In honor of Coffin Hop 2012, I’m hosting a guest post from Horror Author and Pen of the Damned member Jack Wallen, who has graciously offered to give away a free e-version of his new novel, Screampark, to one lucky winner! Details are at the bottom ;}
Why I write horror with Jack Wallen
1 a: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay b: intense aversion or repugnance
2 a: the quality of inspiring horror: repulsive, horrible, or dismal quality or character b: something that inspires horror
Since I was a child, horror has been one of the constants in my life. Horror was that thing that dared me to turn the light out, unsure if anyone would be there to save me should Mr. Boogens finally make it through the front line of stuffed animals on my bed. That pounding-heart feeling held my eyes wide open at night, staring into the darkness. I was certain it was just a matter of time before it reached through the veil and pulled me into its nightmare.
Stuffed bears and monkeys would only go so far.
After a while, that feeling, those moments, those monsters became a sort of creature comfort. The idea of the appearance of apparitions intrigued me, enthralled me, enticed me. But it wasn’t until I discovered a delightful television program, Nightmare Theatre, that horror became a real, tangible, part of my life. Nightmare Theater was hosted by Sammy Terry. It is Sammy Terry that I attribute to introducing me to B Horror and B Scifi. It was that early love that helped me understand that horror was something that could be taken very seriously, or it could bring a strange sense of joy… even laughter.
Joy and horror? How does that work?
Fictional horror is not real horror. We’re not talking about the horror of surviving the death camps of Nazi Germany. Fictional horror allows us to watch or read from the comfort and safety of our own homes. Tucked into the downy security of our blankets, we can watch Pinhead as he tears souls apart and know, or at least trust, that our souls are, for the time being, safe. And although we can go on that dark hayride with the characters in the book or the movie, we know Mr. Boogens won’t get us. When the ride is over, we rejoice in the security of knowing we made it to the other side alive.
It wasn’t until undergraduate school that I discovered horror in literature form. To that point, horror was limited to film, music, and some undefined dark hold-overs from childhood. The first horror book I truly consumed was Clive Barker’s “Hellbound Heart”. From the first word of that novel I knew my path was set in graveyard stone. I devoured every word Barker wrote. It was his elegance, his penchant for turning the grotesque into beauty that captured my heart and soul. I knew, then and there, I wanted to someday be thought of in the same vein as he. Did I (Do I) want to become the next Clive Barker? No. I want to become the best Jack Wallen I can. But along the way, I would certainly not weep at the comparison.
To this day I have focused primarily on horror. Even my thrillers (The Fringe Killers series) retains elements of horror. Gothica and Endgame could be considered paranormal thrillers, whereas A Blade Away points the lens of horror back onto society at large. But it’s the I Zombie series that really kick-started my career as a horror author. During the process of writing that on-going series, I realized I had that same dark stuff swirling and sloshing about within Mr. Barker. To many, however, zombie fiction isn’t true horror – it’s apocalyptic (or even urban) fiction. With that in mind, I set out to re-establish myself as a horror author. The resulting hide-under-the-covers book was Screampark. Screampark was born out of an acting workshop I did for the Screampark haunt in Lexington, Kentucky. During the process of helping the actors in the haunt get in touch with their characters on a more realistic level, I saw an opportunity to bring that haunt (and its characters) to life in fiction. The end result, I believe, is my best book yet.
Currently I am working on yet another pure horror novel. This book is Hell’s Muse. The idea for this book was simple: A washed up horror writer begins a new book to revitalize his career. Unknown to the writer, everything he writes is paralleled in reality. My original idea was that this writer was a bitter, arrogant, angry misogynist who really only cares that his empty bank account is once again filled to overflowing as it once was. That, in and of itself, was a problem. A book with a main character no one would like is destined to fail. In order to save this book, I had to toss down the gauntlet of challenge once again — this time for real. What developed has me incredibly excited. Hell’s Muse is a book within a book within a book — who’s foundation (or the book within the book within the book) is set in Hell. Pushed forward by a shadowy figure, Bronson Coulter begins to write his swan song about “The Nameless” hell-bent on perching his ass on the molten throne of Hell. As his idea continues to get shot down by agents and publishers, the writing becomes ever-more painful and desperate. The counterpoint to that is Bob (the main character) who is writing the book starring Bronson Coulter that is beloved by his agent (who thinks the book will be his “Carrie”). From there, things get ugly. People die, demons perish… you get the idea.
I adore horror. It’s that thing that, in a strange twist of passion, keeps me sane. And knowing how passionate horror fans are to the artists they follow, I know I’ll enjoy a lasting fan base – so long as my monsters don’t sparkle and I remain true to my dark path.
A Preview of Jack’s Book…
Screampark – one of the top haunts in the country, has a past that threatens to rip the fabric of the present apart. Turn of the century serial killer, Vinny “The Vicious” Manchetti, stripped innocent victims of their lives and souls for sport. Now he and some of his victims are back to wage a war on the grounds of Screampark.
A group of misfits and cast aways, lead by nerd-turned hipster Chris Davis, step in to save the park and wind up battling for their own lives.
So far, it has been said of Screampark:
“I haven’t read a great scary thriller since early King. This book scared the pee out of me. The book had me turning on all the lights at night and pulling my feet from dangling over the bed. Jack Wallen rolls out a tale of suspense while unfolding the characters masterfully. A terrific read and highly recommended.”
“One of the best scary tales I’ve read in a long time. Written by a master story teller, Mr. Jack Wallen. His characters come alive in a profound way. I pictured every scene he set as if I was watching a movie. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy, you will not want to put it done until you are done.”
WIN A FREE COPY!
In honor of Coffin Hop 2012, Jack Wallen has been kind enough to offer a free e-copy of his latest book, Screampark, to a random winner who comments on this post. That’s all you have to do, drop a comment – even a ‘hello’ will do.
Win a free ebook copy of Screampark and scare yourself to sleep. One
random winner will be drawn who will be introduced to the first story
in the Screampark series.
The fear will begin soon after!