Category Archives: author interviews

Dead Kill – Book 1 – The Ridge Of Death by Thomas M. Malafarina

Originally published on “The Big Thrill” blog

By J. H. Bográn

Thomas M. Madk1_fclafarina’s new novel—DEAD KILL—opens in the year 2053. It’s been ten years since the long-anticipated zombie apocalypse arrived with a vengeance and wiped out more than half of humanity. However, not only did the humans manage to survive but they also succeeded in destroying the seemingly countless hoards of the undead and regained their rightful place at the top of the food chain. Now living safely in fortified towns and cities, humans go about their daily lives with little concern for the greatly reduced numbers of undead remaining in the unprotected outlands and forests. These creatures have been reduced to roadside nuisances albeit deadly ones.

Beginning with these potent images, I had the opportunity to probe into the mind of one of today’s best and most prolific horror authors.

How did the idea behind the post–zombie-apocalypse for DEAD KILL come about?

Well, every one and his brother seemed to be doing zombie apocalypse books, comics, TV shows, and movies for the past way too many years. And I fought the urge to jump into the fray for a very long time, feeling that the genre had been done to death; so to speak. I decided if I was going to take the time to write a zombie-based book it would have to be different than anything else out there.

There was a time in my writing career when I swore I would never write a zombie story. Then I broke down and wrote a zombie short story, “Bright of the Living Dead.” And then I wrote another called “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Then came the humorously twisted “Call Him Maury,” followed by “Dinner with Andy and Meg.” Things got a bit sicker with “A Love Best Served Cold” and last but not least the adventurous “Even the Great Will Fall.” In every one of these tales I strove to do something original and I think I was successful. As such I felt I might be ready to tackle a zombie-based novel.

So I gave the idea a lot of thought. As I usually do when writing a new story, I asked myself about a thousand questions. I looked at the world today and realized zombies destroying some of the world—such as underdeveloped, third-world countries—might be possible and even probable. But I seriously doubt that with the technology and the number of armed citizens we have in the U.S. we could possibly be overrun by a bunch of shambling, walking corpses; no matter how many there were. If you think about it, one single state in the U.S. has more firearms and ammunition per capita than the armed forces of many countries.

I chose to venture into what I believe is new and possibly risky territory. I realize zombie fans love to see the world destroyed and civilization thrust into Darwinian chaos. However, I decided to write a story where the zombie apocalypse happened and where sixty percent of the world’s population was wiped out. But in developed, well-armed countries such as ours the casualty count was much less. This story takes place in 2053, in the United States, ten years after the initial outbreak. Here zombies still exist and although deadly, are much less of a threat and more of a nuisance. (Think of a deer wandering out onto the highway—that is to say, a dear that wants to eat you alive.)

Newly reformed governments put bounties on the creatures and each citizen was rewarded one hundred dollars per zombie. This act of putting down the creatures became known as a ”dead kill.” (Killing something already dead.) This brought the population of undead down dramatically and for a few years provided a good way for some folks to earn a decent living. There are new strict government regulations for dealing with the dead and dying since the virus lives in every human and is only activated at time of death.

Citizens now live in protected fortified cities, which are constantly expanding and taking back more land all the time. They travel well-armed from city to city, passing through “outlands” that are populated by not only remaining zombies but by bands of wild and savage motorcycle-riding renegades, who are often more dangerous than the zombies themselves.

The book is a thriller set in this post–zombie-apocalypse world. Zombies are not the main focus of the book. The main focus of the book involves a psychopathic character who makes his living illegally in the dark and perverse drug-infested underworld of the outlands. That being said, I still found plenty of opportunities for good old fashion zombie gore.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Not a whole lot, unless you count my entire life. I’ve been a lifelong fan of horror and have enjoyed zombie films (even the dumb stuff) for decades. Like vampires and virtually any other mythical monster, you simply can’t be a fan of horror for so long and not know virtually everything there is to know about them.

I’ve been hooked on zombies since Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” (black and white). And one of my favorite movies of all time is the original “Dawn of the Dead.” But I decided I would take the idea of a zombie virus to places where others have not yet gone. I’ve hinted about those ideas in this, the first of a series of Dead Kill books. Later books will go off in directions not yet covered in book one. My original idea was to do this as a single novel, but as I worked on the book more and more ideas popped into my mind so I plan on more.

What can you tell us about Jackson Ridge?

Jackson Ridge is the protagonist and a non-hero/hero. He is a freelance writer and reporter who covers news for a variety of news outlets. He is a husband and a father of a four-year-old daughter. He is not tough. He is not muscular. He’s just a regular guy living in a not so regular world. He’s racked up his share of dead kills just as any survivor has done, but he’s is about as far from anyone’s idea of a hero as you can get. He finds himself thrust into a role that requires he go outside of his comfort zone to help save the life of a kidnapped thirteen-year-old girl who was abducted and believed to be in the hands of a sick and twisted underworld psychopath.

Who is the antagonist in DEAD KILL?

The antagonist is a man who goes by the mythical name of Deimos. He is the insane leader of a gang of underworld outlanders that deals in a variety of drugs, prostitution, pornography, and some new really sick vices that can only exist in the world outside of the safe zones.

Will there be any presentations or signings for the book?

I’ll be doing appearances and interviews as they come up, but other than a future appearance on Webb Weaver Books Podcast (date to be determined, so check the website later) I have nothing planned.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I’m working on short stories for another future collection for Sunbury Press including a possible novella. And I’m also beginning work on the second Dead Kill book. I have short stories coming out in 2014 in about fifteen or more short story anthologies from such publishers as Thirteen Press (Horrified Press) and James Ward Kirk Publishing to name a few. I also just acted as curator and editor for a recently released Sunbury Press anthology of horror called Undead Living.

You’ve only been publishing since 2010 yet you’ve written so many books and short stories. When do you find time to write?

I write whenever and wherever I can. Since I work full time and play weekends in two different blues bands finding the time is always a challenge. Time management is essential. For example, I write after work and on the weekends. If I’m sitting on my patio in the summer, I’m usually writing or editing. If I’m snowed in during the winter, I’m writing. Before bed I often edit and rewrite. Sitting in my car over lunch during the week is a good place to write.

Waiting for a car repair at a garage or in the doctor’s office is also a good opportunity for writing. I have an hour commute to and from work and often use that time to imagine my stories and occasionally record my ideas on my iPhone voice recorder. I have tons of notebooks that travel with me everywhere. If I’m on vacation, sitting in a hotel waiting for my wife to get ready to go out sightseeing I write. In other words, whenever I can find a few minutes, I write.

Most of my stories start out being written on note paper then I type them into MS Word and fine tune them there. Using notebooks allows me the flexibility to write whenever and wherever I choose.


Thomas M. Malafarina is an author of horror fiction from Berks County, Pennsylvania. To date he has published five horror novels NINETY-NINE SOULS, BURN PHONE, EYE CONTACT, FALLEN STONES and DEAD KILL – BOOK 1 – THE RIDGE OF DEATH, as well as five collections of horror short stories; THIRTEEN NASTY ENDINGS, GALLERY OF HORROR, MALAFARINA MALEFICARUM VOLS 1 AND 2, GHOST SHADOWS and most recently UNDEAD LIVING. He has also published a book of often strange single panel cartoons called YES, I SMELLED IT TOO; CARTOONS FOR THE SLIGHTLY OFF CENTER. All of his books have been published through Sunbury Press.

To learn more about Thomas, please visit his website.

About the Author: 

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll. FIREFALL, his second novel, was released in 2013 by Rebel ePublishers. Coffee Time Romance calls it “a taut, compelling mystery with a complex, well-drawn main character.” He’s a member of The Crime Writers Association, the Short Fiction Writers Guild and the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator and contributor editor their official e-zineThe Big Thrill. You can find him on his websiteFacebookAmazon and Twitter @JHBogran.


An Interview with Thriller Writer Keith Rommel on The Cursed Man Movie and Latest Novel in Thanatology Series

Set to be released this fall, The Cursed Man novel is being filmed for the big screen. This thriller features Alister’s relationship with Death and the impending doom that has settled in around him, and is sure to leave you with feelings of discomfort and shock. Whether you are a fan of Keith Rommel’s work or new to the series, his new film and most recent release are sure to spark your interest. The Cursed Man is the first installment of the Thanatology Series and is followed by The Lurking Man and The Sinful Man, which is set to come out this May. We got the chance to pick Keith’s brain about the series’ success in an interview and are excited for this year’s releases! Check out the interview and photos below for more about the series.




Sunbury Press: What type of reaction are you hoping for when readers pick up your books? What mood or emotion are you trying to produce regarding plot, setting, and characters?

Keith Rommel: I am looking for the wow factor. Wow in the sense that the story I am telling is refreshingly unique, the characters are lifelike and the plot has a certain challenge to it. I am looking to pull all sorts of emotions out of my readers that include anger, fear, contempt, surprise, sadness, disgust, and joy.

SP: Tell us how excited you are for The Cursed Man movie to come out. Did you think in the beginning that it would be so successful?

Keith: I had a very strong connection with all of the characters in The Cursed Man. The book took me five years to write. Given that amount of time and effort going into the story, I got to know each character intimately. Some characters I really cared for and others I disliked. But as I reflect back to the struggles and triumphs I had in putting the story together, never in my wildest dream did I think I would have the honor of getting to see these characters come to life on the big screen. It is in a sense surreal.

SP: How closely is the movie going to follow the novel? Are readers in for some surprises?

Keith: The movie is going to follow the novel, in most instances, very closely. We did spruce up the ending a bit to add an on the edge of your seat dramatic chase, which will have the same end result as the novel, but done in a different fashion. To say anything more would be spoiling it, so you’ll have to wait until the movie to see what the surprise is going to be.

Cursed Man pub

SP: What were your initial expectations for The Cursed Man novel? Did you always have a series in mind, or did that develop later? And what are your expectations and hopes for The Sinful Man?

Keith: The idea of creating a series off of The Cursed Man came to mind soon before the initial release of the novel. From that idea, I came up with calling it the Thanatology Series. Different, inquisitive, and holding a deep meaning that most people haven’t heard of, I felt it the perfect name. Thanatology is the study of death and dying and the practices associated with it.

I have been careful to try and keep each book an independent read from one another, where readers could get a full experience from each book without having any knowledge of the prior. But when I began writing The Sinful Man, it began to take a shape I hadn’t planned and certainly didn’t expect. I began pulling characters in from both The Cursed Man (book one) and The Lurking Man (book two), which I believe created an expansive web between the books that begins to showcase how they’re all really interconnected and have an endless potential for multiple books.

I would hope The Sinful Man is as well received as its predecessors and continues to show how unique these books are and gets readers talking and wanting more.


SP: What are your goals for the movie coming out this fall? Are you nervous about its success or are you feeling confident?

Keith: My personal goals are to make sure that the story that is being told on film is similar to the one that is in the book. That is important to me, and having had my hands in co-writing the screenplay with producer James L. Perry, I think we did a very good job at that.

Hope, prayers, and a strong belief in the story and that hard work pays off leads me to believe we have all the elements needed to make this a success. The story is unlike any told before, and I believe that all the people involved in the development of the movie have a strong vision of what the movie should look like and are executing that at a very high level. I have seen some pretty amazing scenes and can’t wait to see how the public reacts to it.

SP: Can you tell us anything else about the film? Where it’s being shot perhaps. How do you feel about the acting and its progress thus far? Is it proving to be all you hoped for? How will readers react do you think, those that have read the book and those that have not? Do you think people that have not read the book will be compelled to pick up the books to finish the series?

SM_FC no mask

Keith: The film is being shot in Los Angeles, California. The progress of the filming is coming along nicely, but most people that are like me want instant gratification. I know that’s not going to happen, so it has taught me a great lesson in patience. So each little snippet I get is an inside look and it is like getting a gift delivered to my email inbox every so often.

Readers that have read The Cursed Man will be satisfied with the film as I am reassuring them all of the complexities of the story is still there, just beefed up in some instances to add Hollywood flair! For those that have not read the book, I suggest they do as they’ll have a greater insight to the film. But if they’re resistant and choose to see the film first, I know they’ll want to immerse themselves inside the world with a man cursed with death. And their time there will be unlike any other read they had before.

SP: The Cursed Man follows Alister’s struggle with Death. The Lurking Man switches gears, and we meet Cailean and learn of her struggle with Death as well. Will The Sinful Man introduce a new main character as well? Also, why did you choose to introduce a new character for each installment? What do you feel that brings to the series? Is it to keep it new and exciting, or perhaps we can look at it from Death’s perspective? Is Death who the series is really about?

Keith: Yes, The Sinful Man will introduce a new main character as well as tap into some previously explored characters. Death is who the series is about, but it is also about the characters the readers will meet throughout each book. The unique part is that they will find out that death comes in many forms and has many different motivations. Death may come as a man, a woman, or even a child…Readers will fear death in one book and may have sympathy for their plight in another.

SP: The Sinful Man is set to come out this May. What sorts of chilling twists and turns should readers look forward to? Is there anything you can tell us without giving too much away?

Keith: The Sinful Man was actually inspired by two true crime events in the area in which I live. One was a victim named Melanie Jean Henningsen, and the other was from the tragic events surrounding Tyler Hadley. Though the victims and circumstances surrounding these events have been changed and buried deep within the curving, unpredictable plot, they are there nevertheless. The idea was inspired by the biblical passage in Psalm 23:4, which states, “Yea, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”

What if you were in that valley and had something to fear?

SP: Will there be more installments in the series for readers to keep an eye out for? And do you think there will be films coming out for the rest of the series in the future?

Keith: There will definitely be more books coming out in the series. Many more. I am hoping to see The Lurking Man as a movie and will keep everyone updated as that possibility is being explored.

SP: Where did your inspiration come from to start this eerie and enthralling series? And what continues to inspire and motivate you? It certainly is not easy to have readers on the edge of their seats, reading quickly, and flipping pages in order to see what happens next. What can you attribute your success to?

Keith: Every book in the Thanatology Series has been based off of a real life event, twisted in such a way to fit a fiction story. As with The Cursed Man, that novel is based off of a childhood friend of my uncle’s. With The Lurking Man, that novel is based off of my mother and aunt’s life and I portray them as a little boy, twisting things so it’s not easy to understand where I came up with the idea. And above I explained where my inspiration came from in writing The Sinful Man.

I write most every day and read when I am not writing to learn from others. It is a continuous process of learning and growing as a writer and taking praise as well as criticism. That is the only sound advice that I can give other writers. Keep writing.

To me, success is measured differently by each individual. What some may consider to be success, others may see it as another opportunity to continue to learn and grow.

SP: Is there anything else you would like your readers, and future viewers, to know about the novels and film?

Keith: I would like them to know that I am working as hard as I can to bring them something unique to the genre. I hope it blows them away and keeps them coming back for more. I am proud of the novels I have written and am humbled that I have had the experience of working with a production company. I know the odds are rare and I don’t take the opportunity lightly. I greatly appreciate the support and words of encouragement, and if you haven’t read any of my work, I hope you’ll allow me the chance to challenge your imagination…

February is Women in Horror Month

IMG_6913-WMFebruary is Women in Horror Month. For me, this means I have a great opportunity to learn about other authors as well as promote myself. Sunbury Press has published a few of these women, such as: The Weeping Woman, a ghostly mystery centered on Mexican legend, by Patricia Santos Marcantonio; The Ghosts of Laurelford, a paranormal suspense, by Margaret Meacham; and Seeking Samiel, a supernatural quest where the anti-Christ seeks the devil—Samiel, her lover by, Catherine Jordan.

Then, there are the women characters of horror. Studying them has been a great lesson and who doesn’t love the bad-ass chicks, such as: Alma/Eva in Ghost Story, Annie in Misery, Miriam in The Hunger, Lucy in Dracula, and Rynn in The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane. Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, Rebecca and Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, and last but not least, The Bible’s Jezebel.

Those women are not delicate, sensitive or passive. They are good and bad, sweet and salty, and they will dish out whatever they are backhanded. They have dark feelings and fears that every woman can identify with in some capacity. Like reaching out and taking something, no matter what the violent cost, just because they want it.

Which brings me to my novel titled, Seeking Samiel, where the female antagonist, Eva, is the self proclaimed anti-Christ, the Lamia, seeking out her long lost lover, Samiel. She is based on the Lamia folklore and is half serpent, half female, demon and human. All men, with the exception of one, play a role in her life as surrogate chumps and wind up on her dinner table when she is finished them. Burp.

Women are not supposed to like violence or gore, or be overly aggressive. We are usually the weaker sex, sensitive—the victim. But, what am I to take away from a book that portrays my gender as a victim of circumstances, silly and weak and thereby deserving of the predictable fate on the pages? Eva is no victim. She is a horrible woman. I loved writing about her and fleshing out her nature. As a horror writer, I don’t know how successful I am at scaring, but my favorite female authors and female characters have influenced my writing, for the better, I hope.