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

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, 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 and

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.

Henry Snider, Renaissance Man and Writer

Crack head vampire

Henry Snider portrait with Colorado landscape

What got you into writing?

My maternal grandfather loved telling stories and had a few published in a local paper. My father always wanted to be a writer but never really pursued it. When I was a kid, my dad got me hooked on comics, then on short stories, and when he introduced me to Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars I was hooked on not only reading, but the concept of storytelling.

Should the reader grab a copy of Darkness Wired ASAP?

Of course! Horror is fun. Science fiction is fun. Dark science fiction with Lovecraftian horrors is always a good time.

What do you like about Darkness Wired?

I think it’s the concept of science horror ala a modernization of the old monster movies meeting in some cases with deities and lifeforms having dire consequences

You have brand new fiction in “Terror at 5280.” Tell us all about it!

Actually, I have four coming out over the next month. I’ll start with Terror at 5280’ and go from there.

Terror At 5280 Cover

Taste (TERROR AT 5280’) – “Taste” was a bit of a funny story in the making. I’m a media specialist by trade, and was out with a friend shooting her 40 and fabulous photoshoot for fun. Between her, my wife, and my suggestions, it turned into a vampiric crack whore photoshoot (yes, kiddies, you read that right). All the effects were added on the back end in Photoshop. We all loved the photos and they came out creepy – just like vampires should be. I’ve always hated what’s become of the monsters which scare me. Blood sucking beasts from hell are now nothing more than redirected glittery teenage angst. The next thing I knew, I had a horror story that chilled me. We’ll toss in a link, but the image, and the story, is on the south side of safe for work.

Skewed Perceptions (DARKNESS WIRED) – I had a lot of fun with this one. Ever since I read “Window” by Bob Leman (some of you may know it by the Night Visions episode “A View Through the Window”) and saw XTRO 2: The Second Encounter, I’ve been enamored with parallel worlds and alternate dimensions. Science and incompetence often go hand-in-hand. Darkness Wired allowed me the opportunity to explore another realm with the type of tech and mistakes we would probably make.

Fellowship (BLOOD & BLASPHEMY) – Fellowship is a bit of a Maine double-whammy for my wife and I. I originally wrote this couple story about making a wrong decision in an overly-religious back woods town in Maine before taking the family to the state for a vacation. We went to a little restaurant in Dover-Foxcroft for lunch. Once seated my wife gives me a death-glare and hits me with a menu. Josh, our son, and I are a bit baffled. Without a word she motions to the restaurant with her hands. As I look around, I see what she’s talking about – the tables, the chairs…hell, even the napkin dispensers (and truth be told, one or two of the patrons) appeared to be right out of the story. It’s the only religious horror story I’ve written to date.

Someone to Watch Over Me (BULLETS, BOMBS & BOOGEYMEN) – I’m a history buff. I was challenged to write a story in the 1920’s. Never one to turn away from a challenge I ended up with a story about a flapper named Elsie in 1925 who meets a British WWI veteran. I ended up modelling a few characteristics from family members I’ve heard stories about. For instance, my paternal grandfather (also my namesake – and, yes, I’m a “third”) was mustard-gassed in WWI. It ate most of the flesh off his skull, leaving him bald at a very young age. When WWII came around, he signed back up – even with his disability. He took the only job they’d give him, riding the boats over with the new recruits, explaining what to expect, and riding the same boat back, guarding the dead soldier’s bodies. He had a hard life. I touched on the key points to bring one character to life. In this story, the locations, the river island, even the Indian burial mounds are all real places. I don’t do many ghost stories, and this one focuses on the ghosts of war, but not in a metaphorical sense.

Author page



How do you feel about the need for writers’ groups?

This question is a two-edged sword. There are tons of writing groups. Let’s start by identifying the groups, most of which I can put into one of three categories – and all three serve different purposes writers need at different times. Please note, I don’t take credit for these classifications – I honestly don’t remember where I originally heard them, but they’re accurate. First is the “Fluff” group. Here you could turn in your laundry list and everyone will fall over themselves telling you how good it is, offering only positive criticism. This is amazing for your ego, but usually does squat for your prose. The second is the “Literary” group. In this group they’ll compare whatever you’re writing to similar authors and make suggestions to enhance that style. Again, this is also good for knowing who your influences are, but it really doesn’t get you, J. Doe, to writing like yourself. The third is a “Destructive” group. Sound scary? It is! In a destructive group it won’t matter if you are Stephen King, they’re still going to do their best to content edit your piece. When you’re ready for publication, this is the group you want to find.

