Punch review by: Mandy Tyra

 

Oh, my god. I am gutted….                                                                                                                 Just…. gutted from J.R. Park’s strikingly realistic, dramatically powerful portrayal of a good and honest man pushed and pulled (head first) over the brink of his sanity.
Martin Powell is a broken man, his hopes and dreams cruelly crushed years ago, 10 years ago to be exact, he’s been ‘away’ for 10 long gruelling torturous years, away from his home in the idyllic seaside town of Stanwick Sands where he ran the popular Punch and Judy show.
He loved children, he loved performing, he loved life, he was a great puppeteer and his booth was a show stopping spectacle with the kiddos, and adults.
With flashback pieces peppered throughout, you quickly get up to speed on the where’s, how’s, and why’s regarding our Mr. Powell and his going-ons of the past decade.

Now, back in town simply to get his affairs in order, mainly fix up his old house so he can sell it and move on with his damaged destitute life, elsewhere.
Well, ‘simple‘ doesn’t take too kindly to him, once the townsfolk pick up on his scent.
Even the paper runs a frontpage ‘announcement’.
Small town close-knit communities really can be a fickle rabid bitch and he’s met with a hateful vigor.
Buuuut, he’s trying his damnedest to not let it bother him, the carnival is in town that week and he’s feeling all nostalgic, plus, he’s met himself a gal. She really fancies him and he’s really feeeling good for the first time in ages.
Sadly, the bothers get beyond bothersome, they get downright violent, which breeds more violence.
Ya know, even the most pleasant, sweet-natured, and forgiving man has his limits, you can only bend, twist, and wretch someone so much, before an inevitable snap into a dozen schizophrenic pieces befalls.

So now, a little revival is in show stopping store for the residents of Stanwick Sands.
YEP, Mr. Powell is gonna host his own happy reunion welcome back party. The Punch and Judy show is baaaack, with a few new puppeteer characters.
Gotta keep up with the times and give the public what they want, what they deserve….

OH man, does this gets brutal in the 2nd half!!

You will flat-out loathe quite a few of these characters but never Martin, even after all the eye-popping (gouging) and stomach turning (…disemboweling) atrocious acts he ‘performs’, you still can’t find fault in him. Especially when it comes to a couple of horrid young women….prissy little twunts.

They’ve taken everything from him; his years, his life, his entire livelihood, including his spirit and now finally, his sanity.
You care and feel for him. Aaand then you hoop, rally, and cheer him on in this little purging punitive comeuppance exhibition of his.
I felt so dirty, yet it was quite cleansing.

This book affected me deeply, I can’t shake it off, I’m trying but the whiplash is affecting me more. Oh it just made me sick, all the juvenile injustices, so unfair….just tragic. Made my blood boil!
I felt like I was right there going through all that with Martin.
The cringing, the crying, and of course, the gagging…yea, I went a bit batshit over this suckerPunch of a book. And it was actually uncomfortable to read at times, I had to take little breaks.
That’s ALL due to Mr. Park’s amazingly captivating, all-consuming (all-inclusive) writing style.
It’s totally absorbing, you just get soaked right into it….through it
Whisked away into this cathartic retributive tale in this coastal town as if it’s a virtual reality feature playing on the 4D screen. Could even smell the salty air.
I actually read in the acknowledgments that this was originally written as a script for a movie!?
Make that happen Mr. Park!!
Bryan Cranston would make for a perfect lead, a little older but considering what the character has gone through, premature aging would fit well.
OR, if you insist on a British bloke, I vote Gary Oldman. Oh Yeah!

I simply cannot believe this book is not more popular, come on people, what’s the deal ~ READ IT, live in it, dream in it. So what if you get a vivid nightmare or two….
No seriously, if you want an incredibly well written and deeply profound, plus yucky gross book ~ THEN THIS IS IT!! 😀
I LOVE it when a book (i.e. phenomenal author) has the power to suck, errr..soak you in like this.
Definitely (and defiantly) one of my favorite recent reads and I read bunches.
Creepy as hell cover too.

Terror Byte shall be my next read from him, about a killer computer program….it might be a tad bit over my head because I am a self professed (ok, majority professed) cyber-tard but hey, I may learn a thing or two. Possible don’t gotta be plausible…right???….. :/ Lol

 

You can get the book here:

 

Getting even more personal with Lisa Vasquez

There is no questions that Lisa Vasquez is a terrifically talented lady. She runs Stitched Smile Publications and also is an amazing writer and makes some of the best book covers around.I am super proud to know her, work with her and be her friend and beta reader. If you have not read anything she has written you are making a HUGE mistake. I highly recommend The Unfleshed one of her newest books. it will have you turning pages and feeling very uncomfortable in your own skin. She is truly passionate about everything she does and is always all in for anything. She is also a mom, grandma and wife and how she finds time to do all she does I will never know. She has helped countless writers just starting out and some established ones as well. She is a diamond in the Indie Book world. Thank you for all you do! You are much-loved and respected.

 

 
1. It’s been awhile since we talked what new books do you have out now? Latest release?
Yes it has! Thanks for having me back on Roadie Notes! Recently, I released The Unfleshed: Tale of the Autopsic Bride and I had a short included in Kevin J. Kennedy’s Collected Christmas Shorts

2. If you could pick any author alive or dead to have lunch with who would it be? Why?
I would definitely pick Anne Rice. She’s an accomplished author and Renaissance woman, in my eyes. She is a voice to her fans, she interacts with them, she has grace and intelligence. We seem to have a lot in common as far as interests…I think it would be an amazing lunch date.

3. What is the strangest thing a fan has ever done?
Thankfully, I don’t have of those weird tales to tell. My fans are weird in a good way. But they haven’t done weird “things” toward me, lol.

4. What is the one thing you dread to do when writing?
Editing! Ugh…you think you caught all those annoying hiccups only to find a fat, red ribbon of corrections across your words, haha!

5. Did you have imaginary friends growing up? Tell me about them
Imaginary? No. Ghosts? Probably. Voices? More than likely. I’m sort of a private person when it comes to my past and my childhood. We had some really hard times. Some things are just better left forgotten. However, suffice it to say, I had dolls that were lifelike.

Once time, my father (who was big into Film and Horror) acquired one of those Charlie ventriloquist dolls? (Already shuddering) and he was showing it to me. Well, as a young girl I’m sure the wide eyes could’ve been mistaken for awe, but in reality it was extreme fear. I don’t remember how, but it ended up where that night when I was in bed, the doll was there, too. I don’t remember if I brought it there or if it was given to me. What I do remember was that Charlie didn’t make it.

The next morning my parents woke up and Charlie’s head was popped off and his stuffing was everywhere. I told them he tried to kill me.

6. Do you go to conventions? If not why?
I have been to a few, they are stupid expensive. It’s a long couple days to be sitting in one spot in folding chairs. It’s such a bit of work to lug tons of books and swag through elevators and back doors and parking a mile away. However, I love conventions and most times it’s worth it.

7. How many times did you have to submit your first story before it was accepted?
Four times before I started Stitched Smile Publications and got the rights back to one so I could have it re-edited and polished to my standards.

8. Ever consider not writing? If so what made you continue?
No, never. That’s like asking me not to breathe.

9. Ever thought about writing in a different category?
Yes, quite a bit. Then I decided to hybrid them. So I write Dark Fantasy, or Dark Science Fiction 🙂

10. Any new additions to the family?
Indeed! My beautiful grandson Aiden to my son James and his wife Selena. He’s my Mogwai!

11. What is coming up next for you?
I have one novel, two novellas, a few short stories, and another project I won’t mention yet, underway.

12. Do you do release parties? Do you think they work?
I do them, yes. Do they work? That depends on what you mean. Do they solicit a lot of sales? Not generally but it’s about the die-hard, loyal fans. We would not be where we are without them so we give back in that way.

13. Do you have crazy stalker fans? Have you ever had one you wish would go away?
No, not really. I have some wonderful fans and they are very respectful. I guess I’m either too scary or I put off a vibe?

14. Do you still have a “day job” ? If so what do you do?
Day job is watching Mogwai and Stitched Smile Publications.

15. What is your process for writing? Do you have a voice in your head?
Oh…there are so many voices in my head. Alter egos fight for the spotlight all the time. And since I can change moods on a good breeze, what I write depends on who’s captain of the ship that day.

As for the process, I need quiet. If I don’t have quiet, the voices become like static. All of them jumbled into un-discernible sounds. I hear them, I just can’t make out the words. When there is quiet, they come through like a calm dictation. A friend telling another friend a story. Soft music is ok. It has to be appropriate to the mood. My vape (I quit smoking but I vape to satisfy the hand-habit) and a drink (water or coffee depending on time of day…sometimes I treat myself to tea).

16. Is there a book you want to make a sequel to you haven’t yet?
I want to make the sequel to Unsaintly as soon as I get the first one shined up. The Unsaintly was created to be a series, so I’m itching to get that one out.

If you like short reads, my newsletter will feature a novella piece by piece and will ONLY go to newsletter readers until it’s published — whenever that will be. I want to give something back to the ones that support me the most. So if you like being treated like an Elite, go sign up today! http://www.unsaintly.com

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/lisavasquezofficial/?ref=bookmarks

https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Vasquez/e/B00MF34PFQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490061361&sr=8-1

Stitchedsmilepublications.com

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Gristle and Bone review by: Mandy Tyra

 

 

Duncan Ralston is Start Raving Rad!!
Hot Damn, I just continue to be impressed by this author, reigning from up above.
In Canada.After reading his jaw dropping, extremely intricate, highly engaging and darkly humorous novella Woom ( back to back, it warrants it, demands it ) which also happens to be one of my top reads for 2016, I debated on what of his to read next and decided on this, because it’s 7 short stories.
Over 360 (or approx 275 depending on if you’re going by Goodreads or Amazon…) pages total!
Oh so filling, sooo girthy. I wanted to sample more from him, all across his imaginative, polished, and sharply cracked spectrum before diving into a full novel.
And he didn’t just bring it, he took it. It’s gone…
YEP, takes that cake aaand as long as he didn’t make it himself, I reckon I’ll have seconds… and thirds. I’m a glutton.

With an insightful and charming introduction by Chris Hall, that fantastic reviewer over at DLS reviews. Hmmm I wonder what the DLS stands for…
I can’t even think up a semi clever pun for that one.

I included Kindle page counts for each BUT they are rough count page cuts, I counted them myself so, huge margins of error.
My abacus may need an alignment.

Baby Teeth ~ 12
Candace and Joel find out she is unable to conceive, which sends her down a depressing downward/wayward spiral. She wants so bad to be a mom, craves it. Now, no more desire for sex AND she takes up old lady hobbies. Overall, just adopting a real lackadaisical phoning it in approach to life until….well, something gets her number and forces a proactive pep in her monotonous step.
It’s easy to see why this one is the shortest of the bunch but DAMMITT, I wanted more, more of Candace in the throes of her fruitless woes and how she copes.
I oddly could relate to her. Well, not the barren part….all those bits and pieces have worked, a bit too well.

Beware of Dog ~ 55
Dean has had some anger issues. In his mid 30’s and back living at home since he was dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces following an aggressive/turned violent/turned awol episode. He’s ordered to take some therapy, thankfully it’s with long time family friend, Dr. Timothy Baswell. He sees no real use for it, other than getting it over with but to his surprise ‘Uncle Tim’ helps him have a breakthrough. It all stems from his early years, trio of despicable bullies, and a puppy dog love crush. Yea, being back in his hometown, and running into all his old friends and foes is the beast thing that could have happened to our Dean to come to terms with his rabid demons.
Alot going on in this one and you really have no idea it’s true direction but you’ll enjoy the ‘seemingly’ aimless venture and holy hell what an ending!!!!

Viral ~ 40
Tara is a kind of emotionally crippled, no notable relationships with anyone. She’s very guarded and closed off. Works the music column at the Toronto Herald, she’s unfulfilled and longs for meatier material to sink her journalistic teeth into. Seeing a video online that has gone viral about a depressed and despondent teenage girl, who remarkable, unbelievably….just up and disappears during her candid webcam outpouring. There is no way that was a camera trick, Tara resonates with that girl….she IS that girl. After some slick convincing to her boss, she heads out into the field to correspond with the girl’s family, and friend. She senses a real story here, one that may get her off the tuneless music beat, and she maaay even find herself in the process.
Sad and poignant, such an amazing story. Oh the drama of it all.
I think there is an urban legend about this, the sad bullied teen, just….disappearing.
They already feel so invisible on the outside, who would even notice, right….
GOD, this one really got me, pulled my heartstrings taut, and taunt!

Artifact (#37) ~ 26
A manly group of entrepreneurs….connoisseurs of sleaze, if you will. What’s a group of very able-bodied men to do for a gainful living when they have no real bankable skills. Well, procure a nice sized van and reinvent themselves as cyber porn peddlers. Christening their little dirty jiz biz, The Filthy Lessons Crew, they joyride them streets. With stage names like Mad Bastard and Meat, it’s like the smuttiest of reality shows and their paid female counterparts play their part whole whorily. And it was quite lucrative before the internet porn craze really took off. They are now celebrating their 200th video but one early ‘actress’ is more memorable than the rest, she unfortunately fell victim to an atrocious crime of circumstance while in their charge. It was completely unrelated to them but they were still held accountable in the public eye, they’ve always held themselves accountable too. Her memory continues to haunt them. You can’t help but kind of like these lewd and crude trashy guys. Dispiriting and foreboding with a heavy dose of off-color bawdy.

//End User ~ 29
Mason, conspiracy theorist blogger and loner, wakes up one morning to a strange email. It’s not so much what it says, it’s the fact that it’s to and from himself. Has he been pranked, spammed, hacked, is ‘the man’ watching?? They keep coming and seem to know a little bit too much, even things that haven’t happened yet…
Through the course of the day, he goes through many emotions trying to understand what’s going on. He’s tinker tottering on the edge, has his long-standing paranoia finally driven him to schizophrenia….
Who holds the real power, what is the end game here?
This was quite the little pulse pounding cyber thriller. You don’t know what the hell is going on and can’t wait to find out! Loved the Arnie, They Live, and Marathon Man references.

Fat of the Land ~ 56
Delectably delicious and disturbingly….grody. Just ew, grody…
June and David, happily unmarried couple in Monte Verde California for a wedding.
June comes from money and has a very unpretentious aura about her, turns her nose up at snotty rich entitlements. David does not come from money yet tries to adapt a pretentious entitled aura about him. In an innocent naive way though, she finds it endearing and kind of dorky. Such a cute couple.
June does often hear the nagging voice of unreason from her not so dearly departed bigoted mother though, antagonizing her, trying to keep her toting that birth rite grandiose line.
Getting a recommendation from the hotel desk clerk about an upscale, referred reservation only restaurant called Ambrosia, they head out for what promises to be a romantic and eclectic fine dining experience. Should have stuck with McD’s drive thru.
This one made me soooo hungry, Duncan’s excellent mouth-watering descriptions of food, OMG, I had to take a break and make me something savory. UNTIL, he pulled back that tainted false curtain, then my savory treat came back up, from whence it went down.
Bravo for that bit of aversion therapy ~ bulimia style.
This one gets crazy with a hell of a lot going on from a missing groom, an odd whaaat denominational church, old world prejudices, a strange mythic script, and underground caverns. Flat out loved all the couple’s bantering framework and that slow burn ~ where the hell is this going ~ build up.

Scavengers ~ 97
Jim and Leanne were restaurant owners late in life, tired of their normal daily grind business like jobs in the small town of Knee High. They are successful and serve delicious food that brings ’em in from all over. Very nice, honest, and reliable couple. Well, some things come to light ~ ooor to the dark ~ that drive Jim a bit batty, he doesn’t like anything going on in his restaurant’s back alley. A little investigating and he uncovers more than just the random, harmless scavenger. Their lives snowball into blackmail, bartering, conspiracy theories and espionage.
Neighbor, long time friend and accountant for the couple tells their tale, in written form, to best of his secondhand (fill in the gaps) ability.
How interesting, what a unique approach to storytelling.
This is creepy crawly and will make you think twice, do a double take when you hear something rustling out back by your garbage bins. Could it be…..
This one was a novella, almost a 100 pages, perfect little mystery with an excellent hair-raising, freakish factor going for it. Again, loved that POV style!

And there you have it, 7 diverse, fantastic, and unique stories.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry. You’ll binge, you’ll purge. Very very easy to get lost in these stories.
Awesome title too; Gristle and Bone. Because a lot of characters find themselves stuck rut in the middle of a gnawed off sinewy tough spot and a rock hard endo aaand exo place.

So hard to believe that this was his first published work! He’s a natural.
And quite…unnatural. Yea, he is finely tuned and calibrated to precision, more than capable of wooing us with his spitfire charm, yet he is also slightly unhinged. All the best ones are!!!

So much depth, none of these stories were an A to B kind of tale. They are all over the goddamn alphabet!! Foreign alphabets too, I’d wager.
Lots of layers I notice in ALL his stories, Woom and all those interconnecting tales as well, he’s like a ginormous bulbous onion, but not one of them sweet vidalia onions.
No, ain’t no sweet in them bitter eye burning layers. Plenty of sour though and a touch of ripe but oh so savory sauteed with a side of liver and a bottle of red.

Viral and //End User I pictured as episodes of that fantastic Black Mirror show. Perfect perfect fit.
A younger Hilary Swank circa ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ would be a shoe-in for Viral and I imagined a scruffy Elijah Wood in //End User. He pulls off that deer in the headlights paranoid look very well.
Artifact (#37) would fit the tone of that show too, I got a couple old boyfriends who would be dead ringer excellent as the brothers.
Yea, Duncan needs to get in contact with that Charlie Brooker chap, dinner and a lot of drinks, they could hammer and nail it all out. 😀

“…the one which reminds us we all walk a tightrope between sanity and madness, a rope that is both slippery and barbed. The odds are not stacked in our favor.”
Helpful tip: for optimal ~and stable~ enjoyment, it’s best to craft yourself in the art of tap, and tip toe, when strutting across a tightly woven yet jagged and edgy Ralston branded tightrope.
Happy and safe reading to all.

Ralston has a permanent home on my Kindle that’s for sure!!

What next from him, there are quite a few tasty choices. Savages, about a flooded town in a haunted lake and a grieving brother searching for answers or maybe I’ll soak up more short stories in Sweat and Blood. Guess I’ll just have to flip a coin.

Getting personal with Daniel Marc Chant

Daniel Marc Chant is an author of strange fiction. His passion for H. P. Lovecraft & the films of John Carpenter inspired him to produce intense, cinematic stories with a sinister edge.

Daniel launched his début “Burning House” in 2015, swiftly following with the Lovecraft-inspired “Maldición.” His most recent books “Mr. Robespierre”, “Aimee Bancroft and The Singularity Storm” and “Into Fear” have garnered universal praise.

He has featured in the anthology collections “Cthulhu Lies Dreaming” from Ghostwoods Books, “Death By Chocolate” from KnightsWatch Press, “VS.” from Shadow Work Publishing and “Bah! Humbug!” from Matt Shaw Publishing, and the upcoming “The Stars at My Door” from April Moon Books.

Daniel also created “The Black Room Manuscripts” a charity horror anthology & is a founder of UK independent genre publisher The Sinister Horror Company. Please welcome Daniel Marc Chant to Roadie Notes……

 

 

1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?

I would have been around nine or ten at a guess. I was certainly in the later years of Primary School here in the U.K. During those formative years I was very interested in the Fighting Fantasy series of books as well as tabletop fantasy gaming. I remember writing a series of stories based around a burly Orc warrior named Grogan who was always caught up in some hapless adventure that required his specific brand of violence. No doubt inspired by early watching’s of Conan. Sadly Grogan’s adventures weren’t that great, but they do still exist somewhere in my parents attic. Along with my soul.

2. How many books have you written?

Well it depends on whether you count released and unreleased? Released I have Burning House, Maldicion, Mr. Robespierre, Aimee Bancroft and The Singularity Storm, Into Fear and One Girl Army – so that’s seven. Unreleased (but practically finished) I have Devil Kickers and Incarnate so that’s another two. All in all nine. Not a bad tally.

3. Anything you won’t write about?

Sexual violence and animal cruelty. I’m no prude but I couldn’t personally use those subject matters and write a convincing tale that would justify their inclusion. Other writers have done so masterfully but I know I would struggle with it, and therefore it’s not for my fiction. I’ll leave that to others. My style is a cocktail of 80’s nostalgia, Lovecraftian mythos and John Carpenter homage.

4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…

I’m 38 years young (he says with bones that crack every morning) and I live in Bath, Somerset U.K. with my girlfriend Christian Lourenco (yes, she does have a boy’s name, she’s half-French). No kids, never wanted any and luckily nor did Christian so we’re good on that front! During the day I am a mild-mannered office worker in the world of finance (there’s a far lengthier explanation of what I do, but it makes most people’s eyes glaze over so I’ll stick to that).

5. What’s your favorite book you have written?

I would have to say Mr. Robespierre. It’s the encapsulation of the 80’s style horror that I adore as well as being a love letter to my good lady Christian. The little girl Chrissy is based on her, and her parents Dom and Sandy are based on her real parents. The book is full of little details and nods to incidental things that I think help flesh it out to be a believable slice of unbelievability. It all happened because I had just finished Maldicion and I (foolishly) asked her what she would like to read about in a book by me. Her response was, “cats, ghost, Madonna and me,” in that order. And so Mr. Robespierre was born.

6. Who or what inspired you to write?

Many things. I fit within your typical horror author stereotype in the fact that I didn’t have a great experience during my school years (bullying and shit like that – don’t worry, I’m fine) so that led me to find escapism in other avenues. Books, comic books, films, and music became the universes that I would escape to. And the more you escape to a universe the more you want to be part of it, so you start creating elements to contribute towards it. At first clumsy fan-fiction and then as it develops you go further down the rabbit hole. The lightning bolt came when I first read H. P. Lovecraft at an impressionable age. His concepts really resonated with me, and still do to this day.

7. What do you like to do for fun?

I watch far too many movies. Far too many movies. And also I’m an avid gamer. For more socially acceptable pastimes I do love to cook and am fucking good at it, if I do say so myself. I blame the expectations of a half-French girlfriend.

8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?

Think it’s all shit and cry alone. Does that count?

9. Where do you write? Quite or music?

I write at a table in my flat on a Samsung laptop. I always write to music. I cannot do it any other way. It’s always orchestral music too. Sometimes classical, sometimes film scores, sometimes video game scores, and other times just an eclectic mix of whatever Spotify throws at me. I tend to create a ‘mood’ playlist of stuff though and then play that. So for Maldicion it was all brooding pieces, Devil Kickers was Southern Blues, Mr. Robespierre was synth and so on.

10. Anything you would change about your writing?

I pride myself on being a B-movie writer. What I mean by that is that I like to think of my work as self-contained little stories, like movies, that you’d find at the rental stories of my youth. You’d pick them up, watch them and have a laugh or a jump scare and then job done. I’m not, and never will be, the award-winning author whose works transcends the genre. I write monster books.

But the flip-side to that is that my scope can sometimes feel limited to me as I tend to be drawn to throw monsters in everything. And I mean everything. I’m not a master of subtlety and think I’ve got some work to do to in time to turn the dial down, rather than up, when a story gives an opportunity.

But still. Monsters.

11. What is your dream? Famous writer?

As I said above I have no aspirations to be the next Stephen King or whatever. I just want to write an entertaining yarn. If I make somebody lose themselves in the world I created for a few hours then that’s job done. I couldn’t be happier. In an ideal world I’d like to see a film or two based on something I’ve done but a boy’s got to dream right?

12. Where do you live?

Bath, Somerset U.K. A quaint little place that I love dearly. I’m not from here originally, I hail from a place called Gillingham, Dorset (which is also where Justin Park comes from funnily enough).

13. Pets?

None. And it breaks my heart! I adore animals. Where we live we are unable to have pets because British rental rules are random. You can have a screaming, shit spewing child that draws on the walls but you can’t have a cat that will sleep most of the day.

14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Monsters. And like I mentioned earlier I like to think of myself as a vendor of B-movie fiction and, being a fan of B-movie fiction, I like that my work does that.

15. What is coming next for you?

One Girl Army my young adult style novella is released on February 4th. That’s been a long time coming and is about a young woman whose relationship breaks down after she’s disovered her partner is cheating on her. She attends therapy (much to her dislike) to try to help and during these sessions each of her emotions takes physical form in her mind, kind of like Scott Pilgrim, and she must battle them to try and manage her depression and anxiety.

Incarnate is also imminent. It’s subtitled ‘a monstrous faerie tale’ and is an action adventure tale inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro with my own twist. As with most of my stuff it features a female protagonist (I blame Aliens) trying to save her boyfriend from other-worldly horrors while being assisted by a demonic magic mirror.

Thanks for having me Becky! It’s been a blast!

You can connect with Daniel Marc Chant here:
Twitter: @danielmarcchant,

facebook/danielmarcchant.

Sinister Horror Company – http://sinisterhorrorcompany.com/

Daniel Marc Chant author page – Author.to/DMC

A few of Daniel Marc Chant’s books:

Cipher review by: Mandy Tyra

Cipher is Keane’s 2nd super scary customized tale for his All Tied Up With String collection and it’s allll about the mad love for the video game ~ VR style ~ a virtual in your face/out-of-body experience.

And next up for the Total Annihilation catered mistreatment is another long time personal mate of his named Jamie Stow. Yea, he really puts him ‘threw’ the gamut.

Ya know, I do believe our Mr. Keane is getting quite the therapeutic benefit from this rather personal approach/execution.                                                                                                 Hate to see how he’d, uhhhh…transcribe his enemies ~ EEECK shudders.                            Just kidding, I’D SO LOVE THAT!!

Very charming ~ on the level ~ and frank little intro, yes, gaming is very popular, more so now than ever and I just love how Stuart unabashedly admits to his own profound gamer geekdom. That’s so awesome! Both my sons are voracious little gamers. I wasn’t bit by the bug as an adult but I do understand it’s appeal. It’s all just too damn complex and interactive for me though. Give me old school Mario or Zelda…oh yeaaa, I blazingly 1-up soared through those…collecting princesses, swords, and squirrel suits.                       “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!”. That was riveting pulse pounding ‘the right stuff’ gaming right there!

Cipher clocks in at about 30 pages:

“Computer games are amazing. You never know where you’re going to travel to or what you’re going to find and feel playing them. Each one is different, and I just love the joy of the story at the beginning, middle, and end.” ~ Jamie Stow ~ final<<glitching//lagging>> fantasy words of…

Jamie is a hardcore, no holds barred, obsessive/compulsive type of gamer. Lives and breathes for his video games, this story even up at a hospital, Jamie having suffered a….a game related incident. With a doctor’s warning to ‘take it easy’, he gets home to a gamers delight delivery, something he’s been waiting ages for. The newest state of the art cutting edge virtual reality headgear game-set called Cipher and being the proud and devout beta gamer that he is, he is super stoked to be one of the first lucky ones to check it out. His covert objective is just to play around looking for any kinks, ginks, or bugs.                       He’s game, aaaalways brings his A game.                                                                                                 With no instructions or game guide included, he just dives in blind.                                      Take it easy ~ nah, it’s not in his gamer coded DNA. And he ain’t no n00b but this particular game is a ‘bit‘ more interactive than anything he has ever experienced before. It’s terrifyingly realistic, messes with his senses, and seems to have a handle on him. A real…rough touch.                                                                                                                       And then, there is Charlotte, his long time live in lady-love, she adores Jamie dearly but she’s afraid they are growing apart due to his infatuation with the video game. His consoles are the perpetual ‘other woman’ and she’s tired of competing for his affections.   And holy living hell, that ending was a, well…..gamers beware, this is a virtualistic cautionary tale!!

Prepare for unforeseen consequences ~ Half Life

OK, not saying anymore!!! I’ve set it up, Keane and Jamie will role play it out.

Video game horror is pretty rare on the page, a lot of writers have difficulty adapting their sights into description, but Keane manages it with aplomb. It’s obviously due in no small part to him being such a passionate gamer back in the day, pair that alongside his passionate (level:expert) writing skills and…aplomb ~ it’s the bomb!!                           Flawless Victory.                                                                                                                                           Ah the visuals he created of this innovative, all-encompassing, creepy as all get out game play were vivid and high def graphic. You have no problem immersing yourself in Jamie’s experience, can sense it, feel it, and….unfortunately, smell it. Actually, I should rephrase that; Stuart has NO problem ~ or issue ~ immersing you into his story. I only wish it was longer, he could do so so much more with a full-sized, whole book on par with the excellent Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. He could and should do that! Now.

And HA, I am HIS proud and devout beta. Ohhhh, the parallels, they forebode.     Thankfully, my beta gigging is not quite as combative as poor Jamie’s, especially when Stu accepts my feedback, sans backtalk.

And now for the Q&A portion of my review, where I sit down with Mr. Stow, a bottle of red, and proceed to pick his brain a little, Barbara Walters style, ya know, the ones with the flattering filters.

1.) How do you know the author?

Hi, Mandy. Yeah, I know Stuart from our time together at an insurance call centre. Once we got to know one another, we talked about games, movies etc. and discovered we shared many things in common.

2.) What is your first and/or favorite Keane book?                                                                            My first read was The Customer Is Always…, his debut novella. It’s based in a call centre, and I believe it was inspired by from his time in that environment. It was good to see so many similarities between the page and the actual setting itself, and having worked in it, I connected with the story immediately. I’ve read more books since, and my favourites to this day are Grin and Cine. Both are so gruesome but yet so satisfying when it comes to the characters and the stories etc.. I do have all of Stuart’s books, I just need to get round to reading the next one.

3.) Tell me a little bit about the treasured topic you chose for Keane to utterly desecrate with little or no regard for?                                                                                                                            I love gaming; I’ve been a gamer since I was 4-5 years of age and I’ve been in touch with all the different consoles and games since then. Like movies, they take you away from reality, which is always the charm of such a hobby. My girlfriend actually brought me a VR headset for Xmas and I’m now looking forward to playing loads of new games this year. At the moment, I’m currently playing Resident Evil 7, which is a horror first person game, but I’d love to see some of Stuart’s books turned into video games. That would be awesome!

4.) Are you equal parts disturbed and delighted with your tailor-made tale?                           Yes, Stuart did justice with my story. I loved it;  I was hooked from the second I started reading and couldn’t put it down. Awesome book, and I’d love to be a victim again in any future novels. I was shocked by the ending, and I didn’t expect it but still, it was such a brilliant book. Thanks for picking me for your collection, Stuart.

Cheers to Mr. Stow for playing along and indulging my nosy inquiries. I’m sure your story gave you chills and felt oooh sooo real! And hey, uh, best of luck with your new VR setup, I’m sure you’ll…knock em dead!! 😛                                                                                              I do agree, Cine was brilliant, I feel it’s pretty underrated compared to his other well know titles, deserves more word of mouth. Aaaand I’m pretty mouthy, but all too often….and far too easily ~ tuned out.                                                                                                                                 Pfft tut tut

Up next is B Side bout that good time old time rock and roll, the kind that…soothes the soul (Oh, I’m quite sure….), starring Lorraine Sadler and is due out the end of March!                So, till then. 😉

 

Getting personal with D. Alexander Ward

Please welcome D. Alexander Ward to Roadie Notes……

1. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
I was the tender age of twelve or thirteen, I think, when I wrote “The Thing in the Fog.” Thankfully, that little gem never saw the light of day.

2. How many books have you written?
Two novels and one novella published. One completed novel (Nightjar) in the editing stage and one completed trunk novel I may someday try to make viable. So that’d be five. I’ve also co-edited two books with Doug Murano: Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Shadows Over Main Street.

3. Anything you won’t write about?
There are things I probably shy away from unconsciously—like sexual abuse—but if it’s important to the plot or the character, nothing is off the table as long as I handle it in an appropriate manner.

4. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc...
I’m forty-two years old, married just over ten years, with one child—a daughter—who is in elementary school. I am a partner in a technology business where I also work full-time as an operations manager.

5. What’s your favorite book you have written?
I like them all for different reasons but I’m historically a sucker for haunted houses and haunted people so I’d have to say my most recent book, Beneath Ash & Bone. And the reason is that when I was working the idea of it, I kind of had this aesthetic in my mind, you know? Like a full-sensory vision of what I wanted it to be. And for the most part, its final form is just as I envisioned it. I do that with everything I write but some come closer to the vision than others.

6. Who or what inspired you to write?
I always enjoyed a good story in whatever form it took and after a steady diet of Poe and Lovecraft and King at a young age, I decided I’d like to try my hand at it. Then I kind of fell out of it for many years. Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Threshold and Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box brought me back to dark fiction, though, and inspired me to finally get serious about writing it.

7. What do you like to do for fun?
Other than reading and hanging out with my family, I get a lot of enjoyment out of music—listening to it as well as making it. I also cook a lot, so that’s something else I’m passionate about.

8. Any traditions you do when you finish a book?
Get blackout drunk and howl at the moon? Well, maybe that has happened, but not every time. In truth, I will spend about a day or two wondering if I am really done or not, then I’ll walk away from it for a week or two. Then I come back to it and begin editing. That’s my tradition. And I’m not sure that, for me, the editing process is ever truly finished—even if it’s only in my head.

9. Where do you write? Quiet or music?
I like writing outside whenever possible. I have a specific spot on the back deck at the edge of the woods. Either there or my writing cave in my house.As far as quiet or music, either works for me but I do assemble playlists that capture the mood of certain projects as I am working on them, so I use music more often than not.

10. Anything you would change about your writing?
I’d be faster, leaner, and more precise in my prose. But that comes with time, if it comes at all. I’d also have a better Good Idea vs. Dumb Idea filter to save time.

11. What is your dream? Famous writer?
Well, as a teenager, sure it was. Who wouldn’t want to be circa 1980’s and 90’s Stephen King? But now, I just want to publish as widely as possible and make a bit of money doing it. I think the dream now is to produce quality work that more and more people will read.

12. Where do you live?
I live in central Virginia, outside the city of Richmond. Used to be farms and woods were the defining characteristics of the landscape out here rather than yet another sandwich shop chain or another super grocery or whatever the hell. I sound bitter, don’t I? Well, maybe a little.

13. Pets?
Two cats (one black, one orange) named Mulder and Scully. I badly need another dog in my life, though.

14. What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I really enjoy writing a novel synopsis! No, I’m kidding. Those are horrendous. What I do like is the rush you get when something just clicks… and keeps on clicking. Another is the catharsis you experience when you really scrape at your insides to get something out and onto the page, because if you’re putting a lot of your self into it, it can be frightening at times. Editing can be tedious but that really is where you have the chance make a rough-hewn thing beautiful and seeing that final product is very gratifying.

15. What is coming next for you?
I’m figuring out what the next novel project will be and I have a few smaller things in the hopper as well. Doug Murano and I are finishing up edits on Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2, which comes out later this year. And I am also working on editing an anthology project that will drop in 2018… that I can’t talk about just yet.

A special sample of D. Alexander Ward: 

 

Beneath Ash & Bone, Synopsis

Selburn, Virginia: A quiet backwater town nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the days before the Civil War, Sam Lock keeps the peace as the town sheriff, like his father before him.

That peace is shattered during a raging winter storm when a boy goes missing at Evermore, the sprawling estate of Horace Crownhill and his family. Racing against time and the elements, Sam must mount a desperate search for the child—but what he finds in the snow, and the dark halls of Evermore, are madness … and murder.

As Sam searches for truth in a house poisoned by mysteries and haunted by ghosts, he hopes to weather the storm, but the harrowing secrets he uncovers may prove too terrible to bear. Will he escape with his sanity intact or will the dark presence rumored to hold sway over Evermore claim him as another sacrifice?
Blood Savages (A Blackguards Novel #1), Synopsis
A failed paramilitary assault on a nest of vampires gives a group of monster hunters called the Blackguards a terrifying glimpse of how deadly the bloodsuckers really are. Now, hunted by the ones they failed to kill and on the run from the law, they’re forced to puzzle together the mystery of a strange carcass from colonial times that their ruthless billionaire nemesis will stop at nothing to possess.

With one of their own bitten and mutating into a deadly creature of the night, they race against time as they travel the back roads of the Carolinas in a desperate attempt to save her life. But their journey toward salvation will lead to darker places than they ever could have imagined.

Blood Savages is the first novel in the Blackguards series about a misfit band of Southern heroes with extraordinary abilities. But these ain’t your high-browed superheroes flying invisible jet planes, living in fancy mansions, and sporting glittery spandex getups. The Blackguards drink too much, they tote guns, they drive muscle cars and beat-up trucks. None of them can claim a squeaky clean past and some ain’t even exactly human. But one thing’s for certain; they’ll stand against the denizens of the underworld and the corrupt men that seek to harness its dark powers, fighting the battles that no one else can.

Because, down South, sometimes the heroes are the monsters.
Shadows Over Main Street, Synopsis

What happens when idyllic small-towns, and the simple folk who inhabit them, collide with inexplicable evil borne of a vast and uncaring cosmos?

Imagine a series of stories set in a golden era of American life, where worldly troubles are regarded from a distance, if at all. Hear the buzz of playing cards clipped in children’s spokes echo down quiet lanes. Smell the faint aroma of rich tobacco smoke from an old man’s pipe on a shady boulevard. Listen to the gossip of small towns where everyone knows everyone’s business. Or do they?

Sometimes, deadly secrets lurk out in the barn. Sometimes, unimaginable evil awaits us in the root cellar. Sometimes, we fall under the sway of the Shadows Over Main Street.

Contains stories and poems by: Gary Braunbeck, Nick Mamatas, Josh Malerman, Mary SanGiovanni, Tim Curran, Rena Mason, Lucy A. Snyder, Stephanie Wytovich, Kevin Lucia, Chesya Burke, Brian Hodge, James Chambers, Aaron Polson, T. Fox Dunham, Richard Thomas, Adrian Ludens, Cameron Suey, Lisa Morton, Jay Wilburn, and John Sunseri. Foreword by Ramsey Campbell.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Synopsis

This book is a nominee for the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories–a disturbing journey into the beauty that rests inside the very heart of darkness. Awe meets ache. Terror becomes transcendence.

Regret gives way to rebirth. Fifteen short stories and one poem span nearly every twisted corner of the horror and dark fiction genres. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories features the most celebrated voices in dark fiction, as well as a number of exciting new talents: Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Paul Tremblay, John F.D. Taff, Lisa Mannetti, Damien Angelica Walters, Josh Malerman, Christopher Coake, Mercedes M. Yardley, Brian Kirk, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Amanda Gowin, Richard Thomas, Maria Alexander and Kevin Lucia. Edited by Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward.
With a foreword from Cemetery Dance magazine founder and author Richard Chizmar. Brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

This book had me hooked from the jump! Amazing writing and the story line is to die for. A group of friends out on a hike traverse the wrong land and end up in the clutches of a deranged family hell-bent on cleansing the world of outsiders and sin. One escapes and makes it to the road where a father and son against their better judgement pick her up and take her to the local doctor to be patched up. The doctor is a kind older man who runs a small clinic out of his home. He fixes her up as best he can but tells them she really needs to go to the hospital. They don’t want involved anymore than they already are so they go home. Meanwhile the family has figured out that the girl has escaped and in doing so has killed one of their own. Now the search is on. The crazy family set off to find the girl after one of the boys followed her far enough to find out who picked her up. The father and son make it home and after a short while the father sends the boy to the doctors with instructions to take her to the hospital in the city away from the town where she can get the help she needs and will be safe. While the boy is doing that the family arrives at the farm-house to pay them a visit. What happens next I won’t tell you because you really just need to read the book.

There will be blood ahead and loads of tears. Twists and turns you won’t expect abound. Does she make it home? Does the family get away with the killing? Do they get caught? This book has it all thrills, chills, blood, guts and gore. I can’t recommend it enough!! Best advice read this book you won’t be sorry you did!

 

You can purchase the book here: