Collaborative Writing 
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Festive Frights
Author Interviews

Crystal M M Burton - Julbocken

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


Growing up, Christmas was a big deal. It wasn't really about religion for us though, it was about the togetherness and the warmth of the season in the coldest time of year. It was a time for family bonding, and a great season to dive into the classic traditions. It started with decorating the tree. There was a huge family get-together for dinner. Kids were allowed to open a single gift on Christmas Eve. I keep all of these traditions with my own kids. My dad used to decorate the outside of the house, and my stepmom would decorate the inside. My mom used to have a calendar with a piece of candy for each kid tied to the first 24 days, to help count down until Christmas. I usually try to do these, too. An ideal Christmas would contain all of these fun traditions, with lots of hot chocolate and holiday music. I'm excited for the days when I can decorate more without fear of children breaking village houses and swinging from garland.

2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


My story was inspired by all of the Christmas traditions most people keep: having a tree in the house, leaving out milk and cookies, enjoying a holiday feast, a man in a red coat coming down the chimney, the sound of silver bells alerting children that St. Nick is near, and the thought that he leaves a lump of coal if you've been naughty. I wanted to keep to a Pagan theme though, because a good portion of Yule myths are wonderful and have the most potential for a horror twist. The Yule goat inspired me the most, because of the common association between goat-men and the devil--a misconception that I was more than happy to play on.

3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I want to say that my favorite genre to write so far is fantasy. Ask me again in a few years though, because lately I've been really stemming out and trying new genres and styles. Horror is surprisingly fun, and I'm currently planning out a horror novel regarding zombie-like aggressive behavior. I'm writing a memoir novel about living with bipolar disorder, and a few general fiction stories on the side. My friend and I are about to begin a wonderful novel collaboration in which we each write two sides of the same story, with each other's protagonists as our own antagonists. My main project and what I am most excited for is Aspect, an epic fantasy trilogy centered around a girl who is chosen to become the next Aspect of Time. To take her place among the other elemental Aspects, she must first gain their trust and their abilities, proving her worth. However, she is tricked into freeing Chaos from his eternal prison and must find a way to defeat him before he destroys the world. I'm loving it all, and I hope I get the chance to delve into a few other genres before settling on a main course.

AJ Millen - Seasons Greetings

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?

Without a doubt, with family and friends I love. Living in Greece, I don’t always get to spend the day with my mother in the UK, but if I don’t it will be with my Greek family. Regardless of where I am and who I spend the day with, it’s guaranteed to involve a heaving table of festive goodies!


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?

The initial spark came from an online ad I saw for handcrafted greetings cards. It occurred to me that there might be a dark side to this oh-so-familiar part of our Christmas customs, and decided to explore that idea. I also drew from some personal experience: my sister makes cards; my father died in January (just weeks after our last family Christmas together); and the robin redbreast does have a special significance for me, my mother and my sister.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?

I prefer not to limit myself to a single genre and I have never specifically set out to write dark fiction. In fact, I’ve have tried my hand at pretty much everything except romance and chick-lit. However, my dark side does seem to have a habit of creeping in when I’m working on a story. Maybe it’s my way of exorcising my demons and trying to maintain a balance of the dark and light that’s inside us all?

I have several projects on the go, mostly in the form of short stories I’m considering expanding into full-length novels. One is a dark fantasy set among an underworld people by those rejected by society. Another examines the impact of one of the best-known stories in the western world on some of its supporting characters.

Kevin Grover - Our House

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas? 


