Dan Padavona

Dan Padavona

When you read one of my books I want you to feel like you are sitting around a campfire with me at midnight. I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, mainly of fantasy and horror. If you happen upon me, you’ll probably see me reading Terry Brooks, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, Robert Jordan, or one of many authors who so enrich my life with their ability to tell a good tale. I am enamored with the written word and can spend hours playing with different word combinations to improve prose. More than anything, I love a good horror story. Let me tell you one.

Feb 042017
 

A Bram Stoker Award winning author, Kealan Patrick Burke is one of horror’s most talented writers. His latest novella, Sour Candy, is courageous and stunning in its originality.

The author of The Timmy Quinn series, Kin, and over a hundred short stories, Kealan Patrick Burke sat down to talk with me about the art of horror, Sour Candy, and fronting a grunge rock band.

 

Q – One of the joys of writing is producing a truly unique and engaging story idea. Your novella, Sour Candy, contains one of the most unusual and distinctive horror plots I’ve encountered in several years. Tell us a little about the story line of Sour Candy and how you discovered it.

I have found that the most mundane things often lead to the most interesting stories. In the case of Sour Candy, I was shopping in Walmart one morning when a kid started shrieking just down the aisle from me. Now, kids screaming in grocery stores is hardly an aberration, but this was a real high pitched shriek, and I couldn’t help but look. Blame it on my latent misophonia and adverse reactions to certain trigger sounds. Everyone else was looking too, mostly in irritation, and I immediately felt guilty. The kid was out of control and his poor mother looked exhausted, at her wit’s end, and here were a bunch of strangers glaring at her because her child was upset. He was demanding a bag of candy that, for whatever reason, she was unwilling to give him. Afterward, I wondered what would happen if I got home and found that same child sitting there waiting for me and claiming he had always been there, and that I was his father. Such a thing would require a dramatic alteration of my circumstances for it to make any kind of sense: the removal of loved ones, the rewriting of memory, etc. The idea stayed with me, but it took a year or so before it coalesced into the novella Sour Candy ultimately became.

The more concise answer is that the novella is about being forced into parenthood before you’re ready for it.

Q – It’s impossible to label Kin as anything but pure, dark horror. However, the importance of family and friendship in your writing is clear in many of your stories (in particular the Timmy Quinn series). In Sour Candy, the concept of Phil potentially being Adam’s true father is a central plot point. How crucial was it to you to make the reader wonder about Adam’s and Phil’s relationship? Had you determined their true relationship before you completed the first draft?

Part of the fun of writing Sour Candy was keeping me and the reader guessing. Like many of the stories I write, I only knew the plot to a certain point, after which, it revealed itself to me as it went along. It was important, however, that Phil’s aversion to his abruptly altered life be convincing, that it mirror how any rational person would react in a similar situation. This reaction is tempered by the possibility that Phil is the one who has changed, that maybe the boy is his son and he had a breakdown and simply imagined the opposing reality. This uncertainty was a huge part of the appeal for me. Is the boy some kind of supernatural invasive force, or has Phil simply lost his mind and become the antagonist in the eyes of his normal loving son? Even better, Phil is kept off guard and off kilter by the apparent innocence of the child, which flies in the face of his theory that Adam is an invader. There are, after all, dire consequences no matter which reality turns out to be the real one. “Thou art fucked from the outset,” as Shakespeare once said.

Q – Brain trauma-induced memory loss is a very real issue. My son suffered a brain injury and concussion playing lacrosse last year and lost short term memory. Have you, or someone close to you, suffered a similar injury which inspired your depiction of Phil after the car crash?

I’m sorry to hear about your son. That’s awful, and I hope he’s doing okay now. The stories I write require me to imagine living in the wake of such traumas, but thankfully, no, I’ve never had to deal with the reality of one. Memory loss and altered perceptions of reality via Alzheimer’s, however, is something that runs in my family and scares the hell out of me. My maternal grandmother recently passed away after battling with this for quite some time, and my paternal grandmother is in the throes of it now, too. I live in fear of losing my sense of self, of forgetting who I was, and who I am now. It informs a great deal of my fiction and Sour Candy is no different. Genre writers talk about the fear of the unknown, but for me, becoming the unknown to you and those closest to you is the very definition of nightmare.

Q – Thank you, Kealan. My son had a full recovery, though he shouldn’t play contact sports for the remainder of his life. We owe a lot to the team of doctors in Syracuse who looked after him. I, too, have watched Alzheimer’s attack elderly family members. It is absolutely terrifying.

A great way to create tension for a reader and make her sympathize with the protagonist is to put the character in physical peril, whether it be injury or sickness. In the case of Phil Pendleton, his physical deterioration is so graphic that I almost expected a body part to fall off at any given moment. Was Phil’s deterioration a conscious decision to build reader anxiety, or just the natural progression of dealing with your everyday demonic presence?

Phil’s deterioration is intentionally ambiguous. If he’s gone mad, then naturally there will be a physical cost, but if he’s sane and Adam is the enemy, then it’s likely that the boy is parasitically draining his adopted father, preparing him for what’s to come. Either way, I figure the horror of the situation needed to be compounded, not only by Phil’s mental state, but his physical one, too. Plus, all he eats is sour candy. That’s gonna take its toll.

Q – Was there any point when you considered developing Sour Candy into a full length novel? Do you feel a longer story would lessen Sour Candy‘s impact?

I actually did consider expanding it, not just to eke out a novel from a groovy idea, but because right after it was published, I started getting ideas for scenes that I wish I had included, most notably a prologue involving Adam’s birth mother and an expansion of the ending. It still bugs me that these occurred to me right after the damn thing was already out there. I’ve expanded, just for my own satisfaction, the mythology behind The Elders, and there are a lot of things going on with the novella right now that might result in me one day coming back to it. For now, though, I think it’s effective enough at the current length.

Q – Most non-romance writers not named Howey will tell you novellas are a tough sell, though I love them as a reader. You sparked an entire novel series with one award-winning novella, The Turtle Boy, and Sour Candy tore up the horror charts for several months. Besides word count, how different are the development processes for novels and novellas. Do you prefer one form to the other?

Short story, novella, novel, I love them all, but I think it’s easier for me to maintain focus and pace and potency with a novella, whereas with novels I sometimes end up meandering. I hate intense plotting, hate ruining the discovery process for myself, so I generally try to avoid all but the most basic outline when it comes to novels. Thus, they’re not always as successful as I’d like them to be. I have never needed to plot a novella, however. They just flow and coalesce quite organically and effortlessly for me, so I tend to gravitate to them more. That said, I don’t always know whether what I’m writing is going to be a short, a novella, or a novel. Often, these things decide themselves and I’m just tagging along for the ride. But I would argue that the novella is the perfect length for a horror story.

Q – Tell me about being a vocalist in a grunge rock band. Were you more Chris Cornell or Mark Lanegan? Do you still perform?

I was somewhere in between Mark Lanegan and Cornell, but nowhere near as good as either one of those giants. I could imitate Lanegan, but never had Cornell’s range (like most humans), so I ended up being more of a Cobain/Weiland mutt. I joined a band in high school, a couple of bands after that, and ended up in one called Wreck, which was the most successful and the most fun. I wrote all the music and lyrics (mostly about my doomed relationships, or unrequited love—how typical). Despite some promising leads, it never went where we hoped it would, and the band broke up. There’s not a single day goes by in which I don’t miss the hell out of it though. I loved being in a band. Loved writing music, loved performing. These days my vocal skills (or lack of) only reveal themselves in dimly lit karaoke dive bars to the poor unsuspecting locals.

Q – What hard rock bands do you listen to most, and does their music inspire any of your writings?

I still listen to all the old favorites: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Faith No More, Seether, Filter, Stone Temple Pilots, Screaming Trees, et al, mixed with a bit of AC/DC and Whitesnake. I also like a bit of classical music, the blues, and soul, here and there. I’ve even been known to give certain tracks from Adele and Rihanna a spin. I find my taste broadening as I get older, and good music is good music, no matter the genre. Odd as it may sound though, I don’t believe my writing has ever been influenced by music, not to any conscious degree at least. I don’t listen to it while writing. I can’t. I need quiet. I listen to music for the same reasons I read a book or watch a movie: escapism. But while movies and other books will always influence me, I don’t believe music ever has.

Q – I hear you. As I get older, I find myself listening to more Jack Johnson and less Pantera, though I  doubt I will ever lose my punk, new wave, and grunge roots. And most of my writing is done with a box fan set on high providing the only sound in the room.

You are one of the most respected names in horror, you won a Bram Stoker Award (The Turtle Boy), and your books have been optioned for film. What is Kealan Patrick Burke working on now, and when can we expect a new novel?

Right now, I’m finishing up a few stories due to magazines and anthologies, after which I have a new Lovecraftian novella to finish that I’m very excited about. After that, I get back to my novel, of which I can say very little for now, only that it won’t be connected to anything I’ve previously written (i.e. not a sequel). I hope to have it done at the end of the summer.

 

Thank you, Kealan, for joining me today. Good luck with all your future endeavors. I look forward to your next novella.

Horror fans – if you have haven’t read Sour Candy yet, check out this brilliant story immediately.

Jan 052017
 

The Horror Show with Brian Keene will celebrate its 100th episode with a 24-hour telethon to support Scares That Care.

The telethon will run from 12 PM EST Thursday January 26th until 12 PM EST Friday January 27th.

Brian Keene’s YouTube channel will provide a live stream of this charity event, which is scheduled to feature guests, mayhem, and a ton of fun. If you wish to attend the event in person and be part of the live studio audience, The Horror Show will broadcast from The Holiday Inn Express Hunt Valley in Cockeysville, Maryland, located on 11200 York Road.

For more information about this important charity event, visit The Horror Show’s official website.

Scares That Care is a 501C charity.

Dec 302016
 

Recently, I had the pleasure to read an excerpt from Storberry, my debut vampire horror novel, at RiverReads Books in Binghamton, NY. Through the magic of the Internet, you can view the entire reading on my official YouTube channel.

Remember to click the shiny red “Subscribe” button to stay up to date with new video uploads.

Nov 092016
 

the-face-of-midnight-letter

The Face of Midnight Released – 99 cents


The Face of Midnight is available for sale NOW on Amazon. As promised, the Kindle price is only 99 cents for newsletter subscribers. But hurry…the price will increase soon.

Fans of Richard Laymon and early Jack Ketchum will especially love The Face of Midnight, one of my darkest novels to date.

From the Back Cover

Becca is homeless, but she sleeps in the finest neighborhood houses. She knows when you’re home and when you’re away. She might even be sleeping in your bed now. Danger, however, is closing in on Becca.

New York’s most-feared murderer, The Midnight Killer, is butchering victims on his way across the state. He’s getting closer to Becca every day.

When Becca and her friend, Steve, flee from a deranged man in Barton Falls, they take shelter inside an abandoned farmhouse on the edge of town. But something evil lurks within the house, and a freak October storm has trapped Becca and Steve inside.

And it’s Halloween Night.

Download The Face of Midnight

Oct 172016
 

the-face-of-midnight

The Face of Midnight, my forthcoming horror novel, is in the final editing stages.

To whet your appetite, here is the incredible cover design by Bram Stoker Award winning author, Kealan Patrick Burke.

The Face of Midnight is dark horror in the spirit of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum. If you enjoyed Crawlspace, The Face of Midnight will be right down your alley.

As much as I’d like to, I can’t promise a release date at this time. While the book is likely to be in its final form by Halloween, releases are often dictated by other difficult to predict factors, such as promotional runs and the time it takes for the printer to get the book to market.

To be notified as soon as The Face of Midnight is released, please join my VIP newsletter. Members will be able to download The Face of Midnight for only 99 cents during the initial release period.

Oct 062016
 

That would be me.

You might be wondering why I’m on YouTube. Good question. After all, I specialize in the written word.

I can express myself better in a video, and you get to see my mug, so it’s clearly win-win. In my latest entry, I read an excerpt from my novel, Crawlspace.

In the future I’ll share fun updates about my writing and life, post footage from selected signings and appearances, and if all goes well, maybe even a smattering of interviews with horror icons.

Bottom line: I promise to keep you entertained.

So please click the link below to check out my YouTube channel. Don’t forget to click the SUBSCRIBE button on YouTube to keep up to date with my latest postings.

My YouTube Channel

See you on the big screen.

Aug 082016
 

Big news!

Brian Keene, master of modern horror, and best-selling author, Dan Padavona, are coming to the Boston area on October 22, 2016.

Keene and Padavona will greet fans, sign autographs, and offer great deals on their print novels at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

A who’s-who of horror novelists, actors, and filmmakers from New England and the northeast will be on hand for this event. Round table discussions on the art of horror, book sales, and live readings are just part of the fun scheduled for the public.

The Haverhill Public Library is located at 99 Main Street in Haverhill, MA. The event runs from 10 AM until 4:30 PM. Admission is FREE.

Haverhill Halloween

Jul 052016
 

Allow me to cut to the chase. Of all the independent authors I’ve discovered over the past three years, Dawn Lee McKenna is my favorite, and it’s not even close. If you take my advice and read her Forgotten Coast series, you’ll understand why.

I’m a horror guy. That should be plainly obvious. I also read fantasy voraciously, and on occasion I lose myself in an action-thriller. A mystery/suspense/romance story was a tough sell, even if the setting (Florida is my favorite state to visit) intrigued me.

My doubts didn’t last long. McKenna hooked me immediately, and I went on to breeze through her first three books like a hurricane churning through the Gulf. Now I’m finishing book six, and I hope her series produces many, many more novels. As long as she keeps writing them, I’ll keep reading.

McKenna’s Forgotten Coast series falls somewhere between suspense and mystery, with multiple veins of complicated romance and family crises flowing under the surface. And hell if McKenna’s wry sense of humor doesn’t infect you with giggles when you least expect it. It’s a complex mix to pull off, yet she does so competently.

Set along the Forgotten Coast of Florida, the series follows Maggie Redmond, a lieutenant with the Apalachicola Sheriff’s Department. Low Tide, the first book in the growing Forgotten Coast series, immediately reveals Maggie’s tragic past, doing so in a way which makes the reader take personal stock in Maggie’s future, even as the reveal horrifies us.

I read Dawn Lee McKenna's "Awash" on the shores of Shell Beach, a stones throw from Apalachicola on Florida's Forgotten Coast.

I read Dawn Lee McKenna’s “Awash” on the shores of Shell Beach, a stone’s throw from Apalachicola on Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Experiencing a book while visiting the location depicted in the story enriches the adventure. If given the opportunity, I recommend you try it sometime.

McKenna’s Apalachicola overflows with intriguing, richly-developed characters who fascinate and surprise. They make us laugh and cry, from Bennett Boudreaux, the refined, gentlemanly crime lord, to Wyatt, the sheriff who Maggie is falling in love with. The villains are both dastardly and believable, the supporting cast a varied group of characters with their own secrets and motivations.

One thread tying all of this together is McKenna’s obvious love for Apalachicola and northern Florida’s coast. She’s writing from the heart when she describes the town, the sea, the flora and climate. McKenna transports us to a place she loves to write about and tells us one hell of a story, but I can’t divulge more without spoiling the plots.

I’ll tell you one more thing about McKenna: she is a survivor, much as my beautiful wife is. That she dedicates Awash to her fellow survivors says a great deal about her own character. Facing your own mortality at an early age and living to tell about it not only makes you a stronger person, it brings a life perspective that a talented author can tap and bring into her writings. McKenna’s perspective allows her to treat the losses of her characters with the sort of compassion and sympathy that most authors struggle with. I once told McKenna that I was brought to tears by the loss of one of her characters. I can’t remember the last time that happened to me in a book. Come to think of it, I rather doubt it ever happened before.

If you’re looking for a great novel to take to the beach, grab your copy of Low Tide on Amazon. Be prepared. If you are anything like me, you’ll quickly grab all the other books in the series. The story only gets better as the series progresses.

Jun 302016
 

Need a good horror story for the beach?

Recently, I had the good fortune of visiting beautiful St. Augustine, Florida with my family. I’d been meaning to read the first novel in Armand Rosamilia’s zombie horror series, Dying Days, for a few months, and this vacation provided the perfect opportunity.

I read Dying Days on St. Augustine beach, where much of the book's zombie-induced chaos takes place.

I read Dying Days on St. Augustine beach, where much of the book’s zombie-induced chaos takes place.

Dying Days, you see, is set along famous A-1-A near St. Augustine (or, at least, a healthy portion of the story is set in this area). What better setting for the zombie apocalypse than the idyllic beaches of Florida’s space coast? The story line follows Darlene Bobich, an immensely likeable and believable protagonist. Easy to cheer for, Bobich gets herself into one horrendous predicament after another, her character growing and becoming wiser as the apocalypse unfolds.

I enjoyed Dying Days quite a bit. It was easy to imagine the hollowed-out condos and hotels lining the beach, the ghost of Jimmy Buffett singing on the wind about boat drinks and margaritas as the dead shambled after Darlene and her fellow survivors. I ate every last morsel of Dying Days’ nastiness in three short days, beginning on the very beaches of St. Augustine and finishing two days later in Orlando after our vacation shifted westward. By the book’s end, I’d come to fear humankind as much as the undead.

Visiting the actual locations where much of the madness of Dying Days takes place added to the enjoyment, so I particularly encourage you to give Rosamilia’s book a read if you are headed to a beach this summer.

Dying Days: Two thumbs up, highly recommended.