Friday, February 19, 2016

Witches and Onryo – The Vengeful Spirit

It’s witch weekend! The movie The Witch has just released. After seeing the preview, I'm pumped to go see the movie today. It's also a perfect weekend to have guest author Catherine Cavendish talk about witches, demons, vengeful spirits and share an excerpt from her scary book The Pendle Curse.

Onryo – The Vengeful Spirit
 by Catherine Cavendish

In addition to witches, I often write about devils and demons, revenge and retribution. I am not alone, of course. Ancient traditions of vengeance abound in the traditions and folklore of people all over the world, often involving demons and other creatures from the paranormal. One such character is Onryo – a mythological spirit found in Japanese folklore. Actually there wasn’t just one of them, but many, and onryos are usually (though not exclusively) female.

An onryo is an angry and vengeful spirit who returns from the depths of the Otherworld. In life, she has been a gentle and inoffensive, non-assertive woman, but she has been ill-used by her brutal and aggressive husband and, after death - frequently at the hands of the wicked husband - her spirit has blackened. She has also become immensely strong and dangerous and will stop at nothing to gain her revenge.

Onryos first appeared in Japanese folklore around the 7th or 8th century and rapidly became embedded in legend. They have but one aim in death - to punish their abusers with unbearable and eternal torture if they should dare to continue to use aggression on their new women.

So powerful were the stories of this vengeance, that onryos became one of the most feared legends in Japan and other Asian countries by the early 1900s. The old legends didn’t describe their appearance but, as more and more men were attacked by them, a picture began to emerge.

They are usually described as slender, beautiful and dressed in a white, bloodstained kimono. Their veins stand out as green and purple and they have long black hair, covering their faces. When angered their hair bristles as if electrified, revealing a deformed face, frequently with a mouth, but no eyes or nose.

An encounter with an onryo usually starts by their intended victim finding a seemingly unconscious woman collapsed on the floor. As they approach her, the man will feel the onset of a sudden migraine and chest pains. As they near her, they will hear strange, unintelligible sounds coming from the woman – similar to weeping, or whispering in an unfamiliar language. Then, the onryo will stand and levitate towards the victim, reaching out to capture him with her hands. Now the woman is surrounded in a dark aura and makes deep, unearthly growls.

In some instances, the onryo will kill their intended. In others, they will curse the abusive husband and his family, and even sentence any woman he makes intimate contact with to death. They have also been blamed for causing anything from earthquakes to fires, storms, drought, famine and pestilence in their quest for vengeance.

They are still feared to this day…

Now, here’s the blurb for The Pendle Curse:

Four hundred years ago, ten convicted witches were hanged on Gallows Hill. Now they are back…for vengeance.

Laura Phillips’s grief at her husband’s sudden death shows no sign of passing. Even sleep brings her no peace. She experiences vivid, disturbing dreams of a dark, brooding hill, and a man—somehow out of time—who seems to know her. She discovers that the place she has dreamed about exists. Pendle Hill. And she knows she must go there. But as soon as she arrives, the dream becomes a nightmare. She is caught up in a web of witchcraft and evil…and a curse that will not die.

Here’s a short extract from the beginning:

His spirit soared within him and flew up into the storm-clad sky as blackness descended and the rain became a tempest.

He flew. Lost in a maelstrom of swirling mists. Somewhere a baby cried until its sobs became distorted, tortured roars. Beyond, a black void loomed. He saw Alizon’s spirit just ahead and tried to call out to her, but his voice couldn’t reach her.

Beside him, another spirit cried out. His mother. He flinched at her screams before they were drowned in the mass—that terrible parody of some hideous child.

The blackness metamorphosed. An amorphous shape formed as his eyes struggled to see with their new vision—the gift of death. Small baby limbs flailed towards him. Eyes of fire flashed as a toothless mouth opened. Screeching, roaring and demanding to be fed. Demanding its mother.

His spirit reached out for his lover. Tried to pull her back. “Alizon!”

She turned anguished eyes to him. “It calls to me.”

He recognized it instantly. The blazing fire. The devil child. That cursed infant had come for them.

Again he reached out with arms that no longer felt connected to him, but he was powerless to stop Alizon being swept away, deep into the abomination’s maw.

“No!” His cry reverberated around him—a wail of anguish in a sea of torment.
Then…silence. Only he remained, drifting in swirling gray mists of time.

“I will find you, sweet Alizon. One day I will find you. And I will find the one who betrayed us.”

From somewhere, he heard an echo…

You can buy The Pendle Curse here:

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the 2013 joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor, which features in the anthology What Waits in the Shadows.  Her novels, The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine are also published by Samhain as is her novella – Dark Avenging Angel. Her latest novel –The Devil’s Serenade - will be released by Samhain on April 19th, 2016.

You can connect with Cat here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guest Horror Author Kristopher Rufty

Today’s guest is one of the best horror authors writing today and a dear personal friend of mine. I’m happy to have Kristopher Rufty back to talk about what inspired him to write his latest novel, Desolation.

Desolate Influences…
By Kristopher Rufty

As I write this article, I can look out my window and see a landscape buried in white. We’ve had a lot of snow the last few days and I can’t help but be reminded of my mindset when writing Desolation.

All my ideas start from an inspiration. Whether it be a mood, smell, something I see, a movie I watch, or a book I read, something comes from something else. A seed. Sometimes a single seed may sprout a crop that produces fruits and vegetables, which can be added to other things to make a tasty casserole of an idea.
Did I just compare Desolation to a food dish? Yeesh. My point is, a lot of things inspired Desolation, which is no different than anything else I’ve written. A spark of inspiration hits the dry brush of my brain that grows into an out of control fire. Now that’s probably a much better idiom for what Desolation was inside my head. Something I couldn’t contain. And its influences range vastly.

I’m going to share a few other pieces of work that inspired Desolation in some way.

John Carpenter’s The Thing: A movie of complete isolation, shut off from the world in heavy snow and no way out, with the monster trapped inside with them. On the outside, everything looks ordinary, but inside the walls, inside the people, an evil intruder is stirring. Nobody is safe and nobody can be trusted.

The Evil Dead: A similar theme as The Thing. But in this one, as most of us know, our poor characters are trapped inside a cabin, away from population, while a demonic force picks them off one by one. The lone survivor fights back with a chainsaw.

Psycho: This one might seem a bit odd, considering the book Desolation turned in to. But I felt Robert Bloch staring over my shoulder while I wrote, reminding me that sometimes subtlety is better than throwing everything in your readers’ faces. Also, the element of surprise that Bloch employed in Psycho (as Hitchcock did in the film) was something I really wanted to imply throughout. Hopefully my readers didn’t know what or when, but sensed something terrible was coming to the Marlowes when the snow started falling.

Misery: The novel much more than the movie. I read Misery during a snowstorm that crippled our town for a few days. It was one of those books that I had to force myself to stop reading so I could eat, use the bathroom, and make appearances for my family so they remembered I existed.

With the snow falling outside my window and inside the book, I could really identify with Paul Sheldon in the story. He wasn’t just trapped in the bed because of his injuries and the mad nurse caring for him, but also by the elements outside—the weather and location. But through it all, his love for writing carried him forward, urging him to fight, to survive... His predicament forced him to find that creative love again, the love that he’d lost thanks to years of success.

These themes and moods were substantial in my mind when I was writing Desolation. The inclement darkness outside is almost as bad as what the Marlowes are trapped inside the cabin with. Their situation feels hopeless no matter what route they might try to take for survival, and they need to find that one thing to focus on to remind them why they want to live. And for them, that one thing is each other.

If you’ve read Desolation, I thank you with all my heart. If you haven’t read or seen any of the titles from my list, please check them out.

I think if you enjoyed Desolation, you’ll find something to love in each of them.

Kristopher Rufty writes violent, twisted, terrifying tales that are most comparable to Richard Laymon and Stephen King. If you’ve yet to discover Rufty’s books, I highly recommend them. Here is the synopsis for Desolation:

There's no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge. Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle. On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant's past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple-make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant's drunken antics have caused him. Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family's lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery-Grant's misery.

"Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it." -Edward Lee, author of City Infernal, on Angel Board

"Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again." -Bryan Smith, author of Go Kill Crazy!, on A Dark Autumn

You can buy a copy of Desolation in paperback and eBook through:

Barnes & Noble

Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, The Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents, and more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He has also written and directed the independent horror films Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.

We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at
Link for audio book giveaway:
Link for print/e-book giveaway: