Author: Stacey Jaine McIntosh

Epeolatry Book Review: In the Wolf’s Lair


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Title: In the Wolf’s Lair: A Beastly Crimes Book
Author: Anna Starobinets
Genre: Children’s Mystery Books
Publisher: Dover Publications
Release Date: 17 October 2018

Synopsis: Life in the Far Woods tends to be tranquil because the animal denizens are strictly forbidden to kill (or eat!) one another. An elderly detective, Chief Badger, oversees the community and solves its petty crimes, from stolen pine cones to plucked tail feathers. His restless assistant, Badgercat, longs for some excitement — a desperate crime, a beastly crime! The brash youngster’s hopes are realized when some croaking frogs reveal the shocking news of Rabbit’s murder. Wolf appears to be the most likely culprit, because — duh — he’s a lone wolf without an alibi, but Badger refuses to jump to conclusions. With the help of Vulture the crime scene investigator, Mouse the psychologist, brave witness Beetlebug Buck, and other curious creatures, the woodland detectives set out to discover the truth.  
Newly translated from the original Russian, this fancifully illustrated volume is the first of a Beastly Crimes Books to come from this imaginative mystery series geared toward middle-grade readers. Look for the sequel, A Predator’s Rights, also available from Dover Publications.

In the Wolf’s Lair is the first installment of Dover Publications’ “A Beastly Crimes Book” series. The novel was written by Anna Starobinets and is also illustrated by Marie Muravski. The illustrations here really make the story and as Dover is well known for putting the extra work into making their releases stand out and this helps to do just that.

In this novel, we’re thrown into a world of animals where foul play is afoot. This is a mystery that could be for older children and young adults with the darker humor you’ll find in these pages. Honestly, this can be fully appreciated by adults as it could easily feel at home for fans of A Nightmare Before Christmas.  

If it couldn’t be enjoyed by most of our readers, you wouldn’t be seeing a review here! In another year or so I will absolutely be re-reading this with my older son when he can fully appreciate the humor in it! 

The book follows the police chief who is a badger and his depute who thinks he’s a badger. He isn’t, and you’ll come to appreciate the humor of that as you read the story. The animals in this story are all vegetarians, even the meat eaters. However, we soon find that Mr. Rabbit has been murdered.

Actually, he’s been eaten.

Now an investigation is running full steam as to who took him out. The main suspects are the predator animals but as any good mystery will show you – things aren’t what they seem.  

There are twists, turns, and humor in this murder mystery and you’ll be flipping pages to figure out this whodunit!

4 out of 5 stars.

In the Wolf’s Lair can be found on amazon here.

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with P.J. Blakey-Novis

Stacey – Hi Peter, it’s great to have you here on the Horror Tree! Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?


Peter – Hi Stacey. My name is Peter Blakey-Novis (although I write under P.J.), and I’m a British writer living on the south coast of England. I’m also a co-founder of Red Cape Publishing, and the editor there. I have released, so far, four collections of short horror stories, one novella, two novels, and a children’s book. I have also had stories included in a number of anthologies.


Stacey – When did the writing bug first bite?


Peter – I’d always written little stories and bits of poetry (mostly teenage, depressing bits), but it wasn’t until 2016 that I made my first real attempt to get a novel written. I had no plan as to what to do with it when it was finished – it really was just a hobby at the time.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?


Peter – Writing has always been a great outlet for me, allowing me to say things which would be hard to verbalize. The stories that I write always seem to take on a life of their own, and I never really know where they will go until the events unfold.


Stacey – What scares you?


Peter – People! I don’t have any fears of the supernatural, but psychotic killers, home-invasion type situations especially, are quite terrifying.


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?


Peter – Since I began writing horror stories, I also began reading a lot more in the same genre, particularly from independent authors. I’ve been really impressed by the writing of many, but in particular I’d have to highlight the work of D.J. Doyle, Toneye Eyenot, (who have given me the confidence not to hold back when it comes to blood and gore) and Lou Yardley is incredibly talented at mixing true horror with elements of comedy.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?


Peter – There isn’t all that much of a process. This may be why I have three half-written books on the go, and I’m already about to start a fourth. For short stories It’s quite straightforward – I get an idea of a scene and flesh it out from there. Once the rough draft is down, I leave it for a week or so before going back over it. When it comes to novels, I do plan it out a little, but only very vaguely. I usually have an idea of a beginning, a middle, and an end, but this often changes as the story comes together.


Stacey – Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?


Peter – I don’t know about losing its meaning, but I’ve certainly written a word so many times that it begins to look as if it’s spelled wrongly.


Stacey – Why do you think Horror and Halloween go together so well?


Peter – Halloween, as far as I’m aware, is supposed to be the night that the wall between the spirit world and our is thinnest. This potential for supernatural encounters, however frightening that may be, of course fits well with the horror genre.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?


Peter – There have been a few, but I won’t name them. If I don’t finish a book then it has to be something that I find boring, or if it is riddled with mistakes. I do make an effort to finish as many books as I can, though, but my TBR list grows longer by the day!


Stacey –The first movie I saw at the cinemas as a child was Hocus Pocus. It’s stuck with me ever since. Name one horror movie that’s stuck with you?


Peter – At the cinema it would have been the first Scream movie. I was underage by a few years and hadn’t watched anything like it before. It really did scare me at the time, but I couldn’t wait to watch more like it. I also watched The Exorcist alone, in the dark, when I was in my teens and that was pretty terrifying.


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?


Peter – ???


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?


Peter – Get the book written, of course, but make sure it is as good as it can be before you release it. Publishing a book doesn’t need to be hugely expensive, but it isn’t free either. A professional cover and a decent editor are essential. Interact with potential readers and other writers in the same genre as you, be willing to take advice and criticism, and ultimately enjoy it.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?


Peter – This is the beginning paragraph of a short story which is included in the anthology Elements of Horror Book Three: Fire.

The flames had surrounded the only viable exit points by the time the smoke had pulled me from my slumber. My wife, Jessica, just beginning to rouse, spluttered wet coughs. Dark plumes of noxious smoke billowed from beneath the door, filling our bedroom, stinging eyes and throats. I knew not to grab at the metal doorknob, as it would certainly be too hot to touch, and kicked at the door half-heartedly. The door refused to budge, and I knew we were finished. I could see in Jessica’s eyes that she understood as well.

“The girls…” she murmured, fearful for the safety of our twelve-year-old twins. “You need to save them.” I smiled sadly.

“No, I don’t. This is for the best.” I uttered the words too quietly for my wife to hear, knowing she wouldn’t understand things the way I did. It was too late for any of us now.


Thank you so much for your time Peter! If you would like to find out more about the author, check out the links below.






Amazon page:


The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Isabella Hunter

Stacey – Hi Isabella, it’s great to have you here on the Horror Tree! Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?


Isabella – I’m a British Author currently living in Manchester. I have been published in several horror and fantasy anthologies over the last few years. My writing it heavily influenced by Japanese myths and folklore with my personal favourites being the Kitsune and Jorogumo.


Stacey – When did the writing bug first bite?


Isabella – I started writing fiction in primary school, sending stories to my father and teachers. My dad loved it, but the teachers got a bit worried after the fifth horror story in a row. I’ve written consistently ever since then, posting on online blogs, and more recently publishing in anthologies.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?


Isabella – I’m a creative person and I love to share that with other people. I enjoy writing as a way of expressing the ideas and images that I have, but I also hope people do enjoy what I write as well. I love all forms of story telling though, I’ve done script writing, and even had a go at game development. I will do anything to tell the story I have imagined.


Stacey – What scares you?


Isabella – I have a massive phobia of vomit, that I’m currently going through therapy for, but that leads into a whole host of other fears. I’m scared of a lot of things including; hospitals, zombies, and the dark to name a few. I do love watching and reading things I know will scare me though.


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?


Isabella – I have to say Kelley Armstrong is probably the person who has inspired me most. It was her work that made me want to write my own work and a particular scene in Dime Store Magic was one of the first times a book had terrified me. Her YA series Darkest Power is more supernatural horror than her adult series and they are some of my favourite books. I generally write in a second world fantasy setting though and I think Trudi Canavan and her Black Magician Trilogy was who made me fall back in love with it.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?


Isabella – I am a big fan of brain storming to get my idea. As I normally write short stories I can do a summary of the plot and write it just based on a paragraph or two of information. Although I am working on a novel at the moment which is a much harder task for me. I came up with an idea and then kept hitting dead ends where I ran out of information on where it was going. I have to stop and do a bit more brainstorming when that happens to help me get back on track. Luckily I seem to be on the home stretch but this is new territory for me, so fingers crossed.


Stacey – Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?


Isabella – All the time. At the start of this I was convinced British wasn’t right. Once I forgot the word town, I knew what it was and how to describe it, but the word had been almost erased from my memory. I had to ask my partner ‘what is the place that’s bigger than a village but smaller than a city?’


Stacey – Why do you think Horror and Halloween go together so well?


Isabella – Halloween is all about the weakening of the barriers between the world of the living and the world of the spirits. It’s only natural that it would pair perfectly with horror, that’s why so many horror movies take place at Halloween. Plus it is like a modern day masquerade, everyone is wearing masks, allowing people to reveal their true selves.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?


Isabella – I’m a bit stubborn so even if I don’t like a book I have to finish it. I do this with TV series as well. I feel like it is a cope out but when I was quite young I picked up Eragon, didn’t even make it past the first page. I couldn’t deal with books with glossaries of fantasy words at that point. I’ve been thinking of going back and trying to finish though. I even finished The Hobbit with a six year hiatus (I’d dog eared the page!)


Stacey –The first movie I saw at the cinemas as a child was Hocus Pocus. It’s stuck with me ever since. Name one horror movie that’s stuck with you?


Isabella – The Grudge. I watched it when I was nine when my dad rented it from Blockbusters. It terrified me. I was convinced I was going to get attacked whenever I turned the lights out (hence my fear of the dark). It was also my first run in with the On-Ryo myth which I’ve since written about as well.


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?


Isabella – I would love to meet Angela Carter. She is one of my favourite authors and The Bloody Chamber had a massive influence on many of my short stories. It was my first experience with magic realism and opened up a whole new style of writing I hadn’t given the time of day to.


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?


Isabella – I know it’s said all the time but it’s true. Keep writing. Keep submitting. I’ve been writing for pretty much my entire life and I’ve published for two of those. I have had countless rejections to getting more acceptances than rejections in the year. Also, just because one person doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean everyone will hate it. I’ve had the same piece rejected, saying I clearly don’t know my subject matter to others thanking me for submitting to them and allowing them to publish it. Keep at it.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?


Her muscles clenched and she curled up on the chair as pain ripped through her back. She reached around and felt something moving under her kimono, under her skin. It pushed hard and she pulled her hand away. It punctured her skin and ripped through the back of her clothes. She let out a long screech as her claws scraped across the wooden table.


There is a paragraph from The Spider Sister which is my first ever published horror story. The entire story is free to read on the Tell-Tale Press Library.


Thank you so much for your time Isabella! If you would like to find out more about the author, check out the links below.


Facebook –


Twitter –


Blog –


The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Ruschelle Dillon

Stacey – Hi Ruschelle, it’s great to have you here on the other side of the Horror Tree interviews! How’s it feel being the interviewee rather than the interviewer? Are you nervous?

Ruschelle – Ya know, when I interview authors, I can’t wait to see what well-crafted and thought-provoking answers they have for me and their fans. And I’m never disappointed. The authors we showcase here on the Horror Tree are so damn talented. So, when I am asked to give an interview, I do get a bit nervous because I think back to all my amazing interviewees and I hope I can sound as interesting and eloquent.  But unfortunately, this is never the case, so my main goal in every interview is to try not sound like a complete dipshit. And again…unfortunately…I can’t always help myself. Oh, and be forewarned…I make shit up.


Stacey – Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?


Ruschelle – I’m from Johnstown Pennsylvania, which is steeped in tragic history. Google the Great Johnstown Flood, 1889 or the one from 1936 or the most recent one in 1977. I garnered inspiration and penned a story entitled A Grand View, about the 1889 flood.  It appeared in the new Sanitarium Magazine this year.

I used to wrestle alligators for money but as you can probably guess, I had to quit. Alligators are notorious cheaters. Those dirty bastards grease up their scaly bodies! So not fair…

I have a day job that has nothing to do with the Bachelors and Masters in Education that I went to school for. Let’s see…I am a musician in a band or two as well as a writer which means I’m really broke. My husband, Ed plays in the bands with me. AND he’s usually the unwitting brunt of my rantings on Blogger’s, Puppets Don’t Wear Pants. He should have read the fine print when signing that marriage certificate. We are both animal advocates and rescuers with a house crammed full of critters, so to those of you who refuse to care for anything but your damn selves in this world, “yeah, you’re welcome.”


Stacey – When did the writing bug first bite?

Ruschelle – That little bastard bit me when I was in second grade. The horror bug bit me even younger. I loved reading scary stories, and I, as most kids are likely to do when they first learn to write, penned rip-offs of all the stories and poems I read! I still remember one of the first stories I ‘wrote.’ It was called The Mummy Brothers. That’s all I remember about it…other than it was written in number 2 pencil. I’m positive it was lifted from a paperback my folks let me pick out from the Scholastic Book orders we would get in school. Loved those books.


Stacey – You write dark humor, which is something I’ve not come across before. Do you find humor and horror compliment each other well?

Ruschelle – The only way one can get through something horrific, is with humor. It’s a coping mechanism. Gallows humor comes to mind. It may not be appropriate but it’s what’s needed to cope with a situation or it’ll swallow you up. When it comes to books and movies of the humor/horror vein, it’s the perfect combination. They’re two great tastes that taste great together, like a delicious chocolate peanut butter cup. Only with squishy brains and some giggles.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Ruschelle – It’s like birthing and raising a kid. You give it everything you believe it needs to grow-up and become a kick ass doctor or lawyer, but instead, it chooses its own path, quitting school, experimenting with drugs, and busking through Saudi Arabia knowing only one shitty song. But in the end, you’re still proud and love it to pieces, even though it’s not what you envisioned when you looked at that adorable little bundle of words.


The weirdo in me likes taking a sentence a seeing how many ways I can re-word it. Yeah. Weird.


Stacey – What scares you?

Ruschelle – Driving by myself at night on a long, lonely stretch of road, being unable to peek into the rearview mirror because of what might show up in my backseat. I blame Creepshow 2. “Thanks for the ride, Lady.”


Stacey – I was looking through your amazon titles and came across Bone-sai. Now I can’t get it out of my head. It’s quite clever really. What inspired the project?

Ruschelle – In 2011, a devastating tsunami brought on by a seismic earthquake disabled the nuclear reactor in Fukushima Japan. At the same time, I remember reading a story online about an ant in the rainforest zombified by a fungus. I decided to do a mash up of the two. But it became a body horror novelette- depicting the cataclysmic vacation of a nameless character, who, while traveling through Japan, gets bit on his…ahem…junk by an ant mutated but the radiation seeping around Fukushima. His ‘package’ takes on a ginormous life and murderous personality of its own and attempts to kill everyone it can get its newly sprouted teeth on- including its host! Horror and hilarity ensue! It’s pretty low-brow, but so am I. And guess what? It’s inspired a puppet! Wanna see my penis….puppet?


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

Ruschelle – The usual: Stephen King, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon, Anne Rice, Dean R Koontz. A very lack luster answer from me. Sorry about that.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

Ruschelle – I need a process???? Aww hell. I knew I was doing something wrong.


Stacey – Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?

Ruschelle – Are you talking about my love of curse words? Because as far as I’m concerned, the ‘F-word’ can be a noun, verb, adverb or adjective and it still has meaning.  Unfortunately, police officers that pull you over for speeding don’t always feel that way….


Stacey – Why do you think horror and Halloween go together so well?

Ruschelle – How could they not? Halloween IS horror. It’s not fluffy bunnies and sappy rainbows. It’s about celebrating our darker bookmarks in history. And besides, any month where one can be weird, creepy and downright scary, and it’s CELEBRATED, is “Damn-Skippy” in my book!


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

Ruschelle – There have been many. A book needs to grab me in the first two chapters.  I don’t mind a slow build but there has to be SOMETHING that grabs my eyeballs and keeps the vitreous humor stuck to the page.

So in other words…yes…I’m a quitter.


Stacey – The first movie I saw at the cinemas as a child was Hocus Pocus. It’s stuck with me ever since. Name one horror movie that’s stuck with you?

Ruschelle – An American Werewolf in London had horror, gore and humor! Every time I hear Moondance by Van Morrison I think…werewolves…and sex. That tune jazzed up the shower scene. Some people wish they could be vampires, this movie made me wish for the ability to change into a werewolf. Yeah, it looked painful with bones cracking and skin ripping but… no pain no gain!


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

Ruschelle – Never meet your heroes. They will never be able to measure up to the person you believe they are in your mind.


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

Ruschelle – If you write because you have a soul satisfying NEED to constantly create other worlds and characters, then by the Shrubbery God, write. And never stop. But, if you do it because your ultimate take-away is to rake in the big bucks and buy a mansion next to Stephen King while beating off hordes of undead fans with an ill-gotten Bigfoot femur…let me ‘splain something to ya…DON’T.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Ruschelle – Death turned his attention to Pestilence, who was furiously scratching his nether-region and investigating the myriad of insects adhering to his slight frame. They scurried and darted under his robe as if he were transforming into another sordid creature. Death slipped a skeletal finger under Pestilence’s robe and spoke in nothing more than a whisper.

“And what have we here brother? What makes your skin reject your infestation and has you clawing at your organ? Speak to us Pestilence. Better yet, show us. There are only your brothers present.”

Pestilence slapped Death’s invading finger, preventing him from further exploration under his robe.

“It is none of your concern brother. As Famine has affirmed,  these humans are a shrewd race, a curious race, a hearty race. Not the race we once knew.”

— Excerpt of Four Men On Horses from my collection entitled Arithmophobia. Check it out!


Thank you so much for your time Ruschelle! If you would like to find out more about the author, check out the links below.  or

On Twitter — @RuschelleDillon

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Bruno Lombardi

Stacey – Hi Bruno, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

Bruno – Thanks for having me!

I was born and raised in Montreal but currently living in Ottawa.

As for a bit about myself – remember that guy in university who everyone agreed was really bright but was also really, really unfocused? The guy who could get straight B’s in courses by writing a 15 page paper the night before it was due but couldn’t get an A no matter how hard he tried? The guy who switched his major more often than most people switch jobs? The perennial ‘professional student’?

Yeah—that was pretty much me during most of the 90’s.

It wasn’t a complete loss, mind you; I ended up with a double major in psychology and anthropology, with a certificate in addiction studies thrown in for good measure. I also ended up with an amazing collection of friends, as well as an equally amazing collection of stories and adventures.

After bouncing around in the ‘real world’ for a while, I ended up by pure dumb luck getting a job working as a civil servant for the Canadian government in September 2001. Been working in various positions in the civil service since then.


Stacey – When did you start writing?

Bruno – I’ve been writing fictional short stories for seemingly forever – I recently rediscovered an absolutely unreadable science-fiction story I wrote almost thirty-five years ago back in high school –  and I’ve been regaling friends and family since my university days with my many misadventures that often sounds comically fictional. They even came up with a term to describe them – “Bruno-esque” stories.

It was weird having your name become an adjective in your twenties.

But it’s only been since 2012 or so that I’ve actually become published. My writing career seems to have taken off quite a bit since then, with one published novel and almost two dozen published short stories since then.


Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?

Bruno – When I was a kid, my sister had a large collection of Amazing Stories, Analog, Fantastic Stories and other magazines of that nature, as well as a collection of Ray Bradbury anthologies. When she moved away to university in the late 70’s, I inherited all her stuff. That was pretty much my mainstay reading material for most of the 1980’s. Thirty plus years later, I still have some of those magazines on a shelf on my bookcase.

I suppose, as a result of that eclectic upbringing, I have an eclectic collection of genres I like to write in. Most of my stories are science-fiction, but I’ve done urban fantasy, horror and even a bit of alternate history.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Bruno – That moment when a vague idea that has been bouncing around your head finally catches fire and the story that you didn’t know you had in you comes out.


Stacey – What scares you?

Bruno – Believe it or not, people. Or more precisely, interacting with them. I love people-watching and it’s one of my favorite activities while eating out. Interacting with them, however? Scares the crap out of me.

Oddly enough, despite being very shy and introvert, I tend to attract the oddest collection of people towards me.


Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

Bruno – Everywhere, to be honest. Inspiration for some of my stories have come from nightmares, but a few others have come from watching my cat’s behavior or just people-watching. Some were inspired by an oddly worded sentence or observation that someone pointed out to me. It happens so often to me that when people ask me ‘What inspires you?’, I feel the need to respond ‘What doesn’t inspire me?’.


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

Bruno – Aside from Ray Bradbury as mentioned earlier, two major influences are Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  If the 1980’s consisted of me devouring of all those old magazines, the 90’s consisted of me plowing through everything they wrote.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

Bruno – When I sit down, I usually have a vague idea of what the story is going to be like. Not in crystal clear details, like some writers, but more like broad overall strokes. Then I just keep at it. More often than not, I get surprised by how the story develops, with a scene or even the ending being completely different from how I initially imagined them.


