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Today for your chilling reading pleasure, we have an interview with Lance Reedingee, the author of the creepy horror novella, Goblins.

I love that this story is set in the Appalachians. What made you decide to set your story there?

I live about an hour away from the West Virginian region and have visited the area many times. To be able to location scout the majority of ones work is such a visual advantage. This location is not that far from populated areas but just a few miles in and it becomes otherworldly. Once dusk sets in, the shadows of the mountains engulf the wooded trails and what better place to have monsters lurking in the woods. The small towns that encompass most of the southern Appalachians are charming yet daunting as well. As told in “Goblins” all of these towns seem to hold secrets. 

How long have you been working on it?

It was about six months total from outline to finished draft, of course there is a long period of post production that goes after that. For many of my works there is already an outline for categories I want to write, such as: Vampires, Werewolves, Goblins, and other creatures. 

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What made you decide to write horror?

Growing up in the Eighties, horror became part of pop culture. Many from my generation gravitated artistically toward the horror genre. The primal emotion of fear based art helps to evoke emotion more so than most other genres. As well, horror provides so many sub genres that can be explored. A writer or producer can put out work with elements of comedy, drama, action, all under the setting of horror based art while exploring other creative outlets. 

What inspired Goblins?

“Goblins” was defiantly inspired by the Japanese books and film “Battle Royale,” as well as the Spanish film “Intacto.” These works are all contest based horror which has fascinated me. In such works the audience gets to not only enjoy the film or book but examine the piece over and over as contest featured works provide so many different characters and points of view. Works such as “The Hunger Games” and “Lord of the Flies” are enjoyed over and over as they can be read or viewed thru different perspectives from all of the different narrative points. To write contest horror is a lot of fun, but the attention to detail and timeline of events is very difficult to keep up with.

Was it an active decision to write a novella?

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My publisher has a great game plan for all of her artist which I really bought into. The team at Boutique41 implements a start small and grow philosophy. They encourage a novella in form of the atypical twenty to twenty-five thousand words to start, which was where “Claws” fell under. “Goblins” needed to be over the forty-thousand word mark making it officially a novel, though on the short end of the word count stick. Both works were well over that count at first draft and then we went to work on narrowing the narrative to give the reads great pace. In particular when writing to a North American base, you have to keep the story rolling. I love this philosophy of word counting in getting started. Way too many writers begin with their epic works and spends years working on a project that may never find a proper outlet and they just give up. My advice is to start small and build, if you can write a short you can write a novella, if you can write a novella you can write a novel. 

Is there a horror novel or movie that really scared the hell out of you as a child?

As a Catholic of course “The Exorcist” comes to mind for myself and just about everyone who has ever viewed the film. Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left” is probably the film that scared the hell out of me the most. The horror community worships the Eighties but the films of the Seventies were so brutal and shot almost as snuff projects that the violence is shockingly lifelike. Craven and other artist had to rely on creativity and live props as opposed to modern FX, which brought out many kill scenes that look absolutely real. We all love monsters and creatures but as in “Last House on the Left,” human monsters could be the person walking past you in the park which is scarier than any monster of myth. I read ‘IT” at a very young age and lived in a suburban neighborhood, so as per written work, that is the book that scared me the most and inflicted a serious distrust of clowns. 

This is your second book. How did working on it differ from writing Claws?

“Goblins” is a much longer and more intricate work than “Claws.” The major difference was the amount of characters and settings in the work. A good exercise is to have a biography written of each character to reference during the project. “Claws” was one long setting with a classic two person point of view where as “Goblins” takes place in over a dozen settings with several characters sprinting to a conclusion. The major difference while writing “Goblins” was to go back and have to reexamine that motives of each characters as the story progressed.

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What do you think your favorite part of Goblins is?

There is a Goblin attack in chapter two that is my favorite work of the book. Since the story plays as a action thrill ride horror, this attack is straight old school horror at its core and was so fun write. I got a little carried away and we did have to edit it to make the scene a tad less brutal but that chapter is by far my favorite and I have gotten a lot of great feedback from the horror community from it. 

What do you see in the future for your career? Are you working on any new stories?

My current publisher gives all of her artists a game plan and I am now on step three. I have just started the outlinefor my next work with a contract to have over Eighty-Thousand words for a full blown novel. Each work is personal as I try to leave my mark on all of the horror tropes. “Claws” was a sea creature, “Goblins” is contest horror and this year I am working on a Vampire piece. Eventually I would like to do a series which could best be described as the “Game of Thrones of Horror.” I think the one thing the genre is lacking is an epic work filled with many monsters, perhaps the closest thing to attempt that is the Russian novels “Night Watch,’ or the Polish books “The Witcher.” I would like to remove some of the more fantasy based elements of these great works and put out a straight horror epic series. 

Where can our audience find you?

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Like many authors, I can be found on Amazon with links to all of my works. As well as my publisher’s site, Boutique41publishing.org. I am also listed on Goodreads and Barnes and Noble online. If you are a fan of all horror, I contribute to horror-nation.com with weekly articles and film and literature reviews.

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Book Reviews

Blood Meridian, a Book Review

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, (1985) is a Western (or Anti-Western) epic novel by Cormac McCarthy.

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Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, (1985) is a Western (or Anti-Western) epic novel by Cormac McCarthy. This review discusses the digital copy of the First Vintage International Edition.

The kid wanders the West as a survivor and thug. After getting caught up with the ominous Judge Holden, his life remains forever entwined with the cruel force of the man. The kid becomes a soldier, a scalper, and an outlaw but always finds Judge Holden somewhere in the distance. Civilization approaches the untamable West, which forces the kid adapt or die. But it is Judge Holden who remains: an unchanging force of cruelty.

A field of reeds overlooked by a sky divided by dust yellow and sky blue. McCarthy on top and Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West below.
Cover Design by Chip Kidd and Cover Illustration by Larry Schwarm

What I Liked

Cormac McCarthy remains one of the most brutal authors, both in narrative and writing. You will feel the danger of the West, its inhuman cruelty, and fear for the kid. Many often call Blood Meridian McCathy’s magnum opus. As a result, if this brutal novel satisfies your readerly tastes, you’ll have his entire collection to sample.

Judge Holden remains a true force of evil and cruelty masked in human form. McCarthy likes to represent forces of nature through his antagonists. Judge Holden doesn’t always directly antagonize, but his role becomes increasingly clear as the novel continues.

Few authors convey cruelty like Cormac McCarthy, who structures his writing so that sentences bleed into each other in frantic syntax. I mean this somewhat literally as he removes quotation marks in dialogue or creates blunt sentences to reflect the mood he wants to display.

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Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

Era-appropriate (using “appropriate” loosely here) racism encompasses this novel in a rather uncomfortable and upsetting way. We are dealing with the West, where scalping earned payment and slavery was a debatable issue. McCarthy doesn’t shy away from this reality. It also should be noted that some characters thrive in such industries. This reality certainly doesn’t make the reading any less harsh.

There is graphic violence and cruelty in every chapter, altogether influencing nearly every page. It will be a hard read for those sensitive to any kind of abuse, because all kinds appear in this novel. Few horrors depict the cruelty of man like a Cormac McCarthy novel, and Blood Meridian is no exception. In fact, it might be the leading example.

Cormac McCarthy sitting for an interview. A collection of books rest on a bookshelf behind him.
Cormac McCarthy

What I Dislike, or Food for Thought

McCarthy provides brutal and challenging prose. Blood Meridian is more accessible than many of his other novels; regardless, it still provides a difficult reading experience for those unaccustomed to his style. After the first two chapters, you’ll grow accustomed to the style, or it might be a skip. I say the first two as Chapter 1 runs through the boy’s life to the point of his adventure, which might be its own sore spot for some readers.

Don’t expect realism in the novel. As mentioned, McCarthy favors villains that represent a force of nature. This stylistic choice often makes his characters, largely the antagonists, superhuman forces.

Following down this criticism, or consideration, also extends to realism holistically. McCarthy brings life to his interpretation of the West, the States, and Mexico. Don’t expect accurate descriptions of locations or historical events. I didn’t note many historical inaccuracies, however I’m also not versed in that era.

Blood Meridian deconstructs the pop-culture West, lingering on the horrors of the era and the indifference of the West. Expect the psychological nature of man to be the center of its haunting.

Final Thoughts

Cormac McCarthy earns his reputation as one of the great living American authors, and Blood Meridian remains one of his most haunting novels to date. Few authors dare to display the cruelty of man, producing emotional truth and horrid images that can twist a reader’s stomach. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian dares all that and more.
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

A Pilgrimage of Swords, a Book Review

A Pilgrimage of Swords (2019) is the first novel of a grimdark fantasy series (The Seven Swords) authored by Anthony Ryan.

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A Pilgrimage of Swords (2019) is the first novel of a grimdark fantasy series (The Seven Swords) authored by Anthony Ryan. The book is technically a novella, running slightly short of a novel-length, but reads like a collection of short stories. This review will cover Subterranean Press’ digital copy of the novella.

Desperate to change his fate, Pilgrim forfeits his name on his quest to meet a mad god. He and his fellow pilgrims travel a dangerous road filled with abominations and horrors in the desperate hope that they might have one prayer answered. With a twisted sentient sword, he fights his darkness and the God’s abominations in the hopes of something better.

Mountain and desert region with named sections: The Crescent, Crucible Bridge, The Whispering Sands, Chapel of the Absolved, Valkerin Road, City of Spires, The Kraken Grave, The Execration
Interior Design by Desert Isle Design, LLC

What I Liked

As mentioned, this novella reads like a collection of short stories. Each story tackles a specific challenge and region. The strategy works well in building the torment of the journey and keeping the reader consistently engaged.

A voice plagues Pilgrim, constantly antagonizing him at every step of their journey. The style in which this “voice” delivers their intrusive thoughts, while not inherently unique, remains an enjoyable and satisfying read. The voice itself becomes a favored character of mine. Pilgrim and “voice” share a dynamic of brooding hero and antagonizer. Again, not unique, but done with great effect.

Despite the tight word count, several twists effectively engage the reader, helping to add to the world that we only get a glimpse of.

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While the supporting cast doesn’t have as much time dedicated to them, they collectively add to the experience with unique perspectives and dynamics.

In terms of horror, the final chapter provides the most stunning examples. This review is spoiler-free, but the build-up certainly exceeds expectations for the first read.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings

A Pilgrimage of Swords resides on the lighter side of grimdark high fantasy, but it remains grimdark. The world of A Pilgrimage of Swords is uncaring and cruel, producing characters that reflect that, functioning as opportunists.

Animals do die, and children are equally prone to potential death. Again, not entirely out of character for the setting, but it should be mentioned for readerly consideration.

As the description might indicate, torment and suffering are recurring motifs in the story. While the tortures certainly are sadistic, readers get the aftermath. The novel doesn’t linger in its sadism.

A party of 7 and a hyena travelling up a bridge with a giant knight statue at its center. The Bridge overlooks a waterfall.
Dust Jacket by Didier Graffet

What I Dislike, or Food for Thought

As A Pilgrimage of Swords is a high fantasy novel with light grimdark elements, the horror reflects that concept. There are tense moments, and characters are prone to danger, but genuine horror remains lacking. The novel doesn’t claim itself as such, but our audience should consider this. However, walking gods of madness twisting their environment to reflect their psyche shouldn’t be ridden off too quickly.

While I mostly enjoy the brevity of the story and how the chapters read like short stories, it limits the time we have to invest in the characters and setting. This novel is the first of a continuing series, so this criticism doesn’t inherently apply to the other novels. This first introduction remains easy to recommend for those looking for a quick read, not a long investment.

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Many plot beats are predictable and can somewhat underwhelm a reader when the obvious thing happens. I will admit that this isn’t too often a hindrance but compromises to accommodate the tighter word count. Luckily, there are plot twists to minimize this underwhelming predictability, but the chapters could still utilize an extended word count.

The name doesn’t exactly fit this first entry of the series. It might be a perfect name for the series, but this novel’s pilgrimage has little to do with swords.

Final Thoughts

A Pilgrimage of Swords has a few haunting moments but is an otherwise enjoyable and quick read. If a grimdark set in a high fantasy where cruel gods walk the earth sounds like an interest of yours, this will certainly satisfy that itch. While it remains a little too brief, this is by design and part of a larger narrative.
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Horror in graphic novels

Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5

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Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…

The Voice creepy comics collage by Jennifer Weigel
The Voice creepy comics collage by Jennifer Weigel

Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)

“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.

The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.

Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…

Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”

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The City creepy comics collage by Jennifer Weigel
The City creepy comics collage by Jennifer Weigel

Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)

This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…

Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!

Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!

And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…

If you want to see more art, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

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