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.


Seize the Day. Survive the Night

Amazon USA        Barnes & Noble        Amazon UK

The characters of this story are well fleshed out, which makes the action matter that much more once the fangs start flying…Famous Monsters of Filmland

Searls weaves an intricate web of dark intentions and even darker actions…Shattered Ravings

Intelligent and frightening, Searls delivers a satiating Salem’s Lot-style page-turner. Rue Morgue Magazine

Searls is a horror writer who goes for imagination and suspense rather than regurgitated splatter…Ramsey Campbell


 Never Get Caught in the Middle of a Vampire War

Todd and Joy Dunbar and their scruffy kids stumble into Babylon, Michigan on gas fumes. It’s the Great Recession, and Todd is understandably suspicious of the warm welcome and job offers given them by the police officer who pulls them off the road and into the seedy Sundown Motel. The Dunbars soon discovers that all of the ragged travelers who find their way to Babylon find work.

The town isn’t so inviting to wealthy but disgraced investment banker Paul Highsmith and his young family. They receive an offer they’d better not refuse—sell their home and get out.

The fate of both groups is in the hands of warring vampire clans who’ve settled the remote town for a century. That’s what Paul learns in a blood-chilling, all-night epic tale by ancient clan leader Miles Drake. Paul’s family’s only chance is to join up with the Dunbars and other “Sundowners” and share their fight for survival.

The attack comes from forces of the day and the night. The besieged must go on the offensive—or continue to watch their numbers dwindle. Only the strong will survive the siege of the Sundown Motel. The harvesting has begun.

From Samhain Horror

BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON, from the new horror fiction line at Samhain Publishing, is the second published horror novel of David Searls, author of YELLOW MOON(Warner Books). Samhain Horror is also the publishing home of Frazer Lee’s THE LAMPLIGHTERS, a Bram Stoker Finalist in 2012.

You can read an excerpt from BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON at Samhain Publishing and buy the ebook in all formats or pre-order the trade paperback. Or purchase directly from Amazon, Barnes & Noble…wherever finer vampire novels are sold!

Dark Intentions

There’s no prettier face to look upon than this.

At least that was my thought as I surfed the web yesterday with the Googled term BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON for new mention of my horror novel. What I found, in addition to this cheery facade, was the intriguing blog Shattered Ravings by Matthew Scott Baker. Matthew’s March 16 post was this review of my epic horror novel from Samhain Publishing.

Matthew, God bless his shattered soul, called BLOODTHIRST “a well written and well thought out addition to the vampire genre.” He goes on to state that “Searls weaves an intricate web of dark intentions and even darker actions with this novel.”

Dark intentions. I like that. Hmm…maybe the title of my next novel.

Thanks, Matthew, for your insidiously kind words.

Check out his blog, folks.

BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON is available in ebook format and trade paperback pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever else finer vampire novels are sold.

This is Horror — Thanks!

Publicity is the lifeblood of any horror writer with thin wallet — which is most of us. And it’s more than just the fact that it’s free as opposed to paid advertising. Good publicity contains a real or implied third-party endorsement. It’s not just you saying good things about you — it’s someone else.

Which is just a roundabout way of saying, “Thanks, This is Horror, and editor Michael Wilson, for posting the interview.” I got the chance to extoll my views to an unwary readership on horror fiction and promote my latest novel, Bloodthirst in Babylon. My Meet the Writer interview, for the curious, is right here.  

This is Horror is a very cool-looking UK-based blog for fans of anything horror, especially books. I encourage horror fans to check it out. You’ll find plenty of book reviews and interviews with horror writers, as well as news and views on film, video games and graphic novels, and in-depth features. For instance, the most recent post at this time is about the state of Australian horror. How cool is that?

Bloodthirst in Babylon is currently available in ebook format or for pre-order as a trade paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble  or wherever else you buy books.

Vampires Unbound

Last Tuesday, January 3, 2012, my latest novel finally came out. But here’s the thing…in the digital age, a book launching can be something of an anticlimactic event. There are no digital book signing parties. No books, for that matter. At least not the kind you can hold in your hands and bring to the office.

BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON was initially brought out as an ebook by my publisher, Samhain Horror. In May the trade paperback version will hit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores, but for now it’s only available as an electronic download.

When my first book came out in the 1990, long before the existence of suchan oddity as an ebook, there were several thrilling moments. For instance, the day Warner Books, my publisher, sent me a crate full of my books. Not to mention the time when I first caught sight of YELLOW MOON, by David Searls, shelved in a bookstore. It was in a Borders, just to date the moment even more.

By contrast, I got out of bed early on Tuesday morning and checked out my book page on my publisher’s website. Yes, the ‘Pre-Order’ button had been excnaged for the more timely ‘Add to Cart’ button. And  that was that. I’ve checked for activity at Amazon (quite a lot of book sales indicated early, not so much now) and at Barnes & Noble (very little activity, very low sales ranking). And I’m eagerly awaiting reviews from readers and mentions on blogs from the horror community.

That’s about it. Not nearly as thrilling as a book autograph party, but such is life in the digital age.

In addition to the publisher’s website, BLOODTHIRST IN BABYLON is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever finer vampire literature is sold.