Category Archives: News

It’s here! INK STAINS VOLUME 7: DECAY – get a free peek!

Ink Stains Cover

I’m pleased to announce that the anthology I’ve spent a year curating, Ink Stains: A Dark Fiction Anthology Volume 7—Decay is now available! Containing fifteen pieces by young, fresh, and seasoned voices alike, the stories in this volume focus on the various ways decay permeates our lives and very beings.

I’ve always wanted to put together an anthology, so it was thrilling when Dark Alley Press gave me the opportunity. It’s been an incredible journey—I’ve worked with some very talented writers, and was able to put awesome new discoveries as well as stories that haunted me for years either into print or back into print. One of the most exciting things about this anthology is that it contains writer Daniel Pearlman’s final first draft, which his widow, Sandy, graciously agreed to let us publish.

Ink Stains is available wherever you purchase books. Here’s the Table of Contents and a specially prepared preview you can print or download (at the bottom of this post). Get your full copies here:

Amazon Print: http://bit.ly/inkstains7

Amazon Kindle: http://bit.ly/inkstains7K

TABLE OF CONTENTS

As We Rot – Taro Turner

Christmas in Connecticut – Robert Mayette

The Depths – Elizabeth Allen

Heroes – Jackie Logsted

The Mating Habits of the Late-Adopting Smoker – Dorianne Emmerton

Stikini – Travis D. Roberson

The Fate of the Worms – Page Sullivan

Ignorance Is – Rhonda Zimlich

Black-Hooded Caller – Pablo Patiño

The Cold Gets In – Mary Thorson

Do the Faceless Remember? – Megan Neumann

Suicide in Reverse (After Matt Rasmussen) – Bri Faythe

The Leaf People – Heather Sullivan

Letting in the Cat – Kaitlyn Downing

Overdrawn at the Time Bank – Daniel Pearlman

Photo: The Singer’s Last Stand – Christopher Petersen

 

Get a PDF sample here: Ink Stains Sample

 

 

 

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Eight films with immersive abandoned settings

If you’ve been following me on any social media or have read some of my work, you know I have a thing for all things abandoned. On a recent Dark Discussions episode, we reviewed the 2001 film Session 9—it has some small issues, for sure, but you can’t beat the atmosphere; it was shot in the real former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, which today is home to luxury apartments (yes, really).

I decided it might be fun to pull together a list of my favorite movies that are set in abandoned locations. I didn’t include films that have one or two stunning scenes in such places—believe it or not, the animated love fest Happy Feet would rank high on that list, with its most disturbing scene playing out in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station—only films that are almost entirely set in them.

Please note: The only thing these films have been judged on is the quality of the abandoned setting. Check out your favorite review venue if you want more detail on the film’s other aspects before watching.

8 Abandoned Session9

David Caruso stands amidst the ruins in SESSION 9.

Session 9 (2001)

An asbestos cleaning crew takes on a big contract at a crumbling, abandoned asylum, not realizing that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for when they find cassettes of a patient’s hypnotherapy sessions. Many people consider this one of the most terrifying movies of all time, but I maintain it’s because of the claustrophobic setting. Shot at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (before it was gutted and became Bradlee Danvers Luxury Apartments—check it out here), this is a fine example of how setting is sometimes the biggest player in what makes a movie scary. Watch Session 9

8 Abandoned Ghost Ship

An abandoned state room in GHOST SHIP.

Ghost Ship (2002)

A salvage crew thinks they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a passenger liner that went missing forty years ago—one that had long been rumored to harbor massive treasure. But it also harbors something else: ghosts for sure, but I’m thinking more along the lines of splendid furnishings corroded by four decades worth of exposure to the salt air. For most of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to exploring a derelict liner. The set is so ably rendered it’s easy to envision the grandeur that must’ve been. Watch Ghost Ship

8 Abandoned Reincarnation

Something’s amiss in the surprisingly bright abandoned resort in REINCARNATION.

Reincarnation (2005)

A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry

CREEP, CREEP 2, DARK DISCUSSIONS and the most unsettling Christmas present EVER

Peachfuzz 1

There are some Christmas gifts that are just so personal, clever, and awesome it’s unlikely they’ll ever be forgotten. I came home from a particularly rough one and received just that—and so did my friends Eric and Phil.

 

Most of you know that I’m a part-time co-host on a horror film podcast called Dark Discussions. The five of us—Phil, Mike, Eric, Abe, and me—tend to be irreverent and do a lot of laughing. A year or so before I joined them, they discussed an unsettling 2015 indie gem called Creep. Much joviality surrounded one of the movie’s more outlandish moments which was a little on the dirty side, if you get my drift.

You can listen to the DD episode on Creep here and the one on Creep 2 here…and you can watch the films here:

Creep

Creep 2

Creep Episode 195

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 195, CREEP. Look at the picture bottom left–yup, it’s the stuffed wolf! Collage by Philip Perron.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The Creep franchise focuses on a serial killer; but, much like a narcissist, he likes to toy with and manipulate his victims first in a series of bizarre emotional ploys. He first cons his victim—in both movies, an aspiring filmmaker—with the lure of cash to film him for one day, evoking sympathy with one sob story after another as things get more complicated. What’s key to my anecdote, though, is that at one moment in the original film, he dons a wolf mask he calls “Peachfuzz.” That dirty moment I referenced? He touches himself while murmuring Peachfuzz’ name, later explaining to his victim that he thinks of himself as a wolf—tough on the outside, tender and loving on the inside.

After the victim leaves to go back to his life, our serial killer regresses to mailing strange packages before doing him in. The contents of at least one of the packages always contains a stuffed wolf.

As far as my scary little package, we’re still not sure which co-host did it; nobody’s owned it yet. Or even better if we never know. Because the brilliance of this isn’t only the reference to all the fun we have on the show, it’s got that creep factor: I could, indeed, be this guy’s next victim. Oh, Peachfuzz…

Creep 2 Episode310

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 310: CREEP 2. At the top left, you can see the Peachfuzz mask. Photo collage by Philip Peron.

The Bronx Zoo’s Extinct Species Graveyard

Extinct Species 1 - Headstone

The Extinct Species Graveyard at the Bronx Zoo’s BOO AT THE ZOO Event was fascinating–and sad.

Nathan and I love to visit the Bronx Zoo, which is just about an hour from our house—it’s like being on vacation for a day, and it could be said the zoo is part of our lives (we’ve “financially adopted” many of their animals over the years, everything from a bat to a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach we named Mountain King). Since we’re members, we try to make it down for the zoo’s special events throughout the year.

October brought Boo at the Zoo: weekends full of activities such as a beer garden, pumpkin carving demonstration, not-really hay rides, marshmallow roasting pits, candy trails, a corn maze—and my favorite, a Haunted Forest in the abandoned World of Darkness Building. Little known fact about me? It was my first-ever walk-through Haunted House, and I did pretty well!

It was lots of fun to see kids in costume.

Look who I ran into in New York City!

…and to visit our hissing cockroach, Mountain King.

The exhibit that struck me most was the Extinct Species Graveyard, which was set up in a little-used grove of trees next to The Mouse House. It wasn’t there for a Halloween thrill, nor was it there as just another decoration to fill up space; it seemed part educational, and part memorial. I was surprised by the profound sense of sadness I felt as we wandered through the headstones.

Here’s a tour!

Extinct Species 6 - Falkland Islands Wolf

Officially discovered in the late 1600s, the Falkland Islands Wolf’s tame nature spelled its doom—it hadn’t learned to fear humans, so settlers could easily trick it into coming close enough to kill it. They were hunted for meat and fur, and were considered threatening to sheep. The last one was killed Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS dives 47 METERS DOWN

 

Dark Discussions 47 Meters Down Mast_Episode293

47 METERS DOWN collage by Philip Perron.

Shark Week may be a long 10 months away, but there’s still plenty of thrills to be had in this year’s much-delayed Mandy Moore vehicle 47 Meters Down, which had been titled–and even briefly released, as I understand it–under the moniker In the Deep.

Dark Discussions delves deep into what works and what doesn’t in this film (which personally I didn’t get all the hate for–it’s a friggin’ shark thriller, for God’s sake, why are you all expecting high art?) which is available on Blu-Ray and DVD today. Pick it up here — http://a.co/20Q1UNs — then dive into what we thought!

You can listen to our episode on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_293.html

1280_in_the_deep_47_meters_down_poster

Creative Spark: Melissa Crandall on ‘Three on a Match’ (Q&A)

TODAY IS THE BIG DAY! THREE ON A MATCH – which contains my novella, “Splendid Chyna,” gets released! Here’s an interview with one of the writers, Melissa Crandall! Stay tuned for more!

johnbvaleri

Today, I have the pleasure and privilege of sharing virtual space with Melissa Crandall.

Melissa is a contributor, most recently, to Three on a Match (Books & Boos Press)—the second title in the publisher’s “Terror Project,” following Triplicity (2016). A Pushcart-nominated author, she writes narrative nonfiction and speculative fiction, and recently sold a short story–“The Last Zookeeper”– to The Wild Musette. Her book, The Man Who Loved Elephants: 30 Years at Oregon’s Washington Park Zoo, is currently being shopped to publishers by agent Bonnie Solow. Melissa’s work has appeared in Tricks and Treats: A Collection of Spooky Stories by Connecticut AuthorsChicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Forgiveness, and Allegory, and has been featured on The Drunken Odyssey; she made her professional literary debut with media tie-in novels for Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and Earth 2. A member of The Authors Guild, Melissa…

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INVOCATIONS coming soon!

Invocations Cover 2

Just in time for Halloween season, Great Old Ones Publishing reveals the cover and table of contents for Invocations, an anthology focusing on all those things we shouldn’t be summoning.

The cover is by Mj Preston, author of The Acadia Event.

Invocations Cover 1 by MJ Preston

My short story “We’ve Always Been Here” – a little bit of a different take on killer clowns – will be featured alongside these other fantastic contemporary horror writers. I’ll keep you posted on the release date. The TOC is as follows:

Foreword by Dan Lench
1. High Tea with Ancient Gods by Judi Ann Calhoun
2. Uncanny by E.g. Smith
3. American Macabre by Gregory Norris
4. Hunger by Dan Szczesny
5. Mirror, Mirror by Edwin Berne
6. Black Eyes, Blacker Soul by Patrick Lacey
7. Down Time Children by Irene Gallant
8. Hell and Back by Marinda Dennis
9. Let’s Go See the Honeyman by Kyle Rader
10. One Shot, One Kill by Eric S Brown
11. The Snow Lion by Coopersmith Black
12. Eyes by Tony Tremblay
13. The Butterfly Queen by Shannon Grant
14. Penance and Pressure Cookers by Philip Perron
15. We’ve Always Been Here by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
16. The Leyak by Mj Preston

THIS WRITING LIFE EPISODE 10: DAMNATIONLAND is up!

Episode 10 This Writing Life

This episode of This Writing Life road trips to Portland, Maine!

For me, being a writer means always studying other media—film, music, art, whatever. One of my favorite things to do is attend DAMNATIONLAND—a horror film festival which showcases short films by independent Maine filmmakers. I probably did more partying than studying…but come take the ride with me! Watch This Writing Life Episode 10: Damnationland here: https://youtu.be/1ro3aNkm89M

If you wanna do it for real? You can check out the dates for 2017 on the Damnationland FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/Damnationland/?ref=br_rs

Damnationland Art 2

Coming soon! INK STAINS JANUARY 2018: DECAY

Ink Stains Update 2

I spent the first six months of this year as a guest editor for an upcoming issue of Dark Alley Press’ Ink Stains anthology series, and I’m pleased to announce that, except for a couple of rounds of proofing and the fact that the cover isn’t complete, it’s in the can!

This was my first stint as guest editor, and it was nothing short of a magical experience. There was something special about not just cherry-picking pieces for a collection from a slush pile, but curating a collection; tapping talent for some unpublished stories that had haunted me for—in some cases—a quarter of a century, or always anticipating that moment when that perfect story I have to have! would appear in the submissions manager.

In addition, every writer I worked with shared the vision; it was an enlightening journey in every sense of the phrase.

The theme of the issue was my choice—decay. It’s a pervasive Read the rest of this entry

Creepy clowns…they’ll always be here…

We've always been here art 2

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story “We’ve Always Been Here” will be appearing in Great Old Ones Publishing’s upcoming anthology Invocations.

I don’t want to say much and ruin the surprise, but I will say the first draft of this story was written last Halloween (October 31) and was inspired by yet another report of a “creepy clown” attack. Remember those?

As of today, the release date is slated for September 1. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

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