January 21, 2016

Why Chimaera, Why?: a guest post + giveaway by Hunter Shea, author of "They Rise"

About Hunter Shea's THEY RISE: Some call them ghost sharks, the oldest and strangest looking creatures in the sea. Marine biologist Brad Whitley has studied chimaera fish all his life. He thought he knew everything about them. He was wrong.

Warming ocean temperatures free legions of prehistoric chimaera fish from their methane ice suspended animation. Now, in a corner of the Bermuda Triangle, the ocean waters run red.

The 400 million year old massive killing machines know no mercy, destroying everything in their path. It will take Whitley, his climatologist ex-wife and the entire US Navy to stop them in the bloodiest battle ever seen on the high seas.

Why Chimaera, Why?
by Hunter Shea

Of all the fish in the sea – and my momma told me there were plenty out there back when I was dating – why did I choose the lowly chimaera fish as the antagonist in THEY RISE?

First of all, I didn’t want to tread upon killer shark or whale territory. Plenty of other writers butter their bread with those kings and queens of the sea. No, I wanted to be different (which is something I’ve always been and is probably why I got the ‘there’s plenty of other fish in the sea’ speech from the parentals).

So, I headed for ye olde interweb in search of the strangest fish I could find. No matter how small or innocuous it would be, I’d find a way to make it dangerous as all get out. I Googled ‘bizarre fish’, ‘strangest sea creatures’, ‘scary fish’, ‘ocean predators’. I’d find a fish, then look for images. Whatever I chose, it had to be as ugly as a Republican presidential debate. Or Hilary Clinton’s pant suit.

And then came this picture of a chimaera fish…

I thought it had to be Photoshopped to look that downright nasty. To my surprise, that’s exactly what chimaera look like! Ok, we’re off to a good start. I love the word chimaera. It means ‘a horrible or unreal creature of the imagination.’ Oh, this is looking good.

Reading up on chimaera fish, I immediately stumbled upon their nicknames – ghost shark, spookfish or rat fish. Score. They had me at ghost shark, which I believe is also a head scratching SyFy movie. Of course, my chimaera fish would need to be a tad less ethereal, but the name was good for a few shivers. I found out they were distant relations to sharks and have been around for over 400 million years. That’s almost as long as a Quentin Tarantino movie!

These bottom dwellers even have these spiny protrusions that are filled with venom. I mean, how could I pass that up?

Sure, I considered other fish, but when I added up the score, the chimaera fish kicked the omega 3’s out of the competition.

Best part is, chimaera fish are found in oceans all over the world. So the next time you’re doing some Scuba diving, remember THEY RISE, and keep telling yourself ‘it’s all in Hunter’s demented imagination.’

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card for joining this tour! Get extra entries for social media follows, but get extra extra entries for signing up for his newsletter and five extra entries if you review They Rise and send the link to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com!

Good luck!

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn't just write about the paranormal - he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned - "A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!"

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D'Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man's land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he's happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray's Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow in on Facebook and Twitter.

January 19, 2016

A Shore Bet: a Q&A with Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis, authors of "A North Shore Story"

About A NORTH SHORE STORY by Dean Economos and Alyss Machinis: For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide. 

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church. 

That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control. 

When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze. 

As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity and jealousy change all their lives forever?


First, an interview with Dean  Economos:

Q: Give  us  some  background,  what  did  you  do  before  writing  this  book?

Dean: I  went  to  college  at  Loyola  University  Chicago  and  received  my  undergrad  in  Biology  and  a  minor  in Biostatistics.  I  then  went  on  to  receive  my  M.B.A.  from  Loyola’s  Quinlan  School  of  Business  with  a concentration  in  Entrepreneurship.

Q: What  were  the  events  that  inspired  the  book?

Dean: The  book  was  inspired  by  different  experiences  growing  up.  Those  key  events  and  experiences  were then  intertwined  with  the  more  current  events  of  our  church’s  media  coverage.

Q: Some  parts  of  your  book  are  things  you  actually  experienced,  they  must  have  stuck  with  you  for  you to  want  to  write  about  them  years  later.  Did  you  always  know  you  wanted  to  tell  these  stories?

Dean: I  kind  of  had  a  premonition  growing  up  that  these  events  would  be  shared.  My  friends  and  I  would always  say  we  should’ve  had  a  show  like  Laguna  Beach,  or  something  of  that  nature.  So,  in  a  way,  I  did think  these  stories  would  be  told  in  one  way  or  another,  I  just  didn’t  think  I’d  be  the  one  to  tell  them.

Q: Like  other  stories  of  turmoil,  we  are  drawn  to  A  North  Shore  Story  because  we  can  relate  to  the characters.  Can  you  elaborate  on  what  is  relatable  about  the  internal  struggles  of  the  book’s characters?

Dean: What  makes  these  characters  extremely  relatable  to  readers  are  the  confidence  and  relationship problems  each  one  of  them  goes  through,  whether  it  be  friendship  or  romantic.  Some  characters  go through  other  internal  struggles  such  as  underage  drinking,  drug  use,  and  sexual  peer  pressure.  I  think that  everyone  at  one  time  or  another  has  been  in  one  of  these  circumstances.

Q: What  was  your  favorite  part  of  writing  this  book?

Since  this  was  my  first  book,  I  didn’t  know  what  to  expect.  I  thought  I  was  supposed  to  have  a  template or  well-­‐thought  out  plan  before  writing  anything.  Instead,  I  jumped  into  it  head-­‐first  and  developed  the story  as  I  wrote.  I  feel  that  doing  it  this  way  allowed  myself  to  be  more  creative  and  not  stick  to  a “script”  per  say.  I  was  even  surprised  at  what  I  was  able  to  create.

Q: What  inspired  you  to  write  this  story  so  many  years  later?

What  originally  got  my  gears  turning  was  the  media’s  coverage  of  our  former  priest  and  his embezzlement  of  church  funds.  I  then  started  to  think  about  our  time  growing  up  at  our  church  and  the events  that  our  friends  and  I  experienced.  After  pinpointing  key  events,  I  began  formulating  the  plotline which  now  makes  up  A  North  Shore  Story.

Q: You  know  some  of  these  characters  in  your  waking  life.  Who  was  the  most  exciting  to  write?  How have  they  changed  because  of  what  happened?

Dean: The  most  exciting  character  to  write  about  was  definitely  Kate.  Kate,  and  the  girl  who  she’s  based  off  of, has  a  very  exciting  personality  and  a  distinct  attitude.  When  our  friend  read  the  story,  she  loved  how  she was  portrayed  in  the  storyline.  I  think  that  she,  along  with  the  rest  of  our  friends,  have  changed  in  that we’ve  learned  how  to  tackle  the  problems  that  Kate  and  the  rest  of  the  group  are  dealing  with  right now.

Q: Tell  us  more  about  your  personal  part  in  the  stories.  Are  you  in  the  book?  How  did  you  change  your story  for  the  fiction  rendition?

Dean: I  am  in  the  book.  With  my  character,  and  with  all  the  characters,  I  left  elements  of  real  life  in  the  story and  in  the  personality,  but  overall  the  fundamental  qualities  of  each  character  are  unique  from  their  real life  counterparts.

Q: What  strengths  did  you  and  Alyssa  bring  to  the  table  to  help  one  another  write  the  book?

Dean: I  felt  more  connected  to  writing  the  actual  story.  I  was  able  to  figure  out  and  connect  the  different  sub-­‐plots  of  the  book,  while  Alyssa  is  very  familiar  with  novels  and  creative  writing.  With  those  skills,  she helped  make  the  book  come  alive.

Q: Do  you  anticipate  a  sequel?

Dean: I’ve  thrown  ideas  around  in  my  head,  and  I’ve  talked  about  it  with  Alyssa.  We’re  open  to  it,  but  haven’t started  writing  anything  yet.

And now a chat with Alyssa Machinis: 

Q: Tell  us  about  your  background,  what  have  you  done  since  the  events  that  occurred  that  inspired  A North  Shore  Story?

Alyssa: Well,  I  went  to  college  at  University  of  Illinois  and  graduated  with  a  degree  in  Advertising  and  minors  in both  Business  and  Communications.  Now  I  work  at  an  advertising-­‐technology  company  as  a  Digital Strategist.

Q: What  is  your  side  of  the  story  depicted  in  the  book?  Did  you  change  the  reality  for  the  fiction  version?

 My  side  of  the  story  is  depicted  in  the  book,  but  it’s  pretty  separated  from  reality.  The  biggest  and  only consistency  between  my  character  and  I  are  our  driven  personalities.

Q: What  was  the  most  difficult  part  about  writing  this  book?

The  most  difficult  part  of  writing  the  book  was  helping  it  come  alive.  The  content  was  there,  and  the story  was  strong,  but  fostering  the  story  from  a  passive  standpoint  into  an  active  point  of  view  was  a challenge.

Q: What  do  you  think  the  most  important  lesson  from  the  book  is?

Dean: The  most  important  lesson  from  the  book  is  to  be  confident  in  who  you  are.  Don’t  worry  about  what other  people  think  because  the  fear  of  judgment  can  turn  you  into  a  person  you  don’t  want  to  be.

Q: What  part  of  this  story  do  you  think  appeals  to  young  adult  readers  most?

Alyssa: I  think  what  appeals  to  young  adults  about  A  North  Shore  Story  are  the  pop  culture  references  mixed with  struggles  that  I  think  a  majority  of  teens  have  experienced  or  encountered  at  some  point  in  their lives.

Q: What  clique  were  you  in  in  high  school?  Can  you  tell  us  an  event  that  happened  to  you  and  your friends  that  almost  made  it  into  A  North  Shore  Story  but  isn’t  included?

Alyssa: I  was  definitely  in  the  choir  group  throughout  high  school.  There  weren’t  many  events  that  didn’t  make it  into  A  North  Shore  Story,  but  we  almost  wrote  in  a  choir  sub-­‐plot.  However,  we  switched  it  to  fashion as  the  story  developed.

Q: What  were  some  of  your  favorite  books  in  high  school,  when  the  story  takes  place?

Alyssa: I  loved  the  Harry  Potter  series  and  the  Myron  Bolitar  series  by  Harlan  Coben.  He  writes  excellent mystery  novels,  and  J.K.  Rowling  is  a  genius.

Q: Who  is  your  favorite  author?  What  were  a  few  books  that  inspired  your  writing?

Alyssa: I  don’t  necessarily  have  a  favorite  author  (I  read  a  lot).  However,  I  do  think  that  J.K.  Rowling’s  writing style  was  very  influential  on  my  own.  It’s  also  comforting  to  know  that  she  had  humble  beginnings  just like  Dean  and  I  have  now.

Q: Do  you  think  you’ll  write  another  book?

Alyssa: Like  Dean  mentioned,  we’ve  talked  about  it  a  little  bit.  However,  as  of  now  we  have  not  made  any strides  toward  writing  another  book.

January 18, 2016

Trivial Bits: a guest post by Barry Napier, author of "Serpentine"

About Barry Napier's SERPENTINE: Clarkton Lake is a picturesque vacation spot located in rural Virginia, great for fishing, skiing, and wasting summer days away. 
But this summer, something is different. When butchered bodies are discovered in the water and along the muddy banks of Clarkton Lake, what starts out as a typical summer on the lake quickly turns into a nightmare. 
This summer, something new lives in the lake...something that was born in the darkest depths of the ocean and accidentally brought to these typically peaceful waters. 
It's getting bigger, it's getting smarter...and it's always hungry. 

In what little spare time I have, I often like to read through the trivia sections of my favorite movies at IMDB. I also enjoy reading Wikipedia entries about the creation and development of some of my favorite albums. It’s a glamorous life…I know.
Given these things, you can imagine how happy it makes me to find Wikipedia entries and online articles detailing the creation and thought process behind some of my favorite novels. Yes, I am one of those readers that get very excited when authors discuss how a novel took shape in their afterword or author notes. For instance, I find it fascinating that Stephen King was so stoned and drunk out of his mind that he does not recall writing most of Cujo (which is one of my top 3 King novels). Similarly, did you know that Justin Cronin’s The Passage came about when Cronin and his daughter took walks and just spit-balled ideas for that might make good books?
I thought it might be fun to sort of dissect one of my books in a similar way. What are some of the background details and interesting (maybe) tidbits surrounding one of my books? And since Serpentine was just released, why not use that as the example?
So, here’s some background and trivia on how Serpentine came to be.
While it’s not my longest novel, it took a very long time to write. There was a little more than two years behind the creation of Serpentine. The only time I have taken this long with a book was with my first published book, The Bleeding Room. That one took the better part of three years and its first draft was 135,000 words.
Loosely inspired by Stephen King’s short story,The Raft.” Actually, it was more inspired by the snippet from Creepshow II based on King’s “The Raft.”
About halfway through writing this, I got the sense that this would likely be my last outright horror novel. Most of my stuff is more along the lines of paranormal thrillers anyway (yes, I do believe there is a difference between the two). And, thinking this was my last foray into pure horror, I tried to go all out in a few scenes.
Ever heard of frog-gigging? If you live anywhere near the American south, you probably have. Somehow, it took be a few novels before I mentioned it in any of my work. You’ll find a frog-gigging reference in here.
The lake in Serpentine is structured around a lake I grew up around. The intertwining backgrounds that went deep into the woods always seemed a little creepy to me. As someone that grew up with things like “The Raft” always flashing in the back of my head, my imagination usually went a little wild whenever I visited that lake.
Serpentine started out as an older version of a short story I once wrote and was nearly published called “Smaller Parts of the Whole.”

If you haven’t picked up Serpentine yet, you can grab it for Kindle right now for $2.99. A paperback version will be coming soon from Severed Press.