Tag Archives: Lisa Morton

Review: Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times

1 Jul


Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times

I unexpectedly received WITCH HUNTS as a review copy.  I say unexpectedly, but with Lisa Morton’s name on the cover it wasn’t completely unexpected as she knows I devour her work.  At any rate, for some reason I put this one off despite the fact that it is a graphic novel and would be a quick read.  The only reason I can give for this is that I am not a fan of history… at all!  That being said… after all of the craziness that occurred on Facebook about this book being banned (see Rocky Wood’s blog post here) and also getting to meet Rocky Wood in the flesh, I picked this book up finally.

Remember, I said I pretty much hate history, however this book was absolutely amazing!  I was a little familiar with some of the witch hunt acts that had occurred over the years, but hadn’t heard of nearly as many as Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton compiled into this one graphic novel.  Not only did they have detailed facts about the witch hunts throughout the years, but they wrote about them in a way that was fun to read.  Yes, I just used the word “fun” in referring to history.  Additionally, the artwork that is supplied by Greg Chapman in this book is absolutely phenomenal!  Excluding the cover, the artwork is completely in black and white, but I think color would’ve taken away from the style of this book and the fact that it was depicting olden times.

Whether you are looking for a book to educate yourself quickly on witch hunts or you just want an entertaining graphic novel to read, I’d definitely recommend picking this one up.  I’m actually thinking about re-reading it soon as I don’t retain very well and I’d like to remember a few more of the facts that this book is jam packed full of.  Again, this coming from an anti-history person.  I’m sure some of you history buffs out there will get even more from this very well written and drawn book depicting tons of witch trials that took place over the course of time.

That being said, the book is currently available on Amazon both in print and in Kindle format.  Normally I link to the Kindle version of books only as that’s typically what I read, but due to the artwork in this one I’d recommend having a print copy in your hands.  I’ve linked to both within this text so you have the option, but I highly recommend shelling out a few dollars more to get the print version!  Alternately you can purchase this book directly from the publisher, McFarland Publishing via their website or you can order from them at 1-800-253-2187.

And if my recommendation of this book is not enough for you, might I add that this book even won the Stoker award this year for Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel.  Below is a picture of me with Lisa Morton (left) at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet holding her two Stoker Awards, the one I just mentioned and another one for Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction for her book TRICK OR TREAT: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN.


Review: Help! Wanted: Tales of On-the-Job Terror edited by Peter Giglio

6 Mar

For most people, there is nothing more terrifying than waking up and going into work day after day.  Peter Giglio shows just how valid this fear is as he brings together twenty-five authors and stories in Help! Wanted.  As with all anthologies, some stories will be favored by one reader while other readers will prefer the ones that reader didn’t care for.  For me, some of the stories that truly stood out were Lisa Morton’s “Face Out”, where a spell goes wrong for a bookstore owner; Mark Allan Gunnells’ “Must Be Something in the Water”, which will make you hesitant to ever drink from a water cooler again; Gregory L. Norris’ “Carpool”, in which a man finally goes crazy from driving to work each day; and Jeff Strand’s “Work/Life Balance”, which shows how things really can be too good to be true.  These are just a few of the magnificent and utterly terrifying stories in this collection.  Do yourself a favor and read this book… unless, of course, you think it will make it that much more difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  Consider yourself warned! Highly recommended for all library collections.

Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Interview with Lisa Morton

26 Feb

(Me with Lisa Morton in Vegas at KillerCon 2011)

Rhonda:  Hi Lisa!  This is the 3rd annual Women in Horror Recognition Month and I could think of no one better to interview for MonsterLibrarian to recognize this month.  Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions of mine.

Lisa: Thank YOU, Rhonda. And I think you’re a pretty darn good example of Women in Horror month yourself.

Rhonda:  Let’s start with some easy questions.  How did you get your start in the writing industry?

Lisa: I studied screenwriting in college, and so my first few sales were tiny little options on various screenplays and teleplays, but it wasn’t until I sold the screenplay for MEET THE HOLLOWHEADS (which I co-wrote with Tom Burman) that I had what I’d call my first real sale. That happened largely on the strength of Tom’s name; he’s one of the great grandmasters of special makeup effects, and we tailored the script (which was originally titled LIFE ON THE EDGE) to include a lot of makeup effects, which Tom offered to do at basically his cost (and I think he even may have lost a little money on them!). My first prose sale, though, was to Stephen Jones and David Sutton for DARK VOICES 6. I’d met Steve at a convention and we’d hit it off, so he invited me to submit.

Rhonda:  Going along with the previous question… who were some of the most influential authors for you when you were starting out?  And also today?

Lisa: I wanted to become a screenwriter when I saw THE EXORCIST at the age of 15, so I’d certainly have to list William Peter Blatty. Then the writer who made me really want to write prose was Dennis Etchison, who remains one of my favorite writers.

Rhonda:  How do you go about your writing process?  For example, how do you go about your research, what kind of timeframe do you give yourself for writing, what kind of setting do you place yourself in to write?

Lisa: It depends on what I’m writing. Over the last few years I’ve switched back-and-forth almost equally between short fiction, long fiction, non-fiction, and screenplays, and I take slightly different approaches to each. For short fiction, I’ll get any research out of the way, work it out in my head for a while, then just dive right in. For book-length stuff, though, I have to outline in advance, or I lose track of where I’m going (and since endings are often what I come up with FIRST, it’s important for me to keep track of how I’m getting there). For non-fiction, of course, the research can be insane; I spent around two years on THE HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA. And of course with screenwriting, everything’s often set for you – including those deadlines.

As for setting…I tend to sprawl on the couch at home with my netbook. I’m not one of those people who can go sit in a coffee shop or some other public place; the last thing in the world I want to deal with when I’m in the writing groove is the inevitable, “Oh, are you writing?”

Rhonda:  I’ve read all of your fictional novellas and your novel, The Castle of Los Angeles, and noticed that every book had a very powerful female lead.  I even noticed this in some of your short stories.  I was
wondering what made you choose this personality for your characters?

Lisa: First off all – thank you for reading everything! That kind of blows me away, frankly.

That use of female leads hasn’t really been a deliberate choice. I think part of it stems from the situations in the stories – in THE SAMHANACH, for example, because I was dealing with a creature that stole children, it made sense to focus on a single mom. In CASTLE, so much of it was taken from my own experience in small theater that it just seemed unthinkable to make the lead something other than my own gender. In my last novel, MALEDICTION (which is still being shopped by my agent), there’s a theme of a powerful, destructive antagonist going up against a nurturing protagonist, so again – the circumstances kind of dictated the sex. As to why so many of my stories seem to thematically involve feminine attributes…well, I guess that’s just who I am.

Rhonda:  Your collection of short stories, Monsters of L.A., includes a special feature section detailing a bit about where the ideas for your stories came from.  Do you come up with the ideas for your longer fiction in this same manner typically?

Lisa: I think so. Los Angeles has obviously been a big part of my life and a source of inspiration again and again, be it short or long fiction.

Rhonda:  You have done a lot of non-fictional work on the history of Halloween.  How did you gain such a fascination with this holiday and how did you get involved with writing The Halloween Encyclopedia?

Lisa: This is kind of a disappointing story, because it really wasn’t some lifelong obsession or something! Back in 2001, I’d just finished my first non-fiction book – THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK, about the godfather of Hong Kong movies – and the publisher asked me if I’d consider doing another book with them. I looked at their current catalog at the time, and saw that they’d just published THE CHRISTMAS ENCYCLOPEDIA. I had a small collection of Halloween books I’d acquired as a sort of mild interest, so I said, “How about THE HALLOWEEN ENCYCLOPEDIA?” They said yes, and that’s how it really started. I accrued so much material researching that first Halloween book that it made sense to roll it over into more.

Rhonda:  Going back to this being Women in Horror Recognition Month.  It seems that the fictional horror genre has an abundance of male authors compared to females.  I had wondered if it was due to the fact that more male authors tend to push the boundaries on the genre with the excess gore, mutilation scenes, etc… Do you have any thoughts on this or do you have any idea why the percentage of female horror authors would be less?

Lisa: It’s something that’s been discussed a lot over the last few years, and I think the answer’s kind of complicated. For one thing, a lot of women writers are enjoying tremendous success with paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and making a lot more money writing those than they would horror (and I don’t mind confessing that I sometimes _wish_ I could write in those areas, but I just don’t have it in me). Now, here’s where I’m going to say the bad things: That fiction you’re mentioning, the stuff with the excessive gore and mutilation – take another look at those books, and you’ll see that they center on violence directed at women. Rape is often central to these books, and so is referring to women by a variety of derogatory terms. If a lot of women writers are looking at this stuff and saying, “Uhhh…no thanks,” who can blame them?

Rhonda:  Adding on to my comment above regarding many male authors writing such gruesome stories nowadays… Your latest novella, Wild Girls, also has quite the darkside in it compared to your previous work.  What made you choose to write something with quite a bit of mutilation included and was it harder for you to write in this fashion compared to your typical style?

Lisa: I really think of WILD GIRLS as a very dark satire. I wanted to take those cliches of rape and mutilation and excessive gore and flip all the genders, primarily as a way of pointing out how silly some of that stuff becomes. Given that I was approaching it as almost humor…it was actually pretty fun to write!

Rhonda:  In addition to yourself, what other female horror authors would you recommend to our readers?

Lisa: Wow, there are a lot these days, and I’d say I’m pretty equally split between male and female writers in my list of favorites. I loved stuff by Roberta Lannes and Lisa Tuttle and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro before I even started writing prose. More recently, I’d name Sarah Langan, Alex Sokoloff, Gemma Files, Kaaron Warren, Allyson Bird, and Maria Alexander as writers whose works I’ve enjoyed. And I’m thrilled to meet young female writers at conventions and online and see their talent and dedication, so I expect that list will grow considerably soon (aside from the fact that I’ll probably think of a dozen more names I’d mention as soon as I hit the “send” button on this!).

Rhonda:  Time for the dreaded question!  Of all your books, which is your favorite and why?  And, this could be the same answer, but, which of your books did you most enjoy writing?

Lisa: Hmmm…hard question…okay, I’m sorry to do this, but it would probably have to be a book that hasn’t been published yet: My first novel, NETHERWORLD. Up until I wrote that book, I really wasn’t sure if I could write a novel or not; I was so used to short form things (including screenplays) that writing something fiction-wise that was 90,000 words long just seemed impossible. But I finally sat down to do it, and it was great, and I had a blast writing it, and I wanted to write more. I’m sorry my agent hasn’t been able to get a deal on that one yet, because it would make a great series and focuses on another of those strong female leads: A 19th-century British noblewoman named Lady Diana Furnaval, who travels the world (and other worlds as well!) fighting evil and inadvertently advancing the cause of suffragettes. It’s a really fun story, and I still remain hopeful of it finding a good home someday.

However, of the works I’ve published…I’ll probably go with THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES. It’s the book that bears the closest resemblance to my real life, and it was also great fun to create the Castle and the mythology behind it.

Rhonda:  Would this book be the book you would recommend to new readers of your work or is there a better starting point for someone wanting to check out your writing?

Lisa: I’d probably go with CASTLE.

Rhonda:  Not only are you an amazing writer, but you also have experience in the fields of movie, tv, and theater.  Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with these industries?

Lisa: I’ve covered them a little already, but I’ll add here: Screenwriting is something I’ve come back to throughout my life, largely because it pays off my bills in ways that fiction hasn’t yet! I’ve made some good friends and good connections in the film industry, so I still get called up every once in a while. There is, for example, right now a cable mini-series involving pirates that’s looming as a possible job for 2012…

Rhonda:  Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects you are working on?

Lisa: One fun book I’ll have out later this year is a collection of autobiographical essays called ADVENTURES IN THE SCREAM TRADE. I’ve had some pretty bizarre experiences working in the movie business (hey, how many writers can claim to have literally blown a roof off?), and for years friends have been telling me I should write this stuff down, so I finally did. It’ll be Bad Moon Books’ first non-fiction title.

I also have a non-fiction graphic novel (yes, I know how that sounds) coming this year from McFarland – WITCH HUNTS: A GRAPHIC HISTORY OF THE BURNING TIMES, co-written with my friend Rocky Wood and illustrated by a very talented young Australian named Greg Chapman; and my first narrative history of Halloween, TRICK OR TREAT?: A HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN will be out from Reaktion Books.

Beyond that…there’s a deal pending right now that I can’t say much about yet, but it would combine my film and prose writing and be possibly the biggest deal of my life. And it involves working with people I adore, so I’m very hopeful that’ll go through…even though it will eat my life for a long, long time!

Rhonda:  Where is the best place for our readers to find out more about you and keep up-to-date with future releases?

Lisa: I try to keep my website, www.lisamorton.com, up to date, but for the very latest, I welcome anyone to follow me on Facebook.

Rhonda:  Thanks again for your time Lisa!  It’s been fun interviewing you for Women in Horror Recognition Month.  Keep writing!

Lisa: Thanks again, Rhonda! And I’ve got no choice on that “keep writing” part!

Interview also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Wild Girls by Lisa Morton

26 Feb

The “wild girls” mentioned in this novella’s title are Jessie and Dens.  Jessie has had a rough life growing up and Dens has decided to take her in and try to help her out.  Little did Dens know that when she offered Jessie a place to stay for the night that her life was going to change so much.  That’s just what happens, though, as Jessie seeks out the ultimate revenge on her father, and men in general.

As a seasoned fan of Morton’s work, the contents of this book were not at all what I was expecting from her.  Yes, it included her typical tougher-than-nails female lead character, but it also included mutilation, rape, and lots of killings.  This is not her typical style, which made it a bit humorous in the sense of being able to tell that it was a bit of a jab at some of the other authors in the field that tend to write solely about these kinds of things.  However, Morton’s spin on this was that she reversed the roles, and instead of the typical dynamic of males attacking females, she wrote about the females attacking the males.  That being said, she held her own in this sub-genre of the horror industry and wrote a fun and gruesome novella.  Readers that don’t take kindly to rape and mutilation, please pass on this particular Morton title, but be sure to check out one of her other books as I promise you will enjoy this author.  For those of you that don’t mind a bit of violence and abuse in your books, be sure to give this one a try, as it’s only a $0.99 download for your Kindle. Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Mutilation, Rape, Violence

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton

26 Feb

        In Monsters of L.A., Lisa Morton takes twenty “monsters” (some more known than others) and adds her own spin on their stories based on her experiences in Los Angeles.  For example, this collection starts off with a very well-known monster, Frankenstein.  However, Morton’s Frankenstein doesn’t come with bolts in the side of his head, but rather is a Vietnam vet that suffered a lot of physical ailments in his past that involved him being pieced back together, and earning him the name “Frank” from a lot of people.  At the end of this collection of stories, Morton details a bit about who/what influenced the stories she wrote in this book and the story behind Frankenstein, in particular, is very touching.

    Additional stories in this collection that I truly loved I’ll list below, in no particular order, with a brief description:

    “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – Dr. Jekyll in this story is in the process of creating a new method for gender reassignment, but instead of testing it out on animals, decides to test it out on herself with some adverse effects.  She isn’t aware at first of what all goes on after she injects herself, but soon learns.

    “Dracula” – Dracula is an actor in this story and doesn’t get along so well with his co-star, Eddie, which leads to some major tension.  Not only was this story fun, but it also made me groan out loud!  I won’t say why and give things away, but if you read this story you will definitely figure it out!

    “The Killer Clown” – With my fear of clowns, I was dreading getting to this story in the collection.  As expected, it made me even more afraid of clowns, as the girl in the story is practically terrorized by numerous clowns while at a liquor store.

    These are just a few examples of the amazing contents of this book.  I am typically not a fan of short stories, but Morton has made me second guess myself on this opinion with her stand-out collection.  Do yourself a favor and check out this Stoker-nominated collection! Highly recommended for all library collections.

Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Some Weekend Kindle Freebies

12 Feb

Just wanted to do another quick posts of some Kindle freebies that popped up this weekend.  I’m assuming that must of these will cease being free after today, but I could be wrong so grab ’em while you can.  🙂

Note:  Clicking the images will take you to the books.

BAD STACKS is the complete text of three story collections covering suspense, psychological mystery, and paranormal tales. A total of 29 stories originally published in professional magazines and anthologies such as Writers of the Future, The Third Alternative, Cemetery Dance, Crimewave, and more. The box set of 118,000 words also includes a bonus essay.

Scott Nicholson is the international bestselling author of 15 novels, six screenplays, four children’s books, and four comic book series, as well as 80 short stories. His novels include LIQUID FEAR, CHRONIC FEAR, THE HARVEST, AS I DIE LYING, THE RED CHURCH, DISINTEGRATION, and more. Send your questions to his Amazon Author Central page by clicking on his name below the book title at the top of the page, or visit him at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com.

Guest contributors include Shane Jiraiya Cummings, Tim Lebbon, William Meikle, and John Everson.

Look for the other Kindle box sets in the series, ODD STACKS and BAD STACKS, to complete your Nicholson story collection!

A collection of horror stories, featuring vampires, zombies, monsters, serial killers, and other creepy creatures of the night. Edited by introduced by bestselling author Scott Nicholson (The Red Church, Speed Dating with the Dead, Liquid Fear).

Stories by Joseph Nassise, Simon Wood, Maria Alexander, Nate Kenyon, Kealan Patrick Burke, Lisa Morton, Jeremy C. Shipp, and Joe McKinney.

(Note: Many of you know that I love me some Lisa Morton novels, so be sure to check this freebie story of hers out!!!)

Some Body’s At The Door is a collection of 14 tales to chill the soul and to haunt the mind.

Duncan Kennedy thinks he is alone in his hotel room. But who is knocking at the door?

A woman wants to win… at any cost.

A little girl refuses to grow up, and a little boy isn’t allowed to.

Paul Colenrook believes a monster lurks in the plughole. Maybe he’s right.

He probably is.

Deep within the Manistee National Forest, in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the secluded logging village of Walkerville, Michigan is thrust into a nightmare as locals start disappearing, only to have their bodies, or body parts, found; naked, pale, and with deep patches of flesh seemingly ripped out where there once were tattoos. The local sheriff and deputies must enlist the help of the Grand Rapids Homicide Department. Together, they desperately try to work on the bizarre cases in their own distinctive ways, to find the person or persons responsible for the grisly murders before other unfortunate villagers suffer the same fate.

It has been said that women are the “gentle” sex. Apparently, not all of them got the message. Within the pages of this anthology are a dozen zombie tales by women who will help you discover why they say something else about the ladies: Hell Hath No Fury…