Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Hit List - Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is one of my favourite authors. He always delivers a scary, suspenseful, rattling good tale and his latest - I Kill in Peace - is no exception. I am proud to welcome him to my blog today. The stage is yours, Hunter:

Some people have a bucket list. 

I have a hit list. 

Maybe not the best thing to say, especially from a guy who studied and practiced Buddhism for 7 years, but I’m trying to be honest here. Now, I’m a laid back guy – a family man with a solid day job and a closet devoid of skeletons (ok, maybe a few stray bones, but nothing you don’t have in your own!). I’m not the type to hold a grudge, write people off, or rant on social media or op-ed pages. 

My list doesn’t contain the names of particular people. For those of you who thought you might be on it, you can exhale now. No, my hit list is more general, and it contains types of people and things. Care to talk a walk down my hit list? Quick, hold my hand. 

Now, I think most of society would agree with the following types that need to go. These types bring nothing to the table but sorrow and anguish and broken lives. I’ll start with an easy one – child predators. These bastards are so reviled, even prisoners hate them. Let’s just get rid of them. Maybe we can colonize Venus and send them there, kinda like an interplanetary Australia, only hotter. And while we’re on the subject, let’s throw in rapists, male and female. Get aboard the shuttle! The inflight movie will be Ernest Scared Stupid on a continuous loop. 

School shooters need to go. Hell, anyone who thinks shooting at masses of people on a campus, movie theater or mall is a good idea gets a one way ticket. 

Bullies, especially punks in middle grade and high school. My kids endured that shit for years. Bye bye. 

I’d like to say politics and politicians, but we need a governing body to kind of hold things together. So let’s whack the political process and straighten things out. And I’m adding political correctness to the list. It’s a coward’s way of thinking and speaking and acting. Dumb idea that’s gone on too long. 

Diseases like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, lupus, you name it. Hit the road. You’ve been axed. No one asked for you. You won’t be missed. 

You see where I’m going with my list? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that if you made your own, we’d pretty much mirror one another. 

It was a Christmas break spent thinking of my hit list that inspired my latest novella, I KILL IN PEACE. There’s so much wrong with our society. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone who could set things right? Enter Peter Blades, an everyman with a scimitar, fiery red Mustang, and a whole lot of bad things running through his brain.
For every action Peter takes, there’s the inevitable reaction, only he’s not sure what that is. If I did it right, you won’t either until the very end. So scribble down your list and hop in Peter’s muscle car. Sometimes, it’s good to let the Id run free. 

 Killing gets easier…with practice. 

Peter Blades is, in every sense of the word, an ordinary man. Hard worker, father, husband, a man content with small-town life. Except for one small fact—he’s slowly being turned into a ruthless killer.

Compelled by mysterious texts to murder, he’s provided a fiery red Mustang and an ancient sword to carry out an ever-growing hit list. His jerkoff boss is victim number one. You always remember your first.

By the time his sword sings through the air to dispatch a would-be school shooter, taking lives is as easy as breathing. And if the world is going to hell around him, all the better. No one wants to burn alone.


Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.
Publishers' Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel,Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Praise for Hunter Shea

“This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers' Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

Purchase Links

 Follow along this tour with the hashtags: #IKillinPeace #HunterShea #evilancientswords

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

An Author's Early Influences - Matthew Franks

Matthew Franks' new novel The Monster Underneath has been one of my favourite reads so far this year - and with so much great new horror around, that's saying a lot. He's an exciting new talent. Here he talks about his early influences and you can find out more about his latest book:

The year was 1984. I was eight years old and my preferred reading material was Mad Magazine. I discovered many movies through that magazine. For example, the legendary Mort Drucker's famous parody of The Godfather led me to later watch the film and changed my life forever. It was in that same year that I saw two other movies that would also impact me in such a way that they set the stage for a novel I would write thirty years later.

The first film, Dreamscape, introduced me to the idea of someone entering and participating in another person's dreams, a.k.a. dreamwalking. In this classic movie, Dennis Quaid plays a psychic that uses his abilities to assist the great Max Von Sydow in developing a program to help people work through their dreams. This is all good and well until a fellow psychic played by Twin Peaks alumnus David Patrick Kelly enters the picture and conspires in a plot to murder the president in his dreams, thus stopping him from signing a peace treaty with the Soviets that would eliminate the need to produce more nuclear weapons. In the end, the two psychics face off in an epic battle of good versus evil complete with a terrifying snake-man and unresolved father issues. 

In retrospect, wrapping such a high concept around my eight-year-old head didn't prove as difficult as actually seeing the movie. Given its "PG-13" rating, I had to prove to my parents that it was okay for me to see five years before the suggested viewing age. Luckily, the poster for the movie looked like an Indiana Jones type adventure (brilliant marketing by the way). Seriously, you could transfer Kate Capshaw’s image to the movie poster for Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom standing behind Harrison Ford and no one would know the difference. But I digress. Since I'd already watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and lived to tell the tale, I was able to watch Dreamscape unhindered by the MPAA.

Seeing the next film I'm going to discuss, however, didn't prove so easy. To see it, I would have to be more tactful, even cunning. I would have to call upon an ancient resource that many a young person went to in times of desperation. I would have to call upon my friend-with-the-permissive-parent and watch it at his house. And that's how A Nightmare on Elm Street came into my life. 

Like Dreamscape, the horror classic incorporated dreamwalking into the story. Only, in this case, there was no good supernatural power to combat the bad. In this case, it was straight up evil in the form of horror icon Freddy Kruger played by the incomparable Robert Englund. For roughly an hour and a half, I witnessed helpless teenagers getting murdered in their dreams and ultimately never stopping their pursuer. After all, horror isn't necessarily about defeating evil. Sometimes evil wins and comes back again and again and again. And then it's a franchise.

Years later, other dreamwalker movies came along. There was The Cell, which was visually stunning and featured Jennifer Lopez in a wetsuit. Then there was the hugely successful Christopher Nolan film, Inception. I enjoyed both films but not as much as Dreamscape and A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was something about seeing them when I was younger that, one day, ignited a spark to create a dreamwalker story of my own. I hope you'll check it out. 

Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…

Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.

Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.

To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare. 

Biography of Matthew Franks

Matthew Franks lives in Arlington, Texas with his beautiful wife and children. He studied psychology and creative writing at Louisiana State University then obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling from Texas State University. When he’s not working on his next story, he’s counseling adolescents or trying to keep up with his three highly energetic daughters. You can connect with Matthew at:

Praise for The Monster Underneath
“An assured, gripping, totally engaging debut, Matthew Franks will have you burning through the pages of this taut supernatural thriller at breakneck speed. If Christopher Nolan and Stephen King ever teamed up to write a novel, this would be it. Highly recommended!” –Ronald Malfi, author of Little Girls

“What if you could see inside the dreams of anyone you came in contact with? Would you dare to look? Could you handle the things you’d find within? The Monster Underneath is a real nail-biter – one of those ever-spiraling stories that you just can’t put down until you reach the surprising end!” –John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and The Family Tree

“The Monster Underneath is an intense and clever debut in which reality is more terrifying than the nightmares and twisted dreamscapes of a madman. Author Matthew Franks is a name to remember, his stories you won’t soon forget.” –Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

“Matthew Franks’ debut novel takes you through the darkest, twisted alleys of a killer’s mind and then drags you several steps further, beyond the status of observer and into the disturbing realm of accomplice. A harrowing tale of murder and delusion and moral ambiguity.” –Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical, and the dark thriller collection, American Nocturne

Purchase Links

Amazon US

Amazon Australia

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


Follow the tour, using the hashtags: #TheMonsterUnderneath #psychologicalhorror #dreamsvsnightmares

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Out Now! The Devil's Serenade

 Maddie had forgotten that cursed summer. Now she’s about to remember…

“Madeleine Chambers of Hargest House” has a certain grandeur to it. But as Maddie enters the Gothic mansion she inherited from her aunt, she wonders if its walls remember what she’s blocked out of the summer she turned sixteen.

She’s barely settled in before a series of bizarre events drive her to question her sanity. Aunt Charlotte’s favorite song shouldn’t echo down the halls. The roots of a faraway willow shouldn’t reach into the cellar. And there definitely shouldn’t be a child skipping from room to room.

As the barriers in her mind begin to crumble, Maddie recalls the long-ago summer she looked into the face of evil. Now, she faces something worse. The mansion’s long-dead builder, who has unfinished business—and a demon that hungers for her very soul.


"Catherine’s writing is intelligent and brings an elegance back to horror that has been missing for years. The Devil’s Serenade is a true testament to her body of work." Beneath The Underground
“An excellent, back-to-the-basics haunted house story - a Gothic horror which doesn’t get too mired in on itself. The Devil’s Serenade builds a sense of dread, with genuine scares, right up to the climax.” —Daniel G. Keohane, Bram Stoker nominated author of Solomon’s Grave

I absolutely love Cat's books. Hers are very different from what you may be used to. If you've never read one of her books before, I highly recommend you start here” – Cat After Dark

“The denouement scared me pale. Read with the lights on...and ignore those noises upstairs.” – Mallory Heart Reviews

"This is a haunted house tale as full of memories and regrets as it is demons and spirits. More importantly, it's a story where the house itself is part of the story." - Beauty in Ruins  

"I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good creepy story." - FangFreakin-tastic Reviews
"Ms Cavendish weaves a mysterious and spine tingling tale." - Just a Little R&R

"Fans of gothic horror are sure to eat this book up" -

“There's plenty of twists, turns, and doubt… horror and ghost-loving fans will really like to sink into this one.”- The Reader’s Hollow
 "Great, classic horror. Keeps you turning the pages faster!" - Maddie's Book Reviews

 "The Devil’s Serenade is a great, new haunted house tale that is packed with tension and has a few fantastic surprises along the way." - 2 Book Lovers' Reviews
 "A great book to curl up with on a stormy night." - Horror Maiden's Book Reviews


I took to Charlie the instant he turned up in answer to my phone call for help. There was something comfortable and reassuring about him that inspired my confidence. He seemed familiar somehow, even though we’d only just met, and I sensed that if Charlie told me something, I could rely on his honesty. In the past couple of hours, I’d learned that he was fifty, divorced ten years earlier, and had lived in Priory St. Michael all his life.

He picked up his toolbox off the floor by the cellar door. “If you want to know anything about anything in this town, ask me. Chances are I’ll be able to point you in the right direction. I’m sure you’ll like it here. We have our drama, but mostly it’s a nice, peaceful sort of place.” He picked his keys up off the table. “Miss Grant was your aunt, you say?”

I nodded. “Yes. I used to spend my summers with her when I was a child. I loved this old house. So many rooms to play in. A perfect playground for a child…"

A memory stirred. Hairs prickled on the back of my neck. In the summer of my sixteenth year, something happened at Hargest House. Something that existed just out of reach in my mind. Something bad. Whatever it was, my mind blocked it out. I never saw Aunt Charlotte again and never returned to the house. Until now.

Of that last summer, no memories remained. Only gaps and that inexplicable feeling of unease I now experienced afresh. I became conscious of Charlie watching me with a slightly curious expression. I cleared my throat and continued.

“You and I are a similar age, so maybe I saw you round the town back then.”

“Quite probably.” Charlie seemed about to say something else, but changed his mind. When he spoke again I was sure it wasn’t what he had planned to say. “I did a little work for Miss Grant now and again. A partial rewiring, a new strip light in the kitchen, that sort of thing. She kept very much to herself. A very private lady.” He frowned. “Right, Mrs. Chambers, I’ll see you on Monday. Eight thirty sharp and you’ll be having lashings of hot water before you know where you are.”

“That’ll be super, Charlie. I’m grateful for my power shower but I do love a good wallow in a nice, deep bath. That poor old boiler isn’t up to the job. Besides, I really can’t be doing with oil. And do call me Maddie, please. ‘Mrs. Chambers’ makes me think you’re talking to my ex-mother-in-law.” I raised my eyes heavenward and he laughed.

“You didn’t get on, I assume?”

“You assume correctly. She was an absolute witch. Hated me for marrying her son and hated me even more when we split up. I couldn’t win.”

He opened the front door and hesitated. “Have you been down to your cellar?”

I shook my head. I’d been too busy sorting out the rooms on the first two floors to venture any higher or lower in this vast house. “What’s the problem?” A horrific thought hit me. “Oh God, don’t tell me I’ve got rats or mice or…something.”An image of a horde of cockroaches flashed into my mind, munching their way through anything they could get their disgusting little jaws into.

“No, no, not that I could see anyway. No, it’s not that. It’s roots.”

I blinked. “Roots? What—tree roots or something?”

He nodded. “Yes, you’ve got some growing down there. You may want to get them dealt with.”

“You mean they’re coming in under the foundation? But there’s no tree close enough for that.”

“Nevertheless you have tree roots growing in your cellar. It’s certainly odd. I mean, the cellar’s a bit damp, but not excessively so.” He hesitated, then shook his head.

His wasn’t the sort of news I wanted to hear. “Thanks for letting me know,” I said as I followed him out to his van. He left with a smile and a wave.

After he’d gone, I stayed outside, looking out over the grounds. In front of me, fifty or so yards away, stood a strangely distorted weeping willow. It had been struck by lightning many years earlier and had grown bent and twisted. The branches hung low and weaved their way across the grass in such a fashion that, as a child, I had christened it “the tentacle tree”. From my angle, I couldn’t even see the lowest one where I used to sit when I was a child. I had loved that tree, but… Some trace of a hidden memory unnerved me. I had no idea what it was and my mind wasn’t letting me anywhere near it, but my hands began to shake. I told myself I was being stupid and turned back into the kitchen.

Once inside, I marched over to the cellar door and opened it. It gave a protesting squeak and I made a mental note to oil the hinges later. Right now I was curious to see this tree phenomenon that so intrigued Charlie.

I had always been possessed of an acute sense of smell. My mother used to comment on it. From what she and everyone else told me over the years, I could detect almost anything way before it reached anyone else’s nostrils. With a pleasant aroma, this was a blessing; with a bad one, a curse. Now, my nose wrinkled at the pungent earthy smell—a sharp contrast with the warm, fresh kitchen. I flicked the light switch and a single, weak bulb illuminated part of the expanse stretching out at the bottom of the flight of wooden stairs. I grasped the banister and began my descent. The farther down I went, the stronger the smell of soil, which had taken on a peaty tinge.

A large flashlight rested on the bottom stair and I switched it on, shining it into the dark corners. There wasn’t a lot to see. A few broken bits of furniture, old fashioned kitchen chairs, some of which looked vaguely familiar, jam jars, crates that may once have held bottles of beer.

The beam caught the clump of gnarled and twisted roots that intertwined with each other, like Medusa’s snakes. I edged closer to it, my heart thumping more than it should. It was only a tree, for heaven’s sake! The nearest one was probably the willow. Surely, that was too far away? I knew little about trees, but I was pretty certain their roots couldn’t extend that far.

I examined the growth from every angle in that silent cellar. The roots were definitely spreading along the floor and, judging by the thickness and appearance of them, had been there for many years. Gray, like thick woody tendrils, they reached around six feet along and possibly four feet across at their widest point. I bent down. Close up, the smell that arose from them was cloyingly sweet. Sickeningly so. I put one hand over my nose, rested the flashlight on the steps and reached out with the fingers of my free hand to touch the nearest root. It wriggled against my palm.

I cried out, staggered backward and fell against the stairs. The flashlight clattered to the floor and went out. Only the overhead bulb provided any light, and it didn’t reach this darkest corner.

Something rustled. I struggled to my feet, grabbed the torch and ran up the stairs. I slammed the door shut and locked it, leaned against it and tried to slow down my breathing. A marathon runner couldn’t have panted more.

I tapped the flashlight and it flickered into life, seemingly none the worse for its accident. I switched it off and set it on the floor by the cellar door. Whoever came to fix those roots was going to need it.

Copyright © 2016 Catherine Cavendish
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Special launch price only $3.15 (ebook) or $10.49 (paperback) from the publisher's website:

Also available from: 
Barnes and Noble

and other online retailers

Also available at Write Blend independent bookshop, 124 South Road, Waterloo, Liverpool L22 0ND, UK. Tel. 0151 928 1303 

I am on tour, with a different spooky guest post each time. Just click Tour Schedule to find out where I have been and where I am going! 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Ghosts of Sker House

Dating back to the 12th century, this mansion has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in Wales.

Its original function was as a grange to support the monks of Neath Abbey but the dissolution of the monasteries saw it pass into private hands. Over its 800 year history, the house has seen much violence and bloodshed so it is hardly surprising that at least some of that should have found its way into the very fabric of the building itself.

 During Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, persecution against Catholics was on the increase and the house’s then owners – the Turbervilles – remained staunchly loyal  to the ‘old religion’, even going so far as to provide refuge for Jesuit priests. Clandestine Masses were held there, the house’s isolated position providing the perfect venue.

 In 1678, a famous Catholic plot to kill Charles II had once again inflamed the old hatreds and persecution. A Jesuit priest – Father Philip Evans – was arrested at Sker House. He endured a mockery of a trial at Cardiff before being hung, drawn and quartered. Fearful of more persecution, the then owner of the house – Charles Turberville – sold it and moved abroad.

If the name of the house is familiar it may be that you have read The Maid of Sker by R.D. Blackmore (more famous for his novel, Lorna Doone). The author was fascinated by local legend which told of an inhabitant of the house – Elizabeth Williams – whose plans to marry her lover were thwarted by her father. The object of Elizabeth’s affections was a young carpenter and harpist called Thomas Evans, someone deemed unworthy by her father, who had other plans for her.

The couple planned to elope and Evans hired a coach and horses in order for them to make their escape. Unfortunately, the arrival of the coach set Williams’s dogs barked so furiously, it woke the whole house. Evans turned tail and ran, leaving Elizabeth to face her father’s wrath alone.

He locked her up in a room with blocked up windows. Following her incarceration, he forced her to marry a man called Thomas Kirkhouse. The marriage was claimed to have been a loveless union and every time Evans was in the vicinity, Elizabeth would sneak out of the house she shared with her husband at Briton Ferry in order to hear him play. She died after nine years of marriage, it is said of a broken heart.
 It is claimed that her spirit still haunts Sker House and is felt particularly strongly in the room where she was kept prisoner. People have reported hearing clanking chains and her misty form has been seen in one of the upper rooms,

In 2002 a BBC camera crew tried to film there, during the major restoration work. A high-pitched noise emanated from the Great Hall and, despite all efforts to trace the source, none could be found. A medium who accompanied them said that the work had disturbed something evil. Unable to continue, the crew packed up and left – as fast as they could.

Another spirit said to walk there is that of a ship’s captain. His ship foundered at nearby Sker Point and was plundered. Elizabeth Williams’s father was one of those accused. He claimed he had merely taken some items back to Sker House for safekeeping. Odd that a number of these should have gone missing that night, even though he claimed to have put them under guard! Maybe the captain returns to find his lost cargo.

Screams, wailing noises, dark moving shadows and figures have all been reported. In the past people have felt a strong sense of unease when entering the house – even to the point of nausea.

From the eighteenth century, the old house had gradually decayed as a result of ownership by a succession of absentee landlords. It was finally abandoned in 1977 and fell into ruin. Thankfully it was then rescued just over 20 years later by a historic buildings trust and was painstakingly restored. It is now the fine house it was always meant to be. Let us hope the present owner is untroubled by its restless spirits.