"The House by the Cemetery involves everything that a horror aficionado could ever wantan undead witch, comic relief, a haunted house dedicated to obscure and not-so obscure horror films, and lots and lots of gore…Indeed, The House by the Cemetery could easily be transcribed into an action-packed screenplay" - The New York Journal of Books
Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead... she doesn’t intend to stay that way.
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
About the Author
John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror cinema. He is also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and its two sequels, Sacrifice and Redemption, as well as six other novels, including the erotic horror tour de force and Bram Stoker Award finalist NightWhere and the seductive backwoods tale of The Family Tree. Other novels include The Pumpkin Man, Siren, The 13th and the spider-driven Violet Eyes.
Over the past 25 years, his short fiction has appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies and received a number of critical accolades, including frequent Honorable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror anthology series. His story “Letting Go” was a Bram Stoker Award finalist in 2007 and “The Pumpkin Man” was included in the anthology All American Horror: The Best of the First Decade of the 21st Century. In addition to his own twisted worlds, he has also written stories in shared universes, including The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars series, as well as for Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Green Hornet.
His short story collections include Cage of Bones & Other Deadly Obsessions, Needles & Sins, Vigilantes of Love and Sacrificing Virgins. To catch up on his blog, join his newsletter or get information on his fiction, art and music, visit John Everson: Dark Arts at www.johneverson.com.
Covenant HWA Bram Stoker Award for First Novel, 2005
"Letting Go" - Bram Stoker Award Finalist, Short Fiction, 2007
NightWhere - Bram Stoker Award Finalist, Novel, 2013
You’ve written nine other novels; what inspires you and what makes this one different than the rest?
I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts and witches and possession and demons – the incursion into our world of some after- or other-life that is patently supernatural. I’ve never been much interested in serial killer horror, because you can read about crazy people picking up knives and guns and killing innocent people in horrible, unfathomable ways every day in the newspaper. That’s not entertainment or escapism to me. I find the idea of an invisible world, even if it is sinister, a fascinating diversion from the horrors of real life.
So most of my novels have dealt with demonic, supernatural themes – albeit, with lots of bloody sacrifices and rituals. The House By The Cemetery shares that aspect with my other work, in that this novel takes place in a true haunted house… which conveniently is located next to an old abandoned cemetery. When a local group decides to rehab the house and turn it into a haunted house attraction, you know things are not going to end well – because, well, the house was already haunted by a witch who has been biding her time, waiting for the chance to return.
What really makes this book different for me is that it is set in a real place that I’ve always lived around. Bachelor’s Grove is a cemetery tucked off the Midlothian Turnpike near Midlothian, IL and surrounded by a forest preserve and small pond. It’s a lonely desolate place that has been desecrated over the decades by many people, including satanic worshippers according to various accounts. I used to hear stories about this cemetery when I was growing up – I can still remember kids talking about it during a forest preserve campout when I was in Cub Scouts. There were stories about ghosts roaming the graves and the road near by, and even ghostly lights of a house hidden in the forest.
As a kid I never actually saw the cemetery, which was a few miles from our house. But many years later, I found the site of the cemetery, which is actually guarded by county police around Halloween time to keep troublemakers and grave desecrators out. I wrote a couple newspaper feature stories about it, and then wrote a couple short fictional stories about it. Finally, a couple years ago, it occurred to me to really have some fun with the local lore I grew up around and write a novel.
Did you base your characters on anyone you knew?
I did actually name the manager of the Haunted House after my friend Lon, who used to run a haunted house for neighborhood kids in his garage, and probably has more “haunt” props than anyone you’re likely to meet. He also helped me put on my Halloween Movie night for family and friends for many years. He even baked me a cake in the shape of a zombie head for my birthday one year. Nobody would make a better haunted house manager than Lon!
Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?
I’m not sure if it’s a who, really. I got the idea for writing the book from local ghost stories and legends, but then when I began writing the book, I really looked to classic cult horror movies for ideas, because I wanted to decorate each of the haunted house’s rooms with scenes from key films. And since my personal favorite films are the more obscure ‘70s and ‘80s European horror films, you’ll see a lot of inspiration from that quarter in my house. Of course, for this I blame the house’s set designers, Argento and Lucio… who insist on being called by the names of their two favorite Italian directors, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.
What are some of the room themes in the haunted house?
I don’t want to give too much away, but you can tell you – and you can probably guess based on my set designer’s obsessive nicknames that there will be some references to Suspiria and Deep Red and Zombi and The Beyond and The House By The Cemetery. You can’t have a haunted house without a touch of the more well-known classics like Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Nightmare on Elm Street though.
Do you believe in Ouija Boards and demons and voodoo and spells and magic?
I believe the world is wider and stranger than we know, and I’d like to believe there are invisible forces that don’t understand. But that’s about as far as I can go. I’m a skeptic, but I’d like to find that there is a Beyond of some kind.
Is there any advice you can give someone starting to write?
