Author Interview – Debra Zaech

This week’s interview is with author Debra Zaech, who wrote the novel The Stretchman. She is a licensed social worker, a University Assistant Dean as well as a Senior Lecturer of Psychology. Her book, The Strechman, is available on Amazon as well as at Black Bed Sheet Books.

Q: Who are some of your literary influences?

A: Some of my literary influences are Dean Koontz and Rod Serling.

Dean Koontz often portrays dogs as heroes, such as tin the novels, “Devoted” and “Watchers.”

Koontz addresses a unique relationship between a, “uniquely gifted” dog Kipp and his mute 11 year olds human.   In the latter, a Golden Retriever prevents the main character, Travis, to continue his journey into a dangerous wooden canyon slope where an evil creature resides.

Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone series included ironic, unsuspecting twists luring the viewer into a weekly horrific nightmare. “The Eye of the Beholder” was one of my favorite episodes. A young woman undergoes plastic surgery. Her face, swathed in bandages, while the viewer anticipates the outcome.  The woman is beautiful, the surgery an apparent success. But the hospital staff surprisingly perceives her as hideous and sends her off to live with similar unsightly people. The theme: society defines beauty.

Q: What fuels your creativity as a storyteller?

A: A combination of the dog-human bond, dreams and psychological horror fuel my creativity as a storyteller.

Dogs increase our self-esteem and confidence. They have the ability to decrease our anxiety and depression. They offer unconditional love, never hold grudges and are always happy to see us.

Reading psychological thrillers and watching horror movies stimulates ideas, themes and plots. I’ll use a frightening scene to gain ideas and incorporate them into my own story. Dreams are an abundant resource.  I will think about my current storyline before I fall asleep. The unconscious mind has the ability to bring amorphous ideas to the surface. I recommend leaving a notepad next to your bedside to write the thoughts upon awakening.

Q: What is the background story on writing “The Stretchman”? How did the novel come to be?

A: “The Stretchman” came to be when I was unable to work-out due to an injury. The summer vacation and the lack of exercise afforded me the time I needed to pursue this long-time goal. I scribbled notes wherever I went, jotting down key words, general ideas, anything that sparked a related theme. I wrote in the car, on the plane and on the back porch of my Colorado air b-n-b.  

I decided to write a horror novel using dogs and humans as the combined heroes, facing an evil monster who despises dogs and their human advocates.  I teach a course at a local university called, “The Dog Whisperer.” I wanted to incorporate the unrivaled relationship into a frightening adventure where the special bond is necessary to conquer the evil force wreaking havoc on the community.

Q: What is your idea of success as a storyteller?

A: My idea for success as a storyteller is to thoroughly enjoy the process. Choose a genre that sparks your interest and keep writing. If the ideas flow without much thought, if the characters develop without conscious effort and if you allow the story to venture in a direction you did not plan – that is a successful storyteller.  A fortunate and victorious writer is a vessel, clicking at the keys, unaware of what may happen next.

I would like to add a few points. It is never too late. My first novel was published in my 6th decade, just 3 months ago. I am scheduled for library workshops, book signings and a reading at a Woman’s Empowerment Club. I am currently writing a screenplay for a community theater.  Don’t give up. You need to find a publisher or agent who matches your genre and style. Continue sending query letter. Submit short stories, drabbles and full length novels to magazines for name recognition.

State of the “Caedes-verse”

Long time no see, I know. How are you? I’ve been good. Good and busy.

Welcome to 2023 (which is hopefully, in many ways, better than 2022), the year of some changes both inward and outward.

Since I don’t tend to release numerous projects throughout any given year–typically just one book per year, plus some short stories here and there–I’ve decided to start posting some book and movie reviews, since that’s something I’ve always enjoyed, and since I no longer write for any horror news websites that give me a proper outlet to do so. I’m seeing M3gan tomorrow night, so that will probably be the first proper review I post. On the book front, I got through many, many books in 2022 (or is 89 a rookie number? I dunno) and I intend to start posting reviews for some of those books here. If you dig reviews, subscribe and keep an eye on this page.

2022 was also a big year for The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast, a biweekly show where I talk to various artists about their favorite horror movie for a while before delving into questions about their creative process and philosophies. I had 67 episodes in 2022 (whew!), and from the looks of my calendar of interview dates, 2023’s looking like an even bigger year for the show. You can find all episodes on Spotify, or any other podcast hub out there. If you dig the show and want to support it, you can purchase t-shirts here. If you’re not into snazzy t-shirts that all the cool kids are wearing, you can also support the show by a) telling your friends about it, b) sharing episodes on social media to boost the signal, or c) message me with guest requests or to tell me what you’d like more of on the show. I’m hoping the podcast stays for fun everyone, so I’ll do whatever I can to cater to listeners’ tastes.

On the writing front, I’m currently working on multiple short stories for upcoming anthologies, which means taking a break from upcoming novels (including the final draft of Parasitic Host). The good news is, you can find short stories of mine in a few new anthologies, including Tales from the Monoverse by Last Waltz Publishing, Road Trip God from PsychoToxin Press, and a few others than I’ll announce when the time’s right and the ink is dry on the contract. I’ve always been a fan of short-form horror, and I hope that appreciation for fast and furious storytelling bleeds into my work a bit.

Now, onto what’s coming in 2023:

First and foremost, I’ll be releasing a new novel called Coronation sometime this Summer. This novel’s been teased for a few years now, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Fans of Birthday Girl, rejoice. While this book’s not nearly as gory as my Ash Crowlin work (it will be published under my own name, not my pseudonym), it’s a heartfelt story about sibling love and how far a young girl will go to save her older brother.

I also intend to release a short story collection sometime in 2023, maybe in time for Scares That Care’s Authorcon II in March/April. News on that later.

Looking far, far ahead at late-2023 and early 2024, I should have another novel coming out that takes place in what I call “The Caedes-verse,” which is the fictional town in which Moving Through takes place. I’m not announcing the book yet, because it’s still in early stages and I’m a known liar when it comes to release dates. All I can say is I’m having a blast revisiting old characters and seeing them grow into new stages of their lives.

I will also be updating my “tour” schedule for 2023 later this week. So far, there are only a few stops that I’m committed to, but I tend to rack up another ten or so before Summer begins. I will definitely be at The Texas Authorcon in July and at Scares That Care Authorcon II in March/April.

Movie and book reviews coming later this week! As always, stay healthy and keep reading.

300! (A Reboot)

I’ve been on a roll lately, at least in terms of keeping to a nightly writing schedule. While I was keeping a good 5,000 words per day (roughly 20 pages) schedule for a week or so, I’ve found my sweet spot is writing in 300-word increments, which allows me to fit writing into my busy schedule. I can write 300 words first thing in the morning, another 300 later in the afternoon, and then 1,000 or so later at night. Although this is far less ambitious that my previous writing schedule, it’s a good way of preventing burnout, which is inevitable if you’re pushing yourself too hard, no matter how professional you are or how much love you have for your craft.

As King Leonidas would say in Zack Synder’s movie 300, “Tonight we dine…at our work desk!”

I’m currently dividing my writing time pretty evenly between editing Parasitic Host and polishing up my next Ash Crowlin book…which I’ll talk more about as the release gets closer. I’m putting some time into my Moving Through sorta-sequel Clive, but I’m dedicating myself too heavily to it just yet, since I don’t want to get distracted from the task at hand by “shiny objects.” I’ve spoken to many other writers about this exact issue, getting distracted by excitement for your next project (and there’s ALWAYS a “next project”), and they’ve all told me the same thing: finish the book you’re currently working on, take notes for the one you’re excited to get cracking on, and don’t allow yourself to get easily distracted.

Speaking of conversations with other authors, there are a ton of of new episodes of The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast available for you to check out. The show’s been a lot of fun to work on, and it’s been a great hobby for me. I hope you enjoy it!

That’s all for now. I’ll be on the road in Memphis, Louisiana,Alabama, and Mississippi all next week, but I’ll find time to hop on when I’m not sneaking in writing time in 300-word increments.

Livin’ la Vida Clive

Typed 1,500 words in the Moving Through sequel, currently titled Clive, last night after a long walk. It was a weird day and I hadn’t typed anything new for a while, so getting it out in one uninterrupted session really did wonders for my mood. I’m pretty sure most authors can relate to the feeling.

Clive isn’t what I would call a direct sequel, but all the characters from Moving Through are in it. Some of the book pertains to the third act in Moving Through, but it’s not a situation where you’ll feel lost if you haven’t read the first book in a while or at all. As Trey would say, sequels and reboots are typically godawful, so I’m keeping Clive as much of a standalone story as possible. I feel like it’s a story that needs to be told, and it gives so much more character to everyone’s favorite high school smartass.

Clive probably won’t be out for at least another year, as I like to really take my time with edits in the second-through-fourth drafts. But once I hit draft four and have notes from my beta readers, then things move like lightening and I’m flying through edits.

More news on the convention front:

-I’ll be at Scares That Care VIII Weekend July 29-31st in Williamsburg, VA.

-I’ll be at The Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Fair August 13th.

-Finally, I’ll be at The PA Horror Con, courtesy of Gloomhouse Publishing, August 20th and 21st.

I’m pretty excited about all the great things that are to come. I don’t want to get carried away with announcing upcoming projects, since I typically change dates when burnout inevitably sets in, but 2023 is going to be a HUGE year….both for myself and for a certain Ash Crowlin.

That’s it for now. See you next week!

Family Fright Night Horror Podcast!

Hey everyone! Just dropping in to let you know: I now have a podcast!

The Family Fright Night Horror Podcast features some of the top names in the horror industry as we discuss the movies made them horror fans. Guests so far have included Del Howison, Paul Tremblay, S.A. Cosby, Daniel Volpe, Wrath James White, and more!

I’ve included some episodes below for your enjoyment. You can find the show on most podcast servers, and if you dig it, you can subscribe so that you never miss an episode!

Here’s the RSS feed link!

Author Paul Tremblay, “Head Full of Ghosts,” “The Cabin at the End of the World”

Author S.A. Cosby, “Razorblade Tears,” “Blacktop Wasteland”

Author Wrath James White, “The Resurrectionist”

Author Daniel Volpe, “Talia”

TV Roundup

Hey, I FINALLY got to do a good ol’ fashioned TV binge in 2022!

Lately, after a long few months of traveling and dealing with professional obligations and mental health issues, I’ve finally had the chance to sit back and enjoy a good ol’ fashioned television binge! There are so many shows I’ve been meaning to catch up on, and here are my thoughts on a few of them.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+)

Man, the Star Wars franchise must be every screenwriter’s wet dream! You don’t have to respect lore, you don’t have to regard canon (whatever that even means anymore, and you don’t even need to tell much of a story…as long as there are space lasers and melodramatic monologues from the lead characters. The Book of Boba Fett was the epitome of bad writing, in my opinion. But…

Obi-Wan Kenobi revived my hope for the Star Wars television expansion on Disney+. Some might even call it “A New Hope.” Everything about this show was well done, and I didn’t even mind how a few things clash with established canon or disturbed some of the meaningful events throughout the original trilogy. One scene in particular in the final episode, involving a young Luke Skywalker, bothered me a bit, but the show was otherwise a joy to watch from beginning to end. I especially enjoyed Hayden Christensen’s portrayal of Darth Vader, which I never in a million years thought I’d say. The final episode was brutal in so many ways, and the pure rage in Darth Vader’s hunt for his former master was never boring or overwritten. I’d recommend this to anyone who cares to see a bridged gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope; this is what Star Wars should’ve been from the beginning of all this revival business in the Disney purchase

The Boys (Amazon Prime)


The Boys, since the very first episode, has only gotten better and better. This latest season, which introduces Jensen Ackles’ “Soldier Boy,” hits the nail on the head with both social commentary and pure satire of the American fascination over superhero franchises. I loved the Deadpool movies, but damn, this show has quickly surpassed both films in terms of balancing humor with drama (both leaning, admittedly, heavily toward the “humor” side).

