Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Far From Home: Author Interview with Chris Martin

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to Chris Martin one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second installment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.

Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Hi Chris thanks for joining us today, tell me how long have you been writing for?

I have been writing off and on for almost 10 years. Only recently have I focused my attention and declared a goal for myself.

2) What draws you to horror? Do you remember the first horror story or film that you first encountered?

I can't say anything particularly draws me to horror. I enjoy any story that allows me to escape to another place and time. Experiencing the story through the eyes of the character is a must. The first horror movie I ever watched was Poltergeist. First horror book was IT by Stephen King. 

3) Do you have any upcoming projects?

 I'm assisting with the editing duties at Aphotic Realm for the General Website submissions and prepping for the next 3 magazines. I've also officially begun work on a novel of my own work. A follow up or partnering story for Far From Home will be written for one our upcoming magazines as well.

4) In your story, Far From Home, would you rather have the awesome physical strength of Kovic or to have magical powers like Alfric? 

This one is hard for me as these two characters aren't very likeable, even for me and they're my creations. Admittedly, I would have to go with physical strength. It fits more with who I am. Magical power can be too easily manipulated for nefarious purposes I believe.

About the Author

Chris Martin grew up in rural Alabama. As a fan of all things Star Wars, Transformers, Tolkien, and the like, many days were spent either pretending to be his favorite characters alongside his brothers romping around in their backyard, or reading his father’s comics. As he grew older, his love for fiction began to encompass novels of the same genres. His father introduced him to the realm of high fantasy through The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Dungeons & Dragons.
It was through the love of Dungeons & Dragons that Chris Martin discovered his love for writing. As a veteran dungeon master, he has constructed a vast, culturally detailed world that he still leads adventures through to this day. This world is the basis of a series of novels he is currently working on.
Chris Martin now resides just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. When he isn’t slaving away at his day job or relishing his time as an adopted grandpa, he enjoys long, epic D&D sessions with his friends.
When AR brought him on, we posted an interview to help get to know him. Check out his interview here.

Geminus: Interview with Mandi Jourdan

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to Mandi Jourdan one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second installment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.

Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Hi Mandi, thanks for joining us, tell me how long have you been writing?

I've been writing in some form for as long as I can remember. When I was in grade school, I used to write little stories and illustrate them, and when I was in about fifth graded, I started a fanfiction that opened up a lot of doors for me even though I never really showed it to many people. It made me realise how much I love to write and how much I wanted to start something serious. In sixth grade, I started what would eventually become Lacrimosa, which is the novel I have coming out now. I've rewritten it a bunch of times but I've wanted ti tell this story since I was eleven.

2) Who are your favourite authors?

J.K.Rolwing tops the list. I also love Amelia Atwater Rhodes, Orson Scott Card, Cassandra Clare, Emily Bronte, Lauren DeStefano and Veronica Roth. I'm excited to have author friends now and am trying to catch up on everybody's stuff.

3) What draws you to horror? Can you remember the first book or horror film that you encountered?

I feel like the imminent threat of danger makes me care about the characters a lot more than I would if I thought they were safe and makes me root for them to figure out how to get out of that situation. The first horror film I saw (in parts) was Sleepy Hollow when I was first supposed to be asleep and kept sneaking peaks at the TV. The first one I remember seeing all of was The Others.

4) Do you have any upcoming projects?

My sci-fi novel Lacrimosa is coming out within the next month from Adelaide Press, and my short story collection, Shadows of the Mind (set in the same universe) is also coming soon from Aphotic Realm. I'm putting out my YA paranormal novel, The Silenced through my own imprint, Bloodstone Press. 

5) Despite the characters in your story living in a world powered by super advanced technology and also having powers to communicate verbally and telepathically, they are unable to properly communicate with one another. Would you say that the art of communication and understanding is more important than making huge strides in technological advancement?

I would definitely agree with that. Kadmus and Ilona are determined not to understand one another, at least initially. Each wants the other to understand that (s)he is wrong and accept a completely different version of the truth that (s)he was raised believing. Even with all their technology, each of their societies has evolved with the same mentality a lot of societies today and throughout history have or have had- we're right and anyone who disagrees is our enemy. It isn't until the two of them start to open their minds to other possibilities and ideas and listen to each other that they can really get to the root of the problem and unite against the bigger threat that comes at them later.

About the Author

Mandi Jourdan is the co-editor of Whatever Our Souls and the co-founder of Bloodstone Press. She graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a BA in English/Creative Writing. Her prose has appeared or is forthcoming in four anthologies by Sinister Saints Press, Aphotic Realm, 9Tales, Digital Science Fiction, and The Colored Lens, among others. She can be found on Amazon and on Twitter (@MandiJourdan) or at

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Drained: Interview with Jonathan Boon

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to Jonathan Boon one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second installment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.

Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Tell me Jonathan, who are your favourite authors?

My all time favourite author is Stephin King, I love how diverse and unique his stories can be. I am also a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe, HP Lovecraft and Junji Ito. True titans of the horror industry.

2) What draws you to horror? Can you remember the first horror book/film you saw?

The first horror film I saw was Child's Play, I caught my parents watching it when I was about 7 or 8 when I came downstairs for some water. I pleaded with my mother to allow me to watch some of it and it really scared me! The next night I went to bed my mum had put a doll very similar to Chucky (buddy) in my bed which gave me quite a scare. I think perhaps what drew me to watching something scary from a young age was perceived maturity which comes with horror, I felt grown-up when I was allowed to watch something scary and it gave me a unique connection to my mum. As for the first horror book I read, discounting from Goosebumps, I would say Richard Laymon's Beast House- a book that I couldn't understand from that age but I did love the way it was written, which got me interested in the craft.

3) Do you have any upcoming projects?

I am working on a new short story at the moment about a fisherman who discovers a head bobbing in the ocean, unable to leave it there as his wife was lost at sea he brings the head on board with plans to notify the police once he arrives back at shore. The head is left in a sort of Keep-box and at night he has nightmares about it after he hears bumping against the sides of the metal box. There is a lot more to this story but I don't want to give anything else away!

4) It says in your author bio that you're an urban explorer. Have you any experiences like Daniella of being lost and alone in the dark?

I love urban exploring, I found an abandoned house near my apartment and in the house there are lots of framed documents stating what a pillar of society the former inhabitant was and how he helped the community, yet somehow his house is in ruins. I live in Japan and the house is not too dissimilar to the one feature din Ju-On (The Grudge). Upstairs there is a trail of 1 yen coins leading to a cupboard, it's very ominous and unnvering to be in there! There is also a Japanese doll is a sealed box! It's very odd and I have taken many photos in there if anyone wants to see them!

I haven't personally had an experience like Daniella in 'Drained' but I am always imagining what something like that would be like. The sewers in Japan are huge and I've been down some in Nagoya but thankfully no one got stuck or lost. I drew influence from how alien the urban exploration places felt in this country and wanted to replicate that for Daniella in my story. Sorry love.

About the Author

Jonathan Boon is an English teacher who lives in Japan. He has a BA in Japanese studies. He is known for writing horror stories. 
Jonathan's short story was Mr Ellington is a Create50 volume 2 finalist. 
Jonathan is originally from Yeovil in the UK. His hobbies are boxing and urban exploration. 
You can keeo up to date with Joanthan on Twitter  @Johnbtk27

Upon Reflections; Interview with William Marchese

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to William Marchese one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second installment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.

Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Thanks Will for joining us, tell me how long have you been writing for?

As far back as elementary school, when I wrote a story about a dragon that only came around every so-many-odd years. I don't remember all of the details. When assigned this project I got excited, thinking I was going to go "Spielberg" on it. And after the stories were read, at the end classmates were coming up to me with serious faces, saying "That was good, man," and “toy 1I" asked if they were joking, to which they insisted they weren't. I wasn't a popular kid. It was a Twilight Zone moment, but looking back I realized that was the moment.
I've been writing for years, though haven't aggressively submitted and pushed my name out there through blog or social media since about two years ago. I had finished a Novel that I’m now currently editing--Safe Place. And maybe three or four years ago I completed a second novel titled Tombstone.

2) Who are your favourite authors?

I have many, but if I had to choose 5 they would be:
1: Stephen King
2: Dean Koontz
3: Dan Brown
4: JK Rowling
5: Ann Rice
Oh, and Gary Buller.

3) What draws you to horror? Can you remember the first horror book or film that you read/saw?

Horror is the genre most real to me. The feel and spirit of it when done right just can't be surpassed. It doesn't paint a rosy picture about life, a sugar-coated layer that protects you from reality. When it needs to, it jams a blade into your hip. Yeah, the other genre choices are great, too. Especially for different moods. But I keep coming back to horror.
As far back as I can remember, I'd have to say A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of my first horror movies. And book--even though I read a few back as a kid that were skip-to-page (whatever they're called)--I would have to say Pet Semetery, by Stephen King. I had found my mother's horror collection and that was the first I went to.

4) Have you any upcoming projects? 

I am, as of writing this, finishing off a short titled The Cat. And have a draft of one I'm working on for a Christmas Anthology. On top of these, I'm also editing the first of two novels I wrote to start subbing to agents. I hope to start for the new year. But that depends on the day job, life and other projects. I also co-host the Deadman's Tome podcast and occasionally edit for the DT anthologies. Little secret, I did the cover for the Christmas Cthulhu DTanthology.

5) Would you say science fiction influences your horror writing?

Science fiction, good sci-fi, has definitely influenced me. Not only books, but movies like Aliens and games like Dead Space which have great stories--and horror aspects to them. Another great sci-fi story was   Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. It had the real life aspect to it, the this can really happen factor.

My story Daddy, in Unnerving issue #3, had a Lovecraft sort of sprinkle in there, and so did my story Upon Reflection, in Aphotic Realm Banished

6) How did Upon Reflections come about? 

I came about writing Upon reflection around the time I finished Daddy for Unnerving Magazine. I liked the world and wondered what would happen after. Sort of a sequel that isn't a sequel (if that makes sense.) The boy is unknowingly forced into an experiment by his father. There's little twist at the end.

About the Author

William works "the day job" in lower Manhattan, foraging free time to kick start his writing career. H ehas been published in Hindered Souls Anthology, Deadman's Tome, Unnerving Magazine Issue 3 and Tricksters Treats anthology. He is a memeber of the Horror Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter here @Wcmarchese and on his website

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Other Man; Interview with Gary Buller

To celebrate the launch of Aphotic Realms second issue; Banished I 'm talking to Gary Buller one of the many uber talented authors featured in this magazine.

Aphotic Realm is the new home for dark and sinister fiction and are really going places. Their first issue, Apparitions  was released in July with really positive reviews and now they're back with their second installment which features ten stories of people forced to fight for their survival after being betrayed or banished.

Banished is out now from Amazon

1) Hi Gary thanks for joining us, tell me how long have you been writing for?

I started writing for submissions at the beginning of 2016. One of the items on my bucket list was to have a story published so I thought I would give it  a blast. I hadn't put pen to paper since college (and I was 33 at the time) so it was a bit of a gamble. Deadman's Tome  was the first to publish me with the story The Way Out a story that was accepted (and subsequently withdrawn) from three other publishers afterwards.

2) Who are your favourite authors?

I grew up with Roald Dahl, but my current favourite  writers are Adam Neville and of course Stephen King, though I'm getting a bit fed up of seeing his adaptations on TV now and I thought Sleeping Beauties was crap. I've met Joe Hill a number of times, but I think he's best when writing short stories.

3) What drew you to the dark side? Was there a particular horror book you read or a film you saw that started off your love of horror?

My grandad Buller died in 2001 but he was a fan of true ghost stories and used to entertain me with spooky tales, I think that's where my interest started. My parents bought me my first horror book when I was about ten and it was an illustrated edition of Poe. The Telltale Hart scared the heck out of me, but at the same time I loved it. I read IT, Misery and The Amityville Horror when I was about twelve years old, far too young, but my neighbour at the time gave them to me when they moved out.

I must confess I was a scaredy cat with the horror films. Whilst my younger sister would happily watch Child's Play, I'd sit upstairs and try not to hear the screaming from the TV. I didn't watch Nightmare on Elm Street until I was 19! Now, I can't get enough. I think my first horror film was Jaws, quickly followed by Dolls. (1987)

4) Do you have any upcoming projects?

I've put the brakes on my submissions a bit. There are stories out there from the early days that I'm not one hundred percent happy with. It used to be a bit of a target to get a story published a month. There are publications out there that take any story - no matter how poor, and in my case they did! Now however, I want to make sure my stories are spot on before submitting and I'm aiming higher. I've got a story out in Aphotic Realm: Banished and also a story coming out in Unnerving Magazine, which I'm very excited about.

5) If you had the choice as coming back in your next life as a supernatural creature who would you be?

I used to be terrified of the idea of death, but watching my mum pass from cancer this year has somehow made me feel better about it. She was only 55 years old and a lovely woman. I'm sure in some capacity she's watching over us. I've no interest in coming back as a supernatural creature but I'd like to quietly watch over my daughters and make sure my family is OK. That would be more than enough for me.

About the Author

Gary Buller is an author from Manchester, England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, his daughters and dog Chico. He grew up in the Peak District where the hauntingly beautiful landscapes inspired him to write. He is a fan of all things macabre and loves a tale with a twist. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

His debut collection of short stories, Mechanisms of Despair is out now and is really epic!  All proceeds from this amazing collection are going to two great causes, The Alzheimer's Foundation in the U.S.A and to Sarcoma UK - a charity that helps people suffering with bone and soft tissue cancer like his mum.

Twitter @garybuller

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Everything That's Underneath by Kristi DeMeester

Everything's That's Underneath is the debut short story collection from Kristi DeMeester, and about time too. For years she has been gracing the pages of all the top horror magazines such as Black Static, Apex, Shimmer, Jamais Vu, Nightscript, Lamplight, Shock Totem, Gamut Three Lobed Burning Eye and many, many more.

"There's so much more. Underneath our skin. Living and breathing and drinking what it can. Waiting to be born. Waiting for us to gobble it up."
From Daughters of Hecate.

I would describe this as quiet unsettling, sometimes beautiful horror that is very skillfully executed. These are stories about dark desires, of broken people and relationships. In this book you enter a dark world of seeing everything that is beneath the cheery constructed veneer of our society. In these tales you'll come across broken people with broken dreams trying to gravitate towards a brighter future.

Kristi DeMeester has a great style of writing, her stories are really intriguing and mysterious remaining so long after you have read them. She certainly keeps you in the dark with her tales, she'll show you what's going on, but you'll never really let in and given an explanation, you're merely an onlooker which heightens the unease and terror. She has a magical ability to make the unreal seem very real.

This is a really astonishing collection, I truly loved each tale in this collection but for me Daughters of Hecate was my personal favourite, it's the scariest thing I've read in a long time!  I also really enjoyed the novelette Birthright too. This is an author I'm going to keep a close eye on for she is an author clearly on the rise!

Thanks so much  for Apex for giving me a free copy in exchange for a honest unbiased review!

About the Author

Kristi DeMeester is the author of Beneath, a novel published by Word Horde, and the author of Everything That's Underneath, a short fiction collection published by Apex Publications. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year Volume 9, Year's Best Weird Fiction Volumes 1 and 3, Black StaticThe DarkApex Magazine, and several others. 

She has finished her second novel and is currently at work on her third. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Tales From the Lake Vol 4, Crystal Lake Publishing

Tales from the Lake is the latest volume of dark speculative and horror fiction from Crystal Lake Publishing which is going from strength to strength. I received this title as part of a special offer where for just $11 dollars you receive five Crystal Lake Anthologies! More details here

For those who don't know Crystal Lake Publishing produces really high quality horror! Do check them out. This anthology is a real treat for horror fans, with 24 stories you're in for a bumper ride. I almost didn't want to finish reading it as I enjoyed it so much.

Tales From the Lake Volume Four edited by Ben Eads is a bumper issue of 24 short tales. It took me a long time to read this issue as I wanted to savour each tale. There's a real range of stories here, so there's something for everyone. I really liked the range of stories here, you have the really cool monster based horror stories, as well as building dread of pschyological horror as well as really unusual stories and ones with a literary bent.

As there's so many great tales in here I'll quickly mention my stand out tales which were very hard to choose;

Go Warily After Dark by Kealan Patrick Burke. This was a superb tale about a young family trying to survive in wartime, it has a feel of the London Blitz to me and is a perfect example of what great horror is. This dark tale reminds me of the kind of really high calibre stories you would find in Black Static, the premiere UK horror magazine. A dark and foreboding atmosphere is quickly built up and the story does not let you go, even after you have finished reading it.

To the Hills by T.E.Grau - A tale made more sinister from it being told from a child's perspective of being to innocent to see what's really going on.

Everything Hurts, Until it Doesn't by Damien Angelica Walters - This tale really stood out for me. It has some really beautiful writing and is very strange with a high impact and moving ending. It's not your average horror tale and that's what makes this anthology so good. After reading this tale I now want to read everything this author has written!

Whenever You Exhale, I inhale by Max Booth 111 - Max Booth 111 is an author I'm always glad to see when I reading horror. I've really enjoyed all his tales I've come across so far and this one is no exception. It's incredibly dark and haunting but also very moving. I was really rooting for Tom and Michael.

The Withering by Bruce Golden was simply terrifying!

Snowmen by David Dunwoody - This was a great tale, I loved it from beginning to end and is the perfect antidote for those who find Christmas too sweet. I loved the originality of this tale and could easily see this made into a film.

However all these tales were a delight to read and I can't wait to read volume 5! I was really blown away by the quality, as with a lot of horror anthologies you expect there to be a few tales that are stunning and a few that don't quite do it for you but the quality in this was great. One day whilst reading this I completely  lost track of time and was almost late in picking up my son from school! This anthology makes you want to go and hide somewhere where you won't be disturbed for a few hours.
I absolutely love reading short horror fiction and currently there's so many good magazines out there, a few personal faves of mine include Dark Moon Digest, Deadman's Tome, Black Static, Aphotic Realm and  Hindered Souls Press

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yours to Tell: Dialogues on the Art and Practice of Writing by Steve and Melanie Tem

You may yawn at yet another how-to-write coming out but this one is different. For a start it's written by two authors who really know how to write and have been in the industry for years and years. They have written many short stories and novels. Between them they have two Bram Stoker awards, two World Fantasy Awards, two British Fantasy Awards, one International Horror Guild award amongst others.

The authors I'm talking about are husband and wife, Steve and Melanie Tem. I really felt whilst reading this book is that the reader gets a really intimate and rare insight into how two very prolific and successful authors go about their craft.

Yours to Tell is divided into chapters which cover all aspects of writing, such as plot, characters, setting, point of view, structure as well as chapters that deal with engaging their readers. So, in short it covers a lot of ground and pretty hefty 227 pages long.

The book is written in a conversational tone which is easy to read and informal, they have been teaching pupils to write for years and this book reflects what they taught in those years. What I liked about this book is that you don't have to read the book cover to cover. You can start with whatever chapter you want and read in your own preferred order.

This book is packed full with really simple advice, to importance of following your own path in writing. They've given me lots of new methods to try out with my own writing and is full of practical advice.

One little gem I will share with you is how to move a story along and stop your readers from getting bored. The tip they shared actually comes from South Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. When coming up with new episodes for their South Park series, they plot by theoretically inserting a "therefore" between each scene rather than an "and". This happens therefore that happens. This helps them to ensure the story is constantly moving forwards. To create tension and conflict they also throw in a few "buts."  Which is definitely a method I will be using to check against my own work.

Yous to Tell is a book that I will definitely be reading again. There's also a recommended reading list added at the back including creative writing handbooks and great fiction!

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

I was sold on reading this book from the first two sentences of the blurb on the back cover;

"England flourishes under the hand of Elizabeth 1, last of the Tudor monarchs. But a great light casts  great shadow. In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above."

This is a tale of two regal courts living side by side in uneasy peace, the court of Elizabeth 1 the last of the infamous Tudor dynasty and Queen of faerie England Invidiana who resides secretly beneath the streets of Elizabethan London in the Onyx Court.

Lady Lune, after falling out of favour with Invidiana after failing to negotiable agreeable terms with the sea people, is sent to Elizabeth's court to spy on Elizabeth 1 spymaster, Walsingham. She disguises herself as a mortal when she ventures above ground and soon catches th eye of Michael Devin an agent of Walsingham.

They become bound to one another in a way neither could envisage but they must stick together if they are both to live and ensure the survival of their peoples.

Midnight Never Come is a really magical book. Straightaway I was completely immersed in the way of life in Elizabethan London and the faerie kingdom, Onyx Court. This was a book I just couldn't put down, it was full of intrigue, suspense and just a really well written book.

What's really cool about this book is that a lot of the figures in this book were real historical figures such as Walsingham Elizabeth 1 right hand man and occult figure Dr John Dee. It's really well researched because of that it feels entirely believable that there could have been a faerie court ruling alongside Elizabeth's 1.

Midnight Never Come is the first book in the Onyx Court series and I'm really looking forward to reading the next installments as Midnight Never Come could almost be a stand alone book so it will be really interesting to see  what direction the series takes. Marie Brennan, author of Midnight Never Come is better known for her bestselling fantasy series, The Memoirs of Lady Trent, a leading Dragon Naturalist. I've yet to read these but after reading this tale I will definitely be reading a lot more by Marie Brennan.

This was a very unusual book, one that was a delight to read.