Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Exclusive: "Enemies of the Cross" Excerpt!

I love Halloween. It's pretty much the only time of year when the entire country is watching my favorite movies, listening to my favorite songs, and telling my favorite stories. As a special treat for you trick-r-treaters this season, I've cooked up this exclusive excerpt from my upcoming novel Enemies of the Cross.

Read it and be sure to pre-order your copy. February is just around the corner.


Danny Carpenter needed to get away.

Little more than twenty-one-years-old, with scruffy features, dirty brown hair that hung in his eyes, and a thin, compact body camouflaged in several layers of mismatched and loose fitting clothing, Danny was a product of the streets, his once-handsome face marred by a hard and misspent life on the East Side.

After dropping out of high school and having a big blow out with Nana Loraine, the grandmother who raised him since he was about six, he left home to make it on his own. Sleeping beneath bridges and on friends’ couches, he earned a living causing trouble and selling dime bags on street corners. All in all, Danny was just another cog in the gritty machine of dilapidated downtown Greensboro.

But right now, Greensboro was the last place Danny wanted to be.

He needed to blow off some steam and figure out what he was going to do. He thought to leave town for good this time, maybe even make his way in the City. Nobody would look for him. He could just disappear and get a new life far, far away from this stupid town and all its responsibilities.

Like raising babies. Babies he didn’t want.

And Tabitha. Always clinging to him, wanting him to do everything for her. He never signed on for that. He thought that he might love Tabitha, but this family stuff, with commitment and kids, was too much. He was still a young guy. He had too many things to figure out—too much living to do—to give up his life for her.

And those babies. It always came back to those stupid babies.

He drove his Monte Carlo faster into the night, jamming out to AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” fighting hard to grip the curvy roads that led deep into the North Woods and onward toward Greensboro Park Lake, toward the old highway and the turn-off to the new interstate that had damned Greensboro to obscurity and opened up the path to the City. Toward freedom.

Not many folks went in the direction of the North Woods these days. After the police found Lindsey McCormick’s car in the lake, most parents stopped taking their children there to swim. Even though Lindsey’s body was never recovered, everyone whispered that it was buried beneath the muddy water, and Greensboro Park Lake could not be separated from her tragic death in people’s minds.

Plus, there were the creepy stories. All the fish died and the grass all yellowed and withered away around the water. The trees closest to the blackened muck were hollowed out by rot, and some even said they saw the lake eat a bird or two.

Yeah. Eat a bird or two.

Folks said old Greensboro Park Lake was cursed. Only Danny didn’t believe in that garbage. Nana Loraine was a superstitious sort, always babbling about evil spirits and angels and the like. What a bunch of nonsense, Danny thought. It was all urban legends and ghost tales. The North Woods and Greensboro Park Lake were still the fastest way out of town, and no talk of a bird-eating body of devil water was going to keep him from the path to escape.

He drove faster, taking another drink. It was his fifth beer since getting into his fight with Tabitha, and he struggled against the alcohol and his anger to keep on the road. Out here, traffic was rare and deputies weren’t too common, either, so he had the whole road to himself to dodge pink elephants.

He sped on, indifferent to the risk of losing his own life. So what if he died? Seemed better than having to be a father or a husband. He wasn’t ready for those things. Didn’t want those things. He and Tabitha could barely get along and stay together, let alone raise a family.

It wasn’t the life for him, just like it wasn’t the life for his old man.

He drank the bottle empty then tossed it out the open window. After spiraling through the air, the bottle crashed to the pavement and shattered with a pop on impact. Satisfied, Danny hung his head out the window and crowed wildly, the wind whipping around his face. He felt liberated. Like nothing could touch him. He had tried to leave Greensboro before, but he always came crawling back when he started missing Tabitha.

But this time, he was going to get out for good.

He was still riding on his high as he brought his head back into the car, but his laughter trailed off when he saw a strange sight in the distance.
Slamming on his brakes, he stopped just inches shy of plowing into an unusual roadblock. Parked sideways in the middle of the street rested a car, apparently abandoned. The driver’s side door hung open and the headlights shone brightly into the void.

Danny frowned at the holdup, shut off his engine, and got out of the Monte. “Hey! Get out of the road!”

He moved closer to the car, lighting a cigarette and preparing to brawl with the idiot who was standing in his way. However, his anger became confusion when he observed that the car was empty.

“What in the . . .” Craning his head in both directions, he called out, “Hey!”

No response. With his eyes he followed the headlight trail into the tall, unkempt weeds that led to Greensboro Park Lake. Figuring the idiot was out there somewhere and in need of a good whuppin’, Danny balled up his fists and left the road behind. Trudging through knee-high grass and wildflowers, he waded his way to the yellowed edge of the lake. Ghost stories aside, he was still reluctant to go traipsing any closer to the water just in case it were poisonous.

Cupping his hands to his mouth, he shifted the cigarette clenched in his teeth and called out into the darkened ruins of the North Woods. “Yo! Anybody out there?”

Again, no response.

His vision impaired by the night and alcohol, he struggled as he ventured closer to the lake. “Hey! Moron! Get your car outta the road before I move it for ya!”

Before trekking too far into the dark, he met a shadow, the shape of a man. With his back turned to Danny, the man was kneeling beside the thick, murky waters of the lake, his head inclined over the surface of the sludge.

As Danny watched, something like a slick, black arm reached out of the waters and fixed itself to the man’s face.

Whoa. I think I had one too many beers.

Danny was startled at first, yet his irritation soon overwhelmed his initial shock. “Yo, moron! You deaf? I said move your car!”

The man did not move nor speak as the slimy arm slowly retracted from his face and returned to the lake.

He only stood.

Danny came closer, reaching out a hand to tap the man on the shoulder. Firmly rapping, ready to pick a fight, Danny said, “Hey, stupid. I’m only gonna tell you one more time. Move. Your. Car.”

Finally the man in the darkness turned around and Danny caught full sight of him. It was Ray McCormick. A relieved smirk rose to Danny’s face when he recognized the man as the local crazy who put those stupid MISSING posters all over town, but as he surveyed him more closely, his face fell. Something in Ray’s hand gleamed in the moonlight.

It was an axe.

Terrified, Danny opened his mouth to scream.

Copyright 2011 Greg Mitchell

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Review--Oddfellows Serenade #1

Recently, I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of occult author Bob Freeman and Chris Wilson's newest comic Oddfellows Serenade: Issue 1 (of 3). Firmly entrenched in Bob's larger Liber Monstrorum mythology, Oddfellows throws us right into the action as legendary occult detective Landon Connors is given a dire warning. Ghosts from his monster hunting past have returned and he must lay them to rest--and possibly die in the process. Chapter two of the first issue takes us to the beginning, where a younger Connors, distraught over his father's death at the hands of a demon, debates if he has the strength to continue in the legacy of sorcery and evil-fighting that has been handed him. Prompted by friend and mentor Sam Hill--who bears a loving resemblance to Fred Ward from To Cast a Deadly a Spell--he throws his lot in with the Nightstalkers, a ragtag band of occult experts and ghost hunters. While Landon certainly has the skills to aid them, will his own ties to the dark forces be their ruin?

To find that out, one will have to read the remaining two issues in the mini-series.

As with anything Bob writes, there's a lot to like about this issue. He has an uncanny knowledge of the real-life occult and it bleeds through in his work. When reading these characters, you don't get the feeling that the author is just regurgitating paranormal catchphrases cobbled from other works or movies. Bob has studied this stuff and his education in these dark mysteries informs his characters, making them feel believable, capable, and intelligent. While not afraid of action, these are very much "thinking man" heroes, battling the occult with their wit moreso than shotguns and explosives.

One of Bob's greatest strengths, however, might be considered a weakness to some. Bob has crafted a very intricate mythology in his writings with characters and events mixing it up throughout many different stories. I love this and have full faith that Bob is weaving a beautiful tapestry of the arcane--but it can be a little disorienting just jumping into it. Reading Oddfellows, I was pleased to see so many cameos of other characters featured in his previous writings. From the aforementioned Sam Hill, to Alethea, to Father Rainey, to Michelle Hawkes, to my own namesake Greg Mitchell (oh yeah, he's in there), it was a treat to put a face to the names of characters I've followed in other stories. I'm not sure Bob's mythology has an official "jumping on point" for new readers, though this is, perhaps, as close to one as I've seen. I suspect everyone discovers the mythology the same way--by jumping in with both feet. While he does a good job of telling you as much as you need to know to appreciate the story you're currently reading, it's only after reading his other stories will Readers be able to fully appreciate the various characters' motivations and histories. I wholeheartedly suggest that, if Oddfellows Serenade is your first foray into the mind of Bob Freeman--let it be but the beginning. Buy Liber Mysterivm or Descendant and discover more.

While I enjoyed this book, it's not perfect. It's an independent comic affair, so--while artist Chris Wilson does a good job--the art is not as polished as you would see in a Marvel or DC comic. Not very dynamic in the "action" sense, it can be a little stiff at times--though, given the everyman investigative nature of the characters, that's not neccessrily a detriment to the storytelling. It's just an aesthetic thing. Having said that, the team has treated the art with great care. For a black and white comic, it is shaded and layered beautifully, with cinematic lighting and special effects that really comes together to create a somber mood. They certainly make the most of what they have and it shows.

My only real "complaint" with this issue was the layout. In most of the pages, there is a style of "dual storytelling" going on. The narrative is shared between the dialogue and a Narrator's captions.

As usual, Bob writes some thoughtful and poetic prose, but here his thoughts are split up and scattered across the page, intermingled with important conversations between his characters. My mind had to switch back and forth, back and forth, while reading, sometimes confusing me. On the more difficult pages (and it's not every one) I avoided this problem by reading the captions first, then going back and reading through the dialogue portions. While that helped, it was still a bit jarring on the first read-through. Both his narration and his dialogue are spot-on--it's just the juxtaposition of the two that left me a little wanting.

In total, Oddfellows Serenade is a worthy first outing for Landon Connors in the comic book world. It is full of mystery, fun and familiar characters from Bob's larger mythology, and a promise for even more devilry in the future. If you're already a fan of Freeman's work, you have to pick this up--it's a great contribution to the stories you already know and love. If you've yet to read anything by Bob, give this a shot. It's a great basics course on the nature of his storytelling and characters and will whet your appetite to read more of the man's mythology.

Thanks to Bob for giving me a first peak at the book. I was disappointed to see this issue end and eagerly await the two remaining issues! In the meantime, I think I'm going to go back and read Issue One again :p

Oddfellows Serenade #1 is slated for a Halloween Day release. This is a LIMITED EDITION comic, signed by the author and artist. Order your copy today while they last!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Underground Rising--New Story!

I'm pleased to announce The Writers Café Press' new release: Underground Rising: Tales From The Underground! For the uninitiated, this is a brand new anthology set in the genre-bending world of author Frank Creed's Underground series, begun in Flashpoint and continued in War of Attrition.

Here's the official description:

Walk the 2030s streets of the USA, alleys of Germany, and tunnels of New Zealand. Through twelve tales from the Underground, One State Neros enforce their global ban on Fundamentalism in the world's dark future. Armed with the hottest technology and faith, heroes choose right decisions for spiritual freedom in spite of the cost. Will the saints' mindware, a type of software loaded directly into the brain, provide enough of an advantage to survive the twenty-first century purge? Biblical cyberpunk at its best. Each of the anthology stories are based upon Frank Creed's UNDERGROUND-the award-winning novels Flashpoint: Book One of the Underground and War of Attrition: Book Two of the Underground.

What's personally rewarding about this anthology is--I have a story featured in it! Order your copy today and read "Ex-Communicator". What does the Underground do when one of its own goes rogue? They call in Big Hoss Dupree--the baddest leather-clad, motorcycle ridin', bounty hunter--to stop them, of course! Thanks, Frank, for inviting me to play in your sandbox!

Series creator and anthology editor Creed is no stranger to the blog, here. In case you missed it, head back to my interview I did with Frank last year and get up to speed on what in the world "Biblical Cyberpunk" is. Frank's got a fresh, unique vision and you owe it to yourself to give it a whirl.

Starting November 1st, we'll start the big marketing push, complete with a roundtable chat with Frank and some contributors--hosted by yours truly--so consider this a sneak peak announcement. Order your copy of Underground Rising today and come back November 1st and be a part of the Underground festivities!

UPDATE: The Multi-Author chat is now up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Sam Whittaker: Writer of "A Ghost of Fire"

Continuing our month-long celebration of all things spooky (though, around here, is that any different from the rest of the year? :p), we sit down with Sam Whittaker, author of A Ghost of Fire. While the rest of the horror world, it seems, is still ate up with zombie or vampire fever, Sam's going old school, telling a classic ghost story with a modern twist.

Greg Mitchell: Thanks for stopping by, Sam. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Sam Whittaker: I feel like I wear a lot of hats these days. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m a bi-vocational church planting pastor on a pastoral team of two in Port Orchard, WA, so I live in the workaday world as a maintenance assistant at a private school and I try to navigate through the waters of starting up something fresh from the ground up. So there’s administrative things I do, operations stuff, dreaming and shaping the vision, teaching/preaching, small group leading, etc. Our new church is called “The Bridge” and you can find out more about that at We’re getting ready to launch weekly gatherings on October 23rd. We’re exceptionally excited.

Then there’s the family side of things. I’m married and we have (so far) three energetic little hobbits that run around and make life VERY interesting.

And, as if that all weren’t enough, I love to write. I’ve got three books under my belt now with plans for more. Aside from that I’ve just started writing articles for an online magazine called “Surrender,” which is completely free, and based locally here in western Washington state and I also write a blog from time to time on writing and creativity issues.

GM: Busy indeed! Your debut novel A Ghost of Fire was just released. What’s the book about?

SW: Basically we meet Steve Nicholas--by the way, the whole story is told directly from his perspective--who’s pretty much your “everyman” who struggles to get by because he’s been unemployed for six months. As fate would have it, he lands a position as a janitor and that’s when things start to get interesting. He starts to smell smoke when there’s no fire. He also starts to hear echoes of childlike laughter and strange messages get left on his answering machine…and then some more sinister stuff starts happening and he realizes he’s being haunted. So he has to come to terms with that and figure out why so he can make it all stop. The story basically grows and builds in intensity and mystery from there.

GM: This is the first in a series, correct?

SW: Yes, this book is 1 of 4. The reason for that is this: The series is called the “Ghostly Elements.” In classical thinking, the Greeks believed the cosmos was made of 4 elements--Fire, Water, Wind, & Earth (And possibly something else called “Aether” which was intangible and sort of spiritual). So, each of the books will focus on one of these 4 elements as a sort of backdrop to the story. I wanted each book to be more or less self-contained, but I also wanted a way to have an over-arching theme to the series.

Steve is the primary protagonist in all four, though he’s joined by a few others, some of which you will meet in A Ghost of Fire, and some others will join along the way. Aside from the ghosts themselves (not all of which are bad, by the way) Steve is going to have to overcome some other personal challenges in each of the books. You see, I don’t like reading stuff where the characters are static or perfect so I promised myself I’m not going to write that way either. I think it makes for much better writing overall and it makes the characters themselves easier to relate to, because if we’re honest, that’s how we are too: we’re all in process.

GM: Looking at your site, I see you’ve previously written two non-fiction books. Why the jump to fiction?

SW: Part of it’s the need for a challenge. I’m used to thinking and writing stuff where you essentially have an essay and you’re dealing with themes and concepts and it’s not always easy to make those things concrete. I really wanted to try my hand at a different style and form.

Additionally, I just love a good story. And I think because that’s how we live (in story, not in detached concepts) that we communicate and gain understanding first through narrative. If you’re a Christian, ask yourself, how much of the Bible is an essay? Basically, none of it is. Now, how much of it is narrative, or narrative poetry? Basically, all of it is.

GM: Very true. What was the inspiration behind this book/series?

SW: Part of it was my own fear growing up of just the idea of what a ghost is. I mean, you can always stake a vampire in the heart or shoot a werewolf with a silver bullet. Unless you have a proton pack handy, you’re pretty much screwed with ghosts. They’re not going anywhere any time soon.

I just sat down and asked myself, what’s the scariest “monster” I can think of? The answer for me is ghosts. Hands down.

GM: I’m assuming, given the subject matter, that you’re a fan of the genre. What were some of your favorite scary stories/movies growing up?

SW: You know, one of my favorite movies growing up was Ghostbusters. I liked it because it had a bit of a scary edge to it (if you were five like I was when I first saw it, anyway) but it was also funny. I mean, Bill Murray still makes me laugh in those films. It was well balanced. Then I saw a lot of the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, probably when I was way too young to see them. It’s a “slasher,” but Freddy is also kind of a ghost too, you know? And those definitely left a mark, which I think the discerning reader might see in A Ghost of Fire.

GM: That's funny that you just named two major influences in my own childhood, ha ha. Product of the '80s, I suppose. Now that you mention it, I suppose Freddy is a traditional ghost--excepting haunting minds rather than houses. So, what authors inspire you? Who do you love to read?

SW: For fiction, I love to read Stephen King, but more because of his writing style than subject matter. I think he’s one of the most readable writers out there today. His Dark Tower series is fantastic and I loved Duma Key. For the aspiring writer his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, should be required reading.

GM: Yeah, I think it's a shame that there are so many Stephen King fans out there who have never read (or, in some cases, even heard) of the Dark Tower stuff. I love that series and am pretty excited about the new book he's writing for it.

SW: I’m also a HUGE Star Wars nut so I read a lot of those novels.

GM: Me, too!

SW: My favorite authors in the Star Wars universe are Matthew Woodring Stover and Timothy Zahn.

Non-Fiction is completely different. I love N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, and Donald Miller, just for starters. Anything written by them is fair game for my library. I’ll occasionally read a biography too. Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up was good. I could go on and on…but I won’t.

GM: I love what you said on your site about metrosexual sparkling vampires aren’t scary to you—so you chose to write ghosts because ghosts scare you the most. I think, in the current trend, ghosts are kind of an underplayed “monster”. Everyone’s all about zombies and vampires and the occasional werewolf. Why ghosts? What is it about ghosts that scare you/interest you? Any real life ghost stories in your sordid past?

SW: I think you’re totally right about Ghosts being underused in the genre at present. I think the thing about ghosts is that there’s always going to be this sense of mystery about them. There’s an undeniable mystique there that’s hard to put into words. In the stories you hear people tell about alleged real experiences they’re ephemeral, intangible, but somehow they can manipulate the physical environment. If you encountered that in some kind of menacing form and you didn’t soil yourself as a result, you’ve either got massive mental problems, or you’re Chuck Norris.

GM: Chuck Norris scares ghosts back to life.

Your non-fiction work is Christian teaching--how much of a role does your faith play in your fiction? Or does it? Would you say your non-fiction and fiction are designed for the same audience?

SW: The faith is a lot more subtle in my fiction. What I want to do with the series is work through basic issues of belief that there is much more to life than what we perceive through our five physical senses. But I want to do that in a way which serves the story and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative. I’m not really hammering out a philosophy in my fiction as would someone like Terry Goodkind. I love Terry’s characters in the beginning of the Sword of Truth series, for example, but by about book 6 in that series the speeches are getting really long, and boring. By book 8 I just found it annoying. Shut up and tell the story.

GM: I'm sure there are many readers who will agree with you! Now, A Ghost of Fire is self-published. I know those waters all too well from my earlier experiences! What made you decide to go the do-it-yourself route? Are you still interested in being traditionally published?

SW: Right now I’m a little intimidated by the huge machine that is traditional publishing. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind getting picked up by a respectable traditional publisher, but I worry sometimes about how much the commercialism can overtake the art. I understand the grammar has to work, and I’m cool with that, but at the same time I don’t want some study or focus group somewhere to determine how I’m going to have to rewrite a scene or section.

GM: Well, that's understandable, but I think you can rest a little easier on that front. We've all heard the horror stories of editors who want to rewrite an author's story--but I think those have sort of become myth. Talking to other authors, I think that's not usually the case. I've had a great experience with my publisher, and while there are compromises to be made from time to time--so far very very minor--publishers seem way too busy with running the business to get that involved in your story :p Moviemaking on the other hand, is a whole different beast with lots of people sticking their fingers in your paint and smearing things up and that's when focus groups often enter the equation, but with a novel, it's not near as bad. It largely depends on finding the right publisher for your project and developing a good working relationship with them. I wouldn't give up!

How has your self-publishing experience been so far? What are the pros and cons of taking this road that you’ve seen?

SW: Every once in a while I perform a seminar I created called “The Peaks and Pitfalls of Self Publishing” where I go through my experiences and some of the nuts and bolts of what the Self-Pub industry is really like.

The great thing about Self-Publishing is you don’t have to wait weeks and weeks just to get rejection letters from agents or publishers. The path to publication is pretty much already paved for you if you have the patience (or the money to pay someone who has the patience to do it for you). It affords greater freedom and pushes you to think more creatively. You basically have to become the publisher and that makes you do some serious work, but it can be very rewarding work when you hold that first copy of your own book in your hands.

The really hard thing with Self-Publishing right now is that there is such an enormous amount of people out there who are putting material out that it’s super hard to get an audience. The marketing is totally in your hands unless you can pay someone a few thousand dollars to do it for you…which I can’t.

GM: I'll let you in on a little secret: Even in the traditional publishing world--unless you're Stephen King, probably--you've still got to be out there in the mud trying to get an audience and promote your work. And it is tough. A lot of voices in the crowd and you're trying to stand out.

Thanks for talking with us today, Sam. I hope we've done a little to get your voice just a little louder than the others for awhile. Where can people buy your book?

SW: You can go to my website,where it is available in trade paperback and multiple E-book formats (Kindle, NOOK, PDF, etc) through Smashwords. You can also get the paperback and Kindle format directly from

Thanks again to Sam, and to you guys for participating in today's discussion. Visit Sam's site and check out his book. The ebook is available for less than a $1! However, if you're like me and need a little more convincing on trying out new writers, Sam's provided this handy link where you can read the first five chapters of A Ghost of Fire for free! Take advantage of that--you might just find a new favorite author.

Once again, let me remind you to stay tuned here. On October 30th, I'll be posting the first ever released excerpt from my next fright tale Enemies of the Cross!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interview with Christian Horror Author Bruce Hennigan!

It's October, folks, and what better way to celebrate the season than to settle down with a good old-fashioned monster tale. Since you've all already read my book (you have read it, right? :p) I want to direct you to Bruce Hennigan and his new frightening tale The 13th Demon in stores today courtesy of Realms Fiction!

I was familiar with Bruce as a reviewer, as he offered some fine insights into The Strange Man when it was featured in the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour. Doing a little background check, I discovered Bruce was an author as well, specializing in that odd realm of "Christian Horror". When I found out a month or so later that my very own publisher had picked up Bruce's book, I was super-excited. In honor of today's release, me and Bruce sit down to talk about his book, the struggles we've shared in writing in this sub-genre, and chatting it up about Halloween, monsters, and all things kewl.

Greg Mitchell: Bruce, thanks for coming by! Tell us a bit about yourself for the readers at home.

Bruce Hennigan: I don’t want to reveal everything about myself. That might land me in an institution! After all, if you are an author you understand that there is a darkness in us that fuels our imagination for good or for bad. And, in my darkness there are monsters!

GM: Of course!

BH: Okay, so my alter ego is that of a doctor, a physician practicing in the field of radiology. I really do have X-Ray vision! It took me four years of college, four years of medical school, and four years of residency but now, I can see through just about anything! Not really. I rely on diagnostic imaging for that. But, my true love is writing.

I started writing when I was 8 and I haven’t stopped. I love to write poetry, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I live in Shreveport, Louisiana with my wife, Sherry. My son is married and getting a master’s degree in Austin and my daughter lives at home and is going to college. They know I’m not quite right so they tolerate my writing.

I have a book of children’s plays “Montana Holmes Adventures in the Bible” published by Contemporary Drama. I co-authored “Conquering Depression: A Thirty Day Plan to Finding Happiness” by B&H Publishing. Now you know where the darkness comes from! I was the drama director for my church for fifteen years and in the time wrote dozens of full length plays and over 150 short dramas as well as screenplays for many short films.

Out of my doubts and questions and the relentless questioning of my medical colleagues I have become a trained apologist through Reasons to Believe and I am a Certified Apologetic Instructor with my own denominational convention. I am also a graduate of the Arthur Murray School of Dance (something to escape to while in medical school).

GM: Your book—The 13th Demon—hits stands today. Exciting stuff! What’s the book about?

BH: I have a background in apologetics, or the defense of the Christian faith. And, as I learned all the cool stuff that makes Christianity true and rational, I wondered why hasn’t anybody written about this? One of my favorite authors was Michael Crichton and he wrote these fast paced books with a scientific core of truth. My favorite is The Andromeda Strain and next, Jurassic Park.

I wanted to write a story that used some of this information and I realized our society really doesn’t accept that evil is real or that demons exist. So, why not start with the basics. That is where The 13th Demon came from. It’s about a mysterious man, Jonathan Steel, with amnesia traveling the countryside looking for people who are under the oppression of evil; people for whom there is no rational help. His real goal is to locate a creature known as “the 13th demon”. This creature brought tragedy to the life of Jonathan Steel. He goes to help a pastor in a small town whose church has come under the possession of evil in the form of vile creatures such as giant spiders and a few other creepy things I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers. When Jonathan Steel arrives, he discovers his nemesis is in this church and he sets out to put together a team to confront and defeat “the 13th demon”. In the process, he has to examine his motives. Does he really want to help others? Or, does he just want revenge? He discovers that the evil events in this small town are intricately woven into his past and he must confront the man behind the creature, an evil businessman who has ties to the ancient world of the Aztecs and their practice of human sacrifice. Somewhere hidden in the small town is an arcane altar craving for fresh blood! It is the Altar of the Spiral Eye. The book has elements of horror and mystery and romance and a touch of science fiction, and, oh yes, a few monsters thrown in!

GM: Wait, giant spiders, human sacrifices, Aztec cults, and an altar craving fresh blood? I'm sold! How many books have you got planned for this series? How far are you along now?

BH: When I first tried to get the book published, I ran into the typical barriers most speculative fiction writers do in the Christian fiction realm. This was way back in 1999. But, one editor really liked the story. He said the problem was, “No one in the CBA will ever publish this story.” But, he asked me a simple question. Are there twelve more demons?

I hadn’t really thought about it at that time. I was looking at a trilogy at best. But, as the possibilities of telling thirteen stories with a specific demon at the heart of the story would allow me to really explore all the cool apologetic stuff I had learned. I saw the possibility of exploring many of our modern “myths” such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, UFOs, extraterrestrial life, voodoo, Wicca, virtual reality, and any number of cool paranormal phenomena and use those elements to convey the truth of Christianity. So, there will be twelve more books. I have a five book contract and the first four books are written. The others are outlined. And, I’ve written two books near the end of the series, one that details all of Jonathan Steel’s past and the last book so I would know where I’m headed.

GM: That's encouraging to hear. I always love it when the authors of my favorite series know where they're going. Otherwise, they tend to ramble or chase rabbits. I like me some clear direction :p So, what was the inspiration behind Jonathan Steel and his adventures? Take us back to the beginning.

BH: The story for The 13th Demon seemingly came from out of nowhere. I had finished writing a non-fiction book, “Conquering Depression” and decided to take six weeks out of my writing schedule and read. At the end of that six weeks, I was going to pick up one of my two dozen novels in various stages of development and finish it. During that time I had two “what ifs” come up. What if an assassin or mercenary became a Christian? How would he change? How would he deal with his past? And, the other question was, if a Christian lost his memory, would he still be a Christian? Does the conversion experience transcend mental damage? I filed those away. Two other factors in the book were my love of apologetics as I mentioned above and my recent battle with a recalcitrant group of church members who didn’t want to relocate our church from a declining neighborhood to an up and coming area. I was the vice chairman of that committee and I was amazed at how many of our members “worshiped” the building!

The last night of my six weeks found me empty and directionless. I had not been able to get excited about any of my books. So, I turned to God in desperation and prayed for guidance realizing that I may never write anything again! I woke up the next morning with the story of The 13th Demon in my head. I started writing on August 1st and finished on the 31st. The book came out of a combination of “what if” questions, a real life situation, my desire to use apologetics in a creative way as C. S. Lewis had, and a huge dollop of divine inspiration.

And, the book would give me the chance to write about monsters! The Dialing for Dollars 3:30 Movie had a lot to do with it. I grew up in the country and every day when I came home, an afternoon movie was always shown on one of our local channels. Those films featured a monster movie from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. I would make myself a mayonnaise and mustard sandwich (we were kind of poor and didn’t have lunch meat) and a glass of chocolate milk and I would hunker down in front of the television and get the willies scared out of me.

GM: That sounds heavenly. Seriously...well, without the mayonnaise and mustard sandwich. I prefer to enjoy my horror with a glass of milk and cookies.

BH: I was always fascinated with science fiction and monsters. My scariest movie of all time growing up was Attack of the Crab Monsters where giant crabs on an island would pinch people’s heads off, eat them, and then telepathically lure the other people into the caves with that person’s voice. To this day crabs really creep me out!

GM: We’ve got something in common in that both of our books were originally self-published before being picked up by Realms. Were there any unique challenges in making the journey from self-publishing to traditional publishing? Is there anything different about this version than the original?

BH: My frustration with getting the book published came out of a lack of understanding by traditional Christian publishers of a growing market for Christian “speculative fiction”. I saw early on that with the popularity of the Left Behind series, Christians were ready for something gritty and more realistic. It took someone like Ted Dekker to break through that glass ceiling for those of us who write this kind of fiction.

My delays in getting my book published were due to this factor and having two agents in a row who dithered away my time and never did the job they promised to. One was a fraud. The other refused to represent fiction! Six years passed after the book was written wasting time with agents and a clueless publishing industry. In desperation, I decided to self publish. My rationale was to get the book out there and see if I had an audience. If the audience responded, I would have a track record. If not, I’d go back to my X-rays and be a happy, but frustrated doctor. I self published The 13th Demon in 2006 and hired a marketing firm. The book sold fairly well for a self-published book. But, I was very pleased when reviews came in saying things like “I can’t believe this is a self-published book. It’s too well written. And the cover is too good.” I knew then I had a chance. I hooked up with the Cadillac of self publishers, BookPros for my second book, The 12th Demon: Vampyre Majick and that was when one of my author friends recommended four different agencies. I contacted all four literary agencies and the best of them took me as a client. Of course, it helped I had a book by B&H Publishing on depression. But, the track record of my two self-published books gave me credibility. My new agent, Jeff Jernigan of Hidden Value Group took my third book and within a month we were contacted by Realms. Four months of back and forth and negotiation resulted in a five book deal and they wanted to pick up the first two self published books.

Now, having a contract and with some breathing room, I went back and rewrote major portions of the first two books. By this time, I had four books finished and I had a better idea where the story arc was headed.

GM: Same here. That really gave me the opportunity to go back and add little touches that would be paid off later in the series.

BH: I was able to fine tune and tweak both books. Both books are much, much shorter. That was my main frustration: being held to a word limit. I had to excise entire characters from both books to make them shorter. In fact, reading my first book now, I can see the fine scars where I did the plastic surgery.

GM: I share your pain, ha ha.

BH: I know what is missing although the story holds together much better after having worked with my excellent editor, Andy Meisenheimer. In fact, Andy did something that was very dangerous. He said, “Make it scarier!” And, so both books are much scarier than the originals and, yes, have a few more “monsters” in them!

GM: That's incredible! I think my editors would be too scared to give me that charge :p

This being the glorious Halloween season and all, I’d be remiss not to talk about some of your favorite Halloween memories. Do you have any—that is, I’m assuming since you’re writing a book about demons and monsters, Halloween is a special time for you :p

BH: My favorite year was when I dressed up as Beetlejuice. Full makeup and hair – the works! My kids were tiny and I had a blast driving through MacDonald’s and asking the girl for a Happy Meal. Being in drama and theater and having a best friend who dabbles in horror makeup helped. My favorite Halloween was the year we created a “Christian” themed haunted house called Eternity House and populated it with all kinds of evil beings from the past. We took this really tall guy and created a neck stump and shoulders to build up his height. We brought his shoulders down to his real arms and it looked like Goliath was holding his severed head. People would walk into the room and think Goliath was slumped in the corner with his severed head in his lap and then the eyes would open and he would talk! They ran like frightened sheep! Lots of creepy makeup for the demons in hell, too. We had a blast.

I still dress up every Halloween. This year, I’m going to be the Witchking from Lord of the Rings. I have a replica of the actual sword in the movie. Not the plastic one. The real sword!

GM: That's ambitious. I'm planning on going as a dime store Dracula :p

BH: I was eight and dressed like Wolfman, one Halloween. I lived out in the country and I was outside waiting for dark so we could go Trick or Treating. My brother was a taxidermist and he lived on the same property as my parents. He would take all the “offal” down in the woods and dump them out. Those scraps attracted some strange creatures. I was standing in my driveway when suddenly this cacophony of howling came out of the woods. I was paralyzed with fear! The howling grew closer and all I could think of was the wolfman was coming! Out of those woods burst a pack of wild dogs fighting over a deer skull. They had the spine and skull stretched out between them growling and howling and they were coming right toward me! I didn’t move a muscle and the dogs swirled around me, howling and snarling and fighting with each other and moved across the yard into the woods on the other side of my front yard. That was the most scared I think I have ever been. I took off the wolf man costume and I was Superman instead! To this day, werewolves frighten me far more than vampires. In 2009 we went to London and I stood at the top of one of those escalators leading down into the Underground (subway) where a famous scene from An American Werewolf in London was shot. I couldn’t go down the escalator! We walked another block to a different entrance. That is how strongly werewolves frighten me.

GM: I love werewolves. My favorite monster growing up. What were your favorite scary stories or movies growing up? How has that changed since you’ve gotten older, or has it?

BH: I guess you gather that my favorite scary stories were from those old monster movies. Frankenstein (1930’s), The Wolfman, Dracula, The Blob, those crab monsters, The Black Scorpion, the UFOs from Invasion of the Flying Saucers (You know, the one where the UFO crashes into the Washington Monument). I read science fiction voraciously and when I was old enough, moved on to Stephen King.

As I have gotten older, the movies that “scare” me do so more through suspense or psychology. I still recall the first time I saw Alien in a dark theater! That movie ruined my underwear. But, this may sound silly, but the movie that was most frightening to me in my late teens was Jaws. I had to get out of a lake in central Louisiana after I saw the movie because I was convinced there was a shark in the water! I loved Aliens but that was because it was more action oriented. I loved Jurassic Park although the book was much better to me than the movie could ever be. The Thing still haunts my nightmares and I’m debating whether or not I can take the prequel! I could go on and on. But, I would say the two books that frightened me most and that I have read more than once just to see how the author did it were The Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. I still think the movie adaptation of Silence is the most faithful and well done movie adaptation to date.

GM: I get asked this question a lot, so let me turn the tables a bit: Have you experienced any push back from the Christian community over your macabre subject matter? Likewise, how does the horror community react to the overt Christian elements?

BH: Just yesterday I got this email from a local Christian radio station. I had bought an ad for my upcoming book launch “party” here in Shreveport and the person had an issue with me calling my book “Christian horror”. “You can’t do that.” She said. So, I pulled the ad.

Way back in 2000 I gave my manuscript to a fiction editor for a large publisher. I met with her in person and she was well aware of my manuscript for “Conquering Depression” and my freelance writing for an online publication with LifeWay “Extra”. She was so excited about The 13th Demon. She loved the entire concept and couldn’t wait to read the next book. But! There was always that, But! Then she went on to tell me how my book was too violent, too edgy, too far out on the fringe for the CBA. That was when I found out what the CBA was. “I love your book, but let’s face it. No Christian publisher will EVER publish this book.”

GM: I've heard that before.

BH: I ran into that time and time and time again over the ensuing six years. To his credit, my first agent who later turned out to be a fraud and was being prosecuted for it, believed in my book and thought I had a chance to get published because of the popularity of Ted Dekker, at that time a new author on the scene. But, he got nowhere. I still don’t know for sure if he ever really submitted my book proposal to publishers!

Now, what is very interesting is my second book about vampires received some amazingly positive reviews from the secular book review community. They were not put off at all by the Christian elements. Of course, I wasn’t too heavy with the “preaching”, if you will. I let my character’s Christian worldview carry the story. And, the apologetic elements were presented in a very objective fashion with convincing science or history. One book reviewer even admitted that he was going to rethink his revulsion toward Christianity because of my book! He said “If a Christian author can be this honest with his work and not back off from the reality of evil, maybe there is hope for Christianity. I am willing to reconsider my opinion of Christians.” Now that was astonishing!

GM: Wow, that is fantastic. What a testimony!

BH: I was hoping my book would have just that kind of reaction to a “cross over” market and have an appeal to non-believers and skeptics.

Of course, my greatest frustration is having my book tucked way back in the corner with the other Christian fiction books instead of being with the horror or science fiction or fantasy sections! I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

GM: I do. It's like the kiss of death. No joke, I went to my local Hastings and the "Christian Fiction" section was tucked in the very back of the store. Waaaay back there, in a tiny little corner. People who would like the horror of our stories just don't seem interested in walking to the "Christian" section of their bookstore. It's a buzz kill, I guess. Horror is often equated with rebellion and going against the norm--I sometimes fear those people see a horror novel in the Christian section and it might as well have a big ole stamp that says "Your Mother Approves of This Book" :p Not cool.

Okay, got off on a tangent! Despite those obstacles of trying to get the horror world to take us seriously, I still see that the “Christian Horror” sub-genre is really starting to grow. What do you think is the draw of these types of stories that blend fear and faith?

BH: Fear is the driving force in our culture. It has been since 9/11. Politicians have mastered the “fear factor”. Reality shows rule due to the “fear factor”. But, does our fear have a face? Is there something real and tangible to fear? We can’t put a face on terrorism. Osama Bin Laden doesn’t wander around on our streets and a terrorist could be anybody!

So, our fear has to have a face. It has to be visible so we can deal with. How to do that? Take those things we fear the most and give them a body, a voice, a visibility. I thought vampires were passĂ© after Anne Rice wrote them to death. But, now vampires are manageable, sparkly, even loving. That which we fear can now be embraced. But, we still fear it. A little. At least we fear the evil side of the, uh, evil that is now good. See how confusing it has become. We live in a time of postmodernism and relativism. There is no such thing as absolute good and evil. And yet, God has put eternity in the hearts of all men. We know evil exists. We have a morbid fascination with it. It is there for us to see but it can’t be real.

So, we put it in our movies and our television shows and our books.

Christians are not immune to these changes. Most churches today emphasize missional work, good deeds, changing community through love. You don’t hear hell and demons and the devil preached very often. Hell is off limits! But, we know it’s there. We feel the breath of demons every day. We see the effect of evil all around us. As Christians we should have no doubt evil is real. But, Christianity isn’t what it used to be.

I think this need to explore the dark side of our nature fuels the desire of many Christians to read our kind of books that mix the reality of evil with the reality of Hope. This is one reason why I want to capitalize on that desire to read compelling stories about spiritual warfare to take the opportunity to tell Christians we have sound, evidential, rational reasons for what we believe. Don’t take what our culture holds up as “truth”. It doesn’t even believe there is truth. And, they believe that to be absolutely true!

I think you said it best. Our stories mix faith and fear. We thrive on fear. It thrills us. But, we subsist on faith. It guides us and sustains us.

GM: Great thoughts. Fear is something every human being lives with and horror is a great safe place to explore that and face it. Thanks so much for hanging out with us, Bruce. Best to you and The 13th Demon.

You can keep up with Bruce at his website at or find him on Facebook at He's known as brucehennigan on Twitter, as well.

Thank you everyone for reading and be sure to take a look at Bruce's book.

Also, stay tuned to this very site. On Halloween Eve, I'll be posting a special treat--the first ever excerpt from my upcoming sequel
Enemies of the Cross! You won't want to miss it! Make the monster-most out of your October, and to help you along, we take a page out of Bruce's book and look back on a classic! Enjoy!