Friday, October 23, 2015

Last Stop: Christmas, Childhood Fears Tour we come to the last stop on the Childhood Fears blog tour, with author Christine Hayton, author of the novella Scarecrows which is part of the collection, discussing some decidedly dark (I mean dark, people) traditions of Christmases past, in honor of J.G. Faherty's novella Winterwood.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Childhood Fears: L.L. Soares & I Talk Scarecrows!

In honor of the release of the novella collection, CHILDHOOD FEARS (Samhain, 2015), containing our novella Nightmare in Greasepaint, as well as J.H. Moncrieff's The Bear Who Wouldn't Leave, J.G. Faherty's Winterwood, and Christine Hayton's Scarecrows, L.L. Soares and I discuss our own childhood fears, in particular: Scarecrows...

(THE SCENE: A cornfield at night. DAN KEOHANE and L.L. SOARES meet in the middle of the stalks. DAN sees a flashlight beam and waves his arm.)

DAN: There you are. I thought you’d leave me waiting here all night. And there have been lots of spooky noises…

LL: This cornfield is so weird. I actually feel smaller. (Looks behind stalks). Hey kid, where’s Dan?

DAN: It’s me. I’m a kid again. So are you. There’s something magical in this field.

LL: (holds his hands out in front of him) Wow. This is so weird. And it must be close to Halloween, because you're dressed as… who are you dressed as?

DAN:  G Daniel Gunn

LL: Who? Oh, never mind. So why did you ask me to come here at midnight?

DAN: So we could discuss our CHILDHOOD FEARS of course. And we’ve been given a topic. Scarecrows.

LL: Like the one hanging over there (Points flashlight). I have to admit, that’s the most lifelike scarecrow I’ve ever seen. I almost expect it to jump off its post and dance around.

DAN: When I was a kid, scarecrows were usually fun. I never considered them frightening in any way, just big like pillows stuffed with leaves, with badly-made paper bag heads. Not to mention the Scarecrow from THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) was one cool dude.

LL: If he only had a brain! Maybe he was a hungry zombie!

DAN: All was Great Pumpkin fun, until—and I’m dating myself here—I saw a commercial for the Wonderful World of Disney’s Sunday night movie THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH (at least I think that was it, 1964… though for me it must have been a re-run since I would have been only 1 year old).

LL: Hey, I remember THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH on Wonderful World of Disney, too. It must have been a rerun, since we would have been way too young when it first aired.  They basically took a British movie called DR. SYN, ALIAS THE SCARECROW from 1963 and chopped it up into chapters for TV. Dr. Syn was the leader of a band of rebels who dressed like a scarecrow and rode around on horseback scaring people. Or something like that. I remember the scarecrow left a big impression on me, too. At the time, I thought it looked so cool!

DAN: Not that I went running in the other direction when I saw a real scarecrow (like I did, and still do, with clowns), but suddenly there was a darker side to a normally fun tradition. During the day they were still fun, dog-pee laced leaves raked in a pile and stuffed into old pants and shirts.

LL: Ah, the joys of suburban life.

(A RUSTLING sound is heard. LL turns his flashlight beam on the scarecrow behind them, but the pole it was tied to is empty)

LL: Where did that scarecrow go?

DAN: He probably just fell down…..I hope. Anyway, years later I’d be shocked to learn the man behind the ROMNEY MARSH scarecrow mask was one of my favorites, Patrick McGoohan, from THE PRISONER TV series.

LL: Yeah, I liked McGoohan, too. He was also in the Disney production THE THREE LIVES OF THOMASINA (1963), about a cat that brings a girl and her father closer together. How sweet! DR. SYN/ROMNEY MARSH was actually the second version of the story. The first one was in 1962 and was a Hammer film called NIGHT CREATURES, which featured Peter Cushing in the lead role as Dr. Blyss. But instead of dressing up as scarecrows they dressed up as skeletons on horseback!

DAN: But back to scarecrows. When evening fell in Octobers, and the winds picked up and everything got very Ray Bradbury-ish, I’d remember that stupid, scary commercial and a sense of dread would begin creeping in. Hollywood (and all those friggin' horror writers) has a nasty way of peeling back the goofy marker faces of our childhood joy and adding a dose of our nightmares to the mix. I remember the commercial for ROMNEY MARSH more than the series. Much like the commercial for MAGIC (1978) gave me ventriloquist dummy nightmares for years, this commercial put a dark, terrifying spin on such a fun aspect of October. Granted, I was a bit of a sensitive little soul, I was.

LL: That commercial for MAGIC was amazing—and much scarier than the actual movie. I’m sure lots of kids had nightmares about that one. The best/scariest commercials when I was growing up were that one and the one for Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA (1977), where a woman has her back to us and is brushing her hair and suddenly she turns around and SHE HAS A SKULL FACE! Ahhh, the days of great movie commercials. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

(More RUSTLING among the corn stalks. DAN and LL wave their flashlights around, but they don’t see anything. Now it sounds like multiple RUSTLINGS)

LL: I always thought scarecrows were very atmospheric and had the potential to be great movie monsters. There’s also a cool TV movie called DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981). I always wondered why there weren’t more movies about supernatural scarecrows. They look so great. It just seemed natural to me that they should become horror icons, especially since scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns are so strongly identified with Halloween. But unfortunately, they never caught on in the movies, like vampires or zombies.