Have you ever seen Dawn of the Dead? You know when our heroes are trapped in a shopping mall, surrounded by the undead? A standard Christmas for me feels like that. I’m one of the zombies, stumbling around shops, my mind being slowly eaten away by the annoying yet catchy music pumped out through the shops. It’s stressful because I leave things last minute. That’s not disorganisation, but living life on the edge, out there among the horde of the undead. And when the shopping is done and it’s christmas day, then I’m relaxing in front of the telly watching a movie I’ve probably seen before. Ironically, you never see Dawn of the Dead on at Christmas. I’ll probably just be content with the Doctor Who Christmas special. And playing with my new toys. Yes, I’m a kid of 4 going on 40. My ideal christmas would be with my family in a deserted log cabin in the middle of the woods - maybe the New Forest. Logs burning in the fire as the wind rustles the leaves outside. There’s a distant howl of a wolf, the clump, clump, clump of a swing chair blowing against the side of the log cabin. And now I’m thinking Evil Dead, horror fans. 


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology? 


So, my story is really about obsession, of descending into madness as that obsession slowly takes over. In this case, it’s obsession over an old house that needs a lot of work doing to it. This work consumes my character’s life until it’s his only thought. I’ve bought a house in real life that needs a lot of work. That seems to take up a lot of my time lately. So I wanted to write an extreme of that idea. But it could really be any obsession. The pursuit of money and material things until it eventually consumes you, for example. It’s an old tale. And I thought what a perfect idea for a christmas horror. At the heart of the story there’s family, and I wondered about how a house would have seen different families sharing christmases through the years. What if echoes of those christmases are heard by the new occupant. It’s really a ghost story, a traditional haunted house one at that. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on? 


I feel comfortable writing horror. It’s what I mainly read. I’ve had the most success with the horror genre, so I feel compelled to continue with it. I also enjoy writing fantasy and science fiction, too, but I think there’s always elements of horror in those genres. I’ve just finished the first draft of my third horror novel, Coulrophobia. It’s about an ancient circus that steals souls, leaving empty wraithlike clowns behind. Every horror writer should have at least one evil clown story. I’ll leave this first draft for a few months so when I go back it’ll be fresh to me. I’ve just started writing another draft of my second horror novel I hope to have out soon. Between all this, I’m thinking up various other new story ideas. It’s busy in my head.

Virginia Carraway Stark - A Very Marduk Christmas Carol

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


I don't have such a thing as a 'standard' Christmas. Every year it seems that I do something very different. Last year we had an large party and a very expensive hotel suite (it has had guests stay at it including Saudi Princes, the Premier of BC and rockstars such as KISS. We had a beautiful, lavish array, a jet tub, pool, hot tub and a lot of chocolate and gifts. The year before that, we had a very traditional idea of Christmas. A huge goose dinner, a tree covered in silver, gold, blue and gifts piled to the door. The year before that we did practically nothing at all. One year I went to watch a movie and had take-out sushi.


When I was a kid, Christmas was traditional including a memorable turkey dinner where my granddad (who was known for losing his temper every Christmas) threw the butter at my Dad when they got into an argument over whether butter or margarine was better. Aaaaah yes, the memories at Christmas time are rarely pristine of feuds, fights, rancour and hostility in any family. That's why now I have a very merry eclectic Christmas.


My ideal Christmas is one where people just get along. Companionship and love are very important to me at this time of year but I would rather spend it alone or very quietly than fighting with unhappy family members.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I was inspired to write, 'A Very Marduk Christmas Carol' because of my belief in how important it is at this dark time of year to surround yourself with love, peace and joy. In doing various researches I discovered that this was the earliest known record of any sort of time of gift giving and feast making that resembles our modern holiday. There is a lot of evidence that there were older rituals that were done on winter solstice, mostly pagan runes and broken monoliths whose tales are unknown.


Christmas and the concept of the Christmas spirit annoy a lot of people. I think that coming from Northern Canada, I can understand and embrace the need for spiritual light at this darkest of times of year. When the sun leaves and the the warmth and all we are left with is the light of the stars and the eerie singing of the Northern Lights is when you truly appreciate the warmth and love other human beings bring into your life.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I don't really have a favorite genre except that I get bored when stories are entirely banal and lack any supernatural theme. I haven't written a lot of romance although I have dabbled in erotica... of course, in my erotica the love interest turned out to be an alien with strange hypnotic powers who entered into a lesbian relationship with an earthling run away... but that's kind of the point of my writing. I tend to see magic everywhere and it's difficult for me to make things less than uncanny.


Right now I have a lot of projects on the go. I just finished Carnival Fun, a sort of Noir Fantasy Novel that involves a lot of sex, drugs and supernatural kings vying for the hand of one drugged out of her mind maiden. I am working on finishing, 'The Decay of Man', a zombie novel that attempts to take into account the factors and limitations that decaying bodies have as well as putting a bit of rote behavior into my zombies. I am also working on a book called, 'Charism' with my husband, Anthony Stark. Charism is a little used word that means a special power. We often use the word 'charisma' to describe someone who is charming and draws people to them. Charisma originates from Charism and it is about doorways opening from other worlds and times into Rhode Island in the late 1990's. It has a secret government psychic program and Richard the First in the modern era. I think very few books can say that.

Sharon Flood - Derailed Christmas

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


A standard Christmas usually involves opening gifts at home in the morning, and going to visit my brother and sister-in-law in the afternoon, for Christmas dinner. Sometimes we have them come to our place. Only one nephew and his family live in our area, so we sometimes go on Boxing day to see the kids, and exchange gifts, etc. My other brother and my sister live hundreds of miles away, so if all four of us siblings and families could get together one Christmas, that would be great.

2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I was looking around for a theme for my story, and I started looking at toys through the ages on the internet. I found an antique model train derailment simulation that caught my attention, and I tied it in with ghosts, and tried to make it scary, or at least creepy. The thing is, I ended up using an entirely different picture – one with a kid with a model train that looks like he could be psycho. The story is about a homicidal kid, so I went with that one. I got a great deal of help from Virginia Carraway Stark, the Director of the National Paranormal Society in Canada. I didn't know how to get rid of a ghost, and I couldn't call Ghost Busters, so I asked Virgina. She gave me a great deal of information to work with. I paraphrased a bit of it. My husband Colin also inspired me to completely change the ending and start over. The story is a whole lot better for it.

3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I normally like to write Horror and Fantasy, so this story is written on familiar ground for me. I like the supernatural, and Elves, and Dragons. Someday I'd like to write a novel involving all of them. Lately though, my favourite genre seems to be collaboration in different genres. I've done a collaborative time travel anthology, and I've been involved with two collaborative murder mystery novels, a collaborative fantasy novel, and a science fiction collaborative novel. I'm currently working on what would be considered a collaborative fantasy novel I guess, without the creatures. It's about eight kids on the run from evil forces. Each kid has a disability and a special ability. It's been great fun. I love doing it.

Laura Callender - Christmas Returns to Koptas

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


Our Christmas is pretty quiet, just me—my husband and our daughters who are still too young to really understand what’s going on. We’re not big on going over the top at Christmas, so we each get just a few gifts. We sometimes visit my Husbands Mom’s house and see his nephews, but otherwise it’s a really quiet affair. We are looking forward to when the girls are older so we can thrive off their excitement. When you don’t have much family around you, I think Christmas is somewhat redundant unless you are very religious, or until you have a family, and you can enjoy it through their eyes.


An ideal Christmas would be with all my family around, lots of food and a big dining table like you see in the movies. I don’t actually celebrate Christmas, just the traditions that we use as an excuse to come together. I think any holiday that encourages this is important.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I really have no idea. I knew I wanted to try incorporating a Fantasy element into my story, so I started with two characters and just went from their, looking for an opportunity to bring the Christmas holiday into it. It was only when my main characters hair turned white with grief that I had a strong direction. I’m really pleased with how it’s come out. I think it’s a fairly unique Christmas inspired story. I hope everyone enjoys it. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


My favorite genre is fast becoming Fantasy, although I previously would have said Mystery/Romance. I’ve just given birth to my second daughter, so all my projects have taken a back seat whilst I get back into the swing of motherhood. I have a few bits a pieces of collaborative works on the go, but aside from that I’m concentrating on getting all upcoming books published for CW Publishing house, such as Ambition, our latest completed collaborative novel through CWC.

