Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Spiritwood by G. J. Wise is an exciting new novel of the supernatural which has already garnered praise for "(taking its) readers to the woodshed"

Reading it myself, I found it worthy of this praise. Wise quickly sets up a believable cast of characters we care about and a supernatural premise that deserves a novel length treatment.


I had the chance to interview Wise recently but before we get to that, some more words about the novel.

The town Spiritwood borders the massive Chequamagon National forest in northern Wisconsin and it gets its name from an old Native American legend of Indian spirits living in the woods surrounding the town...the thing is, the legend is true.

Sculptor Jed Guiness has a gift -- he can actually see his sculptures in the wood before he ever brings them out.  Jed buys property in Spiritwood, moving there from Chicago. He finds seven massive oaks that contained Indian braves that were more amazing than anything he’d ever seen in wood before.
The trees grow in a circle around the base of a mound deep in a valley at the back edge of his property. Contact with the mound causes queasiness, feelings that something is searching his mind and body, dreams of running into the woods with an axe, and ultimately a realization a sinister power rages within, driving him to cut down one of the trees… to bring it down and free whatever was in the mound.

Jed learns from some residents he befriends about the seven tribes of the Ojibwa and their struggle with dark clan of Red Eagle, who they come to suspect has somehow escaped the mound where he was buried when the town soon becomes chaotic.
Will Jed and the others be able to successfully hold Red Eagle’s spirit in check or will Red Eagle’s spirit, embodied in another Spiritwood resident, prevail and destroy those who mean to imprison him?

As a horror anthology editor, I have had the pleasure to work with Wise. As I have stated before, he is a true fabulist in the tradition of Richard Matheson or Harlan Ellison. In his stories, startling fantasy characters co-exist with humans in an often cold dark reality of the world he creates.

Spiritwood continues these trends, in a logical progression from the short story format to first novel. While Wise has created something all his own here, this novel brought to mind  Stephen King in the way Wise sets up a cast of characters and then once the action gets going, he cross-cuts among all of them at a swift pace. Though Spiritwood has a great plot, it was all about characters first, another echo of King and Matheson.

When asked about this, Wise responded:
I'm honored that Spiritwood brought to mind these writers.  I feel that the greatest influences in my writing have been from Stephen, King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, and Robert McCammon.  I should mention Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison as well, but I feel my list is getting long.  The truth is I could mention dozens more writers who influence my writing.  My writing is a product of what I read and I read mostly horror novels, although I don't only read horror.   It is a product of many other things also, but what I read and who I read has greatly inspired, entertained and taught me how to write.

Thanks for taking the time to chat today. I noticed a heavy dosage of abusive relationships in the novel. Was this a conscience decision on your part, that it would be a noticeable theme?
Well, I think it helps to bring some terrifying reality to an supernatural story.  Unfortunately, spouse and child abuse are real tragedies in our world today and it is something readers can easily identify as a realistic evil. 

I thought there was also a kind of Brian James Freeman feel to your masterful use of vivid imagery, particularly from nature, the darkness of the woods and such, and the way you then use this to reflect back on the characters and events. The Wisconsin setting works great for that. Your biography mentions you live in Wisconsin. Have you always? Is Spiritwood in part or at all based on a real town, or its characters on people you know?
I have lived in Wisconsin all my adult life.  Spiritwood isn't based on a real town, per se, but I did envision a town form my childhood as I wrote it.  The characters in the story were completely developed from my mind.  Neither the good or bad characters remind me of people I know, but I think some elements of their personalities, reflect aspects of my own. 

Was the folklore you used your own invention? Or the product of research?
The folklore is entirely made up. I did hear a story once of how the Ojibwa came to live in Wisconsin and Minnesota and wrote that as how I thought a teenager would remember it.  I also found some information about some Native American tribes believing that the spirits of their ancestors lived in trees, but my interpretation is entirely fictional and does not resemble what I read.  Like most of my writing, I take information I've learned and manipulate it to suite my purposes.  It is entirely unfair to the real folklore, but this is a work of fiction and I trust the readers will understand that this is no reflections on the real history of the Native American people.

You chose to have Red Eagle appear to characters in many dreams in the first half of the book? I like dream sequences, some people hate them. One of my editors despised them and tried to get me to lose all of mine. Tell me about your thought process there.

I personally love dream sequences.  I think it is another way to help with the suspension of disbelief.  Dreams are another common occurrence we all as human beings share.  We as normal rational individuals get to experience the supernatural every night when we sleep.  Dreams are often (for me at least) limitless.  We can experience everything without the constraints of rationality, so the impossible becomes possible.  Fortunately, both my publisher and editor thought the dream sequences added to the story and helped to convey a sense of foreboding and insanity that would later play out in the action.

Thanks for chatting with me here and good luck with this excellent first novel.

Check out this wonderful new novel for yourself. There are several buy links below in any format imaginable so what are you waiting for?





G.J.Wise lives with his wife in Silver Lake, Wisconsin.  He’s been writing for many years, seriously for the last few and has short stories published in both print and electronic anthologies and periodicals.  His debut novel, Spiritwood, was released December 1st.  G.J. Wise is currently at work on his next book length dark offering as well as many more short stories.  If you want more information about current or upcoming works, please visit his author page on Facebook ( or Amazon or feel free to contact via e-mail at


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Who-Dunnit Cheer by David S. Pointer

Holiday Who-Dunnit Cheer

David S. Pointer


The Christmas Carol

outfit were actually

home invasion crew

but this time they ended

up inside a meth cookers

kitchen etiquette by way

of Glock, Smith, Wesson

with bullets ricocheting

off more than old iron

baby deer window d├ęcor

with the last door crawling

survivor being strangled

with sleigh bells strap


Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Skullface Chronicles, the ONLY zombie book you should read--from Dorothy Davies

The Skullface Chronicles

The Skullface Chronicles:

The ONLY zombie book you should read.

Skullface emerges from his unmarked grave in a copse on the Isle of Wight and spends nine days walking around the island, as well as making difficult journeys to the mainland, saying goodbye to all he knew. Every night he withdraws into himself and relives his past, coming to terms with all he was, all he did and how and why he ended up in that unmarked grave. It's a powerful potent book.

On Reviewer stated: "This is a darkly original take on a zombie revenge horror tale, told from the point of the view of the person who has come back from the dead and with very good reason for wanting that revenge. It is compulsive, page turning reading because you want to discover what happened to them in life as much as what is keeping them after death. The humans are as horrifying it turns out as any monster could be. At points there is very black humor, at others beautiful turns of phrase and sometimes simply a sad poignancy. It is written with a powerful voice and characters which, as with Frankenstein's monster, allows you to retain empathy for the protagonist no matter how disturbing the tale and question fundamental things such as the nature of humanity. Truly unique."

Dorothy Davies has written many stories, articles and books, but has never written anything like this before. She says "it took a lot out of her and she is still having difficulty in settling to other writing projects, even though this has been out now for some time."
Here are the buy links for the paperback and ebook directly from Horrified Press's shop at Lulu:
Meantime, look for Thirteen O'Clock Press anthologies, full of dark and dramatic stories edited by myself and Dorothy: 


Monday, December 8, 2014

"Tis the Season...for Twisted Holiday Poetry from David S. Pointer

Joy Sticks &
Jelly Beans
David S. Pointer
The intergalactic
fetus limb amputation
video games were
hot ticket holiday
items with all the
only children who
didn’t want multi-
species brothers
and sisters adopted
or otherwise or even
delivered by the jolly
ole Claus-n-mobile
on his holiday run

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Strange Doings At Fist City by Ken L. Jones

Strange Doings At Fist City




Ken L. Jones


            Decker Hardin was the world’s most public figure but even he had secrets. One of the most notorious pugilists who had ever professionally boxed he was as least as well-known as the star of one scandal after another. Now most of them stemmed from how sadistically cruel he was to his professional boxing opponents but his glee at inflicting pain applied to his personal life as well as his many wives, children, servants, baby mamas, and assorted paparazzi could attest to but even this wasn’t enough. When he wasn’t being paid millions to pound another heavy weight boxer into bloody hamburger or was pimp slapping anyone that was in his personal orbit then he kept busy by taking out his volcanic aggression on all the denizens of the animal kingdom that he could lay his hands upon. His screw loose about hurting animals had first come on him as a toddler. He had started out with the insect kingdom then worked his way up the food chain from there. Pets didn’t live long under his tutelage and eventually just maiming them then killing them lost its thrill. It was about this time that he caught a repeat on the cable of the Roots I miniseries and became obsessed with the character of Chicken George and the so-called sport of cock fighting that George was the master of.

Now the idea of this truly got Hardin ’s juices running and it wasn’t long until he and some other neighborhood bad boys were indulging in clandestine  matches between various dogs that they coerced  into fighting one another to the death. Decker didn’t find any of this very strange because every since he had been able to walk he had always went around pounding on everything and everybody with his fists. In some ways these events had defined his whole identity and were the only way in which he and his demented lifestyle of cruelty could find social acceptance. So it was that he rose up through all the hard scrabble of the amateur ranks of boxing until at twenty-one he was the undisputed heavy weight champion of the whole entire world. Now all of this should have been more than enough of an adrenaline rush and ego gratification for most mere mortals but Decker Hardin had always considered himself far, far, more than that. In time he had come to see his boxing as just another extremely well-paid job that was far too easy for him to accomplish and so he came to look for the danger and thrills that he so craved with his private animal fighting activities.

To that end he had purchased a large rural estate that he dubbed Fist City in New York’s Catskill Mountains where he personally bred, trained and made fight for select audiences the most vicious of pit bulls. Rumors about what went on there circulated for years and clogged the internet and airwaves like the rankest of sewage. Finally someone was able to smuggle cell phone footage out that resulted in a judge issuing a warrant to raid the compound. What the authorities found there even shocked and offended the street hardened officials that took the place down and since Hardin was in the process of skinning a dog alive who hadn’t fought hard enough and was surrounded by several more such dogs that he had lynched for insubordination there was no way he could talk his way out of what so obviously went on there. When the investigation and trial was over he found himself down in prison for a two year stretch. Now considering what some murders receive for prison time these days this might have seemed extreme on the surface of it but Decker Hardin had made a complete fool of himself throughout his whole trial mocking and showing contempt for the judge at every turn. It was little wonder that he drew such a stiff sentence coupled with a fortune draining fine too yet still he took it all in his cocky stride and not even the fact that this latest boondoggle had landed him in with the general population of a serious butt ramming prison had thrown him off for very long. His Tarzan-like savagery and mastery of the sweet science of flooring another human guaranteed that he never became any man’s bride while incarcerated. Once this salient fact had been established time passed well enough. He kept his newly shaved head down, got his GED and converted to the Black Muslim faith and when he wasn’t busy with all this he trained hard on the prison weights and worked out on the boxing equipment in its sparse gym and so in that way the two years went by in something of a blur then one bright morning he found that he was back on the streets again.

Socially shunned nearly broke and freshly divorced against his will he felt a deep need to clear his head and so retreated to a small hunting cabin that he had managed to hold on to which was even deeper up the Hudson River Valley than Fist City had been. Since he was a convicted felon he couldn’t own a gun but that hardly prevented him from stalking, hunting and catching fresh meat. This was easily accomplished with crossbow and machete and a series of snares and traps that he set with upmost precision. Something about how primal and Neanderthal-like all this was appealed to his inner animalism and he was soon relaxed and at peace with himself once again.

It was on the third day of his return to nature that something extraordinary happened. While he was out checking his snares Decker discovered hanging by its heels and groaning in an unearthly voice an animal he had never seen nor abused before. Tiring immediately of the strange noises of whatever this thing was that was making them he boldly stepped up to it and delivered a roundhouse right to its jaw knocking it into unconsciousness. Cutting it down and using its rope snare to bind it securely he then threw it over his shoulder and took it back to his cabin for his further contemplation. This accomplished he after a little surfing of the net on his portable laptop could come to no other conclusion than that he was now the proud possessor of one genuine Big Foot!

            Now true the thing seemed to be half the size that other supposed sighters of this creature claimed it should be but it was in every other respect exactly what people had touted it to be and so Hardin blew off its lack of stature as being akin to fishermen exaggerating how large the big one that had gotten away on them was. Sometime near sundown of the same day as he was pan frying some fresh venison and canned pork and beans for his dinner, Decker and his still bound and now gagged “pet” were startled by the shattering of his locked front door. Before Decker could even blink he saw that the source of all this was yet another Big Foot inches taller than the one who now lay helplessly on his cabin’s rough hewn floor. With battle instincts borne from a life time of violence Hardin  reacted instantly gripping the sizzling cast-iron frying pan in his own now burning palm he spun around and caught the uncomprehending charging Big Foot square in the head with it knocking him cold as it fried half of his unearthly looking face away in the process. An hour later when the thing that most said was only a myth returned to groggy half consciousness it found itself now too laying helplessly restrained and gagged next to the other of its kind that it had so boldly attempted to rescue and there towering over both of them was the truer savage of them all Decker Hardin now smiling a golden grill studded grin as he yakked away animatively into his private cellular phone.

            “Hello Garnett, Garnett Purcell its Decker, yeah Decker Hardin. You won’t believe what I’ve got for you my man.”

            Now luckily Garnett Purcell in between running for the Presidency on the dime of a very strange and confused third party and publicly making a fool out of himself by insisting that the seated President wasn’t really a citizen of America had quietly picked up Fist City at auction as a favor to his long time amigo Decker Hardin and that had given the disgraced former boxer a grand idea. Now Garnett despite all the strange things that he normally believed in was incredulous about what Decker told him he had captured because the fabled businessman had never believed anything of an occult or otherworldly nature and so literally being from Missouri he had his private helicopter take him up to Hardin’s cabin if only to put an end to all this nonsense once and for all.

Now Purcell once he metabolized that all this was true was full of ideas about how to exploit it. Being an educated man he thought of endless possibilities in a variety of different ways. The pair of Big Foots of course could be sold for top dollar to any zoo in the world. They could also be put on display as the center piece of a new amusement park and a reality show starring them on TV would surely be a ratings grabber and all of these were but a few of the practical applications that might grow from such an enterprise. Why the endorsements and licensing revenues from this alone could make a man richer than any ten oil sheiks put together.

 Yet none of these propositions seem to hold any appeal for Decker who had other plans and in the end these two amazing animals belonged to him and not Purcell. Now what “The Two-Fisted Tornado” as he was popularly nicknamed was interested in doing with them seemed extremely risky and almost stupid to Purcell but he found that he could not just walk away from all this and so he agreed to be the chief facilitator for Decker’s brutal and obvious scheme and so the world’s strangest cock fight was arranged to take place at Fist City on New Year’s Day. Not only would it have an audience composed of the world’s wealthiest ticket holders but the event would also go out via satellite as the priciest pay for view event of all time.

Now all of this had to be done in a very clandestine way because of course in every sense of the word it was illegal and this is where Purcell and all his connections shined the most brightly. Through it all the eccentric millionaire stayed at Fist City with the sadistic ex-boxer and his two prized catches that they had transported and appropriately caged there. Hardin was ecstatic as he took complete charge of training the two Big Foots to fight each other to the death. He took pleasure in whipping and torturing them to bring out their killer instincts. To this end he tricked them into slaughtering guard dogs and stray cats in order to get their own blood lust up and yet through it all they seemed to not what to hurt one another even under the stroke of Decker’s cattle prod or even after he would pummel them unmercifully with his well schooled and massive fists.

All seemed hopeless until he discovered through trial and error that alcohol had a really bad effect on them and was pretty much the only thing that put them into the correct frame of mind to do what he demanded. So he started them on a regime of heavy whiskey consumption just prior to the match and yet through it all they spent hours loudly crooning something unintelligible over and over again at the top of their lungs that drove everyone who was in ear shot around the bend and nothing could be done to quiet them down once they got started.

 Finally New Year’s Day arrived and Decker never stopped smiling for even an instant as he anticipated all that was to come. The worldwide viewing audience was the largest ever recorded and t he live audience was a who’s who of every mover and shaker from every strata of those who ran the world. Garnett Purcell for obvious reasons did not publicly acknowledge his vast connection with all of this but he was there for every second of it none the less. Decker Hardin had no such qualms. Already once again a multimillionaire because of all of this he was planning to abandon America forever by chartered plane in a few hours for a riotous retirement in the Philippine Islands which had no extradition laws whatsoever. So he brazenly played his public swan song for all that it was worth openly and proudly introducing the whole event and flamboyantly MC-ing it all.

The two Big Foots were drunker than anyone had ever seen them before and Decker had been shocking them and slicing them with a box cutter to work up their ire. Both of them seemed ready to kill the first thing that came within arm’s length of them once they were released from their respective cages. Then as if it was some kind of hallucination the event began in earnest. First Decker came into the large caged arena and made a long and rambling speech detailing how he had captured these two things of legend and then the two Big Foots were released from their respective cages. At first it looked like they were going to do all that was expected of them then things took a most unexpected turn and they instead began cuddling and comforting one another as if they were small and abused infants.

This was more than the audience could take and they began to boo and shout and throw things at the objects of their disappointment. Decker insane with rage ripped off his tuxedo and lacy shirt and jumped bare-chested into the center of all this. He began wildly beating down the two animals who were cowed and acted scared of him. Their only response to all this was an even more loud and plaintive version of the sad vocalizations that they had been repeating endlessly since they first arrived at Fist City. Hardin’s nauseating rampage continued for a long time as the event he had put so much of his heart and soul into unraveled about him and became reduced to a mockery of all that it was once meant to be.

Then just when it seemed as if things couldn’t get any stranger they did as two other Big Foots appeared out of nowhere dripping wet and more enraged than anything that Decker had ever seen in all of his many years of seeking out violence. These new Big Foots too were singing a deeper and more throaty version of what the other two had been wailing out for so long and as they rose up to their full heights they stood revealed as being as large as Big Foot’s were generally portrayed as being. As all this was happening Decker laughed sardonically realizing far too late exactly what his two prized fighting animals really were. Now that he was face to face with their parents Hardin tried to laugh it all off and groove on the absurd irony of it all. As the adult Big Foots tore into the crowd viciously as they went about trying to save their offspring Decker realized that all this was going out to a worldwide audience and since it was all on film people would be watching his humiliation and stupidity till the end of time. Finally as the adults got to him personally it was revealed for all to see that compared to them he was no stud, no champ, no tough guy or hard ass but was indeed when confronted by a superior foe who was out for blood was just another man who realized far too late exactly what fear meant.




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Me and Old John Constantine by Ken and Kevin Jones

Me and Good Old John Constantine


Ken L. Jones with Kevin L. Jones


            During a recent stay in the hospital I had many enjoyable conversations with my nurses and other technicians that worked there. Since it was almost time for the new TV shows to start that subject came up often and while we agreed on Gotham, The Flash, etc. as being worthy new entries into TV land almost everyone was surprised at my interest and enthusiasm for a similar new show called Constantine until I explained that I the reason I liked the character so much was because I was one of the few people who first knew about him and that to me it was like watching one of my children grown up and finally make good.  Way back in the 1980s I was very involved in comic books both as a creator and as a historian of it too and because of that I knew many of the great creators back then personally and none more so than the master artist Alfredo P. Alcala.  

            Alfredo had long lived alone since he had come to America and was very dependent on other people to help him get simple things done like grocery shopping, getting his clothes washed, etc. Early in my relationship with him my family and I soon started helping him out with things like that to the point that he came to call us his American family. Besides this I soon graduated once he got to know me into doing a lot of work for him to help him get his comic books out.  Among other things I would handle all the business phone calls on his constantly ringing telephone and would keep track of and properly store his original art when it was returned to him by the postman and I would do some cleanup  work on his pages such as erasing lines that weren’t needed and applying whiteout here and there and god help me because one of my so-called friends had told him that I had inked a lot of the backgrounds on my first published comic Hero Man he for a time wanted me to do that on his stuff too but luckily Alfredo soon realized that as an artist I was a good comic book writer and general secretary for his business affairs.

One thing that fascinated me about Alfredo was that he never read any contemporary comics most of which he dismissed as …well I won’t quote exactly what he said about them since my young grandchildren will probably be reading this but anyway he absolutely didn’t care anything about the modern comic book scene and so I was soon drafted to explain to him who these people were that he was drawing as well as everything about them such as their powers, their weaknesses, and their backgrounds.  Now fortunately I was at the time very well versed in the entire history of the comic books and could accurately quote all about them off the top of my head which is why I guess I worked for several years at Amazing Heroes, The Comics Journal, and Comics Interview where I was one of the editors for awhile.  This part of my responsibilities to Alfredo often proved to be somewhat funny to me especially when he would call me late at night on the phone to ask me about this and that character. Luckily I was usually able to help him out once he gave me a few simple hints about them such as their names and he was very grateful for it too because it meant he never had to look at any of the many free comics that were delivered to his door every day and which he routinely gave to my more than enthusiastic grade school age sons and instead would spend his time studying all kinds of artists from the Renaissance and before.

Now what does all this have to do with John Constantine one might ask and his brand new TV show? Plenty, a moment ago my wife and I did some preliminary research online about Constantine in preparation for this article and in my opinion much of it was inaccurate to the events as I recall them. For one thing Alfredo’s art and the genesis of Constantine is barely mentioned and it should be mentioned because I recollect he had a large hand in jelling the final look of Constantine as we know him today. 

Here’s the way I remember it. Alfredo was working on embellishing Swamp Thing around the time of Constantine showing up there which excited me greatly because it was one of my favorite comic books as was anything written by the great Alan Moore and poor old John at first didn’t seem to have any kind of a iconic look about him until Karen Berger called up one day and asked if Alfredo might give him a specific look to which I replied that “Oh you mean you want him to look exactly like Sting instead of occasionally like him as he does now?” and she enthusiastically agreed with my guess.  To that end I dropped into a local newsstand and was able to procure several fan magazines that had really good pictures of Sting in them and I took them with me the next night when I came to see him.  At first Alfredo didn’t want to listen and didn’t care and since he hated all modern rock and roll he tried to tell me that people wouldn’t like the character if he looked like this Sting guy and that he should perhaps make him look more like Robert Mitchum instead. Luckily I was able to talk him down on that and the fine drawings that Alfredo did of Constantine set the standard for the book and probably account for the reason why he did the embellishment on John’s first couple of solo issues over in Hellblazer as well.  Oddly enough while Alfredo never did take to Batman where he also did a lot of work as he came to know and understand Constantine he actually liked the character which I guess isn’t strange because everyone involved with the original version of this character was deeply into the occult including yours truly and so how could Alfredo help but fall under the spell of this rough hewn but lovable exorcist?

Years flew by after this and eventually I moved on to other popular culture projects that didn’t involve Alfredo and then in April of 2000 Alfred died. There’s something almost shameful about how little he is remembered or respected today not only for his great artistry but for his forceful and unique personality which earned him the nickname “the Elvis of the comic books” and whenever I’m given the chance I try to see what I can do to correct that.  While Alfredo was involved in lots of movies and television shows his name was deeply buried in the credits and so he felt disconnected from much of the work that he was so well paid to do but I strongly suspect that he would have been very proud of the new Constantine TV show where once again his name is nowhere to be seen. As for me I quite like the show and think that  Matt Ryan,  the great Welsh actor that plays John is a perfect choice and when people ask me why I’m so excited about all this I tell them how could I not be I was one of the first twenty people in the world to ever meet Constantine.