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Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue current tour with Bryce "The Govna" Graves, Lucian Fuller, Mr. Short E. Dangerously, Ms. Willow Lauren, Mr. Eric Ross, and Camille Zamboni
Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue current tour

Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue took the U.S. by storm last year with their Face Your Fears tour, bringing Circus Sideshow to the front and center stage to raise awareness of these amazing performers and death-defying feats even while a lot of artists were still too afraid to tour. When I first saw them at The Cotillion in Wichita on July 1, 2021, I immediately knew that I had to find a way to bewitch them to visit us here at Haunted MTL.

There’s no stop’n Hellzapoppin!Bryce “The Govna” Graves

This year, they’re at it again, encouraging audiences to join them for the next Face Your Fears tour with these talented performers as they worm their way deeper into our hearts. Here at Haunted MTL we were fortunate to snag an interview Bryce “The Govna” Graves, the Ringleader behind Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue. Follow along with bated breath as we journey deep into the magical circus tent and peek behind the curtain to learn more about this incredible show.

So without further ado, here’s the interview…

You are a man of many talents, including high rise window cleaning and the fundraising Making Memories bicycle ride. You’ve also been intensely immersed the entertainment industry as a jack of all trades in rock n roll, television, stuntsmanship, casting, production, mobile tunes, and more. What drew you to the freak show when you first witnessed the art form in 2004?

OK, this is a good question. Back in 2004, I was a young man, cocky, maybe even a little arrogant but also completely naïve. I thought that I had seen it all but what I didn’t realize, I had not seen anything yet! I was managing rock bands, TV personalities, traveling the world and I even had my own Rock ‘n Roll TV show called True Music on Mark Cuban‘s old TV Network, HDNet. I was on top of the world!

I was producing a large scale event for a local radio station at a haunted attraction in Dallas Texas and was searching for something unique and different. I ended up booking an authentic turn of the century traveling circus Sideshow. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into at the time. I’ve seen many circuses at this point in my life. When I was a child I remember seeing a Freakshow at the state fair. It was terrifying to me at that time. They had Siamese twins, a bearded lady, a half man, Sword Swallowers and all sorts of other performers.


Anyway, I remember driving up to the haunted attraction and seeing the circus tent with the incredible beautiful giant handpainted banner line in front. I was immediately bewildered, overwhelmed and stupefied at what was before my eyes. I was even more blown away when I saw the show. Circus and sideshow is literally a dying art form. Before the Internet, before television and yes before radio, the first forms of paid entertainment in America were circus and sideshows. I had an epiphany… I knew at that very moment it was my job to let the world know that this sort of entertainment still existed. 

I am so passionate about music, I loved working with rock bands and TV personalities but nothing filled my heart more than the circus. This is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and here I am 18 years later still in business and thriving more than ever. We have traveled and performed well over 3000 shows in 16 countries. When we are not off touring and performing in our own circus tent or inside music venues and small theaters we are touring with some of the biggest and most famous rock bands in the world.

How did this experience drive you to become involved in the Brothers Grim SideShow and later create the “vaudeville freak show of wonder”, as you yourself have described the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue experience?

Okay… this is a very touchy subject and I’m a little reluctant to respond. Up until now I have ignored this question so consider yourself lucky. It’s bittersweet if you will. It actually makes me cringe however when I hear the words Brothers Grim Sideshow.

The sideshow world is a very small and tight niched community. As you can probably imagine, it is a very dark and dangerous business. There are a lot of very unusual people in this business and they don’t take lightly to inexperienced newcomers such as myself at that time and rightfully so. I had an artist management company called Brown Gravy Entertainment in Deep Ellum, Dallas Texas. As mentioned, I was managing rock bands and TV personalities. Soon after my haunted attraction event ended, I met with the owner of the Bros. Grim and offered him a management deal. At this point in their career, the performers were actually running the outfit and they had only performed a handful of shows. 

Within a few short years, I had taken this little sideshow that nobody had ever heard of all around the world. I personally and solely produced all our tours including Ozzfest 06 and 07, The Family Values Tour with Korn and Deftones 07, the Vans Warped Tour 07 and on Festival Tours all around Scandinavia and Europe. I brought all of my industry connections to the table. I invested countless backbreaking hours, days, months, years and personal money into someone else’s project. I put my name and my entire being on the line for someone else that I truly believed in and later it came back to bite me in the ass. 


