I write horror… am I warped?

Edwin Stark

This is a question that every horror writer must face sooner or later. People will always wonder at someone’s fascination towards all that darkness, gore and creepy things that horror movies and horror literature represent… even more so if that someone loves to write about all these odd happenings. It’s bad enough when they ask you if you are a writer; it gets worse when they find out that you’re a horror writer. People you meet in parties get that strange, shifty look in their eyes as if they’re half-expecting you to leap at them, scalpel in hand, yelling: “Blood! Blood! Blood!”

The truth is rather disappointing; the horror writer (including myself, altough 90% of my entire body of work hardly falls in this genre) is just a regular fellow like you and me… (now, that got me wondering about YOU). I like to cook, hike, ride a bike, rake the leaves in the garden, grow my own tomatoes, read the newspapers and, if I were married, I’d be bringing my significant other some flowers I picked on my way home and perhaps tell the kids a story before bedtime.

And then… why write about horror? Aren’t there plenty of nice things to write about? Am I warped or what?

Just another old-time favorite question in parties, mind you.

Edwin Stark

Well, the horror writer, even though he or she is a normal human being, writes about horrible events exactly because he or she is one (a normal human being, I mean). He (or she) conjures normal worlds where something has gone terribly awry all of a sudden, and then he or she releases a few monsters here and there to wreak some additional havoc. He isn’t writing about this because he or she revels in death, mayhem and destruction. The horror writer is writing this because he or she is celebrating life… by showing us how things can go incredibly wrong in a moment’s notice.

Just like real life, isn’t it?

And here is where the really good horror writer excels. A second-rate horror writer is just happy to let the monster loose on a terrifying rampage, leaving behind an awful amount of destruction in its way; a true master of horror knows that he must properly straighten up the playground after he or she had fun by either destroying the monster or finding a way to lock it back into its cage. He or she will learn how to restore the balance.

So, I guess that the answer to the “are you warped?” question is: “Nope, I’m not warped… I guess I’m just a little bent around the edges.”

Edwin Stark
Signing Off



A doomed vampire hunter. 
A kid trapped in the sewers with an undead thing. 
town that could be yours… but hides a terrible, dark secret. 

A scary cosmic

A dead brother and his revenge beyond the grave. 
An unspeakable future
and three eerie girls.

All these elements lurk within Cuentos, this collection
of eight short stories and two short novellas that may make you reconsider how
you contemplate darkness… after you’re finished reading it.

Do all protagonists have to be GOOD guys?

Protagonist…Good or Bad?
Luke Murphy

My very first adult novel was CUJO by
Stephen King (what were my parents thinking? LOL). Like I said, I’ve never been
a horror fan, but King in a genius. That book scared the bejesus out of me, but
it was an exceptional read and it brought me in touch with a side that thrilled
me. Being scared or frightened is an emotion that appealed to my inner being
and I craved more.

They don’t make good horror movies like
they used to, but every now and then I like to watch a horror movie to connect
with my youth. I know, weird, eh?

So my real question is: Do all protagonists
have to be GOOD guys?
We’ve all read books about zombies, ghosts, ghouls and
brutal serial killers as antagonists, but what about protagonists? Is the term “bad
protagonist” an oxymoron?

One of my favorite shows on TV is Dexter.
What would you call him? Is rooting for a serial killer such a bad thing?

That’s what I had in mind when I first sat
down to write my début novel, DEAD MAN’S HAND.

Dead Man’s Hands is a crime-thriller set in
the seedy underbelly of Las Vegas. It takes readers inside the head of Calvin
Watters, a sadistic 
6’5”, 220 pound African-American, Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a
murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy. He’s not a man to be taken lightly or a book for the faint of heart.

When thinking about creating the main
character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate
. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who
readers could make a real connection with.

Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past
as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas leg-breaker,
I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make
Watters appear scary (dreadlocks, patchy facial hair, body covered in tattoos),
but also able to blend in with those of the social elite.

His every movement is done with precision
and a slowness that dramatizes his actions. As he’s torturing his victims when
collecting debts the atmosphere is built up by where the scene takes place. His
“workshop” has been created to scare his prey. His methods are brutal, and he
has a 100% rate of collection.

Do you think this is someone you could root
You’ll have to read it to find out, but I would bet on it. 
Because my story takes place in Las Vegas,
I wanted the book cover to have an element of gambling, but also show the callousness
of the slayings.

The term DEAD MAN’S HAND originates from
the Wild West. Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in a saloon while playing
poker. The four cards he was holding at the time of his death were: 2 Aces and 2
Eights, and the fifth card was undetermined. Ever since that day, a card hand
consisting of Aces and Eights has been known as the “Dead Man’s Hand”
 – aces and eights and poker chips laid out on a poker
table, with a bloody knife—the weapon of choice for the psychotic killer in the


What happens when the deck is stacked against you…
From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted
fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las
debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police,
finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don’t fall your way?
When the brutal slaying of a prominent
casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale
Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the
largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?
Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To
redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer,
while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a
professional assassin hired to silence them.
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with
his wife, three daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey
before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports
columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree
(Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was
released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

Other posts by Lee Murphy on WWBB

How to Get Ideas for Books


Lisa Binion

Before I began to write, the complex plots in the books I read would amaze me.  I just could not figure out how the authors of these books came up with such fantastic ideas.  Since beginning to write, I have discovered ways to come up with some terrific ideas.


Take a look at your own life.  Life has a tendency to throw you into all kinds of situations, and each situation can be made into a story.  Softly and Tenderly came from the death of my mother when I was nine-years-old.  It was a traumatic time of life for me, and it took me a very long time to recover from her death.  I could have turned it into a mystery or a story that made people cry.  I could have written events just as they happened, but I really would not have been satisfied doing that.  I chose to make it creepy.

A few years ago, something happened to me that I’ll never forget.  It is something that I don’t want to live through again.  While I was out jogging, a spider must have fallen on my shoulder or in my hair.  That’s bad enough in itself, but when I discovered this spider on me, it was in my ear.  I didn’t realize at the time it was a spider.  All I felt were its legs as it crawled deep inside my ear.  Many excruciating hours later, I finally managed to coax it out by about drowning it with hydrogen peroxide.  It was one clean spider when it hit the floor.  I couldn’t let that horrifying event be for nothing.  I’m writing a book, Whisper, very lightly based on what happened.  Again, it will be a tale of horror.

If you can’t decide on an event in your life to write about, take a look at things that have happened in the lives of people you know.  Read newspapers and magazines to see what interesting things have happened in the lives of people you don’t know.  Check out current events and what is happening in the world today.

When you go shopping or go to town to pay bills, notice what is going on around you and listen in on other people’s conversations.  Just try not to be too obvious about what you are doing.  Is there someone you see doing something unusual?  Maybe someone is dressed in an unusual way.  Did you see someone walk away from their cart only to have someone else come along and pick up an item out of their cart?  Was that arranged beforehand?  Maybe it was a trade of some kind.

Perhaps your neighbor has a strange habit.  Does she walk outside every morning at exactly the same time and look down the road?  Is she watching for someone?  Why?  And who is she watching for?  I’m sure you can come up with all kinds of interesting scenarios to explain that.

Listen to your muse.  Pick up a sheet of paper and write down a word that interests you, a word that has a lot of meaning for you.  Now start jotting down other words that your main word brings to mind.  Before long, a story should start to form in your mind.  Keep at it long enough, and you should have enough to start writing.

One other way you can come up with ideas is to look at story prompts.  There are hundreds of these floating around on the Internet.  A lot articles on my BellaOnline Fiction Writing site have story prompts included in them.

Story prompts happen all around us each and every day.  All you have to do is notice them and build a story around them.

Softly and Tenderly
Death’s doors will part and evil shall be seen through the eyes of a child.

“Mom died in her sleep last night.” Those are terrifying words for a child to wake up to. The beetle that falls off the stretcher and stares at her is only the beginning one of the strangest and most frightening times in Lori’s life. Death is not a pretty thing, especially not when the funeral is to be at the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium.

Once she walks into the funeral parlor, she experiences things that no little girl should ever have to experience. No one is acting normal. No one can see what is going on. Is Lori the only one who sees the blood oozing from the pictures of Jesus on the cross? Doesn’t anyone else see the beetles? Is Lori hallucinating when she sees her mom sit up and hears her speak? There is absolutely nothing soft and tender about what happens to Lori.

From her overly morbid piano teacher to the creepy preacher and a father that just isn’t acting like himself, Lori is surrounded by people and things that hint of something bizarre. Once she leaves the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium, things will go back to normal. Or will they?

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Something to whet your appetite: a short excerpt from Softly and Tenderly.

“Lori, it’s your turn to say bye now. You need to tell her that you love her and how much you will miss her.” Daddy put me down next to her coffin and placed his hands on my shoulders. He pushed me so close to her death box that I felt the white satin that overlapped to the outside. It rubbed against my hands. At least it was soft for Mommy. She would be comfortable in there.

I decided to speak out loud this time. Maybe no one else would bring me back up here again if I spoke my goodbyes out loud. “Mommy,” I began, but then I started crying so hard I couldn’t speak. Daddy rubbed my shoulders until I quieted down and could begin again. “Mommy, I love you. I don’t want you to leave me. Please come back. No one, not even this Jesus, is worth leaving me over.” I opened my eyes and looked at her. She hadn’t moved since Mrs. Minuet had dragged me up here. But then her eyes opened, and she stared at me. She was staring at me! I sucked my breath in and felt my legs grow weak as my head began to spin. With one hand I grabbed on to the edge of the coffin, while with the other hand I grabbed hold of Daddy’s arm.

“Daddy! Daddy! Mommy’s not dead! She looked at me!” I screamed as I jumped up and down. “She was still alive when they took her out of the house. I saw her trying to get out from under the sheet.” I pulled on his arm and shook it. “Please, Daddy. You’ve got to save her.”

Daddy was beginning to sound a bit mad. He picked me up and held me over top of Mommy. “Maybe if you give her a goodbye kiss you’ll understand she’s dead, and believe me when I tell you she isn’t coming back.” I was so close to Mommy’s cheek that I could see the makeup was beginning to cake in her pores. There was no warmth rising up from her body, only icy coldness.

Author Lisa Binion

Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.

As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.