Interview: Hunter Shea, author of Jurassic Florida

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Hunter Shea has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, earning my attention rather quickly with his weird western novel Hell Hole [review]. The fact that Hunter is one of the most reviewed authors on this site speaks both to my love for the man's work and also just how damn prolific he is. I haven't read all of Hunter's books just yet, but it's pretty damn close. Over the last few years, Mr. Shea has become inextricably entwined with creature features, oftentimes of the cryptozoological nature, and his particular brand of horror is all about fun. While the monsters are certainly important, the human element is equally well-crafted and vital to the success of Hunter's works.

This summer and fall, Kensington Books is releasing Hunter's One Size Eats All trilogy. Like last year's Mail Order Massacres, each title will be a stand-alone novella tied to one another by a common theme. First up is Jurassic Florida, which released this past Tuesday (you can read my review here). To mark this new release, Hunter was kind enough to join the High Fever Books blog for a few questions. Welcome to the blog, Hunter! 


Favorite beer and favorite scream queen or Final Girl?

Oh man, favorite beer? It’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. For many, many moons, it was Sapporo, but lately I’m digging 914 by Yonkers Brewing. Love their place on the Hudson River, too. As for my favorite Final Girl, if we’re going old school, it’s Julie Adams from Creature From The Black Lagoon for damn sure. In more modern times, I would have to say Sharni Vinson as Erin in You’re Next. That little waif of a woman was a total bad ass.

It looks like your first published book was 2011’s Forest of Shadows, and over the last seven years you’ve built up a hell of a catalog of titles. How long were you writing prior to becoming a published author and tell us a bit about your writing process. What allows you to pump out so many consistently good and entertaining books so quickly?

I got bitten by the writing bug in the mid-90s. I spent years working on short stories, tried my hand at a couple of novellas, then dove into the deep end and wrote a romantic comedy as my first novel. I just wanted to see if I could sustain that passion and momentum for a whole book. Once I proved to myself I could, I wrote another, this one a pretty dark comedy. All of it was prep work to write my true love, horror. I didn’t want to do it until I felt I was ready. Forest of Shadows took years to write because my kids were babies at the time, and years sitting in one editor’s hands (Don D’Auria) before it got accepted. But it was worth the wait. When I’m working on a book, I try to write at least 1,000 words every day, trying to double the output on weekends. That way, I know I can get a book done and edited in 4-5 months. Novellas I attack like a sprinter. They key is to just sit my ass down and write. There are so many distractions out there, but if you want to be a working writer, you have to learn to ignore them. There’s no shortage of ideas, just time to get them all out of my head.

You don’t just write about the paranormal and cryptozoological, but you actively seek it out. In your Monster Men YouTube series, you’ve discussed all things supernatural and have taken the occasional visit to a haunted cemetery or two. Where did this fascination come from, and have you had any encounters with the supernatural? Tell us about your monster hunting!

Growing up, one of my grandmother’s was a psychic. Not the kind that had people pay her money to read their palms or tell their future. My grandfather said she would hold séances and he’d seen their table levitate a couple of times. By the time she was just grandma to me, she looked a lot like Mrs. Butterworth. She was an amazingly sweet lady who never talked about her gift. Cut to my getting married and my wife and I moved into what we now know is a haunted house. We see a boy walking around from time to time. Not like a pale ghost, but an actual boy. You get this very calming feeling when he’s around. It’s hard to describe. I’ve had several other odd experiences, including one the night my father passed, that make it impossible for me not to believe there’s more to death than just THE END. I haven’t done much monster hunting simply because there aren’t many monster sightings in lower New York. LOL But, I have gone on many, many UFO hunts in Orange County, NY.

Jurassic, Florida just came out earlier this week and revolves around the sleepy little town of Polo Springs coming under attack by enormous prehistoric iguanas. What do you have against iguanas? What made them the perfect monstrosity to base a story around in your latest creature feature?

I hate reptiles. I love animals, just not snakes and lizards. My kids have been asking for a pet iguana since they could talk. I tell them they are free to get as many iguanas as they want when they move out. My editor and I wanted to do this big, Bert I. Gordon inspired novella with giant reptiles. Watching Floridians get eaten by them just seemed like a lot of fun (no offense to Floridians – I get joy out of all people being terrorized by prehistoric beasts). Now I can tick killer giant iguanas off my writing bucket list.

Jurassic, Florida is also notable for being the first in a series of novellas for Kensington Books that are united under the One Size Eats All banner. Last summer you wrote the Mail Order Massacres novella series for them. How did these trilogies develop? What’s the creative processes like in bringing these works to life?

I have a great editor there, Gary Goldstein, who, like me, is just a big kid warped by comic books, B movies and bad television. We had so much success with the Mail Order Massacres series that we wanted to tackle a new one, but shift it from comics to nature gone wild. The original series title was Hunter Shea’s Don’t Fuck With Nature, but naturally we were turned down on that one. Gary and I trolled for stories on the Internet for inspiration. Living in NY, we read a news article about how rats were becoming resistant to rodenticide, so in comes Rattus New Yorkus. Another story about swarms of tiny iguanas got us to Jurassic Florida. The Devil’s Fingers came from I think Gary seeing a horrid picture of what they look like. Once I saw it, I ran with it. Those things look like they’re either from outer space or hell.  

Over the course of your career so far, we’ve had books about Loch Ness, Orang Pendek, a megalodon, the Montauk Monster, chimera fish, and so, so much more. How do you decide what creature to feature from book to book? When you set out to write, does the creature come first, or do you develop a story around the creature first and plug in a threat? Do you have a list of cryptids you’re working your way through?

It’s crazy how I’ve fallen down this cryptid hole. And I love it. I’m a huge fan of cryptozoology, so yes, I do have a list. I always start with the monster and flesh the story out from there. Even though they’re creature features, getting the humans just right is most important to me. People don’t walk away from Loch Ness Revenge wanting more Nessie. They want more Nat and Austin and Henrik. That makes me happy. Plus, I’m just having a ball writing about all the beasties that have fascinated me since I was a kid.

What’s your personal favorite cryptid (and why)? Is there a creature you haven’t written about yet, but that you’re dying to tackle in the future?

Growing up, I was a huge Nessie lover. I wanted to move to Scotland and just live on the Loch. Back then, I loved any aquatic creature. My fascination went from sharks to whales to Nessie. Now, to me, the most fascinating cryptid and backstory belongs to the Mothman, hands down. Everyone should read John Keel’s book, The Mothman Prophecies. We are talking some wild, weird stuff. It wasn’t just about a winged creature terrorizing people. We’re talking ghosts, UFOs, men in black and so much more. I really have to get my butt to the annual festival this year.

You’re perhaps best known for writing really fun, humorous, off-the-wall works of horror that are high on action and adventure. But you’ve also got a few works that are more serious in tone, like We Are Always Watching. In the fall, Flame Tree Press will be releasing its first wave of horror titles, including your novel Creature, which sounds like it’s one of your more serious works with its heroine, Kate, suffering from an autoimmune disease. What can you tell us about Creature and how your own life inspired this book?

I love character driven stories, and Flame Tree gave me a golden opportunity to explore some dark and scary issues. It was very difficult to write because so much of it is drawn from my own life. My wife has a series of autoimmune diseases that have nearly taken her life more times than we can count. I took all that fear we’ve experienced and laid it out on the page. Sure, it’s set in a cottage in the Maine woods, but it’s not a teen slasher romp. I want readers not just to be scared by the antagonist, but to also understand how tenuous their own health and lives are. Nothing is more frightening than that. People who loved We Are Always Watching I think- I hope - will devour this one.

Creature also sees you working again with famed horror editor, Don D’Auria. You worked with him previously when you both were with the now defunct Samhain Publishing. How was it working with Don again? 

I love Don. He was the only editor I sent my very first book to because I only wanted to work with him. And by some magical twist of fate, here we are years later, not just editor and writer, but friends. Don is great because he values the writer’s vision. If he’s chosen to work with you, it’s because he loves your work and trusts your instincts. He’s just there to tighten things up for you. It’s incredible creative freedom. With Don, I can try my hand at just about anything, so long as it hits certain marks and has characters people give a crap about. Without that, you have nothing.

Do you prefer writing the pulpy creature features, or the more serious horror novels like We Are Always Watching? Do you find one style to be more rewarding?

The more serious toned books are much, much harder to write and like all things in life, more fulfilling. It’s just a different experience. I almost feel like when I write the creature features, I’m a kid who can’t believe I get to do this for a living. When I step into a book like Creature, I have to put my big boy pants on and be an adult. Both are extremely satisfying in their own ways.

What comes next for you? Pimp away!

After Jurassic Florida, the next in the series, Rattus New Yorkus will come out in August, followed by the series ender, The Devil’s Fingers in October (just in time for Halloween!!!). Right now, I’m working on a ghost writing project that is a whole new world for me. Once that’s complete, I have a new novella for Severed Press to work on that people who dig The Thing will salivate over. Then it’s on to my next book with Don and Flame Tree. Speaking of that, I have to get the synopsis over to him!

Where can readers find you? Share you links!

It’s all at www.huntershea.com. On Instagram, you can find me @huntershea2017. Feel free to visit me any time! I actually respond to folks when they reach out to me. :) 


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FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .
 
IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. 
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .
 
HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat . . .


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Interview: Jason Parent, author of They Feed

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Jason Parent is an author who wears many different genre hats, having written horror, sci-fi, mysteries, and thrillers. A New England native, his debut novel, What Hides Within, a genre-bending dark comedy, was an EPIC and eFestival Independent Book Award finalist, and his work has earned acclaim from such outlets as Cemetery Dance and Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews. His short stories have appeared in the Halloween-themed Bad Apples anthologies, as well as Year's Best Hardcore Horror Volume 1. His latest novel, They Feed from Sinister Grin Press, is hot off the presses and available now. (You can read our review of They Feed here.)


Welcome to the High Fever Books blog, Jason! Tell us a bit about yourself and your background as an author. You studied at Barry University School of Law and were an attorney for several years. How did you discover you’d been bitten by the writing bug?

Still working as an attorney… sort of. It’s a skill that comes in handy sometimes. But writing is my passion. I tried it long ago as a tool to cope with something and didn’t really know what I was doing. But even as I moved on, my desire to write never did.

One of my favorites of your work is the short story DIA DE LOS MUERTOS, which appeared in Bad Apples 2. You’ve written a number of short stories, including a piece for the recently released Wrestle Maniacs, and novels, like you’re latest title, They Feed. Do you have a preference in terms of format? Are you more comfortable with short stories or novel-length work, and does your approach in writing differ between the two? Tell us a bit about your approach to the craft.

I come up with a story idea first, and the size of the idea will dictate the number of pages needed to represent it. I don’t have a preference—I enjoy writing short stories and novels, but I do find completing a novel much more rewarding. Lately, I’ve been typing up my first drafts of short stories, but for novels, I hand write them.

They Feed has all the earmarks of a classic creature feature in the making. A densely populated campground, a woman seeking revenge, and creatures who see it all as an all-you-can eat buffet for their bottomless stomachs. Where did this idea come from? What inspired this and what was your elevator pitch?

Two of my favorite movies are Night of the Creeps and Slither. This is, in part, an homage to those, but obviously I wanted to make my creatures my own. And I just wanted to write a fun story—fast-paced, action-packed, compelling characters, easy plot with a bit of a surprise to it. They Feed won’t win awards from the highbrow literary types, but it is a well-written wild ride through horror-filled fun.

Oh, it's definitely fun! I had a blast reading They Feed. That sucker kept me glued to my Kindle. What can you tell us about these creatures? Are they something you invented whole cloth or are they based or inspired by something in mythology or literature or, worse, reality?

Well they most closely resemble slugs or leeches, but what really interested me in their creation was their amorphous character. If I do more with the story, I will do more with that. So though Night of the Creeps and Slither have somewhat similar villains, Gloop and Gleep from the old Hanna Barbara cartoons might be more analogous.

I did love Gloop and Gleep.

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Over the course of your writing career thus far, you’ve written horror, mysteries, and sci-fi. Horror blog The Haunted Reading Room said of you, “Jason Parent has a vast imagination, demonstrated in everything he writes.” What’s helped influence that imagination? What are some of the touchstones in books and/or film that inspire you?

80s horror and camp definitely influence my humor, and I do like to interject some dark humor where I can. Films like Evil Dead 2 and Fright Night, and also Tales from the Crypt, have definitely influenced my style. I’m not sure you can do anything today without someone saying it’s similar to something else. I know my writing style has been compared to some authors I’ve never read.

What can you do? Certainly not please them all. So I just try to write what I want to write, and if the idea is similar to something else, I give it my own spin and voice.

Give us all your links! Where can readers stalk you?

I am on Facebook and Twitter, and one could always sign up for my mailing list at my website, http://authorjasonparent.com/.

And of course I’m on Amazon and BookBub and… well you get the point. Readers can stalk me all they like, but they can also strike up a conversation if they don’t like lurking in the shadows.


Available Now

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The night uncovers all we wish not to see.

A troubled man enters a dusky park before sunset. A young woman follows, hidden in shadow. Both have returned to the park to take back something the past has stolen from them, to make right six long years of suffering, and to find justice or perhaps redemption—or maybe they'll settle for some old-fashioned revenge.

But something evil is alive and awake in those woods, creatures that care nothing for human motivations. They’re driven by their own insatiable need: a ravenous, bottomless hunger.

The campgrounds are full tonight, and the creatures are starving. Before the night is over, they will feed.

An unrelenting tale of terror from Jason Parent, acclaimed author of People of the Sun and What Hides Within.


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Interview: Chris Sorensen, author of The Nightmare Room

 Chris Sorensen's debut horror novel,  The Nightmare Room , released Jan. 25, 2018 in paperback and ebook, and has gone on to receive a number of positive reviews from readers and critics alike.

Chris Sorensen's debut horror novel, The Nightmare Room, released Jan. 25, 2018 in paperback and ebook, and has gone on to receive a number of positive reviews from readers and critics alike.

Chris Sorensen is an award-winning narrator of more than 200 audiobooks and author of the middle-grade book, The Mad Scientists of New Jersey. In January, he made his adult horror debut with the release of The Nightmare Room, book one of The Messy Man series. 

The Nightmare Room is one hell of a debut, too. Hunter Shea, author of Mail Order Massacres and a favorite of High Fever Books, said of The Nightmare Room, "This is one haunted house that had me running for the door! Blood frozen. Spine chilled. A must read." Shea is far from alone in this assessment, and since its release The Nightmare Room has racked up more than a score of highly positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and has earned its share of critical acclaim from sites like Horror After Dark and Horror Maiden's Book Reviews, as well as a 5-star review from this very site right here. If you haven't already read my thoughts on Sorensen's latest, go check it out!

Sorensen was kind enough to take some time out of his writing and narrating duties to briefly step into a different kind of nightmare room, speaking with High Fever Books about his latest release. 


Looking at your background, you’ve narrated a number of children’s and non-fiction titles, and previously published a middle-grade book, The Mad Scientists of New Jersey. Tell us a bit about your background with horror – what made you want to dive straight into the deep end with The Nightmare Room?

Horror is my first love. As a child, I would set my alarm for midnight and sneak out to the den to watch our local creature feature broadcast, Pyewacket Presents. I was a college faculty brat, so I had full access to the school’s library. I spent my summers poring over books about horror films, mythology and Bigfoot (books our public library didn’t have). I made zombie films with my friends and built haunted houses in my basement. So, I come by it naturally. I’ve written a number of horror screenplays (one currently in development) and have come to learn that the road between the page and the screen is very, very long. There’s an immediacy about self-publishing that’s very exciting to me. Plus, I get to have control over layout, cover and (when I finally find time for it) the audiobook. And why wouldn’t I dive into the deep end? That’s where the dark things lurk.

Pete Larson, the everyman caught up in the terrors of The Nightmare Room is an audiobook narrator. Clearly, you drew on a lot of personal experience in crafting this character’s profession. There’s also a deeply personal, heartbreaking loss fueling Pete and his wife. I apologize if this is too sensitive a topic, but did you also experience a similar tragedy that you drew upon? We horror authors have a tendency to bleed onto the page – how deep did you cut yourself?

The grief and loss are real while the actual situation is not. I started writing this story during a time when my wife and I were caring for an elderly relative of hers while at the same time shuttling back and forth to see my father, who was battling cancer. There was a period of weeks where death visited up close and personal—it permeated my life. Yeah…but rather than cutting, I think it was like letting certain feelings go. Honoring them and then moving on. Until the next book, at least.

The Nightmare Room is billed as the first book in The Messy Man series. Generally speaking, what’s your plan for this series moving ahead? What do readers have to look forward to and when can we expect book two?

Gearing up for my sophomore slump! No, I’m making a bit of a perspective shift in Book 2. Same storyline, different POV. Also, diving deeper into the heart of the mystery. Uncovering more answers, more questions, more ghosts. Looking at summer release of Book 2, The Hungry Ones, and shooting for a Halloween release of Book 3, The Messy Man.

The Larson's get some unexpected visitors after moving into their new home. Do you have any first-hand accounts of hauntings or encounters with the supernatural you’d like to share?

I thought I saw the ghost of a king when I was little. Told the neighborhood kids and got in trouble for scaring them. I once woke up behind myself (I guess I was the ghost). And in Colorado, my friends owned an 1890’s hospital that they turned into a hotel. Staying there one night (all alone in massive hotel – yeah, what was I thinking), I saw a shadow peer up at me over the end of the bed. That’s it. That’s all I got.

I would say that's more than enough! You’re a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and you mentioned you have a horror screenplay currently in development. You also have a number of other screenplay and playwright credits to your name, works that are either firmly in the horror genre or at least horror-adjacent. Upon reading The Nightmare Room it was immediately apparent that you’re well-versed in the genre and you certainly know how to craft a good scare. What works of horror are your big touchstones and what’s influenced your work leading up to The Nightmare Room?

The Shining will always be the book I point to—the relationships, the danger, the amorphous quality to the evil. The audiobook version is quite good. Ray Bradbury’s work taught me that there could be poetry in the unusual. Something Wicked This Way Comes is a marvel. I love the old Universal monster movies, can’t pass up a B movie (some of my favs: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Blood on Satan’s Claw, Prophecy) and am an avid collector of books and videos on Bigfoot. Eager to find new influences in the wealth of today’s horror writers. Like you!

Flattery will get you everywhere, Chris! Thanks for that. :D Now, where can readers find out more about you and your work? Plug away!

The website is up: casorensenwrite.com.

Figure I’d better get Book 2 and a couple novellas under my belt before I start hitting people up for follows. (That doesn't mean you have to wait, though! You can follow Chris on Twitter right now. - Ed.) I'm itching to have more to plug! This has been a great way to start. So glad people are responding to my first book for adults. I have about thirty others lined up, tapping their feet, waiting for me to ‘get to it’. Once it’s ‘got’ I’ll let you know.

I do hope you'll keep me posted! I'll definitely be on the look out for The Hungry Ones this summer, and I suspect so will a number of other readers, as well. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I would like to give a special shout out to Hunter Shea who took the time to meet with me, offer up some contacts and give me my first review. He helped me make it real.

Hunter's a terrific guy! Chris, thank you so much for your time and agreeing to the interview. It's been a pleasure!

Thanks again for giving my ghosts a chance!


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New York audiobook narrator Peter Larson and his wife Hannah head to his hometown of Maple City to help Peter's ailing father and to put a recent tragedy behind them. Though the small, Midwestern town seems the idyllic place to start afresh, Peter and Hannah will soon learn that evil currents flow beneath its surface.

They move into an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town—a house purchased by Peter's father at auction and kept secret until now—and start to settle into their new life.

But as Peter sets up his recording studio in a small basement room, disturbing things begin to occur—mysterious voices haunt audio tracks, malevolent shadows creep about the house. And when an insidious presence emerges from the woodwork, Peter must face old demons in order to save his family and himself.

Buy The Nightmare Room At Amazon


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