Archive for the ‘Novel’ Category

The cover’s typo is finally fixed. In case you hadn’t noticed.

Do I need an introduction? The Pure World Comes, my Gothic horror novel, has been out a week. And I am really happy with the results.

The Story

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

That blurb on the back has gotten some people interested, so I’m proud of it. Along with the whole book, of course. It’s kind of a love letter to the Victorian era and the literature that came out around that time (particularly the scary books). And for all the glitz and charm that era has in our memories, it was actually a pretty dirty era, especially if you lived in London. I actually included a lot of the grosser stuff of the era, such as shit-filled streets, crazy theories about pregnancy and childbirth (trust me, they had some wacky beliefs), and Jack the Ripper.

Yeah, he appears in the novel as well. Anyway, I worked hard to make the age feel real to readers while at the same time delivering a terrifying novel. And I think based off the reviews, I did just that. More on that later, though.

Trivia about The Pure World Comes

I’m not lying, I’ve kind of wanted to do some trivia for this book for a while. And now that it’s been out for a week and a lot of people are reading it, I think I’ll do some trivia:

The Westover plantation. See the resemblance?
  • If TPWC were to be made into a movie (I can dream), I think I know whom I’d like to play the two leads, Shirley Dobbins and Sir Joseph Hunting. At least, using the current roster of actors out there. First, for Shirley, I’d want Millie Bobby Brown. If you’ve seen Enola Holmes, you know why.
    As for Sir Joseph, I’d like either Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time) or Julian Richings (Death in Supernatural). I kind of based the character on both men and integrated parts of the characters they played into Sir Joseph, so it would be awesome if either of them were to play the character.
  • As for the Hunting Lodge, Sir Joseph’s home (and technically also a character, as tends to happen in Gothic stories), I based it on the Westover Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. The red brick, symmetrical house just struck me as having a lot of character, so with some mods I made it into the Hunting Lodge.
  • I originally had ideas for more characters around Shirley’s age, and there was going to be a whole lot of love triangles and unrequited loves and whatnot. You know, kind of like what goes on in Bridgerton (which is Regency rather than Victorian, but you get the idea). However, that got complicated pretty fast and distracted from the main plot, so I whittled it down to just one and stuck with it.
  • Finally, I added a whole lot of references and Easter eggs to the story for kicks. Some of you might have realized that the character of Nellie is named after the character from Wuthering Heights, a classic of Victorian literature (even if I do hate it). But I also included references to Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, and even the anime Overlord. Points to everyone who can find them all!

Reviews

As I said above, I’ve been getting some great reviews on TPWC. At the time I’m writing, the book has four on Amazon and thirteen on Goodreads. Here is what people are saying:

I really like Gothic stories, so I was excited to read this, and it didn’t disappoint.

I liked the protagonist very much. Shirley had many qualities that, for me, make a strong protagonist. She struck me as being a character who didn’t rely on others for approval, and while she seemed a sensitive character in many ways, I felt that she was self-contained. She was not overly emotional, and it seemed that she had a realistic view of the world around her. I liked that.

The story itself was very gripping, and there were even some moments that caused me to gasp in surprise while I was reading. However, this was something that encouraged me to keep reading.

Something else that I enjoyed about this was that it wasn’t too long or drawn out. It was a satisfying read, and intriguing read, but short enough to read in one sitting, if desired. The kind of thing that I might choose if I wanted a short book to read on the evening before my book club meeting. I have some friends who are keen on this type of story too, so I may recommend this book to them.

Kelly Marie Purdy, Goodreads

In Victorian England, Shirley Dobbins rises from lowly maid to competent scientist. The problem is, her tutor and employer is a mad scientist, and his mansion is haunted.

I loved the cast Ungar put together, young to old, rich and poor, lower class and upper class, and most dramatically, kind hearted and evil. The mad scientist’s haunted mansion is a character, too, with its secret laboratory and portals and rats and a haunted toilet.

Jack the Ripper makes an appearance. He mostly lurks in the background, but he adds a menacing plot thread to the book. It feels natural to the story and the setting, not at all gimmicky on Ungar’s part.

Meanwhile, Shirley and the mad scientist are trying to perfect animal and human imperfections, but where do they draw the line between playing doctor and playing God?

