Pleasure’s all mine Janel. I’ve read your column several times and always intrigued with your thought provoking questions and captivating topics. Now, House of Anguish is my debut horror novel. It depicts the plight of Damien Galligher. At the tender age of seven he accidentally murders his tyrant of an abusive father. Plagued with guilt and shame, young Damien succumbs to countless nightmares and grapples with how to cope within society, relationships, vocations and the remainder of his family. Thirteen years later he’s invited to his hometown for a wedding. As the date comes closer the nightmares become more hellacious and begin to mirror reality. As a final one last stand he decides to visit the scene that embodies all his terror, his childhood home to put to rest his demons, once and for all.
How did the idea manifest for you?
They say the carnal rule of writing (whomever they are exactly), is to write what you know. It takes the dizzying hours of research down to a minimum, plus accentuates the authenticity of the tale. Chances are if a story is dull or inconceivable to the writer, it’ll be exactly the same tenfold to the reader.
I grew up in an abusive household, or more accurately my early childhood years. Let’s face it, in 2018 its more difficult than not to find someone who hasn’t sustained some sort of childhood trauma, than those of us who endured the anguish.
I only hope that House of Anguish will resonate among readers. My mission is for audiences to see there is beauty even in the darkest of tales.
Do you have anything special that you like to do when you write?
A great question! In terms of special rituals, I like to under go a steady regimen of hypnosis for at least thirty minutes just before sitting down to my computer. I find it frees the mind of clutter, sharpens concentration and opens the emotional and spiritual aspects.
Sometimes I listen to music that moves me. I find myself gravitating towards bands like In This Moment, Stone Sour, Butcher Babies among others. I try to proceed with caution, however as my musical flare takes an unexpected detour and I’m suddenly engrossed in ninety minutes of music while only writing a single page.
Tell us about your publishing company and why did you decide to start that?
CanAida Publishing is a brainchild in its purest sense, of a philosophy, or way of life more than anything. I could go on and on to no end about how it was conceived. In the summer of 2017 I was going through a somewhat melancholy phase. I had no reason to be down, just felt a little empty inside. I began to give up on contemporary ways of today’s culture. Social media irritated me to no end. I refused to have a cell phone. Forget about dating. Most of my friends lived hours away and I felt stuck in a mundane job. I went to a concert with my daughter Mandy in Toronto. I think there were five bands on the bill. Korn was the headliner, which was great for releasing some pent-up aggression. Stone Sour was one of the openers. They had this song, I have no idea why I dug so much called Song #3. It’s essentially a rocker ballad about coming face to face with your soul mate. I have no idea what came over me at that concert, but I started to belt out lyrics I didn’t wasn’t even consciously aware I knew. I’m ordinarily very conservative, quiet and laid back. Even Mandy didn’t know what came over me. When the song was over, I just felt, alive, reborn. I had several epiphanies in rapid succession in the days following. I was just on verge of tossing all forms of social media aside. It seemed toxic to me. I was just about to delete my Facebook account when heartbeats later I’d received a friend’s request from a very special person I’d become estranged from nearly a decade before.
Her name was Aida. We were always very fond of one another. In no time flat we’d caught up everything that had transpired in our lives. We offered words of encouragement and inspiration. We talked endlessly on books, film, culture and music. We even dedicated sappy love songs to one another daily. One day stuck in traffic, Song #3 had come on the radio. While on its own seems like nothing extraordinary. In sweltering mid-day August heat, my daughter and I were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. As I hummed along to the all familiar lyrics I looked up at the license plate before me. It read AIDA 210. Ok, so arguably another coincidence. Except…. when I’d rushed home to tell Aida about this oddity she told me her birthday is October 2.
We fell pretty hard for one another, despite meeting on the internet. Yet we kept one another captivated and more enamored by the day. We told each other jokes, played pranks on one another. I wrote poems for her almost daily. It felt like a surreal, whirlwind romance. But along with just about every romance there comes obstacles. I lived in Niagara Falls, Canada. Aida resided in Sarajevo, Bosnia. We didn’t let the distance get to us however and planned to unite face to face as soon as humanly possible. I took the bold leap in flying over seas that November. I gave notice at my job. I bid my farewells to my friends and family. I got an engagement ring and was going to propose. Aida accepted, and our tale exuded happily ever after.
It never really quite worked out as accordingly to plan and we went our separate ways but amicably. So unintended long-winded answer, but CanAida is a tribute to anyone who ever feels like their dreams are beyond reach. The Universe works in mysterious ways. It’s often darkest right before the dawn, so never give up. You never know what awaits you.
For numerous years I had resisted self-publishing as to be brutally honest I’m somewhat of a glory whore and find a real sense of self gratitude in some one purchasing your efforts, your heart, your soul for their own personal gain. While I’ve had a handful of short stories published through traditional publishers I never could quite find the right home for House of Anguish. I came close on numerous occasions. Yet all roads seemed to lead to self-publishing my most passionate piece.
Will you be making any upcoming appearances?
While House of Anguish has been out for a couple months now, I’m still relatively a virgin to shameless self-promotion. Some exciting news on the horizon, however. I’ve recently negotiated retail sales through Avondale Stores in the golden horseshoe area, or Niagara Falls, Canada if you prefer. We’re going to pilot it in one location with a possibility of looking at an additional ninety locations. I’ll be making a very special announcement in terms of dates for signings and readings with them in the very near future.
I’m not at liberty to divulge quite yet the details about another nationwide retailer that is also looking at distribution and sales. But when the time comes, rest assured this is going to be very big news.
MyBook book stores in Sarajevo, Bosnia has agreed to carry House of Anguish as well. It’s my aim to schedule an appearance with them in late fall or early winter.
I’ve also just recently partnered with SOS Children’s Villages. This is a charity I’m extremely passionate about. Generous donations are utilized to provide food, shelter, clothing, education, and ongoing counselling. Fifty percent of all sales of House of Anguish will be going directly to SOS Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I like to think of it from a consumer’s perspective, your purchase of House of Anguish will captivate you in tales of one man’s living hell while alleviating the hell for many others.
Beyond that I have plans to eventually embark upon The Lights Are Out and No one’s Home Tour. I’ve always wanted to visit as many small towns with second hand book shops and libraries as possible. Beginning locally, my nomad spirit will make its way through the rest of Canada, then the States. Stay tuned for official launch dates!
What can you tell us about the characters? From what I have read, “House of Anguish” is so good. You truly describe the details and you feel as if you are there. It is creepy and good and you cannot stop reading.
Thank you, very much! You have no idea what that means to me. I’d likely get in a good little bit of hot water if I disclosed too much about the origin of the characters (laughs). But in all seriousness, I think the characters that resonate the most among readers are the ones we either love or love to hate.
The protagonists in House of Anguish are essentially those throughout my childhood that brought out the best in me, moved me in some way or somehow made me a better person. While its naturally still fiction I do believe those closest to me will have no difficulty recognizing the sly wink I’ve presented on the pages as an homage of endearment.
Of course, the antagonists are a reflection of all those who have created adversity. I’ve always thought the ultimate character is one that falls somewhere in between. As a writer, then you know you’ve delved on in choppy waters to create believable, complex characters the readership can still relate to.
Has anyone inspired you professionally?
Oh gosh yes. Carnal rule of writing number two, read. Read constantly. Of course, there’s the obvious like Stephen King, Clive Barker, Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz. On a more personal level, author Eric A. Shelman. He wrote the Dead Hunger series among many others. He even introduced Dave Gammon as a character into his runaway hit zombie series. Eric has done more for me inspirationally than I’m capable of expressing. I’m honored to call him brother. James Dean who also has a mesmerizing flare for zombielore in his series This Dying World. James has always been there for me when needed most. A true man among men. Tina Piney, who has published countless tales through J. Ellington Press. Tina and I sort of broke our publishing cherry together. I love her to pieces. If you haven’t already I strongly encourage you to check out her stuff. So many countless others. Ray Garton, JG Faherty, Devan Sagliani, Barbie Wilde, Brett Talley, Jo-Anne Russell, Elizabeth Fields, the list goes on and on.
Last but not least, my dear, dear friend, actress, producer, writer, screen queen Brooke Lewis. Her infectious approach to life, forever embodying gratitude, greatness and philanthropy is beyond inspiring. It’s no mystery as to why I’d carefully chosen her to pay me the honors of penning the foreword to House of Anguish.
What are you working on next?
CanAida Publishing has many irons in the fire! The Neighbor: Hearts of Scorn is an erotic thriller by Rick O’Shea with a projected release date of August 2. It’s about a writer, newly divorced that moves across country for a new start in life and work on his latest book. Next door is a vivacious vixen named Anita Miller. Their sultry soiree is merely the beginning to a much more torrid shadow that lurks around every corner.
Euphoria Historia is a prequel to House of Anguish. We get more beyond the layers of Damien Galligher at the age of seven. There’s more to our boy hero than meets the eye as the readership learns he has psychic abilities while under the influence of narcotics. When his sister Kass is abducted, Damien may be the only key that that can unlock her whereabouts. Projected release date is October 2.
Along side with Euphoria Historia, CanAida will be releasing its first anthology titled Rapid Eye Movement. Twenty different authors will be presenting short stories about dreams they’ve had. While far from a new concept, what’s different about Rapid Eye Movement is each story will have a brief analysis of the dream at the end of each chapter. Projected release date is also October 2. Just in time for Halloween.
If this book would become a film, who do you see playing Damien?
An excellent question! From a block buster perspective, I think an interesting choice would be Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory fame. Not that he necessarily resembles Damien, but I think he owns the oddity or outcast persona. I think the best acting work of Parsons is yet to come. I’d love to see him in a role that is not comedic. Paul Dano may be another good choice. His work in Ruby Sparks is mind blowing. Not many actors can convey a façade of awkwardness, vulnerability and triumph within a heartbeat. I think Dano would definitely deliver a very powerful Damien Galligher.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Creative writing was always my favorite class. Imagination just always came naturally. In grade three I wrote a story about three Hollywood bombshells that were abducted by aliens. I positively loathe public speaking but witnessing my peers laugh, become unnerved all the while sitting on the edge of their seats was the most absolute rush I’d ever experienced. It became an addiction. I try to capture that experience with everything I write now. I live to enslave the audience.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing a book?
Writing something you’re confident is good. I can’t say how many times I’d written something, put it aside and returned to it long after the fact and just scratched my head and said, what was I thinking? The most frightening part of horror is putting yourself out there at the mercy of others. I’m always mortified readers won’t get what I’m going for or find it boring. Overall, I’m a victim of my own neurosis as I’ve received some of the most flattering compliments of my work. Sometimes its pretty overwhelming.
Thank you so much and I look forward to reading more books from you! You are beyond talented.
And thank you Janel and everyone at horrornews.net. Keep the chills coming.
To make a true difference and subside horror donations can be made directly to SOS Children’s Villages at
Or make a difference and cast the shadows beyond by getting your copy of House of Anguish today