Luker Walker: His Favorite Horror Short Stories

LukeI’m delighted to welcome back author Luke Walker. He has previously written several fascinating essays for this blog, including The Best of British Horror, Favorite Female Characters in Horror,  Taboos in Horror, Here There Be Zombies, and Females in Horror: Victims or Survivors? (Hmm, I wonder if we’ll be seeing a collection of essays from Luke any time soon?)

Being that he has just released a collection of horror short stories, it is only fitting that I invited him to tell us about his favorite short form horror yarns.  Take it away, Luke!

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Coming up with a list of horror short stories has proved trickier than I expected. Should I break it down by time period or author or type of horror (Gothic, psychological, contemporary, atmospheric, fantastical) or just go for an all-out everyone from all backgrounds and all styles type thing? Then, of course, do I go for the best horror stories or personal favourites? We could be here all day, going through the variations of a list like this. In the end, I went for a few of my own favourites—the stories that have stayed with me for years and (perhaps) influenced my own short fiction.

3016963caskPoe: THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO. When I began thinking of what tales I’d list for this post, the one that came to mind first was Poe’s story of revenge and a wine-cellar. I read it when I was nine or ten, and while a lot of the language and style was obviously alien to me, the crap yourself terror of realising that no, he’s not going to stop bricking up the wall hit me like a punch in the face and has stayed with me ever since.

The basic plot concerns two noblemen, Montresor and Fortunato, in nineteenth century Italy. Montresor, insulted by Fortunato and not one to laugh it off, promises the man a rare Amontillado which is underground in the catacombs. Fortunato, drunk out of his brain, doesn’t realise things aren’t going according to plan, but sobers up sharpish when Montresor chains him to the wall and begins bricking up the wall.

I think what stuck with me is the slow death involved here. It’s one thing to be killed, but to die slowly and know you’re being killed takes the horror to a new, terrible level.

dagonHP Lovecraft: DAGON. Possibly not one of Lovecraft’s most famous stories, but one I’m especially fond of as it’s the very first of the master’s I read. My eldest brother had a collection of Lovecraft’s work (a collection I ‘borrowed’ when he left home and have long since lost, sadly). Dagon was the first story in the book and quite a short one. Along with Poe, I read this when I was nine or so and loved it. The unnamed narrator; the sense of the huge middle of nowhere Pacific Ocean; the man’s terror of being lost at sea, then encountering a damp, black piece of land most probably from the ocean floor. . .before finding examples of an ancient culture that worshipped a fish-god and then realising that perhaps the god isn’t dead after all.

The strangeness of the horror is what makes it work—as it often does in Lovecraft’s work. This isn’t horror of the known world. It’s outside our world and utterly alien.

the_lotteryShirley Jackson: THE LOTTERY. Well, what can be said about this other than it’s one of the best examples of short horror fiction ever written? The Lottery is a hard tale to discuss without giving away the obvious (although, to be fair, it’s clear more or less from the start where it’s going), so all I’ll say is read it and have it stick with you. Because it will.

Neil Gaiman: CHIVALRY. Not a horror story, but one I had to include here. Gaiman has a light touch in much of his fiction. A lot of writers, given the situation of the plot, would get bogged in down in why. Gaiman is more interested in what, and the what is simple: an old lady finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop. Then one of King Arthur’s Knights comes looking for it.

Chivalry is a superb and simple story that can be enjoyed by anyone whether or not they like uncanny fiction.

SAVE0862William Hope Hodgson: THE DERELICT. A new one for me even though it was published a hundred years ago. It has a ‘story within a story’ frame (a device I’ve always liked); the narrator recounts the tale of a ship he was on several years earlier which encountered another ship—the derelict of the title. A few crew members board the empty vessel to discover a gelatinous substance covering everything, a substance with obvious sentience, intelligence and hunger.

It’s a surprising narrative simply because changing a few of the background details would mean it could be told a century ago, fifty years ago or today. I daresay if I tried something like this, I’d up the gore which would probably be a mistake. The horror works on its own terms and the story is well worth checking out if you don’t know it.

Gary McMahon: WHY GHOSTS WAIL: A BRIEF MEMOIR. I really struggled with narrowing down my choices when it came to McMahon’s short fiction simply because this guy is good. And I do mean good. This particular piece from his collection How To Make Monsters is a highly effective (and highly depressing) piece that tells you why ghosts, when seen, are never happy or content—it’s because they know what we don’t and what we don’t want to know: how things will go for the living. They know the accidents and disease and misery waiting for us and there’s nothing to be done except wait for these horrors to come to pass. Grim stuff, but done so well.

the birdsDaphne du Maurier: THE BIRDS. I read The Birds long after I first watched Hitchcock’s film. As great as the film obviously is, the original story has the edge for me if for nothing else than (spoilers) the ending which is bleaker than the film.

We all know the basic tale: birds begin attacking humankind for no clear reason. On the surface, it’s a slightly silly idea. After all, birds are small and not dangerous in the way, say, a dog or even a cat can be. But what happens when the birds just keep on coming? What happens when you realise how many birds are nearby at any one time? What happens when you realise the attack is not local; it’s national and perhaps goes even further?

The Birds is one of those a it’s bad to start with and it’s getting worse stories that doesn’t explain everything or offer much hope. Probably why I like it so much.

king #1Stephen King: CROUCH END. Having two stories by the same author in this list might seem a bit of a cheat, but we’re talking about Stephen King here, so I think we can bend the rules. In any case, Crouch End is one of my absolute favourite stories by King or anyone for that matter. An American couple, Leonard and Doris, are in London for a work thing and head to the suburb of Crouch End to have dinner with a colleague but as this is a King horror story, things go wrong quickly. Neither are sure where they are or where they should be going; the area is mostly deserted and the few people around are not friendly. It all becomes Lovecraftian and progresses to the point of a certain black goat with a thousand young making an appearance.

King has always been an expert at nailing characters within a few lines, and Crouch End is no exception. Doris’s growing terror is superbly detailed, and the atmosphere is creepy enough from the get-go to keep up a sense of brr all the way through.

nightshiftStephen King: ONE FOR THE ROAD. One of King’s older stories, this was a sequel of sorts to his novel ’Salem’s Lot, and one that I have to admit being an influence on a couple of the stories in my collection Die Laughing. It takes place in a town not far from the Lot after the climax of the book (spoilers) results in the town being burned out by one of the very few survivors. The trouble is not all of the vampires are dead. Enough survive for the nearby residents to know they don’t go into the Lot and they definitely don’t go there after dark. When a man’s car breaks down in the middle of a winter blizzard, the owner of a bar and one of his friends are the only two people available to help search for the man’s missing wife and daughter—a matter not helped by the family breaking down on the road that heads straight into ’Salem’s Lot.

What works for me here is that the two men, bar owner Herb and his friend Booth, are both older guys who want nothing more than a few drinks by the fire. Rescuing a woman and her daughter from a blizzard is one thing; going up against the Undead is another. That fact that the men do is one of the great examples of why horror matters. Because even when we’re scared out of our minds, we still try to do what’s right.

So, that’s my little list of a few great horror stories. I could fill pages and pages of other tales, but for now, I’ll leave it here and hope you enjoy my recommendations.

Maybe in a quiet house with the lights down low. . .and the doors locked.

BLOG: www.lukewalkerwriter.com

TWITTER: @lukewalkerbooks

EMAIL: luke@lukewalkerwriter.com

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Die LaughingA monster from Portuguese folklore crosses countries and oceans to hunt the child who escaped it years ago. The dead rise throughout Britain, leading a teenaged boy into a decision which will be either the easiest or hardest of his life. In a pleasant suburbia, a young couple find a link full of terrible possibilities between their new home and Jack the Ripper’s horrendous crimes. Three friends lost on a hiking weekend in the Pennines discover the way home means facing a monstrous god from the freezing void beyond the world. In the near future, anti-social behaviour isn’t met with anger or complaint. It’s met with a gun. And after a voyeur bulldozes her privacy on the daily commute, a young woman fights back, leading to bloody consequences.

