Monthly Archives Apr 2017

New novel release – THE THIRD TWIN by Darren Speegle

Some things should never be bred…

Barry Ocason, extreme sportsman and outdoor travel writer, receives a magazine in his mailbox and opens to an ad for an adventure in the Bavarian Alps. Initially dismissing the invitation, which seems to have been meant specifically for him, he soon finds himself involved in a larger plot and seeking answers to why an individual known only as the elephant man is terrorizing his family.

Barry and his daughter Kristen, who survived a twin sister taken from the family at a young age, travel from Juneau, Alaska to the sinister Spider Festival in Rio Tago, Brazil, before he ultimately answers the call to Bavaria, where the puzzle begins to come together.

Amid tribulation, death, madness, and institutionalization, a document emerges describing a scientist’s bloody bid to breed a theoretical “third twin,” which is believed to have the potential, through its connection with its siblings, to bridge the gulf between life and afterlife. The godlike creature that soon emerges turns out to be Barry’s own offspring, and she has dark plans for the world of her conception that neither her father nor any other mortal can stop.

Read it today:
And add it on Goodreads

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 28, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Darren Speegle

Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Darren Speegle: I grew up in Alabama, which was different than anything I’ve experienced since. I’m sure it was just another version of every child’s experience, and that every adult probably thinks of his childhood as different. But there was a lot of racism, tensions among area schools that manifested when they met at hangouts or weekend football games. I had a very strict, religious home life, which caused me to rebel fairly hard in my teens, doing drugs, running away, the whole bit. In my later teens, though, I had this group of friends who were pretty cool. They didn’t necessarily excel at school, though some did, but they were smart, had interests similar to my own—books, philosophy, serious music, that kind of thing. None of us knew what we were talking about, mind, but we had the desire to expand. We occasionally did acid in a self-exploratory way, attempting to broaden ourselves. That certainly opened some doors for me. Meanwhile, at home, I’d been a reader since an early age. Even when I began to resist what I thought of then as authoritarian rule in the home, my father was always recommending books and I was always eating them up. Some combination of all this, I think, informed my later writing.     

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

DS: There wasn’t any specific moment. I wanted to be a writer from an early age. I never really had any sort of career arc, so decisions had more to do with money. When I was married it was a question of, “Can we afford to let you write full time now?” Sometimes we were able to swing it, sometimes not. It wasn’t until after I was divorced and began life as a defense contractor, seven or eight years ago, that I found myself able (between tours) to write full time without the constant worry of whether or not what I was doing was feasible. 

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

DS: I was exuberant, proud, relieved, a dozen mixed emotions, and indeed it did motivate me further. The cold reality of how difficult it was, even after publication, set in soon enough though. But I don’t generally have a problem with motivation. My reasons change, what I’m trying to do changes, but motivation is usually there. I have things I want to say and as long as I’m putting the words down, there’s the possibility of somebody hearing it. 

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

DS: That’s an easy one. They dig it. My parents, with whom I have a great relationship now, are proud. It’s something to them because I was going nowhere earlier in my life. To my father especially. He loves literature. Other family and friends are with me. It’s strangers you get the weird vibes from. Some are impressed, many more are suspicious. 

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

DS: It has to be Tolkien early on. As I said in another interview recently, when you’re young and in that dream world of his, the writerly juices, if you have them, are going to start flowing. But that was just where it started. My dad, when introducing me to classics or favourites, saw how Tolkien, Poe, Verne, Wells, even Hawthorne, got me, and so started to steer me in more fantastical or futuristic directions. Overall, I was more into, and had more exposure to, science fiction. He put me on Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Herbert. I branched out, exploring my own interests, eventually stumbling on Clive Barker, whom I found extraordinary. He turned me to darker stuff. I continue to write science fiction in addition to horror/fantastical, but it’s as dark as the rest.  

