Holy hell, November is over. Wasn’t it just Halloween? Wait, wasn’t it just summer? Or last November? I’m still in some sort of pandemic time warp where time simultaneously flies by yet drags on. How can it be both?

This year, I arrived at November beaten and bruised (mostly psychologically). I decided that November needed to be a self-care month. Part of my anguish centered around my writing career. I was struggling with finding my passion buried under marketing and promoting and querying and the general business of being a writer. I determined I would participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – a challenge to write 50,000 words in November) for the second time. However, I would use it differently this year.

For my inaugural year of NaNoWriMo, I used last November to complete my WIP novel, Green Eyes. The goal and accountability kept me very motivated and on track, and I did finish the draft of my book. That book now stresses me out as I attempt to query it to agents.

This year, the prospect of what happens after the writing had been weighing on me. Editing and submitting and publishing and promoting and selling. I wanted to get back to the writing, so I targeted NaNoWriMo to just be about the writing. Inspiration handed me the solution. I had my very first idea for a fan fiction piece.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit since the characters are copyrighted. I would never have to worry about submitting or querying it for publication and release. I could write in my little sandbox, and it never needed to go farther than that. I supposed that could be true about any piece, yet with fan fiction, I would never be able to talk myself into more.

So I wrote 50,000 words just to write 50,000 words. I wrote fan fiction just to play and try it out. It was fun. It was liberating. It was no pressure. I even learned some things. In short, it served the purpose I wanted.

For my project, I decided to write within the Scream universe. It seemed fitting to dabble in fan fiction there since it was my first horror movie, where my love affair began.

My story is basically the first movie but centered on Billy Loomis and Stu Macher. It also includes some before the events of the movie and some after. Spoiler alert: Billy and Stu are the killers, so the story details how they decided to start killing people, how they selected their victims, how they constructed their plan, the logistics of how the pulled off the events of the film, and what I think happened after the credits.

To accomplish this story, I wanted to remain loyal to Scream, merely augment it with additional perspectives, give it more depth and explanation. To do this, I watched Scream probably ten times in stuttering 2-5 minute increments.

Then I also found the movie script online to lift necessary dialog. This was a true learning experience. I am not familiar with script writing. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or read a real script. I am, however, pretty familiar with the film, so it was a trip to see it captured on the page. Where the actors adlibbed or followed the lines. How much is scripted versus directed. These are things I never knew or appreciated.

So I spent the month just writing and living inside one of my favorite movies.

Is it any good? I have no idea. No one has read it yet, including me. What will I do with it? I honestly have no idea. Perhaps I wrote it just for me. Maybe it was just a writing exercise to get my creative juices flowing and my passion rekindled. Or perhaps I will put it out on this blog for free, which is about all I can do with fan fiction.

What do you think? What should become of my little pet project?

While I was not as successful on the rest of self-care November, my NaNoWriMo project did the job. I feel refreshed to approach Green Eyes again. I also have a new original novel idea. Then I have five existing books out there to sell!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Telluride Horror Show, back in person! If I can accurately stalk my own social media posts or count my own souvenir badges correctly, this was our fifth Telluride Horror Show attendance (inclusive of last year’s virtual rendition). I was thrilled to back in Telluride this year.

For the past two years and pandemic, the festival itself managed to go on largely unchanged. There were masks indoors and wristbands to verify vaccination or negative test status. Some events were held outside. Otherwise, all the things happened.

However, this won’t be my typical Horror Show write up because this was not my typical Horror Show experience. Not due to the fest–the fest itself was as normal as it possibly could be. The call was coming from inside the house. The trip to Telluride afforded me the time to finally take a breath, and when I did, many things surfaced in my mind. Horror has always been a coping mechanism for me, so I supposed it was an apt time for some processing.

In all cases, it was much needed.

Bridal Veil Falls

Sure, three days of horror movies and events is enough to fill a weekend. However, considering we have to drive across the state to get to Telluride, we decided to cram more into the trip. Plus there is always that masochistic outdoor streak.

My father has been scolding me yearly for being in Telluride and not doing the Bridal Veil Falls hike, so this year, we finally got it together and did the thing.

The weather was amazing. My Viking heart was singing through the frigid snow contrasted with the blazing fall colors on the trees. I was euphoric and zen, in my total happy hiking place. We took the long walk through town to the trailhead to truly absorb it.

When we got to the trailhead, there was even more snow on the mountain and we were the first on the trail, so there was no trail. We had to trailblaze through the untouched powder the entire way up. It was an adventure. And a slog. Lots of slipping and sliding. For just over a mile, it was a journey.

Totally worth it. Gorgeous frozen falls times three. It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend and get the blood pumping before sitting in theaters for three days.

Author Stalking

One of the highlights of Telluride Horror Show for me this year was all the author events. Telluride always hosts an enviable set of author activities. I have seen Paul Tremblay and Jeremy Robert Johnson in previous years. Yet this year included Stephen Graham Jones.

I was introduced to Jones’s work this year when a beta reader suggested The Only Good Indians as a comparable title to my WIP novel. I read it and fell in love with that book and Jones’s style in general. I immediately devoured My Heart is a Chainsaw and Mongrels. I was hooked and so excited to see him in person.

Jones and Tremblay both read (and Johnson riffed) at the Creepy Campfire Tales. Then, prior to a book signing, the three held a Horror Summit to discuss writing and horror genre topics.

This all hit at a strange time for me. I find myself a bit lost in my writing career, and I’m not entirely sure why. I just released my fifth book (Followers) with Crystal Lake Publishing. I have wanted to work with Crystal Lake for a long time, and releasing a book is always a success, so I should feel happy and accomplished. I already have another novel drafted and ready to submit. Though it has garnered a bunch of agent rejections, I still love it.

So, why am I questioning my writing career? Why is my resolve weakening now? Listening to these professional authors speak somehow left me feeling even more conflicted, made the real dream seem even farther away. I left the events full of admiration… and increased self-doubt, which is uncharacteristic for me.

The Movies

The Telluride Horror show is really all about THE MOVIES! So what did I see?

Admittedly, I saw less this year than I usually do. My social stamina was not where it used to be, so I did not have the drive to attend every round of every day. We also had a baby in our party, so I took several child care shifts. Then I devoted a good portion of my time to the other events (authors and trivia). Plenty of horror movies still happened.

The viewing experience was somewhat off for me this year too. At first, being in a full theater was bizarre. It had been two years since I was in a packed theater. The first time I was seated directly next to a stranger, I found myself curling toward my husband, as if I was going to crawl into his lap like a cat. But I got over that quickly and reacclimated to being social.

More than that, my triggers were misaligned. Movies that were hyped up to upset me passed over my mind smoothly, while others that seemed inane stirred unexpected responses. Ghosts were moving beneath the surface of my mind that I could not identify. The horror called to them.

The Sadness

HOLY SHIT this movie. The Sadness gets every trigger warning. Graphic, gory, disturbing, fucked… but brilliant.

The movie is unsettling enough with its COVID parallels. The news reports sound all too familiar. Then it takes a swan dive off into horrific. Yet it is not splatter or shock gore. While traumatizing, it is all calculated. The despicable things depicted contribute to the story, drive the plot points.

The movie is about showing what terrible things are right below our surface, right under our thin veil of control or civilization. The Sadness renders a sublimely sickening vision of what is behind that veil. Yet it maintains lines where the camera pulls away and leaves even worse things for the imagination of the audience. That control made what is deliberate on screen all the more effective.

While a challenging and one-time watch, The Sadness is my favorite from the fest and a movie I needed to see.

Sinister Stories Shorts

The “Sinister Stories” shorts block included some creepy and interesting offerings.

Koreatown Ghost Story was my favorite short of the fest. Extremely succinct and unnerving, it offers just enough to draw you in and deliver the right impact. I loved it.

Face Not Recognized. Try Again has an interesting concept that left me with numerous questions. You’re Family Now delivered a creepy interpretation of grief.

Let the Wrong One In

Horror comedy is always a solid bet for our group. We love it, and even when it goes wrong, it is usually ridiculous enough to keep us entertained. Let the Wrong One In brings Irish vampires. One junkie brother shows up bitten instead of strung out, and things unravel from there. The movie is funny and entertaining as long as the brothers fumble in their own house. Once the story left that structure, it sort of lost cohesion.

Antlers

The big budget, mainstream closing night movie. I have very mixed feelings on Antlers. On the surface, it is a formulaic, highly produced, entertaining horror movie with a very good monster.

Yet the formula is also a bit tired. As the story borrowed the wendigo from Native culture, it felt like another instance of white characters telling a not white story. It could have been more interesting with a couple steps out of the typical box.

The ending is also pretty weak.

When the Screaming Starts

More horror comedy. When the Screaming Starts is a pseudo mockumentary about an aspiring serial killer starting a cult. The story has a lot of potential, yet much of the comedy does not land as strong as it should.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

To be honest, I slept through part of this movie, so I’m not sure how inclusive my opinion can be. I was well schooled on the inspirations for the movie, which definitely made it more interesting. I found the first half very intriguing, a solid mystery. Then the movie lost steam. When I woke up for the ending, I was left confused and wanting (more so than from being unconscious).

Black Friday

I was potentially the most excited about Black Friday. Holiday horror comedy with Bruce Campbell? Yes please! I was expecting something in the vein of perhaps Krampus. I’m not sure what the fuck I got. I don’t know that the movie knew what it was.

I think I was expecting the commercial commentary to be foundational, a la Dawn of the Dead. Instead, it was more sprinkled like salt as random references. Then the threat shifts from zombie-like shoppers to some sort of amalgamation monster, and that transition is poorly portrayed. All the characters are extremely cliché, but it is not pushed far enough to be caricature. Ultimately, just so disappointing.

“Folked Up Horror” Shorts

Folk horror is not my preferred genre. I definitely have selections I enjoy, but I am in no way an expert. The shorts in the “Folked Up Horror” block were bizarre. The musical taxidermist in Stuffed is fantastic and more entertaining than I usually find musicals. Then The Wet Nurse personally traumatized me with breastfeeding flashbacks and horrifying potential. The others fell relatively flat or outright confusing.

Trivia

We always attend Fright or Wrong trivia and muddle our way through. By some miracle of betting on the right question last (in person) year, we won. We managed to pull it off again this year. This time, the feat was accomplished by the combination of having two experts in 80s horror combined with two strangers joining us more fluent in filmmakers and modern horror.

Win or lose, it is always a fun time. And ridiculously hard questions.

In the End

Despite whatever cycles or processing I had percolating under my surface, the breath this trip afforded me to acknowledge them was so needed. Vacations or breaks of any kind have been scarce since the pandemic, and I am glad that we used it for Telluride Horror Show. The fest managed to preserve itself and return post lockdown with the same level of horror, community, and events.

Can’t wait until next year!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I know what you’re thinking… Did you write yourself AGAIN, Christina? In this mini vlog, I talk about NOT writing myself as a character in Followers.

Followers is available now on Amazon.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

My book Followers is a horror novel, but it is also about the horror genre itself. I have loved horror most of my life and have constantly been asked, “WHY HORROR?… HOW CAN YOU LOVE HORROR?” (insert my eye roll in black eyeliner). That question grew legs for me and became, could you love the horror genre if horror was real in your life? I explore that in the pages of Followers.

To do that, I needed a horror lover. Enter Sidney (familiar namesake, anyone?)

Of course! She was my first final girl. My Sidney uses horror as therapy, as medication, as distraction from the pain and disappointments in her real life (as much as she uses the online followers she is collecting). But to go on her horror journey, real and in the genre, I wallowed in my own love of horror. From name dropping on characters like Sidney, Wes, Pamela, Tony, Seth, and more to attending a horror film festival, Followers is about loving the horror genre.

Allow me to provide some excerpts of the nods to horror within Followers.

She tabbed away from her browser and into her active document. The bloodbath in her movie began to overshadow the chocolate-flavored recreation she had posted all over social media. She skimmed the last paragraph in the document, running her finger through the air over the words and mouthing the sentences silently as she read.

Even considering new classics like Final Destination and Saw, to crown the best bathroom scene in horror, we have to circle back to the beginning. Psycho is where it started, where the slasher genre itself started, and where this article has to end as well, she typed.

@Romero4eva: #FinalDestination is based on a woman changing planes based on her mom’s intuition! #truestory #FDlivetweet #horrorisreal
“Holy shit,” she mumbled between popcorn bites. “Did you know Final Destination was actually loosely inspired by real events?”
“I had heard that,” Wes replied, typing. “But did you know it was originally supposed to be an X-Files episode?”
“No! How do I not know all this?”
“This is why we live tweet, Sidney.”

@ChuckysBabysitter: The Bus! Gets me every time! #finaldestination #FDlivetweet #finalgirlscreams
@HorrorL0ser: BOOM! #youcantcheatdeath #finaldestination #FDlivetweet
Allison: That scene is so infamous. I remember my jaw dropped when I saw it in the theater.

“When was the first time you saw this movie?” Adam said as they sat.
The thick seats folded down and creaked under their weight. Dim lights peeked out from the thick curtains lining the wall. The wide, gray screen loomed anticipant in front of them.
The actors ran madly up and down the aisles, shrieking as their steps ground popcorn into the flattened carpet. They paused to mock and interact with the patrons. Magenta swung her wide hips as her frizzy hair bounced on her shoulders, dragging her feather duster over any face within reach. Riffraff loomed in a corner, leaning out menacingly as new people entered the theater.
“Sleepover in junior high,” Sidney answered between bites of popcorn.
“Ha! What were your first impressions?”
“I was confused but very intrigued. You?”
“My mom showed it to me, of all people.” Adam smirked.
“How old were you?”
“Early high school, I guess.”
“That seems weird,” Sidney giggled.
“It was. But my mom was weird. The best kind of weird—a horror lover. I have some strange stories. I’m surprised you never live tweeted this one.”
“Everyone live tweets Rocky Horror.”

“Hey, man,” Adam said as they approached Wes. “Look, I didn’t attack Sidney last night.”
Wes spun towards him, arms still pinned around his chest.
“Is that an actual line from Scream?” Wes replied. “It sounds very Billy Loomis.”

As the familiar festive plot unfolded, she reminded herself to swipe over the trackpad and tweet. If she did not post, was she even really watching?
@FinalGirlScreams: #SilentNightDeadlyNight was ahead of its time with killer psychology. Even if it portrays #PTSD horribly. #12SlaysofChristmas #horror #finalgirlscreams
@L1v1ngDead1te: Wouldn’t be the holidays without #12SlaysofChristmas with @FinalGirlScreams!
@Romero4eva: @FinalGirlScreams I watch this one every year. For the antlers!
@ZombieonElmSt: @FinalGirlScreams great choice! Xmas classic #christmashorror #12SlaysofChristmas

The first taste is free… if you want more, you’ll have to read Followers for yourself. You can find it now on Amazon! See how many more horror nods you can find.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

What happens when online followers show up uninvited into real life? Find out in this reading from Followers. Out this Friday from Crystal Lake Publishing!

You can pre-order Followers on Amazon.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

My fifth book, Followers, comes out from Crystal Lake Publishing on Friday. It seems like an appropriate time to introduce some of the cast of characters contained within its pages.

Sidney lives part of her life with the people around her but also has a secondary life online. As such, the characters in Followers appear in Sidney’s real and/or virtual life.

Real Life

Sidney

Sidney is the protagonist of Followers. A single mother with a dull day job, Sidney has big dreams of becoming a full-time horror reviewer and risqué gore model. She’s determined to make her website a success, and if her growing pool of online followers is any indication, things are looking good.

Sidney loves horror, perhaps too much to see horror blossoming in her own life. Despite all the grief she gets from her mother and ex-husband, she continues to pour fake blood on herself in pursuit of her goal. She uses all the online followers she accrues online to soothe the insecurity she feels from wrecking her marriage. The more she amasses, the more addicted she becomes to the adoration.

Kendra

Kendra is Sidney’s roommate and cofounder of their Divorced Wives’ Club. Kendra may loathe horror, but she supports Sidney’s ambition within it. She only wishes Sidney would be more cautious and calculating with all those strangers online.

Cameron

Cameron is Sidney’s young son, muddling his way through his parents’ messy divorce. Cameron presses his mother’s guilt to persuade her to let him watch horror with her.

Brady

Brady is Sidney’s extravagant photographer accomplice. As Jagged Rainbow Photography, Brady creates all of the fake blood photographs Sidney uses for clickbait on her horror articles. Brady and his husband, Jordan, also step in to help Sidney when she needs emotional support.

Aiden

Aiden is Sidney’s ex-husband. Still bitter from Sidney’s infidelity and the resulting split, Aiden makes interactions very unpleasant. He cites her love of horror as evidence of inferior parenting.

Wes

Wes is Sidney’s horror buddy. He conducts live tweets and also attends horror film festivals with her. His online persona also crosses over with hers.

Virtual Life

Adam

Adam is Sidney’s longest follower. They speak online all day, every day. Though flirtatious, he asks her about her day, and they talk about nearly all aspects of their real lives. Sidney considers him an actual friend.

Oliver

Oliver is a long-standing follower who flirts shamelessly and aggressively with Sidney. He messages daily with compliments and demanding pictures.

Max

Max is a new follower who emerges after Sidney’s blood bath pictures. He begins with the normal follower pattern but quickly escalates with alarming horror references.

Allison

Allison joins Sidney’s live tweet then begins messaging her more regularly. Sidney feels a strange safety messaging with her. They quickly become friends. Sidney finds herself confessing things to Allison she is not telling anyone else.

When Horror Crosses Over

Sidney thinks horror and her followers exist on the other side her screen. Yet the more she plays, the more she pushes on that boundary, the closer both come to her real life. Until they cross over. Find out what happens when Sidney’s online followers bring horror into her real life in Followers… on Friday!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

It is no secret that I love Telluride Horror Show. We are less than a month away right now, and I cannot wait! In my homage to horror in Followers, I included the Horror Show as one of my settings.

Followers is available for preorder on Amazon.

Learn more about the Telluride Horror Show on their website.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Mini Vlog: Followers Inspiration

Posted: September 9, 2021 in followers, mini vlog

“Why did you write this book?” The classic question about every book. In this mini vlog, I give a little backstory on the inspiration for Followers.

Followers will be released September 24th by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

As I keep saying, Followers is coming on September 24th from Crystal Lake Publishing. What better teaser than the first chapter! Meet Sidney and her photographer friend, Brady, as they make fake blood horror art in the opening scene of Followers.

Followers will be released September 24th by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

The Rest Will Come and Followers (coming next month), what is similar between them? Online horror! In this mini vlog I talk about going from online dating in The Rest Will Come to online followers in Followers.

You can find The Rest Will Come on Amazon.

Followers will be released September 24th by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling