I should be in bed now, but I can’t! I’m too energized, too excited, too joyous! That Which Cannot Be Undone, the anthology my friends and I have been trying to create, is fully funded!

So, if you’re new around here and have never heard of this anthology, then let me first say hello. I’m happy to have you reading my blog and showing interest in my career as a writer. Secondly, over the course of the pandemic, some of my fellow Ohio horror writers and I came together to form our own publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, with the goal of putting out an anthology of stories that emphasized writers from our state. Furthermore, the stories would all be set in Ohio and would revolve around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” which became our eventual title.

To fund this project, we launched a Kickstarter campaign back in late November, and worked our butts off to get noticed and to get people to pledge to support us. I’m proud to say, with four days left of the campaign, we are fully funded and have exceeded our funding goal!

There are so many people I want to thank. To the people who pledged, of course, you get a huge thank you. We literally could not be doing this without your help. An even bigger thanks to the people from this blog, my Followers of Fear, who pledged their support. It means a lot that you support my projects and my career, and I’m so happy to have you supporting this one. To the writers who said they would contribute works to our anthology if we were fully funded, and to the many individuals who posted and promoted the Kickstarter, we also extend a big thank you. We can’t wait to showcase your stories and list your contributions in the Donor section. And to the other members of Cracked Skull Press, Ray Pantle, Randall Drum, and David Day, I’m so glad to be working with you and can’t thank you enough for the hard work you put into this project. There will be more hard work from here on out, but I’m sure we’ll be up to the challenge.

And if you still want to be part of this project in some way, there are still a few days left of the anthology. You can still pledge your support and thereby help us in case we encounter further costs to this anthology. Or if you’ve already pledged, you can increase how much you pledge before the end of the campaign. You can do so using this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

I’m so excited right now, my Followers of Fear. I can’t wait to tell you what’s coming next with this project and our eventually publication in October 2022. As with all my other projects, I’ll make sure to keep you updated on this one, right up until it’s out in print/ebook.

And yes, don’t worry, this won’t be the last project from Cracked Skull Press. We’ll have plenty of ideas for further projects. Keep an eye out and get ready for great stuff on the horizon.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares.

I know I said I’m trying to cut back on this self-promoting stuff, but you have to admit this is a good enough reason to post.

So, as you all probably know by now, some writer friends of mine and I formed a publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and are doing a Kickstarter campaign for our first anthology, “That Which Cannot Be Undone.” Every story within the anthology will be set in Ohio, written by Ohio horror writers, and center around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” If we make our funding goal, we plan to release it in October.

And guess what? As of today, seven days before the end of the campaign, we’re just $999 away from making our funding goal! I know! You cannot imagine how excited we are by reaching this milestone.

Of course, we need your help to reach the finish line, so we would be honored if you would pledge your support to the anthology. Folks who do will be listed in the Donors section at the end of the book, but you can also get an electronic and print copy of the anthology sent free of charge; signed copies of books by the contributing authors; amazing swag, including Ohio horror-themed Tarot cards (you’ll plotz when you see who’s on the Death and Devil cards); and for our highest pledges, you could come to our release party with a plus one! You can use the link here to contribute: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

And if you’ve already pledged and want to pledge more, you can use the “manage pledge” feature on Kickstarter to increase your pledge. Just saying.

Anyway, thank you all for pledging and sharing the Kickstarter campaign. Working on this anthology has been such a journey and we’re so glad to see that it looks like we might reach our funding goal. And we at Cracked Skull Press know we wouldn’t get this far without you. We can’t wait to show you your support and faith was well worth it.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I just wanted to log on and let you all know where the campaign stands. You’ll hear from me again about this on the results of the campaign. In the meantime, one more thing I want to mention:

A week from this Saturday, January 29th, 2022, I’ll be at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’s a convention full of ghost hunters, psychics, paranormal enthusiasts, and one or two authors like me, which you know is going to be fun! I’ll be there signing books and doing Tarot readings, so I hope to see you there!

