Archive for the ‘Novel’ Category

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.

September has gone by so fast, but I’m having a lot of trouble believing that it’s only been a month since The Pure World Comes has been released. That’s right, an entire month! And man, it’s been doing well. Not only that, but there have been other updates on my projects and upcoming publications. Let me tell you about it.

The Pure World Comes

The cover for “The Pure World Comes” on the Readict app.

So, if you’re new here, The Pure World Comes was a novel I wrote last year and which was published, as I mentioned at the beginning, exactly a month ago on the Readict literature app. The novel was a love letter to the Victorian era and to Gothic literature from that era, which I’ve been obsessed with for quite some time now. Here’s the summary:

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.

The app records how many people have been reading the novel and aggregating their ratings of the chapters, as well as the novel in general. When I was writing this post, 728 were reading or have read the novel and rated it a 4.7 out of 5 stars! I don’t think any of my published works have ever scored so high before.

But the best feedback was from my sister. She actually doesn’t read much of my work, as she’s both got a busy life and is not a big fan of horror (I can’t even remember if she’s read Rose). But because it was on her phone, she was able to read it more easily than other books, and she tried to read at least a chapter every night. As of last night, she actually finished it and said she loved it. She especially loved the characters and the mystery hanging around the story.

Considering she doesn’t have much time to read, let alone read all my work, I’m happy to hear that.

And if this is how the first month is going, I can’t wait to see how the next year goes. In fact, I hope to get an ebook and paperback out some time next year. I’ll start working to that end after the new year. I look forward to hearing what people say when they can own a physical copy.

In the meantime, you can find it on the Readict app. It’s free with ads, so why not check it out before Halloween? I’d love to hear what you say.

The Jewish Book of Horror

As you may remember, I submitted a story to The Jewish Book of Horror, an anthology all about what scares my people (besides cholesterol and allergies, of course). I’m happy to say that The Jewish Book of Horror will be released this Hanukkah (so December-ish) and will feature my story, “The Divorce from God.”

And the cover is already being circulated around the internet. You can see it on the left, and isn’t it terrifying/sexy? I love it! I’m so honored to have a story in there. I can’t wait for people to read it and the other stories in the anthology and to let me know what they think.

Anyway, it’s only a couple of months till Hanukkah, so I’ll be sure to let you know when the book is available for preorder and purchase. I hope you’ll support it. As I’ve mentioned before, I think it would be cool to have more Jewish portrayals in fiction, especially from Jews. And the Denver Horror Collective, which is putting out the anthology, has hinted that if it does well, they may pursue doing a sequel anthology. I would love to see that (and maybe submit to them again).

Other Stories

I mentioned in a recent post that I had settled on a new novel to write and was working on an outline. The outline for that novel, Crawler, is finished and I should be ready to work on it after my vacation (more on that later). I’m not sure if the novel will be any good, but I think it’s going to be at least fun to write. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also, the next part of “Blood and Paper Skin” will be published in Issue 9 of The Dark Sire, which should be out at the tail end of October. I’ll post links when they’re available.

And I’m shopping around several more stories, looking for homes for them. I’m even waiting to hear back from publishers regarding a novel and a collection of short stories. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some great news very soon. I’m trying to get a few more stories accepted for publication before the end of the year, so I won’t let up on writing and editing and submitting.

And I have more stuff I can’t wait to tell you about. I’m just waiting for the right time to tell you.

In the meantime, I’m hoping you’ll check out some of my work that’s available, including The Pure World Comes. Except for that novel, all my stories are sold wherever great stories are sold. I look forward to hearing what you think.


That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to enjoy the weekend and relax after a rough week. I’ll be starting with a Phantom of the Opera movie starring Robert Englund. Yeah, that apparently exists. And it’s apparently really bad. Still, it sounds like something you gotta see to believe. I can’t wait!

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

Okay, I’m not ready to start work on a new novel. I’m ready to start researching and outlining a novel. As well as working on some new short stories, novelettes and novellas now that I’ve finished editing a bunch of stories. But that’s not going to make a catchy title, will it?

Anyway, I’ve been itching to write another novel for a while now. But I had three novels I was either editing or trying to find a publisher for, so I held off. But The Pure World Comes is published (and hopefully will be in paperback and ebook next year), River of Wrath is being shopped around (I hope to have news on that someday soon), and Toyland will likely get another draft in the near future. So, I think I can do another novel now.

And I know what novel I’m going to work on. But first, let me tell you a short story:

Back in 2017, my sister took me to see a movie for my birthday. Which movie, you might ask? Why, it was the latest Mummy reboot! The one Universal desperately hoped would launch their own horror-themed cinematic universe after 2014’s Dracula Untold was, while a moderate success, not as big as they wanted. Ironically, The Mummy ended up being terrible and failing at the box office, killing the Dark Universe franchise before it could get off the ground.

While I appreciated my sister going to the movies with me, I couldn’t help but think of ways that the film could have been better. And eventually, all that thinking led to this idea of a story. A novel. One that I thought would be a lot of fun to write.

This is the novel I’m going to write. A mummy story I’m going to call Crawler. And that’s all I’m going to say about the story now. But let me just say, after growing and mutating in my brain for four years, it’s looking to be one hell of a scary story.

I probably won’t start writing it until after my vacation (more on that in another post). However, I will be working on an outline, and I already bought the one reference book I’ll need for research (the rest I can probably get from a Google search). And prior to my vacation, I’ll be working on some shorter stuff that I’ve been dying to work on lately. Hopefully one or two of them will not only be scary, but worth reading.

Who doesn’t love a mummy story?

But yeah, this is happening. And I really hope I can eventually share it with you. I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, if you’re looking for something to read for the Halloween season, or if you’d like to support me, I’ll include links to my published works below. There’s plenty of scary stories there, so check them out. And if you read them, let me know what you think. Your reviews can help not just me, but all sorts of readers.

Now if you need me, I’m going to start work on an outline and character sheet before I go to bed. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I did one of these! No kidding, the last one was December 4th, 2020. What a gap. Thanks to my friend and fellow writer Iseult Murphy for reminding me this is a thing and to do it again.

So, if you’re unfamiliar with #FirstLineFriday, this was a meme I used to do quite often as a way to get people’s opinions of opening lines for stories (opening lines can be the hardest part of writing fiction sometimes). Here are the rules I usually went with:

  1. Create a post on your blog called #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first line or two of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed/published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and try to get them to try #FirstLineFriday themselves on their blogs. Tagging is encouraged but not necessary.

This time, however, I’m doing it with a twist. I’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of publications recently, including two novelettes and a novel. So, I’m going to give you the first three openings of each of these works! Triple Publication Edition! Woo-hoo!

First, we have “Cressida,” my mermaid horror story, which was released in Into the Deep, from Jazz House Publications. I’m really proud of this story and think it’s some of my best work. And my dad, who just read it recently, agrees. Enjoy:

Mark Honig drove the rental car towards his uncle’s beach home. On the driver’s side was a great cliff face dappled with green moss, while on the other side the ocean lapped against the cliff face dappled with barnacles and mollusks.

“Cressida,” Into the Deep, July 2021.

It’s a quiet opening, but at least it paints an image in your head. Enough to make you keep reading and get to the good stuff, I hope.

Our next story is “Blood and Paper Skin,” which is being serialized in Issues 8-10 of The Dark Sire. The story is about a bunch of teens that end up trapped in a jail-like room in someone’s basement for a dark purpose. I’m looking forward to how people react to the conclusion. For now, though, here’s the opening:

Grey held onto the side of Mark’s Chevy Tahoe for dear life, cursing his supposed best friend for making him endure the chilly winds whipping around the car. How the hell did I end up in this situation? he wondered for the millionth time.

“Blood and Paper Skin,” The Dark Sire Issue 8, July 31, 2021.

A guy hanging onto the side of a car. What a way to open a story. I had fun with that. And guess what? It was inspired by something I saw last year on my birthday.

And last but definitely not least, the opening of my novel The Pure World Comes. This was published on the Readict app, run by VitaleTek Inc. The novel follows a maid in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist. It’s my love letter to Victorian England and to Gothic literature.

A stream of shit and piss fell from the second floor of the Avondale house to the street below, where it mixed with the piss, shit and mud that already littered the avenue. From the second-floor window of Mr. Avondale’s dressing room, Shirley Dobbins put down the chamber pot belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Avondale and picked up the one belonging to their daughter, Miss Lucinda.

The Pure World Comes Ch. 1, August 2021

How many novels start with piss and shit? I don’t know, but this one does! And it sums up Victorian living in many ways.

But what do you think of these openings? Did anything catch your eyes and make you want to read more? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read the rest of the stories, I’ll leave the links for them below.

And as for who should do this next, I’m going to tag Priscilla Bettis, Allen Huntsman, and Brian B Baker. You don’t have to, but it would tickle me if you did. And I hope you’ll tag back here if you do the challenge.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s past midnight, so I’ll see all your comments in the morning. Until next time (which should be soon, believe it or not), pleasant nightmares!

The Pure World Comes: Readict app (free with ads)

The Dark Sire Issue 8: Amazon

Into the Deep: Paperback, Ebook

Have you ever written part of or an entire novel, and then nothing has happened to it? Maybe you edited the hell out of it and tried to find a publisher. Maybe you got some feedback from a beta reader that made you hesitate to put it out in the world. Or maybe you realized that, as much as you loved it and as much work as you put into it, it’s not very good and you’re better off moving on. So this project you’ve worked months or even years on gets put away, stored in a box or on a shelf or in a file drive to gather dust and likely never see the light of day.

If you have one of these novels, you have a “trunk novel.”

What are trunk novels, you may be asking? Well, trunk novels are as I said above: novels that were put away because, for one reason or another, they weren’t suitable to be released or marketed. Prior to computer storage, you might literally put them in a trunk so nobody ever saw them but you. Hence the name.

At least, I think that’s how it got its name. Tracking down the origin of the term was kind of impossible.

In any case, it happens more than we like to admit. We write a story and no matter how hard we try, it doesn’t get past the first draft or never leaves our computers. We may have thought it was the next big thing, or something that could have been published and been a small success, or at least could have gotten a publisher or agent interested. But in the end, it just doesn’t cut the mustard in one way or another, so it gets stowed away somewhere. You may say you’ll work on it again someday, but rarely does that happen.

And it happens to all of us. Really. Even Stephen King has them. He wrote four novels before Carrie was published. Only one of the previous three, Rage, was ever published (and King kind of regrets that). I did a poll in one or two horror writing groups I belong to, and all of the people who answered have trunk novels somewhere in their pasts.

I have several from my younger years, finished and unfinished, that are trunk novels. And one of the novels I wrote in college, Laura Horn, which I am still really proud of, is pretty much a trunk novel now. Why? Several reasons, but the fact that some of the events in the book resemble events that occurred in recent years might have something to do with it. Putting the book out given what’s happened in the last five years just feels wrong.

And I guess you could consider the Reborn City books trunk novels, even though I previously self-published them before taking them out of circulation.

And you know what? That’s alright. Yeah, our feelings towards our trunk novels may sometimes be complex. And we may regret at times that the stories never saw the light of day. But they are still important milestones in our career. They are the results learning to become writers, to learn what works in writing fiction and in learning the discipline of writing. They are the foundation of becoming us. Of becoming the authors we were meant to be.

So, as much as it sucks when a novel goes into the trunk, don’t regret it or feel too bad. It’s just another foundation stone in what is becoming your career.

Do you think I should get one of these and put literal manuscripts inside?

All that being said, I hope none of my completed, as of yet unpublished novels go into the trunk. I’m still shopping around River of Wrath with the hopes of finding a publisher for it, and I plan to work on Toyland again someday soon in the hopes of shopping that around too. What will happen to them? I honestly don’t know. But if they do end up in the trunk? Well, at least I had a hell of a time working on them and honing my skills with them.

Do you have any trunk novels? Would you mind talking about them with me? How do you feel about them? Let’s discuss.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I still have time left in the evening and I have only one story left in the collection I’ve been editing, so I’m going to get to work on that. Afterwards, I have a couple more short stories to edit (including one with dragon bats in it), and then…well, I’m not sure. A couple of new short stories? Perhaps a new novel? I’ve certainly been itching to get into something longer. And now that The Pure World Comes is out (check it out on the Readict app), I think I can afford to put together another sixty thousand-plus word story of terror and woe. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares and–OH NO! MY TRUNK NOVELS, AS WELL AS MY TRUNK NOVELLAS, TRUNK NOVELETTES, AND TRUNK SHORT STORIES, HAVE BEEN COMBINED TO FORM A GIANT MONSTER MADE OF PAPER! Excuse me while I get the boom stick and fight it off. Ta ta!

Last month, you might have heard about a novel of mine, The Pure World Comes, being accepted for publication. To be specific, the story was accepted at VitalTek Inc, the owner of the Readict literature app. Here’s the blurb I wrote up for the novel:

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 a bad summary for a Gothic horror novel set during the Victorian era, is it?

What appears on my phone when I pulled up The Pure World Comes today.

Anyway, I’ve a nice surprise for you. As of this morning, The Pure World Comes has been released on Readict’s app! That’s right, it’s out!

Honestly, it feels a little unreal. Things happened so quickly.

Regardless, I’m excited that the book is out and I can’t wait for you all to read it. You can get the Readict app from your app store of choice (I think I use Google on my phone). Please make sure to check it out. And if you do read it, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me out in the long run.

As for whether or not it’ll end up on ebook or paperback, I’ll keep that to myself for now. But I never say never.

Of course, I still have plenty of stories in paperback and ebook if you’re interested. I’ll leave links below in case you want to see. I wonder, will you check out my collection of short stories? Or my serial killer thriller? Or the fantasy-horror story of a young woman turned into a plant creature? Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy it.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have a busy evening ahead of me with this story out. Until next time, good night, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares!

The Quiet Game: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

Rose: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Audible

Snake: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Mother of the King: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Richard Chizmar, author of Chasing the Boogeyman.

Back in late 2019, I had the opportunity to interview Richard Chizmar, owner and publisher of Cemetery Dance Publications, as well as the author of several stories (including one or two in collaboration with Stephen King). Well, a lot’s happened since then, and Mr. Chizmar has a new novel called Chasing the Boogeyman that’s just released, Chasing the Boogeyman. In this novel, Chizmar himself plays the protagonist as he returns home post-college to write, prepare for a wedding…and deal with a serial killer that is hunting in his hometown.

I got to sit down with Mr. Chizmar to discuss the new book, the COVID-19 pandemic, and what he’s been reading lately. Here’s what we talked about.

Rami Ungar: Mr. Chizmar, welcome back to the show. Tell us about Chasing the Boogeyman and how the novel came to be.

Richard Chizmar: I always wanted to write a novel set in my hometown of Edgewood, Maryland. I pretty much assumed it would be a big fat coming-of-age horror novel – in the vein of IT or SUMMER OF NIGHT – but that’s not how it worked out. Instead, I couldn’t shake the idea of a small town being held hostage by a monster of the human variety. A town on the verge of losing its innocence and never being able to gain it back. In the summer of 1988, after graduating from college, I got engaged and my fiancée and I decided it would be smart to save rent money until the wedding. So I moved back in with my parents for a period of eight or nine months to work on the first issue of Cemetery Dance and write short stories. It was a strangely wonderful time. There I was standing on the doorstep of full-fledged adulthood, yet I was living in the house I’d grown up in and eating dinner with my mother and father most nights. It was an interesting period in my life, very fertile creatively, and it felt like the perfect setting for a novel about innocence and terror.

RU: You made yourself a character in the novel. Can you tell me how you decided to do that and what writing your character was like? Was it difficult or did you find it easy?

RC: It happened very naturally. When I first started jotting down notes for CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN I quickly realized how much of my true self would be surfacing in the story. I was writing about my past, my family and friends, my hometown, and most importantly, my early life hopes and fears. It just made sense to me, in that moment, that I wouldn’t even pretend to be someone else. Once I got past those normal early feelings of self-doubt, the rest of it was a breeze. It almost felt self-indulgent at times because I was having so much fun.

RU: Speaking of your character, would you say your character is close to what you’re like in real life?

RC: My character in the book is as close to the real me at age twenty-two as I could make him. In real life instances that occurred within the novel, I drew on memory and described them exactly as I remembered. When it came to the make-believe, I asked myself: what do you think you would have done? How do you think you would have acted or reacted? And then I put pen to paper as honestly as I could. That was important to me, and a promise I made to myself when I first started writing the book.  

RU: Going back to the boogeyman in the title, what do you think it is about the boogeyman character that makes it and its equivalents in other cultures enduring figures in our collective imaginations?

RC: Two things: longevity and proximity. The Boogeyman – in its various forms – has been around forever. That dark shape lurking in the woods or the alleyways or the shadowed neighborhood streets has always existed and been feared. And every town has one. Just like every small town has a haunted house located somewhere within its borders, every town also has its Boogeyman.

RU: I’ve been hearing this novel hyped for about a year now. What’s it like having one of the most anticipated novels of 2021?

RC: On the one hand, it’s very exciting when readers are talking about your book so far in advance and there’s a lot of positive press and buzz. On the other hand, it’s also nerve-wracking and can feel like a lot of pressure. I just try to roll with the punches as they come and enjoy the moment. Even eleven months ago when the book was first announced, I knew that publication day would be here before I knew it. From Day One, I’ve been determined to enjoy the process as much as possible. I’ve been in the business now for close to 35 years and CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN is technically my debut novel (GWENDY’S MAGIC FEATHER was billed as a novel, but it’s really a short novella), so it’s natural that it would come with a decent amount of fanfare. I just hope it does well for Simon & Schuster who really believed in the book.

RU: Pivoting to a new subject, you’re still running Cemetery Dance Publications and Cemetery Dance magazine. Have you noticed a change in the fiction you’ve been getting since the COVID-19 pandemic began? If so, what?

RC: That’s an interesting question. Unfortunately, I don’t have an interesting answer. We haven’t been open to public submissions for a while, so I haven’t seen any sort of trends developing. My bet is that we’ll see those trends appearing in published fiction over the next couple years.

RU: I have no doubt about that! Speaking of which, what have you been doing while stuck inside during the pandemic? Has it had an effect on your writing and productivity?

Chasing the Boogeyman. Available now.

RC: I’m pretty much a recluse in even the best of times, so the pandemic didn’t really affect my day-to-day comings and goings as much as it did most folks. In between insanely long bouts of cable news viewing, I managed to write a couple novels and a handful of short stories and essays. I was pretty pleased with that output.

RU: I guess we had a similar pandemic writing experience, then. Now, can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

RC: I’m about to start working on a new novel, which I’m too superstitious to say much about. In February of next year, GWENDY’S FINAL TASK, the third book in the Gwendy Trilogy, will be published. As with the first book, I co-wrote this one with Stephen King and had an absolute blast. Hopefully, after that, there will be a new novel release, as well as a collection of novellas. 

RU: Good luck! And finally, what are some books you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?

RC: I’ve been on a good run of reading lately. One gem after the other. GOBLIN by Josh Malerman. THE BURNING GIRLS by C.J. Tudor. MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW by Stephen Graham Jones. ROAD OF BONES by Chris Golden. THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP by Grady Hendrix. I’ve been spoiled!

RU: Oh, one of those is on my TBR list. Glad to know you recommend it.

If you would like to check out Chasing the Boogeyman, it’s currently out and available wherever fine books are sold (or lent if, like me, you went to your local library). And if you would like to keep up with Richard Chizmar, you can find him on his website, on his Twitter, and on Cemetery Dance’s website and Twitter.

If you would like to check out other author interviews, including my first with Mr. Chizmar, you can find it on my Interviews page.

And if you’re an author with something coming out soon and want to have an interview with me, email me at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. If I’m available, we can make some magic happen.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back with a couple of new reviews this week, as well as some other stuff so this blog doesn’t become a review and interview blog (nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what this blog is). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

I did say in my last post that I was going to try to get my thoughts out on this novel soon. As it happens, I ended up finishing it before bed, and now’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write out my thoughts.

The basis for the famous 1999 horror film from Takashi Miike, Audition follows Aoyoma, a father and widower who is ready to date and love again. However, he’s no idea where to start looking for a potential new wife. Luckily for him, his best friend has an idea: they’ll hold auditions for a movie they never intend to make, and Aoyama can pick a girl from any of the applicants. Through this crazy plan, Aoyama meets Yamazaki Asami, a former ballerina who is as mysterious as she is beautiful. And she’s quite beautiful. Problem is, there’s a bit of a dark side to her, and Aoyama is going to discover it pretty quickly. With disastrous consequences.

I may have gone into this one with too-high expectations. I know J-Horror can be hit or miss with me sometimes, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for the movie, so the book had to be good. Right? RIGHT?!

Sadly, I was wrong. As it turned out, this book felt kind of amateurish. The language is elegant and well-written, and the scenario presented within isn’t implausible. And Aoyama’s progression from a salaryman with a somewhat sexist/voyeuristic view of women to a very besotted man with a very narrow view of a particular woman is well written. However, the storyline is basic and nothing special, and there isn’t enough to Aoyama for us to really root for him. I would call it a slow-burn, but there has to be some tension to really make it worth that slow pace. It just comes off as slow and kinda boring.

And Asami’s reasons for becoming the villain that she is feels like it might have been written by a high schooler whose only knowledge of psychology comes from watching Criminal Minds reruns. Not to mention kind of ableist (though that might just be my interpretation).

All told, I’m assigning Audition by Ryu Murakami a 1.3 out of 5. One critic likened it to an early draft or treatment for the movie, and I kind of have to agree with that assessment. It’s the bare bones of what could have been a good, suspenseful story about a man’s love with a twisted femme fatale. As it is, though, it’s at best something to compare to the movie and maybe write an academic paper about.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have one more review coming up, this one for a movie (not the Audition movie, though I will try to get my hands on that). And if anything else comes up, exciting news or weird musings, I’ll let you know.

Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

I’ve seen Max Booth’s tweets on Twitter a bit, but this was the first time I’ve read one of his works. I was spurred to do so by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation, which looks terrifying (click this link to watch it). I had an audio book credit and the novel looked short enough, so I downloaded it and got to listening.

We Need To Do Something follows Melissa, a teenage girl who gets home from a friend’s as a massive storm hits the area and tornado sirens wail. As her family hides in the parents’ bathroom (no basement in the house), a tree falls in front of the door, trapping them inside. As Melissa, her little brother Bobby, her mother Diane and her father Robert, struggle with time, hunger, and their own dysfunction, they’ll also go on the ride from Hell. Possibly in more ways than one.

This novel is predicated on the concept “Hell is other people” and I love it!

What I really was blown away by is that everything takes place in the bathroom. Even flashbacks take place in the bathroom, presented as dreams or as hallucinations rather than as full flashbacks. This really gives you the sense of isolation and claustrophobia the characters are feeling. And this space acts like a pressure cooker, forcing them to confront their problems, themselves and each other. It is intense, and the confusion Booth weaves into the narrative only makes it worse. Are they really experiencing all of this? Is part of it something supernatural, or is there an element of shared delusion? You’ll read till the end asking those very same questions.

It doesn’t help that when the outside world does make an appearance, it’s only to make things crazier. Truth be told, you could learn a lot about writing tension from this novel.

As for the characters, you get to know them quite intimately. You also come to like them quite a bit–well, most of them. Robert, Melissa’s father, is an alcoholic with serious anger and toxic masculinity issues, and does not see the irony in calling his daughter a “snowflake” at one point. You love to dislike this guy from early on. But the others, you do start to feel sympathy for the others. None of them are perfect–Melissa has her own anger, Diane has been suffering for years and probably wishes her life was closer to a fifties sitcom than what it really is, and Bobby exists to annoy his sister and make fart and pee jokes–but you do grow to like them. And Melissa especially has more to her than what you meet in the first few pages, which at first glance is a typical phone-obsessed teen who’s annoyed with her folks.

The one downside is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and not everything you’d think would be clarified is. Now, for me that doesn’t really take away from the novel, but for others it’s going to be frustrating.

Altogether, We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III is a terrifying rollercoaster of a novel. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.5. Grab a copy, use the toilet real quick (not during a storm, though), and get settled in. You’re going to want to read this one.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m hoping to get you my thoughts of Audition by Ryu Murakami by the end of the week. And when the movie for this novel comes out, I’ll probably review that too. And I’ll likely have more to say in the near future. Point is, there will be more from me soon.

In the meantime, however, I’ve got work tomorrow, so I’m getting ready for bed. Good night, sleep tight, and pleasant nightmares!

As you’ve probably heard by now, my novelette “Blood and Paper Skin” was accepted by The Dark Sire, a local Ohio horror publication, for serialization over three issues. And, as of today, The Dark Sire, Issue 8 is available for purchase!

For those of you who don’t know, “Blood and Paper Skin” is about a bunch of young adults who go out to buy some drugs, only to be kidnapped and thrown into a prison-like room. There, they meet their captor, who goes by Old Man, and has brought them to this place for a sinister purpose.

I’m so excited for you all to read it, and I hope you enjoy reading it over the next several months. Part 2 will be serialized in late October, I believe. Right in time for Halloween! I’ll let you know for certain when it’s available.

And please make sure to leave your thoughts once you’ve read the issue. The Dark Sire is a great magazine of horror and psychological fiction that tries to support its authors as much as possible. With that in mind, the support from readers is quite important. I hope you’ll support them and even subscribe to the magazine, so it can continue to publish and give voice to a new generations of authors.

Though honestly, that cover should give you all the reason to read it and provide feedback. I mean look at that cover! Look at it!

Also, make sure to check out the other recent publication I’m in, the undersea horror Into the Deep. It has my novelette “Cressida” in it, as well as a number of great stories from a variety of authors. Actually, it’s been high in Amazon’s rankings since release, and just got its first review the other day (thank you, Priscilla Bettis, my loyal Follower of Fear). The paperback is now available, so make sure to order a copy if you wanted one.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be up early on Saturday for a special release event for Issue 8 from The Dark Sire themselves. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

The Dark Sire, Issue 8: Print

Into the Deep: Ebook, Paperback