Book Review: The Guardians by Andrew Pyper

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Title: The Guardians

Author: Andrew Pyper

Release date: January 4th, 2011

‘When we were young, the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat’

Those opening lyrics from The Offspring song ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ (minus the woah-oh’s) always hit me every time I listen to them. There’s a few things you probably already know about me, if you’ve read my reviews, any of my interviews or read any of my work. The first, is that I am from a very small town in British Columbia, Canada. The second is that I often write about themes of isolation, the struggle to find where we belong, and that I am a massive Andrew Pyper fan.

I first read this novel back in March of 2020. Back then, in my review, in my ‘what I didn’t like’ section, I wrote this; It’s hard to sum up, but what I didn’t like was the main character Trevor and how much he reminded me of myself. Trevor left small town Grimshaw and owned a night club and was a big deal, according to him. He doesn’t want to go back, but he knows he must for his friend and to try and put closure on what happened all those years ago. I did a similar thing. For me, I longed and desired to leave where I grew up as fast as I could and for many, many years, I had my nose raised at those that stayed behind and never left. But who am I to judge? If they are happy, great. It’s their life. It took me many years to let myself let go of my snobbish views. So, reading how Trevor was acting and reacting reminded me a lot of my younger self. Uncomfortably so.

Honestly, now having finished this for a second time, that sentiment has been driven home even more. 

For this re-read, I did something a little different. I put out a post seeing if any one else would like to join me in a read along! I’ve previously only done two read along’s – each just with a buddy. It was a ton of fun, and when five other folks signed up, I was over the moon. It lead to some fantastic discussions and it was neat to see that the one thing we all agreed upon was how compulsive Andrew’s prose is. I’ve often said that when I read Andrew’s work, it is as though he’s written the story just for me, that I fall into his words and get carried along and it was neat to see others respond that way and want to race ahead and finish the book.

What I liked: The novel follows 40-year-old Trevor, recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, who has sold his night club and wants to live a sheltered life away from people seeing his shakes and difficulties. That possibility is shattered when he gets a phone call late at night from one of his old high school friends, letting him know that Ben, one of their best friends, has taken his own life.

From there, Andrew jumps between past and present, between how things used to be between the four friends with their entire lives and dreams ahead of them, and how things turned out. How one is an addict, one is a failed actor, one is dealing with a neurological disease and one took their own life. A life that was spent watching out of his attic bedroom window at the old Thurman house, a house that holds a dark place in their respective histories.

Once again, I felt drawn into this read. This was a coming-of-age story that hit a number of high notes and as I’m a 40-year-old male from a small town, really connected. I’ve often wondered if I might need to look into speaking to a counsellor or therapist regarding some of my feelings about my upbringing and where I came from. About how ‘that place’ has left an indelible mark on my character and mannerisms and how I not only miss so much about where I came from, but also how much I detest and have anger towards things. It’s a lot to unpack, but some sentences Andrew includes throughout really hit the bullseye and a few times I was left in tears. I don’t know if Andrew reads my reviews of his work (maybe if he reads this, he’ll send me a DM or message that says ‘Leafs Rule!’ ha!) but once again, I’m left wondering how much of this book was an autobiographical approach to personal catharsis through the veil of a ghost story. Funny enough – I just messaged that exact sentiment to the group chat! 

The ending of this one was, as Andrew has been known to occasionally do (looking at you The Demonologist) vague and open to interpretation. I personally loved seeing how Trevor subtly changed, but I wanted to have a firmer grip on how his high school love, Sarah, and his relationship progressed. She was the perfect foil to his immaturity towards settling down and being with someone that loved him and I think a bit more to that would’ve been nice.

‘Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn
The kids are grown up, but their lives are worn
How can one little street swallow so many lives?’

What I didn’t like: As with the last time, what I didn’t like was very much how poignantly personal this one rang home. It reinforced that I still have work to do with my own journey of trying to understand where I came from and how I got to where I am today. 

