Category: Articles

Guest Post: Plain or Just Plain Crazy

Plain or Just Plain Crazy

Rachael Tamayo


Recently I was asked a question in a podcast interview for Quill and Ink. The question was this. What is the difference between a regular thriller and a psychological thriller?  My answer was simple, the difference is the twist that authors like myself love to add to their stories. The crazy and chaotic that ups the creep factor tenfold.  The long walk down a dark hall that leaves the reader flipping pages back to see if that is indeed what they just read.

But let us take a step back for a moment. The actual definition of psychological thriller is this: A novel in the thriller genre which focuses on the psychology of its characters, or which psychologically manipulates its audience or readership.  The thriller and all its subgenre’s elicit heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, and anxiety in readers. This is what draws us back again and again. Add a sprinkle of insanity to the mix and bam- there you have the psychological thriller. 

And there is where you find those of us that live in the darkness that is writing these books. We look like your normal, everyday happy go lucky person. But in secret we lie feeding on the readers anxiety and sleepless nights as they struggle to get to the end of the story the same way Dracula fed on poor Lucy.  If we don’t mess with the characters, we will reach out from between the pages of the book and get you, the reader, and mess with your head. And quite honestly, we love it. It’s what we live for.

That brings me to the actual writing of it. The ins and outs of creating the mentally disturbed, or the hints of it, in the characters. And quite honestly, in all my years of law enforcement and the training, in the 911 calls and the actually disturbed people that I talked with, I realize one thing. There is no wrong way. You can’t put crazy in a box. It isn’t limited to rules, as is a normal disorder of the heart, for example. The mind is boundless, we have not yet begun to fathom what it is capable of. So why then would anyone dare to think that they understand what is right and wrong with writing about the disorders of the mind? I think that in our wildest dreams we can’t begin to understand it, and therefor it’s limited only by what modern medicine tells us is fact and the limits of the imagination. And imagine we will. 

Speaking for myself, when I dive into writing a book that I know will have a mental twist, I have been known to do the research. Find the illness, define it, research it, and create a world around it.  Of course, there is also the darkness, likened to the Nothing in my favorite childhood movie, The NeverEnding Story, that will reach out and envelope my reader as they turn page after page.  In these type of stories I don’t label the twist, I just go with it. I used to suppress it, but I am long past that now. People that actually know me and have taken the time to read one of my dark thrillers look at me with new eyes.  Do I need to be a little bit insane to write a psychological thriller? Who knows. If I do, I think I’m okay with it.




By International Best-selling Author, Rachael Tamayo


Set for release this July and published by Tangled Tree Publishing!

The book will be available worldwide, in digital and print, across all platforms!


 A serial killer on the loose, driven by darkness and obsession. A woman determined to not go down without a fight and refuses to be a victim. International bestselling author Rachael Tamayo is back with a highly anticipated Deadly Sins novel. With twists and turns to keep readers gripped, fans of Teresa Driscoll and Rachel Caine will be hooked in this unforgettable thriller.


“A well-written thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the end!”InD’Tale Magazine

“Intense, original, and detailed thriller.”Power of Three Readers

Rachael Tamayo

Rachael Tamayo


Award-winning best-selling author Rachael Tamayo spent twelve years in law enforcement as a 911 operator and police dispatcher. The Multi-genre author has abandoned romance for the darkness that is the psychological thriller, creating twists, turns, and fast paced fiction in her wake. In her spare tim,e she is an editor of fiction, and enjoys reading and spending time at her home in Houston, Texas with her husband of sixteen years and their two children. You can contact her or find out more about her work at 

Six Tips on Writing True Paranormal Experiences

Six Tips on Writing True Paranormal Experiences

by A.E. Santana

For those of us that have had a supernatural or strange experience, there may be conflicting emotions of wanting to tell someone versus keeping it to yourself. Sharing your story can be cathartic, and many people have written their supernatural experiences to the awe and fascination of readers who enjoy the paranormal.   

But explaining a supernatural occurrence is more than just swearing that the doll moved on its own. You’ll need to craft your account as a story with a beginning, middle, and end, so your audience can follow along and be captivated. If these events truly took place, the best way to approach the project is like a memoir, which includes creative craft. To that end, here are six tips on writing true paranormal experiences. 

  1. Stay focused

A classic memoir technique, staying focused on one event, moment in time, etc. is essential in keeping your audience engaged. Avoid writing your life story. Even if the paranormal event spanned a large portion of your life, the story should focus on the supernatural and not anything that doesn’t lend itself to the occurrence. This story should have an end, whether the ending is learning to live with the strange hauntings, selling away the creepy doll in a garage sale, or wondering if you’ll ever find out what really happened—end it. 

  1. Ground your readers with setting

Grounding your readers in place is crucial to any storytelling but is particularly important when writing true paranormal accounts. Not only do you want to set the place, but it’s also a good idea to set a status quo. What was it like before things started to get weird? Grounding your readers with a well-written setting is helpful in establishing the authenticity of the piece. The more detailed setting you have, the more you will be able to put your audience in that space with you. People always laugh at the haunted house…before they go inside.

  1. Tone and mood

Scary stories are big on atmosphere. Although some paranormal stories may have funny or silly moments incorporated, overall—for spookiest effect—the tone should be serious and the mood eerie. Your story should teem with a strange, weird, and frightening atmosphere without being so dramatic that the events come off as laughable, disruptive, or confusing. There is a fine line between campy and spooky. Reading your story aloud can help you figure out where your writing is landing. An effective account is strange but believable. 

  1. Show and tell

One of the most common poorly worded advice to writers is “show don’t tell.” Better advice would be “mostly show but tell sometimes.” This is especially true when writing supernatural encounters. So, when do you tell and when do you show? Tell us what happened. Use detailed facts when describing the actual supernatural event. No need to get metaphorical or fancy with your words here. Be straight and to the point. These sections of you story should not be confusing. Show us how you felt. While your facts should never be confusing, it’s okay if you were confused. Not all your readers may have had supernatural experiences, but we have all felt fear, anger, loneliness, sadness, etc. That’s why it’s important to have the human element. Perhaps the reader will never believe in what scared you, but if you can get them to believe that you were scared—that’s a win.

  1. Use all five senses

You know them: touch, smell, sound, taste, and sight. The four above elements can’t work without these senses and the more you use them, the more authentic and engaging your piece will be. The senses are especially helpful when depicting a place, setting the mood, telling your reader what happened, or showing the audience how you felt. So, describe the cold spot you walked into, the bizarre noises you heard at night, the shadow you saw creeping along the hallway, the gross smell that won’t leave the backroom, or that weird taste you get whenever you visit your hometown cemetery. 

  1. Slow down where it’s spooky

Author Steve Almond advises in his book of essays, This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, to “slow down where it hurts.” When there is a big emotional moment, slow down and write it out. When writing true paranormal experiences, run with that advice and apply it to the creepy parts of your account. Don’t just say how the doll’s head moved on its own. Slow down and describe it. Use all five senses. Were there any sounds, perhaps porcelain scraping against porcelain as the doll moved its neck? Or did you see the soulless blue aggie eyes blink at you? Remember tip four and don’t get too fancy. Tell us what happened, just slow down when you do it.

A.E. Santana

A.E. Santana


A.E. Santana is a Southern California native who grew up in a farming community surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. A lover of horror and fantasy, her works can be found in Demonic Carnival III, Weird Ales Vol. II, and other horror anthologies. She is the paranormal/true horror editor for Kelp Journal and was the drama editor for The Coachella Review. A.E. Santana is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a founding playwright for East Valley Repertory Theatre in Indio, CA. She has been a moderator for several horror panels, including No Longer the Scream Queen: Women’s Roles in Horror. She received her MFA in fiction from the University California, Riverside Low Residency program. Her perfect day consists of a cup of black tea and her cat Flynn Kermit. @foxflur

The Patience of a Dead Man Tour: FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN

“FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN.”

I didn’t write that. I saw it on Disney+, in fact, on a show called “The Imagineering Story.” It’s a documentary about how Walt Disney and his employees designed the Disney parks, including the thrill rides.  “FEAR minus DEATH equals FUN” was their approach to creating many of the rides, including roller coasters like Space Mountain.


My name is Michael Clark, and I subscribe to that theory. I love a good ghost story as long as it’s not gratuitously morbid–I want to feel the hair rise on the back of my neck. Do horror stories scare you away? I don’t want to do that. I want to give you a thrill like the adrenalin rush of a good roller coaster—don’t worry, when it’s over, you’ll be safe and sound.


I like eerie, and I like chilling. I love ghosts as opposed to monsters or demons. Do bad things happen in my books? Sure, but no more than you might read in a crime novel, and it’s never for the sake of vulgarity. Did you like the movie The Sixth Sense, or maybe Silence of the Lambs? That’s what I’m going for—a top-notch thriller that could stand with these great stories. Did I achieve my goal? That’s for you to decide. Just know that you’re not getting a slasher or teen horror, you’re getting psychological horror wrapped into a ghost story-mystery with a twist or two. Thanks for your time!


The Patience of a Deadman


Publication Date: April 15, 2019


Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more “chilling than gory”.


He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside.


Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life?



Available on Amazon!

The Patience of a Dead Man Tour - Chapter 1 Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: Henry’s Demise

November 29th, 1965


The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her. 

It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar. 

The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest. 

He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done. 

The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough. 

Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion.  He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go? 

He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here– a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch.

The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that. 

As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring.

Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in. 

As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right. 

There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first–but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription.

Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance. 

She stood there in the dark–the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions. 

And there was a smell. 

There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.


Giveaway: To win print copies of the entire trilogy (US Only), or a print copy of The Patience of a Dead Man (International), click the link below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Organized By:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Michael Clark

Michael Clark


Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.

The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.






Friday Update: Pandemic Book Launches and Events

Pandemic Book Launches and Events  07.08.20

In addition to Jim McLeod’s Pandemic Book Launch group on Facebook – go here for more infomation – Joe Mynhardt has set up a collaborative Facebook group for the independent presses: Hot Off the Indie Press, check it out here.  Click on the book covers for more information.


9th Aug, 6pm EST – Cross Roads Book Launch party. Laurel Hightower promises giveaways, readings, whiskey and more! Help her celebrate the release of her second novel (which I can’t wait to read) here rtmp:// Follow her on Facebook or twitter for further news.

22-23rd Aug – Buzz Book Expo. Online book expo for publishers to talk about upcoming releases in the period Sept 2020-Dec 2020. Focus is horror but includes paranormal/supernatural thrillers, dark fantasy, genre blends and non-fiction. Coordinated by Mary SanGiovanni, go here for more information.

28th-31st Aug inclusive – London FrightFest. Showing up to 25 films, special guests and Q&A sessions. More information and tickets here.

7-11th October – GrimmFest. Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Films. Information here.

Please send us details of any online panels, conventions, festivals and workshops and we’ll list them here.

Pandemic Book Launches 

*********** Charity Anthologies ************

1st July   13th July    Autumn! ImageWe are Wolves


They Slipped Through the Net

This section features books published during lockdown but which have only just come onto our radar (plus special editions newly released).

29th May

July 2020

22nd 24th Grotesque: Monster Stories (Things in the Well Book 38) by [Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Steve Dillon, David Wood] 26th 27th

28th  Image  28th In Every Dark Corner: Horror Stories by [Duncan Ralston]31st


August 2020

1st Love Wanes, Fear is Forever: A collection of horror stories by [Justin Boote] 2nd Shadow Bound: A Gothic Quartet by [Stephanie Ellis, Alyson Faye]4th    5th D is for Demons (A to Z of Horror Book 4) by [P.J. Blakey-Novis, Dona Fox, Charles R. Bernard, David  Green, Mark Anthony  Smith, J. Herrera Kamin, Lesley Drane, Carmilla Voeiz, Molly  Thynes, Matt Doyle]  

6th  7th 10th 10th

11th Sins of the Father (Fiction Without Frontiers) by [JG Faherty]18th  25th  25th

25th Recall Night (An Eli Carver Supernatural Thriller Book 2) by [Alan Baxter, Anthony Rivera] 28th

September 2020

  1st    4th Night Voices 8th    10th    

15th 29th   IMG_0672.JPG

October 2020

13th   20thDownwind, Alice

Future Releases (note: dates not always available)





Happy reading.


 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team


Epeolatry Book Review: The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg


Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.

Title: The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
Author: Daniel Mallory Ortberg
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corsair
Release Date: 13th March 2018

Synopsis: From Mallory Ortberg comes a collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales. Adapted from the beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, “The Merry Spinster” takes up the trademark wit that endeared Ortberg to readers of both The Toast and the best-selling debut Texts From Jane Eyre. The feature has become among the most popular on the site, with each entry bringing in tens of thousands of views, as the stories proved a perfect vehicle for Ortberg’s eye for deconstruction and destabilization. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Readers of The Toast will instantly recognize Ortberg’s boisterous good humor and uber-nerd swagger: those new to Ortberg’s oeuvre will delight in this collection’s unique spin on fiction, where something a bit mischievous and unsettling is always at work just beneath the surface.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected, and frequently, alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

Some authors seem destined to shake things up in the best way possible. Daniel Mallory Ortberg is a New York Times bestselling author. Courtesy of his debut work Texts from Jane Eyre, which was based upon his longstanding columns in “The Hairpin” and “The Toast”, it envisions famous literary characters exchanging anachronistic text messages. A trans man who transitioned in 2018 and took his wife’s surname when they married a year later, The Merry Spinster is his second work. 

The Merry Spinster is a slender anthology of short fiction. It retells classic fairy stories like “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm, and folk legends such as the Orkney folktale “Johnny Croy and His Mermaid Bride”. 

“The Daughter Cells” is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”, and it explores the soul of the natural world as a multifaceted entity reflecting Nature’s complex interconnectedness. The human desire to own and control, and of course our inherent selfishness, are set in stark contrast to the world below the waves. 

“The Merry Spinster” (recasting “Beauty and the Beast”) exhibits a profound ambivalence towards marriage as the sole narrative drive of the heroine, especially when the man concerned is so challenging. Toxic masculinity can be tamed by the love of a good woman, to be sure, but why is the woman having to do all the emotional work, Ortberg asks. 

Recasting fairy tales and folk legends for a modern audience, or simply retelling them in a way that is more empowering for women and other minorities, is fertile territory for horror writers. This is true at the literary end of the spectrum, as with this volume, and towards the more popular end of the fiction market. In a process brought to worldwide attention by Angela Carter in the early 1990s when Virago published two books of fairy tales which she edited, writers have been reclaiming fairy tales and folk legends as their own. They’ve wrestled them from the likes of the Brothers Grimm and Walt Disney ever since. 

The best writers give something of themselves in their work, however discreetly this is achieved.  One of the things I love most about Ortberg is how true this is of his writing. Educated at the private Azusa Pacific University and raised by Evangelical Christian parents, it isn’t surprising that faith is explored extensively within these pages. The ‘Sources and Influences’ section at the page lists, among others, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” by St John Climacus and “Summa Theologica” by Thomas Aquinas. 

Gender issues were also in play, with a thoughtful and potentially personal retelling of “The Frog Prince” by the Brothers Grimm. Here the youngest daughter takes the role of princess in the title (“The Frog’s Princess”) but is referred to as ‘he’ throughout in a way that felt compellingly natural to this non-binary reviewer. 

This was an immensely subtle but thought-provoking anthology. After two slow reads through for the purpose of this review, I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of what it has to offer. 

Review the reviewers! If you’ve read this novel, or just have some thoughts on any point made in this review, tag me at @JohnCAdamsSF on Twitter to share them. 

5/5 stars

Available from Bookshop, Amazon, and Amazon UK.

The Wrack Book Tour – On Pandemics, Plagues, And Fiction

A few months into the writing process on The Wrack, I started hearing rumors of some new virus in China. Four days after I sent The Wrack’s manuscript to my editor, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.


It’s been pretty surreal, to say the least.


I was absolutely fascinated with the Black Death as a child, and over the years, that grew into an interest with epidemiology in general. One of the constant refrains I heard from epidemiologists was that we were by no means safe from pandemics in the modern day- that the interconnected nature of our society put us at even greater risk. That’s obvious now, but even a year ago, most people simply wouldn’t have believed it.


So when I started writing The Wrack, it was, in part, intended to open people’s minds to the dangers that plagues still pose to us. 


Needless to say, my warning came a bit late.


I wish I could say that I predicted how bad COVID-19 would get, but I really didn’t. I genuinely assumed that the the various public health agencies involved in the early days of COVID-19 would manage to get control of the situation before it got this bad. I never thought it would turn into a full-blown pandemic.


While I got that part badly wrong, so much else has turned out as I expected it to. We might be more technologically advanced than our ancestors, but the mix of panic and community solidarity we’ve shown in the face of COVID-19 is remarkably familiar from historical accounts. Conspiracy theories and acts of selfless aid were just as intermingled in past plagues as they are today.


And, probably least surprising, the wealthy have proven just as liable to abandon their communities and flee to the hills today as they were during past plagues. 


There have been countless words written about how the true nature of humanity is only revealed during times of crisis. That’s something I absolutely wanted to explore with The Wrack, but I never expected my predictions to be put to such an immediate test.


And, by and large? I feel as though I passed that test. I’ve been convinced for a long time that the fundamental nature of humanity, is, well, inconsistency and interconnectedness. We’re all hypocritical, inconsistent, messy beings, who are more the contextual products of our social and physical environments than we are discrete individuals. I think that human nature is fundamentally good, though the bad actors are more common than I would like.


COVID-19 has been a test of that idea like nothing else. I’ll leave my readers to decide how close I was to the mark.


More than a few of my fans, friends, and family have jokingly blamed me for the pandemic. It’s all been in good humor, but… 


“Art is suffering” is generally supposed to apply to the artist, not, you know, other people. I have to admit, I’m now a bit nervous about writing some of the other “natural disaster in a fantasy world” novels I’ve been wanting to write. 


Just in case I do decide to move forwards with them, though, uh… maybe avoid Tacoma, Washington in the future? Just saying.


John Bierce

The tour schedule can be found here:

Book Information


The Wrack by John Bierce

Published: April 23, 2020

Genre: Epidemiological Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Pages: 232


— — —


Book Blurb


Plague has come to the continent of Teringia.


As the Wrack makes its slow, relentless march southwards, it will humble kings and healers, seers and merchants, priests and warriors. Behind, it leaves only screams and suffering, and before it, spreads only fear.


Lothain, the birthplace of the Wrack, desperately tries to hold itself together as the plague burns across it and its neighbors circle like vultures. The Moonsworn healers would fight the Wrack, but must navigate distrust and violence from the peoples of Teringia. Proud Galicanta readies itself for war, as the Sunsworn Empire watches and waits for the Wrack to bring its rival low.


And the Wrack advances, utterly unconcerned with the plans of men.


— — —


Book Links




John Bierce

John Bierce


John Bierce is a history buff, fantasy and science fiction lover, and fan of talking about himself in the third person. He also has a background in the earth sciences, and has been caught licking rocks before. For science.


— — —


Author Links






Giveaway Details!

For US residents, From August 2, 2020, 12:00am EDT – August 9, 2020, 11:59pm EDT there are five physical copies of The Wrack also up for grabs and you can enter to win one below!

The Wrack Giveaway

Friday Update: Pandemic Book Launches and Events

Pandemic Book Launches and Events  31.07.20

In addition to Jim McLeod’s Pandemic Book Launch group on Facebook – go here for more infomation – Joe Mynhardt has set up a collaborative Facebook group for the independent presses: Hot Off the Indie Press, check it out here.  Click on the book covers for more information.

**New Feature: Events. Scroll down the page and you will find any online events listed (that I have been notified about).**

Pandemic Book Launches 

*********** Charity Anthologies ************

1st July   13th July    Autumn! ImageWe are Wolves


They Slipped Through the Net

This section features books published during lockdown but which have only just come onto our radar (plus special editions newly released).

28th Apr The Girl in the Video by [Michael David Wilson] 27th Jun Beers and Fears: Flight Night by [Chuck Buda, Frank Edler, Armand Rosamilia, Tim Meyer, Dan Padavona] 29th Jun Seeds of the Dead: (Genetically Modified Zombies! A tale of a deadly viral outbreak in our bioengineered food.) by [Andy Kumpon, Gary Malick, Bill Armstrong]

July 2020

16th Cozened: Cybil Lewis Mysteries, Book 2 17thAll The Dead Men: Alexander Smith #2 by [Errick Nunnally, Bracken MacLeod]  20th  20th

22nd 24th Grotesque: Monster Stories (Things in the Well Book 38) by [Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Steve Dillon, David Wood] 28th  Image31st


August 2020

4th         6th   7th 10th
18th   25th 25th 25th Recall Night (An Eli Carver Supernatural Thriller Book 2) by [Alan Baxter, Anthony Rivera]

September 2020

  1st    8th    10th    15th

29th   IMG_0672.JPG

October 2020

13th   20thDownwind, Alice

Future Releases (note: dates not always available)






31st July – Halloween in Summer 7pm EST. An evening of horror readings hosted by V. Castro and featuring Hailey Piper, Cina Pelayo, Sara Tantlinger, Jessica Guess, Nico Bell and Gwendolyn Kiste. Sign up here.

1st Aug – Scares That Care Virtual Charity Event – raising money for nominated people: a sick child, a breast cancer sufferer and a burns victim. Find out more information here and via Brian Keene, here.

29th July – 2nd Aug. CoNZealand, 78th World Science Fiction convention. For writers, artists, scientists and fans. Go here to join in.

22-23rd Aug – Buzz Book Expo. Online book expo for publishers to talk about upcoming releases in the period Sept 2020-Dec 2020. Focus is horror but includes paranormal/supernatural thrillers, dark fantasy, genre blends and non-fiction. Coordinated by Mary SanGiovanni, go here for more information.

Happy reading.


 on behalf of Stuart and the Horror Tree Team


Horror is a Feminist Genre

Horror is a feminist genre

by: Piper Mejia


You can’t discuss horror without talking about Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, her life and the influence of her feminist-author mother, Mary Wollenstonecraft. It is a point of ego to know that Shelley’s Frankenstein was not the monster, but rather the creator, and, by extension, the symbol of the monstrous things men do. Sure, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test, a result of the time in which it was written, but the book has remained a touchstone of horror and, in its own way, a lasting accolade for feminism. Yet, many women authors reject any association of their work with horror or the implication that horror reflects feminist ideals.

Horror tropes play on our fear of the unknown, of pain (torture), betrayal (sometimes by our own bodies and minds), and entrapment. How does this list differ from the issues feminists expose in order to create a more inclusive world? Google a list of feminist authors or feminist writing and the suggestions will repeat themselves: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margret Attwood, The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman. Though not one of these authors claim their work as horror many of their audience do, as what could be more horrifying than being an enslaved breeder, dying of fear after believing you have escaped, or being held captive while you slowly lose your grasp on reality.

In fact, each wave of feminism is clearly duplicated by the literature of the horror genre. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson was published in 1948 during the Second Wave of feminism, a wave defined by the sexism and sexuality backlash to the idea that women were happy in our domestic role in society; coined by the phrase “personal is political”. In Jackson’s iconic story, a husband is selected through a lottery to be stoned. The reason for the stoning is not given, just like the roles and expectations placed on women are never justified, and the way these roles are used to control and limit women is never acknowledged. The symbolism of the lottery in choosing a ‘winner’ for stoning is extended to the women’s inability to choose their own ticket if they have a husband or a son over 16 years of age. This is the author’s nod at the suffragette movement—The First Wave of feminism—and women’s inability to make or influence the laws that control them. The story ends with the wife coming to her husband’s defense at being chosen, claiming that he wasn’t ‘given enough time’. The wife’s reaction to her husband’s imminent death reflects our own complacency in the face of inequality, that is, until it affects our own lives. If the reverse had been true, one wonders if the husband would have rushed to his wife’s defense? Though written 70 years ago the story resonates as a metaphor for the current #METOO movement, where trolls on the internet attack women for speaking up, claiming that it is ‘not all men’ and that men are also ‘victims of sexual harassment’ in an attempt at false equivalency. 

I question women authors who claim they do not write horror. How can they say their writing is not influenced by their own the restrictive upbringing; one which has been shaped by culture and society simply because they were born a girl. Yes, authors can say they are neither feminist nor horror authors, but it is the audience’s response to their stories that define their genre. Horror is fiction, and feminist fiction addresses women’s inequality, so whether it was the author’s intent or not, fiction that explores the fears caused by inequality can only be acknowledged as both. No one argues that Misery by Stephen King is a horror (the story of a man abused and held captive for less than a year), yet Room by Emma Donoghue, (the story of a woman abused while being held captive for almost a decade) is categorized under the generic genre of ‘novel’. It is dishonest to dismiss the horror of a story simply because Misery is fiction that is unlikely to happen, but Room is all too real as it has happened to too many women.

So, what is modern horror literature illuminating? The Third Wave of feminism is defined as Intersectional Feminism, where race, ethnicity, class, religion and nationality come under scrutiny and diversity becomes a rallying cry of equity. Modern horror New Zealand author Lee Murray, draws on her Chinese heritage and the way tradition has shaped her upbringing and the person she has become. “Writing horror has always been a transgressive, subversive act. Whether we are writing from a sense of unease or from full on nerve-shredding panic, horror offers women a place to explore our basest fears, to address those subjects which must remain unspoken in acceptable society. And yet, even while writing horror, I wish I were braver. With fiction, we can claim the safety of distance, telling our horrors through character and metaphor. Setting our stories in distant worlds. Giving our heroine a fighting chance. In this way, writing horror fiction serves as both a sword and a shield. But when our fiction is also speculative, there is a hope for a real-world solution…” It is not a matter of Murray choosing to write horror but rather that horror is the one honest genre that can reveal the struggles in the lives of women.

In writing The Better Sister<, a collection exploring the complexity of the sister relationship, no other genre, other than horror, can completely reflect what my characters face in trying to forgive, forget, flee, or destroy what they fear. The sisters in each story are unable to tear apart the world that has shaped them, despite wanting to make amends or find absolution. Like the stages of grief, they stumble from naïvety, denial, anger, until they finally reach acceptance. But even in the end they are twisted versions of the people they might have been, if they had not been women.

It is cliché to say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but old women are the strongest people I know. Their lives are littered with the horrors they have survived, just like the monster in Frankenstein, yet they too deny the inequity they faced along the way. There is no defined Fourth Wave of feminism, but if there was it would be a wave of reckoning, a period when we would no longer shy away from the very labels that make us stronger, declaring that we are the monster that has survived and I would implore my sister to let it begin with casting off the stigma of having their work acknowledged as both being horror and feminist. 

Piper Mejia

Piper Mejia


Piper Mejia is an advocate for New Zealand writers and literature and is a co-founder of Young NZ Writers – a non-profit dedicated to providing opportunities for young NZ writers. Her short fiction has appeared in a range of publications including BabyteethConclave, Spec-Fic Short Cuts, Short Cuts Track 1, Te Korero Ahi Ka and Tricksters Treats 3. A collection of her short stories, The Better Sister, will be published by Breach in July 2020. As a child, Piper stayed up late laughing at horror films. As an adult, she spends a lot of time being disappointed by plot holes and yet somehow, she has never lost her love for Science Fiction and Horror; two genres that continue to ask the question “What if …” You can find her on New Zealand Society of Authors, Specific NZ and Tauranga Writers.

Pin It on Pinterest