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.
Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
Prior to joining the DHC I’d only read two horror books. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, when I was around ten years old, scared the crap out of me. To this day, I still can’t read that book. The other was The Entity by Frank De Felitta. I was a teenager at the time. It was about a spirit-like creature that kept stalking a young single mother with three children. It attacked her night and day, but no one could see the creature but her. No one believed her either. Even as an adult this story stays with me.
Now that I’m a seasoned writer (with all of a year under my belt), I’ve been more engaged in reading more with an emphasis on the stories than the authors, with a hope that one writer will stick with me enough to read more.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?
I’d choose a raven. For two reasons, one it represents both genres I write in, horror and fantasy. In horror, the raven is associated with terror, creatures of the night, and Edgar Allan Poe. And we all know Poe, right?
And in my fantasy series the main character is part of a team called the Revyns (pronounced as Ravens), the team’s logo is the outline of a blackbird’s wings.
Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.
The Nun…made me sleep with the light on (yeah, I said it).
The Blair Witch Project…I grew up hiking and playing in woods just like those.
Paranormal Activity…to me it looked so real!
The Amityville Horror…I read the book as a kid, by myself, at night. Creepy.
It (the original movie)…because they all float down here!
The Descent…one of the most original horror movies I’d seen at that time.
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?
The evolution of the story, from birth to maturity. The spark that inspires the idea. The idea that molds the plot. The plot that forms the story. I have a few things in the fire, but in terms of horror, I have two that stand out.
One is the next installment of the Urban Legends, Electric Avenue. It takes place in a speakeasy type place with underground card games, pool, and dice games. The speakeasy moves from place to place. Most people don’t think it exists, that it’s an urban legend. But if you want to play a game where the reward is worth the risk, dear ole Scratch can get you an invitation.
The other is the next book in the Adrian’s Children series. For those that don’t know, Adrian’s Children tells the ongoing story of Adrian Crisp, set in a modern-day world where Crisp is the first vampire. The first book tells the tale of how Adrian became a vampire, his trial and errors in creating more vampires, and the ones he successfully turned. The second book focuses more on his vampire children, and his plans for creating even more. Starring: Prominent, the first successfully turned Dark Child. Then Ozymandias, who Adrian banished to a cave. Daniel Hosea, the journalist chronicling Adrian’s life as a vampire. And finally Jason March, a former marine turned cop. He’s been hunting Adrian from his escape from prison before his transformation into a vampire.
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).
Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
Though I didn’t begin writing until I was in my mid 30s, my love of horror blossomed with reading Christopher Pike in Junior High. When I started writing, I initially tried to write in more of a literary style, and I tried genres that just weren’t a good fit for me (contemporary, romance, science fiction). I realized I needed to embrace writing what I enjoyed rather than trying to meet the expectations of others. It was my love of Christopher Pike that helped me realize young adult horror was my passion, and when I gave myself permission to write this instead of worrying about the judgment of others, I started enjoying myself and saw more success in selling my work.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?
My immediate instinct is to say a cat, but I think that’s just because I love them. Really, I think my mascot would be a crow or raven. They’re black, and I love wearing black. They’re intelligent and adaptable, which I strive to be. They’re also loud, which I definitely am. They hold funeral rites for deceased crows and a group is called a murder, which is just generally spooky. I also loved Poe’s poem “The Raven” from the first moment I read it, and even named my first cat Lenore. Now if only I could learn to fly…
Watching from the moon night shadows, his dementia distorted her, remade her, morphed her into Dream Girl. Standing in the small clearing, she was radiant and stunning, a vision of love and adoration; a delusion of lust and wanton possession. The silky skirt molded around her, clinging to her thighs, and the sweater hugged her body, amplifying her plentiful breasts.
Seemingly unconcerned and unaware of her admirer, her stalker, shadowing her as she meandered without a care in the world, Dream Girl stepped off the sidewalk. She started strolling across the grass, snaking her way among Denver City Park’s multitude of trees. The zoo and museum were closed. There were no late night joggers or strolling lovers. It was after midnight and the empty park was illuminated by June’s bright full moon. The Strawberry Moon.
Strawberries, her admirer thought, the color of blood. Would her blood taste as sweet?
As her stalker moved with the stealthy grace of a puma, Dream Girl paused, her head turning so her beautiful, moon-washed features stood out in the darkness. Her expression grew curious and for a fleeting moment, the hint of a frown touched her exquisite mouth.
He knew that Dream Girl sensed him. He was predator, she was prey. His smile was feral. Yet, as he watched, her frown vanished and her expression grew impassive. That annoyed him. Soon she would comprehend the danger and like all prey, her blood would turn cold, her gut would clench and she would run. Run for her life. Run to her death.
The stalker sighed at the thought. The chase. The inevitable capture. The consummation of his desires and his lust.
Dream Girl paused for only a few scant seconds and then resumed walking among the trees. If she was worried, it did not show. Her stride was leisurely, her exquisite body relaxed. Moving effortlessly, she exuded the easy confidence of one unconcerned about the night and the moonlit darkness and what might lurk in it. Her naiveté heightened her stalker’s hunger. At the end, innocent prey was so gratifying. The struggling. The screaming. The begging.
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 pick the brains of Carina Bissett, a Colorado Springs-based writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art.
How does mythology influence modern horror fiction?
CARINA BISSETT: By its very nature, mythology provides a broad foundation for writers to build upon. This can also be said when it comes to urban legends, folklore, and fairy tales. These stories tend to speak to universal truths, which is one of the reasons they have endured throughout history. With just a few words, a writer can invoke setting, theme, and mood. Well-known symbols—such as apples, serpents, crows, mirrors, teeth, flowers, chalices, shoes—create a shortcut into story. However, despite their familiarity, they also allow for distance, which can be a useful tool for writers commenting on contemporary issues.
There’s no better way to show your love of horror and the local dark arts than sporting an official Denver Horror Collective T-shirt, with its haunting logo (drawn by The Rïpröck) on a space black background, printed by Denver-based IndyInk.
If you haven’t already grabbed yours, we’ve got a few left in sizes S, M, and L for $20 ($16 for DHC members). Pay through PayPal here or send a check to: Denver Horror Collective, 3542 N. Raleigh St., Denver, CO 80212 and be sure to include your size and mailing address.
A Transylvanian vampire in Lafayette? A haunted road between Brighton and Thornton? A deadly speedway accident in Lakeside? Cold-blooded murder in Golden?
Muster your guts and venture out to Tattered Cover (2526 E. Colfax Ave., Denver) on Sunday January 26 from 2-4pm for an afternoon of local dark history and urban legend to celebrate the publication of TERROR AT 5280’, Denver Horror Collective’s new horror fiction anthology featuring 22 dark tales set in and around Denver and the Front Range, penned exclusively by local authors.
Let local experts enthrall you with micro-lectures on Colorado’s shadowy past including: KARREN TOLLIVER (ATravelforTaste.com) on the “vampire grave” of Theodor Glava in Lafayette Cemetery; BRYAN BONNER (Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society) on Riverdale Road, the most haunted road in Colorado; PAUL BREDENBERG (Colorado Auto Racing Club) on the tragic wreck that shut down Lakeside Speedway; and ANNELIESE FARMER (Golden Ghost Tour & Pub Crawl) on Golden’s shoot outs, secret liaisons, and murder.
Following each brief talk, listen to authors reading from their TERROR AT 5280′ original story that history or legend inspired, featuring CARTER WILSON (USA Today & #1 Denver Post bestselling thriller author of The Dead Girl in 2A and Mister Tender’s Girl), ANGELA SYLVAINE (Colorado Gold & Zebulon award finalist), JAY SEATE (paranormal author), and P.L. MCMILLAN (writer of the dark and macabre).
Presented by DENVER HORROR COLLECTIVE (denverhorror.com) and hosted by DANIEL CROSIER of Colorado Festival of Horror (cofohorror.com), this is the event—and the anthology—that lifts the veil on Colorado’s lingering darkness.
A neighborhood won’t let its residents forget the past. One taste draws two lovers into a nightmarish addiction. A harsh winter forces strange creatures down from the mountains.
At sea level, where it’s safe, things like this can’t happen. But when you’re sky high in Denver, Colorado, anything goes…including your sanity.
Beware of Terror at 5280’, a local horror fiction anthology featuring 22 dark tales set in and around Denver and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains penned exclusively by local authors (including Stephen Graham Jones, Carter Wilson, and others).
If you’re in the greater Denver metropolitan area, Terror is available at a growing number of local bookstores, including: Bookbar, Mutiny Information Cafe, West Side Books, Broadway Book Mall, Tattered Cover, and Barnes and Noble in Denver, 2nd & Charles in Aurora, and Boulder Bookstore and Barnes & Noble in Boulder (more stores coming soon!)
Denver Horror Collective active member, Steering Committee member & Terror at 5280′ co-editor, Gary Robbe
1. Name one horror author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
GARY ROBBE: There are many writers who had a profound influence on me, and what and how I write. But there are two who stand out. When I read Ray Bradbury at a very early age, specifically Dandelion Wine, I knew that I wanted to write and tell stories the way he could. His storytelling and simplicity, and the way he could get a message across without pounding you on the head, definitely influenced me to the core. Another writer who got to me, at a much later date, was Harlan Ellison. When I read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and A Boy and his Dog, I was completely blown away. Harlan’s writing style and anger shone through with everything he wrote, and he embodied what I thought a writer was all about. We are who we read, and I often reread Ray and Harlan to remind myself what writing can do.
2. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot and why?
GR: Has to be a squirrel. They’re cute on the surface, but they’re really rats with a fluffy tail. I used to pretend I was a squirrel when I was a toddler (this was the day and age of Chip and Dale, who were chipmunks, not squirrels). So, yeah, an animal that is really deceptive. We’re terrified of rats eating our face, but squirrels? Not so much. But they will…
3. Name six of your favorite horror movies or books. Elaborate on any of them.
GR: I grew up watching all the great Universal monster films, watched all of them over and over, usually late at night on Shock Theater on a black and white TV. Frankenstein, the monster played by Boris Karloff, and King Kong, played by himself, stood out and were always special to watch. Psycho scared the shit out of me at a very vulnerable age. I’m still wary of showers. Halloween. Alien. The Thing. Almost perfect horror films.
But ultimately my heart belongs to the old, tattered black and white (sometimes color) horror films of my childhood. Anything by Hitchcock or Roger Corman, all the cheap and cheesy effects and acting, the bad costumes, all of it.
Books? Salem’s Lot. Interview with a Vampire. The Exorcist. Rosemary’s Baby. Maybe the most disturbing and haunting book I ever read was Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
4. “Scrape” from Denver Horror Collective’s new anthology, Terror at 5280’ is a disturbing tale; can you tell us a little about how it came into being?
GR: Gentrification gone bad. An image came to me, children staring from a window of a place that was being torn down, and the story took off from there. Loss to me is the ultimate great fear. Loss of control. Loss of what we love. Loss of self. I thought, what if a family scraped an old house and built a new one in its place. And once they moved into the new house they realized the old place was still very much there. Maybe it is a little homage to House of Leaves, a story I really liked but didn’t understand all that well. Of course, I did have to give the story a happy, Disney ending. That’s my homage to Chip and Dale, those crazy mixed up rodents.