Book Review: A Whispered Darkness by Vanessa Barger


When Claire Mallory’s father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.

The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well — like it’s been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.

Just as things start to pick up in Claire’s love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.

They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it’s all over?


 Vanessa Barger was born in West Virginia, and through several moves ended up spending the majority of her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and Old Dominion University, and has degrees in Graphic Design, a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and a Masters in Technology Education. She has had articles published in Altered Arts Magazine, has had some artwork displayed in galleries in Ohio and online, and currently teaches engineering, practical physics, drafting and other technological things to high school students in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and the Virginia Writer’s Club. When not writing or teaching, she’s a bookaholic, movie fanatic, and loves to travel. She has one cat, who believes Vanessa lives only to open cat food cans, and can often be found baking when she should be editing.

 My Review:

Spirits and ghosts never fail to fascinate me in stories. They are one of the few paranormal entities that are both possible and persistently scare the crap out of me! I used to love ghost stories when I was kid, but not so much when my imagination started rolling them round in my mind in the middle of the night!

This is YA, so not as scary as an adult horror would be, so hit a nice middle ground to be intriguing but not something that stops you turning the light off!

From a writer’s perspective, I found Claire’s voice a little muddled at times. I’m not sure if this was down to a character trait (as it was written first person) or down to the general voice of the author. There were quite a few punctuation errors in there too – now I’m not the be all and end all expert on this matter and some of them might have been down to personal taste, but there were quite a few sentences (especially in the beginning) that were missing commas. Now, this might be more to do with the fact I was given an Advanced Reader Copy – so the final version might prove a little less muddled and with a few more little black wiggles where they are supposed to be.

The story itself was interesting, but the YA aspect again was quite predictable and followed that old tried and tested love triangle, protagonist specialness – which although works, is getting a bit tiresome for me personal. To be honest though, I’m not a teen readers – so not really the target market for this book.

The front cover is beautiful. Month9 seem to always produce fantastic covers and really promote their books – so two spectral thumbs up for that.

Overall, I’d give Whispers 3 out of 5 stars for an adult reader and 4 out of 5 for a teen. A perfect read for a Halloween night.



Book Review: Summoning the Night (Arcadia Bell #2) by Jenn Bennett


After narrowly escaping her fate as a sacrificial scapegoat, Arcadia Bell is back to normal. Or at least as ordinary as life can be for a renegade magician and owner of a tiki bar that caters to Earthbound demons. She’s gearing up for the busiest day of the year—Halloween—when a vengeful kidnapper paralyzes the community. The influential head of the local Hellfire Club taps Cady to track down the fiendish bogeyman, and now that she’s dating red-hot Lon Butler, the Club’s wayward son, she can hardly say no.

Cady and Lon untangle a gruesome thirty-year trail of clues that points to danger for the club members’ children. But locating the person behind the terror will require some metaphysical help from Cady’s loyal bar patrons as well as her potent new Moonchild powers—and she’d better figure it out before the final victim disappears and her own darkest secret becomes her biggest enemy.

About the Author:

JENN BENNETT is the author of: the Roaring Twenties series (Berkley Sensation) and the Arcadia Bell UF series (Pocket Books). Her first YA contemporary romance, THE NIGHT OWLS, will debut in 2015 (Macmillan). She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs. Visit her

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My Review:

So, 2nd book in the series, and although its a stand-alone story (which is great) you should really read them in order to get a feel for the world they live in and the different words they use.

This a more of a who-dun-it style story, which I simply adore in Urban fantasy novels. There were clues, red herrings and more to get your teeth into.

From a writer’s perspective, the plot was fast paced and, especially having just read the first one, the nuances of the book were really easy to pick up again.  I love that it’s all first person from Arcadia’s POV, she’s really had it rough as a character so its easy to feel for her and get behind her. She’s still with Lon, and I still think she can do better! One of the things that made Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series un-put-downable was that she never stayed too long with a bloke, so there was always a ‘will they, won’t they’ through each book with a new supernatural hunk. I feel that, by having a steady romance in a series, you miss that crucial component out.

The front cover is nice, but its brown, which isn’t a very dynamic cover – however the branding is good and its easy to recognise as part of the series.

Overall I’d give Summoning the Night 5 out 5 stars – could have done with pinch more romance, but still a bloody good story that deserves each and every star.


Lost in the Witching Hour – Out Now!


