What Lies Beneath: Redefining Horror (with Shannon Lawrence)
On the surface, horror is seen by those who don’t understand it (and even many of those who think they do) as jump scares and gore, but it’s a lot deeper than that. What types of horror are there? Where can readers find unexpected horror? How is horror defined, both loosely and specifically? The world of horror is full of surprises if you widen your horizons
A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her two solo horror short story collections, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments are available from online retailers. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at www.thewarriormuse.com.
Email submissions [at] denverhorror [dot] com to reserve your slot today ($5 via PayPal or free for Denver Horror Collective members)!
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has tragically taken the lives of tens of thousands of people across the globe and infected many more. Even among those of us who remain healthy, many have lost significant income or even their jobs.
While people everywhere are struggling, often the most effective way to alleviate suffering is to act locally. With this in mind, Denver Horror Collective has launched the DHC Pandemic Fund to provide a tiny bit of much-needed cash flow to our greater community of Colorado dark fiction writers.
Through GoFundMe we hope to raise at least $1,666 to disburse in the form of seven separate mini-grants—$666, $500, and five $100—to writers in need (names of applicants will be kept private).
Those kind and generous enough to contribute to the cause will be rewarded with signed copies of the works of some of our Colorado horror masters—including Steve Rasnic Tem, Stephen Graham Jones, Carter Wilson, and Graeme Davis—as well as hard- covers, paperbacks, or e-books from local greats Bobby Crew, Lanie Goodell, Ian Neligh, Gary Robbe, Josh Schlossberg, Warren Hammond & Joshua Viola, Joy Yehle, and Denver Horror Collective (MORE INFO ON GIFTS BELOW).
So, if you’re able, please consider digging deep into your pockets to help out your local horror writing community…just be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
Sincerely, Denver Horror Collective
***YOUR CHOICE OF THE FOLLOWING BOOKS FROM COLORADO HORROR AUTHORS IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATION***
Terror at 5280’, Denver Horror Collective’s horror fiction anthology published in November, earned the #2 slot on Denver Post’s local bestseller list for paperback fiction for the week ending January 26, 2020.
Terror at 5280’ editors include Denver Horror Collective members Josh Schlossberg, Gary Robbe, Melinda Bezdek, Lisa Mavroudis, Thomas C. Mavroudis, Desi D, Bobby Crew, and Jeamus Wilkes.
All 22 Terror at 5280’ stories are penned by Colorado authors, including Bram Stoker Award® winning horror master Stephen Graham Jones, USA Today bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson, as well as the following Denver Horror Collective members and Colorado-based horror fiction writers: Matthew Lyons, Lindsay King-Miller, Rebecca S.W. Bates, Carina Bissett, Joshua Viola, Joy Yehle, Gary Robbe, Cindra Spencer, Thomas C. Mavroudis, Melinda Bezdek, Henry Snider, Josh Schlossberg, Angela Sylvaine, Grace Horton, Jay Seate, Desi D, Sean Murphy, Bobby Crew, P.L. McMillan, Travis Heermann, Jeamus Wilkes.
The anthology’s cover art was created by The Rïpröck and its layout by Henry Snider (both Denver Horror Collective members), with a foreword by Horror Writers Association President John Palisano and an afterward by HWA Colorado’s Larry Berry.
Terror at 5280’ is available at a variety of Denver bookstores including Tattered Cover, Mutiny Information Café, Tennyson St. Coffee and Books, Bookbar, Broadway Book Mall, West Side Books, and Barnes and Noble; 2nd and Charles in Broomfield, Aurora, and Littleton; and in Boulder at the Boulder Bookstore, Trident Café, Bookworm, and Barnes and Noble.
The anthology is also available online via Indiebound.org, Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook), Powell’s, and Amazon (paperback and Kindle).
What’s your favorite line in a book/movie? And why?
“There’s little good in sedentary small towns. Mostly indifference spiced with an occasional vapid evil–or worse, a conscious one.” – Stephen King, Salem’s Lot.
I like to imagine the dark in everyday situations and in the unexpected evil right next door. To me, nothing is scarier than an evil that can walk around in the light, nowhere is safe. Stephen King eloquently lays that out here. Small, quiet towns are supposed to be safe, but what if they’re not?
As a writer, how would you describe your muse?
I think my muse is a bizarre crossbreed of an evil sorceress, a shaman, a serial killer, a terrified five-year-old, a vampire hunter, a scientist, and a Sunday school teacher. Not complicated at all!
What author has been your biggest inspiration to your writing? And why?
My great uncle Will C. Minor was a naturalist and author. We visited him over many summers, and I saw how he created these amazing things to share with his words and a typewriter. In my eyes, he was the original Indiana Jones and I wanted to be just like him. I love the outdoors and do my best writing there, however my writing took a much darker turn than wildlife stories.
What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?
I love creating a whole world out of nothing. I feel truly free when I let my imagination run wild across the page. My most terrifying and exciting thing, however, is watching the face of a person who reads my stuff and hits that ‘What?!’ moment of scare!
I’m working on two novels and a couple of short stories right now. One novel is a dystopian YA that reality has possibly derailed! The other novel is inspired by a spooky childhood story I was told about a dark entity that feeds on despair titled Malvado, I hope to have this one ready for release by the end of the year.
Are you a horror or dark fiction writer looking to sell your short stories, find an agent or traditional publisher for your novel, or market your self-published work? Or maybe you just want to enhance your creepy craft while deepening your understanding of this popular and growing genre?
If so, then DARK WISDOM—Denver Horror Collective’s monthly webinar series—is for you! For only $5 per session (free for Denver Horror Collective members), you can peek inside the disturbed minds of Colorado’s horror fiction masters to level up your writing, your sales…and your nightmares.
April 25, 2020 @ 4pm (MT): Who Do I Have to #@&% to Get My Horror Story Published? (with Henry Snider)
If you’re struggling to find reputable, paying markets for your horror short fiction, you’re not alone. Lucky for you, Henry Snider is here to help. A former horror publisher and editor with an 82% success rate on short story sales in 2020 alone (9 sales out of 11 submissions), Henry knows the business and craft as well as anyone, and he’s here to share his experience and knowledge with you.
In this exclusive 2-hour Zoom webinar, Henry will discuss:
-Honing your craft -Creating your brand -The writing business -And much, much more!
For over two decades, Henry Snider has worked for multiple publishing houses, serving as acquisitions editor, content editor, layout artist, cover artist, website designer, marketing For over two decades, Henry Snider has worked for multiple publishing houses, serving as acquisitions editor, content editor, layout artist, cover artist, website designer, marketing director, and, on occasion, salesman. He and his wife – fellow author and editor Hollie Snider – opened a genre fiction publishing house (Strigidae Publishing) and enjoyed a thriving business until health issues forced its closure. Snider has lectured at local and national conventions. His public recognition includes both Writers Digest and Predators and Editors. On the homefront, he’s co-founded and helped maintain two writing organizations (Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group est. 1996 to help make good writers better, & Fiction Foundry est. 2012 focusing of publication preparation). In his spare time, he’s offered contests to local high schools and taught introductory creative writing class to juvenile offenders.
Email submissions [at] denverhorror [dot] com to reserve your slot today ($5 via PayPal or free for Denver Horror Collective members)!
Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
I admire Stephen King. I read On Writing and that seemed to speak to me. I found inspiration in it and in his story.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?
I like writing horror based in medicine and science, so I’m going with a plague doctor (current situation notwithstanding). I like the gothic look of a traditional doctor. Plus, they are wicked creepy!
Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.
Books: It – Scared the crap out of me and I read it as an adult. Dracula – Classic story and character. Love it! Illustrated Man – Not traditional horror, but still a great and creepy story.