The show owed me a ridiculous amount of money so the owner agreed to convert what he owed me into equity. I then became 49% owner of the show but that didn’t last very long. He was notorious for not paying his bills. I brokered deals with friends of mine in the business and he later screwed them over and never paid them either. My name was being soiled and ran through the mud and due to massive creative differences and personality conflicts, I decided to leave and start my own show.

It was like a horrible horrible divorce between my former business partner and I. We were the best of friends so it was incredibly heartbreaking for me. Still is… Half of the performers and crew went with me and the other half stayed with him. Even up til today, many of these people still slander, harass and bully me. They have defamed my character and integrity as a person more than you can imagine. I can’t begin to tell you the damage they have caused. No matter, I have stayed true to myself and just ignore the lies and horrific accusations. 

There was something good that came out of all this hell. Had I not seen that beautiful circus tent and banner line, had I not worked with so many amazing performers, I would not own my own show today. This is how Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue came to be.

In response to the last couple of years and the definition of FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real, how have the Face Your Fears tours inspired you, the myriad of performers with whom you share the stage, your audiences, and others?  What advice can you offer our readership on facing their fears?

You are just full of good questions… 

Up until 2020, HELLZAPOPPIN was unstoppable. We had been through a lot of shit in our time. We survived the 2008 economic crash, the constant slander and bullying from my former business partner and his goons and now a global pandemic.  


There’s a tagline that I live by. There’s no stop’n Hellzapoppin! I never thought in a million years that something as simple as a global pandemic would cut me off at the knees and leave me stranded but it did. We lost over 150 shows and 1.5 years of work. Two months prior to Covid, my lady and I had purchased a 20 acre tree farm in Florida. We were supposed to be in Russia March 2020 but that got canceled. We were scheduled for a European tour, a Canadian tour and two U.S. tours but they all got canceled as well. 

Naturally, I was terrified and in uncharted territory. I didn’t know what the hell we were going to do. The definition of Hellzapoppin is chaos. It means anything can happen and it probably will. The world had met Hellzapoppin head on. 

I remember spending months terrified and living in fear. My lady Willow Lauren and I had decided to turn the TV off. We stopped watching the news, we stopped worrying and we began to focus on ourselves. We had decided to use our down time from touring wisely. We spent the next year rebuilding, re-branding, rewriting and restructuring the entire show from top to bottom. We were not about to let this pandemic get the best of us. 

We are signed to one of the most amazing rock ‘n’ roll booking agencies in the world, TKO. We were strategizing a tour for months and we wanted to be ready to pull the trigger the second the economy reopened and we did. It was February 2021 when we announced our first tour back. Florida was one of the first to re-open so we booked shows all around Florida. Soon there after many other states were beginning to open so we launched a national tour. According to my Booking Agent, we were the first touring act in America to hit the road after the economy reopened. The eyes were upon us. Damn near every booking agency, every promoter and every venue around the country was keeping an eye on us. They all wanted to see how we would do. 

I had two major fears. Were people going to buy tickets and could we get through a tour without getting sick? It was time to face our fears and get back out there and show the world that we were a force to be reckoned with and that’s exactly what we did. We sold out damn near every single show from February to August and we set record merchandise sales!


By mid April the first tour was coming to an end. At this point we have seen so many bizarre differences between the various cities and state mandates. Our last few shows were in Colorado and South Dakota and at this point neither had mask mandates. If we were going to get sick it was going to be here. It wasn’t until we were driving home back to Florida that almost everybody on the show was feeling sick. The second we got home we all got tested and all but two people came back positive. Luckily the tour was over so we all quarantined here at our farm. The good thing, none of us had it all that bad. It was pretty much the standard headaches, loss of taste and smell, brain fog, leg cramps, etc. I found that if I laid in bed I felt worse but if I got up and stayed busy on the farm I got through quite easily.

