New Reviews

It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life, Edited by Eugene Johnson and Joe Mynhardt

Reviewed by Paula Limbaugh

What, you ask? Another writing book? Yes, it is, but it is also much more than that. This book notches up the advice/tips to another level. You won’t find do this and be a writer or do that and your book will be published. Nope, you won’t find that here. Instead, the key factor is ways of finding yourself. Ways that you can take in the methods of others and apply it to a formula that will work for you. Key is knowing that no one can tell you how to write your story, but they can tell you how certain ways of presenting your story can get your ideas on paper and hopefully in readers hands. Consistency seems to be the commonality to most of the writers herein.

The authors here have really taken the time to explain how by trial and error they have been able to grow from that first published piece to where they are today. You’ll read of rejections, disappointments, and yes, even thoughts of giving up this whole crazy business and that’s the beauty of reading this, these things happen to everybody, not just you and it’s to be expected. Hopefully, by their experiences, you can bypass a few of the pitfalls that can hold one back.

Even if you aren’t a writer as a reader, I think you will find many essays of interest here. You know how you read enough of one author’s works you begin to see growth in their writing. Their voice is stronger, plots are tighter, etc., and with reading these essays you can see how they found that turning point which makes them the even better storyteller that you love to read.

The book is broken down into sections regarding everything from plot to character to world-building, to editing and submission. Besides the essays, there are roundtable interviews and one on one interviews.

Paul Wilson has a line in his essay that for me, says it all- “Memorable characters make memorable authors.” It’s true if the main character of a story doesn’t elicit some type of emotion from me, chances are I may or may not finish the story. Give me a character good or bad that I want to read about until the end and I am going to want to read more from you!

See why Stephen Graham Jones says “Plot is more a function of character—characters—than character is a function of plot, I’d say. Or, that’s how it works in my head. Twenty years ago, though, I was plot, plot, plot…that was all that mattered. Until experience taught me otherwise.”

Jonathan Maberry speaks of the What if? game and how by asking that simple question a simple thought can expand into a story.

You’ll see Todd Keisling also has some things to say about the What if? game- “What if? Why? Why Not? These are the questions on which we must meditate if we are to formulate a solid premise.”

So, what’re my thoughts on this book, In a nutshell… There really is a method to one’s madness! Edited by Eugene Johnson and Joe Mynhardt, It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life (Book 2 of The Dream Weaver series) is a well thought out collection by some of the most read and respected authors in the Horror market today. Luke Spooner’s cover art is brilliant as usual, and you will find artwork by Clive Barker inside. Check out the TOC below! Buy this book for yourself, buy it for a friend, just Buy this book, it’s a keeper!

You can pick up your copy HERE!


Table of Contents

  • Introduction by Richard Chizmar
  • Confessions of a Professional Day Dreamer by Jonathan Maberry
  • What is Writing and Why Write Horror by John Skipp
  • Tribal Layers by Gene O’Neill
  • Bake That Cake: One Writer’s Method by Joe R. Lansdale and Kasey Lansdale
  • Ah-Ha: Beginning to End with Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Bailey (Discussing the Spark of Creativity)
  • They Grow in the Shadows: Exploring the Roots of a Horror Story by Todd Keisling
  • Sell Your Script, Keep Your Soul and Beware of Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing by Paul Moore
  • The Cult of Constraint (or To Outline or Not) by Yvonne Navarro
  • Zombies, Ghosts and Vampires─Oh My! by Kelli Owen
  • The Many Faces of Horror: Craft Techniques by Richard Thomas
  • Giving Meaning to the Macabre by Rachel Autumn Deering
  • The Horror Writer’s Ultimate Toolbox by Tim Waggoner
  • Sarah Pinborough Interview by Marie O’Regan
  • Conveying Character by F. Paul Wilson
  • Sympathetic Characters Taste Better: Creating Empathy in Horror Fiction by Brian Kirk
  • Virtue & Villainy: The Importance of Character by Kealan Patrick Burke
  • How to write Descriptions in a story by Mercedes Yardley
  • “Don’t Look Now, There’s a Head in That Box!” She Ejaculated Loudly (or Creating Effective Dialogue in Horror Fiction) by Elizabeth Massie
  • Point of View by Lisa Mannetti
  • What Came First the Monster or the Plot? In Conversation with Stephen Graham Jones by Vince A. Liaguno
  • Building Suspense by David Wellington
  • Conveying Horror by Ramsey Campbell
  • Unveiling Theme Through Plot: An Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” by Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • Interview with Clive Barker by Tim Chizmar
  • World Building (Building a terrifying world) by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Speak Up: The Writer’s Voice by Robert Ford
  • Writing for a Better World by Christopher Golden
  • Shaping the Ideas: Getting Things from Your Head to the Paper or on Screen. Interview with Steve Niles, Mick Garris, Heather Graham, Mark Savage, and Maria Alexander by Del Howison
  • On Research by Bev Vincent
  • Editing Through Fear: Cutting and Stitching Stories by Jessica Marie Baumgartner
  • Leaping into the Abyss by Greg Chapman
  • Edit Your Anthology in Your Basement for Fun and Profit! . . . or Not by Tom Monteleone
  • When It’s Their World: Writing for the Themed Anthology by Lisa Morton
  • Roundtable Interview by John Palisano
  • The Tale of the Perfect Submissions by Jess Landry
  • Turning the Next Page: Getting Started with the Business of Writing by James Chambers


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