I think the best advice is that if want to be a writer… establish goals and deadlines for yourself. There are millions of people who will tell you “I got a book in me I really want to write” who will never discipline themselves to actually do the work to make that happen. They will talk the rest of their lives about how they want to write a book once they get the time. Got news for you: you never “get” the time. You make the time. Or you don’t.
The other advice is also pretty simple. Write the kinds of stories you like to read. Don’t try to chase the next fad to get rich quick by writing. You’d be better off watching TV and playing the lottery. But if you write books that you want to read, you will always entertain yourself and find joy and fulfillment in what you produce, regardless of whether it becomes a bestseller or not.
Where did you write?
Part of establishing a regular schedule of writing is finding a place where you can focus. While I have a home office, I actually very rarely write in it. I have a cockatiel and cockatoo who live in that room, and while they hang out with me while I’m answering e-mail or interviews, they can be distracting when you’re trying to focus on writing a scene. So when I’m actively involved in a project, I typically assign one night of the week as “writing night” and go to a local pub after my dayjob to spend 4-5 hours in the corner working on my laptop. It’s a great and enjoyable way to be productive – I look for places with good music and comfortable seats. Once I’m there, people bring me beer and finger food (nachos or wings) and I can’t really find excuses to leave my table to go take care of pets or other house chores. I’m pretty much locked in to a good spot to write.
I also have an oak bar that I built in my basement, and sometimes I’ll go down there on the weekend, crank up some moody Cocteau Twins or Delerium CDs and get a couple hours of undisturbed work in. And for The House by the Cemetery, I wrote a lot in the late weeks of summer, so I was able to spend multiple hours on several weekends sitting at the bar on my patio, enjoying the last breezes of summer and listening to music on my outdoor speakers while writing key scenes. That was an especially helpful location when writing some of the outdoor scenes in the book.
Did you write in silence, or to any particular music?
I always write to music. I really don’t like to do anything in life without music! For writing, I listen to a lot of dreamy pop CDs with dark or exotic overtones. I play Cocteau Twins and Delerium to death while working on a project, and also plug in Conjure One, The Cure, New Order, OMD, This Mortal Coil and other things. I’m a big fan of StrangewaysRadio mixes on Mixcloud.com too. Now and then, during an action scene, I might plug in some more upbeat or angry music, from Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie to The Blasters.
Did you find it hard to write? Or harder to edit your own work?
It’s hard to find the time to write or edit. Both exercises take a lot of dedicated focused time. Carving that out consistently is the hardest part of writing when you also have another full-time job and a family.
What was it like to be edited by someone else?
With the right editor, like Don D’Auria who I have worked with on many of my novels, it’s a pleasure. It’s not about the quantity of the edits ultimately, but the quality. One of my best edits was by a romance line editor who literally marked up every page. You could find that disheartening… but his comments and suggestions were spot-on and improved the book. But then I’ve had copyeditors for a horror line miss obvious corrections and make suggestions to change things that are counter or irrelevant to the book’s direction. One copyeditor once suggested that I remove a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference because readers might not get it. I would be both shocked and very disappointed if I found that most horror readers aren’t familiar with the “Time Warp.” The reference stayed in the book.
Where would you like to spend Halloween night if you could?
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. Just once, I’d like to see the ghosts. Of course, once I did, I might never have the guts to write another novel!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have thankfully received a digital ARC of John Everson’s “The House by the Cemetery” from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for an honest review. The House by the Cemetery is a story well told. The author, John Everson, has a writing style that deeply draws the reader into the book. I even woke up one night, after reading this book, from a slightly disturbing dream. The images from the story stick with you. This is a story that will literally haunt you. I can frankly see it becoming a popular Halloween film someday. Everson’s writing style and grammar are expertly done. The House by the Cemetery does have some very graphic slasher film scenes near the end of the story. And there are a few moderately graphic sex scenes in the book. While reading, I paused and thought so this is what romance written by a male author is like. Interesting, but it is by no means a “romance” novel. This story is pure horror and thriller. There is a ghost, a witch, murder, murder, and more murder. If you relish a good spooky story as I do, then you will love this book. But, reader beware if you dare to enter The House by the Cemetery!
Take a derelict house with a history of strange and sinister happenings. Add a workman, two strange young women and a group who decide they want to turn the house into a terrifying haunted house experience and you know you’re in for a great, entertaining read. As long as the author knows what he is doing of course and John Everson certainly does. He mixes all the right ingredients in this entertaining scary story. The house is certainly not one anyone in their right mind would want to spend a night alone in – and to add to the horror, it sits right by the cemetery. I loved the way the author built the tension and paved the way for some truly gruesome events later in the story. He took a familiar haunted house theme and transformed it into an original and addictive tale of horror that is crying out to be filmed. John Everson at his best.
I was given the privilege of obtaining this book as an arc via Netgalley for free in exchange for my honest review. I love a good horror story, unfortunately for me this was not a scary enough for me but it did make me think twice about going to a haunted house this year that’s for sure! I found the book as an easy read and easy to follow, despite other’s reviews that there were to many unnecessary characters. I found that each character was well developed and served it’s purpose. I also did not find it hard to follow with the number of characters this story had. The plot was well written and definitely kept me intrigued until the very end. This book is a good read to have for the October holiday. I was all set to do a haunted house but after reading this book not so much LOL I rate this book 3 stars out of 5.
"This is not a good house." The House by the Cemetery was a book that I wanted to adore with all the recipes of an interesting story: an abandoned, dilapidated house that is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a witch and the greedy hubris to capitalize on the past to create a Halloween attraction of the haunted house. Unfortunately this book failed to live up to my expectations; the writing felt disjointed, the plot was predictable, the characters were one-dimensional whose decisions made no logical sense, and there were a number of plotholes in the book that constantly prohibited me from getting into the story. The old house at Bachelor's Grove has been abandoned and locked up for decades, local legends telling stories of the ghosts that haunt the place and rumors of 'satanic rituals' being done there. Perry worked out some deal with the county, which owns the house and property, to fix it up and turn it into a haunted house attraction. Perry brings in his carpenter friend Mike to do some safety renovations prior to the house being decorated and ready for guests. The prologue was actually incredibly engaging and I was instantly sucked into the danger and mystery of the house; however, the further that the storyline progressed the less engaged I became as there seemed to be no clear plot or direction. The book is told in third person narrative and jumps perspectives a lot, which I think made it difficult to connect with the main character Mike... or anyone else. There isn't any character development to be seen and there are a lot of moving parts in this that come together in the end, but I was constantly annoyed and frustrated to not have a dedicated POV. I also didn't care at all about the "haunters" perspectives of decorating and preparing for opening the haunted house at all. I was also quite bothered by the pervasive and constant passive fat shaming. "The idea that he wasn't eating was somewhat ludicrous. Ted weighed in at over 220 pounds, while she might have just been able to nudge the scale over 130... if she rocked up and down on it." Honestly every time that the book shifted to Jillie and Ted's perspective revolves around his weight, how she can eat anything and essentially passively shaming him for eating french fries. And this goes absolutely unchallenged in the text. Before you assume that maybe it was just a poor characterization attempt for Jillie's third person-POV, nope. When every character comes into contact with Emery, the descriptors for her are some adjective of "chunky." The story picked up for me around 78% and was interesting to read, albeit predictable. I guessed early on what was going to happen overall, which in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean a low rating from me as I am a wide reader of the genre, but I was disappointed with how little the revelations mattered to the characters. There really was no conflict, no opposing viewpoints, and no character growth. Ultimately this is a run-of-the-mill haunted house story that had a lot of potential, but missed the mark for me. Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an electronic advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.
I received a copy of this e-book from Flame Tree Press via NetGalley, and although it was provided at no cost to me, I am under no obligation to provide a positive review. The premise of this book is that Mike Kostner, a down-on-his-luck carpenter, who also happens to be recently divorced due to his ex-wife's tendencies to sleep with her neighbors, is asked by his buddy Perry to help repair and restore an old house so it can be used as a haunted house. The house sits next to a cemetery, thus the title, and although Mike is hesitant to even work on it, suspecting it to be a dead-end and worthless project, he accepts as a favor to his friend and, more importantly, because he really needs the money. As Mike begins work on the house, he notices oddities in and around the house: unexplained noises, an old but empty casket dug up in the basement, slaughtered small animals found in the basement, etc. Although he brings these issues up to Perry, he's cajoled into continuing his work on the house. Soon, Mike encounters Katie and her sidekick Emery, both of whom seem to appear and disappear without notice. As Katie hangs around more, Mike falls for her despite her and Emery's odd behavior. Eventually the house repairs are completed, and the haunted house begins its run, and when the final night arrives, even more bizarre and brutal events start happening. Will Mike do what needs to be done to stop everything? Will the others involved with the house discover the secrets hidden there and put an end to the evil? Overall, I liked the book. Everson is obviously a fan of horror movies, especially Italian ones, as the references throughout the book show, especially in the design of the rooms in the haunted house. That certainly added a nice touch to the story. The story was well-crafted and progressed at a reasonable pace. Parts of this novel are absolutely splatterpunk, so if that's something that isn't to your liking, I would avoid this book. However, if you're fine with that, then this could be right up your alley. Personally, I don't mind it a bit, although I'm not much of a fan of splatter films. I do have some questions as to why Mike continued working when the oddities of the house started rearing their ugly heads, as I would presume the average person would have decided the money just wouldn't be worth it. I'm also not convinced someone would have stayed around for Katie, even after falling for her, since their behavior was so bizarre. I mean, he may be desperate and lonely after his divorce, but not that much. I guess, as Limp Bizkit said, he did it all for the nookie. This is the first book I've read from Everson, and I enjoyed it, despite the questions I had regarding the plot direction. I will definitely look for other works of his. Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)