better part of a year doing that with nothing to show for the effort.] But even given the poor pay and the worse hours, my slow output, and all the distractions, writing is the best job, with the best colleagues, and I’m aware of my privilege, so I’m not complaining.

Steve: You win the lottery and the only condition is that you need to fund another author’s book to be made into a movie. What book would you choose to be filmed?
Lee: Just one? Really? What about two novellas?
I’d choose K.P. Kulski’s wonderful novella House of Pungsu, which is releasing in September from Bizarro Pulp Press. Since I’m producing it, the movie will be an arthouse horror piece with a sweepingly ominous musical score, delicate porcelain teacups spooling steam, exotic grounds, and shifting rice paper doors. Set in an ancient palace (built for purpose) and addressing the oppression of three generations of Korean women, the critics will describe the film as a masterpiece of Asian horror, delivering its power in the soft swirl of finest silk.
“As sharp as broken porcelain and delicate as a peony’s petals, House of Pungsu is the story my spirit hungered for. K.P. Kulski shifts rice paper doors to reveal the darkest truth.”—Lee Murray
At the other end of the scale, I’ll produce the gritty military horror, Lovecraft Iraq by David Rose, published earlier this year by my friends at Screaming Banshee Press. We’re going to need a CGI team for this one, as well as an on-site crew, and a hefty purse for those big-ticket actors. There will be dark airless interiors, expansive desert landscapes, and a pulsing ripper of a score that you feel before you hear.
“Military hell from a veteran who’s lived it, Rose’s Lovecraft’s Iraq is slick, cinematic, and surreal. An action adventure of the heroes who give their all, even when there is no winning.” —Lee Murray
Or, since making films based on horror books is a criteria of the Lotto win, maybe I’ll hand the whole sum off to the HWA fundraising committee to seed an even bigger contestable fund that works hand-in-hand with Hollywood to support horror films. Spread the love, right? First up, we’ll invest in Dana Fredsti’s Hollywood Monsters to generate some monstrous groundswell, since as a book-to-film that one is bound to be a hit. Viewers will be drooling for Fredsti’s kick-ass female protagonist as she fights her way through a smorgasbord of monsters, while solving crime and saving little girls. Don’t even start me on the merchandising.
“Sumptuous, cinematic, irreverent, and creepy as hell, Hollywood Monsters is a rip-roaring blockbuster of a tale and a compelling addition to Fredsti’s supernatural Lilith series. Lovers of fast-paced beastly fun should snap this up and devour it.”—Lee Murray

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Thanks so much for asking, Steve!
Lee: In July 2022, I have “Hothouse Crush”, an epistolatory story releasing appearing in Chris Sequiera’s Dracula Unfanged (IFWG). This story was plucked from my high school years where I was a day girl at a boarding school, and is full of secret notes, overripe tomatoes, and gothic late-night excursions, with hints of Lady Chatterley’s Lover thrown in. The premise for the anthology was that Dracula had to be resuscitated into a new form, something other than a vampire. I had a heap of fun writing it.
“Mooncakes” was also released this week in Doug Murano’s The Hideous Book of Hidden Monsters (Bad Hand Books). This story was set in the Newtown council flat where my Chinese grandmother lived before she died. My Por Por left me a few things, but nothing like the grandmother in “Mooncakes”, a story which explores themes of cultural tension. Filial duty, and loss. If you’re a voyeur of hoarding TV programs, this one is for you.
And Dan Rabarts and I have a Path of Ra collaborative sibling sleuth story releasing this week in Dark Deeds Downunder edited by Craig Sisterson (Clan Destine Press). Called “Rock-a-Bye”, it’s a supernatural mystery, a kind of weird ‘Luke, I am Your Father’ tale, which has Matiu and Penny Yee racing all over Auckland solving a murder while also searching for Matiu’s girlfriend’s niece. Family. It’s complicated.
And while it’s not a new release of mine, can I also give a shout-out to the HWA Wellness Committee for Of Horror and Hope, a unique collection of 70 poems, stories, and personal reflections on mental health and horror by our HWA colleagues, including a powerful and insightful piece from you, Steve. I’ve had the immense privilege of curating the volume with Angela Yuriko Smith on behalf of the Wellness Committee, and we’ve been humbled by the courage and the honesty of the work. The volume includes gorgeous cover art by Greg Chapman and a compelling foreword by my Wellness Committee co-chair Dave Jeffery. It’s our hope the collection will raise awareness of this important topic, encourage more meaningful representations of mental illness in horror, and perhaps also offer solace to anyone who might be suffering. Of Horror and Hope is free to download from the HWA site:

Click to access HWA-MHI-Of-Horror-And-Hope-Wellness.pdf

Steve: Bonus Question! If you could be an extra on any TV show, which one would it have been and why?
Lee: Firefly. Give me a Browncoat and the instant ability to speak Chinese, please. (My mother speaks two dialects, yet I speak barely two words). My family are all huge fans, so they’ll be chuffed. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a leaf on the wind? (Although preferably without the ignominious ending.)

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Awesome! Thank you so much, Lee for doing this!

To discover more of Lee’s work;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Murray/e/B0068FHSC4/

Website: https://www.leemurray.info/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/leemurraywriter

3Q’s – Russell James keeps bringing the darkness!

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Today’s 3Q’s guest is a someone whose work I love. Russell James has his hands in a lot of areas – between creature features and dark horror, his work will keep you engaged and excited. I’ve read a number of his books and have really enjoyed his story crafting!

Please welcome, Russell!

Headshot Russell James

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Russell: In the summer, I spend Florida mornings doing yard work or wrenching in the garage before it gets unbearably hot and humid. Then I spend the afternoon and its inevitable thunderstorms writing. In the winter, that schedule is reversed to take advantage of the warmer afternoons. (It does get cold in Florida in the winter. Not the Canada cold you deal with, but down into the 30s F.) Anything over 2000 words in one day is a victory.

Steve: If you started a series and for some reason had to have another author finish it, who would you choose?

Russell: I have three series out with Severed Press, the Grant Coleman Adventures, the Ranger Kathy West Adventures, and the new Rick and Rose Sinclair Adventures. All of these have giant monster angles to them. If I had to have someone continue them after my untimely demise, it would have to be Hunter Shea, Master of All Things Monster. He has a plethora of excellent cryptid and monster books out and I would have no qualms about him taking good care of my characters while still placing them in
heart-stopping danger.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Russell: DEMON DAGGER comes out August 16th from Flame Tree Press. In this story Drew Price has the gift of being able to see the demon within a possessed person, which has set him on the path to be a demon hunter. Archdemon Nicobar, who had been sent back to Hell, returns and possesses a new host. That archdemon is bent on revenge against demon hunters, and the hunter’s family is not exempt from that vengeance. Drew has to master using the demon dagger to slay the archdemon, but Nicobar is always one step ahead, and the stakes keep getting higher. I’m very proud of this latest work and it has gotten a great review at Publisher’s Weekly.

Steve: Bonus Question! If they made a movie about your life, what actor or actress would you suggest they get to play you?

Russell: Anyone better looking, with more hair, and in better shape would be perfect. The key would be to skip the part at the end of the movie where they they usually show pictures of the actual people during the credits. Let the viewers keep the illusion that I look like Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper. Thanks for the opportunity!

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Thank you, Russell!

To find more of his awesome work;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Russell-James/e/B006BFIOKQ/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RRJames14

Website: https://www.russellrjames.com/

Book Review: Midnight Echo Issue 17 edited by Greg Chapman

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Title: Midnight Echo Issue 17

Author: Various – edited by Greg Chapman

Release date: August 20, 2022

I’m a huge fan of Greg Chapman. Seriously – he’s ultra talented. Look at his artwork. Look at his written output. Heck, just go read ‘Netherkind.’ You’ll be a fan for life. I’m honored, as I’ll actually have two of my own books coming shortly with covers done by Greg!

