“Watch this,” Willie blurted, a wicked grin stretching across his face.
He bent down, searched for a moment, and picked up a nickel-sized gray stone. Squeezing his arm in between the small vertical bars, he cocked his elbow back, took aim and flung it toward Twitch. The stone flew, finding its mark and bouncing off of Twitch’s forehead causing him to cringe. Rolling fast off the straw pile, he continued the quick roll up to the three teenaged boys, coming to rest directly before them inside the enclosure. Startled and perhaps a bit spooked, Willie yanked his arm back through the bars, banging his elbow in the process and jumping backwards.
Darting back and forth, from one boy to the other, Twitch’s milky, murky, haze covered eye suddenly stopped and concentrated its glare on Willie. The other two looked at Willie and teasingly laughed. Willie didn’t.
“My turn,” Johnny replied, his eyes lighting up.
Quickly examining the ground he found a large, pink wad of gum and lobbed it through the cage bars at Twitch. It missed and bounced away.
“You throw like a girl,” Timmy teased.
Twitch shifted his glare.
“Screw you, Timmy,” Johnny replied, looking beyond Willie at him, “you try it!”
He didn’t see the attraction’s stare. Johnny huffed, turned and walked away. Willie followed, chuckling nervously and Timmy joined.
Creepy Carnivals Are a Good Thing: My Inspiration for TWITCH
By Thomas Scopel
With performers like the pint-sized midget Tom Thumb, P T Barnum may arguably be the most famous showman in history for having oddities in his world renowned traveling circus. But, he as well as various carnivals and circuses are hardly the only ones; for typically a person need only to seek out the nearest nomadic carnival in order to find similar attractions.
Regardless, these freak type shows are many times over a constant draw and I suspect they always will be. For most people harbor a deep seated interest in the peculiar and this was my curiosity that put me on the road to eventually writing the tale of Twitch.
Some years ago, I found myself at a rinky-dink carnival. This carnival wasn’t anything special by any means and was rather normal. Among other rides, a Ferris wheel, a vast assortment of games offering stuffed prizes to a potential winner, loud bellowing music, cotton candy and a variety of attractions with one advertised as a petrified slug-person. I paid the seventy five cents and thus, allowed to walk beyond the entrance curtain to see it.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement for what I viewed, looked to be a little more than a plastic doll wrapped in medical gauze encased in a clear Plexiglas covered coffin-like box. As I stood meticulously inspecting every inch of detail, many folks would come in, offer a quick glance and leave; usually mentioning something to the effect the attraction wasn’t worth the money they paid to see it. I couldn’t disagree with them. Although, others offered personal theories as to what the slug-like person may be too and it was all the comments as to what got me to thinking about Twitch.
Twitch, in my envisioning, is much like that slug-like creature except he is alive and has feelings. Listening to those mingling folks, I had the sense most of them, had this oddity been alive, would have belittled and injuriously laughed at the attraction’s misfortune. This angered me a bit and really set my mind into deep thought wondering numerous what if’s…
What if this attraction were alive?
Would people abuse?
Would they throw things at it?
Would they laugh and ridicule?
What if this attraction, even without arms and legs, could and would wickedly defend itself against those folks who caused personal harm both physically and mentally?
Well, the story of Twitch was born and created in my head right then and there and this tale lingered in the grey matter ever since. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t a writer nor did I have any intentions of becoming one. I may have been a voracious reader but, after all, I was also a typical teenager and not even faintly concerned with what I wanted to do with my life.
Regardless, the seeds were planted and the inspiration grew. When I finally did entertain writing notions, inevitability was natural and the tale of Twitch made it onto paper.
And so, the tale of Twitch is now a digital novella. It is a tale of deserving retribution and a warning for those who view and treat the unknown with ridicule and pain. For this stubbed limbed, white eye deformed carnival freak attraction is often abused. But, he harbors a dark secret and his retribution is far worse…for people can be so vicious…and so can Twitch…
Hello there fright filled folks, sorry I've been away for the last few days. With my eBook Twitch being released and fully into a blog tour it has been rather hectic. I've been writing articles for the guest postings and rewriting a couple of pieces. So far, Monday I interviewed on Blaze McRob's Tales of Horror and Tuesday I guest blogged on Hunter Shea's blog. Today I'm on Carole Gill's blog and tomorrow (Thursday) I am scheduled to be on We Love Horror. Also, Saturday I will be on Suspense Radio. So, it has been a rather busy week. Regardless, below is the piece I guest blogged on Hunter Shea's blog. It is called My Road to Horror: the Beginning...Chiller Theater and it explains a bit of how horror came to invade my mind.
My Road to Horror: the beginning…Chiller Theater
By Thomas Scopel, author of TWITCH
Even before I had my first taste of Chiller Theater, I read horror comics and magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland. So, I can say I’ve always been drawn to the macabre.
At seven years old, I first watched “Chilly Billy” Bill Cardille on Pittsburgh’s channel eleven’s Chiller Theater. I don’t recall the name of the movie, but I can tell you the movie surrounded astronauts marooned on Mars and when each one died, the remaining astronauts buried them and the dead person would rise and attack. Someday I’ll find out the name of the movie and I’ll re-watch. I suspect the film won’t have the same effect and will be considered cheesy by today’s standards. I won’t care and simply view with fond reminiscence.
Regardless with my father snoring on the couch and me sitting in the dark watching fear bit terrifying hard. It was the night I became a true horror junkie.
Although, that specific night offered clear weather and the reception, unbeknownst to me, was better than typical and so I set my sites for watching again the following week. All of a sudden, Chiller Theater had become, with the first viewing, one of my all-time favorite television shows. Coincidently, along with Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and most Hammer Films featuring Peter Cushing and/or Christopher Lee, I would be hard pressed to choose just one.
But, the following week’s planned horror viewing extravaganza was not to be when I learned how lucky I had been to watch the previous week’s episode. For where we lived (one hour southwest of Pittsburgh) and in a valley, the top of the house antenna had a rough time tuning in the distance channels and in cloudy weather, the channel offered a little more than shadowed snow. I may have been disappointed, but I wasn’t deterred…for I had a solution.
My Aunt Sandy and Uncle Dave lived eight miles up the road, on top of a hill, and their reception was exceptional. So, I started spending my Saturday nights with them. They always allowed and even joined me in watching the usually ghoulish films, at least until they fell fast asleep on the couch and in the chair respectively. Typically, I would make it through the first feature and just barely into the second before joining them in slumber on my spread out across the floor blanket. Of course, I always woke up with the sun in my eyes, angry at myself for missing the second feature and would secretly vow to remain awake the following week. More often than not, the vow never mattered.
And so, for some time following, this routine became my Saturday night norm. Eventually though, after being fortunate enough to have a portable black and white television in my bedroom, I learned tin foil makes a wonderful adjustable antenna and I started watching alone in the darkness of my room, surrounded by miscellaneous monster magazines and various horror based plastic models I had started to build.
I wasn’t yet a writer, but the seeds were firmly planted.
Twitch is available at Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes & Noble dot com for only 99 cents. If you are looking for a good read and enjoy creepy carnival stories, consider Twitch. But, be forwarned...it's not for the weak of heart.
Want to win a free copy of TWITCH (digital) along with a signed photo? Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate you read this on http://stayingscared.blogspot.com. If you are the winner, I will request your mailing address for sending the signed photo. And, rest assured, I will not use it for anything else…I promise.
Twitch, my enovella from Suspense Publishing was released yesterday (July 15th) and the response was quite inspirational and moving. Simply implying and mentioning my appreciativeness doesn’t seem to fully express my gratitude and say enough, for I am fully beholden by it all.
The reviews have varied from good to great and seem to hold a common theme…that this novella could easily have been a novel. And, I agree. I would also be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind too. So, I guess they are not the only ones who want more Twitch.
Regardless, considering I look at myself as a short story writer, I limited the tale. Oh, believe me; I had plenty more in store. I just didn’t include it. I think that maybe it was that I was somewhat unsure of whether it would be accepted or not. Well, it was and hindsight is always 20/20 so there’s no use in crying over spilt blood now.
And so, I’ve begun a prequel telling even more and will allow the reader into Twitch’s thoughts along the way through his gruesome filled middle story. But, I am wrestling a bit with making this tale a standalone, but I think I can…I think I can…
This tale has been inside for a long time and I feel as the fans do…that the story just isn’t quite finished yet…and so, I want to get it out. Well, the only way this will happen is for me to tell it…and I will. Of course, right now, I can’t say when the tale will be finished, or whether a publisher will accept, but I do have optimistic and realistic ideas on both.
In the meanwhile, pick up a copy of Twitch and I'm sure you will understand.
And, be sure to check out my blog tour for both a little insight into my mind, as well as to explore other up and coming writers. For we are all dark friends with a single mutual interest…to scare you!
"Original ideas are hard to come by nowadays and Twitch was truly one of a kind"
—Gabino Iglesias, Horrorphilia
Occasionally, a tale comes along that combines creepy and carnival in the same sentence. Ray Bradbury has done it with Something Wicked This Way Comes. Dean Koontz has done it with Twilight Eyes. And now Thomas Scopel brings you Twitch, an EBOOK from Suspense Publishing, that brings a new twist to this genre, available July 15, 2011.
Tightly written, this dark tale offers horror and suspense in a page turning quick read that will leave you aghast, frightened, angry and sad. It is a tale of deserving retribution for those who view and treat the odd with ridicule and pain.
Twitch is an innocent deformed atrocity that has been used, abused and unwanted his whole life. But, he harbors a dark secret and his retribution is certainly far worse...for people can be so vicious…and so can Twitch.
Available at most online outlets and in all known formats, this ninety-nine cent download will most assuredly have you reconsidering entering that summer traveling carnival’s oddity attraction.
With the seeds firmly planted in his mind by Pittsburgh's Chiller Theatre, Thomas Scopel found the weekly scares he desired. After obtaining a degree and working in the engineering field, constantly feeling the writing itch, he pursued it, becoming a correspondent at the Daytona Beach News Journal. This scratched the itch, only leaving raised, bloody, horror aspirating welts on his flesh and he converted to horror fiction. Since entering the darkness with no intentions of ever returning (or even turning a light on for that matter), he has been published in various horror and fright based electronic and print publications. His tales include: The Pumpkin Patch (August 2011 "Look What I Found" anthology from Norgus Press), Lickety Split, The Eight Legs of Night, The Horrors of Easter, Don't Forget the Fingers: A Guide to the Perfect Zombie Family Picnic, and more. May marked his fourth appearance in Suspense Magazine and in April 2011, his blog http://stayingscared.blogspot.com was the home of his macabre series The Daily Death—a collection of fictional tales of his co-workers’ mortality.
The trailers propane tank exploded, opening it with sharp, pointed petals like a blossomingflower. He watched it bore down on him like a massive bullet, taking his head off and carrying it ashort distance away and leaving his limp headless body stuck hanging partway out of the gap.
What an exciting week this is shaping up to be. First off, Twitch is released Friday and I'm in the process of embarking upon a blog & radio tour. The dates are listed on the top left and more are being added. On some of these blogs I'll be interviewing. On others, I'll be writing an article of some sort. I can honestly say that I am looking forward to it all. However, I also have to admit that writing the tale was considerably easier. And, I am going to do this again and again and...By the way, on each of these blog stops, I am giving away a copy of TWITCH as well as mailing the winner a signed copy of the cover too.
So, what's next after all this? In August I have a tale called The Pumpkin Patch that will be in the NorGus Press anthology Look What I Found. Here’s the blurb:
Little Johnny Walker was an explorer. The Pumpkin Patch was the last thing he ever found!
And, I'm going to tackle my first full-length novel. It's more of a sci-fi tale (but there are some horror elements) that ties together Roswell, New Mexico and the Bermuda Triangle in a story that surrounds a government agency that can show you what could have happened had you taken a different route in life. But, you can't change it. So far I have seven or so main characters that have various repercussions both good and bad after attending the agency and I'm calling it Future Past. Most of this tale is basically fleshed out and recently I have been tinkering with it. I'm hoping to finish and have it out by the end of the year. We’ll see.
However, it’s almost the Twitching Hour and there is still much to do including posting an excerpt on Thursday...
Horror anthologies have always been my cup of blood. Whether they are in fiction form or film form, I am without a doubt drawn to them like a moth to a flame. Sometimes, like that moth, I get burnt. But, that wasn’t the case with Grim Films Drive-In Horrorshow, an independent flick directed by Michael Neel and produced by Greg Ansin.
Drive-In movie theaters are fast becoming a thing of the past, yet they still hold firm to the slasher and gore filled flick fame and therefore, this film, by utilizing the actual Mendon and Belmont Massachusetts Drive-Ins as a central concept location, is aiding in keeping this perception alive.
In the vein of Creepshow, Tales From the Crypt and Trick or Treat, Drive-In Horrorshow has been critically acclaimed by many horror based media outlets from Fangoria to Horror News dot net to Rue Morgue for all the right reasons and by including a cast of central players led by a host known as The Projectionist (played by Luis Negron), the film adds that old time Saturday Night Chiller Theater feel ala Chilly Billy or Elvira.
Although the tales may revisit classic horror scenarios, they are well done, imaginative, and refreshing.
Tale one, Pig, is a take on the classic “I Spit On Your Grave” routine that entails a scorned woman seeking revenge. The retaliation is both chilling and up-to-date.
The Closet explores the childhood monster-in-the-closet story, except that this time, the monster is truly real and aids the boy Jamie in creating a better life…at least until reality comes crashing down.
Fall Apart is a tale that deals with a gruesome flesh eating disease. But, where did it come from and can it be controlled is the real question.
The Meat Man explores two brothers who stumble upon circumstantial evidence…or is it?
And the final tale, The Watcher, incorporates two couples, a secluded campsite and a lake. However, this time there is no Jason and the hills certainly do have eyes.
In between each tale, the projectionist host employs his workers, the Teenage Axe Victim (Cyce Sadsad), who works the concession stand offering bloody popcorn while stumbling around with an axe sticking out of her back, Zombie Frank (Joe Lemieux) the ticket taker who sells only two tickets to two skeleton shadows that humorously complain about basically everything and Billy Troll (Bill Gage) an Igor type assistant.
But it isn’t simply the stories and characters that makes this film exceptional. Overall, from scene location choices to camera angles to sound quality to graphic gore, the cinematography is quite good.
If there is anything detrimental to say about it all, it would be the rare cases of occasionally cheesy dialogue. However, it truly doesn’t take anything away from the overall film and is certainly worth overlooking.
No, this is not your typical independent horror film. This one is considerably better and certainly worth a look…maybe even twice.
In a little over a week, my novella Twitch will be released from Suspense Publishing (July 15th) and it is a very exciting time for me. The reviews are coming in and are more than I could have hoped for. From Horrorphilia to WebbWeaver to Monster Librarian and more, they have been rather glowing.
And, although the reviews are quite good and contain high praise, they also collectively indicate one single suggestion...that the tale be longer. Basically, they want more of Twitch. Well, it has reopened my eyes and so....
I have begun contemplating writing a prequel that will tell Twitch's middle story. It would incorporate the same gruesome type of events as the Twitch novella employs and include Twitch's thoughts and undertakings along the way. Twitch has had a terribly horrific life and it appears that the time has come to tell the whole story and offer the fans a deeper side of him.
When I had started writing Twitch (over a year ago), I had originally entertained thoughts of it being a full novel. But, somewhere along the way I became sidetracked and limited the tale to simply the beginning and the end.
Why did I do that? I really don't know, especially since I certainly have much more to tell about this carnival oddity. Maybe it was because I consider myself a short story writer. It was my most ambitious piece to date and I was partly concerned as to whether or not it would be accepted. After all, in writing, rejection is the norm. But then a funny thing happened…it was widely accepted and praised.
And here I sit today reading emails from a few of the reviewers’ that are calling it original, intense, creepy, well written and wanting more. I can only hope the reader’s feel the same and on Friday July 15th, I will get my answer. However, in the meantime, I am going to start jotting down and outlining this potential novel sized prequel.
First of all, CK Webb, a proprietor of WebbWeaver and a co-writer of the rave reviewed book Cruelty To Innocents has reviewed Twitch. She has given it a 5 spider review (her highest rating). I am rather proud and would like to personally thank CK for taking the time. Read her review here.
And, I was interviewed by The Hot Author Report. Read it here.
Otherwise, I am deep into final editing and all the little tidbits that go with releasing a book. Things like organizing a blog tour, gathering promotional materials, writing synopsis, bio, and much more is involved. Trust me folks, there is much more to it than just simply writing it. However, I have no complaints and wouldn't change it for the world. And, you can bet that I'll do it again and again and again...
Therefore, I have placed the Daily Death on temporary hiatus, at least for the immediate future. Rest assured, I will continue it, but priorities are priorities and I am sorry for this. I certainly enjoy writing those little death ditties and I suspect I always will. So....it will be back. I just can't say exactly when, but I'll certainly let you know when.
What are my future plans?
Well, after Twitch, I have a novel that I started some time ago that I plan to finish, hopefully by the end of the year. It's a cross between horror and science fiction in a believable tale that ties together Roswell, NM, The Bermuda Triangle, and the government. I'm calling it Future Past. I'll keep you informed with the progress.
Recently I started a new blog too. However, it is not indigenously horror based. It entails all genres and allows my the opportunity to interview authors. It's called To Turn Pages and it can be found at http://toturnpages.blogspot.com/. It is a place where both readers and writers can find their next great read and offers author interviews, links to review sites and sometimes reviews themselves. What am I currently reading?
I just picked up Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year Volume 3. Simply marvelously creepy and diverse. 21 tales and each distinct. Of course, I had to send her a message indicating my joy and she replied with don't have nightmares. Heh heh...yeah right...me....nightmares? I relish the thought. Nothing like waking up in the dark sporting a cold sweat and being afraid to move.
I also picked up Dean Koontz's Twilight Eyes. Let's just call it a creepy carnival thing...my cup of tea.
I really wanted Sideshow by William Ollie, but Barnes & Noble didn't have it. It's another creepy carnival tale. So....Amazon here I come.