Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cover Reveal and Excerpt for DARKNESS RISING

My latest book, DARKNESS RISING, is a blood-tingling revenge story with a supernatural twist. The novella releases as an eBook on Amazon and other online bookstores September 1st. Below is a description of the book along with a sneak peek of how the book begins.

It’s all fun and games until...

Marty Weaver, an emotionally scarred poet, has been bullied his entire life. When he drives out to the lake to tell an old friend that he’s fallen in love with a girl named Jennifer, Marty encounters three sadistic killers who have some twisted games in store for him. But Marty has dark secrets of his own buried deep inside him. And tonight, when all the pain from the past is triggered, when those secrets are revealed, blood will flow and hell will rise.

“From the first page I was hooked and couldn't read fast enough. Moreland takes a wicked revenge tale and supes it up, and then when you think things are resolved and you wonder where he's going with it, he delivers the goods. Filled with brutal violence, great prose, nasty characters and ones you root for, Darkness Rising is a must read!!!!

--David Bernstein, author of Goblins and Witch Island
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Deep in the Oregon woods, the lake watched in silence as the woman crawled across the muddy banks, dragging her wounded legs. A switchblade jutted from the back of one thigh. Moonlight glinted off the exposed bone of her hip. Hair, caked with blood and dirt, clung to the woman’s face as she clawed her way into the shallow water. She found her husband, or what was left of him, floating facedown near the shore. Hugging his butchered torso, she wailed, an animal cry that echoed across the valley. A flock of ducks took flight. Behind the mutilated couple stood the killer with the white rabbit mask, head cocked, a bloody machete resting on one shoulder. Then two more joined the rabbit, a toad and weasel, both taller, their clothes covered in dark stains. The three masked killers admired their blood work. The frantic woman released her husband’s body and attempted to swim away, flailing her arms, but Toad and Weasel waded in after her and brought her screaming back to shore. Then Weasel picked up the video camera and began filming again. White Rabbit continued torturing the woman. Then Toad had his fun. At dawn, the woman’s screams finally ended. The lake watched in silence as the three animals danced around her corpse, then slipped into the forest.


The world had always been a cruel place for Marty Weaver. His scars were many and deep. Growing up, his teachers and various foster parents had labeled him autistic, a problem child, emotionally disturbed, while the kids at the foster homes and at school called him names—nerd, wimp, dweeb, freak and worse. He seemed to walk through life with a sign that read “bully me”, even though what he wanted most was a circle of friends and family to love and love him back. 

His best friends were dead poets―Yates, Hawthorne, Keats, Byron, Frost and Poe, to name a few. They taught Marty how to pour the burdens of his soul into poetry. With each poem he wrote and read to the lake, he peeled back a layer of scar tissue and felt a sense of hope that he might one day become a man others could love, maybe even a man who could learn to love himself.

Tonight was a special night. Every full moon, in a tradition he had started as a teenager, Marty did two things. First, he visited the cemetery and put fresh flowers on his mother’s grave. Then he drove along the wooded back roads that carved between the Blue Mountains to read his latest poems to the lake. Writing poetry helped him deal with all his pent-up emotions. It had helped him through his roughest times―the loss of his parents when he was nine, all the hell he had gone through bouncing between foster homes, and the rocky period that followed when he turned eighteen and ventured out on his own.

He parked in the lot overlooking the water, eager to share more about this radiant angel who had entered his life. As he climbed out of his car, he noticed a van parked in the shadows of a tree with looming branches. It looked like one of those custom vans with flames painted down the sides. 

This gravel lot, on the farthest side of the lake, was always empty. Most people didn’t know this place existed because it wasn’t on the campground maps and it took several dirt roads to get here. He came to this spot because it was the special place his parents used to bring him to when he was a boy. The lot and beach were completely hidden by dense woods. Across the water was the most majestic view of pines and mountains. Occasionally a boat passed by, but mostly this inlet was quiet and still. His mother had called their secret spot “the Magic Cove”. She loved to swim here, sunbathe, and take him exploring in the forest.

His father liked this cove because the fishing was good. He taught Marty how to work a rod and reel, gut a fish with a knife, skin it and flay it. Mornings were always spent with the two of them fishing for whatever the lake offered that day, while Marty’s mother read her books or did yoga. Then they’d have a picnic and cook their fish over a campfire. Those were the best days of Marty’s childhood, before The Bad Thing happened.

That someone had discovered his private cove made Marty feel invaded. He watched the van for a moment, but it looked dark and empty. Maybe someone had abandoned it there. Or some hikers had gone on a long trek around the lake. He didn’t see anyone, so he didn’t concern himself too much about the van.

He walked down the hill to the water’s edge with his journal. The moon’s glow cast his shadow across the lake’s glassy surface.

“Hello, old friend. It’s been a few weeks. I’ve got some new poems for you.” 

He opened his journal, feeling the worn leather cover against his palms. The oversized book, filled with hundreds of pages of his handwriting and drawings, was a memoir of his inner world from childhood to now. The stiff, heavily inked pages crinkled as he turned them, and that sound always made him feel a sense of nostalgia. 

The book had been a gift from his mother on his eighth birthday. Across these pages he had written countless poems, short stories, and glued-together collages of magazine pictures of things he wanted to one day own or become. At age eight, he had wanted to be Batman and pasted cutouts from a comic book. At age nine, it was Aquaman. As he got older, the pictures changed from superheroes to cars, to girls, to the things he now aspired to have as an adult, like an education, professorship, someday a wife. 

Next to a pamphlet of St. Germaine College was a photo of him and Jennifer at the campus gardens where they had taken a selfie standing in front of a fountain. The last fifty or so pages were filled with his love poems, some so sappy he felt embarrassed to read them. Most of his poems were amateurish musings, while every now and then he wrote something he was proud of. The only one who had ever heard any of his writings was the lake.

Marty held the big book open like a preacher about to give a sermon, only his congregation was the frogs and the reeds and the dark water. “I’ve been seeing Jennifer around campus more and more. Today she gave me a gift and kissed me on the cheek. The way she acts around me sometimes, I…I think I might actually have a shot with her.” He felt his heart expand just thinking about her. “Her beauty has awakened something in me that I’ve never felt for anyone. I can’t stop writing about her. I’ve got at least a dozen new ones. This first one’s still a work in progress. The beats aren’t quite right, but this is what I’ve written so far.”

He read the poem aloud:

In her eyes, fireflies
Sparks from my caress
On our faces, warm smiles
Cannons in our chests

Time's first gentle touch
Feathers along our flesh
Tall grass all around us
We whisper, touch, undress

Butterflies in our heads
Opening wings together
Taking flight in purple skies
Evaporating like the weather

The sound of hands clapping startled Marty.

“That is the most beautiful piece of shit I ever heard,” a man’s voice echoed off the water, followed by laughter.

Marty turned to see three silhouettes walking along the shoreline towards him.


“Just finished Darkness Rising and still reeling from the conflict, terror, horror and emotional rollercoaster that Brian Moreland has weaved so magically into this novella . . . Weaving its superbly crafted way through demons, vengeance and an indomitable spirit, this is a real winner. 5 star horror all the way!

--Catherine Cavendish, author of Dark Avenging Angel and The Pendle’s Curse
Darkness Rising is now available for pre-order:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Guest Author Anthony Hains on Writing Dead Works

Today, guest author Anthony Hains talks about writing his new horror novel Dead Works. If you like a good mix of psychological suspense and supernatural horror, you’ll like Anthony Hains’ stories. I also enjoyed his novel, Birth Offering.

The final version of Dead Works is only remotely similar to the original version. My initial plot for the novel involved the mishaps of ghost hunters exploring a 100 year old mansion situated in a glorious setting on Long Island Sound in New York. One of the characters had a back story that involved him in therapy as a child - an account that may have topped out at 800 words. So, this wasn’t a huge focus, but rather an interesting tidbit to illustrate a character.

The only problem with this back story idea was that I couldn’t shake it from my mind. The issues involving the therapy became more complex, even if I didn’t start out with the intention of putting them on paper. It was only a matter of time until this back story became more interesting than the original plot. I realized that I needed to jettison the ghost hunter notion and go with the kid-in-therapy narrative.

Since I am a psychologist and a professor of counseling psychology, I immediately knew the angle I was going to take. The main character was going to be a graduate student – a counseling psychologist in training. The young man would be in a practicum class where students are placed in a clinical setting and conduct therapy under the supervision of an on-site psychologist and a university instructor. After all, I live this stuff on a daily basis. I have taught at least one practicum class a year for the past 25 years. I know how students think and act. And, even though it has been a very long time, I still remember what it is like to be a graduate student. The client, of course, needed to be a kid – again, no problems since my professional area of focus is pediatric psychology and I have been studying and interacting with adolescents most of my professional career. While this group can be a pain in the butt for many professionals, I rather enjoy the population.

The challenge came with making the process authentic without losing a reader. Losing a reader can happen a couple of ways with this type of narrative. First, if I wrote an accurate account of therapy, the layperson would become increasingly frustrated. Unlike screen portrayals of therapy, there are rarely (if ever) those dramatic eureka moments when the client gains insight and the problem is solved within minutes. In most cases, the problem and the goals of therapy are identified early, and the difficult work involves the client learning and practicing new ways of coping or behaving to address personal concerns. This takes time, depending on the nature of the problem.

Second, if I did go for the dramatic denouement and make the therapy passages unrealistic or simplistic, I would run the risk of personal embarrassment if my colleagues or students actually read my fiction (so far, none have as far as I know). Pure vanity (or maybe self-respect?) on my part, I know.

So, I provided excerpts of five therapy sessions involving my graduate student protagonist, Eric, and his thirteen year old client, Greg. I deleted some of the more mundane interactions between them, and stuck to the more “thrilling” proceedings. By the way, the boy sees ghosts, so much of the interactions involve the kid learning how to make sense of these events. I portrayed my student character as being competent at this level of training. He makes all the “correct” responses in therapy and his inner narrative is consistent with what graduate students might be thinking.

Finally, you can’t get around the fact that this is a ghost story and the topic of therapy involves seeing ghosts. Most problems addressed in actual therapy are not “other-worldly”. The terrors, fears, and concerns of clients are grounded in daily realities. Sometimes these horrors exceed our experience, but we know about them anyway: abuse, addiction, suicide… You don’t need ghosts when you have these things to deal with. Nonetheless, every once in a while something rather strange appears on the radar screen in therapy. I can think of three or four times this has happened in my work. How do you address it? There is no one way of doing it, but I think Dead Works provides some indications. Curious? I hope you read Dead Works to find out. 

Anthony Hains is a university professor in counseling psychology, with a specialization in pediatric psychology – his research involves working with youth who have a chronic illness. 

Here is the link to my website:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guest Author Eric Red on Researching Horror

My latest guest writer is someone whose work I’ve been a fan of since the 1980s, when Eric Red was writing screenplays and directing movies. Two movies he wrote I consider classics. You may have seen The Hitcher (1986) and the vampire flick Near Dark (1987). When I was studying screenwriting at UT Austin back in 1989, my professor talked about Eric Red and his screenplays, and we discussed The Hitcher in depth. I admired Red’s early success as a writer. In 1991, I went to the theater to see the horror movie Body Parts and there on the big screen was Written and Directed by Eric Red. Mr. Red went on to write and direct some other recognizable horror movies, including Bad Moon and 100 Feet, to name a few. 

After making his mark on the movie business, Eric Red has gone on to write comic book series, graphic novels and channeled his talents into writing horror short stories and novels. I was thrilled when he joined the team of authors at my publisher Samhain Horror. Now, with the release of his latest Sci-Fi monster novel, It Waits Below, I’m honored to have Eric Red as a guest on my blog as he shares his wisdom about researching for a horror novel.

 What does research matter in horror?

You’d think doing research as an author would be less important for a horror novel than other literary genres, because monsters and the supernatural aren’t real—or at least some think so. But in my opinion, the more realistic the everyday details, technology, ordinance, hardware, professional behavior, and science, the more the reader believes what’s going on, increasing their involvement in the story. Even though the reader knows a horror story is unreal, I believe the greater the verisimilitude, that on an unconscious level people believe what is happening just a little bit more—and it’s that much more scary. It all comes down to suspension of disbelief.

I knew two things before writing It Waits Below, my new Samhain novel about the crew of a three-man Deep Submergence Vehicle who encounter an alien life form at the bottom of the ocean. One, the book had to be technically accurate. Two, I didn’t know shit about subs, and needed technical advisers who did. With the help of The National Academy Of Sciences, I was introduced to one of the top Alvin sub pilots in the world and his wife, a prominent oceanographer and microbiologist. For months they gave me invaluable help explaining how these subs are operated and what the crews encounter many miles down. They answered a million questions and shared fascinating materials that provided inspiration for some of the most terrifying scenes in the book. Later, I would run finished scenes by them and ask if this could happen or that could happen. Without the help of my technical advisers, the novel would have been about as convincing as an old Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea TV episode.

Some writers are research-wonks, but originally I wasn’t. When I started writing scripts for movies like The Hitcher—road thrillers set in a spare highway iconography—what the hell did you need to know? Get a map of Texas. Find out the makes of the police cars and what kind of guns they carried. The rest was pure imagination. But over the years, as my subject matter grew more involved, so did the research entailed. What I discovered was some of the most creative ideas often sprang from the research.

For instance, in Containment, my IDW zombies-in-space graphic novel about to be re-republished, I had to research long-distance space exploration and immediately realized the movie cliché of these cavernous space arks is a total myth. The fact is everything would need to be built as small and compact as possible to conserve weight and mass for propulsion. The creative opportunity was since the story involved cryogenic zombies on a spaceship, the more cramped and claustrophobic the surroundings, the greater the tension and suspense.

In It Waits Below, the alien comes to earth and ends up at the bottom of the ocean on a falling asteroid that destroys a Spanish treasure ship in the 1800’s. Centuries later, a salvage dive by treasure hunters sets the story in motion. Again, a little research paid off. I hunted down some footage of meteor strikes and was astonished by one event filmed not too long ago in the Eastern Block by witnesses on DV cams and iPhones from every conceivable vantage point. An actual large asteroid impact didn’t look like I imagined, or had seen in movies—it was a pulsing light over the world that turned in day to night to day to night and back again; utterly apocalyptic and chilling. So the crashing meteor that hits the treasure gallon in the opening of the novel was described in just such a manner.

Even when you know the technical realities of the subject matter, you inevitably take certain liberties. In It Waits Below, for dramatic purposes, I needed a second chamber in the DSV that houses a specially designed diving suit—people have to run and hide from aliens somewhere in a fifteen-foot sub, after all—and neither of these exists in actual submersibles. Still, I ran it all by my Alvin sub pilot consultant, and made it as “speculatively accurate” as possible.

The space monster stuff—well, that I made up!


Here’s the synopsis for It Waits Below:

It waits no more!

In the 1800s, an asteroid carrying an extraterrestrial life form crashed to earth and sunk a Spanish treasure ship. Now, a trio of salvage experts dives a three-man sub to the deepest part of the ocean to recover the sunken gold. There, they confront a nightmarish alien organism beyond comprehension, which has waited for over a century to get to the surface. It finally has its chance.

As their support ship on the surface is ambushed by deadly modern-day pirates, the crew of the stranded sub battles for their very lives against a monster no one on Earth has seen before.

It Waits Below is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Samhain Horror.


Eric Red is a Los Angeles based motion picture screenwriter, director and author. His original scripts include The Hitcher for Tri Star, Near Dark for DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group, Blue Steel for MGM and the western The Last Outlaw for HBO. He directed and wrote the crime film Cohen And Tate for Hemdale, Body Parts for Paramount, Undertow for Showtime, Bad Moon for Warner Bros. and the ghost story 100 Feet for Grand Illusions Entertainment.

Mr. Red’s first novel, a dark coming-of-age tale about teenagers called Don’t Stand So Close, is available from SST Publications. His second and third novels, a werewolf western called The Guns Of Santa Sangre and a science fiction monster novel called It Waits Below, are available from Samhain Publishing. His fourth novel, a serial killer thriller called White Knuckle, will be published by Samhain in 2015. A collection of eighteen of his horror short stories titled Toll Road will be published by SST Publications in 2015.

His recent published horror and suspense short stories include “Colorblind” in Cemetery Dance magazine, the western horror tale “The Buzzard” in Weird Tales magazine, “Pack Rat” in Beware the Dark magazine, “Little Nasties” in Shroud magazine, “In the Mix” in Dark Delicacies III: Haunted anthology, “Past Due” in Mulholland Books’ Popcorn Fiction, and “Do Not Disturb” in Dark Discoveries magazine.

He created and wrote the sci-fi/horror comic series and graphic novel Containment for IDW Publishing and the horror western comic series Wild Work published by Antarctic Press.

Mr. Red’s website is:
His IMDB page is: