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Apr. 1st, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "Clowning Around."

This is the illustration that appeared for April in the Sideshow Press calendar back in 2010. I had never done a clown story before, though I did share the believe held by many that clowns are more creepy than amusing and make good subject matter for horror tales. So I came up with a tale that was rather nasty, and I hope leaves people with that skin-crawling sensation.


My collection LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here:

Mar. 9th, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "Down Below"

When I came to the March illustration in Sideshow Press's horror calendar in 2010, I was stumped. The artwork by Tony Karnes was wonderful, but unlike January and February, I didn't have a story immediately jump out at me. Everything I thought of seemed rather cliche and uninteresting. In fact, the month was nearly over when I finally hit on an idea I thought would work. Fortunately, it was a shorter piece than the first two, and I finished the tale right under the wire before the month ended.


LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here:

Feb. 27th, 2014

Warren Rochelle Interview

I first met Warren Rochelle when he taught a Creative Writing course I took in college. He definitely knew his stuff, and he definitely helped me to become a better writer. A few years ago I read his novel Harvest of Changelings and realized the reason he can teach creative writing so well is because he’s an excellent writer himself. I was very happy to have the opportunity to interview him for my blog.

Q: Do you remember how old you were when you wrote your first story? If so, do you remember what it was about?

A: When I was quite young my mother, who was a secretary at Duke University, brought home used typing paper (yes, back in the days of the typewriter, eons ago) and I would draw stories on the blank sides, long and involved tales. When I try to remember what they were about what comes to mind are transformations.

As for the first written story, 2 stories come to mind—I’m just not quite sure which came first. In third grade I read and fell in love with The Chronicles of Narnia. I wrote my own version, with a High Queen and bucentaurs (people with the bodies of cattle—I found them in some myth book somewhere). In fourth grade, I wrote a tale based on The Island of the Blue Dolphin and the Native American who was abandoned there.

I am pretty sure there were stories written down before that, but those are the two that I first thought about when thinking about this question. I do remember always been excited when creative writing was assigned.

Q: When did you really become serious about writing?

A: In a sense, I have always been serious about writing, but that’s not the question. I was living in Garner, a Raleigh, NC, suburb and working as a school librarian in the Wake County Schools. This was in the early 1980’s. I decided then I wanted to really do this—be a writer, and to really pursue it with a concentrated effort. This led me, a few years later, to go back to graduate school at UNC Greensboro for an MFA in fiction.

Q: What was your first published piece?

A: Below are my first 3 published short stories (outside of undergraduate campus publications). The 1989 story was the first one for which I was paid actual money.
“A Peaceful Heart.” Aboriginal Science Fiction 3.3, #15 (May/June 1989):
“Eyes the Color of Wet Leaves.” Colonnades 31 (Spring 1980): 48-54.
“Her Hands Curved Around the Cup.” Graffiti 10 (Fall 1978): 25-35.

Q: Your fiction seems to fit primarily into the categories of science fiction and fantasy. What draws you to those particular genres?

A: They seem to best fit my imagination and the way I view the world. As Le Guin said at some point, they provide me with an arena, or rather a stage, to best explore the ideas and concepts that interest me the most. In science fiction and fantasy I have found my stories.

Q: Your first published novel was The Wild Boy. Was that the first novel you ever wrote? And did you submit it to many publishers before Golden Gryphon Press?

A: I wrote an absolutely awful one for my undergraduate honors project at UNC-Chapel Hill. I did not get honors. Before Golden Gryphon Press, I submitted The Wild Boy to several other publishers and agents.

Q: You followed up your second novel, Harvest of Changelings, with a sequel, The Called. Was that always planned, or were you simply unable to let go of the characters?

A: No, when I wrote Harvest of Changelings I had no intention of a sequel. I found I wanted to know what happened to them next and to the world after it changed, after magic came back.

Q: What are you working on currently? Can you whet our appetites with any details on the project?

A: I am getting ready to send off a completed novel, The Golden Boy, which grew out of a short story published in The Silver Gryphon back in 2003. I’m also working on a gay-themed collection of short stories, tentatively titled, Happily Ever After and Other Stories—2 more to go: a gay retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and the other is about what happens when a guy falls in love with a graduate anthropology student and learns his lover is not from Here.

The main project is a novel, The Werewolf and His Boy, which grew out of a short story published in Icarus back in 2012, which was inspired by a dream my partner had of a monster in the roof of the local Lowe’s store (“Lowe’s Wolf”).

In the novel, Henry Thorn, the survivor of years of years of foster homes, works at the Lowe’s in Short Pump, just outside Richmond. He has been having disturbing dreams. He is also disturbed by a new Lowe’s employee, the red-haired Jamey Currey. Henry learns that he is a werewolf and that he is falling in love with Jamey.

Jamey, disowned by his conservative parents after his sexuality is discovered, is learning he has powers of his own. He is a godling, a descendant of the old gods, and this means he has certain abilities. It is not enough that the two boys have to work out the complexities of love and a relationship, let alone their new abilities. They also find themselves hunted by an ancient evil. These Watchers were left here by the gods to prevent the disclosure to the mundanes (us, aka muggles) of such creatures as werewolves and godlings. Elimination is the preferred method.

Complications ensue. They do get help from the local witches.

Q: Do you have a particular writing regime, such as always writing at a certain time of day or in a particular location?

A: I try to write in the morning but that doesn’t often happen. So, instead I try to write every day, one way or another.

As for location, here, in my study. Or in my partner’s living room.

Q: Finally, what advice would offer to any young writers out there?

A: A writer reads. Read everything, not just things in your preferred genre. A writer writes. Make it your goal to try and write every day. Don’t give up. Write. Find your story, your worlds, your place, and write. Write.

Many thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed and for sharing it on your blog. Great questions!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. People should definitely check out your website at and give your books a read. I think they’ll be glad they did.


Feb. 15th, 2014


In 2012, Vicente Garcia approached me about doing a short digital collection for him, all proceeds going to the Born this Way Foundation. I readily accepted, and thus IMMURE SPIRITS was born. It's not an extensive collection, but it has some pieces I'm particularly proud of. IMMURE SPIRITS can be purchased here:

Here are the notes for the stories.

“Finders Keepers”—This one is a reprint from my earlier collection GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC. A fantastical, non-traditional love story. I tried to ground it in the real world while bringing in elements of fairy tale.

“The Price of Survival”—A zombie tale without a single zombie in it. I wanted to use this story to explore what someone might be willing to do, to sacrifice, in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

“Before and Aftermath”—A favorite of mine. This one explores a school shooting from a perspective we rarely see. Certainly isn’t meant to excuse the behavior of these shooters, but I wanted to make people think about what leads to these actions.

“Caged”—A “Just Desserts” story, poetic justice, whatever you want to call it. Also a vengeful ghost tale. Animal lovers may enjoy the comeuppance of this one.

“Anything”—A tale of true spousal devotion. How far would we truly go for someone we love? We all say we’d do anything for our loved ones, but what if a loved one asked us to bury a body?

“Along for the Ride”—Years ago a friend of mine was carjacked in much the way described in the opening of this story. I just started thinking, what if the carjacker had chosen a victim that proved to be more than he bargained for…

“Time Capsule: A Ghost Story”—I’ve used the Hudson character in a few other supernatural tales, but this one is almost strictly a love story. There is a light supernatural element running through it, but for the most part it’s a tale of first love, lost love, bitterness, and time.


Feb. 6th, 2014


In 2011 when I decided to sub a short story collection to Bad Moon Books, I decided I didn't want it to just repeat the same territory covered by my previous collection, TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT. I wanted to show a bit of range. There is definitely horror here, but I chose stories that also had a bit of a gentler side to them, horror that was more atmospheric and emotional than in-your-face. I'm particularly proud of this collection, and am so happy Bad Moon decided to give it a go. Tom Moran did the cover art for us. Here are the story notes for the pieces collected in GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC, which can be purchased at

“911”—I never thought I’d write a 9/11 story. The event just seemed too big for me to encapsulate in a single tale, and I figured there wasn’t really anything I could say on the subject that hadn’t already been said. Then one day I got to musing about the 911 operators who had actually been on the phone with victims when they died. How did it feel to know you were the last person someone spoke to, that you were in fact talking to the person at the moment of his or her death? That sort of thing has to haunt you the rest of your life. At that point, I became almost obsessed with writing this story, pouring over old video footage from that day. It was almost painful to write, and I probably don’t have another 9/11 story in me, but I am pleased with the result.

“Seed”—When I was small my mother did in fact tell me that if I swallowed a watermelon seed then a watermelon would grow in my stomach. And I was young and impressionable enough at the time to believe it. I thought it might be a fun idea to explore in a story, and the resulting metaphor was rather obvious once I got started.

“A Hell of a Deal”—I always sound like an old fogie when I start talking about music, but I do feel that modern music is kind of empty, all flash and no substance. Shows like American Idol just foster the idea that the industry is more concerned with someone who looks the part than someone with actual talent. This tale is a result of my frustration with the superficiality of the music industry. And for a tale about a deal with the devil, it’s rather a gentle story I think.

“The Delivery Boy”—This is a story I had a blast writing. It’s my kind of tale, a bit silly, not much in the way of explanation, just a fun kind of bizarreness to it. I liked the idea of someone being harassed with pizza. In the end, this story captures what I aim for in much of my fiction, which is just pure entertainment. Or at least I think it accomplishes that. The final judge, of course, will be you, the reader.

“Wasted on the Young”—Many of my stories have a genesis in real life. In this case, I was visiting a local used bookstore, and there was a teenaged boy in the shop that day, talking to the older volunteers who run the place about his love of science fiction and he sort of turned up his nose when they told him about all the Star Trek novels they had gotten in. After he left, one of the workers commented on how often he visited, and I felt oddly sad. I felt like I knew that boy; hell, I once had been that boy. This story sprang from there.

“Perry Davis Makes a Comeback”—Several years ago I couldn’t help but notice the glut of biopics that Hollywood was putting out. I would watch some of them and wonder how the real people being portrayed felt about the actors playing them. And in the case of those already deceased, were they turning over in their graves at news of the casting? And if so, maybe their displeasure would be strong enough to bring them back…

“The Ghost of Winnie Davis Hall”—Limestone College is a real place, my alma mater. Winnie Davis Hall’s history in the story is pretty much accurate, and when they finally reopened the building after all those years, I attended the ceremony and felt very strongly I wanted to write a story about Winnie Davis. I didn’t want to do a traditional ghost story because it felt like it would be too obvious, but the twist I came up with pleased me.

“Revolution of Sound”—Another that springs from a real life instance. Several years ago I attended a concert where the opening act was Bauhaus, of “Bela Legosi’s Dead” fame. There were two teenage girls sitting a few rows in front of me, looking very much as the characters are described in the story, who were singing along to every word. My friend Melissa turned to me and said, “These girls weren’t even born yet when these songs were written” and I knew instantly I was going to write a story about them. I didn’t know what the story was yet, but I knew if I was patient it would come to me.

“Circular”—This story was actually inspired by a painting. I bought it over a decade ago at a sidewalk art fair at a local college. The painting is pretty much described in the opening paragraph of the story, the gate with the sign, looking in at the church and the tombstones around it. From the moment I saw the painting, I knew I wanted to write a story about it. And it only took me ten years to come up with one.

“A Stranger Comes to Lipscomb Street”—I always wanted to do a werewolf story, but I never had anything original to bring to the table. When I hit on the idea of a reverse werewolf tale, where wolves turn into people during the full moon, I got very excited. I wrote this one quickly and was very happy with it. I have since been told that the idea in fact was not original, reverse werewolves have been done before, which I guess that just goes to prove there are no new ideas under the sun.

“Finders Keepers”—This is one of the flash pieces I wrote when I was reading a lot of Neil Gaiman, and I think the influence is clear. My favorite kind of fantasy story is where fantastical elements invade the “real world” but everyone treats it as normal, no big deal. I liked the idea of someone nursing a battered heart back to health; it would allow me to tell a romantic story without being overly schmaltzy.

“A Stroll Down Grace Street at Twilight”—This is the oldest story in the collection, written either during or just after my college years. Sometimes I get story ideas from bizarre images that pop into my head, and in this case it was an old man walking down a street that gradually becomes a jungle. I started the tale with just that image in mind, but as I was writing I realized that it also worked as a rumination on perseverance.

“The Moon in a Ziploc Baggie”—Another Gaiman-influenced flash piece. I used to work 3rd shift, and one night while making rounds (I am a security officer) I looked up at the full moon, looking especially big and vibrant that night, and had the nonsensical thought, “If I could put the moon in a Ziploc baggie…” It sparked an idea, and I went back to the guardhouse and wrote it in one sitting. This is the original ending, which I thought would be amusing; when it was originally published they requested a different, “happier” ending which I did provide. I like the idea that now both versions have seen print.

“A Boy Named October”—This is one of my non-horror, non-fantasy tales. A fairly straight-forward story of alienated youth and budding friendship The first part that came to me was actually the last line, and I just worked backward from there.


Feb. 3rd, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "Alone on Valentine's"

Okay, so I'm continuing my plan to post each month the illustration from that month in the 2010 Sideshow Press calendar, the illustrations that inspired the stories in my collection LIGHTS OUT.

The illustration for February was done by Tom Moran, and I was very excited by it. The January illustration had been gothic and ghostly and lent itself to a supernatural tale, but the February illustration really suggested a psycho story. I liked this because I would get to show a range in the first two stories of the collection.

But I didn't want it to be a typical, straight-forward psycho tale, so I had to come up with some kind of twist. I hope it works for the reader. Below is the illustration.


LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here:

Jan. 28th, 2014

LIGHTS OUT-Illustration for "The Woman on the Side of the Road"

I just recently released a collection digitally on Amazon. LIGHTS OUT was actually insprired by a horror calender that came out from Sideshow Press in 2010. Every month had a different illustration, and each month of that year I wrote a story based on that month's illustration. I've decided that with the permission of the artists involved, each month of this year I will reveal an illustration. Tony Karnes did the artwork for January, as shown below, and I used it as the basis for the first story in the collection, "The Woman on the Side of the Road." I thought the illustration had a wonderfully urban legend kind of feel, and so I wanted to craft a tale that would be a creepy, old school urban legend type of story. I don't know how well I succeeded, but I had a hell of a lot of fun writing the story.


LIGHTS OUT can be purchased here:

Jan. 25th, 2014


I always dreamed of having my own short story collection. Short fiction is my passion, and even before I had published a single story in a single magazine, I was already planning what my first collection might be. At one point I was working third shift, doing most of my writing during those quiet hours, so I thought TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT would be a great title.

In 2010 Sideshow Press finally gave me the opportunity to realize that dream. They released TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT in a really nice trade hardcover. In the back they allowed me to place story notes, just little musings on each story. The kernel of the idea, an amusing story about the writing of it, where it was first published, etc. Last year the collection was reissued as both paperback and digital editions. The story notes were not included, so I want to offer them here for anyone who is interested.


“God Doesn’t Follow You into the Bathroom”—This story seemed the perfect choice to start off this collection for a couple of reasons. One, while it’s not technically the oldest story here, it is the oldest idea. I actually wrote a version of this story as a teenager, and it was God-awful. However, the idea stayed with me over the years, and as an adult I reworked it from the floor up. Two, if it wasn’t for this story, this collection would not exist. Many years ago I sold it to a small magazine that hired an artist named Tom Moran to do illustrations for it. Unfortunately the magazine folded before the story ever saw print. A year later I submitted it to a new magazine just starting, Black Ink Horror, not realizing until he contacted me that this was an endeavor by Tom Moran and his wife. Tom published the story, finally getting to utilize the artwork he’d done for it, and thus began my relationship with Sideshow Press, a place that now feels like home.

“Jam”—This story holds a very special place in my heart because it is the first story I ever sold. Wasn’t the first story that saw print, but it was the first story of mine any publisher ever said “yes” to. In fact, goofy as it sounds, I still have that acceptance letter framed on the wall. I got paid a pittance, but I was just so amazed that someone was willing to give me any money for something I just made up out of my imagination. I still feel that way and hope I never lose it. This story was also one of the first I wrote after a protracted period in my life where I had stopped writing altogether. That was a dark period in my life, where I had pretty much given up my dream of being a writer as a childish fantasy. Luckily I realized that if I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t fully me. It’s an integral part of who I am. “Jam” is one of the stories that helped me find my way back to that.

“Acts 19:19 Party”—This one has a little inspiration from real life. When I was a teenager, the church I attende3d had a book burning one Sunday night after an evening service. But they didn’t call it a “book burning”, they in fact called it an “Acts 19:19 Party.” Already an avid booklover, I was horrorfied by this, did not attend the “party”, and in fact never returned to that church. The writer in me kept that memory, working it over, and pondered what would happen if the books decided to fight back…

“Playing Possum”—Sometimes I get story ideas from bizarre images that pop into my head. In this case, it was the image of a man walking into his kitchen to find a possum sitting at the table smoking a cigarette. From there, it was a matter of figuring out what the possum was doing there and what it wanted, and this story is what I came up with.

“The Barter System”—This story started out as something else altogether. It was written during a time when gas prices were just sky-rocketing, and since I work in a different city than the one in which I live, it was a major concern to me. The original idea I was working with dealt with men and women prostituting themselves not for money but for gas. The idea never completely gelled for me, but I got to thinking, what if instead of prostituting herself for gas, a woman simply made a trade…

“The Room Where No One Died”—I am afraid of mysteries. I love reading them, but writing them makes me very nervous. I’m always worried I won’t be able to pull it off, either making the resolution too obvious or so difficult that no one including the characters could conceivably figure it out. But this is my attempt at a mystery, all wrapped up in a ghost story. I really wanted to write it when I hit on the idea of a ghost belonging to someone who never truly existed. I enjoyed writing this one so much that I penned a few more stories with the Hudson character.

“The Gift Certificate”—Another one with a genesis in real life. For the first several years after my ex-partner and I moved into the home we shared, we continued to get mail for someone who had once lived there many years before. Mostly junk mail, but sometimes we’d get things that looked like birthday and Christmas cards. On one, the return address said it was from Uncle So-and-So. Seemed odd that this person’s uncle wouldn’t know that he hadn’t lived at this address for years, and I got to thinking, “What if there’s cash or gift cards in here?” And because my mind runs along the rails it does, my imagination took me to some…interesting places.

“Christmas Getaway”—Every December I like to write a few horror stories with a Christmas theme. Puts me in the holiday spirit. Usually these tales tend to be on the sillier side, but one year I had an idea a bit more serious. I cant’ say exactly where the idea came from, sometimes they just drop into my mind like a gift from the muses, but I knew if done right this could be a story with some power to it. Was it done right? Well, I guess that’s for the reader to decide. All I’ll say is I gave it my best effort.

“Big Dog”—The Big Dog really existed. It was an old laptop I bought used; like in the story it didn’t have a working modem, only used 3.5 floppies, in fact did have that sticker on it, and I wrote all my stories on that machine for many years. It was the computer on which I created many of my tales from the midnight shift, so it has a very strong connection to this collection. Unfortunately, the Big Dog has long since been retired from active service and I’ve moved on to bigger and better machines. Or at least bigger. However, though I did not lose my ability to write once I stopped using that laptop, I do still feel an odd kinship with it, and it inspired this story.

“Collector’s Market”—I’m still kind of new to the whole collector’s market when it comes to books. I grew up reading mostly paperbacks, and buying just a regular hardcover felt like splurging to me. So when I was first introduced to the world of limited editions, numbered and lettered and all the like, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Those exorbitant price tags made me feel a little dizzy, to be quite honest. I have since developed a real appreciation for the small press and the impressive editions they offer, even if I can’t afford as many of the books as I might like, but “Collector’s Market” came from that initial shock at how much people were willing to pay for a single book.

“Accidents Happen”—I’m a big fan of ambiguity in horror fiction. You can’t always tell from some of the stories I write, which are like clumsy hammer blows to the head, but sometimes I like to suggest things without confirming. Here I was very interested in writing a ghost story where it was uncertain if the ghost really existed or was just a product of a character’s guilt. I figured the best way to accomplish that uncertainty was to tell the story from the point of view of someone other than the person being “haunted.”

“Snuff”—This is the most recent of all the stories in this collection. Like “The Barter System” this started out as something else entirely. Originally I was trying a story of a bunch of actors sitting around recording an audio commentary for a film they starred in, and at the end you discover it was a snuff film. I couldn’t seem to make that story work, so instead I started thinking, “What about a snuff film where the person being snuffed isn’t who you expect?”

“The More Things Change”—This is a story that almost didn’t make it into this collection. Tom and I discussed it at length before a final decision was made. The concern was that while this story was written before the bullying of gay teens became such a hot topic in the media, now that the subject was part of the national debate, readers were likely to look at this type of story trying to discern its “meaning.” Thing is, I’ve never been a writer of “meaning” stories. Sometimes meaning is there, but that is incidental to me. Mostly I just want to write an engaging, entertaining story. So when I wrote this tale, I wasn’t really trying to make a statement on the bigger issue of the bullying of gay teens, and the downbeat ending wasn’t meant to suggest I think it’s hopeless for gay teens to find acceptance. I was just telling a very specific story that it occurred to me to tell. Could it be misinterpreted? Sure, but part of what makes literature great is that once a story is out there, the writer sort of gives up control on how a story is perceived and interpreted. A dozen people can read the same story and have a dozen different reactions. My hope is that no matter what you take away from this story, it at least kept you engaged.

“Out of Print”—This story was inspired by my search of a certain author’s rare, hard-to-find first short story collection. On said author’s message board, I posted a query if anyone had an affordable copy for sale. Suddenly tons of other posters began making their own offers, all trying to one-up each other. I couldn’t help but wonder how far these people would go. “Out of Print” appeared in the hardcover edition of my chapbook A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT. I’m really happy to make it available to a wider audience here.

“The World’s Smallest Man”—This story came about in a rather unusual way. A friend and I used to do what we called the “people, places, things” writing exercise. We’d write down a bunch of different kinds of people—teacher, magician, policeman, etc.—on scraps of paper and place them in a hat; in another hat we’d place different locations, and in a final hat different random objects. We’d select one scrap of paper from each hat then we’d each write a story based on that person, place, and thing. During one of these exercises I drew a dwarf, a carnival, and a guillotine. And this is the story I built from those elements.

Jan. 22nd, 2014

Woof! by Daniel W. Kelly

( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )

Jan. 21st, 2014


As a reader, I love it when an author includes story notes in a short story collection. Little tidbits about where the ideas came from, or interesting facts about the writing of the pieces, etc. Two of my collections originally had story notes but in subsequent releases the publishers opted not to included them. I've decided to post here on my blog story notes for all the different collections I've had out. I'm going to go in order of publication. Which means we start with A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT, the chapbook that was released in 2009 from Sideshow Press. It now exists only as a digital edition available here: There are three stories contained in this title: "A Laymon Kind of Night," "The Snoop," and "Van People." Below are some notes on each story.

“A Laymon Kind of Night”—The late Richard Laymon is a writer whose works I really enjoy. The thing that stands out about his books, the thing that makes them so entertaining, is the overwhelming sense of fun. You can just tell that Laymon was having a blast writing those tales, and the reader has a blast reading them. I wanted to try to write something like that, as a tribute to the man, and I hit on the idea of a woman walking home late at night who had been reading Laymon, and she started to see the world through the prism of his stories.


“The Snoop”—This one, for all its twistedness, was a lot of fun to write. I liked the idea of a character who gets off on snooping through other people’s things, but what if while rummaging through a neighbor’s house he finds something horrible in the basement? How might he react, and what if his reaction was more horrible than the finding itself?

“Van People”—Call this one my own version of Body Snatchers. The idea came from a friend. He and his wife had recently had twins and traded in their car for a mini-van. His comment to me was, “Yes, now we’re van people.” It got the wheels turning in my brain. The story is a bit on the strange and silly side, but my favorite part was writing the banter between the three main characters.

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