How did you come up with the idea for "Alien Dust"?
I came up with the idea for the story as I was trying to figure out how a person would stop a vampire with modern technology. The Dustbuster (TM) just jumped into mind, and I laughed my head off. However, it wasn't that funny with humans; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural have pretty much worn the shine off of the idea. But aliens! Who have never seen a vampire! Area 51 meets Dracula, it was too good!
How do you handle the challenges to your writing time? You seem to live with a crowd of people and animals.
Challenges to my writing time occurred while the kids were growing up. Now that they're adults, it's easier to find the time to myself.
Do you see writing as an eventual career for you, or a sideline?
I always wanted to be a writer as a career. But look around. Less than 100 people make a living off of writing, and I am nowhere near the quality to manage that. So I kept my day job.
Do you have hobbies? If so, do they influence your writing?
My hobbies are gardening, taking care of the critters, and walking. I fit anything else in as there is time (and energy). And yes, they always influence my writing.
What is your next project?
My next project is to finish one of the list of stories I have the kernel of an idea for (I have the list written, now I need to point my finger at whichever one draws my interest). I'm thinking dice would be a better way to decide which story is next.
Once again, we welcome the multitalented Chantal Boudreau to our pages. In addition to being a CMA-MBA, she has a BA with a major in English from Dalhousie University. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates predominantly horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her short stories published in anthologies.
Your story involves a ghost writer who isn't a ghost. :) How did you come up with the idea for "Dead to Write"?
I have several writer friends with whom I chat regularly and occasionally collaborate. One of these friends, Brad Filipone, is primarily a playright and I speak with him a few times every week. He does write some fiction but he struggles with getting things finished...we have a joint project that has been a work in progress for years. Anyway, we were talking about my zombie stories and funny concepts and he planted a seed for this story in my head. He has a quirky sense of humour and a great imagination. With his permission, I used the idea to write "Dead to Write." A lot of my story ideas are sparked by things friends and family say.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? (For example, do you have to be alone, do you play background music, etc.)
I'm a full-time accountant with a busy household: a stay-at-home, self-employed husband, two kids, one a teenager and one with special needs, a mother-in-law and a cat. I also have chickens and a demanding garden. What this means is I have to steal time to write whenever I can get it. Usually it's when I'm on the bus, commuting to and from work, or during my lunch hour. I like to have music on when I write, but it's not required. I find it inspirational.
With short stories I find it's one quick burst of an idea and I write around it. With novels, I do a lot of plotting. While planning, I start with an ending, go back to the beginning, set out the major plot points that will get me to my end and fill in the gaps. The characters create themselves as I go and my writing is very fluid. The outline is there as a guideline, but it can change with little warning.
Do you see writing as a career for you, or a sideline?
Maybe when I retire ... if I retire ... it may become more of a career, but for now it's a sideline that helps keep me sane when I'm stressed. I'm quite happy with my day job. I have a great boss and co-workers and they support my writing efforts. It's secure, pays well and makes good use of my education. I only have one pro-rate writing sale (and a few semi-pro sales) so far, along with several token payments and royalty contracts. I'd need a great deal more than that before I could consider giving up being an accountant.
Do you have hobbies? If so, do they influence your writing?
I love to read, listen to music and draw, all of which influence my writing. I also like to dabble, trying out varous sports, crafts, art forms and leisure activities. I also like to travel. I think a broad range of diverse experiences translates to more fodder for stories.
What is your next project?
My current project is working on the sixth novel in my Fervor dystopian series. I'm more than halfway through the first draft. I'm not sure what my next project will be - wherever whimsy happens to take me, I guess.
Don't miss out! We're giving away three free copies of Strangely Funny 2 1/2 on Goodreads. Goodreads is a great place to visit anyway, so get over there. :)
Because one book wasn't big enough to contain the insanity! Seventeen MORE tales of supernatural hilarity from new authors and previous Strangely Funny favorites. Strangely Funny 2 1/2 is now available for preorder (domestic only) through our site.
The cover art was done by Monstermatt Patterson, author/artist of Ha-Ha! Horror, mad podcast punster, and the 2014 Winner in Artvoice's "Best of Buffalo" Awards (Best Painter).
"Knewscast" By Kevin Quirt - Reporting the news before it happens can still leave one prey to the unexpected.
"The New Kid" By Tim McDaniel - What happens when the new kid in school is the Antichrist?
"The Pillow" By Fred McGavran - The fountain of youth can also give you a magnetic personality.
