Cujo

Alistair Cross - Sleep Savannah SleepAlistair Cross, acclaimed author of such works as The Crimson Corset and his newest novel Sleep Savannah Sleep and co-host of Haunted Nights Live! a radio program broadcast on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network with the equally amazing author Tamara Thorne, was kind enough to do an interview with me for my home here at House of Tortured Souls. Before I get to the interview, though, I would like to tell you more about his works.
Alistair Cross - The Crimson CorsetAbout The Crimson Corset: Welcome to Crimson Cove a cozy village in California where Cade Coulter, our protagonist, moves to live with his brother hoping for a peaceful life. Everything is idyllic until the sun sets and the little tourist town begins to show more night death than nightlife. At the very edge of town sits The Crimson Corset known for its crazy soirees and licentiousness, where people can indulge their every fantasy no matter how depraved or unacceptable. The only thing is is that the place is owned and operated by a vampire.
The owner, Gretchen VanTreese, wants to take out the Old World Vampires that also exist in the town so that she can be free to create a new race of vampires that she will rule. And Cade Coulter will have to fight this wicked and enticing vampire, even give up his own humanity to save the town and everyone that he loves.
I loved this book. There is nothing better than a great story infused with blood, violence, and gore. Let me show you some of the reviews so you can get an even better idea:
Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset-a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.
—Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion and Lucid.
Alistair Cross’ new novel The Crimson Corset…is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, Uncle Silas) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.
—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Saint-Germaine Cycle and the Chesterton Holt Mysteries.
Very nice heavy hitters for a debut book!
Alistair Cross - The Angel AlejandroHe has also written The Book of Strange Persuasions, The Angel Alejandro, and the aforementioned Sleep Savanah Sleep. Alistair has also collaborated on many books with the sensational Tamara Thorne as Thorne&Cross. Some of their joint titles include The Cliffhouse Haunting, Mother, The Witches of Ravencrest, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Which brings me to the next bit about him. Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne started their own radio show called Haunted Nights Live! where they talk all things horror to some of the biggest names in the business. Featuring such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, and Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels.
So, now that we have established his illustrious credentials, let’s ask him some questions.
House of Tortured Souls: So, Alistair, what would you like people to know about you?
Alistair Cross: I am not a morning person: no, I will not help your sister move…and I prefer cats to most people.
HoTS: When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed on his website that in 1987 – He saw Carrie and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, wrote more stories (most of which featured an unmanageably extensive cast of talking cats). So sorry I missed that readers.
Next question Alistair: What are your horror influences?

AC: Stephen King, of course, who was my introduction to the genre back when I was barely 8 years old. I am also influenced by Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty, just to name a few.
HoTS: What did you do with your very first advance for a book??
AC: I just stared at it. A lot.
HoTS: What was your first scary movie?
AC: The first movie I remember being absolutely terrified by was Cujo. It still makes me a little uneasy.
HoTS: How do you write what you want without worrying about how your subject matter will be taken?
AC: As a horror author, I consider it my duty to shock and offend. There are few subjects I won’t touch on, animal cruelty for example because it’s not necessary and it’s too easy. But I don’t think about reader reaction when I’m writing. I write the stories I want to read and figure it is likely others out there will want to read them too.
HoTS: What is your spirit animal?
AC: Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.
HoTS: Has anything in your books ever happened to you?
AC: While I’ve certainly never been lured into an underground lair of a seductive blond vampire or found an amnesiac angel in my koi pond after a violent storm, some of the events in my writing do come from personal experience. All fiction is rooted in truth, but I never set out to chronicle my own experiences. It’s about the characters and their stories, not mine. The only exception is Five Nights In a Haunted Cabin, a real-life account of an experience I had with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne.
HoTS: How did you and Tamara become writing partners?
AC: It’s an unusual story that began in the late 1990s when I came across Tamara’s novel Moonfall. I liked it so much, I got all of her books and began stalking her website via AOL dial-up because in my day we had to practice patience when we stalked people online. Several years later, after my first book was published, I began a blog dedicated to interviews with authors. Tamara Thorne was one of the first people I asked to be on my blog. She said yes and we hit it off enough that she asked me if I’d like to write a short story with her. That short story became a full-length novel, and that led to the next one and the one after that, and the rest is history. Writing with Tamara is one of the easiest, most natural things I have ever done and, at the risk of sounding corny, I believe it was simply meant to be.
House of Tortured Souls: And readers I thought it was only fair to reach out to Tamara Thorne and gets some fun stuff on Alistair from her:
Tamara Thorne: I love collaborating with Alistair. We spend our days working on Skype and when our cats start climbing us, we turn on the cameras. Alistair’s kitty, Pawpurrazzi, truly abuses him. I love watching the way she gives him kisses, then shoves her butt in his face. Those two are madly in love.
We write together in the Cloud and rarely recall who wrote what. After each day’s work – or after completing the first draft – my job is to read our words aloud. When we’re in edit mode, reading for hours can be pretty grueling, but my collaborator knows how to keep things lively. He moves ahead in the manuscript and adds lines so outrageous and rude that I fall apart – so does he. We relish our giggle breaks more than I can say. Once in a while, we leave an obscenity in to amuse our editors. The reactions are varied but hysterical.
So I cannot recommend these authors enough and I also cannot thank them enough for taking their time to answer some questions and share a few laughs. Below are some links for you to get to know and experience more of Alistair Cross and his partner in crime Tamara Thorne. And definitely, check out their radio broadcast.
INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross - Sleep Savannah SleepAlistair Cross, acclaimed author of such works as The Crimson Corset and his newest novel Sleep Savannah Sleep and co-host of Haunted Nights Live! a radio program broadcast on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network with the equally amazing author Tamara Thorne, was kind enough to do an interview with me for my home here at House of Tortured Souls. Before I get to the interview, though, I would like to tell you more about his works.
Alistair Cross - The Crimson CorsetAbout The Crimson Corset: Welcome to Crimson Cove a cozy village in California where Cade Coulter, our protagonist, moves to live with his brother hoping for a peaceful life. Everything is idyllic until the sun sets and the little tourist town begins to show more night death than nightlife. At the very edge of town sits The Crimson Corset known for its crazy soirees and licentiousness, where people can indulge their every fantasy no matter how depraved or unacceptable. The only thing is is that the place is owned and operated by a vampire.
The owner, Gretchen VanTreese, wants to take out the Old World Vampires that also exist in the town so that she can be free to create a new race of vampires that she will rule. And Cade Coulter will have to fight this wicked and enticing vampire, even give up his own humanity to save the town and everyone that he loves.
I loved this book. There is nothing better than a great story infused with blood, violence, and gore. Let me show you some of the reviews so you can get an even better idea:
Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset-a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.
—Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion and Lucid.
Alistair Cross’ new novel The Crimson Corset…is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, Uncle Silas) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.
—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Saint-Germaine Cycle and the Chesterton Holt Mysteries.
Very nice heavy hitters for a debut book!
Alistair Cross - The Angel AlejandroHe has also written The Book of Strange Persuasions, The Angel Alejandro, and the aforementioned Sleep Savanah Sleep. Alistair has also collaborated on many books with the sensational Tamara Thorne as Thorne&Cross. Some of their joint titles include The Cliffhouse Haunting, Mother, The Witches of Ravencrest, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Which brings me to the next bit about him. Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne started their own radio show called Haunted Nights Live! where they talk all things horror to some of the biggest names in the business. Featuring such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, and Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels.
So, now that we have established his illustrious credentials, let’s ask him some questions.
House of Tortured Souls: So, Alistair, what would you like people to know about you?
Alistair Cross: I am not a morning person: no, I will not help your sister move…and I prefer cats to most people.
HoTS: When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed on his website that in 1987 – He saw Carrie and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, wrote more stories (most of which featured an unmanageably extensive cast of talking cats). So sorry I missed that readers.
Next question Alistair: What are your horror influences?

AC: Stephen King, of course, who was my introduction to the genre back when I was barely 8 years old. I am also influenced by Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty, just to name a few.
HoTS: What did you do with your very first advance for a book??
AC: I just stared at it. A lot.
HoTS: What was your first scary movie?
AC: The first movie I remember being absolutely terrified by was Cujo. It still makes me a little uneasy.
HoTS: How do you write what you want without worrying about how your subject matter will be taken?
AC: As a horror author, I consider it my duty to shock and offend. There are few subjects I won’t touch on, animal cruelty for example because it’s not necessary and it’s too easy. But I don’t think about reader reaction when I’m writing. I write the stories I want to read and figure it is likely others out there will want to read them too.
HoTS: What is your spirit animal?
AC: Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.
HoTS: Has anything in your books ever happened to you?
AC: While I’ve certainly never been lured into an underground lair of a seductive blond vampire or found an amnesiac angel in my koi pond after a violent storm, some of the events in my writing do come from personal experience. All fiction is rooted in truth, but I never set out to chronicle my own experiences. It’s about the characters and their stories, not mine. The only exception is Five Nights In a Haunted Cabin, a real-life account of an experience I had with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne.
HoTS: How did you and Tamara become writing partners?
AC: It’s an unusual story that began in the late 1990s when I came across Tamara’s novel Moonfall. I liked it so much, I got all of her books and began stalking her website via AOL dial-up because in my day we had to practice patience when we stalked people online. Several years later, after my first book was published, I began a blog dedicated to interviews with authors. Tamara Thorne was one of the first people I asked to be on my blog. She said yes and we hit it off enough that she asked me if I’d like to write a short story with her. That short story became a full-length novel, and that led to the next one and the one after that, and the rest is history. Writing with Tamara is one of the easiest, most natural things I have ever done and, at the risk of sounding corny, I believe it was simply meant to be.
House of Tortured Souls: And readers I thought it was only fair to reach out to Tamara Thorne and gets some fun stuff on Alistair from her:
Tamara Thorne: I love collaborating with Alistair. We spend our days working on Skype and when our cats start climbing us, we turn on the cameras. Alistair’s kitty, Pawpurrazzi, truly abuses him. I love watching the way she gives him kisses, then shoves her butt in his face. Those two are madly in love.
We write together in the Cloud and rarely recall who wrote what. After each day’s work – or after completing the first draft – my job is to read our words aloud. When we’re in edit mode, reading for hours can be pretty grueling, but my collaborator knows how to keep things lively. He moves ahead in the manuscript and adds lines so outrageous and rude that I fall apart – so does he. We relish our giggle breaks more than I can say. Once in a while, we leave an obscenity in to amuse our editors. The reactions are varied but hysterical.
So I cannot recommend these authors enough and I also cannot thank them enough for taking their time to answer some questions and share a few laughs. Below are some links for you to get to know and experience more of Alistair Cross and his partner in crime Tamara Thorne. And definitely, check out their radio broadcast.



Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, PARANORMAL, PODCAST, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

Happy 70th Birthday, Stephen King!

Buckle up, Constant Readers, because House of Tortured Souls is paying tribute to the father of contemporary horror - Stephen King. This post won't be as long as one of Mr. King's novels, but you might want to get a fresh beverage and a snack before continuing.
Comfy? Got your drink and snack? Good. Then follow us as we delve into a few of the memories Mr. King has given us. It's not dark here - certainly not as dark as Pet Sematary - but you might want to keep a lamp burning. Just in case.Simpsons Opening-Stephen King / Fair use doctrine.

I'm His Number One Fan! Wait...

By Woofer McWooferson

I honestly can’t remember the details of my first exposure to Stephen King’s work, but I do remember that it changed my life. As a horror fan, I read everything horror that came my way. When someone mentioned this new writer and his book Carrie, I gave it a shot and have never looked back. I tore into everything that he wrote like a werewolf starved for human flesh and finding the tastiest morsel around. My family and friends were thrilled as they now had a guaranteed gift for the freaky kid – anything King.
horror-novel-thestand / Fair use doctrine.When The Stand was released, I was a freshman in high school. I snapped it up fast and read it in record time even for me. Those of you who’ve read The Stand (or seen the mini-series) know about Captain Tripps. You can imagine, then, how freaky it was for me when I caught a cold while enjoying it. Strangely, every subsequent reading also resulted in a cold. That’s a bit trippy, don’t you think? Later, when the unabridged version was released, I also snapped it up – and yes, I got another cold – and enjoyed it even more than the heavily cut original. Many Constant Readers have said they don’t care for the unabridged version as they feel it adds nothing to the story, but I have to respectfully disagree. King is the master of detail, and I found all the extra bits particularly satisfying. The Stand remains my favorite standalone King work.
The Gunslinger trade paperback / Fair use doctrine.And then The Gunslinger was released. My then-boyfriend, Rich, got an advanced release, read it, and passed it along for me to read. We both fell in love with Roland Deschain. Rich was as much of a horror fan as I was, and we shared many glorious King novels before eventually parting as a couple but remaining friends. But it was his gift to me of The Gunslinger that will always be most special. He started me on the road to the Tower and even accompanied me about halfway there. We’ve fallen out of touch, but I still think of him fondly and wonder what he thought of the rest of Roland’s tale. Did he love it as much as I did? How could he not?
Although I’ve read everything King’s written thus far, none have had the impact on me that The Stand and The Dark Tower did. Indeed, King’s influence on me was such that I found myself speaking of him during the oral portion of my master’s exam. I didn’t exactly plan to bring up King, and I wasn’t sure what the panel would think of my comparisons even as I spoke. He wasn’t exactly taught in college back then (at least not much outside of the composition classes I taught), after all, and I nervously smoked outside as the panel discussed me and my answers. Apparently, they found my comments valid because I did receive my MA. Thanks, Mr. King.
Today, I raise a glass to you and wish you the best. May you continue to fuel our nightmares for many more years to come. Happy birthday!

By Scarlett O

I was a mere tot when the adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining came out in theaters in 1980; nevertheless, I was allowed to watch it before the age of ten. How times have changed! It was my very first horror movie, and I can honestly say without reservation that I've never been the same since. Both traumatized and intrigued, the level of terror that this particular movie held for me has set the standard for which I judge all horror movies. Needless to say, that's a pretty high bar that few other horror films have been able to come close to clearing. As an adult, I read the actual book from which the movie is based and like all other good books, Stephen King's The Shining reaches a level of impressive that I couldn't have imagined in my worst nightmares. To this day, large hotels with seemingly endless hallways or hearing “REDRUM” gives me chills. As it should.The Shining - Bloody Elevator / Fair use doctrine.
Though there were clear differences between King’s novel and Stanley Kubrick's direction of the film, such as the main character’s name (Jack vs John Daniel), physical appearances (blonde Wendy vs brunette), preference of cartoons by the boy Danny (Sesame Street vs the Road Runner), and even the hotel room number (217 vs 237), and perhaps the most interesting - that one ended in fire (the book) and the other in ice (the film), it's obvious that readers and viewers alike could appreciate the artistic thrill of them both. Still, it should not go without mention that none of this would have been possible if the one and only Stephen King had not written the infamous novel in the first place.

By Michelle MIDI Sayles

On this day in 1947 a King was literally born – Stephen King that is!
It wasn't until 42 years later that I discovered his literary world and my own thirst for horror grew in me, like a beast of its own.
I was 9 and at a slumber party with three other girls watching the VHS release of Pet Sematary. Unlike most girls, I didn't hide under the blankets during the "scary parts" or scream. I just watched with amazement as Gage’s, Church’s, and Louis' antics mesmerized me.Church-Pet Sematary_02 / Fair use doctrine.
I was so enamored with the film that I begged my parents for a month to buy me the novel for my 10th birthday, and I still have that battered and much loved copy to this day (after countless rereads).
From that moment, I was glued to all things King! I spent my teen years on a mere babysitter's budget (choosing that and my studies over flipping burgers part time like most kids here). I would frequent yard sales and second-hand markets to find older but cheaper copies of King's novels so I could stockpile all of his books (one day, when I retire, I will try and read any remaining that I have yet to tackle). I recorded each mini-series and film that came onto my screen to VHS, so I could watch it again and again (The Tommyknockers, The Stand, Children of the Corn -and sequels- etc). I clipped articles about my idol and more recently began collecting merchandise related to his works.
Through bad relationships, schooling, work life, having a family, and even suffering losses, King was my beacon. At any time, I could immerse myself in a book or film of his and just feel centered and at home.
Happy birthday, Mr King, I doubt you understand the impact you have had on many lives, but you'll always be special in mine.MIDI's King collection