DAN: Yea, because the nature of scarecrows can be pretty frightening. String up a likeness of a man in a field, and let the wind move it about. A makeshift, rural crucifixion. There's something macabre and wild about these things.

LL: Not to mention they're so closely associated with autumn, the harvest and slow death of summer.  

DAN: So, what scared you as a kid?

LL: I remembered other kids would have nightmares after seeing horror movies. That never happened to me. I guess I identified too much with the monsters. I seem to remember seeing stuff on the news – “real life” horrors – that were scarier than any scarecrow or clown.

DAN: Funny you say that. Between us we've got the universe of fear covered. You'd peer under the shades of your bedroom at night and see a serial killer standing there, looking back up at you.

LL: Dressed as a scarecrow!

DAN: Me, I'd see a demonic scarecrow with a scythe.

LL: Or a clown.

DAN: A scarecrow and a clown?

LL: Why not? Everyone needs a friend.

DAN: Of course there was that night when I was cutting across a field as a short cut and passed a scarecrow mounted up on a stake, then heard a rustle behind me, turned and noticed it was gone. But the rustling continued, and got closer. But that’s another story. It probably just fell.

LL: Really?

DAN: No, I made that up.

(RUSTLING gets very loud, and LL turns to train his flashlight on a whole ARMY of scarecrows approaching them, some holding pitchforks and scythes)

DAN: Where did they come from?

LL: I don’t know, but they look angry. Maybe they don’t like us talking about them in the middle of a cornfield.

VOICE (suddenly very loud and close): I am He Who Walks Behind the Rows!

DAN: You don’t have to tell me twice. Let’s get out of here! and L.L. run away)

If scarecrows scared you as a kid, or still do, check out Christine Hayton's novella Scarecrows, part of Samhain Publishing's collection CHILDHOOD FEARS.

They do more than frighten birds. Much more.

Early one morning in the fall of 1964, Robert searched for his missing six-year-old daughter, Cathy. He found her asleep in a nearby cornfield, covered in blood and holding a small axe. A few feet away lay the mutilated body of her classmate Emily.

Assumed guilty of murder, Cathy lived in a hospital for insane children. She always gave the same account of what happened. She talked of murderous scarecrows that roamed the cornfield on moonlit nights. Her doctors considered her delusional. The police, her neighbors and the press thought she was dangerous. And so she remained incarcerated. No one believed her. That was a mistake.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Author J.H. Moncrieff on Killer Clowns (Real and Imagined) and Childhood Fears

Clowns are strange entertainment for children, at least to some of us, and sometimes, they can be deadly. In honor of the release of the novella collection CHILDHOOD FEARS (Samhain Publishing), the authors of the four stories contained therein are discussing what fears affected us.

As a child, and as adults.

Because sometimes, the monsters are real. Author J.H. Moncrieff drags into the light the question: what real nightmares strike terror in the hearts of society. Killer clowns, both imagined, and real. Click Here to read a discussion about the most terrible of the bunch.....

Also included is an interview with me and co-author of "Nightmare in Greasepaint," L.L. Soares.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

JG Faherty on a Twisted Japanese Rendition of Hide and Seek

In honor of the release of the novella collection CHILDHOOD FEARS (Samhain Publishing, 2015), those of us who are featured in this paperback / kindle collection are talking about childhood fears of our own, strange and bizarre stories of what kids will do (as in today's entry), or simply talk to each other about how we came up with out story in the first place.

JG Faherty (author of Childhood Fears' "Winterwood" novella) talks about the Japanese game of Hitori Kakurenbo, a decidely twisted and frightening rendition of Hide and Seek, only between you, and a demon-possessed Teddy Bear. True story, which makes it all the more creepy.

Check it out here:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CHILDHOOD FEARS Officially Released Today!

For those of you waiting for the print edition of my novella NIGHTMARE IN GREASEPAINT (with L.L. Soares), wait no longer. CHILDHOOD FEARS, a collection of 4 terrifyingly awesome novellas custom-fit to keep you awake under the covers at night, is now available from Samhain Publishing. Evil clowns, scarecrows, demons and even Teddy bears! A perfect Halloween treat for you or someone you love... or someone you simply want to scare the boogers out of. :)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Local Authors Roundtable, This Thursday, Oct 8th In Sharon, MA

I'll be participating in another Local Authors Roundtable discussion this Thursday, October 8th, beginning at 7:30 PM at the Sharon Public Library, Sharon MA, with the following authors:
The event will be held at 
11 North Main Street, Sharon, MA 02067

Come on out and learn about the craft of writing and meet some fun, local authors. Maybe even get a sample of their wares! Mine included.