Author Interview: Danielle DeVor

Indie Zone: Talking with Danielle DeVor

Danielle DeVor is the author of, amongst other things, The Marker Chronicles. I first read Sorrow’s Point, the first book in the series, the night before Halloween. It wasn’t the brightest thing I’ve ever done.  The book itself isn’t exactly terrifying, but the atmosphere was fantastic, and her wonderful story-telling plus my over-active imagination meant I stayed up way too late finishing the book. I couldn’t go to sleep until I knew what happened to Lucy. So, I raved about it after I was done, connected with her, and basically spent the next year whining and begging to know when I could read the next book. She put up with my fangirling admirably, and a few days ago, I published my review of Sorrow’s Edge, second book in the Marker Chronicles. Now, you get to get inside her head with me! Thanks again, Danielle!

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Defeating Horror Movie Monsters by Christopher Gamsby

When I put out a call for 500 words or so on your favorite horror movie, that sparked an idea in Christopher Gamsby’s head. He reached out to me with the idea, and the first thing I told him was to feel free to do more than 500 words on this. Then, after I read it, I said that even though my guest post slots were already assigned, I’d find a way to fit this in. I think he’s completely right on how the defeating horror movie monsters. How about you?

photocredit: IMDB - defeating horror movie monsters

photocredit: IMDB

Monsters as a Force of Nature

One of my first memories as a child was watching A Nightmare on Elm Street. I was so young that all the macroscopic details of my life are unclear. I can’t remember my exact age, my house or even what state I lived in at that point but I remember a maniac terrorizing teenagers in the safety of their own dream worlds. I couldn’t sleep for days without seeing Freddie Krueger’s burnt face and Christmas sweater. As I grew, I continued watching horror movies and today I can watch almost any movie completely unaffected.

I was born in the early 1980’s and raised on the cheesy horror movies of the 80’s to early 90’s. The horror movies that came out before Scream basked in their un-ironic love of excess and the ridiculousness of their premises. The source of the villain’s power was obscure but they were a force of nature, and not beholden to explanation. We don’t need to know why a dropped apple falls or why we get wet in the rain in order to believe the inevitability of those consequences. We also don’t need to understand why Freddy can enter dreams to kill, how Jason resurrects, where the Cenobites fit in that little puzzle-box, or when the Wishmaster first came to Earth.

Often the elaboration of how a horror movie villain received their power greatly reduced their effectiveness as threats and marked the decline in their series. In the Nightmare on Elm Street series, we only knew fairly little about Fred Krueger in the original movie. We knew the important premises that he was a child murderer who was killed by the town’s residents in retribution for his crimes. We know he was resurrected and hunts in children’s dreams. We don’t know how Freddy is capable of his inhuman feats, but he manages to be both menacing and endearing.

The third movie The Dream Warriors elaborated on Freddy’s past and explained that he was the product of 100 asylum inmates rapping his mother. The act of discovering his origins de-elevated Krueger from a cipher to our own vulnerabilities and sins to a petty demon carrying out its own designs. By The Dream Child an even more elaborate mythos revolved around Freddy Krueger and each piece of new information further lowered his status. His overall threat was changed from an unstoppable menace to vulnerable. He’s vulnerable to your bravery, his mother’s spirit, religious iconography and even to imagination. His degradation was complete in The Final Nightmare when his true vulnerability was revealed to be reality. Our mere existence was sufficient to destroy his threat. The movie’s ending felt unsatisfying compared to A Nightmare on Elm Street when Freddy was still alive and unstoppable.

Most of the modern classic horror movies followed the same path of lowering their antagonist’s status throughout their sequels. Michael Myers in Halloween started as a roaming maniac killing members of a small community without clear motive. We intrinsically fear that type of random violence because we could be its victim at any moment with no way to protect ourselves. As the film series continued Michael changed from the incarnation of misfortune to a puppet of a cult bent on fulfilling a prophecy by killing his family. The audience also changes from potential victims to merely observers of others misfortune.

