Archive for the ‘horror’ Category

This reading was fun. I think Mr. Bubbles might speak to me sometimes 🐍🐍🐍

“Adam, Eve, and Mr. Bubbles” and all the evil animals can be found in Demonic Wildlife on Amazon.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I started my reading practice videos with Savages. Fitting as it is my first book. Months later, we are back at Savages again. Have I gotten any better? You tell me…

You can find Savages here (including audiobook!): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C2T88RZ/

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Mini vlog talking (bullshitting) with Phil Beachler about our collaborations on my book covers and other endeavors. Should we start a podcast next? Hell no! Same people belong behind the page…

At least we produce good work like SCREECHERS. Cowritten with Kevin Kennedy and cover by Phil Beachler.

You can find Kevin here: https://www.kevinjkennedy.co.uk/
You can find Phil here: https://www.instagram.com/philbeachchair/
You can find SCREECHERS here: https://www.amazon.com/Screechers-Post-Apocalyptic-Kevin-J-Kennedy-ebook/dp/B07PHZW18Q/

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Artistic collaborations are not new. All authors collaborate with at least a cover artist, unless they are such an artist, just to produce a book. Authors get together to produce anthologies and even cowrite stories, novellas, or novels. As an artist, I love to collaborate. When two (or more) different inspirations converge, the intersection can lead to a new and unexpected direction.

However, just because collaborations can yield something amazing does not mean they are always easy or successful. When I talk about co-writing a novella, the first question is always, “how did that work?” or “how did that go?” It is sometimes hard to see how people could align on a common vision. Yet it does happen all the time with many creative projects. Books are just not a medium people usually think of for collaboration.

Yet when Kevin J. Kennedy asked if I wanted to write together, I did not hesitate to try. Kevin and I had worked together numerous times before when I contributed to his anthologies, but this was definitely a deeper collaboration. Then, when Screechers needed a cover, we brought in Phil Beachler, who did the covers of my books The Waning and Savages.

Rather than recount my experience of the collaboration, I thought it best to include all our experiences.

Where did the idea for Screechers come from?

Kevin: I can’t remember how the idea fully formed, but the initial idea was sparked when I was reading the Hell Divers series by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. He has creatures called Sirens in his books. They are pretty different from the Screechers to be fair, but the screams the sirens make was a bit of a spark and through time I had an idea for the Screechers.

Christina: The idea for the novella came from Kevin ultimately. He approached me to cowrite a story then suggested a post-apocalyptic story with mutant creatures. I instantly wanted to put some human survivors into that nightmare.

Phil: I naturally love drawing monsters and bizarre creatures, so the ideas came from a mish mash of werewolves, space bugs, and various other mutated horrors.

When was it clear that it was going to be a collaboration effort? How did you get involved?

Kevin: I had read all of Christina’s books and loved them. We spoke from time to time because she often featured in my anthologies. Again, I can’t exactly remember how we decided to write Screechers together. It might have been an idea to write something together and then grew into doing the Screechers novella.

Christina: Kevin and I started talking about a collaboration. I had never tried co-writing before, but after contributing to multiple anthologies for Kevin, it seemed like a good fit. Post-apocalyptic was an easy choice for both of us. I had already gone there with my novella Savages. Once mutants and monsters came up, the idea grew legs.

Phil: It became clear after I sent the initial sketches to the authors and got really great reception right away. From there on out, we sent lots of material back and forth to get the ball rolling.

Who was “the leader” on the project?

Kevin: We wrote separate sections and just sent it back and forward. We didn’t even start with too much of a structure from memory. I tend to write as I go most of the time. I can’t recall anyone being in charge. We tweaked each other’s sections, so it flowed better but that was it really.

Christina: I would say Kevin was the leader. He definitely saw more of the Screechers world in his mind, and I fed off of it. But the collaboration was very balanced. We divided the story so we each had our own little sand box. He had monsters, and I had humans. With two pansters writing, we had to force ourselves to outline eventually for when our two storylines would finally intersect then overlap.

Phil: Kevin took the lead, but I got a lot of feedback from Christina regarding various plot points and from her perspective being a fan of nasty monsters.

How did the initial idea change as more people got involved?

Kevin: The idea grew as we wrote as happens with most stories. Christina is friends with Phil, and we asked him to do the cover. The internal art was just a nice bonus that Phil decided to provide.

Christina: We definitely leveled up when we brought Phil in. Not only did we go from an artistic duo to a trio, which increased the influence and opinions flying around, but we brought in an entirely different medium. Phil did the cover, but he drew so many things as he did so. There were sketched of all kind of monsters!

Phil: The idea seemed to stay pretty cohesive. From start to finish, we all had a consistent vision that made it easy to keep on track.

Creatively, how did the collaboration work? How were ideas governed and developed between multiple people?

Kevin: We bounced some ideas back and forth and wrote a chapter each. We would stop every so often and reflect at where we were at and see if anything wasn’t working and review it. It all went pretty smoothly.

Christina: There was a lot of passing back and forth, feedback, and gut-checking. Kevin and I exchanged the outline and the manuscript. Taking turns kept us from wandering too far down a path without input from the other author. Phil came into the process when the story was pretty much done, and he could draw all he wanted based on those words.

Phil: From my perspective, I tried to keep as true to the author’s intentions and vision for the life of the creatures and world they inhabited. I threw some of my own aesthetics into the mix where appropriate, but nothing to distract from the origins of the story. Ideas flowed quite freely between all of us.

Logistically, how did collaboration work? Did you meet up? Get on the phone? Zoom?

Kevin: Everything was done via email and Facebook messenger. I’m in the UK and the others are in the US so no meeting was possible. I’m not a massive fan of video chatting, so I try to avoid it where possible.

Christina: The idea was cultivated over messenger, but the project work was done over email. Phil and I were able to get together and hang out since we both live in the same city, but Kevin lives in another part of the world.

Phil: Mostly chats, emails, and the occasional call.

How was collaborating? Did you enjoy it? Was it maddening?

Kevin: I really enjoyed it. I’ve done it with 3 different authors now, and each time it has been different, but it’s always been fun. In some ways, it’s more fun than writing on your own as you have someone to talk to about your project and it keeps you motivated.

Christina: I have always enjoyed collaborating with other artists. I have worked with visual artists before and enjoyed the balance of mediums. This was my first time working with another author on the same work, not an anthology. I really enjoyed it. I have done tag writing exercises before, where you write a sentence or paragraph and pass it off and the story goes it very unexpected directions. This felt like a much more controlled development of that. The story went in ways I would have never imagined on my own, and I loved that.

Phil: Loved it, and want to do more, much much more!

What really worked about the collaboration?

Kevin: I think it helped that we had read each other’s previous work and liked it, so we knew what we were getting into. Neither of us was too controlling, but we both had out own opinions. It was a good blend.

Christina: We started from a common baseline. We all loved the idea and the themes. Then I think everyone was the right amount of flexible. Everyone contributed, but everyone was also willing to bend and adapt to accommodate the other contributors. It was a good balance.

Phil: Our collective love of survival and apocalyptic themes, in concert with the great introspection displayed by characters, sprinkled with a bit of monster mayhem. In short, it just worked.

What would you do differently in future collaborations? Will you work with other artists again?

Kevin: We mapped out more of book 2 in advance. It came to a stand still when my father became unwell, but we are returning to it now and hopefully it’ll move quickly again now that I have more time. I will definitely do more co-writes.

Christina: In future collaborations, I would probably push an outline earlier. We already learned our lesson and did that first for Screechers 2. I definitely look forward to future co-writing and collaboration projects, with Kevin and Phil and other artists/authors.

Phil: Personally, I just need to get better about being more organized and time-oriented when I’m doing this kind of work in my free time. It’s all too easy to take the “work hat” off and slip into my habits of distraction when I just illustrate for myself.

What about the collaboration shows up in the finished product? What makes it unique?

Kevin: I think the whole point it to make it seem like a solo work. The idea was to have the voices blend although we were writing separate parts.

Christina: I think this collaboration is unique because we had our own sandboxes. It is the weaving of two separate perspectives, humans and monsters, that then collide. Instead of trying to make the dual authors completely transparent, we leaned on that strength to create a layered story. Then we brought the cover artist more into the process than always happens. Phil got to pick our brains before drawing the art.

Phil: Again, I tried my best to be the visual conduit through which the story just flowed. Everything within the book was so strong on its own merit I didn’t want to overdo anything and stray from the vision of the authors.

What is your favorite part of the work that the other persons contributed?

Kevin: I enjoyed the relationship Christina created with the humans in the book. It filled the story out and kept those parts exciting too. I loved Phil’s art and how he brought some of our monsters to life.

Christina: Kevin’s monster fight scene was my favorite part. I focused on the human relationships and humanizing the survivors, but ultimately, Kevin’s monsters were more sympathetic than my characters. That dynamic turned out great. Then I always love how Phil brings what is on the page to life.

Phil: Just getting into their headspace through the writing process as the book took shape and how we would continue to motivate and excite each other as we all came out with more parts of the story through our mediums.

You can find Kevin here: https://www.kevinjkennedy.co.uk/

You can find Phil’s art on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/philbeachchair/

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

I wanted to be in Telluride this weekend. I wanted to be up in the mountains surrounded by aspens ignited in golden leaves, walking through the crisp air to shiver in queue after queue for horror movie screenings at my fourth straight year at the Telluride Horror Show.

Yet, as with just about everything in recent days, the Telluride Horror Show went virtual this year. And, as with just about everything in recent days, it was better than nothing, but it was just not what I wanted. There is only so much that you can emulate online, especially when everything is now forced online into a distanced echo of what it used to be.

We do what we can under the current constraints. Telluride Horror Show definitely made every effort to virtualize the festival experience and offerings, so rather than spend another blog post analyzing my pandemic fatigue and depression, I will strive to stay on topic.

For the Shelter-in-Place Edition, the Telluride Horror Show endeavored to provide the variety of their programming and the sense of community in the usual experience online. Beyond feature films, the offerings included recorded campfire tales, director and/or cast commentaries, horror trivia, a virtual lounge, and other events I didn’t even get to sample.

However, it was all that: online. All that flat, glowing screen of the television or the smartphone. It was all socially distant. With all of life filtered through these damned screens lately, it felt so reductive. For me, rather than bringing me closer to the experience, it called attention to everything I was missing and could not currently have.

But that is just how my brain works in this pandemic.

We did the best we could, as we have been for months, with the situation. We gathered our cohort together to put on our own miniature horror fest. At times, it included children milling around in other rooms or yelling at uncooperative dogs. We employed a couple different venues for variety.

To be entirely honest, our viewing started out quite rough. The first few features we attempted were disappointing and seemed to amplify the bitterness of not being in Telluride itself. We really struggled with the film descriptions. We were misled multiple times over the weekend and found that, ultimately, we were missing the festival chatter, the reviews we would hear in lines between movies and at the bar from other movie-goers.

However, I do not enjoy writing bad reviews. As an indie artist, I do not like to rip apart something I know people put themselves into or truly loved. So, this festival recap is not going to be about how a virtual festival flirted with zoom burnout or which movies did not suit my particular palate. Rather, I am going to focus on everything the Shelter-in-Place Edition of the Telluride Horror Show did right.

Perks of watching from home:

  • Comfort: While the Sheridan and the Nugget theaters may be beautiful and storied (if not haunted) venues, they are not the most ergonomic after compound hours. Sheltering at home, it could be the couch or the floor or the bathtub or the backyard or all of the above! While I missed the long walks between screenings, some in our party who were relieved to be skipping them. And there was no shivering outside in line and zero waiting.
  • Convenience: In Telluride, we often encountered the dilemma of two conflicting screenings. However, at home, we were the film programmers. We watched the on demand movies, shorts, and events when we wanted and in the order we wanted. Had to pee? Pause! Needed a snack? Pause! Wanted to start early or run late? We could do whatever we wanted.
  • Concessions: While a normal Telluride includes sandwiches shoved in a bag, popcorn, candy, and booze, the home part of sheltering opened the door to much more elaborate snacks and meals. We could eat and drink whatever we wanted. Hell, we could have it delivered. The bar and the kitchen were inside our theater.
  • Conversation: A festival may be more of a communal viewing than a typical movie, with laughter and banter encouraged. However, it would still be disrespectful for a group of assholes (us) to chatter through an entire film. Yet, when that group of assholes is the entire audience, we could do what we wanted. Especially when we were not entirely enjoying the movie, rowdy joking was exactly what we needed to elevate the experience.
  • Cost: Holy cost effective! The Shelter-in-Place Edition included SO MUCH content for the price. And with the convenience of the format, we were able to consume so much more of it in the timeframe. Much more horror for each dollar spent.

Our viewing may have started rocky, and we may have missed a scheduled screening due to not fully understanding how those were working. Yet, we still found plenty of horror to enjoy in this year’s programming. I have never been able to watch so many shorts at a fest before!