By Schock

The horror world wouldn’t be the same if not for author Stephen King. His novels - that seem to multiply like gremlins - and movies that spawned from his narratives have become a staple in the world of horror, terror, and suspense. When we hear the name Stephen King, we think only of monsters and twists that ensue within the stories he’s penned as well as the rich east coast New England area of his mind.
My first encounter with anything Stephen King was Carrie - the movie based on the novel that we have all come to know as an ultimate in psychological (and psychic) terror. I discovered at a young age my love for the underdog, but my apparent blood fetish spawned way later in life. That’s another story altogether... Carrie introduced me to the world of King and I wanted to dig a little deeper. I then discovered other movies based on his novels – Cujo, Christine, Children of the Corn, Thinner, Needful Things, Cat’s Eye, The Shining, Stand By Me, Pet Semetary, IT… The list goes on and on and on. Then there are the King short stories translated to film. My absolute favorite of these is “Sometimes They Come Back”. Obviously, if you can’t tell, I didn’t read a lot as a child; I threw down on the movies, though, and when I got older I discovered that the novels were actually pretty easy to find. So I began the hunt for as many as possible in my area.
Christine was the first book I acquired, and reading the book, I could feel what he was writing more so than the movie portrayed. So I wanted more. I wanted to see how the stories could just put fear and terror into people. The directors of the movies really shined a light on the stories with their films. Some of the novels, though, like IT are thicker than every version of the bible put together. My friends and I use to have an ongoing joke when we would discuss Stephen King movie and book comparisons. He used three pages just to describe the treads on the tires in From a Buick 8. That brings me to something that King inadvertently taught to those of us who are creators of art – whether it be prose, poetry, music, or the visual arts: detail is KEY to making sure you give the audience every inch of what your mind wants to get out. This was a beautiful thing to learn from King’s legacy of horror and terrifying tales.From A Buick 8 / Fair use doctrine.
If anyone deserves to be awarded the title King of Horror or Master of the Macabre, it is none other than Stephen King himself. King’s not a man who walks around mopey and weird as you’d expect a horror writer to be. He’s a regular man, a visionary, and an inspiration – and not only to filmmakers and fans. He has inspired now for decades, generations even, and will continue to inspire for many years to come. When we are all long gone from this earth and some weird alien life goes digging around, they’ll find one (or thirty) of his novels and be terrified at what they read. Let’s hope that one day this happens and Stephen King will be known to these people thousands of years from now as a God.Stephen King-Pet Sematary / Fair use doctrine.

Happy Birthday to the *King* of Horror

By Tammie Parker

horror-novel-firestarter / Fair use doctrine.I read Firestarter when I was 8! That truly did raise the bar pretty high for all trying to scare me from then on out. I had a tough childhood, this was written for me! OH, to have the power to set shit on fire!
A truly odd fact is that we read IT in English 101 in my 8th grade class!! A bit of an odd book to use to teach all about grammar, huh? We even watched the original movie right there in class.   horror-movie-it-original / Fair use doctrine.Although the monster at the end disappointed me, I loved the story and the build-up. I loved the goosebumps, the hair-raising, eye-bulging, hanging onto the bed rail, it's-way-past-my-bedtime words!
After IT, (a few years down the road) I fall in love with Misery. horror-novel-misery / Fair use doctrine.The cockadoodie potty language definitely had me cracking up. Stephen King taught me how to find out when someone was going into my private stuff!
horror-novel-doloresclaiborne / Fair use doctrine.And then Dolores Claiborne. I truly loved the character Dolores! Having personally gone through 10 years of molestation, this novel was tough to read. However I wanted to read it through, I was certain I would be ecstatic with Dolores' settling this chaos. I love how simple it is to travel into the story, Stephen completely takes you there. There is never a question of the color of the sky, the scent in the air, especially the creepy thing lurking around the corner.
Then came The Stand, which very rapidly became my favorite book.
horror-novel-thestand / Fair use doctrine.Stephen is probably the source of my love for dystopian horror. The Stand opened my eyes to so much! Scenarios I had never thought of before. Human characteristics and how we would react, and what we would become if/when something happens.
After that (again a few years down the road) Dark Tower novels, WOWZA what a story!!

I have YET to see the movie, but I love the cast! And the trailers look absolutely amazing!

I have read Desperation, The Dead Zone, and, well, it is safe to say Mr. King is my most read author. During my research, I found out that Stephen and his wife Tabitha actually stayed in the real Stanley Hotel as he wrote the novel! I fell in love with him all over again. What a true badass! And what a wicked imagination 🙂
Happy 70th, Mr. Nightmare Maker!

What Stephen King Has Meant To Me

By Dixielord

Stephen King's Full DarkI discovered Stephen King sometime around the mid 80s. I don't remember exactly when, about my senior year in high school or maybe my first year in college. I remember a high school friend/acquaintance was reading Christine, and me, to my utter shame now, thought reading a book that big was the nerdiest thing in the world. How things change.
Christinebecame one of the first King novels, probably THE first novel, that I read. I think Night Shift was the first book, followed by Skeleton Crew, as I fell quickly in love with his short stories. I devoured his short stories rabidly, as quickly as I could get my hands on them. Then I started on the novels – Christine, Carrie, Firestarter, everything my college library had to offer, including the non-fiction Danse Macabre. It was through Danse Macabre that I became aware of H.P. Lovecraft.
Is it fair to say my life was changed? It was changed, dear readers. I had transformed from someone who laughed at readers to a voracious reader, from a man who had never heard of Lovecraft to a hardcore fan of the Cthulhu mythos and the unspeakable horrors from beyond.
Out of college I continued to follow him, buying his books when I could afford to, checking them out of the local library when I couldn't. I built up a nice collection of hardcover King over the years. After his near-fatal accident, his stories changed, and my life changed as well. I lost my mother to cancer, and his books started taking on a more depressing (at least to me) tone. The recurring theme of God demanding a sacrifice started to wear thin on me, and I just recently realized why. Don't get me wrong, his writing was still top notch, but I couldn't take the new stuff. I stopped reading King altogether after Desperation. I still cherished my King collection, though, and it nearly killed me when I had to sell them.
Sell your King collection? Blasphemy! Sadly, life doesn't always go as planned, and losing my job with no employment in sight meant I needed money. Of all the books I owned, I hated putting up my King collection for sale. But someone offered me too much money, and I needed money too much. I said goodbye with tears in my eyes.
I came back to King, and I'm still coming back, going back for the books I missed and grabbing the new ones as well. Now, new fans are discovering Stephen King, and old fans are rediscovering him. IT is in the theaters, reinvigorating horror in general, and putting the master's name back on the lips of everyone. The Dark Tower is just out of theaters. All of this has brought me back to my books, thinking about reacquiring the ones I had to sacrifice. King changed my life. Stephen King gave me a life, he gave me books and made me a reader. He opened worlds after worlds.

By Brenda Wilder Antlitz

Carrie-Sissy Spacek-John Travolta / Fair use doctrine.I was first introduced to the King, Stephen King that is, in the winter of 1976, the year that Carrie, came out. I was 12 at the time and in junior high school, which meant that 1) every girl was in love with John Travolta, and 2) I was too young to see it in the theater. So after hearing all of the cool kids telling us about the movie, especially the ending when the hand comes out of the ground, I knew I had to see it! But what was I going to do? And then I knew. I would do the next best thing: go to the bookstore.
The bookstore experience was just as exciting - walking down the aisle of the horror section, smelling the scent of new books under the incandescent lights, and looking for the name Stephen King. Even his name sounded grand! As I walked, I looked and looked, then and there it was: Carrie. I quickly opened it up, flipped through the pages, my hair flying back, as I watch the words fly past me, and I then floated to the register where I paid and become the proud owner of my very first (but certainly not last) Stephen King novel!
When I got home, I got a bottle of Coca-cola and went straight up to my bedroom (my safe haven), and I began to read Carrie. It was in the early afternoon when I began reading, and I only stopped to go to the bathroom, which I did with all lights on of course! LOL. But I simply could not stop reading it... I could relate Carrie White. Completely.
I felt as if Stephen King saw through me and wrote this character about me (except that I did not have special psychic abilities nor a crazy, religious fanatic for a mother). I was a very shy loner, misunderstood and bullied so bad that my only escape was through books, TV, music, and movies. And so, because of Carrie White, I became a horror lover and not just of the Friday the 13th kind but of the psychological kind. The kind that makes you think - and question - EVERYthing!!
After that, I was hooked on The King of Horror!
Stephen King became known not only for his novels and their adaptations to the big screen but also for the works that made it to the small screen, TV. You have to realize that back then we only had a handful of TV stations. Cable was new (we did not have it), and VCRs were just starting to come out although few could afford them, yet. So when there was a movie of the week, or better yet a mini-series, it was a big deal! An event, even.
'Salem's Lot / Fair use doctrine.The first major Stephen King-based mini-series was a two-night event, and it's still talked about to this day. 'Salems Lot, staring David Soul and Lance Kerwin, debuted on 11/17/1979, and it was something we’d never seen before. A second 'Salem's Lot mini-series (remake not sequel) debuted on 11/19/2015 and starred Rob Lowe, who played Nick Andros in the mini-series of The Stand. If you ask people what they remember about it, they will tell you that it scared the crap out of them.'Salem's Lot mini-series remake / Fair use doctrine.
I could go on and on with the list of books and movies, that Stephen King has written, but there is not enough time or room.
All I can say is this: there are writers who affect only a few, and Stephen King is not one of them. Stephen King has affected generations! He is the reason why most of us became fans of horror/thrillers, became writers – authors, even - readers, and film fans. For me, not only did he do all of the above, but he also was an influence on my becoming a paranormal investigator.
I guess all that is left to say, besides "Thank You", is happy birthday to The King of Horror, Mr. Stephen King!!
From House of Tortured Souls to you, Mr. King, fangs for everything.horror-stephenking / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Alan Smithee in CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, EDITORIALS, HORROR HEROES, TRIBUTE, 0 comments
Welcome Back Boo-Berry!

Welcome Back Boo-Berry!

By Dixielord

BooBerry

Yeah, it's that time of the year when horror fans and cereal fans unite to welcome back the Monster cereals. Many of us grew up with Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, or Franken Berry part of our breakfast ritual. But, wait, maybe some of you reading this have been living under a giant boulder for the last 40 years or so and have never heard of monster cereal. The monster cereals collectively refer to a group of cereals first created way back in 1971 by General Mills. The cereals all had a monster theme featuring a somewhat friendlier version of well known cinematic monsters.

The first two cereals released back in 1971 were Count Chocula and Franken Berry. Count Cholcula featured a chocolate loving vampire named Count Chocula, whose catchphrase was, “I want to eat your cereal”. The cereal was chocolate flavored frosted bites with chocolate flavored marshmallows. The Count was voiced on television commercials by Larry Kenny impersonating Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Kenney is also known for being the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (He's Cuckoo for Coco Puffs!) and Lion-O from the classic Thundercats cartoon. As a trivia note, Larry is also the father of Kerri Kenney-Silver, who portrayed Deputy Trudy Weigel on Reno 911.

Also debuting in 1971 was Franken Berry, based on the Frankenstein Monster from Universal Pictures. The monster represents a more kid friendly and pink version of Karloff's monster. On commercials, Franken Berry was voiced by Bob McFadden impersonating Boris Karloff. The cereal itself was a strawberry flavored frosted cereal with strawberry flavored marshmallows. McFadden had a long career of voice acting before he sadly passed away on January 7, 2000.

Then, in 1972, the two monsters were joined by Boo-Berry, the friendliest ghost since Casper. Boo-Berry was a blueberry loving ghost who bore a resemblance to horror icon Peter Lorre. Boo-Berry cereal is a blueberry flavored cereal with marshmallows. It is believed to be the first blueberry flavored cereal ever produced. Boo-Berry was voiced in television commercials by Paul Frees. Frees did Boo-Berry's voice in the style of his lookalike Peter Lorre.

Outside of the monster cereal gig, Frees had an interesting career in voice acting. He provided the voice of Boris Badenov in the popular Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. He also provided English dubbing for the legendary Toshiro Mifune in the film Midway. Frees also dubbed Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot (his female voice), and Humphrey Bogart in The Harder They Fall. Bogart was suffering from throat cancer and had to be redubbed to be heard. Off screen, Frees also provided may voices for the attractions as Disney theme parks such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.

monster cereal

Everyone remembers the original three monsters (well maybe not that guy under the boulder), but not so many remember the fourth monster. “What? There was another monster cereal?” Well yes, actually two more. In 1974, buoyed by the popularity of Boo-Berry, Franken Berry, and Count Cocula, General Mills added Fruit Brute to the pack. Fruit Brute's mascot was a child friendly version of a werewolf. Fruit Brute was a mixture of fruit flavored corn cereal, and lime flavored marshmallows. Yes, lime flavored marshmallows. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Lime belongs in mixed drinks, not kid cereals. Kids may have felt the same way as Fruit Brute was the first of the monster line to be discontinued in 1982. It was briefly reintroduced in 2013 for a Halloween special, but is not available now. Original boxes of Fruit Brute cereal are considered collectibles.

General Mills tried again in 1987, introducing Fruity Yummy Mummy. Yummy Mummy was basically a reintroduction of Fruit Brute cereal with vanilla marshmallows instead of lime and an Egyptian mummy as the mascot. Sadly for fans of the Egyptian undead, Yummy Mummy soon went the way of Fruit Brute and was discontinued in 1992. It, along with Fruit Brute, received a short curtain call in 2013, but, alas, it is no longer available.

Over the years since their introduction, they have faced some controversy but they have survived. It kind of makes sense that parents might complain about a kids cereal based on movie monsters. However, the controversies were stranger than you might imagine. Apparently the original run of Franken Berry had a food coloring that wasn't digestible by the human body. The dye was harmless, but passing though a kid's intestine had the unfortunate side effect of causing the stool to turn bright pink. It looked a little too much like the kids were passing blood for the comfort of parents. The dye was quickly replaced.

To add to the controversy, it's possible this whole event was just an urban legend. The Internet is mixed on whether this really happened or not. It's wide spread enough that Stephen King referenced it in his book Cujo and its movie adaptation. If you remember your parents freaking out, or perhaps a rushed visit to the Emergency Room after a diet of Franken Berry back in the early 70s, please let me know. It would be nice to confirm it.

The Count had a bit of controversy himself. It wasn't, as far as we know stool-related, although there's no proof it doesn't turn your stool brown. Instead, there were concerns about the sugar content of the cereal. Parents, under the misguided belief that health was more important than sugary fun, complained. Thus, Count Chocula was briefly pulled and the caloric content was slightly reduced.

Through all this, Boo-Berry has remained pretty much controversy free. While supposedly eating too much Boo-Berry, or any berry cereal can discolor your poo, it has never caused hysteria. Seeing blue or green in the toilet apparently isn't quite as fright inducing as red or pink.

The three originals - Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, and Franken Berry - are still going strong. They are still produced and sold though only during the Halloween season. They might be a bit harder to find, but they are available. The boxes have been redesigned with new artwork, but the three monsters are still out there haunting our breakfasts.

So go out while the season is right, and grab yourself a box or a dozen. Whatever your favorite, Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, or Franken Berry, they are available now. Enjoy the hell out of them because once Halloween is gone, so are the monster cereals. And while we enjoy our monster cereal and the Halloween season, let's all have a moment of silence for those monsters no longer with us. Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy, you are gone but not forgotten. Okay, maybe outside of us horror nerds, you are forgotten, but hopefully you will make another Halloween appearance in the future.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Stevie, who is no longer with us but truly will never be forgotten, and he loved his monster cereal. RIP my friend.

Posted by Allen Alberson in FOOD AND DRINK, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, PRODUCT REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments