Posts Tagged ‘zombies’

This novel spans several centuries, following the relationship of the two most iconic monsters in literary history. Once as close as brothers but now sworn enemies, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meet for a final showdown beneath the streets of New York City.
Night Things (Dracula versus Frankenstein) takes place in a world just like yours with one startling difference: every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow and they now exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind! New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.
Dracula, considered the messiah of the Night Things, builds an unstoppable army as he plots to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. The mysterious New York crime boss, Johnny Stücke (the creation of Frankenstein) wants to keep the peace between the Night Things and humanity. Stücke fears total extermination of his kind, should Dracula unleash his forces on New York.
The fight for the night begins.
Critically-acclaimed horror author Terry M. West continues his Magic Now series with this standalone novel that presents a world only a slight shade darker than our own.

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Think “True Blood” in an urban setting, add a dash of “The Sopranos” and blend in a big-budget action blockbuster finale, and you have something approximating Night Things. The subtitle – Dracula vs. Frankenstein – alludes to the novel’s B-grade horror inspirations. The monsters don’t stray far from the commonly accepted rules; vampires still drink blood and are killed by sunlight, zombies still eat human flesh (although there is an interesting new “rule” added for the zombies that allows them to function for the most part in human society, and I’m not too sure about the Mummy…). The writing is fast-paced and uncomplicated, with the occasional acute observation to lift it above common B-grade horror fare. My favourites include:

“And the world has a way of making those who are different believe they are monsters.”

“I have no respect for someone who doesn’t recognize the value of a scar.”

The monsters have a certain degree of nuance to their characterization; Johnny Stücke is a beautifully drawn anti-hero (Mary Shelley would probably approve of how he’s turned out in the 21st century), and human Gary Hack is this messed-up weakling of a man that you still somehow can’t help sympathising with. Even the “bad guys” have convincing backstories that explain how they turned to the dark side.

Readers who enjoy this novel will be pleased to know that the second Night Things book, Undead and Kicking, is due out in a week and the e-book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for under a dollar.


About the author:
Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He is also the managing editor of the Halloween/horror website, Halloween Forevermore. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California.

When you’ve been married for nearly 18 years, have three kids, and work one and a half day jobs between you, and one of you is a horror writer, and when you come across the unusual situation (at least, I’m assuming it’s unusual – mathematicians, feel free to provide accurate stats) where a Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day occupy consecutive spots on the calendar, and you lack the energy and inclination to celebrate both…well, something’s got to give. For us, it was a no-brainer – why go out on February 14 and jostle for table space alongside every other loved-up couple in Melbourne when you can coerce your teenage son to babysit on February 13 and go see a new zombie movie on its release day – and get bonus points for supporting Australian made?

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead could not be more Australian if it had drop bears and zombie kangaroos in it. Depending on your point of view, the dialogue is either rudimentary or true-to-life; most of it consists of just two words – “Mate!” and “FAAAARRKK!” The action is relentless – maybe five minutes are devoted to gentle domestic scenes with protagonist Barry and his wife and child before the zompocalypse erupts, and next thing you know mum and kid are dead (again) zombies with nails in their skulls. It remains faithful to zombie movie tropes, including copious amounts of blood and gore, while at the same time introducing a couple of new ideas that I hadn’t seen before. (Never mind that said ideas range from scientifically highly unlikely to downright impossible – it’s a zombie movie. Just go with it). Even without the novelty, it contains some visually striking, memorable scenes that elevate it above the stock-standard zombie fare. As my husband says, it has “cult classic” written all over it, and was the most fun I’ve had on date night since we watched Zombieland to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary.

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And in other Friday the 13th news – today was the official launch of the horror anthology The Grimorium Verum, the third in Western Legends Publishing’s Tres Librorum Prohibitorum series. The Grimorium Verum contains my story Q is for Quackery. It is a tale of wrath, greed and revenge, and how giving full rein to any of these impulses is unlikely to end well. It was also my third contribution to a Dean M. Drinkel anthology, the other two being Phobophobia and The Demonologia Biblica.

By the time many of you read this, it will be Valentine’s Day – a gift of to your loved one of The Grimorium Verum will be nothing if not memorable.

There’s no scarcity of online resources advising authors on horror tropes to avoid, so it is perhaps ironic that I’m about to add to the subject with a post that might not contribute anything original. But hey – it’s my soapbox, and I’ll say what I wanna.

Back in 2012 I posted a list of character clichés that I see too often in the slush pile. This list adds to the ever-expanding list of things I see in horror fiction that are likely to make me pull a Simon Cowell. (My apologies to any author who pioneered these tropes. Imitation is the sincerest form or flattery, or so they say.)

  • The protagonist regains consciousness after a car crash.
    The general advice in all types of fiction is to avoid starting a story with someone coming to or waking up. Not sure that I’d go so far as to issue a blanket warning against all such story starters (especially since I’ve had published more than one story starting this way). It’s just that, with such a common beginning, the author might want to consider if the rest of the story concept is equally derivative.
    By Jpbarrass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

    Watch out! There’s a zombie in the bathroom!

  • The protagonist walks into a strangely deserted convenience store.
    I don’t understand why or how this has become novice writer shorthand for “some seriously scary shit is about to go down”. If someone can explain it to me, please come forward.
  • The protagonist is dead, but doesn’t know it.
    Again – I have done this. Quite recently, in fact. But in my defense, my story has the protagonist – and the audience – become aware of this fact halfway through the story. It’s not a “gotcha!” ending, and the story has a different reason for being other than to reveal the protagonist’s demise. If this is the only point of your story, it’s not likely to be a strong contender for publishing.
  • The protagonist goes to some version of Hell for his misdeeds.
    A variation on the revenge story which is very rarely executed originally or well.
  • Something bad happens to a lawyer.
    See above.
  • A Satanic ritual goes wrong.
    Uh duh. Those things are designed to go wrong.
    By Rick Cooper (Marlette Lake Trail 2011  Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • A reclusive author/grieving person retreats to a cabin in the woods/by a lake/in the woods AND by a lake.
    Bonus cliché points if the lake contains something eeeevil.
  • Zombies in a supermarket.
    See “strangely deserted convenience store”.
  • Protagonist kills him/herself rather than become zombie fodder.
    Zombie stories in general, much like vampire and werewolf stories, are hard to write with originality  because they’re so popular in horror fiction. This is just one zombie cliché best avoided.
  • A devil (or The Devil) delivers a monologue that is meant to be funny (but usually isn’t).
    Usually these stories have the devil complaining about his working conditions. Because overworked demons are hilarious. And terrifying. Or something like that.

I’d love to hear your own undergarment-shredding pet peeves when it comes to horror fiction.