Brett Talley Visits the Noracast/Interview/Giveaway!

That Which Should Not Be by Brett Talley 

Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston’s professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, The Inferno of the Witch, the student doesn’t hesitate to begin the quest.

Weston’s journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston’s current mission.

His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of Man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.

INTERVIEW

That Which Should Not Be by Brett Talley

Welcome to the Noracast, Brett! I had the privilege to review That Which should Not Be, and I must say…it is a fantastic story that held me spellbound all the way through. Congratulations on the wonderful reviews.

What inspired you to write That Which Should Not Be?

I’ve always loved horror, somewhat because I like to be scared, but mostly because of the mystery and magic that you can find there.  The real world can get kinda boring sometimes.  I like the idea of the unexplained.  I had this idea kicking around in my head for a while about a group of people, otherwise strangers, who meet on occasion to discuss stories that tie them together.  I also felt there was a lack of modern horror written in the Gothic style of so many of the great, classic works.  I put the two together, and That Which Should Not Be was born.

There were so many things I liked about That Which Should Not Be, but I especially enjoyed how you took the reader on a journey to various places. Daniel’s adventure, with his newfound friend Charles, from Venice to Vienna, then to Budapest and the troubles they encountered trying to get to Czernowitz made me wonder about your motivation for this part of the novel.

Have you traveled the world…like to Italy, Russia, and Budapest? Also, what is it about Budapest that made you want your characters to go there?

I am one of those people who saves every dime they make so they can spend it on travel.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of places, including Russia and Italy.  Sadly, I have not yet visited  Budapest, although it is high on my list of places to see.  There is something about Eastern Europe, the way it lies between multiple continents and cultures.  I mention this in the book, but you really have Africa, Europe, and Asia all melded together in one place.  You add to the fact that Eastern Europe was the battle ground between the western Christian nations and the Ottoman Empire, and you have a place that was sort of left behind while Western Europe moved on.  It strikes me as a mystical place.  It’s not a coincidence that the modern vampire myth springs from such a place.

Now I have been to Venice, and I absolutely love that city.  I hope to get back there one day.  There are just so many places to see.

If you have traveled, did you encounter anything or place truly frightening? What about in Massachusetts…is it haunted?

I’ve never been anywhere that frightened me from an otherworldly perspective.  But I have definitely found myself in some scary situations.  I think the most I have ever feared for my life was in the back of a cab near midnight on a mountain in Peru.  A friend of mine and I were out in the back country where most of the population doesn’t even speak Spanish as their first language.  Instead, the speak Quechua, which is related fairly closely to the language of the Incas.  Anyway, we are sort of careening down this darkened mountain road thinking that the next turn might be our last.  The cab driver is barely paying attention.  He has a political rally on the radio.  The speaker is working the crowd into a fever, but he is speaking Quechua, and we can’t understand anything he says.  But then, just as the speech is in mid-crescendo, the speaker yells out Seig!  And the crowd answers Heil!  That continued a few more times while I looked over at my friend and said, “Oh my God.  Our cab driver is a Nazi.”

Massachusetts is definitely haunted, by its past if nothing else.  Everywhere you go you see it, and somehow it feels older than the rest of the country.  Moreover, it is very provincial.  Boston is a long way from any other city, and it is the heart of all of New England.  It is also not a very urban place.  You drive ten minutes and you are in the country.  In places like Danvers and Ipswich, where the whispers of Old Salem and witchcraft are still thick and ever-present.

Also, what place most fascinates you that you’d love to visit?

There are several ancient sites I would like to see, Angkor Wat first on my list.  But if I could go anywhere in the world right now, it would probably be the city of Prypiat, Ukraine, better known by the name of the power plant that sits next to the city—Chernobyl.  I am fascinated with abandoned buildings, and the chance to visit a ghost town that once held 100,000 people is irresistible.  I plan on visiting soon.

I read you received a philosophy and history degree from University of Alabama before relocating to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Law School.  Having Carter Weston…your main protagonist, choose Miskatonic University over his father’s beloved Harvard Law School was a great way to use part of your own background.

Does your background include being an expert sailor like Captain Jonathan Gray? Is he based on a person you know?

