At the end of September, Sirens Call Publications released Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past. Twelve authors wrote stories that will take seat in your mind and chill you to the bone. As with all of our anthologies, we like to learn why the authors wrote their particular stories and invite them all to write something that speaks to their inspiration. Alex Chase, author of Screams has agreed to step into the past with us and tell us what made the story speak to him; but let’s learn a little more about him first, shall we?
Alex Chase is an American author of over a dozen short stories, appearing in anthologies such as 50 Shades of Decay and Mental Ward: Stories from the Asylum. A prose writer, poet and routine conference presenter, he is a proud member of the Horror Writer’s Association and Mensa. He attended the Chautauqua Writer’s Festival this past year and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English. When not at his computer, he can be found running, meditating and spoiling his loved ones. You can find Alex on Twitter at @AlexChaseWriter or on Facebook.
Anyone who read the first Mental Ward volume will instantly recognize one of my earlier pieces and a main character from it, so I have to cede that some inspiration for Screams came from Whispers. I hardly think it’s a problem, though, to say that you inspire yourself.
Perhaps inspire isn’t the right word. When I saw this call, I thought to myself, “Considering how the first story ended, wouldn’t this be fun…?” So, more accurately, I just wanted to give a little treat to long-time readers of SCP anthologies. I don’t have any more adventures planned for (name redacted so I don’t spoil anything), but I certainly could. Should SCP have the right anthology call for it, and if I hear anyone asking for more about these characters, I’d be happy to pick up where things left off.
One of the larger sources of inspiration comes from how much I hate most modern ghost movies. There’s nothing that annoys me more than the plethora of quick camera transitions followed by something rushing toward the camera and screaming. Not only is that simply not scary (it’s surprising, yes, but not scary), it bastardizes the horror genre by implying fear is about reaction, not action.
Horror, in film, literature or otherwise, should leave you thinking. Hence, when I wrote this, I wrote it from the perspective of, “What if the afterlife is just life, but without consequences?” What if people “change” in becoming ghosts because they’re actually acting the way they’d always wanted but were afraid to?
Plus let’s not leave out the eternally fascinating time-slip hauntings where the haunted wind up traveling through a portion of days passed. That, too, I wonder, is it spiritual energy projecting onto the environment, or are the ghosts just causing massive hallucinations?
Yes, I’m posing a bunch of questions rather than giving you actual detail, but I plan stories through asking “What if?” and “Could I maybe…?” So when I launched a post-grad and his two closest friends headlong into a haunted asylum, I didn’t do it saying, “Here’s what’s going to happen,” so much as, “What’s going to happen? Let’s find out.”
Last but not least, you, the person who’s reading this, is more inspiring than anything. I, like most independent authors, am a glutton for attention and will relish every tweet, status update and whispered comment about me and my work. I could care less about fame and wealth (though those would be nice, I think); what I care about is knowing someone out there appreciates what I’m doing.
We’re all just looking to live the dream, right? Well, as you’ll see in my story, some keep living it even after death. Enjoy, Travelers.
In places where unspeakable atrocities occurred sometimes ‘something’ lingers, stuck between the worlds of the living and the dead. Those who believe in the grey area behind the veil will tell you that those places can become eternal cages that hold the souls of the deceased captive.
Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past is a collection of twelve such stories; tales of hauntings taking place in asylums. The places where the crazed, the insane, and sometimes the different were hidden away from society’s view.
Follow the winding path crafted by the talented, and in some cases, twisted imaginations of the storytellers who would taint your peaceful world with their echoes of the past.
Brent Abell, Chad P. Brown, Sarah Cass, Alex Chase, Denzell Cooper, Jason Cordova, Lindsey Beth Goddard, Sharon L. Higa, Lockett Hollis, K. Trap Jones, Joseph A. Lapin, and Kimberly Lay