My favorite films (in no particular order):

  • The Columnist: A horror comedy that reminded me of two of my books (clearly, the themes speak to me) where trolls on the internet push one writer too far
  • Bloodthirsty: A refreshing rendition of a neglected subgenre that finds a vegan singer struggling against all kinds of hunger as she works on her new album
  • Dark Stories: A clever anthology of spooky stories a mother tells a possessed doll to keep it distracted
  • Butchers: A rare exception to my distaste of the hillbilly subgenre with teenagers breaking down in the middle of nowhere and encountering a family of sadistic butchers
  • Possessor (honorable mention): A sci-fi mingling including an assassin who possesses others to execute her jobs until she finds herself trapped in the last host

My favorite shorts (in a very particular order):

  1. Keith: A little girl meets the monster under her bed
  2. We All Scream: A little boy is tempted by a clown in an ice cream truck
  3. Oh Deer!: A father teaches his son what to do when they hit a deer with their car
  4. Carmentis: A injured miner struggles to survive on a harsh planet
  5. There’s a Ghost in the House: A couple bickers over the appearance of an apparition in their living room
  6. Face Your Fears: A woman faces a challenge to concur her fear of the dark

In Review

This is going to sound fucking ridiculous and corny, but the truth is the truth.

<cheesyTruth>Horror festivals have always been about more than the movies for us. My husband took me to my first for my birthday (Stanley Film Festival). We made some great friends there, and they told us about the Telluride Horror Show. So we brought some friends and started attending. The next year, we brought more friends. Then we met more people, brought more people. It became its own thing.

The horror movies are always what we go for but are not what the experience is about. It is the trip and the experience–but mostly the people. This year, we could not have the trip and we had to cram the experience into the screen, but we still had (some of) the people. So we still had the part of our horror show that mattered. </cheesyTruth>

So cheers to more horror and more horror shows and to being able to bring it all back in person again in the future years!

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

To put it frankly and in my signature vernacular: things are fucked.

Around this mark in the calendar each year I tend to fall into a depression sink hole, even in this best of years, and this is far from the best of years. I don’t know if it is the transition from hated summer into welcomed fall or some repressed trauma milestone, yet it arrives as regularly as the seasons themselves. The bald patches where my hair has abandoned my head for the first time since I was 17 testifies to what is being internalized below my scalp. I definitely find myself in brief moments rapt in the siren song that 2020 is the end of the world.

However, I do (logically) know better. Despite how good the memes are, there is nothing supernatural or maybe ultimately even that exceptional about the year 2020. This is not the world’s first novel virus or pandemic. Climate change didn’t start in 2020. Governments aren’t suddenly corrupt. Racial injustice didn’t begin when cellphones captured it and social media made it go viral. The well of human atrocities is deep and chronologically expansive. And I doubt when humans decide to start saying “2021”, the world and all its events (or the consequences for our own stupidity and selfishness) will decide to yield.

Though, illusory correlation or not, it does feel like 2020 is a convergence of many of these things, a culmination of numerous building unsavory aspects of our reality. And personally, the macro level has been paired with upheaval and chaos at the micro level. The last time my faith in the world and humanity was uprooted, it was in global ideas. Yet I could still take solace in my personal life, the little things I could touch. This time, no perspective or granularity of experience seems safe.

Things could always be worse and may still yet be… but they just were better too. However, this post is not intended to be about the current state of the world (could be a novel that I may write one day) or my life. Rather, this post is supposed to be about decidedly the opposite, about giving myself permission to turn away from those fixations briefly… for my month: October.

Anyone who knows me or follows me is aware that beyond being a horror author, I am an authentic horror genre and Halloween enthusiast. To suit my extreme/fixative personality, I go all in for holiday and surrounding month of October. (Let’s be real: the entire season, if not year round.)

It may seem flippant (and it definitely is) in times like these to indulge in books and movies and a holiday. However, these social media accounts are dedicated to my horror writing and the simple love of the genre. And I, for one, need the distraction. I need the simplicity. I haven’t stopped caring or worrying about all the more significant or more catastrophic elements around me, but I need to balance that with some irreverent fun. Otherwise, why bother?

While it may seem odd to watch zombie apocalypse movies during a global pandemic or while it may seem stupid to be excited over pumpkin spice and orange decorations while the western part of the country is on fire, my constant devout attention will not solve any of those problems. It will, however, cripple my mental health and cause my hair to fall out by the handful. It was always silly to wear a Halloween shirt every day and watch a horror movie for bingo every night. This year, it just seems ridiculous. Yet I am electing to give myself a little grace to be odd and stupid and find some damn joy somewhere, where I have always found it since childhood.

In my struggle to cope with all the things, I am attempting to come back to my own mantra, the mantra that was born out of the last time I dealt with these feelings. Life is largely shit and can end at any moment, so I need to suck any ounce of joy I can from any given moment. I need to pair this with the sentiment of controlling only what I can control. I may be able to take actions to help these macro problems, but I cannot control them. Some days, I may need to resign to work and worry at the micro level.

It is a luxury to be flippant and to capitalize on enjoyment when possible, so I am going to attempt to luxuriate a little bit. In short, it really is a shit show all around us. I am aware and have not forgotten. But for this month, it is still going to be horror movies and Hallowear and all the spooky traditions!

If nothing else, the pandemic has slowed me down, forced me to be “in” much more than I am accustomed. Historically, in October, I went all the places and did all the things and skidded into November a shell of a person. That is not an option this year.

This year will be about quality versus quantity. I will only be able to do a small subset of my normal activities and celebrations, but I intend to do them fully. Telluride Horror Show will be virtual; no haunted houses; no trick-or-treating; tiny cohort Halloween party. I intend to adapt to experience or create them in new ways. Rather than contorting and trying to shove normalcy into an abnormal situation, I am going to find a new realizations for these circumstances.

But whatever I do, I will be going all in.

Christina Bergling

https://linktr.ee/chrstnabergling

Another year has passed. I’m not quite sure how this one managed to fly by so quickly. It feels like I blinked last New Year’s and opened my eyes on the other side of Christmas. Some of this acceleration is my own fault for packing every moment of every day with activities and experiences. It is my Thoreau-based life philosophy to suck the marrow out of every second, yet I think I may have hit the threshold this year where I nearly sucked the marrow out of myself in the process. And the rest of it is just that I am getting old and the years cycle by more rapidly.

2018 was a heavy authoring and publications year. 2019 focused more on my non-writing life. Not really by my choice but rather the swing of the pendulum. My day job progressed into a lot more travel and a promotion. The travel often gave me more opportunities to write uninterrupted (completing a draft of my next novel, for example), yet more demands and more hours also got in the way of writing, posting, reviewing, speaking.

My personal life also required more of my time. From the inevitability of increased parenting obligations to death in the family and funerals.

2019, in short, was death and travel.

A lot of other things did happen, but those were the loudest themes.  Amidst drafting my latest novel (now deeply in the cycles of editing), I also did manage to get a few works published and to get out there and pretend to be an author.

Publications

March: “This Way,” “Prison,” “The Leftovers” in 100 Word Horrors 2

March: Screechers with Kevin J. Kennedy

March: “Awake” in America’s Emerging Horror Writers: West Region

“Malignant” (formerly released with Savages) in The Horror Collection: Purple Edition

While these few pieces (mostly in March) may seem insufficient to me, especially after the year of the short story in 2018, I have to remind myself that I wrote a novel too. It is not finished and it is not published, but it is written. The story exists outside of me, and that’s an accomplishment. If it does get published, it will be my second full length novel, after The Rest Will Come in 2017. Again, something worth including in the year review.

In 2020, I hope to be able to see the novel is under contract.

Events

In annual tradition, we attended the Telluride Horror Show. I won’t regurgitate my post on the fest, but it was a fantastic year. We saw great movies, participated in epic cosplay, and kicked ass at trivia.

The films were exceptionally solid this year, and I wrote up a couple reviews for Daily Dead again.

Against my better judgement, I also participated in another book signing event. After Behind the Mask in Nashville was such a bust, I swore I would never try it again. I made an exception for Deadly Reality at The Stanley Hotel. I won’t repeat that post either.

The event was not a great fit for me and my work, but I saw moderate success at the table. It was also a fun experience (mostly with the company I brought with me) and a great trip. How many times does one wander the halls of The Stanley Hotel dressed as one of the Grady sisters?

The weekend was worthwhile, but (once again) I have resolved to stay away from signing events. However, my collaborators and I do have eyes on new attempts and new events in the new year.

So, I made it through the year, partially skidding across the line on my face. I was distracted and tested but still managed to be a writer and accomplish a couple things as an author.

In my personal life, my goal is to make 2020 a rebuilding year. I need to simplify and regroup, reestablish the foundation so the whole damn house doesn’t come crashing down on me. I’m hoping this change will benefit my writing too, give me time and focus to prioritize writing. 2020 can be a rebuilding year for all things.

I’m not sad to put 2019 behind me, so happy new year!

 

Christina Bergling

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