Stacey – What was the first story you had published?

Bruno – ‘A Thursday Night in Doctor What’s Time and Relative Dimensional Space Bar and Grill’ in The Temporal Element anthology in 2013. Believe it or not, it missed out at being the story with the longest title by just one word. The premise of the story revolves a bar filled with time-travelers – who end up complaining about all the unsuccessful times they tried to kill Hitler.


Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?

Bruno – Quite a few! I think quite a few writers end up treating some of their characters like old friends. They deserve a good revisit. There are a few characters in some of my published works that I think deserve to be revisited as well – if only I could come up with a suitable story for them.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

Bruno – Quite a few. I don’t remember the names of most of them, to be honest, either the title or the author’s name. I suppose my brain decided that it’s too busy with so much other stuff that it doesn’t have the time to keep track of stuff like that.  But I do remember the reason why I couldn’t finish them:  the main characters were just too unreadable. Too annoying, too dumb, too Mary Sue-ish – the reasons were different, but the end result was the characters that the author wanted me to invest in ere characters I really didn’t care about. When you’re rooting for the villains rather than the heroes, you messed up somewhere.


Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?

Bruno – Despite the fact that I must have seen the movie at least a dozen times, I always watch The Thing whenever it comes across my tv screen. I did that a few weeks ago.

Probably a mistake to have watched it at one AM though…


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

Bruno – Just like every kid, I went through a big ‘dinosaur freak’ phase. Unlike most kids though, I never really outgrew that phase, so I would love to go back to that time period and just observe them—hopefully without ending up in someone’s stomach, of course!


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

Bruno – Neil Gaiman said it best and I’ll repeat his words here:

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked… that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

Words to live by, indeed.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Bruno – Currently working on one story tentatively titled  ‘All Dreams; Reasonably Priced & No Refunds’:

Ten tons of raw, pure dreams and aspirations were in the shape of a perfect cube of white stone three feet to the side.

There were three such cubes in the railway freight car.

“Never seen one that colour before,” said the thin man in black.

“Oh?” replied Detective Yulia Zorya. She had been with Pinkerton for three years now and this was the longest sentence that the thin man had spoken in her presence in the last six months. And that last time was precisely seven words long – “Shame about Roosevelt getting assassinated by Zangara”.

A nod and a grunt was the thin man in black’s response. After a few seconds, he felt the need to modulate this response further, which he did with a shrug. It was a full minute before Zorya realized that nothing more was forthcoming, so, as usual, she took up the rest of the conversation.

“You made sure this delivery is totally off the books?” A nod. “Everything secured at the other end?” Another nod. “Just two of us agents?” A third nod. “This is going to be a pain in the ass.” A fourth and final nod.

“C’mon – let’s go. We gotta keep our cover.”

The Pioneer Zephyr had originally been designed as a promotional tool by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. In May of 1934 – about seven months after The Change – it made a ‘Dawn to Dusk’ dash from one end of the CB&Q railroad line to the other. The train had left Denver at just after seven in the morning and arrived in Chicago just after eight in the evening – a non-stop thousand mile ride done at an astounding average speed of 77 mph.

It was such a success – both from a promotional and financial aspect – that the public demanded that it be kept as a regular train. And since one of the members of the public was President Garner – well, what choice did they have?

CB&Q – having a better than average promotional department – quickly seized on the idea of naming their two trains after mythological gods and goddesses. One was called (naturally enough) “The Train of the Gods” and the passenger cars were named Apollo, Cupid, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, and Vulcan. The other trainset was known as “The Train of the Goddesses” and the cars were named Ceres, Diana, Juno, Minerva, Psyche, Venus and Vesta.

Today’s train was The Train of the Goddesses and Yulia’s seat was in the Psyche car, something that she took as an unnecessarily bad omen, under the circumstances.

Yulia took her seat, while the thin man in black walked to the next car. As she settled into her seat, she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye.

It was Alex Newsome (“Of the Beacon Hill Newsomes”), a moderately wealthy (and extremely annoying, in Yulia’s expert opinion) dandy from Boston. He was in Colorado for unspecified and vague reasons but he was happy to drone on and on about his hobbies, which included bird-watching, golf, theatre, opera, and genealogy. During one of his long-winded conversations, he even mentioned his recent fascination with เว็บพนันออนไลน์, explaining how he had discovered a whole new world of online betting. This unexpected interest added another layer to his eccentric personality, making his anecdotes even more varied, albeit no less tedious for Yulia.

At the moment he had cornered a poor unfortunate elderly gentleman and going in great detail about Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. As he was doing so, he was filling his pipe with shredded dreamstone. Yulia barely suppressed a smirk; Newsome was using black dreamstone, the lowest quality imaginable. The pipe Newsome was using was worth more than the dreamstone he was currently stuffing into it. At best, all black dreamstone would do is give you a relaxing sleep with a few vaguely interesting dreams. Sure – a dream is a dream and even vaguely interesting dreams was, nevertheless, an important luxury – but black dreamstone? Apparently Mr. Newsome’s family fortune was not quite as large as he let on.


Thank you so much for your time Bruno!

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dave D’Alessio

Stacey – Hi Dave, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

Dave – Hi, Stacey. It’s nice to be here.

Well, I tell people I’m an ex-industrial chemist, ex-TV engineer, and ex-award-winning animator currently masquerading as a social scientist, which is Close Enough for Government Work (CEGW). I live in Connecticut now after long stints in New York, Michigan, and New Jersey.


Stacey – When did you start writing?

Dave – I started writing in high school, then stopped in college, started again briefly (about the time I was in TV), stopped again, and then started again about eleven years ago when a friend of my (Jennifer Lautenschlager…she’s having serious surgery today, so good luck to her) challenged me to do National Novel Writing Month, and have been at it continuously since.


Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?

Dave – I write predominantly science fiction and fantasy, and I write them because that’s what I like to read. I’ve been to engineering school, so I actually speak science, and have been known to kick science fiction books with bad science (I’m looking at you, Mockingjay) across the room.

I also write pulp/noir, because I like Chandler and Hammett, too, and have mashed it up with sci-fi and fantasy at times.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Dave – I like the focus. Writing is like being in a little world that contains myself and my characters. Using them to tell the story I want to tell is a lot like solving a giant jigsaw puzzle. If you have an idea what the finished story is supposed to be sort of like, it’s a matter of sorting through the pieces and finding the right ones to go in the right places.


Stacey – What scares you?

Dave – You know what I dread? Looking at me email. I hate getting rejections…but if I don’t look I can’t see the acceptances. So I hold my breath and check my email like six times a day.


Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

Dave – I like to tell the kinds of stories I like to read, so I’ll see something and see how it fits. I get that from all over; I have a three-book series VERY loosely based on Gilbert and Sullivan light operas. I write to prompts all the time. I have Rory’s Story Cubes, a set of dice with pictures on each side and roll them. Or sometimes I just say, “I want to write about a monster.”


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

Dave – I keep citing the old science fiction writer H. Beam Piper, the guy who is probably best known for writing Little Fuzzy. I like him because he wrote well enough to be a professional, but not so well that I could not aspire to equal him. I tend to like the stories that are fairly straightforward in voice, like Heinlein or Arthur C. Clarke or Fred Pohl, so I tend to use a similar style.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

Dave – I really believe that the first draft is just a matter of getting the story out there. There are a bunch of relevant quotations I cite all the time: “The first draft of anything is crap” (Hemingway); “The first draft is you telling yourself the story” (Terry Pratchett); “Bash it out now, tart it up later” (Nick Lowe). So I write the first draft quickly knowing I will spend two or three times as much time editing and rewriting.

As to when and where, I have few problems with that. I got a Macbook because it’s really light and fits into my backpack, and then I can just sit down somewhere and pop it open and start typing. All I really need is some background noise and a ready supply of coffee, and then I can write anywhere: in the coffee shop, or at home, or in the park, or on the train.


Stacey – What was the first story you had published?

Dave – Well, I had a couple stories in my high school literary magazine. Then I had a story in a Star Trek fanzine called The Other Side of Paradise. (If you google it you’ll see how long ago that was.) In this incarnation as a writer I got a steampunk story called The Patience of Virtue into an anthology book called Stories from the Ether #3. Two notes on that: the publisher went belly-up not long later, so I never got any royalties; I wrote Patience from an idea I got rolling the Story Cubes.


Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?

Dave – My favorite characters tend to be side characters or antagonists, because they are less constrained. The protagonist have certain jobs to do, so they are constrained in their acts, but the side-kicks and opponents can wreck havoc as they please. So I have Maximilian III Glendower, the Emperor of Galactic Space, or the cat burglar and con-woman Lady Penelope Sigurdsdotter. They are so much fun to write.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

Dave – I haven’t finished my November NaNoWriMo project yet. It’s at 75,000 words and will probably reach 110,000 when it’s done. It’s more of a sci-fi socio-political thriller than the lighter stuff I like to write, so it just feels like a drag. Plus I know it ends somewhat tragically, and while I’m sure it has to end that way, I’m not sure I want to write it.


Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?

Dave – Horror isn’t really my thing, although I sometimes watch animes with horror themes. Rin – Daughters of Mnenosyne and Mardock Scramble fall into that category.

Would you count Good Omens? That was a brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book.


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

Dave – There are a lot of people I’d like to meet. Twain. Teddy Roosevelt. Toshiro Mifune. Dorothy Parker. The five original New York Dolls. Lou Reed. Seems to be a lot of New Yorkers on that list.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this, to be honest. If you make me pick one person sitting here right now, then sitting here right now I’m going to pick Jean Harlow, the movie actor who died very young. She was not only really cute, but she seems like she was a really sharp cookie, one of the few who figured out how to reinvent herself – Twice! – in her short career and was brilliant in everything she played.


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

Dave – Write. Keep writing. Write some more. Get feedback on your writing and rewrite. There an old saying that goes, “You have a million words of crap you have to get out of the way before you’re a writer,” and the sooner you finish your million words, the sooner you’ll figure it out.

That or, don’t forget that rewriting is part of writing. “If you want to write, write. If you want to be read, rewrite.”


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Dave – This is from The Merit of One Gold Piece, which appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly in February (Issue 39: I mention it because it’s a high fantasy/pulp mashup:


He was an old man of perhaps fifty years, and his four teeth stank of cardamom. “Beatricsh iss me daughter,” he said. “She’ss not a witch.”

“She failed the test, old man.” The sheriff pushed her in the millpond and she rose to the top, all the proof the law required. They were to burn her on the morrow, as Mother Sulin’s Eye rose above the foothills to the east, a day less two hours from now.

The old man looked at the wood-plank floor of the inn. He fumbled with a gray cap in his hands, as though I was his landlord and not a penniless sell-sword. “She’ss just me little gel,” he muttered. “I kin pay thee.”

My hand felt my purse. It had felt better, but so long ago I could scarce remember it. The two coppers at the bottom had rubbed together for weeks but not born children. “One gold piece, proof or none, is my price,” I said.

The knuckles of his gnarled hands grew white as he clutched his poor cap. “A gold if ye bring the proof in time. Two shilverss if ye do not.”

I weighed the costs. “Aye.”


Thank you so much for your time, Dave! If you would like to find out more about Dave D’Alessio and his writing, check out the links below. (blog)


The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Meredith Anderson

Stacey – Hi Meredith, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

Meredith – Hi Stacey, great to be here. I’m a freelance editor and writer from Brisbane, Australia.


Stacey – When did you start writing?

Meredith – I’m not sure I’ve ever not been writing. It’s a part of who I am.


Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?

Meredith – I’m most often drawn to dark fantasy and horror, with a side of science fiction—probably as a form of escapism from reality, but also because what’s not cool about fae and demons and other dark things?


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Meredith – I love getting lost in a different world, especially when I’ve found the right flow and the right voice for whatever it is I’m writing.


Stacey – What scares you?

Meredith – People. Of everything I’ve encountered in this life, people are by far the scariest. They are unpredictable and oftentimes self-motivated, which can be a terrifying combination in the wrong (or right) situation.


Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

Meredith – Everywhere, really. Life, the universe, and everything else. Mythology. Wicca. The dark shapes creeping along the road at night. At the moment, I’m playing with the idea of using tarot cards as inspiration.


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

Meredith – Every author I’ve read has in some way influenced me. A few that come to mind are Kim Wilkins, Tricia Sullivan, and Jeff Lindsay.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

Meredith – My process varies depending on what I’m working on. For short fiction, I might start with an image in my head or a single line or a line of dialogue and then just wing it. Other times, I’ll write down a few ideas in a rough structure and then go back to fill it in with words.


Stacey – What was the first story you had published?

Meredith – For flash fiction, Tree of Death at 101 words. For short stories, In the Grey at Centum Press.


Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?

Meredith – A few, mostly in longer work that I need to finish still. Often, it ends up being quirkier characters in the background that I love the most.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

Meredith – A few. As a freelance editor, sometimes it can be difficult turning off editor brain. Combine that with ARCs that still need a bit of polish and you’ve got the occasional DNF. A few other books didn’t mesh with my preferences at the time either; maybe they’ll be of more interest at a later time.


Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?

Meredith – I watched Pet Sematary the other day (and Us the week before that). It was an interesting experience as I usually try to read the book before seeing the movie, but I didn’t this time. I’ll have to track down the book and see how it tracks the other way around.


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

Meredith – I’m a massive Browncoat, so definitely Ron Glass. I met him years ago at Supanova and he was amazing and so kind. His passing hit me like I’d lost family.


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

Meredith – There’s no single piece of advice on writing that will fit everyone. So, have fun with it and see what works for you.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Meredith – Sure. The following is from Faetality, a dark fantasy short story I’ve recently had published in Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic, which is available now on Amazon.


Off in the distance, someone giggled. It sounded almost like an echo, but nothing had come before, so it couldn’t have been. Then another giggle, accompanied by cold wind, rushed straight toward him and past his ear, making him dodge to the side. 

‘Is someone there?’

The giggle came again, and something plucked at his hair. 

‘Hey!’ He spun around, hitting out at the air with the sheet music still clutched in his hand, but nothing was there.


Thank you so much for your time Meredith! If you would like to find out more about Meredith and her writing endeavours, check out the links below.


Thanks, Stacey!



Writing & Editing

Ifs & Maybes (book reviews)

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with K. Matt

Stacey – Hi, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

K – Thanks for the interview offer! Alright, so, I’m Kayla, but I also go by K. Matt. I live in an extremely rural part of New York state. Yes, there’s a huge chunk of New York that’s NOT NYC. Sorry…I get a little salty about that. Anyway, I’m both a writer and an illustrator.


Stacey – When did you start writing?

K – I can’t remember exactly when I started writing, but I have been writing at least one of my characters for about…17 years or so, if memory serves.


Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?

K – I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and I enjoy writing them. The thought of writing things that take place in different worlds is a fun way to forget about reality for a while.


Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

K. – Probably the fact that I get to create a different world, play with characters that aren’t entirely human…


Stacey – What scares you?

K – Probably the feeling that I’ll never amount to anything in my life. Ever.


Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

K – Just about anything can inspire me. My first book came from a dream I’d had, the antagonist of the first story arc was based around the villains you see in slasher films…I never know what will spark something.


Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

K – Oh, that’s a hard one…Stephen King’s one of them. I’ve also gotten some influence from J.K. Rowling, and various other sources that I’m trying to recall right now.


Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

K – It’s rare that I’ll plan anything in advance. I generally sit down and start writing when an idea won’t go away. I’ll write a little bit of it, before I’ll lose focus, do something else for a while, remember I should be writing… When I finish, I’ll wonder just how terrible it is. Leave it alone for a while, come back to it, realize it’s not as terrible as I thought…


Stacey – What was the first story you had published?

K – That would be Visions, which was inspired by a dream I had where I was one of my roleplay characters. The rest of the series is basically the aftermath of that.


Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?

K – That may be Travis. I love all of them, yes, but my monkey-human hybrid is probably my favorite.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

K – There are a few books I haven’t finished. I’m trying to remember which ones, exactly, but it wasn’t for lack of interest. It was just that I got distracted and found myself focused on something else, eventually forgetting to return to my reading.


Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?

K – Last horror movie was Get Out; the last show was The Walking Dead.


Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

K – I probably shouldn’t go back in time, period, because I just know I’ll be that one idiot to screw up the timeline.


Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

K – Advice and critique are both beneficial, but don’t forget to listen to your own intuition.


Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

From Deception, book 4 of the series:

My lungs feel like they’re about to explode, and the world around me is a haze of pain. At least the grass feels nice.

Less nice is the laughter from nearby.

“…Shut up, Travis…” I mutter.

More laughter.

“Dude, you’re gonna have to do way better than that,” he says.

He’s standing over me, a hand extended to help me to my feet. Travis has been putting me through an intensive training regimen lately, with the intention of helping me learn to better defend myself. For this session, I’ve found myself being flipped head over heels onto the ground. Beast was going to do it, originally. But her job comes first. And so, she’s asked Travis to step in for her.  

The only real results it’s yielded have been soreness and a reluctance to leave the ground. I reach up to wave him away. Or pathetically flail my arm in an attempt to wave him away. One of those.

“No, leave me. The grass is my new domain,” I groan.

But he’s clearly not having any of it, pulling me upright. I wait for my arms to pop out of their sockets as he does so. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen.

“How about we go in for a drink?” he asks.

“Sounds good.”

“Need me to shoulder you in there?”

“If you would…”

And so, with Travis’ support, we make our way into the house. My metal foot is creaking in a way it shouldn’t be. Maybe we should see about dialing back the intensity of our workouts a bit. I doubt my cybernetic leg was really built for this sort of activity, anyway. Let’s face it, I’m kind of a delicate person, myself, and the leg is a lightweight piece of technology.

I would not, of course, need the leg were it not for one Jesse Lynn Belle. She may be locked away in prison until her execution date, but she still haunts my nightmares. Thankfully, the nightmares have been few and far between since her arrest.

We reach the kitchen, and I pull myself onto one of the bar stools, prepared to rest my head on the bar itself and take a nap. But first, I’m hoping for some water.

A cold water bottle is set down near my head. I knew there was a reason I was friends with Travis. He knows me like no other sometimes. I push myself upright and open the bottle, chugging some of that beautifully cold liquid.

“Travis…would it be possible for us to go a bit less…intense with our workouts, do you think? I’m not sure my leg could hold up to it.”

He sits on the stool beside me, cracking open an iced tea.

“You know we’ve only been doing this on your days off. If you had more free time, we’d be able to spread this out.”

“But I’m exhausted…”

“I know, dude, I know. But you’d need to be able to defend yourself better. After the whole thing with that bitch Jesse, you’d be better off with it, y’know?”

I’d have gone for a gun were it not for his aversion to firearms. I don’t think Gemmy would be too pleased with it either, to tell the truth. My leg doesn’t have any weapons of any sort, not like Beast. Her limbs essentially are weapons. My wife has that enhanced speed that she rarely ever uses. Travis is gifted with a strong regenerative ability. Ivy has those psionic abilities of hers, and her sister is a magic user. I may be the only normal-ish human of my family. I mean, even Serena has the feline attributes and has forgotten more than I could ever hope to learn about robotics.

Though I do wonder what it would take to become, say, a magic user. It’s something I’ve only really started thinking about in the last two weeks. Not sure what brought these thoughts about, to be honest. I imagine that it would take great mental prowess. I would not admit to being a genius of any sort, but I have been able to pull myself through school to become a doctor. And not to brag, but I am quite good at my job. Never lost a patient yet.

Perhaps this idea has legs…

I take another sip of water.

“So… Trav? What do you think it’d take for someone to learn magic? Do you suppose they would have to be born with a certain spark? I know it’s not merely the realm of fantasy. We’ve both experienced the use of it firsthand, right?”

He chews on his bottom lip for a second or two, finger tapping the counter.

“True. But Yvette’s out on a job with Beast and Ivy, so it’s not like we can just ask her, y’know?”

I nod. What if we were to run a search online for ways to learn magic? Of course, I would need to deal with our ancient computer. I still have yet to upgrade that thing… And by “upgrade” I mean “replace entirely with a new model”. It’s approximately five operating systems behind, and the keyboard has that one key that continually pops out of place. The CD drive is a bust, and the display is just awful. I sometimes hear the hard drive clicking, and it’s slower than a snail trailing its way through a pool of molasses. Half of the USB ports only work about half of the time, and something seems to have chewed through the casing of the power cord.

Yes. I think we need a new one.

“Think Gemmy might know anything about it?” Travis asks me, propping himself up on the counter by his elbows.

I hadn’t considered her to be a possibility there. But perhaps…

“That is a possibility,” I reply. “But how does one ask their wife about that?”

“I dunno. Just come right out and ask?”

I sigh, trying to figure out how to word it. As I think, I hear the soft beep of the door unlocking. In walks Gemmy, our son strapped into the baby harness on her chest. She didn’t have any classes to worry about today, and so took Daniel to the park. I pull myself off of the bar stool to greet them, hearing the creaks and groans of my joints.

I’m only nearing 30. I should not be hearing these sounds from my body just yet. It makes it seem like I should have some gray hair (and given my previous experiences, I’m actually quite amazed that I don’t)

Thank you so much for your time, Kayla! If you would like to find out more about K. Matt, check out the links below.