Friday, September 25, 2015

GUEST POST: Mark Allan Gunnells

And now a rare guest post by my pal Mark Allan Gunnells . . . be sure to pick up a copy of his new book!  You won't be disappointed.

I turn 41 years old this year, the day before Halloween in fact, which puts me squarely in the world of adulthood.  And yet in some respects, I still feel like a kid.

One of the things that makes me feel most like a kid is Halloween.  I’ve never outgrown the holiday’s dark charms.

The entire season of autumn, in fact, has the power to bring out the kid in me.  There’s a magic in the air I can’t really explain…but I’ll try.

The crispness in the air, the shortening days, the blazing color of the leaves—it all combines to cast a spell over me.  If I had to pick one thing I love best about the fall, it would have to be the leaves.  Even now, I will stop to just marvel in wonder at a shower of autumn leaves raining down around me.  The scratch-scratch sound as they scuttled along pavement is probably my favorite sound in the world.

And of course, autumn contains my favorite holiday—Halloween. 

As a lifelong fan of the horror genre (and I mean fan in the literal “fanatic” sense), I love the fact that we have a holiday focused on the dark and ghoulish.  Granted, Halloween has been scrubbed clean of some of that darkness in modern times.  It was definitely more horror-focused when I was a kid, though if you go back even further it truly embraced the macabre.  (If you’re not sure what I mean, check out the Halloween sequence in the film Meet Me in Saint Louis.)  Still, I love that at this time of year almost any store I go into is going to have displays of skeletons and ravens and black cats and witches and mummies and vampires.  It’s like for a brief instant, the world at large acknowledges and gives its stamp of approval to what I love year round.

When I was a kid, I never wanted to be a prince or a cowboy or a fireman for Halloween.  I always wanted to be monsters.  Dracula, Frankenstein, the devil, one year I remember going as the Hulk, which I think semi-qualifies.  From a young age, I was embracing the darker side of Halloween, and even though I no longer dress up in costume, I still celebrate.

Every Halloween season my fiancĂ© and I try to find fun and inventive things to do for the holiday.  We’ve visited our share of haunted houses and trails, both good and bad.  One year we attended a murder mystery dinner, all done up in tuxedos and everything.  Last Halloween we visited a supposedly haunted cemetery well after dark and wandered around.  This year we’ll be attending a live theatrical version of Night of the Living Dead (my host for this guest blog, James Newman, is the AD of said play).

I also celebrate in the entertainment I seek out during the month of October.  I always make a point of reading Halloween-themed books every October, and there are certain seasonal movies I watch every year at this time.  And my writing always takes on a seasonal bent as well.  Every October, without fail, I write Halloween-themed short stories.  It’s a tradition I’ve established that I very much enjoy.  Over the years, I’ve built up quite an arsenal of these tales.

Which is why this year it was possible for Great Old Ones Publishing to release a 19 story collection of my Halloween-themed stories.  I’m always excited when I have a new book out, but because of my unending love affair with Halloween, this one particularly thrills me.  I think I’ve provided an eclectic mix of fiction.  There’s horror both supernatural and psychological; I have a handful of non-horror stories; there’s even one children’s story.  There are some tales that are on the longish side, and several flash pieces of 1000 words or less.  The oldest story in the collection dates back to 1998, the most recent are from just last year.

As different as the stories are, they have one thing in common—they aim to entertain.  Halloween for all its sinister trappings is a holiday that is all about fun, and that’s what I hope I delivered with the collection.  I hope people sit back and get caught up in the stories and just have a good time.  I want my love of this time of year to translate to the reader so that they fall in love with Halloween as well.

Halloween House of Horrors can be purchased here:

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Free Flash Piece: "Walkers"

A free story.  Granted, it's only 100 words, but hey -- what's better than something FREE?

     You know those “mall walkers” who spend their golden years doing stiff-legged laps past the Old Navy and the Cinnabon like they’re on some sort of mission?
     “They creep me out,” a friend once joked.  “Something in their eyes, if you cut them off.”
     My pal and his imagination, I thought at the time.
     But then I looked closer . . . . 
     I recognized in the faces of that silver-haired assemblage the men, women, and children gone missing in my city.
     Lollygaggers.  Window-shoppers.  Those who got in the way.
     They’re doomed to walk now, too.