So, when Greg reached out to see if I’d be keen to read the latest edition of Midnight Echo, which is the Magazine of the Australasian Horror Writers Association (AHWA), I agreed immediately. I was interested to see what Greg compiled within as Guest Editor. The bonus here is that, within the horror community, folks residing over in the geographical location have been killing it and when you look at the Table of Contents and see the names listed, you know you’ll be in for a good time.

This one featured 15 entries made up of short stories and poetry and the final two stories were included after winning prestigious writing contests!

What I liked: Even though this bad boy states ‘magazine’ on the cover, for all intents and purposes, this is an anthology. The difference here is that it has a statement from the current AHWA President (an author you’ll be familiar with), a note from Greg on editing and within there is artwork and some advertisements. Nothing that distracts or takes away from the reading, but that is the only thing that truly separates this from a traditional anthology.

Each story is solid and the poetry worked really well. The standouts for me were;

‘Feathers’ by Chris Mason. What starts out as a simple ‘expecting mom getting the baby’s room ready’ story morphs and transforms into a horrendously dark piece that has such a brutal ending.

‘The Fruits of Labour’ by Mark Towse. We follow an author who buys an estate in order to sequester himself and write his next novel. But the orchard trees grow fruit, and this writer does enjoy the taste. This goes to a number of places you’ll not expect, but wow was it unflinching.

‘The Tub’ by J. Ashley-Smith. WHAT THE?!?! Two friends are sneaking behind an old business when they discover an old, abandoned tub. You know the kind? Sitting on legs and deep. Well, you’ve never come across a tub this deep before. Loved this one and so, so unnerving.

‘Visitation Rites’ by Matthew R. Davis. I gotta be honest, I loved this story, but I don’t know if I fully liked the reality of the story. It’s hard to say and remain spoiler free. Essentially, this is a unique take on estranged parenting and protecting youth from the truth. Dark and heart-wrenching.

The absolute highlight for me though was the story ‘La Belle Morte Sans Merci’ by Kat Clay. This was just superb from start to finish. It follows a photographer in the 1800’s who becomes obsessed with human decay and trying to capture it on film. They become addicted to it and to the search to find it. Just a phenomenal body horror story and the lengths those will go for satisfaction.

What I didn’t like: As with every grouping of stories – whether a single author collection, or a mixed group in an anthology, some stories just may not connect with the reader. I found I enjoyed everything within, even if a few didn’t hit the boxes for me personally as a reader, but I often suspect those will be other readers favorites!

Why you should buy this: Chapman has put together a really amazing group of stories here. It starts on such a high and never really does back off of let down. I was a bit saddened to see there wasn’t a new short story from Greg himself.

Overall, a truly phenomenal effort of storytelling by a great group of writers. The AHWA should be proud of the work that has been put out here and for those who’ve either never grabbed an edition of Midnight Echo before, or haven’t read any of these authors, this would be a really solid place to dive in.

5/5

3Q’s – Chris Marrs has an Appetite for Destruction!

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Super excited for today’s 3Q’s guest!

Chris Marrs is from a small town in British Columbia (like me!) and now lives in Alberta (like me!). We connected a few years back and Marrs’ has been incredibly kind and supportive!

I’m a big fan of her work!

So, welcome, Chris!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Chris: My writing time could be described as chaotic at best. So much so I recently created a schedule of sorts and taped it next to the computer. I’m in between day jobs and found, given the chance to write all day, I was spending too much time falling down various rabbit holes or starting new projects then getting behind on the ones where the submission deadline is looming. The schedule has really helped keep me focused. Having said that, though, I work on two projects at the same time. I’ll swap from one to the other when I get stuck on one. I’m a pantser but also an over-thinker which leads to a sort of writing paralysis if something isn’t flowing right in a story. So switching to the other story lets my back brain noodle the issue without me getting in the way of myself.

Steve: Out of all your releases, do you have a favorite character you’ve written?

Chris: I don’t really have a favorite character that I’ve written but the two I feel closest to are Autumn in PAPER AND PENCIL, SKIN AND INK and Julie in WILDWOMAN. They are both women who lose themselves, a nasty boyfriend in the case of Autumn and bullies and a non-present mother in the case of Julie, and struggle to overcome it, to find themselves again.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Chris: I’m really excited to have my story, PIECES OF PRUE, included in The Seventh Terrace Publishing’s forthcoming anthology TERRACE V: PENITENT’S GOLD (AVARICE). It’s the third instalment in their excellent Purgatorio series. Lust and gluttony, respectively, were the first two sins covered and I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in both anthologies. Highly recommended.

PENITENT’S GOLD drops November 7, 2022.

Steve: Bonus Question! What is your favorite album?

Chris: Picking an all-time favourite album is difficult as I have a favourite in pretty much all musical genres. I grew up in a small isolated town on the west coast of British Columbia in the 80s, our musical options were pretty limited. When we moved to a larger town, one of the girls I made friends with was into different types of music. She popped Guns’N’Roses APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION into her tape player and I got chills. Then she popped in Nirvana’s NEVERMIND and the same thing, chills. These were followed by Queen, Ice-T, and others and thus began my quest for music that gave me chills no matter which genre. Which makes it difficult to pick a favourite.

Thanks for having me, Steve! This was a lot of fun!

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Thank you so much, Chris!

To find more works;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B01A2XOOQA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chris_Marrs

Website: http://hauntedmarrs.zinginc.com/

3Q’s – Paul Tremblay starts a new club!

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Man oh man! I am excited for today’s 3Q’s guest.

As some of you may know, I have a favorite author. I love this author’s work and collect all of his work and love posting about his work. Well, today’s author just happens to be THAT author for my book pal, George! Every time I see George posting about his love of today’s guests work, I smile and am so very happy, knowing exactly how it feels like. The one difference – George (at the time of writing this) has actually met his favorite author in person A NUMBER OF TIMES. Son of a bitch.

Without further wait – please welcome Mr. Paul Tremblay!

Paul, welcome and thanks for doing this!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Paul: During the school year I typically write at night, but try to take advantages of free periods if and when I have them. Weekends and days off I prefer to write in the morning. When I’m going good, I aim for 500 words, give or take 100.

Steve: You win the lottery and the only condition is that you need to fund another author’s book to be made into a movie. What book would you choose to be filmed?

Paul: I’d like John Langan’s The Fisherman to be a limited series. It’s too big to be a single film, which means we need more money, enough to keep the producers at bay and enough for all the cocaine that John would require once he goes Hollywood. Seriously though, I’d love to see that book with its tonal shifts and story within a story leading to the leviathan/Moby Dick ending. It’s such a great story.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Paul: The Pallbearers Club is presented as the found memoir of a Gen Xer who calls himself Art Barbara. The book starts with Art in high school, he’s a loner with no friends but he decides to start a Pallbearers Club: volunteer at a funeral home to serve elderly and homeless that don’t have any living relatives. No classmates stick with the club but a strange older woman, a punk fan he names Mercy, joins. She may or may not be a supernatural figure from New England folklore. Oh, she found the memoir and makes comments at the end of chapters and in the margins. Come for the supernatural ambiguity, stay for the monstrous verbing and adverbing of nouns like Hellrasiered.

Steve: Bonus Question! If you could be an extra on any TV show, which one would it have been and why?

Paul: X-Files. I just loved the show. I could be a creepy tall skinny person hanging out in the shadows randomly. When spotted, I’d bend and stretchy my bendy stretchy fingers in Hellraisered ways.

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Amazing! Thank you so much for doing this, Paul! And thanks in advance to George for sharing this when it goes live, lol!

To discover more of Paul’s work;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Tremblay/e/B001JRTI1K/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulGtremblay

Website: https://www.paultremblay.net/

3Q’s – David Demchuk – young Ryan, old Mary!

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Man alive, am I excited for today’s 3Q’s! Today’s guest is the award-winning author, David Demchuk. David’s writing pushes the reader hard and to the extremes, so I was excited to see what answers I’d get back!

Please welcome, David!

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Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

David: UGH. I am very slow compared to many other writers, so my first caveat would be: Do not compare yourself and your output to that of other writers. I generally write late in the evening, when I can barely keep my eyes open, usually after 10, sometimes after 11, and I rarely go past 1 a.m. I usually write three or four evenings a week. If I pass 250 words, I’m thrilled. Occasionally I make my way up to 500 words, but if I do it can wipe me out for several days. However I can edit pretty much anytime.

Steve: If you started a series and for some reason had to have another author finish it, who would you choose?

David: This is an interesting question. I wouldn’t normally write a series, but I can easily imagine starting a book and being unable to finish it for one reason or another. In that situation I would probably nominate my husband Chris first (he is an unpublished writer of queer urban fantasy and is very familiar with my work), and if he felt uncomfortable with the task, I would probably suggest Gemma Files, Kelly Robson or PJ Vernon.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

David: My newest release is RED X, published by Strange Light / Penguin Random House. It is a hybrid horror novel / memoir about gay men disappearing from Toronto’s gay village over a period of 200+ years (so back to when the area was a plot of woodland belonging to queer pioneer Alexander Wood), and the friends and family members who begin to suspect that something supernatural is at work. The memoir part involves me, my queerness, my love of horror as a genre, and my conflicted feelings about how queerness has been represented in the genre I love. It is undeniably an experimental novel but I think a very accessible one. And scary!

Steve: Bonus Question! If they made a movie about your life, what actor or actress would you suggest they get to play you?

David: UGH. Actually, RED X has been optioned for film and television. so this question is eerily relevant. Daniel Radcliffe? Tilda Swinton? Maybe Daniel Radcliffe in my youth, and Tilda Swinton in my old age? The reality is it would have to be someone Canadian, so Ryan Gosling in my youth and Mary Walsh in my old age.

Hey! Big congrats and thank you so much for doing this!

To find out more about David’s awesome work – check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/David-Demchuk/e/B074BWWMKQ/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/spo0ky_dad

Website: https://www.daviddemchuk.com/

3Q’s – Bo Chappell – a super nice guy, From Day One!

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Way back when, when I began my writing journey, one of the earliest folks who supported me and encouraged me was today’s guest – the amazing, Bo Chappell. Bo has released some truly outstanding work, so I was so pleased when he agreed to hop on here!

Welcome, Bo!

Bo Chappell

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Bo: I’ve certainly tried to utilize scheduled times and word count goals, but that always leads me to burnout. I find more broad goals like, “Write AT LEAST a chapter this week” gets better results because, if I don’t feel like writing, then the act of doing so (or trying to more often than not) in those moments has a negative impact on my relationship with writing. And that’s what it is. It’s a relationship. If I am forced to say, “I love you” to my other half with each sentence, then those words can lose meaning, even if I mean it. Being aware of that, the love shows when I feel it most. So yeah, I like to keep the structure in the story and off my calendar.

Steve: If you could write a story for another author’s fictional world/series, which would it be and why?

Bo: I cannot express how badly I want to write a Zorro book. I have a really fun story idea ready to go and I’d put everything aside to write it. Unfortunately, while Zorro is a public domain character, he has a messy trademark issue in the US with a very litigious “owner”. The moment that clears up, I’ll have a pen in hand marking Z’s.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Bo: My last release was FROM DAY ONE which was the omnibus for all three of the YEAR 47 books plus a bunch of bonus content. I put that together to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the post-apocalyptical, survival horror novel that started everything. I never imagined my first novel would lead to where its travelled and allow me to meet so many wonderful people along the way. I think that’s a nice parallel to a story about isolated people expecting the worst and finding the best in others. To never give up.

And the best part was working with so many talented writers over the years who have contributed stories over the last five years. It’s so packed, I literally hit the page limit on the book when I submitted it. You ask, “How many more stories could you have had in there?” and the answer is “None.”

I also got a chance to interview someone I greatly admire for APHOTIC REALM MAGAZINE. Look for that interview when they come back later this year.

Steve: Bonus Question! Do you have a cherished book?

Bo: Honestly, it’s the one I’m (re)reading at the moment. I don’t read as often as I’d like, but when I find myself with a book, I’m gone.

Cheers for stopping by, Bo!

You can find more works from Bo at the links;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bo-Chappell/e/B01N8Z39SO/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/infrafan

Website: https://bochappell.wordpress.com/

3Q’s – The Sisters are here to Slaughter you!

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Exciting today here in on the site! Today we got the awesome Sisters of Slaughter!

Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason are Stoker nominated writers who keep churning out the darkness!

Please welcome them today!

Sisters of Slaughter

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

SoS: We don’t have a set writing schedule or word count. We usually just get together after work 3-5 days a week and work until we can’t see straight, ha ha!

Steve: If you started a series and for some reason had to have another author finish it, who would you choose?

SoS: If we weren’t able to finish a series, there’s a few writers that come to mind to finish it. Ron Kelly, Somer Canon, or Brian Keene.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

SoS: PANDEMONIUM, ARIZONA is our latest novel, released through Journalstone. It’s about a trashy town in Arizona and a demonic force looking to open the gates of Hell. It involves drug cartels, lot lizards, and a curendera. It’s pretty gross and brutal. We loved writing it.

Steve: Bonus Question! If they made a movie about your life, what actor or actress would you suggest they get to play you?

SoS: If a movie was made about us, we’d probably want Elvira to play both of us, ha ha!

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Great choice! Thank you both for doing this!

To find out more about the Sisters of Slaughter – check the links!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fiendbooks

Book Review: Hell Spring by Isaac Thorne

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Title: Hell Spring

Author: Isaac Thorne

Release date: September 21, 2022

Some reviews are tougher to write, I find, the longer I’ve been reading and leaving reviews.

I really enjoyed Thorne’s debut – ‘The Gordon Place,’ and loved the location. So much so, that when Isaac reached out to see if I’d be up for reading this one, also set in the same place, I was all over it. There’s something about that singular connectivity that really works to draw a reader in – look at King and more recently, Malerman and Baxter.

I was also really, really intrigued with the setup. Almost a reverse or flipped ‘Mist’ idea – instead of a heavy storm/fog rolling in, the characters are stuff in a General Store in 1955 when a flood occurs. Of course, this is a horror novel and there’s something out there that comes in and this is the main aspect of the entire novel. The discovery of the truth within the confines of the store.

Thorne did a solid job on a number of aspects, but I lament the missed opportunities.

What I liked: As I said, the story takes place predominantly within Beard’s General Store, those lucky enough to escape the deluge and flood waters take stock in their surroundings, but also with the other folks present.

Thorne does a fantastic job of creating a wide cross-section of society, and we see how the residents of this small town are God-fearing people, worried that anything they do will prevent them from eternal bliss in the afterlife. It’s this aspect that really dominates the story and becomes the be-all end-all for survival.

There’s a lot that goes on inside the pages, but at the same time, not a lot. It’s hard to describe and I’ll attempt to dig deeper in a moment, but Thorne does a great job of showing the rapid decay of acceptable behavior in a cramped space between the people.

What I didn’t like: I think this would’ve worked significantly better if this was a novella instead of a novel. There’s sections that have a lot of extreme ‘fluff’ in parts that seemed to take away from the flow of the story as well as the tension and the acceleration.

Additionally, the form that the entity takes (Marilyn Monroe) really drove me crazy. I’m not a big fan of moments like these, as it takes away some of the imaginative aspects of it for me as a reader.

Why you should buy this: Overall, I did enjoy this one, I just didn’t love it. It felt good to return to this place that Thorne is creating and the cross-section of characters was a bonus.

Thorne did a great job of creating some chaotic moments and for that, I was able to get past the extra ‘fluff.’

I think this one will be a love it or leave it book for many people. The meat is there, solidly on the bone, I just wish it had less gristle.

3.5/5