Tag Archives: horror

Episode #66 – Characters in Horror with Michaelbrent Collings

Meet Michaelbrent Collings…
if you dare (bwahahaha!)

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, a #1 bestseller in the U.S., and has been one of Amazon’s top selling horror writers for years. He is one of the most successful indie horror writers in the United States, as well as a produced screenwriter and member of the WGA, HWA, and several other writing groups with cool-sounding letters. He’s also a martial artist, and cooks awesome waffles (’cause he’s macho like that).

He published his first “paying” work – a short story for a local paper – at the age of 15. He won numerous awards and scholarships for creative writing while at college, and subsequently became the person who had more screenplays advance to quarterfinals and semifinals in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting competition in a single year than anyone else in the history of the competition.

His first produced script, Barricade, was made into a movie starring Eric McCormack of TV’s Will & Grace and Perception, and was released in 2012. Michaelbrent also wrote the screenplay for Darkroom (2013), starring Kaylee DeFer (Gossip Girl, Red State) and Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle, Law & Order, Heroes).

As a novelist, Michaelbrent has written enough bestsellers that listing them seems weird, especially since they’re already listed elsewhere on the website. In addition, he has also written dozens of non-fiction articles which have appeared in periodicals on several continents.

Michaelbrent is also a member of the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and the HWA (Horror Writers of America). In addition to selling, optioning, and doing rewrites on screenplays for major Hollywood production companies, he is currently developing several movies and television shows.

He hopes someday to develop superpowers, or, if that is out of the question, then at least to get a cool robot arm.

Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that’s a low bar to set), and also cooler than he is.

Michaelbrent is a frequent guest speaker at genre and literary conventions, high schools, church groups, and anywhere else that wants to talk about writing. If you’re interested in having him speak to your group, please contact him via the contact form on the bottom of the page. Michaelbrent also has a Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings and can be followed on Twitter @mbcollings. Follow him and you will be kept safe when the Glorious Revolution begins!

Lastly, if you want to be kept abreast of Michaelbrent’s newest releases and special deals that no one else knows about, sign up for his mailing list… and keep on reading!

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Episode #53 – Transitioning to Horror with Andrea Pearson

Episode #53 – Transitioning to Horror with Andrea Pearson aboutpage

 

To learn more about Andrea Pearson, visit her website at http://andreapearsonbooks.com/

About James Duckett

James is a geeky, nerdy dude. He writes, sometimes. He blogs, sometimes. He's helpful to people, sometimes. He doesn't like to repeat himself, sometimes. He's funny... looking... always.

His hopes and aspirations of the future is to one day find a way that people will pay him while he sleeps. It is his dream job.

Writing Creepy: Perverting the Normal

Creepy doesn’t have to be outlandish to send chills down a spine. Often what’s really creepy is something normal that has been twisted, distorted, or perverted either physically or through the story line.

 

Take dolls for example. If you go to a store and see a doll, you probably won’t look at it and consider it scary, right? But put the doll in a horror movie with a knife in its head (physical) or give it a criminal conscious (story), then it becomes a little more disturbing, and if done well, you might feel uncomfortable whenever you see a doll.

Sometimes, making something normal creepy is more powerful than creating something foreign and outlandish.

After I read The Hunger Games trilogy, I couldn’t look at roses the same way for months. Every time I saw a rose, it reminded me of President Snow, him poisoning people, killing children, and his constant, omniscient presence in Panem. He, and by extension his roses, became creepy.

But perhaps more unnerving were the genetically engineered, human-animal hybrids. In the first novel, the Capitol mixes dogs with the DNA of dead tributes. They unleash the creatures on Katniss in the arena.

Here is some concept art from the movie. As you can see, the mutts were toned down a lot in the final product.

 

 

 

These images have creeped me out ever since I first laid eyes on them because they marry two normal things (dogs and humans) in a perverted way.

Another example of a twisted creature that comes to mind is the dementors from Harry Potter. Dementors have a humanoid figure that resonates with the concept of “death,” but one of the creepiest dementor moments for me is when Harry finally sees what’s under a dementor’s hood:

Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, gray scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets. But there was a mouth…a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air with the sound of a death rattle (Prisoner of Azkaban).

Again, something normal (a human face) is made creepy by perverting its appearance.