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

For those of you who have been following me for a while, every now and then I post about haunted locations I want to visit before I become a ghost myself (because if I get the chance, I probably will become one). Over the past several years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the places I want to visit (in the case of the Ohio State Reformatory, multiple times). My most recent visit was to Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, and boy, did I experience some stuff (click here to read more about that).

However, as many as I manage to visit every year, several more always pop up on my lists. So that I have a record of the new places I want to visit, as well as the places some of you will now know to avoid from here on out, here’s my latest list of haunted locations! Prepare to be scared.

Great Saltair Pavilion, Salt Lake City, Utah

There have actually been several Saltair pavilions near the Salt Lake outside Salt Lake City, Utah and they’ve been resorts, amusement parks, concert venues, and dance palaces. Saltair II was even a set piece in the 1962 horror movie Carnival of Souls (which I highly recommend). Currently, only one, Saltair III, is standing, and it’s said that the building houses quite a few spirits. Some of which sometimes get violent when a concert is held in the building.

Both for the history and the hauntings, I want to go.

The Hinsdale House, Hinsdale, New York

I think this is a house my sister told me about. Anyway, the house has quite the history. According to legend, a family moved into the house in the 1970s and came into contact with numerous spirits. And some of these spirits were apparently not very friendly, as a priest from a local Catholic university had to stop by and perform exorcisms several times. Eventually the family moved out, and it went through several hands before the current owner, who turned it into an investigative hot spot.

I wonder who I know in the New York area who would want to join me there?

Virginia City, Nevada

This town was a real Wild West town, and many of the buildings in its historic district are from the 1860s and 70s. Several have been or are being converted into museums, as well as hotels, restaurants, saloons, and more. And from what I understand, quite a few cemeteries and mines from the era as well. And apparently, the majority of them are haunted! To the point you could probably spend a month there and still find new locations to investigate! Um, count me in!

Marietta, Ohio

This is another city I’ve heard has plenty of haunted locations, including the Anchorage Mansion, the Blennerhassett Island and Mansion, the Blennerhassett Regional History Museum, and the Lafayette Hotel, among others. Luckily, I’ll be visiting at least one of the locations at the end of the month for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo, so maybe I can stay in a haunted room the night before and experience something spooky.

The Mark Twain House, Hartford, Connecticut

This historic Victorian mansion was the home of Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, and his family for nearly 17 years. Today the house is a museum open for tours, educational institute, and (at least before the pandemic) a place for writers’ retreats and weekends. And it might be the home to a few spirits, including the spirit of the great writer himself.

The house of a writer that’s also haunted by said writer? When can I stop by?!

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh, Scotland

A “close” is a Scottish term for an alleyway, and they’re usually named after a famous occupant. In this case, Mary King’s Close is named after the 17th century merchant Mary King. A century after her death, however, the close was built over for the creation of the Royal Exchange. For centuries, it’s been rumored to be haunted, and since it’s been opened and excavated, those stories have only continued. Is it maybe hallucinogenic gases from a nearby bog? Or is there something still living there, in a sense? I want to find out.

Windsor Castle, England

One of the homes of the British royal family, all sorts of spirits are said to haunt that place! King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Victoria, and quite a few more. I doubt the Queen or her family would let any ghost hunting team, let alone me, but it’s fun to dream. And it would be fun just to go. Who knows? Something could happen if I went on a tour!

Eloise Asylum, Westland, Michigan

Pretty sure one of my uncles told me about this one. Just not sure which one. Anyway, located about 30 miles outside Detroit, the Eloise Asylum was originally a poor house before becoming a hospital and insane asylum. It operated for nearly a hundred years and was a massive complex. Today, only a couple buildings still stand, but those that do, as well as a nearby cemetery, are reputed to be heavily haunted. The building is home to regular ghost investigations, as well as haunted attractions during October.

Ah, the number of excuses to visit my relatives in Detroit keep building up.

Punderson Manor, Punderson State Park, Ohio

This giant Tudor-style manor has been a resort since the 1950s and is a scenic place to get away from the world. You can hike, swim, fish, canoe and kayak, sleep, and relax. At least, if the ghosts don’t bug you. Apparently there are spirits who mess around with the staff and guests every now and then. Laughter is heard, objects moved without reason, lights flicker, and apparently terrifying apparitions show up. But if you ignore all that, it could make for a nice weekend getaway.

