Posts Tagged ‘Gothic horror’

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.

As many of you are aware, last October I announced that I would be releasing a new collection of short stories, Hannah and Other Stories, with BSC Publishing Group. Like my previous collection, The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, these are all original and unpublished stories that have gone unread except for a few other people at this point. Unlike The Quiet Game, however, Hannah will be seven stories instead of five, and I have a professional editing team working with me to polish up the stories before they’re released.

It’s that editing process I’m here to talk about. As I mentioned in a previous post, BSC is sending me the notes for each story one at a time so that I’m not overwhelmed. I appreciate that, as the last time I was overwhelmed editing a book, I spent a good amount of time watching Sailor Moon on Blu-Ray while trying to quell my anxiety. And recently, they sent me the notes for the second story in the collection, Queen Alice, which they told me is their favorite story in the collection so far.

I started editing Queen Alice recently after several delays (you can guess one or two of the delays were). And there are a lot of notes from the editors.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m grateful that they’ve been so thorough, picking things up that I missed in all that editing and polishing I did last summer before submitting Hannah. However, it is a challenge. I’m seeing a lot of stuff that needs to be clarified or rewritten or cut out, and doing all that so the story turns out better than it was before can be tough at times.

I’m a little nervous about how things will go down the line, when it comes time to polish up What Errour Awoke. Great story in the Lovecraftian universe and it did help me with my anxieties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic when that first began, but I know there’s plenty there that’ll need to be worked on. Especially in the latter half!

Still, I’m working it. I’m taking it one page and one section at a time. And I’m already seeing vast improvement with Queen Alice. At the moment, the story is kind of like a Lovecraft story: great concept, but the writing needs work (thankfully no racism or xenophobia). My goal right now is to get the writing up to the same standard as the concept and the story that my editors fell in love with.

That way, when it gets to you guys, you won’t be disappointed by it, but thrilled. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be terrified.


Just a couple of quick notes, my Followers of Fear:

First, as you know, The Pure World Comes has been out five days. And so far, my Gothic horror novel about a maid in Victorian England going to work for a mad scientist has been doing pretty well. It’s not selling like a Stephen King novel (I wish), but it’s been selling steadily and people have been leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. This has made me hopeful for the book’s future and I plan to continue letting people know about it so they’ll want to read it (including a more in-depth post on it in the near future).

If you would like to check out The Pure World Comes, I’ll leave links below, including to Goodreads. You can read what people are saying, decide whether to purchase a copy, and maybe, if you like what you read, leave me a review letting me and others know what you think. It would be a big help to me, and let me know just what you thought of the book.

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

Also, ParaPsyCon is one week from today! If you’re unfamiliar, this is an awesome gathering of ghost hunters, psychics, authors and more at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, one of the most haunted locations in America (and the filming location for Shawshank Redemption). If you want to stop by on May 21st and 22nd, please do! I’ll be selling signed copies of books, including TPWC, and entrance fee is just one ticket for a self-guided tour of the prison. Hope to see you there!

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night 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

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

I’ve heard this term thrown about a few times since January, first in the new Scream movie and most recently in an analysis of a horror film on YouTube. “Elevated horror.” And the speakers, whether in in the Scream movie or in the YouTube video, made it sound like it’s a recognized subgenre of horror with its own staple of tropes and trappings. Like slasher and its killers and gore, or Gothic with its ancient, diseased settings and corrupting influence.

The thing is, it isn’t. Elevated horror isn’t an actual subgenre of horror. I’ve consulted with dozens of writers on this (thank you, Twitter and the Horror Writers Association Facebook group) and it’s not a subgenre. It seems like a subgenre of horror at first glance when you look at works referred to elevated horror. In movies, films referred to as elevated horror include The Witch, Babadook, It Follows and Get Out, among others: they’re horror stories that focus more on probing psychological drama, characters and metaphor than blood and gore or supernatural horrors. Often, there’s a powerful social commentary being presented through the narrative, such as Get Out‘s commentary on race.

In terms of literature, “elevated horror” might have all of these as well as flowery language. It might be almost called “literary horror,” because there’s an emphasis on wording the story nicely and making it just too dark to be called “literary fiction.” Examples include The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Deep by Alma Katsu, and A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill.

And, most importantly, “elevated horror” can sometimes cross over into other genres, such as thriller, literary, or even comedy.

Can you really say The Witch and Get Out belong in the same subgenre?

Sounds like a subgenre, doesn’t it? But it’s not. The works called elevated horror are all as different from each other as roses are to tulips are to primulas. All flowers, but all different kinds of flowers. Let me explain: The King in Yellow and The Deep are cosmic horror mixed with deep psychological themes, The Witch is some cross between folk, religious and historical horror, and Get Out‘s searing satire makes it borderline horror-comedy. In fact, it was nominated at the Golden Globes under categories for comedies or musicals!

Yet all of them are given the designation of elevated horror. So, if it isn’t a subgenre, what is it?

The conclusion I’ve come to after speaking to numerous other writers is that elevated horror is actually horror films taking place in elevators.

Just kidding, that’s elevator horror, and the only example of that I can think of is 2010’s Devil.

No, “elevated horror” is a marketing term. And like all marketing terms, it’s directed towards a specific audience. Who is this target audience? It’s people who normally wouldn’t check out horror because they fear it’s low class, dangerous, or degenerate. They may want to check out horror or be curious, but the stigma still attached to the genre keeps them from doing so. Either that, or they won’t check it out unless a work is given a specific designation.

Calling something “elevated horror” is basically saying, “This isn’t like other horror stories, where half-naked teens are voyeuristically killed with tons of blood and gore, or where supernatural entities menace children in sewers. No, it has nuance and social commentary! There’s psychology and drama and fleshed out characters! You can be respectable while enjoying this!”

In other words, it’s another way of something is high-brow. “There are no explosions and superheroes here. No aliens or elves. No star-crossed lovers up against the odds. Only real people having real life situations, or real people in situations that are absurd but it’s okay, because it says something important about society.”

I almost wish it was a subgenre. I might have found a home for my ballerina-meets-the-King-in-Yellow story already (still working on that, give it time).

Pinhead may not be from an elevated franchise, but that doesn’t make him or Hellraiser any less awesome.

And the problem with this marketing term is it’s misleading. By calling certain movies or books “elevated horror,” it’s labeling all other horror as “trash,” or at the very least “common.” Either way, the designation puts other horror stories down. And that’s a shame, because there’s such good horror out there. Dark Harvest, Kill Creek and Salem’s Lot aren’t high brow, but they’re great stories that thrill and can leave their readers up late into the night. Same with The Thing or the Hellraiser franchise: they may never win Oscars, but goddamn are they scary, and the latter has led to one of the most memorable characters in the slasher genre.

I’m not trying to put down the term. I’m just saying we should understand what it means, both for works designated as such and those that aren’t. And if it lets you enjoy horror, great. Just make sure to check out works that aren’t “elevated” and whose creators don’t really think or care if their work is called that.

Personally, I can see some of my work being called elevated, but I’ll just say that I was trying to write a fun story and wanted others to enjoy it as well.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. After getting my thoughts on this topic out, I’m off to dream of beasties and ghosts. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

So, I was hoping to have some big news on at least one project by now, but…well, you know what they say. Man plans, God laughs. Or maybe it’s Rami plans, the entities foolish enough to be my enemies get in my way. I don’t know.

Anyway, I thought I would just do an update on the many projects I’m working on, as I don’t know when I’ll have any big news on any one of them. And at the very least, it’ll let you know where I’m at with things and with life in general.

Hannah and Other Stories

As many of you know, I have a collection of seven original short stories being released by BSC Publishing Group. And as I mentioned in my post on mental health during the publishing process, BSC is sending stories one at a time with editing notes so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of work I have. Understandable, considering that at least two of those stories are actually novellas.

Anyway, right now I’m just waiting on the next story with edits, which will hopefully come soon. Once it does, I’ll start work on it immediately so I can get back to waiting for the next story again. I’ll keep you posted.

The Pure World Comes

My Victorian Gothic horror novel and love letter to Victorian England, The Pure World Comes follows Shirley Dobbins, a maid living in Victorian England who goes to work for a mad scientist after the deaths of her employers. It was published last year on an app, but now it’s going to be published as an ebook and paperback so that more people can access and read it. At the moment, I’m just waiting on the new cover. Once I have that, I’ll be able to start on the process that will eventually end in putting it online, selecting a release date, and making it available for preorder. Hopefully we can start on all that by the end of the month.

As for an audio version…well, that will depend on a few things, including how well the book does in paperback and ebook. If it does happen, I’ll be over the moon. If it doesn’t, it’s sad but hey, sometimes those are the breaks.

That Which Cannot Be Undone

As many of you know, some of my fellow Ohio horror authors and I formed a small press with the goal of releasing an anthology of Ohio-based horror stories, That Which Cannot Be Undone. At the time of writing this, we have most of the stories from the contributors and the editor is going over them with a fine-toothed comb. My friends and I are also regularly meeting and making sure we stay on time for our October release while also producing one hell of an anthology. We can’t wait for you to read what we’ve created.

Other Novels

Crawler: I know some of you were really excited when I said I was going to write a mummy novel. Those same people were saddened when I put plans to write that on hold due to Hannah being accepted and wanting to focus more on that. That being said, I think I might be able to start working on it later this year. Still a lot of things up in the air, but if nothing else gets in the way, I could start on it before autumn. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Toyland: Still plan to get this bizarre Gothic ghost story published. I’ll probably give it another round of editing before I submit it anywhere, though. It’s a complex story with lots of moving parts, so I want to make sure everything holds up before I let anyone else read it.

River of Wrath: unfortunately, I think I need to put this in the proverbial trunk. I’m saddened, since I still like this story and I had a hell of a time writing it (and for those of you who know what it’s about, pun totally intended). But I’ve had a lot of time to think regarding this novel as I’ve sent it from place to place to place, and I’ve come to realize that, as much as I love the novel, it does not reflect my best work and I don’t think, even if I made changes, it would be that much better. Hell, it might not even be the original novel I set out to write when all is said and done. (Again, pun totally intended.)

So, it hurts, but in the trunk it goes. At least the lessons it gave me will always be with me. And I now know more about Dante’s Inferno than I ever thought possible. Never a bad thing.

Shorter Works

Over the past several months, I’ve been writing a bunch of shorter works. Right now, I’m up to one novella, four novelettes, and three short stories. And yesterday, I started what will probably be a second novella. I like to think they’re all spectacular, though some of them definitely need more work. Anyway, once I’m done with this current project, I’ll spend time polishing them and trying to find homes for these stories before I do anything else that’s new (and that includes Crawler). Hope you get to read them soon!

Anything Else?

Well, there is, but not anything worth writing a paragraph about. At least, not yet. Hopefully I can tell you all about some of the things developing in my life in the near future.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m going to bed. In the meantime, thanks for your continued support of my writing career (and for even reading my books every now and then). Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Recently on Twitter, another author I’m acquainted with tweeted that she didn’t think she would ever reach the levels of the authors she admired. She then went on to say that while she aspired to “champagne quality” writing, her stories usually ended up being “boxed wine” quality.

First off, what’s wrong with boxed wine? The first sips of wine I liked came from boxes. And price, prestige, method of preparation, or recommendation of experts is no guarantee of quality or tastefulness. Just check out this hilarious video on the subject.

And second, just because you think your work isn’t as good as your heroes or as prestigious as other stories doesn’t mean it’s bad. For starters, you think the writers you aspire to be don’t have their bad days? Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert probably bemoaned that they would never come up with stories as influential as those of Mary Shelley, HG Wells and Jules Verne. Every professional manga artist, including those who have made the most famous series like Eiichiro Oda, Rumiko Takahashi, and Naoko Takeuchi, have lamented they’ll never be as good as their favorite artists despite all proof to the contrary. And God knows HP Lovecraft, one of the most influential and controversial writers in horror, worried that he would never measure up to the likes of Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Chambers and Arthur Manchen.

(And if I’m being honest, between his prejudices and his hyper-Victorian style of writing, he never did.)

Another thing to keep in mind is that just because another work is considered “prestigious” doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, the word prestige comes from the Latin word for “illusion.” And that’s what prestige is: an illusion. A bunch of critics or purveyors or publishers came together and agreed that because a work of art has certain qualities or is being sold in a certain place (like a fancy, pretentious art gallery), it’s considered “good” and worthy of being worshipped. But beyond making sure that it’s been edited well, that’s no guarantee of quality.

An example of a bestseller whose quality is questionable.

Neither is being a bestseller, honestly. The way a bestseller is defined is often based on how much a publisher thinks a story will do and how much marketing is done for the book. Most bestseller lists can be gamed for profit, such as happened with Lani Sarem’s YA novel a few years ago. And many bestsellers fade into obscurity after a few years, rather than having staying power. It has nothing to do with quality of the story itself (just look at my review of Nothing But Blackened Teeth, which has attained bestseller status, if you don’t believe me).

You know what is an indicator of quality (beyond editing and not having anything offensive in the content)? An audience’s reaction. Fiction is often an escape and helps audiences heal from our awful reality, or at the very least bring joy and give readers a feeling that their interests are shared by others. So if your work brings people joy, then that’s a great sign of its quality. Doesn’t matter if it involves college professors and literati types scheming and having sex with one another; fighting aliens in another solar system; or having a love affair with a powerful man in a universe where humanity is divided into castes based on supposed wolf pack heirarchy.* Just as long as your audience gets joy from reading it, then it’s quality.

You especially see this in the horror genre. You have your Gothic and ghost stories with flowery language; serial killer thrillers that gush blood and gore; Nazi zombies that bite your face off as they propagate a toxic and deadly ideology; and even stories around killer cows or living poop monsters or other ridiculous ideas. All those are stories in the horror genre, and very few within the genre will judge you for it.

Plenty outside the genre will, though. Horror as a whole is still looked down upon as a genre, even as it proves more profitable and popular every year. But that’s another thing: tastes and what is considered prestigious changes all the time. Shakespeare, opera and even lobster used to be considered low-class. Now they’re fancy and high-falutin. Perhaps in a hundred years, your “boxed wine” fiction will be taught in high school and college classes, working on horror and superhero movies is a highly sought-after privilege, and a restaurant is considered luxury if it serves real bacon. You never know.

All that being said, this might not make you feel any better about your stories. These feelings might come from stress, anxiety, depression, or dating a demon fairy who scares people with a twitch of the face rather than trying to write stories. But if learning all this helps you feel like your work is champagne quality, then mission accomplished. Because no matter what your story is about, how flowery the writing is, or who’s hyping it up or buying it, if your work is enjoyed by someone, that’s what matters most.

Better have an editor check it over first. They catch stuff you’ll never see in a million years before you get to the publishing phase.

You may think your story is a boxed wine, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or low-class. The exact opposite, in fact.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll be back Monday for something special (you probably know what already). Until next time, good night, Happy Thanksgiving, and pleasant nightmares!

*This is an actual subgenre of romance, and it is apparently very popular. I won’t judge anyone who likes it, but I will say that wolf packs aren’t actually based around alphas, betas and omegas. Research has shown that wolf packs are really alliances of small, nuclear families and lone wolves adopted into the pack. The more you know.