The Queen of Scream: Suzi Albracht
It’s no secret that I’m a great fan of horror; horror movies, horror books, horror television shows. I love Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Edgar Allan Poe, and Joe Hill. Good horror stories have to grab you right away and carry you along until the boogeyman jumps out and says BOO! so softly it makes your skin crawl. Those evil whispers outweigh the screams any day.
Suzi Albracht is one of those horror writers that likes to sneak up on you and whisper, ‘I’m gonna get you’ from just behind your ear, and you’re so afraid to turn around, you wet your pants.
Albracht’s horror trilogy, The Devil’s Due Collection, is a nail biting trio of suspense, horror, and twisted thrills. I read them in order of release, beginning with Scorn Kills.
With the tag line “Sometimes love sucks”, I was instantly drawn to adding the book to my Kindle. The blurb contains one of the most provocative lines I’ve read; “Today, he woke up in another man’s coffin, under someone else’s body.” That sounds like a rather bleak prediction for Bill Branch, the male protagonist. When I used the word ‘twisted’, this was the story I had in mind. Following Bill’s decline into hell is a crazy journey. Without giving any more away let me simply say, karma is a … well you know how the saying goes. Karma IS a b—h, and this one bites! I consider this the most relatable of the trilogy.
The opening line of “The Devil’s Lieutenant” is a great indicator of the horrors to come: “The Devil never does his own dirty work. He relies on the cruelty of others who come in the dark of night, carrying death in their pocket.” Anything with the Devil as one of the primary characters is bound to be terrifying. It doesn’t take long before the terror begins. As he usually does, the Devil wants to take over the world; he’ll go to any lengths to become the Big Dog on earth. As we know, where there is dark there must be light, and Albracht makes sure to keep things swinging between good and evil. I found this the most viscerally disturbing of the three books.
Death Most Wicked would be almost conventional in plot if it wasn’t for the supremely evil presence of the Devil manipulating things behind the scenes. A Washington, DC homicide detective is investigating a series of murders or kidnappings of little girls in the area. That’s pretty scary. The detective, Mikael Ruskoff is a compelling character. His concern and determination are inspiring. It’s in this book that Bill Branch reappears making this more of a prequel to the trilogy than a third book. Of course, having read Scorn Kills, I immediately knew this did not bode well for either Bill or Mikael. What I didn’t know was the winding path that leads to a hair-raising conclusion. Albracht cleverly weaves around leading her readers in a creepy circle back to the first release. This is a unique method of telling her tales and is one of the most engaging qualities of her books.
Here is my interview with this delightfully dark author. I had to work up the nerve to ask her questions, suspecting her answers might just scare the daylights out of me!
What Suzi Says
I know you write horror, how would you describe your writing style?
I don’t believe I am your average horror author. While I love horror, I’m not crazy about books or movies that are overloaded with slashings and beheadings and low on character development. I want my readers to experience more than fear in my books, I want them to enjoy laughter and joy, to see love bloom, to feel compassion when a character is frustrated, and I want them to feel free to want to smack a character along the way when they make a bone-headed mistake.
My preferred style of horror is mind twisting. I want my readers to feel horror that is personal. It is important to me that they come to love the characters and get that pinch of fear in their guts whenever the villain appears on the pages because they know that character might not survive. I like my characters to have faults, to make silly mistakes, to pop off the pages because they are relatable. I want my readers to scream when a character is making wrong choices and worry for his safety. I much prefer characters who are everyday people who brush their teeth and worry about bills, characters who are insecure about their looks and have all those silly, bad habits you and I have.
It sounds like you want your horror to be on a personal level.
Yes, I want my readers to feel like that’s their brother there on the page. I want them to grab the arms of their chairs in terror because he’s about to open that door that should stay closed because a monster is on the other side. A vile creature that doesn’t have warts and hockey masks, but instead, looks you’re your handsome cousin Ryan. I won’t lie and tell you that people don’t die, horrible, grisly deaths in my books because that would be a lie. My books are, after all, cringe-worthy.
My novels each have several intertwining relationships with realistic problems. For instance, in The Devil’s Lieutenant, I have brothers Jake and Bobby Holyfield and their friend, Max Wilson. Where Jake is a dedicated law enforcement officer, living a normal life with a wife and daughter, Bobby has a hellion for a girlfriend who keeps him on edge with her unreasonable demands. She is grooming Bobby for a run at the Presidency and won’t settle for anything less. Their friend, Max, is like their brother from another mother. He is that friend who can’t get anything right. He’s always out of work and too prideful to ask for help. Bobby’s bad taste in women affects the rest of the group because of the frustration they feel over his refusal to see his girlfriend for what she is. At the same time, Max is a hot mess which lets Bobby feel superior. And Jake? He is the voice of reason, the brother who takes care of everyone even when it’s not easy. Now add the Devil’s right-hand man who is stalking all three, pushing buttons and turning brother against brother because he has dark and evil plans for each of them. Now that’s my kind of horror.
Why not tell us a bit about what you are working on?
I’d love that. I have four books on Amazon at the moment, three fiction and one non-fiction.
Three of my novels are part of my collection – The Devil’s Due. They are Death Most Wicked, The Devil’s Lieutenant, and Scorn Kills. At the moment, I am working on the fourth book in the collection – The Making of a Soul Collector. I hope to release it this summer. I am also working on a separate thriller and a ghost story novella. Those, I will release once the Soul Collector book is out. I have more ideas for novels in the collection that I will write somewhere down the road.
I also wrote a non-fiction book on how to get and keep Twitter followers. I wrote it because I noticed a significant number of authors with less than 500 followers who wanted to join Facebook groups that required a minimum of 5,000 followers. I wanted to help them get there without spending money on fake followers or pulling their hair out. Hair is important, after all.
How do you come up with your story ideas?
Mostly, they just pop into my mind. I carry around a pouch of index cards and when a story begins to nudge me, I write it down. Eventually, I organize them by story. And within stories, the plotline and characters. Sometimes, I’ll feel bored so I’ll interview one of my characters and ask them what they think of the novel they reside in and the other characters. You’d be surprised. Some of my best character insights have come from other characters.
I know your writing genre is horror, but what is your genre choice in reading?
I like to read True Crime. I am fascinated by the motives people have that make them murder. I’m also fascinated when I can see their photos. As I read the stories, I wonder about them and how they came to be a murderer. Or how they met someone to kill with. I mean, did they say something like, “Hey, I was thinking of shooting someone tonight. Want to come with?” It also surprises me that men pedophiles are typically unattractive but women who abuse high school boys and younger are often quite beautiful.
Do you do any research for your books?
Sometimes. I want my books to contain authentic details so I research anything that is important. For instance, I needed to know what sort of gun a detective might use and if they were able to carry personal weapons while on the job. At one time, I was married to a Secret Service Agent, one of the suit guys who protect the President and his family, so I knew what he could and could not carry but I needed that info for a Homicide detective. Some things you can make up when you write horror but because my stories have one foot in reality, I try to keep things real.
What is the strangest review or reaction you’ve had to any of your books?
Once, I was handing out promo cards for my books at the pool. I handed a woman I know one of the cards and stood there with a smile on my face as she read it. She threw it in my face, screamed no, and has never spoken to me again. I guess she decided I was evil after that.
If you were asked to write either a children’s book or a romance would you do it?
I’m sure this will come as a surprise but I did write a series of children’s books for children in crises but I never published them. They are still in my heart and maybe one day, I will take the leap.
What scares you and why?
I have this fear of spiders webbing their way down from the ceiling and crawling into my nose or ears. I read a story about a woman who had a spider living in her ear and it has troubled me ever since. Now that I said the words out loud, I’ll probably be having nightmares about spiders again.
(There’s something amusing about an author of horror stories being afraid of spiders!)
What do you think is the most disturbing/horrifying thing you’ve ever written?
I wrote a scene in Death Most Wicked where Mikael Ruskoff becomes terrified when his son doesn’t come home from school. In fact, his worst fear is coming true. Carl Royce, his nemesis, has attempted to kidnap Mikael’s son, chasing him through a wood area and across a field. The boy only escapes because he is able to get to a fort he and his friends dug out earlier in the week. Mikael’s son does get away and runs home. When he gets there, Mikael is livid that Carl had the nerve to attempt to harm his son. He rushes over to Carl’s house and harms the one thing that Carl cares about – his dog. It seems harsh outside the context of the story but Mikael needed to impress on Carl that his son was off limits. In my books, even the good guys sometimes do very bad things.
If one of your books could be made into a movie, which one would you chose? Who would you cast as the main characters?
I think Scorn Kills would be fun on the big screen. I’d love to see Sam Elliott as Carl Royce, Lauren Cohan (Walking Dead) as Karina, Josh McDermitt (Walking Dead) as Bill, and Maggie Geha (Gotham) as Bianca. Fun times! For those of you who have only seen Lauren Cohan in the Walking Dead, she played Bela in Supernatural and was great as a bad guy. And Sam Elliott? Not only would he be fantastic in the role of Thumbs, he is yummy to look at.
How do handle writer’s block, if you have ever experienced it?
No, but I have an idea for getting past it. Interview your characters. First, ask them about their darkest secret. Then query them about the other characters. Get them to confide in you. Ask them – do they like character X, is character Y headed for trouble, private type questions. Then ask them about the story line and where they think it is going. You’d be surprised what comes out of their mouths and sometimes, your novel will change direction as a result of their answers.
What do you think is the scariest way to die?
Anything where you can’t breathe. Probably drowning is the worst.
Who designs your book covers?
I do. As a result, I found out that I loved to design covers. So, I created Wickedly Awesome Designs so that I could offer services such as Social Media photo cards. That has evolved into my newest offering of pre-designed e-book covers at affordable prices. At the moment, I have over 275 covers available with more being added each week. Each cover is a one-time purchase, which means that once someone buys a cover, it is taken down from the site and is no longer available to be sold again. Most genres are represented and should you prefer to have a custom-made cover that is also an option, at an additional cost. Like my writing, my covers are emotionally-charged and offer a promise that a great story lies between the pages. I love creating the covers for other genres because it lets me experience another source of creativity. I feel like I am virtually cheating on my books when I design a cover that is stylistically exciting for an outer space adventure. I can be a bad girl when I design of cover that depicts the naughty boys of literature. And I can be a child again designing covers with dragons and bunnies.
Connect With Suzi Albracht
Twitter and Instagram – @SuziAlbracht
Web – www.SuziAlbracht.com
Wickedly Awesome Designs – www.WickedlyAwesomeDesigns.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SuziAlbracht
Reviews for Suzi Albracht’s Books
Death Most Wicked
This a story depicts the darkest human nature. The characters are wickedly disturbing. There is an unhinged character that kills little girls. Detective Mikael is on the case to solve the murders, and in an incredible twist he is proposition to give up his soul to solve the murders. Mikael is fighting for his soul, and having to deal with a family member that is creepily upsetting.
Suzi Albracht did an amazing job in creating a haunting story, and wicked characters. The twists and character connections is outstanding. This is a horror story that stays with you.
The Devil’s Lieutenant
This is a clever book, well written and engaging. The horror genre is not one I have tried before and I’m glad my first foray into it was to read The Devil’s Lieutenant. The characters are fleshed out and believable, the dialogue credible and flowing, and the descriptive passages and build-up of a dark atmosphere are excellent. The author has a vivid imagination and puts her fast-paced story across in a manner that keeps the reader gripped by the action. I wanted to know what happened next and many times I was reluctant to put the book down in order to do routine tasks and sleep.
The story of Jake Holyfield, a police officer in Annapolis, his weaker brother Bobby and their families and friends, form the basis of a compelling tale. Jake, newly promoted to detective, confronts strange deaths in his home town, the like of which he has never seen before. He begins to realise that there is far more to the gruesome deaths than the effects of enraged human behaviour and he enlists help to find out what forces are behind them. That places him, and everyone he knows, in danger.
The author is masterful in being able to create an atmosphere in which the reader fears for the characters’ lives. This is storytelling at its best, a credit to the author. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone seeking a superbly constructed thrill ride.
Great, jaw-dropping opening to this story. Bill Branch finds himself incarcerated in a coffin, with the cremation about to begin, and with another body flat on top of him. We hear of his past infidelities, his current lover, his rich, cuckolded wife and her family, in a tale full of a wicked sense of humour, unexpected twists and turns, and the spine-chillingly macabre. Does Bill manage to extricate himself from this situation, and will he ever be able to turn over a new leaf? Or is he doomed? And who’s got it in for this oversexed, greedy specimen? Will he pay for his transgressions? Full of surprises, and a stunning ending. Check it out.