The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Dan Weatherer

Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Dan. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?


Dan – I’m from Staffordshire, which is a small county in the centre of England. It’s famous for Alton Towers, Arnold Bennett and a local dish known as an Oatcake.

I started writing full time five years ago after being made redundant from my office based job. I became a full-time dad to my daughter (then aged three) and decided to try creative writing in what little downtime I had.

My first short story was based on a local myth that had always captured my interest. ‘The Legend of the Chained Oak’ was picked up for publication by Scath Beorh (Haunted Magazine), and it all kind of snowballed from there!


Stacey – You’re not only an author but a playwright and screenwriter, as well. Which is quite impressive. What inspired you to make the leap from books to screen?


Dan – The first film happened completely by chance and only came to fruition because of the dedication of the individuals involved in the project. Again, this project was based on my first story, ‘The Legend of the Chained Oak’.

I heard that a film producer had previously attempted to make a film based on the legend, and, filled with the new found confidence a first publication instills, I approached him and pitched my story.

I wrote a screenplay that incorporated aspects of my original short story, but took place in the present.

A lot of people worked hard for free on the film, and we were fortunate to win several awards. The film has since played at festivals worldwide, and I recently sold distribution rights to the Found Footage Critic channel.

I have written several other screenplays, and have seen a stage play of mine adapted to film. ‘Beige’ can be viewed on the British Comedy Guide Website. (Don’t let the comedy aspect fool you – the film is suitably twisted!)

I recently penned a book detailing my experiences as a novice playwright. The Dead Stage, is out now courtesy of Crystal Lake Publishing and contains a wealth of advice for aspiring playwrights.


Stacey – You’ve also collected quite a few awards according to your website. I couldn’t help but see the Bram Stoker award amongst them. What was it like to be honoured in such a way?


Dan – We did win a Bram Stoker for ‘Legend of the Chained Oak’, but it is not the HWA Bram Stoker Award. (I’m still working hard towards that achievement!)

The award we won was presented by the now-defunct Bram Stoker International Film Festival, which took place in Whitby (Dracula fans will understand why) every autumn.

We received the Best short award. The trophy is truly unique, and sits on my desk, reminding me of a time when the words flowed!


Stacey – Which author or playwright living or dead inspires you?


Dan – When I first started to write, Poe, Barker and Lovecraft were a source of great inspiration to me.

As I began to develop my voice, I looked at the work and influence of Arnold Bennett, who is the area’s most prominent author. Bennett inspires me to create opportunities for others; the area I am from is regarded as one of the poorest areas in the country, where literacy rates are low, and unemployment is high.

I work extensively in the local community to promote the art of creative writing and helped initiate both the Arnold Bennett Literary prize and A Poet Laureate for Stoke on Trent.


Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?


Dan – Absolutely. I imagine most writers do. My stories contain elements of my life, good times and bad, as well as the hopes and dreams I harbor for my children.


Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing? Do you write daily?


Dan – I don’t write daily. I don’t believe writing should be forced. I wait until I “feel” there is a story to be written. It can take a while…it seems to take longer these days, but I’m in no rush. I’m thirty-nine and believe I have many more tales to tell.


Stacey – Where do you write? Indoors? Outdoors?


Dan – I write from my bedroom. I have a desk with a PC, several notebooks, various bits of stationary and whatever the children have left for me to puzzle over that day.

At one time I had a dedicated office, with a shelf full of oddities I have collected over the years (a memento mori brooch, an electro-shock treatment machine, an infant vampire model etc.), but with an expanding family, space was at a premium and my daughter moved into the room.


Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?


Dan – I have to write in silence. I cannot concentrate if there is any noise. I can’t even edit to music! I don’t notice however as when I work I become totally engrossed to the point of it mentally exhausting me!


Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?


Dan – Ignore what everybody else is doing and write your way. Once finished, leave it to settle a while – you’ll know when to come back for the rewrite because you won’t be able to think about anything else.

Also, don’t strive for perfection, because it is an unreachable goal. Work towards producing a piece of writing you feel is a decent representation of your efforts.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?


Dan – I hate to admit, but I’m really bad for this. I find it hard to keep my attention on anything for long. I think this is why I write in short, sharp bursts.

I find collections much easier to finish than novels. I hate to admit it, but I STILL haven’t finished Stephen King’s IT.


Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?


Dan – The Thing, this past Halloween. I saw it as a child and it terrified me. It still stands up today (as does any decent horror film). The film absolutely nails the atmosphere of distrust. Also, it is still suitably gross.


Stacey – What scares you?


Dan – I fear something bad happening to my children more than any threat that may come my way. I think any parent does.


Stacey – Do you believe in writers’ block?


Dan – No, in the sense that if you have nothing to write about, you just need time to go and do other things. Ideas come and go. I find that an idea needs time to settle internally before I will begin the process of writing it. Those times between ideas? Some might call it writers’ block, but I prefer to look at it as your mind having a cooling off period.


Stacey – What are 5 things you cannot live without?


Dan – My family, my imagination-Fuel (I don’t drink coffee) painkillers (I suffer awful migraines) and laughter.


Stacey – Out of your own works, which is your favourite and why?


Dan – Surely the most difficult question of all! I have to say it is always my most recent work because I like to believe I improve with each release. That may not be the case, but a positive outlook is a must if you want to succeed as a writer.


Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?


Dan – I recently finished a story that I wrote for my children. ‘The Necessary Evils’ is a story about two kids who find the entrance to Hell at the bottom of their grandmother’s garden. (The story is a horror of sorts, although nothing bad happens to or is witnessed by the children.) The piece is a comment on the evaporation of innocence, and it is currently with my agent.

My debut novel, The Tainted Isle: English Gothic, is released next Spring courtesy of PS Publishing. The book follows the cases of the UK’s first paranormal investigator, Solomon Whyte, and is based on many, lesser known UK legends.

I’ve also a further novel and novella that I am hoping to place soon!


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


Dan – Please enjoy this recent short that appeared in my regional newspaper’s Halloween edition!




In the heart of England, lies a forest spanning several hundred square kilometres. Hidden among the birch and bracken of Cannock Chase, are (among other, older things) a disused World War Two airfield, an abandoned 17th century village (complete with cottages, chapel, and a set of wooden stocks), and an unusually shaped rock formation known locally as the Moss-Firth Tower, which can be seen from several miles away.


There is no doubting the area’s natural beauty, though few locally venture into the woodlands by day, and all do their utmost to avoid the area entirely by night.


A legend attached to the Chase, tells the tale of a young girl, whom, pregnant and afraid, was driven from her home amidst accusations of witchcraft. With nowhere else to go, she gave birth in a secluded glade, far enough from the village so that the painful cries of childbirth would be swallowed by the forest.


The baby, cursed with Witch’s blood, was born hideously disfigured. Knowing the community would look upon her son as an omen of ill luck, the girl chose to abandon the child beneath the shadow of Moss-Firth Tower. Praying that the woodland spirits who dwelled there would accept her gift to them, she returned to the village to repent of her evil ways.


The following winter, the girl succumbed to a fever, taking the secret of her son’s fate to her grave.


It was around this time that stories of a fearsome creature began to spread throughout the village. Massive in size and with hideous, pig-like facial features, the beast had been seen skulking in the tree line, watching the children play.


Over the following months, several livestock were taken in the dead of night; their grisly remains found strewn across the ground.


There followed an unseasonably harsh winter, and amidst stories of children disappearing into the woodland never to return, the village was abandoned.


Centuries passed, and untouched by man, the forest grew dense and the secrets of the village and its surrounding area were buried beneath impenetrable brushwood. It remained unexplored until recently, when a group of scouts visited on retreat, with the intention of camping through the night. Of the fourteen boys that entered the forest, only one was to leave.


The surviving boy claimed that, after a day spent wading through streams, climbing trees, and making leaf rubbings, the group, in good spirits, pitched camp near to Moss-Firth Tower. As they settled around the campfire, enjoying their toasted marshmallows and a shared ghost story or two, talk turned to legends of the Chase. Arkela, having been born nearby, began to recount the tale of Pigman, known to all locally as a foul beast, born of the devil’s bride, abandoned and left to forage in the woodlands, several centuries ago.


Arkela stated that many believed Pigman to be responsible for numerous disappearances throughout the Chase’s history (disappearances that scarcely made the headlines, but were well documented in regional folklore) and that attempts to capture the creature had proven futile. He added that Pigman could be summoned by the recital of a rhyme popular in local playgrounds. So long as you were located somewhere within the confines of the Chase, and were sat near to an open fire, saying the rhyme aloud would coax Pigman from hiding.


As boys will be boys, they dared Arkela to recite the rhyme aloud:


“Pigman, you’ve no family,


None love you, that I can see,


Pigman, such a tragedy,


Won’t you come and play with me?”


According to the boy, there was a long silence, where only the crackle and spit of the fire could be heard.  The boys looked at one another, nervously waiting for someone to speak, fearing something dreadful might happen if they did not.


It was then that a pitched squeal erupted from behind them, and from the shadows came a lumbering shape, its flesh slick with sweat, its pinprick eyes reflecting fury and fire, its snout-like nose, twitching, and its yellowed tusks dripping with saliva.

It squealed a second time, flinging an upturned tree stump in the air as it did so, flinging lumps of damp soil this way and that.


The Scouts fled, scuttling off in all directions, but the boy, transfixed by terror, remained. The creature ignored him, its attention focused firmly on the fleeing scouts. To its left, one of the smaller scouts had fallen, his ankle caught among a tangle of shrubs. The creature lumbered towards him, and, with a sickening pop, brought a gargantuan fist crashing down onto his head.


It was at this point that the surviving member of the scouts passed out. When he came too, the camp was completely ransacked. Torn tents and a mix of personal belongings littered the clearing. Among them was a small, blue teddy bear, its seams split down one side, the exposed stuffing matted with blood.


It is said that Pigman’s squeals can still be heard echoing through the forest, should you pass their outer limits after sundown. Ask locally after the creature and many will laugh in your face, and call you a fool. Ask them to join with you on a walk through the forest, however, and they will quickly fall silent.


If you are to take away anything from this tale, heed this warning: if you feel eyes upon you while braving the woodland of Cannock Chase, if you hear a shrill squeal and a rustle of bushes, then, by all means, do be afraid. Tremble, cry, even close your eyes; but do not run, for those that do seldom survive the Pigman of The Chase.



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


The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Eric Ian Steele

Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Eric. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?


I am a screenwriter and novelist from Manchester, England, having written the scifi feature film “Clone Hunter” and the thriller feature film “The Student”. I’m also the author of two horror fiction novels, “The Autumn Man” and “Experiment Nine”, and a short story collection titled “Nightscape”. As well as that, I’ve had short stories published in numerous print and online magazines and anthologies.


Stacey – What first drew you to screenwriting?


Looking back, I think it was a culmination of a long process. I’ve always been fascinated with movies since seeing “Flash Gordon” at the cinema as a kid. I was amazed by the cinema’s power to draw you into a completely different world for an hour and a half. A lifelong love of comic books has also given me a very visual imagination. I used to write screenplays based on my favourite books and comics, without ever thinking that they might lead to anything. Maybe I was subconsciously honing my art. But it wasn’t until I had been writing prose fiction for quite some time that I seriously considered screenwriting. Then the Internet happened, and all of a sudden getting scripts to people in Hollywood was a possibility. The people I sent my scripts to seemed to actually like them… and it just happened from there.


Stacey – What is your favourite holiday spot?


Easy. The USA. It beats everywhere else, hands down. I’ve been to Florida, the Keys, New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Every time I go somewhere new in the States it surprises me. The USA has such incredible diversity of culture. I recently went to New Orleans and that was a blast, touring the cemeteries, seeing the Garden District mansions and the French Quarter was superb. I can still taste that food…


Stacey – What’s one place real or imagined that you’d love to travel to?


Hmm. Maybe I should say the Planet Mongo. I really don’t know. There are so many places, even in the real world, that I’d like to see. I’ve always wanted to drive Route 66. Maybe one day…


Stacey – Which author living or dead inspires you?


My favourite prose author is Charles Dickens for his fantastic characters, his vitality, his imagination and his empathy with all manner of people, rich and poor, good and wicked. I’m also a huge fan of William Blake, the poet, both for his incredible visionary style and also for his insights into the human consciousness. In terms of genre authors, as a scifi and horror writer I’d have to say HP Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker and Philip K Dick. Oh, there’s so many…


Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?


Sometimes. I spent twelve years in law enforcement. Those experiences do inform my “real-life” writing when I need to insert some believable details, such as when I’m writing thrillers or characters who work in the law. Other times I’ll walk past a creepy house and put that in a story. My werewolf novel “The Autumn Man” was set in a fictional town very much like Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, where I used to work. Many of the places in that novel are based on ones I walked past every day. So I’m a bit of a sponge in that respect. However, “Project Nine” is set in places I’ve never been to, such as Iowa and Kansas. I’ve also had some stories, such as “Cycle” in my collection “Nightscape”, that came to me fully formed in a dream. And I guess all our characters are drawn from aspects of our own psyche. So the short answer is: sometimes, to an extent.


Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing? Do you write daily?


Making a living from it! Seriously, though, I do try to write daily, although I don’t always succeed. I don’t believe in writing “rules”, so I don’t believe that you absolutely have to write every single day. Why should you? Nor do I believe that you should wait for inspiration to strike. Instead I follow the Jerry Seinfeld method: every day try to do something that furthers your career in some way. If you can do that at least you know that you are moving forwards.


Stacey – Where do you write? Indoors? Outdoors?


Indoors. With as few distractions as possible.


Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?


I can write in silence but I prefer music. Usually, I select a piece of music for each story and every time I sit down to write I put that music on in the background. Ambient noise is good. I’m a big Tangerine Dream fan, so it’s usually something from them. But when I was writing a murder mystery set in 1980s Hollywood I had a big list of 80s rock tracks that I played over and over! Anything that helps evoke the mood and atmosphere you are after works for me. That way when I sit down to write the music helps me get back into the story.


Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?


Finish what you start. So many people talk about writing without having finished a single story. You have to finish it — whatever “it” is. If you can do that, then you are by definition a writer.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?


A few. There are some books that I started and then had to stop and then I went back to them later and finished it, such as Jack Ketchum’s “The Girl Next Door”, which is pretty rough going, and PK Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, because it was so different from the film that at first it threw me. But I came back to them both. I’m not a fan of enormous, hard sci-fi novels that read like dry, academic textbooks. If I haven’t finished a book, it’s probably one of those.


Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?


Ha ha. Easy: “Re-Animator”. I watched it last night on the big screen at Grimmfest in Manchester then went to a Q&A with one of its stars, Barbara Crampton. And yes, I still enjoyed it.


Stacey – What scares you?


Real life. People. Death. The usual.


Stacey – Do you believe in writers’ block?


I’ve never suffered from it so I don’t know. It’s like ghosts and aliens; enough people have encountered them to make me think there’s something to it.  If anything I have too many ideas and not enough time to write them down. Sometimes I’ll struggle to find out how best to start a story or to continue it, but if I sleep on it and go write something else or maybe take a long walk the answer will come to me in the end.




Stacey – What are 5 things you cannot live without


  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Air
  4. Coffee
  5. Films


Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?


A couple of things. Screenplay-wise I’m currently re-writing a small-town thriller script for a YA audience. I’m also working on a scifi TV pilot. And I’ve just been asked to adapt a bestselling crime novel for the screen. Novel-wise I have a supernatural horror project that’s been ongoing for a while, that’s partly set in the 1980s and partly set in the present day. And of course there’s also the short stories…


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


You can read a complete section of my latest novel, “Experiment Nine” for free on Amazon, here:


Or you can read a shorter excerpt on my blog at


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









The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with James H. Longmore

Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, James. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?


James – Hi – thank you for the opportunity!

Well, I’m a Yorkshireman living in Houston – eight years and counting – I have a couple of offspring and a house full of animals, and I spend my time writing and managing HellBound Books Publishing along with my business partner, Xtina Marie.


Stacey – What is your favourite holiday spot?


James – I’ve been to the Dominican Republic a couple of times, I guess that’s kind of a favorite. Oh, and I love Vegas, and New Orleans!


Stacey – What’s one place real or imagined that you’d love to travel to?


James – I’m looking forward to visiting New York!


Stacey – Which author living or dead inspires you?


James – My first introduction to grown-up, modern horror was the late, great James Herbert; he was my first inspiration to write. I also enjoy King, Ketchum, Hill and a bunch of indie authors.


Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?


James – I think that all writers do – there’s a little piece of me in everything I write! The skill, of course, is discerning which pieces they are…


Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing? Do you write daily?


James – I find the whole thing challenging; there is nothing quite so exhilarating – or terrifying – than facing that blank page with the sole objective of filling it with something entertaining. Yep, I write daily, even if it’s a few lines – keeps the old noggin active.


Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?


James – All of my school reports, from the age of five onwards state just how easily distracted I am – if I were to try writing with music on, I’d wind up listening to that instead of working, or my brain would wander away with the lyrics, or the memories the tune evokes…


Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?


James – Learn how to take criticism. Solicit it, take it on the chin, embrace it – and, most importantly of all, learn from it!

Oh, and learn the tools of your trade! Saying ‘I don’t really need to understand Word/grammar/punctuation/spelling’ is like declaring ‘I’m going to be a car mechanic – with a spoon’.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?


James – There have been a few – I do get bored rather easily, and if I’m not engaged within the first few pages, I give up. Life’s too short to plough through books that don’t catch the interest, right? I apply this to my work, and always aim to grab the reader by the short and curlies from the very first line.

To name and shame a recent one – it was one of Anne Rice’s! After twenty pages of description of New Orleans I was well and truly beaten!


Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?


James – The Unfolding, a neat little indie film. It’s a found footage/haunted house movie with a neat twist.


Stacey – What scares you?


James – Nothing imaginary – I really don’t spook easily. What does frighten me is the thought of anything unpleasant happening to my offspring, but I guess that’s a given for any parent. And Donald Trump, now, he really scares me!


Stacey – Do you believe in writers’ block?


James – I do!

I’ve experienced it myself, and for me, it’s not just the inability to put the words down, it’s the mind-paralysing state of being unable to even think, which for a writer is pretty much creative death. Luckily it passes, although it could take days, weeks, months, even longer – and unfortunately, there’s no quick remedy to ‘snap out of it’.


Stacey – You run your own publishing company, HellBound Books? What’s that like?


James – I do – we are in our second year now, and doing well! It’s hard work, but, thanks to a great team, it’s fun. The best thing has been having the platform to take all of the lousy experiences – common to a great many authors – I’ve personally had at the hands of some indie publishers, turn them on their head, and provide an exemplary service to authors and readers alike.

We set out to do everything properly and professionally from the off – hence we’re a fully-fledged LLC – and have built up a formidable catalogue of fantastic titles, as well as a great reputation. And, we just launched our awesome, brand new website!


Stacey – I find radio to be an interesting medium? How did you get started and why did you decide to mix Horror and Comedy?


James – Yeah, it’s funny how things have come back around to radio again – many indie publishers have their own radio/blog/podcasts going on, it’s a terrific medium to reach readers and authors alike.

I stumbled into it by accident, I was invited onto a show as a guest by a publisher who took on my bizarro novel ‘The Erotic Odyssey of Colton Forshay’ and had such a great time that they asked me to co-present (everybody loves the accent!). Then, that publisher went south, and I kind of inherited the show. I rejigged it, added the fun bits, changed the show time, and the rest is history – that was 109 shows ago!

I am, at heart, a bit of a comedian – I’ve even written and performed stand-up, both in the UK and here (I’ve even performed at the world famous ‘Improv’!), and there’s always a fat grain of dark humor in everything I write. We wanted our radio show to stand out from the crowd, so we set out to make it fun and entertaining – the very antithesis of a ‘dry’ book show. So, we throw in a load of humor, some entertaining sound clips, ribald banter, and fun things for our guests (their most embarrassing story, for example, or our renowned ‘Eleven Questions’ segment which includes the question ‘would you eat human flesh, if permitted to do so’ – you’d be surprise at some of the answers!)

Oh, and we invested in an ASCAP licence too, so we have some phenomenal tunes to boot!


Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?


James – I typically have a handful of projects going on at any one time – I’ve just finished up my short story (The Swarm) for the HellBound Books’ upcoming anthology ‘Made in Britain’, as well as polishing up a short for ‘Shopping List 3’ (Revenge of the Mice Men), and working through the nth draft of my next novel, based upon a short story in my collection ‘Blood and Kisses’, which is entitled ‘The Silverado Springs Memory Care Posse’, it’s about a quartet of elderly dementia patients trying to discover who – or what – is killing off the residents at their care home before it gets to them…


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


James – Sure thing:

Lewis chewed on the last of his bacon. It was satisfying enough although it felt rough and salty in his mouth and split into slivers like shards of rubbery glass. As he munched, he contemplated the notebook that sat by his left hand. It was a pleasant, light gray Moleskine; half letter sized and with a broad strip of black elastic to hold it shut. The elastic reminded him of the suspenders his Grandfather used to wear to keep his pants up.

“I think it’s yours,” Constance told him.

“Why’s that?” Lewis said.

“Because it’s by your place at the table,” Constance replied before cottoning on to Lewis’s joke.

“He got ya good there, Connie, old girl!” Muldoon guffawed and almost choked on his slurp of tea.

Lewis winked at Constance and she pursed her lips at him to pretend that she was disgruntled. He picked up the notebook and was surprised that its covers felt velvety beneath his fingers, much as he would have imagined an actual mole’s would feel. Perhaps, he couldn’t help but wonder, they actually made the things from real moles?

Upon opening the book, Lewis discovered that there was a name written in neat, black ink on the inside cover. The handwriting and the name looked surprisingly familiar, but it took a minute or two for it to filter through his muddled brain cells that both belonged to him.

“It is mine,” Lewis informed his breakfast companions with a grin. “Look, it says Lewis Jones right here.” He lifted the book up and turned it around to show them his name and the writing below it that was in an altogether different hand.

Happy Birthday Grandpa.

A tear formed in Lewis’s eye and a sick lump rose up in the back of his throat. He was a grandfather, and therefore by default, a father too. He had family out there in the world and he couldn’t remember a damned thing, and at that particular moment, Lewis would have given anything to have had even the faintest glimmer of a memory of them.

Constance reached for Lewis’s hand and held it whilst he struggled with his emotions. It had been this same way every morning for as long as she could recall – Lewis discovering as if for the first time that he had a family. For Constance, the saddest thing of all – other than watch the man she cared for deeply facing the same pain anew every single day – was that Lewis’s loving son, daughter-in-law and three beautiful granddaughters visited him every week and he was always so incredibly happy in their company.

And Lewis’s cruel brain, in common with hers and Muldoon’s deteriorating gray matter, would misplace those precious memories overnight whilst he slept.

Which is why things were written down in that book, otherwise everything would have been forgotten.

Lewis flicked through the notebook, his eyes darting to and fro across the tightly written handwriting that filled almost two-thirds of the silken pages. His brow would furrow in a quizzical expression when he happened upon places where the occasional page or two had been torn out.

Muldoon peered across the breakfast table, slurping on his cold tea with all the finesse of a buffalo at the watering hole. “So?” he enquired. “What’s in the book, Lewis?” He strained his eyes to try reading the neatly printed words upside down. “And what’s that supposed to mean?” He jabbed a long, bony finger towards the book, to what he guessed was the title written in block capital lettering at the top of each and every page.

The Silverado Springs Memory Care Posse,” Lewis read out loud the neatly printed words.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Muldoon wrinkled up his nose as if he’d caught a whiff of something particularly disgusting.

“I think it’s us.” Lewis looked his old friend straight in the eye. “Yeah, it’s us alright – look.” He spun the book around on the stained cotton tablecloth and pointed at one of its pages.

Muldoon and Constance leaned in to catch a better look. Constance had to lift up her chin to see through the bottom part of her narrow spectacles.

“Chuck Rifkin?” Muldoon looked perplexed. “Who the heck is Chuck Rifkin?” He nodded at a list of names in the center of the right-hand page.

“Janey Martinez, now that does ring a vague bell,” Constance mused and closed her eyes in order to search for the memory that she simply knew was skulking in some far corner of her head somewhere.

“Smiler’s name is on the list, too.” Lewis ran his finger down the half dozen names that were all written in meticulous cursive. “Whitey Muldoon – that’s you, I guess?” he said to Muldoon. “And this one is me.” Lewis appeared pleased to have recognized his own name for the first time, although he’d only just seen it a minute or so ago at the front of the book.

“And that one is me.” Constance was back with them, the fuzzy image of her erstwhile friend Janey Martinez still loitering on the periphery of her mind; pretty much all she could recall was that Janey had died, although that could have been years ago.

Or yesterday.

“So, why are those ones crossed out?” Muldoon reached over the table and poked a finger at the first three names on the list.

There were thin, straight pencil lines through the names ‘Chuck’, ‘Janey’ and ‘Smiler’ which looked as if they had been drawn with the aid of a ruler.



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



The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Jim Goforth

Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Jim. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?


Jim – Salutations, Stacey, and cheers for having me here. Predominantly, I am a husband and father, but in addition to that I am a horror author. Formerly based in Sydney, I now reside in Albury where I maintain a full-time job along with writing. I’m also an editor and run WetWorks, which is the extreme horror and bizarro imprint of J. Ellington Ashton Press. I’m a massive heavy metal aficionado, in particular the extreme subgenres (black and death), and often cross-pollinate my horror writing with forays into musical realms.


Stacey – As a complete novice to extreme metal music, what drew you to it in the first place. Was it a band or a particular song?


Jim – My passion for extreme metal runs in some ways parallel to my passion for horror. As an impressionable youngster I gravitated towards dark elements in both fiction and music early, and constantly expanded my search for new heavier, and horrific things. I grew up with music always playing in my household, as well as always having books around, so I cultivated an appreciation for all kinds of both. Reading was encouraged, appreciating music too, and as I delved deeper into heavy metal, and grew up with it, I discovered a penchant for the more extreme side of things. This went hand in hand with my explorations of horror, and an affinity with all of it. No particular bands or songs played major parts since I was into a very wide spread of acts from all over the world, but I certainly have an abundance of favourites.


Stacey – Was music what drew you into writing Horror or was there some other influence?


Jim – Music has always been influential and inspirational, not just metal, but all different types, but it wasn’t what served as any catalyst for writing horror. When I first started writing stories-which happened not too long after I learned to read-I was writing all kinds of different things in a vast array of genres. Back then of course, as a kid, I didn’t have too much of an idea of genres, but I have written tales that could be considered fantasy, science fiction, urban, I even used to write Westerns. What was the principal inspiration for all of this was reading. I read a hell of a lot of books of all types of genres, and I was often inspired to write my own tales. As I did with music, gravitating towards the heavier side of things, my reading tastes soon included horror, and while I continued to read an assortment of different genres, it was horror that became my prime obsession. My stories reflected that as a result, and soon enough I realised writing horror was exactly what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be.


Stacey – You have quite an impressive list of titles under your belt according to Amazon. How long have you been writing?


Jim – I’ve been writing forever it seems like, and essentially that is true. As I made mention of before, I started writing not long after I learned to read. As a kid I didn’t just write stories though, I actually made my own books, drew my own illustrations, synopsis, covers, the whole lot.  I wrote stories, poetry, lyrics, a couple of novels through my high school years, and then continued to write on and off in one form or another throughout all the years following that.

In terms of actually being published however, that didn’t happen until early 2014 when my first book Plebs emerged. That came after a fairly long period where I wasn’t writing horror fiction at all, but was involved in other pursuits, such as working in the extreme metal scenes. Considering this involved writing reviews and so forth I was still technically writing, though not in any fiction capacity.


Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?


Jim – I draw inspiration from just about anything. I wouldn’t exactly say I have written too much based around my real-life experiences, not in any great detail or focus in any event, but rather a case of taking snippets here and there to enhance other stories.

I find inspiration everywhere. From daily events, to a random piece of conversation heard in passing, from news headlines to music, anything at all. One of my favourite methods of conjuring up a story is to merely find a single image-old houses are often a great source-and create an entire tale based around that sole picture. My novel The Sleep was largely conceived and written in this manner. The image that appears on the cover is the very one that the whole book was based around.

Other books and stories have drawn inspiration from all manner of sources, though any real life experiences or personal experiences of mine would be well blended in with themes and subjects of a far more fictional nature.


Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing?


Jim – My greatest challenge in writing is finding enough time to write everything that I want to write. There are never enough hours in the day, and even as fast as I often write, I’m still being bombarded with ideas for other projects I want to get to work on. I almost always work on multiple projects at any given time, but even so, there’s never enough time.


Stacey – Do you write daily?


Jim – Yes, I do. How much I get written each day is variable, but I do make a point of writing something every day. Now and then for various reasons I might happen to miss a day here and there, but as a general rule I do write every day.


Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?


Jim – Either works just fine. I often write to a soundtrack of music which runs the gamut through the expected range of different metal genres, to sixties rock, industrial, even dance music, horrorcore, old school rap, all kinds of things. Other times I have no music at all, but that doesn’t essentially mean I’m writing in complete silence. With two little kids running around the house, there is rarely anything resembling complete silence. I’m attuned to just focusing on whatever it is I’m working on regardless of the surrounding sounds or background noise.


Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?


Jim – This will be the same advice I’ve given each time I’m asked this, and that is because I maintain the same stance there; it never changes.

If you want to write, or love to write, then just write. Write what you want to write, how you want.

I’ll expand on this a little and add something which may or may not work for everybody, since each person has their own method of approaching writing. If you’re aiming to tell a story, then tell the whole story before worrying about whether it is perfect. It’s entirely up to each writer whether they want to edit as they go, but personally I never do, and never have. Sitting around agonising over a line or a paragraph, then going back over and over it multiple times, rephrasing, restructuring, completely altering it or what-have-you as you write tends to stunt the flow of the story and might ultimately end in you never getting anything finished.  If you have the story in your head, get it out, and then concern yourself with beating it into shape if it so requires.

After all, first drafts exist for a reason.

In addition to that, I’ll toss this out there too. If you haven’t already got a thick skin, then be prepared to cultivate one. Whatever it is you write isn’t going to appeal to everybody, and there are always going to be myriad critiques and opinions floating around, so be ready to take all that in your stride.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?


Jim – To be honest I can’t think of any book I couldn’t finish reading. If I start something I usually persevere with it, even if it isn’t really captivating or holding my attention. It will take a whole lot longer to finish reading than a book that does keep me fixated, where I might go weeks or longer in between periods of reading it, but generally it does get completed.


Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?


Jim – The Autopsy of Jane Doe.


Stacey – What scares you?


Jim – Aside from something untoward happening to my kids and family, nothing really. I don’t scare easily.


Stacey – From the Vault is a collection of poetry and lyrics? Which is more rewarding? Poetry or Short Stories?


Jim – Writing stories and novels, novellas etc. is definitely where my main writing passion lies, so consequently, they are much more rewarding to me. In actuality, I haven’t written anything in the way of poetry or lyrics for many, many moons. From the Vault is quite literally from the vault. It is comprised of a collective of lyrics, songs, and poems which were all written way back in the mists of time. With the exception of a handful of them, they haven’t previously been published, so while they’re all quite old to me, they will be largely new to everybody else. I have a pretty sizeable assemblage of poems (all of which were originally written as lyrics), so this probably won’t be the only collection of its kind to surface. There will be others some time down the track, and since I have a body of unpublished novels, stories and so forth also written way back in the day, they too might be on the agenda to appear at some stage in the future.


Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?


Jim – As usual I’m working on myriad projects. They include Plebs 3, numerous other collections, a couple of novellas and several other novels. They’ll all jostle for the main focus of my attention until one wins out and I end up spending most of the time aiming to complete it. I’d like to say that will be Plebs 3, but we’ll see how that pans out. Anything can, and usually does, happen.


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


Jim – No, I seldom, if ever, share excerpts of unpublished work. I know there are plenty out there who do for an assortment of reasons, and if that’s what they choose to do, that’s their prerogative, but personally I never really understood the logic behind it. Sharing an unedited excerpt, which anything of mine would be, considering I don’t edit as I go, I get the story written first, means that excerpt might not even make it to the final product, it might be wholly changed, restructured, you name it. I appreciate why some might want to share their work before it reaches the stage of publishing, but it’s not something I do.


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


The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Thomas Raymond

Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Thomas. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?


Thomas – I was born and raised in California, where I lived all but 5 of my 46 years of life. I am a Union electrician in addition to being a trained Dairy manager for Grocery stores, a MANPADS military crewmember, certifiably insane (if the doctors are to be believed) while surviving PTSD from childhood and adult abuses and dealing with the depression that comes with them. Happily married to wife 2.0 and currently living in New Mexico (fewer people, more rain).


Stacey – What is your favourite holiday spot?


Thomas – I was going to say the beach, but wife 2.0 has family in Minnesota/Wisconsin with beachfront property on a small lake that is heaven any time of the year. I will always be a ocean beach bum at heart though.


Stacey – What’s one place real or imagined that you’d love to travel to?


Thomas – Heaven. They have some explaining to do. Right after I visit Hell.


Stacey – Which author living or dead inspires you?


Thomas – There are so many. Jonathan Maberry immediately comes to mind. He has done so much for me and with me. Early on: J.R.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, David and Leigh Eddings, Gary Gygax and the rest of the D&D world. Today: Jim Butcher, Dana Fredsti, Raymond E. Feist, Christopher Moore, Hal Bodner, Del Howlison, Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire, Janny Wurtz, to name a few.


Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?


Thomas – When I do, things get scary, but, yes, many of my life experiences come out in the terror that my characters feel and the ruthlessness of my villains.


Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing? Do you write daily?


Thomas – Doing it daily. Since I am not able to be a full-time writer, and having moved 4 times in the last 2 years, I have not devoted to the time writing that I should. Additionally, I am “splurge” writer in that I can sit and type out 5,000 words and actually have half of them be useable. I can do this for a few days at a time, then the well dries up and I don’t type again for several days. The story is still going in my mind however and it usually gets weirder before the next splurge.


Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?


Thomas – I have used both and it depends on if it is on when I start. I don’t have set playlists or anything and the silence is usually broken up by mad laughter or arguments with my characters.


Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?


Thomas – Write every chance you get. Take notes when you are not typing. Keep a notebook and pen/pencil handy to write down conversations your characters are having. NEVER GIVE UP.


Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?


Thomas – Lord of the Flies…it bored me, even in high school. All Quiet on the Western Front… I knew more about war than the teacher did. I don’t usually pick up a book unless I like the author or the content, so I can’t think of any others off the top of my head right now. I will admit to not reading much non-fiction however.


Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?


Thomas – Get Out. Probably one of the best movies I have seen in the last few years.


Stacey – What scares you?


Thomas – Failure. It is my hardest thing to fight against and not give up hope on. There are many days where I fight to get out of bed and many more where I fight to go to sleep because of the sense of failure that stalks me.


Stacey – Do you believe in writers’ block?


Thomas – All blocks are either made to be broken or built upon.


Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?


Thomas – A vampire novel where the vampires are actually evil and not driven by human desires. Additionally, they don’t die easily… if at all.


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


Thomas – “One thing about being around dead bodies in dark woods, alone, at night, with just a flashlight: your senses are on overdrive. My sense of smell had given up over the stench of death so close to me and the garlic on my neck, while my eyes were trying to look in a million different directions at once. Touch was consumed with being used as little as possible and there wasn’t ANYTHING I wanted to taste there. But my ears were free and not really being consciously used because there wasn’t anything to hear in woods at night except for insects. The problem was, I didn’t hear ANY insects. That was the only warning I got before I was hit by a wrecking ball across my back and shoulders. I fell flat on my face and started rolling to my left to try and see what the hell had hit me.

One good thing about learning a little bit from every fighter I could when I was a kid: I didn’t fight with any one style, I fought to win and I was more than willing to fight dirty to do so. As soon as I felt the ground solid under my back, I hunched myself up like an upside down turtle. Sure enough, the next thing I felt was something on top of me and so I clawed at the area where a face should be. I was rewarded with a grunt of pain that told me two things: there was a person there and I still had my gloves on. Still, it was a start and when I felt the pressure of the body on top of me shift from being flat against me to a more sitting position, I flexed my back, bucked out with my legs and twisted my hips to dump this guy off of me. This allowed me to grab my first toy.

The next time I felt something grab me, I quickly placed the stun gun against it and reveled as it screamed and let go. This time I was able to get to my feet and grab a smaller flashlight off the other side of my belt. Turning it on, I finally saw my attacker and knew I had been lucky so far. It was the same male creature I had seen last night. Its hair was dirty and matted, not just unwashed, but with clumps of dirt and leaves sticking to it. His hands were long with broken nails at the ends. He wasn’t wearing shoes, socks or much of anything else for clothing. I noticed he was starting to move and so I reached down and hit him with the stunner again; he screamed, twitched and then became very still. For some reason, this worried me more than anything so far and so I scanned around for my backpack and quickly ran to it once spotted.

By the time I had grabbed a stake and the hatchet, I could literally feel the vampire stalking me. I looked back at where I had left him and saw nothing other than the disturbed earth from our scuffle. I placed my back against a tree and tried to quiet my breathing like last night so I could get an idea of where he might be. As I stood there listening, I tried to figure out why he had been able to attack me when I had been wearing my garlic! That was when I noticed the weight of the necklace was gone and a quick look down proved that the garlic was missing and my clothes were ripped to shreds! The bastard had clawed my necklace off of me and ripped my shirt! If not for the stunner, I would probably be vampire food right now.

That thought brought back the memory of that poor girl: torn, broken, being fed upon, asking “why?” over and over. I REFUSED to end up like her and with that thought foremost in my mind, I crouched lower against the tree, grabbed my pack and started circling around the tree. I felt foolish for grabbing the stake now when my vampire was not yet in a position to be killed.

My flashlight was useless to me as it was busy lighting up the area near their bodies. This meant I needed light and quickly! Keeping a tree at my back and listening for the approach of my enemy, I dropped the stake and grabbed out a road flare. To light it I had to drop the hatchet as well, but then I lit three of them in rapid order; tossing one to my left and one to my right. I didn’t see any menacing shadows coming towards me and so I prepared to light the third one when my inner street smarts finally broke through and I snapped my head around to look above me.

There, not more than 20 feet away and already crouched to hurl himself towards me was my vampire (geesh, “my vampire”). I could see the redness of his eyes and the redness of the flare light on his fangs and nails. He hissed something as he flew towards me and so I dropped the flare and pulled out a new toy for his nastiness: my crucifix!

He dropped down in front of me even as I brought the crucifix up and out towards his face, while moving towards my left. Imagine my surprise when he didn’t recoil from me in horror, but actually LAUGHED at me.

“You are no hunter! You are just food pretending it can hunt. I will enjoy eating you for the little pain you have caused me….”

I am sure he said other things but there is a funny thing about creatures that “know” they are stronger than you, they like to talk and they like to threaten you; I think it is a testosterone thing. Whatever it is, it allowed me time to dig around at my feet for my backpack and pull out of a side pocket something I prayed would make an impact, my holy water!

By the time it was in my hand though, he had finished whatever he had been saying and I found myself with vampire on my chest and my back on the ground. Now, mind you, having your crucifix laughed at can be disheartening; but when you hit a vampire in the head with a mason jar of holy water, there is a VERY satisfying moment when just the IMPACT of the jar hitting his dead flesh and his gasp of surprise at the suddenness of the attack makes him flinch, giving your left hand time to bring up the hatchet it found next to your prone body and bash the OTHER side of his head. Unfortunately, that had the same impact as if I had hit him with a nerf bat instead: no blood, no cracked skull, and no dead vampire.

It did help rattle his brains more though and instead of pushing his attack, he staggered back and away from me. With that brief opening, I used the hatchet to break the mason jar and fling the broken glass and water onto him. For once, something worked! I was rewarded with his screech of pain as he started clawing at the remains of his clothing to remove the holy water that had splashed onto his chest. My hand, almost of its own volition, dropped to my belt and snatched the pepper spray out of its pouch; I shook the can as I brought it up, pointed it at my vampire and sprayed.

If I thought he was hurt, I was wrong. He dodged the spray easily and even as I tried to get ahead of him with the spray, there was soon a tree blocking my line of sight and I lost him. That didn’t last long though as he appeared from the other side of the tree and sucker punched me so hard I was certain he had broken my jaw.

I was knew I was going to die at this point.”


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


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