Hmm…my dad and stepmom live near there. Maybe I can convince them to stop by with me if I sell them on the weekend away from it all.

The Buxton Inn, Granville, Ohio

My most recent discovery is actually a short drive from me. This beautiful colonial house was opened in 1812 and has plenty of history and stories to match its beauty. That, and possibly a few spirits. Orbs, phantom footsteps, a ghost cat, and a “Blue Lady” in room 9 are among the hauntings reported. It sounds like the perfect place for me to hang out this upcoming Halloween…as well as maybe to tell a story at.


Well, that’s my latest list. If I visit any of these locations in the near future, I’ll be sure to let you know. Especially if I experience any activity. But tell me, Followers of Fear, have you been to any of these locations? What were your experiences? Where would you like to go? And which would you absolutely avoid at all costs? Let’s discuss.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

I’ve been wanting to post something for the past several days, but I have nothing to really post about. But I’ve been getting antsy and current events are not helping (type “Texas synagogue” into Google and you’ll understand why), so I’m blogging about things going on in my life. If only just to distract myself and to let you all know I’m still alive.

And if you Googled what’s happening in Texas, please pray to the deity of your choice that everything turns out alright.

So, in my personal life, things aren’t too bad. Work was a little crazy during the first week of January (which is pretty much par for the course), but this week things got calmer, so I didn’t feel like tearing my hair out. And all month, I’ve been looking for a new apartment to move into when my lease ends this summer. I’ve got a few possibilities already scouted out and am on the waitlist for, so hopefully I’ll have a better idea on where I’ll be living soon.

On the writing front, things have been crazy! The work for the Kickstarter campaign has taken up quite a bit of my time (more on that in a bit). However, I have found time to write, or at least attempt to write. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been working on a story where I terrorize neo-Nazis, and that’s been going well. Actually, while finishing up the most recent chapter of that, I managed to fix a few problems with the logic of the story and cut out a superfluous character. It’ll still take me some time to get the first draft finished, but I think it won’t be too bad once it is. It’ll be in need of a lot of editing, but it won’t be half-bad.

On another note, the Kickstarter for “That Which Cannot Be Undone,” the horror anthology I’m helping to create, is 77% funded! Yeah, pretty amazing, huh? We think we can reach our full funding by the time the campaign ends in twelve days, but we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens. In the spirit of that, I’m offering up signed copies of my books Rose, Snake and The Quiet Game for people who pledge to the campaign. So if you want to read some of my works (signed, no less), and help support the career of me and fellow Ohio horror authors, this is a great opportunity to do so. You can use this link to pledge: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

77% and counting. Why not join us?

As for the other projects, the paperback and ebook editions of The Pure World Comes is on schedule. I’ll be reaching out to a cover designer I’ve worked with before on the cover soon, and once I have that, I can start uploading/formatting the actual book on a publishing platform. And I’ll be starting work on Hannah and Other Stories soon, as well as following up on some submissions this weekend. With any luck, I’ll be able to post a real update on something soon.

Anything else? Oh yeah: in about two weeks, I’ll be driving over to Marietta, Ohio for the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo. It’ll take place on the 29th at the Lafayette Hotel, and I’ll be selling books and doing Tarot readings while there. Hope you can make it!

Well, that’s my update. I’m off to heat up dinner, watch a movie, and then do a late-night writing session. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please pray for what’s happening in Texas.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Of course, it seems like gospel that the first sentence of a story is important. It’s your hook, isn’t it? It’s how you get the reader into the story. You should put as much thought into that first line as you would as asking your significant other to marry you!

But I’m not convinced anymore. That may be strange, considering how often I used to (and sometimes still do) the #FirstLineFriday meme on this blog. You know, that thing where I post the first line of a story and hope it gets you into the story? But then again, maybe that’s why I’m unconvinced. I’ve posted first lines so many times, I’ve recognized how little effect that they have on the total story.