Katrin Hutson - The Holiday Box

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


A standard Christmas for me is…well, never really standard. My mom lives in New Hampshire and my dad and second mom live in Colorado. I have three sets of grandparents, two of whom live in Colorado, and the third in Arizona. My dad has four siblings, three of whom are married with kids of their own; my mom’s sister’s family lives in Vermont. I also have four siblings, and I’m the only one of the five of us not in Colorado. Then, there’s also my husband’s family, who all live in South Carolina. My Christmases have always been planned on a year-to-year basis, depending on who’s in town and where my husband and I happen to be any given year. This year, we’re spending Christmas in Colorado with my family—which I haven’t done in three years. My husband’s never even experienced it.


I suppose my ideal Christmas would be in my own house, with whatever friends and family could make it. We have a great house in California, with a gas stove in the living room. I’ve never even set up my own Christmas tree, seeing as I’ve never been at home during the holiday to feel like it was worth it. I’d like to be able to do that someday.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I think it was just at the end of the summer in 2012. I was driving home, when I lived in Colorado Springs. The days were getting shorter, creeping up on me, and I passed this giant lit-up sign, maybe half a mile off the highway. In red, blue, and green letters, it said ‘Celebrate Jesus’. I thought it was hilarious, just out there in the middle of nowhere, blindingly proclaiming the upcoming season in neon, of all things. That image stuck in my head so intensely that this is the story it produced. ‘The Holiday Box’ describes this sign, though it’s in a different place at a different time, and really has very little to do with the actual story. Sometimes it’s the little things that stick in my brain, creating a whole revolving piece of work that turns into something else entirely.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


My favorite genre to write is Fantasy. I love it. It takes very little research, and my brain can literally go anywhere it wants. My Fantasy pieces are more often than not inspired by certain songs I hear. When I was in school, my dad lived in a cabin forty-five minutes to an hour away from anywhere we needed to be. I carried my Walkman everywhere, and blasted cd’s at all times. I had a lot of time to really take in the music and think of images and characters who fit the sounds well. Doing that for almost six years really built up a huge backlog of scenes, characters, and in Daughter of the Drackan’s case, an entire novel. Now I just need to write them all down.


While Daughter of the Drackan is finished and published, and the sequel, Mother of the Drackan, is written and undergoing its last revision before publication early next year, I’m actually working on a Dystopian Sci-Fi set in the very-near-future America. This novel is a monster. I’ve dabbled in some Sci-Fi before, but nothing nearly as big or as complex as this, and I’m so excited to be working on it. It should be out around April 2016 (fingers crossed), and is extremely different from anything I’ve ever done. Except for the fact that it still has the requisite, darkly adult elements found in all my writing.

Jason Pere - Secret Santa

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


These days a standard Christmas looks like, Laura and I wake up and wander downstairs. We have something warm to drink and open our gifts with our cats around the tree. We have here parents on video chat and get to see a little bit of a Georgia Christmas. Laura and I then have to bundle up and head over to my Father and Step-mother’s for reach toast bunch with my sister. We all then do gift exchanges over there before heading over to my Mother and Step-father’s for more gift exchanges and family time before a larger Christmas dinner. So all in all a standard Christmas for me is a lot of running and hugging family in between bouts of rending open wrapping paper.


An ideal Christmas would be one where Laura and I have nothing to do but be snowed into our living room where we can enjoy each other and a couple of cats that have decided to be uncharacteristically well behaved inside a warm home under a mountain of blankest and limitless supply of hot chocolate. Then we would have one unified family dinner and gift exchange that included everybody on our charismas list.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I wanted to try and portray something that it utterly vile and deplorable as an act of Christmas spirit. That played into the giving of a “Gift” that was seen by the giver as a token of uncordial love and seen by the receiver as something horrific. I always like to try and make my villains interesting and engaging in a way so I wanted to let my reader step inside the head of someone with clearly slanted morals and values. I tried to think of classic yuletide elements and the concept of a “Secret Santa” hit me. I pondered possible twisted interpolations of that tradition and it was not too hard to travel down that rabbit hole into a very dark place. This was one of those times where the title alone pretty much wrote the whole piece for me.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I adore Fantasy. I love to let my imagination have free reign and Fantasy allows me to do that very well. I like the freedom to write without being bound by history, physics or reality as a whole. It is the genre that allows me to flex my creativity to its fullest potential and develop some truly unique and one of a kind experiences for my readers to enjoy.


Currently I am working on about four different collaborative novels with other Collaborative Writing Challenge authors. I have a Science Fiction piece in the works that explores the sociological frontier of what kind of government a post-apocalyptic America might want to see rise to power. I also have a weekly Blog for Team Covenant where I produce Fan Fiction for the game Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn. Finally I am putting together the last little bits of a children’s book that is about the bravest little teddy bear that you will ever meet.


Rachel Fox - Keep the Home Fires Burning

1. What would be a standard Christmas for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


I start to get excited about Christmas around September. It’s such a magical time; I love everything about it and usually go really over the top with decorations, if I’m allowed to! Christmas morning is usually spent drinking cups of tea and waiting for my daughter to wake up. Then it’s opening present time, this can take quite a while. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are spent house hopping between friends and family, eating and drinking too much and then a quiet couple of rest days before its back to work. I’m always really sad when it’s over.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


Christmas ghost stories are a challenge because there are so many absolute classics that can never be bettered. ‘A Christmas Carol’ for example - it doesn’t get better than that. When I was writing ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ I was thinking about ‘The Little Match Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s such a terribly sad and bleak story I wanted to try to capture that kind of feeling. There’s something about Christmas during war time that’s always seemed particularly sad so that seemed like the natural time to set it. After that I let Archie Pratt take over and write the story for me.


3. What is your favourite genre to write and what are you currently working on?


I only write horror and paranormal stories. I’ve tried other genres but they just don’t work for me. At the moment I’m trying to finish my novella ‘The Herring Hanger’ which I’d hoped to have published for Christmas, but it may be a little later than that now…

Alex Benitez - I'll Make It Next Christmas

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you and what would an ideal Christmas look like?


I believe my Christmas' I have are about as ideal as they could be. I'm around family, usually some are visiting, this year, I believe my uncle from Massachusetts is coming down and some real distant relatives from Cuba is coming up that I haven't seen in 17 years. Christmas is about being a little bit warmer, a little more giving and loving, and hopefully it stays without you throughout the year. It's a magical time of year, and very special to me.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this anthology?


The most blatant inspiration for this story is a Twilight Zone episode titled Twenty-Two, where an actress plagued by a reoccurring nightmare is spooked from taking a flight that later crashes. I realize I've done two of these little interviews and mentioned the Twilight Zone in both. It's just a flawless program to me, and storytelling in a television forum at its best. I think probably every story I've written is somewhat inspired by the Twilight Zone even if it's only in a subconscious capacity. The other inspiration is actually real life, because my family does hold a party every Christmas Eve that anyone who wishes to (even strangers) can attend.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I wouldn't say I have a particular genre I prefer, just some I'm not too interested in doing. I'm not interested in ever doing a romance novel. Even though I only like writing fiction I like drawing from reality. I like putting very real to life personalities in different fictional situations, and I'm single, so even when I put a romance aspect in a story, it always ends tragically because that's the only way I can be sure it'll feel very real. I work on a lot of things and that's my biggest problem, because I'll start something and get a new idea that'll excite me and lose interest in what I was working on. So I'll let you know what I'm excited for at the moment. It's an untitled vampire epic. It would read like more of a biblical telling of the entire history of this fictitious vampire world, so in that regards, it has no set main character. It would just inform the global politics of this vampire world and focus in detail on many different stories within that world of great historical significance. I'm having a friend help develop it with me and shoot me ideas to iron out specific rules to this world. I expect this to be about an eight year project and will require me to fashion a timeline, maps, family trees and massive outlines to keep it all in order. It's my attempt to push my storytelling to its absolute limit and have no doubt will be my greatest literary achievement.

Robert Mackey - Dammed for Christmas

1. What does Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


I search our land for the most deformed and pathetic tree I can find. The only requirement is that is sixteen feet tall so that it reaches the ceiling of our music/writing studio/badminton court/dramatic theater room. (Don’t get the idea that I’m bragging about our house. It’s just our attached shop that we turned into living space to ward off the cabin fever during the winter months.) The tree must reach the ceiling so the clown’s head that sits at the top is smashed against the ceiling and tilted sideways for extra creepiness. Then I decorate the tree in the lamest manner possible, IE: putting all the lights in a big heap or just on one side. Leaving the tinsel in the box and hanging it. (Makes recycling a breeze!) On Christmas morning we open the very few gifts we give to one another. Just the three of us mentioned in the bio. My wife hates me at this time of year….son loves me. Can’t have it all.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?

I woke at one AM saying, “I’ve got it!” I ran to the computer thinking, got what? My mind was a complete blank. I sat down and started typing. Four hours later I stood up asking myself, “Where in the hell did that come from?” Must have been an out of body experience.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?

 

My favorite genre is comedy, most of which sits way out there in left field someplace. Currently I’m working on an adult comedy entitled There’s Something the Matter in Hell in which a perfectly priceless little girl gets killed and goes on to match wits with God and Satan in the afterlife. Little Abby and her many friends are having way too much fun for a bunch of dead people. And as always I am continuing The Amazing and Ludicrous Adventures of Antonio Agular Ribadio Frigiliana Valdecarzana trilogy. This series is written for the MG/YA crowd but garners praise from the adults who have felt the need to read it due to my claim that it contains no killing, profanity or gratuitous sex. The lovely and talented CWC editor Kat Hutson is currently trying to find a home for these works. Ogle…I mean Google her if you want a good editor!

R. L. Daman - The Nameless

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


As long as its friends and family, laughing together, then its not Christmas. I don't care how many trees and peppermint you have strewn about your house. It is the reunion of loved ones and the rehashing of old fond memories. It is, being human, together.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I used the Sumerian story of Ishtar descending and rising from the underworld as a basis, and built it around the concept of why there is a tradition of the Yule log. Maybe, after this story, people will be more interested in making sure those hearths are aflame during the holidays. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


My favorite genre to write in is science-fiction. My current work is a dystopia set in the future and addresses the question of humanity, freedom, and our place in the universe. The working title is Age of Dissidence.

M W King - Nightmare on the Shelf

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


Growing up, I remember my Christmases always being extremely festive. There were constant parties to attend and we would spend a lot of time visiting family. We always decorated and had Christmas music playing. Decorating the tree was my favorite part.


As an adult with children of my own, I would definitely say my enthusiasm has toned down. I realized it definitely isn’t as easy as it looks, for me, at least! I try to do my best to make the Christmas season more about spending time with loved ones, though. 


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I’ve never written a scary story before, so I was a little hesitant to begin with. It took me a while to think up the idea. I started out with the basic thought that the best holiday horror stories have a foundation in the traditions meant to be light-hearted and innocent. Once I picked the tradition, I tried to find some way to twist it into something scary or creepy. The most fitting theme seemed to be some type of possession, in the spirit of Chucky. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


It’s hard for me to pick just one specific genre as my favorite! I would say all of my writing falls under some type of fiction, so if I had to categorize, that is what I’d choose. I like writing fiction because it’s always amazing to see where I can stretch my imagination to, not to mention it’s an amazing way to vent and get out emotions. I also love being able to create characters that I, myself, would admire or hate, someone that people can relate to with any kind of emotion.


I have a few current works, most of which have been on the backburner for years. My newest and most active project is a novel tentatively titled “Shadows & Light”. It is a companion/collaborative novel to a good friend’s novel, titled “Light & Shadow” by Crystal M M Burton, in which we both tell the same general story from two different perspectives. Our characters are stuck in a dream world where they each are told that they are the intended ruler. Each of our protagonists is the companion novels antagonist. It’s been a pleasantly interesting process, since it’s my first time collaborating with someone in my writing. Luckily, we seem to be on the same page about most ideas and haven’t hit any real obstacles thus far. I’ll be excited when it’s finally finished, though!

Kaylee Kosakowski - Snowmonster

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?

Even though we’re far past the age of waking up early for gifts, my younger brother still wakes me up on Christmas day. With my parents taking occasional unflattering pictures, we all open presents. At some point during the mess of wrapping paper and candy wrappers, my grandparents will usually arrive. We’ll hug and wish each other “Merry Christmas” and I’ll run to my room to get ready in hopes of avoiding more unflattering photos. We’ll eat breakfast at my house—some years we go to my aunt’s for lunch—and just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. At some point, we’ll go to my grandparents’ house for dinner and more gifts. It’s all very familiar and comfortable. 

It’s pretty close to ideal, the only thing I would change would be that I would sleep until whenever I wanted instead of being woken up. 

2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?

I honestly have no idea. I’m not very familiar with Christmas folklore or anything of that nature, so I was at a loss as to what to write. I just started listing things that related to winter and when I wrote “snowman,” I decided on that! I have an irrational skepticism of strange dolls and other objects with faces regarding their inanimate nature—at any moment, I expect their eyes to move or something. It’s like that scene in the Polar Express when they fall into the train car with all of the puppets. Snowmen could fall into that category and to be honest, they kind of creep me out. Especially at night, when it’s dark and they smile at you from the lawn. 

3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?

Young adult fantasy is definitely my favorite and, go figure, the book I’m currently working on falls into that genre. The plot focuses on a bunch of broken people learning to find a family in each other. If “friendship” were a genre, that’s what I would characterize it as. Besides that, I’m working on a few other collaboration projects, including those for Collaborative Writing Challenge.

Robert Padan - The Hitchiker

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas? 


I grew up in a large traditional family. My wife grew up in a large traditional family. Our family although not as large is relatively traditional especially around the holidays. One critical ingredient for a standard Christmas is decorations. My family always decorated. My wife’s family always decorated. And, our family has always decorated. The whole family would participate. Dad does the outside, Mom does the inside. We gave up on real trees several years ago, (heresy I know), but artificial trees have a lot of practical benefits, like not catching on fire. Traditionally you have to have a Nativity, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the whole gang, blow molded plastic, fan driven blowups, Masonite cut-outs, (by the way I also like plastic pink flamingos) whatever, inside anything from nice ceramic to cardboard, we have several. Lots of lights, in recent years I started writing sayings and making diagrams with rope lights. Then pile the gang into the mini-van and drive around neighborhoods looking at other people’s decorations. I love it and love to share with other people whose family situation may not be so nice. Our family’s traditional Christmas is getting smaller, with kids growing up and moving out, we have one left at home, a teenager who still manages to fit a little family tradition into his busy schedule. Merry Christmas, let’s go look at Christmas lights.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”; as someone who travels a lot for business, I identify with the speaker in the poem with its reminder to preserve one’s commitments despite the distances to be travelled, in life and in death.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


As a new writer I would like to try writing in several genres. The first book I wrote “Melchior the Brickmaker” is science fiction/ thriller. I would like to write a sequel or series. I like to read several genres especially crime drama and true crime. Of course living in Florida has given me a real appreciation for the Florida genre; yes it is a real genre, like westerns. If you enjoy reading the Florida genre please keep in mind the old saying “truth is stranger than fiction”, which is never more true than here in Florida, just ask Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen.

Eleftheria Crysochoou - Snowman

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


Holidays! For me, an ideal Christmas is a Christmas with family and good friends.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


I came up with a list of what Christmas meant for me as a child and as soon as I arrived at snowmen I knew that it was what I wanted to write about.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


That would be Mystery. I have this bad habit of starting stories of various genres without finishing them, so it's hard to pick just one at the moment.

Chris Broom - Let it Sleep

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas? 


Christmas for me has always been a little weird. Growing up my family was fractured with my mother giving a large portion of her attention to my younger brother because she felt guilty over his attitude. So, now as an adult, I tend to prefer a small Christmas with just my wife and children. Some people like to go all out with large family gatherings but that just isn’t something I enjoy. 


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology? 


When I was given the chance to submit a piece for the Festive Frights Anthology I jumped at the chance mostly because I’ve never really dabbled in the horror genre before. Being able to draw on dark themes of murder and psychosis during the holiday season really appealed to me and through these themes Let it Sleep was born. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


I typically work in the speculative lit / science fiction genre. Having the ability to bend our reality in order to tell larger than life tales focusing on a singular character in outrageous scenarios is something I hold dear to my heart and while I may stray into dramatic fiction from time to time I will always return to worlds far beyond our own. As for what I’m working on, well I have a lot of half-baked ideas that never really go anywhere. But, my current serious projects include my second short story collection titled “Where Light Doesn’t Shine” and a novel that mixes hard science fiction with sword and sorcery.

Tony Stark - The Wild Hunt

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


A staandard and ideal Christmas looks like family. Friends who have become family, family old and new. Dogs and geese and trees from nature brought inside and decorated with beautiful objects. A cascade of presents. It looks like love, which is the only thing to keep us from the cold chaos of midwinter.


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


The current political tension between ideas of the mid 20th Century certitude that Christmas was and always shall be Santa Claus and Coca-Cola, rather than any other ideas of what the season meant before that was introduced. I wanted to point out the fact that, before Santa, before medieval Christmas traditions, there were other ones as well... that Christmas is a time when we connect to nature through ourselves, and however we are called to do that, we should now be able to do so.


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently woorking on?


That's a hard one to answer; I've been told my work generally expands beyond genre classification. I think though, that whatever I would write, it would have supernatural, spiritual elements woven into the body of the story.


Currently, I am working on two novels: one about Richard the Lionheart and how he came to be held in a secret government program in the mid- 20th century. The other is an introduction to the fantasy realm of D'orian in which a kingdom, lost in an interdimensional pocket, reappears- just in time to be the crux point of a magical war.

Charlotte Rose Lange - The Holiday Butcher

1. What does a standard Christmas look like for you, and what would be an ideal Christmas?


We couldn't open presents until everyone was awake. I'd impatiently wait outside my siblings' doors, 'accidentally' stepping on the creakiest floorboard. To show gratitude, we'd wear or play with presents right away. This led to everyone wearing hats and coats and gloves over their pajamas and playing a new board game next to a mound of wrapping paper and packaging. Later we'd meet the extended family at my great aunt's house for meatballs in sweet sauce, chicken wings in sweet sauce, green beans, pasta salad, and deviled eggs. Cookies and sweets were displayed on every table, but the true prize was to grab one of the bean bag chairs before my cousins claimed them all. 


2. What inspired the story you have written for this Anthology?


X-files Season One Episode 8 "Ice". My story "The Holiday Butcher" doesn't have any parasitic alien life forms, but Mulder's paranoia that any of their team could be the murderer, inspired me to write about an FBI agent tracking a serial killer for the Festive Frights anthology. 


3. What is your favorite genre to write, and what are you currently working on?


My favorite genre to write is young adult paranormal. My work in progress is the novel Ascendant: "When a young witch harbors a newly ascended being who broke the rules, she’s thrust into a world of high magics and higher consequences." I've given the main character one of my own health conditions, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), to help myself and others understand how chronic illness impacts identity and relationships.