How many writer groups, and what types, have you co-founded and run?

I’ve co-founded two. The first, the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group  was founded in 1996 by my wife – Hollie Snider, John Irwin, and myself. The CSFWG’s mission statement was “To make good writers better.” I was president and webmaster for 13 years to-the-month before retiring in 2009, but continued as an officer for a while longer before becoming part of the chorus of members. In 2012 several writers and I formed Fiction Foundry , focusing on publication prep. Since 2012 over 30 member novels have gone into print through various avenues. I’m proud to be a part of this. While still offering critique groups, the focus is more on publication and sharing skills to attain that goal. In Fiction Foundry I’m still the web-designer, clunky as it may be.

You’re married to a loving, in-house editor who’s not going anywhere, can you tell us about that?

Not for fear of reprisal! Seriously, though, it’s a bit of a fairy tale. I met Hollie in a college writing class. I transferred in on March 30, 1995 (don’t worry, you’ll understand the dates in a minute). We hit it off arguing about horses. I knew she had a boyfriend and stayed respectful. Once I found out she also loved The Dark Crystal I offered to buy a copy and we could watch it at her parent’s place. We spent the afternoon pausing the movie every few minutes to chat. Then she excused herself for a bit (don’t get your hormones up, it’s not “that” kind of story). She came back and we watched another ten minutes or so of the movie. Then, out of nowhere she said, “That’s long enough,” and kissed me. I was baffled and started to ask about her boyfriend. Hollie stopped me, saying, “I left to call him and break up.” This was on April 1st, 1995 – April Fools Day. We were attached at the hip since then. On April 8th I proposed. Yes, after only knowing each other 10 days. She said yes before the entire proposal was out. Then came the twenty-minute lecture about why didn’t I propose the day we met because, “She just knew.” I’d love to give her flack about it, but we’re 24 years in and she’s either the best prankster ever, or she was/is right. We married three months to the day after our first kiss, had our son the following summer, and haven’t looked back since. Our passions match enough to fit together like cogs in a machine, but have enough that are different to keep the relationship fresh. Advice…keep dating the one you love!

Henry and Hollie

And you also write with your son, I believe. What’s the experience of co-writing like for you two?

Josh is actually the current president of Fiction Foundry. We don’t write together, though. We’d kill each other…and he’s bigger than me. He first published poetry at 15 and is now actively pursuing genre fiction.

You had your own publishing house, can you expand on that experience?

Strigidae Publishing. Yes. We created a small publishing house much the same way we created the writing groups. First thing, we went to the writers and asked them what they wanted in a house. After compiling everything we put it together in such a way that we went from opening to being in the black in less than 90 days. We stayed that way until a Wednesday afternoon in 2016 when I went in for my middle-age checkup and was scheduled for a heart-cath on Thursday. 4:30PM that day I was informed I’d be getting a double bypass (we’re talking a full on crab-cracked chest) at 5AM the next morning. While I was lucky not to have any heart damage, they said I couldn’t run three businesses anymore and had to cut back at least for a while. I had to choose the business that paid the bills best, so the house closed. In early 2019 we started to revive it, only to have me yet again struck with another health issue. We closed again before even officially opening and have stayed that way. The health issue is resolved, but I think we’re both taking this as a sign to focus on writing and not the business of publishing.

Can you tell us more about your work with high schools and teens in prisons?

Over the years I’ve pursued, both on my own and through our writing groups, educating and encouraging teens. We started with giving basic lectures and contests to local high schools, then branched out into the juvenile detention centers offering full creative writing classes. Realistically, 95% of the kids are there to fill time, but the other 5%…just to watch their excitement, participation, and growth is more than worth it. I feel like it’s coming on time to do it again.


Supposedly you have a cat name Fizzwig…But there are no pictures of you two together? Does he really exist?

It’s Fizzgig – like the toothy pet from The Dark Crystal. She’s a half Ragdoll / half Himalayan beast, almost 17 and cranky enough to keep our three rescue dogs (a Husky – Kira, a Pit-mix – Mina Harker, and an Aussie mix – Elvis – see the photo of them I took in frustration while “trying” to edit) in terror of her wrath.

From Daniel Willcocks, The Mark of the Damned!

Daniel Willcocks books banner

Daniel Willcocks is a bestselling author and podcaster of dark fiction. He is one-quarter of digital story studio, Hawk & Cleaver, co-producer of iTunes-busting, and multi-million downloaded, ‘The Other Stories’ podcast, as well as the lead host of the ‘Great Writers Share’ podcast.

Your brand new book, The Mark of the Damned, is coming out 10/25 tell me about it and about your very cool cover!

The Mark of the Damned is a story I’ve had percolating for a while. I love stories in which you can mess with the fabric of reality and call in the forces we don’t understand, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that. Even in the actual creation of the story itself, it took on a life of its own. What had planned to be a 10,000 word novella, ended up demanding that it reach 30,000 words when finished.
The cover art was also something which gave itself to me. In cycling through pre-made horror book art I found the cover and fell in love with it instantly. It speaks perfectly about the book, from the beetle-black eyes, right down to the pentagram hovering around the text (which I didn’t actually notice until I’d paid for the work).

What was the spark that brought about The Mark of the Damned?

It has actually already (technically) been published on The Other Stories podcast. The podcast itself allows for 2,000 word short stories, and after nearly 4 years of the podcast, I’ve personally written 40-50 shorts which have been featured on the feed or on our Patreon page.
The Mark of the Damned was originally a Patreon-exclusive story under our ‘Strange Inheritance’ theme, with a slightly altered title. Something about the story wouldn’t let me go, and I wanted to explore the wider world around what had been written and give it some depth. I also had several listeners asking for an expanded version, so here we are.

What’s your writing routine like?

I try to be as rigid and into a routine as possible. I will primarily write in the mornings, and tend to block out 6-7am for writing, get my kid ready for school, then return to the words around 9.30-midday. Depending on the word counts I’m aiming for, I sometimes go further into the afternoon, but it’s pretty stringent as I know I can procrastinate if I don’t start the day on track.

How did your writing career start?

For fun. I worked as a freelance copy-editor for non-fiction and found myself with some downtime. I’d always wanted to dabble in writing, and after being inspired by Stephen King’s short story collection, ‘Everything’s Eventual,’ I decided to give it a go.

My first novella, ‘Sins of Smoke,’ took around 4 months to write. It was 17,000 words and I edited it myself around 17 times. When I finally published it to Amazon, it was fortunate enough to make it to the #1 spot in the horror charts on Halloween 2015 which, for a horror author, is like the holy grail.

What is Hawk and cleaver and how did it come about?

Hawk & Cleaver is an independent digital story studio. It came about as a way for four creators to create, while also lifting each other up along the way.
Writing can easily be one of the loneliest professions, so having a group of people you can rely on has been invaluable. All of the guys at Hawk & Cleaver are passionate about what they do and love to create. Uniting under one banner was one of the greatest things we could have done for four little-known creators, and now we have a backlist of stories and properties which are being listened to and read the world over.

How do you see British horror fiction being different from the American counterpart?

I don’t tend to differentiate the two all that much. There’s a universality with horror that translates to all countries. I don’t rate Adam Nevill any differently from Stephen King, or conversely, Kealan Patrick Burke from Josh Malerman.

What do you think Brits do very well in horror fiction?

We know how to be miserable. That often helps. I think London and some of the older British towns are perfect locations for some of the scariest horror, and there’s a history here that transcends many places across the globe.

What horror book or movie scared you the most and for the longest time?

My answer for this will be one that might take people by surprise. My earliest memory of being can’t-fucking-sleep-it’ll-get-me scared was The Simpson’s ‘Treehouse of Horror.’ Mr Burns as a vampire scarred my childhood, but I now use that fear to propel my writing. If I can scare 28-year-old me as much as Mr Burns scared 9-year-old me, I’m winning.

What do you do to take a break from writing? I know you recently jumped off an airplane.

Unfortunately the skydive wasn’t an effort to take a break from writing! Taking a break is difficult when you’re a full-time author. Even if you’re not directly putting words on a page, your mind is in your story. Every piece of media you consume is research. The majority of my day is spent in thought or typing on the keyboard so it’s rare I take a break.
Though, when I do, it’s usually because I can sense that I’m burned out and I play several hours of Pokemon on the DS.

What’s one book that you’d wished you’d written?

Adam Nevill’s ‘The Ritual’. It’s been one of the few books that’s engrossed me in a few years, and the horror is beautifully executed. Playing with the hidden beast is one of my favourite things to do. If you can scare someone without physically showing the monster, then you have succeeded, in my opinion.


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