Online Issue 14

TSP OI14 coverAuthor Lee Murray talks about her novelInto the Sounds, and how traveling has shaped her life and writing, the actor she’d pick to play her protagonist for the series and her faithful author assistant, Bella.

Stuart R. West drops by to talk about his faithful companion, Zak, and his novels Secret Society (which may be one of the most original takes on a serial killer story) and how a real-life ghost town inspired Ghosts of Gannaway.

Jon O’Bergh is back to share the music his characters in The Shatter Point would listen to.

S.D. Hintz is also giving us the goods on the nosey neighbors who inspired The Witching Well and the reason he may just live in the creepiest house, ever.

ICYMI, Brian talked to Steph Post and Nik Norpon about their tattoos. And there’s a new story up at Zombie Cat: Waiting on the Stress Boxes by David Hagerty.

Goldilocks and the Dark Barometer

Every now and again, someone writes about the darkness that permeates Young Adult fiction. This leads to speculation about whether it is too dark, and summaries on the topic. I could do likewise, but I felt  already did that so well, I don’t need to.

What I did decide was that I would focus on reading some popular YA authors and titles and see what I thought. So, reads over the past few months classified as YA have included Nightwolf, Salt, The Fragile Ordinary, The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Out of all of these offerings, Nightwolf is probably the darkest. Salt has monsters and The Forest of Hands and Teeth has zombies, but Nightwolf focuses on real horrors some kids today live with, and although it isn’t pure noir, there is a sense of hopelessness and futility that permeate the story. It isn’t what I’d call cheery. The other titles have varying degrees of hope – for resolution of problems, for overcoming difficult situations, for the future. I didn’t find any of this unrelentingly dark.

Now, your mileage may vary. But here’s the thing. Young people are dealing with a lot of crap. We did, too, in our day. They’re trying to figure out who they are, what they want out of life and what others expect of them. They have to make decisions that will shape their entire future. And they’re looking at a war of words between politicians that might lead to war with North Korea and all kinds of other crap going on that could change their future. They want to assume control of their lives but they aren’t adults, so they’re caught between taking responsibility for their actions and having limited authority for their choices.

And everything they do is presented on social media for all the world to see.

Frankly, the stuff I’ve heard about via the kids over recent years has been numbing. They are far more aware of a lot of crap than I ever was. And I specifically started watching The Walking Dead because their biomom was watching it with them when they were eleven. Brian and I always felt we should have some sense of what they were watching and being exposed to so that we could have informed conversations about it, so a show I’d resisted watching became part of our regular viewing. (And they had some good seasons, so for a while it wasn’t a chore at all.) Frankly, if they can watch that when they aren’t even teens, it’s got to be pretty damn hard to top that level of darkness in fiction.

People read for all kinds of reasons, and one of those reasons is to escape. Another is to learn about things they otherwise wouldn’t get answers about. And another is to help them process things they’re dealing with.

Hells bells, I’m just glad to see young people reading. You want to read dark? Read on, I say.


Review: Salt by Hannah Moskowitz


Review: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young


Review: Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer


Review: The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer


Review: Walking Shadows by Faye Kellerman


Review: Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind by Reed Farrel Coleman


Bye Bye Kindle Boards

From their new terms of service:

“You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.”

You have to email and ask for all your information to be removed. Always nice for some assholes to come along and change the terms of service after the fact so that people’s information is already being sold. Jerks. Time to sign off.

Hulu Programming Campaign for Letterkenny

Now, Brian’s new favorite show is a Canadian show called Letterkenny. The first two seasons are on Hulu, and he wants them to get all the seasons added. So here’s hoping some of you will have a full appreciation for the quirky humor and jump on the bandwagon. Season 1 has a running joke starting episode 2 that has payoff in the final episode of the season…. just brilliant. These clips have nothing to do with the ostrich fucker, or my favorite joke about a certain book, or even the super-soft birthday party, but they do help set the tone of the show.


Now, this one… maybe not young kid friendly. But a great illustration of ‘show not tell’ writing. I know exactly what Wayne and Daryl think about Squirrely Dan’s revelation about his sexual experience without so much as a word from either of them.


Soundtrack: What The Shatter Point Characters are Rockin’ Out To

Asher Williams is a sensitive musician in a band inspired by Little Dragon. He’s always been drawn to music, and begged his parents for piano lessons after seeing a Tori Amos video. His tastes are shaped by a deeper connection with music, so he favors artistry and complexity over simplistic music with mass appeal. “Flavor” by Tori Amos captures Asher’s initial spirit as he struggles with his own choices not unlike those presented in the lyrics.

In a more boisterous mood, he rocks out to “Klapp Klapp” by Little Dragon since it’s one of his favorite bands and he once saw them perform in Los Angeles.


Asher’s girlfriend, Jada Mercer, is quite different from him. Men are drawn into her brisk orbit like shooting stars that flame briefly before burning out. She’s always pushing the envelope in search of excitement. Plugged into all the latest trends, she follows a popular but violent rapper named ‘Lil Freaky. She imagines being able to run her hands through a pile of gems like Rhianna does at the start of “Diamonds”.

Her favorite song is “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Charli XCX, but she doesn’t realize it’s a cover of a song that has been recorded numerous times since the 1950s.


Ruth Littleton came of age during the 1970s and stopped listening to popular music not long thereafter, as if her life became frozen in time. Her perpetually pinched mouth betrays a judgmental view of the world. She adored Joni Mitchell’s album For the Roses when it came out in 1972, and thinks of it fondly years later, after gardening and roses became her passion. In 1975 she fell in love with the fragility of Joni’s “Shades of Scarlett Conquering,” perhaps because she identifies with the woman at the heart of the song.

At her funeral, she would like the traditional song “Bread and Roses” played, as recorded by Judy Collins.


After divorcing her abusive husband, Donna Woods devoted her life to raising her toddler son. It was not easy as a single mother, especially during his teenage years when he became destructive. Despite the struggles, her eyes still gleam with the look of a perennial optimist. Yet she’s no fool, and her mouth suggests a sensible disposition. Recently remarried, she anticipates that things are finally looking up. When she was fifteen, the new hit “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson energized her so much that she learned all the moves.

She also finds such lyrics inspiring. Having grown up listening to Prince and Sheila E., Donna was thrilled when Sheila E. released “Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America” in 2017.


Donna’s son, Billy Nicodemus, fears that he inherited his father’s propensity to violence. He remains resentful about his father’s abandonment. Perhaps that is why he is drawn to Ugly Kid Joe’s version of the Harry Chapin hit “Cat’s in the Cradle”.

Not many years ago, as a teenager, Billy would break into people’s houses and smash their televisions. But how long can he keep those demons at bay? He drove away the one girlfriend who could have saved him, and now he’s in a melancholy mood, listening to “Floating” by Sun Kil Moon.


Jon has a music blog, Song of Fire (, where he posts various musings on music from time to time. He’s also regularly active on Twitter @jon_obergh

Check out our interview with Jon about The Shatter Point,

what he’s been reading lately,

and where he got his love of story-telling from.


obergh-author-bioJon O’Bergh is an author and musician who loves a good scare. He grew up in Southern California, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of California at Irvine. A fan of ghost stories and horror movies, Jon came up with the idea for “The Shatter Point” after watching a documentary about extreme haunts. He has released over a dozen albums in a variety of styles, including the atmospheric album “Ghost Story.” After many years living in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., he now spends most of his time with his husband in Toronto.