Monday, 26 October 2015

A Q&A with horror anthology writers from Tales From The Mists

As Inklings Press marks the launch of its new horror anthology, Tales From The Mists, our authors, Ricardo Victoria, Morgan Porter, Alei Kotdaishura, Brent A Harris and Leo McBride, sat down for a discussion on what they love - and fear - about the things that go bump in the night.




Hi all, so here we are on launch day - there may not be anything more terrifying than that for us all! But let's see what makes each of you tick. So, first up, who is your favourite horror writer - and what is it about them that scares the bejeezus out of you?


Ricardo: My favorite horror writer ever is H.P. Lovecraft. The mythos he created, the way he managed to write creepy atmospheres in his stories and the creatures that populate his New England are superb. Ironically enough, his stories, while I enjoy them, don’t scare me as much as when as I was a kid, when The Dunwich Horror (incidentally the first book I bought with my allowance) and At the Mountains of Madness did scare the bejeezus out of me back then. Nowadays the only horror book that has managed to do that is World War Z by Max Brooks. I hate zombies with fiery passion -at least as far as the modern zombie story derived from George Romero. I prefer instead the magical voodoo zombie of the Caribbean. But man, WWZ had me in the edge every single page, maybe because of my overactive imagination or maybe because the way is written takes you to a situation that might happen. And for once, humans in the story are not the real monsters (‘cept the Dick Cheney expy). It’s a shame how Hollywood ruined the idea.


Morgan: My first horror writer was R.L. Stine and I will always think of his work fondly and with a hint of nostalgia. I got into H.P Lovecraft in high school and enjoyed the other-worldliness of his antagonists and the rich backdrops found with in his stories. Reanimator, The Call of Cthulhu , and Dagon were some of my all time favorite short stories written by H.P. Lovecraft. I was never really scared by either author. I was more afraid of failing Algebra tests than Cthulhu or any other creature from a book. I guess you could say the most horrifying author I can think of is François Viète, whose works lead to countless terrifying hours of trying to figure out how a letter could also be a number and the dreaded Q.E.D.

Brent: Horror is not my typical genre. I’ve always been fascinated by it, which is why I pushed myself to write one. It’s not an easy feat and I’m not sure how writers like Lovecraft, King, and A.A. Milne do it. (My fear of being trapped in an enclosed space until I lose enough weight to escape was never a fear of mine until Winnie the Pooh nearly starved to death for a year after eating too much honey and getting stuck halfway in Rabbit’s rabbit-hole. Thanks A.A.!)



I can find horror in nearly everything, so the genre itself is quite large and perhaps undefined. I prefer horror of a cerebral nature. And I prefer stories of science-gone-wrong. My favorite horror writers then are just—writers.

Alei: Horror stories don’t really scare me. I have mostly read classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, Poe, Lovecraft and Morris West, and one book from Stephen King. I find horror stories interesting with all their twisted characters and plots, but to be honest I haven’t found one that really makes me scared yet.

Leo: Man, I get freaked out all the time by horror stories. I love it too - that tingling at the back of your neck when something is really getting to you and you have to turn the pages faster, and faster. I've devoured everything by Lovecraft - though I love his ideas more than his execution sometimes. Man doesn't use a small word when a paragraph full of big ones will do. I've mentioned before my love of Ray Bradbury - his short stories are where his horror talent really shines, in stories such as The Town Where No One Got Off. Stephen King is great - particularly books such as Salem's Lot or The Stand, and Dean Koontz has some smashing stuff too. Phantoms is a great book, and of course Ben Affleck was the bomb in the movie, yo. I find what scares me is the personal - when stories really lock into the characters and you feel their fear as they face whatever challenge awaits them. I think that's part of why I don't lock into Lovecraft so much, you don't often feel as much for his characters. His ideas, though? Brilliant, a magnificent world of horror. 

Away from books, what about film? What's your favourite horror film – and again, what was it about the film that freaked you out?

Morgan: Session 9 is probably one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen, the simple fact that the monster is a physiological concept rather than an actual creature or ghost has always stuck with me as being more terrifying than any run of the mill zombie or vampire. The movie is actually on the more cerebral side (read low action) but if one stops to think about the actual implications of having an “entity” that is more a state of mind and therefore something that could become real under the right circumstances, makes one a bit weary around other people. It is probably one of the more physiologically scarring films I have ever watched. Would I watch it again? Absolutely.

Leo: Session 9? Adding that one to my list, not seen that one! For me, I'm going old school. My favourite all-time horror movie is the 1963 black and white film The Haunting, directed by Robert Wise. A group spends a weekend in a supposedly haunted mansion and... things develop. The best thing about the movie is that you never ever really see anything. Everything is hinted at, and the horror is all in the mind. Superb performances and perfectly paced, it gives me the heebie jeebies every time. Just... don't watch the remake. In fact, kill the remake with fire. Very, very honourable mention too to the works of John Carpenter - The Fog, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13 and more. Chills me every time. 

Alei: Though I’m no horror movie fan, Asian horror films freak me out, they can mix the supernatural with the common and aren’t usually that easy to predict. I think the one I remember the most is The Grudge (Ju-On). There’s a scene in an elevator where suddenly you see a ghost’s face between the doors while the elevator is moving. At the time I watched it, I was working at a place that had an elevator as the only way to reach my boss’s archive, and he sent me to fetch some documents one winter night when the place was empty… I freaked out and returned to the office faster than expected.

Brent: I suppose my favorite horror movie would be Jurassic Park, which is not considered horror at all. But it is about science gone wonky, or the creations of scientists eating said scientists, or whatever human-sized snacks are visiting the park that day. Jurassic Park is frightening not just because I don’t want to face down a T-Rex, (luckily, I won’t be wearing high-heels, I think) but because at the time, it was scientifically probable—and the potential of what we could do with that science was quite frankly, terrifying.



Plus, nothing beats the sheer terror of the T-Rex chasing you down on the big screen.

Ricardo: Event Horizon, which is basically At the Mountains of Madness in Space!!! Or a haunted house story in Space!!! It is probably the most Lovecraftian commercial film so far, with a really simple premise that shows that not because you can do something, you are meant to do so. It hasn’t aged well, true, but back then it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. The arc words still haunt me to this day: Where we are going, we don’t need eyes. True horror it is only implied, uses your mind to fill the spaces, instead of showing you the gory details. Those arc words are the best summary I’ve heard on what is meant to be a horror story.

Ok, ok, second from last question – last horror that you indulged in, be it book, film or even podcast?


Ricardo: Deliver us from Evil, with Eric Bana. I caught it on TV and I admit it was a decent scare. Being Catholic, the exorcism feels like a very unique, cool part of our cultural view of the world. Book wise, I’m starting to read Red Equinox by Douglas Wynne. I haven’t made much progress yet, but looks like a great Lovecraftian story.

Brent: Stephen King’s Christine. I wanted to go back to a classic to see how it was done. After re-reading it with a more analytical take, I’m convinced that the writing process behind horror involves witchcraft and ritualistic sacrifice. Honestly, the story of a sentient automobile that runs down its victims out of jealousy shouldn’t work at all. So there must have been some bargaining going on with Satan. It’s a masterful story.

Alei: I read and watched Stephen King’s It. I found the book somewhat long for my taste, but not scary at all. The movie adaptation was so boring that I fell asleep through the middle to the end.

Morgan: Into the Mouth of Madness, another of my all-time favorite horror movies.

Leo: In books, Malus Domestica by S.A.Hunt but the last horror of any kind was [REC 4], fourth in the Spanish zombie-ish horror franchise and getting it back on track after the awful third one. The first two are among the best horror movies of the last 15 years though, so well worth checking out if you get a chance. Also a shout out to the Pseudopod horror podcast. Found it through my review work and they have great audio readings of horror stories. 

And finally... who wins in a fight – Dracula, Wolfman or The Mummy?

Alei: Dracula, of course! Who else can survive for so long without learning a trick here and there? ;)

Ricardo: Dracula hands down. In life he was a respected military leader and showed no mercy, have you seen what he did to his enemies? You don’t get the Impaler nickname just for being a nice dude. Add all his classical powers of metamorphosis, mind control, celerity and strength and he can take down the other two. He is the ultimate predator. And he would be embarrassed by current pseudo vampires.

Brent: The Mummy. It depends on the rules you are using and the time of month and day. Dracula’s not putting up much of a fight at high-noon, and the Wolfman only gets to fight once a month. Based on those restrictions, the Mummy would win in a fight if it were cognizant enough to take out a sleeping vampire and slumbering were-wolf. But, if it were the night of a full moon, I’d give it to the Wolfman. Any other night, Dracula’s the man…er, bat.


Morgan: Ok I have some issues with this question. If we are purely going on early Hammer Films monsters and really sticking to the named characters above, I would have to go with Dracula, The Wolf Man was too caught up in his own angst to be much of a combatant and The Mummy was a bag of bones wrapped in bandages. Now if we go with more modern films and archetypes I would change it to Werewolves, the Vampires of today are too full of glitter and teenage angst to be decent combatants and Mummies have been relegated to comic relief. Werewolves still have some bite to them, pun intended. If you get into mythological entities Undead and Shapeshifters are pretty equally matched. Both sides have strengths and weaknesses that more or less balance the two forces.

Leo: The Monster Squad rules out Wolfman for me purely for the line "Kick him in the nards!... Whooooa, Wolfman's got nards!" I'll go with The Mummy, if nothing else because of all this vampire love from everyone else here! 

Thank you, all. Tales From The Mists - featuring our horror-chatting crew - is now available on Amazon here. You can find out more about Inklings Press at www.inklingspress.com or follow us on Twitter @inklingspress. We are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/inklingspress

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