Day 9 of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween…horror and genre author C. M. ForestRegan Macaulay
Another grizzly horror author is on offer for you today! Let’s get right into my chat with C. M. Forest, and get all the updates on what he’s been up to since our first 13 Days interview 2 years ago…
C.M. Forest, also known as Christian Laforet, is the author of the novel Infested, the novella We All Fall Before the Harvest, the short story collection The Space Between Houses, as well as the co-author of the short-story collection No Light Tomorrow. His short fiction has been featured is several anthologies across multiple genres. A self-proclaimed horror movie expert, he spent an embarrassing amount of his youth watching scary movies. When not writing, he lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife, kids, three cats and a pandemic dog named Sully who has an ongoing love affair with a blanket.
Tell me about We All Fall Before the Harvest – What is it about?
We All Fall Before the Harvest is a cosmic horror/noir novella. It follows a career criminal named Owen who has just stolen the wrong thing: a cursed painting. The former owners, The Family, will stop at nothing to get it back. The longer the painting is in Owen’s possession, the more it alters reality around him.
What inspired the story?
I’ve long been a fan of both the cosmic horror genre, as well as hard-boiled noir stories. So, it was only natural to combine the two. I had no real inspiration for this one, other than I wanted it to be grim. Bleak nihilism all the way!
My father was a farmer. He said it was hard work, but it made a man feel useful. Gave action to the hands. Gave purpose to his soul. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can tell you that if you don’t keep your hands busy, they’re liable to cause you some trouble.
He and my mom moved to the city shortly after I was born. He found factory work by the pier and put food on the table. But city living didn’t agree with him. He became restless. Violent. Some of my most vivid memories of my old man are him sitting at the kitchen table with an ice pack on his face; Mom trying to clean the mess he’d made of his knuckles. He usually couldn’t remember who he had fought or if it was with more than one person. I always thought that funny. How could you not remember? But now I realize it wasn’t that he couldn’t actually recall, but rather that he hadn’t cared.
One day, when I was ten—my dad was less than a year off from drinking himself into a whiskey-soaked grave—he sat me down and told me a story. It was something that happened to him on the farm. Before he spoke, he pulled a cigarette from a crumbled pack tucked into his pocket and lit up. He let the smoke seep out of his mouth, gray tendrils snaking up past his bushy eyebrows. I noticed the way he looked at me. It’s the way I expect those on death row look toward the priest when the holy man comes for absolution. He told me about the pigs.
A disease had snuck into the farm; something nasty. Something contagious. It spread like weeds through the animals. He told me how nobody could sleep at night because of the screaming hogs.
“They’d puke their guts out, Owen. Literally vomit up their stomachs. But,” he took a long drag of his cigarette, “it didn’t look like no offal that I’d ever seen before. No, their guts were all black and infected.”
I remember being horrified at the words. I could see the bloody viscera hanging from the poor creatures’ snouts as they spewed up their very organs. When I asked what happened, he just stared at me.
Finally, snuffing out the half-smoked cigarette, he shook his head and stood up. I thought he was going to leave the tale unfinished, but then he turned back and said: “To save the rest, we had to cull them. I never liked killing them animals, but I was good at it. I had a talent for the slaughter.”
I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately. I don’t really know why. It’s just there, in my head. Even now, with somebody else’s blood slick on my fingers, I can almost see those sorry pigs falling to my father’s blade.
Tell me about Infested – what’s it about?
Infested is a survival horror/parasite novel. Olivia wakes up in her apartment alone; her husband is missing. The power is out. As she ventures from her home, she discovers that her neighbours in the building have become puppets of sorts to a breed of parasitic insects. These people are the Infested and they want very much to kill Olivia.
What inspired the story?
Infested is a long-gestating story for me. I’ve been working on it in one form or another for over five years before it was published. The inspiration, strangely enough, goes back to a single piece of music. I was listening to the track Hand Covers Bruise, but Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from The Social Network soundtrack when I jotted a couple sentences down which would become Infested.
She thought about knocking, but that seemed absurd under the circumstances. Instead, she planned to grab the knob, throw the door open, and confront the old man. Before she could though, something slammed into the door on the other side.
