Author Archives: Cindy Carroll

Sleep apnea, Hallowe’en reads and an update

It’s been a while since I posted on my own blog. 🙂 I’ve had a lot of guest posts recently and those will continue every so often but I found I’ve missed blogging here.  I blog regularly over at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. I’ll start posting a schedule here so you can check out my posts over there. Today I’m there blogging about the importance of sleep. Check it out: How well do you sleep?

Hallowe’en Reads

halloweenreadsLooking for something spooky to read for Hallowe’en? Romance Junkies has put together a list of Hallowe’en reads. Check out their list (my short story Reflections is included) by clicking on the picture.

There are lots of great looking books there.










I’m working away on Almost Normal. It needs to be delivered to my editor by the beginning of December. And I’m working on a novella for an erotica box set as my pen name. That’s due October 3st. So while I will be blogging here again it might be infrequent for now until I can get these projects off my plate. I will still be blogging at least twice a month over at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. We have a great bunch of writers there with interesting posts. You should check it out.

I will hopefully have a lot more updates soon. If I can find the time I’ll be switching the blog over to a Hallowe’en theme after Thanksgiving. Oh and I’m testing the post scheduling function on the blog. I’ve been having troubles with it lately. If it works this should go live at 8:00 am Wednesday morning. Fingers crossed. *edit – My fix did not work so I’ll have to think of something else.

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Until next time…



What is a Gunsel?

Welcome back to my blog? Today I have Jim Cort talking about gunsels.

Here’s Jim!

A gunsel is a hoodlum who carries a gun: a hit man, a torpedo, a button man. That’s what the word has come to mean, but it didn’t always mean that.

When Joseph Shaw became editor of Black Mask magazine in 1926, he envisioned a tough, uncompromising, more realistic style for the detective stories the magazine published—an American style. He began assembling a stable of writers who could give him what he wanted. Early on he uncovered a gold mine: Dashiell Hammett.

British story paper Thriller 1930 - Public Domain

British story paper Thriller 1930 – Public Domain

Hammett had been a detective himself and knew what he was talking about. His stories were spare, tough, fast-paced and authentic.  But authenticity became a small bone of contention between the two men. Hammett wanted his characters to talk as he knew they really talked. Shaw, a gentleman of the old school, was wary of rank language and removed it wherever it appeared. Hammett tried to slip the occasional offending word or phrase past him, but rarely succeeded.

This brings us to 1929, and the serialization of The Maltese Falcon in Black Mask. Two prominent characters in The Maltese Falcon are Casper Gutman, the overweight leader of the criminal gang, and his baby-faced killer, Wilmer Cook. At one point in the story, Our Hero, Sam Spade, calls Wilmer a gunsel. Shaw saw the word, saw that it contained the word “gun,” and assumed the word meant “gunman” or “killer”, which, in fact is what Wilmer was.

And nowadays that’s what it means.

But in 1929 gunsel meant something quite different. It was a hobo term derived from the Yiddish gonzel, “little goose”. It referred to a teenage boy who traveled with an older man. The implication was that both of them were homosexual. Coming from Spade this would be the vilest of insults.

But Joe Shaw thought it meant “gunman.” Other Black Mask writers adopted the word, and pretty soon everybody thought it meant “gunman”.

And so, of course, it does.

Jim Cort has been writing since anyone can remember. His novel The Lonely Impulse is available from Smashwords:

Cindy here again!

Great post, Jim. Fascinating how the meanings of words get changed.

Until next time…



Create Your Own World

Welcome to my blog! Today I have Marti Colvin talking about creating your own world.

Here’s Marti!

News got you down? Kids misbehaving? Gas prices going through the roof? Is dental work in your near future? No problem pal, just ESCAPE. That’s right, why spend every minute of every day dealing with your problems when you can leave and visit a world of your choosing, and watch someone else deal with his or her problems.

If you are a writer, you get to live elsewhere most of the time as you plot and write, dropping back into the world to pay the bills and pick up the kids from school. If you are a reader you can visit your other world(s) as often as you like. In fact, as a reader, you can reside in many different realities.

I almost always keep two or three partially read books of various genres in strategic rooms throughout the house. Yes, of course, the bathroom is at the top of the list, followed by the bedroom and any table with a lamp near a couch or chair. It only takes a few seconds of reading to re-engage with the story when I sit down, whether it’s a portal type of sci-fi/fantasy book where the character is suddenly thrust into a strange world a la Alice in Wonderland, or the type that begins the story in another place or time from page one. A lot of the books I read are mystery and adventure stories, the same genre in which I prefer to write.

What separates a “good read” from a “ho hum” book for me is to what extent the author successfully catapults me out of the here-today and into the elsewhere-other. I have quite enough of my own family multi-generational drama to last, well, a lifetime and I hear plenty of current politics, crime and tragedy from the evening news. This is, after all, where I live.

What I seek in a book is the opportunity to go, for however brief a time, to somewhere I don’t live, at some time I don’t occupy, and with interesting characters, not necessarily people. Dragons are good. Often the very same angst and pain exists in the book world that is in my everyday world, but because of the setting they are more interesting. Another terrific advantage, at least in a mystery story, is that the crime is always solved and the mysteries neatly resolved by the end of the book, unlike real life.

A good writer can place you completely in the action, action that you might not really want to see in real life, but that is delicious in a book. The house perched beside a remote lake, the ghost in the hallway, the special agent who takes you with him on a mission, the glowing UFO in the sky – wait, is it coming toward you? For a few minutes or a few hours you are right there, with the characters. Most importantly, you are not here.

A brief foray away from the here and now can refresh your mind and spirit, and perhaps you will see things a little differently when you return. If an author paints a reality that you very much enjoy visiting, you can hope that there is a series of that storyline. If so, you can go for an extended stay with now familiar characters, time and place. Have a good trip!

About Marti:

Marti Colvin, writing as I.C. Enger, lives and writes in the Seattle area with her husband Randy and their cat Charles. Her first book, Blue ICE, was published in July 2012. Green ICE  is the second of a series of  Lake House Mysteries that are set along the Washington/Canadian border and involve Homeland Security Special Agent Jack Strickland and out-of-work Seattle city planner Brooke Breckenridge. The third book, Black ICE, will be released in the summer of 2014.

Green Ice Cover



In Green ICE Brooke, special agent Jack Strickland and a Native American shadow wolf, Ed Red Wind, are plunged into their most complex mystery yet. Brooke is busy working for Makkapitew County in the Planning Division when she learns that development can be deadly.

Marti is a member of Sisters in Crime and Public Safety Writers Association. Please visit her website:





Cindy here again!

Great post, Marti! This makes me want to go read.

Until next time…



Top ten horror movies – black and white

Hi everyone! Welcome back to the blog. Today I have Jim Cort talking about his favourite black and white horror movies.

Here’s Jim!

A while back we were treated to a list of 10 best horror movies. The movies were all excellent choices, but none of them was in black and white.

I frequently use movies in my writing classes to illustrate some point of dialogue or characterization. My students always make fun of me because I never showed a movie more recent than 1960. I plead guilty: I love old movies, and for my money, black and white is where scary lives.

Here’s my list:

1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) This is a story told by a madman, and everything about it is off kilter, skewed, unwholesome. Nothing seems real; nothing looks real, but people die just the same. At the heart of it all is the Doctor and Cesare, the murderous somnambulist. Or are they? “Du musst Caligari werden!”

2. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) This movie is all atmosphere and the towering performance of Lon Chaney as the Phantom. Like the best horror films, this movie likes to mess with your head. When the Phantom is not on screen, you still know he is there. There is no moment in the history of film more shocking than the unmasking scene.

3. The Mummy (1932) The power of this movie lies in the love story. The performance of Boris Karloff–tender, pitiable, aloof, mysterious, menacing, is enthralling. Everyone else is in his shadow, but worth special mention is Zita Johann, an exotic and ethereal presence as Karloff’s love interest.

Picture 1932 Halperin Productions - from the public domain movie White Zombie

Picture 1932 Halperin Productions – from the public domain movie White Zombie

4. White Zombie (1932) The zombies here are “real” zombies, not the brain-eating stumblebums we have today. It brings home the real horror of the zombie. When Our Hero and Heroine encounter a mob of these jolly fellows at their work on a country road in the dark of night, their coachman whips up the horses and the coach bolts forward and away down the road. Our Hero berates the coachman for such a dangerous stunt, “We could have been killed”. The coachman replies, “Worse that that, M’sieu, we might have been caught.” This was Bela Lugosi’s favorite of his movies, and he is brilliant in it.

5. I Walked with a Zombie (1943) Once again, we have “real” zombies, chilling, menacing, even when they do nothing. One of the superb collaborations between Val Lewton and Jacques Touneur—this one a reworking of, of all things, Jane Eyre. Their philosophy was “Less is More”. What scares you in this movie, and in all the movies I’m mentioning, is what might happen.

6. The Uninvited (1944) One of the few ghost movies of the 1940’s where the ghosts are real, and maybe the only one in which they are malevolent. I’ve seen this movie a dozen times, and when the ghost finally does appear, I still get a chill down my spine.

7. Them! (1954) The best of the big bug movies, thankfully free of the there-are-things-man-should-not-meddle-in sermonizing. The story is told like a mystery, which adds considerably to its impact. And when the big bugs do show up, they look pretty good. Not CGI-quality, but pretty good. We need to remind ourselves that in monster movies, the monster is the least important element.

8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) a fine example of 1950’s paranoia. The movie becomes more and more claustrophobic as we realize that anyone could be one of Them. It is so well done, and the actors so skilled, that we gloss over some fundamental questions about how the snatching actually works. The important thing is that it does work, and it could happen to you.

9. Night of the Demon (Curse of the Demon) (1957) Based on a classic story by M.R. James, this is another tour de force by director Jacques Touneur. The movie is about black magic and an unbeliever who is forced to believe. The movie tells us in no uncertain terms black magic is real; the devil is real, and he can get at you if he wants. What could be scarier than that?

10. The Haunting (1963) An unforgettable take on the classic haunted house story in which the house itself is the evil presence. Graced with an impeccable cast, the relationships, the atmosphere, the suspense, the feeling of brooding menace combine to make this film an unsettling experience. All of these elements, by the way, are completely absent from the execrable 1999 remake.

There’s my list. Like I said, black and white is where scary lives.

Jim Cort has been writing since just after the earth’s crust cooled. His novel The Lonely Impulse is available from Smashwords:

Cindy here again.

Great list, Jim. I haven’t seen those zombie movies. I will have to check them out. I love the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. That movie was super scary.

Until next time…



Let’s talk suspense

Welcome back to the blog! Today I have Karen Blake-Hall talking about what gives her that adrenaline rush when it comes to suspense.

Here’s Karen!

What causes you to keep reading long into the night? When you go to the movies, what causes you to grab the arm of the person sitting next to you? Hopefully it’s the person you went with but in my case not necessarily.  🙂

Adrenaline rush.

We define it as suspense and/or horror but it’s the rush we love to feel. It’s different with each of us but it causes us to suck in our breath, scream out loud, look away and jump in our seats. It’s what we laugh about and talk about after the show with our friends.

I love moves that take my breath away. I know the bad guy will get caught but still I’m on the roller coaster ride with them throughout the movie.

So where did I develop my need for this rush of adrenaline? It’s very simple – old  TV shows. As a kid I watched all the Alfred Hitchock Presents shows. Then I graduated to his movies on late night TV. To this day, when I see a flock of birds sitting on a hydro wire, I get creeped out.

Rear Window is my most favourite movie of all time.  I still jump in places even though I know what is coming. I still cry out “Be careful, watch out”, even though I know it won’t make a difference to the outcome.

In my opinion, that is great story telling. When you can live the story over and over again and you don’t get tired of it.

Another favourite show I watched as a kid was Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. I was terrified and mesmerized at the same time and no matter how many times I said I wasn’t going to watch it, I was glued to the TV at the same time every week, getting my adrenaline rush.

I’ve told you mine, now tell me what causes your adrenaline rush.

Karen is one of sixteen authors with stories in Nefarious North.

NN cover13 Final 300


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Karen Blake-Hall’s sharp-bladed fiction cuts to the heart of the emotions driving her characters in desperate situations.  Her first short story ‘The Hunter’ was featured in The Whole-She Bang.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Toronto Romance Writers, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter. Please visit her website:



Cindy here again.

Great post, Karen. I loved watching Twilight Zone too. And I love horror movies!

Until next time…



Top 10 horror movie villains – Part 2

Welcome back to the blog. Jeffrey Charles returns with part two of his top ten horror movie villains.

Here’s Jeffrey!

Hello again and welcome to part two of my favourite horror movie villains. When I last left off I had ranked Pinhead, The Thing, Dracula and Leatherface from 10 to 7 to start the top 10. In this next section I will go through 6, 5, and 4. So dim the lights and enjoy!

6)   Chucky – Child’s Play/Bride of Chucky/Seed of Chucky. The 1980’s were an interesting time for horror movies. The slasher flick was shifting from brutal terror to campy predictability. Everything seemed to involve a monstrous villain that could crush a victim with ease.

But among all sorts of towering brutes stood a terrifying little doll named Chucky. Possessed by the spirit of a deranged criminal, Chucky was able to strike a chord of fear in many people’s minds. The thought of an already creepy looking 2-foot-tall doll coming to life and going on a murderous rampage is just freaky.

From his hideously evil laughter to the pitter patter of his little doll feet running around in the dark sends shivers down all of our spines. He would play to the innocence of any poor child that owned him and used that to get away with everything he wanted. While the later installments leaned more on the dark humour instead of the pure terror elements from the originals, Chucky is still a terrifying little dude.

5)   Michael Myers – Halloween. No I’m not talking about the comedic actor despite his claims of being dead sexy. I’m referring to the towering white-faced monster of a man from John Carpenter’s incredible horror franchise.

Myers murdered one of his sisters on the night of Halloween when he was 6-years-old before being locked in a mental asylum for 15 years. Eventually he finds a way to break loose and head back to his hometown on, you guessed it, Halloween. Hunting for his other sister Michael murders everyone in his path to get to her.

Myers stands well over 6-feet-tall and usually wields a rather long butcher knife. If that (and his scary pale white mask) isn’t frightening enough for you how about his zombie-like attribute of never seeming to die. No matter how many ways it seems like Myers is finally dead he pops right back up again.

4)   Freddy Kruger – Nightmare on Elm Street. Yes, believe it or not the nightmare demon himself actually missed my top three. Granted this whole list is simply based on my opinion only but I will briefly explain why Freddy isn’t as high up as many would rank him.

While I love the franchise and still get a kick out of watching them, Freddy truly became less scary with each film. He was the first well known horror icon that didn’t terrify me when I was a child unlike his counterparts Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Chucky, etc. The Elm Street franchise seemed to pave the way for cheesy comedy meshed into horror, giving us a load of garbage even to current day.

That being said, I thought the goofiness of Freddy when he spouted off his silly one-liners worked for the movies. Unlike almost all of films that tried to copy this formula, I found it fit the character.

Criticisms aside, the idea of Nightmare on Elm Street is absolutely horrific. A ghost/demon being that attacks and kills you through your dreams, scary! Not to mention the scarred face of Freddy and of course the famous glove with the 6-inch blades for each finger. I couldn’t let my opinion knock Freddy too far down the list!

Well that is all for now! Come back next time when I finish things off in the third and final installment. That is where I’ll reveal my top three favourite horror movie villains. Until then, sweet dreams!

Jeffrey is one of sixteen authors with stories in Nefarious North.

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Cindy here again!

Great list so far, Jeffrey.  Can’t wait to see the final three!

Until next time…




Welcome to my blog! Today I have Jim Cort talking about the laws of robotics.

Here’s Jim!

How many times have you read in a science fiction story or seen in an SF movie a scene where a robot comes into the room? One character, obviously the country mouse, betrays uneasiness. The robot reassures him in his mechanized voice: “Do not be alarmed.  I am incapable of harming a human.” Incapable of harming a human? Who says so?

Isaac Asimov, that’s who.

Isaac Asimov (1920 – 1992) was one of the shapers of modern science fiction. He was a scientist first. He graduated from Columbia University in 1948, with a PhD in Chemistry and became an instructor in Biochemistry at the Boston University School of Medicine in 1949. He worked his way up to a tenured professorship, but all the while was pursuing a second career as a writer of science fiction.

SF had pretty much been adolescent fantasy fare since the inception of the pulp magazines in the 1920’s. The stories featured space rangers hot-rodding around the galaxy in hopped-up space ships, tough interplanetary gangsters, beautiful lady astrophysicists, and horrid bug-eyed monsters who menaced them. Those stories that featured robots usually followed the Frankenstein formula: the creation that turns on its master.

Asimov joined the growing ranks of science fiction writers who were also scientists or engineers. By the time he wrote his first story in 1938, the “space opera” model described above was being replaced by readable stories with believable characters and credible science, especially in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction, edited by John W. Campbell.

Asimov’s stories concerning robots were collected in the book I, Robot. The portrayal of robots in these stories is far removed from the mechanical monsters of the past. Asimov brings this about in large part by introducing the Three Laws of Robotics.

The Three Laws of Robotics are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov said that editor John Campbell thought them up, and Campbell said Asimov did. The two men probably developed them together during various discussions of Asimov’s ideas. Whatever the truth may be, these laws became Holy Writ for the SF writers who followed.  The laws are so elegant; so logical; so simply stated, yet so potentially complex, that they became axiomatic for every story dealing with robots.  Writers treated them as a kind of natural law, like gravity.

three lawsThe laws are recursive, that is, they refer back on themselves in a strict hierarchy. Each law is subordinate to the law above it (with a lower number.) This is a common structure in computer programs (like the “if” clause) where an action is performed only if certain conditions are met. The flowchart shows the workings of the three laws when a robot is contemplating a certain action. The chart assumes the existence of one of the many “Fourth Laws” that writers have posited: “A robot may do as it pleases, so long as this does not conflict with the First, Second, or Third laws.”

Most of the stories in I, Robot work variations on the interaction of the three laws. In “Runaround”, we see how a conflict among the laws might be resolved. In “Liar”, the concept of harm is examined. In “Little Lost Robot”, Asimov explores what may happen if the delicate balance of the laws is upset by modification. In all of these stories, the robots are characters, not merely plot devices. (And, by the way, the 2004 movie with Will Smith has almost nothing in common with the book.)

If the Three Laws were all Asimov had done, his place in the SF Hall of Fame would be assured. But his career went from strength to strength. He continued to write stories and novels, and wrote numerous non-fiction works about science, literature, The Bible—pretty much anything that took his fancy. In the course of his career he wrote or edited over 500 books. He won eight Hugo and three Nebula awards, and one of his stories, “Nightfall,” was voted the best science-fiction story of all time by the members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). In 1987 he was declared a Grand Master by the SFWA. Ten years later he was inducted posthumously into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

So the next time a robot tells you it won’t harm you, you can believe it.

Cindy here again!

I saw that movie. Haven’t read the book though. I think I should see if I can find a copy.

Until next time…



Meet the Villain: The Axeman of New Orleans + a giveaway

Welcome to the blog! Today I have Suzanne Johnson talking about the villain in her new book Elysian Fields.

Here’s Suzanne!

The first book that ever scared me was Stephen King’s IT. I was probably too young to be reading that particular novel, and the idea of something so evil it could change into whatever you feared most was terrifying. And seriously—did anyone read that book and not fear clowns?

Now I find myself writing my own brand of monsters, both paranormal and human. Or, in the case of the Axeman of New Orleans, both.

I knew that in my book Elysian Fields, I wanted to bring back a historical villain from New Orleans’ rich past. This member of the Historical Undead—which in my world are famous humans granted immortality by the magic of human memory—was going to be controlled by a wizard necromancer and out to kill my heroine, so he had to be Big, Bad, and Ugly.

New Orleans has been the per-capita murder capital off and on for hundreds of years, so there were plenty of baddies from which to choose. But I finally settled on the Axeman.

In 1918 and 1919, this never-identified killer committed attack after attack throughout New Orleans, usually hacking up his victims with an ax in the middle of the night as they slept, then leaving the ax at the scene. He wasn’t discriminatory—he attacked men, women, even children. He attacked in the French Quarter, and he attacked across the river on what today is called the Westbank.

That isn’t even the creepy part. After more than a year of attacks and deaths with no solid leads on who he was, the Axeman got cocky in March 1919 and wrote a taunting letter to the daily Times-Picayune, which ran it on the front page. The handwritten note, which claimed to be written from hell, was addressed to “Esteemed Mortal.” It claimed that “I am not a human being, but a spirit and demon from the hottest hell” and the efforts of the police “have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty.” Then, he promised to kill again, at 12:15 a.m. on a particular date—unless a home was playing jazz music.

Jazz played all over New Orleans that night. And the Axeman didn’t attack. Well, until a few days later.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up! So I had great fun resurrecting the Axeman once again and bringing him to modern New Orleans to chase after my poor wizard heroine DJ.


Elysian_Fields-Hi-Res-Final            A creaking sound overhead stopped me cold. It was the squeaky floorboard in my upstairs sitting room, which lay at the top of the stairs.

            I relaxed my shoulders and took a deep breath to slow down my heart rate, which had begun to jackrabbit in erratic spurts. I was being paranoid. I lived in a house that had been built in 1879. It settled. It creaked. When the wind blew hard, it moaned. I was just jumpy.

            The floor overhead creaked again, followed by a thump and the re-acceleration of my heart rate. Holy crap. That was not the sound of a house settling.

            I slipped out of my silly red heels, grabbed my clutch bag, and tiptoed toward the back door. I’d drive my rental car to the Gator and hang out.  Chicken? Yes, but better fearful and breathing than brave and dead.

            I picked up the broken elven staff from the kitchen counter and, pausing on the back stoop, pulled my cell phone out of my bag and punched Alex’s speed dial. Voice mail. I tried Ken next, while walking gingerly across the gravel parking lot. He answered on the first ring.

            “It’s DJ,” I whispered. “Somebody’s in my house.” And now, walking heavily down my stairs. I ran toward the car.

            “Where are you?” Ken asked.

            “Trying to get to the car.” I fumbled the keys and dropped them in the gravel.

            “Drive to my place now—stay on the phone with me until you get here.”

            Finally, I had the key at the lock. “Okay, I’m getting—”

            Something jerked my head backward, throwing me off balance. Almost suspended by a fist in my hair, I looked up into the horrific face of the Axeman. I think he was smiling, but since burned flesh hung off his blackened face in gobbets, it was hard to tell. He looked mad, as in both angry and insane….

Now, here’s the scariest part of all…he’s being controlled by a wizard. Which means that while the Axeman might be a villain, there’s an even bigger villain pulling the strings. And he’s probably not a clown.

What’s the baddest villain you’ve encountered in your reading journey—human or otherwise? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.


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Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Suzanne. I love a good villain. And yours sounds very creepy.

Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win a gift card.

Until next time…



Top 10 horror movie villains – part 1

Welcome back to the blog! Today I have Jeffrey Charles talking about one of my favourite topics. Horror movie villains. Below is the beginning of his top ten list.

Here’s Jeffrey!

A dark and spooky night with a full moon. A summer’s eve suddenly becoming as cold as a winter day. The shrill cry of pure terror from some poor, unsuspecting victim. These are the true loves of any horror movie villain. Over the years there has been a plethora of villains in every genre of film.

I thought of making a list about my favourite villains but soon realized if I didn’t narrow down my selections the list would need to be at least 100, not a simple ten. So what I have done instead is narrow it down to my top ten horror movie villains. So sit back, flick off your lights and enjoy!

10)  Pinhead – Hellraiser series. So to start my list I have chosen Pinhead from the Clive Barker created Hellraiser series. Pinhead, leader of the Cenobites, is as creepy as they come. After a decade of horror movies that seemed to always have a wise-cracking killer/monster Pinhead showed up to finally restore some true fear into the genre.

An iconic figure in the world of horror, most recognize Pinhead’s actual head most. Pale as the moon with completely black eyes and covered with pins he truly is a horrifying sight nobody would want to see in their dreams.

What Pinhead may have lacked in personality; despite his articulate way of speaking, he made up for in creativity. More specific, his creative forms of torture and maiming his victims. Throughout the series Pinhead just never seemed to be truly destroyed, making him that much more frightening.

9)   The Thing – John Carpenter’s The Thing. While one might think this to be outside the horror genre and more sci-fi, the film takes place on Earth and shows not just a horrific creature from another world but also the effects of cabin fever on a group of terrified men. I consider this one to be more horror than anything else.

The Thing is a strange alien creature found near an Antarctic research station. More of a giant parasitic life form, the Thing is able to completely transform into a replica of whatever living thing it has consumed. Animal or human it will imitate other life in order to kill and eat.

Now place it in a small research facility during a dangerous blizzard with several tired, armed scientists and watch the paranoia unfold. The idea of a malicious being with a never-ending appetite that can shape itself into any form is truly scary.

8)   Dracula – Dracula/Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This entry would be filled up alone on all the different forms of Dracula that have been portrayed over the years but all seem to keep the basic roots of the fiendishly clever vampire.

Originally vampires were always seen as ugly, disgustingly rotted corpses bent on draining blood from humans. Then along came Dracula. He wasn’t ugly at all, surprisingly handsome in fact. He also wasn’t stupid either, on the contrary he was extremely intelligent and cunning.

On top of being the greatest and most powerful vampire ever known, Dracula also had many tricks to help him. No, his chest did not get sparkly to attract his victims. Instead Dracula used his eyes to deeply mesmerize a victim. If he needed to get closer he could also turn into a bat or wolf. An absolutely horrifying being, Dracula could never be left off a list like this.

7)   Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In a time when horror movies mostly focused on ghosts, demons and monsters Leatherface burst onto the scene and completely changed the landscape. Inspired by real-life serial killer Ed Gein, Leatherface usually wore the peeled off skin from his victims, especially their faces.

If his ignorance to hygiene wasn’t frightening enough, he was also a beast of a man. Standing somewhere around 6’5”-6’8” tall and weighing in the neighbourhood of 250+ pounds Leatherface towered over every victim.

Using his brute strength and experience from being a cow butcher, Leatherface easily dismembered all who crossed his path. On top of being able to pull anyone apart by hand Leatherface also used his favourite weapon; the chainsaw, to terrorize his helpless victims.

Well that is all I will leave you with for now, but I will return with entries 6, 5 and 4 in the next installment. Until then, pleasant dreams!

Jeffrey is one of sixteen authors with stories in Nefarious North.

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Cindy here again!

Great list so far, Jeffrey.  Can’t wait to see the rest of it.

Until next time…



Trouble with the Troubles

Welcome to my blog. Today I’ve got author Jim Cort talking about a savage period in Irish history. The Troubles.

Here’s Jim!

My novel The Lonely Impulse deals in part with the Troubles, that period of savage bloodletting and sectarian violence that ripped through Northern Ireland in the 1960’s and 70’s. Why the Troubles? Why Ireland? I am not of Irish descent. I have never been in a riot. I have never shot a large caliber firearm, or had one shot at me.

So why the Troubles?

I knew I wanted my protag to be an outsider, a stranger with no support system, so: a foreigner. I wanted him to be familiar with weapons, no stranger to violence, perhaps a disillusioned freedom fighter or guerrilla. But I also needed him to be from a culture I had half a chance of understanding. That ruled out Iraq and Afganistan. It ruled out India and Pakistan and most African countries, Mexico, Central and South America. I needed someplace I could tell the truth about, and not fall back on movie clichés.

It would also be nice if he spoke English.

That pretty much left me with Australia, Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Ireland seemed the best bet. Northern Ireland has suffered for decades from fanatics with guns and fanatics with bombs killing each other for no reason that makes sense to anyone else. In addition, there was much more research material on Ireland’s Troubles than there was on anyplace else’s. The Troubles was his backstory.

The story, in its bare bones, was simple enough. Milo Costigan sees his life as ruined because he can’t escape his violent past in the Provos—or the memory of the betrayal by his best friend. When a woman, who seems to know too much about him, tries to hire him to recover some property stolen from her employer and kill the man who stole it, he refuses. Then she plays a tape-recorded phone message of the thief’s ransom demand, and Costigan hears the voice of the man whom he has vowed to kill on sight if they ever meet again – the man he once called his friend.

I had to do my research. I didn’t have much access to the Internet, so I did it the old fashioned way. I read every copy of Time and Newsweek that mentioned Ireland, Belfast, the IRA, Provos, bombs, riots, and any other topic I could think of, from 1963 to the present day. I also read McClean’s, The Economist, and The New York Times. I read books by people who had grown up in Belfast, by journalists who lived there. I studied Belfast slang and speech patterns. I pored over maps of the city, noting various spots where the action would take place. Oh, yes—and I had to find out how a nuclear power plant runs.

If I hadn’t done all that research, I wouldn’t have been able to write a passage like this:

Trouble with the Troubles - Lonely Impulse coverHe thought of the Brit soldiers on internment night in August 1971.  He saw them again, breaking down doors in the dead of night and rousting everyone out.  He heard again the crashing of dust bin lids on the pavement, a signal the wives and mothers of the Falls had come up with to warn when the Brits were near— the “Belfast telegraph.”

Half the poor sods the Brits picked up that night were no more IRA than Edward Heath.  The Army took old Republicans and civil rights marchers.  They took old Mr. Lynch down the road, who was eighty and could barely see, and his son Jimmy, who was retarded.  If your name was on the list, they took you.  If your name wasn’t on the list, they insisted it was and took you anyway.  The Army took fathers for sons, brothers for brothers, and sometimes made no pretense of confusion, but simply said, “If he’s not here, you’ll do.”

They all wound up behind the wire at Long Kesh prison.  Their wives and mothers and younger brothers drove down the M1 to visit once a month.  The wives and mothers returned with stories of beatings and interrogations, and the younger brothers joined the Provos.  Half the internees were released within a few weeks, a tacit admission by the Brits of the blunders they had made, and many of them joined the Provos as well.

The book turned out well. Critics said, “Panic, treachery and carnage, in addition to nuclear extortion are all offered in this well written work”; (My goodness.) and “…a fast-paced, action-filled, character-driven thriller.”

I’d like to know what you think. You can find The Lonely Impulse here:

Cindy here again!

Fascinating post, Jim. Loved the approach you took to research. I had no idea there was a period called the Troubles in Ireland.

Until next time…