Sick Cruising – Meet the Writers Part 1

R.C. Mulhare

I’m a writer who grew up surrounded by stories, whether my mum read them to me, or my Irish storyteller dad told them to us, or I read them myself. I had troubles with handwriting as a kid, but I started scribbling down stories starting when I was eleven and I’ve been writing ever since, telling stories where the ordinary takes a turn toward the extraordinary and shining a flashlight into the dark corners of the world and the world beyond.

What is Sick Cruising about?

– Sick Cruising doesn’t just retell “Masque of the Red Death” in a modern setting, it expands on it, introducing us to the guests at this wild, non-stop party on the edge of disaster.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?

– I cut my teeth in fan fiction, so writing characters invented by someone else and keeping true to how they live and breathe comes as second nature for me. It also gave me a sense of connection, of adding a piece to a fascinating narrative in sections, like an episode in a TV series or a podcast.

Why should the reader pick up this book?

– It’s a crazy time and the world is going mad. But going by “Uncle” Stephen King’s rule that horror fiction helps us rehearse for real-world horrors, these stories will give you an inoculation against the madness of real life.

R.C. Mulhare’s on FB – R.C author page on the ‘Zon


Marcus Cook

My name is Marcus Cook and I am a writer out of Cleveland Ohio. The last two years I have had 22 short stories published or about to be published by the end of the year.
My favorite authors are Elmore Leonard, Dean Kootz and Gregory Mcdonald. You can follow me on facebook under Read marcuscook or email me at readmarcuscook@gmail.com

What is Sick Cruising about?

Is about what happens when the Wealthy rich think they can escape anything because they are rich. It is also about the not so rich believing the same. A story about tragedy and more tragedy with the possibility of hope. (Or not)

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?

I enjoyed writing a story with a group of people. I have been apart of many anthologies where it was twenty different stories in twenty different places. This one is all set in one place and characters pop up here and there or one story introduces a Hurricane and others then have to continue with a hurricane.

Why should the reader pick up this book?

It is a fun and scary tale. You get to know characters and cheer them on or hope they die. It will


S.E. Howard:

I grew up in the heart of the Bluegrass, and have worked as a newspaper reporter, travel writer, and magazine editor. I’ve written about some of Kentucky’s most infamous haunts, including Liberty Hall, Bobby Mackie’s Music World, and Waverly Hills Sanitorium. Currently a registered nurse, I’m also a Certified Specialist in Poison Information.

What is Sick Cruising about?

Sick Cruising is a modern parable, a collection of cautionary tales exploring what can happen when you try to cheat death. Or, in this case, Red Lungs. It’s a viral infection decimating the entire world, and unfortunately, as the cast in the anthology quickly discovers, neither money, privilege, power, nor prestige can guarantee an escape from it.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?

I enjoyed coming up with the background for my character, Djana Louette. She’s a nurse aboard the All-Powerful, and she’s running away from her past. She’s pretty much on her own when the story begins. Her beloved sister has only recently died from Red Lungs, and in the aftermath of this loss, Djana has given up her job, home, car — her entire life — to go and work for Mitch Winters. In the back of her mind, she knows they can’t really escape the horrors of Red Lungs, but she wants to believe in Winters’s crazy scheme. Like everyone else on board, she wants to break free from the horrific reality of the pandemic and find something new, something better for herself. And when she befriends fellow crew member Michael O’Rourke (who is kind of handsome, she has to admit), she realizes maybe she has.

Why should the reader pick up this book?

Each story builds off the next, with the fear factor mounting every turn of the page. Even though the stories are fictional, and Red Lungs is just imaginary, it’s all-too-easy to see a scenario like this occurring in real life, especially in light of the year we’ve just had. The uber-wealthy ignoring the plight of those less-privileged and wanting to party away the end of the world in luxury and decadence isn’t just something reminiscent of Poe’s classic The Masque of the Red Death. We see it happening in real-time when we turn on the news or open social media. Sick Cruising may be a “worst-case scenario,” but that doesn’t make it any less relevant — or any less gratifying when those who made a deal with the devil finally get their comeuppance.


Richard Hercher

I’m a full-time nerd, dad, and audiobook narrator. I’ve had the privilege of narrating several books for Notch’s House Publishing. Every piece has been a joy to read! This is my first published writing piece and a labor of love. Of course, like almost everyone else in the world, I’ve got a podcast; you can find mine at gravitywelltheater.com, iTunes, Google, you name it, just search for “Gravity Well Theater” where I narrate classic and original science fiction. And if you follow me @GravityWellTh8r I occasionally give away free copies of my audiobooks.

What is Sick Cruising about?

Sick Cruising is a brilliant commentary on the state of the world. It’s a fun house mirror brought to life by so many creative and talented writers. It’s The Poseidon Adventure meets Contagion, with some societal overtones of The Walking Dead, and I got to sprinkle in a few notes from the movie Sideways.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?

When the editor approached me to narrate on this newest anthology, I was pouring a glass from my favorite local winery. It took me just a few moments of staring at my glass, and I was asking if I could submit a short story in addition to my narration duties. Thus was “The Vintner” born.

Why should the reader pick up this book?

Sometimes you read a book to escape, sometimes you read to put life in sharper relief. Sick Cruising is both: a floating Petri dish of the rich and famous trying to vacation at the height of hubris. I’m lucky to have contributed a small piece along side some fantastic writers, and even luckier to get to read their work.


Reed Kuehn

Reed Kuehn is a combat veteran, an avid runner, and an aspiring writer. While he has called Wisconsin, Washington DC, North Carolina, and Colorado home, he currently lives and writes in Providence, RI. He had been writing seriously for about a year. His flash fiction has appeared with Akashic and Dream Noir and recently had a piece published in the most recent issue of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library literary journal, So It Goes.

What is Sick Cruising about?

Sick Cruising is a contemporary story inspired by The Masque of the Red Death by Poe. The current societal climate has exposed common themes of humanity such as denial, elitism, mortality, and morality, and how those themes are expressed during times of crisis. By using the horror genre, this book takes those human aspects and takes them up to level ten.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?
I have written pieces in the noir style, but this was the first piece that I’ve written in the true horror genre. It was fascinating to step outside my usual comfort zone of writing and dive into something new.

Why should the reader pick up this book?
This book uses the horror genre and the voices of so many talented authors to explore the ideas of base human nature when exposed to an existential threat. The stories are woven into an incredible narrative that will have the readers buckled in for a wild and bloody ride.


Daniel R. Robichaud

I’m Daniel R. Robichaud, a writer, poet, and critic who lives and works in east Texas. I have degrees in Physics and English literature. My work has been collected in Hauntings & Happenstances, They Shot Zombies, Didn’t They?, and Gathered Flowers, Stones, and Bones: Fabulist Fictions. Recent publications include, Hookman and Friends and The Other Side: A Horror Anthology. I write articles for parABnormal magazine and Considering Stories.

What is Sick Cruising about?

Sick Cruising is an anthology interested in exploring one misguided man’s attempt to escape a pandemic through flagrant use of his privilege and wealth. However, he unwittingly invited death along for the ride, and both he and his passengers will suffer. Think “Masque of the Red Death” updated to today’s world.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?
It was fun to try out a character I might not have chosen to be a protagonist in my other fiction. Trying to find a bit of sympathy for a person who does not invite it through their public persona is a challenge, to say the least. Add to this the difficulties associated with putting together one element in an environment shared by numerous authors and you face some interesting work! Luckily, our editor was there to keep us motivated, keep us thinking outside the boxes we might unintentionally put ourselves in, and keep the interests up.

Why should the reader pick up this book?
Although it might seem ripped from the headlines and therefore a real downer, the stories are entertaining horror riffs. We get a mix of empathetic characters and those we want to see suffer horribly. Some stories hammer the heart through honest emotion while others offer poetic justice (in at least one case at the teeth of some angry sharks). Readers looking for a little escapism and heart will find plenty to reward them here.


Wade Newhouse

I am a Professor of English at William Peace University in Raleigh, NC, where I teach a range of courses from writing to gothic literature to improvisation. I have previously published short spooky fiction in online zines such as 9th Degree, Hello Horror, and Lyonnesse. I also publish scholarly articles and book chapters, most recently on southern literature and the gothic.

I think Sick Cruising is about dealing with fear. Most of the characters in these stories are running to or from something; the ship on which the stories take place thinks it can escape a plague simply by throwing money and distance at it. When we read these stories we are to some degree testing our own imaginary scenarios about what WE would do if COVID really got as bad as it does in these pages.

My favorite part of writing for this anthology was starting with a single character and then watching the interconnected world grow and develop. I had a lot of questions about basic life on a ship when I started writing, and I enjoyed seeing how other writers answered their own versions of my questions in their stories. I particularly enjoyed writing the “Aftermath” because it gave me license to evoke some of the themes and characters that other writers had invented and think about them through the lens of my own style.

A reader should pick up this book if they want some relief from the REAL pandemic through the escapism of a fictional one. The current geopolitical crisis gives us all a chance to think about how and why apocalyptic stories have been so popular throughout history; this version of that age-old formula is JUST close enough to our real world to both shed light on our personal anxieties and give us imaginary respite from them. I think this is a unique opportunity to see history and fiction line up and reveal one another.


Aisling O’Connor

Who are you/writing experiences/etc. (don’t read too much into this, you don’t have to lay bare your soul) just let the readers know why you’re awesome.
I’m an Irish journalist and writer. I’ve been writing fiction, songs, and poetry all my life, but I started really taking it seriously 10 years ago (so, go 14 year old me!). Since then, I’ve had poetry and prose published by Stanzas, An Focal, New Binary Press, and now Sick Cruising! I also run my own blogs thisdreamsalive.com and pricklypineapples.ie.

What is Sick Cruising about?

Sick Cruising is about an eccentric CEO, influencers, and A-listers trying to escape from Covid-21, known as the Red Lungs. Except, an escape from The Dreaming Disease is too good to be true.

What did you enjoy the most about writing for this guided anthology?

It’s always a challenge to write a story with a prompt, especially with this one, because you need to keep it within the same narrative of the overarching story. It was a good challenge! I’ve been writing my own fiction for so long, it was nice to do something slightly different.

Why should the reader pick up this book?

Art is what we turn to to cope with life and the world. This book is both relatable and familiar, if you have a dark sense of humour it will probably help you process what we’re currently living for.

James Brogden Writes Original New Horror Steeped in History

British writer James Brogden
British writer James Brogden

Everyone should read James Brogden’s fiction. It’s original, fun, horrific, and did I say original? You really should Start with Hekla’s Children, I suggest the Plague Stones next. And as soon as you can the latest, Bone Harvest. Or the other way around or in any order at all. He has even more fantasy fiction, but hey…we like horror.

What was the first book that scared you silly?

The Cats, by Joan Phipson. I must have been 9 or 10 years old, and I borrowed it from my teacher’s class library. This was in Tasmania. It’s a story about a kid who gets kidnapped by some local hoodlums and locked up in a shack out in the bush, where a colony of feral cats have made their home. Except that they’re a bit more than just cats – larger, intelligent, and malevolent. It scared me so much because it was set in the kind of place where I lived, which was unusual when so much of what I read and saw on TV came from the UK or the States, and it was a lot easier to imagine being followed by shadowy  presences with glowing eyes on my way home from school. What made it
worse was that one of our home cats had taken herself off into the bush previously, and I could easily imagine her being one of those feral beasts, watching me and planning to eat me. This is also why I find Church, the cat from Pet Sematary, easily the most terrifying creature in that novel.

