Short Sharp Shocks! #49
Alicia Hilton: Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame
Reviewed & Additional Questions By Steve Stred
The second to last release in Demain Publishings Phase One of their Short Sharp Shocks! Series, Alician Hilton delivers two very different stories.
In the first story – ‘Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame,’ we are immediately thrown into the action where a hitman and hitwoman are moving a body that they’ve recently dispatched. We quickly learn that the victim is known to the hitwoman and she’s struggling a bit with the why and the need of having to do the job. Hilton adds in some really unique story twists as things unfold. I wasn’t totally sold on the ending. I feel like there was something either deleted or that I completely missed that brought it to that conclusion, but overall it was a really fun story.
The second story was a very hard turn in feel and style. Story two is called ‘A Little Death’ and really reminded me of an episode of the TV Show Grimm, just without Nick, Hank and the crew. We follow a witch as she prepares for her college school dance. She sources a date through the internet, as most people do now, and then prepares for the night and what needs to be done for her to graduate.
At first, I really disliked this story. It felt far too tame and almost as though it was written more for a YA crowd than a horror crowd. Then I realized, this was me being too hard on the story. That’s when I took a step back, and made the Grimm connection. I loved the Grimm show – but it was on a national network. They couldn’t swear or show too much gore. It still worked. Once I did that and read it with some fresh eyes – the story flowed and clicked and was a really fun time.
Overall, the two stories were good and I enjoyed both. It was a nice way to get introduced to Hilton’s work and seeing the list of places she’s appeared in after reading her biography, I’m very intrigued to see the scope of styles she’s tackled.
Steve Stred Post Review Questions
Your biography lists some really unique jobs! Have you found your background has helped you in your writing?
Absolutely. My background as a former FBI Special Agent, and my knowledge of forensic science, helps me to craft realistic law enforcement characters and crime scenes. Prior to joining the FBI, I was a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch. One of my horror stories features a protagonist who is a stock broker. While I was an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, I worked at three art galleries, selling fine art. Some of my characters are art collectors, and one of the protagonists in my novel-in-progress is an artist.
If one of your releases was to be made into a movie, which would you hope it to be?
Twisted Helix, my novel-in-progress. Twisted Helix is transgressive hopepunk—Blue is the Warmest Colour meets X-Men and Good Omens.
You can only choose one book to bring with you on a trip to Mars. Which book and why?
I would bring a blank book and a pencil, so I could record my observations and thoughts.
Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame
Writing about her Short Sharp Shocks! author Alicia Hilton said: “These are stories about dangerous women who confront supernatural forces. When the moon is full passion simmers and demons strike. Who will survive? ” Of MOONLIGHT, GUNSHOT, MALLET, FLAME, Alicia summed up her tale, thus: “Laura is a hitwoman who murdered men to avenge and protect innocent victims, but her violent past catches up to her after she kills her nephew. Are Laura’s terrifying visions hallucinations, or real? “ And of her second story, A LITTLE DEATH: “An Internet date unites two monsters. Descended from flesh-eating witches, Darla must choose whether to embrace her magical powers and kill, or risk her own destruction for love.”
Alicia Hilton: The Kendall Reviews Interview
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I am an author, attorney, law professor, actress, and former FBI Special Agent. I received my BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and my JD and MA from the University of Chicago. My recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Akashic Books, Bronzeville Books, ChiZine Publications, Daily Science Fiction, Dreams & Nightmares, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 4, and elsewhere. My website is http://www.aliciahilton.com. Follow me on Twitter @aliciahilton01.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
For entertainment, I love to read, watch movies, and explore nature. When the weather is pleasant, I bring a book to the local botanic garden or on a hike, combining two of my favorite pastimes.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I don’t have a favourite album. I enjoy a wide variety of music. Sometimes, I’ll listen to music when I write, to reflect the mood of the scenes I’m working on. I am writing a novel that is set in the early 1980s, so I have been listening to new wave, punk, and pop music from that time period.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
No, I don’t have a favourite horror movie/director. I prefer horror movies that build tension through psychological aspects, not gore.
KR: What are you reading now?
Ormeshadow, by Priya Sharma.
KR: What was the last great book you read?
The Best Horror of the Year Volume 11, edited by Ellen Datlow. Ellen Datlow is a fantastic editor, and the stories were amazing—so creative, and terrifying. I always look forward to reading The Best Horror of the Year.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Hardback. Hardbacks are more expensive, and they take up more space on a shelf, but if one of my favourite authors has a new title, I buy it in hardback. I treasure my books, and read my favourite novels and short story collections more than once.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
When I was a kid, I loved reading historical fiction, gothic novels, and thrillers. Now, I read a wider variety of books. So many authors have inspired me, including: Jane Austen, Mikhail Bulgakov, Angela Carter, Brian Evenson, Neil Gaiman, Stephen Graham Jones, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Josh Malerman, Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, Priya Sharma, Mary Shelley, Lucy Snyder, Richard Thomas, Chuck Wendig, and A.C. Wise.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
For short stories, I see where an idea takes me. For novels, I start with a rough outline.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I incorporate my own background and experiences in my writing, so I don’t need to do much research. For instance, because of my law enforcement training, I know how to use weapons, and I have experience conducting investigations. With regards to locations, if I am going to write about a real place, I always visit the location so I can incorporate landmarks and learn about the flora and fauna. When I write about magic and the supernatural, I’ll do research. The amount of time I spend researching depends on the topic.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
Most of my fiction is weird and dark, and could be called hopepunk. Many of my stories and poems incorporate animals.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
On days when I am not teaching or travelling, I begin writing after breakfast, take breaks for lunch, dinner, and exercise, and keep writing until late at night.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
That’s a tough question. I love different aspects of each of my stories.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Yes. I appreciate feedback from readers.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
My writing has become tighter, more creative, and darker.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
AH: Focus on character.
KR: What scares you?
I used to be terrified of spiders. When I was a kid, I decided to conquer that fear. I grabbed a spider’s egg sac, and dozens of baby spiders crawled on my hand. Fortunately, I was not bitten. Now that I’m an adult, my greatest fear is that someone who I love will be hurt or killed.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Moonlight, Gunshot, Mallet, Flame is a collection of two stories. The protagonists are dangerous women who confront supernatural forces. When the moon is full, passion simmers and demons strike. Who will survive?
KR: What are you working on now?
I am writing a novel.
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.
Angie, from my novel (work-in-progress). She has supernatural powers, and is protective and resourceful.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
MacGyver from the TV series and the books based on the TV series. He’d build a sturdy boat from chewing gum wrappers, tree sap, and driftwood, and we would escape the island.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
A Navy SEAL.
Alicia Hilton is an author, law professor, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Ever since she was a little girl and saw a ghost, she’s been fascinated by the supernatural. Alicia writes hopepunk—speculative fiction, neo-noir, and poetry about bravery and resistance. Her horror stories are gritty, but there is always a glimmer of hope, and a splash of dark humor. Alicia’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Akashic Books, Bronzeville Books, Daily Science Fiction, Demain Publishing UK, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4 & 5, and elsewhere.
Alicia received her BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and her JD and MA from the University of Chicago. As an FBI Special Agent, she was a member of a foreign counterintelligence squad, and also worked undercover in two long-term criminal cases.
You can find out more about Alicia via her official website www.aliciahilton.com
You can follow Alicia on Twitter @aliciahilton01
For more information about SSS! please visit the Official Demain Website www.demainpublishing.com
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of three novels, a number of novellas and four collections.
He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can follow Steve on Instagram @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here