Tuesday 1 March 2016

Writing Nasty: Human Monster

Today, I am delighted to welcome fellow horror author, Glenn Rolfe. He's here to talk about the art of writing characters who, well let's just say, they're not the sort of people you would want to take home to Great Aunt Maud...The stage is yours, Glenn

For my latest novella, THINGS WE FEAR, I brought in a real nasty piece of work in the form of antagonist, Matt Holmes. Matt’s got a smile worth a million bucks, he’s fit and he’s friendly, and he’s also a psychotic, serial rapist. Nice guy, right? As a writer, sometimes creating a despicable character like this is draining. People think because we write horror we can wallow in this sludge and come out smiling. Well, maybe some can, but I’m not one of them. When I write someone like Matt or Dennis Greely, the main character in my short story, “Flaws,” I walk away carrying the grime and the filth of the character as if I’d just fell in the sewer. You can take a shower and wash away the sewage, but the mental scum lingers. And that’s true of the places you allow your mind to go when putting together a human monster like Matt or Dennis. At the same time, that’s when you know you’ve created something or someone that’s going to make people react. 

The other challenge here is crafting a devil so mean with the economy of words you’re allowed in a novella (or short story). The author in you always wants to write more… always, but you have to decide how much or how little you can do to make the character get across the appropriate amount of jerk/scumbag and still be believable. It can be very tricky, but if you’re disciplined in your writing and are able to step back see the overall piece, it can be accomplished.

Some of my favorite shorter pieces with horrible people:

RED by Jack Ketchum (see McCormick, Danny and McCormick, Michael)

A DARK AUTUMN by Kristopher Rufty ( see Lucy, Helen, Amanda, and Michelle)

My all-time favorite character to hate due to despicability? You have to go to a novel-length work to find him, but beyond the shadow of the demon on your bedroom wall….that character for me is Dale from Wrath James White’s novel, THE RESURRECTIONIST

Do yourself a favor and find those titles. I hope you’ll also give my thriller, THINGS WE FEAR, or my three novella collection WHERE NIGHTMARES BEGIN a chance. Feel free to find me on Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads and let me know what you think.

Things We Fear

Summer has just begun, and fear is in season.

School’s out, and the faculty at Fairington Elementary School are free for the summer. Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her classroom, but she’s afraid of being hurt again. Meanwhile, Aaron is determined not to let his phobia of drowning prevent him from enjoying the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town.

But they’re about to learn real fear. Fairington is home to a monster. Phys Ed teacher Matt Holmes has more to offer the ladies than a perfect smile. He’s a killer and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

Who at Fairington will conquer their fears? And who will fall to a psychopath’s hellbent rage? 

Where Nightmares Begin

(A collection of the three novellas Boom Town, Abram's Bridge, Things We Fear)
Monsters can hide anywhere. Under a bridge, below the earth…or behind a smile.

Abram’s Bridge

When Lil Ron realizes the beautiful girl he met under Abram’s Bridge is a ghost, he sets out to make things right for Sweet Kate. His quest leads him into a tangle of small-town secrets as he uncovers a story of heartbreak, violence…and fear.

Boom Town
Thirty years after a notorious UFO encounter, the town of Eckert, Wisconsin, is besieged by mysterious rumbles from deep in the earth. As the earthly tremors grow stronger, two pre-teens discover a dislodged pipe spewing a strange, bubbling ooze. Their curiosity unleashes an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

Things We Fear
Emily Young can’t deny her attraction to Aaron Jackson, the Ed Tech from her Fairington Elementary classroom, but fears she’ll be hurt again. Aaron is determined to overcome his drowning phobia and enjoy the sun and the sand of Maine’s best beach town. But real fear lurks closer than they think. Fairington harbors a psychopath seething with hell-bent rage—and he’s got his sights set on Emily.

 About the Author

Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author of the novellas, Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town, and his latest, Things We Fear (March, 2016), the short fiction collection, Slush, and the novels The Haunted Halls and Blood and Rain (October 2015). His first novella collection, Where Nightmares Begin, will also be released in March 2016. His next book, Chasing Ghosts, will be coming by 2017.

He is hard at work on many more. Stay tuned!

Praise for Things We Fear

"Things We Fear is a compulsively readable tale of obsession and dark suspense, with one of the creepiest villains I've encountered in recent years." -- Tim Waggoner, author of The Way of All Flesh
"Glenn Rolfe's new thriller is addictive. A quick, compelling read. Rolfe creates tension with a minimal amount of words. His characters are so well-drawn they come alive (before they die)." -- Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage

"Fast paced and tense, with one of the most interesting monsters I've read about in recent times." -- Patrick Lacey, author of A Debt to Be Paid

"Glenn Rolfe is quickly establishing a name for himself as one of a number of excellent new writers to ensure the horror genre is kept alive and well. His previous books – Abram’s Bridge, Boom Town and Blood and Rain – have also served to show the extensive breadth of his imagination and Things We Fear carries on that trend. Quite simply, each story is fresh, new, exciting, and unpredictable." -- Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel

"In this frighteningly real look at true horror, Rolfe manages to up the ante of tension while balancing genuinely heartbreaking moments, while showcasing his talent for creating unforgettable characters placed in equally unforgettable moments." -- David, Beneath The Underground

"There is a definite old school feel about this novella. It isn’t an over the top gore fest. Instead, what we have is a tense, psychological thriller that builds steadily towards a fitting climax." -Adrian Shotbolt, at Ginger Nuts of Horror

Praise for Abram's Bridge (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

"This is a stellar debut from Glenn Rolfe, a tale that will give you chills as much as it will make you question the hardness in men's hearts and the spirit of redemption." -Hunter Shea, Author of The Montauk Monster and Island of the Forbidden

"If you're looking for a page-turning who-done-it with a touch of the supernatural and a solid all around story that satisfies, then look no further." -David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Unhinged

Praise for Boom Town (a novella within Where Nightmares Begin)

"Short and sharp, Glenn Rolfe’s BOOM TOWN packs in in for a novella. An excellent blend of horror and sci-fi, with way more character development than you usually see in a shorter work like this." -Russell James, Author of Q Island

"Boom Town is a fun, fast-paced read packed with action, copious amounts of alien slime and an aura of creepiness that is sure to appeal to both horror and science fiction fans." -Rich, The Horror Bookshelf

Things We Fear and Where Nightmares Begin are both published on March 8th. Here are some of the outlets where you will find them:

Things We Fear
Barnes & Noble

Where Nightmares Begin
Barnes & Noble


  1. Both books sound amazing--human monsters are the scariest kind. I'm happy to support Glenn who, along with yourself, Catherine, is among the kindest people I know.