I have named all of my tours last year and this year, Face Your Fears. I found that sitting at home and watching the news and all the chaos that was going on in the world was tearing away at my soul. We can’t let this define us. We must continue to move forward and if we don’t the world is going to become a very ugly place. Think about it. Friends, neighbors and even family have turned against each other. The presidential election, the pandemic, the vaccinations or lack there of has turned us all against each other. This madness must stop! It’s time to put our differences aside. This is time that we are supposed to come together and support one another. It’s time to face your fears! You must dig deep and muster up the courage to get back out there. You can’t let this define who you are. We can do this.  Face Your Fears! Get out there, support your local restaurants and bars, touring shows, artists, festivals and so forth. If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask. If you want to get vaccinated, get vaccinated and if you don’t, don’t but either way you’ve got to FACE YOUR FEARS!

I hope to help re-open venues, help employ people, and bring fans back together again to reclaim our livelihood and inspire other touring artists to take the plunge and get back out there. Laughter and wonder can be the best medicines. I love seeing the excitement, the positive shock and awe on people’s faces. Most importantly, I like to connect with people and bring them into our world and share our stories with them. We aim to teach them how to look at the world differently. If people can escape their harsh realities, fears, and anxieties for just a few moments, then we have succeeded.

I caught your show in Wichita, Kansas, USA on July 1, 2021 and was awestruck by the mastery, passion and showmanship that everyone in Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue puts into all they do. You have an amazing lineup on your 2022 tour featuring some of the previous performers as well as new talent. Please introduce us to the incredible artists you are bringing with you and let us know where you met them.  We want all the juicy details we sink our teeth into…

First off, thank you for those kind words. I’ll feature many star-studded performers on Hellzapoppin this year. We have four tours going out this year. This coming March and April I will feature performers such as Lucian Fuller. Lucian is a freshly unique, high energy and family friendly circus performer with world class juggling skills, dangerously funny stunts and clean fun comedy that is sure to entertain and create an enjoyable memory of a lifetime. In addition to Hellzapoppin, Lucian Fuller is also a performer on Cirque Du Soleil and has amazed audiences around the world performing in over 5,000 shows and 27 countries.

Fans will also get the chance to witness the world’s most amazing half-man, Mr. Short E. Dangerously. This tiny daredevil is a Ripley’s Star and has been featured in 2 of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books! There are wax figures of Shorty in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museums all over the world, and he was featured on the Ripley’s international TV show. You may have also seen Short E. Dangerously on AMC’s Freakshow!


Also making an appearance this year is the mysterious, sultry, and spellbinding fabulous woman of enchantment – Ms. Willow Lauren. Beautiful beyond desire and cruel beyond words, Willow is a former motorcycle stunt-rider turned international touring sideshow stunt-woman and aspiring illusionist and aerialist. She’s known as the Ballerina of the Blades. Willow swallows swords and performs the contortion blade-box of death. She not only eats fire she also eats and regurgitates razor blades! Willow will swallow a lifesaver, using dental floss she’ll saw a hole into her throat and will miraculously grab hold of the lifesaver and will pull it out of her neck right before your very eye’s and with no blood and no pain.

You’ll see the pain-proof strong man Mr. Eric Ross! Eric is a world renown magician and sideshow stunt-man. He performs death defying stunts live on stage such as the ancient and deadly art-form known as Fakir. Much like a sewing pincushion, Eric takes long stainless steel skewers and pokes them right through his biceps, through the palm of his hands and even through the mandible which is located directly underneath his tongue as it pops out just under his jaw and next to his throat. This is a demonstration of mind over matter and again with no blood and no pain.

Last and definitely not least, with a playful curiosity and a sweet demure, Camille Zamboni revels in twisting her way into your little black hearts. Camille is an incredible contortionist, a hand-balancer and archer that hails from the Paris of Appalachia. With as much grit as the city she comes from, she is self-taught in her acts. A background in artistic gymnastics left her bending and balancing. She picked up archery, and now sends arrows flying through the air using her feet as she balances upside down on her hands and bent over backwards. Camille Zamboni holds the official Guinness World Record for painting the world’s largest Ouija Board at the Grand Midway Hotel in Pennsylvania!

I will be announcing other amazing and incredible performers soon. To learn more about Hellzapoppin, and for tickets to the “Face Your Fears” tour, please visit

How long will this tour run and where can we can catch you next?  (Here’s hoping a return trip to Wichita is in the cards…)

The first tour is going to last two months in April and May. I will be announcing the other three tours over the next few weeks. You can again find that information at


In the past, we have witnessed astounding feats, Guinness World Records have been broken, and we were even invited onstage to see Willow Lauren survive the contortion blade box of death… Are there any tantalizing tidbits that will appear in the show that you’d be willing to divulge to our Haunted MTL readership? Is there anything in particular we should keep our eyes peeled for when we come?

I can’t give away too much more, you’ll just have to Face Your Fears and come see the show and these world famous performers for yourself. Bring a friend or 10… 

Thank you so much for dropping in and chatting with us here at Haunted MTL. Is there anything else you’d like to mention – any freakishly delightful morsels that may have rolled off this plate, onto the floor, and down the basement stairs?

Yes, please support a dying art form and one of the very last authentic Touring Circus Sideshows. Stop by today and pick up some merchandise. We have amazing T-shirts, hoodies and all sorts of fun stuff at our merchandise store. Be sure to like us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’d like to know more, sign up for our email newsletter also  at Thank you for this opportunity, I look forward to seeing you all out on the midway.

Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue current tour with Bryce "The Govna" Graves, Lucian Fuller, Mr. Short E. Dangerously, Ms. Willow Lauren, Mr. Eric Ross, and Camille Zamboni
Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue current tour

Give me your eyeballs, and I will put them in a jar of formaldehyde and show you the world.Bryce “The Govna” Graves

So there you have it folks! Be sure to catch Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue on their current Face Your Fears tour. And remember to stalk us here on Haunted MTL for the meaty scoop on all your freakishly favorite horrors…


Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at:


Interview with Creative Director Michael Highland: Let’s! Revolution! @ PAX



Another game I had the chance to play at PAX East was, Let’s! Revolution!, a Minesweeper-inspired roguelite puzzle game by animation (and now game) studio, BUCK. I talk more about the game itself in another post. Here, I wanted to highlight the conversation I had with Michael Highland, the Creative Director for Let’s! Revolution! and his journey through video game development.

How did you become involved in video game development?

I studied digital media design in college; this was before there were many programs dedicated to game development. After graduating, I self-published a mobile game called Hipster City Cycle with friends. Over the next few years, I slowly got more freelance work as a game designer, and eventually landed a full-time role at thatgamecompany working on the follow-up to their 2012 GOTY Journey. I worked my way up there and was eventually the Lead Designer on Sky: Children of the Light. Working at thatgamecompany opened a lot of doors professionally. I eventually wound up at BUCK, where I saw the opportunity to help establish a new game studio within a very vibrant existing creative culture.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the development process?


Each studio has its own unique issues based on the people involved. There are commonalities like the need to fight feature creep and building consensus around ideas early in the process when all you have is an abstract grey box prototype to react to. At BUCK the biggest challenge has been channeling the abundance of creative energy and talent into a shippable product. There’s a ton of enthusiasm for games within the company, and without clear product-centric goals (who is the target audience, what platform are we releasing on, what’s the marketing strategy), projects have the tendency to spiral out of scope. Another challenge has been building credibility with publishers. BUCK has an amazing pedigree for animation and design, maybe the best in the world, but when we initially pitched ideas to publishers, they all said the same thing: looks great, but until you’ve shipped a game, you’re too high-risk. That’s what led to us self-publishing Let’s! Revolution! Now that we have a well-reviewed game out in the wild, I feel confident we’ll have more luck with publishers. 

BUCK primarily has its roots in animation, what led the decision to start branching into video game development?

It started with a general excitement about the medium and a desire among the staff to work on a game. Leadership at BUCK is all about providing the staff with exciting creative opportunities, and getting to work on a game, is, for some, a creative dream come true. And putting BUCK content out in the world is a point of pride and a boost to morale. From a business perspective, the fact we can staff out game projects with the top animation and design talent in the world is a huge advantage. We’re already starting to see new opportunities for the service side of the business based on the success of Let’s! Revolution! 

The art, unsurprisingly, is delightful. What were some of the priorities during the character design process and how did those influence the final hero designs?

Our Art Director Emily Suvanvej really led the charge on the look of the game. There are obvious influences like Studio Ghibli, Moebius, and Steven Universe. My shared goal with Emily was to make something together that reflected the diversity of the team’s artistic and lived experiences. The artists put so much love into the character designs and animation, it really shows. 


Some of the primary game mechanics take inspiration from Minesweeper, what was the process like to create your own interpretation of those classic mechanics?

This article goes into depth on this topic. The TLDR is that we took a very iterative approach, at each stage trying to identify what was working about the prototype and lean into that. The initial game concept came together relatively quickly in part because our goal for this project was just to finish a game. We just focused on what was good and kept building on it. I wouldn’t say the final game is “perfect” – but we wound up with a much bigger and higher quality experience than I expected by not letting perfectionism get in the way of making good better. 

Is there anything else you would like to plug or that you think is important for people to know about Let’s! Revolution! or other upcoming projects?

The music and sound design for the game is stellar. We worked with a creative audio company called Antfood and they knocked it out of the park. The audio got an honorable mention from IGF, which I think is extra impressive because most of the other games were audio-centric titles with some unusual hook to the sound design. For the OST, Antfood reworked all of the music from the game into a continuous flow, like a concept album. It’s so good. I love working with them.

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Interview with Game Dev Julian Creutz: Quest Master @ PAX



As mentioned in previous posts, I had the opportunity to demo a pre-early access version of the game Quest Master alongside the Lead Developer, Julian Creutz. Quest Master is a Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Maker inspired dungeon crawling and building video game. While the other post covers the game itself, this one covers the inspiration and vision for the game as told by Julian.

How did you become involved in video game development?

I’ve been a huge gamer, and especially a Zelda fan, ever since I was a little child when my dad put a GameBoy Advance with “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” into my hands. Sometime during elementary school I started dabbling with game development using visual tools like Scratch and GameMaker. I quickly got into making Zelda fan games and had dreamt of the day when I would make my own Zelda game one day. Over the years I’ve honed my game development and programming skills, resulting in where I am today.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the development process?


Developing Quest Master is essentially like making two games at once – the making and the playing part. Both of these game elements have to be equally as polished to form a cohesive one.

The most difficult thing by far about the game’s development has been to make the maker mode experience intuitive for first-time users and people who know nothing about Zelda-like games, but at the same time powerful and complex enough to allow creating anything you could dream of.

One good example is the gameplay feature to link certain parts to others, like linking a pressure plate to opening a door. We’ve been through countless iterations affecting both the visual, gameplay and user experience aspects of it – I hope that the one we are using right now is the final one!

Quest Master takes a lot of inspiration from classic dungeon-crawlers like the Legend of Zelda franchise. What about these games was so enchanting to you and how does Quest Master try to capture that enchantment?

As described earlier, I’m like the biggest Zelda fan, which I’m sure shows. My gripe with many Zelda-likes on the market is that none perfectly capture the feel of the classic entries… there’s always something missing.


I confidently believe that Quest Master differs from that greatly. We are trying to make Quest Master feel like an in-house 2D Zelda like Nintendo used to make, just from an indie team like ours. Many people crave the classic 2D entries, just like I do.

What emotions do you hope the player will experience while playing Quest Master? What design choices were made to assist in that desired atmosphere?

A big aspect of Quest Master is its local multiplayer. The game is deliberately designed to work flawlessly with that, and makers can create specialized puzzles in the game that require all players to work together for example. The result is both rewarding, funny, and sometimes infuriating altogether, for example when one of your buddies throws you into a hole.

As a community dungeon maker, what features are you most excited to see implemented in player-made dungeon crawls?

I’ve already been hugely amazed by the creations of the existing Quest Master demo. With all the new features the game will launch into Early Access with, I bet this will be tenfold. I myself always enjoy the brain busting puzzles people come up with. Other things I also like a lot are the unintended mechanics the players find, which dynamically emerge from the many, many gameplay systems working together.


What’s it been like working with Apogee, an indie publisher who goes back to the early 1990’s and has a long legacy of terrific game releases?

I’ve only had very few interactions with game publishers in the past, and Quest Master is my first large scale commercial game project. There’s preconceived notions floating around everywhere on the internet about how evil game publishers are and how much better you would be off self-publishing your game. Contrary to that, working with Apogee has been nothing short of supportive and family-like. They are very invested in the project, and they have many Zelda fans on the team also helps a lot. They are supercharging the potential of Quest Master and without them the game would not be where it is today.

Is there anything else you would like to plug or that you think is important for people to know about Quest Master or other upcoming projects?

Early Access is just the beginning! Quest Master will be hugely expanded upon during its Early Access phase, with many more themes, dungeon parts and entire new gameplay features coming in short intervals and a rapid update schedule. There are always new things around the corner. For example, things like the singleplayer story campaign and the overworld maker will be most likely not be part of the initial Early Access release, but we will make sure to build anticipation by introducing bits and pieces into the world of Quest Master to build up to that.

I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am!


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An interview with creator of Kaidankai, Linda Gould



I was fortunate enough to interview Linda Gould about her beautifully eerie podcast, Kaidankai. I hope that you all enjoy getting to know her and her creepy work as much as I did.

Your recent collection is called Unpleasantville, a collection of stories from a singularly creepy town. What inspired this project?

Linda Gould

One of the only poems I related to when in high school was Spoon River Anthology (SPA). For those who don’t know it, SPA, it is a collection of poems about life in a small town as told by the ghosts of the residents in that town. The poems were based on real people, and the anthology burst the bubble on the idea that country life was idyllic. I loved its irreverence and was captivated by the idea that ghost stories, which I always loved, could be literary, taught in high school AP English classes! For the Kaidankai, I asked listeners and contributors to pick their favorite poem and read it for me. Then, I did a special presentation of their readings for the podcast. Many people had never heard of SPA and were so happy to find it. So many people, way more than I expected, sent in their readings, and they were just awesome. 
That made me wonder what a modern version would look like. Since the Kaidankai audience and contributors are all around the world, I couldn’t pick one place without excluding someone, so I made up a name and a few landmarks that anyone, anywhere could relate to and sent it out to see what would happen. 

Unpleasantville is a shared world, with many writers telling their own stories. What was it like, working with so many writers in this shared space?

Well, that describes the Kaidankai podcast in general. People from Asian countries, Australia, North America and throughout Europe contribute. Sometimes, before I reject a story, I have to read it a couple of times to make sure that it isn’t just a different storytelling technique that I don’t understand or relate to. I force myself to explain to myself why a story isn’t a good fit. I’m not sure that I would take that approach if all the stories came from Western writers.


Of course, Unpleasantville is only part of your overall show, Kaidankai. What can you tell us about the show? Where did the name, Kaidankai, come from? 

First, I have to tell you how much I love this podcast. The podcast started August 1st 2021 and was initially going to last only for 100 days in order to tell 100 stories. I live in Japan and in the last several centuries, people would go on pilgrimages to famous shrines during the month of August. Pilgrims from all over Japan would meet, and to pass the time, they would tell ghost stories, just like we do in the west around campfires. In Japan, they lit candles, 100, and as each ghost story was told, a candle was blown out. So, as the night progressed, as the candles were blown out one-by-one, it got darker and the stories became scarier. Imagine being in a deep forest or at a pilgrims inn inside a deep, dark forest. Imagine all the creaks, howls, screeches and mysterious sounds that surround you as the candles become fewer and fewer and how those sounds get closer and closer. It raises the hair on the back of your neck and gives you chills. And THAT was the purpose of kaidankai–to cool people off during Japan’s crazy hot and humid summers while entertaining people at the same time. 

That is the basic outline of the Japanese storytelling tradition called kaidankai. Some might have heard of it as hyakumonogatarikaidankai because I think there was an anime made around it. A lot of the Japanese scary woodblock prints come from the stories told at that time, and the tradition of telling ghost stories in August holds true to this day, although in a different iteration. And the podcast was meant to be just another iteration of that. I was going to upload one podcast a day for 100 days, then start deleting them one-by-one after about a month. BUT, when it was supposed to end, people wrote me and said how much they would miss it, that they didn’t want it to end. So, I changed it to a weekly podcast. A few people asked to have their stories removed as originally planned, but most are still in the archives.

Most of your episodes are quite short, averaging from eight to twenty episodes. Was it an intentional choice to focus on such short form horror, or just a coincidence? 

A little of both. Some people have sent in longer stories and, if I like them, I’ll read them on the podcast. But, I really wanted to stick with the short story format because I wanted to keep the feeling of people just sitting around a campfire or in a candlelit room telling their ghost stories. If anyone talks too long at a campfire, people get restless and tune out. And, I think if people are listening in the car or while cooking dinner, they want something that they can complete.


Your podcast has over 150 episodes. This is an impressive amount of spooky work. What can you tell us about creating that many episodes? 

Well, like anything, the more you do it, the better it gets, lol. If you listen to the early episodes, they are definitely not as good as the later ones, mainly because the mic got a lot better. My readings have also improved, because a few of the earlier episodes had a professional reader, Michael Rhys, so I could learn from listening to him. Other people have read some of the stories, too (not just the Spoon River Anthology project) and it is really nice to have a diversity of voices, I think, but others have told me not to have different readers because the sound quality varies and it dilutes the branding of the show. I’m not really sure what to think of that. I mean, definitely, the sound quality varies, but unless the sound is just awful, in which case I wouldn’t upload it, I like the authenticity of it. 
It’s a surprising amount of work, especially at first. You need to research the best way to do an intro and outdo (I didn’t), the best equipment to make quality sound (I didn’t) and how to promote it (I didn’t). I’m amazed when I look at how I just barreled into this with very little planning that people kept listening. But that attests to the need to have good stories, which is the most important thing. 

Many horror podcasts drop off soon after creation. What’s helped you keep at this so long? I’ve been so lucky that writers from around the world have trusted me with their work. I can’t accept all the submissions, but I do read them all (like I said, sometimes more than once). At several times during the podcast, I’ve mentioned how much I love the diversity found in the stories featured on the Kaidankai, and that is 100% true. I love that there are ghost and vampire and monster stories, that some are cute and some or gruesome, that they include folktales and horror from around the world, and that they are presented as poems and prose. You never know what you will get when you tune into the Kaidankai, just like you don’t know what you will get when you sit around a campfire telling stories. For some people, maybe they don’t like that one day will be horror and the next day an atmospheric poem about a haunted forest. But I do, and the Kaidankai seems to be filling a niche for others, too. So, as long as people want to share their stories and listeners for those stories, I plan to keep it going.

After your Unpleasantville collection, what’s next for Kaidankai? 

My dream is to have artists listen to a story and feel inspired to create something based on that story. I’m working on a YouTube channel right now that would feature a few of my favorite stories from the archive. I hope to have it up in time for October and Halloween. It might have to have the logo run through the whole reading like most YouTube videos have, but my dream would be to have an artwork of some sort  as the visual element that relates to a particular story instead of the general logo. There are so many amazing artists in the horror/ghost/supernatural genre, just like there are so many writers. It would be great to be able to showcase a visual element to the stories, too.


Aside from your podcast, are there any other projects you’re working on? 

There is White Enso, which is an online journal that features artwork of any kind that is inspired by Japan. WE’ve had quilts, poetry, photography, short stories, etc. And I’m always trying to write and finish my collection of short stories. I call myself an on-again-off-again writer because I’ll work so intensely for a few months on my writing, then will get involved in something else and not write a word for a year.

Is there anything you wish I would have asked you about, that I didn’t think to?

If there is one thing I would want people to come away with when they listen to the podcast it is the universal appeal of ghost and supernatural stories. People from all over the world write such stories, and there are similarities as well as differences in how they are told. People who have a poetic mind can write the most beautiful, atmospheric stories about ghosts or monsters, and on the other end of the spectrum is someone who writes slasher stories. But there is something in all of us that embraces the mysterious, and when you tune in to listen to the Kaidankai stories, they aren’t really going to scare you, they aren’t for the most part, horror, but they will entertain you and remind you that the mysterious can connect us no matter where we are in the world.

Where can we find you online? 


This link will take you to the stories, the podcast links and how to submit.

(If you liked this post, you can check out another interview I did here.)

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