The Final Girl

How lucky are we over here at the Midnight Society that we get to celebrate two birthdays in a row?!! Today, we rented out a haunted library so we could throw a party for Amy Giuffrida! Amy is a superhero, and one of her powers is that she is always on top of what’s happening with all the members of the Midnight Society. If one of us puts out a new story, releases a book, or just has news to share, she is always among the first to congratulate and cheerlead for us. She is a constant source of support for all.

So Amy, we’ve all brought some terrifyingly awesome gifts to share with you on your birthday.

Happy Birthday Amy!

 

Amy, since we are the morning crew of the #MidnightSocietyWritersClub, I wanted to bring you some birthday gifts to start your days with.

Up first–some good, strong coffee to get the creative mind percolating:

And of course, you need a good notebook to write down any amazing ideas

And for inspiration, I brought you some Buffy DVDs to play in the background while you write:

Happy birthday!

–Brian

 

Amy!

Although we are new friends, I feel a kinship only fellow horror writers can understand. We love the creepy things, we get excited about the creepy things, then we write about the creepy things! And then giggle about them together!

Thank you for welcoming me to the group, Looking forward to more creepy tales & getting to know you better this coming year!

~Mary~

 

AMY!!!!! My favorite Buffy-loving, monster hunter! Remembering how much fun we had in Vegas always makes me smile.

Happy happy birthday to…

Everyone is so excited about your day!

We’ll have some cake! Hopefully it doesn’t eat us first…

I sure do wish we could go see IT together!

I found you the perfect present! I thought you could use a new pen holder.

 

Oooh…who let them in? Better get the weapons. We’re not going down without a fight. Perhaps Violet can help? This day will be epic.

Love you!

Kathy

 

If you want to give Amy an awesome birthday present, go buy her book The Bleeding Heart right here!

Some say that she has a collection of doll heads in her basement (true!).

Some also say that she can time travel and has successfully gone back to the Victorian gothic era on more than one occasion (also true!).

Rumors are that she’s a vampire who inspired the movie Interview With a Vampire (definitely true!).

But no matter the history, one thing is true… you deserve the best birthday ever! (Feel free to wish her happy birthday on Twitter, here!)

Amy, let’s not forget some fashionable attire–get you nice a gussied up for the midnight seance at the cemetery.

Yes, I think this 1950’s blue beaded silk evening gown will do the trick nicely for our sacrifice…Erm, I mean our celebration.

And let’s get you a Walker Blood Sangria in your hands here.

You can find the recipe here. But now that I’m staring at it, doesn’t it pair perfectly with Amy’s first book The Bleeding Heart?

I’ll certainly cheers to that! (And in case you’re wondering, yes her book is awesome and you can get it here and it seriously doesn’t have anything below 4 and 5 stars on Amazon).

Amy, you are lovely, kind, and intelligent. I admire your love for blood and story-telling and I look forward to all the words and the love you share with the world. Have a lovely day, you deserve it! <3 Jolene

Happy Happy Birthday Amy! Have the best day!

Sincerely,

your creepy fam

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It’s a Monster Mash

Everybody head down to the graveyard–it’s party time! Today is a very special day, because it’s the birthday of my partner in crime, the Midnight Society matriarch–Jolene Haley! None of us would be here without you, Jolene, and we’ve brought some creeptastic gifts to show you how much we care.

Jolene, not only are you an amazing friend, but I probably wouldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for you. I’m extra lucky, because I get to write with you, which is one of the great joys in my life. And since we’re getting ready to unleash our next book Haunted upon the world, I’m giving you gifts related to our characters, Avery and Quinn:

A special phone call from a certain harvest-themed friend:

A little bonding with the derby girls Shari and Quinn:

And some music from Avery to bang your head to:

Happy birthday, partner! You’re the best!

–Brian

Jolene,

What can I say about a girl like you? Super cool, super talented and one of the most caring people I’ve ever met!

One of the reasons I’m so thankful for you is for the way you invited me into the fold and introduced me to more amazing people!

One day, I know we’ll meet and be able to TEAR IT UP with the rest of the Midnighters. Until then, we’ll just have to keep writing tales to scare the bejeezus out of one another!

Love you, girl!

~Mary~

 

To the girl who has brought us together! To the girl who makes us all smile…and tremble in fear. There is only one thing to say.

 

Well, you need to be able to cut your cake. And in honor of the Summer of Screams, a cake inspired by someone who knows all about summer camp.

 

Your favorite guy will be over later with dinner, just for you. Have fun!

Happy happy birthday! You’re the best.

Love,

Kathy


Just a little creepy

Overly protective and a little sneaky

Lovely, literary, little bit weird

Erica loves you and

Nuggets of the chicken

Erica REALLY wants chicken nuggets but only if they are shaped like dinosaurs or are covered in hot sauce.


If you want to get Jolene an amazing gift for her birthday, buy her book right here!

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Let’s Talk Horror Movies…Annabelle: Creation

So, I took myself to see a movie this week… Annabelle: Creation.

2017 film Annabelle: Creation movie poster

Yes, I took myself. Yes, I truly enjoy seeing scary movies alone. Though there were two other people in the theater, *sigh* they didn’t scream or bother me, so I let them live.

Let’s be honest…Annabelle, The Conjuring movies…I’ll happily go see ANY AND ALL of them. Possessions. Demons. Ghosts. Creepiness. These are a few of my favorite things.

So, we all know Annabelle, that is based on a real doll tucked safely away behind glass guarded by priests and the Warrens.

We saw Annabelle…one mother’s fight to save her daughter. But how did Annabelle begin?

Annabelle: Creation answers that question…kind of. How Annabelle came to be is part of the backstory of this movie. I found this show more…how Annabelle escaped out into the world, which they did link to the original movie. BONUS!

Overall I enjoyed this movie. My heart was pounding. I was on the edge of my seat, dying to see what horrific scene would appear next. The images it left burned in my brain are super awesome! Glowing eyes. Black oozy footprints. Dolls moving by themselves. Stuff of nightmares. And my Fitbit didn’t tell me I had been asleep, like when I saw The Bye Bye Man…yeah. We won’t go into that movie.

Though my heart was spinning in happy creepy circles after the show, my mind had questions. Storytelling questions. Was there a better way to tell it? Were there more layers crying out to be added? Everyone will react differently to these questions. It depends on what you want out of your horror. Me? I like a deeper emotional impact, this movie lacked that for me. I began connecting with the friends Janice and Linda, but that never really found its footing. The characters were there…things happened to them…then they were gone. What did all this mean to them?

Backstory. I love putting all the scary clues together and figuring out the past…little things here and there, a picture, a scrap of paper, a bit of dialogue…Annabelle: Creation started to do that, then, just as I was loving all the clues, just as I was forming all the questions about how it all fit together, they dumped the answers on me. That was a bit of a let down. Also the story at the beginning…I don’t know if they needed it. I think the audience would have figured it all out, would have loved figuring it all out. Learning the history as we went would have been pretty darn powerful.

They went more for the scares. Which isn’t bad! Dude. I went to be scared. It had great effects. It had wonderful new images, things I had never seen, things that made me want to jump up and scream OH HELL YES! I didn’t. I wanted to, but there were people there.

Will I buy it and watch it again?

YUP. YOU BETCHA.

And let’s, for a moment, talk about before the movie, about the trailers, about how Stephen King’s face filled the screen as he introduced a scene of IT! Let’s talk about how I might have squealed…sorry, two other people in the theater. Let’s talk about how I bounced in my seat and waved my hands in the air. Let’s talk about how I cannot wait to see IT!

Until next time, fellow scary movie goers, happy horror watching!

 

The Official IT Trailer

I’ve posted here many times about my admiration for Stephen King. My love of reading began in high school when I picked up his horror novel, IT. So it shouldn’t be a surprise how excited I am for the new movie to be released.

Well, imagine my surprise when I hopped onto Facebook and saw A NEW TRAILER was released two weeks ago!! If this trailer didn’t scare you…I’m not sure what will.

Coming to theaters: September 8, 2017

XOXO

A

The Curse of the Pharaohs Part 1

Mummies are a key to the past–a way to examine what was and what people believed long before our time. But digging up a grave, disturbing a tomb isn’t as easy as it sounds. And sometimes, the results are deadly.

The Curse of the Pharaohs is a curse believed to befall any person that dares to disturb the mummy of an ancient Egyptian person, especially a pharaoh. The curse makes no exceptions, not for a thief or well-intentioned archaeologists. The curse appears in many forms, including serious bad luck, illness, and even death.

One of the first reported stories that helped give rise to the haunted lore of the mummy is from 1699. Louis Penicher’s Traite du Embaumements (Treatise on Embalming) [you can read the whole thing if you speak french by clicking there]. He writes the troubling account of a Polish merchant that buys two mummies in Alexandria, Egypt. The traveler, on the voyage back, has repeated disturbing visions of two specters on his sea journey home. The stormy seas continue to worsen, as do his visions, until finally in a fit of desperation, the mummies are thrown overboard into the ocean. Only then, does the storm subside along with the man’s haunting visions. The traveler was alarmed by recurring visions of the haunting, and the stormy seas did not abate until the mummies were thrown overboard.

Napoleon Bonaparte landed in Egypt on July 1st, 1798. He brought 400 ships, 54,000 men, and 150 savants (scientists, engineers, and scholars). This trip was different from his recent Italy invasion. He intended to not just invade Egypt, but to study it. To study the soil, the culture, the history. The savants write and sketched what would be volumes of information to share what they had learned. They worked to organize and finalize information when they returned to France in 1801, and eventually in 1809, the first volumes of Description de l’Égypte were published. This work eventually concluded in 1828 with 23 volumes, some of which were the largest books ever printed.

This study of Egypt helped give further rise of Egytpomania, a the renewed interest of Europeans in ancient Egypt. This included Egyptian inspired fashions in costume, painting, furnishings, and architecture. This also inspired a fab for public unrolling of Egyptian mummies in the 1830’s and 1840’s. A man named Thomas Pettigrew, a doctor and amateur Egyptologist, a man previously fired from his hospital job for corruption, became a key figure in popularizing mummy unrollings for a handsome profit in large groups.

 

In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a satirical short story that was published in American Review: A Whig Journal called “Some Words With a Mummy.” In the story, a group of men gather in the middle of the night to examine a mummy for the sake of “scientific discovery”. Of course, things don’t go as planned due to the mummy, Allamistakeo, awakening and condemning the men for their abuse.

This, of course, was only the beginning. Soon thereafter, we see an explosion in literature involving mummies.

We have:

  • Jane Webb Loudon’s The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century (1827)
  • Theophile Gautier’s The Mummy’s Foot (1840) and The Romance of the Mummy (1856)
  • Louisa May Alcott’s Lost in a Pyramid, or, The Mummy’s Curse (1869)
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Ring of Thoth (1890) and Lot No. 249 (1894)
  • HD Everett’s Iras, A Mystery (1896)
  • Guy Boothby’s Pharos the Egyptian (1899)
  • Hesketh V. Pritchard and Kate O’Brien Ryall Prichard’s The Story of Baelbow (1898)
  • Algernon Blackwood’s The Nemesis of Fire (1908)
  • Bram Stoker’s Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903)

All of these stories only further aided in the interest and brewing of curses, obsession with foreign lands, and of course, horror.

In November of 1922, the discovery of the tomb of Tutakhamun would help solidify the mummy’s curse and the fad of late Victorian mummy fiction.

Lord Carnarvon, the dig’s sponsor died on March 19, 1923 not long after unearthing the mummy.

Howard Carter, Tutankhamun, and Lord Carnarvon

 

To be continued…

 

Sources:

Curse of the Pharaohs wikipedia

The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters

10 Creepiest Ancient Egyptian Curses

Traité des embaumements selon les anciens et les modernes… by Louis Penicher

Egyptomania and the Cruise Ship

Victorians Unwrapped Mummies for Fun and Profit

The Napoleonic Invasion of Egypt

Vampires & Ancient Egypt: A Blood-Curdling Combination

I have mentioned before how obsessed I am with Ancient Egypt. But my love of dark things doesn’t stop there.

The Vampire Chronicles

When I was in high school, I quickly got hooked On Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. The rich language, the intriguing characters, and the otherworldly stories made it easy to fall in love with the books.

Luckily for me, it didn’t take long for my two loves to combine. In both The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned, there is mention of the very first vampires, Queen Akasha and King Enkil, who ruled Egypt. However, they didn’t start out that way.

Ruthless leaders, Akasha and Enkil mistreated their people. When a group of attackers left both Akasha and Enkil for dead, the malevolent spirit Amel saw his chance. Known for his bloodlust and boasts that he enjoyed the taste of human blood, he combined his spirit with that of a dying Akasha.

When her spirit returned to her body, it was intertwined with his. Although her wounds had healed, Akasha’s King Enkil was dying. Using her newfound powers, she healed him with her blood, thus making them the first and second vampires.

There’s an iconic scene in the movie adaptation of Queen of the Damned when, in a frenzied state, Lestat plays his Stradivarius to awaken Akasha from where she has been entombed in stone for centuries.

The movie might not have won rave reviews, but that doesn’t mean I still didn’t love seeing this melding of my two loves – Ancient Egypt and vampires – play out on the big screen.

Making It Her Own

I love that Anne Rice combined these two myths to create a really cool origin story for vampires. And even though I don’t know everything there is to know about Ancient Egypt, I have an inkling of what may have inspired her. There is much lore about various Ancient Egyptian gods, so watch for my next blog post where I’ll explore some of these myths.

New Life

It’s not easy as a writer when working with such iconic tropes. You want to bring something new and cool to the genre without being cliche. I think Anne Rice achieved that. It goes to show you that you can breathe new life into old genres and make your stories something that readers will clamor for.

What Do You Think?

Have you read Anne Rice’s books? What do you think about her take on the origin of vampires? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below!

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Music to Write Scary Stories To: NTYZ by Silencaeon

For the past few weeks, I’ve been busting tail on edits for a novella set in my Parted Veil universe. The series pulls heavily on the Dreamlands stories of H.P. Lovecraft as well as Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow.

This particular novella is bringing back the characters from the first book in the series, Courting the King in Yellow. It’s sort of catching readers up on the activities of those characters, while also exploring how they’ve been changed by the events of CtKiY.

I’ve talked a lot about some of my favorite writing soundtracks in the past, and my sonic companion during the final stages of these edits has been the ambient music of my friend Antony Johnston. Antony is an amazing writer of comics, games, novels and more, we well as my co-host on the Thrash It Out podcast. He is also a talented musician, and has released five albums of ambient/drone music under the name Silencaeon.

Each of the Silencaeon albums has a different feel to it, and Antony’s latest release NTYZ really gives me a cosmic horror vibe that has been the perfect fit for what I am writing. It provides a landscape of sound that lets me get into my characters’ heads, and also evokes images of the cosmic forces they are dealing with. It’s just fantastic music to write to. Have a listen:

 

You can sample more Silencaeon and get all five albums over at silencaeon.bandcamp.com. You can also check out all of Antony’s work over at antonyjohnston.com.

Let’s Watch a Horror Movie…Friday the 13th

This month will be a special horror movie live-tweet event! We will be heading to summer camp and watching THREE movies. All in the Friday the 13th franchise.

Why? Well…

Our fabulous fearless leader Jolene hosts a writer/artist showcase where she posts stories and art on her blog. Each year she has a different theme and likes these creations to be a little creepy. I have been honored to be a part of the last three themes: haunted house, harvest festival, and haunted hotel. This year will be my fourth. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to unite artists, to celebrate everyone’s creative minds. Go see who will be contributing to the fun this month here! Go read the first story here! Second story is up today here!

THIS IS VERY EXCITING!

This year the theme is summer camp, because the scary days of canoeing, campfires, and arts and crafts are the best. The #SummerofScreams! Go check out the hashtag on Twitter. It’s a good time.

To honor this theme, we are live-tweeting the best scary summer camp story ever.

Friday the 13th movie poster

A 1980 horror/slasher film was written by Victor Miller and directed as well as produced by Sean S. Cunningham.

Do I need to say more?

No, I don’t. It’s a classic.

I can’t remember the last time I saw this. I didn’t even own the movies, but don’t worry, I DO NOW!

So join us for the first of the Friday the 13th movies on Tuesday, August 8th at 8 EST! Use #Fridaythe13th and #SummerofScreams and add your comments as you watch WITH YOUR FAVORITE MIDNIGHTERS!

Get ready for screaming and bloody fun.

Welcome to summer camp.

From the movie Friday the 13th

We’ll have SO MUCH FUN!

 

Stay tuned later this month to watch…

Friday the 13th, part IV: The Final Chapter

Friday the 13th part 4: The Final Chapter movie poster

and

Friday the 13th, part VI: Jason Lives

Friday the 13th part 6: Jason Lives movie poster

Dates and times TBA!

Book Review: I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

TLDR: I Am Not a Serial Killer is amazing and I would probably sell organs to get the rest of the books in the series, if there was a short supply.

Long version: The name Dan Wells kept popping up on all of the Goodreads lists that I searched. It’s usually of the dark variety, such as murder or serial killers, etc. I had skimmed a few reviews of I Am Not a Serial Killer for about ten seconds and many of them weren’t positive. There didn’t seem to be any complaints about his writing or pacing or storyline. Actually, people seemed to sing his writing praises. Most complaints seemed to be of the “I thought it was one kind of book but ended up a different kind of book” variety. So people were mad because they thought wrong? Interesting.

I Am Not a Serial Killer sounded really good. So I put it on my to-be-read list for later. Then one day, I picked it up. It was time to be angry about thinking I was getting one kind of book and then get into another kind of book. And it was one of the best decisions ever because I haven’t read ANY OTHER AUTHOR SINCE. True story.

Here’s a little bit more about I Am Not a Serial Killer.

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’ debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

 

Okay okay, so back to the review. We meet John Wayne Cleaver who is a teenage boy who not only has a fascination with serial killers, but also believes that he is destined to become one.  He’s been clinically diagnosed as a sociopath, but he does a good job of reading people’s emotions through their expressions. His mother owns a mortuary and so he’s used to touching and helping prepare dead bodies. In fact, it’s therapeutic for him. It also helps to curb the urges that he has to, you know…KILL.

In fact, he follows several rules that he’s created to keep other people safe–to keep him from killing. Examples are: When he gets angry with someone and starts to imagine killing them, he forces himself to smile at them and compliment them. As you can imagine, it makes for a lot of awkward, amazing comedy.

But then of course, a serial killer comes to his town and John has to fight his urges to kill even more while simultaneously plotting to kill the killer. It’s also been turned into a movie, which I found out about and refused to watch until I finished the book. But it’s kind of a departure from the book, it’s still good. It was slower than the book. But it’s worth watching.

But back to the book, there are so many things I love about this book. So I figured I would make a list, kind of like John’s list of rules, about what I loved.

My Favorite Things About I Am Not A Serial Killer

1. I love, love, love, love John Wayne Cleaver. He’s so perfectly imperfect. He’s troubled and confused and sometimes downright dangerous. And what I love is that he’s not a complete anti-hero. At time he borders on being villainous in the best possible way. But the thing I love about Dan Wells and his writing, is that the moment that I begin to trust John, the moment I let my guard down and start to believe that John is a good guy, Dan unravels it instantly and pushes me back to square one. Only expert writing can do this. Only an amazing writer can make you care about someone who has so many awful inclinations and flaws. It’s because of this that John Wayne Cleaver is one of my favorite characters OF ALL TIME.

2. Hilarity. Oh my god this book is hilarious and witty and quick and sometimes the humor is really, really sarcastic and dry. And what I loved is that Dan gives you credit as a reader to get it. It drives me crazy when a book makes a joke and then the author steps in and tries to explain why the jokes was funny and what it meant and just in case you didn’t get it, let me over-explain it again. But not Dan. Nope. Not once does he go out of his way to over-explain his jokes. You have to be quick to get it the first time and it will leave you grinning like an idiot as you power through this book. Trust me, once you stat to read this, you wont want to stop. Not for work or for food or really, for anything. I also enjoyed the talk of serial killers here. I’m fascinated with them, just like John, and so I found the facts that are interspersed through the book very interesting.

3. Suffer with him. I prefer books that are written within our world. I can’t quite figure out why, other than I love books that make our world and daily lives feel just a little less boring. This book takes place in the real world. You see the doldrums of real life for John and his supporting cast, and honestly, I felt a sense of kinship. It sucks that I have to work but as I dragged myself into the office on a Monday, John was there too, dragging himself to school and arguing with his mother and feeling the confusion of having a deadbeat dad out there who has decided to not be involved and the urge to kill and the desire to step across the line as a murderer. He has problems just like you and me.

4. Excitement. John’s life may be boring at times, but this story IS NOT. The pacing is FAST FAST FAST and in the time it takes you to eat dinner, the bodies have piled up. I loved that every second of the book, I found myself blurting, “OMG, I have to find out what happens next.” Literally. Out loud. It drove my roomies nuts.

5. Everything you think you know, you don’t. I’ve read so many books that I liked, where I could guess the ending. This is NOT like that. Everything you think you know, you don’t.

You think you know what the book is about?

You don’t.

You think you know John and what he’ll do?

You don’t.

You think you know who is killing people?

You don’t.

You think you know how this will all end?

Spoiler alert…YOU DON’T.

It’s the best thing ever and I loved not knowing anything at all other than I needed to finish this as soon as possible so I could know everything.

 

When I finished, I immediately ordered ALL of the books in the series. Yes, all of them. ALL OF THEM. No joke.  I am on #4 in the series now and I’m getting worried. What the hell am I going to do when I’m done? Honestly, I don’t know. I just really like this world and this character and I don’t ever, ever, ever want it to end. I Am Not a Serial Killer seems to have ruined me for any other books.

Have a really good Monday, okay? And just remember that the average person walks past 7 serial killers in their lifetime.

 

Midnight Review: They Look Like People

Having seen and loved everything from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to The Thing to The Hidden, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for when I started watching Perry Blackshear’s They Look Like People.

I was wrong.

They Look Like People is psychological horror at its best. The movie establishes a level of tension in the opening scene that becomes the baseline for the entire film. Of course things get way more tense from there, but after that opening scene, the tension level never returns to normal. This movie is flat-out uncomfortable to watch.

For me, the story in They Look Like People is one of friendship and of mental illness. When we first meet Christian in this movie, he seems to be doing pretty well for himself. When we first meet Wyatt, he is not, and has gone to one of the only people he feels he can still trust–his childhood friend Christian.

But as the story progresses, what we know about both these characters starts to change. I really  don’t want to get into the details too much more, because you need to just experience it.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the fantastic performances of MacLeod Andrews (Wyatt), Evan Dumouchel (Christian) and Margaret Ying Drake (Mara). All three of them are great and make you care about them, which just makes some of film’s best moments almost unbearably tense.

I really cannot recommend this movie highly enough. See it.