One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington

I’m honored to announce that my story “Whatever Happened to Solstice Young?” has been reprinted in the charity anthology One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington. Frank was a friend, a fellow Necon camper, and a highly regarded book reviewer. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated in Frank’s memory to the American Transplant Foundation.

Other authors in the anthology include Stephen King, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Chizmar, Christopher Golden, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Strand, and many more. The paperback is out now, and the e-book should be available soon.

You can order a copy here. I hope you enjoy this tribute to a good man for a good cause.

North American Lake Monsters

North American Lake MonstersNorth American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud

My first exposure to the short fiction of Nathan Ballingrud was the story “You Go Where It Takes You,” which the late, lamented Scifiction published in 2004. I knew right away I was in the presence of a wild new talent in the field of horror and the dark fantastic. As it happens, “You Go Where It Takes You” is also the lead story in NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS, Ballingrud’s first story collection, and it sets the tone nicely.

Ballingrud is a master of writing everyday, blue-collar characters who have lost control of their lives. They’re often in dead-end jobs, living dead-end lives, just trying to make it through while knowing things aren’t going to get any better. An unexpected encounter with the supernatural, or perhaps more accurately the unknowable, acts as a catalyst to shake things up, but not always for the better. There’s a deep sense of melancholy and frustration in these stories, and happy endings are few and far between.

All the stories in NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS are excellent, but among my favorites are “Wild Acre,” which follows the sole survivor of a monster’s attack and the crushing guilt he carries with him, and”The Monsters of Heaven,” in which a grieving couple whose child went missing find what I can only describe as otherworldly solace. What makes Ballingrud’s writing so great is his understanding of humanity, his ability to write characters whose actions and emotions are grounded and realistic, rather than heightened in the way that so much speculative fiction offers. Here, the presence of the supernatural is often secondary to the characters themselves, totems meant to illuminate some defining part of them.

Nathan Ballingrud is an exceptional talent, one whom I hope will one day be spoken of in the same breath as classic masters like Stephen King, Peter Straub, and Clive Barker. It’s already clear to me that he belongs in the same category as new masters like Jeffrey Ford, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, Sarah Langan, Livia Llewellyn, John Langan, Veronica Schanoes, and Stephen Graham Jones. NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS is all the proof I need of that.

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The Scariest Part: Charles Welch Talks About WITHIN THE FOG

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is Charles Welch, whose debut horror novel is Within the FogHere is the publisher’s description:

The same ancient evil that killed 115 people at Roanoke, Virginia in the late 1500s has arrived in a small eastern Colorado town. A fog covers the small town and closes in on Tom Benton and his family. The evil that lurks within the fog feeds on humanity but has special plans for those with anger deep inside. Tom Benton’s son Bobby has seen the face of evil outside his bedroom window in the darkest hours of the night. The man who appears at his window offers a veil of redemption to those holding onto anger and rage. As the fog wraps around the Benton family home there will only be a narrow chance at survival. Can Tom Benton and his family escape the issues of their past in time to save themselves from Croatoan?

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Charles Welch:

The scariest part of my book, Within the Fog, is what the characters have to fear. They are in the midst of a crisis and their lives are at stake. There is an enemy that they don’t know enough about, lurking in the fog that surrounds their town and home. While this is the tangible, surface issue, the under the surface issues are the family dynamics that develop a larger and larger presence. The idea that kept gnawing at me during the writing of Within the Fog was — How well do you know the people around you? Who can you depend on in a time of crisis? When do loyalties become liabilities?

Tom Benton, his wife Sandy and their son Bobby have a happy family. But just like the rest of us, they have issues in their relationships. Especially with those they care about the most. As the pressure builds and the tension mounts, which members of the family can be counted on for strength in facing their common enemy? Tom is a loyal family man who sees his family as his number one priority in life. Sandy loves her husband and son but has lingering issues with events of the past. Bobby is a growing boy who wants to be heard, particularly by his parents. Under pressure, sometimes the relationship issues in a family rise to the surface. In my novel, the antagonist, Croatoan, feeds off fear and anger. He stokes the flames of hate and discontent. Fear creates the taste he craves. He seeks the weaknesses of those he hunts and plays on them, exacerbating grudges and anger.

So often, we see in the news stories of tragedy born in moments of extreme stress. When I listen to people relay the things they see in the media about the tragedies of others, it typically comes from a perspective of detachment. “They had troubles.” As though the people relating these stories don’t have their own troubles. To me, the difference between the people who tragically end up in the news and the rest of us is simply the incendiary element. Whatever pressure or stress amplified the issues in the relationship to the point that something terrible happened. In Within the Fog, the incendiary element is Croatoan. He hates humanity, but he needs us. To get what he desires, he prays upon our weaknesses. He seeks our anger and our issues with those we love, and he pours fuel on those fires.

Within the Fog is about the invasion of a small town by an unseen enemy hiding in a bank of fog. It is also about the strengths and weaknesses of the relationships between its characters. The scariest part of Within the Fog, might not be Croatoan. Instead, it might be the anger that the characters hold deep inside themselves, for each other.

Within the Fog: Amazon / Bookshop

Charles Welch: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Charles Welch has been a home designer and builder, a middle school and high school teacher, education administrator, corporate learning and development professional and writer, previously publishing the spiritual book Walking Softly. His formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Teaching, a Master of Education in Learning and Technology, and an Educational Doctorate in eLearning. He and his wife live in Northern Colorado and share their lives with three extraordinary kids, three equally awesome grandchildren, two pugs, a pit bull, a Chihuahua and two lizards. Charles has had a lifelong passion for horror fiction and horror films and is a huge fan of several of the genre’s great authors including Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Brian Keene, Richard Laymon and many others. In addition to Walking Softly, Charles debuted his horror writing with the Within the Fog series and the upcoming release, Hunted.

 

 

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