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.


Beware the Busybodies: S.D. Hintz talks about how nosy neighbors inspired The Witching Well

Fun (???) Fact about S.D. Hintz? “I currently live in a house that was the site of the largest mass murder in Minnesota history.

Witching WellSR: What’s your new book about?

SDH: A young boy loses his mother tragically and is forced to live with his estranged grandmother in a town seemingly devoid of children.

SR: Was there a specific issue or incident that really motivated you to write this particular story? What was the prompt?

SDH: As a child, my parents had very nosy neighbors, busybodies. I always felt like I was being watched, especially since our houses were so close to each other. And I watched a lot of horror movies, which went hand in hand.

SR: How do you think your protagonist would respond if aliens landed in the center of town on page 57?

SDH: Murray would be mildly surprised, as on page 57 he admits to his one friendly neighbor that creepy Mrs. Vitikin gave him an exploding cockroach. Aliens would be a great opportunity for him to escape the crazy block.

SR: What’s your protagonist’s greatest fear? Why?

SDH: Murray has a general fear of men, as his mother was murdered by her boyfriend. He also fears being alone and losing others that become close to him.

SR: Is there something you hope the reader carries away with them after they’re done reading? An insight or philosophy that you wanted to come through in your work?

SDH: Nothing is as it seems. Your friendly neighbor next door could be a serial killer or a ghost hunter or a witch. And as children, we are more apt to believe in something imaginary. A child’s innocence should always be valued and protected from those harboring malicious ulterior motives.

SR: What is your protagonist better at than you? What are you better than your protagonist at?

SDH: Murray is better at painting than me, a skill that is encouraged by his artist grandmother. I always wanted to be good at painting, and maybe I was, everything just turned out abstract. I, on the other hand, am better at writing than Murray. He’s too concerned with reading Marvel comics.

SR: What’s the first book you remember reading that had a huge impact on you? How did that story affect you? How do you think it shaped your desire to be a writer?

SDH: The first book I recall reading was Needful Things by Stephen King. The imagination alone had my brain reeling, and it takes place in a crazy small town, go figure. I started writing in the third grade and won an award for the best creative writing in the class. Even in my youth I loved to read, but honestly I think 80’s sword and sorcery movies fueled my desire to write.

SR:  What’s the best thing about writing?

SDH: Creating a world where you are God and can do anything you want to anybody.

SR:  What’s the worst thing about writing?

SDH: Sitting down and actually doing it. For me it can be a necessary evil that requires substantial self-motivation.

SR: Are you drawn to things that are really popular or wary of them? Do you find it helps you to market your work if you’re familiar with what’s currently selling or do you ignore all of that and focus on what you’re interested in?

SDH: In a nutshell, I write what I want, whatever sparks my interest at the time. I honestly believe that the market is saturated in every genre, so regardless it’s a challenge to make your work stand out from the rest.

SR: What’s your personal life motto?

SDH: You only live once so do what makes you happy.

SR: Everyone needs an outlet to help them recharge. What hobbies do you have outside of writing?

SDH: I’m an avid hiker, I stream a lot of music and media, I love social networking, and have been known to bike and canoe.

SR: What factors influence you when you’re choosing a book to read?

SDH: Above all, cover art and whether or not the synopsis intrigues me.

S.D. Hintz’s novel The Witching Well was published by Grinning Skull Press in July 2018. His novella Bauble will debut by World Castle Publishing this October. In 2017 he had 5 short stories, 1 poem, and a novel published. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of KHP Publishers and extremely active on social media. He currently lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.