My Dark Passenger

Kevin Wolf is on a road trip back to his hometown. Wolf decides to drive through the night when he spots a teenage girl hitchhiking on the side of a lonely highway. With the intent of driving her to safety, Wolf offers her a ride. The mysterious girl at first doesn’t speak a word. She refuses to tell Wolf her name, where she’s from, or where she is going.Strange things begin to occur in her company. The girl evades his attempts to hand her over to the police, and her presence seems to cause everyone except Wolf discomfort. Adults avoid her, children cry at the sight of her, and crows follow the girl wherever she goes. Wolf also starts having an odd recurring nightmare about a faceless shadow driving his truck.When they reach his hometown, Wolf unknowingly brings both himself and the girl into a monster’s lair. Although, the mysterious and silent girl may know more about monsters than she lets on.With an eerie atmosphere revolving around a town-wide Halloween festival, My Dark Passenger explores an unseen world that exists right alongside the one we believe we know so well.

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Q&A with author McKenzie Rae

In your own words, how would you describe your book?

I would say that My Dark Passenger is like Stranger Things meets urban legends. The main character, Kevin Wolf, finds out that there are supernatural monsters in the world that he had no idea existed, and because you’re reading the story through his eyes, you’re not entirely sure what’s real and what isn’t.

Kevin is on a long road trip back to his hometown. What is he thinking about moments before he picks up the mysterious hitchhiker?

This trip back to his hometown is very significant for Wolf. It’s a trip that he used to make with his daughter who is no longer in his life (which you find out more about as the book goes on). So, he’s already in this dark and emotional place by the time he comes across this hitchhiker. The hitchhiker is a teenage girl, the same age that his own daughter would be, so when Wolf sees her on the highway by herself at night, he goes into the mindset of concerned parent.

What can you tell us about the dark and mysterious passenger?

I can’t say too much about her without giving out spoilers! However, I will say this: I purposefully left the mysterious girl’s motives to be somewhat ambiguous. So, whether she is a good guy, a bad guy, or neither is open to interpretation.

Your novel involves a town-wide Halloween festival. What is one of your favorite Halloween moments as a child or adult?

Well, first of all, I grew up near a town called Anoka, which has claimed the title of Halloween Capital of the World. As far as I can tell, the only thing the city did to earn that title was host one of the first Halloween parades back in 1920 (thank you, Google). So, when I was a kid, my mom used to run in the Anoka Halloween Gray Ghost 5k Run & 1 Mile Walk. My dad, my sister, and I used to go and watch the race and the parade so that we could cheer her on. Another cool thing that the cities in my area used to do was have some businesses participate in trick-or-treating a week or two before Halloween. A bunch of kids would dress up in costumes and go around certain shopping centers where employees handed out candy.

As an adult, my best friend and I have a tradition of watching scary movies on Halloween night while we wait for kids to ring the doorbell. I also may have dressed up as a clown a few years ago just to scare her, and she still hasn’t forgiven me. (Worth it, though!)

If you could place yourself in your book, which character would you be? What would you be doing?

Hm… Realistically, I would probably be the character named Sharron, who stays in this small town and ends up volunteering for events specifically geared toward kids. If I was going to be adventurous though, I might make myself the mysterious hitchhiker. I think it would be fun exploring a supernatural world that’s usually invisible to everyone else.

What surprised you most about your book as you were writing it?

This is one of the few books that I’ve written that didn’t make me feel uncertain. Usually when I write a book, I go back and forth between thinking that my writing is great and thinking that it’s terrible. But as I was writing My Dark Passenger, and after I finished it, I could honestly say that I believed it was a good story without feeling any kind of doubt or self-consciousness.

What are writing must haves for you? Coffee, background music? 

A story playlist is a must-have for me! Music plays such a big role in my writing. It really helps me set whatever mood I’m trying to create in the book, and it can help me get into the mindset of different characters. I don’t necessarily listen to these playlists while I’m writing, but I’ll listen to them when I’m in the car or out on a walk, which is when I do a lot of my mental planning.

What are you reading now? 

I’m only reading three books at a time right now! (It’s been as high as five in the past—shh!) I’m reading Anastasia: The Lost Princess by James Blair Lovell, Darkansas by Jarret Middleton, and The Survivors by Jipsi Lee.

And because I’m a movie person, I have to ask, name a movie you could watch over and over and over again and still find merit in?

I feel like there are SO many movies that I could put down for this question (I’m a movie person too—high five!). Well, my favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I have been watching it ever since I was a little kid, and it’s still one of the funniest movies I’ve seen. A funny movie that I believe needs to be watched more than once in order to appreciate it is Fantastic Mr. Fox. The humor and the timing in that movie is so strange that you miss so many little details the first and even second time you watch it.

I tend to watch movies most often with my sister, and two more serious movies that we watch relatively frequently is Coraline and The Dark Knight. I think Coraline especially is very psychologically intriguing. My sister and I have had a few late-night discussions about how the uncanny is used to create tension and fear in that movie, as well as the psychological implications of having a mother figure be the villain of the story.

About the author

McKenzie Rae is the author of several fantasy and YA novels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing from the University of Minnesota; however, she’s been writing fiction and telling stories since she was a kid. My Dark Passenger is her first book published by Crazy Ink Publishing, with many more projects waiting in the wings. Rae lives in a Twin Cities suburb in Minnesota surrounded by family, friends, and her cat.
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Karaoke Night

Missing in rural Georgia for three days, travel blogger Brian Keane is found with no memory of his lost time. What he does have, though, is a digital recorder containing interviews with eleven people whom he does not remember talking to.Each person tells the story behind their reason for singing their chosen song at Karaoke Night, with each tale a little more twisted than the one before. What becomes clear through these interviews is that the people of Redfield, Georgia are connected in ways they could never have imagined. Brian Keane may have zero recollection of those lost three days, but through his transcripts, he stumbles upon the true story of one creepy little Georgia town and the Karaoke Night where the songs always remain the same.

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Q & A with the author John Watson

In your own words, how would you describe your book?

Karaoke Night is the story of a travel blogger who goes missing for 3 days. When he is found, he has no memory of his lost time, but what he does have is a digital recorder featuring a series of interviews held at a small-town karaoke bar. Each story is told in the form of a transcript from said interviews.

What inspired you to come up with the idea for a karaoke-themed book?

I was out drinking with a couple of buddies, one of whom is a musician, and we got talking about how boring it must get to play the same songs every night. That led to talking about people singing the same karaoke songs over and over. I started thinking about the reasons why they might choose a specific song and found that there might be some cool little stories there.

What is your go-to Karaoke song?

I try to avoid singing at all costs given that I am terrible. If I was forced to get up there, I’d probably choose “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane. That one always sounds acceptable when I sing it out loud in the shower.

I can remember an epic Karaoke fail on my part. Have you experienced that? Come on, spill it! 😉

It’s always an epic fail when I get up to sing. Busted pianos are more in tune than I am.

Your main character, Brian, is a travel blogger. What’s your favorite travel destination?

That’s an easy one. I could go to Las Vegas every single weekend and never grow tired of the experience. I loved San Francisco and would like to get back to my native Scotland at some point.

Your book is listed as horror. What are some horror inspirations for you? Books? Films? Authors?

I grew up watching all the old black and white horror movies with my Mum. They had Friday night double features when I was a wee boy. I would beg to stay up to watch, but my mum would send me to bed only to come and wake me when they started. After she passed, I got several large horror tattoo pieces that includes a “thanks for the late nights, mum” inscription underneath. As far as books go, it would be Clive Barker that serves as my main inspiration. He has a way of making the grotesque sound poetic and beautiful.

If you could place yourself in your book, which character would you be? What would you be doing?

I’d probably be the main character. He is a naturally inquisitive writer, which is probably the best way to describe myself.

What are writing must haves for you? Coffee, background music, bourbon? 

I need coffee to get the ball rolling. I love having music playing in the background, although it’s usually always instrumental. I am on a bit of a dark ambient, witch house kick at the moment. I love a beer, but don’t drink until I am done writing for the day.

What are you reading now? 

I usually have 2 or 3 books on the go at any given time. I just finished “Eternal Darkness” by Tom Deady and am about to jump into one called “A Heart in the Right Place” by Heidy Goody and Iain Grant. That one is set in Scotland, so I’m very much looking forward to it. I as also working my way through novels written by the Crazy Ink Exclusive Authors.

And because I’m a movie person, I have to ask, name a movie you could watch over and over and over again and still find merit in?

Oh, I have a bunch that fit into this category, including The Shining, The Exorcist, Blade Runner, and Pulp Fiction. I can stumble onto these titles on TV and get caught up in them, even when they are halfway done.

*About the author*

Robots, clowns, and living statues are among the extensive list of things that terrify author John Watson. He is of the belief that writing about these horrors will make him immune to their evils, but the cure is still a work in progress. Watson spends most of his time hiding out in the closet space beneath the stairs, where he is currently working on a series of scary short stories. He has published Karaoke Night and a short story in Crazy Ink Publishing’s anthology Infamy, but has others in the works for 2019 and 2020 with Crazy Ink Publishing.

He resides in Atlanta with his chef wife Penny and a pair of equally skittish fur babies.

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Introduction: Who’s Eve Corso?

Hi all. Eve Corso here. I’m gonna do a quick little bio. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I moved to the East Coast for a bit in the middle, but I longed for my sunny California days, the beaches, and my family, so I came back and am home again for good. I grew up devouring any books I could get my hands on. If it was a book, then I was reading it, the genre didn’t matter. As a teen, I read everything from S.E. Hinton, to Danielle Steel. When I was twenty, I found work in a small bookstore and I can’t explain to you the joy and love I felt in the people and books that surrounded me. You know the movie High Fidelity? Yeah, we were like that, but for books. And boy, did my love grow. I continued to read every genre, but honestly, literary and classic are now my faves. James Bond, The Count of Monte Cristo, Dracula, On the Road, Lord of the Rings, etc. But I love all genres, really. I can nerd out over YA, Fantasy, Teen Fiction, Vampires, Sci-fi and comics. I have a Superman tattoo and a Great Gatsby tattoo, with another tattoo of an actual star cluster, so yeah, nerd alert right here.

So, years ago, while still on the East Coast I wrote a short story, and it took a few more years to show that story to people and a few more years to have the confidence and determination to turn that short story into a full length book. That book is A Matter of Timing. I sat on it for some time, queried a bit, but it was shoved aside for my new idea, Esteban & Marialena. After a year of quering, I got lucky and found indie publisher Crazy Ink!

As much as books rule my world, I wouldn’t be who I am without film. Guys, I love love love movies. And I consider myself incredibly lucky to have snagged a composer in my love life, and we share our love of music and films together. My heart is full and happy. I just had to throw that in there. Movies, music and books (and coffee) are my passions.

Now, for my favorite part. I just signed a two year contract with Crazy Ink and have become one of their exclusive authors, and I’d like to take this time to introduce everyone to who we are and what we do. After that, I’ll open up the posts to outside authors and we’ll go from there. Thanks for being here and for checking us out.

I am on twitter. @evecorsobooks
Instagram: evecorsowriter
Facebook: Eve Corso

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Eve Corso
Romance with a modern twist