Posts Tagged ‘reflections’

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Lately, I’ve been deep into two very different books of horror. The first, which I finished last night, is What One Wouldn’t Do, an anthology of horror stories around the idea of “what wouldn’t you do for…what? Power? Revenge? Love? Etc?” The other is Ghoul by Brian Keene, a coming-of-age horror novel about three boys who discover a ghoul living in the graveyard near their homes. They’re both very good, very different from one another, and both deal in emotional horror.

Emotional horror is horror that relies more on the feelings the story provokes in the reader than a supernatural/paranormal entity or a serial killer or anything like that. And yes, I’m aware that all horror tries to provoke an emotional response in readers. Namely terror and fear. But this is a much more subtle kind of horror. Emotional horror scares you with the situation the characters are in and their responses, particularly their emotional responses, to the situation.

A good example of this is the 2015 movie The Witch. You may have noticed, but the titular witch is actually pretty peripheral to the story. She doesn’t show up except to maybe push events in the story. In total, I think she’s maybe only in the film for three whole minutes, if even that. Rather, the horror of the story is how each character reacts to the witch’s interference in their lives. It starts with the baby being kidnaped, then with the older son disappearing into the woods and then coming back horrifically changed. The kid has an ecstatic vision before dying, which leads to the family to believe they’re being victimized by a witch, who could possibly be one of them. And you’re terrified not by the witch or what could be her supernatural influence on the characters. You’re scared by their paranoia, their heartbreak and distrust, and how quickly things devolve from here, leading to an awful, irreversible decision on the part of the protagonist.

The true horror of this story may not be from the titular monster

This is the kind of horror both What One Wouldn’t Do and Ghoul deal in. Many of the stories in the former deal with supernatural elements, but the horror itself is what drives the characters to commit heinous acts or to make deals with the devil or go through insane challenges, and then seeing the fallout from those decisions. And for the latter, while the titular monster is scary in its way, it’s no Pennywise. Rather, a lot of the horror we experience is through the main characters, twelve-year-old boys who are becoming disillusioned by the world around them through the adults in their lives. It’s honestly heartbreaking to see the adults around them fail them so spectacularly, and one scene in particular was so upsetting, I had to post about it on Facebook and Twitter just to get my emotions out.

So, how do you write these scenes? Honestly, it’s not easy. I’m not sure you can set out to write a story that deliberately tugs at your heartstrings and fills you with the emotions the characters are feeling. It’s kind of like how you can’t write a story around a theme. Instead, you take a story and the theme evolves naturally from your working on it. Only when that theme has revealed itself can you play with it and the story together to bring out the best in both.

That was certainly the case with Cressida, the story I wrote that was published in Into the Deep (click here to check it out if you haven’t yet). While it’s a horror story and a mermaid story, it’s not a horror story about mermaids, though they aren’t the pretty fishtailed supermodels Disney animated, either. Rather, the mermaid is in herself a catalyst for the true horror, which is what the characters do upon encountering a mermaid who shares an uncanny resemblance to a deceased family member of theirs.

But when I set out to write that story, I never intended that the horror would come from the characters’ emotional and psychological reactions. I wrote the story because it sounded like a lot of fun to work on and I made changes to the storyline along the way to better bring out the horror I was discovering. The result is Cressida, which I feel is some of the best work I’ve written yet.

You know, that makes me realize something: in emotional horror, whatever is happening in the plot, be it mermaids, ghouls, necromancy, witches, etc., is often not the main focus of the story (even if it’s in the story’s title). Rather, they’re plot devices, tools to draw out the horror hidden within the characters’ emotional responses.

My story in this anthology didn’t start out as an emotionally-driven horror story. It just ended up that way.

I guess that makes emotional horror a kind of psychological horror.

Anyway, that’s what’s going through my mind at this time. The fact that I was getting into all these stories with similar kinds of horror at the same time got my brain working, so I decided to write it out. I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this subject are. Let’s talk in the comments below.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I leave for my trip tomorrow, so I likely won’t be around as much as I would otherwise be. However, I’ll be around on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so check there for updates if you start to miss me.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and there’s only a week till Halloween. Prepare to give yourselves to the dance of terror and to raise the old gods so we can all enjoy their infernal gifts. If you do not, I suggest you run.

Bye!

From now on, this blog will be an art criticism blog. Expect me to go to a lot of art galleries, praise or criticize local artists, and talk about the history of Impressionist art.

Kidding. I know very little about art, except for my own preferences, that is.

Okay, real talk. The thing is, life is getting busier. The amount of time I spend sleeping and the amount of time I work at my day job aren’t changing, and for all the obvious reasons, I can’t exactly decrease either. Add in the usual obligations of adulthood and finding time to eat, and it leaves only a little time to write.

And unfortunately, the time I spend writing is increasingly being taken up with administrative and marketing work. Plus I’ve got projects to edit and whatnot. It takes up time and means very little actual writing happens. This past week, I maybe found time to write for two nights out of six or seven.

Not good for a guy who considers writing his raison d’etre. Especially one who’s doing particularly well these days and trying to keep that going for as long as possible.

So, I’m trying to manage my time better. Can’t be a writer unless you can find time to write, and I’m a big believer in carving out the time to write. With that, some things will be sacrificed. And one of those sacrifices will likely be less time spent blogging here.

Look, I love this blog. I love sharing my thoughts here, and I love interacting with all the cool Followers of Fear I’ve met through this blog. But I get full of stress when I can’t create (or attempt to create) terrifying stories and I haven’t been able to do that. So, one way I’m finding time to write is to spend less time on this blog.

That being said, I’ll keep posting regularly. Probably once a week rather than once every four or five days. And I’ll likely be cutting back on reviews. Again, I like reviews, but they take up time. I’ll probably instead do just book reviews and only put those out when I finish a book worth reviewing.* You know, instead of like how I review every new horror movie.

Oh, but I promise I won’t turn this blog into just a constant stream of updates on what events I’m going to or what stories are releasing when. I’ll still be putting out posts with musings on writing and horror, as well as any big news or anything I feel like sharing. Maybe the occasional rant or ghost-hunting expedition. You know, more of what you love with this blog and why you probably followed me for.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say. I’m not sure what other changes I’ll be making in my life to maximize writing time. All I know is, I will be doing most of them after my vacation. And hopefully, out of those changes, comes some great stories worth reading.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m hitting the hay so I can get my full eight hours and be productive tomorrow. Maybe after I run an errand, I’ll finish this story I’m working on. We’ll see what happens.

Good night, pleasant nightmares, and the latest Halloween movie was okay. Yeah, that’s the review. It’s okay. The bloody kills are good, but the filmmakers spend so much time on building the myth and fear of Michael Myers in Haddonfield that they neglect actually showing Michael Myers and why we should be afraid of him. And the final scene just did not sit right with me. 3 out of 5. It’s not awful, but it could have better.

Not bad for my last film review for the immediate future, is it?

*That’s another thing. Finding time to read has become scarce. Audio books help, but getting through the ones that aren’t on audio book is taking longer than it should. It’s a drag.

Let’s face it, every creative out there (especially those who weave stories together) has put themselves into their work. Often, they do it more than once, and the resemblance to themselves, accurate or in their own heads, varies from self-insert to self-insert.* HP Lovecraft loved to put himself through cosmic horror and dreamlike ordeals as Randolph Carter (does that count as masochism?), and Stephen King’s The Dark Half is obviously him having fun with a fictional version of himself and his pen name Richard Bachman.

And don’t forget, Dante Alighieri made himself the star of The Divine Comedy, where the poet Virgil and later Beatrice, the dead girl he crept on when she was alive, led him through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.

You know, now that I’m typing this, I realize that a lot of self-insert characters get to go on the biggest, most grandiose adventures. I mean, Dante traversed the afterlife and recorded it in detail! And remember Lani Sarem, the lady who conned her way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list? Her novel’s protagonist, who from the cover art is basically her under a different name, was a witch who basically became the delight of the Las Vegas entertainment scene using her abilities.

There’s an article to be found in this, I’m just not in the mood to research and write it right now.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Self-inserts. I’m no exception to the rule. Throughout my writing career, I’ve included different versions of myself in my stories. One or two have even been included in published stories (I’ll let you guess which ones those are). And once more, I’m inserting myself into the story I’m currently working on. Only this time, this might be the most obvious and blatant self-insert since Dante!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it feels like it! My character is basically what I hope will be me in a few years: a full-time writer with his own home, hosting costume parties in his living room and able to focus on creepy tales as a living. His last name is an anagram of my own and his first name also begins with an “R.” So yeah, pretty obvious self-insert.

Still, I’m having fun with it. The story’s focus isn’t on my character, he’s just a good way to get this story going. And since I can focus on telling the story and not making my self-insert seem like the bee’s knees to readers, I can get a little ridiculous and have a ton of fun with it. Whether that will lead to a decent ghost story (because of course I would put myself into a ghost story!) remains to be seen. But perhaps with some edits…well, we’ll see.

Anyway, I’ll get back to this story soon. And I’ll likely have a post or two for you all very soon, so keep an eye out. And in the meantime, check out this book trailer for The Jewish Book of Horror that was uploaded to YouTube last night. It’s really cool, and you can even see my name listed beside my story, “The Divorce from God,” at one point. Give it a watch and consider getting a copy of the book when it releases.

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

*That’s the preferred term, as I understand it.

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.

I’ve been working on editing a collection of original short stories for the past month and a half. I was shopping this collection around, but after getting a few rejections, I thought I’d spend some time on the collection and see if I could edit the stories and make them better.

Since July, I’ve been going over each story, taking out the weak ones or the ones that will need more than a single draft to be polished up and making the rest presentable for submission. And as of today, after rewriting the final third of the final story, I’m done with the collection!

Honestly, I’m glad I decided to take another look at some of these stories. It had been a while since I looked at some of them, so I noticed problems that I hadn’t noticed before. One story needed a lot more added to the ending before I could call it finished. Another needed an entire section taken out for being extraneous. One story needed to be removed because it needs a lot more work before I can consider putting it out for publication. And one was just terrible, so I trashed it (sometimes it happens).

But overall, I’m satisfied with the work I did on this collection. And as I sip a beer and write this post, I think I’m ready to send this collection out again. Whether or not it’ll find a publisher, I’m not sure, but I think it’ll be a lot more successful in that department than I was before. And if I still have trouble, I have enough confidence in these stories that I think I could self-publish it without any issues.

Or without too many issues, at least.

Anyway, besides submitting this collection, I’ll be putting the final touches on a few other projects before sending them out. After that, I have two stories I’ll need to edit before I can submit them anywhere. And after that…I don’t know. I definitely want to work on some more shorter works, but I’m also warming up to the idea of starting work on another novel. Maybe this November or December (though not as a NaNoWriMo project). We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ve got a collection to start shopping around. Until next time, good night, pleasant nightmares and WATCH OUT FOR THE AX MURDERER!!!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Followers of Fear, I just want to make you aware of one thing: ten years. Do you know how long that is in terms of Internet existence? In human life? Ten years ago, I was still fresh out of high school, so naive and with no idea about what the future may hold for me. I just hoped blogging would give me an audience so that when I finally released some fiction, there would be people eager to read it.

Well, that did end up happening. Over ten years, I did cultivate an audience who like what I write. If you’re reading this post, you’re one of them.

That being said, I got so much more from blogging. This blog, and the people who read it, have been here for all those ten years. Through college, first publications, trips to Europe, anxiety and depression and mental health struggles, job searches, jobs found, ups and downs, accomplishments and failures, and so much more. And I don’t know if I could’ve done all I did without you guys. This amazing community who have supported and encouraged me in my writing. I’m so thankful for all of you and can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for me this past decade.

That being said, let me take a moment to brag and post some stats. Over ten years, this blog has acquired:

  • 1,840 posts
  • 123 thousand views
  • 1,324 followers (not counting those who come from other social media platforms)
  • Around 6,900 likes
  • Over 5,100 comments
  • And over 1.1 million words!

I guess no one can ever say I was lazy, can they?

But now, onto the juicy bits. I asked my Followers of Fear to participate in an Ask Me Anything, or an AMA, with one lucky participant getting a prize. And guess what? I got a few responses. So without further ado, let’s see what everyone wanted to know. After all, I promised.

Just don’t scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to see if you won. Believe me, it won’t end well for you.

Okay, onto the questions!

Priscilla Bettis asks, “Where do you see your writing headed in the next five years? You know, like more Goth, more slasher, short stories, etc.”
Good question. Honestly, I’m hoping my writing allows me more time for writing. And if possible, I’d like to be able to work on a lot more short stories and novelettes, with at least a novel a year. As for what those novels and short stories are about, I can’t say right now. All I can say is, I have some fun ideas I can’t wait to work on. And I hope you’re excited to read them someday.

Alain Davis asks, “What is your most favorite/prized memory from visiting haunted attractions?”
You know, that’s a tough one. But I think my entire stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast would have to be my choice. As much fun as my other experiences have been (and as much as I’m always up to visiting the Ohio State Reformatory), that one night at the Lizzie Borden House was a big deal for me and I keep wishing I had more time there. As well as more opportunities to experience ghostly phenomena.
Well, who knows? Maybe someday I’ll hold an event there. A book reading followed by an all-night ghost hunt. Anything’s possible, right?

Ronald Gillepsie asks, “Many authors create one character to base an entire series around (e.g. Ian Fleming with James Bond). This helps to ensure book sales and retain a readership. Are there any characters you’ve created which you would plan on expanding into a series? Alternatively, do you plan on writing a series?
PS I probably already know the answer to this with your Arthur character in Mother Of the King.”

Yeah, still working on that one. I’ve made progress on a sequel, but it’s something that I only do every now and then when I have the energy. As for other stories, maybe the Snake from the novel of the same name. I loved that character, I have ideas for sequels, and I would love to work on them. However, I’ll need a lot more demand for sequels of Snake to even consider writing another Snake story.
That being said, I can see a shared universe being a thing. Characters from some stories appearing in other stories in varying capacities. It could be a lot of fun. I’ve actually already taken steps to do that. We’ll just have to see if any of those stories get published.

