Archive for the ‘Scary Stuff’ Category

Everyone probably knows Scooby Doo. That dog and his human friends have been solving mysteries and getting into hijinks since my parents were small. However, what most people don’t know is of the other dog dealing with ghosts and ghoulies, Courage the Cowardly Dog. This series aired during the late 90s and early 2000s, and followed a little dog named Courage living on a farm in Nowhere, Kansas with his kindhearted, elderly Scottish owner Muriel and her crotchety husband Eustace Bagg. There, Courage would be forced to fight supernatural, paranormal, and sometimes just weird threats to his home. It was dark, surreal and a ton of fun.

And someone at Warner Bros. had the genius idea that, since Scooby-Doo and Courage the Cowardly Dog have certain similarities, why not have them crossover? Thus came about Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog. And fans of both series have been wondering since: is this movie as genius as the idea?

As someone who has been looking forward to this film as much as Halloween Kills, I can confirm it is.

Straight Outta Nowhere starts with Scooby and the gang finishing off a mystery in Kansas when Scooby hears an odd sound and feels an overwhelming compulsion to find the source. This leads him to run off to Nowhere, home to the highest number of strange occurrences in the world, and meets Courage. The two dogs quickly become friends, which is good because giant cicadas have risen up and are attacking people! And surprisingly, this isn’t a normal Tuesday for Nowhere.

There’s a lot to like about this film. The animation styles for Scooby Doo and Courage are highly different, but the animators managed to synthesize them into something that works. Not only that, but the writing is really good and the characters play off each other very well (it’s cute how much Muriel and Velma become besties within five seconds). It also feels like the Courage TV show I remember as a kid, with random monsters unrelated to the main plot showing up at random to menace the cast. Having the Scooby gang trying to logic this stuff out when logic clearly has no place in this story adds a bit of hilarity to the story as well.

Add in all sorts of Easter eggs from the original TV series (haunted mattress for the win!), references to Monty Python and Young Frankenstein, a decent explanation for why Nowhere is so weird without overtaking the actual plot and characters, and some stellar writing, and you’ve got a great movie here.

That being said, it’s not perfect. I would have liked to see some more of the minor characters from Courage the Cowardly Dog, such as the psychic chihuahua and Dr. Vindaloo. And for some reason, Eustace is given a hip-hop number, to which I say, “Why?”

However, all in all, Straight Outta Nowhere is a great mashup of these two shows and will delight fans of both franchises. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 4.5. It’s hilarious, delightful, and might end up in my DVD collection someday.

It’s certainly better than Scooby Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost, anyway. That was a big middle finger to fans of the TV show it’s based on and misunderstands what made The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo good. It’s basically the Friday the 13th remake of Scooby-Doo. Yes, I trashed the Friday the 13th remake again! Bite me, MIchael Bay!

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.

Read the book by Max Booth III last month. Finally got to see the movie, the screenplay of which was penned by Booth as well and which was directed by Sean King O’Grady, this evening. Let’s get reviewing.

As I said, We Need to Do Something is based on the novel by Max Booth III and follows Melissa and her family as they pile into the master bathroom during a violent storm (no basement). However, they soon find themselves trapped in that bathroom with no way to get out, and it’s unlikely anyone’s coming for them. Hunger, fear and their own dysfunction soon lead to tension, terror and their own personal ride to Hell.

Okay, first off, the bathroom in the movie is both bigger and tackier than the one I had in my head. Seriously, there’s plenty of space, but has that bathroom not been remodeled since the 1970s?

Enough silliness. Onto the actual review.

The film was made during the height of the pandemic and O’Grady said that the movie and current events sort of mirrored and mimicked each other. And you can see it in the film: all four of the main cast are trapped inside a small space due to events in the outside world and can’t leave. They grate on each other rather quickly and events make things worse and worse. Add in some crazy, ambiguous happenings to heighten the atmosphere and the situation further deteriorating, and it makes for a great analogue to the pandemic.

Not only that, but the ambiguity in the novel is translated very well into the film. It’s more heavily implied that what’s happening outside the bathroom (which we never see) might actually be real rather than a side effect of cabin fever or anything. But it’s still quite mysterious and leaves you with just as many questions as the novel did.

Finally, the cast does a great job as their characters. As Melissa, Sierra McCormick is brimming with hurt and pathos, while Vinessa Shaw (Allison in Hocus Pocus, if you can believe it) does a great job as the mother tired of living a friction-filled marriage. And while Pat Healy’s take on dad Robert is written the tiniest bit more sympathetic than in the book, he still comes across as a mega asshole you love to hate.

Oh, and guess what? Ozzy Osbourne is apparently in the film. I’ll let you guess which character he is.

On the downside, the flashbacks with Melissa and her girlfriend Amy do feel kind of lacking without a lot of the context the novel gave them. While the score reminds me of the best of Colin Stetson’s work, it does have a few moments where it doesn’t work too well with what’s occurring in the movie. And in certain moments, the snake does look laughably fake.

But all in all, this is a great translation of the novel to the screen. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give We Need to Do Something a 4.5 out of 5. If you can’t make it to a theater playing it, you can find it on YouTube, Apple TV and Amazon, among other sites, so go give it a watch. You’ll be reminded that, as bad as your pandemic experience with your family has been these 19 months, at least you weren’t trapped like these guys!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Tomorrow I get to work on new stories, but right now, I’m going to hit the proverbial hay. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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.

I first heard of this film earlier this year. And I heard a lot of back and forth on it. Some people loved it, other people hated it. It got a terrible response when it was released. However, there’s a cult following around it, and I recently found it on HBO Max. So, unsure of what I was getting into, I watched it.

Based on the graphic novel from Boom Studios (which I may need to read now), The Empty Man follows James Lasombra, a former cop with a past. When his friend’s daughter Amanda goes missing and the police show little interest in finding her, he does some investigating himself. This leads him not only to a strange cult with connections to a spirit in Bhutan, but to a rabbit hole that will not only change him, but the world.

Well, that was something else. And I have to say, I’m glad I watched it.

For one thing, the main part of the film is very atmospheric. There’s this somber air around the whole film which pairs well with the story and the characters. Add in some decent jump scares and some even better creepy sequences, and you actually have a film that’s hard to look away from. I especially like the sequences involving the cult, which is just freaky as all get out. Especially that bonfire scene.

Oh, and the sequences with the titular Empty Man is quite creepy to watch when they’re onscreen.

That being said, it’s not perfect. The main issue is the film’s opening. Remember two paragraphs ago where I said “main film?” The first twenty minutes are kind of a prologue to the rest of the movie, but it feels like its own short film rather than part of a cohesive story. And I’m sure the difference between those first twenty minutes and the rest of the film is part of why this film got negative reviews after its release.

In addition, there were never any moments where I felt a huge surge of terror; Lasombra’s personal trauma is supposed to be very important but is only really explored near the end of the film when its impact on the audience won’t be that strong; and I’m sure there are people who won’t like the final twist, or get the philosophical mumbo-jumbo from the cult.

That last part wasn’t a big turn off for me, but I can see it being a turn off for others.

All in all, though, I can see how The Empty Man could receive a cult following and has been doing so much better since being released to streaming and home media. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give it a 4.2. It’s strange, creepy and compelling. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think you should check it out and find out if it’s yours.

Don’t let nothing stop you from watching it.*

*That makes plenty of sense if you’ve seen the movie.

It’s a James Wan horror film. He’s the guy behind Saw, Insidious and the Conjuring films. Nuff said.

Malignant follows Madison Mitchell, a woman who becomes connected to several murders in the Seattle area, starting when her abusive husband is murdered by a mysterious intruder. Not only that, but Madison becomes witness to the murders in dreams, committed by a mysterious figure named Gabriel. As the police attempt to figure out the connection, Madison’s sister learns a secret from the former’s past. A rather disturbing and deadly secret.

This film started out rather slow and kinda typical for an average horror film, but it got better with time. And honestly, it was really interesting.

Malignant is rather atypical of a horror film. James Wan made it more of a giallo film, which is an Italian genre mixing mystery-thriller with suspense and horror (they were quite influential on slashers). The result is a mostly well-done balance between a crazy crime thriller and a strange horror film, especially in scenes like in the Seattle Underground. And the final reveal is rather ingenious, with some very nice body horror that made me shout in my own living room in shock.

Also, what a film score! It was kind of all over the place, but it was still interesting to listen to.

However, the film’s first twenty minutes or so did feel a little cliched and below-average for a horror film. And the ending was kind of a let down for me. Something much darker would’ve worked better for me. And they do bring down the film’s score for me.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll give Malignant a 3.4. Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in the film, and ooh, that twist! What an image! I’m going to dream of that for years. However, there’s a lot that could have been improved or done differently. If you want to watch it, go ahead. It’s in theaters and on HBO Max. Still, it’s not the best thing I’ve seen this year. Not by far.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to bed so I can hang with friends and maybe do some editing tomorrow. Good night, and pleasant nightmares!

During the slasher craze of the 1980s and 1990s, Tony Todd’s Candyman was a killer who brought a gravitas, elegance and a deeper origin story to his gruesome work. It’s a shame that he only got three films (and from what I hear, I didn’t miss much not seeing the sequels), because he’s become such a beloved character. So when word got out that Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Production company was making what was basically a soft reboot, people were both curious, excited, and more than a little worried.

I saw the film last night and wanted to share my thoughts as soon as possible. But I was tired when I got home last night, so I held off until I had the energy to do so. And folks, I can tell you now that the Candyman still slays like he used to.

And yes, Tony Todd’s Candyman is in this movie. In case you were worried.

Serving as a direct sequel to the original movie (a la 2018’s Halloween), Candyman follows Anthony McCoy, a Chicago artist who hears a version of the events from the first film from his girlfriend’s brother. Interested, he heads to Cabrini-Green to learn more, and there discovers the story of the Candyman. What seems at first to be a simple urban legend turns out to be so much more. And Anthony finding the legend is more than just coincidence. It may even be considered destiny.

First off, I enjoyed the kills in this film. We mostly see the Candyman in reflections from mirrors and windows, which allows for some scary moments and some creative kills (*cough* art critic’s apartment *cough*). I also enjoyed how they re-approached the myth of the Candyman, changing it so that multiple people have taken on the mantle of Candyman so that every generation can recontextualize the myth and have a killer for the age. And the story is very well-written, balancing horror, elements of destiny and the cycle of history with social commentary (mostly race and gentrification).

Also, I love how flashbacks and storytelling is mixed between people talking, shadow puppetry, and flashbacks. It makes for some great visuals.

I did find some elements of the film predictable, however. I guessed one element of the film way early just from some slight foreshadowing, and was right! And there are some moments of info-dumping that I thought could have been done slightly better.

All told, I’m giving 2021’s Candyman a 4.4 out of 5. It’s a visceral, well-done story that brings Candyman back into the spotlight where he should be. And, if it does well, I can see this film being the launching point for numerous sequels and prequels around the new aspects of the mythology.* Grab a ticket, say his name five times in the mirror, and get ready for a bloody good time.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll likely be taking a break from reviews for a couple of weeks to focus on some reflection/writing posts and my own editing. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

*And before that, I need to rewatch the original and watch the sequels. I can’t believe how many things I forgot from the first film! I need to remedy that and watch the sequels, even if they aren’t that amazing. Maybe I’ll start on that tonight.

Ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary classy humans, American Horror Story is back, and it is back with a vengeance.

As you can see from the title, the season is divided into two stories, with the first half of the season subtitled “Red Tide.” In this story, screenwriter Harry Gardner, his pregnant wife Doris and their young daughter Alma decide to winter in Provincetown, Massachusetts so Harry can work on a pilot script and Doris can do some interior designing. However, things in Provincetown aren’t as idyllic as things on the surface. There seems to be a number of strange individuals whom the locals identify as “tweakers,” a number of dead bodies showing up, and some of the local artists appear to know more than they let on.

I have to say, this is a good start to the season. We got the first two episodes last night and the first was full of scares and frights. In the first episode, there were a number of moments where I jumped or was seriously freaked out by what I was watching. Not to mention, there’s one hell of an atmosphere in the setting and story. It’s like The Shadow Over Innsmouth with a dollop of Salem’s Lot thrown in for good measure. That second influence shows quite a bit in the “tweakers,” with their odd movements and savage, animalistic hunger.

The second episode was much more story focused, and while AHS tends to suffer when it focuses too much on storytelling, it was still pretty good here. There’s a lot of focus on the price of artistic greatness and inspiration, and the way they explore that actually would make a better anti-drug PSA than anything the DARE program came up with. There’s also this really suspenseful scene that switches between events in a dentist’s office, one of those perpetual motion swinging ball things, and something going on with the daughter Alma. It’s the kind of scene where you know things can’t go back if certain things happen, and you don’t know what will happen, but it’s thrilling to see how it plays out.

Also, can I just say Finn Wittrock as Harry Gardner does a great impression of me at the tail end of writing a novel during a late-night writing session? I saw him going to town on his laptop, typing till his fingers fell off, and I’m like, “I get it, dude. I totally get it. I’ve been there before.”

I will say, though, there was a lot of exposition, especially in the second episode. And once you figure out some things, which the show doesn’t really take the time to hide, it does take out some of the mystery and allow for more seasoned viewers to get at what could be occurring later in the season.

Still, on the whole, this is a triumphant return for the AHS franchise. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give the premiere of American Horror Story: Double Feature (or American Horror Story: Red Tide, if you want to be pedantic about it) a 4.4 out of 5. I was scared and I enjoyed seeing these characters react to these strange and terrifying circumstances and I look forward to seeing what else happens (as well as reporting my findings at the end of the season).


Just a couple of notes before I end the post.

–First, I want to let you know that the Indie Author Book Expo in Aurora, Illinois has been canceled due to COVID-19. Yeah, I’m not happy about it, either. But with numbers rising and so many people refusing to get vaccinated, what can you do? Thankfully, the Licking County Local Author Festival is still on, and another event is in the works, so they’ll still be plenty of opportunities to say hi and grab a signed book if you so desire.

–Second, thanks to the publication of The Pure World Comes on Tuesday, I’ve now been upgraded from a Supporting Member of the Horror Writers Association to an Affiliate Writer. I’m so excited to be able to share this latest milestone on this road of words and bloody bones with you and I hope you’ll continue to support me down the line.

–Third, I recently read Junji Ito’s new book, Sensors. I’m not going to give it a full review, but I will say that I was disappointed with it. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 1.2. Definitely a waste of potential and not up to snuff with his previous work (speaking of which, has anyone hear been reading that lately?). I’d say skip it and find something else to read. Maybe The Pure World Comes?

–Finally, today I found out I won an advanced reader copy of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward today from Tor Nightfire Books. Not the biggest deal, but it was a big deal for me. It’s a shame my TBR list keeps getting bigger and more unmanageable, but hey, sometimes that’s just how it is. Hopefully I get through all the reading sooner rather than later.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll see you soon for the review of the new Candyman movie and perhaps a short essay about something on my mind. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

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.