Author: Ruschelle Dillon

The Horror Tree Presents- an Interview with Jennifer Anne Gordon

The Horror Tree Presents- an Interview with Jennifer Anne Gordon

By Ruschelle Dillon


Ruschelle: Ladies and Gentleman, The Horror Tree Presents an interview with THE award-winning author Jennifer Anne Gordon! A woman of many masks, dancer, teacher, writer, model, podcaster, business owner, butcher, baker, candlestick maker- okay maybe not those last three, but I bet she would if she wanted to do so. Her newest offering Pretty/Ugly is due out July 13th, 2021. But if you can’t wait to see what this fantastic author is all about, check out her other offerings-Beautiful, Frightening and Silent, From Daylight Madness, When the Sleeping Dead Still Talk and Victoriana. But FIRST, let’s have a little fun. Tell us three things about you but one of them isn’t true. You can reveal the answer at the end of the interview…if you want to. If not, just let everyone speculate and spread crazy rumors about you on Twitter.

Jennifer: I held the hand of a ghost while in an abandoned executioner’s home in Prague. Once I locked myself in a bathroom—panicked—then peed my pants while still in the bathroom. I met Vanilla Ice after seeing him in concert at a place called Club Land in Worcester Mass. 

The Horror Tree Presents – An Interview with R.B. Wood

The Horror Tree Presents – An Interview with R.B. Wood

By: Ruschelle Dillon


Ruschelle: Thank you for taking time from celebrating the release of your forthcoming novel from Crystal Lake Publishing, Bayou Whispers, on April 29th.  How about we pour ourselves a finger (or two) or bourbon and chat about all things booky, beasty, and boooozy, shall we? Your novel, mostly, takes place in New Orleans. Did you set out to write a story set in NOLA or did the story come first and NOLA just seemed to be the perfect backdrop?  


R.B.: NOLA was always going to be the setting, but what I started with was a very different idea for Bayou Whispers. Initially, I was going to write a more historical, purely Southern Gothic Horror story. Some of the horror elements are still there, as are some of the initial characters (modernized, of course). But there is something so special about New Orleans that I had to make it my “locale of choice.”


Ruschelle: Many authors would love to visit the locales of their novels or they write what they know and pen their tales from a view from out their own backdoor. Were you lucky enough to hang out with Papa Legba while researching the bayous, culture, parishes and beignets? Mmm…beignets. 


R.B.: Sipping a Blackened Voodoo while enjoying some of the best seafood is not a wrong way to research a novel. I spent a lot of time in New Orleans back in the days I traveled for business. Work hard and play hard was my motto, and if I was anywhere near a good airport, playtime meant NOLA.

The Horror Tree Presents an Interview with John C. Adams

The Horror Tree Presents an Interview with John C. Adams

By Ruschelle Dillon


Ruschelle: Hello John, it’s great to interview a fellow Horror Tree contributor and book reviewer. As Jigsaw from the movie Saw teases, let’s play a game. Two truths and a lie. Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself. 

John: This feels like a blind date. There’s no better venue to tell bald-faced lies about yourself and hope to get away with it. Here are two truths and one lie. Can you tell them apart? In addition to writing, I am a full-time carer for a brain-damaged relative. I am proudly breeding the world’s most impressive collection of giant spiders in our family’s greenhouse, and I am hoping to turn that into a profit-making business really soon. I can only pray that one of my kids will inherit my love of arachnids and take over the family business. I am nonbinary.

Ruschelle: No fair, I know this one. When should I expect my Mesopotamian Sabretooth tap dancing spider? Your latest novel, Blackacre Rising, is the sequel to Souls for the Master. When penning the first book, did you plan on multiple books or did it manifest organically as the pages multiplied?

John: Souls for the Master was my debut novel. Like any first work, it went through multiple versions and improvements. A previous incarnation was Commended in the First Three Pages of A Novel competition from the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in 2012, so that tells you how long it has been a part of my life. It was published by Horrified Press in 2016 in paperback, and I republished it on Kindle in 2019. Overall, I didn’t have much of a clue what I was doing during the early versions up to 2015, but probably any emerging writer feels a bit like that. I certainly didn’t think in terms of a whole series. Just getting the book ready to submit to a publisher felt like a huge endeavor, but it was accepted by the first publisher I submitted it to, which is something I’m very proud of.


By the time Souls for the Master had been published, I had had time to get used to seeing my name in print and to think about the future a little. At that time, I made a short set of notes about a possible sequel, which I then came back to some time later when I started writing Blackacre Rising. By the time that novel was finished, I knew there would have to be at least a third instalment to see the narrative complete. But I always try to make each novel standalone because many readers come to a series partway through.


Ruschelle: As authors, we become attached to our characters. Often it’s because we base our characters on people we know. Do any of your characters from  in Blackacre Rising or Souls for the Master resemble friends, family, dead lovers you dismembered and buried In your garden? Oops, I didn’t mean to say garden. 

John: Actually, our home is a Victorian ex-miners’ cottage with an immensely long garden. We’ve unearthed the remains of the WW2 Andersen Shelter and, just between ourselves, many of my former lovers have unwillingly found a resting place down there. I was a lawyer before I became a writer so I’m keenly aware that basing your characters on dead people is a great way to avoid libel actions. And if the inspiration of your choice is still alive and kicking, why not take matters into your own hands…?


One of the main characters from Blackacre Rising is farmer Brett Flint, who owns Blackacre. He’s based in part on local farmers here, because it’s good to draw that direct inspiration to make a character credible. He’s also partly based on the character of the relative I care for (before he suffered brain damage of course). Quite often when I create a character they feel right and familiar, but afterwards it dawns on me where the inspiration came from. That was the case with Brett. On the other hand, Gerald Flint, Brett’s cousin, was one of the main characters in both novels and he’s more directly based on my adult son. I was aware of that during the writing.


Ruschelle: What enticed you to write about scientific experiments in Blackacre Rising? It was Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, wasn’t it? Now, I have to sing it, ‘Every speeeerm is sacreeed. Every sperm is gooood.’

John: Every child a wanted child, even when the wish for that child is downright icky and unpleasant, right? Well, it is a horror novel…


I wanted to portray a sick and twisted desire to be a parent right from the moment of conception. Infertility can eat away at even the most decent people, although no one would call Dr Luther Honigbaum or Sinistra Tungsten decent. Both yearn to be a parent and are prepared to be ruthless if that is what it takes to make it happen. Along the way, their desperation means that they lose touch with the fact that the child must come first. They can’t see that forcing unwilling participants to father your child or carry the infant in their womb is the worst possible way to nurture a young life.


It was very important to me to have both a man and a woman showing these disturbing traits, since the trope is so often that the women is crazed by the desire for a child while a man is portrayed as always wholly rational in his wish to become a father. In many ways, in Blackacre Rising, Honigbaum’s behaviour is much worse than Sinistra’s. In part that’s because he is estranged from his teenage son Don Allwood.


Fatherhood was one of the key themes of Souls for the Master, with Gerald struggling with his own father and the Master fulfilling a dark inversion of a fatherly relationship to those he sought to control. I was pleased to expand that theme in Blackacre Rising, but here it is Don, Gerald’s fellow member of the resistance, who is struggling with his relationship with his father.