The light along the bottom was smothered.
She couldn’t see the knob twist, thanks to the dusk of the small hallway, but she could hear it. A slow, persistent squeal followed by a click. The door fell open a few inches. Through the gap, Olivia saw two things.
The first—and what appeared to be the source of the light—was an e-reader. The device leaned against the bottom of a highly polished wooden chest next to a bed with a ruffled comforter hanging limply off the side. A red smear of something on the e-reader’s screen had turned the normally white display a sickly orange.
The second sight to greet her increased in gruesome detail as the door widened, like a picture coming into focus. Lying on the floor, her body bathed in the e-readers light, was a woman. She wore grey exercise tights—with a large, pink heart across the ass—and a purple sports bra. The woman was positioned awkwardly on the ground. Her head and face had been reduced to a chunky pulp, making any identification on Olivia’s part impossible. Resting against the ruin of her head was an oval hunk of glass. Flecks of skull and brain, along with a healthy wash of blood, nearly covered the entirety of the object. In the dim light, the words, Willum Elliot – Businessman of the Year – 1996, could be seen. Olivia realized the shunk had been the sound of the award being driven repeatedly into the corpse’s head.
She raised her free hand to her mouth, her palm effectively trapping the scream threatening to erupt.
Blood-stained fingers appeared around the edge of the open door and heaved it the rest of the way. Standing before her—backlit by the e-reader—was Willum Elliot. He was not a big man, but in that moment, he seemed to completely fill the frame. His boney arms and legs looked stick-like contrasted with his sagging, paunch of a belly. He was wearing boxer shorts and a white undershirt, both articles of clothing spattered with blood.
All these details, like individual drops of rain, were lost in the storm that was Mr. Elliot’s face. His mouth hung open at an impossible angle. Several of his teeth were missing, and the corners of his lips were torn and bleeding. Multiple lines of blood and saliva hung in ropes off his chin.
“Mr. Elliot?” she whispered.
As soon as the name left her mouth, something physical left his.
It appeared quickly, a shiny black head preceding a segmented body. A large insect, about the size of a small cat, emerged from Willum Elliot’s damaged maw amid a series of retching coughs and burps. The creature climbed up the elderly man’s face, horrid little legs finding purchase in the folds of his skin. It stopped once it reached his forehead. Clinging there, half-free from the old man’s mouth, the bug began to hiss.
Olivia could not stop her scream this time.
What is it you like best about writing horror genre fiction?
I’ve always been drawn to scary stories. Even as a little kid, I wanted to watch the newest Friday the 13th more than whatever Disney film was gracing theatres. There’s something so satisfying about a good horror story. It effects you physically. It makes your heart race, your skin prickle. As a horror writer, there is no greater reward than somebody telling you how much your words frightened them. Made them want to sleep with a light on. Made them afraid to go in the basement. That’s the reason I love writing it, and will always be chasing the next scare I can unleash upon the world.
Do you have any advice specifically to those who love and aspire to write horror and genre novels and short stories?
The best advice, no matter what you’re writing, is: Don’t Stop Writing! Ideally, you should write every day. But such a thing is easier said than done. And there will definitely be days when you just will not have the time or energy to sit before your computer. That’s life. Just don’t let those days derail you—or add up. If you couldn’t find the time today, then make sure you do find the time tomorrow. The longer you go between writing sessions, the harder the writing is.
Have you discovered any new genre authors over the last couple of years whose work really stood out for you?
There are so many! But the big one would be Laird Barron. He mainly writes cosmic horror (although recently he has switched to crime thrillers).
Do you have any new fav horror, horror comedy, and/or B-movie films you’d like to tell me about since we last chatted?
I do! I can whole heartedly recommend Werewolves Within. I found this movie to be a near perfect mix of comedy and horror. Highly recommended.
What’s Halloween looking like for you these days? Especially since the (somewhat) easing of the pandemic and restrictions around it?
Halloween has always been somewhat chill for me. Because of that, nothing much changed over the course of the pandemic. The kids still went trick-or-treating, we still carved jack-o-lanterns and watched horror movies.