- Can you tell us about your business relationship with Flame Tree Press? How many book titles do you have with them and what’s the nature of those releases? Are they all new or are there re-releases too?
I am so lucky to be part of the Flame Tree Press family and working again with editor Don D’Auria. I keep telling Don, I’m sticking with him until I’m too old to write and he’s too old to edit. They’ve been a wonderful team to work with – very professional and committed to putting out a superior product, as evidenced by the lovely trade paperback and hardcover book designs, ebooks and audio. Slash is my third book with Flame Tree. I was honored to be part of last year’s kick-off for the horror line with Creature, an original written expressly for Flame Tree. Earlier this year, they published a book I had produced with Samhain Publishing, Hell Hole, which I re titled Ghost Mine. It’s a fun weird western with all manner of horrors and old west tough guys. And now we have the brand new Slash, an homage to the movies I love so much.
- This question is from John Lynch who reviews for Night Worms, John asks “How did you come up with the character, The Wraith”?
I can promise you it had nothing to do with the 80s Charlie Sheen ghost-car movie. When I sat down to write Slash, I knew the hardest part was going to be creating a killer that was both familiar to horror fans, yet brand-slashing new. I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan (as evidenced by my Jason tattoo), so I had Jason in mind when I conjured the Wraith. I love that whole force of nature slasher concept. Nothing scarier than a hulking beast that doesn’t have a motive you can grasp and can’t be stopped. I think having a killer called The Wraith is downright chilling. It calls up thoughts of a maniac who appears out of thin air bent on murder with the ability to just fade away. For me, it was fun starting the book years after the Wraith has committed his crimes because I wanted to explore what happens to survivors of a maniac like this son of a bitch. He comes to the readers with an established resume of being one terrifying dude with a murky history, just like a ghost.
- This question is from Donnie who is also a Night Worms reviewer, “You’ve written a ton of crypto/creature based horror novels—is there a different approach you take when switching sub-genres to something like a slasher novel?
With any book, it’s more about the people than the monster. You need to create a cast of three-dimensional characters that readers can either root for or against. I will say that cryptid books have more action and a sense of adventure to them, whereas within other subgenres you have to be a little more contemplative. Lucky for me, I get to write what I love, so I’m never struggling to find my way, no matter the villain. With Slash, I wanted to explore the PTSD that comes with survivor’s guilt when you’re a final girl (or guy) and the impact it has on everyone they know. Todd and Sharon are possibly damaged beyond repair after losing their fiancé and sister respectively. How does that damage and a sense of what else is there to live for impact their decision making? So, while I wanted to make Slash a fun throwback to the slasher flicks of the 80s, I needed to be a little more cerebral without bogging the story down with dime store psychology. On a side note, wouldn’t it be great to get your therapy for just a dime?
- What are some of your favorite Slasher movies?
Sooo many. Every single Friday the 13th, of course. I love the original Halloween and dig parts two and four. The Burning is camp killer perfection with one of the best movie posters of all time. Slumber Party Massacre needs to get more recognition as one of the tops in the genre, even though it was written as a send-up of slasher movies. Black Christmas can be considered the birth of it all with one creepy killer and a stellar performance by Margot Kidder. Of course, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a must-see in my house, even most of the sequels and reboots. Just don’t get me started on that Leatherface abomination. Oh, and I can’t forget The House on Sorority Row and The Prowler. I can literally go on and on, but I’ll control myself.
- Did you know from the very beginning of writing SLASH that your protagonist Ashley would be a Final Girl that takes her own life?
I had no idea who the killer would be, but I knew from the jump that I’d kick things off with a broken final girl. I can’t imagine the horror of watching all your friends get savaged and having to live with those nightmares and guilt. I’m sure some people would find a way to move on, but I fear most would end up like Ash. By the way, Ashley King is a take on Adrienne King, who played Alice, the final girl in the original Friday the 13th. It’s the second time I’ve ‘had her in a novel’. In Island of the Forbidden, Alice is the sister of Jason, two strange kids living in a mansion on an island. Anyway, with Slash, Ash came way before The Wraith.
- We literally just discovered by reading your author bio that you have a video podcast called, Monster Men. Can you give us a better idea about how long you’ve been doing that podcast and what a typical episode would include?
We’ve been doing Monster Men for over 8 years now. Back when we started our little video podcast, there weren’t many others over on the ol YouTubes doing the same. Now, you can spend weeks catching up on all there is to offer. Jack and I started Monster Men with the concept of it being a show where two guys talk in a virtual bar about any horror topic we fancy. That’s basically what we did for years before the podcast, so why not film it and share it with the world? It’s a light-hearted approach to sometimes very dark topics. We want to make you laugh, reminisce about the good old days of horror, explore the latest and greatest and just have fun. We do a special Halloween episode every year, have gone on a ghost hunt, talked to famous cryptozoologists, authors, filmmakers and more. We’ll settle on a topic and just run with it, fact checking later and showing corrections in post-production. My favorite episodes are the taste testing episodes. We’ve done horror wines, pumpkin ales, and my #1, a horrible Thanksgiving with the nastiest food I could find. Expect another one this year!
- We have to tell you that last year’s release, CREATURE was one of our favorite books from 2018. It was emotional-horror at its best—at almost one year since its release, can you talk about how this book has been received by your audience?
Fun fact, my wife has not read Creature. She’s tried, but it hits too close to home and she can’t get past twenty pages. The feedback has been incredible. I keep saying I missed my chance to drop the mic and walk away on a high note. It’s all downhill from here, folks. LOL I’ve had so many people with auto-immune diseases write to me and thank me for making them realize they are not alone and for highlighting something that people rarely talk about. Seeing how it has impacted readers has been the highlight of my writing career. That book took everything I had to write and left me hollow. But it was worth every agonizing minute of it. Thankfully, no one has asked me to write a sequel.
- Tell us about your character from SLASH named Sharon. I have to say, in our group chats about this book, Sharon and Jerry come up the most. We want to know more about Sharon though, what are your thoughts on her character?
Sharon is the most affected of them all, by far. Here was a girl on the track to success whose world has been turned upside down. The Wraith basically wiped out her whole family. She’s fueled by anger. I mean, even as a stripper, she has a deep vein of anger toward her customers, seeing them as a means to an end, not as people. Whereas Todd and his friends are older and have more to lose, she’s a little cyclone of hate who is there to kick ass and take names. She’s living proof that hate and reckless abandon are a dangerous combination. At one point, you realize she may be more harmful than The Wraith. She’s also great for creating an added layer of tension in the book. She’s not one of them, but she’s also not a total outsider. Most of all, she’s the antithesis of your typical slasher girl. That’s all part of what I wanted to do with Slash. Give you something old wrapped in something new.
- In your Q&A at the beginning of the book, you mention that part of a writer’s career is having that next book ready and to be ready to talk about it—so! We are going to ask the question: What are you currently working on and when can readers expect it??
I’m almost done with the first draft of my next book for Flame Tree. It’s called Misfits. I don’t want to give away the story, especially at this stage of the game, but I can tell you it’s set in the mid-90s with a heavy focus on grunge culture, the atrocities that people can commit on one another and an urban legend that hasn’t gotten enough attention, as far as I’m concerned. It has some particularly brutal moments that even startled me. With any luck, it will be out around this same time next year.
- Lastly, which do you enjoy writing about more, Human Monsters or Creatures? AND what do you enjoy reading more, Human Monsters or Creatures?
I know you’ll hate this answer, but I love them both. Writing monster fiction is more fun, but human monsters are intriguing and force me to dig deeper. As long as I’m typing, I’m happy. When it comes to reading, I’ll feast my eyeballs on anything I can get. The past decade has been a boon for great horror. It’s everywhere you look if you can look past the bookstore shelves of King and Koontz. I strongly urge people to dive into the entire Flame Tree catalogue that is growing all the time, as well as stellar authors like Kealan Patrick Burke, Josh Malerman, Chris Sorensen, Riley Sager, Jeff Strand, Ania Ahlborn, Tim Meyer, Terry M. West, Kelly Owen and so many more. There’s literally not enough time to read all the blow-your-socks-off horror out there.
Hunter Shea's newest release is available for PreOrder. It releases on October 24th from Flame Tree Press.