2018 Recap

What happened in 2018?

I didn’t do all of my resolutions for last year, and it wasn’t all amazing all the time, but here are the highlights!

  • I became lactose intolerant. It happened all of a sudden. It was awful. I miss eating cheese without having to take a pill first BUT for the first time in my life I don’t have the acne face of a fourteen year old. It turns out, cheese was my enemy all along.
  • I published my first ever horror novel, Infernal, with Grinning Skull Press! I’m so excited to have it out in the world.
  • I discovered audio-books. When I was younger I couldn’t listen to books because I got distracted and stopped paying attention. I went on with life believing that I couldn’t listen to audio-books. I WAS WRONG! I spend so much time outside walking or at the gym and this is perfect! I love it. I can finally multitask reading.
  • I wrote another horror and outlined a few more!
  • I discovered Stephen King. I know, I’m behind. I tried reading Stephen King as a kid and totally hated it. I was reading fantasy almost exclusively back then and doing it for escapism. Stephen King’s work was just too close to reality for my younger self and I didn’t get it or appreciate it. I went on from there with the continued assumption that Mr. King and I did not jive. The truth is, I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t at the point in my life where I would appreciate his books. But I am now and OH MY GOSH there are so many to read! So far I’ve consumed: Carrie, Cujo, In the Tall Grass, A Good Marriage, The Outsider, Joyland, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. <3
  • World Weaver Press published the second book of my Crowns & Ash series, Detox in Letters! And @writendesk did live tweeting while reading it and it was one of the coolest, most thrilling, events of my life!
  • I visited my family in California for my mom’s wedding party, survived the aggressive heat, and ate matcha soft-serve in a fish shaped cone in San Francisco!
  • I wrote a rough ROUGH first draft of book 4 of the Crowns & Ash series and sent the 3rd off to my amazing editor, Laura Harvey!

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Stuart R. West – Author Interview

I recently read Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley by Stuart R. West and reached out to get an interview.

You can find my review of the collection of stories on Goodreads as well as Amazon

Now on to some intrusive author questions!


I know it’s nosy, but I just love seeing where people do their art. Can you describe your writing space for us, Stuart?

Hey, Cheryl, thanks for letting me stink up the joint. Well…I used to write in a very comfy recliner in front of a bay window. Very pleasant, relaxing and inspiring. Now, my daughter’s moved back into the house. That’s not a problem. But she brought two dogs with her. That’s a problem. She describes them as “shredders,” a very apt description. They’ve never met anything they don’t like to rend. So, I have to now sit on them 24-7. What little writing I’m getting done these days is in the fenced off room with the ferocious furry terrorists. Here…look…

 

 

What does your writing process look like? Do you listen to music? Have a special mug? Do you do three chair swivels before starting?

Nothing special. As a matter of fact, plotting’s always the biggest chore (that and revisions. Ugh). Suffering from insomnia as I do, I work out my plot points in a sorta pseudo-half-conscious state at three in the morning, hence some of the craziness in my work. I like to back my characters into a corner and see how they work their way out of it.

Coffee, tea or something else?

Caffeine’s my friend! I tried beer, but the writing ended up like this: “Sally walked up the stairs, hatchet in hand. Hand on the knob, she twisted it and ppppppppppppppppppppppp,kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkknnnnnnnnnn…” It goes on a while like that. And I woke up with a keyboard imprint on my cheek.

Favorite font?

I refuse to answer this question because I don’t want to be called anti-fontist.

Now that the standard questions are out of the way, you have a lot of published works under your belt—how did you get started?

I got burned out in the corporate world. This horrible company I worked for for the last 27 years or so folded due to mis-management. I couldn’t stand to face another 20 years or whatever in a similar situation. My loving wife said, “what do you want to do?” I thought about it, remembered my life-long dream of writing, and ta-dahhhhhhhh! (Unfortunately, there’s a bittersweet ending. Due to economics, I have to go back to a “real” job. Dunno what I’ll do. But I’d rather drive an ice cream truck than enter another soul-stealing office job.)

I recently had the pleasure of reading Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley and am so excited to toss a few questions your way. This collection of scary stories covered so many genres of horror! Do you have a personal favorite yourself? Creature features, monster stories, psychological thrillers…

I don’t think I have a favorite. Just love horror. Love all facets of it and have since I was a child. I consider the golden years of horror films the schlock from the 60’s to mid-80’s. I’ve seen ‘em all. My wife just doesn’t get it.

Along those same lines, were any of your own fears reflected in these stories? The dentist story, for example, really gave me the heebie jeebies despite there being SO MANY scary monsters in the other stories, because it was something that makes me, personally, so uncomfortable.

Oh, yeah, a lot of my fears are in this book. First of all, this book was written after the last recent American presidential election. I was pissed off and scared at how divided and angry the country had become. I think this book represents a microcosm of what the attitude of America is right now with characters displaying ugly traits and stuck in awful situations. So, yes, overall the state of the world terrifies me right now. More specifically, things underground terrify me (“The Underdwellers.”). Just being in a dark, terrifying, grotesque, underground environment where you don’t know what’s around the corner is absolutely nightmarish to me. Nature (more specifically weird bugs) creep me out. I mean, everyone knows sticks shouldn’t walk, right? Anyway, this is reflected in “Bagworms.” Racism is a concern (“Husk”). Lots of other phobias to be uncovered, but, hey, go read the book folks!

A lot of your stories have a twist of humor to them. Is that something you would consider a signature of your writing style or was it particular to this collection?

No. Sigh. Good or bad, most of my 21 novels have humor in them. Frankly, I wasn’t even aware of it until my wife pointed it out to me. She said, “All of your books have comical elements.” Oddly enough, my wife finds me painfully unfunny most of the time. SO, yeah, I guess it’s my style.

With Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley being a collection, I have to ask, did you have a favorite piece and why?

Probably the closing novella, “The Underdwellers.” It’s not particularly a signature piece of my style or content, but it’s one of the most intense, frightening things I’ve written in my (un)humble opinion. So says my wife again, my harshest critic. It scares me and I like how it turned out (not always the case).

And last, what are you working on now? Tell us about what you have coming out next or anything else you want to put a little extra focus on. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

I’ve nearly completed my next novel, “Corporate Wolf.” It’s a horror novel with a lot of dark humor and satire based on my ghastly years in the corporate sector. Oh, and it’s about a werewolf. I’m having a lotta fun writing it (until I got into the revisions, a writer’s enemy!).

Hey, thanks for having me here, Cheryl.

Readers, check me out at:

*Stuart R. West’s brand-spanking new website!

*Amazon author page.

*Stuart R. West’s (totally inconsequential) blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley

*And the rest (like on Gilligan’s Island): Facebook, Twitter

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INFERNAL

Infernal, my very first ever published horror book, came out last week! It’s available in paperback and eBook on Amazon and a bunch of other sites all conveniently linked below.

Please take a second to add it to your Goodreads if you use the site!

And if you do check it out and enjoy it, please leave a review! It means the world!

 

Goodreads

Amazon

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

 

INFERNAL

Shrouded in Mystery

According to the legends, those who venture onto the shores of this cursed island never return.

Abandoned

Valerie DeNola and her sister Julie have chosen to ignore the legends and the warnings. They have been selected to lead a team of explorers to the island to discover the mystery surrounding it. But once ashore, they become cut off from the outside world, and what they discover is something they could never have prepared for.

Inhabited by Death

Now they must fight against an unknown presence that is picking them off one by one. No one can be trusted, and when even nature rises up against them, all seems lost. Their one hope is the extraction team they know is coming. But will any of them survive to see it arrive?

 

Published by Grinning Skull Press

Cover by Jeffrey Kosh

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My first book published was not the first written.