Iseult Murphy asks, “What keeps you writing on the days when you’re ready to give up? (Mounting rejections coming in, or a bad book review, or just a dark day when everything seems pointless and impossible).”
Well, as the beginning of this post made clear, my Followers of Fear keep me writing. Their love of my work and eagerness to read more keep me writing even at low points.
Also, while I love my day job, it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to write full-time, so you need to keep writing to make that happen. That’s a good motivator.
And I think if I stopped writing, I might die. At this point, it’s just a compulsion. I need to get these stories out if I’m going to survive.

Allen Huntsman asks, “what is the most useful writing advice you’ve ever received?”
I think it might be, “Don’t be afraid to try new stuff. Follow your interests. You never know what it’ll lead to.” Did my dad tell me that? I think he did. Thanks, Abba. You do have the odd pearl of wisdom every now and then, don’t you?

Well, those are all the questions I received. Now onto the winner.

IF YOU SCROLLED DOWN HERE TO FIND OUT WHO WON THE PRIZE WITHOUT READING WHAT CAME BEFORE, THEN GET BACK UP THERE! YOU HAVE A LOT TO READ BEFORE WE GET TO THAT POINT, AND THE WINNER ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE. SO SCROLL UP AND GET READING! THAT CLEAR? GOOD. SEE YOU WHEN YOU’RE DONE READING.

Okay, if you actually read through all that, then let’s talk about the winner of the special prize. The winner is…Alain Davis! Congratulations Alain, you have won the following prize.

That’s right, you’ve won a copy of each of my chapbooks and an Aztec death whistle. I own one myself that’s not too different from this one, so you and I can both summon dead Aztec spirits now. I’ll be contacting you soon to get your mailing address.

And to all the other participants, thank you for your questions. I had a lot of fun reading and answering them. And thank you all once again for continuing to support me through thick and thin. It means a lot to me.

And if you’d like to continue to support me beyond just following and reading my blog/social media, I’ll leave links below for my stories. That’ll include “Into the Deep,” “The Dark Sire,” and “House of Stitched” magazine. After all, purchasing and reading those ensure those publications and their publishers continue to release new work, which just benefits everyone.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m so glad you could celebrate this major milestone with me. Now if you need me, I’ll be drinking some good wine later and just generally having a good time. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!

House of Stitched Magazine Fall 2021 Issue: Blurb.com, Amazon

The Dark Sire, Issue 8: Print

Into the Deep: Ebook, Paperback

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

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

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

Agoraphobia: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

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

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve been shopping around a collection of original short stories and not been having much success. After the last rejection, I decided that I might as well take another look and do another round of editing, in case that had anything to do with it. There are nine stories in the collection, and I thought I’d give at least four or five a good run through. Now though, I’m planning on giving all but two (those that have been edited to death already) another pass.

I didn’t think what I would find would be so bad. Most of these stories were written in the past five or six years, so they should be fine. Right? Right?!

*Sigh*

I looked at the first story. I was horrified that it wasn’t as I remembered it. There were several mistakes that I needed to fix. Not just grammar/spelling/punctuation. but just plot issues that I should’ve fixed or excised in earlier drafts. And if the other stories are like this, I’m not surprised I kept getting rejected!

Well, can’t change the past. I’m taking another look at these stories now, that’s what’s important. I’m already over halfway through the first story, and it’s shown remarkable improvement. If I see similar improvement in the other stories, then…well, I can’t really say what’ll happen then, let alone if the collection will be published.

I even asked my Tarot cards if the collection would find a publisher after all the edits. When I pulled the future card, I got The Moon, which represents uncertainty. Which says it all, really. The writing and publishing game is full of uncertainty. You never know if you’ll find a home for your story when you send it out. Let alone collections!

Still, we play the game, because we love what we do. And I’ll continue working on these stories in the hope that I can improve them enough that someone will want to publish them in a collection.

Or, if things are going well for me, I have the cash to spend, and I think they’re edited enough, I could self-publish. It’d be quite a bit of work all on my own, for certain, but it would likely be worth it. I hope.

Anyway, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to try to finish up one story tonight, then perform a surgery on a ghost, then start editing the next story. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares!


One more reminder: in honor of my ten-year blogging anniversary on Monday, I’m having an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, to celebrate. All readers are encouraged to participate, and one lucky person will receive a prize! Just send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com before tomorrow night, July 28th, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST. I look forward to reading your questions!

And no, I won’t be sending the winner a dragon bat. Not even a baby one. I’m sorry, but the adults are ferocious, the babies need too much care to be separated from their parent, and the laws regarding transporting them are too much a pain in the ass to deal with. Sorry, but thems the breaks.