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

DS: I would have to go with “Gapping” from PS Publishing’s Postscripts anthology series. It started as a little flame, was published in Australia—Antipodean maybe?—as a vignette. Later, after more than a decade, it spread its petals in my mind into a novelette. It’s about a group of people trapped after a biochemical attack by terrorists in a futuristic Holland Underground, where as a distraction they play a life-and-death game with superfast trains that continue to run though the world above is lost.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

DS: I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me. But at the same time I’m careful not to set strict targets. You’re waiting to fail doing that.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

DS: War. I’ve been in it. Three tours as a defense contractor in Iraq, two in Afghanistan. It’s hard. It took me a long time to get comfortable writing about it. But if you’re a writer, you write about such things. I’m about truth. In war, ugly as it may be, there is truth. About humans and the human condition.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

DS: Hiking and biking. I lived in Germany for a while and spent almost every weekend doing one or the other. Multiple day tours along the Rhine or Mosel River, day trips through forest. Did a lot of outdoorsy stuff when I lived in Alaska, too. Camping and such. Traveling has always been a thing too. I explored a lot of western Europe while in Germany. When I was a little younger I liked the party scene—Ibiza, Amsterdam. Nowadays, living in Thailand, it’s the beach. Still like my bicycle and doing the various routes. But it’s a beach-and-mountains setting, all too relaxing.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

DS: Wow, that takes me back to a nonfiction book that never materialized. A torture/rape/murder case involving the mother (and her cousin) of someone I knew in my twenties. Somewhere in there I found I couldn’t reconcile facts and abandoned the project. But I went to the crime sites with a county sheriff, interviewed multiple people. That’s as far as I’ve ever gone into that kind of thing. Usually, because of the various settings I use in my work, I’m talking to someone about language, customs, peppering for a story. Often this is with people I already know.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author?

DS: Being about the truth. In perspective and in practice. Fiction is lies. Lies can’t work without the support of truth. Truth is negotiable if not the raw, cold, hard variety. It has to be your intent to find something when looking through the writerly scope, else what are you doing? Entertainment does not have to be at odds with art.  

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

DS: See above. I’m not sure how other people come to terms with the world, but as a writer, it’s direct access and, through the process, an eventual reconciliation.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

DS: There was one early on, after a publication in Writer Online. The story was allegorical to a degree, but I didn’t intend for it to be specific. It was set in Florence during the Black Death, told from the point of view of an angel accepting souls. The scrabbling of the rats in the rooms the angel visited was described in detail. This reader took me to mean that the rats represented the struggling and underprivileged and wrote a long note saying how I had affected him. It struck me because I think that subconsciously I must have been doing what he thought I was doing, metaphorically, in the story. It moved me in two ways: that I’d done that and that it had meant something to him.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

DS: To have produced art.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

DS: The same. Art being truth, and vice versa.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 26, 2017   Blog   Comments Off on The Deep End interview…with Darren Speegle Read More

R.I.P. Andrew Bonime – C.H.U.D. producer

A few months ago Crystal Lake Publishing received permission from Mr. Bonime (with the help of his agent) to publish a C.H.U.D. tribute anthology. Mr. Bonime was extremely excited about the project, and even granted us an interview (which will be published in said anthology later this year). Unfortunately Mr. Bonime passed away recently. The anthology (edited by Eric S. Brown) will however continue in his honor, and will stand not only as a tribute to C.H.U.D, but also to Mr. Bonime himself.

A few friends of Mr. Bonime put the following together:


“Renaissance Man” is a term used to describe individuals with multiple talents, skills, and abilities, who accomplish great things using all of them. Andrew Bonime was certainly one of these people. Born in the Bronx, New York on March 29, 1948, Andy moved with his family to suburban Long Island when he was four years old. Growing up in the town of Wantagh, he began showing musical talent at an early age, and by his freshman year in high school, was leading a successful rock group and consummating the first of his many deals in show business.

Called “The Abstracts,” this classic rock band was cutting demos and playing steady gigs within two months of being formed. They were also playing original songs composed by Bonime and a classmate who wrote lyrics. While other bands were playing sock hops in the gym, the Abstracts were performing two-hour concerts to packed audiences in auditoriums. Bonime also masterminded a recording session at Columbia records in Manhattan, and a record deal that won ‘The Abs’ their first single. He was just 17 years old at the time.

Graduating high school in 1966, Bonime enrolled at Boston University and entered the exciting world of cinema, also making his first venture to the west coast to attend film courses at USC. This led to his connections in the movie industry, and in 1973 he became involved in project development for the movie The Harrad Experiment. Next came Bonime’s role as Co-Producer for the movie The Bell Jar in 1979, and then in 1984, the movie he produced that has become synonymous with his name – C.H.U.D., initially a ‘Grade B’ sci-fi thriller that has today become a true cult classic with a worldwide following.

Bonime moved on from his film career to fully embrace the new digital age, co-authoring the book Writing for New Media, and teaching a constantly sold-out digital media course for The New School, a division of The College of the Performing Arts. It was there that Bonime met Diana Ross, and he was once again back in the studio as Vice President of Motion Pictures and TV for the superstar.

After the tragedy of 9/11, Bonime relocated to Los Angeles to run his film development company, Cloudshine, LLC, and in 2006, produced a Grammy-nominated independent album with female vocalist Laura Pursell. During his later years, Bonime began battling serious medical issues and finally succumbed on March 26, 2017, just three days shy of his 69th Birthday. He leaves a legacy of achievement in music, film, and digital media spanning more than five decades.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 19, 2017   Blog   1 Comment Read More

Cover Reveal – THE THIRD TWIN by Darren Speegle

Coming April 28th, 2017:

Some things should never be bred…

Barry Ocason, extreme sportsman and outdoor travel writer, seeks answers to why an individual known only as the elephant man is terrorizing his family. Barry and his daughter Kristen, who survived a twin sister taken from the family at a young age, travel from Juneau, Alaska to the sinister Spider Festival in Rio Tabo, Brazil, where the puzzle begins to come together.

Amid tribulation, death, madness, and institutionalization, a document emerges describing a scientist’s bloody bid to breed a theoretical “third twin,” which is believed to have the potential, through its connection with its siblings, to bridge the gulf between life and afterlife. The godlike creature that soon emerges turns out to be Barry’s own offspring, and she has dark plans for the world of her conception that neither her father nor any other mortal can stop.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 14, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More



Where darkness dwells, embers light the way.

“Not a squall, not a blizzard ... It's a pulp horror AVALANCHE! That's Kenneth W. Cain's new collection, Embers.”—Mort Castle, Bram Stoker Award® winner

From the author of the short story collections These Old Tales and Fresh Cut Tales comes his latest effort, Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction. In his youth Cain developed a sense of wonderment owed in part to TV shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now Cain seeks the same dark overtones in his writing.

There’s a little something for every reader. These 25 short speculative stories represent the smoldering remains of a blaze, the fiery bits meant to ignite the mind with slow-burning imagery and smoky twists and turns. These are the very embers of Cain’s soul.

In this collection, Cain features stories of troubled men and women, both living and dead. Themes of loss and the afterlife take on many forms, as he explores the unknown. For instance, “The Chamber” focuses on a hardened veteran of World War II who has committed heinous crimes. He seeks only to find peace from his conscience, but sometimes that comes at a great loss. “Valerie’s Window” visits a small town amid a tragic end to humanity. Only things are not as they seem, and the more Valerie comes to know herself, the more her reality is revealed. “The Benefit of Being Weighty” has a humorous side, but the theme of this story revolves around fat shaming and the price one must pay for being so ignorant. Hopefully, these three short descriptions have increased your curiosity.

When the dark comes, light a match. Let the fire burn bright and hot. So that when it dies the embers warm you.

“Kenneth W. Cain’s imagination is on full display here. He will take you by the hand, lead you into the darkest places, and you’ll be thanking him every harrowing step of the way. A bright new talent in horror.”—Ben Eads, author of CRACKED SKY

“With prose that is sometimes poignant, sometimes unsettling, but always incredibly dark, Kenneth W. Cain takes readers on a macabre journey with the smouldering burn of ‘Embers.’ A master of weaving tales around seemingly simple premises and ordinary situations with every day folk, Cain never fails to turn a story on its head and deliver a long-lasting sting. You’ll need some genuine embers to warm you after this, for some of these tales will chill you to the core.”—Jim Goforth, author of PLEBS and THE SLEEP

“Collections such as this are the reason that, even after 45 years, I still enjoy reading horror!”—Douglas Draa, Editor of Weirdbook Magazine

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

eBook: $3,99

Where darkness dwells, embers light the way.

More info →
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Buy from Amazon


  Crystal Lake Publishing   Apr 03, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More