While I enjoyed this story, there’s a scene that contains a misunderstanding about the physics of vacuums. But if readers aren’t into science they might not notice. Also, the title doesn’t work for me. Thematically, it makes sense, but it neither catches my attention nor sparks my imagination. So The Pure World Comes is almost a five-star read for me, but not quite.

Gothic horror fans will love The Pure World Comes. Ungar keeps getting better and better. He has become an auto-buy author for me.

Priscilla Bettis, Amazon

The Pure World Comes by Rami Ungar
The story started with a slow build which
quickly turned into a page turner for me.
It has a bit of a Frankenstein feel to it.
It was a little out there but I really enjoyed
it.

Anette Johnson, Amazon

Fun fact, the last review is written like that on Amazon and Goodreads and I kind of love how it looks a little like a freestyle poem. But more than that, I love how enthusiastic these reviews are. And if you look online, you’ll see plenty of other people saying positive things about the book. Even the three star reviews seemed to like it, which is nice.

I hope more reviews are like this.

Links

This coming weekend in Mansfield, OH. Hope to see you there.

Anyway, if you want to check this book out, I’ll include links below, including Goodreads. It’s been a fun ride writing, editing, and publishing this book, and seeing what people think of it. i hope with time, more people come to read and enjoy it and let me know what they think. After all, reviews not only help other readers decide if a book is worth their time, they help the writers improve their craft and know what their readers are thinking.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Goodreads


Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoy The Pure World Comes. I probably won’t post again until after ParaPsyCon this coming weekend (where I hope TPWC sells out), but the moment something comes up worth posting about, I will. Until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares.

You know, I meant to put out another post between this one and my last post about The Pure World Comes. But I couldn’t think of anything worth blogging about, so you get two posts about TPWC in a row. Lucky you!

Anyway, as you all are aware, my novel The Pure World Comes is finally available in paperback and ebook. The novel is set in Victorian England and follows a maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist. The full description is below:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Not bad, right? And a lot of the early reviews have been really positive. In fact, at the time I’m writing this, TPWC has a rating of 4.5/5 on Goodreads based on four ratings and two reviews. Honestly, I thought people might like the book, but this response has been better than I expected, and I’m so happy!

Anyway, I hope you’re as excited to read this as I am for you to read it. This novel is a love letter to the Victorian period, both its glitz and glamour and gentility, and its darkness, violence and the possibility of death around every corner,* as well as the scary stories that came out during that time. I had a blast researching it over the years and then an even bigger blast just writing it, followed by editing it for publication.

If you’re interested in grabbing a copy, you can buy one through the links below. And if you do end up getting a copy, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader reviews and feedback, and your thoughts not only help me as a writer, but other readers as well.

And if you like TPWC, please consider checking out my other books. Who knows? You might enjoy reading those as well.

And if you’re the type of reader who prefers audio books, I am working on making that possible. I’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a big day coming up (first day back in the office after working from home for two years straight), but I’ll check in when I can. So, until next time, good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo

*Seriously, everything and anything could kill you in the Victorian period. Coal dust, cleaning the chimney, the majority of makeups and beauty products, the clothes you wear, the color of your wallpaper. Even your food and water could kill you! Seriously, refrigeration didn’t really exist, they didn’t always throw out their food even after it had gone bad, and a lot of people got their water from the same sources where they dumped their poop. Not exactly sanitary.

And don’t think about going to your doctor. Not unless you wanted to be prescribed solution of lead or powerful opiates!

I know, technically it’s still available on the Readict app, but let’s face it. This is a bigger deal than that.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that my novel The Pure World Comes will be releasing in one week on May 10th, and will be available in paperback and ebook. This Gothic horror novella is my love letter to the Victorian era of British history and follows a young maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist. Here’s the description off the back of the book:

Shirley Dobbins wants nothing more than to live a quiet life and become a head housekeeper at a prestigious house. So when she is invited to come work for the mysterious baronet Sir Joseph Hunting at his estate, she thinks it is the chance of a lifetime. However, from the moment she arrives things are not what they seem. As she becomes wrapped up in more of the baronet’s radical science, she realizes something dark and otherworldly is loose within the estate. And if left unchecked, it’ll claim the lives of all she holds dear.

Sounds pretty cool, right? And it’ll be out in a week or so. I’m super excited. And with that cover, I think a lot of people are going to be interested. I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but many readers do just that, including authors like myself. This new cover for The Pure World Comes looks absolutely brilliant, so I’m hoping it’ll draw plenty of people in.

And yes, I’ve noticed that Iseult Murphy’s name is spelled wrong on the cover blurb. We’re working on getting that fixed before release date.

Anyway, I hope you all decide to check out and read The Pure World Comes when it releases on the tenth. I’ll include links below so you can get it from your preferred retailer. And if you do read the book, I do hope you’ll let me know what you thought of it. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. And not only does it help me as a writer, but when you leave it on certain sites like Amazon or Goodreads, it lets other readers know whether the book is worth their time.

Oh, and if you’re more of an audio book person, I have good news: I am taking steps to produce an audio book of The Pure World Comes. It’s still too early to make any announcements like narrator or release date, but I am working on it. And as soon as it’s ready, I will let you all know.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m sure I’ll be checking in with you again before The Pure World Comes out next week. And until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

The Pure World Comes: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo

As many of you know, last year I had a novel, The Pure World Comes, published on an app called Readict. The novel, a Gothic horror novel set in Victorian England, follows a young maid who goes to work at the estate of a mad scientist.

One year later, I’m excited to let you know that The Pure World Comes will be released in paperback and ebook on May 10th, 2022! Just 17 days from the time I’m writing!

I can’t wait to hear what you all think of the book now that it’s coming out in formats that are more accessible to readers. Those who read it on the app said it was really good. One or two people even said that one scene made the toilet scary! Now that’s an accomplishment!

By the way, I read that scene at an event back in October. It was so awkward and hilarious and I actually got compliments on portraying going to the bathroom from a woman’s point-of-view. Now that’s an even bigger accomplishment, if you ask me!

Anyway, let’s talk about The Pure World Comes. First, here’s the new cover.

You like? This cover was created by the artists at Rooster Republic Press, who also did the cover art for my short story Agoraphobia. They do some amazing work, and it shows in this latest cover by them. Not only did they bring the Hunting Lodge, the main setting of the story, to life with such brilliant art, but they also included sacred geometry in the illustration of the moon, which works well with the themes and plot of this novel.

Plus, it reminds me of some really amazing art covers I’ve seen, like the Charlie Bone books I read as a kid, with hints of that one cover for We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Those are really eye-catching covers, so I hope that applies to this one.

As to how to get a copy, you can preorder from a variety of sites, especially Barnes & Noble and other sites. Not Amazon just yet. I’m using a different printing service than KDP Amazon, so Amazon’s being annoying by not allowing you to preorder through them. You have to wait till May 10th to get through them (unless they take their time approving them. Which I totally expect them to do). But all the other sites? Yeah, already available for preorder.

Anyway, I hope you decide to check out the book. I’m really proud of The Pure World Comes and I can’t wait to see what you all make of it. Do you think it’s scary? Do you like the characters? Did I research the Victorian period well? And if you read the book, I hope you let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback. It helps me improve as a writer and gives readers an idea of whether or not the book is for them.

And if enough people read and like the book, it might lead to an audio book. I would be very proud if that happened.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to make sure the world knows about this new story. You can check it out by clicking on the links below. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

Kobo

Praise to the King in Yellow! I’ve got my first acceptance of the year! Even better, it’s a story I was having trouble finding a home for!

So, you’re probably all excited to hear what the story is about and when and where it’ll come out. “The Dedication of the High Priestess” is a story I first wrote back in winter after I got back from my vacation. The story follows a young ballet student named Anastasia “Annie” Hummel. She dreams of being a famous ballerina, and being selected as a model for a famous artist’s latest series of paintings seems like a great boost to her fledgling career. However, what actually happens is that Annie is awakened to her true destiny. A destiny that will change the course of her life, and the world. forever.

If you read my post about elevated horror the other day, you might realize from the description and my opening shout of praise that this is the ballerina-meets-the-King-in-Yellow story I mentioned. And yes, I realize it got accepted right after I mentioned trying to find it a home. Not sure if that counts as irony, but it is funny.

And if you’re wondering what this King in Yellow thing is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Sadly, I think The King in Yellow is even less well-known than HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos.* It’s a collection of short stories written in 1895 by Robert Chambers. Most (and the best) of the stories revolve not around the titular character, but around a play bearing the character’s name and which is said to be so twisted, reading the second act will drive you mad (or make you a servant of the King, depending on if you believe he’s a real entity).

The stories have proven influential, being beloved by Lovecraft and becoming partially integrated into the Cthulhu Mythos by later writers. If you would like to find out more, you can read my own blog post on the collection, which I wrote back when I first read the stories, or you can watch this awesome YouTube video on the collection. Or you can read the collection yourself, that’s a valid choice as well.

This is my copy of the collection. Seriously, you should check it out!

Anyway, my take on the stories and the character combines both elements from the collection, from what later writers have added, and adds ballet, because let’s face it, I’m a huge fan of ballet and I’m sad there aren’t more ballet-themed horror stories. As to how I use ballet in the story, you’ll have to wait till it’s out to discover that.

Speaking of which, “The Dedication of the High Priestess” will be published as an audio story by the horror podcast Tales to Terrify. This is a podcast where professional narrators read one or two short stories or short novelettes per episode, the goal of each story being to chill you silly. I listened to a couple of episodes a while back and thought it might be a good place for my story, so I sent it in. I’m so happy they agree.

As to when it comes out, all I can say at that point is that it’ll be some time in 2022. Yeah, that’s vague, but that’s just how it is sometimes. And anyway, the moment it is out, I’ll be sure to let you know so you can check it out yourself.

I want to thank Tales to Terrify for accepting my story and I can’t wait to hear what you guys do with it. I’m very proud of this one and I’m glad it was able to find an excellent home.

And that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got some other stuff cooking that I’ll be announcing soon, so keep an eye out for that. And I have dinner cooking, so I’ll keep an eye on that. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

*Which is a damn shame, because I think it’s better than Lovecraft in many ways, though I still like the stories the latter wrote.

I heard a movie based on this book was coming out later this year, so I thought I would check it out. And since I had to drive up to Cleveland yesterday (it’s a Passover thing, don’t ask) and the audio book was long enough for the drive to and back, I thought I would listen to it. I started as I pulled out of my parking space and finished about a mile from my complex on the way home. And I have to say, it certainly added to the drive.

Set in an unnamed village on Halloween night 1963, Dark Harvest follows Pete McCormick, a teenage boy who is participating in the Run, an annual harvest ritual where he and the other teen boys in town chase a living pumpkin-headed scarecrow known as “Sawtooth Jack” and “The October Boy.” The kid who manages to catch and kill Sawtooth Jack before he reaches the church in the center of town by midnight wins great prizes for him and his family, including the right to leave the village. Pete is gearing to win this year, even if it means breaking some rules, but he soon finds out there’s a darker truth to the Run. And losing might not be the worse thing in the world.

I have to say, while I was able to predict certain things, I enjoyed the story. I was sucked in by the immediate weirdness of the tale and by the haunting atmosphere. There’s this explosive potential in the narration and the reveling in violence and death that comes from the story. It really fits the Halloween vibe, as well as the cruelty and nihilism that comes with it. And while some things were predictable, as I said, it’s such a joy watching them unfold.

That being said, the style of narration was kind of annoying at times. There’s a lot of addressing the reader and rambling on the thoughts of individual or multiple characters. Great, it’s lots of psychological flowery language, but I would like to reach the next exciting bit of the story, and what does this all add to the overall book?

That, and it wasn’t really explicit about why the Run exists. It’s hinted it’s some sort of pagan ritual to help with next year’s corn harvest and keep people in town, but it’s never really spelled out or how this sort of thing began in the first place. Mostly, you hear stuff about how the Run is part of a way of life, but that only explains so much.

Still, I had a great time with this novel and was glad I finally got around to reading it. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge a 4.3 out of 5. It’s a fun little Halloween romp that you can gobble up in a day or so. Whether or not you plan to see the movie version, if you haven’t read this one and love your Halloween stories, I recommend checking it out.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope to have some exciting news out very soon. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

You know, many great stories were originally published in serialized form. From Charles Dickens’ many novels to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs and HP Lovecraft, many writers we still read today had stories serialized in newspapers and magazines.

