Rafael Chandler writes novels, including Mask Beneath Her Face, The Astounding Antagonists, and Dracula: The Modern Prometheus (co-written with Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker).
He also writes video games. He’s spent the past 15 years working as a scriptwriter in the video game industry, creating stories, characters, and dialogue for Sony, Ubisoft, Kabam, and Gameloft. His games include SOCOM 4, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, MAG, Final Eden, and Edgeworld.
He’s also written two nonfiction books, several magazine and newspaper articles, two comic books, and a dozen tabletop role-playing games and sourcebooks.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons in the eighties, and I still love it to this day; same with comic books and heavy metal. I eat barbecue and drink cold beer. I watch a lot of horror movies; my top three are Martyrs, REC, and Inside (the 2007 French original). I’ve got a dog, a little pug named Jangis Con.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I read. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research for a couple of upcoming writing projects. I also play video games; I’m really into the open-world action of Batman: Arkham Knight, Fallout 4, and Witcher 3: Wild Hunt). At night, my wife and I play board games; we enjoy cooperative games like Legendary and Pandemic.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son by Iron Maiden. I remember the two-year wait for that one, and I remember hearing it for the first time on my little cassette player. Songs about prophecies and demons, cosmic horror and insanity; it blew my mind.
When I’m not listening to Iron Maiden, I mostly listen to death metal, particularly when I’m writing. These days, I dig Artificial Brain, Beyond Creation, and Ulcerate. Often, characters in my novels will listen to songs that I enjoy — for example, one of the main characters in Mask Beneath Her Face listens to Portal’s “Kilter.”
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Stephen King and Clive Barker. Used to bike down to the library and read their novels all day. After reading The Stand and The Books of Blood, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I work with an outline. It usually starts with a few lines, then becomes a paragraph, then a full page; for months, the narrative accretes like a coral reef until the outline is about 100 pages long. Then I start writing the novel.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Mask Beneath Her Face is inspired by the Slasher movies of the 1980s: Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Child’s Play, Hellraiser, and so on. I wanted to treat the Slasher mythos like any other source of horror lore: vampires, werewolves, or zombies. What really happened during the 1980s? What became of the teens who survived the attacks? Where are they now, 30 years down the line, and what condition are they in?
Obviously, I couldn’t use Jason Voorhees, Pinhead, or Leatherface in my novel, so I conjured up my own cadre of masked maniacs with machetes: Lady Bathory, Skingraft, Lantern Jack, and Hugo Withers.
As I get older, I think more about my heritage, and the myths of my Peruvian ancestors. Old gods always appealed to me. So this novel also explores some of the legends of the Moche. It’s rather dark stuff, which is always lovely.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new superhero novel. I had a blast writing The Astounding Antagonists, my 2014 supervillain novel, so now I’m writing a new story about an inexperienced superheroine who must defend her city against a terrifying crime wave.
KR: Thank you very much Rafael
During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.
Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.
Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.
How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?
If you love 80’s slasher flicks like Friday the 13th or Sleepaway Camp, this book’s for you!
Warning: This book contains extreme gore and violence. Not for the faint of heart!
Bobbi Metzger wrenched the hatchet from her boyfriend’s skull. In a few minutes, Bobbi thought, I will kill her, or she will kill me. Either way, this is going to be over soon.
She lurched across the room. Blood-soaked carpet squished under her feet. Red droplets slid down and dripped from the handmade banner over the doorway: Happy Birthday, Bobbi!
July 1st, 1987, was supposed to be the greatest night of her life. With their parents out of town, Bobbi and her sister had invited everybody to the lake house, and they’d more or less trashed the place.
Bobbi stepped over a dead body: a girl in acid-washed jeans and a Noid t-shirt. Bobbi didn’t recognize her. One of Megan’s friends.
The TV was still on. There was a video on MTV, some new band called Guns N’ Roses. Bobbi’s sister, Megan, had switched loyalty from Def Leppard to these guys, because she thought their singer was hot. “I’d feel his serpentine, anytime.”
“Those guys are all gross,” Bobbi had said. “Rob Lowe’s cute, though.”
Megan had pretended to gag.
Thick drops of blood dotted the red icing on Bobbi’s cake. A birthday card was propped up next to the cake, and the message was scrawled in Megan’s loopy handwriting: POP THAT CHERRY, BOBBI!
If Bobbi turned her head just a little bit, she would see Megan pinned to the wall with a fireplace poker through her mouth, blood dripping from the band of her polka-dotted Swatch. Bobbi didn’t look. She took another tentative step.
You can do it. You have to. If you don’t, you’re dead, like everyone else. No choice.
She stepped around the table in the middle of the room.
Heart pounding, Bobbi peeked into the kitchen. Nothing. She looked behind her.
On the couch, Bobbi’s boyfriend Kevin stared at her blankly, the hatchet wound like a vertical grin in his forehead. He wore a CONTRA t-shirt. Kevin spent most of his money down at Galaxy, the arcade at the mall, plugging quarters into games like Contra and Rastan.
Last night, Kevin had tried to protect Bobbi, throwing himself at the woman in black; but she had plucked the hatchet from his hand and buried it in his skull, so quickly that Bobbi wasn’t sure it had happened at all.
Then the killer had grinned at Bobbi while Kevin slumped backwards onto the couch, the axe handle sticking out of his skull. Bobbi tried to scream, but couldn’t make a sound.
Seven hours later, she was still trying to scream.
She caught a glimpse of herself in hallway mirror; she’d aged thirty years in a single night. The side of her face was swollen and sunrise-hued, crusted with dark blood.
Suddenly dizzy from pain and blood loss, she stumbled into the kitchen and banged her shin on a keg of beer. She froze, eyes wide. The killer heard that. She’s going to grab me and rip my face off. Hell, she’s probably right behind me. Bobbi turned to look. Nothing.
Carefully stepping around the keg, Bobbi tiptoed into the kitchen. Lipstick-stained cigarette butts spilled out of ashtrays; empty cans of Coors Light huddled around the sink. Hell of a party, Bobbi thought.
Last night, Bobbi had very nearly taken her first sip of beer, and had (more or less) made up her mind to lose her virginity to Kevin before the sun came up.
But around midnight, someone had emerged from the woods, right in the middle of Bobbi’s sweet-sixteen festivities.
A woman in dark rags, clutching rusty knives, muttering nonsensical words.
Hands trembling, Bobbi eased the kitchen drawer open. She paused, listening intently. Nothing. She sniffed the air. Nothing.
Okay, make it quick. And quiet.
She pocketed a couple of lighters and a book of matches, then snuck out the door, onto the porch. The sun was coming up.
Her face throbbed where the killer had tried to cut her face off. She had sliced Bobbi from ear to jaw; Bobbi squirmed free and bolted for the woods.
She thought about running. Then Katie Harper ran past her, into the woods, still naked from skinny-dipping, her hands covered in blood and her mouth open impossibly wide in a keening wail, and then Katie must have stumbled into some kind of trap, because a massive wooden spike jabbed straight up out of a pile of leaves and went straight through Katie’s torso, impaling her in mid-stride, and she twitched silently for a few minutes as she hung there.
So Bobbi didn’t run.
The police car was still parked in front of the lake house, doors wide open. Someone must have called 911 before the phone line got cut. Crouching behind their car, the cops had opened fire on the killer, and in return, she had scattered bits of them all over the lawn.
Bobbi stepped over a cop’s leg. Sunlight glinted on ripples in the lake, but there was no movement on the shore. Just mangled skinny-dippers.
Could get into the police car, maybe grab the radio, and push some buttons. Tell the other police to come quickly.
But no. She’d die waiting for the cops. And if she escaped this alive, she’d never sleep again. She’d go insane waiting for the killer to find her.
She won’t just let me go. I saw her face.
And she wants me dead.
Sunlight glinted off a cop’s watch; the cop’s arm, which lay next to an empty bottle of bourbon, had been hacked off just above the elbow.
From the ragged stump, a drop of blood floated up, like a dandelion seed. Bobbi stared, bewildered. Other drops beaded up on the torn flesh and cracked bone, and they drifted up into the air, weightless.
Bobbi shook her head. Was she hallucinating? Same thing happened last night, she thought, just before the killer grabbed me. When she’s near, blood floats like we’re in outer space. Or maybe I’ve lost my mind.
Faster now, Bobbi staggered down the gravel path. It veered off the driveway, then split, one end curving over lush grass to the boathouse, and the other sloping down to the lake. She trudged to shore, then gently stepped onto the fishing pier.
Nothing on the shore behind her, no movement in the woods, nothing in the windows of the house. Maybe she’s gone. But no, the killer wasn’t going to give up, sunlight be damned. She would follow Bobbi.
She had to follow Bobbi, in order for this plan to work…
Author site: http://www.rafaelchandler.com
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