I have one more example. In the film adaptation of The Hobbit, we are introduced to the character Azog the Defiler. Part of his arm was cut off in an earlier battle, so he has a metallic claw. We’ve all seen pirates with hooks for hands, so the idea isn’t all the shocking in today’s world. But the filmmakers took the concept further. They added one little detail: the end of the claw goes through his arm, so you can see it poking out the other side. What a small but powerful detail. It made me uncomfortable whenever I saw it. They took a familiar concept and twisted it.

There are, of course, other ways to ramp up creepiness in a story, such as good, specific word choice, but consider this technique next time you need something unnerving.

September C. Fawkes

About September C. Fawkes

Sometimes September C. Fawkes scares people with her enthusiasm for writing and reading. People may say she needs to get a social life. It'd be easier if her fictional one wasn't so interesting.

Fawkes wrote her first story on a whim during a school break when she was seven. Crayon-drawn, poorly spelled, and edited so that it contained huge, fat, blacked-out lines, the story (about chickens seeking water) changed her life. Growing up, she had a very active imagination; one of her best friends accused her of playing Barbies wrong when she turned Ken into a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde mad scientist love interest. Her passion for stories led to her playing "pretend" longer than is socially acceptable. It was partially a symptom of never wanting to become an adult. Luckily she never did. She became a writer instead.

Fawkes has a soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, but she explores and reads anything well crafted. She has a passion for dissecting stories and likes to learn from a variety of genres, so you may find her discussing classics in one blog post animated shows in anotherTry not to be afraid of either. (And do be sensitive to the fact she never did reach adulthood.)


September C. Fawkes graduated with an English degree with honors from Dixie State University, where she was the managing editor of The Southern Quill literary journal and had the pleasure of writing her thesis on Harry Potter. She was also able to complete an internship in which she wrote promotional pieces for events held in Southern Utah, like the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo, and she participated in a creative open mic night, met some lovely people in a writers’ group, and worked as a tutor at the Writing Center. Her college experience, although demanding, was rewarding.
She liked it enough to consider getting her M.F.A., and she got accepted into a couple of programs, but decided to pass on it.

Since then, she has had the opportunity to work as an assistant for the New York Times bestselling author David Farland, while (rarely now) critiquing novels or proofreading promotional pieces on the side, and she even had the chance to meet J.K. Rowling in New York City, but mostly she hides out in her room, applies her butt to her chair, and writes. Other than that she reads fiction and books about writing fiction.

She has had poems, short fiction, and nonfiction published.  Her main writing project right now is a young adult fantasy novel she plans to publish traditionally.

Some of her favorite things include, but are not limited to, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Les Miserables, The X-Files, The Office, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, rock concerts, Creed, ballet, pugs, cherry blossoms, Ethel M. Chocolates, and anything yellow.

Why horror?

In honor of National Women in Horror Month and Mercedes M. Yeardley’s podcast on Monday, I thought I would discuss why I am adding some horror to my reading list.  While I doubt I’ll ever write it, and I’m not sure how much of it I can take,  I can see some advantage to at least familiarizing myself with the genre.

A scene from Disney's "The Watcher In the Woods," a good movie to watch next to someone you'd love to comfort.
A scene from Disney’s “The Watcher In the Woods,” a good movie to watch next to someone you’d love to comfort.
  1. I hope to learn to be meaner to my characters. I’m not. I tend to avoid conflict in real life, and that tends to make me want to avoid it in my writing. So perhaps if I “raise the bar” on what I could do it’ll make it easier for me to at least do something. I don’t want to call it “desensitizing myself,” but perhaps it’s more giving myself permission to be meaner after having seen someone else go far beyond what I would try. “At least I’m not as nasty as Dan Wells!”
  2. I love suspense and tension, and need to learn how to write it. I don’t necessarily need to see the resultant violence and gore, but the knowledge that something bad can and will happen is kinda trippy, at least in entertainment. One of the most deliciously suspenseful shows I remember growing up was a network TV sci-fi thriller about an escaped alien shapeshifter loose on earth and assuming the identities of people it killed. They would intersperse scenes with random shots of people, and it was creepy as all get out, because you knew that any one of them could be the creature. I want to learn how to capture that in my writing.
  3. Horror description packs a visceral punch. Again, I don’t necessarily want to write horror, but I may want to purposely use imagery that impacts on a more gut level to heighten the tension. There are times when being able to elicit horror-like responses in your reader will be a useful skill to have.
  4. Horror knows there are worse things than dying. Another way of building tension in a story is by raising the stakes for your characters. But the fear of death, or the world in peril have been done countless times. While the threat of death is still often present in horror, it’s not the worst that can happen. Learning new ways to threaten your characters and grip your readers can be a good thing.
  5. Horror knows what you can’t see is sometimes even scarier. The most frightening movies don’t show the monster, or at most reveal tantalizing hints. Just watch the previews for the latest Godzilla movie. But if we as writers need to show, not tell, think of what we can do if we can learn to not even show, but instead tap into our readers’ imaginations and inner fears. Elements of horror can be useful tools to have in our toolboxes.
  6. Horror makes you care. As Michaelbrent Collings will tell you, horror works because it gets up close and personal. It focuses close up on a character you can identify with and runs you through the wringer with them. A significant part of the horror is not just that something bad is happening to someone, but that something bad is happening to someone you care about. How do they get you to care? They might have some tricks to share.

So there’s the list of what I hope to gain from reading horror. If you’re going to do something similar I would recommend a little research first. I plan to start with something by Michaelbrent Collings because I’m familiar with his views on horror and can trust him not to lead me somewhere I don’t want to go.

Perhaps I’ll regret this little experiment.  Perhaps not. I’ll keep you posted.

Thom Stratton

About Thom Stratton

Thom Stratton was born and raised in Idaho, and now lives in Utah with his Finnish wife, three amazing kids, three distinct cats, and a big, goofy dog. He works for a regional bank, and is part owner of a video game store. He enjoys writing, photography, war gaming, music, theater, building things, and reading. Though active in writing as a teen, he convinced himself it could never be a career. Decades later upon moving to Utah, where there’s something odd in the water, he has decided to get serious about writing. To date he has written five novels to be published posthumously by his greedy estate and is polishing a set of short stories to start submitting. Any day now…

How to Scare Kids in Your Writing

BOE4_FrCvr.inddOne of the most thrilling things that came from writing my Dream Keeper Series was being able to delve into the nightmares of children. It was fun to explorer the realms that scare kids. One thing that I’ve been asked is how do you know when the ‘scary stuff’ is too much?

I believe kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. Look at the Harry Potter books; there is some scary stuff in there that kids didn’t pick up on because they think differently than adults. They don’t worry, like a parent, about losing a child to a dark wizard. Adults fear tangle things that may or may not happen, like death, an attacker, a break in, a terrorist act, and natural disasters. All these things have happened and we as adults fear they could happen to us. That is what is scary for adults. Sure kids have similar fears too, but it is the unknown that is scary for kids. Not knowing is worse than knowing.

Kids fear the dark untangle things.200px-Coraline

When I write to scare kids I try to emphasize the dark hidden things. I try to look at what kids are afraid of and set that as my goal. I did a lot of research into what kids are afraid of. What I found interesting is the number one thing kids are afraid of is the dark. Kids are afraid of the unknown. They fear what might be there hiding. I built off that fear in creating the nightmares for my book. I did find myself pulling back on some of the scenes in the book, but only when I found myself questioning if that was just too freaky or not. Mostly I ignored it, knowing I’m a wimp compared to most kids.

Need some research books? There are tons of short story collections all about ghosts that promise to scare your socks off. Here are a few to start with. Each has a unique way the author implements terror into their writing:

CaseFile13HALF-MINUTE HORRORS, anything ghost related, THE SCARY SCHOOL SERIES (written by ghosts), FEAR by RL Stien, NOCTURNE by L.D. Harkrader, THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE SERIES by Jacqueline West, A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK and CORALLINE by Neil Gaiman, CASE FILE 13 SERIES by J Scott Savage, THE GILDA JOYCE SERIES by Jennifer Allison, and THE DREAM KEEPER by Mikey Brooks. (Yes I had to include my book.)

I believe kids love to read scary books because it pushes boundaries and makes reading fun. If you are interested in writing for kids and want to scare them, first think about what scared you as a child, then ask kids—they love to share experiences, and read the books I’ve listed above. There are many many more I could give but this is a good start. Happy Writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.