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August Audiobook Review: Zombie Road: Convoy of Carnage

Run time  9hrs and 32 minutes, narrated by Eric A. Shelman
In David A. Simpson’s Zombie Road: Convoy of Carnage, we find ourselves introduced to a variety of nick-named truckers hanging out at a truck stop, right before the world ends. Well, not the entire world, that’s one of the fun and interesting elements of this book, but before we dive into that, we’ll tell you a little more about the main characters.

The protagonist of the story is Gunny, an ex-military man, who the book opens up with as he is being interviewed, presumably where the series ends, talking about how he survived. We quickly come to learn that the fall of civilization, to a very fast and ravenous form of zombie, was orchestrated by people with evil intent. The chaos starts almost immediately, with our group of truckers surrounded inside the truckstop learning how the rest of the country has fallen. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, we find Gunny’s wife and son trapped in even direr circumstances.

With the help of his friends and fellow truckers, Gunny prepare’s for the long journey to rescue them.

There’s a lot going on in the background of the story. Shadowy government organizations, an unexpected new president and a foreign power suspected of orchestrating the fall of humanity. Oh, and did I mention nuclear peril? It’s almost as if, even if they do survive the zombies, they can’t possibly survive all the other things that are going to destory them. All of these multiple elements really keep you on the edge of your seat and hungry for the story to continue.

What did I like about this story?
At first, I was getting whiplash from all of the truckers with nicknames. Everyone seemed to have one, but I quickly came to find and delight in the fact that each of those names came with a story of their own. Each made sense and made the characters not only memorable but also loveable.

I loved the fact the story was so action packed, pretty much right from the get go. The author makes light of the fact that zombies were impossible until they weren’t, something any modern zombie story needs to have is a little bit of self-awareness about the genre, and he does that well.

What didn’t I like about this story?
While I’m not generally a fan of fast zombies, they add to the action packed thrills of Zombie Road. Hordes of slow zombies wouldn’t be all that scary if they were getting mowed down by a semi, but fast ones, that don’t stop running, even after you’ve burned rubber down the road, well that’s some scary shit!

Aside from that, it did take awhile for the Convoy of Carnage to begin, but not without reason. You can’t just roll out and drive through this crazy world without a plan.

Narration: 
Eric A. Shelman, an author of Zompoc fiction himself, does a fabulous job of narrating the book, including adding little tidbits like making the radio communications sound like they are actually coming over the radio and giving each of the main characters a unique voice.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
Absolutely. This book has been getting rave reviews for months and I actually moved it up on my listening schedule so I could find out what all the hype was about and it didn’t disappoint. The second book is out now and I’ll be listening to it soon and then I’ll be like the rest of Mr. Simpson’s ravenous fans and chasing his truck down the road screaming for him to finish book 3!

I give this 10 out of 10 stars, the first of the reviews I have done to earn that rating.

Get a copy for yourself on Audible!

Check out our other audiobook reviews here!

Product links on this page will most likely take you to an Amazon web page.

July Audiobook Review: The Necroville Series Book 1 The Dead Woods

 

 

Run time  1hr and 4 minutes, narrated by Dave Bulmer
In Daniel Parson’s Necroville, A group of friends graduating university go to a zombie themed adventure park, only the zombies aren’t quite as fake as they were expecting them to be.

A night of fun turns horrific when the dead really do start coming back to life.

What did I like about this story?
I loved the banter between the characters, it made me smirk as I listened. There are some good laugh out loud moments and some great descriptions. “Puss and blood dribbled down his chin.”

Ultimately, this is a pretty short story and is just an introduction to what is to come. That taste though is a pretty good one that definitely whets your appetite for more. And even though it’s a pretty brief listen and part of a series, it is a complete story.

What didn’t I like about this story?
It’s an entertaining and complete story, but at just over an hour, it’s hard to really enmesh yourself in the world.

Narration: 
Being American, it took me a little while to sync with the British accent of Mr. Bulmer, but by the end, I was enjoying it.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
I think the premise of this series is a lot like the humor in Shaun of the Dead, which I loved, so I can’t wait to hear more!

I give this 8 out of 10 stars.

Get a copy for yourself on Audible!

Check out our other audiobook reviews here!

Product links on this page will most likely take you to an Amazon web page.

Guppy Butter Release Day

Guppy Butter Release Day

Today is release day for the Hardcover of Guppy Butter! Released under our Children’s Book Imprint!

Here is where you can get it! (Including with Free Worldwide Delivery!)

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

And for international peeps, get it with free worldwide delivery at

BooksDepository.com

The Zombie Road Trip Prize Winner Announcement Video!

Today is the day!

Watch the video below to find out who won the Zombie Road Trip Grand Prize!

If you didn’t win and still want to check out some of the awesome books in this promo, please see the prize list below!

If you cannot view the video above for any reason, you can link to it directly here

And the winners are

Runner-Up Prize Package #1 – Lori

Runner-Up Prize Package #2 – Valerie C.

Grand Prize Winner – Dwayne

The Prizes!

David A. Simpson‘s Zombie Road: Convoy of Carnage
“40 desperate survivors. 14 quickly armored trucks.
2,000 miles to the safe zone. It was going to be a Convoy of Carnage”

 

TW Brown‘s Dead: Onset
“Today is the day Evan’s life changes forever,
and it has nothing to do with his new job.”

 

Grivante‘s The Zee Brothers: Curse of the Zombie Omelet
“Two brothers, one job,
keep the zombie apocalypse at bay!”

 

Kristopher & Valerie LioudisAftershock!
“Zombies are taking over the world. People are scrambling to stay alive.
Aftershock follows the men and women racing towards what they pray will be safety,
and not a place worse than the zombie infested wasteland.”

 

E.E. Isherwood‘s Since the Sirens
“Think surviving the zompoc is hard?
Try it with your ancient great-grandmother while being chased
by looters, the military, and the undead.”

 

Daniel ParsonsNecroville
“When a group of ex-students visit a zombie experience facility,
they soon discover the undead actors are very good at their jobs. Too good.”

 

Eli Constant‘s Z-Children

“Our kids are no longer our future… They’re our demise.
Kids have transformed, changed into ravenous beasts that are nightmarishly quick,
disproportionately strong, and void of empathy.”

 

Jamie Thornton‘s Germination
“A fast-paced ride about a group of runaways, a horrifying virus,
and their search for a friend in a world gone mad over hope for a cure.”

If you haven’t joined yet, come be a part of the growing Reanimated Writers Authors & Fan Group on Facebook!

MASHED Monday Author Interview: Calypso Kane

Calypso Kane writes the story, “The Stray” in our anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror. “The Stray” is the story of a man’s lifelong dedication to helping strays. But, what happens when one gets a little upset when he announces he is moving away.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I*
*Note: this is the littlest bit I could think of.

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Puttering around on the Internet, making peanut butter blossoms, crushing myself under a growing hoard of unread books, and convincing myself I am absolutely definitely assuredly going to get back to writing in, like, ten minutes. Maybe twenty. Thirty tops.

What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
It involves food, horror, and getting off. These are my top three favorite things in life. I couldn’t not give it a try.

For your story, “The Stray,” what was your inspiration?
I’ve always thought incubi were really interesting monsters. There’s a sort of foggy overlap between their aims. They’re most infamous for loving up unwitting mortals, for seeding and harvesting nightmares, and for generally being anything from a flesh and blood bogeyman to a creature which dwells in the mind, crawling out of the dreamscape to torment those with sleep paralysis. There’s potential to be either amusingly raunchy or just plain terrifying. In, “The Stray,” the titular incubus starts out as something entertaining; like a big wandering cat who knows what home to go to if he wants to get fed. But, this being a horror anthology, he doesn’t stay randy and silly for very long…

Influences:

When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
Probably around the time I started getting sucked into the literary adolescent cesspool that is fan fiction. I used to churn out whole novellas depicting my favorite characters either doing the do, being sad, or thwarting their enemies, and all because I wanted these things to happen to them but their TV show, movie, or book was just too damn small-minded to let their entire story devolve into tasteful erotica with some plot bits floating around the edges. At some point it occurred to me that if I just had my own characters to terrorize and/or play matchmaker with, I could do whatever I wanted with them. And no one could stop me. Especially not my characters, the poor bastards.

Did you have any writing mentors?
None that I can recall. The closest I got was reading and rereading Stephen King’s intros in his books. When I looked at them it kind of felt like having a coach on paper, waving a banner that said “You Can Do This Too!” I still have, On Writing on a shelf somewhere.

Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
Stephen King came first. Next came Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, and the like. My favorite book of all time belongs to none of them. It’s, Shadowland, by Peter Straub: a story of growing up, fairytales, magic, death, and extreme child endangerment. I got it in a thrift store for under a buck and I still regard it as the best bargain I have ever or will ever experience.

What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
John Carpenter’s, The Thing and Spielberg’s, Poltergeist for movies. No contest. Stephen King’s, IT and The Shining jump out for books. Ditto Angela Carter’s, The Bloody Chamber.

Outside of Horror, what other genres do you write in?
Horror seems to flavor just about everything I try to scribble out, but I like playing with fantasy as a rule. I love working with the Fair Folk especially, both the kooky child-friendly ones and the old school eldritch menaces. Lust and love are bound to turn up in there somewhere too.

Is there anything else that has influenced you as a writer?
Honestly, it all comes down to me being that one pedantic jerk who goes:
‘Hey, I want Z.’
‘We’re sorry, ma’am, we only carry X and Y.’
‘But I want Z.’
‘Ma’am, we don’t have Z. Would you like to try X or Y?’
‘I already have X and Y. I want Z now.’
‘Z does not exist, ma’am.’
‘But I want it. Give me it.’
‘Ma’am, I cannot give you something that doesn’t exist on this or any known physical plane.’
‘Why not?’
‘Because no one has made it, ma’am.’
‘Ugh, fine, I guess I’ll have to then.’
‘Ma’am, please leave the building before I have to alert Barnes and Noble security.’
And here I am today. Writing about demons that eat with their genitalia. I’m going to fill that Z niche, people. I’m living the dream.

What is the first book that made you cry?
There is no book like that. Not one. There never was. Ever. Ever*.
*Love You Forever is a picture book by Robert Munsch and it damn near destroyed me as a toddler. I had an existential crisis at five years old, thinking about how one day I would die and—worse—my parents would die first.

On Writing:

How do you describe your writing style?
Too many commas, too many similes, not enough pages.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
When you tell yourself you’ll start writing, ‘right after you finish this,’ you are lying to yourself. It doesn’t matter if, ‘this,’ is eating a meal, making your bed, or spending your fourth straight hour doing absolutely nothing on the Internet. You are lying to yourself. You’re a writer—like actors and artists, you have an automatic Lie Machine in your head and no matter how much you claim to enjoy the act of writing, the Lie Machine knows otherwise and will do everything in its power to convince you to put it off and put it off, keeping you in a perpetual state of ignorance as to how horribly, horribly draining the production of a story is.

That being said, if and when you cease believing the Lie Machine and get to the part where you stare in maddening desperation at the blank document where your story should be, remember to always put down something.

One page. One paragraph. One sentence. Even just a few bullet points about what you want to happen in that bit of the narrative. Progress is progress is progress and having something to save before you inevitably flee the computer will keep you from giving up hope or falling for the Lie Machine’s worst lie—that you have nothing in you worth writing at all.

What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
The part where I press the buttons.

What story are you most proud of?
Being that I am a creature with a fathomless hunger for validation, I’m bound to be proud of anything people tell me they love.

What do you hope your readers take away from your stories?
Joy. Joy at being scared, amused, saddened, aroused, whichever, whatever. As long as I made the reader happy, it’s a win.

What is your next big writing project fans should be on the lookout for?
If you’re looking for something in the immediate future, take a gander at Wicked Ink’s Off Beat anthology, to be released soonish, with my own tale tucked somewhere inside. It involves a cordial walk home and bloodshed.

Write a 6 word story, GO!
Once upon a time, we ended.

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
One day we shall die. There is no amount of exercise or vegan smoothies that will make this untrue. Buy the damn candy bar.

Where else on the internet can you be found?
I’ve got a wee little Twitter account gathering dust under the banner of RubicundRK. If I don’t respond to any greetings of yours within the year, know that it isn’t you. It’s me.*

*And my incredibly specific amnesiac spells which seem to prevent me from remembering I even have a Twitter account to maintain.

Where can readers find more of your stories?
My stuff appears in, Strange Little Girls, Horror: Odd & Bizarre, & Creature Stew., if you want to take a gander.

And now, here’s a special preview of Calypso’s story in MASHED!

 

Everett supposed it wasn’t too odd he’d fallen into this routine. He’d driven his parents crazy with his army of strays. Every skinny cat and bedraggled pup was welcome. He’d once given his mother a heart attack when he revealed a shoebox containing a garter snake. It had previously contained a frog with a bad leg. Everett had left it unattended to bring it some bugs and nature had taken its course. The snake was cooler anyway. His parents had forbidden him to have all these pets, divvying them up among animal shelters and backyard wildernesses as they saw fit.

In the present day Everett could only feed strays which made it to his fifth-floor apartment. He’d hung a bird feeder accordingly. As it happened, birds weren’t the only fauna which traveled at that altitude and were keen to take handouts from the locals.

Enter the stray named Felix.

Or so the various notes claimed. Felix didn’t possess standard human vocal cords despite the otherwise mirrored anatomy. When he became vocal—sometimes to sigh, occasionally to laugh, often to bitch in varied inflections of distaste—it was with a surreal ululation of bass that made Everett’s skull tremble like a tuning fork.

So Felix preferred to write. After burning through three packs of sticky notes in as many days, Everett had picked up a cheap whiteboard and a pack of markers. He’d left them on the TV tray near the backdoor one evening. Two hours later he’d heard the door open and then the stealthy scratching of a marker. Another minute passed before Felix came to him in the bedroom. That night had turned into an ecstatically exhausting one. In the morning the whiteboard was gone. It only returned with Felix’s visits.

So it was tonight, with the whiteboard all but crushed against Everett’s face. Written there was:

WHY BOXES?

