Published  January 16, 2024 by Delacorte Press A  teen girl and her family return to her mother's childhood home, only to discover that ...

Published January 16, 2024 by Delacorte Press

A teen girl and her family return to her mother's childhood home, only to discover that the house's strange beauty may disguise a sinister past, in this contemporary gothic horror from the author of What We Harvest.

The house was supposed to be a fresh start. That's what Libby's mom said. And after Libby’s recent bipolar III diagnosis and the tragedy that preceded it, Libby knows she and her family need to find a new normal.

But Libby’s new home turns out to be anything but normal. Scores of bugs haunt its winding halls, towering stained-glass windows feature strange, insectile designs, and the garden teems with impossibly blue roses. And then there are the rumors. The locals, including the mysterious boy next door, tell stories about disappearances tied to the house, stretching back over a century to its first owners. Owners who supposedly hosted legendary masked séances on its grounds.

Libby’s mom refuses to hear anything that could derail their family’s perfect new beginning, but Libby knows better. The house is keeping secrets from her, and something tells her that the key to unlocking them lies in the eerie, bug-shaped masks hidden throughout the property.

We all wear masks—to hide our imperfections, to make us stronger and braver. But if Libby keeps hers on for too long, she might just lose herself—and everyone she loves.

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A Place for Vanishing is my first read by Ann Fraistat but it certainly won't be the last. This YA horror has a bit of everything: a creepy house, mystery, séances, and bugs; lots and lots of bugs. I can guarantee that even if you've read lots of books with those same themes, there is nothing like this book out there.

As with any good gothic horror, the setting is the perfect backdrop for this story. At first, it seems charmingly dilapidated with its strange blue roses and beautiful insect-themed stained glass windows containing masks of said insects. Sure, the house needs some love. The crumbling Victorian has good bones but hasn't had upkeep in decades.  From its faded, peeling bug-patterned wallpaper, to its boarded-up windows, it's a strange place with a myriad of different types of insects despite fumigation. There are weird noises from the attic rooms and the grandparent's oddly locked bedroom door. For years, Libby's mom has avoided living in this house and instead chose to live in a small apartment but why? When Libby's new diagnosis means she feels they all need a fresh start in a new town, off they pop to the entomology motific house. 

I can't speak to Libby's diagnosis and whether the author did well with presenting a person with bipolar disorder. Mental health affects not only the person but those who love and care for them as well. In this, I believe the author strived to portray an honesty that isn't often in fiction regarding mental illness.  Libby seems especially laid bare and her emotions are visceral which lends credibility to her character. It was nice to see her relationship with her younger sister, Vivi, grow and ultimately thrive. Flynn makes a great wingman but I'm glad to see any romance takes a backseat to the mystery. 

A Place for Vanishing doesn't give you much time to breathe. Weird stuff starts happening immediately and only accelerates from there. At first, the changes are somewhat extraordinary and bewitching but as time passes, the creepiness and wrongness only snowballs. While this horror is less "Boo I'm a ghost" and more paranormal, there's certainly plenty of body horror to entertain. And bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. 


I'm so excited that the time changed. I hate feeling so tired when it's dark outside and it's only 6pm. I'm looking forward ...

I'm so excited that the time changed. I hate feeling so tired when it's dark outside and it's only 6pm. I'm looking forward to warmer weather so I can sit outside in the fresh air and read!

So what did I read in February? I read a lot of fantasy this month. I finally read Demons of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison, which is #17 in the Hollows series. This series is definitely a comfort read for me since it started with Dead Witch Walking in 2004. I also picked up gothic mystery The Third Wife of Faraday House by B.R. Myers, which ended up being my favorite February read. 

What's next for March? Here's just a few of March's new horror releases that I'm going to be adding to my TBR. 

See the whole list of 2024 releases here

But is the house truly haunted?
Of course the house is haunted.

Button House has stood for generations, digging its roots and its rot deeper and deeper. Button House would consume all who approached: twin brothers, a child bride, an innocent baby, four young factory workers.

And then came Rose Billings, who had an affinity with the house no other did. Rose, who could hear the house and the pleas of its many ghosts. Rose, who would attempt to solve the mysteries of Button House, or die trying.

