Posts Tagged ‘Jewish characters’

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Back in January, a gunman took a Texas synagogue hostage, making antisemitic statements and slurs while he was at it. The hostages were able to make it out alive, thanks in part to courses offered by law enforcement in case of terrorist action the rabbi and other members of the synagogue had taken.

This past week, a security guard at the Jewish day school I attended and graduated from, Columbus Torah Academy, was arrested. He had been making threats against the school and its students on social media, including photos of himself holding a gun and threatening to shoot parents picking up children. This was a man the teachers and students knew, saw often and maybe even trusted and liked! And he talked about killing the students, including young children, like they weren’t human.

And a few days ago, another man here in Ohio was arrested for making similar threats online. No word at this time if he’s connected to the security guard who threatened my old school, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they were connected.

These are just the most prominent incidents, or the ones I’ve heard of, in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League has tracked numerous incidents in just the past few days, ranging from graffiti and fliers to assaults and threats of violence. And there are more out there. There were two series of murders in Israel recently, for example. And God only knows how many others have happened out there.

It’s hard not to be afraid. My people have to take courses from law enforcement in case of hostage or shooting crises, of which we’ve suffered several in the past few years. I have to worry that the school I went to from fourth grade through graduation can’t trust the people hired to protect them. I have to worry that the school I went to has to hire security! And I have to worry because there are more of these monsters out there who think my people are an insidious influence on the world and that we need to be stamped out. That they’re planning on doing horrible things, together and independently, and bragging about it on social media as if it’s something to be proud of!

I’m afraid too. I don’t go to synagogue often, but when I do, I’m always mapping exits and checking to see who arrives who looks like they don’t belong, or are acting suspiciously, or are just openly carrying a gun around, because some people think that’s a good idea! I worry that next week, when Passover starts, I’ll be reading news articles about beatings, stabbings, shootings, and God knows what else.

And I’m angry. No one should have to live like this because of their beliefs and lineage.

And I can write stories where anti-Semites get their asses kicked and where Jews come out on top. And maybe some of them will get published. At least two already have, and I hope to have more on the way. But it only alleviates the stress I feel. It doesn’t make the problems go away. It doesn’t make anti-Semites change their beliefs or keep people from adopting anti-Semitic beliefs.

I want to do something to fix this problem. So that my people and I don’t feel as scared. So that I can walk into a synagogue without worrying about being shot. And so that more people know what you wonderful Followers of Fear already know: that the vast majority of Jews, like any group of people, just want to get along and live in peace.

I haven’t figured out what I’ll do yet. But if and when I do, I know I’ll go at it full-throttle as I usually do and probably make a difference. God help the anti-Semites who might try to get in my way.


Hey, Followers of Fear. I needed to get this off my chest after finishing a new story with Jewish themes/characters last night and reflecting on all the shit my people have gone through or might’ve had to experience recently. It’s a good way to take care of myself.

And that’s all for now. I was hoping to have some good news to share by now, but it looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer. As soon as I have something to share with you, though, I will. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first publication of 2022!

Some time ago, I met another Jewish horror writer by the name of Richard Gerlach. There was an anthology being created at the time of holiday horror stories, and we thought we’d team up to write one with a little Jewish flair. We wrote a story set around Hanukkah and submitted it. It didn’t get in, but it birthed a friendship and we both believed in the story, so we kept shopping it around.

Dead of Winter from Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative and Spark Street Media, which contains mine and Richard Gerlach’s story “Azazel Dances.” Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

Some time last year, the story was accepted by the Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative,* who in partnership with Spark Street Media are releasing the anthology Dead of Winter. And our story, “Azazel Dances,” is featured in the anthology! Which is out today!

Honestly, Rich and I are so excited for you to read this story, which centers on a demon who interferes with two feuding Jewish families around Hanukkah. Not only do we get to add to the ever-growing subgenre of Jewish horror (something I’ve been trying to do anyway), but we worked really hard on this story. Like really hard. Like oh my God, the amount of work that went into this story to make sure it was ready for publication! And it was not easy for either of us to find time to edit it, either. Like, I tried to buy the guy a bottle of wine because we somehow made the deadline despite the amount of work and how crazy our lives got! Sadly, mailing alcohol without subscriptions or memberships to special clubs is troublesome.

The point is, we put in a lot of hard work, and I’m very proud of the work we put in to write and edit this story together. So I hope you read it and see what we managed to create together. And if you like what you read, please make sure to spread the word somehow. Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, whatever. Leaving your thoughts online somewhere allows us writers to know what people think of our work, as well as helps other readers decide whether or not to check out the book.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll leave a link to check out Dead of Winter below. Ebook is already available, and paperback shouldn’t be far behind. Either edition, there are a lot of great stories in there besides the one by Rich and me, so it’s worth your while. And while you’re at it, you should also check out Richard Gerlach. He’s a great writer with another story in another anthology and has more on the way. He also writes for Divination Hollow Reviews and is a co-host for the podcast Staring Into the Abyss. You can find him on his Twitter account here, his previous publication here, Divination Hollow Reviews here, and the Twitter account for the podcast here.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I don’t know how we got to the end of February so fast, but I’m looking forward to whatever March brings. So until next time, good night, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

*Dublin Ohio, which was used for a short scene in Rose. Not Dublin, Ireland. Just clarifying.

DEAD OF WINTER Amazon Page

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.

So, for the past several days, I’ve been working on the outline for Crawler, the mummy novel I’ll write after my upcoming vacation. And it’s coming along very well. I think I could be done with the outline by the middle of the week. That being said, more fun than writing this outline (and believe me, it is fun), is the characters themselves.

Some of my favorite Stephen King novels are those that have, along with a kick-ass premise, a really memorable cast of characters. IT has the Losers Club, as well as bullies, a mother with Munchausen’s by proxy, a budding serial killer teen, plenty more nasty parents and a few horrible lovers, and so many more. Salem’s Lot has Ben Mears, his girlfriend Susan, the professor, the priest, the teen boy with a fondness for horror, the real estate agent, Susan’s controlling mother, Susan’s asshole ex-boyfriend that her mother loves for some reason, the teen mom who takes her rage out on her baby, her lousy husband, the woman having an affair, her husband and her lover, the hunchbacked man and so many more. Not to mention the vampire Barlow and his familiar Richard Straker.

And I could write a whole blog post about the characters of Needful Things, one of my favorite King novels ever. There’s Leland Gaunt himself, as well as Sheriff Pangborn, his girlfriend Polly Chalmers, the town drunk, the crazy first selectman, the preteen boy obsessed with baseball and his speech therapy teacher, his mom and her best friend who think they’re having affairs with Elvis, Ace Merrill, Polly’s housekeeper Nettie, local angry bitch Wilma Jerzyck (what else would you call her?), the various members of the Catholic and Baptist churches who hate each other’s guts, etc. They’re all part of the fun that make this and the previous two novels, which wouldn’t be as impactful without them.

And I’m willing to bet that for King, a lot of the fun he had writing those novels probably came from these characters. Maybe even moreso than the stories themselves, let alone the horrors within.

By the by, I’m pretty sure Salem’s Lot will be especially influential on Crawler. I’ll have to work hard not to let that influence make the novel read like a King ripoff or pastiche.

Anyway, as you can probably guess, I’m having a ball with this outline, and a lot of the fun comes from the characters. Remember my blog post about wanting to include Jewish characters? Well, I made my leads Jewish. And while I didn’t need to, it actually adds an interesting dimension to the struggle of the novel. After all, they’re facing an Egyptian-style mummy. Play the Prince of Egypt soundtrack! Plus, they each have aspects to them that people will like or identify with.

It’ll probably help that I modeled their appearances after Rei Hino/Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon and Dean Winchester from Supernatural (if there’s a movie version someday, can we get Jensen Ackles as the male lead?).

I would love to have a novel with a cast compared favorably to either of these novels.

I’ve also been able to add a bunch of characters that I think will be fun to write. For instance, there’s my antagonist, whom I think people are going to find terrifying and yet relatable. There’s also a troublesome mother who thinks she’s entitled to things when she’s not; a police dispatcher with a very big secret; a drug dealer; a preteen with a heart of gold who ends up caught up in the meshuggas around town; a true crime blogger who’s kind of awful; and more. They’re going to be great to write.

Of course, there’s a good chance I could screw it up by not writing them well enough before they reach their final fates, whatever that might be. Still, I gotta try. And I’m sure if I focus on making these characters memorable and somewhat likable while also making sure they play the parts needed for the novel…maybe the cast will turn out as well as the casts of the above novels. Or close enough to it. Balancing acts in writing like this are often a matter of practice, trial and error.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. I look forward to giving you further updates on this novel and the other projects I’ll be working on in the near future. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and it’s 42 days till Halloween. Have you decided on your costume yet? I have. It’s going to be a killer.

What would happen if I featured my faith more in my stories? Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’ve been thinking a lot lately on Jews in the media I consume.

As you probably know, in addition to being an eldritch abomination from another universe in human form, I’m Jewish (we need faith too, you know). I’m not super-religious, but I follow many rituals and feel close to my heritage and my definition of God. But except for a couple of stories, my religion doesn’t really show in my writing. Or at least, characters who share my faith don’t show up in my stories a lot.

There could be a lot of reasons for that. Part of it could be that horror, the genre I’m drawn to and find most exciting, doesn’t necessarily need religion. Horror may draw on religious beliefs a lot, but that doesn’t mean the stories are religious. Religious elements are just tools for telling a good horror story. Also, Judaism itself isn’t really a scary religion. We don’t have a Devil or Hell, and demons and evil spirits are still subservient to God’s Will and Plan. Beyond golems and dybbuks, the biggest sources of horror for us is our history of being oppressed. And finally, I may have never felt a real need to emphasize the beliefs of my characters. It just doesn’t matter that much. Unless I need to state it, their religion is, “Whatever.”

But lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about that. It started with an essay on Variety about Jews in Hollywood and how we’re represented that brought up some good points. I’ll let you read the article yourself, but it made me aware that I don’t see many members of my faith in the media I consume. And that includes in horror. Yeah, there are some: Stan Uris in IT; Yakov Ronen in The Vigil (one of the best horror films I’ve seen yet this year); Tzadok in The Possession (played by musician Matisyahu, believe it or not); and then some.

But still, it’s a small number. And in an age with resurgent anti-Semitism, I feel like that’s something that needs to change.

Besides, I want to challenge myself. What kind of stories can I tell with a Jewish character as a lead? And not just any kind of Jew, but an amalgamation of the Jews I’ve known throughout my life, from secular to religious and old to young, from all walks of life and all types of spirituality? What if I decided, for a few stories, not to make their religions “whatever?”

Well, I actually already know the answer to that. As you probably are aware, my short story “The Divorce from God” is to appear in The Jewish Book of Horror this holiday season, and a short story in this collection I’m working on has two Jewish men as the leads. And I like to think both stories are good (I only have confirmation of one).

But what if I expand that? What if I tell more tales–not all of them, but some of them–with my fellow members of the Tribe? What if their faith is both an aspect of themselves, though not the only one, and a source of strength? What if the lead is that amalgamation I mentioned?

Well, perhaps I’ll find out sooner rather than later. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m thinking of working on another novel after I’ve finished editing this collection and a couple more stories. And while I don’t think it’s necessary for the lead, I can also see them being Jewish. It could actually fit them very well.

We’ll see what the future holds.

I look forward to the stories I write in this vein.

You know, it’s funny. At one point when I was young, a grown up tried telling me I should write less horror and more of what I know. Which at the time was mainly going to a Jewish day school, having rabbis for parents and being annoyed by my sisters. I absolutely refused, telling this well-meaning grown up “that would be boring.” I think they were worried I was going to turn out to be some psychopath who murdered people in basements and then wrote about it (we horror lovers and creators are so misunderstood!). Still, I wasn’t going to write something I wasn’t attracted to or found boring. Stories are an escape from reality, not a regurgitation!

Now I want to incorporate what I know into a horror story. I guess it’s true what they say, when people “write what they know,” they’re writing it in a completely different way than expected. I wonder that well-meaning adult would make of this now? Hopefully they’d be intrigued enough to read it (and realize I grew up much more well-adjusted than they anticipated).

Anyway, it’s late and this post has gotten insanely long. I’m going to sign off and say Shabbat Shalom, an early Happy New Year (Rosh Hashanah starts Monday evening, it’s our New Year), pleasant nightmares, and a good night. See you next time, my Followers of Fear!