This was in reference to the cardboard boxes lining the walls. Everett’s shelves and cupboards were barren. He’d been dismantling a bookcase when Felix found him. Felix noted the screwdriver still in Everett’s hand, frowned, stole the tool, and tapped the board with it.

Tap!

WHY?

TAP!

BOXES?

Everett held back a sigh.

“Because I’m leaving.” Which he’d mentioned a month ago. Each week. Every other night. He reached for the screwdriver. Felix grudgingly relinquished it. Before Everett could resume the whiteboard was in his face again.

WHERE? WHY? GONE HOW LONG?

“One county over. New job. Probably a very long time.” Everett pushed the whiteboard away. There was a hasty scrubbing as Felix erased the message. Everett managed to pry two shelves loose before the whiteboard returned.

HOW LONG IS LONG?

“If things turn out the way I want, many, many years.”

NO. NO YEARS. NO MONTHS. NO NIGHTS.

Another scrubbing, then a final declaration:

NO. 

“Yes. I’ve worked very hard to get this position and the new place I’m going to has—,”

The whiteboard was pulled away, refilled, and swung back so quickly it nearly banged against his nose.

NO GOING. FELIX IS HUNGRY.

“And I’ll feed you in a minute. Just let me finish th—Felix.” The screwdriver was yanked away again. “Don’t be a prick about this.” Felix didn’t break eye contact as he tossed the screwdriver under the couch. “You’re going to be a prick about this.”

Felix gave out a trill Everett had learned to take as a combination of yes and fuck you.

“You’re making this a bigger deal than it is. If you want to keep up our routine, you can just come to the new place.” Felix appeared to mull this over before sticking out his tongue. It was half as long as his arm and curled like a party favor. “Mature.” Felix kept his tongue out as he raised his free hand. He laid his tongue between the fork of his index and pinkie. “Very mature.” Again, the whiteboard:

VERY HUNGRY.

“I know. I’m finishing with the bookcase first. You can wait a minute.” Everett moved past Felix and got on his belly to look under the couch. He was halfway through a thought about the ratty college remnant—Better to leave the damn thing by the road—when a hand landed on the seat of his boxers. Another stroked his back. “Not right now.” Everett grabbed the screwdriver and tried to sit up. Felix pressed him back down. Fingers dipped under the hem of his undershorts. “Cute. Still not feeding you until the bookcase is done.” The groping slowed. There was a pinch. “Come on.” Felix pulled away. “Thank you.” Everett returned to the bookcase.

As he knelt he went on, “The new place is actually a house. Not much of a house, more like a mailbox with a smaller mailbox out front, but it is a house. Which means no downstairs neighbors to give noise complaints, so, you know, automatic plus. Also there’s a garage which means my poor little piece-of-shitmobile is less likely to be keyed by the local bored—,”

A familiar knob jabbed the back of his head.

“—asshole.”

The knob retreated as its owner crouched behind him. Now the knob dug into his lower back. As the folklore declared, it was cool to the touch. Unmentioned in the lore was how warm the rest of the body was. Everett heard a fleshy shifting sound—it made him think unpleasantly of a giant popping his knuckles—as Felix undid his wings from their slots in his back. They folded around Everett in a doubled embrace, Felix’s arms already being locked around his middle and plucking at the waistband of his Hanes. Everett was swaddled in a pocket of heat, skin, and hunger.

…to be continued!

Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Calypso’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Find more #MASHEDMONDAY Author Interviews here!

June Audiobook Review: Since The Sirens

Run time 9 hrs and 14 minutes, narrated by Nancy Peterson
A 104-year-old zombie slayer? Well, not quite, but In E.E. Isherwood’s, Since the Sirens, we are introduced to Marty Peters and her grandson Liam. I wasn’t sure what to expect when the book started with this old woman in her house alone, I figured she was going to be the first in a long line of zombie food, but I quickly found myself engaged in her plight and what might happen next and who might possibly come save this woman.At first, I didn’t much care for Liam’s slacker attitude, but then I realized he was being transformed by the situation he found himself in and then I was hooked to see how his character would develop.

Enter her 15yo grandson, Liam. At first, I didn’t much care for his slacker attitude, but then I realized he was being transformed by the situation he found himself in and then I was hooked to see how his character would develop. Through mishaps and observation, he begins his hero’s journey.

This is the first book in a series and covers the early stages of the outbreak.

What did I like about this story?
Marty’s character is an absolute delight to follow along with during the zombie apocalypse. She reminds me of all the grandmothers I’ve ever known. They’re awesome! They kick ass and they generally love their grand and great-grandkids like no one else can.

I also really liked watching Liam’s character arc as he developed from bratty, whiny kid to an accidental hero to an actual hero. It was a great journey and well worth the listen.