"Inheritance" By Kristina R. Mosley - Every family has its skeletons.
"The Snout" By Matthew Pegg - Jon Darkness meets The Gnawer at the Threshold.
"Alien Dust" By Chelsea Nolen - The latest alien abductee isn't getting probed.
"Outsourcing" By Gary Piserchio & Frank Tagader - If you can code in your sleep, these guys still have you beat.
"The Demon of City Hall" By Rosalind Barden - A troll doll is the first victim of demonic activity in an unimportant government office.
"Sadie's Selkie" By C.A. Rowland - A selkie's kiss can be dangerous, given some allergies.
"Getting A Head" By Joette Rozanski - Troll weddings have unusual party favors.
"Folkesmuir" By John Grey - The village's first director of tourism gives his all to bring in visitors.
"Hell's Working Girl" By Dan Foley - A succubus walks into a bar...
"Unimpressed" By David Neilsen - Summoning eldritch creatures as party entertainment proves ill-advised.
"Stephen, the Well-Adjusted Vampire" By Katrina Nicholson - How can a nice vampire find love, when all the girls prefer his bad-boy brother?
"Beehives of the Dead" By Elizabeth Allen - A woman is buried with the wrong hairdo and takes exception.
"The Other Half" By A. Steven Clark - A doctor has a sure-fire vaccine to prevent zombism.
"Dead to Write" By Chantal Boudreau - The alternative to ghost writers.
Logan Zachary (www.loganzacharydicklit.com) lives in Minneapolis, MN and has over a hundred erotic stories in print. Calendar Boys is a collection of his short stories. Big Bad Wolf is an erotic werewolf mystery set in Northern Minnesota and its sequel GingerDead Man is due out in January 2015. His stories can be found in several collections, including: Beach Bums, Sexy Sailors, Black Fire, Brief Encounters, Biker Boys, Rough Trade and The Spy Who Laid Me.
Just so everyone knows, Logan's story in Strangely Funny II has erotic overtones, but it's not X-rated. I'm sure some of you are disappointed by that news.
In "Catting Around", a meeting takes place where neither party is what he seems to be at face/fur value.
From "Catting Around", by Logan Zachary:
I came home late one night from the bar and saw the big tomcat standing by my back step. There was a patch of blood along his right side, a dark crimson/black slash across his yellow tiger-striped body. There was a bare spot on top of his head and a nick was taken out of his left ear, clotted with blood. The night was close, and the day’s heat still radiated off the concrete. My T-shirt and cut offs clung to my skin from my sweat and humidity.
“You poor guy”, I said as I saw him. “Are you okay?” I bent down to scratch his neck.
The cat arched his muscular back and rubbed up against my hairy leg, sending shivers up my leg, all the way up my spine.
What was this strange reaction? I know I didn’t drink much at the bar. I looked up at the moon, almost full but not quite. Two days to go. I could feel my nerves raw under my skin in the moonlight, itching, prickling wherever it touched me.
I knew how this poor fellow felt. “Did you need something to eat? Drink?” I dug into my pocket and pulled out my keys. I unlocked the back door, and the cat darted into my house. I grew up with dogs my whole twenty-five years on this earth, and after my camping accident, I haven’t owned a pet.
I flipped on the light to check on where my guest ran to.
The golden tom sat in the middle of the kitchen looking at the refrigerator.
I opened the door and pulled out the bottle of milk and a cold beer. A bowl dried in the rack by the sink, and I poured some milk into it and set it on the floor.
The cat raced to the bowl and lapped up the milk. His pink tongue dipped into the cool liquid, and he drank quickly.
I opened the cupboard and found a can of tuna and opened it. I tipped it over onto a plate and set the plate next to the bowl.
The cat stopped drinking and eyed the pink cylinder of fish. He slowly approached and took a small bite. He looked up at me and gobbled the rest down.
I filled a glass with cold water and drank it as I watched the cat eat. I kicked off my shoes and set them by the back door.
The tom cat looked over at me as I bent over. He watched me intently.
I looked back at him as I lined up my shoes. I could feel my tight shorts cling to my backside and I looked back at the cat.
His green eyes glowed in the kitchen light. His pupils dilated.
Was he checking me out? I looked underneath him and noticed he was a big old tom. He must know which way I swung.
Anna Taborska is a British filmmaker and horror writer. She has written and directed two short films (Ela and The Sin), two documentaries (My Uprising and A Fragment of Being) and a one-hour television drama (The Rain Has Stopped), which won two awards at the British Film Festival Los Angeles in 2009. Anna also worked on seventeen other films, and was involved in the making of two major BBC television series: Auschwitz: the Nazis and the Final Solution and World War Two behind Closed Doors – Stalin, the Nazis and the West.
Anna’s short stories have appeared in various anthologies, including Best New Writing 2011, Best New Werewolf Tales Vol.1, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Four, The Best British Horror 2014 and Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume One. Anna’s short story "Bagpuss" was an Eric Hoffer Award Honoree, and the screenplay adaptation of her story "Little Pig" was a finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival Screenplay Competition, 2009. Anna’s debut short story collection, For Those who Dream Monsters, was released by Mortbury Press in 2013, with a novelette collection (working title Bloody Britain) to follow.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I come from a film-making background. The process of making a film is lengthy. It starts with writing a screenplay and, if funding is not forthcoming, often ends there – with an unproduced screenplay that only a handful of people ever read. While trying to find a producer for my film projects, I started writing horror short stories and, in November 2013, Mortbury Press (home of The Black Books of Horror) published eighteen of them in my first book, For Those who Dream Monsters.
How did you pick the genre you write in?
The world is a cruel and terrifying place, and, if art is supposed to hold a mirror up to nature, then horror is the art form that does it best.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser aspiring to be a plotter. I usually know how my story will begin and end, but my characters often surprise me by doing and saying things that I wasn’t expecting. Usually when I write, I enter what I think of as “the zone”, where I lose time and the words seem to write themselves – that’s my favourite part of the writing experience (I can’t really call it a process, as I frequently don’t have much conscious control over it). I do realise that I need to get my act sorted, take control and start to plot, scheme and outline in a much more orderly fashion.
What do you enjoy reading?
I enjoy reading any type of horror – particularly short stories by my fellow writers. I love the horror classics too, including those by ladies of horror, such as Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson.
In terms of future plans, I am working on a screenplay based on a novelette which will hopefully be published next year in my new UK-based collection. The working title is Bloody Britain, but this might change.
Anna's contribution to Strangely Funny II, "Dirty Dybbuk", is one of the stories from
For Those who Dream Monsters. It's the tale of a straight-laced Jewish girl who is possessed by a spirit with nymphomania. If you like it, check out the rest of the collection. For Those who Dream Monsters is available on Amazon and directly from Mortbury Press in the UK (where you can also view her trailer for it): http://mortburypress.webs.com/forthosewhodreammonsters.htm
You can view Anna’s full résumé here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1245940/, watch her films and book trailers here: http://www.youtube.com/annataborska and learn more about her short stories and screenplays here: http://annataborska.wix.com/horror .
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine writer with over a hundred stories published in ten countries, in four languages, and a winner in the National Space Society’s “Return to Luna” Contest and the Marooned Award for Flash Fiction in 2008. His fiction has appeared in a Pearson High-school Test Cycle in the US, a Bundoran Press anthology, The Rose & Thorn, Albedo One, The Best of Every Day Fiction and others.
His contribution to Strangely Funny II tells the tale of two astronomers who have been stationed alone in the Chilean desert for several months. Everything has become dull until they find themselves held hostage by a dragon. Does he want to eat them? No... he needs them to help him sign up for Facebook.
From "New Hunting Grounds", by Gustavo Bondoni:
“All right,” Ferdinand replied, bending over the keyboard to look at the screen. “There should be a pull-down menu of years to choose from. Here it is. Now what year were you born?”
“Well, that’s the problem, of course. I was born in northern Africa just as Hannibal was sailing for Italy. Of course, I’ve moved since then. But there’s no choice for years before 1900, and besides, I happen to know for a fact that you humans are so dumb that you lost count of the actual years a couple of times in the Middle Ages, so it’s all bunk anyway. What can we do?”
Ferdinand’s mouth fell open in shock; his salvation came from an unexpected source.
“The first thing you’re going to do,” Marko said, appearing from behind the bank of mainframes that had concealed his eavesdropping. “Is to lie about your age. You won’t get any friends at all if you tell them that you’re a dragon old enough to be their grandfather.”
“Technically, I’m much—”
“We won’t get anywhere unless you listen to me,” Marko interrupted. “I can make you popular in a day, famous in three. Now, do you want to bumble through this on your own, or do you want to learn at the knee of the master?”
The dragon looked at Ferdinand, who shrugged. “It’s not what I’d call orthodox, but he does get results – at least online.”
Dubiously, the reptile nodded.
“Good,” Marko said. “Now let’s start with the name.”
“My name is ancient and respected.”
“Are you kidding me? No one is called Tarnetisney. No one. Anywhere. This is the twenty-first century – you’d get beat up for having that kind of name even if you grew up in a yurt in Mongolia. You look like a Jack.” Saying this, he typed ‘Jack Draco’ in the name field, and pressed Enter. “And don’t even get me started on your hobbies. Classifying rocks? Unless you want to be catalogued as the biggest loser on the net, you need to get rid of that pronto. Let’s see…” his eyes lit up and he chuckled to himself. “Skydiving. Yeah, and we wouldn’t even be lying.”
Ferdinand left them to it and went to see if he could find something to eat that hadn’t been in a can for more than a year. Marko’s evil laughter drifted through the once-productive scientific outpost. Ferdinand almost felt sorry for the dragon.
How will this situation end? Will Tarnetisney eat the two astronomers, or will "Jack Draco" make hundreds of Farmville friends? Check out the rest of Gustavo's story for yourself! Strangely Funny II is now available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon, plus several other e-book formats on Smashwords!
We're also giving away three copies on Goodreads - deadline is August 31st!
When she reads a good story, my cohort at MAHLLC usually tells me that I should take a look at it. When she read "Bedroom Bureau", though, Gwen told me I should go ahead and send a contract. I did read it, of course, and I saw what she meant. Today, we interview its author, Gwendolyn Kiste.
How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
Just before writing “Bedroom Bureau”, I had watched “The Sentinel”, a 1970s film about a portal to hell. It’s an underrated horror classic, but it’s also very dark. I thought it might be fun to take a similar premise, but inject humor and levity—including a whole lot of silly bureaucracy—to demons arriving in the human realm. Evil spirits aren’t usually sporting passports and making appointments, so the absurdity of the concept appealed to me.
Plotter or pantser?
I’d like to say plotter all the way, but if I’m being completely honest, my writing incorporates a bit of both. Plotting does help to keep me focused, but I enjoy the spontaneity from just writing on the fly and seeing where it goes.
Which author do you most admire, and why?
Shirley Jackson. Her ability to perceive darkness in the mundane of everyday life was so astute and ahead of her time. Plus, her language and characters are so richly imagined. I return to “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” again and again just to visit the Blackwood estate. Though there’s nothing overtly supernatural at play, it’s the most darkly magical novel I’ve ever read. I want a best friend like Merricat (though I’d be careful never to take sugar in my tea). Also, if you look into Shirley Jackson’s life, she had to deal with a lot of adversity in her family’s hometown, including injustice not so dissimilar from the townspeople in “The Lottery”. It’s always inspiring to see writers transform their personal hardships into indelible stories.
Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
Loch Ness. Although I doubt Nessie would make an appearance, it would be fun to have a picnic there and just watch. You never know! I could get an awesome blurry image!
Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Twentieth century horror stories are my favorites. Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and, of course, Shirley Jackson inspire me every single day.
Thanks for talking with us!
With parents who married on Halloween and read her Bradbury stories long before she started kindergarten, Gwendolyn Kiste considers horror, fantasy, and all things strange to be her birthright. Her genre editorials appear regularly on sites such as Horror-Movies.ca and Micro-Shock, and she is the resident “weird wanderer” for the travel-centric Wanderlust and Lipstick. With a background in cinema and theatre, she has written and directed several feature-length and short horror films, and her plays have been produced as part of the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. An Ohio native, she currently resides in the wilds of Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and cat, McQueen.
Check out Gwendolyn's story for yourself in Strangely Funny II, plus twenty other hilarious stories! Strangely Funny II is now available in print and Kindle formats on Amazon, plus several other e-book formats on Smashwords!
We're also giving away three copies on Goodreads - deadline is August 31st!
We are disgustingly pleased to announce that Ha-Ha! Horror, the first single-author collection we published, won in the Humor category at the President's Awards banquet for the Florida Authors & Publishers Association.
Did we know we had a winner? Yes, we did, because we were familiar with Monstermatt's work before the MAHLLC bat was even born. We knew he was talented, he was funny, and he would work like a demon to get things right. All we needed to do was present his art and (admittedly godawful) jokes in the best format possible.
We are so very, very proud of you, Matt. Thanks for publishing with us.
Mystery and Horror, LLC, is an indie press interested in what the name suggests.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org