Saturday, October 19, 2013

Grab Your Spoooook-Tacular Reads Here!

Welcome Guys and Ghouls!  October can be a fun month, especially if you like to scare yourself silly with a great horror novel.  If you're looking for that scary book to keep you on the edge of your seat, heart thumping, nail biting, clutching your chest, well. . .we're here to tell ya, you've come to the "write" blog!  These novels are right on time for your Halloween reading!  We're all about a good read and the books you're about to see below are not only terrifyingly good, but great!
So, sit back, grab your favorite drink and get ready to feast your eyes on some spooook-tacular reads!  As always, we thank you, and Happy Reading!  Don't forget to click on those buy links listed below the interviews!  Oh, and another piece of advice, you might want to leave the lights on when reading! 
Proudly Present Authors,
Troy Aaron Ratliff and Will Alexander
In the empty Kansas countryside during the spring of 1986, farmer and widower SYLVESTER PETERSEN is dealing with the violent suicide of his wife MARIA from the previous autumn. He copes by getting lost in his routines of star-gazing, farming, baseball, and enjoying the company of his small circle of friends. Mostly, though, he spends his time blaming himself for her death and what he could have done to stop the tragedy, unsure how to move on with his life.

Meanwhile, a mysterious new neighbor has moved in next door to him, seemingly out of nowhere. Like with any small town, the local residents talk about him incessantly, curious of his origins. They prod Sylvester for answers to his new neighbor, but he is still managing his wife’s death to notice the new addition next door. Though, as the muggy summer begins, a series of increasingly strange occurrences shifts Sylvester’s attention from mourning his wife to questioning his sanity: perfectly shaped and unexplainable holes scattered around his corn, hellish noises coming from his crop, and some sinister damage to his house – all appear to point to his new neighbor. On top of this, his sleep is escaping him. He wakes up exhausted every day, anxious as to why or how to fix it.

Sylvester chooses the logical explanation and ignores the peculiar behavior, but when other oddities start to happen - the kind that affects Sylvester directly - he begins to worry that he may be in more danger than he originally believed. His reasoning dwindles and his growing fear points to his neighbor and the mystery surrounding him. After enough time, Sylvester starts to see and hear what the people of the area have been muttering about: Unexplainable blue light, corn crops moving on their own...the slaughtered cattle entirely too close to home.

At the peak of summer, and with the walls closing in, Sylvester barricades himself inside his house to understand the truth about his neighbor and, maybe, find redemption for his wife.
Troy Aaron Ratliff was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio and self educated in writing, art, and voice impersonations. When he's not reading, writing, sketching, or cooking up his next monstrosity, you can generally find him defending the galaxy from the forces of evil, feeding hippopotamuses, dining with foreign dignitaries and Zen masters, waking up to his supermodel wife, altering the space-time inter-dimensional warp or, more than likely, stuck in traffic somewhere in Southern California on his magic carpet.

1. I always look forward to October because I enjoy reading scary books all month long—so imagine my surprise when I got your invitation to your upcoming horror novel. So, Troy, tell our readers just how terrified will we be after having read it? 

I certainly hope to get a reaction out of my readers. Shock and horror are natural emotions and feelings that we’ve had to accept of life, but with so many daily horrifying realities, it’s hard to scare people with a monster when the monster is everywhere around us, like on the news. I think that’s why I avoid the news as much as I can. It’s great to be informed, but when I compare it to the things I write it becomes a two edged sword. On one side, people are constantly exposed to real-life terror which fuels some great analogies and themes into my work, but the other side is trying to convince a reader that this otherworldly experience is really happening to this character when a shooting takes place, or a country threatens nuclear war outside the book. It can be difficult. Some have argued that is why Horror as a genre has lagged over the years: why read a Horror novel when there’s enough horror in the world?

I look at it like this: the Bizarre balances the Normality in my writing and is employed as the theory of “Horror of Fiction Vs. the Horror of Reality” or “Horror Vs. Horror” for short, to balance and chisel out a good narrative and, in my mind, a more real experience for the reader. Basically, to make the abnormal real, the normal must be undeniable and solid. That’s how I like write, by getting my readers comfortable in a very normal and real setting before turning it inside-out and yet, still convince them that’s it really happening. A fellow writer friend of mine called it “T-roy’s style of ‘Heightened Reality’”.

With all that being said, I hope to dole out enough scares to leave a lasting impression on anyone looking for it. If I am, then I’ve done my job by drawing you into a real story with a twisted edge.

2. Tell us something that readers would be shocked to learn about you?
I don’t own a single pair of jeans. I haven’t worn denim since I was twelve years old. And I’m completely okay with that, thank you very much.

3. How many years have you been writing?
Over twenty years. I started writing when I was eleven years old. There was slump where the writing tapered off for a few years, but it came back to life around 22-23 and now that I’m 31 the urge to write is strong - especially after a year of prepping DIBYAN? with edits and marketing and everything else involved with preparing a novel for publication. I’m hungry to write again, unedited, and letting it all go on the page.

4. So, how does one prepare to set out to write something terrifying?
Well, for me, it comes naturally; it’s just what I like to write. I know that doesn’t sound very reassuring as far as my sanity is concerned, but that’s just par for the course in writing horror. I’ve always enjoyed stories with a otherworldly/supernatural touch, even if it’s something subtle. A novel like “Blood Meridian” by Cormac McCarthy, a violent western has the very subtle supernatural feel with the main antagonist in The Judge. It’s so faint and creepy, and I love finding those kinds of haunting aspects in writing because it’s all in the reader’s head and that just pours over into my writing.

5. When you’re not writing, how do you like to relax?

I love drawing and photography. Photography is new for me, but drawing has actually been in my life longer than writing. Art actually runs in the Ratliff blood. My website has a gallery where I display all of my latest work. I also have a little online store through that allows me to sell my art and photography to the public on various items like computer skins, wallets, and even skateboards. I’m always striving for that perpetually creative mindset to keep the brain juices flowing. If I’m not feeling my writing or I’ve hit a snag somehow and I can’t get past it, drawing is usually my imagination getting over that hump. Not always, but sometimes after I finish a drawing the ideas start to come again for the writing. It’s like a see-saw.

6. How did you come up with the title for your book?
The title, honestly, has never changed. From the first I knew it would be “Do I Bother You at Night?”. I know it doesn’t roll of the tongue, but I feel it give it that old, golden age of horror fiction feel from the 1970’s and 80’s. Think Ramsey’s Campbell’s “The Doll Who Ate His Mother” or “The Face That Must Die”. Plus, the fact it’s asking a question to the reader right at the introduction gives it a jagged feel right from the start that I want to perpetuate through the whole narrative.

7. Did you take any writing courses to help you learn to character build and storytelling?

  I took a few, but I lean more on my own autodidactic abilities. I read a lot and now that I’ve been flooding my smart phone with audiobooks, I get the narration side of the written word too, which really helps and gives me a new perspective of the writing process. I usually have a process that I go through in writing a book and then another process in marketing it. In fact, the next novel I’m going to be working on very soon already has a 25 page printed outline of character developments and traits, plot turns, themes, and even cover ideas. I’m very organic in the outlining process of my writing, but I’ve learned to separate that from actual writing to keep myself on course with the story and the goals I set for myself. If I have an outline to guide me, I have a map to help me sail the ship straight. That’s how I do it, and it works for me.

8. How do you react to negative criticism of your work?
I hurl my computer across the room and smash it until it bleeds. Kidding kidding. Bad reviews are bound to happen, and I’ve accepted that, but it still hurts when I get them. Thankfully, I haven’t gotten many. I take my writing seriously, and being able to push aside my ego and be as professional about it as possible, which is to leave it alone and quietly lick your wounds.

9. What can we expect from you in the near future?

Certainly more short stories and novellas, for sure. And, of course, I’ll be getting started on my next novel. But what I’d really like to try my hand at is a coffee table book for my art and photography. I’ve found some cool options for independents to create something like this, but I’m always open to suggestions to what other people have tried and found successful.  

10. Which of your characters gave you the most challenge to create?

I’d have to say Sylvester Petersen himself. The novel is so character-driven that for research I nearly had to become Sylvester. I grew out a crazy long beard, starved myself, and had to truly face the idea of losing my own wife, doing it method writing style. For me, that’s what makes the writing experience real for me and mores so for the reader.


Instagram: @trizzlepuffs

Twenty: A group of short stories presented in a paranormal thriller format which all revolve around a cursed twenty dollar bill. Stories range from The Subway: a banker who learns that taking people’s homes is harming innocents by being presented with the harm he has caused loved ones. Tattoo: A bank robber who takes whatever he likes is taught a lesson when he steals a piece of body art from the wrong artist. Take Out: A restaurant owner inadvertently kills his lover and figures out a different way of disposing of the body while his lover’s ghost taunts him. Destiny’s Whisper: A teenage vampire teaches us that what we know about vampires is all wrong. Six other stories that incorporate the twenty dollar bill while teaching us all lessons we never expected to learn…

Denied Innocence: A true story that took place in 1992 New Hampshire about an outcast boy escaping to college only to have his life destroyed by the first woman to tell him “I love you.” We are not talking about the typical “My girlfriend was a bitch” story. Jerri did her best to attempt to ruin Bryan’s future and take away his very freedom all to hide the affair she was having on her husband. Though the names and locations are changed, the story is true.


Ghosts Don’t Die: My most recent book. FBI agent on vacation, Proctor Ridgeway, is coerced into solving the murder of Gettysburg PA’s most detested ghost tour guide. Though most people in town don’t care who killed her and believe the killer should never be brought to justice, Ridgeway uses his sense of duty to solve the mystery while dealing with the bumbling police chief and his father the mayor, the media intent on getting a scoop, and the guide’s cult-like followers.

The Half-Share Man: Written by my great grandfather in 1972, it follows the exploits of Peter Folger, the grandfather of Benjamin Franklin, as he tries to make his way in the new world. This ranges from buying his one true love’s indentured servitude to preventing an Indian war all the way to dealing with the rich landowner that might otherwise keep him imprisoned. I penned the preface and kept the footnotes up to date and share a partial author credit for my work.

Haunted Nantucket Island: A collection of true ghost stories that all take place on Nantucket Island, as reported to me by those who witnessed them. This version also contains tales as I had acted them out while performing my ghost tour The Nantucket Haunted Hike on Nantucket Island as well as an essay I wrote for the online magazine


I was born on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, but I prefer to tell people I am from Philadelphia, PA since that is where I “found myself” and came to understand the person I was. Philly has always been a second home to me and I miss my friends from there since I have not seen them in some time. Presently, I live in New Hampshire and am loving every moment of that existence as well. I can’t see myself living in a place I am uncomfortable.

My education doesn’t go much beyond high school. I tend to enjoy educating myself on my own. I have learned far more out of school than I ever could have in school, and I do not believe that an education has to be limited to people telling you what to believe and what to read while following a particular dogma. Education comes from questioning what you are taught and then deciding for yourself if it is wrong or right.

 As for family, I have very little. A mother, a sister, a fiancĂ©e and her son. I have a number of children I consider my own even though they have no genetic markers to me. One of my books is dedicated to three of them.

 1. What genres do you typically write and why?
I try very hard not to limit myself to a particular genre. Though I do like to write in the horror or paranormal thriller genre, I tend to find myself drawn to other ones as well. One day I could be working on a true story while the next I feel the need to work in total fantasy. I have ideas for a book series based in an alternate reality brought on by one moment in history being done in a different way. I have a book I am working on right now about the mental health industry being seen through the eyes of an adolescent. I even have ideas for a few children’s books. To limit myself to a particular genre would be to limit my imagination and creativity. I try my best to not do it.

2. How many years have you been writing?

This all depends on how you look at it. I have been writing creatively since I was in the first grade. I recall being shown a table full of photos cut from National Geographic and told to pick one and tell the story about it. I remember finding a picture of an old and severely wrinkled man standing in a desert. I remember saying he was Joe and lived in the Grand Canyon.
Later on, in the sixth grade I wrote a play I called Indiana Jones and the Planet of Roshkashawna where I had Indy pushed into a rocket and sent to another planet where he saved the inhabitants.

As I got older, I began to write more in-depth pieces. Murder mysteries and sci-fi epics where I based characters on real people and gave them exactly what was coming to them were the flavor of that particular time for me.

My first novel was finally written when I was 19 and would later come to be known as Denied Innocence though it went through many different titles and many attempts at publishing. It was declined by a number of publishers and sat on a shelf for almost 20 years until online free publishing came out. Now it is finally in print.

When I was 28, I wrote Haunted Nantucket Island as a supplement to a tour I was giving called The Nantucket Haunted Hike on Nantucket Island. It became an underground hit even though most bookstores on the island would not sell it under pressure from those with more money and influence than I who wanted to see my tour be pushed out of business. Today the book is used by Raven’s Walk ghost tour, the only tour on Nantucket that is authorized to use stories from my book on their tour.

In the past year, I have released two books, Twenty and Ghosts Don’t Die both of which are linked together, though are completely different stories in a completely different genre.

Sometime next year, I hope to have a new book called Psycho Therapy out, which deals with the real life horrors that teenagers must endure at the hands of the mental health industry as seen by a fourteen year old boy named Braiden Caine. He is incarcerated in a mental hospital because his parents have been convinced by a psychiatrist that he is manic depressive since he feels down about his surroundings. Being a minor, he has no say in the horrors he must endure and learns that in reality torture is torture but in a state sanctioned mental facility, torture is known as “therapy.”

3. How do you deal with negative reviews?

I revert to Larry Flynt’s famous saying: “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.” I don’t let them bother me. It is one thing if it is a negative or bad review, it is another thing if it is a personal attack.

To explain: I have a family member that has always liked to see me in pain or misery. This family member is always backed up by their spouse and mother. Once on Amazon, the spouse and mother posted reviews claiming that I needed therapy and that the book in question was all about the person in question, when the character they believed was based upon themselves was a minor character, barely worth mentioning. After paragraphs of scathing innuendo and reviews slated as one star, I contacted Amazon to point them out and even they agreed that the review was little more than an attack on me and not about the book. They agreed to remove the “reviews.”

Personal attacks have no place when explaining what one thought about a piece of literary work. You are always going to have people that like or hate your work based upon their personal feelings, but when it becomes something personal, it becomes more tripe and finger pointing than the true feeling about the literature.

I have read books I got halfway through before I became bored with it. I have had books I read many times and will read again. In the end, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.

Bad reviews can be taken to heart but I know that in the end, I am proud of my work and am excited to finally see it in print.

4. What is something interesting about you your readers would be shocked to learn?

I am a proud bisexual Trekkie. I don’t see sexuality as defining a person, rather enhancing their character. As for Star Trek… well that just goes without saying…

5. Is there a particular season or time that you prefer to write in and why?

No. Writing goes down on paper or into the computer whenever the muse strikes me.

6. How do you feel about self-publishing?

Self-publishing is how I have always done my work. Originally, it cost me $1000 for 20 copies and then I had to beg and plead for people to buy them. Today, it costs nothing and whenever you put it into print, you can find a typo or an editing mistake and then fix it and still be able to sell the book without a problem. All you have to do is re-upload the file.

I may not become a wealthy man due to self-publishing, but it is the easiest way possible to be certain that your work sits on a shelf with no money put out by you (today) and make sure that your dreams are realized. I wanted to be published from the age of 19. Now at the age of 39, I have five books out and a sixth on the way. If things keep going like this, I may have a full library of books in print on my home shelves. A select few people might buy them here and there, and in the end, I would love to know that a few people enjoy my work rather than no people. I think self-publishing is a godsend in that regard.

7. Who is your favorite author(s)?

They range from Stephen King on the horror side to David Sedaris on the humor side. For a realistic thriller, Steven Hildreth, Jr. for his book The First Bayonet did a fantastic job. Nothing will ever compare to Shel Silverstein or Douglas Adams. As a teenager, I absolutely loved a book called The Adrian Mole Diaries by Sue Townsend. In the end, I love the Bard, William Shakespeare. His work will be read until the end of time.

8. If you could be any character you’ve created, which one would it be and why?

In my book Twenty, I have a story called The Subway where a greedy and cruel banker delights in repossessing people’s homes. He believes it to be a sport of sorts. The last man that he takes the home from is named Andrew Busch. Though he and his family become homeless, he later meets up with George Laughton on the subway in the city they live in. He teaches him that Laughton is no different than anyone else and though he believes himself superior, the real strength in life is helping others, not harming them. I like the idea that he retains his morality even given the fact that he has been forced into homelessness by someone callous and uncaring. He shows him that he is no different from anyone else, no matter what he chooses to believe. I wish I had the power to persuade people like that. I wish I could show people that kindness to your fellow man will get you far further than the greed behind destroying anyone’s life for the sake of your own avarice.
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
We'll Leave the Lights on For Ya!