Woman in White – Kristin Dearborn

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What is the woman in white? Ahh…that is a very good question and the answer is a slippery one. Just when you think you have it, it gets away from you.

Rocky Rhodes, Maine. Yes, it is a goofy name for a town and the inhabitants know it and make fun of it. It is set in the middle of nowheres-vile Maine north of Bangor. Population – not very damn many. Cell phone service? Fergetaboutit. Ain’t happenin. If that isn’t bad enough, how about adding a snowstorm so powerful that everything is shut down and covered in a thick blanket of the white stuff? Dennis is on his way to his girlfriend’s trailer for a little gaming and some fun when he goes off the road to avoid hitting a woman standing in the middle of the snow storm with no shoes on. The next day, all the authorities can find is his abandoned Camry with an interior covered in blood. Bring in the forensic specialist and the state cop, who happen to be having an affair with each other. After inspecting the crime scene, things aren’t adding up right. Where is the body? Why is there more blood than a human body holds and why is it devoid of any DNA markers? And why are all the subsequent victims all male?

Woman in White is my first forray into Kristin Dearborn’s writing. She’s a talented author that can really make you feel frostbitten by the way she makes the snowstorm it’s own separate character. Kudos also for taking elements of The Thing, The Blob, and Ghost Story and making it her own. The downside for me were some of the characters. While Nate was one nasty bastard that I actually loved to hate, Lee was an annoying cardboard cutout. I mean, whoever heard of a prissy, spoiled forensic scientist? All in all, it was still decent read that will chill you down to your bones.

3 1/2 Frostbitten Toes out of 5
** This ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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Salvage – Duncan Ralston

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When Owen Saddler’s younger sister, Lori, drowns in mysterious fashion while scuba diving in a lake in remote Ontario, unusual things begin to happen to Owen. A strange man at his job site utters something to Owen that he couldn’t have possibly known. Or did he? Owen is attacked in his bathtub and almost drowns by a man that seems oddly familiar. Or didn’t he? Confused and unable to determine how much is real and how much might be hallucination, Owen is drawn to Chapel Lake, where his sister drowned and 30 years ago the lake was created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam that floods the valley and the town of Peace Falls. What was his sister looking for while diving into the flooded underwater town? He must find answers to his haunted questions, even if those answers are that he’s losing his mind.

Salvage is an interesting read by Duncan Ralston that uses a unique location for his ghost story. It mixes corrupted religion with mental illness to weave a hazy read that keeps the reader turning the pages. Owen is an odd duck in that always seems to be one step behind the reader at guessing what’s going on. It can be frustrating, at times, because he doesn’t ask the questions to people that you want him to ask. He seems to be ok with only knowing part of the story from a conversation and having to put himself in harms way to fill in the holes, instead of simply asking more questions. The atmosphere is unique and eerie and Ralston does a nice job painting a realistic setting that you can see vividly in your mind. The ending loosely ties things together that I couldn’t quite buy into and the fact that Owen could have all of these supernatural things happen to him and he simply shrugs it off as business as usual was hard for me to buy into. But, all in all, it was a fun read that kept me turning the pages to see what happens next.

4 underwater churches out of 5

** This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Bunny Sneaks – William Meikle

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Do you ever wonder what the hell you had just read? I’m shaking my head wondering the same thing at this very moment. Bunny Sneaks is an odd short story. It’s not scary. It isn’t realistic. It doesn’t even feel like satire. It feels like a watered-down scene from Child’s Play and instead of Chucky being the villain, someone decided to make the toy be a stuffed rabbit, as a joke, instead. I love Meikle, but I have to wonder if he was drunk off his ass when he wrote this.

2 bloody Easter eggs out of 5
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Things We Fear – Glenn Rolfe

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This review pains me to write. I’ve read and reviewed Rolfe’s Blood and Rain, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I can say the same for his Boom Town. Unfortunately, I can’t give my seal of approval for Things We Fear. I don’t feel like I’d be doing anyone a favor by sugar-coating my honest opinion, so here it is.

Things We Fear is a pretty paint-by-numbers, Lifetime movie-ish story about Aaron, Emma, and Matt. Aaron is the new teaching assistant that has the hots for Emma, the teacher in the classroom he’s an assistant for. She plays it cool all year and Aaron doesn’t think she has anything in return for him. Then school lets out for the summer and, low and behold, she begins showing an interest and love starts to blossom. Enter Matt, the Phys Ed teacher who not only is a real meathead and arrogant prick that things he’s god’s gift to women, he also has a real problem being told no by them. So much so, that he’s got a few buried at a desolate place by a paper mill. Talk about your bad date. Well guess what? That’s right, he’s got his eye on Emma and doesn’t like that, not only is she not reciprocating, but that she’s got her eye on Aaron. Three guesses what happens next.

