Just finished reading this delightful romp through the mind of the extremely talented, Janine Pipe! I had read her stories before in the women of horror anthologies published by Kandisha Press and loved them, so it was a no brainer to purchase this little ditty! As usual, she wows the reader with her creativity by presenting this collection as lost papers of a semi-famous author written as an 80s mixtape, complete with titles of 80s songs for each story. Since my partying days long, long, ago were in the 80s, I was drawn to that. But then again, who doesn’t love 80s music?!
Each story is so well done and fires up the reader’s imagination and anticipation immediately upon entry. Many of them leave the reader wanting more, much in the same style as shorts by the illustrious, Stephen King. The collection is permeated with ghosts, legendary creatures, folklore; a buffet of all things horror.
I also love that she put author notes at the end of each tale. I love getting a glimpse into the writer’s mind. And of course I’m drawn to her writing because much like me she is heavily influenced by the TV show, Supernatural.
Janine Pipe with her awesome range when it comes to writing horror, is on her way to being a force to be reckoned with in the horror writing community. I give this anthology 5 stars!
Bio: Trading in a police badge and then classroom, Janine is a full-time Splatterpunk Award nominated writer, whilst also being a mum, wife and Disney addict. Influenced by the works of King from a young age, she likes to shock readers with violence and scare them with monsters – both mythical and man-made. When she’s not killing people off, she likes to chew the fat with other authors – reviewing books and conducting interviews for her podcast and YouTube channel. You’ll likely find her devouring work by Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Her biggest fan, beta reader, editor and financier is her loving husband. He just wants her to write a story about werewolves that wear shoes on their hands …
Guys! I’m doing my first author interview with Janine Pipe, my kindred spirit of horror!
Thank you for being my first interview victim, Janine! Here goes…first question:
CC: I’m sure you’ve always been drawn to writing as many of us are, but at what point did you decide to pursue writing with publication in mind?
Janine: A couple of years ago I was made redundant due to budget cuts. My daughter was school age so I suddenly had some time on my hands. I had been blogging in the travel genre for a while but my passion for fiction had always been horror. I started writing a few bits and pieces, just the kind of stuff that I would want to read and fully immersed myself in the community to learn about how to sub, who to sub to etc. which was vital and as with most people, I had rather a lot of rejections. My first ever proper acceptance was with Kandisha of course and the rest as they say is history. It is still nerve-wracking though for sure, each and every time something gets released as you are putting yourself out there. But that’s the game.
CC: Why the horror genre? What specifically drew you to it?
Janine: Horror and dark, psychological thrillers have always been my bag. Right from a young age, I was drawn to the more macabre side of things and had a fascination/deep terror of all things supernatural. To this day ghost stories both excite and scare the crap out of me. As a teen I loved the cat and mouse type fun of Point Horror and the character driven small town narrative of King. I also read a lot of crime books as I always wanted to be a police officer. Lore in particular has always really interested me too, I love the origins of certain legends and growing up near Glastonbury and Stonehenge was just the icing on the cake.
CC: Who are your greatest influences in the horror genre?
Janine: It would be remiss of me not to say King as the genesis of my love of this genre and his work like Carrie, Salem’s Lot and IT have had a great impact on me. But more recently, I am for sure inspired/influenced by my own 3 favourite authors – Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. Also, women like Caroline Kepnes and Kenzie Jennings and although not best known for her fictional writing, Sadie Hartmann for her passion and spark.
CC: Okay, here’s the really cliché question, where do your ideas come from?
Janine: Sometimes I’ll just be hit with a spontaneous idea and that it almost always somewhere inconvenient like in the shower, lol. Then it’s like some sort of fever dream as I desperately try to write it all down. Other times, I get ideas from things I have read or seen. Not copying obviously, but taking the initial idea and growing it, changing it, making it my own. An example being The Special by James Newman and Mark Steensland – that is a story ultimately about sex addition and a dude that fucks a box. I turned my version into teen boys and a hole in a tree but it definitely originated from that. I actually sent James my story and he liked it. Thank god 😉
CC: Once you have an idea, how do you flesh out a story?
Janine: So, I’m a total pantster, I’ll have like an egg of an idea and then I’ll just write and let the rest come organically. Sometimes even I have no idea where we are headed until said egg hatches and I’m like woah I did not see that coming haha. One of the things that I enjoy writing and developing is banter between my characters and I have had some lovely feedback about how realistic it is, especially between male characters. I’m not sure how I can delve into the teen boy mind quite so well but it seems to work!
CC: You have your first book coming out, could you tell us a little about it?
Janine: Sure. Whilst I am super proud of all of my anthology contributions, I really wanted to work on something of my own and something longer. Cue two WIPs that will hopefully see the light of day some time, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I realised that what I enjoy writing most is flash and shorts. I had quite a few already that I had stored waiting for the right anthology to come along and I just thought to myself, why don’t you put them altogether and see what you got? Alongside two of my favourites which we already published – Footsteps which is my Splatterpunk Award nominated work and They from Glenn Rolfe’s Alien Agenda Sampler, I had another twelve stories that were ready. I wrote three more, two which would be considered extreme/splatterpunk. There are seventeen stories in total, varying in sub-genre from creature features to gothic, to haunted houses to urban legends. They are mainly set in the 80s/90s and are tied together with an overseeing narrator who has happened upon the collection along with a mixtape which contains the songs which are the titles of the stories and three more relating to the others. I created a Spotify playlist to go along with it and honestly because I love the 80s, it was just so much fun to litter it with pop culture references.
CC: You’re also an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press, could you tell us a little about that as well?
Janine: Jill was the very first person who accepted one of my shorts for the Kandisha Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2 Graveyard Smash. After working with her for that, we became friends and as well as contributing to Volume 3, she asked if I would help out with some publicity too. The next logical step was to become an editor and we have some amazing plans already for 2022/23 and beyond. Jill is one of my very best friends and working with her is like a dream come true. We have the same hopes and aspirations for Kandisha and between us, we hope to amplify women in horror and become a place for more of us to have a voice.
CC: As you know, I loved your story, “The Invitation” which was featured in the second anthology, Graveyard Smash, put forth by Kandisha Press. It seems that you and I both have a love for the TV show, Supernatural, because I felt a real vibe from that show in your story. Am I right?
Janine: 100% lol. I didn’t actively channel Sam and Dean when I wrote that but I guess it’s always in my subconscious as it is for sure my favourite TV show. One of the things I love most about SPN, asides from the great characters, is the humour and a lot of my work shows that. Even if I’m trying to write a genuinely creepy piece, I usually end up breaking the tension calling someone an ass-hat or the like. I can’t help it. I love my horror to be funny too. I have another story in TTT which is a definite nod to Dean. Now if someone can just ask Jensen if he wants a copy …
CC: What advice would you have for writers like myself that are just starting out?
Janine: The best advice I can give is keep at it and just write as much as you can. Once you have words on a page, you can edit, change, play with it. You can’t do that with a blank space. Read as much as possible too. Support other indies but also read some of the classics. There is a reason people like King, Ketchum, Keene and Laymon are considered the Masters. Learn from them. Books like King’s On Writing and Tim Waggoner’s Writing in the Dark are essential too to hone your craft. Also you need a super thick skin. Everyone gets one star reviews, everyone gets negative comments because not every reader will like your voice, your style. I roll that dice often with my more extreme stories. Some people dig that, others really, really don’t like it and will tell you. And it hurts because that’s your baby but you have to just accept it, learn from it and move on. As has been seen over and over, never ever retaliate as it is their right to have an opinion. Be kind, civil and respect reviewers. They matter. Which shouldn’t need to be said, we should all just always be civil all the time.
CC: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Janine: Characters. I love creating these people. Sometimes they are a mixture of real-life friends or an homage someone fictional e.g. I love Richie from IT. I love the camaraderie of Sam and Dean. I love the shit the kids give each other in again IT and more recently, Malignant Summer from Tim Meyer. Building relationships with my creations is one of the best things about writing 100%.
CC: Thank you for being my first ever author interview! Any parting words of wisdom for me and my readers?
Janine: Thank YOU for taking the time to talk with me and letting me be your first victim, I mean guest. Ha. Words of wisdom from me? That’ll be hard. The best advice I was ever given and I live by it, is write what you would read. That way it feels authentic in my opinion. If I tried to write in one of the sub-genres I don’t like, my heart wouldn’t be in it so it wouldn’t feel so real. That’s not always the case of course and as you become more prolific you are likely able to put yourself into any character, setting, plot with ease. But when you’re starting out, writing something you know and enjoy makes it far easier. This is why a lot of my stories involve creatures, cryptids and cops. It’s what I know.
When I was ten years old, I had watched, helpless, as the monster killed my mother. Now, ten years later, I almost pitied him in his weakened state. But I had no time for pity, forgiveness. I don’t know why the vile, smelly creature let me live that day ten years ago. But I had promised him that one day, I would be the one to kill him and I was here to make good on that promise.
The room I found him lying in reeked of beer and cigarettes. I guess that’s what his kind subsisted on between their bloodthirsty hunts. He was lying on a small mattress in the corner of the room…mouth open and in mid snore. It was one of those nasty sounding, phlegm producing types of snores belonging to a creature who is succumbing to some illness, or very old age. But the monster wasn’t that old for his kind, so maybe he did suffer from some affliction.
He opened his eyes, but in his delirium thought I was someone else.
“Bring me some water,” he croaked and closed his eyes again.
I didn’t move. I stood there watching him and listening, but no one else was in the crappy, little, run down house. He resumed his death rattle snore. I decided I needed a little fresh air. I left the room and exited the house through the front door. I stood on the front porch of the old house and spread out before me was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. A mixture of different shades of pinks, oranges and reds streamed across the western sky above the grove of Cedar and Fir trees that blocked the view of the house from the long, winding, country road. The house was secluded, which made sense since his kind preferred to remain isolated from society.
As I watched the sunset, the old John Denver song came back to the forefront of my mind…sung so many years ago in elementary school. Country road, take me home…to the place, I belong… I didn’t belong here, but I guess he did…his kind.
I turned back toward the house. It was small, and the wood was grayed out from years of exposure to the elements because there wasn’t a drop of paint to protect it. There were a couple of Texas live oaks on either side of it and the skeletons of dead bushes in front, under the windows on either side of the porch. This had been someone’s family home long ago, but now the monster desecrated its memory.
The light was fading fast, so I walked back into the house to finally exact my revenge and feel the closure I desired so much…after all these years.
I walked back into the dank, musty, bedroom. He was sitting up…a gun in one hand and a beer in the other.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“You don’t recognize me?”
“Um, no. Should I?” he asked as he took a swig of the stale beer and pointed his gun at me.
“So, you’re going to murder me too? And you’re using a gun? You were a little more hands on with my mother, but I guess you’re weaker now,” I said, taking a step toward him.
“I don’t murder…” he began as he was overcome with a violent coughing fit and dropped the gun, while managing to hold onto the beer.
I stepped closer and snatched the gun from the floor. The monster laughed and downed the rest of the beer before smashing the bottle against the wall beside the mattress and then pointing the broken, jagged, end that remained toward me.
“I won’t go down without a fight,” he said.
“No, your kind never does,” I answered.
“My kind? I’m no monster. I save lives.”
“Not a monster?!” I shouted, “You save lives?! You murdered my mother! She was innocent!”
“I don’t kill innocents. Only evil scum. Those that deserve to die. I’ve always been careful not to kill those that do no harm.”
“My mother never hurt anyone!”
“Look boy, if I did kill your mother, she deserved it. You just weren’t aware of your mother’s crimes.”
I wanted to kill him right then, the self-righteous bastard. But I needed him to remember. I wanted him to know who I was.
“Think back old man, to ten years ago. Do you remember murdering a young woman in her own home in front of her ten-year-old son?”
The monster just looked at me with dead eyes.
“You can’t remember a ten-year-old boy who made a promise to you?”
It finally sinks in. I see it in his eyes. But there is no fear in them, just realization.
“Well go ahead and kill me. It’s better than the Big C anyway, as Stephen King likes to call it.”
I just stare at him, while he stares back. This is not how I envisioned it. I raise the gun and point it at his face. He just sits there. I shoot him and it’s over in an instant. I look at his lifeless body slumped over on the aging mattress and I feel nothing. Ten years of hating and hunting, but I feel numb. Closure is not a thing.
I walk up to his lifeless body, letting the gun drop from my hand and summon the six-inch claws to extend from my fingertips. I then drive them into his chest and pull out his heart. It’s still beating as I rip into it with my fangs and devour it.
Tremble is a fun ride! A page turner for sure, or button pusher if you’re reading on Kindle. 🙂 I could hardly catch my breath as I read it, and almost lost my job because it was so hard to put down!
It’s both a psychological and paranormal thriller! The suspense and surprises along the way keep the reader on her toes. The main character, Becca, has been recently widowed, but thought she had found love again with someone she had considered a friend. It turns out that her friend/lover has a very dark side which he was expert at hiding from everyone, as truly sinister people often are. She returns to her childhood home to escape him, in spite of the the tragic memories of an abusive mother that she had escaped so many years before. But the haunting of memories in the old house is nothing compared to the actual haunting that she had forgotten about. Her childhood imaginary friend, was not so imaginary it turns out.
Becca manages to find true love in the form of a helpful neighbor soon after she returns to her childhood home, but she and those around her are in constant danger from her psycho former lover and the supernatural. Nikki Freeman even delves into the mind of the serial killing ex-boyfriend as he relentlessly pursues Becca by any means necessary.
I’d like to think Ms. Freeman is a Supernatural fan like me because at one point a ghost hunter in the story says, “Son of a bitch! That’s awesome!” Seems like she’s paying homage to Dean Winchester there! 😉
I loved this book and there’s even a twist at the end, which I really love! Sequel maybe?! Tremble by Nikki Freeman is a 5 star read for sure!
So Stephen King was right when he said, writers have to read; or is right I guess, because he probably still says it. I would like to add, that writers need to watch TV too. There is so much great writing on television now and I get so many ideas there. My latest short story idea came to me from both reading, and binge watching on Netflix.
So I just finished reading this little ditty and it’s awesome by the way! I’ll be writing a review very soon. Kandisha Press has outdone itself with the horror anthologies that they publish. Here’s the review I did for the first one, Under Her Black Wings. Their third anthology, The One That Got Away, is coming out on February 1, 2021:
These collections of horror tales, all written by women, are some of the best I’ve ever read. Jill Girardi is chief honcho at Kandisha Press and she and her crew are sweeping the internet and the world with thrilling tales of terror!
So my newest idea for a tale of the macabre comes from a combination of reading and TV watching as I said. For those who follow my blog (all 12 of you!), you know about my fascination with the television show, Supernatural:
No, I’m not an obsessed fan girl, although, I like watching pretty people doing cool stuff as much as the next guy. I really love the writing and creativity on this show and the humor inserted amongst all the serious, scary stuff is what I love the most about it. Anyway, so I was watching Season 7, Episode 3, “The Girl Next Door”, and it’s one of the episodes where they leave something dangling. Dean kills a kitsune who happens to be a mom, and her ten year old son sees him do it. For some unknown reason, Dean lets him live and of course the boy vows vengeance. Well of course that character never shows up again in the series. (SPOILER ALERT-if you haven’t finished the Supernatural series yet.) They must have forgotten about him because he should have been the one to kill Dean. Anyhoo, I filed this kid away in the back of my brain.
The next day, I’m reading, Graveyard Smash again, and I’ve gotten to the story, “The Invitation” by Janine Pipe, and all of a sudden as I’m reading it the kid pops to the front of my mind. So long story short, between that short story and the TV episode, it totally clicked in my mind. I grabbed my handy dandy spiral notebook (I like to write by hand first) and I began the story. I love it when a plan comes together!
So coming soon, my review of, Graveyard Smash and my newest horror tale, “Monster”! And read, everybody, read!! Oh yeah, and watch TV!
Tears streamed down Bella’s face as she gulped down more cheap wine and watched an episode of Supernatural on Netflix that she had seen a thousand times before. It was the one where dead loved ones “phoned home” to their grieving relatives. One of them even used AOL Instant Messenger because the episode originally aired in the mid 2,000s.
Bella hadn’t showered in two days and she wore the same pjs for said two days. Needless to say, she reeked, and her TV watching domain reeked too. She had been drinking for almost the entire time too. There were two empty wine bottles on the TV tray next to her recliner and a third one already half empty. Empty chip bags were strewn about the floor around her and the current bag of Ruffles that she was working on was in her lap; a lap that was covered in chip crumbs and spilled wine.
This season of Supernatural was the one that featured the beautiful, but troubled character also named Bela, except with one l. But the name was more fitting for that character because she was truly beautiful. The real-life Bella who lounged in her own filth was not so beautiful. She was middle-aged, fifty pounds overweight and alone. She regularly had her gray hair touched up with blonde highlights, but she put no effort into anything else on her aging, sagging body. She had given up on wearing makeup long ago.
Bella, the real one, shoved more chips in her mouth as crumbs showered over her lap and then washed that down with more crappy, red wine. As she watched the dead contact the characters on the episode, she entertained a crazy thought. She found herself in this current state of despair because her grandmother had just died the day before. Even though their meetups often ended in arguments, she had truly loved the old woman.
Bella’s iPhone was on the TV tray amongst the army of dead soldiers that had done their duty and given their lives in contributing to her current state of sloppy drunkenness. She set down her wine glass and carefully removed her cell from amongst the sentinels. The back of it was sticky with wine residue, but Bella was too drunk to care. She typed in her passcode and after two failed attempts managed to type it in correctly the third time. She looked at her recent calls and the third one down said, Granny, because she had just talked to her grandmother a few days prior.
She looked at it for a moment and then pressed it and placed the phone to her ear. It rang a couple of times and Bella was about to put the phone back down because even in her current mental state, she knew she was being stupid and crazy…
“Hello, honey,” the familiar crackling, Texas accent of her Granny said through the phone.
Bella jumped from her chair, chip bag flying from her lap and phone launched from her hand as if it were on fire.
Bella stood, trembling all over as Netflix continued to the next episode of Supernatural as if nothing had happened. As Bella watched, her phone lit up and vibrated as apparently her Granny called her back. She watched the phone move about the carpet, while she remained frozen in place. Her heart raced as she stared at it. The phone went dark and just as Bella had convinced herself that she had imagined the whole thing, the phone resumed its antics.
Bella said out loud, “Fuck it!” and swooped up the phone and answered it.
“Hello,” said Bella.
“Why did you hang up on me honey?”
Bella was sobbing now as she listened to the familiar voice.
“Bella? Why are you crying?”
Bella got herself under control and asked, “Is it really you, Granny?”
“Of course it’s me, honey,”
“But, but, you died…”
“Well yes, but there is an afterlife, honey. You know that” said Granny.
“There are phones in the afterlife?” asked Bella.
“Not exactly, you’re actually imagining all this, honey.”
“Imagining this? I’m not really talking to you?”
“Oh, you are talking to me honey, but not on a cell phone.”
“The caoineag has you,” said Granny, “She’s bringing you to me.”
“Bringing me to you? What’s a caoineag, Granny?”
“Have you heard of a banshee, honey?”
“Yes, but banshees just announce upcoming deaths in a family. They don’t take the living anywhere.”
“Well, think of this caoineag, as a souped-up banshee. She’s been with our family for centuries. She came over to America with our Scottish ancestors. She harkens all the way back to our Norse origins. She was once the human granddaughter of Godred Croven, King of the Isles. Her name is Ragnailt ingen Amlaíb. She was a great queen who was relegated to the history books as simply the wife of the ruler of southern Hebrides when he had her murdered and took control of their kingdom. Being a descendent of Odin, death could not stop her. She has stayed with the women in our family, growing stronger with each passing century…”
“Why have I never heard of her before?” asked Bella.
“It just never came up,” said Granny.
“Never came up?! A creature haunts our family, and it never came up?!”
“Well, the conversation never took that direction.”
“What?! Oh god, I am so drunk! I’m joining AA tomorrow, I swear!”
Bella opened her eyes. She had passed out in her recliner. She smiled because for a glorious second, it seemed to have all been a dream. But then she saw the creature, a hag wearing a shredded, sooty gown. Her thick white hair hung in voluminous waves around her ghoulish face. She hovered in the room between the TV and the recliner. She looked down at Bella, opened her gaping, toothless mouth and wailed.
Bella screamed, then with a waive of her hand, the caoineag snapped Bella’s neck. The hag opened her mouth further and sucked Bella’s troubled soul from her body.
The last thing Bella heard was the theme music as the Supernatural episode ended and the creature whisked away carrying her soul to join that of her Granny’s in eternity.
Bella’s last thought was, ‘why can’t Sam and Dean be real’, as she was carried to her impending doom. Well, she was pretty sure she was doomed anyway. She and her Granny hadn’t been the nicest people in the world…
Sooo….I’m currently quarantined because I was in close contact with someone who is now struck down by Covid-19. I’m on the fourth day of said quarantine, and the first three days were not handled well by me at all. The first day was the worst, because I allowed my anxiety to take control of me the whole day, and that night I couldn’t sleep because my heart wouldn’t stop racing. I’ve wasted three days of prime writing time just waiting to get sick. I kind of snapped out of it a little yesterday; did a few household chores and worked out, but no writing…
Well I am writing this now and getting caught up on Supernatural. 🙂 I only have four more episodes, so no spoilers, please! Anyway, I’m trying to get the writing juices flowing again, so that’s the reason for this post. Tomorrow I get back to real writing; there will be more horror stories coming your way and the next chapter of Darkest Timeline!