Ginger Nuts of Horror
"...a twisted, Clive Barkerian hellscape,
it is a place of the most twisted sadism, the most sublime torture,"
One of the more obscure and less well regarded early releases on the original Playstation, Shadow Man was a loose adaptation of the comics by the same name; a strange, sprawling, metaphysical adventure that borrowed heavily in terms of its mechanics from the likes of Tomb Raider, as all third person, action adventure style games of the era did, but was structurally more akin to Soul Reaver, which it is often compared to, quite unfavourably.
Whilst it's true that the game itself is nowhere near as polished or as coherent as that title (nor does it boast the truly amazing writing and voice work that made Soul Reaver such an unusual beast of the era), there is something uncanny and ineffable about the tone of the game; the feeling that it evokes.
Shock Totem Publications is an American small-press. They specialise in dark fantasy and horror. The press was founded in 2008 by author K. Allen Wood. Ken is assisted by John Boden, Sarah Gomes Wood, Catherine Grant and Barry Lee Dejasu along with numerous staff writers.
The debut issue of the magazine Shock Totem: Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted was first published in July 2009. Since then, Shock Totem has released a string of quality magazines, novels and a collection of short stories by Mercedes Murdock Yardley.
With Issue 10 of Shock Totem soon to be released into the wild, I thought that I would take the opportunity to talk briefly about this excellent publication.
My love affair with Shock Totem came about purely by accident. I was trudging through the pages of Amazon looking for something a little different. Recently, I had been dieting on King and Koontz but decided it was time to take a break. I came across a book titled Ugly as Sin by James Newman-a writer whom I was unfamiliar with. I absolutely loved the cover and was keen to find out more. The synopsis told of a disfigured wrestler (Nick Bullman) who becomes re-acquainted with his daughter after a distressed phone call concerning his granddaughter. Often described as “White-Trash Noir” this is a superb novel about redemption, loss and family that hits hard and has an ending that will knock you over! The writing, characterisation and atmosphere created are all first class and to this day Ugly as Sin remains one of my favourite novels.
I devoured the book in no time at all. I discovered that the publisher was Shock Totem; a press I was unfamiliar with but soon became a huge fan of (and still am) I visited their website and found that they had also released another book by Mr Newman – The Wicked. The Wicked is a wonderful homage to 80’s style horror novels and again cemented James Newman as a serious talent. The press also produced a series of magazines. I thought it best to start with issue 1 which featured conversations with John Skipp and William Ollie, poetry, and some wonderful dark fiction shorts from Kurt Newton, Jennifer Pelland and Mercedes Murdock Yardley. I was blown away by the quality of the publication; everything from the content to the stunning artwork that graced the cover.
I soon acquired every back issue of the magazine and have been a fan ever since. Through this publication I have discovered some incredible talent and I suppose that I have these guys to thank for awakening me to the wonder that is the small-press. Later issues have featured Bracken MacLeod, Kevin Lucia, Adam Cesare, Cody Goodfellow, Damien Angelica Walters and many, many more. You could pick up any one of their issues and not be disappointed.
Recently the team released Zero Lives Remaining – A strictly limited hardcover novella by Adam Cesare that comes housed in a classic VHS case featuring artwork and photos and comes signed by Adam himself. I have one of these and let me tell you it is THE greatest limited edition book that I have ever seen!
Has anyone ever asked you why you choose to read, write or watch horror? Perhaps it's because I'm a woman, or maybe people are just nosy and judgmental, but it seems like every time I tell someone my preferred reading or film genre, this question comes up, and usually not in a nice way. Not that I feel it is anyone's business why I choose to read and watch the things I do, but I'm here to answer the question, “Why horror?”
I believe my childhood has a lot to do with my love of horror, despite the fact that my parents rarely ever read or watched horror. My first horror-related memory is when I was around four-years old. My dad was lying on the sofa watching a rerun of the old Bela Lugosi film, Dracula. I remember lying in the space between his legs and the back of the sofa, hiding my eyes and feeling absolutely terrified. It's odd, because I remember the experience being very exciting too. Other than that, until I reached middle school, horror was a non-existent part of my life. In middle school, however, everything changed.
Unless you were hiding under a bush or under some rock you couldn't help but watch the car crash of the Spectral Press blow up last week. As a result of this, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching as to how Ginger Nuts of Horror deals with the small press, it has been a long hard process and one by which I haven't come to lightly. This horror review website was set up to promote the works of the small and independent presses, however,recent events such as this and numerous stories of other small presses having somewhat dodgy practices I have a number of decisions with regards to the relationship Ginger Nuts has with the small press.
"Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth..."
Oh you sad pretty things,
There are those who are content to simply listen to music. Passively, like a television show you aren't really watching. Then you have those of us for whom music is much, much more. It is a salve against all the other things, the stinging things, the bad things, the scary monsters.
"Look out my window and what do I see, A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me."
For many, Resident Evil represents the first time they felt genuine fear from a video game. Even given its heavy inspiration by titles such as Alone in the Dark, the original Resident Evil marks a particular turning point in what video games could do, what demographics they classically appealed to. As Tomb Raider did for action adventure titles, as Final Fantasy VII for role playing games, Resident Evil marked a quantumn leap in the medium, from childhood to an uncertain adolescence, along with those of us that had grown up with the medium and watched it evolve.
I have very, very fond memories of sitting in front of the computer screen in an extremely cold, extremely dark room upstairs in my parent's house, utterly immersed in the blood-dense atmosphere of the Arklay Manor and its environs, the immediacy and intensity of the tension unbearable. I had never seen or experienced anything even close to what the original Resident Evil evoked at that time.
Then came Silent Hill. If Resident Evil marks a particular stage of adolescence in video gaming, then Silent Hill is another leap forward in transition and experience; hurtling the medium forward into adulthood.
Though the recent years have seen a surging regeneration in horror, we’ve also seen some sad losses. The most recent of these is actor Angus Scrimm, more likely known to horror fans as The Tall Man, lost to the world at the grand old age of 91.
There are certain names and faces in the creative arts that just become instantly irreplaceable. After all, would Nightmare on Elmstreet have been the same without Rober Englund as Freddy? And could anybody but Bruce Campbell have led the cast of Evil Dead 2? These people may not be the most well known of stars, or even the best of actors, but they’re the kind of people that, if you tried to picture anybody else playing their roles, you’d come up empty.
Angus Scrimm was such a man.
By now, everyone should know that reviews are an Indie author's bread and butter. Readers find new books based on word-of-mouth advertising and often, the first places they go when looking for a new read include Amazon and Goodreads. They browse through the reviews, check out the book's cover, and if it looks interesting, may download a sample to their Kindles, or just buy the book. Although it's true that reviews are subjective, people put a lot into what others think of a book and many shoppers will purchase a book based on the reviews alone.
Zombies….. What a wonderful phrase…
Zombies…. Ain’t no passing craze
It means no worries, for the rest of your days
It’s our problem free…. philosophy.. zombies
(No copyright infringement intended…)
If asked to describe me, those who know me would mention my love of zombies in their first sentence. In fact, those who don’t know me but that have spent 5 seconds in my presence could tell you that too. Zombies are my favourite conversation point, they’re reflected in my reading and viewing preferences, and you can even see them on a lot of my clothes and in my jewelry. I absolutely love them; running, slow, undead, infected, whatever – it’s all good to me. As the last few years have rolled by, my film and book collection has grown so that it can barely be contained within one room, and that’s not to mention my figurines (they’re not toys, damnit!).
People always ask me why. What is it about these particular monsters that get me so excited? Why am I so comfortable about sleeping in a room full of images of them? I’ve pondered this for a while, and now, with the start of the New Year, I’d like to share my thoughts.
I have been writing for over ten years. The last three years of which have been as a full-time author whose chart position floats between 10 and 25 in Amazon’s “Most Popular Horror Authors” listing. I have over one hundred titles to my name and many more planned moving forward. I have done this myself as a self-published author.
Over these years I have been approached with work with various publishers but - looking into them - they can rarely offer me anything that I am not doing myself. And, worse than that, in some instances they appear to have their own interests at heart as opposed to those of the author and that is why I am setting myself up as a publisher (Matt Shaw Publications). I want to help new authors, or even current authors looking to reach a new readership that might not have already been reading them.