And you know, if you look at some famous books, you kind of see that. Harry Potter‘s first line is “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Most Muggle-ish opening you’ve ever read. It doesn’t really hint at what’s to come in the story, and I honestly would have cut it from the final product if I had edited the first book.

And Stephen King’s stories don’t usually have those sorts of openings. The first line of IT goes like this:

“The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.”

It’s a nice opening, but it doesn’t exactly scream…well, going to make you scream. It’s actually kind of mellow. And the opening for Needful Things is even more unassuming: “You’ve been here before.” Kid you not, my first time listening to that book on audio, I had to repeat it a few times because it was totally unexpected and confused me a bit. Only as you keep reading does the opening make sense with this story.

Maybe this is why some books have poems, excerpts from other famous stories, Bible verses, or even song lyrics at the beginning, before the story even starts. You read those little epigraphs (that’s what they’re called, I check) and keep reading to see how it relates to the story you’re taking in.

in any case, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not the first sentence, or even the first paragraph, that’s responsible for making a story’s opening catchy. It’s maybe the first couple of paragraphs or the first page. When the author sets up the story, the characters, the setting, that you really get pulled into the story.

The opening of the story should be like opening a door to guests. Yes, that’s important, but what’s inside is even more important. Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

That’s certainly the case with my current story, where I set up a nice, rural setting, something kind of idyllic…and then one of my main characters reveals that he’s a neo-Nazi. It’s a stark contrast from the first paragraph that takes the reader off-guard, and hopefully will get them reading further along. I’ll have to finish the story first to see if that’s the case, however.

Anyway, the first sentence is important, but it’s not the most important thing about a story. Rather, it’s just the opening of the door and allowing people to take a quick look before stepping inside. What’s beyond that is what’s truly important. You just have to make sure to open the door and open it well.

But what’s your take, Followers of Fear? Let’s discuss openings and if the first lines of a story really are as important as we make them out to be. I’m curious to hear what you think on the subject. Maybe more of you will agree with me than I imagine.


Happy New Year, my Followers of Fear. I wanted to start this year off with a post that’s reflective on the craft of writing, as I enjoy writing those posts. Anyway, I hope you’re having a good 2022 so far. Mine’s been rough so far, but that tends to be the case with the first full week of January. And at least there’s a lot to look forward to right now: editing and releasing Hannah and Other Stories; putting out the paperback and ebook copies of The Pure World Comes; conventions and expos; maybe a bit of travel; and, of course, some good reading and writing.

Oh, speaking of conventions and expos, I’ll be at the Hidden Marietta Paranormal Expo on the 29th in Marietta, Ohio. If you can, stop by the Lafayette Hotel and maybe I’ll sign your book and read your Tarot.

Also, the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 58.5 percent! We’re over halfway funded and we just keep going! And if you would like to help me and my fellow Ohio horror writers put out an amazing anthology of horror stories set in our state and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone,” click on the link here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. There are also some amazing perks to pledging, like candles, Ohio-themed Tarot cards, copies of the book, and even end up in one of the stories! How cool would that be?

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have more stuff to tell you soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You’re probably reading this title and wondering what’s going on in my life that would make me write a blog post with such a title. Well, I’m not planning on going to an ashram in India or a monastery in Tibet to find enlightenment, if that’s what you’re wondering. So not the right time for it.

No, the reason why is, between my limited time and all that’s going on, I have to refigure where my priorities lie.

For one thing, there’s Cracked Skull Press and That Which Cannot Be Undone. The campaign is in its latter half, so I need to spend a lot more time focusing on making sure that it’s a success. It’ll involve a lot of man hours, networking and other tasks. So I’ll have to set aside more time to working on that and not to writing. I’ll need to if we’re to make the remaining amount of funding in our budget.

Speaking of which, if you would like to help us create a kickass horror anthology, or you’re just curious, you can find more about the anthology, the campaign, and the rewards here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology. We’ve been working hard on making sure we have an awesome anthology with talented horror authors and we can’t wait to share it with you. Thanks in advance for your support. We appreciate it.

If you would like to check out the campaign and help me and my friends put out a great anthology with our stories inside, click the link above.