And here lies the start of my problems with Things We Fear. The plot is bland and extremely predictable. The characters are paper thin. The only one with a a half-way fleshed out background is Aaron and the fact that he fears the water is paraded as a main plot point in the story. The problem is that it really doesn’t matter. He could be afraid of bunny rabbits and it really wouldn’t change the story that much. We are also introduced to some auxiliary characters that seem like they were added at the last second to plug some plot holes and show up a little too conveniently like the Calvary coming to save the day. Last, but certainly not least, a murky attempt at explaining Aaron’s fear by way of a hallucination with a Cthulhu-like creature really muddies the already dirty water.

Now, if this sounds like I’m bashing Rolfe, it’s not meant to. Glenn is a good author – a damn good one. I’ve read his good stuff and I know that I’ll read many more of his that I will thoroughly enjoy. This one simply wasn’t him firing on all cylinders.

2 Jealous Stalkers out of 5

** I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Northwoods – Bill Schweigart

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Schweigart has done it again. Northwoods is book #2 in his cryptozoology thrill ride of a series (I hear he’s already hard at work on book #3). After teaming up to defeat the bloodthirsty and relentless shapeshifter in The Beast of Barcroft, Lindsay and Ben are back to tackle a nightmare that makes the Beast of Barcroft look like child’s play.

A year after the incident in Barcroft, Ben and Lindsay have become best friends. A call from the wealthy cryptozoologist, Richard Severence, brings the two to the Apostle Islands off the northern coast of Wisconsin’s shores of Lake Superior. Meeting up with their Ojibway friend, Alex StandingCloud, they are sent to the scene where a gruesome massacre has taken place in the northern woods. Customs and Border Patrol officer, Davis Holland, stumbled upon it one night when investigating what appeared to be an illegal entry across the border. The only clue to the origins of the bloodbath is a strange and ornately carved wooden box. Is an old Native American folktale responsible for unleashing hell on this sleepy northern town?

Northwoods is a return to form for Schweigart after the excellent The Beast of Barcroft. He uses the X-Files template in a creative and interesting way weaving Native American folklore in with a remote setting to produce a feeling of helpless isolation. Northwoods worked from me. From the interesting characters, the unique setting, and tapping into the combination of Native American legends with cryptozoology, it all adds up to a fun read that I’m looking forward to continuing in the upcoming third installment. My only knock on the story is that more background wasn’t fleshed out to explain the box and the creatures, but I have a feeling that will be delved into more in the next book of the series.

4 1/2 genies in a bottle out of 5

** This book was an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Interview with Kristopher Rufty

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Seven

 

 

Lets get the vitals out of the way –

Name: Kristopher Rufty
DOB: July ‘79
Birthplace: NC
City of Residence: TBD
Marital Status: Married
Children: Yes
Pets: Yes
Into The Macabre: When did you first start writing?

Kristopher Rufty: I dabbled a lot as a kid, writing my own comics that I had drawn on folded typewriter paper. But the first story I completed was in the 6th or 7th grade. And it was TERMINATOR 3, after I’d just finished watching T2 and decided to write my own sequel. About ten pages long, I got to the point rather quickly.

Into The Macabre: What drew you to horror? What/Who were your inspirations?

Kristopher Rufty: What first drew me in was Friday the 13th. I was put in front of the TV when I was five years old. My mom wanted to do some canning and she mistook the guy in the superhero costume on TV, telling jokes as being a child-appropriate babysitter. Turned out the show was Commander USA, and he was a horror host. He aired FRIDAY THE 13th and I was hooked. I drew pictures in crayon of scenes I’d seen in the movie. My mom, always the supportive one, hung them on the fridge.

Into The Macabre: Describe the process it took for you to become published.
Kristopher Rufty: It was a lot of falling on my face, relearning everything from the ground up. And then submitting over and over. Getting a lot of rejections, then rewriting the book and submitting again. Luckily, I had a lot of support and guidance from some very talented writers along the way. Then, thanks to Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, and Don D’Auria, it finally happened.

Into The Macabre: If you could turn back the hands of time and go back, what about the publishing process would you do differently?
Kristopher Rufty: That’s a good question. One thing, for sure, would be to not be so quick to submit. ANGEL BOARD was my first published novel, and I submitted versions of it two years prior to it finally being acquired. The final version was completed after a lot of advice from other writers, and had I been stricter on the writing itself, it might have made for a better book earlier on. But, everything happens as it’s supposed to and that was a learning experience for me. I honestly wouldn’t change it in any way.

Into The Macabre: They say its not about what you know but who you know. Would you agree with this statement? Who helped you along the way and what did they do?
It does help, especially if the “who” is someone you can depend on. But if the who you know can’t teach you anything new, then it really doesn’t matter.

