Walking Dead?

I went through an orgy of Walking Dead viewing on Netflix recently. Last year I was aware of the hardy survivors showing up to sign autographs at HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati or Indianapolis, but I never even bothered to check them out. Back then I’d barely heard of the show. I wouldn’t know Norman Reedus if he was my FedEx guy. Not even if he had a bow strapped across his chest.

Walkers But things changed after I watched seasons one through three in the space of a few sleep-deprived weeks.

So maybe I had Rick, Daryl, Maggie, Carol, Michonne and the others on my mind one Saturday while I walked home from a store in Lakewood at dusk. Or maybe…

I cut through the hospital parking lot and coming toward me was a tall, gaunt young man with a shambling gait and a bad complexion. Oh, and he was mumbling to himself. I’m sure he was merely drunk, mental, pissed off at life or hungover–but why take a chance? I crossed to the other side of the road and lived to tell the tale.

I’ll be on the lookout for walkers when I attend HorrorHound Weekend 2014 in Indianapolis in September. Maybe I’ll see you there. I’ve got your back.


Horror Fiction Book Review List

With the re-release of my horror novel, YELLOW MOON, scheduled for June 4, I’ve turned my attention to getting the attention of book reviewers in the horror community.  Fortunately, Samhain Horror authors have Marty Mathews on our side. She’s the Review Coordinator for Samhain, and as such she sends our books away for review before launch time.

For those of you releasing horror novels without a Marty Mathews, here’s a list of online horror markets she sent my baby to:

The Horror Review
Horror World
Paperback Horror
Shroud Magazine
This is Horror
Infernal Dreams
Anything Horror
Dread Central
SF Site
Famous Monsters
Shattered Ravings
Bloody Disgusting
Horror Fiction Review
Dark Discoveries
Dreadful Tales
I added Cemetery Dance to the list and Marty also sent YELLOW MOON to Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal.
Who’d we miss? I’d love to hear from you if can add a site that will review and/or feature horror novels.



HorrorHound Weekend

Samhain Horror bouncers Jacob and Samantha. Do NOT submit less than your best work.

Samhain Horror bouncers Jacob and Samantha. Do NOT submit less than your best work.

Had a great time in Cincinnati on Saturday and Sunday. HorrorHound Weekend is Halloween come early, but a whole lot more. Leather jackets, torn jeans, black t-shirts, studs, tats, face paint–and an unexpectedly (to me) literary bent.

While it might seem that the Walking Dead cast, John Carpenter, Michael Madsen and the occasional topless body paint girl were the draw, we in the Samhain Horror booth found ourselves surrounded by people who wanted to talk…books. Yeah, there are a few of those still around.

In addition to the great fans, highlights included meeting fellow Samhain Horror authors Brian Moreland and Kristopher Rufty, Krist’s delightful wife, Angie, and the crewsters of Samhain. Special shout-out to my new Samhain friends Amanda, Mackenzie (hope I spelled it right), Samantha (“not ‘Sam,’ that’s the other Samantha”), Jacob, Lesa and ex-Samhainian Dawn.

Check it out.

Tonight's nightmare courtesy of Brian Moreland, Kristopher Rufty and David Searls. (Can't explain my dumbshit grin.)

Tonight’s nightmare courtesy of Brian Moreland, Kristopher Rufty and David Searls. (Can’t explain my dumbshit grin.)

Fans. I hope.

Fans. I hope.

You don't wanna know.

You don’t wanna know.

Going to HorrorHound Weekend?

If you find yourself in Cincinnati this weekend, drop in at HorrorHound Weekend http://www.horrorhoundweekend.com/shows/201303/default.shtml. Guests of this horror extravaganza include director John Carpenter, actors Michael Madsen, Robert Patrick, Tony Todd (Candyman and Final Destination), makeup artist legend Tom Savini and the cast of The Walking Dead, among many others.

Not to mention a few cunningly horrific horror writers from Samhain Publishing. Kristopher Rufty, Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland and I will be signing our books throughout the weekend. Drop by and see us.


Malevolent Doings

My new Samhain Publishing horror novel, MALEVOLENT, is now available in trade paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and elsewhere. It’s also been on the market in ebook format for the last several months.

If you’ve read BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON, well, great, but this one is completely different. My first Samhain novel was written on a more epic scale, featuring bloody battles between warring vampire clans and the humans caught in the crossfire. It had sieges and counter-attacks and a chainsaw thrown in for bad measure.

MALEVOLENT, on the other hand, takes a quieter, but even darker approach. It’s more of a slow chill, a psychological thriller. Except, of course, for those hungry cats locked with three spinsterish women in a house with no food. Nothing quiet about that.

I’m thrilled that horror legend Ramsey Campbell contributed this front cover blurb: “Searls is a horror writer who goes for imagination and suspense rather than regurgitated splatter.”

Damn. That says it all.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of MALEVOLENT, or pre-order this new horror novel, I invite you to visit my book page at Samhain Publishing.

Thank You, Peelsticker Toothacher, Whoever You Are

I might never actually meet Mr. (Ms?) @Peelsticker Toothacher, but I owe him (her?) a great deal of gratitude. That’s because P.M. added me to a pretty exclusive Amazon listmania list — Notable Horror and Weird Fiction: 2012. Check it out. The prolific reader and Amazon lister rated my BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON an 8.5 out of 10 and put it in the company of titles by Ramsey Campbell, Laird Barron, Simon Bestwick, Adam Neville and Peter Straub, among others.

Here’s another interesting factoid: of the twenty-three books rated on this list, four are from Samhain Publishing. This seems to be a fairly significant total for a new small press. The others, in addition to Campbell’s SEVEN DAYS OF CAIN and my BLOODTHIRST, include Frazer Lee’s THE LAMPLIGHTERS and Peter Mark May’s HEDGE END.

Thanks once again, Peelsticker Toothacher…whoever you are.

David Searls is the author of BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON and MALEVOLENT. Both are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers, as well as from Samhain Publishing.

Find the Underside

It’s not  that I’m a lazy blogger. Or maybe it is. Nonetheless, I’m going to reproduce (or recycle) a post I wrote for the horror blog at Samhain Publishing regarding my latest, MALEVOLENT. I think it serves as a pretty good intro to the book, and maybe my state of mind. Now that’s a scary thought.

What If…?

Horror writers have a knack for finding the dark underside of mundane life. For seeing incidents playing out in normal fashion, but thinking, “Okay, but what if…?”

What if that car runs the red light just as I pull into the intersection?

What if the stranger I keep seeing everywhere is stalking me?

What if that noise in the attic isn’t old wood settling?

It’s a matter of inventing an underbelly to everyday life. For making the glass not only half empty, but toxic. For instance, I was once (actually, twice) chased from a girlfriend’s apartment in the middle of the night by my allergic reaction to her cat. My sinuses dripped, throat clenched tight and I wheezed and sneezed so violently that I could barely see out my windshield on the wee-hours drive home.

True story. A real-life occurrence that’s merely semi-interesting unless it’s amped up. So let’s make it more than one cat – much more – in that dander-clogged home. And say that the place is sealed tight against escape and the summer heat. No way out, and no food for the cats or the three frail women trapped with them.

And there you have just one of many plot angles to my new novel, MALEVOLENT. It’s about an entity that probes until it finds the points of weakness in each of us. Like those three women in their house full of cats growing edgier and meaner and more desperate by the day.

And what if…well, what if you bought MALEVOLENT and found out?

You can reach David Searls at his blog, davidsearls.com. Or tweet him at @davidsearls1.

MALEVOLENT to Feed on Your Fears

It watches. Listens. Learns. It feeds on your deepest fears, your basest instincts and darkest suspicions.

As its grip tightens on neighbors, friends and lovers, it’s up to Tim Brentwood and Griffin Solloway – two clueless slackers who can barely take care of themselves – to confront the nameless terror. As its shadow spreads over the Cleveland neighborhood, Tim wonders whether he can even trust his new friend. Or is there a darker side to Griffin?

And then there are those damn hungry cats…trapped in a house with three confused women.

Tim, Griffin and their friends can only be sure of one thing as their nemesis draws ever closer. Whatever it is, it’s malevolent.

Starting today, my Samhain Publishing horror novel, MALEVOLENT, is now available in ebook format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Samhain website and wherever else creepy books are sold.  MALEVOLENT can also be pre-ordered in trade paperback for release in November.

A MALEVOLENT Presence Lurks

My next horror novel, MALEVOLENT, will be released by Samhain Publishing in ebook format on July 3. It then comes our in trade paperback in November.

I’ve been highly impressed by Don D’Auria, my editor of Samhain Horror. Don makes it a point to involve his authors in such critical matters as book jacket art and blurb copy. He starts the process by sending out an art request form in which he asks about key scenes, visual hooks and plot devices that help suggest a cover.

For MALEVOLENT, I noted the key scenes in which three women are virtually held captive in their home and surrounded by hungry house cats who grow increasingly vicious at the passage of time without food. While this is only one plot point of many in the book, it struck me as being visually intriguing.

It struck Don and his art editor the same way. Here’s the cover they came up with:

Nice, huh? But as chilling and dramatic as it was, it seemed to me that the art made MALEVOLENT a story about an evil cat…and that wasn’t right. I loved the cover, but asked if they could come up with something that somewhat minimized the visual pull of the cat. No problem. A day or two later they sent me this:

Perfect! We still see a sinister-looking cat, but now there’s a church in the background, suggesting yet another direction the tale takes. While this still doesn’t represent all of the paths the story takes, readers no longer have reason to think I’ve written CAT PEOPLE 2. And here’s the best point: if someday I do write that evil cat book, I’ll have a great ready-made cover for it.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of MALEVOLENT, or pre-order this new horror novel, visit my book page at Samhain Publishing.


Your Beast, By Any Other Name

Of course one should never judge a book by its cover–but we do. And how about its title? In the case of horror novels, especially those by authors who have yet to become brands, the title just might make or break the sale. So give it some thought. Then think some more.

My least favorite titling strategy is to go with The Noun approach. You know: THE STORE, THE WALK, THE MAILMAN, THE DISAPPEARANCE. And yes, I am referencing much of the Bentley Little catalog. Sorry, Bentley. Like your work. Your book titles, not so much.

Only rarely does The Noun actually work for me. For instance, Stephen King’s THE SHINING. It just barely works because it makes window shoppers ask themselves, “What the hell is a shining?” And because he’s Stephen King. And it’s THE SHINING. One of the best freakin’ horror novels ever published.

With a so-so title.

Then there’s THE TERROR. That’s not just setting the mood for Dan Simmons’ historical tale of, well, terror. It also happens to reflect the name of the real-life HMS Terror, one of the two sailing ships lost in their 1840s voyage to the frozen Arctic. How perfect is that?

Don’t settle when it comes to your own book title. It’s your readers’ first impression–even before that striking cover art. It’s just about all you have to hook readers in if they don’t have a body of work to rely upon. Here, then, are a few of my choices for best horror novel titles. Not every great-sounding horror novel ever written; just a handful that come immediately to mind.

FAHRENHEIT 451, Ray Bradbury — In an earlier, shorter version of his classic dystopian vision, Ray Bradbury called this work THE FIREMAN. Hmm. FAHRENHEIT 451…THE FIREMAN. Make the call. 

BURNT OFFERINGS, Robert Marasco — Laurell Hamilton “borrowed” the title of this truly creepy 1973 haunted-house horror novel. Read it.

GHOST STORY, Peter Straub — What it is. That simple. Nailed it even if it was the first title that came to mind.

DRACULA, Bram Stoker — C’mon. You’re gonna leave out Dracula?

THE WOODS ARE DARK, Richard Laymon — Not much of a Laymon reader (sorry, fanboys), but this title is ingenuous in its insidious simplicity. Compare it to another Laymon title: THE STAKE. See what I mean?

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE, Shirley Jackson — Creepily benign, that title. What could possibly go wrong here? 

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, Ray BradburyBy the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. Never a more poetically sinister mood-setter. From the Bard himself. 

AT THE MOUNTAINOF MADNESS, H.P. Lovecraft — Deliciously, er, Lovecraftian.

BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON, David Searls— Sure, I sneaked in a mention of my Samhain Horror novel. But my blog, my book. And a pretty catchy title, methinks.

BIBLE CAMP BLOODBATH, Joey Comeau — Camp’s not just in the title. Not looking for a lot of nuance here, but a bloody good read.

CARRION COMFORT, Dan Simmons — No comfort here.

CURRENCY OF SOULS, Kealan Patrick Burke — Love the dude’s book titles, and have got two of ’em on my to-read list. 

ALL HEADS TURN AS THE HUNT GOES BY, John Farris — Yes, I love long, lyrical titles. Beyond that, I’m not sure what is it about this quietly creepy attention-grabber. Whatever it is, it’s always chilled me. Which is why I think it happens to be the best. horror. novel. title. ever. Hands down.

What egregious errors have I made in selecting my best-of list and what’s can’t-miss horror novel titles have I missed? I’d love to hear from you.