There is a time of night when the ghosts grow more active. This hour is the witching hour. Here is a collection of 13 ghostly tales. Be careful when you read, we wouldn’t want to get …

Table of Contents

Approaching by R.T. Tandy,
Sonic Fear by Michael Kleen,
Amanda by Walter Conley,
In My Dreams are Halle’s Embers by Rhesa Sealy,
Never Too Late by Rick McQuiston,
Battlefield of Souls by Richard Farren Barber,
Crybaby Bridge by Christian Larsen,
What Happened to Little Caitlin by Nicky Peacock,
When the Goatman Comes by Amelia Cotter,
Charlatan Charade by Amy Braun,
The Patience Factor by Rick McQuiston,
DO NOT DISTURB: The Glen Tavern Entities by Jason Hughes,
Cleopatra’s Ghost by Anton Sim,
The Whorehouse Ghosts by James David Park

Buy Links:

Amazon US   Amazon UK  Publishers

Interview with Maggie LaCroix

mlacroixTell us about your publishing journey…

It was a long and winding road! First, it took a long time to write Zombified. An average of one chapter per month. Then I mailed pitches to agents without hearing anything back for months. But then something pretty amazing happened. Literary agencies sometimes put their unwanted requests in a folder in their conference room. A slush pile. And sometimes, an agent looking for a new project will go through the slush pile. Believe it or not, that’s what happened to Zombified! Then my wonderful agent, David Forrer at Inkwell Management in New York, found an equally wonderful publisher, the Writer’s Coffee Shop. Still, all said and done, the process took more than three years.

What do you love about being an author?

I’m not sure that I know what it means to be an author yet, as Zombified is my first book. But I certainly like writing. I like language and massaging words into perfect sentences. I have synesthesia -I mentally associate colors with letters- so the experience of writing is very vivid and colorful for me.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

There are characters that I do find intriguing like Miss Havisham, Tom Ripley, Patrick Bateman, the Marquise de Merteuil, but they are all pretty crazy and I don’t know if I’d like to have dinner with any of them, lest they poison my food. Maybe I should have dinner with my own characters to see if I got them right… What would we eat? Depends who’s paying.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads? Zombified-Low-Res-Cover

How fun is that question (and hopefully a good omen)! I really can’t see familiar faces for my characters; I imagine lesser-known young actors like Ximena Sarinana or Emily Rios (The Bridge) for Josie and Charles Michael Davis (The Originals) for Henri.

Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?

Sexy, of course. Always sexy. I’m kind of bored with sexless horror. But of course, what makes vampires sexy is that they are also blood-hungry monsters!

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?

I wouldn’t go back. I’d go forward. I’d go to 2050. I think it would be amazing to see what kind of craziness humans come up with in the future. There’s also a big chance that the sexes will be more equal and that would be a really cool thing to experience.

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

“Pay attention to your life.” That’s by the American writer and theologian Frederick Buechner. It’s such a simple saying and yet it’s such good advice. What it says is, pay attention to your life because it is important (YOU are important), it can always be improved and it goes so fast. In other words, YOLO.

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

I think I would want to be a creature that doesn’t have uncontrollable bloodthirst, ie: not a vampire, because that seems exhausting and messy. But I’d still like to be powerful. So, maybe a succubus?

Where do you write best? 

That’s really a question that I, like many female authors, don’t have the luxury to investigate. We have jobs, and/or kids. We write when and where we can, often late at night or early in the morning. (It’s not just female authors; Stephen King wrote Carrie in the laundry room of his trailer after hours.) It’s not always fun but it does motivate you to do the best with what little time you have and commit some words to the page.

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

OK, so the last book I read is embarrassing so I won’t tell you about it (it was smutty…). But I’ll tell you about a book I read recently that I really liked. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (also loved her Sharp Objects and Dark Places) is just an unreliable narrator masterpiece. This guy’s wife is missing and he is heartbroken… or is he? I also loved Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan (full disclosure, she is a friend).  It’s a play-by-play retelling of the 1970s multiple personality hoax that was made famous by a Sally Field movie. It’s captivating.

If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?

I used to be a newspaper reporter. If I didn’t write urban fantasies, I would write non-fiction. I would write the real stories behind the news stories that I reported. Hey, that’s a good idea. I should get started on that…

Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Facebook (, Goodreads ( and Twitter (@mlacroix9). I’d love to see y’all there!


Book Review: Nightlord by Kathy Kulig


Warrior vampire Garrick Labar guards the secrets of the Guild. His comrade— vampire and sorcerer Ramon Travere—enforces the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. When Larissa Devine moves into town, both Garrick and Ramon are mesmerized and enraptured by her. They crave to claim her as their crimson swan and lover. But a new arrival is fair game and if they don’t claim her first, a band of renegades will.

Larissa finds a blistering-hot ménage with her protectors too intoxicating to resist. The immortals can’t deny their sexual attraction for her and sense her blood pulsing hot and furious whenever they are close. Erotic desires thrust her into a world of danger and seduction. When the renegade vampires attempt to destroy a hundred years of peace, Larissa is caught in the crossfire. Eternal love and carnal nights can be her future if she survives.

About the Author:

Award winning author Kathy Kulig has published more than a dozen titles, spanning multiple genres of erotic romance: paranormal, contemporary and BDSM. Beyond Your Darkest Desires. She writes for Ellora’s Cave.

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Her non-fiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers and various on-line venues. Kathy’s sensual fiction has been published in e-book, print and anthologies.

When she’s not writing she enjoys travelling, mountain biking, hiking, movies and reading (of course)–including romance, erotica, sci. fi, thrillers and some non-fiction.

Buy on Amazon

My Review:

Vampires can seem a little old hat nowadays, so putting them into quite a mundane setting as a lingerie shop, is refreshing and poised with playfulness. The characters were likeable and, although paranormal, oddly believable. It’s very well written, and the plot moves at a steady pace.

From a writer’s perspective, the leading lady, Larissa is described as ‘big hipped, small breasted’ and well, kind of normal looking which led me to an internal debate. Part of me, the real part, loved this. We’re bombarded with un-natural images of big boobed, air-brushed beauties who are held up to all as the standard we must adhere to – and inevitably never do. The media is the biggest camp to blame for this – celebrities being their pawns and tools to sell, papers, clicks, products to us ‘normal’ folk looking to grab at a bit of stardust. And to have a normal woman in a book, is lovely. However, there’s another part of me, the fantasy-prone crazy who, having been conditioned to only read about and watch beautiful people, feels uncomfortable about it. There are so few women in the world who are completely happy with their looks that, in their day dreams they appear as a natural reflection. When we read fantastical stories, is the hardest thing to believe that a normal looking woman can be the object of desire? As much as I’ve just written about this, and as high as this soap-box seems to be – I really can’t decide.

The front cover is a little more fantasy than the contents, so to be honest a more usual Ellora’ s Cave front cover would have done it more justice.

Overall, I’d give Night Lords 4 out of 5 stars, vampires are still sexy and this is definitely worth picking up to indulge in a bit of Fang-tasy!

The night lord lover

Book Review: My Tethered Soul (Reaper’s Rite #2) by Dorothy Dreyer


It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.

About the Author:

Dorothy Dreyer has always believed in magic. She loves readiDorothy-Dreyerng, writing, movies, and spending time with her family and friends. Half-American and half-Filipino, Dorothy lives in Germany with her husband and two children.

  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

My Review:

This is the 2nd book in a series and you do really have to read the first to get to grips with this one. Okay, so the premise of these books are great, reapers are definitely an under-used paranormal entity in the world of books (unless you count the Dementors in Harry Potter) so big tick there. My criticism of the books is that neither strayed too far from the traditional YA formula, so it was a bit predictable and tired in that sense. Although, to be fair to the author, formulas are there for a reason and to stray too far from them would probably mean that neither publishers nor readers would get too far into the story without feeling uncomfortable – but a little liberty would have pushed the boundaries and perhaps made the books more memorable.

From a writer’s perspective, the character of Zadie was a bit of a cliche. She was consistently making bad decisions, although didn’t we all at that age! And as a heroine I couldn’t get behind her and her choices. She did get a little more worldly-wise in the 2nd book, but I still wanted to slap her a few times. That said, this is the main difference between YA and adult fiction. These books are aimed at a much younger reading audience than me, and as a reviewer I shouldn’t forget that.

The front covers are awesome – so well done to the designer. They both have a certain look of branding and are reflective of the storyline.

Overall, and to be fair, I’m going to give both books a duel score: 4 out 5 for a  teen YA read but 3 out 5 for adults who like YA books.


Interview with Carina Adly MacKenzie

carinam_hs1_lowTell us about your publishing journey…

I was feeling frustrated back toward the end of 2012, because I really wanted to write a novel, but after the explosion of the 50 Shades series, it seemed like every publishing house, agent, and packaging company I talked to really wanted to capitalize on the popularity of that genre, and those just weren’t the stories I was personally excited about telling. (My general response when they talked about their dream projects was, “But my dad is going to read this.”) Finally, I reached out to Rebecca Serle, a YA author who I’d connected with on Twitter because she was a Vampire Diaries fan and I was, at the time, a TV critic. (She has since become one of my closest friends.) She recommended that I get in touch with Paper Lantern Lit. I submitted a sample from a YA novel I’d been working on – not Eternal Night, but a realistic contemporary story – and we immediately started talking ideas. Eternal Night grew from there. It’s been quite a ride and it definitely wasn’t easy, but it was fun.

What do you love about being an author?

Author is a big word. I do not think I’ll ever get used to people calling me that. The best part of being a writer is, honestly, when the writing is done, and you have a finished product that you can put in someone else’s hands. (My favorite part is when the project stops being my problem.) Writing is not fun for me, but being a writer is fun for me. I realize that doesn’t make a ton of sense, but basically, I spend all my time thinking I’m a really good writer, except when I’m actually trying to put pen to paper, and then I think I’m a disaster. Then, when I’m done with a project and I can put it away for a couple days and come back to it fresher, I think I’m a really good writer again.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

This is probably the most cliché response ever, but: Hermione Granger. I would eat literally anything she wanted to eat just to get a chance to hang out with her. I would eat Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, even the barf-flavored ones, just to sit around and talk to her about being the most badass wizard ever.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?22617086

This question has come up a couple of times throughout promoting the book, and I’ve decided not to answer it. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, A lot of my friends are actors, so mostly I would cast them. Even if they weren’t great for the part, I’d cast them anyway, just to trap them all in one place and force them not to travel away from me for a couple months. This is why I will never be in charge of casting anything. Second, I don’t want to take away from any reader’s imagination because I’ve already told them that one of the characters looks like some CW actor I happen to think is cute. The upside of reading a book before there’s a movie is that you get to fill in all the blanks with your brain. And finally – this is the most important. The first time I was asked this question, I tried to put together a list, but I couldn’t, and here’s why: In my mind, Peitha is a Mediterranean beauty. She has olive skin and dark features. She is not thin. And I couldn’t think of an age-appropriate actress who fit this description, which makes me sad. I can think of diverse actors who could play other characters– Nadia, and Dean, and Kris, and a handful of others – but not one for Peitha. So I just scrapped the whole list. Diversity is important to me, and I don’t want to neglect it for the sake of casting a movie that doesn’t even exist.

Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?

Ha! I appreciate the opportunity for this shameless plug. I prefer vampires to be sexy leading blood-hungry monsters. The second season of “The Originals” airs Mondays, starting October 6, at 8 p.m. on The CW. I’m so proud of our vamps – played to perfection by Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin, and Charles Michael Davis – because they are powerful and vulnerable and romantic and horrible. Writing for this show is my literal dream job. I spend every day scared that they’re going to realize a fan infiltrated their inner circle, and then they’re going to fire me.

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?

I would go back to the early 90s and I would go for one more early morning run with my grandfather (who I call Pom Pom) because he can’t run anymore, and I didn’t appreciate it enough when he could.

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

Not to feel ashamed of what you love. Uh, unless it’s illegal. If something makes you happy, get excited about it. There should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If we all talked a little more about the things we loved and a little less about the things we don’t, the world would be much better.

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

I would be something that could magically become invisible, so that I could spy on people all the time. I like knowing secrets.

Where do you write best?

For the last year or so, in The Originals writers’ office. I’d go in on weekends to work on Eternal Night when no one was there (except, usually, my friend Matt). I like having a designated place for work. I’m easily distracted, so routines help me focus. Really, I can write anywhere that has coffee, as long as it’s tidy. I can not write in messy places.

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

Technically, I finished Paper Towns by John Green this morning, but it was about the zillionth time I’ve read it. I’ve been keeping it in my car so if I’m ever waiting or eating lunch by myself or getting my hair done or whatever, I can grab it. It’s an all-time favorite… Manic Pixie Dream Girl and all. Before that, I read Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. It was a very, very quick read, and it was basically Taylor Swift fan fiction. (I don’t mean that as an insult, for the record. I’m pro-Taylor Swift and pro-fan fiction if that’s what gets your motor running… remember, don’t be ashamed of what you love.) It was fun and cute, and a little unrealistic, but it was a perfectly charming way to spend a summer Sunday morning.

If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?

I’ve sort of built a whole career around the supernatural genre, with Eternal Night and the TV world I’ve lived in since I started, and it’s really fun to find ways to tell honest, human stories about superhuman characters. But I hope I get to explore more realistic fiction down the road. Most of my favorite books and shows are all just about normal people surviving normal life.

Where can fans find you online?

Mostly on Twitter – all day, everyday – I’m @cadlymack. My Tumblr is occasionally updated with general fangirling (I mostly use it to read what other people are saying about The Originals… okay, and Arrow, too.) – that’s . I’m @cadlymack on Instagram. My public Facebook is My blog is at and I’m trying to get better about updating it.

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Book Review: Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell #1) by Jenn Bennett


Meet Arcadia Bell: bartender, renegade magician, fugitive from the law. . . .

Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.

But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time

About the Author:

JENN BENNETT writes the Roaring Twenties historical paranormal romance series for Berkley Sensation, the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series for Pocket Books, and YA contemporary romance for Macmillan (2015). She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two bad pugs. Visit her at

My Review:

It’s always great to find a new series of books to devour – especially when the British summer hasn’t lived up to it’s promise, and curling up with a good book on the sofa is not so much a choice, but a requirement.

The world building was superb, although a few of the names/words were hard to remember at times and were quite similar – maybe a key at the back would have helped for those of us with short attention spans.

From a writer’s perspective, the plot was sharp and the pacing great. It was just the right size of a book to get a great story in, without feeling like you’re tackling a tome. Arcadia was a great protagonist but I found myself not really wanting to her to get with the male lead , Lon. I’m not sure why I didn’t like him, but I just couldn’t warm to him and really felt she could do better. One of my biggest gripes of an urban fantasy series is when the main character latches onto to a romantic partner early on in the books and stays with them, as this then takes the question of romance out of all the books to come – so I’ll have to wait and see if that happens here…

The front cover is lovely, nice colours and has a certain vitality about it – although the lady on the front doesn’t quite match the description of Arcadia – in the book she’s describe as big hips and kind of ordinary.

Overall, I’d give Kindling the Moon 4 out of 5 stars, a fantastic start – if you’re looking for a new urban fantasy series to get your hands on, look no further.

Interview with Shane McKenzie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATell us about your publishing journey…

There was one hell of a journey before the journey, but we’ll just start at the point when I realized I wanted to write. I went online looking for tips and book recommendations, because I learned very quickly that having cool ideas wasn’t enough. I wrote some stuff, thought that maybe, just maybe, it was pretty good, right? Then I would read a short story or novel written by a professional, and then excitedly rush back to my story to re-read it, only to realize that it was, well, god awful. So I knew I needed to learn the craft. I read the books that seemed to be the most popular (Elements of Style, King’s On Writing, Morrell’s The Successful Novelist, etc.) and I took some online classes with Michael Knost. Most importantly, I wrote my ass off every day and submitted it all over the internet. All of the presses I was interested in were invite only or closed to submissions, so I started out, unfortunately, giving my work away to online zines or printed anthologies, all of which paid with “exposure” or called themselves “for the love” presses. Which means that I should give them my work for free because of how much I love writing, even though the publisher is not giving the book away because they love publishing, which means they were making money off my work, as well as countless others, banking on those writers’ families and friends who were buying these books because the writers involved were mostly new to the game and extremely excited to see their name printed in a book, period. Even though I can see how backwards that is now, to be honest, I don’t regret it. Most of, if not all of, those presses went under, so those books are disappearing, though I have a few old boogers still out there in Internet Land. But most importantly, I was writing. Those zines and anthologies, at the very least, got me inspired to write because I was already hooked on seeing my name on a book, and some of them forced me to challenge myself in order to write a story that fit a certain theme. As I wrote more and more, the lessons I was reading in those books I mentioned started making more sense. So I re-read those, wrote a bunch more, then re-read the books again, and so on. Each time I re-read a book on writing, I found something new that went right over my head the last time I read it, because I didn’t have the experience to truly grasp what that lesson was trying to teach me. I still re-read those books from time to time.

After having twenty or so stories published this way, I started to sort of buy into it. I was new and hungry and full of ideas, so I contacted the owner of a certain publisher and asked if I could edit some anthologies with themes of my choosing. I did a few of these, and very quickly found out that this job was not for me. However, it was another great lesson, and something that I honestly think could benefit every single new author, if they can find a place to do it. Reading through a slush pile will teach you how to identify bad writing. After a while, you can tell if something is going to be worth your time as an editor after reading a page, sometimes even a paragraph. As I was editing these things, I was still writing every day, and I started noticing some bad habits in my own work that was driving me insane as an editor. So I stopped doing those things. Being able to differentiate a bad story from a good one, obviously, is extremely important. I started to figure out certain things I could do to grab an editor’s attention and then hang onto it until the end. Whether they decide to publish the story or not, I was getting them to read the whole thing. Form rejections became personal rejections with actual feedback. Eventually, personal rejections became acceptances.

This is getting long-winded as hell, so let me make the next part quick. After I learned the craft and all the lessons above, I was selling stories. Getting paid, though still not very much. The problem was, I wanted to write a novel, and those damn presses were still closed to submissions. So I knew I had to get creative. I did some research and found out which professional authors lived close to me, and reached out to them. One of those authors is a guy named Wrath James White. I saw that he offered training for MMA fighters, so I contected him and signed up, having no fighting experience whatsoever. After sessions, we would talk about writing, which was mostly me asking a thousand questions. I figured, if I’m not willing to get the shit kicked out of me for writing, maybe I shouldn’t be a writer. Then something huge happened for me. I like to think it was fate. The World Horror Convention took place in Austin, TX, where I live. Wrath took me around and introduced me to some editors, all of which worked for those presses that were closed to submissions. We talked about writing and what not, but mostly, we hung out. We partied and had a good time. We became friends. That was the turning point for me right there. Because now, when I was sending emails asking if I could submit something, those editors knew who I was, and after getting to know me and hanging out with me, they were curious enough to agree to read my work. The next thing I knew, I had a published novel. And then another and another. Suddenly, I didn’t have to submit anything anymore because those same presses who were invite only were sending me invites.

What do you love about being an author? Fairy300

I get to entertain people. I get to share the insanity floating around in my head with people who love the same kind of crazy shit I do. Nothing makes me happier than speaking with my readers.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

I would definitely feast on the souls of children with Pennywise the Clown.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I imagine Cecilia as kind of a plain woman. Someone like Mireille Enos would be great. And for the fairy, I would only accept Joe Pesci sitting on Danny Devito’s shoulders.

As a horror writer you are looking to scare readers – what scares you?

Besides something bad happening to my wife and daughter, I would have to say heights. And dolls. If I was standing on the head of a giant china doll, I would soil my britches. I saw this video the other day of a woman’s nipple that had living bee larvae inside of it. It wasn’t my fault! It was one of those videos on Facebook that automatically plays when you scroll by it. The nipple had honeycomb patterns on it, and you could see the little white larvae moving around in there. If makes my scalp tingle when I think about it. It seriously freaks me out. So, a giant china doll with baby bees in its tits is my worst nightmare.

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?

I would travel back to yesterday because I had quite a nice dinner.

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

Being yourself is what makes you interesting. No matter how weird you might think you are.

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

I would be a leprechaun because nobody would judge me for loving rainbows. And I also look fantastic in green and gold.

Where do you write best? 

I can write anywhere. For me, it’s more about my state of mind than my surroundings. I am easily distracted, so I actually don’t write well at home because I’ll find so many other things I think need to be done. Or, you know, that blasted Netflix. I do most of my writing at my day job whenever I have a free moment. That way the writing itself feels like a treat instead of actual work.

addicted1_bigWhat was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

I’ve been reading a lot of comic books lately. I’m working my way through Preacher right now, and it’s pretty damn fantastic. The last actual book I read was Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales by Norman Partridge. This book is filled with amazing short stories and novellas, but for me, I enjoyed the bits of writing advice sprinkled throughout the most. Norm’s writing is inspiring and intimidating at the same time, and I will devour anything that man puts out. And he’s got some serious lessons to learn ya, too. Get this book.

If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?

I think I would enjoy writing children’s books, actually. Maybe even some YA stuff. My ideas tend to be way out there, and though I tend to make them very adult, some of them could easily be toned down and marketed to a young audience. Sometimes, I see adults roll their eyes when I tell them what my latest book is about, and I can tell they aren’t taking it seriously because it seems silly to them. Which is fine, though I do think if they would actually read some of it, they may enjoy it. But with kids, the sillier the better. I will probably attempt a children’s book and YA novel at some point in my career.

Where can fans find you online?

You can head to my website:

You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter @shanepmckenzie

I have an Amazon author page with all my available books listed there. You can also say my name seventy-six times in the mirror, and I’ll appear, but I’ll look exactly like you.