Tuesday 10 May 2016

On Funerals - Somer Canon

Somer Canon is an exciting new author who has hit the horror scene with a most unusual, exceptional novella. Here she gives a clue as to one of her influences:

I have a hazy memory of being not long out of my toddler years and attending my first funeral.  My grandmother had me for the weekend, as she often did, but she needed to attend the viewing of her recently deceased elderly neighbor.  I knew the woman vaguely in that to my young mind, she as a gifter of an endless supply of colorful hard candies.
             It was an uncomfortable experience, seeing that kind lady looking to be asleep surrounded by her weeping family.  I remember my grandma telling me not to look at her and when I asked why, she said that I was too young, a catch-all explanation that I loathed.  

             “If I’m not supposed to look, why is she out for everybody to see?”  I asked.
            My grandma had no answer.
            The experience was vastly different when my grandma passed.  Drowning in the grief of losing someone who had always been so important to me, I was still able to be confused that my mom and my aunt bought my grandma a new dress and jewelry for her viewing.  The funeral home styled her hair in a way different from how she wore it and they put too much makeup on her.  All of that toiling away to create the illusion that she was merely sleeping ended up looking gruesome to me.  I, like everyone else who knew and loved her, preferred her how she had looked when she was alive, not overly painted and wearing clothes she’d never have picked out for herself. 
            Seeing her like that caused me to make up my mind that I did not want that for myself. 
            Vicki, a character in my novella, Vicki Beautiful, agrees with me.  She has serious concerns about how her last showing to her loved ones would be carried out. While I want to avoid causing distress to my loved ones by creating a poorly executed illusion, Vicki wants to avoid looking anything other than beautiful perfection.

One last taste of perfection… 
Sasha and Brynn descend upon the showplace home of their girlhood friend, Vicki, planning to celebrate her surviving cancer to reach her fortieth birthday. As they gather around Vicki’s perfectly set dinner table, though, her husband shares devastating news. The cancer is back, and she doesn’t have long to live.

Her life is cut even shorter than Sasha and Brynn expect—the next morning, their friend is found dead, her flawless skin slit at the wrists. But a tub full of blood is only the beginning. Before the weekend is through, they are forced to question how far they’re willing to go to fulfill Vicki’s last wish.

A very specific, very detailed recipe that only the truest of friends could stomach…
 Praise for Vicki Beautiful
 “ I read this at one gripping session and I shall read more by this author. Excellent, original and worth every one of my five stars.” –Catherine Cavendish, Author of The Devil’s Serenade

“At times it reminded me of the cult classic "Eating Raoul" and others "The Big Chill". Suffice to say, Canon has created an intriguing tale that will not only have you caring about characters put into an awkward, unsettling situation but also wondering how they'll react to it every step of the way. I highly recommend this unique and entertaining story.” –Matthew Franks, Author The Monster Underneath

“This is not the normal type of book that I would read, but the cover sold it to me, and I like reading new authors and genres. This book is beautifully written, the writing flows and you feel you really understand what the character’s are feeling…” Rebecca, GoodReads Reviewer

“The ending of this story was truly horrific. I am an old school horror fan, and have been indulging in the genre since I was old enough to hold a book. I also adore and enjoy the sub-genre splatterpunk, I read Jack Ketchum as a bedside book all the time. It takes a lot to phase me, but even I was turning my head in repulsion at the end. What a wonderful debut story for Somer Canon.” –Badseedgirl, GoodReads Reviewer

“A simple story, but all the more powerful for its simplicity. Four stars. The author has guts and skill.” –Outlaw Poet
Somer Canon is a minivan revving suburban mother who avoids her neighbors for fear of being found out as a weirdo.  When she’s not peering out of her windows, she’s consuming books, movies, and video games that sate her need for blood, gore, and things that disturb her mother.
Vicki Beautiful is her debut novella.

Find out more about Somer and her upcoming works at her website http://www.somercanon.com. You can also connect with Somer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SomerM.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

On Writing Horror with Humour and Other Interesting Tales - Stuart R. West


Today, it is my pleasure and privilege to be joined by Stuart R. West. Now Stuart is a very different kind of horror author - in fact sometimes he doesn't do horror at all! Frequently, when he does, there is a lavish helping of humour on the side, so I thought it was about time I asked him how he achieves this, and about his cross-genre experiences.

CC: I found your latest novella – Demon with a Comb-Over – a brilliant read.
Blending horror with humour is a really difficult act to pull off, yet you do it so effectively in this story. Come on, spill, what’s your secret?

SRW: Hey, Catherine, thanks for having me here! No secrets here (as anyone who reads my blog can attest to). Demon with a Comb-Over didn’t start as a humorous book to be honest. Originally, I’d planned it to be straight-up horror. But once I got into it, the subject matter, setting, characters, everything sorta screamed out for a humorous bent. It was a happy accident. Now is the book funny? Humor’s very subjective. Reader’s calls. 

 CC: Well, I certainly enjoyed the humour, and I loved your central character – Charlie Broadmoor. I kept wanting to tell him to stop taunting that member of the audience. You knew it was going to end badly, but he just kept on teasing him. So engaging and authentic. Kobal was a masterful demon too. I believe there is to be a sequel. Can you tell us what we can expect from Kobal in the future?

SRW: Thanks Cat. Well, regarding Charlie, I’m a sucker for everyman sad sack characters (being one myself). If you can’t root for the lead character in a book, it doesn’t work for me. Of course, the villain has to be as strong as the lead, too. Now there’s not a sequel to Comb-Over. But I have written a prequel: The Book of Kobal. As suggested, it’s my demon Kobal’s tale up until the events in Demon with a Comb-Over. I had a lot of fun writing it, although it’s much darker than Comb-Over. And outrageously irreverent (might get me in trouble with some Bible thumpers). Kobal manipulates Satan into battling angels, spanks Hitler and gets into a hissy slap fight with Jesus. Oh, and he totally destroys a disco during the ‘70’s. Violent, gruesome, sickly funny stuff.

Alas, with the closing of Samhain Publishing, the book is currently without a publisher. (One beta reader told me that no one should read it!)

CC: I think it sounds like great fun. Come on publishers, sign Stuart up so I can read it! 

Moving onto your other work, you have also written a comedy whodunit – Bad Day In A Banana Hammock. How did that one come about?

SRW: Simple! It was my way of selling out! What better way to sell books than have a vapid male stripper as the lead and his very pregnant, very cranky sister as the brains? Most fun I’ve had writing a book, actually. I plan on a sequel later this year.

 In fact, genre-wise, you’re hard to pin down – The Ghosts of Gannaway is a story about a seriously haunted mine. Then there’s your dark horror thriller Godland and much more besides. Tell us a bit more about your other books and why you choose to write in so many diverse genres.

SRW: Catherine, I’m probably not doing myself any favors by writing all over the board. Readers never know what to expect. The way I like it, though. I can’t imagine writing the same type of book over and over. As long as I’m interested, I’ll keep experimenting. I have a children’s picture book coming out later this year and there’s a straight up romantic comedy in my future. But horror’s always my first love, something I keep getting drawn back to.

Ghosts of Gannaway was the toughest book I’ve written. I spent two or three months in research alone! (Not doing historical horror ever again). Godland is my dark psychological horror tale, a puzzle piece that I’m proud of. Then there’s my YA paranormal, mystery, comedy, romance quartet, Tex, the Witch Boy which deals with current topical issues. Oh! And my morbidly amusing serial killer thriller series, Killers Incorporated.

The only links between the books? Every one is a bit autobiographical (except, um, I’m not a witch nor a serial killer) and they all take place (at least partially) in Godforsaken Kansas.

CC: Speaking of Kansas, you say that your home state provides a lot of inspiration. What is it about the Midwest that inspires your writing?

SRW: Inspiration’s giving Kansas a lotta credit, Catherine! Well, I’m stuck here for better or worse. But as I like writing dark, Kansas is full of creepy things and people. It gave birth to the heinous Westboro Baptist Church for crying out loud! There’s still an active KKK branch, mafia, black magic worshippers. Lots of gist for my books.

 CC: Right. That certainly sounds scary! Now, what is the hardest lesson you have learned in relation to your writing?

SRW: Ah...don’t give up your day job? Momma, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys? Don’t poke a sleeping bear?

What are you working on now?

SRW: Dread and Breakfast is another Samhain contracted book that’s currently in need of a new home. Think Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, only it’s modern day and takes place at a bed and breakfast during a terrible Midwestern blizzard.

Wait...where’s that blurb when I need it? Hey, here it is!

During one of the worst winter storms in recent history, a handful of people converge at the Dandy Drop Inn, a Midwest bed and breakfast. A courageous woman and her young daughter fleeing for their safety; an immoral accountant with one last plan to make his mark; a happily married hit-man with a code of honor; a psychotically enraged police detective; a germophobic mobster and his nephew; and a young newlywed couple with a very strange honeymoon in mind. Some come out of desperation, some by design, some because the storm gives them no other choice. All of them have secrets. But none of them are as dark as the secret deep within the Dandy Drop Inn.

 I’m also wrapping up the third and final book in my Killers Incorporated saga. Yay!

CC: I love the title and the story sounds great. Thank you so much for being my guest today, Stuart. I'm sure your creative, original and highly entertaining work will soon find a new home

SRW: Thanks for having me on, Cat. It was a gas and a half!