Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Visit with Patrick Freivald: Bram Stoker Nominee

Join me as I interview Patrick Freivald, Bram Stoker nominee and fellow HWA member. Welcome to Zombiegirl Shambling! Here's some lemonade...whoops. Sorry about that. Let me wipe the blood off that glass for you.

All where did I put that tray of ladyfingers... Not real ones silly. Patrick, put down the chair. Look, I'm standing over here with a pen and paper. Perfectly harmless...Come on now. We have guests who want to know about your newest books...

The Interview:

1. How did you get started writing horror?

I've been writing for most of my life, but didn't really start writing with an intent to publish until 2008 or so, when my twin brother Phil said, "Dude, we should write a book." So we did. BLOOD LIST isn't horror per se, though it has some horrific elements to it. From there, my natural fondness for things that aren't quite right took over. Even when I don't write horror, things I write tend to have something dark about them.

2. What about YA do you enjoy?

The funny thing is that I never intended TWICE SHY or LOVE BITES to be YA. I mean, some really, truly awful things happen in both books--things a lot of parents wouldn't be all that comfortable with their kids reading. But I guess when your protagonist is in high school, or of high school age, it's YA, dammit.

As a high school teacher, teenagers amuse me--sometimes on purpose, often not. I have an over-developed sense of irony, and I very much enjoy my job. So go figure I'd end up writing about young adults in some of my work.

3. Music or no music?

While writing? Absolutely not, for two reasons: one, I enjoy music too much and would get distracted. Two, I use voice recognition to write, and the sound would mess it up.

Otherwise? I enjoy a lot of genres, but selectively within those genres. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Halestorm, Imogen Heap, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

4. Name three things on your desk right now.

I don't have a desk. Which is to say I have two, but never use them for anything but storage. I write at either the kitchen or the dining room table, most of the time--and by "at the table" I mean while pacing back and forth. I rarely sit while writing, unless I'm in an environment too noisy to use VR, in which case I'll type like a normal person. Not to dodge the question, my current writing surface, the kitchen table, has a cup of tea (black, with my honey), a sleeping and very fat and fluffy white cat, and my laptop on it.

5. What kinds of characters do you most love to write about?

Well that's an odd question. I like to write characters, and they vary quite a bit. From serial killers to self-destructive teens to superhuman commandos to retired old men in witness protection through no fault of their own, each is fun to write in their own way. My favorite character of all time has yet to hit a published story, and that's a man who's convinced that he's dead and in hell, despite the fact that he's actually just a rather ordinary virtuoso violinist--it's fun to write scenes from his perspective, because of how he'll interpret the actions of those around him.

6. Tell us about your new book.

BLOOD LIST is about a serial killer trying to save his father's life. It's the first novel I wrote, but the most recently published (November). In May, JADE SKY hits Amazon--it's on preorder now--and it's a screaming-fast, brutal, modern fantasy thriller about superhuman commandos.

7. Hamburger or sushi?

Yes, please! I don't understand why people consider broccoli to be food, but other than that will eat almost anything and enjoy it. I like food, I like to cook, I like to eat!

8. What is one pet peeve you see in horror today? What would you like to see more?

Horror to me isn't a genre, it's an emotion. Lots of books can contain horror, but no books "are" horror. So in that sense, there are entire swathes of stories I have no interest in--mutilation porn like SAW, rape/revenge fantasy, etc. Generally, the things that try only to shock hold no interest for me. 

I read a lot of Z-fic for a while, to the point where I was writing reviews for, and with zombie stories there's a stagnation that really started to turn me off, where they're all about one of two scenarios: the apocalypse is happening and people are trying to survive, or the apocalypse has happened at some point in the past, and people are trying to survive. There are exceptions, or sufficiently good twists: Jonathan Maberry's introspective YA ROT AND RUIN series, Joe McKinney's things-are-mostly-contained THE CROSSING (and related stories), Dana Fredsti's Buffy-the-Zombie-Slayer PLAGUE TOWN, PLAGUE NATION, and I-can't-wait-for-it-to-come-out PLAGUE WORLD, David Moody's understated and almost calm AUTUMN...I'd like to think I nailed something pretty unique with TWICE SHY and SPECIAL DEAD, too! ...but these are the exceptions, not the rule.

What I'd like to see more of is the same thing that I think most everyone wants to see more of: quality stories that either make you think or entertain you so much that you don't care if you're not thinking too hard. Well written, well edited, character-driven stories that engage. Beyond that, what else could you want?

9. What advice would you give someone just starting out in the horror field?

Don't start out "in the horror field". Write what you write, and let other people classify it.

Other than that, my advice is the same as I've given to a lot of other writers: write a lot, make it the best you can, and use as few words as possible.

10. What is next on your writerly platform?

JADE SKY got picked up for a five-book deal, so I've got four more to write. I'm collaborating with Joe McKinney on a comic for Dark Discovery Magazine using JADE SKY's setting, just started collaborating with Brian Knight on an as-yet-amorphous probably YA novel, and would like to write at least six short stories and another novel on top of all that this year. We'll see how close we get!

Editing blog:


 Patrick Freivald is an author, teacher (physics, robotics, American Sign Language), and beekeeper. He lives in Upstate New York with his beautiful wife, two birds, two dogs, too many cats, and several million stinging insects. A book reviewer for, he’s always had a soft spot for slavering monsters of all kinds. He is the author of JADE SKY, BLOOD LIST (with his twin brother Phil), TWICE SHY, and the Bram Stoker Award(R)-nominated SPECIAL DEAD, as well as many short stories.


No authors or women's fingers were maimed or dismembered during the course of this post. Thank you Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions with minimal screaming. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Struck Book Blast

by Clarissa Johal



The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.


Excerpt Two: Long Version

A bolt of blue-white lightning snaked from the sky and hit the ground in front of her. The thunderclap that shattered the air was deafening. Gwynneth slammed on her brakes and skidded. It was a slow skid, or it seemed to be. Spinning around and around in a circle, she felt like she was watching herself from afar. Time felt like it was slowing. Oddly enough, she found herself wondering if there would be white or red flowers on Hannah’s casket. Or maybe none at all.

Gwynneth’s face smacked against the steering wheel. Reality hit her along with the pain. She had forgotten to wear her seatbelt. She pressed her fingers lightly to her throbbing temple and winced. “Shit!” Thankfully, she was in one piece. Gwynneth opened the car door. Lightning lit the area and bathed her senses in a flash of blue-white. Icy rain hit her skin. Stupid! You left your jacket back at the funeral home. She ran around the car and checked all the tires. The back one was flat, and on top of that, her car was quite obviously stuck in a ditch. “Great.” She had no spare tire, she knew that for sure. She also had no idea which way led back to the retirement home. Her headlights cast a weak glow through the rain. Soaked to the skin and shivering, Gwynneth peered into the darkness. A muddy road meandered across saturated fields and off into nothingness.

She sloshed back to her car and quickly turned the engine off. She certainly didn’t need a dead battery on top of a flat tire. “Okay, Gwen,” she said aloud, “you need to figure out what to do.” Rain ran in rivulets down her face and her tie-dyed T-shirt stuck to her like a second skin. I’m a soggy, shivering rainbow. She started to walk and cursed the fact that her cell phone wasn’t charged. Seth was always bugging her about that. “Suck it up, Gwen. It rains in Oregon too.” The inky blackness was disconcerting. Lightning intermittently illuminated the area like the flash of a camera. A snapshot of a road to nowhere. Gwynneth hoped that she was at least walking in the right direction. Her teeth were chattering so hard she was in danger of biting her own tongue. Thunder rolled up her spine and along her scalp like probing fingers.

Her thoughts wandered back to Hannah. A diary. I wonder what she wrote about? She wouldn’t read it, of course, it was private. I’m sure she just wants me to throw it away so her children don’t either. A pang of loss sliced through the cold and Gwynneth shook it off. They had spent countless hours chatting and Hannah never mentioned a diary. She bit her lip. If she could only turn back time, Gwynneth would have told her how much their time together had meant. Hannah had always encouraged her to start painting again, but also understood why Gwynneth couldn’t.

A loud ‘crack’ sounded and an iridescent white light surrounded her. Two things registered: a searing pain that ripped down her back and the ground which seemed to be pulled away from her at an alarming speed.

* * * *


Pain shot through the back of Gwynneth’s head as she opened her eyes. Somebody was standing over her. She tried to focus on the face, but it hurt too much. A cool hand slid across her forehead. She opened her eyes again.

Pale, almost white eyes. High cheekbones, aquiline nose, and a well-shaped mouth. Long, white hair. Ageless. Beautiful, like a Michelangelo. All of those details registered with clarity before agony ripped through her body. She arched her back and cried out. The man murmured something into her ear which she couldn’t understand. She could feel the vibration of his voice and his breath on her neck as he gathered her in his arms. She opened her eyes and saw lightning fork to the ground silently behind him. She blacked out again.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.





Amazon Author page:

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Diaries of the Damned Release Day Party

Title: Diaries of the Damned
Author: Alex Laybourne
Genre: Zombie Horror
The dead have risen and a desperate struggle for power has begun. The military are evacuating all survivors in passenger planes. With their destination unknown, one group of survivors led by a journalist named Paul Larkin, decide to share their experiences with the hope that when combined, their stories will reveal some answers that the government had not been willing to give themselves.

Nine survivors have banded together, determined to tell their tale of survival. None of them realized that as they stood to tell their tales that they stood on the brink of discovering a conspiracy the likes of which the world has never seen.

 Excerpt #5
Neil turned to leave, but walked only a few steps before he ducked into the barn. He turned to his right and hid in the shadows. Neil peered through a crack in the warped wooden side, and waited.
A chill ran through him as he saw Charlie open both crates and crouch down onto his haunches. He reached into the box and pulled out a large canister. Setting it on the ground, he worked hurriedly to unscrew the cap. Neil wanted to call out, but he knew that whatever it was, it could not be stopped anymore. He had a flashback to Dr. George and his team: The blood, the body parts strewn about the place, and then the cover-up… retirement. The memories returned in a flood.
With trembling hands, Charlie reached inside the canister. It looked as though he were unscrewing a secondary cap. Vapor rose from the container while Charlie’s hand was still inside. He jerked backward, screaming as he did.
Neil reacted without thinking and ran over to his friend. The steam continued to escape the canister.
“Charlie, get back,” Neil called, unsure as to how the canister would react.
“Neil...what are you…get away from me. Stop, it’s too dangerous!” Charlie screamed; the force of his words enough to stop Neil dead in his tracks.
“What do you mean?” Neil asked, holding his breath as soon as he had finished talking. Images of three years ago played in his mind like a flashback sequence in a bad movie.
Charlie didn’t answer. He had turned his back and was once again kneeling over the canister. His hand disappeared inside the vapor cloud. It appeared to be translucent, but Neil couldn’t see Charlie’s arm through it. It was as though the light was refracted around any object that it came into contact with. After a few moments, the vapor disappeared and Charlie withdrew his hand. He collapsed to the floor.

About the author:

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that I became a horror writer.
From an early age I was sent to schools which were at least 30 minutes drive away and so spent the most of my free time alone, as the friends I did have lived too far away for me to be able to hang out with them in the weekends or holidays.
I have been a writer as long as I can remember and have always had a vivid imagination. To this very day I find it all too easy to just drift away into my own mind and explore the world I create, where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue everything basically, and when the time is right, I can simply pluck them from the allotment of my mind serve them up on the pages of whatever work is to be their home.
I am married and have four children and my biggest dream for them is that they grow up and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.