What didn’t I like about this story?
There were times I couldn’t quite picture the action that was taking place. I like ti when a story paints pictures in my heads and I can see where the characters are and what is going on. There were a few large action scenes where I just didn’t get where everyone was or what was going on. The story still flowed, I just wasn’t able to envision it as clearly as I would’ve liked.

Narration: 
I enjoyed the narration of Nancy Peterson. She did a good job of capturing the characters ages and attitudes.

Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
Yes! As soon as I get through my current review commitments I’ll be circling back to listen to book 2 in this series. I might even do a review when the time comes.

I give this 9 out of 10 stars. (My highest rating to date!)

Get a copy for yourself on Audible!

Check out our other audiobook reviews here!

MASHED Monday Author Interview: Brandon Ketchum

Brandon Ketchum writes the story, “Halloween Nosh” in our anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror. “Halloween Nosh” is a love story between two old world vampires, celebrating the holidays as only they can.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a speculative fiction writer working out of Pittsburgh, PA. I have attended the Cascade Writers Workshop and the In Your Write Mind Workshop, and my work has appeared in a variety of publications.

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love reading, sports, TV, movies, bowling, board gaming, and role playing, in particular.

What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
I felt that my story was a perfect fit for this anthology. What better place to send a horror story so reliant on food and drink? I mean, it even has nosh in the title.

For your story “Halloween Nosh” what was your inspiration?
I was searching for an idea for a Halloween story, and I thought about how pigeonholed holiday stories get. They’re only ever able to be submitted for one time of the year. I wanted to break the conventions there, and this idea just came to me.

Influences:

When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
Back in high school, when one of my teachers gave me an A+ on a story, with the notation “Worthy of Publication.”

Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
Wow, this is a loaded question! Robert E. Howard, especially his Conan and Solomon Kane stories. Fritz Leiber‘s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stuff. Modern grimdark has become a favorite, with Glen Cook and Joe Abecrombie atop the list.

Outside of Horror, what other genre’s do you write in?
Science fiction and fantasy.

On Writing:

How do you describe your writing style?
A combination of outlining and seat of my pants.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
Write, write, and write some more. You’ll write a lot of crap, but if you write a lot, you’ll eventually get the hang of it and start writing better.

What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
Slogging through the boring but necessary bits.

What do you hope your readers take away from your stories?
I want my readers to have a fun ride.

Write a 6 word story, GO!
The holiday blues cure? Dungeon playtime!

And now, here’s a special preview of Brandon’s story in MASHED!

“Halloween Nosh”

A still-beating human heart twitched in a pool of gore on a cutting board on the dining room table. Wiping sleep from my eyes, I slid into a chair. I rolled up my bathrobe sleeve, curled my fingers around the thumping organ and picked it up. Lifeblood squirted from severed valves onto my wrist and forearm. A single tear squeezed from the corner of my eye.

“She gets me,” I murmured, smiling to myself. “She really gets me.”

I thumbed the red tear from my eye and set the heart down. A good distraction from my traditional Halloween depression.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, my smoofy Vlassy bear,” a honeyed voice called to me from the kitchen.

Illyana leaned against the door frame, a martini glass brimming with blood held in each hand. A crimson nightgown hung open over a frilly red bra and panty set, contrasting the smooth pale skin beneath. She sashayed over, placed a glass before me and wiped the blood from my arm with a napkin.

“I appreciate the outfit, and the nosh and bevy, Illy dear, but it’s not Valentine’s Day. It’s… a different holiday tonight.”

“It’s not Halloween anymore. I decided to shake things up a bit.”

Blood rushed to my head at the mere mention of the word. “Halloween! Every year thousands of stupid little ankle-biters dress up in those ridiculous namby-pamby lace and cape getups like my decrepit second cousin, and traipse around begging for candy.” I banged a fist into the palm of my hand. “And those pitiful excuses for tricks! Egging houses, toilet paper in trees. Why, back in the old country, we’d get up to real tricks. Entrails in your pillow case, human buffets, wolves in —”

She booped my nose with a finger and made a cartoony sound effect to go with it. “Come on, Vlasta. You’re starting to sound like a grumpy old Nosferatu. Drink up.”

“Sorry, Illyana.” I picked up my glass. “Noroc.”

“Noroc,” she echoed, then tipped her glass against mine.

We drank.

“Mmm.” I ran a finger around the rim of the empty glass and sucked it clean. “How exquisite, Illy. It’s rich, without being overly clotted. How did you manage?”

“It’s all in the subject, dear. He was young, and ate lots of red meat, which means high cholesterol, and—”

“—fatty tissue. This heart’s going to be so tender.”

“I’ll fetch some crackers,” she said.

I stared at her ass as she padded into the kitchen. “I’ll carve.”

…to be continued!

Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Brandon’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Find more #MASHEDMONDAY Author Interviews here!

MASHED Monday Author Interview: Maxine Kollar

Maxine Kollar writes the story, “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” in our upcoming anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror. “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” is the story of a young man’s dark and demented path, accompanied by his very own personal demon!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have a degree in political science because I was going to save the world but then I was like… nah. I try to be very careful about the things I say to myself because as a female, multicultural immigrant I don’t want to accuse myself of any bias against me.

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have grudgingly become a pretty accomplished baker. I keep the family in desserts and they keep me around. It’s a win/win. When I’m not bitterly making sweets I also enjoy cleaning, laundering and cooking. I am being a bit sarcastic but the truth is that, to me, home-care is an art and is something to be proud of.

What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
The framework of the story was there in that I had this unfortunate boy and this demon trying to make a go of things. I thought it was a pretty good story, but seeing the call for MASHED helped me take the story to a new level. I needed to get more in depth with the culinary and erotic aspects to pass muster. The culinary part was easy because I just happened to be making my world famous beef stew at the time (not sure if my husband is ever going to eat it again). The erotic part was a little harder for a number of reasons but sometimes you just have to channel your inner demon.

For your story “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” what was your inspiration?
I wrote a drabble about a guy that loved to do horrible things like putting a widow with six kids out on the street because she couldn’t pay the rent. His personal demon tormented him by doing nice things like showing up at the widow’s door with a bagful of money. It got me wondering if we weren’t demonizing demons. Maybe there was a little more to them. The demon in this story is no angel to be sure but I enjoyed putting more layers on him.

Influences:                       

When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember not wanting to be a writer. I have poetry and stories going way back. They are not things I would try to get published but it’s an interesting way to reflect. It’s like reading someone else’s diary; only that someone else is you.

What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
I haven’t seen or read ‘Wicked’ but I love the idea of looking at things from an unexpected perspective. That kind of paradigm shift is just breathtaking to me and gives me something to reach for.

Outside of Horror, what other genre’s do you write in?
I seem to write in most genres. I am working on a fantasy middle grade novel as well as an early chapter book that weaves in societal evolution. When I need a break for the kid-lit world, I work on shorter pieces and it was interesting to discover that I gravitate towards dark speculative fiction.  Also, I’ve had poetry published as well as humor fiction and creative non-fiction.

What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t remember anything like that from childhood but I probably blocked all those terrifying fairy tales. As an adult, it was Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’ that evoked so many emotions in me. The tree gives the boy everything: fruit, limbs, then trunk. When the boy returns years later, now an old and tired man, the tree just offers its stump for him to rest. I dare you to read it without getting at least a lump in your throat.

On Writing:

How do you describe your writing style?
I have a few literary pieces where I became completely immersed in the smithing and weaving of words.  That kind of writing is immensely rewarding and stretches me, like mental yoga. However, when I have a story that needs to be told, I gravitate towards plot-driven, relatable writing.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
Submit or die. Just keep at it. But don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again; insanity right. Allow your style to evolve.

What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
I hate editing. I want to strangle editing. I should be like Midas and every word I touch should be pure and priceless.  (Shout out to my Grivante Press editor, Kevin. Patience of a saint, body of a god.)

Unless you write full time, I think carving out the writing time is the hardest part. Discipline is generally difficult for us ‘creative types’ but you have to work on a schedule.

What story are you most proud of?
They are not the stories I am proudest of, but the stories I am most proud of myself for writing are the creative non-fiction pieces. I like the veil of fiction but putting myself out there, literally, with pieces from my past was a real departure for me.

Write a 6-word story, GO!
Demon Dinner: Stewing in Your Juices

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
I just recently started running. It may not sound like a big deal but I have flat feet so I just took it as a matter of course that I would never be a runner. I put insole in my sneakers and mostly run on the treadmill but my sad little trot still feels like flying. There is something for me to learn about not limiting myself and not judging myself by other people’s standards.

And now, here is a special preview of Maxine’s story in MASHED!

“The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon”

“Shaddafocup,” quietly in the hallway.

“Shaddafocup,” a little louder in my doorway.

“Shaddafocup!” loudly in my room.

“Daniel Javier Freeman, you better watch your mouth!” seeped in under my door.

My words were screamed through clenched teeth at my mother, who I really do love, and those same words pierced through countless layers of earth and caused a piece of Hell to appear in my room.

Let me catch you up. There is a cauldron of demons in the center of the Earth. All these demons have names. If you call one of their names three times, think Bloody Mary, that demon will fly out of Hell and come to you. I know; I didn’t believe it either until I got the name right.

If you’re the right type of person, you’re going to lose some skin on the quick drag down to Hell but if you’re just an average screw-up, then the demon has to bide his time. Sometimes these demons are really good at housework and baking. It doesn’t bother them to make scones and vacuum in high heels and pearls to pass the time. However, some of them get rather testy and would rather boil in the oils of Hell than hang out and get involved in whatever boring junk you’re up to.

I wanted nothing more than to not see what I was looking at but there he was, looking pissed already. He sniffed me and got really mad because he said I was too innocent to drag back to Hell. The other demons would tease him.

I inexplicably squared my shoulders and retorted that I wasn’t all that innocent. I had to wonder whose side I was on. What happened next, trust me, was even stranger.

The damned demon pulled out a pair of horned rimmed glasses and somehow put them on his misshapen face. A whiteboard of sorts appeared in mid-air and the demon’s index finger extended to an upsetting length so that it could be used as a pointer.

On the white board, the outlines of two screaming humans appeared. They were surrounded by pulsing waves of color that seemed to be tormenting them. The demon explained that all humans are encircled by their own unique ‘moral aura’, if you will. Some psychics and all frauds were able to see these auras but since humans are as dumb as shit, they can’t figure out what demons and animals have known forever; you can also smell and taste these auras. He then pointed to the first figure. The first piece of filth, he went on, was nice and fair and humble and his aura tastes like lint. The other figure, well this guy was an eleven on the ARS (Asshole Richter Scale) and his aura was delicious.

He then took off the glasses and said to the figures, “Thank you, Mason and Preston. You may return to Hell.” The figures nodded and burst into flames as the board faded.

After the demon’s finger withdrew to its regular size, he came very close to my face and growled that he was certain, beyond a doubt, (his nostrils filling and flaring for emphasis) that I was too innocent to take back. However, there were some alternatives he was willing to explore with me.

If I asked nicely, he could drag my mother down to Hell and feast on her intestines until the end of all times. You know, while she screamed in the pain of knowing her fate and knowing who had caused it.  Of course, doing that to a loved one would mess up my soul so badly that I would follow them down yonder. This is what was called a twofer, and those garnered so many high-fives from the other demons. I thought about the laundry and the pastries and declined.

The next option was not much better. Turns out that if I die by my own hand or in any act of violence while linked with him, he could take me to the Core. He ran off a quick list of effective ways to off myself but ended with suggesting I suffocate myself by sticking my head up my ass or maybe diving into the pile of laundry behind my door. He kicked a stiff sock up into my face for emphasis and I felt my face flush red as I grabbed a pair of dingy underwear off my desk. I didn’t love the death option either.

I told him I know plenty of characters that would smell great to him. He looked disgusted, quite a feat, and tells me there are rules he has to abide by. He would gladly take one of those Core-worthy characters but in order to transfer ownership, he takes a moment to bemoan the bureaucratic bullshit of it all, I had to get aforementioned ass-wipe to call his name three times. It was all a bit much, and I needed time to think. He said to take my time mulling things over as he pulled out my stack of ‘art’ magazines from under my bed. I turned my back and began to pick up my laundry as he laid his scale covered body across my comforter and unfolded his massive member.

…to be continued!

Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Maxine’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Find more #MASHEDMONDAY Author Interviews here!

MASHED Monday Author Interview: Steve Carr

MASHED Monday Author Interview: Steve Carr

Steve Carr writes the story, “Sauce” in our anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror.

“Sauce” is the story of a man’s fascination with a new technique in self-satisfcation!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently live in Richmond, Virginia but have lived in eight different states and traveled to 48 of the U.S. states as well as overseas. My past includes being in the Army for 3 years and the Navy for 4 years.

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I am a movie buff and read books about artists and art history.

What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
The idea immediately sparked my subtle sense of humor.

For your story “Sauce” what was your inspiration?
I like food!

Influences:

When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
I was a junior in high school.

Did you have any writing mentors?
I had terrific English teachers who went out of their way to encourage my interest in writing.

Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
My all time favorite writer is the British author, W. Somerset Maugham. I have too many favorite books to even narrow it down.

What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
Films that have influenced me include “Raise the Red Lantern,” “Nashville,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Now, Voyager,” “The Lover,” “The Sterile Cuckoo,” and “The Summer of ‘42.” Books that have influenced me include “Of Human Bondage,” and “The Razor’s Edge,” both by W. Somerset Maugham, “The Stand,” by Stephen King and “Siddhartha,” by Herman Hesse along with the books/writings of J. Krishnamurti.

Outside of Horror, what other genre’s do you write in?
Literary, mainstream, science fiction, fantasy, speculative, and erotica.

Is there anything else that has influenced you as a writer?
Traveling and living in different places and meeting many different people.

What is the first book that made you cry?
It wasn’t a book, but the play “Cyrano De Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand brought tears to my eyes because of the elegance of the writing.

On Writing:
Just tell the story.

How do you describe your writing style?
I experiment with my style. Sometimes I use an economy of words and sometimes I use as much flowery embellishment as I can.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
Listen carefully to the “voice” in your head and write, write, write.

What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
Looking at the blank page on the computer screen before I get started scares the hell out of me.

What story are you most proud of?
“Tenderloin,” that was published in Ricky’s Back Yard magazine.

What do you hope your readers take away from your stories?
I hope they had fun reading them.

What is your next big writing project fans should be on the lookout for?
I submitted my first novel “Redbird” to a publisher and am hopeful they publish it.

Write a 6 word story, GO!
He was lost in the dark.

Where else on the internet can you be found?
Facebook and Twitter.

Where can readers find more of your stories?
My short stories are published frequently and I provide links to those that I can on my Facebook page, or where the anthologies with my stories can  be purchased (mainly on Amazon).

Be sure to check out his short stories featured in these titles.

The Neighbors & One Hundred Voices

And now, here’s a special preview of Steve’s story in MASHED!

“Sauce”

Bart lifted the 150-pound barbell on the rack then sat up on the bench and looked around the gym. For a Friday at midnight, it was surprisingly busy.

He stood up and stretched, flexing his rippling muscles barely hidden beneath his bright red tight sleeveless muscle shirt. As he removed the towel from the bench he had been lying on and draped it around his neck, he wondered if he had caught anyone’s eye. He hadn’t. He went into the locker room. The aroma of sweat and steam from the sauna and showers delighted his senses. He closed his eyes and inhaled.

At his locker, he removed his clothes.

The young man standing at the next locker unabashedly stared. He had a sleeve of fiery tattoos on one arm.

“Hey, if you don’t mind a compliment from another guy, you got a nice bod,” he said

“Thanks,” Bart said as he flashed a brilliantly white smile. “I’ll take compliments wherever I can get them.” Bart followed the trail of flames tattooed from the guy’s wrist up to his deltoids, then glanced across to his defined pectoral muscles. The skin on his chest was blistered and red. “What happened to your chest?”

The man put several fingers on his chest and winced. “A cooking class accident,” he said. He reached out his hand. “My name’s Max.”

“Mine’s Bart,” he said shaking Max’s hand. “Cooking class? You learning to be a chef?”

“I’m a saucier,” Max said. “You a foodie?”

“Not really. I know practically nothing about cooking. What’s a saucier?”

“I’m a chef who prepares sauces,” Max said.

“I know even less about making sauces,” Bart said. “I’m interested in food but between work and coming to the gym I don’t have much time for cooking but I’d like to learn.”

“I belong to an exclusive cooking club that might interest you,” Max said. “After I shower, I’ll get one of my cards for you and hopefully you’ll come to one of our club meetings. Just so you know, our meetings are clothing optional.”

“Nudity is something I do know something about,” Bart said, nonchalantly raising his arms and displaying his melon sized biceps.

Sitting across from Janet, Bart swirled the spoon around in his kelp and blueberry smoothie.

“I’m surprised you called me,” she said. “It’s been months since I last heard from you or saw you.”

“I’ve been busy,” he said. He lifted a spoonful of the smoothie to his lips and licked the cold, pale purple mixture with the tip of his tongue. He put the spoon back in the smoothie. “I was having breakfast this morning and wondering why you and I never took our relationship to the next level.”

She raised a stick of celery out of her cherry and celery smoothie and bit into it. The crunching sound reverberated in the small juice bar. “You’re too busy having a relationship with yourself to include anyone else,” she said.

Bart ran his hand across his chest, feeling the sensation of his shirt against his skin. “That’s harsh,” he said.

She dipped the celery in the mud-colored smoothie then raised the dripping stick to her mouth. “I didn’t say it to be mean but you’re obsessed with your own body and with yourself.” She took another bite.

He put his lips on the straw and sucked a small amount of his smoothie into his mouth and swallowed. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “I’ve been thinking I should get out more, meet new people. Maybe it would help me be less self-involved.”

“Maybe it would,” she said. She raised her glass to her mouth and took a drink of the smoothie.

“I’ve been invited to an exclusive cooking club,” he said.

She swirled the celery around in her smoothie. “You don’t know anything about cooking. Who invited you?”

“Some guy I met at the gym,” he said. “He’s a saucier. I talked to him on the phone just before I called you. There’s a meeting tonight.” He paused then added “he said clothing was optional.”

Janet leaned back and crossed her arms across her large breasts. “So it’s some sort of kinky nudist thing?”

Bart took another drink of his smoothie. “It sounds pretty harmless, actually.”

She uncrossed her arms and leaned forward over the table. “As I said it’s been a while since I’ve heard from you. Why are you telling me this?”

“The cooking club thing is new, and I thought you’d like hearing that I was going to it,” Bart said.

“So basically you wanted to meet to talk about you?” She stood up. “You’ll never change.”

She turned and walked out of the juice bar.

…to be continued!

Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Steve’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Find more #MASHEDMONDAY Author Interviews here!