Monday, June 29, 2020

#Hero #Fiction

Generally, there are two types of fiction I am interested in writing: Horror, and what I call Hero Fiction. You may ask yourself, what is hero fiction and how does it differ from, say, “heroic fantasy” or “men’s adventure”? I’ll try to explain.

Hero Fiction is a blanket term I’m now using that covers everything from sword and sorcery to superhero comics. The stories must have plenty of action and adventure, and a strong hero who’s not afraid to fight for what they feel is right. These heroes generally have a firm philosophy and do not hesitate when action is called for. Of course anti-heroes are allowed as well, as long as there is plenty of action.

“Heroic fantasy” does not fall within this genre because it is too long in the telling; hero fiction is focused more on action and plot and less on exposition and character development, making for stories that get right to the point. As for the genre known as “men’s adventure”, it implies to me obligatory sex scenes which are unnecessary in hero fiction as I define it.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Page Horrific November 2005: Ray Garton Interview

Treasure from the hard drive. The following is an interview I did with horror author Ray Garton for my online horror 'zine Page Horrific way back in November of 2005. Nothing has been changed or edited for this blog post; this is a copy of the original document:


[Ray Garton is the author of over 45 books, including the vampire classic LIVE GIRLS and the thriller SEX AND VIOLENCE IN HOLLYWOOD.  He lives in far northern California with his wife Dawn and their eight cats, where he is hard at work on his next book.]

1. How did you develop interest in the horror genre?

RG: Actually, it didn't develop, it happened instantly.  At the age of four, I saw my first horror movie, William Castle's 13 GHOSTS, it scared the hell out of me, and I loved it.  After that, I was hopelessly hooked.

2. Please tell us about the sale of your first novel, SEDUCTIONS.

RG: My first sale spoiled me because it happened so quickly and so easily.  I got an agent when I sent him a few short stories and he said, "I can't do anything with short stories, do you have a novel?"  I told him I had a novel half-done, which was a lie.  I immediately went to work on SEDUCTIONS and wrote it in three or four months.  I submitted it to my agent, he showed it to an editor at Pinnacle, and it sold, simple as that.  It just about knocked me over.  It hasn't been that easy all along, though.

3. How does the horror publishing environment today compare with the '80s and '90s?

RG: It doesn't.  In the '80s, publishers were buying up horror like crazy, right and left.  In the '90s, it cooled off.  Now, if you say the word "horror" in the same room with a New York editor, he'll kick you out.

4. You seem to have a close relationship with Cemetery Dance. Please tell us about that.

RG: I've had a GREAT relationship with Rich Chizmar at Cemetery Dance.  I honestly can't tell you how it began -- it feels like it's always been. I've had a bad experience in the small press, and I approached Richard with caution.  He's turned out to be not only a fine publisher, but an honest guy whom I now consider a friend.  He's published some editions of my books that I'll always be proud of -- it's been a wonderful relationship that I have every intention of continuing, whether Rich likes it or not.

5. How does writing a TV- or movie-tie-in compare to writing an original Garton novel?

RG: With a novelization or tie-in, you're writing someone else's story with someone else's characters.  A lot of people seem to think a writer just cranks these things out carelessly, but you're dealing with someone else's hard work here, their story and characters.  In that case, I want to take care with them.  So I give it my best in the short period of time usually given me.  I enjoy doing them, they're fun.  It's enjoyable sometimes to sit back and write something that's already laid out for me for a change.

6. If you could change one thing about the writing biz, what would it be?

RG: Editors would be able to buy stuff they like without having to take it to the sales force to see if they could market it first.  The decisions would be made by editors again, not by the sales people.

7. Which is more difficult to write: fiction or non-fiction? And why?

RG: The only real non-fiction I've written is movie reviews.  I wrote a book that was SUPPOSED to be non-fiction, but that was a lie.  I prefer writing fiction -- I can make everything up that way, it's a lot easier.  Don't slow me down with facts.

8. Who are some of your literary heroes and what makes them special to you?

RG: Stephen King really woke me up to the fact that I could be a horror writer. Dean Koontz was a big influence on me early on.  Every book written by John Irving is an event to me, I love his stuff because he peoples his fiction with such fascinating characters.  I've recently discovered noir and I'm encountering a lot of writers I've never read before like Jim Thompson and David Goodis and Charles Willeford -- writers who are opening up a whole dark new world for me.

9. Who are some of your favorite new writers and what makes them special?

RG: I'm afraid I haven't been reading any new writers in a long, long time. Lately, all the writers I've been reading are mostly dead.

10. Please tell us about any upcoming Ray Garton news.

RG: My new horror novel, THE LOVELIEST DEAD, will be released by Leisure Books in January.  After that, Leisure will reissue LIVE GIRLS in paperback, followed by its sequel NIGHT LIFE.  In the near future, Cemetery Dance will be releasing my first two noir novellas in one volume under the pseudonym Arthur Darknell:  MURDER WAS MY ALIBI, and LOVELESS.  Soon, my agent will begin shopping around my first roman noir, TRAILER PARK NOIR.  I'm almost finished with DISMISSED FROM THE FRONT AND CENTER, the fictionalized story of my two years at a Seventh-day Adventist boarding academy.  Beyond that, I'm not sure.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dusting Off the Website

Oh, hello.

You haven't heard from me for quite a while on this blog site. This is because my brain decided it wanted a long break, and so not being one to argue with his own brain, I did a few (or several?) years of slacking off.  I know this seems extreme, but please rest your worried mind; I am now attempting to reboot this writing thing and see where it takes me. I mean, what else do I have to do with the rest of my life?

I always have a whole list of fiction ideas bubbling away in my skull but there is one idea in particular that I want to take for a spin. I'm not sure if it will end up being a short story, or if it will bloom into a full novella or--wow!--even a novel. We can only hope. Then there's this vampire thing I want to write as well, and some urban fantasy maybe ...

Welcome back, o reader. I hope you stick around.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Living After Midnight FREE

Living After Midnight: Hard & Heavy Stories is FREE. 
"One of the things that make having an e-reader worthwhile." 
Among the other fine stories in this antho is my own "Judas Priest".
Living After Midnight: Hard & Heavy Stories (Amazon)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

From the PH Archives: An Interview with EDWARD LEE

A blast from the past from the Page Horrific Archives; this interview is dated 2005. Enjoy!!


[Edward Lee has had over twenty-five books published in the horror and suspense field, including FLESH GOTHIC, MESSENGER and CITY INFERNAL.  He is a Bram Stoker nominee, and his short stories have appeared in over a dozen mass-market anthologies, including THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES OF 2000, Pocket’s HOT BLOOD series, and the award-wining 999.   Visit his official website at]

  1. What book are you currently reading?

EL: Tom Piccirilli's NOVEMBER MOURNS, which is absolutely stellar, and more proof that Piccirilli is an absolute master of the horror novel.  I actually don't read very much–I'm real busy most of the time, plus I don't want another author's muse interfering with mine–but over the past year I've read more than usual.  I also just finished Tim Lebbon's BERSERK, which I  wrote an intro for, and it too blew me away.  In December I re-read John Shirley's CELLARS for yet another intro (it's being re-released soon).  I've made no secret that I believe that book is not only one of the first hardcore horror novel but remains one of the very best.  Next on my list is Doug Clegg's THE ABANDONED and Michael Laimo's THE DEMONOLOGIST.  I can't wait to sink into the both of them.

2. What is your all-time favorite horror novel?

EL: Hands down, it's Fritz Leiber's OUR LADY OF DARKNESS.  No book has creeped me out more than this 30-year-old masterpiece.  Several years ago I took a trip to San Francisco solely to see Corona Heights and the "Mt. Sutro" tower that Leiber worked prominently into the story.  I'm hoping I'll be able to see it from my hotel window at World Horror next year.   

3. What was the first horror book you ever bought with your own money?

EL: The first horror book that I ever bought upon becoming aware of horror as a genre was the late Brian McNaughton's SATAN'S LOVECHILD.  I bought it in an Army PX when I was training at Fort Knox in, I believe, 1977.  The title (which McNaughton hated) rang my bells.  Of course, there's no Satan and no love children in the book.  Instead, it's sort of Lovecraftian and unique in that it's shockingly explicit–a wonderful, wonderful proto-hardcore horror novel full of teeth-grinding erotica.  It was actually released by a paperback porn publisher (Carlyle) but I think McNaughton got to bend the rules by slicing hardcore sex into a keenly-plotted and absolutely explosive horror project.  Incidentally, I read most of this book in the driver's compartment of an M60 A1-series main battle tank.  It was this book that got me actively interested in modern horror fiction.  I'll ramble a bit and add that immediately after reading the McNaughton, I spotted–in another Army PX, this one in Erlangen, West Germany--a Hamlyn (I think) hardcover of classic horror stories.  It contained everything that matters: Poe, Le Fanu, Onions, "The Horla," of course, Grave's "The Shout," Machen's "Count Magnus," and many others.  But the last story was "The Rats in the Walls" by Lovecraft, which absolutely warped me.  After this I became addicted to Lovecraft and devoured all of those old Ballantine paperbacks of his.  By the time I was finished on this HPL binge, I was back in the USA, and I picked up the mylar-covered pb of THE SHINING.  Then I was officially hooked on horror fiction for life.      

4. Who is your favorite writer?

EL: Impossible to name just one, but I can say that my favorite horror writer is Ramsey Campbell.  Every sentence he writes is somehow nightmare producing.  (And my favorite Campbell story is "Loveman's Comeback."  Jesus.)

5. Tell us a little about your next novel.

EL: It's officially untitled as yet, and I don't want to jinx it by running my mouth about it.  All I'll say is that it's a Big Bug book–but doesn't involve bugs; it's much grosser.  For the longest time I've wanted to write my own Big Bug-type book, like the old Guy N. Smith and Shaun Hutson novels...only Edward Lee-style.  I'm two-thirds done with it now and I can say I'm having a ton of fun writing it.   

6. What is your favorite post-punk album?

EL: Another impossible one to answer but if I had to name one right now, I'd say 154 by Wire.  Over the past two years 90-percent of what I've been listening to is either Industrial or Classical (I'm a huge Vivaldi fan).  My favorite Industrial group is Funker Vogt, and I think I can say my favorite song since 1991 is Vogt's "Faster Life."  I have the lyrics taped to the inside of my front door.  Their SURVIVOR lp is unparalleled in my opinion: unmatched Industrial.  In the early ‘90s I lost all interest in music for some reason, which is inexplicable because music has always been crucial to me.  The first three albums I ever bought, for instance were, in this order, Led Zeppelin I, Sir Lord Baltimore's KINGDOM COME, and the first Black Sabbath lp.  I was 13 at the time, when everyone else my age was listening to The Archies and The Beach Boys.  I hate ALL pop music.  From there my addiction to non-pop music took off, and throughout the ‘70s it was King Crimson, Hawkwind, original Genesis, and perhaps my all-time faves Van Der Graaf Generator.  I had a brief punk period (I bought the Sex Pistols album in, again, Germany, and went on to become a huge Stranglers and Siouxsie fan).  As far as post-punk goes, I love Magazine whose frontman, Howard Devoto was a founding member of the Buzzcocks in, I think, 1976.  He seemed to realize at once, though, that he was a bit too intelligent for the raucousness of punk.  He's my all-time favorite singer and poet.  The biggest curve ball in my oddball musical taste was a non-categorizable ‘80s group called the Gun Club, and a vocalist/songwriter named Jeffery Lee Pierce–which is nothing like any of the other stuff I've mentioned!  (Think: nightmares of the deep south.)  But Wire was the first stuff I was buying right after the "punk" wave.  Also, two of Wire's members (B.C. Gilbert and Lewis) did an lp much later called The Shivering Man, which is another work I couldn't live without.  PS–I know that many author's listen to music while they write but I've never been able to do this, with two exclusive exceptions: Eno's DISCREET MUSIC, and Fripp & Eno's NO PUSSY-FOOTING.

7. What is your favorite Edward Lee book?

EL: I’m pretty sure it's INFERNAL ANGEL, for reasons I can't pinpoint.  Perhaps because it's less "fantasy" than CITY INFERNAL and more in-the-face horror.  It's odd, though, that I like that book so much because it received more reader complaints than anything else I've written.  One fan even wrote to me and said I should have to go to Edward Lee Hell for the ending.  Oops.  All I can say to that is that all things dead in an Edward Lee book can easily come back to life.  

8. What is your biggest vice?

EL: Collecting crab shells.  No lie.  Most people wrap crabs shells up in the newspaper and throw them out but I collect them.  I have crab shells from all over the world and have gone to preposterous financial expenditures to procure them.  I could probably have a decent crack habit on what I've spent on crab shells.
9. What is your favorite bit of writing advice?

EL: Write a page a day and in a year you've got a book!

10. Any parting words for PAGE HORRIFIC readers?

EL: I won't be able to attend the Horrorfind convention this summer (and I hate to miss it because Horrorfind truly is the best convention) but I will almost assuredly be at World Horror next spring.  I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Currently Reading: The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin

Published in 1983, The Armageddon Rag is the third novel from prominent fantasy author George R.R. Martin who is most famously known for his Song of Ice and Fire series of books which have been recently interpreted for television as the immensely popular HBO series A Game of Thrones.

Late in 1979, OMNI magazine published a novelette titled "Sandkings." This was the first work by GRRM that I had ever read and it really blew my teenaged mind. Anyone who has not experienced it should find a copy as soon as possible (I now own it in his Dreamsongs collection) and partake of its science fiction goodness. Fevre Dream, the novel preceding The Armageddon Rag, should also be on your bookshelf, because who doesn't enjoy vampires on steamboats? It's another great piece of work by the man and one of the best vampire novels you'll ever read. It wasn't until much later that I came across an excerpt from his novel A Clash of Kings in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, which got me excited about GRRM all over again and prompted me to purchase the full novel upon its release. And I was not disappointed, loving it as well as subsequent books in the series. As you probably know, A Song of Ice and Fire is still an ongoing effort, with many fans waiting impatiently for the sequel to the latest release A Dance of Dragons. For me, the series is meandering a bit at this point but hopefully the wait will be worth the wading.

I'm a little more than half through The Armageddon Rag, and GRRM's typical knack for characterization, pacing and just plain good storytelling is present thus far and I don't expect that to change as I head into the tail end. Unlike much of the other fiction I have read by this author, Rag is very much a murder mystery, revolving around the ritualistic death of a famous rock promoter and including loads of references to Sixties music and politics. It is also sort of a road novel in which our protagonist, an underground rock journalist who now writes novels, drives his expensive car across the country, interviewing members of his favorite defunct hard rock band Nazgul in an attempt to solve the mystery and along the way resurrecting relationships with old hippie friends. Any fantasy elements arise but only slightly midway through the book but I expect this to ramp up as I read on. We'll see...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Favorite Metal Music of 2017

Hello! How is 2018 treating you?

Don't answer that; I already know: not very well unless you're an exception, and I hope that you are.

So let's change the subject and look at some metal music released in 2017 that I enjoyed. Just the cream of the crop is allowed:

Cloven Hoof - Who Mourns the Morning Star (heavy metal)
The Doomsday Kingdom - s/t (doom metal)
Power Trip - Nightmare Logic (thrash metal plus)
RAM - Rod (heavy metal)
Samael - Hegemony (black/industrial metal)
Stallion - From the Dead (heavy metal)

I was enthralled by the video for "Black Supremacy" from the Samael album mentioned above, and watched it dozens of times. It was a good thing the rest of the songs on the album were of the same quality, making it my album of the year.