Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: Scotty Milder, “Luminescence”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story is called “Luminescence.” The genesis was an article I read about how climate change was throwing off the ecological balance and creating an explosion of the squid population, either somewhere in Asia or perhaps off the coast of Mexico (I can’t remember for sure). From what the article said, the squids are basically eating everything in sight. I saw an opportunity to take an almost Lovecraftian setup and explore it in a more prosaic, hopefully down-to-earth fashion.

Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?

A: I’ve been a fan of the survival horror genre since I first saw Night of the Living Dead back when I was in middle school. I don’t believe any sub-genre of horror strips the human psyche more thoroughly down its basic — and all too often destructive — components. I’m fascinated by the notion that the threat might be overcome if the people could just learn to work together, and how rarely they manage to do so. It’s a bleak outlook, but one I believe to be basically true. For every person who rises above their circumstances, there are ten more who let the same petty bullshit get in their way.

“Luminescence” fell into my head at the exact right time; I was about halfway through my first draft when I saw the submission call and thought it sounded like it might be a perfect fit. I’m extremely honored to be a part of this collection.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: Any of Romero’s Living Dead films, obviously. But if zombies aren’t your thing, I don’t think you can do any better than John Carpenter’s The Thing. I’d recommend Alien and Aliens as well. And, if you’re (like me) phobic of the ocean and looking for something a bit more rooted in reality, I still find 2003’s Open Water to be one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen.

Q: How do you think current events impact people’s experience of horror fiction?

A: That’s always a hard question to answer. To me, horror is fundamentally about what happens when the irrational suddenly invades a fundamentally rational (fictional) world. It’s basic. It’s primal. It’s being a Neanderthal sitting at the mouth of a cave and wondering what’s lurking back there in the dark. When the real world itself suddenly turns irrational — as appears to be happening now — horror becomes one of the tools we use to try to make some kind of sense of it. Unfortunately, we usually fail. There’s just no way to make sense of the senseless, but I guess there’s value in the attempt.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: I’m absolutely terrified of the ocean. I won’t go in past my knees, and even that’s asking a lot. I can’t imagine anything worse than being caught on a sinking ship.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: For me, it’s getting past the standard plot expectations and letting the characters—and their flaws—dictate the outcome. Story is all about the choices the people within them make, and in a survival horror scenario the margin of error between a good choice and a bad choice must be vanishingly thin.

Q: The zombies are coming for real this time, and the outbreak is getting closer. What’s your survival game plan?

A: Two of my best friends are borderline survivalists and gun nuts. I’m neither of those things, so my plan is to head straight to their house.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I recently finished the first draft of a long horror novel, and I’m nearly finished with a (hopefully shorter) crime novel. And I’m itching to make another movie as soon as I can find the time!

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: You can find me on Facebook by searching for Scotty Milder Author/Filmmaker Page, as well as on Amazon, where my feature film Dead Billy is currently available. The film’s website is www.deadbillythemovie.com. Many of my short films are also available at vimeo.com/trifectaplus

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: Amelia Gorman, “Puzzled Pieces, Lock-in Places”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story, “Puzzled Pieces, Lock-in Places” is me finally reaching my goal of writing a horror story set during one of those epic, once-in-a-lifetime Minnesota winters where you can’t see your hand in front of your face, or even open the door because the snow on the other side is too high. I moved to California a couple years ago, but I’ll never forget how awful it is to go out for necessities even in a busy city when it’s 40 below zero. It’s a topic I’d wanted to tackle for a long time but could never really decide what else would happen in it. When I saw a submission call for Negative Space it finally began to come together – the isolation, the elements, and of course some additional strange supernatural things born from those elements, all provided interesting challenges that let my protagonist draw on a variety of tools and skills.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: I’d recommend an intro game that goes off the rails a little bit. I know a lot of people get turned off by the clunky controls and battle with the camera that defines a lot of classic survival horror games (Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill, etc.) With that I’d recommend Don’t Starve, with it’s 2.5D camera. Failing to survive is almost as fun as succeeding, as the game has nearly endless and enjoyable ways to kill you, by running down sanity, body temperature, hunger, and poison. And you can never ever be alone in the dark.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I want to write something that marries my experiences in Minnesota and far north California. Well, I was shocked to come out here and find out that Paul Bunyan is a huge deal in local folklore in both places. So, I’m writing a horror take on some Paul Bunyan myths!

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: Well, I was recently out hiking in some dunes and realized I had been just kind of mindlessly following some mountain lion tracks, and had an a-ha moment of “oh right, knowing what to do re: wild animals IS important.” But actually, probably riptides. What an absolutely bonkers force of nature that can take you so by surprise.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?
A: I have a website I need to remember to update more often at www.ameliagorman.com and I occasionally tweet from @gorman_ghast. I publish more poetry than stories, with some recently appearing in Liminality Magazine, House of Zolo, and Sycorax Journal.

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: S.R. Miller, “It’s Inside”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror is available in print and ebook format!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: “It’s Inside” opens as Sophie is gearing up to descend into an abandoned mine in search of her missing brother, Daryl. With the reluctant help of her brother’s friend Keith, Sophie has traced her brother’s movements to this particular mine in the Appalachian wilds—a place that by all official accounts does not exist.

Soon Sophie finds herself trapped alone in the mine and she is forced to search for another way back to the surface. But she won’t leave without finding what she came for, and the search for her brother takes her deep into the tunnels where she comes face to face with the secret buried there—secret that very much wants to get out.

Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?

A: Honestly, I couldn’t not participate. Survival horror has always been a huge inspiration for me, with genre staples like Silent Hill providing a lot of the motivation that got me into writing in the first place. So when I saw the submission call for Negative Space, the wheels immediately started turning and I knew I was going to develop a story whether I wanted to or not. And after years of trying to distance myself from the genre to explore other themes, it felt really good to get back to my roots. Overall it’s been an excellent experience, from writing, to working with the folks at Dark Peninsula Press and now finally arriving at the homestretch. I’m really happy with the results, and to have found others who appreciate the genre as much as I do.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: Video games are what got me into survival horror, so that’s where I’m going to go for my answer. And I really do think that because of their interactive nature, video games make an ideal medium for the genre. As for a particular gateway, I’m going to have to give two answers here.
If you want something accessible and easy to find, I think the 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 ticks most of the survival horror boxes and does a good job of delivering the classic genre elements in a more modern package.

That said, I would be remiss if I did not mention Silent Hill 2. The original PS2 release might require a bit of work to get hold of for some people but I really do think it is an absolute must play game, not just as an example of survival horror, but as an example of what can be done with interactive storytelling. The fact that it’s an excellent example of survival horror is just an added bonus.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: One of the biggest challenges in writing horror is creating a situation that feels believable, and survival horror really takes that to a whole new level. Whether you’re writing about a plausible threat or the supernatural, zombies or nameless eldritch horrors, the reader needs to feel that the characters in those situations act in a way that’s believable, not just convenient. And since survival horror focuses so much on constraining the characters, delivering those constraints in a way that doesn’t feel contrived is incredibly important and can be a real challenge.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I’ve got two novels I’m working on bringing to market, but writing for this anthology has really reignited my interest in short stories. The market for short fiction has been hurting for a long time now, but between small presses and digital distribution things are really looking up. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to experiment with new ideas and new markets, and short stories may be a great way to do just that.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: I am admittedly terrible about maintaining an online presence, but I do have a Facebook page that I use to share any relevant information about my work. There’s not much there now, but I’ve got a number of things in the works and the news will be announced there in the near future.

It can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/srmwriting/

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: Maggie Slater (hey! it’s me!), “Rhapsody in Flesh Minor”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror is available in paperback and ebook format!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: “Rhapsody in Flesh Minor” is a futuristic tale of an introverted artist whose hermitage upon his private space station is interrupted by a multi-limbed alien intent on absorbing him. If only he could get from the safety of his sealed sleeping pod to his studio and adjoining garden, he’d be set, but the alien isn’t about to let him get away that easily.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: For me, the gateway was Shaun of the Dead followed in swift succession by Resident Evil 4 (still my absolute favorite Gamecube game of all time). When I was in fifth grade, I went to a friend’s halloween party where we watched Return of the Living Dead. Now, I was a huge coward when it came to movies (seriously, E.T. scared the crap out of me). I suffered from vivid nightmares, and because of this, my parents didn’t allow me to watch films that weren’t G or PG, which I was 100% okay with. So that was my first introduction to zombie movies (I do not recommend trying that with your fifth grader unless you like being awoken several times a night by shrieks of terror).

It took me years to work up the courage to watch even The Sixth Sense or Jurassic Park after that, and I didn’t even consider touching a zombie flick until Shaun, which looked just funny enough to manage, and boy! Did that start a love affair with survival horror! I went on to watch just about every horror flick I could take in. I recently watched The Thing, and a few years ago even re-watched Return of the Living Dead, which is actually a fantastic (and hilarious!) horror flick once you’re old enough to handle it. I fell hard for the Resident Evil franchise, and have played through RE4 more times than I can count. I was even an assistant editor with Apex Book Company’s The Zombie Feed spin-off publishing house for a while, and have written quite a bit of zombie fiction myself. So if you’re a little nervous about how to engage with a seriously fun genre, start with Shaun of the Dead and then fine-tune your own zombie-killing skills with Resident Evil. You’ll be glad you did!

Q: The zombies are coming for real this time, and the outbreak is getting closer. What’s your survival game plan?

A: Honestly, none. Once you have small children, you realize very quickly that as a mom there is no chance in hell you’re going to survive. Children are the first-wave assault for germs, which means they will get whatever it is, and they will cough/sneeze/bite you at the first opportunity. What’s more, you honestly won’t be able to help yourself going to them if they’re crying for you, even if they’re covered head-to-toe in your neighbor’s brains.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I had Boy #2 in January this year, and the pandemic has Boy #1 at home (and apparently homeschooling?), so getting my work done—as you can imagine—is a little strained. That said, I’ve taken a note from Ursula K. Le Guin and am focusing on novel-length fiction, as that’s surprisingly easier to pick up and put down when a nap either doesn’t last long or blessedly runs on for hours.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: I maintain a casual blog (here!) at maggiedot.wordpress.com, where I wax philosophic about the process of writing, poly-reading, publishing, craft beer, art, and the frustrations, delights, and general complexity of arting while also mothering.

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: J.C. Martinez, “Sacs”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology. 

A: “Sacs” is a story about loss, about how life can change overnight, and about how hardships transform us, either making us draw strength from weakness or letting tragedy defeat us without a fight. Set in a time of armed revolt, a wild epoch in itself, Sacs tells the story of a wealthy family that has to flee from home because of the insurgents, and who takes refuge in the wrong place. Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s enough to say that they’ll soon learn how hard life without everyday commodities is, and that bad fortune can fall upon any human.

Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?

A: I’ve always been fascinated by the horror caused by the unknown, by uncertainty, to not be sure a certain situation is survivable. Writing for the anthology allowed me to explore some of humanity’s most ingrained fears and to create a story that was not only entertaining but that made me reflect about myself and what living really means.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: For me, survival horror will always be represented by the first jump Resident Evil 3 gave my cousin and me two decades ago. However, have you seen what kids these days play? Those pixels don’t scare anyone anymore. Fortunately, games have evolved, and I believe they are the best way to experience survival horror. There’s nothing quite like putting yourself in the shoes of a protagonist who may not be able to defeat the odds. Amnesia, SOMA, Dead Space, Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, of course, are all good games to get to know the genre. If it’s someone’s first experience, I’d recommend Alan Wake. That, or Resident Evil 7 with a VR visor.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: Ever heard “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles? In real life, horror often comes from the mundane. Will people read what I write? Will I be able to live off my art? If this does not work, what will I eat tomorrow? There’s no greater horror than being trapped in a place where you cannot do what you want. Lack of freedom, and to be a part of the social machine that forces you to survive instead of living, that’s what I fear most in the whole world.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: Even when there’s audiovisual media that may be much more effective in eliciting scares, literature is queen when it comes to conveying ideas. The mind is a beautiful thing, and imagination is the most powerful tool to create fear that persists. The challenge lies in striking a balance. If you write something cursory, it won’t have the necessary impact to make it memorable. It won’t make the reader feel. On the other hand, if you describe too many details you won’t allow the reader’s mind to fill in the blanks with what they fear the most. The trick is giving the reader enough to become invested with the story’s world and to allow them to be a part of it when they make their own decisions in regards to some of the details.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: At my blog: authorjcmartinez.blogspot.com.

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: Richard Beauchamp, “Black Tongue”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story “Black Tongue” is set in the late 1800’s and follows Bronson, a gritty trapper, civil war vet, and all around problem solver. He is hired to track down a couple of missing French loggers last seen in treacherous wilderness spanning across Montana and into the Canadian Territories. With his big mastiff, Chief, by his side, they plunge into unforgiving mountainous terrain, only to find an ancient occult evil has tainted the land and the wildlife that inhabits it.

Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?

A: I’ve always been obsessed with the survival horror genre, from videogames to movies to fiction based in that genre. The minute I saw the submission call for Negative Space I knew had to submit something.

Q: What work (fiction, video game, movie, TV show) of survival horror would you recommend as a gateway to the genre?

A: Dead Space immediately comes to mind, if you like video games. Movie wise, probably The Thing.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: Coming up with realistic scenarios and capturing the desperation and tension of the character(s) enduring such harrowing scenarios.

Q: The zombies are coming for real this time, and the outbreak is getting closer. What’s your survival game plan?

A: Stock up on whiskey, food, and ammunition. Hunker down until I run out of supplies, and then bug out to some very, very remote location and hope for the best.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: You can find me on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/RichardBeauchampOfficial and Instagram at: r_b_author

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: M.J. Mars, “Six Weeks”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: My story is called “Six Weeks.” It is about a group of university students who are trapped in their dormitory during a monstrous outbreak. The protagonists try to fight the monsters using suggestions from internet forums, but one by one they are picked off by the beasts. The last man standing, Nick, believes his only option is to reach the chemistry labs to find ammonia, the one substance that has been proven to deter the creatures. The only problem is, the chemistry labs are on the other side of campus. And the monsters are closing in.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: It was a fine balance between referring to common survival tropes without making them obvious and cheesy. There’s a difference between a nod in homage and a blatant rip off! For example, when Nick reaches a certain ‘check-point’ in the story, he finds a bag of crisps in the room and devours them, feeling his strength improve because of the salt intake. I wanted to reference those great little moments in games such as Resident Evil, where you know you’re in a safe room and you find the herbs and all is well for a moment, but you’re aware that as soon as you head on out the door it is going to be a different story. That’s where the tension builds in a game, for me, and I wanted to allude to that sensation in the climax of the story.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an irrational fear of alien abduction. I think I watched a chat show when I was a child, with guests who believed they had been beamed up onto spaceships and experimented on. As an impressionable child with a wild imagination, I took everything they said as firm fact, and it terrified me! I can remember, we lived near a train track, and every time a late-night train rumbled past I would hyperventilate thinking that the aliens were coming to beam me up. The fear element comes from the fact that you’re in deep space, so even if you fought off your ‘attackers’ and escaped, there’s nowhere to go. Give me monsters chasing me on the ground, any day!

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: I am working on a full-length horror novel called The Suffering. It stemmed from a short story I wrote about a Victorian séance that summoned ghosts in order to unlock the power to see into the future. The ghosts were banished at the end of the short story, but the full-length novel returns to the same house in modern times, where the ghosts come back out to play with the home’s current inhabitants. I’m having a lot of fun building up the ghosts’ histories and making them as vile as possible! I hope to have the novel finished by the end of this year.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: You can find me on Instagram at: instagram.com/mjmarsauthor and my blog at mjmarsauthor.wordpress.com

Journal

Negative Space Author Q&A: Eric J. Guignard, “Midnight, off Arkansas River Trail”

This is part of a series of interviews with contributors to Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror from Dark Peninsula Press. Check back here over the next few weeks as I post more of these so you can get to know these great authors and get a little taste of this awesome collection! Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror comes out on June 19th, 2020!

Q: Tell us about your story in the Negative Space anthology.

A: “Midnight, off Arkansas River Trail” is a story about a young man fleeing for his life from an unfaltering entity that has taken over the body of a childhood friend, after they accidentally kill an elderly woman during a nighttime joyride.

Q: What drew you to writing a survival horror story for Negative Space: An Anthology of Survival Horror?

A: I’ve always loved reading true survival stories since childhood, beginning with 1983’s Against Incredible Odds by Arthur Roth (1983) and Reader’s Digest “Drama in Real Life” excerpts. The thrills, the ultimate victory against some terrible event gone wrong are engrossing… and then throw in a fictional “supernatural” monster element, and I’m on my toes with adrenaline.

Q: What survival situation do you most fear?

A: Being trapped underwater, such as in a sinking sub. That just incorporates so many other fears rolled into one… drowning, claustrophobia, darkness (if it’s deep enough), sharks (I mean, that’s probably the reason the sub is sinking in the first place, after mega-Jaws has bitten through it!).

Q: What’s the biggest challenge in writing survival horror?

A: Keeping the story unique, “fresh,” and exciting, something more than just a bogeyman chasing some everyday Joe… survival horror needs to incorporate “twists” and cool MacGyver-esque survival implements cobbled together from wits, sticks, and a bit of bubble gum.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on?

A: Through my press, Dark Moon Books, I’m continuing to publish a series of author primers created to champion modern masters of the dark and macabre, titled: Exploring Dark Short Fiction (Vol. 1: Steve Rasnic Tem; Vol. II: Kaaron Warren; Vol. III: Nisi Shawl; Vol. IV: Jeffrey Ford; Vol. V: Han Song; Vol. VI: Ramsey Campbell).

And through SourceBooks I’m curating a new series of books titled, The Horror Writers Association Presents: Haunted Library of Horror Classics with co-editor Leslie S. Klinger (to begin publishing 2020).

I’m also still writing short stories, and I’ve started THREE new novels, although I’m not very far into any of them! One is a pulp science fiction, one a paranormal detective series, and one a literary historical horror.

Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your works?

A: I can be found nearly everywhere! :)