Expectations in Sci-fi and Literature

I could outline similar paths in the series of Alien, Predator, Pumpkinhead, Hellraiser, Wishmaster, or most other similar horror movies. Non-horror movies like the science fantasy series Star Wars fall into the same pattern, except with immersion instead of fear. The original trilogy relied on audiences just accepting that the force was a part of the universe and there were Jedi and Sith who could tap into the force. Since the force was natural to the world it didn’t need any more justification than explaining why planets had gravity or people breathed. The force was a tool in service of the greater plot and people created their own justifications which satisfied the question why. For some people the force was scientific, for some it was space magic and others believed it was an energy akin to chi.

In the prequel trilogy George Lucas focused a lot of attention on the nature of the force and how the Jedi lived. This awesome cosmic power was diminished to cellular functions. Those whose imaginations believed the force was scientific embraced midi-chlorians but those who imagined the force was space magic felt wholly unsatisfied by the explanation. Those who imagined the Jedi as fierce warriors or space wizards were left wanting after seeing they were actually bureaucrats. This disconnect forced previously avid fans of Star Wars to hate the prequels.

The short story writer H.P. Lovecraft was an expert at adding in just enough detail to instill fear in his readers. In stories like Herbert-West Reanimator, Lovecraft used pseudo-scientific detail to establish the possibility that the nature we know can actually be twisted in ways we couldn’t imagine. Dr. West in the story used nature to create unpredictable monsters. Lovecraft never elaborated on the limits to the vitality or the longevity of the resurrected tissue in order to leave the reader a chance to insert their own beliefs into the mystery. The reader’s contribution to the story can add more investment than anything Lovecraft could write in himself.

Photocredit: Nasa - Defeating Horror Movie Monsters

Photocredit: Nasa

Lovecraft was fond of vague phrases like ‘unknowable evil’, ‘terrors from the darkest reaches of deep space’, ‘abominations before both man and gods’ or ‘unspeakable horrors’. The impoverished explanations let readers assign their own exact expectations. The phrase ‘unknowable evil’ can be broadly applied to where most people could insert something they fear. Those who feel guilty about adultery, wronging a loved one, stealing or lying could fill the horror waiting to judge them. The phrase ‘evil brought about by the souls of aborted fetuses’, for example, could hold special meaning to anyone who feels guilt over having an abortion, or has strong feelings toward abortion in general, but the majority of readers will not feel an implicit threat.

Basic Psychology in Folk Tales and Fiction

The psychologist F.C. Bartlett, a contemporary of Lovecraft, studied the acquisition and dissemination of folk tales. He found that people remembered folk tales in a principled way that often changed based on the person’s ethnicity and society. His observations fall neatly in modern cognitive psychology today, but in the 1920’s and 1930’s his results were nearly inexplicable in the theories that dominated his day.

First he found that if people are asked to memorize a fable from a culture with different social norms, the people will memorize the story using their own culture’s norms. For example he tested Canadians on remembering the fable “War of the Ghosts”. In that fable a canoe full of warriors approached a pair of brothers standing on a riverbank and asked the brothers to join their raiding party. The older brother said that he couldn’t go, but he gave his brother permission. When asked to recall the story 15 minutes later, most of the Canadians recalled the brothers as father and son because in white culture, a father gives permission to a son, not a brother.

Bartlett also found that fables were much easier to remember if the main part of the tale violated some fundamental property of an object. For example we can easily remember Superman because people can not fly, or stop bullets or use x-ray vision. In this way Superman violates a few of the fundamental properties of being human and so we can easily recall him. We can have elaborate descriptions of people or places that don’t violate our preconceived notions and those details become much harder to remember. You will have trouble remembering a person I describe as wearing a fishbowl as a hat, sporting orange pants with brown stains and a checkered green and white shirt with live roses pinned to the front. Even though the person I described has only three attributes like Superman, his attributes don’t violate our essential concepts of what makes a person, which makes them harder to remember.

So if we look at Freddy Krueger in this light, he is highly memorable because he is a man who can’t die and can enter dreams. Both of those traits are fundamental violations of being human in any culture, which means he will be highly memorable in any culture. In the early movies he could be either considered a ghost or a demon. In eastern cultures, vengeful ghosts are more common than demons and in western cultures demons are more common than vengeful ghosts. In this way once the movies began to explain his past as a demon, western audiences could easily accept that information, but likely eastern viewers would need to dedicate more thought to understanding the character as a demon.

Generally speaking in psychology the more attention a person uses to understand something basic, the less they can attend to all other auxiliary information. The more the viewer thinks about Freddy’s nature, the more they’ll miss the fine details of the plot. A horror movie’s tension is derived from the atmosphere and ambiance the film created, but if people spend more attention on major plot points, they spend less attention noticing the cues signaling they should be scared.

For any writers out there, predicting how your readers will interpret your work is paramount to successful writing. You may be worried that if you don’t explain some fantastic aspect of your world that your readers may be confused or become un-invested in the story. Conversely depending on how specific the explanation, you might actually end up confusing your reader. You may even make your readers apathetic toward the danger of your antagonist, which is far worse than confusing them once or twice. I personally prefer the original formula of 1980’s horror movies. Villains as a force of nature in a slightly schlocky tone still makes for a supremely entertaining time and can connect with readers at a level that caution may destroy. This is all my opinion, but what do I know anyway, I’m as new to this writing game as you can get.

-Christopher W Gamsby

Christopher W Gamsby is the author of the new indie epic fantasy series Shift World. Shift World can be downloaded for free at

defeating horror movie monsters guest postA vibrant living world connects to the Shift World, a world of monsters, ruins, and treasure. One in ten thousand people can travel between the two worlds and they are known as shifters. Shifters created empires, became merchant barons, and influenced much of the world’s culture. Schools teach about shifters’ exploits and shifters even dictate fashion and entertainment. Children dream about a life of adventure in the Shift World.
A young shifter named Karp was saved from the brink of death in a small trading post called the Village of the Traitor’s Tavern. While recovering she befriended the general store’s manager and apprenticed under a local shifter named The Whitecoat. The store manager, her adopted son, and The Whitecoat became Karp’s family and the Village of the Traitor’s Tavern became her home.
Karp’s idyllic life is threatened by a spreading sickness which takes the lives of shifters. An encounter with a mysterious stranger in the Shift World almost leaves Karp dead on the general store’s floor. To save her new home and family, Karp will need to search the ruins of Shift World for weapons, find powerful new allies, defeat unrelenting enemies, and avert an unclear calamity that looms over everything.



Sleep State Interrupt Review (Sci-Fi Thriller)

Sleep State InterruptIn Sleep State Interrupt, a giant media corporation has taken over the Internet, created an addictive virtual reality called BetterWorld, and controls nearly all information. Politicians do their bidding and a brainwashed humanity serves a privileged few. Waylee Freid, an unemployed Baltimore journalist with ever-worsening bipolar disorder, is the only hope for a brighter future. She and her countercultural friends bust a notorious teenage hacker out of jail and sneak into a closed presidential fundraiser at the Smithsonian castle, where they hope to record incriminating admissions that will wake up the world. Hunted by Homeland Security, Waylee and her friends must reach a sufficient audience by broadcasting their video during the Super Bowl. But to do so, they’ll have to break into one of the most secure facilities ever built. – Goodreads

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Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight Review

cocktails-at-7I’m Derby Cavendish—that’s pronounced Derby with an “ar” sound, not an “er”: remember it for later. Ever since I was a boy, the forces of the otherworldly have been drawn to me like divas to a spotlight. But I’m ready for them. Bring it on, bitches.

It’s Supernatural meets Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in this hilarious collection of stories from Wizards of the Coast author Don Bassingthwaite. – Goodreads

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Below the Ice (Sci-Fi Horror Short)

Below the IceBelow the Ice: Lake Vostok resides in one of the deadliest climates on Earth. Its waters have been frozen for millions of years. Now, those waters are warming. The crew of Freedom Station Alpha will soon find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive against creatures that have existed since long before the world of man. And the monsters rising from the ice are more horrific than anything that mankind has ever known. – Goodreads

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Shadow’s Embrace Review (Paranormal Horror)

shadows-embrace“It began with a Carter, and it must end with a Carter.”
Six months have passed since Alan Carter woke up from the coma Copper Tibet had put him in, and much has changed in Melington. A new Chairman, a power-hungry Sheriff, a spineless son who struggles with the absence of his father. And children still going missing while the monster taking them roams free and unrestrained.

