Category Archives: Horror Stories
I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.
Back in the 1970s, every Easter–usually on Good Friday–one of the major networks (I wanna say CBS, but it could’ve been ABC) would air Chuck Jones’ cartoon special Rikki Tikki Tavi, based on one of Kipling’s Jungle Book tales about a mongoose and his fights to the death.
Despite the fact that I looked forward to this every year–it might have had something to do with the fact that my young mind associated it with the Easter Bunny’s visit–there were things in it that were so terrifying they’d haunt my waking (yes, waking) hours.
- The opening credits show us a violent, terrifying storm deep among the frightening, mysterious remnants of the abandoned temples of a lost civilization. This was like a train wreck I couldn’t stop watching.
- The narration by Orson Welles. His voice was chilling enough, but there is some kind of reverb or something put on it that gave it a slight echo, rendering it almost ghostly. I sounds like a dead person talking from beyond the grave. This really bothered me.
- The first time we meet the cobras, Nag and Nagaina, they are presented as looming shadows speaking in sinister whispers (which are performed by Welles as part of the narration). Heart-stopping.
- There is also another snake the color of sand, so he’s presented against the sandy background as almost spectral. Yipes.
I was not alone in my terror. Kindertrauma (if you’ve not heard of this website, you owe it to yourself to check it out–I have managed to rediscover horrors that had become nameless over the years) has Rikki Tikki Tavi featured here.
Still, there were a couple of positive things I never forgot. I always remembered the line “A full meal makes a slow mongoose,” and I swear to God that’s what’s kept me for never being overstuffed at a meal, even one as big as Thanksgiving. It’s also where I learned all about mongooses and their relationship with snakes, and probably where I got such a fascination for all things overgrown and abandoned (one of the sources for that, anyway–I also know I was fascinated with the abandoned temples in Disney’s animated version of The Jungle Book).
As far as this has influenced my writing, when I was in high school, I wrote a story (two versions of it, actually, a couple of years apart) set in a village in India with the terrible title of “Slithering Serpents” (the stories are probably equally terrible). It was Rikki Tikki Tavi that made me start reading about India, and that’s how I learned about the subject matter that inspired the stories.
God knows why I’m doing this, but you can read both versions of the story by opening the PDF below. Special thanks to my friend Rob Mayette, who found the only existing printed copy of the one that was published in The Piper — our high school literary magazine (which I’d forgotten even existed) in his basement during a move.
If you’d like to cleanse your palette after reading those pieces of crap with Rikki Tikki Tavi, you can get it here.
My ghost story “Blood on the Snow” is now available in Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology Volume 3, published by Dark Alley Press!
“Blood on the Snow” takes place on an abandoned Christmas tree farm in rural Connecticut. I’m not going to give anything away, but here’s a link to the story’s real-world (and very much still in business!) counterpart: Angevine Farm. My family, however much it’s changed over the years, has been getting our Christmas trees there since the 1970s. I don’t have many photos from that time period, but here’s a montage of the pix I do have — notice some of the landscapes, particularly on a gray day with snow. It’s the perfect place for a ghost story.
If you love ghost stories–and stories about being haunted by the past–then Ink Stains Vol. 3 is for you! Here’s the full Table of Contents: Read the rest of this entry
It’s often thought that writers love solitude. I can safely say that we do…when it’s appropriate and we need to work. But then there’s this other part of the writing life called socializing–when it’s with other writers especially, it can profoundly inspire.
In Episode 6: Hangin’ with Sasquatch, we surprise writer Andrea Schicke Hirsch with a release party for her YA novel Sasquatch (which you can purchase here!) In Episode 7: Words at a Wedding, the partying leads to some new projects on the horizon.
Check out Episode 6 here: https://youtu.be/B19dlTm_otg
Check out Episode 7 here: https://youtu.be/zbRuiAHR2X8
I’m pleased to announce that Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors–which contains my story “Crawl”–has been named Best Anthology in Preditors and Editors Readers’ Poll 2016! You can see the results (as well as the results for the other categories) here: http://critters.org/predpoll/final_tally_antho.ht
The collection includes stories by Stacey Longo (Amston), Melissa Crandall (Hebron), G. Elmer Munson (Vernon), Dan Foley (Manchester) and John Valeri (Portland) and Ryanne Strong (Norwich). It also includes lesser-heralded ghost stories by Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
In the fall of 2016, several of us did readings around the state. I was able to participate in one at the Whiton branch of the Manchester library, and one in Mystic at Bank Square Books. What a blast we had!
If you’ve not picked up your copy of Tricks and Treats, it’s available in several bookstores around the state–or you can order it on Amazon here: http://a.co/8kFkXAf
My short story “Blood on the Snow” will be available in Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Literary Anthology Volume 3, published by Dark Alley Press, on Tuesday, January 24!
If you love ghost stories–and stories about being haunted by the past–then this collection is for you! Here’s the full Table of Contents: Read the rest of this entry
Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut Authors, which includes my short story “Crawl,” has gotten a couple of great reviews! You can read them below.
THIS IS HORROR
Come and meet the (still living, ha!) writers in Books & Boos’ anthology Tricks and Treats and hear some samples to whet your appetite for the spooky at a couple of pre-Halloween readings/signings!
I’ll be joined by John Valeri, Stacey Longo, Melissa Crandall, Ryanne Strong, and Dan Foley (or some combination thereof) at the Whiton branch of the Manchester library (N. Main Street) in Manchester, CT (http://library.townofmanchester.org/) on Monday, October 24, at 6:30 p.m.
We’ll also be at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT, on Wednesday, October 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wine and beer will be served at the event; specific details here: http://www.banksquarebooks.com/event/mystic-halloween-reading-tricks-and-treats-collection-spooky-stories-connecticut-authors
Here’s hoping I see you there!
I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Connecticut Coastal magazine contributor Tom Soboleski for an article on why New England is the setting for so many horror stories—and the issue officially hits newsstands today!
The feature, “Who’s Afraid of New England? Everyone. Experts and authors explain our regional love of the macabre” appears in the Fall 2016 issue Read the rest of this entry
Sometimes babysitting on Halloween in a centuries-old house isn’t a good idea.
My short story, “Crawl,” is now available in Tricks & Treats: A Collection of Spooky Tales by Connecticut Authors. Published by Books & Boos Press, it’s available at several bookstores in the state, but the easiest place to pick it up is probably on Amazon. You can get it in print or for Kindle here: https://amzn.com/0997932902
With a Foreword by writer Rob Watts, also in the collection are stories by Connecticut writers Stacey Longo (Amston), Melissa Crandall (Hebron), G. Elmer Munson (Vernon), Dan Foley (Manchester), John Valeri (Portland), and Ryanne Strong (Norwich), but what makes this collection really stand out is the appearance of a couple of lesser-heralded creepy stories by Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Twain’s rarely-discussed “The Californian’s Tale” is a ghost story (of sorts) that’s really about the nature of grief, while Stowe’s framed narrative (very typical of the ghost stories of the time) is one with a moral bent.
Gilman’s “The Giant Wistaria” (a personal fave of mine) is only one of three ghost stories she wrote; the other two, I believe, are “The Rocking Chair” and “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” “The Giant Wistaria” pre-dates her infamous “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” for which she’s most known, and it, too, has early feminist themes. It’s atmospheric and disturbing.
Finishing out the book is John G.C. Brainard’s poem “Maniac’s Song.” Brainard was a poet and lawyer who was born and lived in Connecticut in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Come and meet the (still living, ha!) writers and hear some samples to whet your appetite for the spooky at a couple of pre-Halloween readings/signings! We’ll be at the Whiton branch of the Manchester library (N. Main Street) in Manchester, CT (http://library.townofmanchester.org/) on Monday, October 24, at 6:30 p.m. We’ll also be at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT, on Wednesday, October 26, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Here’s hoping I see you there!
Read more about this exciting seasonal collection in the Hartford Courant: http://www.courant.com/community/hebron/hc-ugc-article-new-halloween-anthology-comprised-of-all-conn-2016-09-05-story.html, and watch the official trailer here: https://youtu.be/GkaGyqts8oE
So I can finally announce this…my story “Mujina” will appear in Dark Passages 2: The Black Highway from Skinwalker Press.
Set in Maui, “Mujina” centers on a woman struggling with her loss of identity after a car crash leaves her lame and with permanent damage to her eyesight and memory…until she buys a painting of the Hana Highway.
I’ll be sharing the table of contents with some excellent people: Mj Preston, Jon Michael Kelley, B.e. Scully, Kyle Rader, Patrick Lacey, Gregory Norris, Tony Tremblay, Philip C. Perron, and Cody J. Spagrud!
Here’s the full Read the rest of this entry