What is your writing process, and what does Lego have to do with it?

I have a day-job teaching English, which takes a huge chunk out of the working week, so during term-time I tend to do the plotting and planning, and then when the holidays come around I do the actual word-slogging. Lego is just a thing I’ve enjoyed playing with since I was a kid, though it does help to
take my mind off the hook (some might argue that it’s rarely on the hook). I guess it’s a physical aspect of the same impulse for world-building.

What started you off on your writing career?

The generosity of others. A chap called Peter Coleborn, who was editing the journal of the British Fantasy Society at the time, gave me my first pro sale of a short story and introduced me to a thoroughly disreputable mob of genre writers in Birmingham who were friendly and encouraging. He also put me in contact with my current agent, which was when things started to take off.

What do you find the most challenging about writing?

The writing part of it. Which is to say, the self-discipline required to sit in front of this thing for hours every day putting one word after another when you’re convinced that it’s all terrible and everybody’s going to hate it.

Will there be a nice apocalyptic sequel to Plague Stones, or you’re just not into sequels?

I get bored easily, so I tend to want to get onto the next idea while I’m halfway through the current
one, which doesn’t make for effective sequel writing. The one exception was The Realt, which is the sequel to Tourmaline. At that stage I was writing purely on spec for my own entertainment, so there were no expectations, and I blithely suggested that there would be a third – because fantasy stories work in trilogies, obviously – but then I got an agent and had to grow up and be a serious professional writer. No publisher is going to pay for a third volume in a series that they don’t already own, so that trilogy idea is on a   permanent back-burner. I’m in awe of those fantasy and science fiction authors who can plan and execute multi-volume epics. The Plague Stones was commissioned as a one-off – but if someone wants to pay me for a series, I’m there!

Cover for book Bone HarvestBone Harvest, your brand-new book, I loved it! And it has allotments, they are uniquely British, we do have common gardens in the USA, but I don’t see them often used. What was your train of thought that brought them into a horror/fantasy novel? Did you start with them in mind or did the Farrow farm bring them along as you wrote the story?

Bone Harvest was always going to be about allotments. As you say, they are uniquely British things, the most harmless, gentle places for idle pottering you can imagine, so as a horror writer that’s obviously the kind of place you want to subvert and turn into a nightmarish hellscape of cultish human sacrifice. But that may just be me. It’s why suburbia is the perfect location for slasher movies– making the safe place unsafe.

Did the Colindale allotment murder cross your mind at all when you wrote this book?

That and so much more – people do some VERY weird things on their allotments.

Do any of the characters in the book, like Dennie and the volunteer policeman, have real-life alter-egos?

Not really. There may be some character traits or biographical details that have been inspired by people I’ve met or read about, but the main characters are always entirely fictional.

It seems to me that selfishness, greed, and self-centeredness are the main characteristics and motivators of your central villains, do you feel particularly bothered by those bad traits? For example, in Plague Stones; Esther didn’t feel so much the villain when compared to some of the village’s trustees.

The thing with Hester is, as much as she is a monster she’s also a victim, and I wanted the reader to feel simultaneously sympathetic and appalled by her because we’re all monsters, given the right kind of conditions, aren’t we? We harbour grudges and commit acts of revenge – though admittedly, Hester’s at the extreme end of that. Nash is a victim of sorts, trapped by the expectations of his family and upbringing, hopefully more than just a mustache-twirling villain. Even the Gwrach Clefyd isn’t so much evil as an implacably destructive force of nature. So far as my limited understanding goes, true evil is the  exploitation and victimisation of the weak, and in that sense yes, Nash is a
bigger villain than any supernatural entity.

Any hints at all about your new book (hoping it’s horror!)?

So far it involves a small coastal village on the verge of destruction from erosion, climate-change, and post-covid economic recession. There may also be a huge, mysterious black dog involved. And Viking treasure. Because why not?

What is your favorite fictional horror experience?

Getting introduced to the work of James Herbert at the age of 15. I’d been reading science fiction and fantasy pretty solidly up until then, and my family moved to England where I met my adult cousins for the first time since I was a baby. One of them loaned me his copy of The Rats, and I devoured everything of Herbert’s that I could, and that led on to Clive Barker, and everything followed on from there.

And have you ever met a ghost?

That’s unlikely, since they don’t exist. Sorry to sound facetious. They’re great fun to write about, though!

What was your favorite part about writing Bone Harvest?

Writing Everett and Ardwyn’s story. At first, I only intended to throw in a few flashbacks to explain who they were and what they were doing, but when I realised it had to go all the way back to the trenches of World War 1 I knew that flashbacks weren’t going to cut it and they needed their whole story to be told. So what started out as a short prologue expanded into the first 20 thousand words
or so, which can come as a bit of a surprise if you read the blurb and are expecting to start off on the allotments. They’re a pair of Bonnie & Clyde, Micky & Mallory type loved-up psycho cultist killers and I was having way too much fun with them.

Where else can you find James?

Pumpkin the cat

James’ author page on Amazon
James’ on Twitter
You’ll find pictures of the amazing Pumpkin on this twitter stream, so go! Go there now and say Hi to James and Pumpkin. Grill James about his awesome books.

The Sword of St. Michael, new from D.C.P. Fox!

Image D.C.P. Fox Sword of St. Michael promotional material

A new zombie book out? Of course, we’d want to know about it! And if you are on this site, chance are you do too.

D.C.P. Fox has a brand-new book out, And he took some time to answer our questions. Find out about
The Sword of Saint Michael
!

What motivates you?

I believe I am motivated by a burning desire to create enjoyable stories, self-confidence, a healthy work ethic, and being in a good place, emotionally and physically.

What is your writing process?

I plan, plan, plan. Before I begin the actual writing of the novel, I have developed characters, settings, and plot, including a list of scenes. Then while I write the novel, I constantly revise those plans as the creative process takes me in directions that I didn’t originally intend. I have a beta phase where my best readers give me feedback, and in the end, I get the manuscript professionally edited.

I wake up at 1:30 a.m. every day. On most days, I write from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., sometimes even longer. I start with light editing of my previous day’s writing, then I make sure I have the outline in place for the day’s writing (usually done the day before), and then I write. From 5 to 7 a.m., and then at various times throughout the day, I either keep writing, or I work on story ideas, characters, plot, settings, outlines, blogs, newsletters, and/or general marketing.

Occasionally during those wee hours of the morning, and I try to do this every Sunday, instead of writing I engage in deep self-guided meditation to come up with writing ideas or anything that I need in order to prepare for the daily writing. Because of this tool in my toolbox, I never suffer from writer’s block.

There are so many zombie books out there, and so much repetition. What makes your book stand out?

Many apocalyptic novels deal with a scarcity of resources, but what about the scarcity of antipsychotic medication? Jocelyn Radomski, our heroine in The Sword of Saint Michael, is haunted by what she has become (violently psychotic) without that precious resource during the stress of a zombie apocalypse, and the only redemption she sees is that her immunity to the zombie pathogen could lead to a cure. As the novel unfolds, she emerges as a superhero, with shamanic powers she didn’t realize she had, zombie-like powers from her infection, and wielding a tenth-century sword, blessed by the archangel Saint Michael, forged to fight zombies. But no matter how powerful she becomes, her psychosis persists and threatens her and everyone around her.

How many more books have you planned in this series?

While The Sword of Saint Michael is great as a stand-alone novel, there will be at least two more books in the series, which would make it a trilogy. I have enough ideas for at least six books, though. Spin off novellas are a possibility, too.

What has been Self-publishing biggest lesson for you?

Nothing is more important than writing your next good book. I’m focusing a lot of energy on the sequel to The Sword of Saint Michael.