Anna and the Apocalypse is a Campy, On-Pitch, Zombie-Infested Christmas Delight

The premise of Anna and the Apocalypse is a simple one: right before Christmas, a little town in the UK called Little Haven (along with the rest of the world) succumbs to a viral epidemic that transforms humans into zombies. As a result, a ragtag group of misfits battle to remain alive and to save the people they love.

It’s not a new storyline. We’ve seen it before. But the three things that breathe (undead) life into this little-zombie-apocalypse-movie-that-could are toe-tapping musical numbers, dump trucks of teenage angst, and B horror movie realness.

Yes, my friends, Anna and the Apocalypse is a zombie Christmas musical!

And while critics and viewers have been quick to compare it to High School Musical, I don’t think the comparison gives the film’s soundtrack the credit it’s due. Sure, the songs are cheesy. (I mean, would you expect any less?) But the harmonies are on point, the vocal performances eclipse those of Disney teens, and the lyrics have way more intention than I expected. They either foreshadow events to come (“No such thing as a Hollywood ending”), poke fun at dire situations (“As I wake half dead/In the same old bed” – sung by Anna about her humdrum life as virtually everyone in the town around her has become a zombie overnight), or serve to point out flaws in modern day society (the song “Human Voice” laments our obsession with technology and our lack of true human connection).

But don’t worry, the Anna and the Apocalypse soundtrack isn’t trying to be this intellectual, heady thing. There are moments when it’s laughable, pure-fluff fun. I mean, Nick, the gorgeous jock you love to hate in the movie definitely sings the line “When it comes to killing zombies, I’m the first in my class,” and theatre darling Lisa croons a truly inappropriate Christmas song about keeping Santa satisfied (which totally evokes Mean Girls vibes!). Which is just fun. 

Quite honestly, this is the kind of soundtrack I want to play on repeat in my car on the way to work, belting out all the madcap, crazy lyrics and trying to match the harmonies.

And then there’s all the teenage angst that, dare I say, just might be scarier than the flesh-eating zombies staggering through town.

Anna and the Apocalypse covers all the bases when it comes to high school drama. Anna dreams of getting out of town and exploring the world, but her father is adamant that she goes to college as soon as she graduates. Anna’s best friend, John, has the hots for her but can’t seem to make a move. Steph is a painfully awkward American girl who dreams of being taken seriously as a journalist and whose parents are partying it up in Mexico (without her) for Christmas. Savage is the future (and aptly named) headmaster of the school, who is obsessed with the position and won’t let anything get in his way, including a zombie apocalypse. Living up to parents’ expectations and slut shaming also come into play. 

At times, the characters in Anna and the Apocalypse look way more comfortable decapitating zombies than dealing with their emotions, which is oh so relatable and makes us care about their collective fate. 

Last but certainly not least, Anna and the Apocalypse is a gory good time, full of practical effects that are campy perfection.

And I love practical effects. Sure, CGI can be more realistic if done properly, but no one’s after realism in this movie. Instead, we’re treated to loads of blood spatter, oozy zombie bites, and lots of exploding body parts. The zombie kills are creative and pretty hilarious to watch. 

In short, this movie has the makings of a cult classic. This holiday season, if you’re an craving a Christmas movie with a little, ahem, bite, give Anna and the Apocalypse a try. 

And let me know when you buy the soundtrack. 

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Giftmas 2018 – Anything But Plain

Giftmas-2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Even in my hometown of sunny San Diego, California, it feels like the holiday season. The temperature has dropped enough to warrant the daily donning of boots, scarves, and heavy jackets. Pumpkin, peppermint, gingerbread, and eggnog-flavored treats are everywhere. My husband and I are working our way through our annual tour of holiday movies. And I have to admit, I love, love, love giving gifts – especially the ones that really matter.

That’s why I’m participating in Giftmas 2018.

What’s Giftmas, you ask? It’s a blog tour Rhonda Parrish hosts every December to raise awareness and funds for the Edmonton Food Bank. This year, the blog tour has an Advent theme. Twenty-four authors have donated stories to share on the twenty-four days leading up to Christmas, one each day – and then Rhonda is sharing a super-cool surprise on Christmas Day!

You don’t need to donate in order to read the Giftmas stories (they’re just hanging out on the interwebs for you to discover and enjoy; check out #Giftmas2018 on social media or this post on Rhonda’s blog with links to each published story), but we do hope these tales—some happy, some sad, some holiday-themed, some sci-fi breakup letters—inspire you to donate a little something to help the folks who benefit from the Edmonton Food Bank. Even a dollar makes a difference!

You can donate HERE to make the season merrier and brighter for someone in need.

And now, without further ado, it’s story time!

Yesterday, Kurt Kirchmeier demolished my heart with his gorgeous story “Souls on Display.” Tomorrow, I can’t wait to see what E.C. Bell shares on her blog. Today, check out my feel-good romance short about a bad first date, an unlikely cupid, and a heartwarming realization.

Enjoy!

Anything but Plain

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

As the crowd about her hummed with excitement and low conversation, Kate Saxon turned, regarded Lawrence Chilton’s very plain profile, and tried not to grimace. She shifted her gaze to a man in his seventies who was snoozing in his scratchy theater seat beside her and wished she could body-swap with him.

What she wouldn’t give to sleep through the next couple hours without having to worry about the consequences. No pretense, no mask, no pretending to have a good time—none of the bullshit that accompanied the vile mating ritual that was the blind date. Just sweet, mind-numbing sleep.

To be fair, Lawrence wasn’t horrible company. He was simply expected company, which was worse in Kate’s book.

He’d showed up at her door at precisely 6 PM, freshly shaven, a bouquet of pink carnations underarm. He was her height, normal looking, and held every door open for her. He took her to a well-known Italian restaurant where they shared a bottle of Chianti and blew through the checklist of obligatory first date questions and answers over a fried artichoke appetizer—my job is very satisfying, I go to yoga about twice a week, my family lives an hour away, and my sister is getting married in the fall. They’d both taken to studying the décor of the restaurant in mock appreciation by the time their entrees arrived. There was no spark—of interest or romance.

When the waitress took their plates, Kate rejoiced that the date was nearly over. She’s let nice-enough-but-predictable Lawrence take her home. She’d open another bottle of wine and do Tina Turner impressions in heels while listening to a record on her vintage turntable. It was her post bad date ritual. It was also wonderful cardio.

But Kate’s plan was foiled. Lawrence excitedly pulled a white envelope from his tweed coat and announced he had two tickets for the 8 PM performance of King Lear at the Orpheum Theater downtown. Kate smiled a fake smile, said something about loving “the Bard,” and took a sip of air from her far-too-empty wine glass.

Now, she sat in the front row of the theater, picking at a loose seam on her skirt, wishing she were in her seventies and, thus, allowed to fall asleep on a date without it being considered rude.

Of course, if she did fall asleep and snored like a trucker, perhaps Lawrence would find her repulsive and never call again. Kate gave serious thought to the pros and cons of this option as the lights in the theater dimmed.

“This is going to be great,” Lawrence whispered.

Kate offered a tight-lipped, “Mm hmm,” and then slouched in her chair, having decided she’d give the I’m-so-bored-I-fell-sleep routine a shot. The risk of offense was worth it. She needed to get out of here—or just zone out for the duration of the show. If she was lucky, she’d be extra revolting and drool.

About ten minutes into the show, Kate had her eyes closed when she felt a tickle on her left knuckle. She tensed. Oh God, he’s trying to hold my hand.

Kate’s eyes flicked open, and she looked down, ready to pull her hand discreetly into her lap. But Lawrence’s hand was nowhere to be found. Instead, a spider of damn near Amazonian size peered up at Kate like a puppy dog yearning for a cuddle.

Kate stood up and began to shriek, flicking her wrists in an effort to buck the spider from her hand. But the arachnid held on valiantly like a cowboy at a rodeo, desperate for its six seconds of fame.

Kate was vaguely aware of running about, climbing something—and perhaps rolling around on the ground?—but her sense of location in the theater was a blur until the spider gave up, leaped from her hand, and disappeared through a crack in the stage into the orchestra pit below.

Kate looked up and was blinded by white light. As her eyes adjusted, she peered out into the audience of the theater—at the horrified patrons; at Lawrence, whose mouth hung open; at the old man she’d been seated next to only moments ago and who was now very much awake. She peered over her shoulder and spied actors in Elizabethan garb staring at her as if she were in her underwear.

Kate gazed down at her favorite peep-toe heels and realized she was on the apron of the stage, standing directly above the unused orchestra pit. And she was frozen to the spot, a mute snow woman in the middle of a theater in downtown Phoenix.

Shit.

As Kate opened her mouth, desperate to deliver an apology, Lawrence stood up in the front row. Kate’s stomach twisted. She was sure he’d storm out—or worse, reprimand her in public.

But instead, he started to sing. “Don’t go breakin’ my heart…”

Kate stood there, dumbfounded, frowning at him in confusion.

Lawrence stepped forward and climbed the lip of the stage. He repeated the line, taking Kate’s hand in his, then gave her a nod.

Kate opened her mouth and delivered a truly shaky and off-pitch, “I couldn’t if I tried.”

Lawrence smiled. “Honey, if I get restless.”

Kate smiled. “Baby, you’re not that kind.”

Silence enveloped the theater.

“Now bow,” Lawrence instructed.

Kate bent at the waist and the theater erupted in laughter and applause. Kate straightened and grinned. Lawrence squeezed her hand and a subtle warmth filled Kate’s heart.

“What do you say we get out of here?” Lawrence asked over the trill of the audience.

Kate gave him a nod and he pulled her offstage into the wings, laughing all the while. The stage manager gave them a strict talking to as he led them through a narrow hall past dressing rooms and out the stage door exit.

In the alley behind the theater, Kate leaned against brick and dissolved into laughter. Lawrence did the same, and their shared hilarity echoed off the façades about them and into the starry night.

As Kate’s giggles died down, she looked over at her date. Lawrence’s eyes sparkled in the lamplight, and Kate admitted inwardly that she’d been wrong. Lawrence’s profile was anything but plain.

END

Quoth the Raven Author Victoria Weisfeld on Crime Writing, Dark Fiction, and the Timeless Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Victoria

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

For my final interview, I’m chatting with Victoria Weisfeld, author of “Tooth and Nail” in Quoth the Raven.

Quoth the Raven celebrates the eerie and influential legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. What is it about Edgar Allan Poe’s work that speaks to you (perhaps from the grave)?

As a crime writer, I appreciate how he built up characters who could get under your skin. Growing up reading Poe and Dickens, those long loopy sentences still carry me right into the story, though that writing style is definitely out-of-date today. It’s fun going back to it.

Pick three adjectives to describe the story you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

Obsession, compulsion, and (this is a long one) seeing the world through a cracked lens.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your story is about. What do you tell him?

“Well, Mr. Poe, it’s about a woman who sees her twin brother as the other half of herself and will stop at nothing to keep him close.”

Okay, I’m continuing with this scenario thing. It’s 1849, and you’re at a gathering of literature lovers, a salon, if you will. Across the room, you spy Edgar Allan Poe, and you simply must go over to him to compliment his work. What is the story or poem of his that you laud to excess? And why?

After gushing shamelessly, and extolling “The Gold Bug” for igniting my interest in cryptography, and “The Purloined Letter” as an example of a police procedural, I’d settle on “The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym,” one of Poe’s longer works, as one of the best adventure stories of all time, especially for an 1849 reader as yet unacquainted with the National Geographic and television nature programs.

As a writer, what do you think are the most important elements of dark fiction?

Atmosphere comes to mind first and characters whose darkness (or by contrast, whose innocence) reveals the danger of their environment. Naturally, dark fiction employs sinister plots, but a plot that just piles on gore without establishing a sense of menace or without developing characters the reader cares about falls short. (A flaw in some modern crime fiction, as well.)

As a reader, why are you attracted to dark fiction? Why do you think we like to read about the things that terrify us?

This is not an original insight, but sometimes reading about—exposing oneself to—supremely terrifying things makes it easier to deal with the fearful events encountered in everyday life. Some experts suggest this accounts for the popularity among women of a certain kind of thriller. Reading about sexual violence helps readers contemplate not just the terror of such an event, but also its survivability. Maybe.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. It was the first psychological thriller I’d ever read, so I wasn’t prepared for how far he’d go. Julia Heaberlin’s Paper Ghosts is a 2018 example. A young woman, Grace, embarks on a road trip with a demented elderly man she thinks may have killed her sister a dozen years earlier. The cat-and-mouse game between them, as she tries to figure out how lucid is he, really, is nerve-wracking!

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

I am a Dickens fan, and my last trip to England was to be part of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of his birth (favorite book: Our Mutual Friend). But since I’m a crime/mystery writer I have many sources of inspiration. I’d love to achieve the comic voice—even occasionally—of Joe Ide; the humanity of James Anderson; the literary power of Hannah Tinti, the suspense-creation of Gin Phillips. And many more!

What are you working on now?

Two novels are complete and appearing on publisher’s desks. One set in Rome, involving Eugenia Clarke, whom I’ve published several short stories about. Genie is a travel writer whose curiosity inevitably lands her in difficulty—deadly difficulty in this case. The other novel is about a New York architect whose mistress is murdered. On the surface, it’s about figuring out why she died and who killed her (and why they are plotting against him), but fundamentally it’s about a man trying to regain his self respect.

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

I have an active website—vweisfeld.com—with a page on “My Writing.” You can link directly to many of my short stories there, including the Derringer award-winning “Breadcrumbs.” The website includes book, movie, and theater reviews; covers topics writers fret about; and offers some travel tips, possible fodder for Genie’s next adventures.

About Victoria:

My short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine; Betty Fedora, Big Muddy, and the recent anthologies Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat, Murder Among Friends, and Bouchercon 2017’s Passport to Murder, as well as Quoth the Raven. I’m a reviewer for U.K. website crimefictionlover.com and Broadway-based theater review site TheFrontRowCenter.com.

Quoth the Raven coverAbout Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.

Read “I’ve Got a Soul to Catch” in Thuggish Itch: Devilish

TI - DEVILISH

I’ve always been fascinated by magic, especially that of the close-up variety. I love watching the seemingly impossible manifest (or disappear!) right before my eyes. I’m definitely the type of girl that would be straight-up charmed by a magician walking up to me and asking if I’d like to see a trick.

But what if that particular magician had devilish intentions?

My latest horror short, “I’ve Got a Soul to Catch,” published in Thuggish Itch: Devilish by Gypsum Sound Tales, features magic tricks, the New York subway, and an unnamed man in black with dark ambition and a pack of playing cards.

Here’s a little taste…

“He slid onto the bench next to his unwitting victim, a girl in her mid-twenties who was listening to music through a pair of purple earbuds, bobbing her head in a consistent rhythm. They were seated near the back of the car in the furthermost corner and, for all intents and purposes, they were quite alone. The closest individual was the snoring man, and he certainly wouldn’t be a problem. The other subway passengers—well, the man in black would ensure they kept to themselves.

He took a deck of playing cards out of his breast pocket and began shuffling and fanning them flamboyantly. The man kept it simple at first, sending the cards flying from one palm to another with perfect accuracy and timing.

The cards slapped. The subway lurched. The man smiled. And the third time he executed the trick, he caught the attention of the girl seated next to him.

The man gave her a devilish grin and flicked the cards into the air. If any human had attempted this stunt, the cards would have spun out of control and fallen to the dirty floor of the subway car. But since the man in black was decidedly inhuman, the cards traveled in a graceful arc a full two feet above their heads, then drifted down to settle in the man’s awaiting palm.

The girl plucked the buds from her ears, her eyes widening. “That was incredible!” She laughed, and a gust of her breath fanned over the man’s face. It smelled of cotton candy, and it took all of the man in black’s restraint to keep from swallowing her whole right there in the back of the J train.

Of course, that wouldn’t do.”

To read the rest, pick up your copy of Devilish HERE!

About Thuggish Itch: Devilish 

Devils, demons and the idea of Hell have always featured prominently in the horror stories that I found myself reading as a teenager or the films I still delve into on a rainy day. I’ve always found it quite amazing how differently the leading man, Satan, is portrayed depending on the creativity and beliefs of the creator. Sometimes he’ll sport a large pair of curved horns and a pointed tail, his skin red, his body smooth and muscular. Other times, he’ll have the head of a goat and a large pair of wings that sprout from between his shoulders like those of a mighty condor. Thuggish Itch’s Devilish collection features, in no particular order, thirteen of our favourite tales, each of which provides a different take on the mythology, the red man himself and all of his minions.

An Interview with Quoth the Raven Poe-etess Tonia Kalouria

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

Next, I’m interviewing Tonia Kalouria, author of “Advice is for the Birds” in Quoth the Raven.

Briefly describe the poem you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

A rhyming, ironic sublimation of my disdain for poetry editors who will accept nothing but free verse. “If it rhymes, don’t waste your time!” Note I did not use “our” time, as it takes no enterprise to toss another’s soul in the trash heap.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your poem is about. What do you tell him?

I was inspired by the notion that unsolicited, unwanted advice is something that is “for the birds,” as we used to say. And, Hitchcock notwithstanding, menacing, nay-saying birds = Poe’s Raven, of course.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

What work has “creeped me out”?  The Exorcist — book and movie! By reading the book first, I viewed the film not as fiction, but fact. I was considering therapy for almost a week I was so traumatized. And pea soup was definitely off-menu for a very long time.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

Wordsmiths I admire:  I love the surprise twist endings and Irony of O’Henry.  I admire the light verse of Dorothy Parker and Ogden Nash, and Mother Goose’s rhymes.  I immensely enjoyed reading Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

But I think the “heard word” deserves consideration as well when discussing the outstanding use of language. To wit: The late James Reilley, head writer for NBC’s soap “Passions” cranked out delightful scripts to fill five one-hour shows per week. And said scripts encompassed multi-genres: romance, mystery, fantasy, and especially, humor!

The rock opera, Jesus Christ Super Star with lyrics by Tim Rice is another example of brilliance with the heard word.

And not least, dear radio icon, Paul Harvey. I eagerly awaited his fifteen minute noon newscasts from elementary school days when I would run home for lunch, until his last broadcast as an adult.

What are you currently working on right now?

Utilizing my fondness for irony and memorable endings, I am currently tweaking a flash fiction piece called: “Blind Justice.” As with the five serious poems I wrote for the 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly Blog, it too,  has a moral, or “message.”

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

I can be reached on Linkedin or Facebook.

About Tonia:

Tonia is the mother of two wonderful sons and grandmother of one lovely granddaughter, and a former high school Spanish teacher in Toledo and Elyria, OH. She was also “Dr. Wilson” from 2002-2007 on the NBC soap “Passions.”

Quoth the Raven coverAbout Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.

Dark Tales and Devious Plots with Quoth the Raven Author Donea Lee Weaver

Donea Lee photo

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

Next, I’m interviewing Donea Lee Weaver, author of “The Ca(t)sualty” in Quoth the Raven.

Quoth the Raven celebrates the eerie and influential legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. What is it about Edgar Allan Poe’s work that speaks to you (perhaps from the grave)?

I think what really speaks to me about Poe’s work is the way he delves into the psychology of madness. So many triggers and so many reactions and consequences. It’s fascinating!

Pick three adjectives to describe the story you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

Morally-gray, snarky, accidental.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your story is about. What do you tell him?

I’d ask him, “Have you ever been married?…Happily?…If your answer is ‘yes,’ then my story is a cautionary tale of what could happen if you pushed your spouse too far – and liked the cat more than her…”

Okay, I’m continuing with this scenario thing. It’s 1849, and you’re at a gathering of literature lovers, a salon, if you will. Across the room, you spy Edgar Allan Poe, and you simply must go over to him to compliment his work. What is the story or poem of his that you laud to excess? And why?

I’d tell him that the story that has stuck with me from when I first read it in school, is “The Tell-Tale Heart.” The image of the old man’s eye and how the main character tries to convince the reader that he’s not mad…yet, he so clearly is…it’s awesome.

As a writer, what do you think are the most important elements of dark fiction?

They absolutely have to be atmospheric, such a dark and riveting setting that when the madness/terror happens you’re already sucked in. I also think they need to really dig into the inner-dialogue of what drives the main character to do this terrible thing they do.

As a reader, why are you attracted to dark fiction? Why do you think we like to read about the things that terrify us?

For me, it’s always been about the adrenaline rush. When I’m so terrified, I want to cover my eyes and hide away, but I’m still peeking through my fingers, because I just have to know what happens next.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

I’d have to go with Frankenstein. It’s terrifying and heart-breaking at the same time. And the way it plays with ideas of gods and monsters is really quite genius.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

There are many, but some of the stories that have truly stuck with me – the ones I wish with all my heart were real – those are the most inspiring to me, and they were written by: J.K. Rowling, Roald Dahl, Eva Ibottson, Cornelia Funke, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

What are you currently working on right now?

I’m working on a contemporary, light sci-fi novel that has a creepy explanation about the faces you might see in inanimate objects…

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

I had a short novella published in an anthology a while back, but it has since been unpublished, so my story in Quoth the Raven is the only piece of mine you can currently find online. Hopefully, more to come soon. People can always connect with me on Twitter or Instagram: @donealee

About Donea Lee:

Donea Lee Weaver is a perpetual daydreamer who’s been creating and telling stories since her elementary school days. When she’s not writing about the things she loves (all things fantasy, sci-fi, romance and yes, even a little horror) she’s out exploring with her daughter, dog and husband somewhere in northern UT. She also loves to read, travel and play games with her sisters and best friend. She earned a BA in English from Weber State University and is a member of SCBWI, The League of UT Writers and attends the Storymaker’s Writing Conference every year. Feel free to contact her at donealee@gmail.com or find her on Twitter and Instagram: @donealee

Quoth the Raven coverAbout Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.

Chills and Thrills with Quoth the Raven Author Emerian Rich

To celebrate the release of Quoth the Raven, edited by Lyn Worthen and published by Camden Park Press, I’m getting cozy with my fellow anthology contributors to learn more about their stories and what inspires their dark little writers’ hearts.

Next, I’m interviewing Emerian Rich, author of “My Annabel” in Quoth the Raven.

Quoth the Raven celebrates the eerie and influential legacy of Edgar Allan Poe. What is it about Edgar Allan Poe’s work that speaks to you (perhaps from the grave)?

He just gets us, you know? His mind created some of the best moments in horror by just understanding how we like to be scared.

Pick a couple adjectives to describe the story you wrote for Quoth the Raven.

Creepy, heartbreaking.

Imagine you’re in an old-timey elevator, a rickety one that boasts a well-worn, rusty cage. There’s a man in all black in the elevator with you, and he asks what your story is about. What do you tell him?

“My Annabel” tells the story of two surgeons caught in a pandemic emergency and their fight to stay alive for one another.

Okay, I’m continuing with this scenario thing. It’s 1849, and you’re at a gathering of literature lovers, a salon, if you will. Across the room, you spy Edgar Allan Poe, and you simply must go over to him to compliment his work. What is the story or poem of his that you laud to excess? And why?

To tell you the truth, I’d probably get too tongue-tied to express myself. Although I can speak in front of crowds and read to hundreds, I would have a hard time addressing someone I held so highly. I’d go into it thinking I would compliment him on “Annabel Lee” but then blurb out some incoherent ramble, ended with apologies and a quick exit!

As a writer, what do you think are the most important elements of dark fiction?

I really just want to scare my readers the way I want to be scared. What I think is creepy and spooky will also get under the skin of my readers. So, it’s getting into the head of a horror reader and pushing them just one step closer to the edge without losing them over the cliff.

As a reader, why are you attracted to dark fiction? Why do you think we like to read about the things that terrify us?

Horror addicts like to be scared in a safe, non-harmful way. Creep me out, test my limits, push me over the edge as long as in reality I am safe in my warm bed, able to switch on the light and see the monsters are just in my head.

What’s a story or poem – by any author – that has truly creeped you out (in the best way possible, of course)? What was it about that particular story that just got to you?

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is pretty creepy. I read it after watching the movie because I just adored the film. The book is similar, but it’s got this underlying chill that scared me more than the movie. The house (or the bog) seemed almost like a Cthulhu creature, mesmerizing characters into doing strange things, or paralyzing their thought process in a way that seemed insurmountable to overcome.

Who are some of your literary inspirations?

Anne Rice and Andrew Neiderman are my favorite horror writers. I also enjoy Jane Austen and Regency Romance fiction. I try to take what others have done twist it so it becomes something new.

What are you currently working on right now?

My current WIP is a modern YA rewrite of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. You could call it Gossip Girl meets The Shining. This is my favorite of her books and fits me so well because the heroine in the novel is a horror addict like me. In my modern tale, Kat is a goth gal seeking adventure who finds it during a spooky trek to the snow country where a family is haunted by the memories of their deceased mother.

Where can we find more of your work or connect with you online?

emzbox.com


About Emerian:

Emerian Rich is the author of the vampire book series, Night’s Knights, and writes romance under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal. Her horror/romance crossover, Artistic License, is about a woman who inherits a house where anything she paints on the walls comes alive. She’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, Hidden Thoughts Press, Hazardous Press, and White Wolf Press. She is the podcast Horror Hostess of HorrorAddicts.net and you can connect with her at: emzbox.com.

Quoth the Raven cover

About Quoth the Raven:

The works of Poe were dark and often disturbing. From dismembered corpses, rivals bricked behind cellar walls, murders in back alleys, laments for lost loves, obsessions that drive men – and women! – to madness, his stories have had a profound impact on both the horror and mystery genres to this day.

In Quoth the Raven, we invite you to answer the call of the raven and revisit Poe’s work, re-imagined for the twenty-first century. Here, the lover of mystery and goth horror will find familiar themes in contemporary settings, variations on Poe’s tales, and faithful recreations of the author’s signature style.

Purchase your copy of the anthology HERE.