Friday Link Pack 10-30-2015

Friday Link Pack – Halloween

It’s the day before Halloween! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, Halloween Edition! My weekly spooooky post covering topics such as scary writing, terrifying art, current bone-chilling events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…


H.P. Lovecraft Gives Five Tips For Writing A Horror Story
It’s always fun to look at “rules” writers share as advice for others. Grandpa Weird’s advice is pretty straightforward, and can be applied to any story, not just horror.

5 Simple Steps On Creating Suspense in Fiction
What is a good horror story without a bit of suspense? In this piece for Writers Digest, novelist Leigh Michaels goes into details about how you can up the intensity of your writing.

The 10 Best Horror Books You’ve Never Read
Another list of great horror reads that somehow forgot to include one of mine. That said, this list is pretty solid, and it features a lot of spooky reads assembled by horror author Nick Cutter.

6 Ways To Write Better Bad Guys
In this article for Writers Digest, author Laura DiSilverio offers up some advice on how to write interesting villains that leave your readers both engaged and stunned.


The Art Of Laurie Lee Brom
Laden with an old southern gothic feel that is thick with ghostly imagery, Laurie Lee Brom’s work is beautiful, but it also goes further, hinting at the darker side of new contemporary. Absolutely fantastic stuff.

The Art Of Jeffery Alan Love
Eschewing typical styles common in fantasy art, and instead pursuing a bold and graphical focused work laden with thick texture. Love his simple use of color and form. Jeffery Alan Love’s creations are both engaging and stunning. (His image Totentanz – The Dance of Death is the featured image this week.)

The Art Of Heather McLean
Running drips of color, dark figures in heavy shadows, and liquid bursts of black play throughout Heather Mclean’s work. There’s something dark here, something mysterious, and something engaging.


Local 58
If there’s one link you check out this week, make it this. A creepy mood video from Chainsaw Suit Studios that tells a succinct story and very much needs to be watched. (Preferably in the dark.) Whatever you do, don’t look outside. [Thanks to Miguel for sharing this with me.]

Before Trees Overtook, Earth Was Covered By Giant Mushrooms
Recent fossil discoveries hint that giant mushrooms once rose from the land. So, maybe Super Mario Brothers was right, or The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind was, or whatever other giant-mushroom-fantasy-world of you choice.

Google’s Frightgeist
Do you want to be sure you have the most unique costume out there tomorrow night? Well, according to the Google Frightgeist you might want to skip dressing up as Harley Quinn (#1) and instead consider something like a banana (#148) or a loofah (#361).

The Mysterious Shamblers Of The Scablands
In my second entry for my Wild Territories series, I look at the shamblers. The strange yet frightening-looking creatures that roam the scablands of the Territories. What are they? What was their inspiration? Are they as docile as they seem?


Kuchisake-onna (Slit-Mouthed Woman)
Kuchisake-onna  is a figure appearing in Japanese urban legends. She is a woman who was mutilated by her husband, and returns as a malicious spirit. When rumors of alleged sightings began spreading in 1979 around the Nagasaki Prefecture, it spread throughout Japan and caused panic in many towns. There are even reports of schools allowing children to go home only in groups escorted by teachers for safety, and of police increasing their patrols. Recent sightings include many reports in South Korea in the year 2004 about a woman wearing a red mask who was frequently seen chasing children, and, in October 2007, a coroner found some old records from the late 1970s about a woman who was chasing little children. She was then hit by a car, and died shortly after. Her mouth was ripped from ear to ear.


The Horror in the Burying-Ground
Co-written with Hazel Heald, and told from the perspective of the various townsfolk of the abandoned and moldering town of Stillwater, the story revolves around a strange old man who haunts a graveyard.


spooky scary skeletons!

Happy Halloween!

Wild Territories: The Mysterious Shamblers of the High Country

The Mysterious Shamblers Of The Scablands

Welcome to Wild Territories, the series where I delve into the lore and inspiration behind small little details scattered throughout my Lovecraftian urban fantasy novels, The Bell Forging Cycle. These posts will be spoiler-free, but you’ll probably appreciate them more if you have the read books in the series. Now, with that out of the way, please join me as we explore part two of Wild Territories: The Mysterious Shamblers of the Scablands.

They move in packs, making little noise and shuffling along in the high grass of the open plains. They are the shamblers, the bizarre humanoid animals that live in the backcountry of the Territories. But what are they? What was their inspiration and what is their connection to the Lovecraftian mythos? What could they mean for the future? Let’s answer all these questions and take a closer look at these mysterious creatures.

Shamblers make their first and most prominent appearance in Old Broken Road, but they do crop up once in my latest novel, Red Litten World. The first mention of these strange creatures comes from the perspective of the character in the Old Broken Road prologue:

“She expected to see a wild dog, or one of those shuffling shamblers who were fearful to look upon but as docile as one of her father’s sheep.”

Those of you with extensive knowledge of Lovecraftian lore know about shamblers, or dimensional shamblers as ol’ Howie calls them. They first appear in Lovecraft’s The Horror at the Museum and later show up in a Clark Ashton Smith tale, The Hunters from Beyond. But they’re not major players. Shamblers, like many creatures within first wave mythos, make only one appearance. Dimensional shamblers are aggressive and dangerous and powerful. They have a strange animal head that is said to be part ape and part canine, tiny yellow eyes, large fangs, and massive claws. In the mythos, they hop from dimension to dimension and kidnap people. It’s creepy stuff, and they’re clearly not as docile as sheep.

If you have sat in on any of my panels or talked to me at cons, I am pretty adamant that I am not writing mythos. I’m writing urban fantasy, heavily influenced by the mythos. Like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, I am playing with the bones and erecting my own monsters. So how are my monsters different? What influenced my version of shamblers?

To start, let’s look at their appearance. Later in Old Broken Road, Wal goes into a lot more detail:

“Shamblers are a strange animal. They look like naked humanoid figures: neckless with malformed heads, sightless bulging eyes, and pallid gray skin. Solitary and slow, they were more nuisance than threat, occasionally stumbling through a laager or running into the side of a cargowain. They were usually herbivorous, wandering the high desert looking for scrub brush, but occasionally they would find a prairie bird or small mammal to munch on.”

Dimensional Shambler by Michael Bukowski
Dimensional Shambler by Michael Bukowski

This description is the biggest reveal of shamblers to date and established differences right away. Gone are the fangs and claws and small yellow eyes. After Lovecraft, much of my inspiration came from two specific sources. The first is an illustrator. Michael Bukowski runs Yog-Blogsoth a Lovecraftian bestiary of sorts. I’m a big fan. His fantastic (and usually disturbing, consider yourself warned) illustrations are always my first destination whenever I am looking for inspiration in dreaming up monsters. (His take on the various aspects of Nyarlathotep are a favorite of mine.) There was something about his shambler (pictured left) that I loved, and something that inspired me further. The strange tilt of its head, the bizarre shape of its body. I could imagine it lurching, almost zombie-like, across the high deserts and channel scablands. While mine eventually looked different, I think when comparing Wal’s description to Michael’s illustration you can see the similarities.

Creepypasta: The Rake
The Rake is coming – via Reddit user jimjam1308

My second source of inspiration is The Rake a monster that comes from the depths of Creepypasta. A strange naked humanoid creature whose origins started from an unusual photo taken by a hunter’s game camera. In the original story The Rake looks fearsome, the light reflecting in its eyes, the same way light reflects in the eyes of game animals. That strange connection is what led me to toy with the idea of making my shamblers animal-esque humanoids. They might look disturbing, but something has changed. In the world of The Bell Forging Cycle, the monsters who destroyed Earth during the Aligning have disappeared but many, like the shamblers, were left behind. In this series, I am exploring is what has happened to them. Some, like the Cephel and Anur, have shifted from servitors species to become productive members of Territorial society. Others have faded into new legends, and some, like the shamblers, have become simple beast-like creatures.

The distinction is unique, and something I enjoy exploring. Other mentions of these rare and elusive animals are minor. In the first three books, they are another bizarre element in the background, a part of trail life. They serve the purpose to remind us that we aren’t in the world we know anymore, the Territories have been fundamentally changed. Earth is different.

When I set out to write this series I wanted the influence of Lovecraft on everything, and it’s there. It plays a part in everything from religions to major holidays, even slang. I also wanted to shift enough things to keep enthusiasts guessing. I think the shamblers are a great example of that. Where will they go and what part will these bizarre creatures play? Can they still travel between dimensions? Are they as docile as they seem? Only time will tell. For now, the mysterious shamblers shuffle along, wandering the roads between cities and reminding us that the Territories are truly wild.

Thanks for reading the second Wild Territories entry. The idea is to continue this series and reveal little more behind the scenes information about The Bell Forging Cycle. To do that, I need your help. Vote below and decided where we go next time we visit the Wild Territories: