{Book Review/Interview} A Time For Monsters: Mason McDonald

A Time For Monsters: Mason McDonald

Reviewed By Steve Stred

To be completely upfront and open about everything – Mason and I have been collaborators for close to five years now. Mason has done sixteen of my covers with more to come, as well as written an essay in my ‘Father of Lies’ Omnibus. Additionally, at one time, we’d begun co-writing a novella together, that I ended up releasing on my own called ‘The One That Knows No Fear.’

Since the beginning, we’ve connected and a number of the stories within this collection I’d previously beta-read and offered feedback on.

I’m saying that all in advance of offering – that even though this is considered his “debut” collection, Mason has been writing and releasing stories in one form or another for some time now and because of this, this collection reads more like a release from a seasoned pro than a brand-new writer.

What I liked: ‘A Time for Monsters’ opens with a bang with the eerie and unnerving ‘Purple Turbulence,’ a story that starts off innocently enough about a man smuggling drugs on a flight, but takes a horrific turn.

This is a common theme throughout this collection and one that McDonald doesn’t hide from. Seemingly innocent ideas that spiral out of control. Case in point; ‘Jar of Teeth.’ This is a story about a young girl who doesn’t want the tooth fairy to take her teeth but the story goes where you think it might with that idea and yet boy, does it get dark.

The collection itself is solid from start to finish and for me, personally, it was difficult to really pick a “favorite.” For me the one-two-three punch of ‘Don’t Pick up the Witchstone,’ ‘The Salesman’ and ‘On the Frozen Waters of Lake Namara’ really showcase his strengths and his gift at telling a story that’ll suck you in and have you connecting with the characters instantly.

Additionally, stories such as ‘A Culture of Swine’ and ‘Blinking With Your Eyes Open’ will make readers shudder and feel dirty.

What I didn’t like: As with all collections, readers may find some stories just don’t connect with them. Having read Mason as long as I have, I knew what I was in for. I think my biggest disappointment is not seeing his amazing novella ‘Crawley House’ included.

Why you should buy this: This is an impressive collection of stories showcasing the strength of Mason’s writing and his ability to craft amazing tales. Each one packs a wallop and at the end of each story you’ll need to stop and go back through the events, in disbelief over how much happens in such short word counts.

I’m so happy to see Mason’s first full-length release come about and this collection should get fans of dark fiction really excited.

A Time For Monsters

The return of violence to a man who’d thought he’d left that life behind…

A little girl with a macabre collection accidentally unearths an ancient evil…

Two boys will discover the real horror that lies below the frozen ice of Lake Namara…

A man, guilty of an atrocious crime, quickly learns that some sales are always final…

Glowing red lights in the fog are the first signs of unimaginable darkness…

Composed of 14 stories that span the gamut of horror, A Time for Monsters is Mason McDonald’s debut collection that will bleed you dry and leave you begging for more.

Be still, for now is the time of monsters…

You can find the A Time For Monsters Goodreads link HERE

The Kendall Reviews Interview

Mason McDonald

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Kendall Reviews: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Mason McDonald: Absolutely. My name is Mason McDonald and I’m from Dominion, Nova Scotia Canada. I’ve been writing since I was ten years old and it has always been about the spooky shit for me. My first short story was written in pencil on a tiny notebook and was maybe four pages, was entirely about zombies on a train, and was called EXTRA BAGGAGE. TRAIN TO BUSAN owes me royalties, I swear.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

MM: Mainly reading or watching horror movies. I’m not terribly interesting. Most nights are spent at home with my fiancee, Jenna.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

MM: This is an interesting question for me as I never really read many children’s books when I was younger. I started reading heavily when I was about 10 (the same time I started writing) and I jumped right into reading King, as he was the only author whose name I knew at the time. I went to my local library and asked where the Stephen King books were and they only had 3 in stock; DESPERATION, THE DARK HALF, and THE GUNSLINGER. I chose DESPERATION because of the cover and it is still my favourite novel. As for actual children’s books, STAND YOUR GROUND by Eric Walters was a favourite when I was about 11 or so. Hopefully that counts as an answer.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

MM: Music is an absolute major part of my writing. Picking a single album is hard, but off the top of my head I suppose it would be MELIORA by Ghost. Every track on that album is money. Most of the music I listen to while writing is either rock, metal, or horror movie soundtracks (SINISTER is a favourite). I occasionally like hip-hop but I cannot listen to it while writing. I enjoy very lyrical rappers and listening to their rhymes distracts me. Funny story – I once took a pot edible (very legal in Canada here, no worries) and listened to a Joyner Lucas track while writing. Took me way too long to realize I was just transcribing the lyrics as I heard them like some sort of intoxicated court stenographer.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?

MM: My favourite horror movie changes all the time, but lately it has been Evil Dead(2013). What Alvarez did with that film transcends just being a remake. In my opinion, as a massive fan of the entire series and of Ash Williams, Evil Dead(2013) is far superior in every way to every other instalment in the series. That final act? C’mon. So good. As far as a favourite director, for horror films, maybe Carpenter? Edgar Wright is my favourite director ever, though. He is just so, so good.

KR: What are you reading now?

MM: At the time of writing I am reading THE CRONING by Laird Barron. I just finished GOBLIN by Josh Malerman, as well. Josh is just a treasure, isn’t he? We’re lucky to have him.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

MM: I read SUICIDE WOODS by Benjamin Percy again recently and was just as blown away as I had been the first time. Percy is quickly becoming my favourite author. He combines the literary with the speculative in a way few can, in my opinion. Just amazing.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

MM: Generally, hardback. But to be uber specific, my favourite is a matte paperback(the kind that almost has a sort of dusty feel to them) with deckled edges. First example that comes to mind is the paperback of Joe Hill’s FULL THROTTLE. Those books just feel right. Like how a book should be.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

MM: Early on, King. As I got into my teens I read a ton of Cormac McCarthy and Hemingway. A few years back I read a novel called OUR DAILY BREAD by Lauren B. Davis which I think about possibly every day of my life so I would be remiss not to mention Lauren. The aforementioned Percy might be the biggest influence, though. I find myself subconsciously attempting to mimic his voice at times.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

MM: I’m a panster, baby. I don’t even have ideas for most of my finished stories. The majority I just sit down and type the first sentence that comes to mind and go from there. I have ugly first drafts, I can assure you.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

MM: Most of my work isn’t too research heavy but I tend to research as questions arise. For example, if I am writing about a hunter as someone with zero gun experience, I tend to wait until I reach a point in the story where I need to know, say, the model of gun the character is using and I will take a quick break to either search it on the Google machine or text my buddy who is an expert. I guess I take a pantsing mindset to researching as well.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

MM: Fast-paced, character-centric stories with an almost stream-of-consciousness franticness at times. I try to avoid describing a character’s feelings, instead opting to position my prose in such a way that we feel what they feel from the way things are presented, not explicitly told. If that makes any sort of sense at all. I tend to only heavily describe things that are important to the work and I purposefully take a minimalistic approach to anything not 100% vital. I try to take pulpy concepts and make them pretty. Something else I’m positive Percy influenced me on.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

MM: I’ve never been good at sticking to routines or sitting at a desk. I have an office in my home that more or less functions as a storage room at this point. I tend to write in the living room next to my fiancee on the couch, or at the kitchen table when editing. My day job hours fluctuate so sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes the afternoon, sometimes late at night. All depends on my schedule for that day.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

MM: That would be my story PURPLE TURBULENCE. Cosmic horror on a plane. Simple, somewhat funny, and I think just a really fun read. It is the opener for my upcoming collection.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

MM: I’ve only published a few short stories up until this point so I haven’t received many reviews, but the ones I have received, yes I read them. I prefer bad reviews, to be honest. An approach I take to everything in life (taught to me by my MMA coach when I was much younger) is that you can never improve without being shown your faults. You can tell me what I’m doing well all day, it won’t do anything for me but inflate my ego. I need to know my mistakes so I can improve on them and make myself a better writer and person. So please, shit on me. I need it.

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

MM: I used to struggle with characters. Learning how to properly develop a realistic character and make them feel alive, that has been my biggest struggle. I only hope the improvements I believe I’ve made translate to the page.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

MM: It wasn’t given directly to me, but in King’s ON WRITING he mentions being honest. While fiction is basically just making things up, your characters should still behave realistically, whether that is good or bad. Being honest in your writing goes a long, long way. As far as the actual physical act of writing, C. Robert Cargill says to set small, achievable goals that you can consistently hit every day. That was huge in avoiding burnout.

KR: What scares you?

MM: Something happening to those I care about. Also, whales. They’re my favourite animal but they’re fucking crazy scary. Literal giant sea creatures. Nuts.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

MM: Sure. A TIME FOR MONSTERS is my debut collection and is slated for release June 1st 2022. At the time of writing this, a preorder date has not been announced but stay tuned. The stories in this collection vary wildly from cosmic horror to folk horror, to one story in particular that isn’t even horror but in my opinion is the scariest in the collection.

KR: What are you working on now?

MM: Right now all my attention is focused on editing the collection but I am slowly plugging away at a cosmic horror novel, a folk horror novella, and a slasher/cosmic horror spec script. I like to keep multiple pots on the stove at any given time.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?

You can choose…

a) One fictional character from your writing.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

MM: Oof, this is a hard one. Here goes:

The main character from my story I Defile. He’s uh, a survivalist. Let’s leave it at that.

Miriam from Percy’s RED MOON. She is a kick-ass survivalist as well who could help keep the above character in check.

Les Stroud. Any other answer is incorrect.

KR: Thank you very much Mason.

Mason McDonald

Mason McDonald is a writer from Dominion, Nova Scotia currently living in Port Morien, Nova Scotia with his fianceé Jenna and their collection of animals. A Time For Monsters is his first collection.

All readers are encouraged to follow him on Twitter @Mas0nMcD0nald for all updates on future projects.

A Time For Monsters

The return of violence to a man who’d thought he’d left that life behind…

A little girl with a macabre collection accidentally unearths an ancient evil…

Two boys will discover the real horror that lies below the frozen ice of Lake Namara…

A man, guilty of an atrocious crime, quickly learns that some sales are always final…

Glowing red lights in the fog are the first signs of unimaginable darkness…

Composed of 14 stories that span the gamut of horror, A Time for Monsters is Mason McDonald’s debut collection that will bleed you dry and leave you begging for more.

Be still, for now is the time of monsters…

Steve Stred

Steve Stred is the Splatterpunk Nominated Author of ‘Sacrament’ and ‘Mastodon.’
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Steve has released over a dozen novels and novellas as well as a number of collections. He has appeared alongside some of horror’s biggest names within some truly excellent anthologies.
He is a proud co-founder of the LOHF Writer’s Grant and an Active Member of the HWA.

Website: stevestredauthor.wordpress.com
Twitter: @stevestred
Instagram: @stevestred
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16356875.Steve_Stred
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/steve-stred
Amazon: amazon.com/author/stevestred

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