Violence in my stories is a whole different matter. I don't write gratuitously, simply for shock value. But I've never been much of a referee when my characters decide to take swings at one another -- if the tale requires it, let the rivers run red. I've often said I'd rather squirm in my chair reading or hearing a story read to me when things get bloody and intense than be bored, which is the worst reaction to a writer's fiction possible. So with this in mind, one humid Saturday afternoon in May of 2012, I put the nib of my pen to page and began an usually gory tale called "Game of Golf."
Earlier in the day, we meandered the back roads of our former town, headed to the cinema to take in Marvel's blockbuster popcorn flick, The Avengers. We enjoyed a lot of movies until our move north (now, we watch them in the living room, on our flat-screen TV -- there are no movie theaters within easy driving distance of our new home digs in New Hampshire's north country). The roads wandered through countryside and sparse neighborhoods, before coming upon one of those elite golf courses, where the well-to-do parade about in wingtips and jaunty colorful outfits. While crossing through the country club grounds and continuing toward the rear entrance of the movie theater, some five miles down the road, I jokingly remarked how someone needed to take a golf club and start bashing in heads there upon the pristine green -- and an entire story-line instantly materialized, including the hows, the whos, and the whys.
I wrote "Game of Golf" to completion later that afternoon and into the early May night, and was thrilled when it was accepted on its first time out at the follow-up to Blood Bound Books' D.O.A. I'd placed stories in two BBB releases previously, the brilliant Steamy Screams and last year's Blood Rites. The press is renown for bringing together top talent between the covers of beautiful books, and D.O.A. II continues the tradition, with twenty-eight of the ugliest-beautiful tales a reader of extreme and unapologetic horror fiction could hope to devour.
Many of my fellow D.O.A. II authors shared the back-stories behind their stories.
Ken MacGregor on "The Proud Mother": "I had originally written the story for a Lovecraft erotica anthology. I wanted to see if I could pull off that sort of thing. My female protagonist is a mortician in the 1920s . She falls in love and marries, but she is already pregnant with the child of a corpse. The anthology for which I wrote the story rejected it, so I removed the flowery romance language, amped up the horror and subbed it to D.O.A. II. It's your basic 'what if'' story -- what if a living woman had sex with a dead man and he got her pregnant? The answer, as I interpreted it ain't pretty."
Raymond Little on "Scream and I'll Come to You": "There was a big debate in the British media at the time of writing this tale, and I've found that Horror is the most flexible of genres -- a useful framework to explore many social and political themes. The seed grew from there, but I needed a suitable horrific apocalyptic catalyst, and came upon the idea of a virus whose symptom is fear -- an unaccountable, overwhelming sense of terror that causes the victims to simply scream themselves to death. Once I had that world established, I was able to explore the relationship between Beth and her daughter, and what they were capable of through their mutual love. The title is a nod of respect to the classic M.R. James ghost story, 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad.'"
K. Trap Jones on "Burn the Witches": "The inspiration came from a lyric within the Rob Zombie song, Dragula. The lyric reads, 'Dig through the ditches and burn through the witches.' For some strange reason, I immediately envisioned a truck barreling through a muddy ditch and steamrolling over a bunch of witches without concern. From there I went with a southern narrative tone and wanted to break away from the common witch stereotype by creating a demon type personality for them. As the story unfolded, a comedic and sarcastic undertone revealed itself based on the old 80s horror movies. To have a small southern Georgia town be overrun by demonic witches and the Mayor creating a Witch Hunting Season was extremely enjoyable to write about because I actually pictured this scenario happening. It’s a horrific situation for any town to have to endure, but when the townsfolk actually enjoy it, it makes for one hell of a demented, wild ride."
Daniel I. Russell on "Linger": "I was unsure on sending this story in as I worried that it wasn't extreme enough to compete with some of the names in the Table of Contents. 'Lingers' is pretty much a dark humor story, with our protagonist stuck in an awful job and a little older and out of touch with his workmates, struggling to keep up with life. To make matters worse, he started a relationship with one of the ladies there that didn't turn out so well, and he just can't shake the smell of her perfume... Based on a true story (to a point). I used to work in a law firm and one of the female workers overpowered a room with her perfume when she walked in, so much so that you could still smell it when you arrived home. As for the gore...well, rather than have the page drip, I went for a more subtle, squeamish approach, inspired by the great Graham Masterton. It's the little details that count!"
Robert Essig on "Dr. Scabs and the Hags of El Cajon": "Growing up in El Cajon you get used to seeing tweekers riding bikes everywhere. For years I would see them and wonder how it was they didn't keel over and die. They just looked so burnt-out and sickly. I ended up moving into a house that had been a tweeker pad. I had to remove all of the junk they left behind and I found it interesting to see how they lived looking from the inside out. "Dr. Scabs and the Hags of El Cajon" is a sneaky peek into a fictionalized drug underground here in my hometown, an idea that I had been harvesting over a long period of time."
