Tuesday, March 18, 2014





 "For me, horror is that which reaches into the soul, unlocks the darkest
secrets within, and forces you to stare not only into the depths of those
secrets, but into the abyss that is left behind." Alex Scully

Alex Scully is my Woman In Horror today! I stole her saying above from the post I did for her last year. I like it. I hope you do too.

Alex is the senior editor at Firbolg Publishing. As far as I'm concerned, Firbolg is where it's at when one talks about Gothic Horror. There is no blood and gore within the hallowed halls of  Firbolg. There is deep psychological horror. And, Alex is a master at combining the Masters from the past, such as my favorite the great Edgar Allan Poe, and adding their stories with the present day Gothic authors. Lovely and balanced are the tomes Firbolg publishes.

Last year, I was doing my usual flitting about, mentioning some of the great books I have read and singing the praises of some great authors, when Alex Scully asked me if I would like to contribute to Enter At Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences. She hinted around about a story based on The Black Cat, a Poe Classic. That got me to thinking. "Maybe I can do this," my mind was saying. But wait. I had never written a Gothic tale before. Ahah! A challenge. "I'll do it!" I said to myself. "We need a story written from the perspective of the wife," Alex said. Hopes dashed! Somehow, though, she dangled that carrot in front of me and I agreed to do it. She liked my story, but she said maybe I could take it farther, go over the top with it. Holy cow! The woman was pushing me, but she was moving my story in the right direction and after 5,001 tries I got it right! Yay for me.

Now, let it be known that Alex Scully is a perfectionist. Having survived the first book, I did a piece for The Rogues Gallery:The Illustrated Police News, and I was expecting her editing whip to come back out again, but I was spared. Alrighty! Unscathed this time.

Alas, I was too cocky. Pushing reason to the wind, I wrote a story for the great anthology Enter At Your Own Risk: The End Is The Beginning. Alex found the whip she had misplaced and I did not waltz through this one. But, she made some remarkable suggestions which tightened up my story considerably. This super tome will be out in May. As you can see in the picture I stole from the Firbolg website, 50% of every book sold will go to the Sierra Club. Alex is as green as I am.

So my friends, there is no way I could leave Alex Scully on the sidelines this year. Even more than last year, she deserves all the credit I can give her. Alex Scully is a Woman In Horror!

Blaze McRob


Book Description

January 14, 2014
A newspaper vendor in the nineteenth century could always ensure sales with the gruesome cry “Murder! ‘Orrible Murder!” Published around 1870, the Victorian tabloid The Illustrated Police News took this sales tactic to heart. It had the largest circulation of any periodical of its time. The public devoured a weekly diet of real-life horrors deliberately calculated to churn the strongest stomach and boost the next issue’s sales. The Rogues Gallery has resurrected these disturbing, morbid images to bring you a collection of flash fiction as equally frightening. Using Victorian England's murder and mayhem as their inspiration, dozens of authors will haunt your nightmares long after the lights go out. Three Gothic tales of terror from the masters Poe, Lovecraft, and Thackeray round out this macabre Rogues Gallery of terror. With an introduction from DarkMedia's Eva Layne, remember this... you have been warned.

Enter At Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences by Scully, B.E., Hurley, Timothy, McRob, Blaze and Gill, Carole (Sep 29, 2013)

Book Description

September 29, 2013
Some of the most enduring masterpieces of Gothic fiction are as intriguing for the stories they don’t tell as for those they do. The voices hidden in the wall of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat;” the secrets buried beneath the earth of Sleepy Hollow in Washington Irving’s legendary Headless Horseman tale; the dreams of a monster and an ancient book with a life of its own in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu;” and stories that reveal Polidori’s hypnotic, archetypal Vampyre as far more than what he first appears to be. In Firbolg Publishing’s third volume in the Enter at Your Own Risk series, ten modern storytellers reimagine the mysterious characters lurking within four classics of Gothic literature. As you read the original stories, a sinister whisper drifts in on a cold chill. But there are other voices beneath the whisper. You can hear them crawling out of the growing darkness. Then the whispers become a scream...

With an introduction from acclaimed author Gary Braunbeck, Dark Muses, Spoken Silences invites you into the hidden shadows of four of the most famous dark fiction tales ever told.

Are you brave enough to enter?

"Highly recommended"
Gene O’Neill
Author of Taste of Tenderloin and The Confessions of St. Zach

“Audacious, innovative, shocking – a kaleidoscope (where all the colors are dark).”
Robert Dunbar
Author of The Pines and Willy

"I am blown away by the beauty, terror and imagination of this brilliant book."
Sandy DeLuca
Author of Manhattan Grimoire and Hell’s Door

5.0 out of 5 stars "Stories within stories; spoken silences in the dark muses of yesteryear...", January 10, 2014
This review is from: Enter At Your Own Risk: Dark Muses, Spoken Silences (Kindle Edition)
Given the nature of its theme, this collection was clearly a challenge. The fact that the editor included the original tales which were reimagined by their modern counterparts shows a kind of bravery and confidence in the contributors that is matched only by their ability to rise to the occasion. In a reverent intro from the brilliant Gary A. Braunbeck, he lauds both the extent to which Dr. Alex Scully is versed in academia and the impressive task each writer took in the modern retellings of classic tales. Editor’s notes from Dr. Scully reveal the conception of the theme and prepares us for a collection which answers questions these classics left in their wake...they are “stories within stories; spoken silences in the dark muses of yesteryear.”

Blaze McRob’s “The Wife and the Witch” is a clever reimagining of “The Black Cat”, told with a steady voice which is reminiscent of Poe without parroting it. His apparent ease with which he takes on the form of a female narrator lends itself to the emotional pull of this tale; he is successful in making us empathize fully with the protagonist’s loss of a loving companion: “He was my bastion of strength.”

Then Timothy Hurley’s brave, unexpected, and deft tribute in “Poe’s Black Cats” seems to steal the show with both language and content, with an eerie sense that he may well be channeling Poe with lines like “At my master’s side for seven years, I learned the practice of execution by hanging, and Mr. Malachi commended the alacrity of my acquisition of necessary skills.”

“Satisfaction Brought Her Back” is yet another brilliant take on the classic, though I wish I knew who to thank for such a clever and well-crafted tale.

T. Fox Dunham leads off the re-imaginings of Irving’s “Sleepy Hollow” and reveals an undeniable grasp on the art of prose: “He practiced a barren visage; showing no emotion would serve him best when he soon shared countenance with a demon wind.”...“As the evening fell upon the world and a gray mist flowed off the river, the water decorated with early Autumn decay--of leaves brown orange, and crimson, castoff from ungrateful trees to soak and sink...”

Carole Gill’s “Katrina’s Confession” follows, a thoroughly enjoyable and inventive postscript to the legend, with a darkly humorous ending that affirms the respective perks and price of beauty, youth, and being enchanted by a dark lord.

To choose favorite lines from the haunting “Horseman’s Tale” by Marcus Kohler would be like choosing a favorite child.

What can one say about Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” that hasn’t already been said? Nothing, other than writing fine tributes like Mike Chin and Gregory L. Norris do. These were impressive, like the others--but Lovecraft shines as the most difficult master to tackle, and the re-imaginings are perhaps the most valiant of all. Norris is one of the most prolific writers I have ever encountered, and somehow his unwavering balance of humility and infinite literary genius gives a unique flair to his writing which never fails to leave a deep chill in the bones.

The final challenge: Polidori’s “The Vampyre; A Tale”. The other glaring theme here--besides the obvious one of contemporary explorations of gothic classics--is the particular choices such as this one; the most ancient and pivotal ancestor of the genre. Once again, the modern counterparts meet, and likely exceed, the editor’s lofty expectations.

B.E. Scully doesn’t mess around, and sinks her teeth into the reader with her very first line: “The fangs of ice violating the defenseless windowpanes were a welcome intrusion into the otherwise slow suffocation of another winter season.” Talent obviously runs in the family.

After having Jon Michael Kelley on my “to read” list for some time, I was blown away by his talent--it is no surprise his work appears in other prestigious collections, all of which I intend to read and seek out his contributions. He writes with confidence and grace--“I had not intended to drain her to the extent that I did, and in doing so made an even bigger mess of the floor with my regurgitations. I was voracious, and justified that enthusiasm with the recollections of mornings spent watching her, craving her, coveting her and the elations she aroused in both real and subconscious states.”--and ends this fine anthology on a sublimely intelligent note with both historical and literary relevance.

The concern for repetition among the pieces is outweighed by the broad range of talent and seemingly endless abilities in re-examining these gothic classics. This collection is stellar...both in concept, creation, and delivery.

Enter At Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms by Scully, B.E., Skye, Joshua, Smyka, Catherine R. and Cornwell, Ted (Nov 19, 2013)

Book Description

November 19, 2013
A collection of seventeen tales that explore the passions, lusts and longings that ignite the fires that inflame and consume us, leaving behind phantoms to rise from their ashes. In Firbolg Publishing’s latest ghostly, gay-themed addition to the Enter at you Own Risk series, a diverse range of acclaimed authors tell haunting tales of scorned lovers with malevolent secrets and vengeful surprises; of fateful obsessions, unleashed impulses, doomed affairs and desire stronger than death; of love that remains ruinously unrequited and love that triumphs over bloodcurdling odds. With an outstanding introduction from Robert Dunbar, Phantoms and Fires sets free gothic visions that manipulate our emotions and penetrate the deepest, most forbidden corners of our psyches—Enter… at your own Risk.
Format:Kindle Edition
In the slew of anthologies released in October only a few stand out this year. Only a few were daring enough to step outside of the body parts, gore, torture, and violence. Enter At Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms is a return to the classic ghost stories of Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe only this time they come with a new angle. All of the stories here are gay-themed ghost stories. The second in the Enter at Your Own Risk series, this one's another success.

In the Gothic tradition, Dr. Alex Scully has cooked up seventeen tales of fear, revenge, murder, lost love, seething anger, and bone-chilling terror. Robbie Anderson gives us a horrific depiction of lust, revenge, and anger in "When You Are Right." B.E. Scully's "Time for One More Show" takes the serial killer into utterly new territory. Richard Hall's famous story "Country People" is reminder of how much things have changed and how much they have not. Michele Cacano's "A Decent Cup of Tea" compliments Hall's story well as lovers find peace at last. "Stage Whisper" by Ted Cornwell is an emotional, moving story of time, love, and eternal peace. There are two classics from Edith Wharton and Ralph Adams Cram that connect the past Gothic traditions to the present beautifully.

The Enter at Your Own Risk series is quickly filling a much-needed nitch in horror publishing. Everybody's doing gore, blood, and guts. The origins of horror, the Gothic period of the 1800s, is still alive and well today. Poe, Stoker, Le Fanu, and their companions haven't vanished and the authors here remind us of that. Fires and Phantoms is creepy, disturbing, haunting, and amazing. Robert Dunbar opens the collection with a fantastic introduction that screams "Get this one."

Alex McDermott from The Kindle Book Review


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Enter at Your Own Risk: Old Masters, New Voices by Sperduto, Benjamin, A.A. Garrison, David Thomas and B.E. Scully (Sep 21, 2012)

Book Description

September 21, 2012
If Gothic masters like Lovecraft, Poe, and Stoker could whisper new tales from beyond the grave, what stories would they create in response to increasingly urgent issues such as the threat of environmental collapse, the ongoing struggles for equal rights, and the innumerable challenges, thrills, and dangers of life in the 21st century? In this new anthology, classic Gothic tales are juxtaposed with modern short stories in a fascinating exploration of how much things change in the world of horror and chills—and how much they stay the same. The stories provide an engaging time travel through the twisted tunnels of the human psyche and the equally disturbing behavior that accompanies it—guilt, lust, revenge, regret, the eternal (and often deadly) power of love, the inseparable allure/repellence of evil… and the sceptered shadow of Death which lurks over all. Special treats from the classic authors include a rare, early story from Poe, and Bram Stoker’s “lost” chapter from Dracula. With 26 tales from three centuries’ worth of delightfully deranged minds, this collection reveals the astonishing scope of the Gothic writer’s incomparable genius for revealing our deepest emotions and penetrating our darkest dreams.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! October 4, 2012
By Jamie
Format:Kindle Edition
Positives: Excellent focus on true Gothic! So many writers/ editors miss the mark on what Gothic literature really is... this collection gets it! I love the thematic connection between the older stories and the modern writers. It gave the collection a cohesive feel and created conversation that's for sure. Excellent choice of classic authors as well, including Poe, Stoker, Lovecraft, Bierce and Maupassant. The Stoker was a really great find as it is a deleted chapter from Dracula and provides fresh insight into the novel. A few standouts in the new authors: B.E. Scully's amazing story "The Ground Always Wins," Carole Gill's piece "Love Among the Dead," Robbie Anderson's "Immovable Fear," Drew Keaton's "Something Remains," Alex McDermott's "Waking Dreams and the Space In-Between," Edward Medina's "The Emperor's Nocturne," and A.A. Garrison's "Riobatta."

Negatives: In every anthology there is bound to be a few you don't care for! This collection did not have many, but there a few. One was a bit predictable, one a little long and wordy, and one had a character that troubled me personally.

Summary: This is a huge collection with 26 stories! There is something for everyone here! The undead, vampires, vengeful spirits, haunted houses, monsters, ghosts, ghouls, unnamed things, and more... a must-read! 

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$9.99 $9.99 $13.85

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