Nope!  I’ve barely even been on a boat.  Growing up in Alabama, sailing was not high on my list of activities.  People in Boston often go sailing for fun, but they are all much wealthier than I am.  Maybe one day.

Have you ever experienced a terrifying storm on the open sea like your characters? You made it seem so real!

Thankfully, no.  I think one advantage writers have these days that some in the past didn’t have is that we all have access to media portrayals of a lot of the things we write about.  I can imagine what it would be like to experience that kind of storm, but it also helps that I have seen it happen before on television and in the movies.

Your book addresses the battle between good against evil, darkness and light, plus the dangers lurking far below the earth…in deep caverns of great evil and in the darkest depths of the sea. I liked this aspect of That Which Should Not Be because the caverns and great depths hide unknown evil just as much as the evil buried within some of the super wicked characters within your book.

This brings me to first impressions, which you totally like to play around with. A few of your characters caught me by surprise! I thought they were good…no, nope…no way, but it adds a lot to the plot.

So what is your take on first impressions? Are they (mostly) correct, or have you found first impressions offer up little concerning a person’s true nature?

You can learn a lot from first impressions, there is no doubt about that.  But people tend to be fairly complex.  The danger I struggle mightily to avoid when I am writing is having flat characters.  When you are writing genre fiction, that can be especially difficult—nobody wants to read a hundred pages of domestic angst in the middle of a werewolf novel, for instance.  So if nothing else, I like to try and keep people guessing about the nature of the characters.  I wanted you to never really know who you can trust in That Which Should Not Be.  I also wanted some characters to appear evil who turned out not to be.  But you know, I also think there is a fine line between keeping the audience guessing and failing to reward their expectations.  We don’t want Scar to turn out to be a good guy at the end of The Lion King.  We want the hyenas to eat him, and (*spoilers*) we cheer when they do.

Which one of your characters did you have the most fun writing and why?

Captain Jonathan Gray.  He is a very mysterious character, and I’d like to think it takes a while for the reader to get a handle on him.  Plus, I like strong characters.  Characters like him are dangerous, in a way, because you find yourself pouring everything you like about people into them, and they can come off as stereotypical.  But I think Gray has enough color to him to avoid that.

I’ve read some reviews about That Which Should Not Be, saying how it is evocative of H.P. Lovecraft’s work, and how you are well-versed in the Cthulhu mythos. That is quite a compliment!

Have you been a longtime fan of H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos? If so, what attracts you to that type of fiction?

I didn’t read my first Lovecraft story until I was in my second year of law school.  On a whim, I picked up The Call of Cthulhu and Other Tales, mostly because I really liked the cover.  But it was the quintessential eureka moment.  I have always had a fascination with myths and legends, with the truth they contain and how they help to explain both our past and our future.  When I was in college, I stumbled upon Plato’s depiction of Atlantis, a place I had heard of but never really knew anything about.  Then I learned about other legends of lost lands—Lemuria, the Seven Rishi Cities, Kumari Kandam, Mu, Hyperborea, Thule.  In law school, I would often visit the esoteria section of the library, deep in the bowls of the Widener library, and read old grimoires and holy books of questionable authenticity.  I was very interested in writing something about a lost civilization that disappeared beneath the waves and of the knowledge that disappeared with it.  Once I found Lovecraft, I just devoured everything he had ever written.  When I started on That Which Should Not Be, I decided I wanted to pay homage to many of the classic works of horror and speculative fiction.  Lovecraft was the most prominent.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Lovecraft, Dostoevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway.  Probably read the most books by Stephen King, though.

What is the first book that made a lasting impression on you and why?

I have always been a reader, but for a long time I did so either as disposable entertainment or because someone in school made me.  The first book that really affected me was The Great Gatsby.  I absolutely love that book.  I rarely read books more than once, but I have probably read The Great Gatsby ten times.  The only book I’ve read more is That Which Should Not Be.  If I could write one sentence in my entire life that is as great as “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” I’d die feeling like I accomplished something great.  I honestly don’t think any book has ever captured the essence of the human condition like The Great Gatsby.  And it’s not even 50,000 words long.

Where can readers find you on the Internet?

