A Conversation with Author Adam Cesare

By Jason Harris


b55f3206ed747f885cd18d60591387401. You have written a novel, novella, and a short story collection. What are you working on now?

Next up will be another full-length novel. That one will be from Samhain (they put out Video Night, as well) and it’s my take on the satanic cult subgenre. All the longer pieces I’ve written have all been set in specific periods (the 1980s, 1960s, etc.) I didn’t want to become known as the “throwback” horror guy, so The Summer Job is set in our time. The characters have iPhones. I’m all done with that one and right now I’m working on a novella for a to-be-named publisher. I’m super excited about both of these.

2. On Amazon, it has you credited with Bound by Jade (the Fourth Sam Truman Mystery). Is this true and were you involved with any of the other mysteries in the series? I only ask since you don’t have this book listed on your website.

There are a couple of posts about it on the site, but I think they’ve been pushed off the front page over the last few months. It should be on the website; I’m just the world’s worst webmaster, so it’s not up there. I’ll fix that.

The series was created by writer/publisher Ed Kurtz. Sam’s a disgraced P.I. who just happens to get the city’s strangest cases (the books are supernatural noirs). I didn’t write the first three, but they all share the same character. The series is something special and I’m very proud of my entry. They’re dirt cheap, so everyone should give the Sam Truman books a try.

My installment is a novella called Bound by Jade. It can stand on its own, but reading the whole series is the best way to go.Bound by Jade

3. You have written about movies in Tribesmen and Video Night. Would you say, you have been influenced by movies? What movies have influenced you?

Yeah. Even from a young age, movies were my everything. Not to get lame with the “write what you know” adage, but I use the world of film as a jumping off point in those books. Video Night is based on the phenomenon of watching movies, especially the social aspect of that, while Tribesmen is more about making movies and what goes in (and shouldn’t go in) to getting what you need on camera.

The Summer Job doesn’t explicitly connect to the world of film, but it is my attempt to write in the genre of folk horror. To the best of my understanding, folk horror is predominately a film term and it describes the subgenre that films like The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw and Kill List belong in. Those are all British films, and I am nowhere near British enough to try and write about the location, so mine’s a New England folk horror story. 91w2nxklemL__SL1500_

4. You were a film studies major in college. What made you decide on that degree?

I studied both English and Film. When you’re a film studies major (as opposed to a film production major) the two fields of study are actually very similar. They’re both a lot of reading, writing, and analytical thinking. That kind of stuff interests me and I think that being a critical consumer of media (no matter if it’s Re-animator or The Canterbury Tales) makes you a better writer.

5. What did you envision doing with your life with a Film Studies degree?

I went to grad school for a year and picked up a Masters in Education. So I’m qualified to teach, which is also something I find worthwhile/enriching.

6. Who are some of your favorite writers?

Oh boy. This is one of those questions I could spend all night on. For horror, let’s go with Aaron Dries, Sarah Langan, Laird Barron, Stephen Graham Jones, Shane McKenzie, and Jeff Strand.

7. Who are you reading at the moment?

I’ve got Joe Hill’s latest, NOS4A2 almost finished. I’m right now in the process of choosing what goes next. I try to put my genre consumption on rotation, so since I’m just finishing reading something that’s horror I’ve got three different genres all vying for the title: N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon (fantasy, I think), James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate (science fiction) and Duane Swiercynski’s third Charlie Hardie book, Point & Shoot (crime).

TribesmenCover8. You have a blurb from Jeff Strand for Tribesmen. How did you feel when you received that blurb? Did you seek him out for one?

Jeff and I had only met once very briefly before I asked him to take a look at the book, so I was really surprised how nice he was about the whole thing. His blurb is amazing and now that I’ve seen him a couple more times at conventions, he and his wife (author Lynne Hansen) are two of my favorite people.

9. Would you like to see Tribesmen or Video Night made into a movie?

Yes, please.

10. If they were made into a movie, who would you like to see direct it and why?

Some aspects of the books would probably have to change either way, but I like to think that they’re both pretty adaptation-friendly.

Lexi Alexander would be a good choice for Video Night, in my opinion. She knows how to work with actors and gore in equal measure as evidenced by the criminally underrated Punisher: War Zone.

The dynamic directing-duo of John Skipp and Andrew Kasch would be my choice for Tribesmen. They’ve done some incredible short work that’s both hilarious and disgusting. They would get the tone EXACTLY.

I mean. There are no films in the works or anything, so why don’t we throw P.T. Anderson and Kathryn Bigelow and [Martin] Scorsese in the running?

11. What made you stay in Boston after college?

I love it. It’s been my home for seven years. It’s a movie-loving town, for one thing. The Coolidge and the Brattle are two of the best theaters in the country and they’re both walking distance from me.

12. Are there any plans to put Bone Meal Broth out in paperback? What inspired that collection of work?

I had the rights back to a bunch of stories that had been previously published, so I picked out the best of them and put out a short (20,000 word) collection. I’m quite proud of it, but I’m not sure it’ll ever be in paperback. It’s the only time I’ve self-published something and I really enjoyed the experience. Maybe in a few years I’ll bump up the word count by adding some stories to the roster and then find a publisher that would tangle with it.

13. What has your nonfiction work been about?

It’s all film essays. I’ve written guest posts for a few blogs and my articles have seen print in Paracinema Magazine. They’re amazing, by the way, if you haven’t read that magazine I highly recommend it.

14. Your work has been featured in Shroud and Fangoria. How did it feel being in Fangoria, a horror magazine that I think every person who is or has been into reading/watching horror has read?

That was just a quick book review I wrote freelance for them, but it got my name on the contributor page and I thought I would faint. For the whole month I was going to newsstands, thumbing to my page and giggling like a madman.

15. You had a blog, Brain Tremors. I love that name by the way. Why choose that name? Did the name come to you right away? Is there history behind the name?

Yeah, Brain Tremors. That was my old page, but I still use the banner over at www.adamcesare.com. I kind of knew what I wanted the insignia to look like, and what’s creepier than an involuntary shaking of the brain?

16. What would be your advice for wannabe writers?

Ha. I’m too low-level to be handing out advice. My advice would be to take writing advice from Joe Lansdale, as he hands it out occasionally on his Twitter/Facebook feed.

One thing that does bug me is the idea of an “aspiring” writer. There are a lot of people on twitter that label themselves that way. Fake it till you make it, guys and gals. There’s no room on the internet for low self-esteem, it’s too full of cat pictures and lackluster writing advice.

Author Robert J. Duperre Talks about Zombies and Writing

Author Robert J. Duperre Talks about Zombies and Writing

by Jason Harris

Zombies are still lumbering around in pop culture after since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead arrived on the silver screen in 1968. Romero is considered to be the father of all zombie movies. They can even be seen on the small screen thanks to the AMC series, The Walking Dead. The Resident Evil zombies are still finding success on the big screen and the next incarnation, Resident Evil: Retribution, arrives in theaters this year.

Zombies are so popular that a London-based game developer, Six to Start, has created an app that has merged fitness and zombies, “Zombies, Run!”

Author and New England Horror Writer member Robert J. Duperre is continuing to give zombie fans their fix with his four-book series The Rift, which opens with a zombie apocalypse triggered by an evil buried deep in a Mayan ruin in the first volume, The Fall, the three books that follow are Dead of Winter, Death Springs Eternal, and The Summer Son, which is due out in July.

The Fall: The Rift Book I

The Fall: The Rift Book I

In his series, the origin of the apocalypse is the Mayan Ruins, which he chose because of the fact “the Mayans were so advanced, not only for their time, but for all time.” Even with their advancement, Duperre considers the Mayans as “somewhat primitive.”

“In that way their culture sort of mirrors our own—complex and sophisticated, yet clinging to some rather archaic ideals.  So what if the same mysterious events that brought down their culture brought down our own?  Poetic justice, right?  Yeah, a bit of a stretch I know, but trust me, it works in my head.”

The author wasn’t planning on The Rift being a series. He thought it would be a simple zombie tale.

“It was supposed to be a humorous novella.”

Once it was over 400,000 words, he decided to split it into four books and completely rewrote it.

“The story had already been sectioned off into seasons, so I figured that was as good an idea as any to act as natural segues between volumes.  The only problem is the first three books all end in cliffhangers because of this, which I’m sure can be a little irritating to readers.”

Duperre thinks there are “a couple of layers” to the zombie-apocalyptic trend.

“For me, [zombies are] the perfect tool for storytelling—they represent humanity in its most primal form, in many ways reflecting conventional and homogametic nature of our culture,” Duperre said. “Literature in the zombie genre forces a return to the basics by the survivors, in effect exploring that which made them human in the first place.”

He assumes the zombie-apocalyptic trend is popular because people are “obsessed with being scared, and nothing is as frightening as the prospect of the end-of-times.”

“A zombie apocalypse is, strangely enough, the most convenient and readily available outlet for that kind of fantastic exploration.”

He has never seen this “particular scenario play out before,” which he figured was a good point in his favor. This allowed him “to move away from traditional zombie lore and present some different scenarios and outcomes.”

Duperre considers his endeavor with The Rift series risky and knows he has annoyed more than one reader by straying from the typical zombie formula.

“I’m happier doing things my own way than sticking to a script someone else wrote.”

There are some prevalent motifs running through Duperre’s series such as isolation, personal tragedy, and social injustice, which he considers “the single greatest theme” that runs through all four volumes. The social injustices that he tackles are the treatment of women and the complexities of race relations.

“At heart, I’ve always considered myself a progressive and a bit of a social activist, and this series allows me to explore these themes in a no-holds-barred manner, sometimes disturbing manner.”

Duperre’s work has been influenced by a number of writers throughout his career including Clive Barker, John Skipp, Stephen King, and George Romero, whose original Dead trilogy is “the single biggest influence” in his life.

“It was the first time I realized that monsters could be used as metaphors, and I ran with it,” Duperre said. “Clive Barker has also been a huge influence, in particular his fascination with the concept of worlds within worlds. Though you certainly can’t write a good book without talent, the style any writer develops is always dependent on the authors they’ve read and loved over the span of their lifetimes.  I’m no different, and to all the writers who’ve spurred me on over the years, I say a great big thank you.”

The Rift series is a collaboration between Duperre and fellow NEHW member, artist Jesse David Young, who has done all the series’ covers.

They had discussed as far back as 2006 about Young doing illustrations for him, but nothing came of it. Three years later in the summer of 2009, Young called about working on a comic book they could pitch to DC comics. Duperre was working on final rewrites on the first book in the series and asked Young if he wanted to do what they talked about so long ago, he said.

“We’ve been working together ever since, and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  It’s nice to have a partner to share in the stress, after all.  I wouldn’t have been able to get as much work done as I have without him by my side.”

His series is self-published, which allows Duperre to take risks, but not something he couldn’t have done through a traditional publishing company, he said. He doesn’t hold any “real love for self-publishing” since “it’s difficult and time-consuming.”

Duperre considers self-publishing “a means to an end” and doesn’t think he would be where he is today without it. He thinks the changing publishing world is “exciting and dangerous at the same time.”

“For the release of a book to be as simple as a click of a mouse, the possibilities are endless for success and failure. I experienced a bit of both.”

Duperre rushed The Fall to publication which resulted in the release of a poorly edited book, he said. It was full of plot holes, which he had to go back and fix post-publication. The same mistakes happened with Dead of Winter, but to “a lesser extent.”

“Thankfully for me, my sales didn’t really start to take off until after they were fixed which is a very good thing.  It could have ruined my reputation something fierce had the lesser-quality work taken center stage.”

He considers this a huge problem since there are a lot of books on the market that are not good. These books are lacking “plot and characterization, are poorly executed, or simply put out there by someone who doesn’t have a clue about how to write.”

These problems have created a stigma for being a self-published author “that is rightly deserved.” This stigma has even put more pressure on authors like Duperre, he said.

“I need to work extra hard to make sure the work we put out is of professional quality, is edited, and cohesive.  It’s a good thing I enjoy doing this, otherwise I might have walked away by now.”

Along with writing his zombie series, Duperre has published two anthologies, The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales and The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair. The first one was released in November 2010 and contains stories by him and a few writer friends. Each story contains an illustration by Young.

“After [the first anthology was released], I thought it would be a novel idea if the anthology became a yearly/bi-yearly event.”

The Gate’s sequel was released this past February. It contains stories from K. Allen Wood, David Dalglish, Steven Pirie and Mercedes Yardley.

The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair

The Gate 2: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair

He wants to publish a third volume next February entitled The Gate 3: 13 Creature Features.

“The goal is to have it be an actual paying anthology this time around, featuring some of my old-time and new favorites in horror and dark fantasy. I’m not entirely certain if I’ll be able to pull it off given the state of finances at the moment, but I’m dedicated to it, and I’ve found over the years that if I’m dedicated to something, I somehow find a way to pull it off.”

Duperre has been writing since childhood, he has been “obsessed” with it from “the process, the imagination involved, [and] the outcome.”

 “My high school term papers were behemoths, and I decided that my life’s goal would be to teach English and write novels for a living.”

Life did get in his way back in his early to mid twenties until Jessica, his wife, told him to pick up his pen again. There would be “a gigantic hole” in his soul if he wasn’t writing, he said.

He began a website, Journal of Always, back in 2009 with the idea he would blog about what he thought was important, what bothered him, and maybe even discuss his own experiences during the writing process. It didn’t happen that way though, he said.

“I ignored it for far too long and eventually it was all but forgotten. Then, halfway through 2010, I decided I would start reading my fellow self-published authors and use the JOA as an outlet for reviews.”

The website has progressed nicely for the past two years until the past few months of this year when he had deadlines looming on other projects.

“I haven’t posted a review since February, even though I have a backlog of more than fifteen to write.”

He plans on adding more reviews soon.

Duperre’s advice to up and coming writers is the same as what other writers like King has told people. It is too read and write. He also goes farther and adds a person has to edit and rewrite too. A writer also has to “be open to criticism.”

“The only way any artist improves is by trial and error.  There is no first draft of any book that is fit for publishing.  Make sure you realize that and learn everything you can before putting yourself out there.”

Here is Duperre’s bibliography:

April 2010 – The Fall: The Rift Book I (novel)
July 2010 – Feeding the Passion (short story), Darker Magazine #2
November 2010 – The Gate: 13 Dark and Odd Tales (collection)
November 2010 – The One That Matters (short story), A Land of Ash (edited by David Dalglish)
December 2010 – Dead of Winter: The Rift Book II (novel)
June 2011 – Silas (novel)
September 2011 –  Chorus (short story), Dark Tomorrows, Second Edition (edited by J.L. Bryan)
October 2011 – 39 Days (short story), Unnatural Disasters (edited by Daniel Pyle)
December 2011 – One Good Turn (short story), Shock Totem Holiday Issue
January 2012 – Death Springs Eternal: The Rift Book III (novel)
February 2012 – The Gate: 13 Tales of Isolation and Despair (collection)

Duperre will be at the NEHW booth at the South Windsor Strawberry Fest on June 16 in Nevers Road Park , South Windsor, CT. from 9 a.m to 5:30 p.m.

A Conversation with Author Jan Kozlowski

This entry appeared on author and NEHW member Kate Laity’s website.

Writer Wednesday: Jan Kozlowski

by Kate Laity

My pal and fellow Horror in Film and Literature lister, Jan Kozlowski, first fell in love with the horror genre in 1975 when the single drop of ruby blood on the engraved black cover of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot hypnotized her into buying it. She sold her first story, Psychological Bacchanal to the EWG E-zine in 1997. Her short story, Parts is Parts, won awards in both the International Writing Competition sponsored by DarkEcho’s E-zine and Quoth the Raven’s Bad Stephen King contest. Another short story, Stuff It, was sold to an independent film producer and went into production as a movie short called Sweet Goodbyes. Her short stories have appeared in: Remittance Girl’s A Slip of the Lip anthology, Lori Perkins’ Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance and Fangbangers: An Erotic Anthology of Fangs, Claws, Sex and Love.

She is extremely proud and excited to announce that her first novel, Die, You Bastard! Die! debuted February 7, as part of Lori Perkins’ new horror line, Ravenous Shadows, edited by the legendary John Skipp.

Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

I do the majority of my writing on my cherished MacBook Pro laptop. I tend to turn my MacBook on at 6:30 a.m. and don’t shut down until 9 p.m. or later most days [Ed: Hmmm, you can shut them down?]. If I either get stuck or get a jones to feel pen against paper, I’ll pull out my old white L&M Ambulance Company clipboard loaded with scrap paper and start scribbling. The board is a souvenir of my days as an urban EMT in Hartford, CT and I keep it around as a reminder of what I COULD be doing for a living.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

I almost always listen to my local Dinosaur (Classic) Rock radio station when I’m working. Since Die, You Bastard! Die! is such an ultra violent story, I tried putting together a play list of heavier metal like Avenged Sevenfold (my granddaughter’s favorite band), Testament, Broken Hope, Disturbed, but I ended up distracted by the unfamiliar songs. Listening to the rock I grew up with in the 70’s like Bob Seger, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith, with a little Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Bon Jovi and Bacon Brothers thrown in via iTunes works best for me.

Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

For me, writing is a business. I’ve been freelancing since I was about 12 and sold articles about raising tropical fish to my hometown newspaper. For the past 15 years or so I’ve run my own freelance writing shop doing all sorts of business and web related writing, editing and research work. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly been moving away from the business projects in order to focus on my horror fiction, but whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction my work style is the same….commit to the project and write until the client, the editor or I’m happy with the finished product.

Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

That’s already happened…on one of the drafts of Die, You Bastard! Die! I think I managed to gross out my editor, legendary Splatterpunk King, John Skipp! Now if I can, one day, pay Dean Koontz back for the creeps he gave me with his novel Whispers, I’ll die a happy writer.

Q: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

When I was a little girl my grandfather used to tell me stories about his adventures working for a funeral home during the pre-embalming fluid days. I always thought I would have loved working in mortuary sciences, but when I was going to school women weren’t exactly welcomed into the funeral services industry. Now that times have changed and we have a first class Mortuary Sciences degree program at our local college, I’ve always thought that would make a fabulous Plan B, even now at age 50+.

Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?

I try to read a little bit of everything. I get some great ideas from newspapers and magazines. I just discovered and am now devouring Mad Money Wall Street guru, Jim Cramer’s books. I try and read as much classic horror like Robert Bloch, M.R. James, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Edgar Allan Poe and J.N. Williamson as possible. I also try to keep up with who’s publishing today beyond Bestsellersaurus Rexes Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I’m a huge fan of Edward Lee, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Joe R. Landsdale, Jonathan Maberry, Elizabeth Massie, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, Monica O’Rourke, John Skipp and Andrew Vachss.

I rarely find time to re-read anything unless I’m researching a specific writing technique, like how Jonathan Maberry handled the fight scenes in his Pine Deep trilogy or how Dean Koontz ramped up to the reveal of the cockroaches in Whispers.

Q: Where did the idea for Die,You Bastard! Die! come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration? And is that an awesome title or what?!

The idea for Die, You Bastard! Die! came out of a lovely dinner Ravenous Shadows publisher Lori Perkins and I had during the 2011 Northeast Writer’s Conference, known as NECON. Lori mentioned she was looking for a story about an adult child coming home to take care of her abusive parent and it matched up with a story I had been kicking around for years about a survivor of childhood sexual abuse coming home to deal with her past. After the conference I got home, wrote up the proposal, Skipp green-lighted it and we took off from there. I realize that’s not the way most writers get a book deal but it goes to prove that if you consistently put the hard work in, you WILL find yourself at the right place, at the right time with the right story.

Writing inspiration and story/character/plot ideas are everywhere if you’re open to them…and my motivation for being open to them usually is based on my memories of being paid $5 an hour to be projectile vomited on as an EMT or waitressing at Friendly’s for .60 below minimum wage.

John Skipp raves about this book:

Die, You Bastard! Die! is one hard-as-nails crime story indeed, with a crime at its core so heinous it boggles both mind and soul. That said, it is also a horror story, a mystery, and an insanely taut suspense thriller. Categories are funny like that.

But human monsters don’t get more humanly monstrous than Big Daddy. And it don’t get much rougher and tougher than Jan Kozlowski’s violently matter-of-fact, emotionally ass-kicking, downright incendiary son of a bitch.
I love this book, and stand behind it 100%. Hope it blows you away, as it did me. And has you coming back for more.

Drop by Jan’s blog or website and follow her on Twitter. Find her on Facebook and check out her Amazon author page. Thanks, Jan!

A New Book Imprint Debuted at the Beginning of February

This entry originally appeared on author and NEHW member, Jan Kozlowski’s blog at the beginning of February.

Die, You Bastard! Die! & Ravenous Shadows Launch Today!

by Jan Kozlowski

It’s Launch Day! It’s Launch Day!

Ravenous Romance’s new horror/mystery/thriller imprint, Ravenous Shadows, headed by horror legend John Skipp, debuted today.

In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Literary Partners CEO Holly Schmidt said, “It was always our plan to expand our business model to other fiction genres, and when we had the opportunity to work with John Skipp, we decided to start with horror/mystery/thrillers. Skipp provided us with a clear vision and strong point of view for the line, and really is the heart and soul of Ravenous Shadows.”

From Editor in Chief, John Skipp- “Welcome to Ravenous Shadows: a new line of startling, provocative genre fiction, dedicated to the proposition that short, powerful novels and novellas can pack as much punch, personality, and plot as books three times their size.”

The four novels launching the line are:

House of Quiet Madness by Mikita Brottman – an Ira Levin style mystery



The Devoted by Eric Shapiro – a Hitchcockian take on a modern suicide cult

Die_spec_3 Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski – a sexual abuse/revenge story somewhere between Misery and Last House on the Left.

All the gorgeous, kick ass cover art was done by the fabulous Paula Rozelle Hanback.