The Qwillery | category: CT HorrorFest


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Sean McDonough

Please welcome Sean McDonough to The Qwillery. Sean is one of the fabulous horror writers that I met at CT HorrorFest last month. His most recent work is The Class Reunion which was released on October 29, 2019.

Interview with Sean McDonough

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first piece of horror you remember writing?

Sean:  The first thing I remember writing is an attempt at a Goosebumps book when I was ten. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that the plot revolved around a haunted carousel.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Sean:  100% a pantser. I think if the writing is organic, the best thing I can do is get out of the way. The closest thing I do to plotting is a scribbled note in the margins for something I want to do twenty pages down the road.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Sean:  The hardest thing for me is reminding myself that plot problems don’t have to unfold in a straight line. When I get to an interesting problem, my first instinct is to write out the solution with a battering ram. Good fiction comes with twists and turns, and I have to remind myself to keep the problem solving messy.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Sean:  80s horror. The books and movies of that decade had such an honest, unpretentious embrace of the wild gruesomeness that makes horror the mainstay genre of sleepovers and weirdos at the back of the bus. I try to write my own work in a way that captures that joyful carnage.

TQWhat appeals to you about writing horror?

Sean:  I like that horror is about breaking the rules. The dead come back to life. The thing bumping under the bed really is a creature. We root for the monsters instead of the white knights. Everything that the world is supposed to be gets inverted in a horror story.

TQDescribe your new novella, The Class Reunion, using only 5 words.

Sean:  Classic slasher style served fresh.

TQIn The Class Reunion who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Sean:  The easiest character was my main character Vickie. Her strengths and flaws really came together very early on. From there, I just had to sit back and see if she could survive the bloody gauntlet I laid out for her. The hardest was Alex. He’s one of the popular kids who, on the service, had it all put together. I had to find a way to get into his humanity without interrupting the flow of the story.

TQYou've described The Class Reunion as a slasher novella. For you what elements are essential for a slasher novella / novel?

Sean:  The most essential element is a memorable killer. It’s not enough to give a knife to a masked maniac, you have to make sure you do something to make him memorable. Which brings me to essential element number two- make sure the deaths are memorably outrageous.

TQDo you write any different types of horror? Tell us a bit about your other works.

Sean:  I write all kinds of horror. Aside from my previous slasher slasher novel, I’ve also written a creature feature and a massacre at a cursed amusement park.

TQ:   What's next?

Sean:  Up next is an old school witchcraft story with a grotesque twist.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Sean:  Pleasure was all mine.

The Class Reunion
October 29, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 150 pages

Interview with Sean McDonough
The graduates of Saint Regina Academy have broken into their abandoned elementary school for an impromptu reunion.

...But there’s someone else inside the school with them. He wants their flesh. He wants their blood. And he’s going to make sure that this is a class reunion that nobody ever forgets.

About Sean

Interview with Sean McDonough
Raised on Goosebumps, the horror section at Blockbuster, and other things he shouldn't have been exposed to at eight years old, Sean McDonough is a fresh new voice in horror fiction. His books evoke a sense of gleeful gruesomeness and dark humor, perfect for keeping the Halloween spirit alive all year long.

You can follow me on Facebook at

Instagram at

And you can peruse my works at

CT Horrorfest

Just a quick post about CT HorrorFest which is being held today at the Danbury Arena in Danbury, CT. I admit I hadn't paid much attention to guests and vendors at the show. I was delighted to find that some terrific authors were there.

My first wonderful surprise was spotting John L. Campbell. John writes the terrific Omega Days series.

CT Horrorfest

I picked up a signed set of the Omega Day novels (so far). John's most recent novel is

Cannibal Kingdom
September 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 460 pages

CT Horrorfest
Deep in an Indonesian jungle, a careless tourist releases an ancient evil that has lain dormant for centuries. Appearing as a virus, completely without symptoms and seemingly benign, Trident quickly infects the world's population. Silently it waits, counting down to the moment when it will reveal its true, terrifying nature.

It is only weeks before the presidential elections, and Garrison Fox, a decorated Marine and devoted husband and father, is almost assured of a return to the White House for a second term. As the campaign nears its final days, the First Family finds itself scattered across the U.S.

At an Ohio rally and across the globe, Trident suddenly unleashes its horrible power, transforming unsuspecting people into merciless killers driven to feed. When an infected Secret Service turns on him, President Fox is forced to flee across an America plunging deeper into savagery with each passing hour.

In Atlanta, a CDC researcher will work against her own mortality in an effort to stop an extinction-level event. In Pennsylvania, a newly commissioned second lieutenant is hurled into a war for which he was never trained. And moving east toward a secure mountain bunker, President Fox must find a way to save his family, his country and his own life...if he's not already too late.

I also saw authors Robert J. Stava, Tim Meyer, Chuck Buda, and Hunter Shea:

CT Horrorfest

And of course, I picked up some autographed books!

CT Horrorfest
Nightmare from World's End
Severed Press, October 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 246 pages

In the aftermath of a major hurricane, a massive antique crate washes up on the shore of Raadsel Point. It’s smuggled cargo from the wreck of the Edmund Wood, an unregistered transport returning from a very unusual expedition. . . a ship that went down in the deepest and most dangerous part of the Hudson known as 'The World’s End'. The nightmare creature it contains is about to unleash havoc on the citizens of the sleepy river village of Wyvern Falls and inadvertently draw to it a predator thought extinct a millennia ago. It will come down to two people to figure out what both these creatures are and how to stop them: expat CID Detective John Easton and American Indian anthropologist Sarah Ramhorne. The two of them will have to unravel local Indian myths, outmaneuver a corrupt mayor, a failing Ancient Astronaut Theorist TV show and an overzealous Green Folk Festival if they are to stand any chance of saving the day.

CT Horrorfest
The Thin Veil
May  8, 2017
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 152 pages

Something strange is happening in the small town of Pleasant Plains, New Jersey. People are getting sick. Peculiar noises can be heard from inside their homes. Some of them are acting weird, speaking in unknown languages. Then there are the butterflies. And the green pulsating light coming through the cracks in the walls. Oh, and the hunger. Yes, the people of Pleasant Plains are starving and nothing seems to satisfy their primary desire.

Except for the children. The kids have proven to be quite filling...

The Thin Veil is a 35,000 word horror/science fiction novella.

Contains two previously unpublished short stories: PURPLE CHEESE and NO MAKEUP.

CT Horrorfest
Curse of the Ancients
Son of Earp 1
May 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 188 pages

1870’s. A peaceful town in Iowa territory. The townspeople dislike their new visitor. An Indian man. But they are about to find out that the color of his skin is the least of their worries. A young man, James Johnson, illegitimate son of the legendary Wyatt Earp, dreams of adventure and following in his daddy’s footsteps. James and his mentally disabled friend, Carson, are about to come face to face with an evil previously unimaginable in their little town. An evil they invited in. All hell’s about to break loose. Supernatural forces are at work and the body count is rising... Curse of the Ancients is the first novel in the Son of Earp series by Chuck Buda. It is approximately 57,000 words and contains adult language and scenes of horror. Reader discretion is heavily advised.

CT Horrorfest
Forest of Shadows
Jessica Backman's Death in the Afterlife 1
August 5, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

The dead still hate!

John Backman specializes in inexplicable phenomena. The weirder the better. So when he gets a letter from a terrified man describing an old log home with odd whisperings, shadows that come alive, and rooms that disappear, he can’t resist the call. But the violence only escalates as soon as John arrives in the remote Alaskan village of Shida. Something dreadful happened there. Something monstrous. The shadows are closing in…and they’re out for blood.

“Ancient evil, old school horror and modern style. Highly recommended!" -Jonathan Maberry

“A must add to the library of anyone who loves a great ghost story.” – The Horror Bookshelf

“A spine-tingling jaunt.” RT Book Reviews

I also picked up a couple of pieces of art by Michael Adrian Lavoie (excuse the not wonderful photos; the art is fabulous).

CT Horrorfest

CT Horrorfest

These lovely ladies were giving massages to weary CT HorrorFest patrons:

CT Horrorfest

And last but not least, my daughter cosplayed as Dean from Supernatural:

CT Horrorfest

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

Editor's Note: Trinitytwo had a wonderful time at Connecticut HorrorFest. For some reason Black Friday seems to be a really great day to share what she thought!

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo
(Click to embiggen this and all photos... if you dare)

     The very first Connecticut HorrorFest happened this past August. It was an excellent little Con put on by Horror News Network. In fact, in my opinion, it was the definitive quality over quantity experience. It was held at Waterbury’s Courtyard Marriott Hotel; a small space compared to larger cons, but jammed packed with a very cool array of special guests. Linda Blair, who had been slated to appear, unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. However, Connecticut HorrorFest still boasted such Horror royalty as Halloween’s Michael Myers, Tony Moran; Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Ari Lehman; Paranormal Activity’s Micah, Micah Sloat; American Horror Story: Asylum’s Pepper, the beautiful Naomi Grossman; and Day of the Dead’s Steel, Gary Howard Klar among many other notables.

     My children exposed me to AMC’s The Walking Dead in the beginning of Season 3 and although I resisted at first, I must admit I have become a huge fan. Michonne’s “pets” were going to be there signing autographs and so was one of my favorite characters from the show; T-Dog, the fantastic IronE Singleton. Connecticut HorrorFest had a special VIP package in which for $150.00 a maximum of ten guests could enjoy breakfast, a Q & A, and a photo with IronE. I simply couldn’t resist and bought three tickets as my son and daughter were going with me. Was it worth it? Absolutely!! IronE Singleton was simply awesome.

     Although my memory isn’t perfect and this wasn’t a formal, taped interview, I would like to share some of the more interesting topics we discussed. When IronE came in, he walked over to me and gave me a big hug. We exchanged pleasantries and he moved on around the room, giving each VIP a hug and a smile and some face time. There were only five VIP guests that morning and it really felt like we had IronE all to ourselves. Horror News Network’s Christine Caprilozzi was this VIP experience’s event coordinator and she broke the ice by asking IronE the first question. She asked him what it was like working with Michael Rooker, who played Merle; especially on the rooftop scene in Episode 2. Any fan of the show will immediately recall the racially tension-packed rooftop scene. IronE responded by saying that Rooker is an amazing person. He was so excited to be working with the legend. He shared that Rooker met with him before the shooting of that particular episode and wanted to make sure that it was ok with IronE that he would be spitting on him. IronE told us he said something to the effect of: yeah, man I want this to be real. After each take IronE told us he received a new shirt and there were about 15 takes. One of the guests piped in saying “You left my favorite character on the roof to die.” IronE denied that at once saying T-Dog didn’t do that. He went back and simply dropped the keys. That’s T-Dog being clumsy. If anyone’s to blame, it should be Rick because he handcuffed him to the pipe. We all shared a laugh.

     IronE got back to the topic of Michael Rooker and told us how after a grueling weekend at a Con, Rooker drove an extra hour from the airport to attend a party at IronE’s place and although he had been going all weekend, he was still the life of the party. IronE said he really didn’t have to do that. It really was great to work with a legend like him. Another guest asked “What would it be like if you had actually saved Merle? Do you think he would have killed you?” IronE answered thoughtfully that T-Dog went back for him. And no, you can’t kill someone after they just saved your life. A guest piped in “Merle probably would have punched you in the face.” IronE laughed and said we’d have punched each other. I chimed in and said “You’d win in that fight” and we all laughed some more. Another cool question was “What was your favorite weapon?” IronE said he favored the chimney poker. He thought it was pretty original and if used correctly you could stick the poker right though an eye socket into a walker’s brain. I asked him who his best friends on the set were. He told us that he was friends with everyone, but his closest friends were Jeffrey DeMunn and Scott Wilson. Another question asked was “What was your favorite episode?” IronE said everything in the first season was his favorite because of the friends he made on the set and the stories they shared. He said Season One Episode 2 was his very favorite because it was the start of everything. He said at the time the cast didn’t know history was being made so that made it special. He mentioned that he was told when he originally signed on the show that he would only be appearing in 2-3 episodes.

     IronE was asked what the funniest thing that happened on the set was. He spoke about Norman Reedus and how he has a gross but funny sense of humor. The food that particular morning was sausage but it was gray and long. It was kind of weird looking but IronE was eating it anyway. He said Reedus came by and asked what is that you’re eating, poop? IronE agreed that it looked like poop, but finished eating his sausage. Later, they were filming the scene with the well walker, or as Dale called it “the swimmer”. IronE kept gagging because of the poop reference and the grotesque well walker. The director, Billy, told IronE that he was putting an interesting take on the scene but asked if he could do it again without gagging. IronE laughed and said he couldn’t help it. Reedus had really messed him up. But never fear, IronE told us, he got him back. Soon after this episode, one of the sets was broken into by an animal or squatter who defecated by the fireplace. When the cast and crew got there they knew it was real poop. But Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln, who were waiting outside weren’t warned and no one told them. Reedus stepped in it and everyone could see him sniffing the air. He asked them what smelled so bad. IronE happily told us that after the scene was shot they finally told him. Reedus asked why they didn’t tell them earlier to which IronE said with a smile, revenge.

     He didn’t say he was sad about being killed on the show. On the contrary, he had only expected to work a few episodes and instead worked three seasons. He told us that after season one; he began reading his scripts from the back to the front to see if he was going to survive. He was delighted that in script after script, T-Dog lived. They told him a month in advance that T-Dog was going to be killed. He was sad because he wasn’t going to get his hugs from the set and he was going to miss all the wonderful people on the show but he was happy for the experience and ultimately ok that T-dog died. He felt proud that T-Dog was given a “good” death; one with meaning.

     We switched gears to The Blind Side in which he played the nasty thug, Alton. I asked him what it was like being yelled at by Sandra Bullock in the movie. He shared with us how that movie was his big break after acting for 15 years. He talked about how nice “Sandy” was. He told a story about how he was sitting after a scene with some extras and he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was “Sandy”. She had watched the dailies of him doing that particular scene when he was threatening her character and she felt that he had done an incredible job. She told him she was nervous about her response to that scene because he had just given an amazing performance. He explained that she didn’t have to come over, and that most stars wouldn’t, but she is just that nice. An interesting bit of trivia is that he had grown up in the projects and had actually visited those particular projects from the movie in his youth.

     He shared with us the fact that his mother died when he was 18 and soon after she passed, he had an epiphany of how he needed to live his life. He said he felt it was important to give love and kindness and how he believed it would come back to you if you did. He spoke about his upcoming one man show and his future appearances at the upcoming Walker Stalker Cons. Throughout our discussion it was evident that he was deeply religious and extremely devoted to his wife and kids.

     He gave each of us an autographed copy of his book Blindsided by the Walking Dead (review below). We were then able to pose for a photo before it was time for IronE to go out and meet the rest of his fans.

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

     After our “breakfast” with IronE, I decided to stop by the Decimated Designs booth and get my inner zombie on. It cost $40.00 for a full face treatment and I went for it. Asked whether I wanted to be a pretty zombie or an ugly one, I joked with Kyle, the owner and makeup artist, “Hey, I’m pretty every day. I want to know what it’s like to be horrifyingly ugly for a change.” He did a great job. People were telling me I looked gruesome all day! I was a very happy customer.

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

     Soon after being “zombified” my family and I visited Moses J. Moseley and Theshay West, Michonne’s Pet Walkers in Season 3. I joked that I was turning the tables on them. They were used to being the “Walkers” but in our photo together, I was the zombie and they were themselves.

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

     Gary Howard Klar is another awesome actor who loves to interact with his fans. He played Steel in Day of the Dead, and was someone my son just had to meet. We did wait a while in line but when it was finally our turn, Mr. Klar spoke with my son for at least 20 minutes. He recounted events from the set, complimented George Romero’s directing skill, gave insight into his character and his motivations in playing the role. He talked local CT football; he spoke about the importance of family and how critical it is for young people to be politically aware. One of my favorite things he told us about was his audition for Hit Man in Legal Eagles. He said when it was his turn to audition, the director asked him to scare him. He told us he threw the guy across the table. He got the job. He also spoke about working with Robin Williams and what a talented man Williams really was. Gary Klar was a great guy and a wonderful role model for my son.

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwoWalking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

     We checked out the vendors, made some purchases, and walked around a few times to see if we missed anything. Later in the day, when we had our fill of Connecticut HorrorFest, my kids asked to say goodbye to IronE. He had made them feel special. In between guests I called to him and waved “IronE, we’re heading out.” I expected a smile and maybe a wave, but IronE came over, hugged each of us and smiled saying “Leaving me, huh? It was so nice meeting you all.” IronE Singleton is a truly cool human being. I want to thank Horror News Network and Connecticut HorrorFest for a thoroughly great day. I felt I got my money’s worth and look forward to attending next year’s event which is slated to take place on July 18, 2015 at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT.

Blindsided by the Walking Dead
     “From surviving the street to slaying the geeks”
Author:  IronE Singleton with Juliette Terzieff
Publisher:  CreateSpace, March 20, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback, 208 pages
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo
On the streets of Atlanta, the fight to survive is a daily battle.

From the drug-infested corners of one of the city's worst housing projects, to alleyways filled with ravenous zombies-- Blindsided by the Walking Dead examines one man's battle to overcome the violence, drugs, and crime of the 'hood; starting with a young IronE Singleton determined to succeed despite an abusive mother, an absent father, and the temptations of instant gratification inherent with the thug life.

Football and Faith in God become IronE's allies in his quest to escape and helped him reach for the lights of the University of Georgia's football field and theater stages.

After years of struggle--failed businesses, small roles, and an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles--IronE snags his major breakthrough role, playing the kind of drug-dealing, gun-toting thug he would have become on the streets, in The Blind Side.

When he is cast as T-Dog on AMC's international mega-hit "The Walking Dead", IronE examines through art what humanity is about and what it means to truly survive against all odds. Alongside cast mates Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Andrew Lincoln, IronE fought, gagged, and sweat his way into the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View

IronE Singleton writes straight from his heart. Film enthusiasts will enjoy his anecdotes from working on the movie, The Blind Side, which was his big break as an actor. Any fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead will love the stories he shares about working on the set, his fellow actors and crew. I especially connected to his point that the show is more about the human condition than the undead. Reading his memoir, I was amazed at his openness and bravery as he unveiled the good, the bad, and the sometimes frightening events that shaped his life. As a mom, my heart ached for the young IronE as he recounts the highs and lows of his relationship with his mother including her addictions and her fatal illness. IronE reveals the stark truths of his life without any sugar coating or excuses and I love the fact that he recounts his own shortcomings so matter-of-factly. He admits to making some serious mistakes but owns every single one of them and, it seems to me, always strives to become a better person in spite of them. For all the hard times he and his family endured, his family always taught him the importance of faith. His faith in God and his ability to focus on the positive is a common theme. I am partial to a line near the end of his book. He is still at an early point in his acting career and has yet to achieve commercial recognition, yet he gives himself a pep talk by saying “Look how far you’ve traveled already.” This struck a chord with me and now when I feel low I remember that line because it says so much. It’s obvious that IronE’s intention is to share his life story so that others growing up in the same circumstances as he did, realize that there is a better life out there. This book is about challenges and choices, faith and love, survival and hope. I would definitely recommend this book to any IronE fan but also to anyone who is feeling down and in need of a pick me up. This book is truly inspirational.

Interview with Sean McDonoughCT HorrorfestWalking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

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