Even after the campaign is done, I have two books to release this year. I’ll be putting out a paperback and ebook of The Pure World Comes (plus an audio book if fate is kind), my Victorian Gothic horror novel. That probably won’t take too much time, as all I need is provide a good cover and ensure it’s formatted right. However, Hannah and Other Stories will need A LOT of editing done. Those seven stories will each require their fair share of attention, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some, like “The Autopsy Boy and Doctor Sarah” or “What Errour Awoke,” may need significant portions rewritten.

Add in all that, plus one story that’s currently being edited for a different anthology and other stories that might be accepted into other anthologies and magazines, the probability of a third draft of Toyland (or is it the fourth?), conventions and book expos, and a whole lot of other stuff that will or could crop up, and I will have to put a hold on the writing for a while.

It’s a shame. I was really enjoying working on this story where I got to terrorize neo-Nazis. And I had a great idea for a story based around Cinderella I was looking forward to writing. And this will probably push my mummy novel Crawler even further back.

But as things stand, my life won’t handle anymore projects. Still, if any of these stories find a home, it’ll be worth the pause. Because as long as I’m able to keep sharing my twisted, terrifying stories with you all, that’s all that matters.

My works can be found in many great booksellers. Check them out and let me know what you think.

And if you want to help things along, you can always check out my works that are already published and leave reviews online. Those help me immensely by letting me know people are reading my stories and are also letting other people know if my stories are worth their time. You can find my stories on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from other great booksellers. Just search Rami Ungar and see what comes up!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I look forward to updating you with the latest on all the projects I’m part of or will be hopefully be part of soon. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and Happy New Year.

Oh, and before I forget, I was recently featured again in the Columbus Jewish News and interviewed on the website Bookishly Jewish. And my fellow writers at Cracked Skull Press were on the podcast Necrocasticon recently too. Please check them out if you get the chance. Thanks!

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to tell you a funny story from this weekend: so my youngest sister and I drove up to Cleveland to spend some quality time with my dad and stepmom. Since just about everything was closed due to COVID, we had a movie night and watched Freaky, which I mentioned in my review that my dad wanted to see. Unusual for him, seeing as he hates horror and only reads my work because it’s mine.

Anyway, we’re watching the movie, and in an early scene a girl is getting brutally murdered by the serial killer using a toilet seat. My dad is grossed out by the gore and turns to me, because I was singing the movie’s praises when it came up as a possible viewing choice, and says, “Rami, what the–?”

Just then, the shot changes from the girl getting murdered to two teens hooking up in the garage. We all burst out laughing at the perfect timing. Even my dad found it hilarious. And yes, he enjoyed the film, though he didn’t care for the gore.


Alright. So, as many of you are no doubt aware, I’m involved with a small publishing press, Cracked Skull Press, and we’re currently fundraising for our first anthology. That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Ohio Horror Anthology will be written entirely by authors based in or from Ohio, with their stories set in Ohio, and revolving around the theme “that which cannot be undone.” It looks to be an amazing anthology.

As I said, we’re fundraising for the anthology with a Kickstarter campaign, and we’re currently over 40% funded on this project. And as of today, we’re halfway through the campaign’s duration. It’ll come to an end on January 28th, 2022. And I’m asking you all to help us reach our goal by pledging your support. If you help us get to our goal, my friends and I will be able to put some amazing original short stories into the anthology. Doesn’t that sound like a ton of fun?

We’re working hard to make this anthology a success. I hope you’ll support us and even pledge to the campaign!

Plus, there are a number of perks to pledging to our campaign. Depending on the pledge you choose, you can get listed in the donor section of the book, as well as your very own e-book and paperback copy. Interested in a copy of a book from one of the authors? How about a special limited edition horror-themed candle? Or how about being included in a story by one of our authors? That’s right, you can be included as a character in a story by a great horror author! Doesn’t that sound like fun?