The Walking Dead, Season 11 (AMC+)

Michael James Shaw as Mercer, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

I haven’t been a fan of The Walking Dead in a while. Unlike many others, I absolutely LOVED the Negan and Saviors story line, as it was also my favorite part of the graphic novels. The previous few seasons, however, have seemed to drag onward like a reanimated corpse begging to be put out of its misery with a merciful “series finale” head shot.

But Season 11 has been pretty stellar. I’m only a third of the way through it, and I’m actually paying attention to episodes again instead of constantly playing on my phone and rolling my eyes during every long-winded “this is who we are now” monologue. I find the character development between Maggie and Negan especially interesting, since he straight up brutally murdered her husband in front of her after his lengthy introductory monologue. The two characters are getting a spinoff together, so maybe that’s why they’re getting so much screen time together, and somehow it never feels forced

Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)

I hated this show. It had its good moments but, overall, it completely failed to justify its existence. I hesitate to share my full thoughts on this shows weak points, since conversation is a thing of the past and having a negative opinion on shows and movies that others love is like asking for hate mail. All I will say (and this is a hill I will gladly die on) is that the season finale SUCKED. I hated Dexter’s son throughout the show but, man, the season finale just threw away any good qualities the character might’ve had, all for the sake of manufactured drama and “tying up loose ends.” I certainly hope there’s no season two of this garbage. Just let it die.

New Tour Stops! (Ahhh! Zombies!!!)

Hello! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted, so I thought I’d update everyone on upcoming projects, my book “tour,” and a few other things.

Upcoming Projects

I’m still editing Parasitic Host, my comedy-horror follow up to Moving Through (which is currently available in ebook format for 99 cents!) In my last post (holy crap, was that really months ago??) I said I’d reveal the cover soon. So….here ya go!

This is still just a placeholder, since I tend to change things right up until the date of a book’s release. I kinda love this one, though. While the book is funny at times, it’s also incredibly dark. So much so, in fact, that I’m still debating whether or not a specific scene will make it to the final draft or if it needs to be toned down. I’m erring on the side of keeping the scene in the book, since the violence within it is not only justified but also necessary. I won’t say anything about the plot of Parasitic Host just yet other than this: I considered making it an Ash Crowlin book. Anyone who’s read Birthday Girl gets the gist of what I mean by that. This is probably the closest I’ll ever come to blending my own work with my pseudonym’s “niche horror” stuff…and I’m excited to share this one with my splatterpunk friends!

I’m also working on an untitled sequel to Moving Through. I doubt this project will see the light of day until at least late 2023, but it’s coming along smoothly. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I already wrote two sequels to Moving Through over the years but ended up perma-shelving them both, due to them being of lower quality than Moving Through. Quality control means a lot to me, and if this latest effort at a sequel is anything less than worthy, I may end up shelving it as well. But…I’m pretty pleased with the change of direction in this one, and I think you’ll enjoy it even more than Moving Through.

Book “Tour”

I’m putting “tour” in parenthesis here because the connotations that go with “book tour” don’t exactly fit here. I’m doing 12 readings, signings, and conventions throughout Summer 2022, but it’s not like I’m going to be a featured author or anything like that. These are just opportunities to meet new people and hopefully share my work with them, and the experience itself means more to me than stuff like sales numbers or other corporate-sounding bullshit.

If you’re interested attending one of these stops, my schedule’s available here.

Latest stops include Scares That Care VIII in Williamsburg, VA (July 29-31) and Living Dead Weekend in Monroeville, PA (June 10-12). I’m excited to have a table at these two events, but I’m even more excited to see the dozens of celebrity guests, including Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, R.A. Mihailoff, Ken Foree, Bill Mosely, and others! My inner fanboy is tingling…

NOTE: At each event, unless otherwise stated, I’ll be selling a limited edition work tailored specifically to that event. These special little side projects won’t be available for purchase elsewhere, and I don’t intend to ever reprint them for mass distribution.

For as busy as my schedule is, considering I work three day jobs and spend a hefty amount of time training for powerlifting competitions, I’m likely biting off more than I should with these side projects. However; I promise they won’t interfere with editing my “main” projects or cause any sort of delays. One way or another, Parasitic Host will be available sometime later this year.

Other Stuff

Laura Womack, of the “Bloom Where You’re Planted Podcast,” recently posted her interview with me. It’s a little shy of 20 minutes, and you can listen to it here.

I’ll have a table at this week’s art walk in Port Clinton, OH. If you’re in the area, come find my table! No idea where it’ll be just yet, but I’ll be sure to make enough noise so you can locate me.

Several people have posted their reviews of Moving Through on Amazon. You can check these out here.


I’m going to try to post here more frequently, so keep checking back. If you want to support my work, please subscribe to these posts and tell your friends about Moving Through. No matter how much work goes into writing a book or promoting it via “tour” stops and promotions, spreading awareness is really up to the fans. I’m not counting on my books ever making it to mass market, since I tend to write outside of what’s considered mainstream appeal regardless of which name I slap onto the cover, but I sincerely give thanks to everyone who takes the time to talk about my books and recommend them to other readers–none of this means anything without people like you, and I’m grateful my work has connected with you at some level.

On the Road

I’ve been gone for a bit, and my mind’s coming back in increments after a pleasantly exhausting month without much sleep, so I figure now’s a good time to check in with you.

I’ll have a table set up at the Scares That Care Authorcon this weekend, and I’m packing the car up to hit the road tomorrow morning with my friend Brent Winzek. Brent’s the creator of the Space Cadets radio drama and one of my best friends for over a decade.

I’ll be selling copies of my novels Moving Through and Birthday Girl, both of which have been getting great reviews lately. I’m excited to reach a new audience.

Copies of both books are available on Amazon as well as here on my website. If you prefer, there are also ebooks available.

Hope to see you this weekend!


Cover art reveal for my next book COMING TOMORROW!


This morning got off to a GREAT start! I’m officially a vendor at Scares That Care’s “Authorcon” April 1-3!

Scares That Care is a non-profit organization I’ve admired for a long time, and I’m absolutely thrilled by this opportunity. Other authors include Brian Keene, Jeff Strand, Grady Hendrix, and many others!

Check out the Scares That Care website for more details. I hope to see you there!

“If You Have Ghosts…”

I got to see the band “Ghost” in concert last night! They’re a band I’ve been listening to for the past two years or so, and their live shows have always looked enjoyable to me. They have a “Gwar”-type setup, where they’re performing as characters with backstories and lore, and their music is a 70s/80s rock throwback.

The show was everything I hoped for! Tobias Forge, who plays every iteration of the lead singer (the character changes every album) was full of energy and wit, and he put on a great performance with his nameless ghouls.

My good friend DJ AudioFlesh went with me, and it was a great night of catching up, discussing ideas for our various projects, and enjoying a rocks how. If you’re not following AudioFlesh, you can find him HERE.

I posted a few videos to my Instagram account, so you should follow me there.

The official release date for Moving Through was Valentine’s Day, and support for the book has been overwhelmingly generous. Thank you all for helping promote the book and expressing your support. It means a lot to me, since writing is a lonely business.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to know another ambitious artist named Casee Allen, who’d go on to later become one of the best names in modern Country music. I’m very proud of all the success he’s found, and he deserves every bit of recognition he’s getting for his work. Casee’s a truly great dude, and he even took the time to mention my book on his Instagram story. I can’t say this enough: people from Coshocton, OH are there for you FOR LIFE, and they’re some of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet.

My friend Dubz made me a second book trailer for Moving Through that you can watch below. I’m very impressed by the work he did, and if you’re not following him on YouTube, you really should be–he’s going places.

The Coshocton Tribune also did a story on Moving Through. If you’d like to read the whole article, you can do so here.

I’ve got a few new things in the works that I’m excited to talk about soon…but I don’t want to say too much just yet. Better to wait and see if my ambition carries me through rather than promising more than I can deliver. If all goes according plan, however, you’ll be seeing a few new projects from me in 2022…and not all of them are books.

More news coming soon. Thank you all!