Jennifer Thorne skewers all-too-familiar family dynamics in this sly, wickedly funny vacation-Gothic. Beautifully unhinged and deeply satisfying, Diavola is a sharp twist on the classic haunted house story, exploring loneliness, belonging, and the seemingly inescapable bonds of family mythology.

Anna has two rules for the annual Pace family destination vacations: Tread lightly and survive.

It isn’t easy when she’s the only one in the family who doesn’t quite fit in. Her twin brother, Benny, goes with the flow so much he’s practically dissolved, and her older sister, Nicole, is so used to everyone—including her blandly docile husband and two kids—falling in line that Anna often ends up in trouble for simply asking a question. Mom seizes every opportunity to question her life choices, and Dad, when not reminding everyone who paid for this vacation, just wants some peace and quiet.

The gorgeous, remote villa in tiny Monteperso seems like a perfect place to endure so much family togetherness, until things start going off the rails—the strange noises at night, the unsettling warnings from the local villagers, and the dark, violent past of the villa itself.

(Warning: May invoke feelings of irritation, dread, and despair that come with large family gatherings.)

A shocking, spine-chilling YA horror slasher about a girl searching for her dead mother’s body at the summer camp that was once her serial killer father’s home—perfect for fans of Friday the 13th and White Smoke

Temple Baker knows that evil runs in her blood. Her father is the North Point Killer, an infamous serial killer known for how he marked each of his victims with a brand. He was convicted for murdering 20 people and was the talk of countless true crime blogs for years. Some say he was possessed by a demon. Some say that they never found all his victims. Some say that even though he’s now behind bars, people are still dying in the woods. Despite everything though, Temple never believed that her dad killed her mom. But when he confesses to that crime while on death row, she has no choice but to return to his old hunting grounds to try see if she can find a body and prove it.

Turns out, the farm that was once her father’s hunting grounds and her home has been turned into an overnight camp for queer, horror-obsessed girls. So Temple poses as a camp counselor to go digging in the woods. While she’s not used to hanging out with girls her own age and feels ambivalent at best about these true crime enthusiasts, she tries her best to fit in and keep her true identity hidden.

But when a girl turns up dead in the woods, she fears that one of her father’s “fans” might be mimicking his crimes. As Temple tries to uncover the truth and keep the campers safe, she comes to realize that there may be something stranger and more sinister at work—and that her father may not have been the only monster in these woods.

A modern retelling of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley classic that addresses issues of belonging and assimilation 

An unnamed paralegal, brought back to life through a controversial process, maneuvers through a near-future world that both needs and resents him. As the United States president spouts anti-reanimation rhetoric and giant pharmaceutical companies rake in profits, the man falls in love with lawyer Faustina Godínez. His world expands as he meets her network of family and friends, setting him on a course to discover his first-life history, which the reanimation process erased. With elements of science fiction, horror, political satire and romance, Chicano Frankenstein confronts our nation’s bigotries and the question of what it truly means to be human.

Published  August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers T he Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thri...

Published August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers

The Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thrills with friendship and romance in this delicious love letter to Gothic fiction, featuring two brides who must band together to unravel the ghostly secrets at the heart of a crumbling island manor.

'Til death do us part...

November 1816: Restless but naïve Emeline Fitzpatrick is desperate to escape her stifling life in foggy Halifax. Her guardian is lining up repugnant suitors, but Emeline has her eyes set on a handsome lieutenant in the British navy. She just needs to persuade him to propose, or her one chance at happiness will be gone forever.

But when Emeline’s hopes end in scandal, she finds herself with only one suitor left: the wealthy and enigmatic Captain Graves. Having already lost two wives to tragic circumstances, the unfortunate widower is seeking a new companion in his cloistered seaside manor, Faraday House. Or at least that is what Emeline had been told, because when she arrives, she is horrified to discover that the second Mrs. Graves, Georgina, has not yet died.

Emeline is only certain of two things: something ghastly is afoot at Faraday House, and no one is going to save her. She will have to rely on her own courage, her burgeoning bond with the ill but strong-willed Georgina, and the aid of a handsome reverend with a mysterious past to unravel the secrets at the heart of the manor and forge her own destiny.

In classic gothic style, The Third Wife of Faraday House was a slow-burn. Sprinkled with mystery and spooky scenes, it was hard to put down once it got started. 

Emeline has recently discovered that her guardians are looking for "appropriate" suitors for her. They do have her best interests at heart for a well-cared-for life. Emeline, however, has something else in mind; the handsome naval officer Frederick Fletcher. If only he would follow through on his proposal and whisk her away to Bermuda as promised. Unfortunately, after being caught together, her only choice is to marry Captain Graves far away from the scandal. Emeline arrives at Faraday house to marry the Captain only to find out that the Captain's second wife, Georgina, isn't dead yet! 

The setting is perfect for a gothic novel. Big stone house on an island, whose ocean road is only accessible during low tide. There's a widow walk, a dusty tower room, secret rooms, ghostly music, and blood dripping from the ceiling. It's creepy without needing to be gory. There's a feeling of constant danger, starting from the moment Emeline arrives on the island to be dumped by a broken carriage and left by herself while the driver goes onward to Faraday House. That feeling continues with Emeline's UNwelcome experience when finally making it to the house and throughout the novel. There's suspicion built into every moment. 
If I have one complaint, Emeline is a difficult character to like. She's very naive and her constant pining for the lieutenant is annoying. If only he would sweep in and rescue her. If only she could get a letter to him telling him how awful it is and to hurry up already! In her mind, all she does is babble to look pretty and proper.  Of course, it's in Emeline's best interests to keep Georgina alive, delay the marriage, and give Frederick time to come save her. As time went on and the relationship between Emeline and Georgina developed, she did grow on me.

As with the best gothic mysteries, little hints are given to the reader throughout the story. While you think you know immediately what is happening, there's a lot of redirection. Who you thought was the villain two chapters ago, suddenly seems to not be. There's not a single character that your opinion of will stay the same throughout.  It's such a twisty little plotline!

The Third Wife of Faraday House is a mystery, ghost story, and romance all rolled into one that would appeal to readers of multiple genres. It's a bit light for most horror readers and Regency romance readers, but I think it contains enough elements of each to be discoverable for most mainstream readers. 

Published  November 28, 2023 by Starwatch Press T he faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal h...

Published November 28, 2023 by Starwatch Press

The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back.

Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries—which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself.

Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers. As Winnie delves deeper into the other side of the house, she enlists the aid of its dark and dubious faerie butler, Mr Quincy, who hides several awful secrets behind his charming smile. Winnie hopes to make her way to the centre of the Witchwood Knot through wit and cleverness… but when all of her usual tricks fail, who will she dare to trust?

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The author states that The Witchwood Knot "started as a cross between the movie Labyrinth and the faerie tale known as the Twelve Dancing Princesses". She admits that what she ended up with wasn't exactly what she planned but that doesn't mean it's any less fantastic. Instead, it's difficult to put a distinct name on the end story.

Is it gothic? Yes. 
It is a fairytale? Yes. 
But is it romantic and whimsical at the same time? Also yes!

The world Atwater created is marvelous. It has everything good gothic fiction should. Isolated countryside mansion resplendent with stained glass windows surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. Pointed gables, white columns like skeletal fingers, screaming faces in the walls. All the finer things really.  Like any good worldbuilding, hers has its own rules that one must abide by but I won't give all the secrets away. 

The characters are what endeared The Witchwood Knot to me. Winnie is well suited to her position as a governess. She handles her charge quite well and when he is replaced by a fetch, doesn't hesitate to head into the fairy realm after him. Mr. Quincy, butler extraordinaire, and Winnie's interactions are frustrating (for Winnie) and yet endearing. He's very smooth but there are many secrets and he is unwilling to impart his knowledge just quite yet. Her charge is quite surly and you almost immediately dislike him as a spoiled child, but like Mr. Quincy, there is so much more than meets the eye. Oliver, the protector spirit cat that resides in his own skull, was destined to be my favorite as soon as he was introduced.

I was quite surprised by the romance. It didn't seem like the characters had anything in common to even find romance an option. Even once it started developing, it lingered for so long before actually becoming romance, that I had just about given up on it. After it was all said and done, this sweet and thoughtful romance made it seem like all the rest hadn't come before. How confounding and yet, I'm still completely on board despite certain anatomical protrusions. No, not that one.

Read it for yourself and you'll see. 

How is freaking January almost over!!  I can't believe it's the 21st already.  This month has pretty much been a wash too. I got sic...

How is freaking January almost over!!  I can't believe it's the 21st already. 
This month has pretty much been a wash too. I got sick right after Christmas with an upper respiratory, which turned into a sinus infection, which turned into two weeks of antibiotics and steroids. I can't say given the three weeks of ick that I'm sad to see all that behind me (finally). Stupid crappy sinuses. It did, however, give me time for reading when I was bonding with the couch.

So what did I read? I really didn't have the brain power to read any ARCs so I dug into Libby for some books from the library that had been on my TBR for a while. I read Blaine Dailgle's A Dark Roux, an atmospheric Southern Gothic set in the bayou with plenty of magic and mystery. I finished The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White, which I actually started in 2023. This Victorian horror with a trans protagonist was clever and surprisingly bloody. Most recently I finished Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle, featuring a religious-run gay conversion camp with a very disturbing "treatment". The ending was ferocious and satisfying.

Of course, being a bookworm, even before I finish my current read, I'm thinking about my next read. I've already picked a few releasing in February to go on my TBR list. It was hard to narrow it down to just a few but there's only so many books I can get through. 

See the whole list of 2024 releases here

Labyrinth meets folk horror in this darkly romantic tale of a girl who wishes her baby brother away to the Lord of the Wood.

Say less.  

As an 80s kid, Labyrinth is still one of my favorite movies. Add folk horror with a dash of romance?  I'm completely sold. 

And that cover? Gorgeous and creepy! 

I just got approved for this one through Netgalley. Can't wait to start it. 

T. Kingfisher is one of those that I will read anything by. Doesn't matter what the synopsis is, I'm in. That being said, this is book two after What Moves The Dead, a Fall of the House of Usher retelling, which was perfectly dark and eerie. Rabbits, am I right? *Shudders* 

What Feasts at Night is follows soldier Alex after the collapse of the Usher estate as they head onwards to a new adventure, this one involving a "breath-stealing monster". 

Another perfectly disturbing cover for book two as well. 

Inherited cabin in the woods is the setting for And Then There Was Silence

After the death of her husband, Sadie goes out to the cabin to grieve and reset but the woods are weird and she smells her husband. 

I'm not sure where this one is going to go. Is it ghosts or something else? The blurb is quite vague which I love. I like being intrigued but not having everything given away before I even start. 

The early reviews are all 5 stars on Goodreads!


I love dark fairytales, especially enchanted forest fairytales! 

In this tale by Premee Mohamed, Veris must enter the forest to rescue the two children of the local Tyrant (yes capital T). She's the only one who has ever succeeded in doing so. 

If she fails, she dies. If she stays in the forest for more than a day, she's trapped there. I love high stakes! 

Gorgeous cover art on this one as well. 

Violet's life is 

Her mother remarried, has a new baby, and now Violet has a new house. She's put in the attic bedroom with faded yellow wallpaper and shortly after, falls ill with no improvement.

 What's making her sick? And are the shadows moving in the corners just the light or something else? 

Middle grade horror can be so fun and surprisingly spooky!

If we are picking reads solely based on the cover, Your Shadow Half Remains is February's go-in blind pick for me. 

Kudos to the artist because this cover is unsettling and weird and I love it. 

Here's part of the blurb: 

One look can kill. 

Riley has not seen a single human face in longer than she can reckon. No faces, no eyes. Not if you want to survive. 

Published  October 31, 2023 by Tor Nightfire N at Cassidy is at his razor-sharp best again with his horror novel Nestlings, which harnesses ...

Published October 31, 2023 by Tor Nightfire

Nat Cassidy is at his razor-sharp best again with his horror novel Nestlings, which harnesses the creeping paranoia of Rosemary's Baby and the urban horror of 'Salem's Lot, set in an exclusive New York City residential building.

Ana and Reid need a break. The horrifically complicated birth of their first child has left Ana paralyzed, bitter, and struggling―with mobility, with her relationship with Reid, with resentment for her baby. Reid dismisses disturbing events and Ana’s deep unease and paranoia, but he can't explain the needle-like bite marks on their baby.

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The Deptford is known for celebrities, exquisite architecture, and views of Central Park. Despite its high profile, it remains somewhat of a mystery, as its residents are extremely protective of their privacy within its walls. However, for Reid and Ana, the Deptford represents a new start and presents a financial opportunity they can't possibly turn down. 

Cassidy sets the tone of the novel in the very first sentence of the novel. "We don't belong here." Ana feels that something is off while touring the apartment and that feeling only grows stronger as they are settling in. Oh, not for Ried though. Reid is completely charmed by the Deptford and its odd residents, leaving Ana alone with that creeping sense of unease.  The dread multiplies with each little oddity as Ana insists that something is wrong with the Deptford and something is wrong with Charlie. 

Cassidy has thoughtfully created characters with authenticity, and the worries and dilemmas they face are utterly relatable. Ana's paranoia parallels that of Polanski's Rosemary but what Cassidy has created here is its own being. Ana is not only haunted by the occurrences of the Deptford, but also by the trauma of Charlie's birth, the night she and Reid don't talk about, and by the changes in her own body. Ensnared by their circumstances, the atmospheric horror surges forward until Ana is caught up in uncertainty about the meaning and purpose of her life as well as the environmental apprehension. 

I can't really say anything else about the plot without giving things away but it definitely takes an even weirder turn than I initially expected. If you want a break for something unusual with relatable characters, creeping dread, and an epilogue that is the epitome of a sad smile, then Nestlings should be the next pick off your TBR.

Published September 10, 2021 by Omnium Gatherum The Scream Teens are hired to raise the dead as the necro-tainment for a zombie cruise, and ...

Published September 10, 2021 by Omnium Gatherum

The Scream Teens are hired to raise the dead as the necro-tainment for a zombie cruise, and the eighteen-year-old animator, Cozy Coleman, is bitten by a shapeshifting she-wolf. To Cozy’s surprise, she survives and with the aid of her friends, helps the government stop a human-extinction virus from spreading. Unfortunately, Cozy uncovers a secret so haunting, that her death is only the beginning of her problems.

accurately portraying mentally ill characters

by Nzondi

13 Reasons Why tackled issues like suicide and bullying head on, yet still presented it in a way that got popular culture talking about these issues, which was the most important asset to helping real-life youths open up a dialogue with teachers, parents, and health professionals. In writing this article, I learned many things to do and not to do when writing about mental health issues. I recommend that all authors research these dos and don’ts before writing about any characters that have mental health issues.

As a horror writer, however, you may feel like your story is not there to preach, teach, or raise awareness. However, given the fact that there have been documented accounts of novels causing an increase in the rate of contagion, wouldn’t you want your literary themes to reflect a more accurate perspective?

Look, I get it. I’ve worked as a stand-in on a show called “How To Get Away With Murder,” and I have had many conversations with attorneys who say that the show is too sensational, especially in the courtroom. I’m like, “Thank goodness the creator of the show doesn’t depend on you to write their episodes. We’d be bored out of our minds!” They are the same people who can’t suspend disbelief long enough to get past the fact that when Bruce Banner changes into the Hulk, he’s always in those purple short-pants, instead of being nude.

We are writing fiction, aren’t we? We create a way for the reader to escape reality and travel to worlds of fantasy, science fiction, dystopia, and horror. Still, when writing about characters and stories involving mental health, shouldn’t we ask questions that breathe life into the “who, what, when, and how” of the tropes we use?

So how do we get it right?

Here are some facts to know about mental illness by Kathleen S. Allen, an author who also has a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (which is a clinical doctorate):

  • Having depression doesn’t mean your character can’t still have fun or laugh or be social.
  • A character who has bipolar disorder may have manic episodes or they may not. Bipolar disorder has a spectrum of symptoms from moderate depression to severe.
  • No one who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly called split personality) would kill someone when they are in one of their alter personality states unless the core personality would also kill.
  • Your character would not have amnesia after killing someone. The disorder is rare, and some medical professionals don’t believe it exists at all, so be careful using it.
  • Talking about suicide does not mean your character will push the person into attempting suicide. It was already on their mind.
  • Your characters don’t stop hearing voices immediately after taking anti-psychotic medication.
  • Sometimes, they won’t stop at all. It may take weeks to months for the meds to work. If they are having a psychotic episode, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to function in their daily lives by going to school, work, maintaining a romantic relationship, or maintaining any relationship. Psychotic patients are not dangerous. Are there exceptions? Yes. But as a general rule, they aren’t.
  • In conclusion, one of my biggest takeaways from researching horror writing for Mental Health Awareness Month was some of the things we shouldn’t do.
  • For example, unless your character is politically incorrect, don’t describe suicide as an “epidemic”, “skyrocketing,” or other exaggerated terms.
  • Use words such as “higher rates” or “rising.” Don’t describe suicide as “without warning” or “inexplicable.”
  • Do convey that the character exhibited warning signs.
  • Don’t refer to suicide as “unsuccessful” or “failed attempt,” or report it as though it were a crime. Do say, “died by suicide,” “killed him/herself,” and instead of presenting the act like a crime, write about suicide in your story as a public health issue.
Hopefully, as horror authors, we can continue to scare the jeebies out of our readers, but at the same time, create a story which accurately exhibits archetypes of mentally ill characters, whether they are mad scientists, psychopathic serial killers, or characters with dissociative identity disorders that assume their mother’s personality.

Born Acemandese Nzondi Hall on the Fourth of July, Nzondi (Ace Antonio Hall) is an American science fiction/horror author, singer and songwriter. He is the first African-American to win a Bram
Stoker Award in a novel category for his young adult book, Oware Mosaic. A former English teacher and Director of Education for NYC schools and the Sylvan Learning Center, Nzondi earned a BFA from Long Island University. Crossroad Press reprinted his novel Oware Mosaic in 2023. His zombie novel, Lipstick Asylum, (Omnium  Gatherum Media, 2021) and his other works can be
found on his website: AAntonioHall (dot) com..

Published December 11, 2023 by Fractured Mirror Publishing No full moon. No silver bullets. No chance. A young man named Tom Daniels is kidn...

Published December 11, 2023 by Fractured Mirror Publishing

No full moon. No silver bullets. No chance.

A young man named Tom Daniels is kidnapped by a local family and is dropped on Loughby Island in an attempt to 'clean up their streets'.

When the family that dropped Tom off is slaughtered by a werewolf-like creature, he soon finds himself banding together with a small group of the island's residents in a fight for their lives against an otherworldly monster.

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Matt Doyle is a pansexual/non-binary speculative fiction author, voice actor, and pop culture blogger from the UK. Matt specializes in fiction with a horror or sci-fi grounding and diverse characters.

Published  August 21, 2023 by Def Pix Entertainment In a world where the cheesy nightmare of a zombie apocalypse has become a reality, Gabby...

Published August 21, 2023 by Def Pix Entertainment

In a world where the cheesy nightmare of a zombie apocalypse has become a reality, Gabby and Nadia, a lesbian couple, must face the dual challenge of impending separation and the absurdity of the undead. As their love is tested by an onslaught of mozzarella-ridden chaos, they join forces with an eccentric group of survivors in a desperate attempt to stay alive. With Gabby's dream of becoming a renowned chef in New York City at stake, the couple must fight to keep their love alive in a battle against the cheese-filled horror of the zombie apocalypse. Will they succeed or will their love succumb to the undead?

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Eric Williford grew up in Northern Virginia, where he spent his time playing sports and consuming late night b-movies that he was too young to be watching. This love of Roger Corman, Troma, and exploitation films transformed into an award winning career as an independent filmmaker. With his debut novella, The Dead Ate Cheese, he looks forward to bringing his playfully grim sensibilities to lovers of dark genre fiction.