It’s been a long time in the making. THE PUMPKIN KING AND OTHER TALES OF TERROR collects some of the best of R. David Fulcher’s extensive catalog of published short stories, most of which are now impossible to find. We’ll be publishing a second volume in 2024 because there was simply too much great material to fit in a single publication.
David is a master storyteller who has spent years honing his craft, and fans of scary tales will be able to experience the results of his efforts for themselves this fall.
We like wraparound covers, so when the time arrived to begin designing David’s book, we knew a landscape design would suit it best. Mr. Fulcher, speaking from an anonymous underground location, was straightforward in his design specifications: “Make it good, or I won’t be held responsible for what happens to you.” We’re still breathing, so we think David is happy with the end result, though the shadows across our office windows at night are indeed curious.
THE PUMPKIN KING OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER
Below is the book trailer to David’s upcoming collection. Little-known fact: The individuals portrayed in this video are not actors. They’re actually ordinary people David encounters in his daily world. David secretly filmed them and then sent us the footage!
Ready for a taste of what’s coming? You can hear it now, in the author’s voice, by checking out these short audio clips below.
A NIGHT OUT WITH MR. BONES (EXCERPT READ BY R. DAVID FULCHER)
EXTRA! EXTRA! (EXCERPT READ BY R. DAVID FULCHER)
AN INTERVIEW WITH R. DAVID FULCHER
He’s been held many titles: sorcerer, necromancer, transmitter to the undead, warlock, medicine man, wizard, dab hand, thaumaturge, wonder geek, and writer. Gravelight is pleased to present the following interview with R. David Fulcher, conjurer, enchanter, and possessor of the only authentic copy of the Necronomicon known to exist.
GL: What is it about horror that appeals to your writer sensibilities?
RDF: Horror appeals to me because of its ability to evoke physiological responses in readers as well as intellectual and emotional responses. A really good horror story can quicken your pulse, give your goosebumps, and raise the small hairs on the back of your neck. A great horror story can have you questioning your own sanity. You will find yourself asking: Was that creak on the stairs just Oliver the Cat coming up to bed, or something more sinister? Was that muffled crash in the kitchen just the ice maker, or a demon tearing through a dimensional rift?
Few other genres have this kind of physical hold on a reader.
GL: What, in your opinion, are a few of the best short horror stories ever published, and what makes each special?
RDF: In classic literature, Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” had a profound impact of me. It took a long time to get the images of the old man’s pale eye and the beating heart pounding ever louder just under the floor boards out of my head. Another older tale that has stuck with me over the years is H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann”. Its depiction of the lonely house on the cliff and general otherworldly feel is just plain unsettling.
Although known more for his horror novels, I’ve found Stephen King to be a master of the short story form as well, and two of my personal favorites are “The Raft” and “Strawberry Spring”.
GL: What do you find most challenging about writing horror? Are the challenges different than those you’d encounter writing in other genres?
RDF: I think horror does offer a different challenge than other genres. No other genre seems as much maligned by those who have never tried it. To me that is the challenge – enticing readers afraid (no pun intended – or perhaps it was?) of the horror genre to get consumed by the story you’re telling, simply because it is just that good and they need to know what happens by the end.
GL: There’s a belief among some that there are no original ideas left. Yet new stories emerge about vampires, werewolves, the supernatural, etc. How can a writer take an ages-old concept like Dracula and breathe new life into it?
RDF: I think part of the fun and the challenge of writing is coming up with fresh takes on age-old ideas. Let’s take the vampire, perhaps my favorite horror character. The established stereotype of the vampire is male, cold, calculating, aggressive, aristocratic, and controlling. One way to flip the stereotype is to change the physical characteristics that readers have come to expect. For example, present the abomination of a child female vampire, which Anne Rice did to great effect with the character Claudia in Interview with the Vampire. Another possibility is changing the emotional make-up of a vampire. Consider the emotional conflict that could be explored with a vegan vampire, or a vampire that can’t escape his overly kind and generous nature? Alterations such as these help breathe new life into these old concepts.
GL: How would you sum up your new collection? And why will horror fans want to read it?
RDF: At the risk of being cliché, I’d sum up this collection as my greatest hits. Some of these ideas, either as story concepts or as rough drafts, originated more than twenty years ago. Horror fans should add this book to their collection because it visits all the popular themes in horror – ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and demons are all present in these pages.
GL: What do you think Poe, Stoker, Shelley, Dickens, and other horror writers of yesteryear would think about today’s horror?
RDF: I think these literary masters would find the current body of work available in the market today a very mixed bag. Indie publishing has successfully brought the reality of publishing a book to everyone, which means the market is saturated with new titles constantly. While this has resulted in many excellent horror books, it has also resulted in many that hope to succeed not based on quality writing but on an underdeveloped characters and an overused plot.
GL: How much of your writing is culled from historic events or real-life experiences?
RDF: I’m a World War II buff, so many of my stories are set during this conflict. “Castle Marienburg” and “My Days with Mahalia” are two examples in The Pumpkin King collection of stories set in the second world war.
When I’m not using a historical setting, I almost always draw from my personal experience. “Pumpkin Seed Spit” and “The Man Next Door” were both modelled after my childhood home in College Park, Maryland. “The Pumpkin King” and “The October Man” both take place in my current town of Ashburn, Virginia. Finally, “For the Children” is based on the Eastern Shore, a region I’ve visited often during the summers of my youth.
GL: If you could have one of your stories from The Pumpkin King adapted for film or television, which one would you choose and why?
RDF: At the risk of breaking the rules, I’ll mention two of the stories. First, I think “For the Children” would make a great movie. I think the small-town setting and the evil force threatening the local children could be used by a savvy director to create an experience much like Ray Bradbury’s film adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I thought was fantastic.
The second story I think that could really be adapted to the big screen is “The October Man”, simply because it has all of the classical elements. There is romance, tragedy, and a connection back to Virginia’s history.
Who knows? Maybe like Stephen King himself, I could make a cameo appearance in each movie as well! One can always dream.
GL: Which author, or authors, have influenced you the most, and why?
RDF: There are so many. I did not start out reading horror, but rather fantasy and science fiction. Robert E. Howard’s Conan books, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , and Asimov’s I, Robot were all part of my early development.
As I developed a taste for horror, I started reading all I could from H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, John Saul, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker and others.
GL: What is a fun fact about yourself that readers may not be aware of?
RDF: You can’t always be in front of a desk or computer screen.
As a sort of therapy, I play as a forward in several recreational ice hockey and roller hockey leagues.
Strangely, it calms me.
GL: What advice would you offer to writers who are new to writing?
RDF: I cannot believe I’m relying on two clichés in the same interview, but here is my advice: Just Write!
I can’t count the number of people that have told me they wanted to be a writer, and then never followed up on it. Writing is a habit, and like exercise or anything else, it is only developed by constant practice. Give yourself a daily word count, perhaps just 300-500 words, and just write. The writing may good, bad, or indifferent. With practice it will get better.
Finally, after you write, submit your writing for publication. Very few writers write only for their own enjoyment. Most seek others to read their work. There are many welcoming markets for emerging authors such as Devil’s Party Press. You may be rejected initially, but good editors will provide you with feedback about what they didn’t like about your submission. And these rejections will make you better.
And with perseverance, you will achieve the ultimate goal – publication.
Learn more about David at rdavidfulcher.com.
READ ON KINDLE VELLA TODAY!
Can’t wait for the September 2023 release of the print edition of THE PUMPKIN KING AND OTHER TALES OF TERROR? Neither could we, which is why we’ve decided to serialize several of David’s spooky stories on Kindle Vella.
To start reading, visit the official PUMPKIN KING book page on Amazon, located here.