So, if you’re interested in supporting us in the creation of this anthology, you can check out the campaign, the various updates and the awesome pledge choices we have available using the link below. We’ve already announced some of the awesome authors we’ve brought on, and will be posting updates periodically as we get them. And whether or not you can pledge, we appreciate it if you can share news of the campaign on your own blogs or social media. The more people who know about the anthology, the more likely we are to make our goals, so every mention helps.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you’ll continue to support us as we work hard to make this anthology, and our dreams of writing terrifying stories, roaring successes. And if I don’t post anything new before the end of the week, I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May 2022 be leagues better than 2021 was.

Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and please get vaccinated so society can stop shutting down for indefinite periods of time every four to six months.

Occasionally in fiction writing, you create characters you find utterly repulsive. Maybe it’s their personality, maybe it’s what they do or believe in, but these characters are VILE.

And surprisingly, writing them well is kind of challenging. I should know. I’m working on a story now where I hate most of the characters. Why? I’ll get into that a little later.

(Though if you’ve been paying attention to my Facebook posts or Twitter feed, you might already know why.)

The thing is, while you may hate the character you’ve created, you can’t let that hate show too much in your writing. You have to treat them like you would any other character. Showing your contempt may be easy, but the reader may notice. And while they may agree with you, they will be turned off by the clear aversion and disdain coming off the page, especially if it’s a protagonist. “Why even bother writing this character if you’re going to make it so obvious you don’t like them?” That might be what goes through their minds. Instead, write them like you would a character you like.

A good example of this is how Vladimir Nabokov treats Humbert Humbert in the novel Lolita. In an interview, Nabokov stated he found Humbert a hateful person for obvious reasons. But he didn’t show his dislike for the character and his predilections in the story. Instead, he writes the novel normally and let’s the readers come to hate him by his actions.

That’s something to keep in mind. Instead of showing your disdain for a vile character, let their actions do the work for you. You can do a lot just by showing a cruel teacher depriving a kid of ice cream or a prison warden manipulating his prisoners to attack each other, rather than by describing them as nasty pieces of shit.

Dolores Umbridge. A great example of a vile character.

You can then supplement that by showing other characters’ reactions to the hated characters for being assholes. JK Rowling, despite her faults, did this quite well when Harry and his friends described characters like Umbridge or Pansy Parkinson and focused on their negative traits. Rowling famously hates those characters, by the way, and made sure they suffered or didn’t get happily-ever-afters in the end.

What if you have to show things through the perspective of the hated character, however? Well, that’s where it can get queasy to write them. Because, as much as you might hate them, you’ll often have to write them as any other character. For instance, l’m writing characters who are neo-Nazis.

Yeah, you read that right. The story I’m working on now is full of neo-Nazis, people who would gladly see me dead for being Jewish (among other things). And I am writing them as I would most other characters. I could write them and focus on their hatred and nasty ideology, and in another story I could get away with that. But for this story, I can’t let them just be stock characters or stereotypes, much as I want to. Instead, I’m trying to show the reader how the characters might see the world. And let’s face it, neo-Nazis are people, and they’re as complicated as any other character. So I should try to write them that way.

That being said, I am going to show just how horrible these people and their toxic ideology can be. And then I’ll take great pleasure in showing what horrors occur to them later in the story. Hey, I’m a Jewish horror author who loves visiting terrors upon his enemies. What do you expect?

So, writing characters you consider vile is more than just making them hateful or showing how much you hate them. It’s a combination of actions, character description, and even writing them in a complex manner. And, of course, making sure they get what’s coming to them if it fits the story. It may make you feel sick to write them that way, but it can also lead to a good story becoming that much better.


On an unrelated note, the anthology I’m helping to produce, That Which Cannot Be Undone, is closing in on forty percent funded on Kickstarter! Not only that, but we’ve added a whole bunch of new perks and have announced some new authors joining the project as well. Some of those authors have even volunteered to name characters after backers and kill them off in style should they back certain limited pledges. Isn’t that cool? You could be a character in another author’s story!

If that, and helping our group produce a kickass horror anthology featuring new stories from me and my friends, you can check out the campaign by clicking the link below.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. For those who celebrate, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. If you need me, I’ll be joining my friend John McClane at Nakatomi Tower for Nakatomi Corp’s annual Christmas party. I hear they tend to go out with a bang every year.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and pleasant nightmares!

