In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.
From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Peel Back and Seeis a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal.
Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5).
1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!
2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up!
3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂
4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂
5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)
In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers.
Heart Rating System: 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) Score: ❤❤❤❤
Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Author, Steven M Nedeau!
Welcome, Steven. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Steven) I’m an artist, actor, writer, and dancer and I’ve been working as an electrical engineer for twenty-two years. While I was enjoying engineering and solving problems, my artistic side had been drowning in despair for years. An artist must do art, and I was craving a chance to create something beautiful.
I started writing seriously when I became fed up with someone else’s story telling. Critical of several films and television series, I felt the entertainment industry was dropping the ball. How many retellings of the same story do we need? We deserved better than the drivel presented to us.
I was thirty six, still deep in my engineering studies, when I started to think about the stories I wanted to tell. I even remember the moment when I decided to start writing something substantial. I was reimagining how Star Wars Episode 1 should have been told, how the past of Darth Vader should have been written and, in a rant, I built up his back story into a plausible and intriguing tale. When I looked up from my rant, my son’s face was hanging slack as he looked at me in awe. He asked, “Did you just come up with that all by yourself?”
I decided I wouldn’t retell an existing story. If I wanted a story strong enough to meet my expectations, I was going to have to write it myself.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Steven) Everyone suffers from writer’s block at one time or another. We all have our own ways of dealing with it. I have a couple of different things I do when so afflicted. I watch old movies, the older, the better. Then, I imagine the scripts of those movies. I imagine the words that would be needed to arrange the scene for the actors. Sometimes, my attempt to simplify what I’m seeing will prompt questions that need answering.
My other answer to writer’s block is sleep. I sleep. My dreams are the backbone of my stories and I often resolve the dilemmas in those tales with my eyes closed.
(Kam) Love this response! I solve a lot of dilemmas in my sleep, too.
Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
(Steven) I write both science fiction and fantasy. My first book, a fantasy novel, The Soulweb, took seven years to write and a year to edit.
Centuries ago, King Mavius’s spell caused destruction beyond reasoning, weaving a web around and through the souls of his knights. Even now the spell of that long dead king pulls at his descendants and Jaron must trade his books for blades when Mavius, with his knights behind him, returns from beyond the grave to reclaim his throne.
Pushing heavy tomes onto marble shelves and translating archaic text until the wee hours of the night could not prepare Jaron for the trials in store for him. After years of teaching history, he will learn that books do not always tell the truth as he becomes a pawn in a war between kings.
My first science fiction novel, Memory Reborn, took a year to write and two years to edit.
When I’m not writing I have a number of hobbies and so little time for any of them.
We are what we do. Here is a list of some of my favorite things: motorcycles, camping, kayaking, screen-printing. I have a lot more as well, but that’s enough for now.
I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Steven) I don’t hide anything about myself. I share my writing with the people around me (maybe a little too much) but I love my creative side and feel I don’t get to take it out to play often enough. I know my wife is sick of hearing about it. Oh, well. Most of my friends and family are supportive, even if they haven’t read anything I’ve written.
(Kam) It’s lovely to hear those around you are supportive of your work. Congrats.
Will you share with us your all-time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Steven) In no particular order, here’s a list of my ten favorite authors. Their stories have built my dreams.
Philip K Dick,
(Kam) There are several authors unfamiliar to me. I might need to rectify that. 🙂
If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love to see cast in the parts?
(Steven) Choose a book for the big screen? Of course, the book would have to my latest, Memory Reborn. This book holds a cinematic feel to it and I could definitely see it becoming a movie one day. As far as actors I would choose, there are so many that have held my admiration over the years, but if I got my choice, I would choose Letitia Wright, Chloë Grace Moretz, Wilmer Valderrama, and James Spader to fill out the four main character roles.
At his new job at the memory storage facility, Darien Mamon is stunned to discover that he is the intended storage device, and has been all along.
Darien thought MemorSingular hired him for his brain. They did. They just don’t need what’s in it. After finding details of a century old knowledge retention program, Darien learns the company has been grooming the minds of new hires to be overwritten with the personas of their most valued employees.
An old classmate, Nancy, could be Darien’s only chance to escape MemorSingular before his mind is overwritten. Unfortunately, Nancy hates his guts, and if she doesn’t change her mind the company will change his.
Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now?
(Steven) I have several works in progress. I’m currently preparing my science fiction novel, Memory Reborn, for publication. In parallel to the print publication, we are also producing the audiobook for Memory Reborn, with George Kuch (http://www.georgekuch.com) narrating.
As far as writing, I’m working actively on the second book of The Soulweb Trilogy while storyboarding the third book.
In addition to the books I also have several short stories in the works. As I complete them, I like to make them available for free on my website. These stories are usually written to go along with some writer’s game or as part of an online collection of stories that all follow the same theme.
I don’t understand how anyone works on only one thing. As I get ideas about new stories I jot them on some paper and let them fester in the back of my head for a couple of years while I push on with the most pressing project.
(Kam) Whew, you are a busy bee!
Where can we find your stories, and is there a particular reading order?
(Steven) Since all of my books so far are in separate genres, there is no reading order assigned. That is to change in the coming years as The Soulweb is book one of a trilogy. We expect to be publishing the remaining books of that trilogy soon.
Right now, you can find all of my books on Amazon, as long as you spell my name correctly. The Soulweb is available in kindle, ebook, paperback, and audiobook.
Memory Reborn will be available in ebook, kindle, paperback, and audible at Amazon as well, but will also be available just about anywhere you can purchase books. Initially, as far as brick and mortar stores are concerned, physical copies of Memory Reborn may only be available at a few select Barnes and Noble retailers, however, we expect the reach of this book to expand.
A narrator tells the tale of not so brave Sir Issanass and the dragon Pestulis Pejorative. This is intended as a live performance play for two to four actors and additional audience participation. There are minimal props and set requirements. Ideal for Renaissance Fairs, school productions, or public events.