About joshsworstnightmare

Author Josh Schlossberg surveys the dark landscape of today's horror fiction.

Dark Wisdom: Sam W. Anderson

In “Dark Wisdom,” we seek writing and/or publishing advice from the horror fiction masters making up Denver Horror Collective’s Advisory Council

For this installment, we harass Sam W. Andersonauthor of over forty published short stories and collaborative novels, and two short-story collections.

What’s the difference between horror and thriller fiction?

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Photo: John Mattison

SAM W. ANDERSONThis is a question that I could answer in two words or a twenty-page doctoral thesis. I’ll circle back to the two-word answer in a bit…after my shortened thesis.

First, to the question, though. A guideline, so general that “guideline” stretches the credulity of the term, is that horror has the bad guy chasing the good guy (until the inevitable turn where they confront each other). The climax occurs with the evil being defeated or faced. Also, the more supernatural elements introduced tends to push a story more toward the horror side of the ledger.

In a thriller the good guy pursues the bad(der) guy. The climax tends to be the evil being unveiled. The more psychological the plot, the likelier it’s to fall under the thriller column.

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Terror at 5280′ Book Launch on Dec. 1

Celebrate the launch of Terror at 5280’, Denver Horror Collective’s unsettling new anthology featuring twenty-two dark tales set in and around Denver and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, penned exclusively by local authors.

RSVP here.

  • Readings by Stephen Graham Jones, Carina Bissett, Josh Viola, Joy Yehle, Henry Snider, Desi D, Matthew Lyons, Rebecca Bates, and Lindsay King-Miller
  • Spin the DISC OF DREAD to pick which stories you want to hear
  • Giveaways include free autographed copies of Terror at 5280’ and Denver Horror Collective T-shirts & stickers
  • Hosted by black-hearted scribe Hollie Snider

Terror Book Cover

6(66) Questions with Desi D

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Denver Horror Collective member, Desi D

1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.

I would have to say I admire Stephen King. I’ve enjoyed reading some of his novels, and there are more on my TBR pile. He has earned my admiration as an author for a few reasons.

I was never a big reader growing up; in truth, reading and writing were a struggle for me. Big books intimidated me, so it’s kind of funny that it was reading one of Stephen King’s tomes that helped me overcome this challenge, The Green Mile (still one of my all-time favorite novels). The reason I was able to read this 800+ novel is that when I started it, I didn’t know. When it came out in 1996, it was a serial novel. I picked up book one that was around 100 pages and read it; then, I grabbed the next until I read the entire story. These books were a huge milestone for me as a reader because this was the first book I devoured, and I haven’t stopped since.

His book, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, was one of the earliest craft books I read, and it helped me realize that everyone struggles and doubts their writing. His first novel, Carrie, almost wasn’t published because he had thrown it away, thinking it was a terrible novel, thankful his wife Tabby saved it. He had his doubts, struggles, and life that interfered with his writing, but he stuck with it.

This story is encouraging to know that everyone struggles, even the king of horror, so it’s not just me. Lastly, he has had an amazing career, published several novels, seen and contributed to his work being turned into movies; he achieved what most of us are told is impossible. He reached success without a magical fortune teller prophesying that he would succeed where others have failed, that he was one of the few chosen authors, so go forth and write. No, he faced the same naysayers we all do; he didn’t listen to them, and he never gave up. He remained dedicated to his dream of becoming an author until he did the impossible. His story proves that it can happen, and it demonstrates that it’s not easy for anyone.

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The Stigmata of Miramont Castle

“The Stigmata of Miramont Castle” is the third of several Colorado-based short stories written by local authors we’ll be publishing on the Denver Horror Collective website and in The Epitaph newsletter, as a lead-up to the fall release of Terror at 5280′, our local horror fiction anthology.

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Photo: Pikes Peak Library District

The Stigmata of Miramont Castle

by Matthew Amorebello

The octagonal room boomed with unseen forces. It reeked of rotten wood and stale incense. The wallpaper was a light blue Fleur-de-lis pattern and had gone untouched since the castle had been built in the late 19th century. Rust lined the metal light fixtures. The pulpit was uneven and inappropriately small. A statue of Christ adorned the southern wall with first light beaming across his cheek. The chapel was the highlight of Miramont Castle.

“The East Wing was completed in 1897,” began Lucinda.

Lucinda was Miramont’s tour guide. She was an older woman, with thick dyed black hair. Her voice was nasal, with a condescending tone. She spoke slowly and deliberately to the sole attendant of that morning’s tour.

“The room was Father Francolon’s dining hall,” she continued. “It was converted to a chapel by the Sisters of Mercy, who assumed control of the estate, after his return to France. They renamed the site ‘Montcalme’.”

“And what does that mean?” asked the elderly guest.

“Calm of the mountain,” answered Lucinda.

Lucinda excused herself from the room, as the elderly woman continued to admire the fine woodwork. She circled about the chapel, imagining herself back in time. She breathed in deeply, and the smell of the room overwhelmed her. She grabbed the pew to steady herself.

It was at this moment she became witness to the miracle. The statue of Christ came alive. The hands, feet, and chest oozed blood, pouring out the plaster statue and onto the wooden floor. The face turned to the elderly woman and smiled. Blood began to pour from his thorny crown.

The elderly woman approached the statue. She blessed herself and thanked God for bestowing this honor upon her. Emotion overwhelmed her and she nearly fainted, limping casually backwards into the chapel wall, scratching the blue wallpaper with her hand.

“Lucinda!” yelled the woman.

Lucinda rushed into the room and witnessed the stigmata. She took out her phone and snapped a few photos of the miracle at hand. She turned her attention to the elderly guest, who was on the verge of passing out.

“Are you OK, ma’am?” asked Lucinda.

The elderly woman cupped her face in her hands, rubbing her temples, then her eyes. Tears streamed down her face. She regained her posture and embraced the moment.

“I’ve waited my whole life for a miracle,” she said. “I can now die in peace.”

At that moment, the elderly woman went limp. She fell to the ground like an anvil, striking the creaky floor below.  She was noted to be lifeless upon impact.  Lucinda called for help, and by the time first responders arrived, the old woman was dead.

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Denver Horror Collective Raises Funds for Local Horror Fiction Anthology

Terror CoverDenver Horror Collective, a group of horror writers and artists, has raised $1,150 through its Indiegogo fundraiser to purchase stories from twenty-seven Colorado authors to publish in Terror at 5280’, a local horror fiction anthology due out this fall.

The twenty-one dark tales chosen for the print and e-book anthology (and six more in The Epitaph newsletter and on DenverHorror.com) are set around the greater Denver metroplex and Front Range Rocky Mountain communities. Some stories are based on local folklore and urban legends, while others touch on social and environmental themes relevant to the area, such as gentrification, substance abuse, and zombie deer (aka chronic wasting disease).

All stories are penned by Colorado authors, including: Bram Stoker Award® winning horror master Stephen Graham Jones, USA Today and #1 Denver Post bestselling thriller author Carter Wilson, various Denver Horror Collective members, and other Colorado-based horror fiction writers including Carina Bissett, Lindsay King-Miller, and Joy Yehle, with a foreword by Horror Writers Association President John Palisano.

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Terror in El Pueblo

“Terror in El Pueblo” is the second of several Colorado-based short stories written by local authors we’ll be publishing on the Denver Horror Collective website and in The Epitaph newsletter, as a lead-up to the fall release of Terror at 5280′, our local horror fiction anthology.

Terror in El Pueblo
by Cory Swanson

Mold, macro viewLuke had done a lot of diving. The Stachybotrys chartarum in his brain, on the other hand, had not. Stachy enveloped the boy’s visual cortex and gazed out over the scene.

Down below and out around them were fake rocks that descended into a deep pool of water colored blueish green by the lights within. A waterfall cascaded over the rocks, pumped continuously through a series of tubes that Stachy had inhabited himself. Or themselves, as it were. The mold reproduced asexually, sporing and growing in the damp places of the world.

Stachy looked out beyond the pool through the boy’s eyes. Other humans sat, eating what looked to be food made of grains and dairy. They could sense the boy’s disgust and disdain as he looked out over the crowd. El Pueblo no joke-o, Luke thought. How can they eat that?

The mold didn’t get the joke. It dug through the boy’s memories trying to extract meaning. They boy had been a competitive diver at school. An impressive athletic specimen. He’d been scouted and hired by this restaurant to perform cliff diving for the diners. El Pueblo Loco.

The crazy town, the mold thought.

But the mold had witnessed a genocide of its own kind. As it tried to spread through the damp and inviting environment of aging and leaky pumps and cracked concrete pools, the humans had ruthlessly retaliated. Chemical warfare. Poisons. Destruction.

Stachybotris had to defend itself.

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