Last month, I wrote a story that combined art and my love of ballet with the stories of the King in Yellow. This was after finally reading the stories earlier this year, which was after hearing about them and their titular subject for a few years. Recently, I edited that story and then submitted it to a publication that I think will like it. And after doing so, I just wanted to write a blog post about the King in Yellow, and see how many of the Followers of Fear are familiar with the character.

So, for those of you who don’t know, The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories published in 1895 by Robert Chambers. The first four stories revolve around the titular character. Or to be more precise, around a fictional play revolving around the titular character. This play has the uncanny ability to make those who read/see it lose their hold on reality. Or, in another sense, to put them under the sway of the King in Yellow.

If you would like a more in-depth analysis of the character, the play, and stories than I can give here, you can watch this video which goes in depth on the collection and the stories in question.

Not bad, huh? I find the Tale Foundry channel puts out some incredible work on all things writing and literature.

Anyway, The King in Yellow–the book, the play, and the character–have had quite an effect on horror literature. HP Lovecraft was actually heavily influenced by the book, and some of the themes in the book could be considered proto-Lovecraftian. Some writers have even included the King in the Cthulhu Mythos under the name of Hastur, a name from the original collection, as well as the half-brother of Cthulhu. And plenty of other writers have played in the sandbox of The King in Yellow, both in and out of the Cthulhu Mythos. He’s appeared in tabletop games, video games, all sorts of stories, and even was heavily referenced in the TV show True Detective.

Question is, why? What is it about these four stories and the King that has caused them to endure and slowly germinate into our popular culture?

Well, that’s the thing: it does germinate. Or the play does, anyway.

If you’ve read the stories or watched the video, you might have noticed that the King himself only appears once. Even then, you can’t be sure this isn’t the hallucination of a madman. Really, what we see in the stories is the effect of the play. It’s power to corrupt people, as well as the public outcry against it, has ensured that if someone hasn’t read it, they at least know of it and have seen the damage it’s caused.

Sounds like Twilight, but better and horrifying in the right ways, if you think about it. And it’s a great metaphor for how stories can spread through a populace and change people and culture, for better or worse. Not just fictional texts, like Harry Potter or Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but non-fiction tomes like The Travels of Marco Polo and Herodotus’s Histories, and religious texts like the Bible. All of these had huge effects on the societies they spread through, changing cultures, beliefs, and minds in so many ways.

The metaphor is even more apt if you think of the play as a religious text for those who worship the King in Yellow.

Just one edition of the King in Yellow collection. There are as many as there are ways to tell a story with the character.

Add in that the stories are psychological works where a lot is left to the imagination, combined with some decent and eerie storytelling, as well as ideas that resonate with writers the way Lovecraft’s world would years later, and it’s no wonder people began playing with and adding to the concept of the King in Yellow. And this was happening even before the stories entered the public domain.

Is it any wonder the King has been partially absorbed into the Cthulhu Mythos now?

And like the Cthulhu Mythos, the King in Yellow is becoming more well-known and mainstream, albeit slower than the Mythos. Still, the fact that it showed up in True Detective says a lot. And I hope, should the story I wrote be published, that it’s considered a nice addition to the King’s legacy, as well as helps to spread awareness of the original stories.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking out the original King in Yellow short story collection. They’re really eerie and you probably won’t regret checking them out. At the very least, you’ll be able to see how another classic work of horror has influenced the genre as a whole.

Just don’t read beyond the first four stories. The ones afterward don’t really connect to the stories about the play and aren’t as good, making you wonder why Chambers included those stories. I heard that if you read the book in reverse, it reveals something, but I can think of a lot of other stuff I would rather do with my time.

Have you read The King in Yellow or come across works inspired by it? What do you think of the stories? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to make dinner, read a story a friend sent to me for feedback, and imagine putting together a King in Yellow costume. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares, and beware the Yellow Sign.


One more thing: the crowdfunding campaign for That Which Cannot Be Undone is at 29% funded! And we’ve added a whole bunch of new perks to the campaign, as well as a new author to the anthology!

If you’re unaware, I’m part of a small publishing press and we’re crowdfunding our first anthology, That Which Cannot Be Undone, which will highlight Ohio writers. It’s an exciting new venture, and we’re very excited for you to read the stories that will be included. I’ve already written one story that will be in the anthology, so I hope you’ll support us in making this anthology a reality.

If you’re interested, you can click on the link below and learn more about the anthology. I hope you’ll lend us your support! Thanks, and have a good night!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crackedskullproject1/that-which-cannot-be-undone-an-ohio-horror-anthology

Anne Rice. She may be gone, but she is still definitely with us.

You know, I’ve actually had the opportunity to interact with Anne Rice a few times. Not in person, mind you, but over email and social media.

In high school, I sent her an email after reading her novel Angel Time (she had an email that was known to the public back then). I liked the novel for the most part, but I was upset as a Jew that one of her Jewish characters became a Catholic nun just to be closer to her father. She actually emailed me back, saying that I had a fair point and would try to be more sensitive to such matters. It was a crazy cool moment. A few years later, about a year into writing this blog, I wrote a review of The Wolf Gift (which you can read here), her first werewolf novel, where I compared her work to various kinds of food (I had just eaten lunch). Somehow she caught wind of my review and posted it on her social media. It’s still one of my most viewed posts, and it’s been nine years since then!

I had a few more interactions with her through email and social media up until 2016 or 2017, but I was happy with what I got. And as she kept writing, I hoped I would be able to actually meet her in person someday.

Yesterday, December 11th, 2021, Anne Rice passed away due to complications due to a stroke. She was 80.

Like many, I am heartbroken. I first discovered Anne Rice as a preteen with Interview with the Vampire. As I’m sure many of you can agree, it was a revelation. For me, I hadn’t read any story whose world felt as immersive as the world of Louis and Lestat since reading Harry Potter years earlier. I could almost smell New Orleans, here the sounds of 19th century Paris! The language was so beautiful too! Poetry without being poetry, filling my mind and painting extraordinary images. It made me realize just how powerful language could be, more than any other novel I had read up till then. And finally, I empathized with and grew to truly love the characters. While a lot of their emotional and philosophical turmoil went over my head at that age, I understood that they were going through a lot and felt for them.

This would only increase as I continued to read her works throughout my teens and twenties as I read her new work. Reading her works often felt like meeting old friends, and at the same time, Anne Rice, who put so much of herself in her books, began to feel like a friend and a mentor. Often, her writing would influence mine as much as Stephen King’s did, especially as I’ve gotten older. That impression deepened when I got on social media, where Rice was active with her fan community, whom she affectionately called the People of the Page.*

I may have to read this again very soon. I haven’t read it since I was 11 or 12. I wonder how it will affect me now.

It pains me, and so many others, that we won’t be able to read new stories by her or see her social media posts anymore. That next year’s Ramses the Damned novel, if it releases on time, will be her final novel. That she won’t be able to see the TV adaptations of The Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches trilogy being developed at AMC when they premiere. That one of the greatest horror writers of the 20th century, as well as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century period, is now gone from this world.

Luckily, even though Ms. Rice has left the Savage Garden and is probably now getting all her spiritual, philosophical and cosmological questions answered, her works remain. She has, like many of her characters, achieved a form of immortality, but this one won’t cut her off from the world of humans. Instead, she’ll always be with us, a spiritual force beyond matter and body living in our minds and our souls. So, even though many of us will never have the chance to meet her in person, she will still be able to influence and touch us with her powerful Gothic epics.

Next year, there’s supposed to be a public memorial in New Orleans for her, one year after her family lays her to rest. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go, but if not, I’ll at least be able to raise a glass of wine to her tonight. A sweet red, which I’m sure she would have appreciated. And when those TV shows premiere, I, and probably many others, will raise a glass again and think of her. Anne Rice, the true Queen of the Vampires, and someone who will be with us long after she’s joined the spiritual plane.

What influence did Anne Rice have on you? What were your favorite books by her? Do you have any stories you want to tell about her? Let’s discuss.

*See where I got the idea to name you all the Followers of Fear?