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The unwanted guest: Scary True Stories with horror author Brian Kirk

Today’s scary true story comes courtesy of Brian Kirk, who writes psychological horror. One of the best things about being with Samhain Horror is all the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet. Brian is one of them–I’ve only met him online, but he’s been incredibly helpful and generous with his time. An all-around great guy.

Q1) I hear you’ve had some scary experiences in real life. Can you tell us about one of them?

A1) While my scariest life experience was learning that, no matter what, I would one day die, that doesn’t make for an entertaining story. So I’ll go with this one instead.

I used to live in a large home owned by my ex-stepfather, who, unbeknownst to us, was a conman running a major pyramid scheme. This house was a huge, sprawling ranch with long, flowing hallways and spacious rooms with tall ceilings, twenty feet in some rooms. I never felt comfortable in this house. There were too many places to hide.

On this particular night, my sister and I were home alone with a babysitter. I was probably 8 and my sister was around 5. The sitter was a neighborhood girl, probably 14. It was fairly late for us at the time, maybe 10 p.m., or so, and we were playing tag inside the house (I’m telling you, this house was BIG). The babysitter had me cornered in the main foyer area, which was quiet at this time of night, when somebody started yanking on the front doors really hard like they were trying to break in. They weren’t knocking; they were trying to throw the doors open as quickly as possible–to break them if they could. We froze, not sure what to do, just watching these large doors being violently shook and hoping that the locks would hold.

Eventually, the shaking stopped and we mustered the courage to peek out the windows. But we didn’t see anything. The sitter waited a little while and then went outside to look, but didn’t encounter anyone. We went to the family room, which was backed by a wall comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows, to watch TV and settle down. It wasn’t long before we heard the back gate open. We looked out and saw shifting shadows as though someone was approaching. We ducked down behind the couch, certain that someone was looking at us through the windows. But once we got the courage to look, no one was there.

Q2) What do you think was at the door?

It’s hard to say. While it could have been one of my neighborhood friends, it was a bit too late for one of them to be out on their own. Plus, they would likely have owned up to it. Especially if they were trying to scare us as a joke.

It was a suburban neighborhood in an upscale part of town, so it wouldn’t have been a random straggler. Although it could have been a burglar who had been casing the neighborhood.

If it truly was someone with nefarious intentions, I think it may have been someone whom my stepfather had screwed over and was out for revenge. There were a few other incidences that make this a real possibility.

Q3) How did this experience influence your writing?

A3) I’ve always been drawn to the dark, and fascinated by fear. My childhood imagination was always putting a claw-handed serial killer right outside my window. And I loved to watch horror movies that were explicitly forbidden – the more grisly, the better. This was a different flavor of fear, however. A more immediate, and primal kind. One that reduced my body to its base animal instincts (which, in my case, were to cower, whimper, quiver, and release a few squirts of pee.) I would have made a pathetic cave man.

I can’t honestly say that this experience directly influenced my writing. Writing is influenced by the amalgamation of our life experiences, I think. Of which this is a component part. I still remember this moment, however, which meant it made a lasting impression on me. Knowing what causes the mind to store a memory in its permanent folder is helpful when attempting to write memorable fiction.

Also, when it comes to horror, one can’t expect to scare someone else unless he has been scared himself. And I have a master’s degree in terror, particularly the existential type.

Okay, blog readers, what do you think was at the door?

***

WeAreMonsters-2Samhain Horror has just released Brian’s debut novel, We Are Monsters

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He is the hospital’s newest, and most notorious patient – a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia–a medicine that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

 

Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys. He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy. WE ARE MONSTERS is his debut release.

Feel free to connect with Brian through his website, Twitter, or Facebook. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters

 

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27 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the book, Brian!
    It does sound like it was someone looking for your stepfather.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Alex. I had actually never considered that as a possibility until I wrote this piece, but now it seems likely.

      Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for commenting, Alex! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Oh wow. What a terrifying thing to happen…especially for a child. I was watching an episode of Medium where the guy was asleep and he heard the sound of his alarm being disarmed. Just four beeps as the code was entered. It occurred to me if you’re home alone in bed, that’s about the scariest sound you can hear!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Yeah, no kidding. I’m going headfirst out the nearest window should I ever hear that sound. Then, scratched and bloody, I’ll turn around to see my wife’s confused face staring out through the shards of glass. Again, I’m jumpy.

      Reply
    • JH

      Wow, that would be freaky. Always love the old tale of the babysitter getting a call from someone in the house too.

      Thanks for commenting, Stephanie!

      Reply
  3. I agree with Alex, it probably was somehow related to your stepfather. But it reminds me of that movie, The Strangers – 2008, Liv Tyler etc. Terrified me! But then again, I am a chicken – who loves to both read and write psychological horror. Go figure. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      That was such a disturbing movie, Madeline. I liked it enough to buy it, but then I never wanted to watch it again. It was too brutal.

      I’m thankful you’re “our” kind of chicken. 😉

      Reply
        • JH

          Just don’t answer the door.

          Reply
  4. That would’ve scared me! It does sound like it could’ve been someone looking for your father and/or trying to break in. Still scary! I remember sleeping over at my best friends house and seeing lights flashing in her windows. We got her dad and he ran outside but no one and no car was there.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s freaky too, Chrys. That one has alien abduction written all over it. 😉

      Reply
  5. Great interview. It probably was an unhappy “costumer.” Maybe realizing that only kids were home, gave him a bought of conscience and he left. Did you ever tell your mom? I think people like horror movies because we can be scared and be in a safe place at the same time…until the doors start rattling and lights flash for no apparent reason!

    Reply
    • JH

      I’d feel better if they’d actually seen someone either time, but perhaps the person slipped away while they were hiding.

      Thanks for commenting, Mary!

      Reply
  6. I think that’s “customer” not “costumer,” I’m a theatre person. I get those two mixed up all the time. Although, a customer in costume could have come knocking.

    Reply
    • JH

      No worries. I knew what you meant. 😉

      Reply
  7. How terrifying! I’m leaning towards the “person pissed off at the stepfather” option, too.

    Funny how we can look back on odd things that happened during our childhood and suddenly connect the dots – as Brian did with his step-dad’s unsavory business dealings!

    As a kid, I spent hours over at one particular pal’s house. Things were always a bit strange there. Her dad, for instance, always word a gold razorblade necklace, and I often saw mirrors with white powder on the coffee table, etc… Years later, I pieced things together and realized her dad was a drug dealer!

    Reply
    • JH

      Creepy, Tui! Maybe it’s a good thing you weren’t aware of it back then.

      Although a razor blade necklace sounds kind of cool….

      Reply
  8. Scary indeed, Brian. I too think the most likely explanation is that it was someone out to exact some form of revenge on your stepfather, but, of course, you never know… I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of We Are Monsters and I can vouch for it. A really scary, riveting read. Good luck with it, Brian!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for commenting, Catherine, and welcome to the blog. Hope to see you back here!

      I’m very much looking forward to reading Brian’s book.

      Reply
    • Aw, thanks, Catherine. Very kind of you to say.

      Reply
  9. Like Alex, I think it was someone out to hurt your conman stepfather. Despite what adults say, childhood is often frightening … usually because of adults! Best of sales!

    Reply
    • JH

      So true, Roland. Thanks for supporting Brian and for visiting!

      Reply
    • Wise words, my man. Thank you!

      Reply
  10. That is scary especially seeing the shadows. Even if it was one of your ex-step-father’s enemies, it is nasty to do that so late. I would say that is pretty freaky especially with the big windows. Your book sounds equally scary

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks for commenting and welcome to my blog, Birgit! I’ve been hearing great things about Brian’s book. I don’t think you can go wrong.

      Reply
    • The whole back wall was basically one large window, so we were completely exposed. If there was someone out there looking in on us. While the book has some horrific scenes, I don’t know that it’s frightening so much as thought-provoking. You’ll have to read it to see!

      Reply

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