Thursday, March 13, 2014

Coffee Chat 10.0 with S.K. Anthony: Into the Nightmirrors with Raymond Esposito

Hi, everyone! I’m really excited about today’s Coffee Chat, because Raymond Esposito is going to be joining us to discuss his newest book, The Devil’s Hour. I sent S.K. to pick him up—oh, shoot! I forgot to tell him she was coming—but no matter, they should be here any minute. Actually, they should have been here a while ago . . .

Here’s the thing: I never know what kinds of adventures S.K. is going to get herself into, so this time, I took the small precaution of putting a return sticker on her. That might sound strange, and a bit degrading to some, but I think it’s just plain practical. It would have been easier to meet at Raymond’s house, but he wouldn’t tell us where he lived. I don’t know why. Thank goodness for Google.

[Hears a knock at the kitchen door.] Yay! I’ll bet they’re here!

[Opens door to find Raymond, holding a dripping wet S.K. by the hood of her sweatshirt. The look on his face is quite indescribable.]

Um . . . well. Hi, Raymond. Welcome to my house. I’m sure there’s a story behind this, but it’s probably best told over coffee. Come on in and we’ll get a towel or two for S.K. [Sighs.]

SKA: Or a blanket . . . err, thanks for returning me, Raymond.

RE: Hi, Lynda. Sorry we are a bit late. First I had to figure out why a strange woman was running around on my front lawn getting soaked by the sprinkler system . . . then I had to explain it to my wife before she dialed 9-1-1. I can attest that S.K.'s superpowers do not extend to being waterproof . . . or staying on the walkway.

ER: I guess the important part is that you're here now. [To S.K.] Why didn't you just go in the garage when the sprinklers started? You could have stayed dry.

SKA: Are you insane, Lynda? I’m not going in there! Didn’t you read what happens in The Devil’s Hour in the garage? I don’t trust it . . . or you, Raymond. I’m pretty sure at any moment you’re going to open that bag and throw diabolical bugs at me or something.

[Trembling.] I . . . I’ve been having nightmares. I can’t even look you in the eye.

ER: Let's reassure you: Raymond, how about showing S.K. what's in the bag. Did you bring us chocolate?

RE: S.K., of course I didn't bring diabolical bugs. I gave those to the demonic clown that is hiding under your bed. What I did bring is chocolate-flavored coffee because I think comfort foods . . . well, in this case, beverages . . .  go so well with Horror. I know that sounds crazy, but for me some of my fondest childhood memories are of watching horror movies and reading horror novels.

SKA: Demonic clown under my bed? O_O At least it’s not spiders, but umm . . . I’ll take that chocolate-flavored coffee while I set up my new bedroom in Lynda’s house.

ER: Great. Now I have a permanent houseguest. And thank you, Raymond, for reminding me of the demonic clown . . . because I had FINALLY gotten that out of my head for five whole minutes.

What got you hooked on horror? Can you trace it back to a certain time or event?

RE: It's interesting that as a kid I hated roller coasters, but loved being frightened. My mom was a big horror fan. She took me to see The Omega Man at the drive-in when I was, like, five. Together we consumed every creature feature program on television. I think horror is my drug. In fourth grade I did a shadow box on "The Tell-Tale Heart." In middle school I did book reports on John Saul's Suffer the Children, The Amityville Horror, and Peter Straub's Julia. When I discovered Stephen King's ’Salem's Lot, though, that's when I realized I wanted to write horror novels.

[Looks around.] Umm . . . is S.K. going to be okay with the coffee? She had a hard time operating the door bell, and coffee makers are a little more complex.

ER: I'd better check on her . . . she's usually okay with coffee (I think she can make it in her sleep) but this whole clown/bug thing has her pretty wigged out. I thought she was going to tackle you to the floor when she realized you had a bag in your hand.

SKA: I’m okay, I’m okay! I’ve been hiding by the door trying to keep an eye on Raymond. [Looks at him.] You don’t look all that dangerous, and this is awesome coffee, so I forgive you. Don’t give me that look. Your book petrified me, and you should be a little sorry. And now you’re laughing? Fantastic! 



ER: Okay, so let's talk about The Devil's Hour. People always say, "Write what you know." This makes me wonder about you just a little bit. Did you write this book in the bathroom while your friends and family tried to break in and kill you? 'Cause that would leave me with a permanent twitch, and I have to say, you look pretty serene for a horror writer.

RE: I think I do write what I know. Horror is just actual experiences ramped up with imagination. Fictional demons to exercise the real ones from the past . . . in my opinion. As a kid I often barricaded myself in a room while a real-life demon tried to get in to kill me . . . figuratively kill me, of course.

ER: Ahh, yes, the brother who ate the cereal full of ants . . .

RE: My childhood was a great world of imagination and fun, but it was also filled, like many people's, with my fair share of not-so-great experiences. There are as many psychological aspects to my story writing as there are "scary" things because I've always thought that horror is the celebration of human character and strength . . . even when it doesn't end well, it's about standing up.

SKA: Standing up? Sure, I can see that. But I’d rather run to my new bedroom, curl up and hide under my blanket. Speaking of running, originally I would have been all for going after the SUV to get away like they did in the book, but after what happened in the garage . . . I don’t know that I would still try to get the car out; I still have goosebumps.

RE: Well, I think courage is a situational thing. That's what I love about horror—take the worst situation and see which characters rise and which fall. It's a great world for the reader to ask, "What would I do?"

SKA: What was your favorite scene to write, Raymond? Or one of your favorite lines?

RE: I'm going to cheat a bit and say there wasn't one particular scene, but TDH is one part mystery and I really enjoyed weaving in the clues. I'm hoping when the reader gets to the end they go "a-ha."

But the demon under the bed was one of my personal childhood nightmares.

ER: The under-the-bed stuff was the same for me. No matter how hot it was, I couldn't allow my hands or feet to hang off the side of the bed because I knew something would grab me. I also had a fear of the killer bees after I'd read a National Geographic article. I was convinced they were coming up from South America to kill me. I was so happy you didn't have a swarm of killer bees in your book! I would have needed therapy.

Since I got the manuscript in parts, I had a lot of "a-ha" moments because of your excellent clue-weaving abilities. I couldn't wait to reread it for the final proof so I could look at those moments more purposefully.

Speaking of your abilities, I think you have the creep factor down pretty well. No need to work on that. Something you and I talked about during the editing process was the horror aspect of this book and how it was a little different than your other works. Can you elaborate on that?

RE: I remember the "killer bee" scare and the made-for-television movie. It gave me nightmares. And to answer your question, that's what TDH was about: nightmares. I've written a lot of short stories, but to date my novels are zombie/infected related. I really wanted to write a straight-out horror story. Something that would let me talk about all the nightmare stuff that scares me. I wanted it to be one of those books that fits the classic description of horror without relying on blood or guts or slasher-type elements. I'm hoping readers will find at least one thing in it that visits them when they lie in the dark and sleep won't come . . . but I guess that's every horror author's goal.

SKA: Let me assure you, your goal was achieved. I love everything zombies, so I’m probably okay with blood and guts. But the creepiness you have in TDH? That was not expected and I’m pretty sure most readers will agree with me. My skin is still crawling. And the fact that I finished reading at 3:00 a.m. didn’t help matters with me staying awake after reading The Devil’s Hour. What are the odds? Needless to say, I lay in the dark and sleep did not come when I was done . . .

RE: I think the odds are about right—maybe it was a warning. [Laughs.]

ER: Did it end up being therapeutic, or creating more nightmares for you? I'll bet you don't have any happy clown nightlights in your house.

RE: Unfortunately, no, it wasn't therapeutic, because the more I've seen of this country and the more I've learned, the closer I come to believing that maybe these fictional "fears" have some truth. It does seem everything we imagine comes true—like flying, magic potions that cure disease, space travel. So perhaps the monsters are real. Maybe they're just good at hiding . . . until that one time they grow tired of waiting . . . that time you forget to look under the bed or you chance not turning on the light and you reach into the darkness. Maybe I don't have a good imagination, but instead, maybe I just know something that's hard to explain any other way but in stories . . .  Okay, I just creeped myself out. See? Horror is an itch but it’s like poison ivy: the more I scratch, the worse it gets.

ER: You're creeping me out, too, and making me want to run, screaming, into S.K.'s new room. You said you were going to bring a movie for us to watch. Pleasepleaseplease let it be something like The Sound of Music or The Princess Bride.


RE: Sure. It's just like those movies. Nothing to fear at all . . . just turn off the lights and have a look.
It begins with a car accident and a mysterious wall of smoke. Something horrific has arrived in Sam Drake's neighborhood—something that will unleash their every nightmare and test the limits of sanity. Sam and his friends must find a way out . . . a way to survive the terrors in the darkness. But every neighborhood has its dark secrets and some nightmares are inescapable . . . when the hour comes.


ER: Not . . . The Princess Bride . . .

You can get your own copy of The Devil's Hour on Smashwords or Amazon. In fact, Raymond has provided a coupon code (WS98R) to get it FREE on Smashwords if you're one of the first 25 people to get there and grab one. 

You can find Raymond Esposito on his own blogs, Writing in a Dead World and Nightmirrors. You can also find him on Twitter @Nightmirrors666.

As always:

You can find S.K. Anthony in a number of places. She's on Twitter @SKathAnthony, her website is www.skanthony.com, her Facebook page is S Katherine Anthony, and on occasional occasions, she'll be right here with me, drinking coffee and laughing it up over our latest plans and schemes. And possibly even talking about books and writing. 

You can find me here. I'm always here.

28 comments:

  1. What a fun read! Lately, I haven't read much Stephen King or Dean Koontz, but they used to my favorites. I might have to head over to smashwords and see if I'm one of the first 25!

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    1. Okay...yes, I am replying to my own comment! I had to, because I just want to encourage anyone else considering the book. I downloaded it (yup, I was one of the 25 :) ) and it only took the first few pages of this to know that I like it. Funny that I mentioned Koontz, because (IMO) Esposito has the same style of prose. I love the way the words flow and even though I have several projects going on, I think I'll have to find a way to read this sooner than later. :)

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    2. Tara, I hadn't read a horror book in a long time either, I think the other SK (Stephen King) CELL freaked me out enough that I took a long break from this genre, but I was blown away by Raymond's writing. Mainly? I'm scared of being scared, so total opposite of him and his likes, yet I couldn't stop reading. I'm so glad I got the ARC for it. Get to it when you can, its worth it...and this from a non-horror fan lol.

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    3. Tara, I'm so glad you're already drawn in. Believe me, it's a tough one to put down. I was like S.K., kind of dropping the horror ball years ago, and I happened to buy Raymond's other books in The Creepers Saga and was hooked. I was pretty psyched when he wanted me to edit this one.

      Every time I thought something sounded really terrific, he'd send the "tweaked" version and say, "Do you think this is better or not?" I was always astounded that he could improve something I already thought was rockin' it.

      Enjoy!

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    4. Tara, I do often mention King, but I've read an equal share of Koontz...so I'll take your comment as a big compliment. Thanks for giving TDH a look.

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  2. I have a hard time getting scared. I love horror, but it is rare to find something that spooks me. I am reading You and Me Against the World, by Mr. Esposito and enjoying it. I may have to check out TDH. My daughter loves horror too, is this something she could read? We can pop a bag of popcorn(<--see food) and read it together.

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    1. Popcorn! Perfect for the "movie" Lynda and Raymond just shared. You do have to check out TDH, and yes I would say it's okay as far as horror goes for A's age ;)

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    2. Okay cool. She loves anything horror.

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    3. You and Me Against the World is great, as is its follow-up, All Our Foolish Schemes. Book Three is in the works and will hopefully be out by late fall if all goes well.

      Thank you for the popcorn! Not sure how old your daughter is, but there is some language. Otherwise, clean and just plain frightening. I think you'd definitely enjoy it.

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    4. And I love how the movie is now "Lynda and Raymond's" movie. Can you tell S.K. didn't want to be blamed for all the people who went screaming away from my blog? But she didn't turn down his chocolate coffee, did she? Noooooo.

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    5. Hey Brandon, as Lynda said there is a little language- I worked hard not to drop more than a few "bad" words and nothing in it I would be uncomfortable reading in public LOL.

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    6. Lol, poor SK, those mean old clowns. You can come stay with us if they bother you too much. Thanks for the heads up on the book. I think a little language will be okay, I talk to her about stuff like that so we have an understanding.

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  3. I'm sorry, but I can't deal with horror. It gives me nightmares, and now I'm going to think I have a demonic clown under my bed. After we saw Fatal Attraction, I kept expecting to find Glenn Close in my house, cooking a bunny. But I wish you all well. It's good that you put a return sticker on Katherine. Last night Willy Dunne Wooters went out to get some food for our dinner. I made a list for him on a post-it note and stuck it on his shirt. Sometimes the people we love get confused. Or maybe a demonic clown captured them!

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Let me fix my horrific grammar, oh editors. (I know it still sucks, but its before than before, promise)

      I'm not sure I get too confused, Janie. My kidnapping of you is what prompted Lynda to act so irrationally. Granted, I still got into trouble at Raymond's place, but I was scared. And since you can't deal with horror, you should understand the situation I was in. Though . . . now that I think about it, I rather be lost and confused than be captured by a demonic clown. Yikes!

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    2. Put my address on Willy Dunne Wooters one of these days. I'd love to meet him!

      You don't have to worry about the demonic clown; he's probably still at S.K.'s house, anyway.

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    3. Janie, I completely understand. Of course just because you don't check under the bed before you go to sleep doesn't mean there's nothing under there--forewarned is forearmed LOL.

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  4. Demonic clowns are the worst! This was a really fun interview!

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    1. I'm starting to think all clowns are demonic; some of them just haven't removed the mask yet.

      Perhaps it's safer for me to go back to your blog and "moo" a bit longer. Unless there are demonic cows, too.

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    2. Sherry, the credit goes to my hosts. Coffee Chat may be an asylum, but they do give an excellent guided tour for guests.

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    3. MAY be? We must not be trying hard enough.

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    4. Oh, Sherry, no need to worry. I actually gave the demonic clown under my bed some of the chocolate-flavored coffee Raymond gifted me and we're now BFFs. So feed it if you ever encounter one, and you'll be fine. Mine is now going to go on some wicked adventures for me, so thanks Raymond!

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    5. You know I have a science fiction horror story all plotted out. Maybe I should go back to it... This looks like a pretty good read I may just have to check it out. As a matter of fact I may just go there right now. (jeopardy music playing) yay, I got it for free.

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    6. You WILL enjoy it. Or else we'll send that clown your way. And believe me, he's not the worst thing happening in that book.

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    7. The gentlemen will keep him away. Maybe they will convince him to buy a book.

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  5. I hate commenting in the wrong spot :(

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    1. And Lynda, when are you going to answer the riddle? I think you are stalling for extra time.

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    2. But now you got two spots to comment, a.k.a. more visibility.

      And yes, of course I'm stalling for extra time. We may be answering questions next Thursday, and even if we're not, perhaps I'll just shout out a riddle answer in the middle of a sip of coffee.

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    3. Now here is an easy one. What chest has no key, hinge, or lid. But inside a golden treasure is hid.

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I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog. (Note: if the post is more than a couple weeks old, your comment will automatically go into the "needs approval" folder, but I will still publish it and reply!)