For the month of October, in honor of Halloween and my love of horror books and movies, I’ve asked some authors/friends/fellow bloggers to write guest posts related in some way to the horror/paranormal genre. Today’s guest is Calvin Dean, whose first book, The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff, I reviewed at https://teripolen.com/2013/05/24/the-epitaph-of-jonas-barloff-by-calvin-dean/. Hurry over to Amazon or B&N and get his book – it’s perfect reading for Halloween! His second book, A Door Unlocked, comes out today, so make sure to pick it up while you’re there – I already got mine. Thanks so much, Calvin, for visiting Books & Such.
Influence, inspiration and confidence can come from the strangest places. As a little leaguer, I remember marveling at how far the bigger kids could hit a baseball. One day I stepped to the plate and fouled a ball over the backstop. Wow, I thought to myself. I can do this! All I needed was a foul ball with some pop to boost my confidence.
Years later, I started writing my first book. Influence from great authors came easy. Confidence came, not in foul balls, but in the foul behavior of odd characters. Let me explain.
Horror Influence – The Early Days
I knew him as Sivad. (Davis spelled backwards.) In the 1960s, he dressed as a vampire and hosted creature features on a Memphis, Tennessee television program. But it was a live appearance at the Gloria Theatre in my small hometown that nearly frightened the living daylights out of me. At an afternoon matinee, Sivad brought along a few sidekicks – Frankenstein and The Mummy. Or maybe it was The Werewolf. Though the sun shone brightly outside, inside the theatre it was the stroke of midnight, and a full moon chased crackles of lightning up and down my spine. Needless to say, being in the same room with ghouls from my creepiest nightmares sent shivers that reverberate to this day.
Horror Influences – From Books
I don’t know why I picked up “Dead Sleep” by fellow Mississippi author Greg Iles. I didn’t know Greg. Didn’t know he was from Mississippi by way of Germany. All I know is that after one chapter, I knew I would become a huge Greg Iles fan. In that chapter, a famous photographer is passing time at a Hong Kong art exhibit. As she enters the museum, those already inside regard her with horror. She soon discovers why. One of the portraits is a spitting image of her, but the fleshy skin tones are all wrong. Instead of warmth, her skin is pale. Blue. Dead.
I love the way Author Conan Doyle crafts a sentence. Pure eloquence. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is my favorite Sherlock Holmes novel. While it’s a mystery, there is just enough darkness to please any horror aficionado. In fact, one reviewer said my debut novel, “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” is a cross between Goosebumps and an Arthur Conan Doyle novel. I took that as a huge compliment.
I don’t read series novels. Nor do I like long, drawn-out books. There are exceptions. After reading “Boy’s Town” by Robert McCammon, I needed another McCammon fix to pacify my addiction. So, I picked up “Speaks the Nightbird”, which is actually a two-book series. It’s about a magistrate and his aid who must pass judgment on a woman accused of witchcraft in colonial Carolina. The Matthew Corbett character pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. Next thing I know, I’m yanking the sequel from the shelf, “The Queen of Bedlam”. Eight hundred pages later, I want more McCammon.
Confidence from the Odd Places
In Dean Koontz’s “Odd Thomas” series, Oddy can see and communicate with the dead. That’s right up my alley. I especially liked the lighter moments with Elvis and Sinatra, which added humor one doesn’t necessarily expect in a horror novel. Because of this, I used humor in “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff”. Dean Koontz gave me the confidence to try it.
What novels, horror or otherwise, influence you? What inspires confidence? I know horror is a niche market. Within that niche are people who demand more vampire stories. More zombies. More werewolves. More witches. What scares you? For me, it’s haunted houses and spooky cemeteries. As Halloween approaches, I hope you’ll find yourself buried deep under a security blanket with a good book. To set the mood, I recommend carving a jack-o-lantern and placing it in a dark corner of the room. Make sure you lock the doors and put the knife safely away before settling in for the night. (Sinister laugh!) FREE KINDLE EBOOK: In honor of my favorite holiday, Halloween, I’m offering “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” FREE! Be sure to log-on to Amazon.com and download a free Kindle copy Oct. 16 – 20, 2013. Mark your calendar now.
By the time you read this, my second book will be released – or will be soon. The release date is Oct. 5, 2013. In “A Door Unlocked”, messages from the grave help a young mother rescue her kidnapped daughter and unravel a web of corruption. Like “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff” it’s a quick, fast-paced read. Available in paperback, Kindle, Nook – and soon, Audible.
Happy Halloween. And happy reading.
Author of “The Epitaph of Jonas Barloff”, “A Door Unlocked” & “The Rookie Umpire”, a short story.