Welcome to Day 5 of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween...time for another HORROR WRITER! You gotta love these guys. Hello, Steve...please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Steve Stred. I’m a Splatterpunk-Nominated Author who writes predominantly dark fiction. I currently live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with my wife, son and our staffy, Cocoa.
I’m a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer's Grant, and I’m an Active Member of the HWA.
Tell me about some of your novels...what are they all about and what inspired these stories? Where can readers find these books? And you can go into your novellas, too, of course.
The book people have probably most seen of my work, now, is the novel Mastodon, which came out in January of this year, 2022. It’s a novel that I wrote during the pandemic when I was laid off from my job for a few months. At its core, it’s fairly autobiographical, telling the story of a teenager trying to find something hugely meaningful in his life. In this case, it’s his father, whose plane has crashed in a mysterious spot in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The book was driven by my upbringing in a remote BC town (population less than 100) and just trying to find my way in the world. It’s essentially a novel that I’ve described as being my own Island of Dr. Moreau mixed with The X-Files.
I have a number of novellas out as well. The ones most people know are Wagon Buddy, The Girl Who Lived in the Trees, The Window in the Ground and my Father of Lies Trilogy, based on my time joining a cult on the dark web for four years for research. The third novella, Sacrament, was nominated for a Splatterpunk award, which was such an honor.
A lot of my work is inspired by isolation, the cinematic terror of the mountains and the understanding that just beyond where we can see, things exist that are waiting to rip us apart!
And what about scary anthologies you’re involved with?
I’ve been super fortunate to have a number of stories appear in anthologies. The most recent ones have been A Silent Dystopia: Stories of a Quiet Apocalypse – an anthology of stories based around Dave Jeffery’s phenomenal world, Something Bad Happened – an anthology edited by and compiled by Jennifer Bernardini, and The Horror Collection: Nightmare Edition from Kevin J. Kennedy. I have two more stories appearing in anthologies coming in the last few months of the year, as well as having written a foreword in one, which was very cool.
And genre books/stories for a younger audience?
I’m a writer who writes what I personally would want to read. So, I have some dark fantasy and science fiction out as well. Piece of Me was my first book in a dark fantasy trilogy. I have an ongoing series called The Empyrean Saga – three of the five novellas are out now. I also have some kids’ stuff out. I have one novel out called The Boy Whose Room Was Outside that was based around ideas my son, nieces and nephews gave me.
Is there anything coming down the pipe that you’d like to talk about? A bit of a teaser perhaps?
On September 9th, a collection of novellas is being released through Black Void Publishing. It takes four of my prior novellas that have been completely re-edited and revamped, as well as two novelettes and packages them together. Three of these haven’t been released in print before so that’s always exciting.
It is titled An Endless Darkness: The Novellas and features a stunning cover by Greg Chapman.
One of the novellas is a prequel style set up for The Empyrean Saga, and one of them is a prequel to Mastodon and my other novel The Stranger.
Otherwise, I’m working on several novels and novellas. I try to preplan. So, my normal routine is write, revisit, then polish and release. This is layered over three or four other books, and typically I’m set up for a few years in advance. So, my 2023 is set for what I want to come out – just final revisions, editing, cover approval and formatting, while I’m also currently getting my drafts finished up for my 2024 releases. And repeat!
Why are you a horror author? What is it about horror?
I’ve always been intrigued by the dark side of things. The things that go bump in the night and the emotional response us humans have in reaction to those events. Our brains are funny things and nobody really knows how we’ll react when something happens. I’ve always been a storyteller and have always been dabbling here and there. When my time ended as an athlete (I was previously in Track and Field and then with the Canadian Bobsled Team) I knew I needed to find something to really fill that passion aspect that my soul would be missing, and writing was it. Of course, it leaned towards the dark stuff and off to the races I went.
And now, we’ll turn to the questions I ask everyone in my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween blog series…
What is your favourite horror movie of all time?
I don’t know if I have a singular favourite. Movies like Legend, Labyrinth, The Bear, The Neverending Story and Willow really shaped my early years. Then into Alien, Predator, The Thing had me hooked. Lately, it’s been movies such as The Ritual, Splice and The VVitch that have that atmospheric dread that gets my attention. I usually have a revolving list of top ten or so movies haha!
What is your favourite horror novel or author of all time?
Author is an easy one. Andrew Pyper crashed into my reading mind a decade ago and just inspired me and pushed me as a reader and as a writer. His work is stunning and I’ve been singing his praises for many years. Of his books – I often mentally battle over which of his are my favourites. It’s usually in this order but changes rapidly – The Killing Circle, The Guardians, The Homecoming, The Demonologist and The Damned, but then Lost Girls returns into the ratings, and The Only Child fights its way back into the conversation and The Residence refuses to be pushed aside, so it’s a mental struggle!
What about your favourite Canadian horror movie?
Technically, we could argue that The VVitch is a Canadian flick, due to filming locations haha! But for tried and true CANADIAN, I’d have to go with Cube. That was such a trippy sci-fi/horror film that pushed the viewers to the edge.
Canadian horror or genre novel?
I’ll offer three. Craig Davidson’s The Saturday Night Ghost Club is such a beautiful, powerful, coming-of-age ghost story. I couldn’t put it down when I read it. Same for FOE by Iain Reid. I had no idea what was going to happen, but needed to see it through and was riveted. Lastly, J.H. Moncrieff’s Those Who Came Before is such a phenomenal piece of fiction with some truly heavy topical real-world discussion.
How about fav horror-comedies? Any that happen to be Canadian? I’ll take movies and books, here.
I’m actually not a fan at all of horror and comedy mixing. Maybe a one-liner here or there, but for the most part, I like the two to not mingle at all. I did really enjoy Shaun of the Dead. And some places call Tusk a horror-comedy (which I personally don’t – I found it disturbing and creepy as hell), but otherwise I usually either watch a comedy movie or show and read and watch horror and the two stay on either sides of the room haha!
I don’t know if this counts particularly for this question, but I’ve always loved The Great Outdoors with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. I think I first fell in love with it because when I was little I was obsessed with bears. But upon rewatches, I just love the simple humor, the way Candy and Aykroyd’s characters interact and the Murphy’s Law aspect that what can go wrong will go wrong. Same way I feel about the National Lampoons Vacation series.
For me, one of my all-time fav movies, (and one I didn’t mention in a previous question to save for here) is called One Week and starred Joshua Jackson. Initially, I was skeptical about this movie. I hadn’t seen any previews for it, but back then, friends of my wife and I’s would go to the movies 3-5x a week. They didn’t care what was playing, they’d go and watch whatever. So, they invited us along and when I saw the poster outside I groaned loudly – I remember that distinctly. I hated Dawson’s Creek and Pacey was a big reason for that. But, I tried to put that dislike aside and enjoy the movie. And I was blown away. I bawled and it’s affected me since my first viewing. It follows Jackson’s character who is living the life he thinks everyone wants him to live. Office job, wife, 401K type stuff. One day he goes in for a routine checkup with his doc, only to find out he has advanced Cancer and it’s not only untreatable, but so advanced the doc says he should go home, say his official goodbyes and surround himself by friends and family. On his walk home, he sees a motorbike in an alley for sale, buys it and takes off, driving across Canada wanting to experience the country at least once before he dies. Good grief, even revisiting this has me close to tears. It resonated with me in a way few things did. Tragically, it even had a bit part played by Gord Downie of the The Tragically Hip, who, as we know, was taken from us by Cancer just five years ago. This movie is a frequent inspiration for me when I’m thinking about my own life and doing things, but also in my writing when I’m seeking certain emotions and elements. Not sure if this is a B-movie or not, but it’s one a lot of people haven’t seen.
Last, but not least, what is your Halloween ritual?
Is this where I lose my horror-cred card? Haha! I’m answering these questions two days before my son turns six. Additionally, my nephew, Gabe was born on Halloween. (So was one of my nieces.) So, since my son was born, we usually meet up with my sister, brother-in-law and her boys to celebrate Gabes bday, as well as go Trick or Treating. We alternate between her place in BC and ours out here in Edmonton, although when Covid hit, we got an Air BnB in Fernie (kind of the half way point between us) and spent Halloween together there. We had a scavenger hunt for the kids so they’d still have fun and just hung out. It was great.
So, while I don’t have a typical “horror person” ritual, we make sure we have some fun and dress up in great costumes!
Thank you so much for having me!
If anyone wants to connect – my website is stevestredauthor.wordpress.com or you can find my books at author.to/stevestred
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