I had the opportunity to attend the 12th annualTexas Frightmare Weekend on May 5th though the 7th. It was a fun experience, meeting celebrities from past and current films, and chatting with fellow fans of horror. One of the main highlights for me was meeting indie/self-published authors of the genre. It was such a pleasure to speak with some of these hard-working writers. Self-publishing is not an easy gig and I commend them for a job well done.
One of the writers I met at Texas Frightmare Weekend was Dennis McDonald. He is a down-to-earth guy and I really enjoyed speaking with him. What I really liked about Dennis was his sincere appreciation for the reader. He took the time to speak with fans of horror and made sure he snapped a picture with everyone who received one of his books. I purchased his book, 13 Nightmares, a collection of short horror stories.
13 Nightmares was an enjoyable read. Scary and entertaining, the stories jumped out and made the hairs on my neck stand up. In it, you’ll find a dark ominous figure that befriends a little girl, a nasty little clown, an army of roaches, a haunted sex doll, and an unlucky couple in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those are just a few of the stories from McDonald’s imagination. Each story was imbued with deep characters. Their life experiences and situations produced a common theme throughout the book – the iniquitous decisions you make, past and present, have a horrifying consequence. And I mean, very horrifying.
Dennis’ originality really shows through in his work, “The Last Trick or Treater”. An old man tells a ghostly story to his home health nurse. She realizes that sometimes stories are true when she hears an ominous knock on the door, signaling the arrival of the last trick or treater. She becomes intertwined in a fight for survival in this chilling tale. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll let you read it. “The Last Trick or Treater”, should be added to your midnight camp fire tales.
If you love short horror fiction, I recommend this book. 13 Nightmares is available on Amazon. You can visit Dennis McDonald to learn more. Because of the popularity of 13 Nightmares, Dennis is working on his second book of short stories titled 13 More Nightmares.
“Darkness had not taken full hold, but it had set in, and fingers of its shadow clutched the town, drawing it slowly into its fists.” – Joe Lansdale, Dead In The West
The Western frontier represents a time of discovery, wealth, and new beginnings in America’s history. Defining ‘frontier’ would simply confine it’s meaning to where the horizon engulfs the sunset every night without any real thought to what may lie beyond the horizon. Literary forms of storytelling have revealed the limitless designs of the human imagination through classic, as well as modern, fiction, and non-fiction stories alike. The literary voices of the past define, as well as redefine, our American history shaping our former world into one of adventure and exploration. In the case of Joe Lansdale’s Dead in the West, many prevalent elements such as horror, religion, and the supernatural are planted throughout the story producing the fruit of an enjoyable read.
The protagonist, Reverend Jebidiah Mercer (previously known as Reverend Rains in other novels), is a man that serves the vocation of his pastoral duties to which he refers to as, “the good right arm of the Lord”. With a sense, or non-sense, of moral ambiguity that is guided by his own interpretation of God’s will, the Reverend finds himself in the midst of a Shaman’s curse beseeching the dead to rise and feed. “Brethren, I kill sin,” are words of the Reverend that serve as the driving force to his commitment in slaying the evil that threatens to encroach on God’s land, East Texas.
“The dead were hungry. They went to the houses of friends, relatives, and enemies. Those of the living who were not completely devoured soon joined in the hungry ranks.”
Lansdale has a unique ability in blending genres so effectively; one can easily find his stories in any category. Although the synopsis would indicate that Dead in the West is a horror novel, it would also seem appropriate to label this book as a western. For those well acquainted with Lansdale’s body of work, his capacity for great storytelling is limitless. Dead in the West is funny, dark, bloody, and paces itself with the intent of keeping the reader interested and invested with each character every step of the way.
This edition of Lansdale’s Dead in the West is titled Deadman’s Road. The book features five stories headlined by Dead in the West occupying the bulk of this edition. Reverend Jebidiah Mercer is the protagonist in all five stories featured in this issue serving his portion of crude dialogue, humor, and gunslinger-on-edge personality. With the conclusion of each tale, Lansdale reveals the changes in Mercer’s character through his trials of fighting evil and their effects on him. Plagued not only by the darkness that surrounds him, Mercer must also defeat the demons of his past that lurk inside of him.
Lansdale has crafted quite a remarkable piece of literature. Originally published in 1986, Dead in the West continues to capture new audiences even in the midst of the saturated zombie market. Once Dead in the West is checked off the bucket list, Bubba Ho-Tep is another epic horror novel by Lansdale you should not miss. Don’t take my word for it. If Bruce Campbell plays the main character in the movie adaptation, it should be great. Thanks for reading.