In the small town of secrets, what had once been hidden is now slowly coming to light, and few rest easy, including Alan Carter. He is plagued by nightmares. The visions haunt him the minute he closes his eyes, and his dreams are clad with images of darkness, corridors lined with doors, and a woman in red who tells him he can never leave.

And somewhere in the distance, Alan’s sister calls for him, begging him to save her and to take her home. – Goodreads

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Blackwater Val Review (Supernatural Horror Thriller)

Blackwater Val by William GormanIn Blackwater Val, something isn’t quite right.

Richard Franklin has left his Midwestern roots behind to live on the coast of Maine with his family. But in the autumn of the year 2000, he must return to his Illinois birthplace on a sorrowful journey. His wife Michelle has been killed in New England by a hit-and-run driver who is never found, so back home he comes with her cremated remains, to fulfill a final wish and on her birthday scatter her ashes in the park along the river in Blackwater Valley—simply Blackwater Val to locals—the small town where they both grew up and fell in love.

With him he brings his six-year-old daughter, Katie, who still grieves for her lost mother: Katie, who can sometimes guess who’s going on the phone before it rings. Who can stop all the clocks in the house, and break up clouds in the sky with her mind, and heal sicknesses, and who sometimes sees things that aren’t there . . . people who are no longer alive. All gifts she inherited from her mother.

Only something isn’t quite right in the Val.

Sinkholes are opening up, revealing the plague pits the sleepy hamlet built over in the 1830s, when malaria and cholera outbreaks ran riot. Mysterious bird and fish die-offs begin to occur, and Katie can see ghosts of the dead gathering all around. But what she can’t see is the charred, centuries-old malevolence which has been waiting for her, and wants her for its very own. Or the pale Sallow Man who haunts the town’s nighttime streets . . . or the river witch—another Blackwater Val, of sorts—each of whom will be drawn one by one into the nightmarish bloodletting about to take place. – Goodreads

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Infected Review (Biological Thriller)

infected Mother Nature: the world’s most innovative killer.

Deep in the jungles of Venezuela, mycologist Dr. Julia Fatheringham is engrossed in her study of native fungi. But what begins as a standard research trip quickly spirals into chaos when her associate’s erratic behavior results in his horrifying death. Soon, Julia makes a startling discovery: her partner was contaminated by an organism found only in insects. It alters the victim’s mind in alarming ways, with an invariably deadly outcome. Julia is baffled by her discovery—this organism has never appeared in humans. It shouldn’t be possible. There is only one terrifying conclusion: The infection has jumped species.

Now, in this remote corner of the world, a contagion of unparalleled horror rests in Julia’s hands. But even as she works to contain the organism that could spell devastation of apocalyptic proportions, there are others with a different agenda. They’ve learned of her discovery and will go to any lengths to acquire a sample—there is good money to be had in eco-terrorism.

Armed only with her strength of mind and what courage she can gather, Julia prepares to battle the devastating scourge—and the terrorists determined to unleash it on humanity. – Goodreads

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Ancient Gods of Primitive Man

Every Sunday during October, Sci-Fi & Scary will be bringing you a fresh article from an indie horror author.  They’ll be talking about everything from why they love horror, to their favorite parts, and everything in between. Our fourth guest post comes from Richard Schiver. You can find more information about Richard at the end of this article.

Ancient Gods

by Richard Schiver

We’re all familiar with the old gods of Greek and Egyptian mythology. The Sumerian tribes of Mesopotamia who worshiped crude clay figures that represented the fertility of woman. But what about the elder gods, not the old ones H.P. Lovecraft spoke of in his voluminous writings? Those of primitive man.

