Brian Kirk

A Journey of the Imagination

First Review of My Latest Story

New story alert! My next work of fiction is coming out June 24th in the anthology, GUTTED: Beautiful Horror Stories, alongside some of my favorite authors, including Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Mercedes M. Yardley, Paul Tremblay, John FD Taff, Josh Malerman and more. The line up is ridiculous, and I feel fortunate to be included.


In addition to feeling fortunate, I was feeling anxious about how my story would stack up against this all-star line up. The editors gave me a boost of confidence when they placed my story, “Picking Splinters from a Sex Slave,” in the lead spot (and yes, the story is every bit as harrowing as it sounds). And then the first advance review hit, which boosted my confidence even more.

Here’s a snippet:

Which leads into what I think is the best story in the book: Brian Kirk’s “Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave.” That story illustrates what lengths a person might go to to accommodate a loved one, in exquisite detail. The actual tableau is revolting, but the internal logic is inescapable. The tone is perfect.

“Splinters” is followed by Lisa Mannetti and then Neil Gaiman. Both stories are good — not pedestrian, but are overshadowed by the excellence of Kirk’s piece.

Whew. Big sigh of relief. Looks like I might actually belong.

Here’s a description of the book, followed by a link to the full review. It’s going to be a doozy. I hope you’ll check it out.

A series of stories that explores the tension between beauty and horror, wonder and terror, sorrow and transcendence. It’s a book of scars, regret and loneliness. But through it all, it’s a book where hope can still exist and beauty can still thrive. This is GUTTED: Beautiful Horror Stories.

CLICK HERE to read the full review.

Get to Know a Bram Stoker Award Nominee

Soon after the Bram Stoker Award final ballot was announced, the governing association asked for me to complete an interview so that people could get to know a nominee. Time constraints may preclude these interviews from being posted, but since mine was already completed, they encouraged me to go ahead and share it on my own.

So, here it is: my thoughts on having We Are Monsters nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Please enjoy.


Get to Know a Nominee, Brian Kirk

HWA: What do you think good horror/dark literature should achieve? How do you feel We Are Monsters fits into (or helps give shape to) that ideal?

BK: Regardless of genre, my favorite stories are those that expand my idea of what’s possible and help me better relate to my predicament on this enigmatic planet.

When it comes to horror, I gravitate towards stories that make me feel vulnerable in some vital way. As humans, we construct these elaborate fantasies designed to make us feel safe. Governments, religions, borders, pension plans. We don’t like to face the fact that we’re all hurtling towards some unfathomable death that could come at any moment. But I find beauty in that stark confrontation. It’s what awakens me to the present moment and the magic of our existence.

You can’t have light without dark. There is no beauty without heartbreak. My goal in writing is to explore the inextricable duality between light and dark, to shine a compassionate eye on the evils that breed heroism, and to expose the howling void that surrounds us all.

HWA: I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? If you find yourself getting stuck, where and why?

BK: My best writing comes from a type of waking dream state. It’s basically when I fall into an immersive daydream that silences my rational mind and taps into my subconscious (at least I think that’s what is happening, I really have no idea). This mindless dream state is where the story unfolds, and my job is simply to bear witness and try and get it down on the page as clearly as I possibly can.

I, therefore, approach writing as though I’m preparing myself for bed. I prefer to do it in the same place, or type of place (a quiet room with a hard surface and minimal potential for distraction). I prefer to do it when all my paid freelance work is done, so that it’s not nagging the back of my mind. And then, like lying down to sleep, when I sit down to work I trust that my mind will shut off and the dreams will begin. This doesn’t always happen, of course. Just as we all have restless nights. But it’s my general approach.

When I’m stuck, it’s typically because I’ve involved my rational mind in some annoying way. It’s when I’m consciously trying to “write well” rather than just let the words flow naturally. This quote from Thornton Wilder resonates with me, “If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.”

Editing involves more of the rational/critical mind than composing, but I still consider it a creative process. I spend as much time rewriting as I do writing the initial draft. Every pass seems to help flesh out character and setting, while cutting extraneous fluff. There is a point of diminishing returns, however. It’s like tightening a screw. At first there’s such little resistance the screw turns easily. Then, as it gets closer to the end point, each turn produces a satisfying tug, like it’s all coming together. But go too far and you strip the grooves.

HWA: As you probably know, many of our readers are writers and/or editors. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share?

BK: First, don’t listen to me, as I’m as clueless as anyone else. But, if forced, I’d say the following:

Never settle for something that feels safe. Always strive to surprise yourself. Try and make yourself laugh, gross yourself out, make yourself mad. Write stuff you’d never want your parents to read, then send it out. Write what you fear is way too strange or personal to be published and then make it as good as it can be. Know that everyone secretly believes their work sucks but they keep doing it anyway. Rebel against your inner critic.

HWA: If you’re attending WHC this year, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

BK: What I’m looking forward to the most is spending time among fellow horror enthusiasts. When I started writing horror fiction, I did not know a single other person who shared the same compulsion. At times, I felt alienated. At times I wondered what was wrong with me (as did many of my family and friends!). There is a particular feeling of belonging that only comes when surrounded by fellow horror writers. It’s a feeling of coming home. That’s what I can’t wait for.

As far as the awards go? Art is so subjective. At times I feel like it’s silly to objectify something as subjective as art with an award. And the process is impossible to perfect, so “worthy” pieces undoubtedly go overlooked, often making people feel cynical or dejected.

The positive effect I believe awards can have, however, is to bring more attention and potential readership to a particular genre, or books in general. That’s why it’s so important for all of us to tout the work of other authors that we’ve really enjoyed, so that when new readers are drawn in by an award, they become exposed to a host of other fantastic authors whose work they may enjoy as well.

HWA: What scares you most? Why? How (if at all) does that figure into your work or the projects you’re attracted to? 

BK: The thing that scares me the most is the thing I work hardest to accomplish, which is the collapse of my own personal identity. This includes both how I view myself, and how I view my place in the world.

I am horrified to think that one day my core identity will be stripped away and/or that certain perceived talents which help construct my sense of purpose will be diminished.

I’m frightened to think that the people closest to me may change in such dramatic ways as to sever the relationships I hold most dear.

I am terrified to think that I am nothing more than a mistake of random evolution and that nothing I think or do has any importance or permanence whatsoever.

So I work very hard to lose my attachment to all of these thought structures and free myself from the fear they bring. These are all themes I tend to explore through my writing.

HWA: What are you reading for pleasure lately? Can you point us to new authors or works we ought to know about? 

BK: That changes all the time. I have fairly eclectic tastes and enjoy all types of fiction. The best way to see what I like to read would be to friend me on Goodreads and peruse my bookshelf. I’m always looking for good book recommendations as well. Specifically, however, here are my favorite reads from last year (despite many titles being published previously) listed alphabetically.

  1. A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
  2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (Read my essay on it HERE)
  3. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  4. Close Reach by Jonathan Moore
  5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  8. Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones
  9. Slade House by David Mitchell
  10. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

Thanks for the interview, and I look forward to seeing everyone in Vegas!

If interested in purchasing a copy of my Stoker Award nominated work, you can do so through any of the following outlets (and I’ll thank you kindly):


Barnes and Noble 


{Guest Post} Catherine Cavendish on The Birmingham Poltergeist

It’s an honor to welcome back to my website esteemed author of Gothic horror, Catherine Cavendish, this time with an eerie story about a widespread haunting that I had never heard of before (and I’m a sucker for these kind of stories). She’s making the rounds to get the word out about her latest novel, The Devil’s Serenade, which has received much early praise. I hope you’ll check it out.

Meanwhile, enjoy this little-known story about a string of houses that all experienced the same paranormal assault.  Take it away, Catherine..

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2015 Bram Stoker Awards Ballot

Had a hard time sleeping last night. Partly due to our dog using my legs as a hammock. But it was also due to a realization I had around 2 AM that the final Bram Stoker Awards ballot was being announced today, and We Are Monsters had a shot of making the list.

Well, the lack of sleep was worth it. I am pleased to announce that my debut novel, We Are Monsters, has made the final Bram Stoker Awards ballot for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

Nominated for Superior Achievement in a First Novel

The reception We Are Monsters has received so far has floored me. Having it blurbed by authors whom I’ve long admired, including Mercedes M. Yardley, John F.D. Taff, Jonathan Moore, Bob Ford, and Brian Keene.

Receiving stellar reviews from some of the horror industry’s most trusted review sites.

Having it wind up on several best of the year lists.

Having it optioned for film development by the producers of The Messengers, Role Models, and Lone Survivor!

And now to have it nominated for a Bram Stoker Award just about pushes me over the edge.

I almost quit on this novel. Like any other writer out there, I feared it was terrible and nearly threw it away. And insecurities still haunt me. I guess they always will. But I’ll never quit on the work. Because I now know, no matter how terrible it may seem at the time, that if you keep grinding, and pushing, and dreaming as large as you can, good things are bound to come from it. And that’s a wonderful lesson to learn.

Thanks to all who have supported and guided me along this amazing journey. And congrats to the other authors on the Stoker ballot! See you in Vegas!

Anyone interested in picking up a copy can do so HERE. And I’ll thank you very kindly.

We Are Monsters Goes Hollywood

There has been a ton of work going on behind the scenes, and I am happy to report two exciting developments that have resulted from it.

1) I have accepted an offer of representation from literary agent Lane Heymont with The Seymour Agency. I was referred to Lane through another writer whom I respect very much, and am thrilled to have him on my side. We are currently working to put the final touches on my latest novel, the first book in a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers that we plan to submit to publishers very soon. Our first order of business, however, brings me to announcement #2.

2) Lane played an integral role in helping negotiate and finalize an offer to option the film rights to my debut novel, We Are Monsters. That’s right, We Are Monsters is in the process of being made into a movie! The production team that purchased the rights has an impressive list of film credentials, including The Messengers starring Kristen Stewart, Role Models starring Paul Rudd, and Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg.

 The MessengersRole ModelsLone_Survivor_poster

We are currently selecting screenwriters to help adapt the screenplay. Some exciting writers/directors have expressed interest, and I look forward to announcing names as soon as I’m able.

I continue to be amazed by the attention We Are Monsters has received, and am excited for the potential of it reaching new audiences through the big screen. I won’t lie, I’m also just a tad excited to see these words: Based on the novel written by Brian Kirk.

WeAreMonsters_Print Thank you to everyone who has helped keep the momentum going: readers, friends, and industry professionals. This is a nugget of proof that anything is possible. Stay tuned.

Best Horror Novels of 2015

2015 was a special year for me. It marked the release of my debut novel, We Are Monsters, which is something I’ve been dreaming about most of my life. What makes it even sweeter is the warm reception the book has received from readers and critics alike.

As the year ended, and reviewers began to create their “Best of the Year” lists, I was honored to find We Are Monsters on many of them. Here are links to several “Best Horror Novels of 2015” lists that included We Are Monsters alongside many of my favorite reads from the year as well.

I read 39 books in 2015, although most of them were published in year’s prior. I’m always playing catch up. Here are my top ten favorite reads from last year, listed alphabetically.

  1. A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli
  2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay (Read my essay on it HERE)
  3. Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  4. Close Reach by Jonathan Moore
  5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  6. Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  7. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
  8. Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones
  9. Slade House by David Mitchell
  10. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

There are many exciting developments going on behind the scenes right now that should make 2016 another exciting year. Stay tuned.

A Recap of Reviews

I am humbled and immensely pleased with the amount of (mostly positive) press We Are Monsters has received so far. Here is a recap of some of the reviews that have been written about my debut novel, starting with my personal favorite – a short and sweet one from industry icon, Brian Keene.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 7.54.23 AM

Professional Reviews

  • “Not only is this one of the most impressive horror debuts I have ever read, I am confident in placing We Are Monsters firmly in the number one spot for the best horror novel of 2015. I was absolutely blown away.” – The Horror Bookshelf (Click for Review)
  • “It takes not a reviewer, critic or literary analyst to see this writer has a most brilliant future ahead of him. I encourage anyone who is a fan of horror that resonates within the psyche long after the fact to embark upon this gem of a read.” – Horror News (Click for Review)
  • “A complex telling with stories within stories, you’ll find that you can’t put it down. I can’t praise this book enough!” – Horror Novel Reviews (Click for Review)
  • “A tightly woven tale from an author who has a heart, and that makes me excited to see what else Kirk has in store for us. The whole story will have you examining the human race as never before.” – Ginger Nuts of Horror (Click for Review)
  • We Are Monsters is a knockout punch for Kirk and I think this is a book–and an author–that we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the future.” – Shotgun Logic (Click for Review)
  • “Cleverly told. Psychologically complex.” – Scarlet’s Web (Click for Review)

Reader Reviews

Reader reviews can be found at Amazon and Goodreads.

Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to read and review the book. I’m happy to see how many of you have enjoyed it.


Talking Legendary Creatures with Author Hunter Shea

I’m thrilled that one of the most prolific and consistently excellent authors of horror fiction has chosen this site to talk about legends. Fitting, as Hunter Shea is quickly become a legend in my eyes. Let me explain.

I first became aware of Hunter’s work right before the release of his acclaimed thriller, The Montauk Monster, in June of 2014. That book was a huge hit, receiving tons of praise from critics and fans alike. Then, the very next month, he releases a new horror novel, Hell Hole, which again achieves critical praise, going so far as to be called “The Best Horror Novel of 2014″ by Horror Novel Reviews. Not a bad year.

But then Hunter comes out with another book just four months later, Island of the Forbidden, which is almost instantly talked about as being a contender for best horror novel of the new year. WTF! Dude, care to slow down? Nope, out comes another powerful two-punch combo: a blockbuster apocalyptic novel, Tortures of the Damned, and his latest horror novel, The Dover Demon. Guess what? Both are being highly praised.

So this guy must do nothing but write. Sorry, but no. He happens to co-host a popular podcast, Monster Men, as well.

Welcome to my site, Mr. Shea. You are a rare breed. As mythological, perhaps, as the legendary creatures you write about. Please tell us a bit about the Dover Demon, sir. I’m all ears.


Tracking Down A Legend

By Hunter Shea, Author of The Dover Demon

When people see the cover of my latest book, The Dover Demon, they immediately think, “Look, a book about aliens.” Honestly, they have every right to think that. That bulbous head, penetrating black eyes and narrow mouth has become iconic, thanks to movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Fire in the Sky and Alien Abduction. Add to that a slew of books, all of it starting with Whitley Strieber’s Communion, that spawned a generation’s worth of alien and abduction exposes.

Here’s the real deal about the real Dover Demon. In cryptozoological circles, it’s really considered an unknown creature, as earthly in origin as Salma Hayek or Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. See how I fit my crush and football hero in there? (on a side note, the main female character in my novel, Hell Hole, was named Selma, a Mexican beauty with an iron will – I wonder who that could be?)

Unfortunately, there isn’t much known about the Dover Demon, a strange biped that was spotted by half a dozen teens over the course of 2 nights over 35 years ago. It came, it was seen, it disappeared into the mist of time. I’ve read all kinds of explanations for it, the most hysterical theory that it was a sick, young moose. That would be one hell of a strange moose. Never saw one without hair, walking on its hind legs with eyes as big as saucers and flesh the color of Fred Flintstone in the comics (the actual description of one of the witnesses).

The town of Dover is an affluent Massachusetts suburb. At points in its history, it had more horses than people. These were not yokels looking to make a splash in The National Enquirer. In fact, the witnesses didn’t want to make a fuss about it until one of them drew what he saw and it was posted in a local store. Then things took off for a few months before settling down. What he drew has become the standard image for the Dover Demon. He grew up to be an artist. Pretty good start to your career, sketching a creature that is still talked about decades later.

Dover Demon sketch (1)

I can only imagine the terror those kids felt, walking late at night down a country road, spotting a strange figure keeping pace with them before disappearing into the woods. Or driving along and capturing the impossible in the beam of their headlights.

Strange stuff. The stuff of nightmare. My kind of stuff.

For those interested in learning more about The Dover Demon, here’s a brief synopsis along with links to where it can be purchased.

The Dover Demon Synopsis

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Purchase Links

Connect With Hunter Shea

Learn more about Hunter’s work at his website and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Dover Demon tour logo

Interview With Blood and Rain Author, Glenn Rolfe

glenn bw profile

World, meet Glenn Rolfe. Glenn is a hard man to describe in a few snappy sentences; he simply does too much. Lives too large. He’s been a singer/songwriter and front man for the punk rock band, The Never Nudes. Now he’s a horror author with a fan base that’s growing as rapidly as his prolific writing pace. He’s a creator in the truest sense of the word, driven, it seems, to populate the world with the output of his feverish mind. And, in my humble opinion, the world is a better place for it. He’s also a hell of a nice guy – the result of offloading the festering darkness that resides within us all.

He’s currently making the rounds promoting his latest novel Blood and Rain, and took some time to discuss it with me here. I hope you enjoy the chat.

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We Are Monsters Gets Endorsed by Brian Keene

Okay, it’s official. We’ve slipped into an alternate reality. And, no, I’m not talking about the Berenstain Bears conspiracy. I’m talking about an email I just received from Brian Keene with a blurb for We Are Monsters that I couldn’t be happier with had I wrote it myself. Here’s what the Grand Master of Horror had to say about my debut book.

Brian Keene

We Are Monsters is fantastic — a frightening and intense thriller and one hell of a debut novel. I was blown away. Brian Kirk is exactly what readers need — a talented new voice with original, awe-inspiring ideas that can push the genre forward.”
-Brian Keene, best-selling author of Ghoul and The Rising

There’s simply no way this happens on the same time line I was following five years ago. This is nuts.

I’m assuming most everyone reading this post is familiar with Mr. Keene, but for those who aren’t, Brian Keene is among the most renowned horror authors of the last decade. Dude does everything: writes novels, comic books, short fiction, non-fiction, and movie scripts. He’s won multiple Bram Stoker Awards and been on bestseller lists. His 2003 novel The Rising is often credited with inspiring the resurgent zombie craze that continues to this day.

The Rising

He’s one of just 25 authors to be honored with a Grand Master Award, ensuring his eternal place in the horror fiction hall of fame. He hosts one of the most popular and entertaining podcasts in the horror genre, The Horror Show with Brian Keene. And he is a renowned leader within the horror fiction community, fighting for the fair treatment of authors, selflessly offering guidance and advice to up-and-coming scribes.

Sorry if I’m gushing a bit here, I’m just a little overwhelmed and extremely grateful that he would take time out of his insane schedule to read a debut novel from a no-name like me.

I’ve read several of Brian Keene’s books. Hell, I bought a stack from him at the World Horror Convention where I pitched my book to Don D’Auria with Samhain. While I would recommend any one of them, I’ll go with the book Stephen King recently recommended for fans of THE MIST (one of my personal favorite’s from King’s canon), which is DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

Darkness on the edge of town

But don’t stop there. CLICK HERE to find the complete catalog of Brian Keene’s esteemed work. IWeAreMonsters_Print urge you to pick up another book or three.

I’m equally grateful to the other authors who have been kind enough to endorse We Are Monsters. Click on the following links to find out what Mercedes M. Yardley, Robert Ford, Jonathan Moore, and John F.D. Taff have had to say.

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