Archive for the All Hallows Read Category

Hallowe’en’s creeping up on us

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror on October 29, 2016 by Occult Detective

Can you smell it? I sure can. There’s bloody magic in the air. Thank the gods Hallowe’en is more than a single day of revelry — it’s become a month long celebration of all things macabre in recent years. And I love it. But the day is almost here and as great as the whole month is, there’s nothing quite like Hallowe’en Night.

Let’s face facts though. Hallowe’en is kind of my default setting. I’m not alone in this, but we’re a rare breed. But for the whole of October, well, we are legion.

People love the Hallowe’en Season so much, I’m surprised they haven’t adopted more ‘pagan’ festivals.

But, hey, for a month we’re all together, of one mind. And that mind is a dark labyrinth filled with spooky stories and graveyards, witches, ghouls, and ghosts, candy and costumes, and horror movies galore.

Tonight, being the Saturday closest to Hallowe’en, will see the most ‘action’ for the civilian crowd. Tonight’s the night the adults will squeeze into their naughty nurse costumes and Donald Trump masks. There will be plenty of wart covered witches and Frankensteins, pasty faced vampires and bedsheet haints.

I will leave them to it. My eye is on Devil’s Night when the new moon rises, and on the Night of the Last Harvest when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

Tonight, Kim, Conn, and I will curl up with a classic — Dan Curtis’ House of Dark Shadows.

hods

Dark Shadows defined horror for me as a child in many ways. It will be fun to share it with them. Regrettably, their only contact with Dark Shadows was the Johnny Depp atrocity from a couple of years back. All that’s about to change and they’re in for a bit of a treat, I think.

As for the rest of this most glorious of holidays? What kind of trouble awaits me come Sunday and Monday evening? I’m not telling. Not yet anyway… Bwahahahahahahaha…

Be safe out there. But not too safe.

And remember, please take part in All Hallow’s Read and give a scary book for Hallowe’en…

Bobtober Bullets

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Liber et Audax on October 28, 2016 by Occult Detective

I have a lot to get to today so I thought I’d throw up a couple of bullet points.

  • Not being a Nerdist fan, I have just stumbled upon Bizarre States with Andrew Bowser and Jessica Chobot via my early access to alpha. I’ve watched four episodes so far and I’m totally sucked in. I am generally a sucker for these types of shows anyway, especially when there’s an ‘everyman/woman’ element to them, sprinkled with some light-heartedness. I’m generally over-serious, so Bizarre States gives me a chance to soak up some paranormalist news and relax a bit.bizarrestates
  • Yes, it’s true, I’m dipping my toes into Alpha. Lot of great content there. Alpha Book Club, Tabletop, Talk Machina and Critical Role, the aforementioned Bizarre States. Will it last? Hard to say, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
  • Kim and I just finished Bag of Bones by Stephen King. I thought I had read it years before, but if I had, I didn’t remember a lick of it. I’m a King fan, and there was a lot lot to like in this ghost story, but man, that thing could have been half as long.
  • I picked up Alan Moore’s Jerusalem and I am both eager and terrified to get started. Kim sort of selected Mystic River by Dennis Lehane for our next book club read, so I may put it off for a wee bit, but, yeah, Moore…
  • I can’t believe Hallowe’en Weekend is here already. And there’s a New Moon on Devil’s Night…
  • The Skyrim Special Edition came out today. For all intents and purposes, Kim and I will probably be empty-nesters for the entire month of November. I foresee Connor being lost somewhere in Tamriel for quite some time. I’ve got to admit, I’m a tad bit jealous.
  • I’m really looking forward to launching Last Writes next week. I’ve got some great guests lined up including Gordon White, Michael Hughes, Kelli Owen, Maurice Broaddus, and my ‘occult detective’ mates Josh Reynolds, Willie Meikle, and Greg Mitchell. And more. Lots more. This is going to be frighteningly insightful.
  • So what Hallowe’en films do I plan on catching this weekend? Sleepy Hollow, perhaps, maybe The Crow. I really want to sit Kim and Conn down and have them watch House of Dark Shadows, mainly because they make me suffer through the Johnny Depp remake far too often. One movie I know for a fact we’re watching has really nothing at all to do with Hallowe’en and that’s Star Trek Insurrection. We’ve been watching our way through all of Trekdom, having put the Original Series and movies and Next Generation behind us. Once we get through the Next Gen movies we can finally tackle Deep Space Nine, my personal favorite of the Trek experience.
  • After the terrific reveal at the end of last week’s The Exorcist on FOX, tonight’s episode should be a make or break situation. My expectations are through the freaking roof.
  • Remember OCCULT DETECTIVE: The Roleplaying Game? Still working on it. A painfully slow but exhilarating process. Playtesting on the afternoon of Devil’s Night.
  • But Bob, Hallowe’en is almost over and you haven’t discussed any of your paranormal adventures yet. Monday. Saving it for Monday.
  • Don’t forget All Hallow’s Read. Give a scary book for Hallowe’en. Please.
  • Last bullet. I’m working on a secret project, something that sort of ties together my love for both authentic esoterica and occult fiction, and I couldn’t be happier. If I can pull this off, with a little help from my friends, this will be something for the ages.

My interview with Greg Mitchell, author of Dracula vs Great White Shark

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Media Macabre, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 25, 2016 by Occult Detective

gmitchellGreg Mitchell is more than just a talented author and screenwriter. He’s good people. Greg and I met a few years back after appearing in an anthology together. Discovering we had mutual interests in cinematic storytelling and monster hunters, a friendship grew quickly.

Greg has a strong sense of family, a solid moral center, and small town values that I both relate to and appreciate. This translates well into his fiction as he’s able to capture that essence, twist it, darken it, and send shivers down your spine.

With Hallowe’en almost upon, I thought it would be the perfect time to check in with Greg, especially as he has a new book out that not only captures the spirit of the season but is also the perfect title to promote as a part of Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read.

The All Hallow’s Read tradition, which began in 2010, is brilliant in its simplicity. The idea is that during the week of Hallowe’en, or on Hallowe’en Night itself, you give someone a scary book. Not instead of candy or what have you, but in addition to.

Greg Mitchell’s latest, Dracula vs Great White Shark, is the perfect title for All Hallow’s Read this year. For starters, it’s all-ages. It’s an inspired supplement to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, though, to be honest, it’s more akin to Christopher Lee’s Count than anything. It’s an inexpensive purchase, easily snatched up on Amazon for less than $10. And it is fun, which is what Hallowe’en is all about.

dracula_vs-_great_wh_cover

So without further ado, here’s my brief conversation with my friend and fellow author, Greg Mitchell.

Bob: Thanks for joining me here at The Occult Detective, Greg. The first question I’d like to ask you I will paraphrase from one of my favorite interviewers, Rune Soup’s Gordon White. Tell me, were you a strange and unusual kid?

Greg: No, not on the outside, I suppose. I was the quiet kid in the back who made good grades and didn’t have any beef with anybody. I think, growing up, most people would say I was the “nice kid”. If I was unusual, it was due to the fact that I didn’t stand out at all. I was nearly invisible. Behind that quiet veneer, however, were worlds of monsters. I was always creating and fixating on the dark “what ifs” of life. Even now, I still think it catches people by surprise, as I’m still the “nice, quiet kid in the back”, but then they see what I write and there’s always a moment of “Oh, that came from you?”

Bob: That’s an interesting observation. So tell me, it’s a bit of a cliched question, but for writers, an important one, who were your biggest literary inspirations?

Greg: It’s a sign of my generation, but I would have to say Stephen King—not that I’ve read a ton of Stephen King, mind you. But growing up in the 80s-90s, King WAS horror. I can still remember in middle school and junior high, all the kids bringing worn King paperbacks to class, sneaking a read in between periods, and talking excitedly about the lurid, morbid fantasies inside. More than anything, it was the sheer excitement swirling around King in those days. The man was nigh unto a real-life bogeyman, himself, with his name being whispered on the lips of all the children on the school bus. What I’ve read of King, I obviously appreciate, though I think his magic isn’t in his horror—which doesn’t really strike me as very scary on the written page—but in his characters. I think that’s been the key to his success all these years, in that he writes us. Our hopes and fears, our secrets, our longings. He’s a master of writing the human condition and throwing a monster in there as a symbol of our collective fears, and that’s something that I strive to accomplish as well in my own humble offerings.

Bob: We both grew up in and continue to live in small towns. In my own writing, that ‘small town voice’ is ever-present. How big of an influence are your native environs?

Greg: Super big. I live in one of those small towns, the kind they always show in 80s horror movies. And I guess seeing those movies shaped my view of my town. Growing up, I was told by my peers how boring and safe my town was, but then I’d pop in a suburban horror movie and was opened up to the possibility that, just beneath the quaint charm, there could be something exciting and dangerous lurking. You just had to look a little closer and use your imagination. I don’t think I’ve been able to look at small towns the same since. So I’m in a relatively safe place—which works great for real life—but it also provides the groundwork for imagining what secrets might be brewing beneath our feet.

