Author: Franklin Murdock

WIHM 2022: An Interview With Ellen Datlow

An Interview With Ellen Datlow

  1. As an editor, what is the spark that ultimately draws you to appreciate a story?


ED: There’s no one spark—there might be a point at which I realize I’m loving the story and hope its promise pans out in the end. It might be the beauty of the prose, or the specificity of the characters and their plight, the plotting, where the story takes place. I love stories that have depth to them. But when all the elements come together, that’s when I know the story is something I must acquire and publish.


WIHM 2022: An Interview With Laurel Hightower

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Laurel Hightower

  1. You grew up in Kentucky but studied in California.  How have these different backdrops influenced your writing?


Kentucky has always been my home—I moved here at two months old and have spent the majority of my life here. Living in California gave me a taste of somewhere far different from my usual, and it was utterly gorgeous—I’m grateful for the experience. If anything, I hope it helped broaden my range with respect to characters and landscape. I met a lot of amazing folks out there and everyone left their mark on my life, and therefore my writing. I think Kentucky will always be the biggest influence, though. My work is riddled with bourbon and southern quirks, and there’s a rich vein of love for my home state in most of what I do. 


WIHM 2022: An Interview With Jessica McHugh

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Jessica McHugh!

Jessica McHugh is a novelist, poet, and internationally-produced playwright running amok in the fields of horror, sci-fi, young adult, and wherever else her peculiar mind leads. She’s had twenty-five books published in thirteen years, including her bizarro romp, “The Green Kangaroos,” her YA series, “The Darla Decker Diaries,” and her Bram Stoker Award-Nominated blackout poetry collection, “A Complex Accident of Life.” For more info about publications and blackout poetry commissions, please visit


WIHM 2022: An Interview With Briana Morgan

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Briana Morgan

Briana Morgan (she/her) is a horror writer and playwright.

As of 2021, Briana is the author of several novels and plays, including The Tricker-Treater and Other Stories, Unboxed, and more. She’s a proud member of the Horror Writers Association and a book review columnist for the Wicked Library. When not writing, she enjoys gaming, watching movies, and reading.

WIHM 2022: An Interview With Cassie Daley

The Horror Tree Presents: An Interview With Cassie Daley

  1. As a part of the horror community, what does the community mean to you?


Oh, what a loaded question to start with, haha! The horror community means a great deal to me, and over the last five years, has become a big part of my life. Although it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows, overall I would say that my experience has been crucial to finding a lot of the inner strength I think I lacked before.


WIHM 2022: An Interview With Lisa Kröger

Horror Tree Presents: An Interview With Lisa Kröger

  1. What does it mean to be a woman in horror?


First, being a woman in horror means being part of a community. I have found a supportive and encouraging group of women who have helped me so much in my career. But women in horror need a community. We have a unique perspective and can help each other navigate the gatekeeping that is unfortunately sometimes part of working in the genre. It’s part of why I’ve worked hard with NYX Horror Collective to create opportunities for women, like our Stowe Story Labs fellowship for women over 40. It’s not just the gender gap that we are working against, but ageism too. We have come a long way, mostly because of the supportive community, but we still have a long way to go. Often, I feel as if I have to work twice as hard to get the same amount of recognition. I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. 


Am I a Paper Person? A Review of the reMarkable Paper Tablet

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In an age when artists and authors are constantly tempted to surrender their focus (I’m looking at you, social media!), the reMarkable e-ink tablet promises a creative experience free of distraction.  That’s a lofty goal, but the reMarkable crew of Oslo, Norway has made it their philosophy since the tablet’s crowdfunding campaign of 2016.  Now, after years on the market and several big firmware updates, consumers are finally able to gauge how well the company delivers in their commitment to Paper People.

Full disclosure:  my writing process has always begun with putting pen to paper.  Given this, I was intrigued by the idea of an e-ink tablet replacing the many stacks of notebooks lining my desk.  But is the reMarkable tablet really an organized and distraction-free creative experience?

My biggest gripe with the reMarkable came before I even purchased it -– the price.  At $599.99, the “Paper Tablet” would be a hefty investment, but the potential of focus and productivity was worth the risk, so I went for it.  Unfortunately, a few days after purchasing the tablet, it went on sale for $499.99, leaving me feeling a little defeated.  Fortunately, after a quick correspondence with the excellent reMarkable customer service, they refunded me the difference, effectively softening the blow of the price-point.

I received the reMarkable in under ten days.  The package included the 10.3” e-ink tablet, a reMarkable pen, ten additional pen tips, and a charging cable.  I was immediately impressed by how sleek and lightweight the tablet is.  And when they say the CANVAS display has the texture of paper, the company isn’t kidding.

After charging the device, I booted up Codex, the custom Linux operating system, and tried my hand at syncing the tablet to the reMarkable app on my phone.  This was a pain-free experience, though many users have had problems in this area.  With the tablet and the app in sync, anything I created would automatically be sent to a dedicated cloud and downloaded onto connected devices via the onboard Wi-Fi.

In my estimation there are four primary uses for the reMarkable tablet:  writing, sketching, reading, and annotation.  Writing and drawing on the e-ink device is surprisingly smooth with the battery-free stylus offering virtually no lag.  The interface offers a variety of options, from pencils to markers to pens, some of which are even pressure-sensitive.  Though the device is entirely in grayscale, there are enough style choices to offer a diverse writing or sketching experience.  Most impressively, though, the system now offers a writing-to-text option that converts handwritten words to editable text that can be e-mailed and further formatted in a traditional word processor.

The reMarkable tablet also doubles as an e-reader for PDF and ePUB files.  Text is stark and readable even in direct sunlight, though it lacks a backlight to read in the dark.  Even so, for a simple device on the go, the reMarkable serves its purpose well, especially for annotating text.  With such tools as a highlighter and its wide array of writing implements, the tablet presents a great way for notetakers to edit uploaded papers in real time.  In fact, a large part of reMarkable’s customer base are students using the tablet to stay organized in class or notetakers in office settings.

Still, though the reMarkable adds a simple approach to the creative process, the device can be slow at times, especially when loading or navigating particularly large files.  Uploading and downloading also requires some patience as the cloud synchronizes everything.  And that writing-to-text option?  Though it’s definitely a game-changer when writing longhand, the software isn’t exactly 100% accurate in its translation from handwriting to text.

Overall the reMarkable is a neat little device that boosts the creative process by stripping away the distractions plaguing artists and authors alike.  The feel of writing on the system is satisfying and has, indeed, replaced the many notebooks that occupy my office.  The battery life isn’t too shabby either as I’ve only had to charge the device once a week after moderate use.  Though the price is steep for such a niche technology (the reMarkable is currently $499.99 on, it is a dream come true for a writer such as myself who drafts in longhand.  There are negatives, to be sure, and many opportunities to further optimize the device, but the reMarkable offers a unique e-ink experience that delivers on its promise of distraction-free writing.

If you are interested in picking up a reMarkable, be sure to head over to Amazon today!

Notes from Purgatory – (Don’t Over)kill Your Darlings


Ambition is to the mind what the cap is to the falcon; it blinds us first, and then compels us to tower, by reason of our blindness. But alas, when we are at the summit of a vain ambition, we are also at the depth of real misery. We are placed where time cannot improve, but must impair us; where chance and change cannot befriend, but may betray us; in short, by attaining all we wish, and gaining all we want, we have only reached a pinnacle where we have nothing to hope, but everything to fear.”

I’m not going to lie, I’ve left a lot of projects at the wayside in my time as an author.  Most of them were mercy-kills because certain ideas weren’t worth pursuing over time or their plots simply weren’t panning out.  Even so, there were others that were genuinely good, ones that might’ve blossomed into compelling stories had I not suffocated them with unbridled ambition.  Such an unfocused perspective on my work sometimes contaminates my writing process before I really get to the meat of my stories.  By then I’ve already lost interest because these stories aren’t living up to such implausible depth.

What I mean to say is I overkill my darlings.

Looking back on the corpses of stories past, I see plots that were spoiled by an old sense of grandiosity.  I distinctly remember trying to force complexity into plots that actually needed simplified.  I recall digging deep networks when a shallow pool would suffice.  I would dilute a story (and, by extension, my creative process) because I couldn’t yet focus my imagination, which is what I truly feel is the definition of creativity.

Ambition is certainly not a bad thing, but it must be harnessed with a well-developed sense of direction.  If I spend all of my time developing interconnecting rabbit-holes between my short stories instead of focusing on their plots, I’m missing my mark as an author, which is to entertain readers while delivering a memorable experience of a specific story.  As a young writer, I would often preoccupy myself with how the big picture fit together in my little literary universe.  The problem with such distraction, however, is that the enormity of the forest can easily take focus off of the beauty of each of its trees.

Now I spend less time erecting secret architecture between stories and more time guiding readers to their strange hearts.  I use ambition as a map, not a compass, and I’m ever so careful not to stray too far from where my instincts are drawing me.  I slow down to let the story tell itself to me before my imagination can interrupt the process with noisy belligerence.  I try to be creative, not imaginative.  I seek to focus my ambition to manifest a story never told, one that stands at the heart of its own world.

I still make nods to past stories, of course, and the occasional wink to those to come, but my writing process has become much more streamlined since I’ve ditched the over-analysis and meta-everything of my stories.  Now I can clearly hear my stories when they speak to me.  I can feel each setting and come to know each character.  I kill my darlings in appropriate moderation.  So I once was blind but now can see.