I will say, for other readers, this one is very much a small-town, coming-of-age in Canada story, so for some readers, this just may not connect. It is very male-centric, which also may cause some readers to not connect as much with it as I did.

Why you should read this: Written about a decade before Craig Davidson’s fantastic ‘The Saturday Night Ghost Club,’ fans of that book will definitely want to dive into this one. I would be interested to know if Craig was influenced at all by this one. ‘The Guardians’ is another great example of Andrew’s ‘Literary Dark Fiction,’ how he writes like a master craftsman who (deservedly so) publishes with a Big Five publisher, but remains rooted in the horror world, in the spooky and unnerving and has those indie author leanings towards gore and graphic moments. 

It should be no surprise to anyone that I loved this one and if you’re looking for a Canadian high school, small town, ghost story, look no further.

5/5

 

3Q’s Special – Theresa Braun never wakes a sleepwalker!

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I try really hard to have a solid memory about book stuff – so I am super duper confident that today’s guest has the distinction of being the first author out there to ever ask me for a blurb! I still remember getting the message and being completely blown away that someone as talented as Theresa was asking ME (WHAT!) to blurb their work! 

I’m a huge fan of Theresa’s work and I’m super excited to welcome her as today’s Special 3Q’s Bonus guest!

Please, welcome Theresa!

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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?
TB: Ugh. I really wish I had a much better answer for this. Currently, I’m trying to strategize what I can do regarding my day job so that I can set aside more time and energy for my writing. Being an educator means that the bulk of my time is grading, grading, and more grading. And grading some more… When I’m not working, I really work best when I have a deadline—like a submission call or a set release date. That really lights a fire under me! I would love to one day get into a daily writing schedule with a word count minimum. #lifegoals


Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
TB: I would definitely reach out to Steve Stred. He’s super down-to-earth and such a genuine person. Not to mention, he has such a creative mind and a fun personality. Hanging out and brainstorming with him would be epic. (Is that against the rules to invite the interviewer? If so, I’ll continue with 3 more…) (Steve note – I usually try and not comment on interview replies – but this would be so much fun! Especially with J.H.!!)
J.H. Moncrieff is a top choice. A fun fact—we both met on a writers’ retreat in Transylvania eons ago, where we found out we clicked and had so much in common. I adore her as a person, and I admire her as a writer. What a gem of a human being. We’re actually travelling together soon and hope to discover some new haunted places—fodder for inspiring future fiction.
I’d love to invite Candace Robinson. We’ve been long-time virtual friends (she’s also in the Emporium of Superstition with me!) and have supported each other for years. Whenever either of us needs a beta-read, we have each other’s backs. She’s been a great cheerleader and source of information, especially when it comes to starting up TikTok, for example. (I swore I’d never get on there, and now I’m eating my own words). She’s got such spunky, creative energy and would be a ton of fun.
Caryn Larrinaga is another pick for an invitation. She’s another author friend in my life who has that vibrant, creative vibe. Such an imaginative and genuine person, not to mention such an amazing support. I’m sure we’d be up all night spinning ghost stories and hatching spooky plots.
If I could invite 3 authors I don’t know personally, alive or dead, here’s my list: Mary Shelley, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Taylor Jenkins Reid. Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare would definitely be runners up, though…


Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
TB: In October, Emporium of Superstition was released. It’s a spooky anthology of revamped old wives’ tales. A total of twelve female authors “draw on the ancient tales your grandmothers warned you about. From demons living amongst humans, to ghosts lurking in the shadows, and even gods looming above, these recountings will surely inspire a fright.” (That’s from the book blurb). My story is about why you should never wake a sleepwalker! A teenage son is terrified that his father is going to do harm to himself or others while he sleeps; however, the son has his own horrific secrets he’s been keeping.
Here are a couple of plugs for this amazing anthology:
“This gorgeous, epic tome of dark fantasy and horror tales is absolutely unforgettable. Featuring established authors like Theresa Braun and Candace Robinson along with a number of promising newcomers, this book takes you on a journey through magic and the macabre. You don’t want to miss Emporium of Superstition. It’s sure to be one of the best anthologies of the year.” –Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens and Reluctant Immortals
“From cats stealing your breath, to the misfortune of cracked mirrors, this tricky little trove of bite-sized horrors is candy for the superstitious, and will quench the craving for a Halloween treat.” –A.G. Howard, best-selling author of the Splintered Series


Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
TB: What an incredible question! That really made me think. I’ve always been a fan of vampires, probably since birth. There’s something sexy about having such control over mortals, while at the same time being invincible. And the power of seduction they have is pretty cool. That’s not even taking into consideration the atmospheric castle and gothic décor—yes, please! Also, I’d imagine that vampires would be masters of conversation (being alive for so long and all), and that really turns me on. I realize there are downsides to the undead, but it’s just one dinner/overnight stay, right? Besides, Victor Frankenstein is super into himself and his creation. If he didn’t have the time of day for his fiancé, I doubt he’d have much interest in bonding with me. He might have invited me to his humble abode, but I’m less interested in what he has to say. Every time I read the novel, I root for the poor monster.

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Excellent choice! Thank you so much, Theresa for doing this! Keep an eye out, as the audiobook of Fountain Dead will be arriving soon, as well as a new release!

To find more of her work – check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Theresa-Braun/e/B007YTA6C2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tbraun_author

3Q’s: Pete Mesling has multiple versions of himself!

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You ever just randomly connect with someone and become fast friends and you genuinely want them to succeed? Somewhere along the line, Pete and I connected and I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. I’ve loved seeing his new works arrive and I’m so happy to have him on 3Q’s today!

Please, do welcome Pete!

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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?

Pete: I’m going to say something here that’s anathema to many writers (at least to their social media personas). I’ve stopped writing for the time being, and I’m okay with that. It’s not permanent. I’ve spent years putting in the daily grind. I know what it takes. When I’m ready for that level of commitment again, I’ll dive back in. Anyone who’s read the preface to my new horror collection, Fool’s Fire, knows that I have plenty of fiction planned for the future, but I also started a new job recently. It’s rewarding, but it’s also demanding. It’s going to take everything I’ve got for a while. Give me a few months and I’ll take up my hair shirt and scourge once more, demanding of myself that I write at least some amount each day. I take the craft of writing seriously, so I have no interest in half-assing it.

Steve: You end up at an estate sale and discover an unpublished manuscript from an author you love. Do you keep it just for yourself or do you share it with the world?

Pete: Fun question! And potentially revealing, morally. If the author was still living, I’d probably reach out to them directly and honor their wishes as to the manuscript’s fate (after reading it, of course). But if it was the work of a deceased writer, I’d likely keep it. If a library, museum, or collector was interested, I’d be willing to negotiate. Ha!

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

Pete: Fool’s Fire has been out since October 1, and it’s my third in-print collection. This is me returning to my horror roots, so I hope that fact alone is appealing to some readers. Since my last horror collection I’ve published an assassination novel, a crime collection, a book of poetry, and a children’s fantasy novel, so it was refreshing to let out the reins a bit with this collection, in terms of a terror quotient. Plus, Alan M. Clark provided the cover art. What more incentive do you need?

Steve: Bonus Question! You wake up in a comic book. What is your comic book character and what is your superpower?

Pete: Version 1: Skip Driscoll, private music tutor. I pass out drunk in an alfalfa field one night and wake up in Victorian London the next morning, invisible but able to start fires with my snot (unable not to, in fact). Chaos ensues.

Version 2: Dubbed the Cutter by newspapers and TV anchors, I roam the streets of Fargo, North Dakota, excising the indigent–for a fee. People pay to watch from the shadows as I slice and dice the homeless and destitute. No jail can hold me, as I’ve been able to control all types of metal with my will ever since a cranial injury in a smelting plant left me near dead. Not that incarceration comes up all that often. In fact, I’ve never been jailed for the thing I’m most known for.

Version 3: Captain Apathy. My hyper-acute hearing allows me to pinpoint the distress of the victimized. The hell of it is, I can’t be bothered to do anything about it. Crime in my city is on the rise, while I order another pizza and drink another beer. There must be something worth watching on YouTube.

Haha, love it! And love that we got some great variety!

Thank you so much for doing this Pete!

To find more of his work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pete-Mesling/e/B003KIUS0Q

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PMesling

Blog: https://www.petemesling.com/blog

3Q’s – Geneve Flynn just wants a fancy meal!

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Today’s guest is somebody who continues to put out thoughtful pieces of brutality. I came upon her work through her numerous anthology appearances and she’s always been supportive and super encouraging!

Please do welcome Geneve to 3Q’s today!

Geneve
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?
Geneve: I write during the day, with many numerous tea breaks, and I try to hit key moments in the story rather than a specific word count. My process tends to involve plenty of thinking time and research—lots of strange rabbit holes, collecting flotsam and jetsam that may or may not make it into the final piece of work, or that may send the story off in a completely unplanned direction. I’ll often do a rough outline, and I might have a beginning line, a last line, or a scene from a particularly vivid dream. When I’ve built up enough irresistible momentum, I’ll write and write and write until the story’s done. Then I’ll emerge, a little glassy-eyed and incoherent, but euphoric.

Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
Geneve: Only three? Oh, that’s tough.
I’d invite my dear friends, Lauren Elise Daniels and Pamela Jeffs. They’re my first readers and the people who know my writing inside and out. They both write gorgeous speculative fiction so we’d have plenty to chat about. The third invite would go to my Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women co-editor, Lee Murray. You can’t spend time around Lee and not be inspired. She’s one of the kindest, most talented, and hardest working authors in the horror world; plus, Lee’s terrific fun. Whenever we get together, we end up making wildly ambitious plans.
Are you sure I can’t invite more? I’d love to have all the authors from Black Cranes, Tortured Willows, and Unquiet Spirits aboard. Being part of that groundswell has given me the sisterhood I never had. Maybe Lee and I could hatch a plan to sneak all the Crane/Willow/Spirit Sisters onto the island. Now that would be a caper.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Geneve: Chromophobia, a women-in-horror anthology edited by Bram Stoker Award®-winner Sara Tantlinger, came out in July this year. I loved Sara’s previous anthology, Not All Monsters, so I was delighted when my short horror story “Double Happiness” was accepted for her latest outing as an editor.
“Double Happiness” plays with the perception of red as a symbol of good luck and fecundity in Chinese culture, and explores the practice of ghost marriage. My main character, Jin, is a sly, greedy ne’er-do-well, and I had great fun putting him through the courtship from hell.
I also have a horror short story called “They Call Me Mother” in James Aquilone’s Classic Monsters Unleashed. The anthology also came out in July and was the highest-funded horror fiction anthology in Kickstarter history. My story is a reimagining of a famous monster (I won’t say which one, as that’s part of the ending reveal) and was a response to how allegations of sexual misconduct, and gendered violence were dealt with by the Australian government.

Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
Geneve: Hmmm. I feel like a night at the good doctor’s house would require some potpourri or Vicks under the nose. All those body bits? Surely, things would be a bit whiffy. On the other hand, I’m one of those people who attracts every mosquito within miles after five minutes in the garden, so I might not survive a night with the Count. Although, Dracula would probably be a better host than Frankenstein; I imagine he’d go all-out for a dinner guest, so at least I’d get a fancy meal before becoming one of the undead. I’ll go with Dracula.

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Great thinking!

Thank you so much, Geneve!

To follow her journey and find more of her work – check the links!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlynnGeneve

Website: http://www.geneveflynn.com.au/

Book Review: Heroin in the Magic Now by Terry M. West

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Title: Heroin in the Magic Now

Author: Terry M. West

Release date: First published August 27, 2014, re-released January 31st, 2022

Huge thanks to Terry M. West for reaching out and sending me a digital copy to review.

I have to admit, the title of this one perplexed me. No matter what way I read it, it just didn’t click in my brain. The synopsis is intriguing on it’s own. A washed-up, heroin-addicted director of seedy porn, Gary Hack struggles to find meaning in life and bounces from gig to gig to fund his habit.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into, but I went in with as open of a mind as I could. Terry had mentioned that it gets dark, so I was excited to see what level of brutality we’d be getting.

What I liked: West introduces us to Hack early on, finding out that his addiction, occupation and absentee nature has forced his family away from him. The world is a different place now. Night Things walk among us and are fighting to have equal rights as humans. This includes Zombies, Ghoul’s, Werewolves, Vampires and many more oddities. From this, a new adult film niche has sprouted involving humans and this creatures, as well as creature on creature.

Hack finds himself at a crossroads. West does a fantastic job of showcasing this aging, out-of-shape addict struggling with his own morality, his ethical boundaries and just what he’ll ultimately do to fund his habit. Where is his line and when he finds it, how far is he willing to push it further to keep the cash flow coming.

The story does have some graphic moments, but I found them far tamer than I was expecting. It might be because I was so focused and on board with Hack’s character arc that I simply wasn’t as engaged with the filming and explicit parts as much as if I was purely reading to read extreme moments.

The ending definitely sets up for further entries in this story, but also closes a lot of the storylines introduced throughout.

What I didn’t like: For me, personally, I’m simply not a huge fan of humanized creatures like what is within. I did like the story line with Kat and her humanity vs monster aspect and I wish it had continued on as it was very compelling, but the parts about filming and pushing the boundaries and ‘who cares about these monsters’ moments wasn’t as big of a draw for me as a reader. It kind of felt a bit like when Tru Blood went off the rails and started to introduce a bunch of the other creatures in further seasons.

Why you should buy this: At it’s heart, ‘Heroin in the Magic Now’ is a dark, introspective look at a man struggling with his place in the world, when everything he loves has left him and the only thing he has left to fill that void is his habit. This one flows nicely and the pacing is pitch perfect. Definitely one to keep an eye on, especially if you love stories with a variety of creatures.

4/5

3Q’s – L.J. Dougherty will make you a stiff drink

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Cryptids. Spies. Suspense. Apocalyptic.

Those four words accurate sum-up what you’ll find in today’s guests first three releases.

I connected with L.J. a while back when I was fortunate enough to appear on a Podcast with him, David Sodergren and Cameron Roubique. L.J. keeps upping the ante with each release and I’m excited to see what we get next!

Please, welcome L.J.!

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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?

LJ: Currently, I write at night after my 3 year old falls asleep. I don’t ever give myself a word count to hit. Some nights I’ll get a couple hundred words, others I’ll get 3-4k. It all depends on how thin that veil is between the real world and the world I’m writing about each night. The more immersed I am, the quicker those words flow.

Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?

LJ: David Sodergren- I’m a huge fan of his work, and would love to chat with him about his books over a few glasses of scotch. Plus he seems rather knowledgeable about islands.

My best friend, Cameron Roubique. He’s one of the funniest people I know and would keep the entertainment level high.

Ross Jeffery- I’d love an opportunity to meet him in person one of these days. Just the nicest guy and one hell of a writer.

I think that’d be a fun group.

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

LJ: Woodhaven came out July 30th. It’s an anxiety-inducing survival horror novella about a father and daughter doing their best to adapt to life in their family cabin following a violent government overthrow. It’s a a home invasion meets siege story that ramps up to a 100 on page one and never slows down. My goal was to make it feel as close to experiencing a 90 minute thriller film in prose form as possible, and I think I accomplished that.

Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?

LJ: I’d accept Victor’s offer. I wouldn’t survive a night in Dracula’s castle. Mosquitos love me, so I’d assume I’d be a delicacy for Vampires. With Frankenstein, death wouldn’t be certain, plus I’d love to see that laboratory.

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Great choice!

Thank you so much L.J. for doing this!

Keep up with his work by checking the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/L-J-Dougherty/e/B09QNJJ42P

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LJ_Dougherty

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/l.j.dougherty/

3Q’s – Bridgett Nelson delivers a Bouquet!

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Another fun one today with an author who continues to deliver brutal and poignant stories! Bridgett is supportive, kind and always encouraging!

Please, do welcome Bridgett!

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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?

BN: I am a very undisciplined writer, in that I don’t write at specific times, I don’t typically have a word count goal, and I don’t write every day. I’ve found when I try to implement these things, it really stifles the creative process for me—which isn’t a great thing when you’re on a deadline.  I have to be inspired to write; otherwise, I just sit and stare at the screen.

In other words, I’m naughty.

Steve: You end up at an estate sale and discover an unpublished manuscript from an author you love. Do you keep it just for yourself or do you share it with the world?

BN: I would take that sucker home and share it with a few of my closest author friends, just so we could giggle maniacally at conventions and say in singsong-y voices, “We know something that you don’t know!”

In other words, I’m immature.

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

BN: My debut collection, A BOUQUET OF VISCERA, was published in March. It’s a fairly extreme, very dark, revenge-filled set of eight stories. Jeff Strand, Bram Stoker Award winner, said my story, “Jinx” was a ‘Jack Ketchum level kick in the gut.’” Another reviewer said about “Jinx” – “I found it both disturbing and repugnant. And that’s really saying something after reading AMERICAN PSYCHO. After finishing it, I really considered tossing this book and giving it a horrible review…”

In other words, my book makes landfills look boujie.

Steve: Bonus Question! You wake up in a comic book. What is your comic book character and what is your superpower?

BN: My name would be Pugantula! I’d lure evil people/creatures into my web with my adorable snorts and squishy face. Hiking my leg and peeing on them is a must. Then, of course, being half tarantula, I’d bite into them with my fangs, kill them with my venom, and dissolve their flesh so I could eat and digest them. But you got that I was super cute, right?

In other words, you really shouldn’t trust me.

Lol! Excellent choice!

Thank you so much for doing this Bridgett!

To find more of her work, please do follow the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bridgett-Nelson/e/B08D36NFNP/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bnelsonauthor

Website: https://www.bridgettnelson.com/

3Q’s Special: Naben Ruthnum and his human body exploration!

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Don’t you love it when an author suddenly lands in front of your eye balls with an amazing piece of fiction? Such was the case with today’s amazing guest, Naben Ruthnum. Michael Kelly, from Undertow Publications had kindly sent me an advanced digital copy of ‘Helpmeet,’ Naben’s upcoming release. When I got it, I devoured it and was blown away! Since it’s release, folks have been raving about it and naturally, I knew I needed to convince Naben to do a 3Q’s – and he has! Naben is known for writing both under his pseudonym Nathan Ripley as well as under his own name!

Please welcome Naben!

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(Steve’s note – Naben indicated he currently is in the process of getting new author photos done and requested I simply use the cover of Helpmeet in place of an author photo)

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?

NR: This one’s very project-dependent. Just now I’m in the edit / rewrite of a young readers book I have coming out next year, so most of my writing time this month is just about getting through X numbers of chapters a day as I approach the deadline. I’d guess I’m writing about 1000 new words a day and deleting a bit less than that! When I’m working on a new manuscript, I try to hit a weekly word count, not a daily one.

Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?

NR: Going to be boring and stick to friends—Kris Bertin, author of the Hobtown comics, Sam Wiebe, author of the Dave Wakeland novels, and Patrick Tarr, showrunner and TV writer. They’re all great at getting their work done, so there’d be some discipline, but also they are not annoying writer-types so it would be a fun hang.

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

NR: Latest release is Helpmeet, a novella with Undertow Publications. What it has going for it is that it’s short, and that I rooted the style in the 19th century ghost fiction that I love while exploring the extremes of body horror and love, strongly inspired by Cronenberg and Barker.

Thank you so much, Naben!

To check out more of his work, follow the links!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NabenRuthnum

3Q’s – EV Knight wants to slip her hands beneath your flesh!

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Does my guest need an introduction? Sure, why not? Otherwise it would be kind of weird if it just started and you were all like “who the heck is this today?” Although I doubt it.

Award winning author. Awesome person. Super supportive. Always encouraging. And conjurer of severe brutality!

Please do welcome EV!

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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?
EV: Oh, how I wish I had a great answer for this. My writing time looks like I am some sort of broke addict searching my couch for enough coins to get a little fix for the day. I dream about a time in the future where I have a set schedule, a place where I always go to write, or even a word count goal. But my writing life is currently supported by my day job: Obstetrics physician. And if you’ve ever met a baby, you know they don’t care about anyone’s schedule or to-do list. They are very greedy and narcissistic like that! (I love babies by the way, this is a terrible joke and I hope I did not offend any of you babies out there) So, for now, I grab every day off, every moment between patients, and time when I probably should be doing things like dishes, laundry, sleep, brushing my hair, etc and I write. I may single-handedly be keeping the Post-It Note stocks high as I carry them around in my scrubs and jacket for anytime an idea strikes.
Bottom line for budding writers: Do not emulate this style unless you like spending money on a therapist to deal with your massive guilt complexes and insomnia.

Steve: You end up at an estate sale and discover an unpublished manuscript from an author you love. Do you keep it just for yourself or do you share it with the world?
EV: I am the worst secret keeper when it comes to gift giving so if I have something I know someone else would love, it’s super hard for me not to give it to them immediately. I would share that sucker in a heartbeat. Plus, in these times, art of every kind is the one thing we can all cling to for joy, I’d never hoard joy like that.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
EV: My newest work Three Days in The Pink Tower is a novella very near and dear to me. It’s a piece of auto-fiction based on a kidnapping and sexual assault I endured at the age of seventeen. I’ve thought about telling the story for a long time but didn’t know how I wanted to present it. Plus, in a world full of #metoo, it seemed almost grandiose of me to assume my story was somehow more important than anyone else’s. I wanted to tell it because it had been eating away at me for thirty years but at the same time, I was so tired of it too.
But I realized that as a fiction writer, I could tell the story any way I wanted. And as I wrote, as I wove in the Tarot mythology, I started to feel this sort of power. I was not the frightened girl in the story, I was the High Priestess guiding her through it. It was, after all, MY story. A story forced upon me but still mine and I could do whatever I wanted to my characters; I could end it however I wanted. That was when I realized the importance of sharing my trauma in this way. I wanted to present it as both a piece of art created from trauma but also as a sort of manual on how to take your story back, how to take the pain someone else gave you and wield it as a superpower. I wanted to inspire others to do that. It’s a tough read, I know. And it’s probably not for everyone, but I do hope those who do read it, find not just darkness but the light of inspiration as well.
Also, I have a short story in the soon-to-be-released anthology Into The Forest: Tales of The Baba Yaga by Black Spot Books. My story is called “Stork Bites” and it explores a horrifying option for women in a world where safe, medical abortions are illegal.

Steve: Bonus Question! You wake up in a comic book. What is your comic book character and what is your super power?
EV: Okay, I’m going for super weird because flying and mind reading would probably get old quickly. I’ve had this character in mind for awhile, and coming from a medical background I think this is what I would choose. Born without fingernails or fingerprints, our heroine discovers the ability to slide her hands into the flesh (basically between the cells so when she takes it back out, no wound, no blood loss) of other living creatures—think the creepy priest from Temple of Doom—and remove whatever—organs, tumors, bullets, etc. You could go evil and become the highest-ranking person in the black-market organ trade or you could save lives everyday by removing all sorts of foreign objects, masses, infections.
I don’t know, this sounds crazy as I write it. But I’m sticking with it. I’m a horror writer after all.

Oh wow! That’s intense! Sounds like a Barker Cenobite waiting to come to screen!

Thank you so much, EV!
To find more of her work, check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/EV-Knight/e/B083WPHXSD

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EVKnightAuthor

3Q’s: Jason Parent is willing to give up daylight!

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Fun one today friends! Jason Parent is a horror vet, having seen the highs and lows that come with writing dark fiction. Throughout it all, he’s continued to churn out some really great reads, while also being super supportive to so many of his colleagues.

Please, do welcome Jason!

jason parent

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?
Jason: I suppose I suffer from writer’s bulimia… I binge and purge. I’m sure some of my tougher critics would say I vomit out work, lol. But I have no set schedule. I generally work long hours at another job… and also work another job on top of that… and have a not-so-healthy video game addiction… so when I get breaks, I tend to lock myself away until I can finish a first draft. This works well with shorter works: I tell the whole story at once, so continuity is never an issue. Lately, I am having difficulty finding time for novels, so it may be a bit before I release another. I also have to “feel” it – I know some writers suggest writing day in and day out even if uninspired, but if my heart’s not in it, what comes out is vomitus, or at least vomitous.

Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
Jason: I’ve actually thought about doing this, either open invitation or invite only, though I doubt anyone would take me up on it that isn’t already a friend. I am moving into a house that I would love to share with others – perfect amenities for a relaxing getaway (and necessary for a wound tight person like me). The problem is that I am so introverted and socially awkward, I’d probably just come off as creepy if I tried, so I don’t bother.
Assuming this question is asking for the writer’s dream team you, first up would be Robert McCammon. I was hoping to meet him at a Borderlands Bootcamp during Covid, but… Covid. While others praise Swan Song and Boy’s Life (the latter being my preference of the two), my favorite series of all time is his Matthew Corbett series, in which he raises a middle finger to genre boundaries, much in the way I try to (with much less success).
Next would be Jack Ketchum. I started attending writerly things just a bit too late to meet the man, as he regularly attended events I now go to. So much raw talent and honed skill – Ketchum could make you bleed with the stroke of his pen. Red still leaves me wounded.
Finally, and I will cheat a bit here, but the old Bad Apples anthology crew. These folks saw something in my writing at a time I might have otherwise given it up. So whatever my writing career is in all its successes and failures, I owe its existence in part to them. And I gained a few real friends along the way.
But hell, I genuinely want to support other writers and writing in general. All non-Ds are welcome, including you, Steve! And Bruce Campbell! He’s welcome too (he’s got at least one book…).

(FINALLY SOMEONE CHOOSES ME!!!! 🙂 )

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Jason: On October 7th, Crystal Lake released its third volume in its Dark Tide anthology series. For those not familiar with Dark Tide, Crystal Lake has collected novellas from three authors for each volume that are linked both in subject matter and also – to varying degrees – in actual content. The theme of our volume (written with the fabulous Kevin Lucia and Jeremy Bates) is Halloween, and all stories take place in Kevin’s already existing Clifton Heights universe. I had a lot of fun cameoing characters, cross-referencing events, and planting Easter eggs for the most attentive readers. But my story itself, about two college students who pledge a fraternity, is one of the most brutal and personally difficult stories I’ve ever written. It contains material (with warning) that some readers may find triggering, but at the same time, it is also one of the most powerful stories I’ve written to date.

Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
Jason: I’d take my chances with Dracula. I’d give up daylight (and survive off animal blood) for the superpowers of a vampire. Most likely, he’s just turn me into Renfield, but hey… no risk, no reward. And the reward is great – I’d have an excuse to wear puffy shirts and tight leather pants across centuries. Yeah, I’d be that kind of vampire.

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Great decision!

Thanks again Jason for doing this!
To find all of his work, please do check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Parent/e/B008XMAMBY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJasParent