Thursday, March 15, 2018

Six Years After That First Hour

A year ago, I interviewed author Kody Boye about his prequel short story, That First Hour, which terrifies readers with a brutal alien invasion. The trilogy itself takes place six years after meeting Jason Parks. Both science fiction and horror fans are certain to enjoy this series.

When They Came is the first book. Even after reading the prequel, I was caught off guard by the devastating way of life the survivors must now endure, several years after the initial Harvesting. Although he is only a supporting character, readers do find out what happened to Jason, as well as Henshaw.

The main character, Ana Mia, has decided to join the Midnight Guard, to protect Fort Hope. Unfortunately, she is injured while on duty and soon realizes the walls will no longer keep them safe. The invasion and harvesting is only the first stage...the dead appear to be the lucky ones.

Kody Boye has created an unusual post-apocalypse soaked in bloody suspense and twisted into a dystopian mystery. With three known alien species and no explanation for their actions, readers can only guess what new hell awaits Ana and her loved ones. The survivors are a mix of civilians and military, as well as the Midnight Guard, scavengers and bandits, with everyone fighting for the scraps of civilization.

I can't wait to continue this series...

As always,

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Huggins Will Rip Out Your Guts [Interview]

Beyond Isaiah by Paul S Huggins follows several survivors throughout a zombie outbreak in the United Kingdom. The POV switches are a great way to pull readers into the chaos and emphasize how an entire country is caught off guard by such a swift and devastating event. However, as the timeline progresses, this novel feel less like one continuous story and more like a collection of stories set in the same undead apocalypse. The characters do cross paths, so their individual experiences eventually merge, but the deeper connection between the survivors is lacking.

Don't misunderstand me, I enjoyed reading Beyond Isaiah...just don't expect to find any comfort in this story. Huggins takes his readers to the ground and rips their guts out...the way a horror author should.

I managed to grab Huggins for a few minutes in the Lair...

Q. How big is the zombie genre in the UK? Do zombiephiles over the pond think they will fare better or worse than the United States?

The UK zombie genre seems to go in fits and starts, there was a major recurrence around 2004 to 2005 that coincided with Worldwide fascination. There was a bit of a dead patch (excuse the pun) but more recently there does seem to be a resurgence, in the last year or so.

Our saving grace in the UK is that we are an island, our downfall would be that we are quite overpopulated. On the plus side we have been fighting off attacks for many centuries, as such the mechanics for defense are already in place, a great many castles. I don’t think the central areas would fare very well, the midlands, London etc. But more remote places like Scotland and parts of Wales are quite remote with rocky terrain, these places would have pockets of survival zones I am sure. If it happened, I don’t think anywhere would fare any better or worse, every part of the globe would be decimated.

Q. Where did the idea for Beyond Isaiah come from?

I was a fan of both David Moody and Iain Mckinnon. Many years ago, I built up a great online relationship with and have subsequently met them on numerous occasions. They gave me the drive to be more proactive with my writing. I had always been a fan of the zombie genre since I first saw that wonderful film ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in the early eighties. It was merely imagining what it would be like here in the UK, as most of my inspiration came from US movies and books.

Q. Why did you choose the format with multiple POVs?

I put a little of myself in every character, I imagine how I would react and what I would say. It wasn’t something that I did on purpose, but it did seem to work out well and fitted over the long timescale. I think it injects a lot more empathy for each character, whether they are good or bad.

Q. What are some of the other horror genres you write about?

The supernatural always peaks my interest and I have written quite a few ‘Ghost’ stories over the years, I also like witchcraft, not surprising as I grew up in a village renowned for a famous case of it.

Q. What can readers expect from you in 2018?

I intend to be very busy. My entire back catalogue is currently being or has been produced for Audible. I’m writing quite a few short stories, I have a half-finished novel which adds witchcraft, ghosts and revenge as the main subjects, tentatively called ‘Past Life Aggression’. I have also been asked to write a zombie related novelette, thankfully I have the time, energy and ideas to keep me very active.

Big thanks to Paul S Huggins!

As always,

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sci-Fi Sunday: Abandon All Hope

Deep Space Dead by Edward Chilvers is an entertaining mix of horror and science fiction. I expected a story about zombies in space, but this novella is so much more. Not only is there a brutal loss of one colony, but the second attempt also fails as the colonists deal with alien mutants, food shortages, rioting and betrayal. In addition to the tragedy in the community, the main characters are struggling with failed relationships and family drama on a personal level. Difficult decisions have to be made and all of them will cost more lives.

I'm satisfied with the ending if this is a stand-alone, but Chilvers could continue the storyline into another book if he wanted to. I would definitely look forward to reading more about Hearthstone...perhaps the next story could be told from Guya's point of view?

I'm moving on from short stories to the full-length novels on both my request list and my personal reading list, but I've been struggling to find time to write reviews. I'm hoping I can catch up on posting this week.

I can't stand to admit this, but I have authors who have been waiting over a year for review requests. However, I'm determined to catch up on all the new sequels for each series in my collections for each genre.

Keep checking back!

As always,

Friday, March 9, 2018

Saturday Shorts: Thomas Tessler

Remorseless by Thomas Tessler is a collection of short stories and flash fiction, featuring the rotten things people do to one another:

BACK IN MY ARMS I WANT YOU is a story told from the POV of an abusive ex-boyfriend.

PREMATURE NOXIA is an unusual tale about voyeurism.

THE INN OF DISTANT SORROWS appears to involve a doppelganger.

IN THE SAND HILLS is a bit of bizarro fiction.

FOR NO ONE...succubus?

IF YOU SEE ME SAY HELLO is favorite.

GOO GIRL is one hell of a white out.

CLUB SAUDADE centers on a struggling musician.

SOMETHING SMALL AND GRAY AND QUICK triggered one of my phobias.

THE WOMAN IN THE CLUB CAR has the look of deliberate misdirection.

THE GOD THING is not for the squeamish.

FINE UNTIL YOU CALLED should be avoided by hypochondriacs.

THE VENTRILOQUIST is the ultimate self-destruction.

10-31-2001 is a flash of evil.

THE INFESTATION AT RALLS features Van Helsing.

Unfortunately, only one story stood out...the rest were interesting, but not really thrilling or terrifying...mostly just people being ugly.

As always,

Friday, March 2, 2018

Tongue-In-Cheek, Throat-In-Teeth

Corporate Cannibal by Gayle Katz is a zombie short story with a twist I've never read before. I like the's so hard to find zombie stories with new ideas. Unfortunately, Erica kind of ruins everything with her lackadaisical attitude. An office building full of zombies isn't enough to qualify this as horror. The story comes across more like dark comedy.

I understand, when authors choose the categories to represent their stories, they want to appeal to as many readers as possible. The thing is, if I do a horror search, I'm expecting horror. I will always have that one key expectation, no matter how hard I try to read something with an open mind. As soon as I get the sense I'm reading some other genre, it's difficult not to feel disappointed.

As always,

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Lori Titus is Setting Fires [Interview]

Blood Relations by Lori Titus is the author's best work yet. I knew, when I interviewed her in June 2015, she was working on a novel about a cult, but I had no idea how elaborate her creation would be. While fallen angels, religious fanatics and supernatural creatures have been quite common in the horror genre for decades, Titus has found an original way to incorporate these themes into story filled with murder, drama, mythology and the metaphysical.

Set in the fictional town of Chrysalis, South Carolina (a setting used in some of her other stories as well), Titus introduces readers to the Congregates, worshipers of the Goddess Phoenix, and the Vilkas, a biker gang resembling a wolf pack. The two groups have fought with each other for generations upon generations, but somehow come to an understanding to create peace. That agreement is broken when both groups have members murdered. The sheriff and few others soon find themselves pulled into an ancient feud, revealing the ongoing horrors hidden within the town of Chrysalis.

The main storyline follows the investigation of a murder, but the flashbacks move forward and backward on their own timeline, depending on which character is remembering past events. As the pieces are laid out here and there, readers will discover previously unknown connections between the characters. It's an unusual writing style, but it adds layers to the suspense. There is never a moment without drama. I loved the ending.

I've known a lot of authors who write amazing stories in the beginning of their career, only to lose their spark and fizzle out into a hot mess. Lori Titus not only found her inner fire early on, but she has also been blazing from one book to the next. I can't wait to read more of her work!

I was so impressed with her latest novel, I invited Titus back to the Lair for another interview:

Q. How did you come up with the premise of Blood Relations? Is this the Creed of Cain project you mentioned back in 2015?

A. Yes, with a few changes. The idea of writing about a cult has been with me for a long time. Back in 2015, I was co-writing on a project with another author. One of the back stories was about a cult, and it got me to thinking about a story idea I had put away and never worked on. I already knew that I wanted this group to utilize supernatural powers, and that one of their ways to keep people submissive is to stalk followers and anyone who dares speak against them.

You’ve probably seen some stories in the news where former members of certain religious organizations have been harassed, stalked or black listed from employment. When you add the supernatural component, it adds an extra amount of pressure and creepiness to the mix.

Q. Did you know from the beginning you would incorporate so many different genres into one story?

A. Yes, I knew it would, but I wasn’t really worried about doing that. There’s a crime story component to it which I thought was important to draw the reader in. There needed to be something to start an investigation. In many cases, you’ll find that the intervention of law enforcement is the only thing that really stops these kind of groups because they aren’t questioned about their lifestyle. No one wants to infringe upon anyone’s religious beliefs.

We follow the sheriff on what appears to be a normal murder investigation, but the reader already knows there’s something worse going on. Eventually we see that all the characters in the story are involved in one way or the other. The mythology aspect comes from adding The Phoenix. I didn’t want a god figure that is like anything focused on in popular religion, so that was an easy fix. I have a thing with birds as symbols of evil in my stories, so it works for me.

Q. How did you decide on your timeline structure? Did you have difficulty placing the pieces of all the different storylines?

A. I started off with the Sheriff. I knew the set-up for the murder, and the story actually began with him. As the story expanded I shifted some scenes, allowing the reader to be one step ahead of Evan as his eyes are being opened to what’s going on around him. I had a clear idea of most of the characters, though a few of them really surprised me. Marlene was originally going to be a character who only appeared in one or two scenes, but she chopped her way into a much bigger role.

As far as timelines, I usually imagine stories beginning at a mid-point that I can work both forward and backwards from. In this case the midpoint is the murder of one of the characters, and the story moves forward from the actions (toward consequences) and backwards (to how this all came to be). Each character holds their own piece of the puzzle.

Q. Some of the characters are involved in deeply traumatizing situations. Were any of the scenes more difficult to write than others?

A. Alexis’ scenes were very hard to write. The words flowed but it was painful. I can say the same about some of the scenes including Bonnie and Sara. Anything involving children and their suffering is difficult.

Q. Will readers see any of these characters again in future novels? Do you think you might write some companion short stories for any of the main characters and their backgrounds, such as Beau and Violet?

A. Violet has actually popped up again in another novella. She’s a descendant of Abigail Drake, the child with supernatural powers in Lazarus. I’m open to maybe working with some of the other characters again. I’m pretty sure people are interested to know more about Marlene.

Q. I have to ask, were any of the characters in Blood Relations related to any of the characters in The Bell House?

A. No, but there is mention of some of the same places since they are in the same town. The bar/burger joint, Finny’s is the same place in both stories, though the owner, William Finny, isn’t mentioned in The Bell House. I imagine Marlene brings Jenna and her friend their lunch in one scene.

Q. Do you have plans to keep using Chrysalis, South Carolina as a setting?

A. Yes, I do. You’ll see that setting mentioned in other stories even when it’s not shown. I am working on a story about a group of characters living in Los Angeles, but one of them is from… you guessed it, Chrysalis. The Vampire Diaries novella I did last year, Chrysalis Lights, is also set there.

Q. We’re only two months into 2018 and you’ve already had an incredible year. Would you please share what you’ve accomplished so far?

A. 2018 has been really something! I started off the year with hitting USA Today Bestseller List in January for Sigils and Spells, a boxed set that I headlined with Hunting in Closed Spaces. I can’t even explain how emotional that was for me, since Hunting was my first full length novel. My fellow authors and I are finalists for The Bram Stoker Award for Sycorax’s Daughters. We’ll find out March 3rd if we actually win it. Linda Addison is the only black woman to ever win a Stoker, so just being a finalist is a huge thing, especially in an anthology with 33 black female authors.

Q. What will the rest of this year bring for you and your fans?

A. Oh, there’s a lot in store this year. I have three releases planned for this Spring/Summer. I am also working on Soul Bonded, a novel that I hope to have out by the end of the year. I am in contract negotiations for another project and I will let everyone know the details of that when I am able.

Thanks for the updates! Always a pleasure chatting with you!

Readers can find out more about Lori Titus at these links:

Amazon link:   Lori Titus

As always,

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Dear John, A Letter To The Undead by Michael Kelso is a personal account of how a zombie outbreak begins in one city. Jonathan is sharing his story from a prison cell. Although he appears to be a type of survivalist, open to the possibility of a zombie apocalypse, his preparedness doesn't do him any good. I found this story to be more realistic than many other undead scenarios.

I think you'll be seeing more of Kelso's work in the Lair this year...

I can't help but wonder how many of us could easily end up in Jonathan's situation. All it takes is one wrong decision or one moment of hesitation and even the best laid plans come tumbling down. Do we really know what we would do in his situation? Really?

As always,