3Q’s Special: Richard Chizmar is your Boogeyman!


One thing I’ve loved with these 3Q’s is seeing how so many people are excited to participate – no matter their level of success. Today’s guest is an example of one of the nicest guys out there, one of the most successful writers currently, and one of the most supportive and humblest of folks.

Please, do welcome Richard today!

Author Photo

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?
RC: No set schedule for me unless I’m deep into a novel. Then I’m up and at it as soon as I wake up and shower. I wish I had a more disciplined daily routine, but it’s never worked that way for me. Too many things going on. Fortunately, I can write anywhere without much fear of distraction. I get a lot done in the car, sitting out back of the house with the dogs, in restaurants, wherever the opportunity arises. No word count goals for me. I just put in the time and the words seem to take care of themselves.


Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
RC: Steve King, Linwood Barclay, and Bev Vincent, because they’re excellent writers and good friends, and we’d have a lot to talk about when we weren’t working. Plus I’d get a sneak peek at their works in progress.


Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
RC: I just wrapped up the sequel to my last novel, CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN. It should be out sometime in 2023. Very dark but with a lot of heart. Readers should grab it because it answers a lot of questions that went unanswered in the first book.


Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
RC: Frank…because I can outrun him if it becomes necessary.


Ha! Great answer!

Thank you so much, Richard!

To find more of his work;

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Chizmar/e/B00MZFCIBC/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RichardChizmar

Website: https://richardchizmar.com/

Andrew Pyper’s Oracle Revisited: We Are Broken Or You Can’t Go Back Where You Came From


“When someone’s lost, what people don’t understand is that it’s the life they could have lived that hurts as much as thinking about the life they left behind.” – Andrew Pyper, Oracle.

Having finished reading ‘Oracle,’ I wanted to spend some time diving into Andrew’s work.

If you’d like to see my original review of the Oracle audiobook, you can find that here;

Audiobook Review: Oracle by Andrew Pyper

No, what this is, is this superfan’s introspective look at a constant theme that Andrew Pyper has ingrained into his work and one that this reader, and human, has struggled with his entire life. A brief note before going on – there will be some spoilers within this piece for ‘Oracle’ and many of Andrew’s other works. I won’t be giving away endings (actually I might but I’ll preface that so that you know when to skip) but some key plot points will be shared. Enter at your own risk.

21 years.

21 years reside between when Andrew’s debut, ‘Lost Girls’ was released and ‘Oracle’ arrived. You may be looking at that cover above and see that the corner of it says ‘Only From Audible.’ When it came out, I dove into it. It was my first audiobook (and since then I’ve also listened to ‘Oracle 2’) and Joshua Jackson brought Nate Russo and the antagonist ‘The Boneman’ to life. With the cast joining in for ‘Oracle 2,’ they did a phenomenal job with Tillman and Fernandez. But if you saw (and as you’ll most likely have seen) I’m a Pyper superfan and over the last five or so years, I’ve forged a friendship with Andrew. I’ve gone on before about that, and I won’t devote many words here towards a friendship I deeply and truly cherish, but until five years ago, I only knew Andrew as an author; a conjurer of words who lived elsewhere and whose photo graced the books I loved and read.

Within my superfan world, I’ve been striving to collect everything of his that has been released. With ‘Oracle’ an audio-only production, I was fine to have the CD release on my shelves. Then, one day, an email came through asking if I’d like to buy a copy of the script. I reached out to Andrew to ask if it was legit. He emphatically replied – ‘NO!’ and then, to my utter amazement, offered to email me over the script in PDF form. I know I’m in a very fortunate position. One I don’t take advantage of nor would I ever. The PDF arrived and Andrew gave me permission to make a one-off copy for my shelf. I also sent the pdf to my Kindle to read.

Now, you may wonder where I’m going with this (and sure it’s a bit of a humble brag to have it), but having reread almost of all of Andrew’s work for a 2nd or 3rd time, I decided to dive in and READ Oracle. Not listen, but read and I’ve been taking my sweet time while enjoying this return to Andrew’s work on the written/digital page.

Re-reading the events in ‘Oracle’ reinforced an ongoing narrative theory I’ve had since I first read ‘The Demonologist’ almost a decade ago. When I discovered that book and devoured it, I had no idea the Pandora’s Box I was opening up in this reader’s brain. The novel follows David Ullman, expert on Milton’s Paradise Lost, who travels to Rome following an invitation to see with his own eyes that which he doesn’t believe exists. While there, his daughter goes missing and the book explores Ullman following clues left behind by the entity that took his daughter.

*Potential Spoiler’s ahead*

The ending of the book sees Ullman potentially reunited with his daughter. Or does it? I’ve read the book I think six times now, and I always come away thinking there’s three possible endings. I know the ‘vague endings’ can be hit or miss with readers, I personally love them and how it leaves it open to reader interpretation. But one of these endings could be taken literally and you could say that Ullman is reunited with his daughter.

If so, that would be the outlier of Andrew Pyper’s exploration of the idea you can’t go back where you came from.

In his debut, ‘Lost Girl,’ we follow Bartholomew Crane, drug-crazed lawyer who is hired to defend a high school teacher in Northern Ontario accused of killing two of his students. Within the book we learn of Crane’s connection to the place, which ties into the prologue and the horrible events that open the story. Andrew lays down the ground work for my hypothesis – that his books revolve around characters longing for what they used to have, what they can never have again.

This rings true for me.

I’ve discussed in depth before where I grew up.

Burton, BC, Canada, population 75-100 depending on year and time of year. 30 minutes from Nakusp, population roughly 3,000. I grew up in a modest home, nestled up against the base of a mountain. Our backyard was fruit trees, garden and the forest. We had all manner of animals that travelled through; bears, cougar, moose, elk, deer, coyotes etc. It set the stage for a lot of my own writing.

There was my mom and my dad and my three sisters; all three younger than me. I have two older half-sisters but they never lived with us and I wasn’t close to them at all while growing up. For most aspects – I was an only child. One that spent hours by them self, my mind involved in my make-believe stories and sports leagues. On the surface it was an idyllic upbringing. But with it there was isolation, aloneness, remoteness and a deep seeded belief that the bigger world beyond was a large, scary place. I hold Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal to mythical standards in my mind. These were places where a million people lived and Hockey Night in Canada was played. Places where movies and tv shows were filmed, rock concerts were performed and the rich and famous lived. I see the world beyond Canada differently, but Canada and the large Canadian cities hold a special sort of emotional cognition that I carry even to this day.

That’s a long winded way of me saying – I now live in a big city – Edmonton surpassing a million residents, but I still consider myself that little boy. That kid who had ‘friends’ and played some sports – those that were available – but who didn’t believe he’d ever really amount to anything. Who didn’t think his life would entail more than becoming a logger and living there forever. Now, as someone who is successful in his career and has a family and lives in the City of Champions, I often picture myself throwing a tennis ball as hard as I could at the house, pretending to be a member of the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.

From there, Andrew brought us to the dense jungles in the Amazon rainforest in ‘The Trade Mission.’ This one is a departure from the rest of his work in that it is more of an action/adventure/survival story. But we do get glimpses of where he’ll be going next. For me, this one seemed to be an exercise in Andrew writing a novel that ticked off some internal boxes but also a novel that ticked off some publisher boxes. This is my own meandering thoughts of course, take it with a grain of salt.

But, it’s ‘The Trade Missions’ usage of setting, coupled with how Andrew used environment in ‘Lost Girls’ that brings us to his Canadian Landscape Magnum Opus ‘The Wildfire Season.’ This is also a return to the narrative plotting of ‘you can’t always go back.’ We follow Miles McEwan, a man burned by real life events as well as personal life decisions who flees Ontario to the remote Yukon. This novel is a 50/50 split between the harsh reality of what the Canadian Wilderness can do, but also a relationship drama where we see how characters get battered and beaten by what is and what was.

Of all of his novels, ‘The Wildfire Season’ is the most thematically closest to grasping what it feels like to be in the clutches of depression. Miles is scarred, broken and ashamed. On one hand he is revered and on the other hand looked at with hurt and suspicion. The landscape journey in this story is paramount to the atmospheric hold the prose has on the reader. Not only did it make me edgy and nervous, but it brought me back to all those times I was hunting with my dad or grandpa. Of the subtle change in the way the woods smell when the leaves begin to turn colors and how a crisp bite returns when the snow goes away and winter rot is exposed.

Miles journey is another stepping stone, and we see that, with the full bore panic of Patrick Rush in 2008’s masterpiece, ‘The Killing Circle.’ This one is a precursor to ‘The Demonologist’ in that we get a man searching desperately for his child – in this case it’s his son. The reality here is that Pyper uses Toronto as a backdrop to fuel this panic and we see a man ripped to his core as he wishes and practically begs to be able to just go back, to return to how things were – before. It’s the idea of ‘before’ that constantly rears its head up and this one is no different. Rush wants his wife back, his life back and his son firmly in his arms.

At the very beginning of this post, I shared a quote. It’s actually something I also put on Twitter. It’s also partly what inspired me to write this ‘article.’ Life, as we all know, is a source of constant upheaval. I’ve spoken in the past about how Andrew’s books have been there for me during some high highs and some low lows. Back in June of this year (2022), my wife’s sister, Whitney, took her own life, leaving behind a young son and daughter. It was only a week before the two-year anniversary of their father, Paul, suddenly passing away.

I often think of ‘what if’s.’ What if I had grown up in a bigger city? Maybe I would’ve made the NHL or MLB like I always dreamed I would’ve. What if I had grown up in a bigger city? Perhaps then, I wouldn’t have met the love of my life and my son wouldn’t be here? That quote from ‘Oracle’ also sent me down the grief rabbit hole (and I’ll discuss Pyper’s grief subplots shortly) thinking about how Paul is now missing so much of our life and my son’s life. He was over the moon to have a grandson. He couldn’t believe it. Amanda and I were told long ago that we most likely couldn’t have kids. So, we got a dog. And Paul loved OJ as though he was his grandson and OJ loved him back just as much. And, now, my thoughts drifted to Whitney and thinking of all the moments she’ll miss. Grief and heartache are tough to overcome and when we get sad and down and depressed, we revert to the central theme that I’ve been focusing on here – before.

‘Why can’t we go back to how things were before?’

His next novel really dove into that idea. 2011’s ‘The Guardians’ follows a group of friends in a small Canadian town. They’ve grown up, but remain haunted by the events that happened all those years ago. When one of them dies, they reunite and try to get to the bottom of why things happened and what they can do to overcome it. Much like the characters featured within, I find myself thinking back to childhood and those friends I had back then. The ones you drift away from, the ones who just stopped talking to you one day and you’ve never spoken with since. Youth is a complicated mess, one that I’m having to retread slowly as my son begins Grade 1 and starts the formative development of friendships. Andrew’s examination of what makes friends friends and how some remain friends and others don’t, is a fascinating journey. It’s also within his overall storytelling ARC focusing on grief and loss.

