Monday, 31 October 2011

My Guest for a Coffin Hop Halloween: Author Gordon A Kessler

Today is Halloween and the last day of the Coffin Hop Web Tour.  For an extra special treat, author Gordon A Kessler joins the blog as the last stop on the blog tour for his new horror thriller, Jezebel.  He'll be talking about writing horror and giving us a sneak peek at Jezebel.  In addition, there is a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, so be sure to leave a comment!

First a look at Jezebel:

Sleep lightly tonight…

A madman has come to town seeking a diabolical revenge and large dogs begin attacking their masters for no apparent reason and with heinous results.
Animal Control Director Tony Parker must find out why and stop the murderous attacks. Meanwhile, Jezebel, a huge black Great Dane has killed her master and is loose, terrorizing the city and stalking Parker and his family. Parker and Sarah Hill, his beautiful and seductive young assistant, attempt to unravel the mystery and stop the terrible carnage while dealing with their own demons and lusty desires.
The attacks must be stopped. Jezebel must be found-and soon, you see--there is one other complication. Parker seems to have come down with an annoying little virus. No, it's not one of those irritating summer colds. It's certain death.
She's a murderess, huge and black as a hell-bound night.
Beware. Jezebel is on the loose!

Quick Excerpt from Jezebel:

In the grayish soup, a dark vision appeared. Floating down the middle of the street, it slowly formed into a recognizable shape.

An animal. A large black animal. A huge Great Dane. It walked with confidence. Long, thin legs. Mouth closed, head and eyes fixed straight ahead. Occasionally, its feet splashed one of the pools. Light from the streetlights caused a sparkle from underneath its neck with every step of its left forefoot. A large diamond, set on a gold tag, captured the light and shot it out like a laser. The dog maintained its pace for what seemed like minutes.
Finally, it stopped. With its body still pointing down the street, it slowly turned its head to the right and looked up a sidewalk leading to the front door of a house. It stared, still emotionless, at the door. At Tony Parker’s door.

Here’s how to find out more about his thriller novels Jezebel, Brainstorm and Dead Reckoning:
The book trailers on YouTube for Jezebel at
And Brainstorm at

Now introducing my guest, Gordon A Kessler...

On Writing Horror

You’ve probably heard that writing horror is a lot like humor; to really work, the horrific or “scare” scenes have to be set up. One way to set up a horror scene entails placing or “planting” information early on that will be used later. This set up can be made by mentioning a quirk that will be revisited, a door that hasn’t been opened for twenty years, a scary house or a dark and frightening alley that must be passed. Perhaps that alley is passed every night without incident, until that faithful night when…. The plant can even be a radio report that a murderer is loose (or a huge, black Great Dane—like in Jezebel).
After the setup, suspense is key to a successful scare. The most common mistake many beginning writers make is to rush through the “boo”—taking the wind out of any good fright. Suspense must be drawn out to be successful in creating and building the maximum amount of tension and fear in a story. The doorknob must be turned slowly, the creaking outside the room should start and stop, then start again. The face outside the window must not appear just as the heroine glances out, but pop up when she draws closer to better see what is caught on the tree limb outside and blowing in the wind.

Another key to a high score on the scare meter is that the reader needs to somehow identify with the character(s) in jeopardy. If the reader in some way relates to the character, and especially if she sees that the soon-to-be victim(s) is sympathetic at least in some way to the world around them, the reader will begin to feel the same fear of danger, will actually empathize with the character(s) in jeopardy.

One last concern for a good horror writer is body count. Depending on the audience, a high body count—especially of characters that the reader identifies with or feels for—may be important to keep the reader on the edge of her seat. That said, with some horror sub genres, especially with young audiences, perhaps a story with no body count will work just fine. In these stories, the suspense is created just by the fear the character(s) have and the knowledge that the risk they are involved with is extremely high.

I think Jezebel is the perfect Halloween novel—and there’s actually a Halloween scene in it that I think will give readers a chill up their spine and a pause to consider.

Jezebel is my only horror novel. But with my thrillers Brainstorm and Dead Reckoning, setting up the suspense and drawing it out is critical. A good thriller is packed with not only action, but suspense as well.

Bloggers, how about giving me your comments; what makes a good scare for you?

Thanks again for hosting me on your wonderful blog! I hope you and all your bloggers have a really frightening but fun Halloween!

Author Bio:
Gordon A Kessler is a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout, and Super Squad team leader, with a bachelor's degree in creative writing. He is a Master Instructor for Johnson County Community College, National Academy of Railroad Sciences, and the BNSF Railway. He has taught novel writing for Butler County Community College, English Composition for Hutchinson Junior College and has previously indie-published the thriller novels Brainstorm and Dead Reckoning, and a book about the novel-writing craft, Novel Writing Made Simple.
He is a founder and current president of the Kansas Writers Association and tries to stay connected to writers and the writing industry by doing speaking engagements at writers conferences and for writers organizations, and does his own "The Storyteller" seminar in Wichita, Lincoln (Nebraska), Kansas City, and other Midwestern cities based on his Novel Writing Made Simple book.
His websites, and are landing pages for writers to help them in their writing endeavors. His author website is
Other links:

You can find his books at any online bookstore, including Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Nook, etc. All three of his thrillers are currently on sale in eBook formats for only $.99.  You can also find them in traditional paperback and hardcover at reasonable prices. His book, Novel Writing Made Simple is an excellent resource for both the beginning and seasoned novelist and you can find the spiral bound and paperback on Amazon, or the ebook version from iBooks.

Check out the rest of the stops on Gordon's book tour here:


Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview!
Jezebel sounds chilling indeed.
I agree with Gordon A Kessler...a good thriller or horror is all about a build-up of suspense rather than just action. The best stories that have me turning "just one more page" at 2am in the morning are those that have me on the edge of my seat not knowing what the outcome is. That is built by mastering the tension of a story.
Really enjoyed this post.
Thanks for posting.
- Kim
hopping from "Wrestling the Muse"

Happy Halloween

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks for stopping by Kim.

Julie Jansen said...

For me, a good scary story has great characters and a great tension build-up. I need to feel for the characters to really be moved by any scares they encounter.

Happy Halloween!

Jessica McHugh said...

"Jezebel" sounds grrrreat, and that was a rad interview!! Happy last day of Coffin Hoppping!!


Jan Fischer Wade said...

Thanks for the rundown of how to create suspense - I am a YA romantic fantasy writer, and this was very interesting!!!

Jan Fischer Wade

Lorelei Bell said...

What a coincidence! The superintendant of our county forest preserves sent me an update dog leash law for our forest preserve (which we manage) for next year!!!LOL

I'm a big Koontz fan and I find the suspense of drawing your reader in the build-up of suspense and also reader relating to the main character is very important. When something happens at the end of a chapter and you have to read on, that's a good book.

Great post, A.F. Stewart, glad I stopped by and thanks for stopping by Lorelei's Muse today!

A. F. Stewart said...

Julie, Jessica, Jan and Lorelei, nice to see you all here and thanks for popping in. Happy Halloween.

Chelsea B. said...

Hope you have a Happy Halloween as well! I can't wait to read Jezebel!


Anonymous said...

Great horror story tips. The thing that always gets me is the closed door mystery and the tension and suspense that goes with it. It reminds me of Dark Shadows. Do you remember that show?

Gordon Kessler said...

Thanks for the comments, folks! Have a delightful Halloween!

Autumn Shelley said...

Hi AF! Great Interview! Gordon's "Jezebel" is intriguing as is "Brainstorm". (I'm already drawn to him because I have family that retired from BNSF and are from Ks...I'm a Missouri girl so I won't hold it against him--ha!)
Thanks for stopping by Conspiracy Cafe and I look forward to following!

Gordon Kessler said...

Thanks, Autumn! You have a great website!

A. F. Stewart said...

Thanks for stopping in everyone and thanks to Gordon for being a guest.

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