I purchased a copy of Tory Hartmann’s novel, “First Friday,” from her at the 2016 San Mateo County Fair. As Editor of Sand Hill Review Press, Tory was pushing her literary wares. She’s a friend of mine and a great writer with a keen sense of humor. How could I go wrong? The blurb on the back of “First Friday” lured me in. The story kept me hooked from cover to cover.
Horroraddicts.net Publishing has recently published their fourth anthology called Once Upon a Scream. Remember the fairy tales that you grew up reading? Well they are back again with a horror twist. Once Upon a Scream includes 18 tales that are fantastic and frightful. One of the authors in this anthology is Laurel Anne Hill and recently she talked to David Watson–from HorrorAddicts.net–about her writing:
What is your story in Once Upon A Scream called and what is it about? My short story is “Commanding the Stones,” about Yana, a middle-aged Russian-American woman on a business trip to Paris with her husband in 1995. In “Commanding the Stones,” a murder, Yana’s troubled marriage, her mysterious benefactor, and a Russian fairy tale—a twisted variant of The Stone Flower—add up to terror and redemption in the sewers of Paris.
What inspired the idea? My love of Russian fairy tales and painted lacquer boxes sparked the initial inspiration. Then I visited Paris during the month of November in 1999. Through the rain and chill, a story line emerged.
When did you start writing? I started writing before I could read. I created stories and my older sister wrote them down. I illustrated them with pictures from comic books and magazines. My first short story was published—in the kids’ section of a major San Francisco newspaper—when I was eleven. The piece was absolutely terrible, but I had no clue. The San Francisco News paid me $2, enough for eight double-feature movies back then.
What are your favorite topics to write about? Many of the stories I craft have inspirational premises. Worthiness is rewarded. The power of love, honor, faith and duty can surmount daunting obstacles and transform lives. But I also like to write about the jolting “rewards” unworthiness can bring, and the sometimes blurred line between virtue and vice. Whatever I write, I love to use my imagination.
What are some of your influences? Without a doubt, atmosphere and music influence the direction of many of my stories. Between 1999 and 2005, for example, I made three trips to Paris—all during the November time frame. When first working on “Commanding the Stones,” I took the Paris sewer tour. The unpleasant taste of the air near an underground sewer drain let me picture ominous things happening to my protagonist. My mind processed the many details of the scene. Back home in California, I listened to Russian Orthodox chants to set my mood, allowing ancient magic and mysteries to merge with modern times as I worked.
What do you find fascinating about the horror genre? The physiological reaction a scary movie produces in me. The increase in my heart rate and breathing. The tensing of my muscles. It’s like I’m the one in danger. I’ve had a half-dozen or so close brushes with death—experiences that had nothing to do with movies. During those times, survival—and the various chemicals released into my bloodstream to secure it—exhilarated me. Not so with movies. When an emphathetic character on the screen escapes death, I feel more exhaustion than elation. When I read horror, however, my brain does a better job of moderating the intensity of my physical reaction. Maybe that’s why I prefer scary books to scary movies in recent years, although I do adore both.
What are some of the works you have available? My award-winning novel, HEROES ARISE, and many of my thirty published short stories are available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Anne-Hill/e/B002XK5R5S. To listen to my stories I’ve recorded (including award-winning “Flight of Destiny” and “The Grave of Mario Bandini”), go to Welcome to my Bedroom Closet at http://laurelannehill.libsyn.com. For my darker short stories in print, read “Wings of Revenge” (in The Wickeds), “Till Death Do Us Part” (in Horrible Disasters), “The Vengeance Garden” (in Spells and Swashbucklers) and “Fowl Consequences” (in Fault Zone: Diverge).
What are you currently working on? My novel, The Engine Woman’s Light (a spirits-meet-steampunk, weird west tale) was accepted for publication by Sand Hill Review Press last month. I anticipate it will be available in 2017. I’m preparing to serve as editor for the next Fault Zone Anthology. That, too, will release in 2017. Also, I’ve started working on a short story for Horror Addicts’ next anthology. For long-term projects, I’ll either return to a novel-in-progress (magical realism) set in Mexican California, or start a new one based on my recently-published fantasy short story, “Going Revolutionary.”
Where can we find you online? For my website, go to http://www.laurelannehill.com. My Amazon author page is at http://www.amazon.com/Laurel-Anne-Hill/e/B002XK5R5S. For Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/laurel.hill.7.
Read Laurel Anne Hill’s short story, “Commanding the Stones,” in ONCE UPON A SCREAM.
Once Upon a Scream…there was a tradition of telling tales with elements of the fantastic along with the frightful. Adults and children alike took heed not to go into the deep, dark woods, treat a stranger poorly, or make a deal with someone-or something-without regard for the consequences. Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. From wish-granting trolls, to plague curses, and evil enchantresses, these tales will have you hiding under the covers in hopes they don’t find you. So lock your doors, shutter your windows, and get ready to SCREAM.
Go to http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Scream-Dan-Shaurette/dp/1530529514/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461512625&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=once+upon+a+scream+anthology+horror+addicts
Wicked Women Writer’s Challenge 2016 is still open for registration! Sign up by May 1, 2016.
Who Will Be … MOST WICKED?
THEME: This year’s theme is “Twisted Urban Legends.”
With the outstanding success and quality in last year’s challenges, HorrorAddicts.net is continuing the audiodrama as part of the challenge. This year they are pushing the challenge to the next level by asking participants to write an audiodrama revolving around one of the urban legends.
The key is to take the urban legend and give it new slant to make it twisted. Remember the couple making out in the woods? Perhaps it’s no longer the boyfriend’s sneakers squeaking on the roof of the car, but the girl’s father’s shoes after he followed the young couple into the woods. Take the legends we love and twist them up a bit to create surprise endings for your audience.
It’s all up to you!
This year’s hostess with the mostest is Killion Slade and she’ll be randomly assigning the following to each contestant.
*An urban legend
*An obscure item
And every audio must include:
*At least two different reader voices in their production.
To register now, simply fill out the registration form here:
You will receive your specialized contest items to create a fantastical, horror-filled, terrifying audiodrama for the listeners of HorrorAddicts.net to enjoy.
DEADLINE: Sign up by May 1st, 2016. The sooner you sign up, the more time you have to prepare.
*Note: The Wicked Women Writer’s Challenge and the Master of Macabre Contest share a theme this year “Twisted Urban Legends Audiodrama,” but they will still be aired and judged separately.
As a contestant, you will write and record a horror story, fitting the theme and incorporating your extra elements. The style should be decidedly audiodrama, meaning music, sound effects, and two or more voices should be incorporated.
Audio mp3 and text will be due to email@example.com by June 4th, 2016, 11:59 pm PST. Contestants will then be narrowed down to 5 semi-finalists. Those 5 authors will go on to compete for the final prize of being “Most Wicked 2016.”
The audio can be no longer than 10 minutes. This is strictly adhered to.
The text can be no longer than 3000 words, but may be submitted either in story or screenplay script format. Usually 1000 words=10 mins, we are giving you 2000 extra words for stage direction.
You may have someone else record your story for you, but it must still include 2 voices and none of the HorrorAddicts.net staff or previous Wicked winners may help you.
You may not compete if you have won the “Master of Macabre” or “Most Wicked” awards before. You CAN compete if you have submitted in the past but did not win the final award.
HOW ARE THE VOTES SET UP? There will be a 3-part voting system.
1/3 of the vote will still be the voters emailing in.
1/3 of the vote will be judged on podcast quality and will be judged by seasoned podcasters.
1/3 of the vote will be judged on writing quality and will be judged by seasoned writers.
These 3 sections will be added together for a final score
The winner will be honored with the coveted title, “Most Wicked 2016.”
Dates to know in 2016:
May 1st – Registration closes
June 4th – Audio and text are due.
July 9th – finalists will be announced
July 23rd – Audio airs (text will begin posting near this date)
July 23rd – Voting starts
August 20th – Voting ends
September 17th – Winners will be announced on the HorrorAddicts.net show.
Questions should be addressed to Killion Slade at:firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject 2016 WWW CONTEST QUESTION.
How Do I Enter?
1) Please click on the survey monkey link and it will take you to a page to fill your information. This signs you up for the contest and we can provide you writing prompts for your audio drama.
2) Please go to the Facebook group Wicked Women Writers and ask to join the group. Join the Facebook Group!
The group is where Killion will communicate the most to you and be able to easily answer any questions you may have.
And that’s it!
Horror Addicts looks forward to hearing from you and finding out if YOU will be Most Wicked 2016!
Laurel Anne Hill (Most Wicked 2011)
The sky bore a touch of gray as I peered out the cabin’s kitchen window. I stood at the sink, washing vegetables. There was David, down by the lake where we’d docked our rental fishing boat. Family members were with him.
A good thing. Even grasping his cane, he didn’t look too steady. In fact, he sort of listed to starboard. Literally. Four months had passed since he’d had his failed knee replacement surgically evicted and new hardware installed. The healing process advanced with snail feet.
David swung his leg into our boat. Nobody steadied the craft against the dock for him. What was he doing? That was right up there with climbing a ladder while using a chain saw. Didn’t he want to survive until our 50th anniversary? We had nine more years to go. The space between the boat and the dock inched wider. Lord have mercy! He was either going to fall into the drink or split up the middle like some dried-out wishbone yanked apart.
By some miracle, nothing bad occurred.
In November, the day the OryCon Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention opened, my brain revisited that Odell Lake scene. David had just been admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland. His problem—which had manifested itself as a gradual increase in heart and respiratory rates, had culminated with a combination of congestive heart failure and pneumonia. The damn fluid in his lungs kept him from getting a decent breath. He was drowning on land and coming way too close to going down for the third time.
By some miracle, he recovered.
There’s lots of things we joke about lately. How the salty Rueben Sandwich he ate the day before hospitalization proved his downfall. How, in the future, we’re switching to refundable airline tickets and traveling only where we have doctor friends or relatives. (The presence of our son Dave and his wife, Kathy, in Portland saved the day.) But the truth is, hind-sight isn’t foresight. Neither David’s primary care physician nor his cardiologist picked up the category 5 level of his brewing medical hurricane, any better than we did.
Well I’ve now got the lowdown on really keeping his water retention down low. God’s given me the love of my life back. David and I aim to celebrate that big 50 in nine years.
Merry Christmas! May good health & happiness be yours.
Laurel & David