I’m not saying that “Blood and Paper Skin” is one of those great stories, but I do think it’s cool that it’s not only been serialized, but that the last part is now available.

So, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, “Blood and Paper Skin” is a novelette I wrote some time ago about a bunch of teens and college students who go out to get drugs, only to be taken captive and held in a strange prison-like room. The story has been serialized by The Dark Sire literary journal, a quarterly journal that specializes in horror and dark speculative fiction and poetry. And they also do serializations of longer stories, such as “Blood and Paper Skin.”

I’m very happy that TDS has released the final part of the story, especially this is the publication’s last print issue (they’re moving entirely to e-book after this issue). It’s a story I didn’t think would find a home, so I was glad it did and that the team behind that home loved the story. Every time I talked to them, they praised it and said they got so much feedback from readers who love “Blood and Paper Skin.”

Anyway, if you would like to check out “Blood and Paper Skin,” I’ll include the links for all issues of The Dark Sire where the story appears, starting from the most recent. And if you would like what you read, either of “Blood and Paper Skin” or The Dark Sire, please make sure to leave reviews and check out our other work. We both work really hard to deliver to you the best stories, so we hope you continue to check them out and let us know what you think.

Anyway, I’ve got a new story rattling around in my wacky head, so I’m going to start outlining. If you need me, you know where to find me. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Dark Sire Issue 10 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 3): https://tinyurl.com/2p99ahfm

The Dark Sire Issue 9 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 2): https://tinyurl.com/4cdnkevt

The Dark Sire Issue 8 (“Blood and Paper Skin” Part 1): https://tinyurl.com/ya6r77ww

Alma Katsu. Photo by Evan Michio

Some of you may remember at the start of the pandemic I had the pleasure to interview Alma Katsu, author of the critically acclaimed novels The Hunger and The Deep (you can read that interview here). I loved both novels, which took on the historical events of the Donner Party and the Titanic, respectively, and turned them into supernatural horror stories. It won’t surprise you, then, that I’ve been looking forward to her next historical horror novel for a while now.

Two pieces of good news: first, Ms. Katsu has a new novel, The Fervor, coming out in late April! The novel takes place during World War II at a Japanese internment camp and involves a strange disease and a stranger monster from Japanese legend. Yeah, you can tell this is right up my alley!

Second pieces of good news: Ms. Katsu has agreed to let me interview her about the book! So without further ado, let’s talk to Alma Katsu and find out why you should be as excited as I am for her new novel.

Rami Ungar: Welcome back to the blog, Ms. Katsu. Please tell us about The Fervor and how it came about.

Alma Katsu: First came the decision to set the next book in WWII. That had to do with trends in publishing, frankly; I’d sat in on the editors’ panel at the Historical Novel Society conference a few years ago, when it was time to come up with a proposal, and their advice was that historical fiction was pretty much dead except for WWII. I’d always thought it would be interesting to write about the internment camps, but then the question was how to turn that into a horror story? Objectively, the horror should be pretty evident: here was a government locking up its own citizens, people who hadn’t committed a crime, because they didn’t trust them. Because the average citizen (with the help of propaganda) believed that Asians were inherently sneakier and untrustworthy.

RU: You’ve talked about your Japanese heritage and how it influenced the story. Can you go into that for us?

AK: This was the first time where the main character of the book has the same ethnicity as me, and it was pretty eye-opening. For one thing, as I was writing I realized that I had a lot of resentments about the way my mother had been treated coming to America after the war, and the way I’d been treated as a minority (to a lesser extent) bottled up inside. Add to that the preconceptions about Asians and Asian women, in particular. This was an opportunity to write the truth, to dispel myths. It was freeing.

RU: I can only imagine! And speaking of Japanese elements, there’s been a surge of stories inspired by Japanese culture, particularly yokai, in the West. Some examples include Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw and my own novel Rose. What do you think of that surge, and where do you think it comes from?

The Fervor by Alma Katsu.

AK: I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer here. I know some folks are big into Japanese folktales and such, so I’m not aware of a surge per say. It always seems to be fairly popular thanks to anime! Japanese yokai and yurei are part of the fabric of life for Japanese, and so I’d heard and read stories when I was a kid, and it didn’t seem you could tell a horror story with Japanese characters without incorporating it in some way.

RU: Well, I can attest that anime was definitely an influence on me. Anyway, The Fervor also involves an epidemic in a Japanese internment camp. Did the COVID-19 pandemic influence your decision to include that?

AK: I drew on COVID, yes, the feelings of mass panic and confusion, but The Fervor is about racism. I decided to write it after watching what’s been happening to this country over the past four years or so. I’m not naïve but it’s been bewildering to see racism go mainstream in America. It’s comforting in a way to think it could be a disease, something you could catch, as that at least is understandable. The January 6th attack on the Capitol also influenced the book: The Fervor was an attempt to look at what this country has been going through and compare it to another horrible incident in America’s past, and show that we haven’t changed much.

RU: I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out in the book. So, what research did you do for the book?

AK: This was different from The Hunger (the Donner Party) and The Deep (the sinking of the Titanic), events that I didn’t know a lot about. I already knew a lot about life in the internment camps, because I’d heard stories from my in-laws, seen documentaries and read articles. I knew what the issues were, I knew how the interned felt and what they had gone through. For the book, it was more a matter of filling in the gaps. I lucked out in that a neighbor’s family had been interned at Minidoka, which is featured in the book, and had a trove of documents from the camp: maps, rosters, newsletters, all kind of non-official documentation that typically gets lost to time. It was a real windfall.

RU: Yeah, primary sources like that are always a boon when writing about history or using it. And speaking of which, you’ve written about the Donner Party, the sinking of the Titanic, and now the Japanese internment camps. Are there any other ages or historical events you would want to write a story about?

AK: After doing three books and having them change a bit each time (going from being fairly close to the history to becoming reinterpretations of events, maybe just shy of alternate histories), I think it’s time to re-evaluate. I’m sure there are plenty of interesting historical events (I’d love to do another Western, for example) but I’m a little burned out on close reads of history right now.

RU: Fair enough. Switching gears a bit, what are you working on nowadays? And when can we expect to see the TV series based on your spy novel, Red Widow?

AK: I just handed in the second in the spy novel series, and though I’m sure it’ll need some work, I’m glad to have that behind me. I’m working on a new project that I can’t talk about at the moment, and hope to be pitching a few TV proposals soon.

Red Widow, the TV series, is chugging along. The pilot script is being polished right now, and we hope to know whether we’ll be shooting the pilot before too long.

RU: Final question: what are you reading these days? And are there any recent reads that you would recommend others check out?

AK: There are so many great books coming out this year that it’s hard to single out just a few. Let’s see… SA Barbes’ debut Dead Silence just came out. It’s space/horror: think Aliens meets Titanic.  It’s a lot of spooky fun. I had the opportunity to read Andy Davidson’s The Hollow Kind, a wonderfully suspenseful, creepy southern Gothic with a dual timeline. It doesn’t come out until October, however. I’m really excited for Catriona Ward’s next novel, Sundial, which I think I liked even better than Needless Street.

RU: Well, thank you for joining us, Ms. Katsu. It was a pleasure to have you again. Please keep us posted on your progress.

If you are interested in The Fervor, you can preorder it now from most retailers. You can also check out Ms. Katsu’s other books, including The Hunger, The Deep and Red Widow. And, of course, you can find Ms. Katsu on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I look forward to reviewing The Fervor this coming spring. And in the meantime, I’m sure I’ll be back soon with plenty to share with you. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

I would say pop some champagne, but I decided to abstain from alcohol this month. It’s healthy to do every now and then. I think I’ll stick to tea instead.

Okay, enough weird asides. As of this evening, I’ve finished a novella I started working on back in December, making this my first completed story of the year. The story is called “They Sleep Within the Rock,” it’s exactly one-hundred pages and is about twenty-six thousand, four hundred words. Which is just a bit shorter than I thought it would be.

As for the plot, the story is about a group of white supremacists that try to establish a “whites-only enclave” in the American West, only to find out that the land they’re on has a history to it, and may be cursed. The story was inspired by a news article I read about white supremacists trying to buy up land and housing in rural areas to establish their own mini ethnostates. Yes, that’s something they’re trying to do, and I hope they’re never successful at it.

Anyway, I read that article and thought, “I can write a story about that. There are so many ways to make a story about people trying to establish a place like this scary.” It took some brainstorming, but I managed to come up with something that I liked and, over three months, I got it written out. And I found it quite therapeutic, as well. There’s been such a rise in anti-Semitism in the US and worldwide lately, and the horrors reigned on my people, such as last month’s synagogue hostage situation in Texas, have been rising as well. It was nice to be able to visit some horror back.

That being said, I don’t know if the story is any good. It was therapeutic and I enjoyed writing it, but that’s no mark of a good story. Plus, I’m sure there are plenty of things that could use improvement in the story. Perhaps there’s even a need to rewrite certain parts.

Well, I’ll try to edit it later this year if I can. I say “later this year” and “if I can” because I’ll soon be editing the stories for my upcoming collection Hannah and Other Stories, so that’s obviously going to take up some time. And after so much editing, I may just want to write rather than edit another novella. But hey, at least whenever I do return to it, I’ll be able to see it with fresh eyes. That’ll be helpful, for sure.

So, what’s next? I think I’ll take the weekend to relax and refuel my creativity. I have an important blog post I want to put out before Valentine’s Day, so that’ll take priority. And I want to edit that superhero horror story I wrote last year and see if I can find a home for it. And after that…well, we’ll see what’s going on then.

But for now, though, I think I’ll hit the hay. Good night, my Followers of Fear. I hope wherever you are, the winter storm isn’t causing you too much trouble, and that you have pleasant nightmares.

Cover of Dark Nature. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Wow, what a week it’s been! First I got that double acceptance on Sunday, and then I get this piece of news on Tuesday. Who knows what’s going to occur over the weekend? But I digress, because “Natural Predators” is being published in the anthology Dark Nature from Macabre Ladies Publishing!

So if you didn’t know, “Natural Predators” is a story I wrote back in June about a pandemic hitting a summer camp. Surprisingly, it’s not based on any of our current events. No seriously. It was actually inspired by my own summer camp days. Back when I was a teen, the sleepaway camp I was at, as well as the surrounding communities, was hit by a nasty stomach virus. Over the course of a weekend, the infirmary was filled with kids and adults throwing their guts up. And I was the first in my year to get it, as well as the one who probably got the rest of my year sick.

Years later, when watching an episode of Family Guy where the characters were trying to write their own horror movie, I imagined the character Joe, who is disabled, drawing on his own personal experience to write a body horror tale. Somehow that combined in my head with the camp epidemic, and a story was born: “Natural Predators.”

Of course, I didn’t write it until this summer, when I had the right stimulus. Dark Nature is an anthology around the idea of Mother Nature getting back at humanity for centuries of abuse. As long as nature was depicted being the revenge, anything went. The idea spoke to me, so I decided to write “Natural Predators” around the theme. And it worked pretty well, too.

That being said, I honestly didn’t think it would get in. It’s a pandemic story, after all, and there was such tough competition. And I thought the other submissions would be so much better than mine (humility is a good quality to have as a writer, I find). But somehow, out of a hundred submissions, mine was one of the ones chosen!

Apparently there’s still a market for pandemic fiction. Even in the middle of a pandemic.

Being serious now, I’m really grateful the editors at Macabre Ladies Publishing liked my story and I’m so excited to work with them. Thank you as well to my beta reader Monica, whose advice was probably instrumental in making the story as good as it is. And congratulations to the other people who got in with me. We all faced some tough competition, so I’m glad we were able to get in together.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about this story being published as I am, and are interested in reading Dark Nature once it comes out. Which, according to the publisher, should be some time this month if all goes as planned. I’ll post links as soon as I can, and I look forward to hearing what you all think of “Natural Predators.”

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. At the time this is publishing, I’m off using my dreams to plant dangerous, mutated arthropods in the homes of people who deserve it. So with that, I wish you all a good night, pleasant nightmares, and welcome to October! Truly the most wonderful time of the year.*

*Seriously, it is. I wrote an entire blog post on that and the points still stand.