Final Girls

Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked this one a lot! The prose is smooth and sly, which you don’t always find in thrillers, and the characters are remarkably well drawn, particularly Quincy and Sam. Being a jaded reader, I was able to anticipate some of the twists and revelations, but Riley Sager’s novel won me over regardless. Now I see why so many people raved about it! Highly recommended for anyone looking for a well written, character-driven thriller.

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Horrorstör

HorrorstörHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun, fast-paced horror novel, HORROSTOR is a particularly special treat for anyone who has ever shopped at an Ikea (or worked in big-box retail, for that matter). The sharp wit that Grady Hendrix brought to later novels like MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM and WE SOLD OUR SOULS is on full display here as well, with everything from retail jobs to corporate jargon in his crosshairs. He’s no slouch when it comes to the horror elements, either. Grotesque, creepy, and disturbingly physical, this isn’t your run of the mill haunting. If you’re shopping for a brisk, entertaining horror novel, HORRORSTOR has what you’re looking for. Just Orsk!

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Good Neighbors

Good NeighborsGood Neighbors by Sarah Langan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sarah Langan’s new novel is a riveting and brilliantly realized character-driven thriller. Full of tension and tightly controlled prose, GOOD NEIGHBORS is also achingly suspenseful, aided by brief forward flashes in the form of after-the-fact articles and interviews that build a steady sense of dread as the story careens toward its shocking climax. It reminded me in some ways of Jack Ketchum’s classic THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, that frustration and worry that comes with reading about characters who ought to know better making the wrong choices over and over. Of course, that’s partially the point of Langan’s novel, how easy it is for people to make the wrong choices while convinced they’re making the right ones, and how easily they can be led to believe something they’re already predisposed to believe. It’s really well done and never falters in its realistic and immersive depictions of the residents of Maple Street. GOOD NEIGHBORS more than fulfills the promise of Langan’s earlier novels and leaves me eager to see what comes next. Sarah Langan is on my list of must-read authors!

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The Scariest Part: Mark Allan Gunnells Talks About 2B

This week on The Scariest Part, I’m happy to welcome back Mark Allan Gunnells, whose latest novel is 2BHere is the publisher’s description:

Berkley Simmons died…for five minutes.

Berkley woke up to find himself in the hospital. He discovered that his ex is dead after a failed murder/ suicide attempt. With nowhere else to go, Berkley must return to the apartment where it all happened. It doesn’t take long for Berkley to begin to suspect that his ex never left the apartment, and still wants him dead.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Mark Allan Gunnells:

I’ve done a few of these columns in the past, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared to write something as I was my current release, 2B. I was excited to write it, I believed in the power of the concept, but I also entered into it with great trepidation.

Why? you ask. Because the idea for the novel had been rattling around in my head for nearly twenty years, and over the course of those two decades it had taken on almost a mythic quality. To me, it seemed like a gem of an idea that I worried I wouldn’t be able to do justice.

The origins of the novel actually date back earlier than twenty years. For that, we have to stretch back to my college years. I wrote a short story that was built around what became a big reveal near the end of 2B. To be honest, I thought the short story was rather crap, definitely not my best work, and yet…the concept itself I thought was golden. If only I could find a way to work it into a better story.

Then about twenty years ago I was living in an apartment, and I came home one night and the light in the breezeway outside my apartment was flickering and buzzing. A short, no doubt, but I had the thought that it was the kind of creepy scene you’d see in a horror movie. Maybe a haunted house story.

In this case, a haunted apartment story, I thought with a laugh, but in the next instant I had an idea for a novel. Almost fully formed, realizing I could do an interesting take on the ghost tale and finally incorporate the concept of that college-era short story into something worthy. I even instantly came up with the title, 2B.

At the time, however, I was having a lot of work stress and personal stress, and I wasn’t writing much, so the idea went onto the backburner. A few years later when I finally got serious about my writing again, the idea was there but I didn’t want to touch it yet. Perhaps I felt too rusty and wanted to knock the dust off.

The years continued to pass, and I worked on other projects, but 2B never left my thoughts. At times it almost seemed to cry out to be written, but again I kept putting it off. The idea seemed too good almost, and I remembered that short I’d written in college and feared I would take a great concept and screw it up.

About ten years ago, I did try my hand at a beginning. However, almost right away I could feel it going off the rails and I stopped after a chapter and a half. I still have that chapter and a half, and while they aren’t terrible, they also aren’t what I wanted them to be. This made me even more afraid to really tunnel into the novel.

And so another decade passed. Then last year, I was offered the opportunity to write a short novel for a cool new publisher, Valhalla Books. I provided the editor with several ideas, and I included 2B among them. This brought my haunted apartment concept back to the forefront of my mind and while there was still fear, suddenly excitement overcame that fear.

When I sat down to actually start it (ignoring the aborted chapter and a half from ten years ago), my head was filled with doubts and worries and once more I wondered if I could do this idea justice. Having a publisher waiting for the book, however, helped me to push all that aside and simply start.

And much to my amazement, the novel just flowed from me. I wrote it over a two-month period, writing every single day with no breaks. And with every completed page, the doubts and fears began to dissipate like smoke. I simply dove into that world, lived with the characters, and it seemed like before I knew it, I was writing “THE END”.

Considering that many of my novels were started then put aside for months or years before I returned to them to finish, it is actually amazing how smoothly and quickly this one came to me. Only two months.

Twenty years and two months.

2B: Amazon

Mark Allan Gunnells: Blog / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

 

 

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