One blessed day I will have a website.  For now, friend me on Facebook and twitter.  I am also on the new-fangled Google+, as well as Goodreads and Library Thing.

Where can readers purchase That Which Should Not Be?

At all your finest retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

That Which Should Not Be: Amazon

That Which Should Not Be: Barnes & Noble

That Which Should Not Be: JournalStone

JournalStone: Facebook, Twitter

Brett Talley: Bio

A native of the South, Brett Talley received a philosophy and history degree from the University of Alabama before moving to witch-haunted Massachusetts to attend Harvard Law School. When people ask, Brett tells them he writes for fortune and glory. But the truth is the stories in his head simply refuse to stay put. Brett loves every kind
of fiction—from horror to literary to historical to sci-fi—as long as there are fantastic characters with a compelling purpose. There’s still magic to be found in fiction, the mysterious and the unknown still beckon there, and the light can always triumph over the
darkness, no matter how black the night may be.

Brett writes when he can, though he spends most of his time working as a lawyer so that he can put food on the table. That is, until the air grows cool and crisp and fall descends. For then it is football time in the South, and Brett lives and dies with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Roll Tide.

Thank you for visiting the Noracast, Brett!

GIVEAWAY/September 23-30: Here’s your chance to win the e-book version of That Which Should Not Be by Brett Talley. (2 copies available)

Giveaway Details:  I’d like to match the book with people’s tastes, so comment about your favorite horror novel, and I’ll pick two people whose tastes match up best!

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TBR List & Hot Tea for Me

Michigan…as lovely as it can be, with warm summer air that’s happy to dance upon a breeze and beautiful lakes for plenty of fun in the sun, gets hit hard once winter begins. Oh! I’m a northern girl, I should not complain, but frigid air, crunchy snow, and ice-covered roads do not get along with me—at all. Since I cannot fly south for the winter, my plan is to dive into my “to be read” list, try some new teas, and make darn sure my electric blanket is good to go. I know, such a wild woman I am.

So, what’s on my TBR list that I’m dying to read? Plenty of paranormal books, because those are my favorite, and a suspenseful thriller…that promises a dash of humor called “The Reluctant.” Take a look below to see if any of these books pique your interest!

Witch Hunt by Devin O’Branagan

 Leigh has been married to a Hawthorne for a decade, but never knew the family secret: the Hawthornes are witches. When the dynamic Preacher Cody instigates a new, world-wide witch hunt, Leigh must choose sides. Will she stand with her husband and children, or will she run? This isn’t the first witch hunt the Hawthornes have faced, but it could be their last. Will anyone survive?

A classic novel, updated for the 21st Century!

 “Witch Hunt” will be read while I sip on Vanilla Earl Grey Black Tea, which STASH says has a “unique blend of fine quality black teas with a hint of bergamot and natural vanilla flavor. Smooth and aromatic with an amber color in the cup.”

The Reluctant (Crayder Chronicles) by C.S. Splitter 

Action, adventure, suspense, and thriller in one story told with a liberal dose of humor.

Tom’s problems are not unique. His business is failing and his wife has to work too many hours to make ends meet. He is under some rather large financial pressures and wants more from his marriage and his life.

He finds his respite in the air as a private pilot. Unfortunately for Tom, he is behind on payments for his plane and is forced to take odd jobs from a local crime boss. Tom is no criminal, but the errands he is running are just slightly on the wrong side of the law and the money is almost good enough to allow him to make his plane payments.

Just as things begin to come under some semblance of control, he meets a woman who just might represent the adventure he seeks. He soon discovers that appearances, and beautiful women, can sometimes be deceiving.

“The Reluctant” is the first in the Crayder Chronicles series and yet is a standalone story with a satisfying conclusion of its own.

Chai Spice Black Tea also from STASH has a “spicy, aromatic blend of black teas, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove and cardamom,” and it sounds like a perfect companion for Spiltter’s suspense/thriller.

Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully

True crime writer Elle Bramasol is drawn into a macabre mystery when incarcerated Hollywood producer Eliot Kingman asks her to write a book about his case. As she delves deeper into Kingman’s murder conviction, she discovers that he possesses a centuries old diary written by an elusive vampire named Verland. Uncovering the transformative secrets held within the diary’s pages, Elle is drawn deeper into both Kingman’s deadly schemes and Verland’s dark world of shadows. When the two finally collide, the stage is set for a climactic battle over mankind’s ultimate prize: eternal triumph over death. But will the Holy Grail of immortality turn out to be the cruelest curse of all?

Exploring the allure of the shadowy places between life and death, between fantasy and reality, and the ultimate power of belief, Verland: The Transformation is a gothic-inspired tour de force, a brooding return to the roots of the vampire genre that goes for the throat from page one until the final, bone-chilling climax.

Harney and Sons Cranberry Autumn Tea will be my delight as I devour this book. Sweet and tart, this black tea has cranberry and orange flavors.

Daimon: A Prequel to Half-Blood (Covenant 0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Love in my world usually ended up with someone hearing ‘I smite thee!’ as she was cursed to be some lame flower for the rest of her life.”

For three years, Alexandria has lived among mortals—pretending to be like them and trying to forget the duty she’d been trained to fulfill as a child of a mortal and a demigod. At seventeen, she’s pretty much accepted that she’s a freak by mortal standards… and that she’ll never be prepared for that duty.

According to her mother, that’s a good thing.

But as every descendant of the gods knows, Fate has a way of rearing her ugly head. A horrifying attack forces Alex to flee Miami and try to find her way back to the very place her mother had warned her she should never return—the Covenant. Every step that brings her closer to safety is one more step toward death… because she’s being hunted by the very creatures she’d once trained to kill.

The daimons have found her.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? A cool Peppermint Herbal Tea from Lipton will be the choice for this book.

 Bloodletter by Angel Haze

A contradictory message written in blood at the scene of a young woman’s murder. Within days, another body surfaces with a similar calling card and, to Detective Ramon Faust and Criminalist Kelly Garret, it’s clear a deadly game is underfoot.

As the rash of horrific crimes continue, a phone call unearths a shocking revelation: Nakeita isn’t the first city the elusive killer has left his mark. The Bloodletter, as dubbed by the media, has played his deadly game before.

Delving deep into the most terrifying case of Kelly’s career, threatening phone calls and flashbacks of a forgotten near-death experience challenge her sanity and the lives of everyone she loves.

A tangy, spicy tea is a “must-do” while reading about Kelly’s harrowing adventure. Lipton’s Orange Herbal Tea has tempted me to try it since it contains hibiscus flowers, cinnamon, orange peels, roasted chicory root, natural flavor, licorice root, soy lecithin, and cloves.

Domingo’s Angel by Jenny Twist

When Angela turns up in a remote Spanish mountain village, she is so tall and so thin and so pale that everyone thinks she is a ghost or a fairy or the dreadful mantequero that comes in the night and sucks the fat from your bones.

But Domingo knows better. “Soy Angela,” she said to him when they met – “I am an angel.” Only later did he realize that she was telling him her name and by then it was too late and everyone knew her as Domingo’s Angel.

This is the story of their love affair. But it is also the story of the people of the tiny mountain village – the indomitable Rosalba – shopkeeper, doctor, midwife and wise woman, who makes it her business to know everything that goes on in the village; Guillermo, the mayor, whose delusions of grandeur are rooted in his impoverished childhood; and Salva the Baker, who risked his life and liberty to give bread to the starving children.

The events in this story are based on the real experiences of the people of the White Villages in Southern Spain and their struggle to keep their communities alive through the years of war and the oppression of Franco’s rule.

Ah…a love affair to remember, so for this novel, I’ll stick to the tea I choose most often, Orange Pekoe and Cut Black Tea Blend.

These books will heat up the chilly, autumn nights, and then make sure to keep my mind sizzling with mystery and paranormal activity all winter long. I’m also anxious to read Curious Hearts, Endurance, and Full Moon Bites from my publisher Melange Books. What’s on your TBR list? Have a book or tea suggestion for me? Feel free to comment!

Thanks for visiting the Noracast.

*All book content (from Goodreads) belongs to the publishers of Witch Hunt, The Reluctant, Daimon: A Prequel to Half-Blood (Covenant 0.5), Verland: The Transformation, Bloodletter, and Domingo’s Angel.