Author David Bernstein graciously took time to answer questions about the inspiration behind his newest collection of horror tales, A Mixed Bag of Blood. In this interview, Bernstein also describes the challenges of compiling a collection of horrific tales, featuring a wide range of monstrous nightmares, what elements make for good horror and genre blending.
This gruesomely chilling collection culls stories from a wide variety of terrifying horror landscapes. From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.
‘A Mixed Bag of Blood’ is available NOW from Sinister Grin Press, Amazon, and major online booksellers.
David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror.
Francis Xavier: What is the first line from A Mixed Bag of Blood?
David Bernstein: The courtroom was silent, the air thick with anticipation, as the foreman stood.
FX: What inspired A Mixed Bag of Blood?
DB: I enjoy writing a variety of dark fiction. From scary, ghostly tales to gross or blood splatter gore, to even bizarro. If you pick up a book of mine, more than likely it’ll be a bit different than the previous one you’ve read. “A Mixed Bag of Blood” is truly a mixed bag of stories that should appeal to a wide audience. Just don’t eat before you read “Potty Mouth” or “STD.”
FX: Three words to describe your writing?
DB: To the point.
FX: Which part of A Mixed Bag of Blood challenged you the most?
DB: Deciding which stories to include challenged me. I’ve published over fifty short stories and this collection’s word count was going to have to be around 25,000 words. I decided to go with a wide variety of tales, hoping to make everyone happy and gross out a few people too.
FX: Which character from A Mixed Bag of Blood do you most identify with?
DB: Geez . . . None of them, I hope. The people in these stories are pretty messed up. I take that back. They are not all crazy. I guess Kenji from Samurai Zombie Killer, because he has honor and wants to do the right thing. But most of the characters are plain old monstrous and wicked.
FX: What did you learn about yourself as a writer while working on A Mixed Bag of Blood?
DB: I like to write a variety of sub genres and seeing them all together is pretty cool. It’s like a snapshot of my writing as a whole. For me, writing different kinds of horror means having choices and reaching different readers. Someone who isn’t into bizarre stuff might pick up one of my bizarro books because they liked my more “normal” stuff and vice versa. I’m not sure I learned anything new, but I did reaffirm that dark fiction has a hell of a wide range and when you put a number of stories in a collection it gives the reader a much more diverse experience.
FX: What elements make for good horror fiction?
DB: I think tension and scares are important, along with atmosphere and setting. Then there’s mystery. I want to be unsettled to a degree and have something I can look forward to figuring out or something being revealed. The simplest form is “who is the killer?” If I’m expecting to read a slasher, I want tension and gore, wicked kills. If I’m reading a ghost story, I want scares, mystery, and atmosphere. Maybe a creepy old house, graveyard, abandoned asylum or swamp-laden forest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a writer mixes up a story well and surprises me—the stories that combine all these elements. Rules are broken and it’s a glorious thing! Of course sometimes it works, others times the tale can seem like it’s all over the place. It really depends on the writer, and if he or she can make all the different facets work well together.
FX: What are your thoughts on genre blending in works of fiction?
DB: I love it, and I do it myself, a lot. I think it allows for more imaginative works and brings more possibilities to the story. The “same old” is good. I like the same old. But experimenting and pushing boundaries is wonderful. If you write a book that doesn’t fit into a specific genre then the problem is where does it go on the “book shelf”? Well, with digital publishing a book is listed under numerous categories if need be, so there’s less of that nonsense to worry about. I mean, there’s sci-fi horror, western horror, atmospheric horror, gore horror, noir horror, romance horror, literary horror, bizarro horror and comedy horror to name a few.
FX: Where can we find you and your work online?
DB: Info on my work is available amy Website, Amazon author page, Twitter and Facebook