Today, I'm happy to have the chance to interview author A. F. Stewart about her new collection of horror stories-- Killers and Demons.
In a terrific review of your book, Killers and Demons, your style was likened to a cross between Poe and Dickens. Did these authors have any influence on you? What classic or contemporary horror authors are on your list of favorites and why?
I love Poe, so no doubt he’s been an influence; in fact the title of my last story collection, Once Upon A Dark and Eerie… was an homage to Poe. I’ve also read Dickens and that may be where my love of Victorian London comes from. I can’t say any classic or contemporary horror authors have influenced me though, because I tend not to read horror (I’m too much of a chicken). I’ve gotten my inspiration more from science fiction and fantasy writers like Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman.
The review also mentioned there was “plenty of old world flavor.” What old world eras would we find in your stories? Why did you choose those in particular?
I’m a huge history buff, so “old-world flavor” creeps into many of my stories and in Killers and Demons, three of the stories have historic settings. London, 1888 and Victorian Shadows take place in London during the Victorian era and Advent of Night is set in a more unspecific medieval locale.
The tale of London, 1888 takes place in that time period because it is based on a particular real life event of that era which is alluded to in the title. I set Victorian Shadows in history because I wanted the gas lamps, long coats and the fog-shrouded pubs as my atmosphere; it seemed just the place where a thief and a demon would square off. For Advent of Night, I used history so I could have my ill-fated hero be a knight and a medieval church was a great place for my knight to battle his demon.
I love demons of all sorts. If you can tell us without spoiling a story, what sorts of demons do you enjoy using in your stories?
Very nasty ones. To me demons make the best villains, because they can be ruthless, immoral and blame it all on their nature. They were born to cause destruction and havoc. They can be vain, unpredictable, lie, and kill at the drop of a hat.
I’m always curious about what starts the creative process. Can you describe what inspired one or more of your stories in this collection?
The story, London, 1888, was written out of the desperation to get back to writing something in my comfort zone. I had just written a story for a writing group, a nice sweet Christmas story for kids, which is something I generally don’t write and needed to get back to the dark, so to speak. You Got To Have Heart was originally intended as a post for Valentine’s Day, a satiric story, but it took a turn from the original idea and up a bit too bloody for the holiday, so I put it in the book instead. Victorian Shadows was an idea I had been fiddling with for a while, a scary historic piece that surfaced out of the line in the story about the London fog rolling in off the Thames. Devoid was written specially for a writing group on the theme of isolation. Advent of Night I wrote for the book, to round it out to five stories and to give the girls (or in this case girl demons) an equal opportunity to be bad.
Your cover art is wonderfully stark—very chilling. Does the form represent a killer or a demon? Any other parts of the graphics that are important ties to the themes of your stories? (color, font, shadow, etc.)
The cover art was created by the talented Dara England and it was one of those lucky occurrences where it fell in to my lap. I was actually checking out some of the discount covers on her webpage for another book when I found the cover for Killers and Demons. The moment I saw the art work I knew it was the cover. The shadow figure pushing out of the blood red background perfectly represented the dark world of serial killers and evil demons that are in the book. It’s the faceless terror out to get you.
Killers and Demons Blurb:
Warning! Not for the faint of heart!
Craving a little blood or perhaps some horrific death? Slake your gruesome thirst for vicarious thrills with five chilling stories that go inside the twisted world of serial killers and beyond to the dark, disturbing world of demons.
Creep into the pages to greet terror.
Killers and Demons is a collection of five horror stories where the macabre murderers don’t get caught and evil triumphs.
What happens if you awake, afraid, alone and in complete darkness? If you find someone wants your heart for Valentine’s, literally? Or if you come face to face with evil on the dark streets of historic London? You would end up dead, of course.
Come spend some time with the homicidal and savour their kills, dance with demons as they hunt and watch the blood drip slowly, sweetly from their fingers.
A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. She has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.
Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories. She has authored and published several books, including Killers and Demons, Chronicles of the Undead, Shadows of Poetry, Passing Fancies and Once Upon a Dark and Eerie...
Killers and Demons Book Link:
I wish I had my eyes closed.
Then I’d know why I can’t see.
Everything is black, there’s no light, no shapes.
And I don’t know where I am.
I’m sitting on a damp cold surface, my back against something hard; it feels like stone under my hands. Maybe I’m in a basement. I think I am alone, at least I can’t hear any sounds, in fact there’s no noise at all. It’s a perfect silence.
I don’t know how I got here.
Or where here is.
I’m so scared.
The last thing I remember is… being happy.
I was with Jeremy.
Jeremy, where’s Jeremy?!
What if he’s been…?
I reach out and my hand touches a hard surface, more stone, I think. I feel my way along the stonework to find four walls. I think I’m in a very small room, but I can’t locate a door. I try to stand, but my head hits a solid ceiling before I’m upright. I sit down again, the dread slowly crushing my thoughts. It can’t be true, I can’t be imprisoned!
NO! NO! NO!
I’m alone and I’m trapped!
How did I get here!
And how do I get out!
Someone has to get me out!
I’m screaming now. I can’t help it. I’m in a nightmare and I don’t know how to wake up. I claw at the walls in a futile attempt to escape, but all I manage is to bloody my fingers. I stop and take a breath, to calm myself.
I need to figure things out.
To remember last night.
Was it last night?
I don’t even know how long I’ve been here.
Jeremy and I were celebrating our six-month anniversary.
With champagne, in my apartment.
I was laughing and drinking.
Then…? Wait, yes. I stumbled, fell and...
Jeremy was smiling?
Why was he smiling?
I think I passed out.
Why did I pass out after one drink?
“Jeremy?!” Relief floods through me. He found me; I’m getting out of here! “I’m here, Jeremy! Help me! Get me out of here!”
“Why would I do that? After all the trouble I went through to put you in there?”
“Wh-what?!” The awful realization finally sinks in to my foolish mind.
“I spent months constructing your little underground prison, planning how to get you inside. I took great care in getting it all right. I made certain the stone was thick enough, the hatch could be permanently sealed, that there was a wireless setup so we could talk this one last time. I’m so happy. Everything fell into place flawlessly.”
“Why?! Why did you do this?!” I heard him laugh. A twisted version of the sound I used to love.
“For fun. I like doing this sort of thing. I like tormenting. I like killing.” There was more laughter. “Good-bye, Anna, and enjoy your new home. For the rest of your very short life.”
“No! You can’t mean it! Jeremy! Jeremy, please! Please don’t leave me here!” I wait for an answer, but there is only silence. “Jeremy! Please, please! Don’t leave me here!” I pray he is still there, cling to hope he will let me out, strain my ears for any noise, but nothing. He is gone.
I’m going to die.
He locked me in a hole to die.
He buried me alive and I’m going to die!
I’m not getting out!
There is no way to get out!
Somebody help me!
All around me it is darkness, and it is so still, so quiet.
I start screaming again.