Movies: The Thing – Best. Movie. Ever. Salem’s Lot – First horror movie I watched. It holds a special place in my heart. Paranormal Activity – The movie I used to introduce horror to my boys, who were 9 and 7 at the time. We watched it as a family, and they still remember it and the nightmares.
4. What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?What is it about writing that excites you? And of course, what’s the next story we can look forward to reading from you?
I get excited by new ideas and new spins on current stories. I love trying new things and bringing horror elements to genres that may not be typical horror setting; they don’t always work, but it’s worth a shot! I have two more short stories I’m working on, a WWII story and another short. I’m trying to get a novel idea to form, but it’s a slow road.
Startled, Em knocked over her sealed Nalgene water bottle, which clattered loudly to the floor. Not bothering to pick it up, she rose from her chair, struggling to keep from cursing at the sudden interruption.
“Who’s in here?” she asked. “What fire?”
Quickly, she walked around her desk, meaning to catch whichever boy had snuck downstairs past dorm time. Nobody. The office wasn’t nearly big enough to hide in, it was barely more than a closet stuffed with two desks. Perplexed, Em stepped from the small office and into the large cafeteria in which it was located.
The overhead lights, ancient as they were, hummed steadily overhead. Nobody here either. The tables were folded and stored to the side of the wall on the far end of the room opposite her office with the plastic chairs stacked neatly beside them. The cafeteria was big enough to hold the entire facility, between the staff the residents and the day-school students, there were well over a hundred people, she guessed. And when it was packed away like this for the night, it was almost cavernous. Again, nowhere to hide, she was alone.
A small crew of residential kids had been down here only fifteen minutes earlier, loudly sweeping and mopping as part of chore time. She’d laughed along quietly while doing her work in her office as the crew of teens joked with each other in the next room while they cleaned, occasionally turning the volume up just a bit too loud on the beat-up antique of a boombox that lived in the mop closet whenever a favorite new hip hop song played. Randall, the staff member supervising the clean-up, wasn’t the type to silence the kids – unlike many of the staff there – but Em always loved to hear the kids enjoy themselves, so she had no complaints.
That didn’t mean she didn’t enjoy the silence too, when it came. The gentle hum of the building was usually a soothing song to which she would finish the last of her days paperwork.
Suddenly, standing alone in the large cafeteria searching for a disembodied voice, the silence was oppressive — thick. Em was certain she’d heard the voice speak, just as she was certain she was alone. It had been a boys voice, in the limbo of early puberty – deep but still youthful.
Still hoping it was a prankster trying to startle her, Em walked into the main hallway of the building, walking a few feet to the left then the right, searching for some sign of one of the residents. Seeing nobody, she walked back into the cafeteria and checked that the doors to the pantry and kitchen were securely locked. They were.
She walked slowly back to her office, ears perked for the slightest sound of movement, eyes scanning closely even as she lost hope of finding anyone. Sitting back at her computer, she rubbed her forehead and tried not to think too hard.
She’d heard the stories of the ghosts that haunted this aged building, of course. One of the supervisors who had conducted her tribunal-style job interview had even jokingly asked if ghosts were a deal-breaker. But she always laughed it off whenever it came up, feeling like it was just a running joke. Having been a lifelong skeptic towards anything she couldn’t observe, she’d never once considered that anyone could have been serious.
But here, without warning, she’d begun to feel close to thinking things she simply didn’t want to think. She considered streaming a playlist from her phone to break the silence, but her shaking hands struggled to navigate the touch screen. Her eyes just couldn’t seem to focus on her computer monitor when she attempted to return to the email she’d been drafting.
Giving up, she packed her belongings into her backpack and promised herself she’d come in early the next morning to finish up.
Nationally-renowned horror author and Boulder resident Stephen Graham Jones snagged a spot in the Best Horror of the Year: Volume 12 edited by Ellen Datlow, the popular editor of short science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
“This Was Always Going to Happen,” first published in Denver Horror Collective’s Terror at 5280’ local horror fiction anthology in November, tells the tale of an anxious motorist stranded on the side of a mountain road.