Deities whose names have been lost to the ages.

wendigo_by_boybalasa-d4d31jy - ancient gods guest post

Wendigo by Deviant ArtistTim Terrenenal

Old or forgotten gods are found throughout modern horror fiction, from the Norse myths present in Adam Nevill’s The Ritual, to Graham Masterson’s exploration of Native American beliefs in The Manitou. Even the Wendigo puts in an appearance in Stephen King’s novel Pet Semetary, that in itself explored the Native American beliefs of death and rebirth in a more modern setting. These are all deities that were once worshipped, or avoided at all costs.

The next time you’re in a thunderstorm, pause for a moment and give a thought to how our ancestors must have felt as they huddled in their cave while the thunder rumbled across the land. The skies had grown dark as voluminous black clouds rolled in, flashes of lightning illuminating their depths, sparking fear within their hearts as unknown entities spoke with rumbling voices that rolled across the landscape. Even the animals sought refuge from the voices of these airborne gods.

We know thunder is caused by lightning, which is a stream of electrons flowing between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. The air around this electron stream becomes superheated and as the air cools it creates a partial vacuum around the path of the lightning that becomes a resonating tube. The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts making the column vibrate like a drumhead, and producing a tremendous crack.
Source: Scientific American

Our ancestors did not know what caused that sky bound rumbling. To them the lightning with its accompanying thunder was an unknown entity, and into that vacuum of the unknown they created superior beings, gods, to account for what they could not readily understand. Nor was it restricted to just thunder and lightning. Every event in their lives could in some way be attributed to the work of supernatural beings that existed behind the curtain of reality. Working behind the scenes so to speak.

 “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” – H.P. Lovecraft

There were gods for the sky, the earth, and the water. Gods that lived in the fires that kept them warm, this fire God was an angry God, who sometimes devoured the world around them in a raging conflagration. Primal gods of the ground and underground, of fertility and death, of decay and rebirth. The natural order of the world was controlled by beings they could not see, or touch, who spoke in tongues they could not understand.

Even the animals they hunted for food were inhabited by beings that they understood required a degree of worship. Be it with a raging bonfire around which the primitives danced in wild abandon. Or offerings of the bounty the world provided them, or even at times, the blood sacrifice of a virgin.

For every writer the world of what ifs offers a wealth of possibilities. The horror writer especially as they use the unknown to widen the gulf between what we know is true, and what we imagine. That lost world of ancient gods provides us with a fertile playground to let our imagination soar. There is no right or wrong, no primitive texts that must be adhered to. There is only the writer, his imagination, and the blank page yet to be filled with terror.

Note from Sci-Fi & Scary: This one made me happy, even if Richard somehow managed to avoid talking about Cthulhu by name! Seriously, though, the Ancient/Elder Gods are so interesting. Even though I’m decidedly not religious, the concept of gods is a fascinating one. As he points out, it’s easy to see where religion came from. Even just staring up at the sky on a clear night is enough to make you wistfully wonder how it was all made. To think perhaps that there was at least the tiniest nudge from a creator’s finger out there somewhere. If the stars can do that now, imagine what a thunderstorm did back then!

All Roads Lead to Terror - ancient gods guest post

On the day of his birth the dead walked and society crumbled. His mother took one look at him and pronounced him Meat. He survived, she didn’t.

Fourteen years have passed and obscurity means survival in an increasingly dangerous world. For the survivors compound at Bremo Bluff that obscurity is threatened when a savage band abducts a group of children from the compound. Accompanied by his three friends Window, Einstein, and Billie-Bob, Meat embarks on a quest to rescue the children. A journey that will lead them into adulthood, with a brief detour through the Dreadlands, as they come face to face with the harsh reality of a brutal world beyond the barriers that had served to protect them.

In the dead city of Richmond they will confront a savage cult of children who worship a creature of the night. These creatures once lived along the mysterious edge of a well lit world, in that shadowy realm between night and day, between dreams and nightmares. They are now awake in a world where the population that once served as their food source has been reduced.

Awake and very, very, hungry.

All Roads Lead to Terror is FREE here on Sci-Fi & Scary. Just go here, fill out the form, and within hours you’ll hear back from me about getting a copy of the book.