Vanity in Dust was my first published novel BUT it was the fifth book I wrote.

There’s this idea about writers churning out a perfect novel and that being the end of it. And for someone, somewhere, I’m sure that’s true. But for most of us, we have more stories to write than we’ll ever have time to put into words and writing, like any other art, is something that gets better with practice. I learn new things with every book. The first few mostly taught me how to go about writing and finishing a story.

Originally I was writing high fantasy–the kind with sword clanking, thrones at war, and lots of betrayal. I read a lot of fantasy as a kid so it was naturally where I went with my own writing. Fantasy has always been my go-to genre. When I walk into a library or a bookstore, I go straight for Fantasy. It’s my anchor, and my comfort zone. I didn’t even try anything else until I joined a writing site when I was seventeen and started branching out. After that, I tried writing urban fantasy. And then, after FOUR BOOKS, I wrote Vanity in Dust, which is somewhere between high fantasy and urban fantasy. It’s a purely fantasy world, but far from medieval inspired, with modern themes and technology all powered by magic.

Even Infernal, the island horror I have coming out soon, isn’t the first horror novel I wrote. My first tries were just that–a try. Not a failure, because it moved me closer to getting it right, but not a win either.

This isn’t to say that the books I wrote before the ones published have been tossed aside (though a couple definitely have been). Some just haven’t found their place yet or need more work. Because getting a book published is work. There are great steps between creating an idea, turning it into a manuscript, and getting it publisher-ready. Fortunately, I love all the steps–I just wish I had more time.

I haven’t written a perfect book yet. If I do, it might not be until I’m seventy, hopefully with dozens of books under my belt. And, I admit, I kind of like that idea.

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Monster Movies!

Who doesn’t love a monster movie? This list is not going to include real world monstrous animals but the supernatural kind! Real animals get a separate list and a different though equally special place in my heart.

 

 

The Ritual

I loved this movie! A group of friends go on a trip hiking in Scandinavia after a traumatic event. They manage to make all the worst choices and it’s one of those stories that just gets weirder and weirder. I’ve never seen anything else quite like this one.

 

 

 

The Monster

I know. The title is a little on the nose, right? But it’s perfect! And the movie will blow you away. It’s so simple but so well made. A mother and daughter get stuck on a road in the woods in the middle of the night, in a storm, and they’re not alone.

 

 

 

Babadook

These actors do an amazing job of being so irritating at times and then so frightening. This is one of the stories where you wonder if there’s a monster haunting them, or if they’re just losing their minds.

 

 

 

Indigenous

Jungle horror! I was so surprised by this movie. A group of friends on vacation in Panama go out looking for a secluded waterfall.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Evil FAIRIES!

You read that right. Evil Fairies! I’ve been around the block a few times as far as horror flicks go and it’s something special when you see a creature you haven’t before. I love bad fairies! And these are so creepy. The little girl is a total jerk and her step mom tries so hard to save the day!

 

 

 

The Host

A huge monster emerges from a river in Seoul and wreaks havoc. This is a big scale monster movie, with great characters. I can’t recommend it enough!

 

 

 

 

Absentia (2011)

A woman and her sister link a creepy tunnel to recent disappearances.

This wasn’t a high budget film and yet it’s so creepy and well written. There’s only a handful of actors. And it’s amazing! It’s creepy and a throwback to dark fairy tales.

 

 

 

The Descent

The is a story of a group of friends that go spelunking, get lost, uncover betrayals, AND get hunted by scary, subterranean, people-monsters. Though hinted at throughout, I kept forgetting about the subterranean people-monsters during the first part of the movie because the spelunking was so intense and claustrophobic!

 

 

 

Dark Was The Night

Logging company upsets something ancient in the woods that begins terrorizing a small town. Eerie, snowy, and somehow cozy.

 

 

Was your favorite monster movie on this list?

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