Kristopher Rufty: There was a lot of people who helped me along the way. Ronald Malfi and Jeff Strand were very supportive and encouraging, still are. They actually read ANGEL BOARD early on and gave their suggestions on what they thought needed to be worked on.Others who’ve helped me are Heather Graham, Edward Lee, Brian Keene, Ray Garton, Gary A. Braunbeck, Al Sarrantonio, Wrath James White, Aleka Nakis, Kathleen Pickering, Traci Hall, Blake Crouch, and JA Konrath. There are so many more. I could keep naming names.Not all of those helped me before I got published, but most of them did, but they all still help me to this day. I still hold their teachings close to my heart.

Into The Macabre: What would you say are the biggest challenges you face today as a writer?
Kristopher Rufty: Challenges I face are sticking to a word quota when the day acts as if it won’t allow it. That’s why I’m grateful for a wife who understand that I have to write. I know other authors that don’t have supportive spouses and it breaks my heart. But I do get to write, no matter what, and it’s good to have that.

Into The Macabre: What role has social media played in your successes?
Kristopher Rufty: I’m rarely on Twitter. Rarely. Facebook is fun. I enjoy the interaction with readers and other writers on there. Seems so much more intimate. I’ll do giveaways and sometimes when it’s somebody’s birthday, I’ll give them a free book. It’s fun. I plan to get more involved with Twitter, but not allow myself to become married to it.I think it’s played a decent role in what success I’ve had because I’m very approachable and feel that I’m easy to talk to. I wish there had been something like this when I was getting started. I’d have lost mind had I been able to communicate with my influences as I was growing up.

Into The Macabre: My first exposure to your work was through recommendations on Goodreads. What would you say is your level of interaction through fans on GR and other sites?
Kristopher Rufty: Not much at all on GR. I need to get better at it. Some of my author friends have great success with interacting on GR, but I do not. It’s really because I don’t know how to. It’s on my list of things to change this year. I plan to be more active with it. I like GR because its readers and writers talking about books. So I could easily see myself becoming absorbed.But I interact quite frequently on Facebook. I try to always respond to comments and messages whenever somebody reaches out to me.

Into The Macabre: Which one of your stories are you most proud of?
Kristopher Rufty: DESOLATION is definitely one I’m proud of. A DARK AUTUMN is a story I read after I’d finished writing it and couldn’t believe I was the guy who’d written it. I think I crossed a barrier with that one, to an area that I was too scared to infiltrate before. Had I not written A DARK AUTUMN, I don’t think I would have had the guts to attempt THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD and DESOLATION. I wouldn’t have dared try to write the book I’m about to finish up now, SEVEN BURIED HILL.
I’m very proud of THE LURKING SEASON and PROUD PARENTS as well. These two books just don’t really seem to get a lot of notice, for whatever reason. But I wish they would. I think those books helped me realize how much I’ve grown as a writer. I tried new things in those stories and tapped into areas that I hadn’t yet.

Into The Macabre: So tell me about Diabolical Radio. What’s the status of that?
Kristopher Rufty: I was a guest on The Independent Corner, a podcast hosted by Jonathan Moody. He had me on to discuss CUTTING ROOM!, a very low-budget movie I’d made. I liked the idea of having the time to talk with people about things you admire. I wondered what would happen if I started a show, invited people I would love to sit down and talk with. Not only am I fan of these people, I admire them, RESPECT their work. Just imagine what I could learn by talking with them. Just imagine what others, like me, could learn hearing us talking. I knew there were people out there that would like to ask these guests the same questions. So I asked legitimate questions about what I wanted to know about, which were things that the listeners also wanted to know.

We had so many great guests come on. I don’t know what it was about our show, but somehow we became a hit. Very high listener ratings. Not at first, but during the first year, we were trying to discover what were as a show. We found a format that worked. And by the second year, people were contacting us about coming on. I couldn’t believe it. We ran for almost four years.

As a writer, I got to learn from some of the best: Joe Lansdale, Ed Gorman, Edward Lee, Brian Keene, F. Paul Wilson, Heather Graham, Ronald Malfi, Jeff Strand, Wrath James White, Ray Garton, John Russo, JA Konrath, Blake Crouch, Gary A. Braunbeck, and so many more.

As a filmmaker, I got to learn from Herschell Gordon Lewis, Kevin Tenney, William Butler, Charles Band, Tom Towles, and the teams behind many great movies I’ve loved all my life.

It was so much fun. So much fun.

The status now? Well, it’s dormant. But I’m asked, a lot, to bring it back. I wonder what it would be like now? I know Faith, one of my cohosts, is up for it. Steve is up for it. I’m even up for it. I left the show to devote my time to writing. I’ve met a lot of great folks since then that I’d love to talk with more, and I’m sure Diabolical’s listeners would love to hear from them.

Maybe it’ll come back one day. Maybe sooner than anybody expected.

Into The Macabre: I’ve found that many writers have a routine that they like to follow when writing. Give me a breakdown of your day and how you create the next Kristopher Rufty masterpiece.
Kristopher Rufty: It changes from day to day now. Being self-employed, I used to write in the mornings. I still prefer to write in the morning. Something about starting your day like that just sets the rest of the day in a positive motion. Now we have a baby, and I write at night. I wrote at night for years while our older two children were younger. I’m back to the night shift. It seems that my stories get a little darker when the sun isn’t out. I wonder if it’s related to my nocturnal writing schedule.

Into The Macabre: I see that your story, Jagger, is on quite a few Top 10 lists for 2015 and getting quite a bit of love. What can you tell me about that? How did the story come about?
Kristopher Rufty: JAGGER is one of my favorites. It did make a good number of Top Ten lists, but it also got me a lot of hate mail. There are a couple scenes involving animals that were very tough to write, but I felt were crucial to the book that angered a lot of people, which wasn’t my intent. I didn’t set out to write an animal cruelty story, though it was meant to bring focus to the kind of things that happen.

The idea first sparked in my head when I had taken our large dog to the vet. A guy came in with a much bigger Fuzzy Mastiff. I’d never seen such a large dog in all my life. But he was the sweetest animal. Just like our dog. He’s close to 150 pounds, and intimidates a lot of people, but is very sweet and loving and protective. I wondered what would happen if that guy’s dog turned on him. That was where the idea began, and it just went wild from there.

Into The Macabre: Tell me about the filmmaker side of Kristopher Rufty.
Kristopher Rufty: Not much to tell these days. I enjoy making the movies, but would be happy writing for the rest of my life. I still have the bug to get behind the camera with a good team and make something special. I’ve been blessed in the past to work with a lot very talented and dedicated people. We’ve done some work that I’m very proud of. Hopefully, one day it’ll happen again, but if it doesn’t, I’ll be okay.

Into The Macabre: Stephen King has the spooky house in Bangor surrounded by the wrought iron fence with gargoyles on it. Do you have anything crazy at your house that makes your neighbors clutch their children when they see you coming?
Kristopher Rufty: I wish I did! Maybe someday. I think during the Halloween season people will think we’re a bit obsessed with the decorations and jack-o’-lanterns, but other than that, nothing to really talk about. Hopefully we’ll be those neighbors sometime soon.

Into The Macabre: What are you reading these days?
Kristopher Rufty: Been on another Ray Garton kick. I tend to read a cluster of books by the same author before moving onto something else. I love Ray Garton’s work. I also read a lot of crime fiction and westerns, and I have a pile of those to get to. I still prefer to read paperbacks over eBooks, but I read a lot of eBooks. I also read a lot of comics and horror magazines, and newspapers.

Into The Macabre: Your Top 5 horror movies?
Kristopher Rufty: Man…that’s so hard. I watch them all over and over, but I suppose the few I watch more than any are:
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Friday the 13th 1-6
Fright Night (Probably my all-time favorite movie)
Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness (I binge-watch Carpenter movies)
Phantasm 2 and The Evil Dead tying.

Into The Macabre: Desolation has been released here in January. How has the response been, so far? How did the story come about?
Kristopher Rufty: The response has been amazing. My most well-received book, by far. The story came in a dream. I dreamed I was watching a movie and the select scenes I saw in the dream-movie inspired the entire story. This idea has been with me for ten years. It has been a screenplay, a couple of abandoned novels, and many rewrites before finally becoming the book that was released. I’m glad it took as long as it did. This was the version that needed to be read.

Into The Macabre: Do you do horror conventions? What’s your thoughts on those?
Kristopher Rufty: I love them and will do them any chance I get. I’ve enjoyed going to Horror Hound since my first time way back in 2008. Last year, I was a guest at Scares That Care and really enjoyed it. Not just the convention, but what they strive to accomplish by doing it. I’ll be a featured guest this year and can’t wait to go back.

Into The Macabre: What can us fans expect coming down the pike in 2016 and beyond?
Kristopher Rufty: As many books as I can get out. I have three coming through DarkFuse over the next couple years. The first, SOMETHING VIOLENT, will be released in December. I have a horror-western almost ready to go. And a book due to Sinister Grin Press this summer. I will continue to work with SGP for years to come. Thunderstorm Books will be releasing special, hardcover editions of DESOLATION and A DARK AUTUMN this summer, with more titles to follow. I also signed with Festa-Verlag, a German publisher. I have a short story coming in an anthology they’re putting out, plus JAGGER will be released this year through them. There will be more short stories in other anthologies, but I can’t announce them yet. And there will be more audiobooks coming this year.

Into The Macabre: I really appreciate you letting me grill you for my blog and look forward to chatting with you in the future. Take care, my friend.

Kristopher Rufty: No, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it. Thank you for your support and kindness!