This continues through into 2013’s ‘The Demonologist,’ which I’ve discussed and into the bleak and despondent depths of 2015’s ‘The Damned.’ Within this novel we are introduced to Danny Orchard, best-selling writer who just-so-happens to have survived a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ash. His near-death experience has unlocked something, that allows the pull of ‘over there’ to dig its hooks in and transport him to an upside down version of his real life. Andrew pulls no punches here and within the novel he continually bludgeons the reader with different scenes where grief overrides the senses. A specific moment with Danny and his mother in a bathtub is haunting and so, so very powerful and one I’ll not soon forget.

‘The Damned’ once again paired a family member having struggled with the loss of a family member. This aspect carries on, into 2017’s ‘The Only Child.’ Pairing ‘The Demonologist’s’ world-wide quest with ‘The Killing Circle’s’ hunt for the main suspect, we follow Lily, Forensic Psychiatrist, who was rescued many years ago from a remote, northern Canadian Town. She’s forged a life in New York, but when a strange patient arrives, she is sucked into a cat-and-mouse game which leads to her discovering things about her and her past.

Grief and a longing to return to her youth is paramount throughout and we get little snippets of her life before the incident that are filled with an atmosphere akin to longing for the past.

Now, as I sit here working on this piece, I wonder if some of this is triggered by my own grief? Or a failure to process it? Books are a unique artistic endeavor, much like song lyrics, where even when the storyline follows a specific arc, it can still resonate with the reader/listener in a specific manner. Allegory and metaphor and vagueness all work to create an illusion of what the reader ingests and what the mind expels.

We leave the world-sprawling ways of ‘The Only Child’ and arrive in the Pacific Northwest with 2019’s ‘The Homecoming.’ And what a perfect title and central idea in relation to my ramblings within this feature. What Andrew attempts (and delivers) with ‘The Homecoming’ is tailormade for film or television. We follow the Quinlan family, whisked away following the death of their father, to a sprawling mansion. It’s a surprise to them, that he had this mansion without them knowing and a surprise to them that he is worth millions of dollars. All they need to do is remain there for a month and they get to split the inheritance. But not all is what it seems and layers get unraveled and secrets revealed.

This might be the most on the nose novel Pyper has released regarding familial longing and unspoken tension. Each character is flawed, each member of the Quinlan family has their own issues and secrets withheld, but isn’t that like all of us? Isn’t that how it is at family reunions and celebrations of life’s and birthdays and holidays? When you smile and give your uncle a hug even though he posted something grotesque on Facebook a month ago? Or when you ask how life is with your cousin, even though they got in their trucks and honked the horn for freedom? (Caveating this here – these are just examples, not specifically directed to any of my actual family members.) Andrew brings these people to life with such candor that you know these characters within minutes.

The book ends with the reader learning the horrible truth and the awful reality of the family patriarch’s deception. It sets his long-time readers up with an open-ended question; where next? After the heartache he’d been delivering, at this stage now in his twenty year career, how could we possible go any darker and more despondent?

I’ll admit – I’m not a huge historical horror guy. Katsu – great. She’s a stunning writer. But I definitely don’t seek it as a standard reading detour for me. Which eases into where Andrew took us next. When it was announced, I was tentatively excited. On one hand, it was a new Pyper book. On the other hand, I’m not overly keen on the White House and US politics stuff. But reading the synopsis had me hooked and I couldn’t wait to see what was delivered.

So, in 2020, we got ‘The Residence,’ and with this novel – his most recent official physical release (until the next which I’ll touch on in a minute) – Andrew went full on with the ‘longing for the before’ narrative. Franklin and Jane Pierce’s son, Bennie, dies in a tragic train crash shortly before Franklin becomes President. Jane is devastated and spends her time in the White House searching for a way to bring Bennie back, to talk to him once again. It is the culmination of all of his prior work, or stacking the bricks one-by-one to crush the reader as we learn about a mother’s heartbreak and grief and how she struggles to find any meaning to go on. While not officially ‘post-partum,’ in essence it is. A mother losing her child, especially one so young, would be a pain that would sear into someone’s soul.

When my son was born, he had extreme complications, and while I won’t go too far into it right now, I was told that they had lost him. My wife as well. I set down my copy of ‘The Wildfire Season’ (how’s that for coincidence, eh?) and followed their instructions about what I needed to do and what forms needed to be completed. I was numb and floating and panicked and collapsing. I imagine some similar things needed to be done after Bennie passed away, but I was fortunate to have a very different outcome. Jane was not, and Andrew brings her sorrow to such a level that it’s surprising the pages didn’t drip with tears.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, for starters, it brings us back around to 2021’s ‘Oracle,’ and to a degree 2022’s ‘Oracle 2: The Dreamland Murders.’ Within both, Andrew utilizes Nate Russo’s upbringing and trauma as a leaping off point to connecting with those lost and those searching. It creates a chasm of emotional pain that awaits the reader/listener and when they get too close to the edge, we get pushed over, landing heart-first into the horror and sorrow that cushions our fall.

If you’re involved in the Indie Horror Community, you’ll see many writers (me included) who release several releases a year. It’s the nature of the beast when you’re your own publisher. Andrew is in a different category altogether – a traditionally published, dark fiction writer. While it feels like forever since we’ve had a new Pyper book, the reality is, we’ve had five projects in the last five years, and a sixth if you include the docu-drama that was made about the research into writing ‘The Residence.’

In an interview I did with Andrew a number of months again, he did mention that he had something in the works that was wilderness/forest related. What the story is based around and when will it arrive? Right now that’s unknown. We’ll be patiently waiting. I’m writing this in the week leading up to when I had expected to be going to Toronto and would’ve been fortunate enough to finally meet Andrew in person and visit with him. I was going to do my best to try and get some details out of him, but alas, the work event was cancelled and I’m left with the sadness of what could’ve been.

Much like what prompted this long-worded love-letter to Andrew’s grief encrusted bibliography. His work runs the gauntlet of devastation and yet, always, at its core – throughout each and every novel/release – we get that haunting aspect of characters longing to go back to where they came from and scenarios around despair and all-encompassing sorrow.

I’ve long yelled into the void about my love of his work and I’ve long stressed how much his work has connected with me and I think, especially as I age and grow even more introspective, I see the threads of the life I wonder about and how this connects with his work and what his characters go through.

I think I’ll finish with this.

My life is all the better for where I am and the person I’ve become. I have good days and bad days. But I try my best to find small nuggets of sunshine, no matter how thick the clouds. Some of you might be reading this, or even seeing this, and rolling your eyes and shaking your heads. ‘Oh, look, Steve’s talking about Andrew Pyper again.’ Hey, fair. But for me, it’s more than just books. It’s more than just me loving an author’s work. His novels have always been there and continue to be there and somedays, they’re the little glimmer of sun within the clouds.

I may never be able to return to how things were when I was a child. Of riding my bike without a care in the world through the cut-through trail on my way to the Watson’s house, or heading to the boat launch with a stack of CD’s and a six-disc changer, knowing I’d be zapping the batteries while Simon and I lounged around for the entire day, only returning home when it was so dark we were scared a bear would eat us. But I can return to the world’s Andrew’s created. Reconnect with these characters and use their lessons and their experience to dampen my own grief.

We’ve all lost loved ones, those who we wish beyond anything that they were still here for milestones and special occasions. Those we think about fondly and wonder just what their lives would be like if they were still here.

The only author I’ve read who accurately depicts that and delivers the literary prose to describe it perfectly is Andrew Pyper. His work seeks to answer the ‘why’ of how come we can never go back? How come things can never be the same? And what would’ve been, had things happened differently.

As always, I’ll await word on a new Pyper book and I thank Andrew for his kindness and friendship.

We are broken, but we can be fixed.

We may never be able to go back, but we can always revisit.

Such is true for good books and old memories.

If you’d like to discover Andrew’s work you can find more here;

Website: http://www.andrewpyper.com

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Pyper/e/B001HD0266/

Archive: theandrewpyperarchives.ca

3Q’s – Stephanie Wytovich writes her poems in the dark!


Yes, yes, that headline was an attempt at a Corey Hart pun… and I think I NAILED IT!!! Or failed.

Either way – today’s guest is one I think a lot of folks will be excited to read about. Stephanie Wytovich is a truly accomplished author and also one of the nicest folks out there. I was super honored when she agreed to do one of these ridiculous features!

So, please do welcome Stephanie!

Stephanie Wytovich

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Stephanie: My writing time is unstructured and chaos. Pure, absolute chaos. When I started out a decade or so ago, I was under the impression that you had to write every day, and so I tried that and I shot for a certain word count and everything and that was manageable because I was young and in graduate school and didn’t really have a whole lot of responsibility outside of myself. Plus, it kept me on a schedule, which is something I still find myself grasping for now and again. But! Fast forward to today when I have a house, a husband, a FT job, freelance responsibilities, two dogs, and a daughter under a year old, and well…every day when we all go to bed alive, clean, fed, and relatively happy is a win for me. So what does that mean for my writing? Honestly, it means I write when I can fit it in and when I feel energized to do so.

A couple years ago, I suffered from creative burnout. Bad. Writing stopped being fun for me and I promised myself that if that ever happened that I’d take a step back and evaluate myself and my goals. After doing that, I realized I wanted to keep writing—that I missed writing and that it was central to my identity as a person—but my approach to it had to change. I’m a lot kinder to myself these days. If I’m tired, I sleep rather than pulling all-nighters. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t; no more forcing myself in the chair and losing nights and only having a couple hundred words to show for it. I no longer try to hit every submission opening under the sun. I pick and choose my projects carefully and with respect for myself as a person, not only as a writer. I know some of this all probably sounds counterintuitive to the question, especially because I do produce on a fairly steady and regular basis, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not as strict about it as I used to be. I try to find quiet moments in my day—when my daughter goes to sleep at night, early in the morning before everyone gets up, etc.—and I use those moments to write, edit, and brainstorm. Sometimes I take myself out on writing dates where I’ll sit in a coffee shop, have my morning coffee, and get some work done. Other times when I’m on deadline, I chat with my family and make sure that I have specific time blocks to create and work where I won’t be disturbed.

Something I do every day though without question is read. I read poetry, memoir, fiction, and true crime. I read nonfiction and books about business and PR and marketing. I subscribe to Poets and Writers, The Writer Magazine, Rue Morgue and Fangoria. I love reading what my peers have to say on LitHub, Medium, and LitReactor, and I often seek out stories and essays in Nightmare, The Dark, Vasterian, and Tor. Audiobooks have made it infinitely easier to consume stories and information, and I also listen to a bunch of podcasts, too, about books, horror, film, etc. I attribute this all to my writing process and my ability to do research as an instructor and a creative. Sometimes writing is actually not writing. Yes, you need to put your butt in the chair and produce words but thinking critically and asking questions and knowing how to seek answers and subvert what’s been done before is important, too.

Steve: If you could write a story for another author’s fictional world/series, which would it be and why?

Stephanie: This is a tough question, so I’m going to go with the first world that popped into my head, which is the Hellraiser universe (Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart). Barker was a huge inspiration for me when I started writing, and his monsters and creatures and creations, to this day, have such a hold on my heart. If I could play with the cenobites and open the box, ah, that would be a dream—er, nightmare!—of the best kind. A close second would be Silent Hill.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Stephanie: I have some exciting stuff on the books for this year:

  • My poem “Such Secrets, These Stones” will be published in Daughter of Sarpedon, a Medusa-themed anthology forthcoming from Brigids Gate Press.
  • My poem “Dinner with Baba Yaga” will be included alongside my short story “A Trail of Feathers, a Trail of Blood” in the upcoming Black Spot Books anthology, Into the Forest, a collection of Baba Yaga tales.
  • Lastly, my book Writing Poetry in the Dark will be out on October 18. Writing Poetry in the Darkis a craft book for speculative poets, by speculative poets, with a foreword by one of the genre’s most celebrated authors and creator of the Writing in the Dark brand, Tim Waggoner. This book meditates on craft, genre, style, and form as acclaimed SF/F/H poets come together to talk about their process, outlook, and approach to writing and incorporating the speculative into their poems.

Steve: Bonus Question! Do you have a cherished book?

Stephanie: Yes! We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s my favorite book and it’s my comfort read. I reach for it often and I have several copies of it and have it on audio.


Fantastic! Thank you so much for doing this, Stephanie!

To find more of her work, please do check out the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-M-Wytovich/e/B00DTKIN2K

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SWytovich

Website: https://www.stephaniemwytovich.com/

3Q’s Special – Ross Jeffery introduces us to his Atrocities!


Today’s guest is one who I’ve long been a fan of and someone who I’ve been fortunate to work with as well. Not only did I get to write a foreword to an anthology Ross was putting together, but later I was also invited to be in an anthology through Storgy. And let’s not forget, Ross and Joseph Sale’s upstart small press published my novella ‘The Window in the Ground.’ Ross himself has shown just how talented of an author he is and I’m always excited to see what he has coming!

Please, welcome Ross!


Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?
Ross: My writing time varies from book to book, which includes the time of day I write, the soundtracks I listen to and the work count (although I’m starting to not be too ridged on that last one). For instance, when I wrote ‘The Devil’s Pocketbook’ it was an evening book, between 7pm-9pm for about a month; I’d go to work and then when I’d come home I’d do all my dad responsibilities and then when the children went to bed, I’d settle down in the office and create. This book had the soundtrack to ‘Midnight Mass’ like I’d listen to the whole album on repeat, that even now when it comes on, certain tracks remind me exactly of what I was writing at the time. For ‘The Devil’s Pocketbook’ I wrote between 4k-5k a night, every night of the week, giving myself the luxury of weekends off.
For my latest book ‘I Died Too, But They Haven’t Buried Me Yet’ it was a morning book, I’d write first thing in the morning, and then adapting the Lansdale Technique (look it up its awesome) I’d then polish my words in the evening, getting myself ready for the next day’s session. Although writing this book I did have some annual leave to take and so I was writing each morning, at my desk, without fail. I was also writing this book alongside Josh Malerman (who was writing his own macabre tale – Incidents Around The House) and so I had to keep up, and writing a little, often, really helped keep the momentum going on this project. I was able to finish it in 25 writing sessions (so in essence 25 days – 98K). The soundtrack for this one was the works of Joseph Bishara (The Conjuring dude) which helped get me into the creepy mindset I needed for the feel of this book.
So, circling back to your point, each book drives the process – for ‘I Died Too…’ we (Josh and I) opted for about 2k a day, so at the end of the working week we’d have 10K and then we’d swap our manuscripts. This slowing down really helped to hone the words on the page, gave time to breath and really get into the story – big word counts for writing days are cool, don’t get me wrong, but slowing down really helps (as long as you keep moving – little and often wins the race).

Steve: You decide to host a writer’s retreat. One weekend in a luxury house on an island. What three other authors do you invite to come along?
Ross: We’ll that’s a tough one, but I’m going to have to go with people that I feel I’d vibe from and that we’d have a great time, talking shop and sharing stories; so I’d go with Stephen King, Josh Malerman and Chuck Palahniuk.
Chuck Palahniuk is one of the people I attribute to me starting this crazy dream of writing. I read ‘Fight Club’ before the film came out and it blew my tiny mind. I’d really struggled growing up and reading, like I couldn’t find books I wanted to read, and at school I had an English teacher that bullied me and put me off writing and reading. So, I discovered reading for pleasure late in life, but when I cracked open the spine of ‘Fight Club’ and devoured his words, I was like “Wow. Chuck, where have you been my whole life”.
Stephen King is Stephen King right? Like to sit and chat with the King of horror would be like panning a fountain of horrific knowledge and insight, just to speak with him about his books, his craft, where he gets his ideas, what he struggles with (endings I can hear people shouting already) and how he continually churns out books… like that is the dream. He’s also a huge hero of mine and so he’s on the list for sure.
Josh Malerman – I’ve had the joy to get to know Josh over the years as a friend and well, to meet that guy in person and to have some drinks, talk shop, discuss life, man that would be incredible – plus if we need some musical interlude or something, the man can do that too. Also, Josh’s work to date is incredible, no two books are the same, he’s a true chameleon and his ideas are so unique, so “why didn’t I think of that!”.
Just imagine that writing retreat – the minds in the room, the stories, the sheer brilliance waiting to explode; each in their own right such gifted raconteurs… and being at the centre of that – I’m in, where do I sign up?

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Ross: So, my most recent release is ‘Beautiful Atrocities’ – its my debut short story collection and one that I’m pretty proud of, you’ll find no cryptids in my fiction, its straight up monsters of men and women, how brutality springs from the mind and destroys all it touches. I think that the horrors men and women do to each other is some of the scariest stuff on the planet, and so that’s what this collection focuses on. There’s something for everyone (unless you love cryptids – there not in there) and it features a foreword by Eric LaRocca which perfectly sums up the varied collection of my work.
If you’ve never read my work before, it’s a great little sampler for what you might get if you checked out my other work.

Steve: Bonus Question! You receive an invitation in the mail from one of these two people. The invitation invites you to have dinner and spend the night in their home. Do you accept the invitation from Victor Frankenstein or Dracula and why?
Ross: Neither, I don’t do cryptids (I thought I made myself clear above).
“OWWW… Steve that hurts. Stop. Twisting. My. Arm. It hurts, stop it… okay, okay… I’ll pick…”
Frankenstein – he’s much more the conversationalist, plus I hear he’s allergic to nuts (heheheh – dad humour strikes again).

Oh good grief… ha! Thanks so much Ross!

To find more of his work – check the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ross-Jeffery/e/B07RPBMQSD/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RossJeffery_

Website: https://rossjeffery.carrd.co/

3Q’s – Marcus Hawke believes in Miracles!


Have I used that “believe in Miracles!” opener already? Yes? I can’t remember. Probably. Ah, the pleasures of getting old AND scheduling 100 3Q’s features haha!

Today’s guest lives just down the QEII from me and is a fellow member of the HWA Alberta Chapter!

Please, do welcome, Marcus!!

Marcus Hawke

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Marcus: I write usually at night and try to make it the same time every day just to establish some sort of routine. But the honest truth is that I do a lot of writing in between things, lunch breaks, appointments, in transit from one place to another, and so forth. Time that could easily be spent doing something mindless like staring at my phone I try to use for something a bit more purposeful wherever I can. And my word count is whatever I happen to get. Sometimes that’s 1000 words, sometimes 100. It all adds up.

Steve: If you could write a story for another author’s fictional world/series, which would it be and why?

Marcus: I’m a big Dracula fan so if anything it would probably be that. But I also love both Star Wars and Batman and would die a happy boy if I could ever do anything creatively for either of those franchises in an official capacity. (and I have ideas so hit me up, Del Rey/DC)

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Marcus: It’s called Acts of Violence and it’s a collection of previously published, but mostly unpublished, short stories. It’s got winter horror, religious horror, carnival horror, slasher, zombie, haunting, and more so there’s lots of variety.

Steve: Bonus Question! Do you have a cherished book?

Marcus: I’m fortunate enough to own a few that I cherish: first editions of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and a signed copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger Than Fiction. But the crown jewel for me would be an 1897 copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that I was given by my grandmother.


Very cool!

Thank you so much, Marcus!

Check the links to find more of his work!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marcus-Hawke/e/B08H81ZHVS

Website: https://www.marcushawke.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hawkehaus

Book Review: Ghostwritten by Roland Malfi


Title: Ghostwritten

Author: Ronald Malfi

Release date: October 4th, 2022

Firstly, huge thanks to Netgalley, Ronald Malfi and Titan Books for approving me for a digital ARC!

Malfi struck gold with ‘Come With Me’ his novel that came out just last year, Summer 2021. Imagine our surprise when it was then announced that we would be getting not one, but two releases from him in 2022. First up was the fantastic ‘Black Mouth.’ And now, here we are with ‘Ghostwritten.’

‘Ghostwritten’ is a collection of four novellas that can either be digested individually, or read as four parts to a longer story all interconnected through the mysterious books that take center stage and the horrible events surrounding the books. Malfi covers a lot of ground in these ones and it shows just how solid and capable of a writer he is that none of them felt repetitive when held up in comparison to the other’s within here.

What I liked: We start off with a bang – ‘The Skin of her Teeth’ is both a straightforward story of a book that drives people to madness and death. Taken at face value, we follow as an agent desperately tries to save a huge deal between her client and a movie studio, as her client is tasked with writing the screenplay. It could also be taken as a metaphor to the writer’s grind of trying to make a deadline and feeling all consumed by a project.

Either way, Malfi gives us creeps and tension which all comes to a head and will leave you breathless.

Next up, we get ‘The Dark Brother’s Last Ride.’ This was a fun one, revolving around two hired goons tasked with transporting a briefcase and given some simple rules. Follow the map exactly. Don’t open the case. Don’t touch what’s inside. Ignore anyone asking about it. It made for really fun trip.

Third was ‘This Book Belongs to Olo.’ First – the cover of this collection relates to this story, which really heightens the insanity you’ll find within. Second – this was my favorite story within the collection. Almost a YA-Fantasy novella that has tinges of Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro, Malfi introduces us to Olo, a lonely child who has no friends and lives in a mansion with his stepdad and mom. Both are preoccupied with their own careers to even care about Olo, so he decides to find a way to make friends. I almost wish this particular one was illustrated or maybe one day we get a stop-motion movie out of him akin to James and the Giant Peach. I can’t rave more about this one without going into spoiler territory, but really loved this one.

Lastly, we finish with ‘The Story,’ which goes in so many different directions. Malfi manages to hold it together and close out with a strong finish.

What I didn’t like: While I enjoyed them all, I did find ‘The Dark Brother’s Last Ride’ to be the one that didn’t click with me as much and I think a part of that is my own personal reasons. I’m not a huge fan of mob stories, gangsters etc and this starts off with that aspect and then goes from there. It is fun and solid, but not completely my cup of tea.

Why you should buy this: Malfi continues to deliver and showing why so many people rave about his work. Throughout we get solid storylines, great characters and horrifying events – all the while tied together thematically from start to finish. Really well done and definitely a place where new fans can dive in, while old fans will be more than happy with what they read.


3Q’s – Madison McSweeney stays near the Fringes!


Look at this! Another 3Q’s annnnddd another Canuck writer haha!

I’m excited to introduce you all to Madison!

Welcome, Madison!

Madison McSweeney

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Madison: I’m tempted to lie and say I have some intense gothic writing process, but alas, I’m a bit of a cliché. I like parking myself at picnic tables, coffee shops, and libraries; when writing at home, I tidy up my apartment so I’m not staring at too much clutter and set myself up with a record and a cup of tea. Sometimes scented candles, lava lamps, and/or essential oil dispensers are involved.

Music is probably the most important part of my set-up. I can’t get much done without a soundtrack and I make a big production of selecting songs, albums, and playlists that match the tone of whatever I happen to be writing. (For The Doom That Came to Mellonville, that meant listening to Richard Band’s Re-Animator score on repeat).

I often start writing with an idea for a vibe rather than a plot, and music feeds into that; my novelette The Forest Dreams With Teeth owes a lot to Robert E. Howard and The Wicker Man, but it probably wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t been walking in the woods in the ‘burbs while listening to Dio.

Steve: If you could write a story for another author’s fictional world/series, which would it be and why?

Madison: Conan the Barbarian or Beastmaster. I love sword-and-sorcery and I don’t think its possible to create a better hero than Conan or Marc Singer’s Dar. Specifically, I want to write a prequel to Beastmaster III: The Eye of Braxus, which I’m sure there’d be a market for. And the Conan universe is just so swashbuckling and mysterious; I’d love to write a Howard-style throwback that really plays up the weird horror.

I also recently had an idea for a Hellraiser story focused on a vengeful Chatterer, which I might actually sit down and write.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

Madison: My debut poetry chapbook Fringewood was released this summer by Alien Buddha Press. It’s a collection of 22 gothic, folk horror, and paranormal-inspired poems set in a strange little town that may or may not exist.

Content-wise, it’s a mix of monster mayhem and melancholy musings (and that’s my alliteration allotment for the day). When I was pitching the collection, I compared it to My Heart is a Chainsaw, Midsommar, and Welcome to Night Vale, as well as the works of The Misfits and Phoebe Bridgers, which seems a little presumptuous; but if you can’t carnival bark for your own stuff, no one else will.

Self-indulgently, I was very excited for this one because I drew the cover illustration (a first for me), and many of the poems are very personal. There’s also a lot of in-jokes – for instance, “Tunney’s Pasture,” which I portray as a muddy field that dissolves rubber soles and mutates livestock, is the name of a downtown Ottawa bus station I used to hate waiting at.

Check out Fringewood if you like witchcraft, cryptids, and sinister small towns.

Steve: Bonus Question! Do you have a cherished book?

Madison: In the dying days of Zellers, I picked the carcass of my local store and found a single copy of Clive Barker’s Cabal. The 1989 paperback edition with just a U.K. price on the back – I’m honestly not sure how it ended up in a Canadian Zellers in 2013. I was a high school senior and had never consumed any Barker before, but I was immediately drawn in by the beauty of the language and the vividly conjured characters (not to mention the feminist and queer themes). This particular book also had the most tantalizing back cover copy I’ve ever read.

Sadly, Barker’s planned trilogy never happened, so we may never learn the fate of the Nightbreed. But Cabal is still a small masterpiece and my all-time favourite book.


Great choice and that is crazy that it ended up at a Zellers! I love when people make crazy finds!

Thank you again, Madison!

To discover more of her work – click the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Madison-McSweeney/e/B0979N64R1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMcSw13

Website: https://madisonmcsweeney.com/

3Q’s Special – Josh Malerman believes he can put it off!


One thing that I’ve loved hearing back from people who read these and those who I’ve invited to be on the 3Q’s, is just how fun it is, but also how short and snappy it is. The reality is, while I love reading long interviews or watch long interviews, sometimes we just don’t have the time to fit it all in. So much content is being created and it’s getting harder to decide what to consume. 3Q’s was imagined as an interview feature for the social media age. 5-10 minutes of time to check it out, have a laugh, find a good book and ultimately learn just a little bit more about your favorite authors!

Today’s guest really doesn’t need an introduction. Josh Malerman is a force, having written numerous best sellers, hit singles with his band The High Strung, created sought after limited editions and been behind one of the biggest movies (and social media phenomenon’s) on Netflix with Birdbox. I was super grateful that he agreed to do one and was super excited to get his replies back so fast! So, naturally – here he is for a Special 3Q’s!

Please welcome Josh!


Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try and write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

Josh: So, this is exclusive to each book. So far, each book has followed its own routine and has maintained the routine for the duration of the rough draft. Bird Box was written between 8AM and noon every day, an average of 4,300 words a day. The newest, Incidents Around the House, was written between about 8PM and midnight, at about 2,500 words a day. Ghoul n’ The Cape was 1,000 a day. Unbury Carol was 5,300 a day. So… within themselves, in and of themselves: routine. But no overarching routine heading into the first draft. The story kinda tells you, This is when you’re going to write me and this is about how much you’re gonna get out of me each day.

Steve: You end up at an estate sale and discover an unpublished manuscript from an author you love. Do you keep it just for yourself or do you share it with the world?
Josh: Ha. How about I read it first, then definitely share. I couldn’t live with the guilt. And who’d want to do that anyway? It’s an interesting question though. I wonder if a hardcore collector might want it for him/herself. Come to think of it, this is a good story idea. A hardcore collector discovers an unknown novel by a beloved author, keeps it for himself, suffers the horrifying consequences. Maybe the ghost of the author or the author’s family or something starts showing up around the house. (Steve – I would read that!)

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!
Josh: Daphne (Del Rey) came out September 20th. We hosted a great theatrical reading: rented out a gymnasium, had fog and lights, scary music playing, and my fiancée Allison hit a fifteen-foot shot as I was narrating her making the shot. Incredible. Daphne, the seven-foot denim-clad whiskey and smoke smelling slasher, absolutely represents a panic attack. And the girls on the Samhattan High School basketball team must contend with her predilection for ballers. The more they think about Daphne? The closer she gets. So, just don’t think about her, right? Riiiight. Just like panic or anxiety, she’s coming. I’d been looking for an angle on anxiety, a prism, for years, and Daphne came to me fully formed.

Steve: Bonus Question! You wake up in a comic book. What is your comic book character and what is your super power?
Josh: Call me Optimo. And my power is that I’m the guy on the superpower team who says, “Hey, actually I think we can pull this off.” And then the people with the real powers say, “Hey, shit man, if Optimo thinks we can… maybe we can.”

Ha! Great answer. Love it.

Thanks so much, Josh, really appreciate it.

As always – check the links to find more of his work!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Josh-Malerman/e/B00K8R9C8Q

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoshMalerman

Website: https://joshmalerman.com/

3Q’s – Kevin J. Kennedy – Horror Master!


Truly, truly honored to have today’s guest join us.

Kevin J. Kennedy has been so very important in my writing career. Not only was he my first story acceptance, he was also my very first anthology invite! He’s always been super supportive to myself as well as a whole host of other writers!

Everyone – Kevin!

Kevin Kennedy

Steve: What does your writing time look like? Do you try to write at the same time each day? Do you have a word count you attempt to hit?

KJK: Nope. I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I always have a pretty busy schedule so I just need to find time. I also never set myself a word count. I do what I can in each session and when my brain melts, I give up. I seem to be okay at hitting deadlines but that’s likely because I work well under pressure and work harder on the last few days before something is due and push other stuff aside. After I sub I go back to normal life for a bit.

Steve: If you started a series and for some reason had to have another author finish it, who would you choose? 

KJK: That’s a tough one. It would depend on the sub-genre I suppose. As things are going just now it would likely by Matt Clark (writes under Matthew A. Clarke). I’m doing more and more Bizarro stuff and I love Mark’s work. He never seems to stop working so I’m sure he could squeeze it in somewhere and we have similar tastes, so it could work well.

Steve: Tell me about your newest release (novel/story/poem/novella) and why someone should read it!

KJK: My newest release is an anthology called The Horror Collection: Nightmare Edition. It contains stories by eighteen authors. I don’t have a story in this one. I just read the subbed stories, picked my favourites and then picked the story order. It may be the last book in the series which now has twelve books. It’s roughly three times the size of the other books in the series so it would be a good one to close with.

Steve: Bonus Question! If they made a movie about your life, what actor or actress would you suggest they get to play you?

KJK: Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Maybe Vin Diesel. We both have a shaved head and a really deep voice. Being fair, I think he hits the gym a bit more than me, but I seen a picture of him on a yacht with a beer belly at one point and that look would have been perfect for a movie about me. lol


Good choice! I reckon if he can play Groot so convincingly, he can play you!

Thanks again, Kevin!

To find more reads from Kevin, click the links!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J-Kennedy/e/B016V0NA7M

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KevinJKennedy01

Book Review: This is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau


Title: This is Where We Talk Things Out

Author: Caitlin Marceau

Release date: September 22, 2022

Firstly, huge thanks to Caitlin, Andrew and DarkLit Press for sending me a digital copy to review!

I actually read this at the end of last week, casually starting it on the Thursday night, but became quickly engrossed and would’ve finished it that night if I hadn’t already read for 90 mins prior to starting this. I typically don’t post reviews on the weekends (some rare occasions based around release dates or special requests – and let’s face it, sometimes social media can be crickets on the weekends) but I wrote this up on my phone once done to post first thing this Monday morning.

The novella is quick, sharp and rubbles along like a freight train about to come off the tracks.

What I liked: The story follows an daughter and her mother who are tentatively trying to rebuild some of their estranged relationship following the death of the father. We quickly learn that the mother, Sylvie, doesn’t fully approve of her daughter, Miller’s life choices (she is engaged to another female and partakes in recreational substances) as well as the fact that Sylvie has always been a difficult parent, someone who makes statements and comments that are horrific and then gaslights Miller into apologizing for upsetting Sylvie when she’s called out.

This pattern continues, as Miller reluctantly agrees to visit with Sylvie for a weekend in a cabin she believes her mom has rented. Marceau does a great job of infuriating us with Sylvie’s constant overreactions and ability to turn everything around onto Miller. It works really well to exasperate the reader but also ramp up the tension between the two of them.

With a huge storm barreling in, Marceau adds in some unforeseen turn-of-events that works really well to isolate Miller and the cabin even more and the level of craziness that Sylvie exhibits goes off the charts.

The ending – which is expected – still works to add another layer of paleness over the preceding 100 pages and closes it off really nicely.

What I didn’t like: There are trigger warnings for some of what happens, but I will say, if you’ve ever dealt with a parent who exhibits any of the same traits as Sylvie, you’ll be furious reading this. True, it shows just how well of a job Marceau does bringing this character and their relationship to life, but holy man, I didn’t realize I was going to take some of this as personally as I did and how angry it made me in spots! So, be aware ha! Additionally, there’s a bit about the father that is made fairly obvious early on, which dampened some of that reveal.

Why you should buy this: It’s always exciting to me when a novella rips right out of the gate and holds you solidly until you finish it off and finally exhale. Marceau never once lets the pedal off the floor while steering us readers through thick and thin. So, if you’re looking for a really solid, fast-paced, family based piece, look no further. This one was really well done.