Saturday, October 31, 2015


On behalf of Halloweenpalooza, thanks so much for agreeing to participate. Id like to start with a few quickies thatll help us get to know you a little better.
Favorite color: orange, which I hear is the new black.
Favorite food: coffee with cream.
Favorite horror movie: The Innocents, although one of my favorites is the Chucky doll series, primarily because when I was in my mid-20s in Hollywood, I knew Don Mancini who was in his early 20s had just written the first original script, which was genius, and Don was himself remarkable (still is) and he’s gone on to really create an icon in the horror movie genre with his famous doll. So for that reason alone, Chucky will always be a favorite.
Favorite scream queen: Nancy Allen in the Brian DePalma movie Blow-Out has a great scream queen moment and also brought poignancy to a role that otherwise would’ve been a bit thankless. She’s an actress who hasn’t really gotten her due for her past work – from Carrie to Dressed to Kill, she really had wonderful moments in those movies.
Favorite film scene (one that made you get all queasy scream for help ): I tend to never get queasy in movies but if I did I wouldn’t define that as a favorite scene or even a favorite movie. I wish I had a better answer.  Among favorite horror movies, there’s this scene in a recent movie called The Awakening, near the opening of the movie – a wonderful séance scene, that plays  out beautifully. Another recent movie called The Canal has this wonderfully ballsy and horrifying horror moment in its last seconds that is barely seen but the implication of its horror lingers. In another movie called Jamie Marks is Dead there’s a ghost haunting the house in which she murdered someone and all you hear are the sounds of the night of horror. Really wonderful.  I love when a movie’s creator or team gets very creative in setting up a sense of darkness. I prefer that to anything over-the-top or some flashy CGI effects.
Guilty Pleasure: No pleasures should be guilty. 
Have you ever carved a pumpkin: Once or twice, but I’ve always felt bad for the pumpkin and never enjoyed the experience.
Favorite place to write: wherever I am. Somewhere near my husband (but not the same room). Usually with a dog at my feet and a cat near my shoulder.
Favorite monster:  Catherine, the mother in Steinbeck’s East of Eden.
1.          What’s the best thing about writing horror?
The act of writing stories I want to write.
2.         In terms of Halloween, was it/is it a big part of your life? Do you have any memories that standout?
A few, but I enjoy it primarily because of its mythology and also because it takes place in October. I think everyone has a season they feel most alive during. For me, it’s mid-September through December first. Although I love a good summer, it’s that moment when the leaves turn color, when you need to put on a sweater to go for a walk, when – here in New England – the maple syrup runs, the apples ripen, the sea-coast is at its dramatic best, and the word “brisk” describes everything. And of course, the wonderful night of Halloween when the kids come by for candy and I get to see the great costumes.
3.     What is it that attracts you to writing horror? Why did you choose that genre?
I didn’t choose.  I just started writing stories that interested me when I was a little kid, and supernatural stories intrigued me the most.
I begin writing about someone, or a place, and then a story comes from it, and I often think I’m writing a love story but then it goes very, very dark.
I don’t think of it as horror anymore, I think of it as dark fiction – which extends to fairy tales and fables, fantasy, suspense and pretty much any other area. “Horror” means different things to different people, and what shocks or scares one person may do nothing for another. The idea of fiction that journeys into a dark place, that’s what interests me. I write mostly to get the words right, for clarity, for rhythm, to create a narrative and explore the human condition within a dark world, to translate my imagination into language.

I honestly mainly write in order to give my days a sense of meaning. To me, that’s the main value of work and spending time at all. Other people do other things in order to achieve that.
4.         Since you’re the author of several acclaimed novels, could you please post an excerpt where you think nailed it and done horror proud?
To me, a story or novel is taken as a whole and the effect of one part isn’t achieved in an excerpt but in the mounting story that leads to it. I also know that when I’ve looked for the place where a great author has nailed the horror in a story I find this actually never works in isolation from the pages that preceded that moment.  
In fact, the horror scene in isolation nearly always seem ludicrous (with some exceptions, including the opening paragraph of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House). You need context for horror to genuinely be horrifying. It’s the same in romance fiction – you isolate the love scene and of course you can make fun of it – but if that scene works it’s because of the way the writer created tension in getting there. Same with murder mysteries and many other types of fiction. The big moment is meaningless without what led to it.
The suspension of disbelief is important in all fiction (and non-fiction), but in horror fiction, it’s absolutely vital, and to achieve that effect, the writer has to build to the most unbelievable moment.
5.   What scares you?
The uncontrollable future. But it also delights me. Also, the engraving of the past on current thoughts – both a curse and a boon, depending on the day.
6.         Have you had any encounters with the supernatural? What do you think of people who experiment with occult items like the Ouija board?
Yes, at least once. It was in a house my parents owned in California at one point and I was spending some time there while waiting (hoping) for my first novel to be published (which it was, a few months later).
 I’d be falling asleep some nights and see this old farmer in a straw hat looking in at me from the doorway as if he didn’t know why I was there. The second I got a sense of his features, he wasn’t there.
 I thought it was a moment of hypnagogia.
Never mentioned it to my parents. Then, one day someone visited the house. I sat in the living room with my parents and this someone (I can’t remember who it was now) asked if I’d ever seen a ghost. I said, “Yes, in this house,” and as I was about to mention what I’d seen, my mother quickly said, “The old farmer with the hat?”

She’d never mentioned this before. Nor had I. She’s seen him too, at the doorway to her bedroom. I’d never even heard my parents discuss ghosts or ghost stories or anything like it. Took my breath away. It was exactly what I’d experienced. We had a sense he was a benevolent presence. The house was an old adobe ranch that had been built in the ‘20s, and was large for an old adobe – a huge Spanish courtyard, three bedrooms, reflecting pool, on the edge of the orange groves. Really beautiful. But apparently one of its former owners or workers still checked in on the house now and then. It’s in Redlands, California, up in the hills from town.
And what do I think of people who experiment with occult items? I don’t think about it. People can do what they want. I love the beauty of a good Ouija board, though, and the idea that, on this board game, you can talk to the dead. How cool would that be?
My mother gave us kids a Ouija board when I was about 8 or 9. Never heard from any of the dead, but I suspect the dead aren’t that interested in kids asking inane questions.
7.         If you could spend one night alone at a haunted hotspot, where would it be and what would you bring along?
I would want to stay at a haunted hotel so I could sleep in a nice bed and order good room service. I’d prefer a haunted Hilton or maybe even a W Hotel.  I’d bring along earplugs because I prefer sleep to visitations.
I’d love to live in a genuinely haunted house again, though. Our current home is too new, although someone has always died somewhere in this world, even where new houses have been built.
8.         What do you hope your readers take away from reading one of your novels? What do you hope to get across—other than full-blown panic?
I don’t hope to offer full-blown panic to anyone. I just hope they feel they’ve read a great story. I don’t ask much more from any story I read, so I hope the same for my readers.
9.         If you could channel one master of horror that’s passed, who would it be and what do you think the result of your collaboration would be?
I wouldn’t want to channel anyone. I like writing my stories by myself. I’d love to meet Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mary Shelley and  Isak Dinesen and Truman Capote and Tom Tryon and Ira Levin…but mainly to tell them how much I’ve loved their fiction and perhaps to learn a thing or two.
I’m just not a collaborator when it comes to writing fiction; maybe that’ll change someday, but writing is the one area in life where I don’t need to compromise with anyone.
10.    One last thing, what’s next for Douglas Clegg? Please tell us all about any upcoming work. 
I’ve worked in private on more than a dozen stories for several years now. I’ve not published much new work for awhile, which has bothered me but I also think it’s been wise to hold It back a bit, too.  But I’ve been writing like mad for several years and I guess I could mention at least one of these.
There’s a short novel called Mr. Darkness I’ve worked on for several years. It’s probably the most unusual story I’ve written, yet it’s a very traditional novel in some ways. It’s a dark fable of sorts, about the life of a girl from a very young age to her late teens, and the curse that has been with her family that she internalizes in some way. The “Mr. Darkness” of the title is more an idea than a person, although there is a person she will call Mr. Darkness.  But she lives in Manhattan with her mother, father and brother until one day, something terrible happens to change every single aspect of her life.
Mr. Darkness originally was scheduled for publication years ago as a novelette – I suppose about 9,000 words would’ve done it but I’ve never been able to write something to any length other than what the story itself demands of me.
This particular story kept changing in my mind as I dug deeper and deeper into who this girl was, this girl named Mina Grigsby, how she saw her life, who she felt were enemies of her family, how she tried to fix things…and as it grew, it changed and kept moving in a direction I ‘d never have thought of, until finally, it’s become a short novel in the 250 page range.

It’s not a commercial novel at all, and sometimes I wonder: who is going to read this? But it’s been owed to the publisher (Cemetery Dance) for years, and my life has had twists and turns during those times as I’ve approached fiction as: is this the truest story it can be? Is this really what she went through? Can I bring the richest experience of her life into language for the reader to live inside this story and love being there? Part of fiction is occupying character, not as an actor, but as a kind of transfer. I need to see from the character’s eyes. I need to experience it.

So that’s what’s coming up. Might already be out by the time Halloween rolls around, who knows.
Douglas Clegg is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Neverland, The Priest of Blood, The Children's Hour, among many other novels and collections. He has written many books and more short stories. Recently, he wrote a new introduction for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the Signet Classics edition and released the short novella, Dinner with the Cannibal Sisters, the novelette Funerary Rites, and the ebook mega-collection, Lights Out.

ONE HARDCOVER of Douglas Clegg’s WILD THINGS: FOUR TALES! Because this is a print copy, winners are limited to U.S. and Canada!
To win: go to the Official FB Event Page; find the post announcing  today’s giveaway; and comment, “I WANT TO WIN” in that post and you just might!!!
Wild things: four talEs
"Clegg (The Machinery of Night) shows how the bestial aspects of horror and humanity are interchangeable in this quartet of psychological suspense stories....riveting reading." -- Publishers Weekly.
From award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Douglas Clegg comes a special quartet of stories dealing with creatures of the wild— wolf, bird, and the most terrifying of beasts: the human variety.
Suspense and Horror Tales
·        In "The Wolf" a hunter guides a younger man up a mountain to track down the creature that has been slaughtering in the valley below.
·        "The American" takes place at a late-night cafe in Rome where foreigners gather. On this particular night a stranger steps out of the shadowy park to sit at the sidewalk tables and speak of love and murder.
·        In "A Madness of Starlings," a father, teaching his children about protection from the predators of life, takes in a fledgling bird. But when it's time for the bird to fly away, the forces of nature come undone and a secret wisdom and terror enter the mind of the one who understands the language of birds.
·        In the novellette, "The Dark Game," a war hero and his men are captured and taken into a prison camp. There, tortures and torments await them, but the man named Gordon Raglan begins to use a childhood game of escape to help him discover a way to hunt the wolves surrounding him.

Friday, October 30, 2015

MARK LUKENS: Interview
On behalf of Halloweenpalooza, thanks so much for agreeing to participate. Lets start with some quickies:
Favorite color:  Blue.
Favorite scene in a horror flick:  There are so many, but I always liked the scene in “The Thing (John Carpenter’s version) where the guy is on the table and they’re trying to resuscitate him—then the man’s head becomes a living thing and tears itself away from his neck and grows spider-like legs.
Dogs or cats:  I like both, but since we have a cat right now, I’d have to vote for cats.
Male or female friends:  Both.
Guilty pleasure:  Curling up on the couch, drinking a few beers, and watching a scary movie.
Favorite Halloween costume that you’ve seen:  I’m not sure if this was a Halloween costume or not, but I saw a guy once in a Transformers costume, and when he crouched down the robot costume became a car.
Favorite Halloween candy:  Anything chocolate.
Have You Ever Carved a Pumpkin:  Yes, many times.
Favorite monster:  I don’t know if this counts—but Christine (the car from the Stephen King novel) is my favorite. A ’58 Plymouth Fury with a taste for blood.
1.     What was your best Halloween ever?   
There are so many of them, but if I had to pick one, it would be taking my son trick-or-treating when he was eight years old. We decorated the house with fake spider webs and even built a life-size dummy on the front porch with a werewolf mask. After we were done trick-or-treating, Brandon begged me to tell him some scary stories. So my wife and I turned off most of the lights, lit a few candles, and we sat in a circle on the floor. I began telling some scary stories, and a few moments later Brandon got so scared that he begged me to stop telling them.
2.    What do you think influenced you to write horror? And is writing horror everything you thought it would be?
I’ve always wanted to write for as long as I can remember. When I was eight or nine years old, I would read the sci-fi books that my parents had on the bookshelf. I tried to write stories like the ones I’d read, and I produced copycat Bradbury and Clarke tales.
But what really influenced me to write horror was when I was in eighth grade and a friend of mine told me about a book he was reading called The Stand. I listened to his description of it and I knew I had to read this book. I knew who Stephen King was because I’d watched “The Shining” by myself when I was nine years old and it scared the hell out of me. So I went to the library (which was a tiny space next to the Winn Dixie across the street from our trailer park), and they only had a few Stephen King books—and they didn’t have “The Stand.” So I checked out “Christine” and I burned right through it. After reading that book, I knew I wanted to write tales like this. I checked out “‘Salem’s Lot” next, and then “The Dead Zone,” and on and on from there.
I love writing in many genres (sci-fi, thrillers, even dramas), but I keep coming back to horror. Even if I write something that’s a straight sci-fi or thriller, I find myself creating dark scenes in the story.
3.    With so many types of horror out there, what do you bring to the picnic table? How would you describe your potato salad?
I think there are many sub-genres in horror: slasher, vampire, zombie, supernatural, serial killer—so I think there’s a lot out there to choose from. I have to admit that a lot of my books and stories lean more towards monsters and the supernatural. The one thing I try to do with my books and stories is get to the action right away. I like to read books that jump right into the story and after each chapter you’re hooked. You’re saying: I’ll just read one more chapter. I try to do that with my books—keep teasing the reader along. Another thing that my “potato salad” has is a twist at the end of most of my novels and stories. I love reading books where I’m not really sure how it’s going to end, and then when it does, it’s an ending I wasn’t quite expecting.
4.    Could you please post a small excerpt from any book that you think best exemplifies you?
         This is the very beginning of ANCIENT ENEMY:

         New Mexico Badlands – Anasazi Dig Site
He was out there—she was sure of it.
            Stella remained perfectly still. She listened for sounds of movement around the dark room, but all she could hear was heavy breathing, some snoring, and the ceaseless wind that howled around the trailer. The room was claustrophobic with the smells of body odor, sweat, and fear. She made herself wait a few more minutes before opening her eyes. She wanted to be sure everyone else was asleep.
            Under the thin sheet that covered her body, Stella was fully dressed. She even had her hiking boots on. She had been planning this for more than a day now. This was her only chance.
            And David’s only chance.
            Finally, after counting slowly to one hundred, Stella opened her eyes just a crack. She sat up, not making a sound. She looked around the dark room at the few people who were left; some of them curled up on chairs, some of them on the floor. Some clutched weapons in their hands as they slept: knives, archaeological axes, anything that could be used in defense.
            Jake, who was supposed to be awake and on guard, slept in a fetal position on the floor, a hunting knife gripped in one hand.
            Stella watched Jake as she pulled the sheet away from her body and swung her feet to the floor. Keeping her eyes on Jake the whole time, she groped in the darkness for her purse on the floor beside the couch. The keys to her rusted and battered Chevy Suburban were inside the purse.
            She grabbed her coat from the end of the couch and stood up in the darkness. She froze. Someone coughed and snorted in their sleep, but then the person rolled over and laid still. After the four days of terror they’d been through, it was unbelievable that they could sleep at all—but the body eventually surrenders to its basic need for food and sleep.
            And survival, her mind whispered.
            Stella crept past a table cluttered with labeled Anasazi artifacts that they had dug out of the cave only a week ago.
            Had it been only a week? It seemed like years—another lifetime.
            Stella made it to the side door of the trailer, unlocked it, opened it, and slipped out into the night.
            Jake’s eyes popped open. He sat up in the darkness and watched Stella leave. He gripped the hunting knife in his hand, his forearm muscles bunching. He got to his feet and walked to the back door of the trailer.
            He knew what he had to do.
         Stella hurried down the trailer steps and stood on the rocky ground of the canyon floor. She spotted David forty yards away, bundled up in his coat as he gazed out at the barren landscape under the starry night sky. Stella glanced back at the trailer—no one coming yet—and then she hurried out to David.
            She stood beside David. He seemed so small and fragile, only nine years old. He was at least half Navajo, maybe even full-blooded, but she didn’t know for sure. The only thing she knew about David was that the others inside the trailer wanted to kill him.
            Stella touched David’s shoulder, a gentle touch. He looked up at her and his eyes seemed like dark shimmering pools of liquid in the night.
            “David, we need to leave right now. You understand, don’t you?”
            He nodded and offered her his hand.
            She took it and they ran.
* * *
5.    What scares you? Have you had any encounters with the supernatural?
A lot of things scare me. Dying and not being here anymore is a lot of people’s fear. The fear of anything happening to my son, my wife, or my family is another fear of mine. Getting sick and becoming a burden to my loved ones. I guess these fears are so real that I like to escape into the world of monsters and the supernatural.
My dad’s mother (my grandmother) seemed to attract the supernatural when she was alive. She liked to read palms and read people’s fortunes in the cards. And it seemed like a lot of the houses they rented were haunted. My sister and I used to spend the summer with my grandparents from when we were six years old up until we were twelve, and we saw some very strange things in two of those houses—one in Crescent City, Florida (that was the bad one), and one in DeLand, Florida. Also, my father has some spooky stories about some of the houses they lived in when he was a kid.  
6.      Uh-oh! A mad magician just cast a spell that would bring all your characters to life! Whats the name of the one character you would most not want to meet and why should he, she, or it never be unleashed on the unsuspecting public?
I guess the character I would most not want to meet would have to be the ancient force from my first novel Ancient Enemy. The Ancient Enemy in the book is a shape-shifting force that can slip out from its dimension into ours. It’s very powerful and it can control the dead like puppets, getting them to do whatever it wants. There’s really no way to fight it—you need someone like the young boy in the book (David), so hopefully the mad magician would bring David to life along with the Ancient Enemy.
7.    Would you be up for a ghost hunting session? If, yes, where would you most like it conducted and who would you most like to contact? What would you hope they’d say?   
Like I said above, my grandmother was into that kind of stuff. So I watched her read playing cards and conduct séances. She was trying to contact her mother in some of the séances (the woman who adopted her because she never found out who her real mother was), and some very spooky stuff happened. But if I was in a ghost hunting session, I’m not sure who I would like to contact—maybe some of my family members who have died.
8.    What is it about the power of the written word that has the ability to scare us so profoundly?
I think a reader can become immersed in the world of a story for a short time if the author can paint a picture for them—and some writers (and filmmakers) are better at this than others. I think the same thing happens when you watch a good film—you’re in that world for those two hours. I think it’s a little like being in a trance or self-hypnosis. For me, as a reader, it’s pretty easy for me to get lost in the world of the story I’m reading.  
9.    If you could channel one master of horror that’s passed, who would it be and what do you think the result of your collaboration would be?
That’s a tough one because most of my favorites are still alive: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, Clive Barker, and many others. There are a few writers I always wanted to meet, but they have passed away: Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Crichton, and Ray Bradbury. I guess Ray Bradbury would be the one I would reach out to if I had to choose one. Ray Bradbury could be called a speculative fiction writer, and some of his stuff could be dark (Something Wicked This Way Comes). I don’t know what I would say to Ray Bradbury; I would probably just listen to whatever he had to say and definitely take some notes.
10.   What’s next for Mark Lukens? We want to hear all about your next work!  
I’m working with a few producers and a production company for a horror film right now, but nothing is being shot yet. As far as my books, I’m beginning to work on two different series. One is a post-apocalyptic series about a group of characters who come together after the economy and all laws collapse—but there’s something else going on, something is happening to people, changing them.
The other series I’m beginning to work on is a straight thriller, but I believe it would still appeal to horror fans. It’s about an FBI consultant who was the only survivor of her family’s massacre by a serial killer, and now she has dedicated her life to tracking down serial killers, but her main target has always been the man who killed her family.
I’m also publishing “Devil’s Island” on Kindle very soon, and I’m working on another collection of short stories. I’m also working on a sword and sorcery fantasy series with my longtime friend—it’s called “The Changing Stone.”
I have some other things I’m working on. I have more ideas than time to write. But that’s a good thing, I guess.
Mark Lukens has been writing since the second grade when his teacher called his parents in for a conference because the ghost story he'd written had her a little concerned.
Since then he's had several stories published and four screenplays optioned by producers in Hollywood. One script is in development to be produced. He is the author of Ancient Enemy, Descendants of Magic, The Summoning, Night Terrors, Sightings, The Exorcist's Apprentice, What Lies Below, Ghost Town: a novella, and A Dark Collection: 12 Scary Stories. He is a member of The Horror Writers Association.
He grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. But after many travels and adventures, he settled down in Tampa, Florida with his wonderful wife and son, and a stray cat they adopted.
He would love to hear from you and he can be found at, and also on Facebook at MarkLukensBooks, and on Twitter @marklukensbooks. He can be reached by e-mail at
FIVE PRINT COPIES of Mark Luken’s THE EXORCISTS APPRENTICE! Because these are print copies, winners are limited to U.S. and Canada!
To win: go to the Official FB Event Page; find the post announcing  today’s giveaway; and comment, “I WANT TO WIN” in that post and you just might!!!
Genre: supernatural horror/thriller
For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has employed a select few to investigate the most extreme cases of demonic possession, haunted places, and paranormal activity. Often, the calling of an Investigator is passed down from father to son.
After surviving a tragic accident, seventeen year old Danny Lambert is sent to live with his father, Paul, who is an Investigator for the Church. At first Danny resists the calling to become an Investigator, but after the horrors he sees, he agrees to begin training with his father.
Danny and Paul are given their first assignment: the haunting of a house in a remote corner of upstate New York. Inside this house Danny will discover a horrifying, mind-blowing secret that will not only change his life, but how he sees everything forever.