Ruschelle: Do you have a favorite movie monster or wayward cryptid? There’s got to be a creature that makes you smile at its mere presence or mention.

John: I’m a huge fan of the English Fifties Sci Fi and Horror writer John Wyndham. Even my love of the Triffids, his most well known monster, is trumped by the bathys he creates in The Kraken Wakes. It’s my favourite novel of his. They arrive from Outer Space, crash land into the deepest parts of the oceans across the world, dig long tunnels to travel across the sea floor and then crawl right up out of the sea and tear people limb from limb.


Ruschelle: You have written fantasy as well as horror. Does your approach or research differ for each genre or do you treat all genres the same?

John: I can’t speak for other writers who cross genres, which many authors do, because I think every writer finds their own path. That’s absolutely right. For myself, I do approach horror and fantasy in completely different ways. Fantasy novels tend to be much longer. That means often writing a portion of the novel, having a break from it and coming back to it sometime later. Each country and culture has to be created from the ground up and that requires extensive reading to get the details right. All in all, it’s a lot more time consuming than writing a horror novel. My horror fiction is set in a universe recognizably our own but with some major differences, such as the omnipotence of the Master and the sinister forces of the Seven at work in Blackacre. But these are features I’ve invented, rather than involving a wholesale step back in time. I like how different the two experiences feel, and I never feel tempted to write only one genre or the other. I alternate between the two.


Ruschelle: When sitting down to write, do you choose the story or does the story choose you? In other words, do you always sit down to write with a story in mind, or do you hope and pray an idea bites you in the ass as you sit at the computer? 

John: With short fiction, I tend to start with a title and that gives me the germ of an idea. The title comes spontaneously to mind, so I think it chooses me! I never just sit down to write without knowing what I’m going to be working on that day. I’ve got a list in one of the my files that only ever seems to grow longer but that’s good because it means I’ve always got something to write. I’m very keen to avoid the tyranny of the blank page.


Ruschelle: Damn show off. Oh, I mean, brava! Lol. Actually, keeping a file of ideas is a wonderful idea. I may need to steal it…You are a book reviewer! It’s not an easy task. What do you look for when reviewing authors works? What do you feel makes a great book review? 

John: I review for the British Fantasy Society and Schlock! Webzine, as well as reviewing right here at The Horror Tree. What I look for in a book varies a lot depending on where the review will be placed because the key to a good review is to select a book that the readership will find fascinating. A review should be an entertainment in itself, and be satisfying in a small way as a self-contained publication, even if the reader doesn’t go on to buy the book immediately or at all. Many readers don’t. It is critical that the reader is provided with enough information to tell whether the plot and characters might interest them, and a good review provides a summary that avoids plot spoilers and doesn’t summarize so far into it that the whole story becomes completely predictable.


With the BFS, books are sent out to reviewers that have been submitted by publishers. With Schlock! and The Horror Tree I have the pleasure of selecting a book I believe the readers will be interested in and which speaks to me as a reader, too. I recently reviewed The Merry Spinster by Daniel Mallory Ortberg for The Horror Tree, and it was a privilege to be able to share an amazing work by a trans writer I really admire.


I like to include something personal in my response and often a little wry humor, too. Your reviewer ought to be a firm friend for the journey. I also try to be quite rigorous in analyzing some aspect of the book, perhaps theme or point of view. If a book has a particular strength or weakness that I wish to draw attention to then I try to offer more than just the observation that I did or didn’t like it. A professional reviewer ought to earn their keep, and that involves justifying the reasons for their response to a work.


Ruschelle: That being said, what in your opinion, makes a terrible book review? School us, and future book reviewers of the pitfalls of leaving reviews.

John: I’ve still got all the early book reviews I wrote when I was at a much earlier stage in my writing career and was learning the reviewer’s trade. I look at them sometimes to reassure myself how much I’ve improved as a reviewer. You need that affirmation to get the confidence to offer your opinion about the validity of another writer’s work, especially when that writer is so much better at it than you will ever be and has rightly been picked up by a massive publishing house and sold millions of books worldwide.


The worst of my early reviews are, of course, gloriously opinionated and ill informed, so it’s a very good thing that none of them ever saw the light of day. What they really all have in common is that they fail to appreciate how hard it is to write a really good novel and that one reviewer’s opinion is only ever one people’s view rather than a definitive opinion that cannot be challenged. Most bad reviews are precisely like that, in my experience.


Ruschelle: Do you have a prized book in your collection? If not, what would it be if you could lay your finger-flesh on its smooth and, oh so sexy, spine?

John: My boyfriend tried to persuade me recently that The Necronomicon was actually a real book. When I saw the madness in his eyes, I didn’t have much difficulty believing he might possess a copy. Let’s just say I didn’t look too closely into his unpacking when he arrived a while back for a visit. Since then there has been some very uncanny thumps emanating from upstairs.


I’ve always thought The Necronomicon would have a sexy spine, and indeed that the cover would be very alluring and beguiling. The true darkness lies within, but by the time you’ve opened the cover and started reading of course it is too late.


Ruschelle: I believe I own a copy of the Necronomicon. Of course, mine is a paperback and it’s written in spaghetti sauce and not blood. So, I’m going to guess it might be a knock off…As we were…As writers, we challenge ourselves and set specific goals to better ourselves at our craft. Is there a genre, theme, topic or word count etc. that you have set as a goal for yourself?

John: I need to master fantasy and horror first! Some might say I have my hands full on that score already and that even that task is likely to be completely beyond me. I have been writing articles recently as well as reviews, and joking apart I can see how these have improved my understanding of both genres.


Ruschelle: For you as an author, what do you find most challenging to write, a ferocious battle scene or a ferocious sex scene?

John: I love a good battle scene, and quite often vary them from all-out melee to single combat, to bring it back to the personal. Even on the largest battlefield with a cast of thousands there is scope for the personal to creep into the action through the settling of old scores with cruel and imaginative violence. The key is to intersperse the bloodthirstiness with plenty of trash talk. You could say the same about a ferocious sex scene, too, of course.


Ruschelle: Is there an author you would love to collaborate with on a novel at some point in your career? Okay, I know the answer is ME, but let’s choose someone else. ☺

John: I’d love to collaborate with you. The Stain had a very poetic resonance that is quite unlike my own writing. Collaboration works best when everyone brings something different to the table. That said, collaboration can take place a little too close to home, which is why my boyfriend and I still haven’t finished writing the two-thousand-word short story we began five months back.


Ruschelle: Dust that two-thousand-word puppy off and finish it! I bet it’s grown a little since you both started it. 

Here’s an interesting question, would you let yourself be haunted or possibly possessed by a ghost if it meant getting their story about life after death?

John: It’s interesting that you assume this hasn’t happened already.


Ruschelle: You’re right! I should never assume. I look forward to your life after death account. I hope you got pix!

As creatives, we are inspired by films, television, music, social media, movements and people. What has been an inspiration to you most recently?

John: The hell of living in the middle of nowhere, caring for a severely ill relative with no help from outside and feeling perpetually overwhelmed at the responsibility. It made the domestic arena a living nightmare and led me to write liminal horror set in an isolated farmhouse where nothing is too weird or dangerous, and horrors literally come crawling out of the walls as the house itself is alive.


Oh, and Litsy, obviously.


Ruschelle: We all need to know what fantastic projects we should look out for from you in the not so distant future.  

John: After Blackacre Rising is published it’ll be time for me to get back to my unfinished fantasy novel. I’m just over half way through the first draft, so that’s a lot of work left to do. It’s based on a Russian-inspired Medieval universe, and features some of the core characters from the Gortah van Murkar fictional world as well as some brand new characters.


Ruschelle: It’s been fantastic interviewing and celebrating the success of a fellow author from our Horror Tree family. So, where can your newfound fans find you and your work on the www?

John: Right here on The Horror Tree with my monthly reviews is a great place to start. Plus my website and Amazon page if you want to find out more about my writing. Just head over to Google. If you search for John C Adams you’ll have a choice between my Amazon page and website, John C Adams the well known University of Mississippi college football player and physician born in 1887, or alternatively John C Adams the highly respected Associate Professor of Finance at the University of Texas at Arlington. We’re a talented bunch.


The Horror Tree Presents…an Interview with C.S. Alleyne

Ruschelle: Hello, hello C.S. Alleyne. It’s wonderful to have you here with us in our little literary corner of hell and mayhem we call the Horror Tree. We are excited by your soon to be released novel Belle Vue. It’s based on a creepy asylum that is right in your own backyard. So awesome. Could you give us a bit of the asylums back story?

C.S.:  Thank you Ruschelle, I’m also excited by Belle Vue being released as it’s my debut novel and my feet haven’t touched the ground yet lol!    

To answer your first question, the Metropolitan Asylums Board opened the, ahem, ‘Leavesden Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles’ (not a name to be reckoned with these days!) in 1870 in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire which is local to me.  Set in 93 acres (although this figure varies considerably according to your source), the original designs for the asylum allowed for the accommodation of 1,560 inmates. Soon that figure was far exceeded and in 1948 the number was over 3,000 patients. Eventually the hospital (as it had become) closed and after a few years was developed into the luxury apartments. 

Although the regime there was strict it was nothing like the Belle Vue Asylum in my novel – that is my imagination and fictionalising from the wider sources of my research. It is quite ironic that these many asylums – both in the UK and US – which in Victorian times only housed the poor and insane (often passed on from the workhouses) should become highly desirable residences with – in some cases – million pound price tags!

That change in usage and perception of desirability fascinated me and when I found a book called ‘Murders in Hertfordshire’ which told the story of a murder taking place there at the end of the nineteenth century, I was hooked and started jotting down plot ideas  and researching more about its history. Not sure where the satanic orgies came in though lol!


Ruschelle: Your novel is a beautiful tapestry. Weaving rich beautiful colors of fiction into the solid strands of facts. How difficult or seamless was it to get the perfect balance of each?


C.S. Thank you. I did make a big effort at this since I strongly dislike those parts in often excellent novels which have research dumps! Those chunks or even pages of text which rattle off everything you wanted – or more likely didn’t want – to know about usually a highly technical or obscure subject. Often it’s safe to skip over these sections if not of interest but I think that is a wasted opportunity. I tried to focus on the actions of the characters and reveal small aspects each time.  I accept I may fall flat on my face here and every review will now identify Belle Vue is full of the very thing I didn’t want to do. But if so my heartfelt apologies and I will not make same mistake twice lol!     


Ruschelle: Are your main characters, Alex and Claire based on people you may know? Are they fragments of you or are they plucked from your imagination?


C.S.: When I first started writing Belle Vue and created Alex and Claire (who also went through a few name changes) I thought I would use bits of myself, friends, film and tv examples but in the main it didn’t turn out that way (or not consciously anyway beyond one character from Oz where I grew up) . Rather it was their role in the story and how they would react to the unfolding circumstances. I also wanted Alex and Claire to be an everyman (and woman) to enable a connection to the reader (if they had these paranormal experiences lol!) whereas the other main characters are very distinct and, as with the ‘baddies’ not necessarily likeable but hopefully compelling.


Ruschelle: Let’s get to the juicy part in your research of the asylum, the satanic orgies. Did you include that ‘dirty little secret’ in Belle Vue? Have you wiped your browsing history clean since then?  LOL


C.S.: I did most of the research just before ‘incognito mode’ existed but luckily the search sites also weren’t as sharp with bombarding you with associated adverts back then. Whereas I did visit a number of converted asylums as part of my research, the closest I got to a satanic orgy was a day trip to the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe. Very interesting for me but just as I didn’t murder anyone or hadn’t been tried in court, I had to read around the subjects and use my imagination. 


Ruschelle: You discovered a cemetery on the grounds of the asylum. What did your research come up with on the ground’s residents?  


C.S.: When I first found the cemetery which is a surprisingly long way from the main old asylum buildings, it was over grown. There was a lychgate at the entrance but although you could see some graves, others were hidden in the undergrowth. What you could see in some places were where the graves had sunk. This I found in my reading was because they buried the pauper lunatics in hessian sacks and so as the body decomposed the ground above caved in.

Aaron Kosminski, who was one of the people suspected to be Jack the Ripper and was an inmate of the asylum (from 19 April 1894 until his death in May of 1919), is supposedly buried there. Recently the cemetery has been thoroughly cleared and more gravestones discovered.


Ruschelle:  Since the asylum has been converted into apartments, do you believe there are spirits haunting the halls?


C.S.: As a prime candidate for possible hauntings, stories appear every so often in the local press about legends and ghosts associated with the asylum. A recent one identified a past goalkeeper of Arsenal, who lives in one of those luxury apartments, supposedly haunted by the ghost of a monk holding a candle. Since I have a great imagination and, bizarrely given what I write, am a bit of a coward when it comes to the supernatural (always clutching a magazine to hide behind when watching a horror movie), I probably would not live in a place with such a history. 


Ruschelle: How long from conception to research to writing and editing did it take you write Belle Vue?


C.S.: When I started writing Belle Vue at first I focused on the research side as I knew very little about Victorian lunatic asylums or the murder case so that took quite a bit of time as I loved doing that and my research parameters got wider and wider! I also didn’t really think I’d be able to write much and wondered if it might be a short story as it was unlikely I could find enough to write for a novel. But once I got into creating the story and characters it was no problem at all! This process took a couple of years off and on. By the time I’d finished my first complete draft it was twice the length of the soon-to-be-publsihed Belle Vue!

I joined a writers’ circle and many there who had had books published said they had written lots of novels before getting published (now in bottom drawers) so each was a form of practice and developing their writing skills. I did it the other way round and used the same book to do this!  I pruned it and rewrote it numerous times instead (using advice from a lot of rejection letters!) I put it aside for a few years before someone who had read it before said I ought to try again. So I did and my wonderful agent, Italia Gandolfo saw its potential (or I caught her at a weak moment lol) and took me on as a client. After more pruning and editing, it was accepted by Crystal Lake Publishing.


Ruschelle: You have vacationed in many exotic locales; the Catacombs in Paris, the Pope’s crypts in Italy, the tombs of Egypt. These are definitely, The Horror Tree vacations. So where would you love to visit next? And on a side note, did any of them serve drinks with little umbrellas?


C.S.: One of the places, I would love to visit next is the Palermo Catacombs in Sicily which is creepier and more shocking than most horror movies. But I somehow think, just like the rest, no drinks with little umbrellas lol!

Ruschelle: Have you had any supernatural experiences in any of the places you’ve visited? 


C.S.: Nothing I could class as supernatural and don’t ever expect to see me on Ghost Hunters or any such show due to my cowardice even when I know it’s fake lol. My first visit to the old Leavesden Asylum Cemetery was quite unnerving – I was alone in the silence, the cemetery is surrounded by fields and trees. To walk around and discover each gravestone in the high grass and knowing that person’s previous abode and likely history was unsettling.

In all the places I’ve been there was – probably due to my fascination with all things death-related (not to mention my over-active imagination) – an underlying atmosphere of what might happen next. What if the lights went out in the catacombs? What if the blocks of stone in this narrow pyramid tunnel suddenly drop down and block any exit? I’m scaring myself now lol as perception can be as frightening as the reality (if there is any for supernatural occurrences).


Ruschelle: Your book Power is spelled with a mirror image letter R. Color me intrigued. 


C.S.:  It reflects the way the story develops. At the beginning Maude Caulkin – poor and female in Victorian London – is completely powerless. By the end, in a very gory way that surprised even me lol, that power has completely turned – hence the reversed letter.  



Ruschelle: What was the process you used for penning your novelette, Power comparatively to your novel Belle Vue?


C.S.: Power was written at lightning speed compared to Belle Vue. One very small part of it is actually deleted from the much longer version of Belle Vue when I was pruning like Edwards Scissorhands. As I hadn’t had anything published before and didn’t really know how everything worked such as getting an Amazon or Goodreads author page, this was a way of sorting these things out and me learning a bit more as to how the publishing process works.  But the reality of getting a proper novel to market has shocked me with the amount of work required not just by myself but by Crystal Lake Publishing and my agent, Italia Ganfolfo. I am profoundly grateful for their unstinting support. 



Ruschelle: In December of 2019, Power was NUMBER ONE on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Historical Fiction short stories! WHOO HOO!!  How did that effect you as an author and how did that boost your book?


C.S.: I was on cloud nine for days, nay, weeks lol. Just as with very good reviews, it inspires you and the memories keep you going when you’re having a difficult day – writing or marketing-wise.


Ruschelle: With the upcoming release of Belle Vue in August, 2020, barring a rabid Sasquatch uprising or mole people collapsing the entire infrastructure of the planet, what exciting plans do you have for marketing your book? 


C.S.: Given the current circumstances (and bizarrely, a rabid Sasquatch uprising or mole people collapsing the entire infrastructure of the planet doesn’t sound that outlandish lol) I am currently organising for a virtual launch. This includes interviews such as we’re doing, podcasts and radio appearances, guest posts and a blog tour. I shall put these up on my website as well as my social media pages once I have finalised dates (and to be safe, I shall invite any Sasquatches or mole people who might be interested since sales for debut authors are hard to come by!) 


Ruschelle: What was the best and worst piece of writing advice you ever received?


C.S.:  For the ‘worst’, this was not told to me personally but generally writers are advised to ‘write what you know’ which I find incredibly limiting and given Belle Vue is about murder, satanic orgies and mistreatment in Victorian lunatic asylums I am not putting my hand up to any of these! Just imagine all the classics which would never have been written if the authors had stuck to this ‘rule’ – especially in the horror, sci fi and fantasy arenas such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Fiction is about letting your imagination soar! 

Then to the ‘best’, if you love to write or have a story you want to tell, then – as long as you are enjoying yourself – keep at it. Passion for the process as well as the subject is very important – especially if you want a long writing career. 

Ruschelle: As well as a writer, you’re also a reader. How do you prefer to sink into a good book? Traditional print, e-books or audio?


C.S.: It used to be traditional print and I still love the feel of a book in my hands. Increasingly I am moving over to e-books and find reading fiction on my phone, most preferable. I have a lot of friends who love audio books often to the exception of all else but I haven’t really got into these in the same way. I think it has to do with the way I read – if I am not keen on how the book is written or where the storyline is going then I’ll skip forward and see if it’s worth staying – or not. But I can’t really do that with audio.


Ruschelle: What new works do you have simmering in your cooking pot next? Can you give us a little taste?


C.S.: Belle Vue is now planned to be the first of a trilogy. I am in the middle of writing the sequel – Secret Nemesis is the working title – and in it, the main characters from both the Victorian and present day move to the United States and face a cross-fire of evil and danger. So more research on murder and general skulduggery, asylums in the US and satanic societies that side of the pond.


Ruschelle: How can your newfound fans find you on the www.

C.S.: My website address is – – all the links are there too to my social media pages.

And for those who would like a taster – here is the link to the Prologue and the first 2 chapters –

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Zach Friday and Nate Vice

Ruschelle: Welcome to your Horror Tree Interview. This is my first tag team-INTERVIEW…well except for my brief stint in jalapeno jelly wrestling. But that’s not important so let’s get this party started, shall we? You both teamed up to edit the anthology, Ghost Stories for Starless Nights. How did that come about?

Zach & Nate: We’re both pretty involved with the company and working to release the finished product. Ghost Stories for Starless Nights was already set to be a bigger project so we felt it would be best to tackle it together. 


Ruschelle: What can you tell us about the publishing company DBND? Is it run by the Illuminati? Please say it’s so.

Zach & Nate: All we can say is [REDACTED]


Ruschelle: How many authors submitted to this particular anthology? 

Zach & Nate: We had about 175 authors submit for Ghost Stories.


Ruschelle: What was your story selection process and how long did it take?

Zach & Nate: The selection process is always really fun. We try to keep up with stories as they come in, but it’s easy to fall behind. We like to read the stories separately and then meet up to bounce stories off of each other and see if we agree on them. For the most part, we’re working through the selection process from the first story hitting our inbox to about a week before contracts are sent out. 


Ruschelle: I’m sure all the ones you chose were favorites, hence they made it into the anthology. But which ones really resonated with you as horror writers and readers?

Zach: Of the stories selected, Unwritten Songs by Tim Jeffreys is the one that really stuck with me. I found myself thinking about weeks after I’d read it, it has a unique and interesting take on ghosts and what they want from the other side. 

Nate: The Ink of Inspiration by Jeremy Megargee is one that still sticks with me, without spoiling anything, what the character goes thorough hits home for me in a lot of ways…except for the ending of course. Text Messages from the Problem Solver by Justin Zimmerman is another one because it deals with one of my biggest fears when it comes to death. 


Ruschelle: As editors, what is the toughest part about working with writers? What would you love to tell authors who might be considered for publication?

Zach & Nate: The toughest part is not being able to publish stories we love and want to because they don’t necessarily fit what we’re aiming for on a project. One of the most important things to us as editors is to not come in and drastically change a work. If we feel it needs major changes to be included in an anthology, we’ll usually pass. We don’t want to be the editors that dismantle a piece with a red pen just to end up with something the author isn’t in love with. 

What would we love to tell authors? Submit and keep submitting, get your work out there as much as possible. Every story has a home, you just have to find it. 


Ruschelle: You are longtime friends, sorry your secret is out. Did you find this an easy, natural project to work on together, or did it make you relive moments as kids when you wanted to throw down behind the school dumpster? 

Zach & Nate: Haha no, we work together well. We’ve known each other for the majority of our lives, so for the most part we do a decent job respecting our differing opinions. 


Ruschelle: Have either of you had any actual cryptozoological or supernatural experience?

Zach & Nate: We’ve both had our fair share of strange experiences. One we shared together in middle school led to us hiding in a creek bed from something chasing us through the forest. 


Ruschelle: Fun question- If you could meet any cryptid or famous spook, which one would it be and why?

Zach: Shadow people. Someone needs to stop those bastards. It can be me.   

Nate: Oh, Bigfoot easily. I’ve been obsessed with the subject since I first saw the Patterson-Gimlin film as a young child.  


Ruschelle: From the little bit of creeping I was able to do, Zach appears to be an author. And a, ‘humor/horror’ author to boot. Yes! A writer after my own little black heart. What makes a good, solid story frightful yet funny?

Zach Friday

Zach: I think horror and humor fit together very well. Humor is a way that people deal with stressful, frightening, and horrific situations, so it feels natural for humor to seep through in dialogue and situations while keeping the tone and backbone of the story dark and horrific. I think that’s the main thing that lets a humorous horror story work well. I’m also a fan of juvenile humor worked into clichéd horror tropes.


Ruschelle: Which horror authors do you gravitate towards when reading for your own enjoyment? 

Zach: Lately, I’ve worked my way through Grady Hendrix’s books and I really wish there were more. I’m also always on the lookout for any new horror authors from small presses. 

Nate: Well, my dad is an English teacher, so I’ve always had Edgar Allen Poe works surrounding me. Stephen King isn’t so bad himself. 


Ruschelle: NATE, I was reading somewhere on the not so dark web that when you were a kid, you met Pennywise in a storm drain out in the middle of the woods. Maybe it wasn’t Pennywise. The not so dark web doesn’t always get the facts straight. Care to give The Horror Tree the exclusive?

Nate: Haha! I can’t say I’ve ever run into Pennywise himself, but when I was a child, I woke up to a family member watching the original IT tv miniseries. The first thing I saw was Pennywise sucking a child through a sewer drain… so that didn’t help my love for clowns for sure. Also, I’ve never been able to bring myself to read that particular King novel. 


Ruschelle: Has your creativity been inspired by books, movies or television? Fair warning, there may be a wrong answer. Lol

Zach: I guess I would have to say all three. I think it’s impossible to not be inspired by other mediums (I hope that’s not the wrong answer). I think it’s important to be in the know with what’s popular, to know what others are doing so that your creativity can go its own way or follow suit with a unique spin.  

Nate: I would have to agree with Zach. All three of those mediums have provided inspiration. I would even throw in horror video games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil. They capture the horror imagination well. 


Ruschelle: Alien invasion, chupacabra invasion or insect invasion? They all sound like a good time, I know, but you can only pick one to live through. Which one and why? I took a break from inquiring about zombie invasions. You’re welcome. 

Zach: Alien. No telling what they’ll be and that’s exciting. Unless they’re giants and they just squish us all immediately. Or millennia ahead of us and smite us. But that’s the fun of the gamble.   

Nate: Chupacabra. Only because it increases the chances of Bigfoot being real haha.


Ruschelle: What projects are you both working on that your newfound fans should look out for? 

Zach & Nate: We have some exciting things with DBND that will come out over the next year. We’ll be reworking our pay for authors, novel and collection submissions will be opening, and we have a few things under wraps that we can’t quite mention yet. We also have open submissions for some new anthologies that will be coming out this year and more on the way, including Halloween Horror: Volume II. And we’re very excited about that! 


Ruschelle: Zach- where can your newfound fans find and connect with you?

Zach: Twitter @ZachAFriday and email are usually the best ways to reach me and see what I’ve been up to. 


Ruschelle: Nate- where can your newfound fans find and connect with you? 

Nate: Email. Or Facebook. 


Ruschelle: Thank you both for chatting with me here at The Horror Tree! It’s been a pleasure. 

Zach & Nate: Thank you for the great questions, this has been a lot of fun! 



The Horror Tree Presents an Interview with Tim Lebbon

Tim Lebbon

Ruschelle: The Horror Tree is thrilled to have you perched here on one of its twisted branches. This imagery is the perfect backdrop for your new novel Eden in which a new world is created from the old. Can we hear a little about to how Eden came to fruition?


Tim: It came about from something I love, and something that frightens me––I love endurance sports such as trail running and triathlons, and the looming climate crisis frightens me. I’m a big lover of nature, too, so combining these three aspects into an action adventure story was a little bit of ‘writing what I know’. The story always came first, but confronting my fears over the environment made it a tougher, more personal novel to write.


Eden Cover

Ruschelle: Eden is described as a “horror eco-thriller.” With global warming, and the Novel Coronavirus how real does Eden feel?


Tim: I like that tag, my publisher came up with that. As I say above, the increasing concern over global warming was a big inspiration for writing this novel. As for Covid-19, a pandemic was bound to happen in our lifetimes, so many scientists have been sounding warnings.  


Ruschelle: Knowing what you do now with the Coronavirus going global, how would you twist Eden if you were writing it NOW…or wouldn’t you?


Tim: I’m not sure I would, the story is pretty contained within Eden itself, which as readers will find is almost apart from our world, whatever its problems. Maybe I’d drop hints about a pandemic outside Eden, but it wouldn’t really affect the story I tell.


Ruschelle: You have had two of your stories produced into film, The Silence and Pay the Ghost. That’s an author’s dream. How did words you scrawled on paper become film?


Tim: Every single journey from page to screen is different. I’ve had a dozen options or more, and each of them has moved along different development paths before fading away. These two just happened to find their way through! 


Pay The Ghost started with an independent producer from New York. He commissioned a script and tried to get it made, but it all went quiet. Then a couple of years later he teamed up with bigger producers, and through various routes I didn’t know much about, Nicolas Cage came on board and the film was made.


The Silence happened very differently, with producers, writers, and film company all coming together over a very short period. It was a dream process from start to finish, and one of the highlights of my career.  


Ruschelle: When adapting your book to film, most authors would be a bit nervous of the movie not being true to their original vision, and worse- Hollywood not developing your work into a good, solid film. Did you have your own doubts when they gave your books the Hollywood treatment?


Tim: There are always doubts, but I’m also comfortable with the fact that it’s always going to be something different from my novel or story. And even if I’m not happy with the result, my story always remains in book form. Saying that, I’ve been pleased with both films, especially The Silence, which I thought was a terrific adaptation of my novel. And having it air on Netflix meant that a mind-boggling number of people actually got to watch it.   


Ruschelle: Did you assist in any of the script development or was it purely their interpretation?


Tim: I had some involvement with The Silence. That adaptation was a pleasure from beginning to end, and I’m still friends with the director, producers, writers, and film company now. I wasn’t officially part of the creative team, but I did see script pages and offer input, and helped talk through a few problems as and when they arose. 


Ruschelle: Is there a story you’ve written that begs to be made into a film but you don’t feel will transfer into celluloid?


Tim: I’d love to see Coldbrook made into a really big budget TV series, I think it would be fantastic. 


Ruschelle: Okay, I promise not to tell anyone, but were you happy with the choice of actors who portrayed your characters? Were there any that you would have preferred to see in the role instead? Again…this is just between you and me….and a few  hundred Horror Tree readers?


Tim: Yes, I was really happy. Nicolas Cage is sometimes divisive, but I think he did a great job in Pay The Ghost. And the cast of The Silence was just wonderful, and I honestly couldn’t have wished for better actors. I mean … Stanley Tucci! Kiernan Shipka! Incredible. Oh, and I was in it too, of course, although I didn’t get an award nominations (Best Bloodied Corpse)


Ruschelle: You were a corpse in the movie?  You lucky bugger. Now I need to rewatch it. 

         From your Facebook page and website, you have a love of running? You imagine yourself being chased by some creature, don’t you? Lol. Do story plots pop into your head while running or are you simply in “the zone?”


Tim: Ninety percent of the time the exercise I undertake serves to blow away the cobwebs and clear my head ready for work. Sometimes — just occasionally — an idea occurs to me, and I have to duck into cover on top of a mountain and dictate some notes into my phone. A writer is always working really, but mostly my exercising is a form of therapy in that it allows me to focus, lets my mind wander at random, and sometimes that’s sorely needed. I’ve never been one of those writers who can sit still for eight hours crunching out words. Even if I’m not exercising, I’m rarely at my desk for more than half an hour before getting up to walk around, make coffee, eat cake. 



Ruschelle: Question-Of all the monsters out there…which one or ones do you believe have what it takes to crush it in a triathlon?

Tim: Maybe my favourite monster of all time, the xenomorph (Alien). We’ve seen from Alien 3 that it’s able to swim, it runs quickly, and … well, I’ve never seen one on a bike (yet), but with those long, strong limbs I’d imagine its power output through the pedals would be significant! Also, if it got close to the finish and someone was ahead of it, it would just eat their face off. 


Ruschelle: The Alien! The finish line never looked better- or bloodier. Lol. What do you think is tougher, writing a novel or running in a triathlon? My opinion is both-but I’m lazy…in writing and moving. I’m part sloth.


Tim: Very different things … although curiously, there are similarities. A novel takes me maybe 6 months from beginning to end. And for an Ironman I’ll train 6 months or more before the actual race. And to break it down even more … an Ironman swim (2.4 miles) is like the first act of a novel, you’re putting in the groundwork, settling in for a long haul, planning and plotting ahead. You’re glad to finish the swim (the first few chapters) because it gets you onto the 112 mile bike, which is the real meat of the race. You’ll have some doubts halfway through (the dreaded ‘middle of the book this is shit’ moment), but then you’re into the marathon, and the long road to the end of the book. I’d like to say I make a sprint finish in both, but truth is by the time I get to the end I’m a gibbering knackered mess, and all I want is a plate of chips and a beer. When I reach the end of an Ironman, too 🙂  So yes, that’s a long answer to come to the conclusion –– they’re both really really hard.


Ruschelle: You have written novelizations of many popular films, 30 Days of Night, Alien, Hellboy and the ultimate, Star Wars! Tell us about how you weave your tellings into the beloved worlds of such iconic franchizes.


Tim: Each of these projects is different, with various rules and restrictions about what I can and can’t do (“You can’t destroy that planet, we need it for a future comic”). I enjoy tie-in projects, and I try to make them mine as much as I can. So especially with the original projects as opposed to the novelisations, I treat them as much as one of my original novels as I can with planning, plotting etc. Sometimes the characters are already in place for me (such as with my forthcoming Firefly novel), sometimes I get to create them as well (my Star Wars novel). From a pure business perspective, I’m a working writer and these books are a different strand to my novel writing, and they get my name in front of people who’ve never heard of me before. But I also take on these jobs because they’re fun, and I’ve never written for a franchise that doesn’t excite me. 


Ruschelle: What do you feel, is the best piece you’ve ever written?


Tim: That’s a really tough question! I could be glib and say, ‘The book I’m working on now’. (Actually I do think it’s turning out to be one of my best, but I can’t talk about it just yet). But I can throw a few out there. The Silence, Fallen, The Reach of Children, White, The Map of Moments (with Chris Golden), Echo City, Relics. And honestly, Eden is definitely one of my best novels. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves (or in current situation, on virtual shelves). Reaction has been fantastic so far, both from reviewers, and peers.   


Ruschelle: There are many writers that can work on several books at once, and there are others that focus on one story from beginning to completion before they begin another. Which category do you fall into? 


Tim: I’m always working on several projects at once. Different things excite me, and I love progressing several projects all at the same time (although some slow down or even fall by the wayside). My main projects at the moment are a new novel and a TV series pitch with a friend in the US, but other projects at various stages of completion include another spec TV pilot and proposal, notes on a feature script, a novella with a great artist friend, another collaborative novella that’s just been started, skirting about another TV project with another friend… I like to keep busy. 


Ruschelle: Was there a specific book or story you read that made you think- yeah, I can do this?


Tim: Not that I remember. I was a prolific reader when I was a kid and teen, reading a book each day. So I guess I can influenced by loads of stuff. I did read The Rats by James Herbert when I was about 10 years old (my mother gave it to me to read), so that was definitely my bridge between children’s books and adult novels. But I was writing stories even before then.  


Ruschelle: You are delving into the role of becoming a musician, kudos! No one is ever never too old to learn something new. What is your ‘guitar goal?’ To play out, for yourself? Rhythm or leads? I ask this question to all beginners. 


Tim: No idea! I just fancied trying something new, and I’ve always wanted to learn guitar. Turning 50 made me keener than ever to start, and encouragement from family and guitar-playing friends helps. I’m really not very good yet, and I’m learning from the ground up. But with Covid-19 restrictions, I’ve got the time.


Ruschelle: Do you write to music? Does each scene you pen have its own soundtrack?


Tim: It depends on what I’m writing, and what mood I’m in. At the moment with my wife, son and daughter all home and working in different parts of our house, I do tend to have music on the try and isolate myself from external hustle and bustle. It’s usually music I know really well so that lyrics tend not to interrupt, or sometimes classical or movie soundtracks. There’s no hard and fast rule.


Ruschelle: Thank you so much for chatting with us here at the Horror Tree and making new fans! We’re excited for Eden to invade our brain space. So could you let your newfound fans learn how discover your projects and follow you on the www?


Tim: Thanks so much! It’s been fun, and I hope everyone enjoys Eden. I have a website at, and I’m on Twitter (@timlebbon) and Facebook. I also run a newsletter, there’s a signup form on the front page of my website.