In these stories and more, you are invited to face the cold horrors of restless spirits and the ugly reality of future nightmares. You are invited to look them in eye and make your choice. Will you die laughing or live screaming?

Buy links:       Amazon UK       Amazon US

Posted in Guest Posts, Horror and Dark Fantasy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Call for Submissions: Issue 6 of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

SFRQuarterly_issue1_coverLength: 2,000 to 7,500 words.

Payment: 2.5 cents/word (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement.

Deadline for Issue #6: 28 February, 2015.

Rights sought: Six-month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter.

Other info: One short story will be published per issue. Please send only edited and polished work. Due to time constraints, we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories.

Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone.

All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered.

Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please.

All stories must contain elements of science-fiction, include romance, and have an upbeat ending.

No multiple submissions. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please inform us if the story is placed elsewhere.

Submit! Standard manuscript format, please. Send brief cover letter with biographical information and publication history, along with attached story (.RTF or .DOC format) to Diane Dooley — Fiction #at# SciFiRomanceQuarterly #dot# org — by deadline.

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Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly: Issue Five is LIVE

Issue5-CoverYep, it’s live. And, as always, it’s free.

All Sci-Fi Romance, all the time– this issue contains reviews, a lively editorial, new releases, opinion pieces, and two wonderful original short stories.

You can be reminded of issue releases by following the Quarterly on Twitter @SciFiRomance

The issue can be read on your computer or can be downloaded in pdf, mobi, and epub formats. There’s also a beautiful flipmag.

Get your copy HERE. And don’t forget we have FOUR other issues for your reading pleasure.

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Barracuda: Short Story Published

The Literary HatchetI’m pleased to announce that my short story, Barracuda, has been published in the 10th issue of The Literary Hatchet. The issue is available as a free download here and will be coming out in print soon.

What’s it about? Why, it’s about a very nice lady. She has lots of cats. She knits adorable little hats for the newborns at the local hospital. Her dried flower arrangements regularly take ribbons at the county fair. And she has a very dark secret.

I distinctly remember the little spark that led to the writing of this short story. I was over at Absolute Write, my favorite writing community, reading a fascinating discussion on serial killers. A main topic was why have there been so few female serial killers. Why, indeed? My theory is that there a quite a few of them–and they are just better at not being caught.

Feel free to pop on over to The Literary Hatchet and check out my short story. Warning for disturbing content.

Posted in Horror and Dark Fantasy, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Call for Submissions: Issue 5 of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

Issue4-CoverSci-Fi Romance short stories sought for publication in Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. Must include SF and Romance elements with an upbeat ending for the romance arc.

Length: 2,000 to 7,000 words.

Payment: 2 cents/word (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement.

Deadline: 1st December, 2014

Rights sought:  Six-month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter.

Other info:

One short story will be published per issue. Please send only edited and polished work. Due to time constraints, we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories.

Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone.

All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered.

Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please.

No multiple submissions. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please inform us if story is placed elsewhere.

Submit: Standard manuscript format, please. Send brief cover letter with biographical information and publication history, along with attached story (.RTF or .DOC format) to Diane Dooley:  Fiction@SciFiRomanceQuarterly.org by deadline

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Issue Four of SciFi Romance Quarterly Now Available

Issue4-CoverIt’s here! Issue 4 of the SciFi Romance Quarterly has launched. This issue has a Cyborg theme. What do you think of Alfred Klosterman’s cover art?

It contains the details of as many SF Romance releases as we could find, ten honest reviews, and a  Reviewers Round Table on the Past, Present and Future of SFR.  There are also two interviews. One with SFR author Eve Langlais; the other with the Quarterly editorial team (courtesy of Veronica Scott of USA Today’s HEA blog).

And there’s more! Ian Sales continues his reviews of female-written classic science fiction in his MistressWorks series. The wonderful Charlee Alden gets on her Scopebox to tell us about her big love of big cyborgs, while author Linnea Sinclair gives us an opinion column on the creation of one of SFR’s most beloved characters: Branden Kel-Paten.

The issue opens with Editor-in-Chief/boss lady, Kaz Augustin’s lively editorial, in which she opines on cyborgs, the visibility of SFR, and even describes me as “tough” and “ruthless.” That’s a first for me and I must admit to be quite thrilled about it. *grin*

Heather Massey, conductor of The Galaxy Express, rounds out the issue with tips on how to tame the Cyborg hero.

It’s a packed issue and our longest to date. It also marks the anniversary our our first year.

The issue is available to read online or as a flipmag version (my favorite) It can also be downloaded to your computer of reading device (epub, mobi, pdf formats.)

On behalf of the editorial team, we truly hope you enjoy the issue. As always, love and respect goes out to our wonderful contributors and our fabulous sponsors.

 

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly @SciFiRomance

Editor-in-Chief: Kaz Augustin @SandalPress

Releases Editor: Heather Massey @thGalaxyExpress

Fiction Editor: Diane Dooley @DianeDooley

 

Posted in Author Interviews, Book Reviews, Romance Novels, Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Abner Senires: Author of ‘Kat and Mouse’

knm2_publicity_largeI’m delighted to welcome Abner Senires to my blog today. He’s a caffeine-fueled force of nature and a great guy. Be nice to him. Or feel the wrath of Kat and Mouse. Who are they? Well, read on!

Thanks for having me on the blog today. I’m honored.

I see you have questions for me. Let’s get cracking, then. Fire away.

Let’s start with the basics. Who are Kat and Mouse?

Kat and Mouse are two female mercenaries (in the stories I call then “ronin”) working out of the West Coast metroplex of Bay City in the year 2042. They take on a variety of jobs that require armed intervention. Shady jobs. The kind that take place under the radar and outside the law.

They really just want simple, get-in-get-out-get-paid kinds of jobs, but fate always seems to have something else in store for them. Every. Single. Time.

Can the Season 2 of Kat and Mouse be read without first reading Season 1?

Yes, I believe it can. Each episode of Season 2 is a stand-alone story, much like the episodes in Season 1. You can read Season 2 and enjoy the story arc.

But to really appreciate the connections mentioned in Season 2, I think reading of Season 1 is helpful.

And really, I just want you to buy Season 1–what?

Oh.

Did I just say that out loud?

Ahem.

Can we try that one again…?

Nope. Moving on. What are your future plans for the series?

Definitely more adventures for the Duo. It’s fun chronicling the escapades of these tywo crazy kids and I plan to keep writing as the long as the ideas keep coming through.

Season 3 of the serial will start up in mid-/late-November (hopefully) and will explore the consequences of an event that takes place at the tail end of Season 2.

Let’s chat about your influences. Who is your favorite sci-fi author?

It’s a tie between Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. I grew up watching a lot of sci-fi (Star Wars, Star Trek, giant robot anime, etc) but Asimov was my gateway author to written sci-fi. His classic story “Nightfall” was the first prose sci-fi I read and it blew my 12-year-old mind away. Then came the novel I, Robot and then the Foundation novels.

I encountered Heinlein in high school (I was 16 or 17), first through Starship Troopers, then Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and on to Stranger in a Strange Land, his Future History stories in The Past Through Tomorrow, and, my favorite, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

You’re well known for handing out buckets of coffee to your Twitter followers. What happens when *you* don’t get your coffee?

I tend to get a little grumpy and snippy.

It’s best I get that morning cup right off the bat.

Or else people may die…

Duly noted! Changing subject. What were the last three books you read?

Poltergeist by Kat Richardson, Full Black by Brad Thor, and Legend by David Gemmell.

Confession time. What’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to you…while naked?

I’m afraid I can’t talk about it as it’s still classified.

And under investigation.

Next question.

Ooh, you ducked my favorite question! Let’s head back into safer territory. What’s your favorite sci-fi movie and why?

Dune. The David Lynch version. For one, it’s so over-the-top, from the costumes to the production design to the soundtrack (Brian Eno and Toto? Wow.). For another, the dialogue is so deliciously quoteable. My favorite line from the movie is and will always be: “Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen.”

And where else can you see Patrick Stewart, Jose Ferrer, Max Von Sydow, Jurgen Prochnow, and Sting (Sting, fer cryin’ out loud, wearing a chrome-plated art-deco speedo) all in one movie?

I give points to Lynch for even attempting that in a two-hour format.

Sting’s outfit in that one blinded me to the extent I can’t remember anything else about the movie!

Thanks for visiting, Abner. Wishing you a metric tons of sales!

 

AUTHOR BIO

Abner Senires writes cyberpunk pulp and probably drinks far too much coffee. He lives just outside Seattle, WA with his wife and a pair of rambunctious cats.

WEBSITE   |   BLOG   |   TWITTER

KAT AND MOUSE, GUNS FOR HIRE: PAYBACK

Things are heating up for near-future female mercenaries Kat and Mouse as they tackle even more hair-raising jobs for shadowy clients and run afoul of terrorists, freedom fighters, hired assassins, a Japanese crime syndicate, and warring punkergangs. And smack in the middle of this, an enemy from the past is back and wants revenge on the duo.

Now these two sassy sisters-in-arms must fight back and survive…and still get their jobs done.

Kindle   |   Smashwords/epub

Posted in Author Interviews, Blog Tours, Hops and Chains, Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Oh, the Stupidity: An Interview

Lucy BannerI was interviewed by author Lucy Woodhull recently. She writes books that give me endless fits of giggles. So much fun!

In addition to being a wonderfully funny writer, she also has the unusual ability to ask extremely stupid questions. So much talent wrapped up in one bundle!

So check out the interview, feel free to add your own stupidity in comments, and don’t forget to check out her hilarious books.

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Introducing: In The Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett

TheDevilsNebula_1600x2400

One of my writer buddies, Anna Hackett, has a new release.  And it sounds fantastic!

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Action, Adventure and Romance IN THE DEVIL’S NEBULA

First there was AT STAR’S END and the treasure hunt to find the last remaining fragment of the Mona Lisa. Now travel to the heart of the Devil’s Nebula on the hunt for the gun used to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

 

He lost it all.

His career, his woman, his sanity.

Two years ago, on a deadly mission to the lawless Devil’s Nebula, Commander Zayn Phoenix’s life imploded. Now the former Strike Wing pilot fills his days with dangerous adventures alongside his treasure hunter brothers.

But his nights are another story: haunted by nightmares of one unforgivable act.

Until an assassin lures him into a hunt. A hunt for her freedom from the Assassin’s Guild. A hunt for a derringer used in an ancient and infamous assassination—of old Earth president, Abraham Lincoln.

Zayn is compelled to join the perilous adventure with Ria Dante that will take them straight into the heart of the Devil’s Nebula, but not for money, fame or treasure.

He joins because Ria has the face of the woman he left for dead in the Nebula years before.

 

To read the first chapter or buy <<Click here>>

 

About Anna:

I’m Anna Hackett and I write action romance stories to thrill you, excite you and leave you inspired. I write about people overcoming unbeatable odds and achieving seemingly impossible goals to inspire you with the truth that the possibility exists for all of us to do the same. I love car chases, explosions and spaceships…and of course when the boy wins the girl. Oh, and I’m a sucker for that moment when the team is walking in slow motion, shoulder-to-shoulder heading off into battle. After reading, watching or writing an awesome action romance story, I’m left energized and feeling like anything is possible. I aim to give the same to my readers.

I love hearing from fellow action romance lovers! www.annahackettbooks.com

 

Posted in Blog Tours, Hops and Chains, Guest Posts, Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

More ZIPLESS Giveaways!

ZiplessBack from my vacation in the wilds of Canada, and playing catch-up on promoting my latest release.

I’ve been visiting with writer buddies Pippa Jay and Jessica Subject.

Over on Pippa’s blog I’m introducing the characters in ZIPLESS and there’s also an opportunity to win a copy of the e-book.

At Jessica’s blog I’m chatting about some of the favorite things about the writing of ZIPLESS and yet another opportunity to win a copy.

While you’re visiting these two blogs be sure to check out Pippa and Jessica’s work. My big thanks goes out to both of them for hosting me!

‘ZIPLESS’ IS AVAILABLE FROM:

Kensington | Amazon US Amazon UK | All Romance Barnes & Noble

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