A voracious reader, he believes writing is the most intimate form of communication possible. The reader permits the writer access to their mind, and the readers reality dissolves as they focus on the narrative of the tale being spun. During his life he has played a series of roles, husband, father, son, and lover, but his favorite by far is grandfather. He and his wife of twenty plus years have raised four children, and helped raise eight grandchildren. They provide a secure home to a yellow lab named Max and a cat who will answer to either Flame or Furball. His loving wife, Dena has experienced first hand the exasperation of living with a writer whose mind has a tendency to wander at the most inappropriate times. Yet she manages to keep his feet firmly planted on terra firma.

Richard can be found online at:


Book Spotlight: How to Protect Your Neighborhood from Circus Werwolves

Book Spotlight Banner How to Protect Your Neighborhood

Coolthulhu has a special treat for you today! In honor of this most awesome month, we’re bringing special attention to a cool-looking kid’s book! So we happily present a new book spotlight on:

How to Protect Your Neighborhood From Circus Werewolves

how-to-protect-your-neighborhood-from-circus-werewolvesSynopsis: The circus is in town, and Mick Bogerman has a fail-proof plan to sneak inside the adults-only Macabre Pavilion. But there’s something weird about the A. Linville & Purnima Bros. Circus this year. Angry parents and crying kids exit early by the carload. Maybe it’s the clowns. Yes, they wear the standard stark-white faces and red bulbous noses, but underneath their painted smiles, there’s something not quite right. What’s more, after the full moon rises . . . they howl.

When Mick and his friends rescue a caged boy from the clown’s clutches they set off a series of disasters that threaten their entire neighborhood. Can Mick become the leader his neighbors need and protect them from the pack of hungry predators infiltrating their town?

ISBN13: 9780996332521

Pub. Date: September 21st, 2016

Pages: 112

Genre: Kids Fiction – Horror


Current Goodreads Rating: 4.5

Excerpt from How to Protect Your Neighborhood from Circus Werewolves:

At last I make it to the front of the food line. Since the cookie jar money paid for entrance tickets, I have to use my own money to eat. The birthday cash I’ve been saving slides easy on the counter, and two elephant ears doused in strawberries and covered with towering mounds of whipped cream land in my outstretched hands. Cinnamon steam bathes my face as I hand Finley his.

We wait for PJ while he gets an electric-blue slushy and then complains about the brain freeze. His pinkie shoots out when he grips his straw.

He notices me noticing and tucks the flyaway finger back in. With breeding and boarding school working against us, it’s gonna take me and Finley years to help PJ break his rich-kid habits.

Booger-Face swallows half a fried Twinkie in a single bite. Sponge and cream squeeze out the corners of his mouth. PJ grins at him and shows off his Smurf-stained teeth. Maybe Booger-Face’ll be the one to rub off on PJ.

Now that all five of us have something tasty stuffed into our faces, we head off to the clown tent, tinny circus music leading the way.

Scattered popcorn and peanut shells imbedded in the dirt crunch under our shoes.

I scan the crowd for Cooper. No sign of him yet, but he might already be inside. More lights flicker on as night settles in. Clouds coat the moon. A cool breeze swipes my sweat away and makes the tent fabric rustle.

“This is great,” Finley whispers by my side as we shuffle inside with a small crowd. A whipped cream grin stretches across his face.

“You bet.” I grin back at him. “Let’s see those clowns.”

Where to Buy:


Mick Bogerman is an independently-published author with 4 distinct works under his belt.

Mickey “Mick” Bogerman has lived in Beachwood, North Carolina all his life. Mostly he tries to stay out of trouble, but mostly trouble seems to find him anyway. He has a knack for antagonizing scary creatures and girls, not necessarily in that order.
Mick’s favorite subjects in school are science (slime, rockets, bugs, and rocks– what’s not to like?), gym class (running, climbing, throwing– more stuff to like), and reading (yay Mr. Corcoran lets him read whatever he likes– like comic books).
Speaking of comic books, Mick’s favorites are X-Men, Demon Knights, Spiderman and Batman.

You can reach Mick at:

  • I love Audible. Tons of books, fantastic narrators, good prices.