It’s October, which means many creative minds are starting to turn toward the spooky, fanged, clawed, and winged. To celebrate, a small coven of writers has emerged from the darkness to share their harrowing delights with you. Each week, we will tour each other’s blogs and answer questions about our favorite spooky shenanigans. Look for more harrowing fun at:

Pat Esden’s Mythmaker Blog,

Author RJ Theodore,

It’s All In My Head (Author Ken Schrader)

Ramblings of a Writer (Author Anne Raven),

Author Janet Walden-West.

But now, on with the show!

How do you handle frightening elements in your writing?

This is so tricky, because as a writer, I get the whole shebang in my head and it’s up to me to push and pull and paint with the words to make the reader experience the scene as closely as possible to what I envision. I try, at all times but especially with frightening scenes, to really focus on the sensory information that will give the reader the visceral reaction I want.

I also think it helps to hold back information, in both exposition and in dialog. No answers, just questions. “What’s that?” “Did you hear that?” “Ugh, what is that smell?!”

If anyone is explaining anything, they probably need to get axed.

How do you define Horror?

A lot of plots involving fear, untimely accidents, or death can be described as horrible, but to really classify a tale as within the horror genre, I feel it has to set out to elicit the sensations that make the reader as uncomfortable as possible. It has to set the reader on edge, make them dread what comes next. Then, like the protagonist in a horror story, it must also leave the reader too curious to resist looking behind that door, that curtain, that veil.

The shock, the recoil, the reaction, and then finally, the catharsis of the survival reveal, are all tasty bites on the whole plate which is horror.

Then there’s the perpetuating horror – the one that prevails at the end of the tale. Whether or not our POV character survives, is the horror really over? Who’s next?

If you want the story to linger, convince the reader they’re next.


RJT-crop-smR J Theodore is a graphic designer, illustrator, and author. Her first series of novels, the Peridot Shift series, launched in March 2018 with the publication of FLOTSAM through Parvus Press. A Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast of any format, she draws from a lifetime of SFF influences to craft stories with irreverent physics, irresponsible gods, and unforgettable characters. She writes both long-form novels and shorter works, including the ongoing self-published Phantom Traveler novella series which began with THE BANTAM and continues, one episode at a time, for her supporters on Patreon.

Mx. Theodore first began inventing worlds before she could spell the words it took to describe them. Her earliest stories were rendered in pipe cleaners, shoe boxes, and modified plastic milk jugs. There is, somewhere on a floppy disk in a landfill, a partially written Star Trek fanfic that the Parvus Press team would pay a bounty to retrieve. Of Mx. Theodore’s more recent story crafting, SFF author Jennifer Foehner Wells says, “R J Theodore is a fresh voice who will soon be on your must-read list!”

Mx. Theodore is fueled by coffee and churrasco.







Bantam-new-coverTHE BANTAM (A Phantom Traveler Novella):

Ehli never expected much from her life. She’s an Iscillian, designed in a lab to serve as custodian for a Xendari merchant crew, with no future beyond the warranty of their starship. When she reads two previously overlooked lines in the ship’s operations manual that cast doubt on everything she thought she knew about her existence, the satisfaction she once found in her simple life dissolves into an unsettling obsession with learning the truth.

She is expected to report for duty, complete her assignments, and rest until her next shift. To put the needs of the ship and crew before her own. She knows better than to expect the oh-so-vertebrate Xendari to help her find the answers she craves, but every step she takes investigating her origins – and that of all Iscillian serving as bioaccessories across the galaxy – takes her further from the life she knew, and deeper into danger.

But she can’t ignore what she’s learned. She must know what secrets have been kept from her, and she’s willing to risk everything to uncover them.