WIHM: Embrace Your Inner Maleficent-You Magnificent Bitch

By Ruschelle Dillon


We’ve all heard the old saying, lose yourself in a good book/movie or Netflix series. And it’s a true, a good book, movie or series can whisk you away and take you places your feet and bank account can’t. But I’m proposing a twist; instead of losing yourself in a good piece of entertainment, how about FINDING yourself in one?  Identify with a character, and not the heroine. Oh, hells to the no. This is Women in Horror Month. Let’s find ourselves in the villains, the sex pots, the bitches and, cue Billie Ellish’s “Bad Guy”, duh. And it shall be glorious! Bwahahahaha…<<cough, cough>> (damn hairball spoiling my evil laugh).

Now, I’m not saying that we should fully embrace the big breasted, devil worshipping cannibal who lures victims to their deaths with her sexy twerk of love. Hell, I’d need to order me some breasts from Wal-Mart for that; and I wouldn’t trust them to get my order correct. But an unsavory character does possess fantastic qualities that we can admire and even emulate. There’s more to an evil vixen than just being evil…or a vixen.

I’m going to share with you a few of my top female villains from all realms of entertainment. Although they may be despicable human beings, I can see, or WISH to see, a bit of myself in them. 

Medusa– Growing up, I loved reading Mythology. Gods and goddesses; cavorting and canoodling, building and destroying. These stories were perfect for a creative, growing mind and budding author.  And the story of the serpent haired Gorgon who turned all those who gazed upon her into a shapely hunk o’ rock was cool as hell. Sure, she had some anger issues, but who doesn’t have a bad day?  And come on, in one version of her story, she was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple. And to make matters worse, there was victim blaming by Athena herself; who apparently wasn’t ‘woke’ and damned her to a life of monstrosity. Could you blame Medusa for becoming the physical embodiment of rage? Hell, I get it. Instead of hiding from her make-over in a cave somewhere, she embraced her new look. She showed guts, baring her pointy teeth and waving her unruly hair follicles in the face of adversity. She learned to accept who she was. Man, I need to be more like Medusa; especially in the morning…or when I get a giant pimple, or have a bad hair, face and body day. I need to embrace my inner Medusa. She wasn’t afraid to stare people down, looking all scary. Why should I? That reminds me, my snakes are getting a bit rebellious. I do need a trim…

Jadis, the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia– I will admit, I have always loved me some evil witches. They are confident and powerful. Even while having their asses handed to them, they coolly stare the hero in the face with an “is that all you got” attitude. That move may not bode well for your defiant child or husband, but for an evil witch, it’s damn near inspirational. Jadis is classy, well-spoken and a risk taker. Like my girl Medusa, she also had a thang for turning living breathing beings into marble countertops if they pissed her off. But unlike Medusa’s murdering ‘Care Bear Stare’, Jadis was more…traditional. She gave em’ the ELO treatment* with a flick of her wand. She was also considered a Daughter of Lilith, which I found fascinating; especially since Lilith falls on my list as well. What does this say about me?  Hmm… ah, keep it to yourself. But her witchiness abounds! She has dark and ghastly minions. I want minions! I would love me some monsters and hideous creatures to do my bidding. Okay, ‘my bidding’ might just entail doing my grocery shopping, but you know that they will get everything on my list and fight those that attempt to bogart the last box of Tuna Helper. But I digress… Sure, I wanted to see the White Witch have her face eaten off by Aslan for humiliating and murdering him, but she commanded the situation with such panache and flair. What I admired most about Jadis was her ability to kiss, marry and kill in all white; never fretting over scrubbing a little blood out of her robes. I so aspire to that. Because of her, I just bought a pair of white jeans. Wish me luck.     

Morticia Addams- From the strange 1930’s comic strips of Charles Addams to the delightful television program of the 60’s and the more recent movies which really aren’t so recent anymore, (I was in college when the first movie came out. Holy hell I’m old), Morticia Addams was and still is my role model. She is always so poised and composed. She never lets anything get the better of her. She loves all the weird and strange in life; from her carnivorous plant, Cleopatra, to the two headed turtle and medieval torture nick-knacks dotted throughout her home. Morticia was never one to follow the popular trends of Martha Stewart. Yes, I know Martha wasn’t a trend setter back then but just eat the slop I’m dishing out, okay? Another admirable quality Morticia exhibits is her loyalty and devotion to her family. She nurtures her equally strange children; cheering on her daughter’s frequent decapitations of her dolly ‘Marie Antoinette’ and encouraging her son’s hobby that he shares with his father. That’s right, the father-son rite of passage… explosives. And don’t even get me started on her love affair with Gomez. I’m sorry ‘Twilight’, but THIS is the storybook romance of the ages. I attempted to speak French to my own husband, but unfortunately the only words I know are croissant and escargot; oh, and omelet.  My husband got all excited! He thought I was making dinner. Oh well, excitement is excitement. 

My last offering today is, as mentioned earlier, Lilith, from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina– Yeah, I binge watch Netflix tweener crap, and I’m not apologizing! Lilith may have had shitty taste in men, but let’s face it, she was one of only 3 people originally existing on Earth. ‘Swiping right’ on Tinder would have been pointless; Adam ((swipe)) Lucifer. DONE. In the Netflix series, Lilith is the epitome of the Chaka Khan song, “I’m Every Woman”. She who wants it all: love, family, a legion of demons at her behest, so she can rule Hell… y’know, a CAREER! Lilith-the original modern woman. In the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Lilith is awarded the opportunity to become Queen of Hell, since Satan has been… shall we say, ‘imprisoned’ by those meddling kids. (Not the ones from Scooby-Doo. These are different meddling kids) But alas, her reign is short-lived, and she is forced to give up the crown. Lilith is always getting boned, and not in a good way. For eons, Lucifer promised to make her his queen so she would rule Hell at his side. But there’s one big problem… he’s the Prince of Lies! Hellooooo! She did his dirty work, the 3 big M’s: Murder, Manipulation and Manicures (The Dark Lord needs his hooves buffed and moisturized). But he reneged, offering the position up to… someone else! (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here…) Instead of going on a rampage (understandable) each-and-every time she got hosed, Lilith bit her forked tongue; personifying tact, dignity and restraint. She stepped back and devised a new plan. That’s what a woman does! When shit doesn’t go the way she wants, she does her hair toss, checks her nails and devises plan B (feeling good as hell)! AND, yes there’s an and, although she’s salty (I mean, who wouldn’t be), she offers up assistance and guidance and wisdom to those meddling kids. “A queen doesn’t cry.” Words to live by. I’ll add my own little piece of wisdom here: if you DO cry, it’s okay. Just do it behind closed doors. Don’t let people mistake your tears, which are valid, for weakness. Lilith is really rubbing off on me… and I like it.

Let’s face it, we may have a lot more in common with the villain than we’d like. And depending on the traits we decide to practice and model, it’s okay! But if you have trouble deciding which behaviors buried in your favorite ‘bad bitch’ are worth replicating, here’s a tip: if you don’t have an airtight alibi, or money for bail, and you look like hell in an orange prison jumpsuit, plunge that knife a little deeper into the muscle and viscera of your ‘It Girl’ and carve out a less messy piece of yourself. 

Celebrate yourselves ladies, it’s Women In Horror Month.

*Song from the band ELO, Electric Light Orchestra-TURN TO STONE. A heads-up for all you Millennials out there. Now, should I explain the ‘Care Bear Stare’? Nah… Google it or ask that slutty voiced know-it-all, Alexa. 


The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Liz Butcher

Ruschelle – Great to have to you back here at The Horror Tree! Now you are the interviewee instead of the interviewer sharing your choice bones and tender meaty pieces of yourself with us. So, let’s take a bite, shall we?

Fates’ Fury, your newest title to be released << squee >> gives us a taste of an apocalypse with a supernatural slant. While writing the End of Days, did it bring about any real fears? The end of everything we know can be a truly horrific prospect, even for a writer.

Liz – If writing an apocalypse doesn’t scare you, then you’re probably not doing it right! In Fates, the fear comes from the absolute lack of control mankind has over what’s happening to them. On one hand, we have mother nature wreaking havoc (with a little help from the Fates), and on the other hand, we have supernatural entities killing people left, right and center.  I think situations where there is no discrimination, no way to guarantee your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, are the most terrifying.


Ruschelle – Luckily, we are not in the throes of an apocalypse…that we know of…

So, what inspired Fates’ Fury?

Liz – It was an idea that niggled at me for a while before I started writing it. I’ve always been a huge ancient history/mythology nerd, and I found myself wondering what the gods of old would think of the world today. In all the time that’s passed since they were worshipped, how far have we really come as a race? Sure, there’s been technological advancement etc. but how have we changed or grown as a species? We’re still hurting and killing each other. So, what if the Fates’ decided to call it? Time’s up people, you’ve used up your last chance!


Ruschelle – The cover art for Fates’ Fury was created by none other than Andrew Butcher! Was this a collaboration or a fabulous surprise from Andrew after reading your offering?

Liz – A bit of a collaboration. I gave him a rough idea of what I was hoping for and he took it from there. He’d come up with a few designs, but we both loved this one. He also designed the cover for After Dark for me, so I’m lucky to have such a talented hubby!


Ruschelle – Your pen drips with the blood of many genres – horror, mythology, romance etc. Which genre do you find yourself splattering the pages with more often than not?

Liz – Horror, for sure. The vast majority of my work is in the vein of horror/dark fantasy.


Ruschelle – If you could have Fates’ Fury developed into a major motion picture, which famous actors would you choose to play your characters?

Liz – I love this question – what author doesn’t? There’re far too many characters to cast them all for you, but here’s some of the main players and who I’d love to see cast in their roles:

Jonah Sands – Max Irons

Tristan Carter – James Franco

Ava Carter – Sophia Bush

Alex Carter – Tom Hanks

Mallory Carter – Gillian Anderson

Zeus – Eric Bana

Isis – Zoe Saldana

Enki – Naveen Andrews

Hades – Jared Leto

Charon – Paul Bettany


Ruschelle – You have recently signed on with publicist Mickey Mikkelson from Creative Edge. Sweet! What does this mean for author Liz Butcher?

Liz – Yes! It’s an exciting development and Mickey is proving to be a wonderful mentor in this new endeavor. Having a publicist means further exposure and opportunities and I already have a number of interviews/blog posts/podcasts lined up. It’s taking me out of my comfort zone—but I’m grateful for it. I plan to make the most of it!


Ruschelle – Last year you released your collection of short stories entitled, After Dark. Are there any stories from your collection that may one day receive the ‘novel treatment’?

Liz – Potentially. I’ve received some great feedback from readers about some of the stories they’d love to see expanded on. Dorcha Scath is a popular request, as are Amber, Sail Away and Gethen. As Amber and Sail Away are the shorter of the group, I’d probably look at expanding them first.


Ruschelle – Which writing process do you prefer, the energetic fervor of crafting short stories or the slow burn penning of novels?

Liz – Now, I would have to say the slow burn of penning a novel. It was a surprising challenge making the shift, to be honest. There’s so much more you have to consider when writing something that’s novel length as opposed to a short story, but you also have the freedom to explore more of your storyline and get to know your characters on a deeper level.


Ruschelle – Where did you mine the raw material of your stories to polish into shiny baubles?

Liz – My overactive imagination, primarily! Some come from strange dreams, others are just random ideas and concepts that popped into my head at one time or another. I actually have a box full of scrawled-on index cards, with each card representing another story idea.


Ruschelle – Are there any ‘taboo’ scenes or topics that you refuse to include in your writing? For example, graphic sex or gore?

Liz – No, not really. If I felt any of those topics were essential to the story or to the character, then I’d absolutely go there. In saying that, though, I wouldn’t include it just for the sake of it either.


Ruschelle – What is the one piece of writing advice that was suggested to you that you NEVER use because it was awful advice?

Liz – Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve received any bad advice!


Ruschelle – If you could do research for a project, where would it be? For example- a famous haunted house, a long-deserted disaster area or a sacred desert etc…

Liz – The list would be endless…absolutely all the haunted or deserted buildings and castles, tracking ley-lines and petroglyphs or researching an archaeological dig. The Gran Telescopio Canarias or the Subaru telescope, or even the Hadron Collider—I could go on and on, haha!


Ruschelle – You received your degree in psychology. The human psyche is so interesting and sometimes scary. Has your knowledge of the mind played a role in any of your characterizations?

Liz – I’ve always been fascinated by the psyche, the endless possibilities of our brains and the vastness that is the subconscious. My knowledge of the mind and of personality types and traits would certainly play a role in my writing, though I don’t think it’s something I actively sit down and process.


Ruschelle – What comes first for you, plot or characters or title?

Liz – It’s always the concept first for me, which becomes the plot and the characters pop up as I go along. I might have a general idea of the main character(s) at inception, but they tend to develop as the plot does.


Ruschelle – Criticism, writers need to grow a tough Godzilla-esque hide to repel all the negativity. How do you handle criticism?

Liz – I just view criticism as an opportunity for growth. I don’t want to be molly-coddled and told something is wonderful when it’s not. I’m always open to constructive criticism for this reason. One of the many things I love about my editor (and talented author) Kathrin Hutson, is she never shies away from telling me something isn’t good enough, or to rewrite a section because she knows I can do better. That way when she gets excited about a line or a passage, then I know I’ve really nailed it.

When it comes to querying it can be daunting watching the rejections come in, but you can’t let it upset you. It’s all part of the process.


Ruschelle – Do you have any ‘Liz Butcher’ signature lines or characters that seep their way into most of your stories/books?

Liz – Not so far—or at least, not that I’ve noticed. But I do like to drop subtle pieces into my work. For example, the name of a character or a place might have some special link or meaning to the story.


Ruschelle – The perfect title can be a bit elusive. How do you choose your titles for your works? Do faerie deliver them to you in dreams?

Liz – Perhaps they do! The short story titles came to me fairly easily, and After Dark was the result of some quick and fruitful brainstorming. Fates’ Fury was a longer process…and the third title!


Ruschelle – Your newfound fans need to know where they can find all things Liz Butcher on the www. Let’s help them out!

Liz – Absolutely! And thanks for having me.




Instagram: @lunaloveliz