Rough stuff…

An early sketch of the HP ’21 cover. I especially liked the two-faced man and the devil in plaid. The candy container would have been filled with bones and other body parts. Death appears on the far right but is largely unseen here due to bad cropping on my part.
An early sketch of the HP ’21 cover with a young Holmes in lieu of the space cadet. This version provides a better view of the trick-or-treat goodies.
The completed cover (as discussed in depth in the 25 October Gravelight post, Natural selection) that ultimately just didn’t fit the bill.

The original concept cover art for HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 came to me fairly quickly. I’d been doing variations on the theme of kids approaching a spooky porch on All Hallow’s Eve for a few years, so I felt this subject would work well. This led to a few sketches prior to producing the final art.

The space cadet was my first choice for the central character, mainly because I gravitate to illustrating retro sci-fi and horror images. Sherlock Holmes was an alternate consideration but it didn’t quite resonate with me. Di and I discussed the art as I began working it up. She wasn’t keen on the images left of the candy-dispensing ghoul, so those were replaced with an open coffin (largely unseen in the final due to the aspect ratio not being quite up to snuff).

Ultimately it was not to be, as previously discussed. But it was, nonetheless, a fun illustration to produce and a good exercise in acknowledging that not all that glitters is gold.

Although Halloween 2021 is over, we still encourage you to support Indy publishing by purchasing a copy of HP ’21 for yourself. You can find it (or special order it) at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

Hanging with the Moribunch

Mr. Moribund’s Theatre of Terror is a stage show in the style of (if you’re from the Philly area and the 1970s) Dr. Shock!

Mr. Moribund was kind enough to read and review Halloween Party ’21.

Gravelight Press (and our tiniest fan) showed up at their 10th live event on October 23 to be both terrified and amazed, and to provide Mr. Moribund with a signed copy!

Mr. Moribund always does giveaways at his show, raising money for the charity True Colors United. Next time, Halloween Party books will be on the giveaway menu!

Mr. Moribund is a great guy with a big heart, and he puts on onehellishova show!

Natural selection…

The original, unpublished, cover to Halloween Party ’21.

The 1946 novel, Murder in the Glass Room, is famous for coining the phrase, “You can never tell a book by its cover.” And while this statement has proven true more times than you or I can count, the fact remains that covers and cover design are important aspects of any book regardless of genre or target audience.

Di and I typically collaborate on our covers. Sometimes she’ll come up with the concept, other times I will. By the time all is said and done we’ve done numerous revisions and edits to arrive at what we believe best represents our company/brand as well as our authors, and is likely to capture the attention of the potential buyer.

In the case of HP ’21, I had an idea early on of a porch scene involving a number of children and a ghastly specter. (The original pencils, which I’ll scan and share next time, have even more nasty elements.) As I sketched out the art and began to add colors and texture, I felt fairly confident that the cover would hit the mark. It was only after I completed the page that I realized, almost immediately, that it was wrong for the book. Nevertheless, I scanned the art and imported it into a cover template, but seeing it laid out (the image above) only convinced me further that the art was wrong for HP ’21. Di agreed.

Several aspects of this planned cover troubled me. First, I felt that it was more suited for a young adult or children’s title. It’s not reflective of the seriousness of most of the works found in HP ’21 and I felt it might mislead potential buyers. As well, it’s a big departure from our established house style. Second, I made the mistake of not following the aspect ratio of the cover template. As such, a fair amount of the art on the original board didn’t even make it into the cover template. The back cover, for instance, contains an open coffin with a body inside and lots of rats crawling around it. All lost due to the aspect ratio mismatch. Third, I wanted there to be body parts sticking out the top of the candy bowl. I felt that this element would have given the cover a bit of an edge, but it might just as likely looked silly so it was never incorporated. Lastly, a lot of nuances were lost in the scanning process. I could have redone the scan, but it wouldn’t have resolved the overarching issues.

From a technical perspective I was pleased with the finished product. Having not drawn in ages, I had a number of reservations as to whether I could translate my original sketch into a finished piece. Although I invested a lot of time in the art, I’m not disappointed that we passed on it. What ultimately matters is that the book’s cover is the best it can possibly be. And while I think this cover is okay, I know we made the right decision in passing on it. It’s possible that this art might one day find a home. It’s just not meant to reside with the Halloween Party series.

Speaking of which, if you don’t already own a copy of HP ’21, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

Is she a good daughter?

“Legend says that beneath this mausoleum, deep in the ground, lie the bones of a witch…”

Author Kim DeCicco offers up an eerie tale certain to stay in your head long after you’ve read the last words. We’re thrilled to have this tale in HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 and we think you’ll find that it’s rather special and particularly unique.

If you don’t already own a copy of HP ’21, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

The camera eye

I’ve never believed in the supernatural, but I couldn’t help worrying that something had happened to Eun-ji and that she was reaching out to me…

Author Phil Guinta‘s “Before She’s Gone Forever” is the kind of supernatural tale that editors simply love. It sticks with you long after you’ve finished the last page and makes you feel like the time you’ve invested in it was time very well spent. We’re fortunate to have this work in Halloween Party ’21. Phil’s is a powerful, imaginative story that is sure to age quite well and is worthy of multiple reads.

If you don’t already own a copy of the paperback, we strongly recommend purchasing the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

The creepy crawlies aren’t what they seem…

Someone, or something, has been spying on Liz.

Nancy North Walker presents “Insecticide,” a short story featured in HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 that effortlessly combines terror and science fiction.

To experience the full horror, we strongly recommend purchasing a copy of the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

What is Aristotle’s lantern?

They were moving on without him, their head lamps bobbing off in the darkness…

Thus begins R. David Fulcher’s tale of terror, “Aristotle’s Lantern,” one of the many stories that comprise our latest horror collection, HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21.

To hear and see David read his tale, simply click the link above. Though to experience the full horror, we vehemently recommend purchasing a copy of the collection for yourself, which you can find at quality bookstores. Alternatively, and for more immediate gratification, simply click the link below to purchase from Amazon.

An homage to The Shining…

Robert Fleming’s poem, Elevator of Blood, is directly inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1979 horror classic, THE SHINING, which, itself, is an adaptation of the equally classic novel by Stephen King first published in 1977.

Robert’s poem and his recording summarize what has been, over the years, documented as a particularly intense Kubrick shoot. Robert captures this intensity as it relates to the infamous and beautifully captured elevator doors of the Overlook Hotel which [spoiler alert] open to reveal a tsunami of blood. It’s easily one of the most visually memorable and disquieting scenes ever filmed.

If you enjoy Robert’s recording be sure to purchase a copy of HALLOWEEN PARTY ’21 to support Gravelight and indy authors like Robert.

Bloody Snowshoes

Screen capture of Mr. Fulcher’s blog entry of 02.20.21.

This fall, just in time for the season of the witch, R. David Fulcher will release a collection of horror destined to keep you awake each night until the first merciful ray of light seeps over the dark and uncaring horizon.

Get yourself in on it now, with his blog, and find out why those snowshoes are sooooo bloody.

Are you scared? Thank Horace.

Horace Walpole: the father of horror!

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) is generally considered to be the father of horror novels.

Interesting as he looks so handsome and a bit like the modern Sherlock Holmes as played by Benedict Cumberbatch (who is also diabolical and handsome, IMHO, but I digress….):

Horace is generally believed to have penned the first horror novel, The Castle of Otranto.

Benedict Cumberbatch: the Horace Walpole doppelgänger.

PLOT:

The Castle of Otranto tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. The book begins on the wedding-day of his sickly son Conrad and princess Isabella. Shortly before the wedding, however, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet that falls on him from above.

This inexplicable event is particularly ominous in light of an ancient prophecy, “…that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it.” Manfred, terrified that Conrad’s death signals the beginning of the end for his line, resolves to avert destruction by marrying Isabella himself, while divorcing his current wife, Hippolita, who he feels has failed to bear him a proper heir due to the sickly condition of Conrad before his untimely death. However, as Manfred attempts to marry Isabella…

The Castle of Otranto: Title page to the third edition (circa 1776).

Crushed by a huge helmet… just the first in a series of mysterious and terrible occurrences that befall the characters in this book. And that is all we’re willing to tell you, after all, Horace deserves to still sell a few copies. Or check your local library.

For those of you who love horror, but like it a bit more modern, we have two great books coming out this year: a collection of short stories from Samsara: The Magazine of Suffering publisher R. David Fulcher, and Halloween Party 2021, a collection of horror short stories and poems by a terrifying crew that includes Fulcher, Dutton (who is currently serializing a pretty creepy novel on his blog, free!), Golladay, Giunta, and Brown, among many others.

To stay in the loop and find out about exclusives and more info on the authors, follow us here, and on Facebook!