Book review: The Man With the Blue Hat by Wendy Potocki

Uptight perfectionist Beth is having a very bad time. After a fitful night’s sleep, she learns that her young daughter has answered the door to the eponymous man with a blue hat who has one message – he’s coming for Beth. She then begins to spawn awful, murderous thoughts towards her child, and the people of her sleepy New England town also start to become aggressive as insomnia takes hold of the population. As the blame for everyone’s madness turns on her, Beth must remember Continue reading

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Interview: Griffin Hayes – Author of Dark Passage

Thriller - and horror - author Griffin Hayes

Thriller – and horror – author Griffin Hayes

A horror and YA paranormal thriller writer. In September, Griffin Hayes published his first novel, MALICE. Two short stories, THE GRIP and THE SECOND COMING, as well as my novella, BIRD OF PREY, are now also online. And don’t worry, there’s plenty more in the pipeline, including a zombie novella that’s currently in the works. Griffin Hayes – related links: Blog: griffin-hayes.blogspot.com Twitter: @griffin_hayes Griffin’s spooky mailing list (excellent image on the site)! Facebook Goodreads Find Dark Passage on  Amazon.com Amazon author page

INSPIRATIONS

HE: Which authors did you enjoy while you were growing up?

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Interview: Horror & YA Author Brian Rowe

Author Brian Rowe

Author Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He’s written nine novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. He is one half of the blog Story Carnivores, where he reviews the latest in books and film. He is currently pursuing his MA in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his next novel. You can also visit his Website or find him on Twitter @mrbrianrowe.

Haunted Eyeball: Welcome to the Haunted Eyeball, Brian! We’re very happy to have you here today and we really enjoyed reading your horror novel Townhouse.

Brian Rowe: Thank you for having me today!

INSPIRATIONS

HE: Let’s get started right at the beginning, Brian. Tell us, which authors did you enjoy while you were growing up?

BR: My favourite author growing up was Stephen King, who I’ve looked up to for probably twenty years now (and I’m only twenty-eight!). I also loved Roald Dahl, Dean Koontz, and, of course, J. K. Rowling. My favourite novel I’ve ever read is Boy’s Life, which I read as a sophomore in high school.

HE: Who are your favourite authors now?

BR: Stephen King remains my favourite author, but lately I’ve been focusing on young adult fiction and have turned to many of these authors for inspiration. I particularly love John Green, David Levithan, Stephen Chbosky, John Corey Whaley, and Emily Danforth.

HE: Which films, TV and music influenced you in your writing and daily life?

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Lovecraft Week! Video: Lovecraft’s Pillow

And finally….we end the Haunted Eyeball’s Lovecraft Week with a look at a fantastic short film inspired and part written by Stephen King, and directed by Mark Steensland (who also made the terrifying Peekers).

It’s the kind of situation that every aspiring writer could have to face, and hopefully empathise with (OK, part from the actual pillow thing). Don’t be fooled by its low-key approach, this is a great short about the boundaries between reality, madness, and beating the crap out of writer’s block. There’s also a bit of a ‘magic beans’ aspect to it all.

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While the unfortunate wife probably doesn’t deserve to suffer this fate, this is really an exercise in writerly wish fulfilment! This guy isn’t quite starting with a Stephen King career, you get the sense he’s on his path to success. Just wait until he starts self-publishing…

More info about this short film can be found over here, on IMDB.

The rest of Lovecraft Week on the Haunted Eyeball

Short stories: Two Bite sized Lovecraftian stories by James Pratt

Graphic Novels: “Howard Lovecraft and the….” by Bruce Brown

Anthology: Future Lovecraft by Innsmouth Press

TV: The Real Ghostbusters ‘Collect Call of Cthulhu’

Also check out:

Short horror film: Peekers

Review: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Review: Innsmouth Press Magazine Issue 8

Graphic novel: You Know, for Squids?

Review: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Just After Sunset
Just After Sunset by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephen King rarely disappoints. I’ve always particularly enjoyed his short stories, and in the introduction, he confesses that he’d thought he’d lost the knack for writing shorts until he edited a collection of short stories by other people and found his groove again. I find this an interesting lesson.

As for the stories themselves, I’d say I enjoyed well over half of them and even the less likeable ones kept me reading, eager to find out what happened next. The best ones are very grounded and all you can do is hold on tight as the characters’ worlds slowly spin off their axis and gather speed towards the freaky and terrifying. Not everyone gets out of here alive.

Before I list each one, my favourites were: Gingerbread Girl, Stationery Bike, N. , The Cat From Hell and A Very Tight Place.

Now here’s what I felt about each story – SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW:

Willa – A ghost story, fairly enjoyable, I didn’t feel a lot happened but I liked how the ghost of the couple found a better place to rest.

The Gingerbread Girl – One of my favourites here. King goes back to survival horror and serial killer fun. It should be a movie.

Harvey’s Dream – really short, I liked it and it ends on a doomey note.

Rest Stop – A real ‘what would you do?’ one here, which King admits was taken from a similar experience. For that, I liked it, and will also avoid scary deserted rest stops in future!

Stationery Bike – Weird. Loved it, but oh, so, very weird. Great stuff. Tripping out on your own brain while exercising certainly beats using a Wii anyway.

The Things They Left Behind – Strangely, I didn’t like this one because of its weirdness. I couldn’t get into it. It was written as a reaction to the events of 9/11 and it feels very clogged compared to most of his other work. One of the few I don’t think I would revisit. Obviously a personal work, though.

Graduation Afternoon – Hope and anticipation melts into the moments before an apocalypse. Another really short one, but great moment of character and mostly wins on atmosphere as well.

N. – The absolute standout, the H P Lovecraft elements work perfectly. Diaries which should be destroyed are of course uncovered and passed on to the next luckless soul. Throw in some OCD syndrome, a circle of eight – or is it seven – stones preventing the end of the world, and a troubling sunset, and I was very happy to get creeped out here. The references to Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen don’t hurt either, as I stumbled on that book at the library earlier this year (there was a note of recommendation by H P Lovecraft himself!) and I was pleased to see King drawing from this text too.

The Cat From Hell – A pretty strong story, silly as it is on the surface. This was made into a segment of Tales from the Darkside, one of my favourite Creepshow-esque anthology movies (Debbie Harry’s in it, check it out). Basically, an old man responsible for the deaths of a LOT of innocent kitties calls in a hitman to take out a feline with sinister markings, which he can’t get out of his house. The hitman actually likes cats, but decides to do the job anyway. Naturally, the cat has other ideas, and some unfinished business with the evil old man. As a ‘cats take revenge’ story, and as a cat lover myself, I really have to give King kudos for the plausible carnage this feline inflicts. Don’t mess with this li’l kitty!

The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates – OK, I really don’t have a lot of patience with voices beyond the grave stories, and this felt like something Spielberg would have a field day with (although I think he’d staple on a slightly cheerier ending). Bittersweet, and short, it’s all right, but the title doesn’t help me to remember the story too well.

Mute – Another very strong one, where a guy picks up an apparently deaf mute hitchhiker and proceeds to rant about the crap dealt out to him by his cheating wife. The rant leads to some problems being solved, but his conscience leads him to a priest who may offer some useful advice. Worth it for the descriptions of the dreadful things the cheating wife bought, and the gradual justification of what the guy decides to do.

Ayana – A blind girls performs a miracle with a kiss, then the witnesses start to feel the same gift affecting them. It’s another one that felt like a slightly saccharine Spielberg (although King never gets that sugary, really) but didn’t say much except that miracles happen to the most random people.

A Very Tight Place – Another great one involving realism and survival. It’ll also turn your stomach in places, but this is Stephen King at his best, taking an unpleasant but possible situation and working through it until you’re with the poor bastard every step of the way. Think that ‘Buried’ movie only a great deal ickier. Highly recommended.

There’s also a short section right at the end explaining the origin of each story, which is probably best left until the very end instead of skipping ahead.

This confirmed to me that Stephen King is often at his very strongest when he’s bringing out short stories that can be devoured in one or two sittings. This is a mixed bag, and I still don’t believe they are all his very strongest works, but there’s always something compelling in a Stephen King story, and this collection is no exception.

View all my reviews