Gamer Review: Survival Horror

As a horror writer, naturally I have an affinity for literature, as well as movies. But what I talk little about are video games, and the value they provide the horror genre.

Video games have been a significant and important part of my life. Ever since I had a Pong set, then moved to the Atari 2600, and on to the NES, I played and loved every gaming console since. I grew up on them, my kid grew up on them.

To me a good game is a work of art, much like a novel or movie. A video game combines multiple art forms into one piece. What’s compelling about horror games is they put you directly in the action. You control the character, and for first-person view games, you are the character. Suddenly, running from nightmarish monsters can be quite terrifying and if you’re really into the game, it actually gets your heart pumping. You feel the excitement and adrenaline rush of trying to stay alive.

Not all games are created equal. Just because you pick up a horror themed game doesn’t mean it’s going to scare the hell out of you. Games such as the Dead Rising series are great games, lots of fun to play, and even have nods to classic zombie movies, but they aren’t frightening.

I recently played a game called Outlast. Now that’s the kind of game I’m talking about! It’s a first-person view survival game, where you play the part of a journalist sneaking into an abandoned mental asylum for a story. There are no weapons. You can’t fight. You’re armed with only a video camera, luckily equipped with night vision when you need it. But the batteries can run out. When being chased by a psychopath with a machete or a mutated creature from beyond, all you can do is run, hide, and hope they don’t find you. Trying to navigate an enormous labyrinthian mental asylum in this manner was damn hard, it really got my blood pumping!

Alien: Isolation is another that comes to mind. Also a first-person survival game, it’s based on The Ridley Scott Alien movies. In this game, you’re on a ship with a Xenomorph. You do get a few measly weapons. But nothing worthy of actually trying to fight with. They’re mostly meant for distracting the Xenomorph so you can run the other way and hope it doesn’t kill you. The game plays a lot like Outlast, but in Alien: Isolation, the Xenomorph is highly sensitive to sound picked up by a microphone in the controller. Make too much noise, you’re dead. Also, unlike Outlast, the alien appears randomly rather than the specifically placed foes in the mental asylum. This makes for surprise attacks and increased uncertainty. You never know where it’s going to be.

Virtual Reality is the next great leap in horror gaming. If playing the game on a screen in your living room has allowed some games to incite actual anxiety, I look forward to seeing what the future of horror can do with a game where you really are in the middle of the action.

A Monstrous Evolution, by Mary Parker – author of The Endless Hallway | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book #Creepy @Sirens_Call

A Monstrous Evolution

by Mary Parker

The Endless Hallway features a creature that has haunted me since I was a teenager. This vile thing, with disgusting claws, rows of teeth, and black, void-like eyes, has featured in my writings for two decades. As the years go by, its appearance gets worse and worse: a monstrous evolution that personifies my mental illnesses.

My senior year of high school, I went with my parents to spend the weekend at my grandparents’ house.  They lived in a small town about 75 minutes away from us.  On the drive down, I listened to music, daydreaming as I watched miles of hills and highway pass by. Suddenly it appeared to me: an emaciated human-like creature, completely bald with shiny, slimy skin, no nose, two gaping voids for eyes, mangled claws, and vicious teeth.  I imagined the creature standing in front of me, opening its mouth to inhuman levels, and swallowing my head. I didn’t know if this was my depression consuming me or setting me free.

This image stuck with me, and I immediately wrote about it in the composition notebook I always carried with me.  Over the next several months I wrote a story featuring this creature, but more in link with a vampire – think of a play on Nosferatu.  In this iteration, the monster’s main features were rows of fangs and knotted, gnarly hands with claws, along with the bald head and void-like eyes.  Later, I wrote a short story featuring the creature that was a meditation on how depression shapes a person’s growth from adolescence to adulthood.  In both stories, the ending was more finite: in the first, the monster is burned to death; in the latter, it swallows the protagonist.

A decade on, I got married and had my daughter. Postpartum depression and anxiety hit me hard.  Again, I imagined the creature looming over me, ready to strike.  This time it was more disgusting and vicious: now its teeth dripped black ooze and its mangled, jagged claws were ready to take everything from me. As I rocked my daughter to sleep, I vowed I would not let it.

Instead, I wrote it all down.  I owned the monster and made it do my bidding. On the page, it couldn’t hurt me.  The depression could threaten us, it could lurk around every corner of the life I always wanted, but it would never touch us. 

Yet, as I finished The Endless Hallway, I found the ending was more ambiguous.  Age had taught me that the depression never really goes away.  Instead, we would live with it, like a haunting; deal with it whenever it decided to show its monstrous face.  There’s a comfort in that, a comfort in knowing that while we can’t always defeat our demons, we can always overcome them.

Even if we still check the baby monitor for claws creeping through the bars of the crib, and double-check the corners of the baby’s room for dark figures.

Picture of the Creature drawn by the author in 2005.  From the author’s writing scrapbook.

The Endless Hallway

by Mary Parker

Molly has it all – a good job, a handsome husband, a beautiful new baby, and a supportive family. Her life is everything she once prayed it would be. But something sinister is lurking within the walls of her tiny townhouse. A strange voice comes from the darkness as Molly rocks her infant to sleep. Lights that were left on are suddenly turned off. Molly has nightmares in which her husband’s throat is slit. In the middle of the night, a thin, pale arm reaches over the rails of the crib and lunges for the baby with fierce, jagged claws. The voice in the darkness soon seems to be coming from inside Molly’s head.

Are the visions Molly has been haunted by a subconscious warning or something more vicious?

Paperback and Kindle available on Amazon:

US | UK | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | The Netherlands | Japan | Canada | Australia

About the Author

Mary Parker is a horror author and journalist from Southern Illinois. She has worked for examiner.com and horrornews.net. A collection of short stories, Predilection, was published in 2009. Her work can also be found in the anthologies “Vampires Aren’t Pretty” and “Slaughter House: The Serial Killer Edition, Vol. 2.” Her story “Sweet Nightmares” placed in the Top 100 of Wattpad’s Horror Contest sponsored by TNT. She is a proud contributor to, supporter of, and past ambassador of Women in Horror Month.

Visit Mary’s Amazon Author Page at: Mary Parker

RELEASE: As Fast as She Can, by E.F. Schraeder | #Horror #DarkFiction #Book #BookRelease @Sirens_Call

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce its latest release…

As Fast as She Can 

by E.F. Schraeder

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Living in a quiet house on the outskirts of town, Ginger isn’t like the other girls.

When she wakes up and discovers the unthinkable about her adoptive parents, she runs away and goes on a rampage straight to the only friend she has. Can she control what they both become?

With a violent, growing hunger and more questions than answers, Ginger has nowhere to turn.

As Fast as She Can is currently available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil | India | The Netherlands

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR — The author of Liar: Memoir of a Haunting (Omnium Gatherum, 2021) and other works, E.F. Schraeder usually writes about not quite real worlds.  Schraeder is also an avid gardener and hot pepper enthusiast who believes in ghosts, magic, and dogs. Say hello online at efschraeder.com.

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Zero Perspective

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My debut novella, Zero Perspective is now available!

Lost in the depths of space and time, swallowed by something unknown to humanity, a derelict ship is adrift in an alternate reality.

John and his crew board the vessel, the Esometa, on a rescue mission. The ship’s been lost for two weeks with no explanation. When they discover its occupants dead and decaying, a mind-bending journey begins.

The Esometa takes them down a path filled with horrid creatures and bizarre events from which there may be no return…

Available from these retailers:

Print edition on Amazon

Kindle edition on Amazon

More places to buy coming soon!

How I Found Horror

I’ve been doing some horror movie articles and reviews on my blog, and while I don’t do them as often as I’d like to (too many other projects to work on) I want to continue the process, and attempt to regulate it so that there’s some consistency to when I post them. That got me thinking about why I write them, how I discovered horror movies in the first place, and where and when I was exposed to some of my favorites.

Before setting a plan to post these articles I wanted to go back to the beginning, remember where it started, and how my obsession with horror grew. I wanted to know how and why I became a horror writer.

Exploring the past is difficult. Memories are faded, distorted, untrustworthy. But some clear pictures can be retrieved.

The first horror movie I ever saw was The Amityville Horror on TV when I was no older than 8 or so. There was one scene in particular that frightened me—the part when there are eyes staring in the window from outside in the darkness. I’ll always remember that first feeling of dread seeing that scene as a child. After that I saw The Exorcist. From then on, I was hooked.

Every time my parents took me to the grocery store they’d let me rent a movie (This was back when supermarkets still had video rental sections). I’d go for whatever had a cool picture or a horrible title. I had no idea which movies were good and which weren’t. I’d only seen the two, so I was dosed with random movies on a weekly basis. Some of the first movies I can remember renting were Dead Alive, The Ice Cream Man, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Psycho Cop, Night of the Comet, Night of the Living Dead, The Fly, The Fly 2, The Gate, and many more.

None of those movies frightened me. I laughed through most of Evil Dead.

The only movie that scared me other than that one scene in The Amityville Horror was Fire in the Sky. I know it’s not technically a horror movie, but nothing before or since has ever actually scared me in a horror movie. When I saw that as a kid I slept with the lights and TV on for almost two weeks. Monsters, demons, killers; none of that bothered me. But aliens scared the hell out of me.

My love of horror led me to discover a book I’m sure most are familiar with. ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ by Alvin Schwartz. The artwork on the cover was what drew me to it. I read all three of those books with great enjoyment. And I even read them to my own kid as bedtime stories (Horror runs in my family—4 generations now). That led me to reading more horror, which ultimately brought me to the realization that I wanted to write things I hoped would be terrifying.

Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear what horror movies have scared you the most!

 

Damned Words 23 by Pen of the Damned

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This week on Pen of the Damned, each member wrote a piece exactly 100 words long, using this same photo as a prompt. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. The Damned give you 100 each.

Click HERE to read!

Ghosts of Judgement Bridge by Brian Moreland

Departing Obstruction by Lee A. Forman

Honor by Mark Steinwachs

Safe by Christopher A. Liccardi

Crossing by Veronica Magenta Nero

Where will you go, Josie May? by John Potts Jr.

Just Cut Deep by Jon Olson

Awakened by Joseph A. Pinto

Ghost Train by A.F. Stewart

Mother’s Rage by Nina D’Arcangela

Follow Pen of the Damned on Twitter @penofthedamned And like us on Facebook

Pen of the Damned is a collection of dark tales told by those who freely dive into the maw of damnation and live to tell their stories. Every Tuesday a new story is posted to the site by one of its handful of eclectic writers. And once or twice a cycle, the members write their interpretation of a photo prompt as a group post. The stories are short and not so sweet, with a lingering aftertaste of terror.

If you haven’t checked out the site I dare you to take a look into the pitch black, if only to see if you can find the light again.

www.penofthedamned.com

 

 

The Fractal Man

I recently wrote a blog post about a writer’s bucket list, and talked about some things I’d like to achieve as a writer before I pass into the void.

I’ve taken one step further to reaching one of those goals, which is to write poetry.

I’m thrilled that my poem, The Fractal Man was published on Stanzaic Stylings.

I had originally written another piece to submit, but thought it was a bit dark for the content I read at Stanzaic Stylings, and decided to submit it to a more horror-dedicated publication. The Fractal Man is a bit lighter than my usual style and thought it was a better fit. I’m very pleased with the results and overjoyed that this piece is now available for all to enjoy!

It’s an exciting adventure into a new realm of writing that I’ve only just begun to explore, and I look forward to diving into it head first and seeing where it leads!

You can read The Fractal Man for free HERE!

A Writer’s Bucket List

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I was inspired by a few authors who recently wrote bucket lists for what they want to achieve as writers. I enjoyed reading about their goals and aspirations, many of which matched my own. So I decided to jump on the bandwagon and do one myself.

  1. Publish my first novel

I’ve had a lot of work published since I decided to take writing seriously. But it’s all been short fiction. I have a novel which is so close to being finished it often surprises me how far I’ve gotten. But I always felt like it was taking too long to complete. The possibility that I might never finish it plagued my thoughts daily. And to make this fit my bucket list even more, I was literally afraid that I would die before it ever saw the light of day. But with it being so close to completion, I feel like I might just live to see it happen!

2. Have a table at a horror or book convention

This comes second, as I need to actually have something to sell at my table. I see authors selling their books at conventions, their table set up nicely with posters and themes that go with their book. I’d imagine myself in that situation, dream of doing that very thing for my own book. I kind of romanticized it in a way. The prospect of doing that for myself seems invigorating and even if I didn’t sell too many books, I’d go home happy just for having been there.

3. Write something amazing

I’m a horror writer. It’s what I’m best at. I’ve been obsessed with the genre for as long as I can remember. And I love writing it. But I hope to produce something that somehow transcends the creatures and gore. And while many of my stories do have a message or serious element behind the story, I want to write something where that aspect stands out and the piece is recognized for that quality.

4. Create a successful writing blog

Yes, I have a website, and I do write a blog post every now and then. My most successful ones are mostly about horror movies and other things about the genre in general. But I’d love to start creating posts about writing, offering tips and advice for new writers. I suppose I worry that I’m not qualified to give advice to new writers. What do I know? I’m not some hot-shot success story. But as I’ve traveled the path of a writer, I’ve come a long way and learned quite a bit. Maybe someday I’ll build the confidence to start giving advice to others.

5. Write an autobiography

I’d love to write about the journey that led me to where I am. The path I’ve followed in life has been arduous to say the least. It’s been full of tragedy and hardship. But I don’t complain. It’s brought me here, typing these very words you’re reading. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. The difficult life I’ve lived more than likely adds a quality to my work that probably wouldn’t be there otherwise. So I’m thankful for the good experiences as well as the bad.

6. Write a book about my family history

I’m a descendant of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. My family history is appalling and tragic, and would make a damn interesting story. I’ve been gathering information about it for years, putting all in a file in the hopes that I’ll eventually get around to putting it together. It’s amazing that I’m even here after the events of the Genocide, considering my ancestors survived by a fine thread.

7. Have a novel in my local library

Doesn’t seem like a huge deal, and it’s probably not. But my love for reading was born in my local library, taking out three books at a time and plowing through them like there was no tomorrow. I’d love to have something of my own on their shelves. I want to be one of the names on the spine of one of those many books. To contribute to the huge number of titles for readers to discover.

9. Write Poetry

I recently had my first piece of poetry published. I’d never written a good poem before, and certainly never tried to have any published. But I was so satisfied with the results, it made me want to write more, and try to get them out into the world.

I guess that’s all for now. Who knows what the future will add or take away from this list. Only the words I produce will tell. I hope you enjoyed this little trip into my mind. If so, please like this post and follow my blog! It’s greatly appreciated!

 

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A Kick in the Bucket List – Brent Abell

Today on my blog, I’m hosting a piece by Brent Abell in support of his blog tour about his new novel, The Calling. Here he’ll talk about what he calls his ‘writing bucket list’. We all know what a bucket list is. But when you’re a writer, everything revolves around your work, even the things you wish to achieve before you kick the bucket.

A Kick in the Bucket List

Brent Abell

I’m sure everybody out there has a bucket list. You know, the list of all the things you want to do before you die. Some people want to skydive. Some want to travel to new exciting tropical locations. Others want to go off and spend their kid’s inheritance on a week-long shopping bender.

Yeah, all of that sounds fun, but I’d rather finish off my writing bucket list.

When I started out, I sat down and thought long and hard about I wanted to accomplish with my writing. I had certain goals and other projects I wanted to complete before I bought the farm and took a dirt nap. So, here is my list. Overall, I haven’t done too badly and I hope to wrap some more up real soon.

  1. Get published. This one is a no-brainer. When you sit down and write those first words to a story, of course you want to be published. I’ve hit this marker numerous times and I hope to keep ticking this item off over and over again.
  2. Finish a novel. I began focusing only on short stories. At the time, I believed you had to earn your way up by starting small and building to longer works. I also partially did this to grow into novel writing. After a bunch of shorts and a novella, I wrote the first novel. Check.
  3. Be featured in a magazine. This is one I’m only halfway through. Yes, I’ve been featured in a few eZines, but I still want to have a print magazine appearance. Once I have a print magazine in hand, I’ll check this one off.
  4. Scripting a comic book. I am a huge comic guy and I really want to do this. When it comes to what I’d script, I’d go for either an adaptation of one of my stories or I’d like to do something original.
  5. I want to write a screenplay. This has a lead and I’m starting to adapt something for submission to a production company. I write with the movie of the story playing in my head anyway. This is a goal because I’m wanting to have an IMDb entry. It sounds shallow, but it’s really not.
  6. Continue to meet fans when I go to conventions and have readings. I started out early on this one. Even before I thought about a bucket list, I’d checked this one off. The first story I wrote, I read at a small conventions’s open mike and it set me on this path. It helped having one of my idols enjoy the reading. Now, I love marking this one when I go to a con and meet someone who loves the books. I write what I like and if other people like it, it’s icing on the cake.

I’ve met a lot of people and shared a lot of laughs on this journey. Writing has been fulfilling as both an escape and as an outlet to let the demons free. I count myself lucky to have readers enjoy my work and I hope the items on the bucket list, as I check them off, will give them new ways to enjoy the dark trips into my brain.

Read below for information about Brent Abell’s new novel, The Calling and to find out a little about Brent himself.

 

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The CallingBrent Abell

Carl Volker has a problem. After waking one morning with a hangover to find his wife gone, he notices a crow stalking around his yard.  As days go by with no word from his wife, more and more crows gather.

Frank Hill is sheriff in the seemingly pleasant town of White Creek. Up until recently, his job has been fairly mundane but after a recent spree of murders, bodies are beginning to pile up and Frank has no clue as to who the killer may be.

White Creek has kept its secrets hidden well over the years but the sins of its past are coming to light; the town harbors an evil and the bindings that keep it in check are beginning to unravel.

As Frank and Carl’s friendship is tested and their destinies are revealed, the dead accumulate while the crows watch and The Calling begins!

Available on:

Amazon: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India | The Netherlands

Amazon Print: US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil| India | The Netherlands

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

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Brent Abell lives in Southern Indiana with his wife, sons, and a pug who sits around eating the souls of wayward people. His stories have been featured in over 30 publications from multiple presses. His work includes his novella In Memoriam, collection Wicked Tales for Wicked People, and novel Southern Devils; which are available now. He also co-authored the horror-comedy Hellmouth series. Currently, he is working on the second book in the Southern Devils series and the next book with Frank Hill in the White Creek Saga.

Facebook: Brent T. Abell

Twitter: @BrentTAbell

Blog: https://brentabell.wordpress.com/

 

The Ironic Fear of a Horror Writer

The Ironic Fear of a Horror Writer

by Lee A. Forman

As a writer of horror, I often create disturbing material and describe it in great detail. I come up with some pretty abnormal things sometimes, and my Google search history is not so savory… This is something all of us who’ve taken the journey into this genre have in common. But there are ironies in being a horror writer. Things that just don’t add up.

For me, it’s clowns.

Yes, clowns.

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Movies and books are fine. Killer Clowns from Outer Space is a movie I enjoy. I love Pennywise the Clown. And my favorite zombie in Zombieland is the clown at the end.

But real clowns? Get them the hell away from me. No offense to those who’ve worked hard to graduate from clown college (yes, that’s a real thing, you have to go to college to be a clown), but the mere sight of one chills me to the bone. Every time I took my kid to the circus, I made sure to stay far away from them. County fairs? Nope, I look the other way and walk quickly by before they try to make some kind of balloon animal for me that will haunt my dreams forever. I’m terrified of them. And I have no idea why.

What ironic thing frightens you as a writer? Feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to see what fears other writers of the genre contend with!