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For My Dad

Dead Park Books by John Cosper

Dead Park Books by John Cosper

Several summers ago, I attended Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville. The inside of the hotel was almost as sweltering hot as the exterior, but that didn’t stop a few hundred of us from jamming into a ballroom to listen to horror master John Carpenter answer questions about his career.

One exchange really stuck with me. A very goth-looking young woman asked Mr. Carpenter what advice he would give to someone who wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a horror director in Hollywood.

“Well, I went to Hollywood to make Westerns,” said Carpenter. “So I wouldn’t know what to tell you.”

I can relate to that statement more today than ever. I never set out to write books about pro wrestling, but I’ve written more than twenty. And if you told 8 year old me I would one day write HORROR? I never would have believed you. I loved science fiction. Specifically, I loved STAR WARS. So how did I, an aspiring screenwriter and author of science fiction flights of fancy, turn to horror?

It’s my Dad’s fault.

Dead Park Plaza and its growing list of sequels would not have happened without my dad. My dad loved horror. Not all horror, mind you, but a good chunk. He liked a good scare, but he also liked horror-comedy. He’s the one who introduced me to William Castle, Ed Wood, Army of Darkness, and many of my favorites.

My dad had a direct influence on one of the stories in Dead Park Plaza. One morning in mid-February of 2021, I heard my phone buzz. I was still in bed, but my Dad was already up and texting me. He had dreamed something he thought would make a great horror story, a story that took place in an office setting, and he wanted to share it with me. It was a clever idea, and I think (I hope) I replied back and said so. I wasn’t working on any fiction at that time, so I kind of put it out of my mind.

It was one of the last texts my Dad ever sent me. It might have been the very last. A few days later my mother rushed him to the hospital. Nine days later, after transferring to rehab and then back to the hospital, he was diagnosed with cancer on his birthday February 28.

A week after that diagnosis, he was gone.

Four months later, Dad’s story idea drifted back into my mind. I didn’t see potential for a full novel, but it felt like a great short story. That’s when I started connecting the dots, from Dad’s story to a few others I’d been mulling over – stories that took place in an office.

Today, I have a job for a virtual company that allows me to work from home, the coffee shop, the library, or wherever I feel like. I work with incredible people and two amazing bosses who actually believe in me. For the first time in my life, I look forward to starting work each day.

But in 2021?

In 2021 I was still getting up every morning and driving to an office that, at the time, was refusing to acknowledge that I’d been given a promotion, dragging their feet backfilling my old role.

I spent most of my adult life, more than 20 years, driving to an office, working in cubicle,  being forced to make new “friends” on a recurring basis as people left or were let go (including me, a few times), working with good and not-so-good people, working for great and TERRIBLE bosses left a mark.

All that “work experience” fostered story ideas. Little fragments taking up real estate in my imagination, just waiting for their moment. “What if,” I thought, “These stories all took place in the same office building? You know, like Sideways Stories from Wayside School?”

One story became a group of three, then five, then seven.

The first book literally came together in a month. A scattered group of half-cooked stories all came together in the most remarkable way. I recently published book four in the series, and books five, six, and seven are in the works.

And all because my my Dad’s crazy idea about a man starting a new job and discovering a message warning him he’s in grave danger.

Without that text, there would be no Dead Park Plaza and no Dead Park Books. The whole identity of my fiction publishing would not exist without that germ of an idea he sent me.

I was still in denial about my Dad’s passing when the first book was published, and as I write this (revised) blog post, I’m still pretty much in the denial stage about my Dad’s passing, by the way. Wondering if I’ll ever move on from that, but grateful that he gave me the gift of a story, a book, and much more.

Click here to order your signed copy of Dead Park Plaza.

Kindle Reader? Click here to get the full Dead Park series at a special price!

Dead Park: The Series available on Kindle

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Good night, Len. Thanks for the Laughter

I’m at a loss for words tonight.

The last few days I’ve been thinking about Len Cella. I haven’t chatted with him in a long while. I friended him on Facebook many years ago, and he played a role in my movie, The Last Temptation of Fluffy.

Len filmed all his scenes himself, with no pay. He was an absolute perfectionist, doing take after take after take of the most inane, innocuous lines.

And he was screamingly funny.

If you’ve never heard of Len, let me back you up and bring you up to speed. He’s the creator of the Moron Movies, some of the funniest shorts ever committed to film. Long before the internet, his stuff was featured on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Real People. Have a look for yourself just how funny he was.

Len passed away a week ago on Christmas Eve. He was out walking near his house and was struck by a car.

He was 80 years old.

I’m really sorry i didn’t get another chance to chat with him, and to thank him for the inspiration. If you’ve seen my World’s Shortest Horror Films or World’s Shortest Noir Films or the old Adam and Eve film series, that’s 1000% Len’s influence. Short, simple, funny.

RIP to a true original.

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Read Dead Park Records for FREE!

Hello dear readers!

In the interest of better keeping in touch and sharing what’s new, we’ve started collecting emails again for a mailing list. This time, we’re actually going to use it to keep in touch, to share new things, and if you’re brand new to the site – to give you a FREE book!

All you have to do is enter your email address in the box below. You’ll get an email shortly with a link to let you download…

Wait for it…

Yes, the third book in the Dead Park series will be yours free to add to Kindle and enjoy.

Get a taste of the Dead Park saga and never miss an update from your new, favorite source for thrillers, for horror, and whatever other zany creative ideas might come up.

Sign Up and Get a Free eBook!

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Tis the Season for Horror (and Humor) at Dead Park

Dead Park: The Series available on Kindle

I love the Dead Park series. I love these stories so much. Over the past few years, the books, first inspired by my late father, have become a bit of a sandbox. Ideas, fragments of stories, and unfinished projects from the last twenty years have all found released within this series. At least two more books are coming.

In Dead Park, anything creepy, strange, or gory can happen. This eerie community counts everything from vampires to killer puppets to Mothman to a doll with teeth to Bigfoot himself as residents. Heck, even Mad Man Pondo, the real life deathmatch legend, makes a cameo.

Right now, you can get all four books on Kindle with one click for $11.96. Three of the four books – one about an office building, one about a mall, and one about a suburb – are story compilations, all based in one location. Book three, aka Dead Park Records, is a stand-alone novella with connections to the notorious office building that started it all, Dead Park Plaza.

If you like short stories; if you like humor with your horror; if you like relentless chaos, unexpected twists, and a splatter of insanity – and blood – give the series a try.

Order now on Kindle.

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Loretta Kendall Answers 3 Irrelevant Questions

Ghouls and Gals by Loretta Kendall

Loretta Kendall is talent manager and beauty guru of 20+ years in the entertainment industry. She retired a few years ago and is now living her best life as a full-time romance author. She writes paranormal, contemporary, rom-com, and sports wrestling romance.

Yup, you read that right. Wrestling romance.

She’s currently working on a modern monster retelling series featuring vintage horror monsters living in the human realm. The series follows several monster gal pals after an explosion joined the movie monster world with Earth, caused by Victor Frankenstein VI, the heir to the Frankenstein fortune. She loves vintage horror, pin-up style, vintage cars, and rockabilly culture, and has integrated all that into this new series. “It’s Halloween year-round and I’m loving it,” she tells me. “Who says monsters can only come out to play once a year?”

But that’s not important right now.

Loretta Kendall

Loretta Kendall is my guest this week, and it’s her turn on the hot seat answering the 3 irrelevant questions.

What is one of your favorite guilty pleasure movies, and for goodness sake why?

Other than the typical girly rom-com, I love cheesy monster films. I hate scary movies if there’s any major gore, but I love throwback horror, especially ones from the 80’s and old black-and-white films. Shows like Elvira and Sammy Terry who hosted those old shows used to terrify me as a kid, but now I always find myself watching Svengoolie and the awesomely awful horror movies he features. I just watched Killer Klowns from Outer Space a few days ago, and wonder why I watched it. It’s about as corny as it comes. I’m also a big fan of Maximum Overdrive and Trick or Treat. What’s not to love? Killer cars and a psychopathic rock star. It’s horror perfection with an extra slice of cheese.

A zoo gives you the opportunity to have all access with your favorite animal. What animal are you going to spend the day with, and why?

No doubt, sloths. It’s on my bucket list to hold a baby sloth. I know they are riddled with a literal ecosystem of fungus growing on their backs, but they are adorable. Also, a sloth isn’t going to want to have me on their menu like a lion who didn’t get his lunch on time. Always choose the wild animal that’s too slow to catch you.

You’re hungry, and you have access to both a fast car and a private jet. Where are you going for your ultimate snack, and what makes that food/place/experience the best?

I’m hopping in the car for a trip across the river to Sake Blue Japanese Bistro on the southeast side of Louisville. The ambiance is nice and modern and the perfect date night spot. They have the best sushi, and my favorite is the Sake Blue roll. Not only is it delicious but it’s presented on a flaming plate. Everything is better with fire, right?

Click here to find Loretta’s stuff on her website.

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Thanks, Pam: Beach Games and Picking Yourself

Beach Games

I don’t talk much about my “day job” life on the Internet. Yeah, I’ve got a job that pays the bills and provides insurance like most authors, and frankly, I love it. I enjoy the work. I get to be creative with writing and with video promoting an amazing product. More than that, I work with amazing people with incredible values. They believe in work-life balance. They believe in family first. Most of all, they believe in me but want me to become the best version of me I can be.

It wasn’t always this way.

I’m not going to go into the past. That doesn’t do good for anyone. But I do have a story to share that I hope inspires someone.

Seven months ago, on the last flight I took with my previous employer, I watched what’s become one of my favorite episodes of The Office: Beach Games. It’s my favorite Pam episode of the series for sure. You know, the one where she’s asked to sit on the sidelines and take notes while everyone else competes for an opportunity to better themselves.

When Michael Scott challenges his staff to walk across hot coals and everyone else balks, Pam asks for an opportunity. Michael says no. Pam ignores him. She goes back. In the words of Seth Godin, she picks herself. It’s incredibly empowering and very inspiring.

Something happened on that business trip. That incident led me to send the email that led me to my current job. I didn’t make the correlation then, but Sunday night, the night before my first flight for my new job, I turned on Beach Games again. That’s when it hit me.

I did it!!

I chose myself. I picked me. I believed I could have a better opportunity – one that moved me forward and not back.

I’ve picked myself for years in other areas of my life: as a writer, a wrestling storyteller, a filmmaker. This was the first time I did it in my day job. It’s working out better than I ever imagined.

Sorry to be vague and not share gory or gossipy details. That’s not the point. The point is if you’re in a place where you feel like you’re going nowhere, maybe you should run across the hot coals. Ignore the naysayers. Pick yourself. Raise your hand. Why not you? Why not now?

Put on a smile. And run for it.

 

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Holly Wholahan Answers 3 Irrelevant Questions

Holly Wholahan is an artist and designer who lives in Louisville, KY. She is best known for her cryptid and monster drawings and a frequent convention artist alley haunter. Holly has done work for a few small publishers, including recent illustrations for a monster manual by Bloat Games. She designed the shirt for the inaugural Small Town Monsters Monster Fest and has been known to pop-up in the Cryptid Crate from time to time.

Holly also happens to be a favorite artist of mine. I have four of her prints on display in my office, and I’ve drawn inspiration from them as cryptids have made their way into the Dead Park Universe. Her Flatwoods Monster is definitely my favorite.

But that’s not important right now.

I asked Holly Wholahan three questions I ask every artist friend of mine, questions that are completely irrelevant to her work as an artist. Here’s what she had to say.

What is one of your favorite guilty pleasure movies?

The Beastmaster. I have to watch it every time it’s on. It was like the first ‘He-Man’ movie to me. It’s horrible acting and a weird story, but I loved it as a kid. I’ve always been into magic and swords and stuff. This movie was my first introduction to a Dungeons and Dragons like setting before I knew what that was.

If you could have all access for a day with your favorite animal what animal would you choose, and why?

I’ve always loved Polar Bears. They are cute and fuzzy, but could also bite your head off. I could watch them chill and play all day.

You’re hungry, and you have access to both a fast car and a private jet. Where are you going for your ultimate snack, and what makes that food/place/experience the best?

I do marketing in the food industry as my real job, and I follow a ton of restaurants and food pages on Instagram. My husband is from San Diego, and all he talks about is how good the burritos are there. Based on what I’ve seen on social, I think I would got to So Cal and try ALL THE BURRITOS. Like every burrito I can find. Ramen burritos, Vegan Burritos, Cheeto burritos, as long as they are made in Southern California.

If you like monsters and cryptids and are one of the “cool kids” who believes in supporting independent artists, click the link below for Holly’s website to see her work and follow her on social media. I can’t recommend her enough.

Click here to visit Holly Wholahan Art.

Sasquatch by Holly Wholahan.

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Tony Acree Answers 3 Irrelevant Questions

Hand of God by Tony Acree.

Tony Acree is a novelist, screenwriter, and publisher. He created the Victor McCain Thrillers and co-wrote of the Samantha Tyler Thrillers with Rachael Rawlings and Mary Ellen Quire. Both series were optioned by Dark Harbor Pictures to become streaming shows.

Tony also wrote a humor book titled Tell Me More: My Conversations with Scammers, My Twins and Storeclerks. His screenplay, Songs of Bloody Harlan, was optioned by Jamezz Hampton and 1209 Productions for the silver screen, and he is currently working on the next Victor McCain novel, The Unit. 

Oh yeah, and at comic cons and author fairs, he is frequently mistaken fro George Lucas. No, really!

Not George Lucas.
This is Tony Acree, not George Lucas.

But that’s not important right now.

Tony Acree is today’s featured artist answering the 3 irrelevant questions.

What is one of your favorite guilty pleasure movies, and for heaven’s sake… why?

No doubt for me it is the Lake House, starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. I love Sandra Bullock and have since she first smiled in Demolition Man. The movie has a goofy romantic plot, with Sandra and Keanu talking via letter across time. Anytime I see it playing, I stop and watch it. I am a hopeless romantic at heart. I’d wait for Sandra Bullock. 

If you could have all access to any animal for a day, what animal would it be and why?

For me it would be the snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo. The dude oozes cool, and any time I’m there, he looks at me like he wants to get to know me, too. Like, really close. I need to put a snow leopard into a book. 

You’re hungry, and you have access to both a fast car and a private jet. Where are you going for your ultimate snack, and what makes that food/place/experience the best? 

I’m hopping on a private jet to eat some lamb shank and shepherd’s pie in Dublin, ireland. I am Scotch/Irish by heritage and love the food. And what better place to eat Irish food than Ireland? When I’m done eating, then I’ll have several glasses of Redbreast 22 year Irish Whiskey. With a designated driver. 

Click here to visit Tony’s website and check out his books.

Hand of God by Tony Acree.

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My Favorite Horror (Or, This Explains a Lot)

If you want to know how a writer’s mind formed, all you need to do is look at their influences.

While I was never a monster kid as a kid, I’ve become a form of one as an adult. But my taste has a definite theme. I’m a comedy guy first, so my favorites in the world of horror, with a few exceptions, tend towards the funny. Some intentional, some night.

I’m not going to list a bunch of titles. We’re gonna keep this simple. I’ll give you my favorite franchises, TV series, and my favorite one offs. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to check out – or avoid – something in particular.

Favorite Horror Franchises

Happy Death Day – I told Rob Mello at the Lexington Scarefest this was my favorite horror franchise. He called me a liar. But it’s the absolute truth. I could watch these movies over and over, and I have.

The Babysitter (Netflix) – I adore these movies. Samara Weaving is terrific, and the father-son dynamic between Cole and the always-shirtless-for-no-reason Max delights me to no end. And hey, that IS Jenna Ortega in the sequel. I may or may not own a blu-ray bootleg.

Scream – One, Four, and Six are my favorites, but I pretty much love them all… well, except Five.

Blair Witch – Nothing got me into true horror more than the original. I like the surprise sequel from a few years ago. I even liked Book of Shadows.

The William Castle Movies – I adore William Castle, so I’m lumping all his works into one franchise. I loved the gimmicks he used to promote the movies town to town. House on Haunted Hill is my absolute favorite of the bunch. The remake was total crap, but I will say the remake of 13 Ghosts had a real flair.

Evil Dead – It took me a while to watch that reboot, but I didn’t regret it. It was great. So was Evil Dead Lives. But the original 3, including Army of Darkness, cannot be touched.

TV Series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I hopped on the bandwagon in season 2 and never looked back. I studied every angle of this series, could name the entire writing staff at one time. Hush, Lover’s Walk, Band Candy, Earshot, Restless, and I Only Have Eyes For You are episodes I’ve watched dozens of times.

Wednesday – I’m a huge Addams Family fan in every form, and I’ve watched beginning to end numerous times. I may or may not own a DVD bootleg of this one too.

Twin Peaks – Not directly horror, but it’ll give you sleepless nights. Especially that shot of Bob coming over the couch. Trust me. It’s scarier than it sounds.

One Offs

Ready or Not – Brutal and funny. The more grisly stories in the Dead Park books owe a lot to this one.

The Hunt – Saw this alone in the theater right before the Covid lockdown. I hate politics, but this was soooooo fun.

Overtime – A small indie produced in Louisville starring wrestler Al Snow and a bunch of friends of fine. A tale of hitmen, family strife, and alien zombies. It’s gory, bonkers, and incredibly funny. “HOW DO YOU HATE CAKE??”

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – One of the few horror flicks I’d watch beginning to end as a child. There’s not a lousy scene in the movie. It’s outrageously funny.

Plan 9 from Outer Space – As funny today as the day Ed Wood first screened it.

It Came from Hollywood – Not a horror movie, but a comedic look a b-movies hosted by Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech and Chong, and John Candy. A perfect gateway to the world of monsters, gorillas, aliens, troubled youth, and the man, Ed Wood himself. Just watch out for that section on musicals. Some seriously disturbing and outdated stuff highlighted there!

They Live! – Or John Carpenter presents Roddy Piper vs. Aliens. Maybe the greatest paranoia film ever.

Cabin in the Woods – This film was a gateway into watching more horror when it came out.

 

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Kayla Perkins Answers 3 Irrelevant Questions

Kayla Perkins

I’ve known Kayla Perkins since my earliest days as a filmmaker. The actress and model started her career at the age of twelve when she appeared on The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie on the E channel. Kayla, who would be crowned Junior Miss Kentucky in 2003, fell in love with TV and film thanks to her experience on The Simple Life, and she’s become a fan favorite on the independent film circuit. Her credits include The Dark Room, A Promise To Alexis, The Killbillies, The Girl, the TV show Nashville, and many more, including a short I produced, The Last Temptation of Fluffy. She is busier than ever today working on projects like The Art Of Killing; Monster On: The Art Of The Craft; The Baton Rouge Serial Killer: Derrick Todd Lee; 12 Till Dawn; Midas Cove; Murder, Murder, Kill, Kill; and The Anniversary.

Kayla dabbles in books as well. We collaborated on a novel, Kayla Perkins is Dead, and she’s writing a wonderful children’s book with her son Kayden. The book is called I’m Kayden and I Have JIA, and it was written by mother and son to help children like Kayden who are dealing with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Whew, that’s a mouthful.

But, that’s not important right now.

This week, I asked Kayla to answer the 3 Irrelevant Questions. So here we go!

What is your favorite guilty pleasure movie? 

I love all kinds of movies. But one movie that I love and have watched literally over 32 times is called My Fault with Nicole Wallace and Gabriel Guevara. It is based on the book by Mercedes Ron. My Fault is such a great story, and the chemistry that these two actors have is amazing! They did an amazing job. I love romance movies.

If you could spend a day with full access to any animal, what animal would it be? 

There are so many animals that I would love to spend the day with, but if I had to choose, I would pick a tiger. Tigers are the largest cat species. I love cats. I have two named Cinammon and Tabby. They are just like kids. They are super fast. I love that they go after what they want. I think everyone of us should go after what we want in life.

If you could hop in a fast car or private jet and go anywhere in the world for a favorite food, where would you go, and what would you eat? 

This is such a hard question. I love all kinds of food and snacks, but I’m not a big sweets person. If I had to pick one item, though it would be Superman ice cream. Growing up, going on vacation and doing photoshoots for pageants, I would eat Superman ice cream. Everytime I see it on vacation, it brings back memories.

You can learn more about Kayla Perkins and find her social media links at www.kaylaperkins.com

Movies and books featuring Kayla Perkins

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How to Get Rid of Pesky Telemarketers of the Future

Cindy Maples in The Telemarketer.

One of my favorite short stories is called The Telemarketer. Inspired by those hard-working men and women in call centers throughout the world, the story envisions what telemarketing will be like in the future. Instead of using a telephone, why not use a teleporter? Why not beam directly into someone’s house and show, rather than tell, what you’re selling?

Think of the potential for sales!

Think of the potential for trouble!

The wonderful, beautiful, and incredibly talented Cindy Maples fell in love with this story. She championed the production of a short film that made the rounds in a few independent film tests. Thus, one of my favorite short stories became one of my favorite short films.

Ladies and gentlemen, The Telemarketer, starring Cindy Maples.