Kristopher Triana on "The Devouring": "I wrote this short story after reading about the Armin Meiwes case in Germany, where a man took out an online add for a volunteer for him to cannibalize. All the more shocking was that Meiwes eventually received a willing victim in Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes. The two even videotaped the slaughter, which is said to include footage of Meiwes and Brandes eating Brandes' penis, as well as Brandes being willingly stabbed to death and then stripped like a deer carcass in Meiwes's 'slaughter room'. I found myself thinking about how this footage must be the most vile thing ever recorded on film. A story began to form in my head wherein a couple desired to make the world's nastiest video, and this got me thinking about an article I had read about UK's age of the video nasties when certain horror movies where made illegal and even prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. I began to envision a sickening romance that was dedicated to creating the ultimate in snuff art. For a long time 'The Devouring' was my own little nasty that I kept locked up. After having it rejected by a horror publisher who deemed it 'twisted and misogynistic', I thought perhaps it was taking the genre too far. But it just kept gnawing at the back of my file cabinet. I'm glad it finally found an extreme horror home with D.O.A. II. I can't think of a more fitting way to unchain this rabid beast of a tale."
Thomas Pluck on "Slice of Life": "Slice of Life began as an attempt to describe crippling depression and what would snap you out of it, and the ‘sleeping beauty’ aspect took hold. Paralysis has always been one of my greatest terrors, and I made the most awful thing I could think of come through that window once the depression took hold. The swan made of razor blades is because I know plenty who've overcome brutal childhoods and I wanted it to symbolize that, the beautiful thing that it hurts both you and her to touch, because of how she was made."
John McNee on "Skunk Jr.": "I have a friend I speak to sometimes when I want to kick around story ideas (or, more often, when a deadline's looming and I have NO ideas). It was this friend I turned to when I was trying to come up with something for D.O.A II. All I had was an opening scene -- a guy waking up to the aftermath of a brutal car crash. We talked things out over the course of a half hour, various ideas were voiced and I eventually suggested that the guy wakes up and looks around to see his pregnant wife being ripped open by someone or something that snatches the baby out of her womb and takes off into the forest. It's then up to a ragtag posse to head into the trees and try to get the kid back. My friend didn't seem all that enthused when I proposed it, then qualified himself by saying, ‘But now I've got this image in my head of these guys getting a mile or so into the woods, looking around, and seeing a shitload of baby skulls nailed to trees.’ So yeah. That's how that happened."
Kelly M. Hudson on "Fat Boy": "This story came about from a lifetime of being made fun of for being fat. It started when I was a kid, of course, and how I'd cope with it then was to mock myself before others could. It was humiliating, but it worked. Now, I'm too mean-looking for most people to ever try, but they still do from time to time. Fat people seem to be the only segment of the population that is acceptable to laugh at, and I consider it cruel. Sure, some people are fat because they're lazy, worthless slobs, but the majority of us are fighting genetics and other factors. I've worked my ass off dieting and exercising, and I can only get down to a certain weight. I am who I am, and I'm fine with it, but I feel for others. Look at Marlon Brando, the greatest film actor this country has maybe ever seen, and the first thing anyone says about him is some jab about his massive girth. All that genius and talent is belittled because he was fat. So I wrote this story out of frustration for those of my kind as a bit of vicarious revenge on those who won the genetic lottery. And I also wanted to remind you skinny, pretty freaks of nature: there's more of us than you. Get it?"
David Bernstein on "STD": "The idea came from wanting to write something gross, cringe-worthy, and nasty, yet have a bit of mystery to keep the reader turning the pages. What better way than having a guy wake up after a one-night stand and discovering a huge, and I mean huge, pimple on the end of his penis -- and it only gets larger as the story unfolds. Minor spoiler ahead: Then I asked myself, what about a spin on the usual… Do monsters have STDs? And if they do, can they pass them on to humans?"
D. Lynn Smith on "Anointed": "When I was eight-years-old, my family moved from one part of my hometown to another. This meant changing churches as well. The new church didn’t believe in infant baptism, so I was no longer saved. It also didn’t believe in sprinkling or pouring -- you had to be totally immersed in order for your sins to be washed away. This was rather confusing to an eight-year-old and it made me wonder if sin stuck to all of our skin like some kind of rash. A while later I ran into a fundamental Christian who believed everything in the Bible was literally true -- Adam and Eve, The sacrament turning into Jesus’ blood and body, the sins being washed away by baptism. Combine the two and you have a girl wondering what happens to all the sin that washes off in the baptismal pool. I wanted to try a second person story, but didn’t relish the idea of writing from one person’s point of view. The trinity was a logical choice. And there you have it."