Bob: I’ve got to tell you, your latest book, is a great read. The characters are so well drawn and you did a masterful job of ratcheting up the suspense. It was really a lot of fun. Tell me a bit about what inspired you to write Dracula vs Great White Shark?

Greg: For the last few years, I’ve been tasked with creating more original content for the Syfy Channel as lead-ins for their impossibly popular Sharknado events. That process begins with pitching shark-related titles to the network, trying to find one that catches their interest and could lead to developing a feature. At first, Dracula vs Great White Shark was just one of a hundred other absurd titles, but once the network passed on it, the name stayed with me. I loved the “monster rally” aspect of it and thought it could be legitimately interesting to take a classic monster of old and have him rumble with his ubiquitous modern day counterpart. As stated in the book, there isn’t much difference in a vampire and shark—they’re both apex predators, both must constantly hunt to survive. The important thing is that I didn’t want to make this a parody. Aside from the gloriously ridiculous title, I still wanted to treat Dracula with a great reverence, and I borrowed heavily from Hammer movies and the Tomb of Dracula comics for my rendition.

Bob: I admire you reaching out to the all-ages market by developing an imprint for those kinds of stories.Tell me more about MonsterKid Press and what sort of titles you envision in the imprint’s future.

Greg: MonsterKid Press is a new imprint of my Genre Experience independent label. It’s designed for a younger audience, and its aim is just pure monster fun. Most of my novels lean heavily on a serious, spiritual angle. And that’s fine most of the time, but truthfully, it can get taxing. As much as I love to explore the deeper truths of spirituality and the mortal struggle of fear versus faith, sometimes I just want to write a book about Dracula wrestling a shark, you know? Working on Syfy has shown me the benefits of shaking loose your imagination and writing from a place of unabashed entertainment. That’s not to say something like Dracula vs Great White Shark doesn’t have something more meaningful to offer, just that it’s not the driving force. I’ve got a few more ideas lined up for MonsterKid—fun, creature-filled spooky romps that are born from that part of my soul where I’m eternally twelve years old and it’s always HalloweenNight.

Bob: You mentioned earlier your work with Syfy. I’ve been impressed by the great success you’ve had as a screenwriter. Do you find the creative process different between writing scripts and novels?

Greg: Not really, no. At least, not the way I do it. I started my career wanting to be a screenwriter. I fell into “novelist” by accident because I was twenty years old and had no idea how to get an independent movie off the ground. Keep in mind, this was in the late ‘90s before YouTube and the boom of DIY movies. The internet was still in its infancy, and I had no tangible way of connecting to like-minded filmmakers. I very much felt alone out there. But I approach both the same way. I write novels like I write movies—which I know irks many literary types, but that’s how I’ve always done it, for good or for ill. My wife is constantly correcting me because when I’m telling her about a new book, I talk about “scenes” and “cutting to” and “fading out”, and she tells me “You know it’s not a movie, right?” But in my head it is, complete with soundtrack and poster art.

Bob: Ha. That’s great. My brain works the same way. So now that you’ve got Dracula vs Great White Shark out there, tell me about your current work in progress?

Greg: I am currently in the early stages of writing my long-gestating prequel to The Coming Evil Trilogy. Fans of that series should be excited to learn that it will explore the origins of the town of Greensboro and reveal its initial contact with the malevolent Strange Man. It’s set in the Old West and focuses on the first settlers of Old Greenesboro—as it was once known. It’s a pretty big story, bigger than I had anticipated. I’m still meeting all the new characters and getting to know them, but the writing is fruitful if not at a slower pace.

Bob: Believe me, I feel your pain. I’ve a couple of series that have been on the old slow-burner. What readers seldom realize is that each book is like a child and they’re all different and require different levels of attention before they’re ready for the world.

What can we hope to see next from Greg Mitchell?

Greg: Next up on the chopping block is my novel Infernal City. In a parallel reality, that would be out now, but Dracula vs Great White Shark manifested more quickly than I had expected and stole my attention. But once the Halloween season passes and winter sets in properly, I’ll return to work getting Infernal City ready for publication early next year. The book is a quasi-tie-in to The Coming Evil, taking place in the City that was mentioned a few times in the Trilogy. In this book, we learn a little more about the City and its mystical connection to Greensboro. Not only that, but this book also serves as a bridge between the small town horror of The Coming Evil series and the larger cosmic horrors of my superhero/Lovecraftian/Doctor Who amalgamation—the Rift Jump duology. In Infernal City, we meet Quinn, who is an enforcer for the City. There are those who strike deals with the entity lurking beneath the City’s streets for riches and success, and Quinn makes sure they live up to their end of their Faustian bargains. It’s told in first person from a bruiser’s perspective and has a very monster noir feel to it.

Bob: Man, that all sounds fantastic. You fans will be thrilled. Thanks again for sitting down with me and sharing your time with us here at The Occult Detective, Greg. It’s always a real treat when you come by and I wish you nothing less than continued success.

For more information about Greg, you can visit his blog, The Coming Evil, or check him out on Facebook. You can purchase Greg Mitchell’s works via his author’s page on Amazon.

My Review of The Weiser Book of the Fantastic & Forgotten edited by Judika Illes

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Media Macabre on October 5, 2016 by Occult Detective

weiserforgotten

The Witching Season is upon us and nothing screams Hallowe’en to me more than curling up with a collection of brilliant and terrifying supernatural fictions.

Every year I seek out a selection of horror stories that are layered and textured and full of atmosphere, the sort of tales that guarantee nightmares and disturbing thoughts.

This year, Judika Illes made the selections for me.

The Table of Contents for The Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten: Tales of the Supernatural, Strange, and Bizarre is a veritable who’s who of supernatural fiction: Bram Stoker, H.D. Elliot, M.R. James, Oscar Wilde, Richard Le Gallienne, Robert W. Chambers, H.P. Lovecraft, Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, Arthur Machen, Dion Fortune, Algernon Blackwood, Marie Corelli, Lord Dunsany, Edgar Allan Poe, Hans Heinz Ewers, W.W. Jacobs.

For many horror fiction aficionados, there are some well-tread stories here, but there are some delightful gems that don’t normally make it into collections like these as well.

Judika Illes is to be commended for putting together a book that isn’t just another ‘greatest hits’ collection. She did her homework and has delivered a diverse compilation of stories read best by the light of a warm fire, a full moon peeking in from a parlour window, where the scratch of a tree limb on the pane gives you pause.

This is how I choose to spend this Hallowe’en. I suggest you do the same.

The Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten: Tales of the Supernatural, Strange, and Bizarre, edited by Judika Illes is available wherever books are sold or online at your favorite cyber-marketplaces, such as Amazon… or better yet, show your support by ordering directly from the publisher.

All Hallow’s Read 2016

Posted in All Hallows Read on September 25, 2016 by Occult Detective

We’ve but 35 days until Hallowe’en and with Hallowe’en comes All Hallow’s Read.

In addition to supporting the gifting of scary books this time of year, I also make a point of reading scary books. This season, my wife and I will be sharing Stephen King’s Bag of Bones and I’ll be delving into various short story collections, reading Lovecraft, Poe, Machen, Blackwood, and more…

Another All Hallow’s Read tradition is my annual All Hallow’s Read poster, which I share with you now.

Remember… keep Hallowe’en spooky and Happy Bobtober ;)

ahr16

And so it begins…

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on September 22, 2016 by Occult Detective

bobtober2016

I’m not going to pretend that this is going to be the Bobtober to end all Bobtobers. I have been somewhat ill for a while now and I am trusting that between the various doctors poking and prodding me, some magical friends bending the laws of physics on my behalf, and my wife’s persistent care-giving that my course shall soon be righted and I will be back to some semblance of my old self.

That is not to say that this year’s festivities are a wash. My top two priorities are spending some quality time with my lady love today as it is our 16th Wedding Anniversary and to see that my son’s birthday is a day to be remembered for years to come.

I will most likely be having a surgery or two at some point so everything else is up in the air, but I do most seriously plan to publish reviews of Judika Illes’ Weiser Book of the Fantastic and Forgotten, the majestic and inspiring English Magic Tarot, Martin Faulks’ The Emerald Tablet: A Commentary on the Path of the True Adept, Nick Mamatas’ I Am Providence, and Richard Chizmar’s A Long December.

I would truly like to hike out to the ‘Indian Cemetery’ near Taylor Creek, to visit some of my childhood haunts along the Mississinewa, and visit old friends along Goose Creek if the gods are willing.

I’ve an itch to attend Mississinewa 1812 and the Fishers Renaissance Faire.

I want to play Dungeons & Dragons and run more playtests of Occult Detective: The Roleplaying Game.

I had hopes to pull another Ellison and live post a month long serial as I’ve done in years past, but this year I think I’ll try some flash fiction and poetry instead…

I want to read the perfect Hallowe’en novel with the Water Street Book Club.

I want to watch some of my favorite horror and occult detective movies… and I want to discover some new ones.

I want bonfires and spellcasting, ghostbreaking and soul searching. I want another danse macabre. I want cemetery strolls and magick underfoot. I want to be surrounded by ghosts and ghouls and goblins…

I want to see First Born published.

And I want to share it all here, with you, my friends…

So let it begin, this fell Bobtober. Let it howl and moan with unfettered desire.

This witching season, we shall become more than we were…

 

The Parker Brothers: Nos Galan Gaeaf (Part IV of IV)

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 30, 2015 by Occult Detective

bobtober15

parkerbrosmysterylogoNos Galan Gaeaf

PART I
PART II
PART III

.:.

The boys were no strangers to the strange and unusual. They came by it honestly. Their father was a respected paranormal investigator and author of dozens of books on anagogic non-fiction. Sometimes it seemed like they’d been hunting ghosts since they’d first learn to walk. Finding themselves face to face with a preternatural sow, its eyes aglow with demonic hellfire, while disturbing, was far from abnormal. they were frightened, to be sure, but that was an emotion they had been trained to master. Keeping their wits about them, the Parker Brothers fanned out, ready to face the beast should it charge again.

Dale stood his ground, a trusted camp knife in one hand and a talisman in the other, a consecrated Cross of Lorraine he had received from one of his father’s confidants, the occult detective Landon Connors. Connors had called it a Checkmate Cross, assuring the boy that it was an ‘endgame’ talisman of protection, but not meant to be used lightly. “It’s as close to a tactical nuke as we’ve got on the prime material,” he’d said. “Use it wisely.”

Allen had armed himself with a stout tree branch, but was unnerved, it resembling his delusion falling his tumble down the hill. The boys had quickly come to terms with their mutual hallucinations. It was all witches work and while they had no experience in actually facing such a creature, they had received practical training and advice from their father and his allies. An entity like this was nothing to be trifled with and they had quickly determined that ‘getting out of Dodge‘ should be their top priority.

Now if only the sow would cooperate.

The black thing snorted, rutting into the ground, clawing at the moist soil with its cloven hoofs. The boys backed slowly away, as mindful of their surroundings as they could be, when Dale had an epiphany. He stared at the sow, then to the ground it was clawing, then back to the sow. His mind was racing.

“Allen?” he called out.

“Yeah,” his brother replied.

“Do you trust me?”

“Ah man,” Allen moaned, “whenever you ask that it means trouble. Usually for me.”

“All I want you to do is run,” Dale said. “Just run and keep on running. If I’m right, you’ll know when to stop.”

“And if you’re wrong?”

There was a long silence, then Dale said, “I love you, little brother.”

“Are you freaking kidding me?” Allen snapped. “Fine. When do you want me to bolt?”

“Now!” Dale screamed and Allen was taken aback. Tossing his stick into the creek bed, he took to flight, running east as fast as his feet would carry him. The sow took notice and galloped quickly after. Dale waited for the black beast to pass him, then clamored up the hill to where the sow had been clawing at the ground.

With his bare hands, Dale clawed at the mud, every once in a while looking up to see if he could see of hear his brother, but other than the sounds of something out there tearing through the brush, he was in the dark.

Then his hands wrapped around something solid and Dale drug it up into the campfire light.

In his hands was a skull, old and insect eaten. Cracks fissured across the cranium, and the empty sockets stared out with an unnatural sentience.

Dale shoved his sacred cross into a crack in the skull’s plate and paused over the fire. With a silent prayer he dropped the skull into the flames and held his hands up to the heavens as green fire erupted and rose into the All Hallow’s Eve sky. He felt like a conductor, weaving unheard music like an occult symphony of harmony and magic…

Then Dale heard heavy panting as the flames died down to a red and orange fire. Turning he saw his brother Allen, hands on his knees, gasping for air.

“Wh-what… did you…do?” the younger Parker asked.

“I laid the witch to rest,” Dale replied and the two boys walked off into the night.

The following Monday, before first bell, Dale Parker stood in front of his locker. Opening it slowly, a note lay there waiting for him.

Diolch ac hwyl fawr. Yr wyf yn
golygu unrhyw niwed i chi .

And while he appreciated the sentiment, he couldn’t help but wonder who, or what, had led him to that place, and why. Yes, they’d laid the witch to rest, but there were no answers to this mystery readily available and if there was one thing that got a Parker’s goat, it was that.

He closed his locker and walked toward first period Algebra, oblivious to the pretty freshman standing by the stairwell, her nose in Gruffydd’s Rhiannon: An Inquiry into the Origins of the First and Third Branches of the Mabinogi. Tracy Larson smiled and headed for Freshman English, hopeful that her sleepless nights would now be behind her.

.:.
The End?

halloween banner

%d bloggers like this: