Publisher: Quad City Press (March 1, 2015)
Category: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Tour Date: March 16-April 30, 2015
Available in: Print & ebook, 114 Pages
Hellfire & Damnation III by Connie Corcoran Wilson is another tour of the 9 Circles of Hell described in Dante's Inferno. It picks up where the first two collections of short stories left off, using the same framing device of stories that explore the sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. The first book was the winner of the Silver Feather Award (Illinois Women's Press Association), and the Gold Medal E-Lit Award (Horror category) from the Jenkins group.
Five-time Bram Stoker winner Gary Braunbeck said of Book II in the Hellfire & Damnation collection: " Seriously, Connie: can't you write just one stinker so the rest of us will feel a little bit better?" Braunbeck added, " Her writing is stronger, streamlined, and often lyrical, despite the nastiness her words describe. This is another impressive collection of tales from a writer I could very well learn to hate if she gets much better."
Hellfire & Damnation III is another tour of the crimes or sins punished at each of the Circles of Hell in Dante's "Inferno." Like the second book in the series by Connie Corcoran Wilson, there are images whether it is a cave where teenagers are trapped, the lair of a psychopathic minister manipulating a young man of limited intelligence into murder, or a rage-fueled airplane traveler unleashing his pent-up fury on a Flight Attendant.
The author adds a From the Author, an informative peek into the creative mind of the author and the genesis of these 9 Tales of Terror. As one reviewer said (of Hellfire & Damnation II), "Connie Corcoran Wilson has written a book of short stories that will not only keep you up late nights reading, but might also keep you up long after you have stopped reading."
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Praise for Hellfire and Damnation II by Connie Corcoran Wilson:
"This collection of 11 short stories in the horror genre is organized around Dante's 9 circles of hell in the Inferno--limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, political corruption, and treachery. The stories are by turns chilling and blood boiling. The two times I read one of these just before sleeping I deeply regretted it. NOT bedtime stories folks. Haunting and satisfying."- Joystory
"I love scary books. Among the first adult books I ever read were Stephen King and Dean Koontz. However, these days I find it hard to find good scary books - ones that don't make me feel like I've read this before...and then I was asked to read Hellfire & Damnation II. Corcoran takes us by the hand and leads us through the 9 Circles of Hell, whispering to us the tales of those we find there and the events that have lead them to this nightmarish place. From the first story set in Limbo, Cold Corpse Carnival (giving me yet another reason to not want to be buried!), to the final circle of The Treacherous and The Bureau the reader will be checking behind doors, under the bed and sleeping with the light on!"-Kylie Purdie, Little Black Marks
"'Hellfire and Damnation II' is the sequel to Connie Corcoran Wilson's first book of short stories published in 2011. This book is another tour of Dante's 'Nine Circles of Hell' from his Inferno. It features eleven original short stories: from the 132-year-old corpse of Norwegian immigrant Ole Monson seeking revenge against the living for the desecration of his final resting place in 'Cold Corpse Carnival' to the most intimate betrayal suffered between two brothers in 'The Bureau'. Each story highlights its particular Circle in a novel way, but is partially based on fact as explained by the author at the end. I really enjoyed this book - it was suitably horrific for me. Each story is well-crafted and believable, and I found myself very satisfied with each story's pacing. I give 'Hellfire and Damnation II' an A+! and I look forward to reading more books by Connie Corcoran Wilson in the very near future!"- Mareena McGirr, Emeraldfire's Bookmark
"Connie pens "Hellfire & Damnation II" in a plot that will really leave the horror with you. The illustrations are just unbelievably good and will get you really thinking about what you just read. I was totally satisfied with the amount of detail within each "circle of hell" she writes about. Now I really need to find the first book in the series to catch up with. Highly recommended for all who love the thrill of horror."-Susan, My Cozie Corner
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About Connie Corcoran Wilson:
Award winning author, Connie Corcoran Wilson (MS + 30) graduated from the University of Iowa and Western Illinois University, with additional study at Northern Illinois, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. She taught writing at six Iowa/Illinois colleges and has written for five newspapers and seven blogs, including Yahoo, which named her its 2008 Content Producer of the Year. She is a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers), where she is a writer for their online newsletter, and a member of IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association, Chicago chapter), which awarded her its Silver Feather Award in 2012 and 2014, MWA (Midwest Writers Association), AWP (American Writing Program) and MWC (Midwest Writing Center), which named her its Writer of the Year in 2010. She has won numerous E-Lit awards, a NABE Pinnacle award, an ALMA (American Literary Merit Award), Lucky Cinda competition and two IWPA Silver Feather Awards (2012, 2014). Connie's third book in "The Color of Evil" series, 'Khaki=Killer' was just named a Page-turner of the Year 2014 by "Shelf Unbound" and Writer's Digest magazine in its December/January 2014-2015 issue! Her stories and interviews with writers like David Morrell, Joe Hill, Kurt Vonnegut, Frederik Pohl, William F. Nolan, Anne Perry, r. Barri Flowers, Valerie Plame, Allen Zadoff and Jon Land have appeared online and in numerous journals. Connie Corcoran Wilson's work has won prizes from “Whim’s Place Flash Fiction,” “Writer’s Digest” (Screenplay) and she has 25 published works. Connie reviewed film and books for the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa) for 12 years, wrote humor columns and conducted interviews for the (Moline, Illinois) Dispatch and maintains her own blog,www.WeeklyWilson.com, while also twittering (@Connie_C_Wilson), Connie Wilson Author. Connie Corcoran Wilson was a presenter at the Spellbinders Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii over Labor Day (2012) and at Love Is Murder in Chicago (February, 2014) and will be a presenter at Writers for New Orleans December 19-21st.
She has three ongoing series:
THE COLOR OF EVIL, HELLFIRE & DAMNATION (short stories organized around the crimes or sins punished at each of the levels of Hell in Dante’s Inferno) and
THE CHRISTMAS CATS, which she writes for her granddaughters.
(www.TheColorOfEvil.com; www.RedIsforRage.com; www.KhakiEqualsKiller.com; www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com; www.TheXmasCats.com)
Connie lives in East Moline, Illinois with husband Craig and cat Lucy, and in Chicago, Illinois, where her son, Scott and daughter-in-law Jessica and their five-year-old twins Elise and Ava reside. Her daughter, Stacey, graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, and is currently a Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant.
Connie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ConnieCWilson
Connie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Connie-Corcoran-Wilson/275020829241869
Connie on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/conniecwilson/
Author Interview - Connie Corcoron Wilson
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Independence, Iowa, and, after my marriage (1968) have lived in the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities where I taught at both junior high and college levels and wrote for the 2 newspapers in town. I have a condo in Chicago (my writer's lair) and, right now, I'm at the Royal Sands in Cancun, where they always say, "Welcome Home" when you arrive. (We've been coming for over 20 years.)
Tell us your latest news?
In the past week, I have released 99 cent versions WITH PICTURES of "Ghostly Tales of Oklahoma: Route 66" and "Ghostly Tales of New Mexico & Arizona: Route 66" which both stem from a much longer 3-volume paperback set entitled "Ghostly Tales of Route 66," paperback books which I wrote for Quixote Press. (www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com). I made the mistake of not putting the pictures I took into the e-books and pricing the e-book at $9.50, which was before I knew how Kindle titles work and are priced. Now, I'm breaking out the route, state-by-state (expect Texas, California, Illinois and Missouri to follow), which are shorter, less expensive books WITH THE PICTURES. Eventually, I'll re-release the entire book as an e-book, possibly a version with and a version without pictures that I took while driving the route and attending the Fort El Reno Ghost Tour in Fort El Reno, Oklahoma. The paperback books, available from Quixote Press for less than $10, have won E-Lit Gold Medal awards from the Jenkins Group.
I also have 2 other book projects on the horizon: starting work on Book #4 within "The Color of Evil" series (tentatively entitled "Scarlet Summer") while in Cancun for a month and beginning a non-fiction book, "Obama's Odyssey: The 2008 Race to the White House," which will utilize the Yahoo articles I wrote (1,000 articles; 2 million hits) while covering the 2008 presidential race on the ground. (Those of us who were part of Yahoo's Contributor Network just got the rights back to those articles and I have always had many pictures that were not used.)
If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
John Irving, David Sedaris, David Morrell and Jonathan Maberry. John Irving because we were on campus at the University of Iowa at the same time, and I have always admired his writing; David Sedaris because I also admire his writing and I think he would be a most entertaining dinner guest. David Morrell and Jonathan Maberry actually know one another and I have interviewed David three times and Jonathan wrote a lovely blurb for the first "The Color of Evil" book---plus his wife, Sarah, is a doll. I could pick authors long dead, but I'd prefer to carpe diem and get to know my contemporaries better.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
I think I have been influenced by authors as diverse as Kurt Vonnegut (whom I interviewed when 18), Joseph Heller, Hemingway, Faulkner Fitzgerald and the other greats. I try not to be overly infuenced by another writer's style, but I do admire the Irish/Australian mystery writer Adrian McKinty, whom I interviewed for ITW (International Thriller Writers). I always loved books like "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine" and "Catch 22", but, since my major was English and I didn't have a minor, I have read extensively, even to the point of having PhD concentration in Victorian Literature. I try NOT to read too much while writing. William F. Nolan has been an influence in that he has always believed in me and thought I was a talented writer and has encouraged me to keep going. There's a lovely positive review of my last book ("Khaki=Killer") up on my blog, www.WeeklyWilson.com from Bill. He's a peach!
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
I've met David Sedaris, but I'd like to meet him in an informal setting like the dinner party you suggest. And, this time, I'd tell him to lay off the hand sanitizer he was using at that meeting. Nothing like sticky hand sanitizer for a warm, fuzzy handshake.
Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?
I started writing at age 10, when a poem I wrote for an Archdiocese of Dubuque competition, won a $50 prize. I have written for 5 "real" newspapers and something like 17 online blogs---some of them, like Yahoo---quite large. My mother taught kindergarten for 40 years (and other grade levels up to 5th grade) and my father founded a bank in Independence (IA) in 1941. Before that, he had been County Treasurer for 4 terms, Deputy Sheriff, and a volunteer fireman.
Where do you get your ideas?
Where do you get your ideas?
A lot of my ideas come from real life and news articles I read, but the plots go off in fictional directions.That is true of 7 of 9 stories in this book. Some come from daydreaming about this or that and others from travel experiences. (We toured Australia and New Zealand 2 years ago, and that led to one of the stories in this third installment of Hellfire & Damnation, "The Battle of Gate Pa," which I am putting up on my blog as a "teaser.")
Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
All characters are composites of many real people. There are very few that are detail-by-detail descriptions of an actual person, since you pick and choose characteristics for your protagonists and that usually means merging the idiosyncrasies of several people. Sometimes, you create them out of whole cloth in your head, but, probably they resemble "real" people in some way.
Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself? If so, where did you get the inspiration for it?
I was told once to find a cover I liked and find out who did it and get that person to design it. That person is World Famous artist Vincent Chong, who has designed the cover for "Hellfire & Damnation III," as well as "Hellfire & Damnation II" and "Khaki=Killer." He has also done covers for Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and William F. Nolan and is one of the few cover artists I personally know who reads all of the source material and works collaboratively with the writer to develop the cover art. I really like working with Vinny. He's the best. Two of his covers have won awards from "Shelf Unbound" magazine online and it is always a pleasure to work with him.
Ok, now some fun questions….
Coffee or Tea?
Really, anything with that healthy caffeine in it. I tend to drink Diet Dr. Pepper, but I've been known to drink both tea and coffee on occasion. I didn't drink coffee at all until about 5 years ago, preferring tea, when offered a choice.
White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?
What is your favourite colour?
Winter or Summer?
Definitely summer. (Why do you think I'm hiding out in Cancun in the middle of January?)
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I'd like to have the ability to have everyone instantly like me and include me and welcome my presence, without the unpleasant need to suck up to them sycophantically to earn that treatment. Is that a Super power?
If you could be somebody else for a day who would you choose and why?
I'd either want to experience Supreme Power (Hillary Clinton) or great beauty, coupled with the abilities that Angelina Jolie has achieved to do pretty much whatever she wants. I think her humanitarian work(s) are admirable and who wouldn't want to have her boundless good looks for a day, but the tattoos? The many children? The constant need to be looking glamorous? The health risks? The feud with Jennifer Aniston? Maybe I'll just keep thinking about that one, (she said wryly.)
What are three things you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?
Well, I could leave home without a cell phone and never miss it. I only give the number to people I don't want to talk to and I seldom turn it on. As for keys, I could also leave home without those, because of the way access to our house is set up. My locked Prius automatically "opens up" when the keys are on your person, so I'd mainly need my purse (with money or credit cards in it), which is large enough for an entire family. I am like Michelle Pfeiffer in a film with George Clooney, who was able to make an entire Halloween outfit out of the stuff in her purse, on demand. If I were traveling, I'd miss my computer---the one I'm typing this on now.
Are you a technology buff (i.e have every electronic gadget known to man)?
No. I am a hopelessly backwards non-technical person who is always grateful she isn't electrocuted when she turns on her computer. I've been working with computers, writing books on them, since 1985, before Al Gore invented the Internet (a Wang PC) and I am definitely not a technology buff, nor do I wish to be. I just want to be a better writer and get better and more interesting all the time. I do type 250 wpm, however, thanks to 22 years of piano lessons and Mae Hanlon's one semester typing class on a manual typewriter with no markings on the keys back in 1962.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched just recently and enjoyed
I've seen every nominated Oscar film and the last one was "American Sniper," which I enjoyed tremendously. Every year, some friends of ours who are also film buffs join us and we have a Traveling Trophy Oscar Predicting Weekend. I've been reviewing film in print since 1970, and covering the Chicago Film Festival every year for the past 10 or so. One of my books, in fact, is "It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now." While I realize that "Boyhood" and "Birdman" are leading the Oscar pack, I much preferred "The Imitation Game," "American Sniper," "Selma," and "The Theory of Everything." We're also watching the complete set of "The Americans" on disk while in Cancun for a month, and I'm enjoying this Christmas gift. Others I've enjoyed on Netflix are "House of Cards," "The Killing," "The Affair," "Missing," "Game of Thrones," and "Justified." I did watch the complete "Downton Abbey" boxed set, but it was too stuffy for me.
Excerpt #3: "The Final Victim" from Hellfire & Damnation III.
When Dave Downing left the Thirsty Shamrock on his way home on Friday night, Lee Elliot stood in the shadows of the alley, waiting for him. Lee was shivering both with the cold of the April night and with fear. Lee had never killed anything bigger than a squirrel. His daddy never let him go hunting with the other boys in the Elliot family. Lee heard his father say once, to Lee’s mom, “He’s so dumb, he’ll probably just shoot his fool foot off!”
Lee thought that an ironic statement now, in light of what he was about to do, although the term “ironic” would not have been one Lee could define. That sort of vocabulary was absent from Lee’s eighth grade education. Lee had been held back so many times that he drove himself to school in eighth grade. It was time for him to quit. Even his parents agreed. He dropped out at the end of the first semester of his eighth grade year. It didn’t look like the school was going to okay his graduation with his class, anyway. That would have been just one more humiliation in a long line of them.
“You don’t want to be the oldest kid in the ninth grade, do you?” his parents told him. “You’re already sixteen years old and driving. You passed your driver’s test, didn’t you? Enough of this school nonsense. It’s not working for you, Boy. Quit and get a job.”
With that pronouncement from Buddy Elliot, Lee’s father, Lee’s formal education was over. Lee was on his own, and the road ahead would be rocky, indeed. Jobs for students with a seventh grade education were not plentiful. Lee began a long, painful spiral towards feeling even worse about himself than he had when in school.
The only bright spot in his life, until he met Melanie, was being hired to mop floors at the local Walgreen's. After that, Melanie provided companionship, but she was constantly on his case about needing to make more money for the taxes on the house and for everything else. Melanie wanted to have a child. They could barely live on what the two of them made (Melanie worked at McDonald’s). How could they afford a child?
But, Lee thought, if the Reverend is right about the money in Dave Downing’s leg, that could change everything. David Downing’s pathetic excuse for a prosthetic leg began to loom as second only to the lottery as the way out of their miserable existence.
It had been while attending one of the Reverend Jeremiah Jones’ revival meetings, down by the Mississippi River on River Drive last spring, that Lee first felt a flush of acceptance in the real world. The Reverend didn’t treat him like he was impaired. He didn’t call him “stupid” or any of the mean things that Lee’s classmates and even Lee's own father called him.
The Reverend, in fact, always spoke to Lee as though Lee were his equal, alluding to things that Lee couldn’t follow as conversational topics, since Lee’s inability to read and his lack of formal education dogged him at every step---even socially. When Jeremiah mentioned Cerberus or reading the Bible, the Reverend acted as though he thought Lee was capable of following what he said. He treated Lee as though he actually might have read these great works. He never once treated Lee as incompetent or dumb. Far from it. The Reverend treated Lee much better than Lee’s own parents, siblings, and classmates had ever treated him.
Lee soon decided that he’d stick by the Reverend as long as the Reverend would have him for a friend. And, too, Lee’s Uncle Karl Elliot was the minister of Kewanee’s Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Lee’s Dad, Bud, had always been very proud of this family connection to his older brother. Religion was a good thing in the Elliot household. It was a good thing that none of them knew exactly the type of religion the Reverend Jeremiah Jones practiced. The Reverend kept his true beliefs hidden behind more conventional public professions of faith at his tent revival meetings, where he raised donations, which he lived on.
That was how and why Lee ended up spending long hours in the Reverend Jeremiah Jones’ company. That was how and why Lee learned the secret of the shoddy shack behind the Reverend’s trailer and what it was really used for. That was how and why Lee ended up in a dark alley behind the Thirsty Shamrock bar, waiting in the shadows for a crippled man to emerge and hobble down the alley to his Ford pick-up, after which hr would drive his pick-up truck towards the small house where David Downing, Korean War veteran, lived alone.
Lee didn’t kill Dave in the alley. He approached the older man and asked for a favor.
“Can I have a ride home, Dave?”
Lee and Dave knew each other from the bingo hall, the Reverend’s tented revival meetings, and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). Lee’s daddy, Buddy, was also a veteran. The two sometimes drank together in the dark bar of the low-slung brown building located across the street from the police station. They both lived out Colona way, in the country.
“Sure, Lee,” Dave said, hoisting his crippled form behind the wheel of the small Ford pick-up truck. Dave had a specially designed, custom-fitted accelerator pedal, for use with his wooden leg. He braked with his normal left leg and accelerated with his right peg leg firmly inserted in a circular hole made especially for that purpose. As long as he didn’t have to walk long distances, Dave Downing got around just fine.
As they drove towards the farm in Colona where Lee lived, they would pass across railroad tracks, a bridge over the Rock River, and continue for several miles on the sub-road that, otherwise, would lead to Interstate 80. If you kept going far enough, you’d come to the brand-new winery where John Boehner had come to raise money for a Republican Tea Party candidate in August of 2014. But Lee didn’t plan to let Dave drive that far.
Once they left behind the few occupied homes on the gravel road, Lee said, “I have to pee, Dave. Can you pull over?”
“Can’t you hold it, Lee?” Dave asked. He seemed miffed that he was giving the kid a ride home, and now he would have to stop to allow him to urinate in the ditch.
“Sorry, Dave. I had one too many Old Milwaukees, I guess. I’m afraid I’ll piss in your truck if you don’t pull over.” Lee looked appropriately sheepish and apologetic.
Hearing that, Dave hurriedly pulled over next to a ditch with tall grass and weeds in abundance. No houses anywhere in sight. The only light this night seemed to come from a large full moon and an unusually bright light from Lucifer’s planet, Venus.
To be continued on April 1st at Truly Simply Pink
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