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Hungry Business by Maria DeBlassie - Book Tour + Giveaway

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The Terrible Delights of Spooky Stories

I love scary stories. 

I’m also a total chicken. I grew up telling stories on the playground, huddled around trees, or crawling into quiet places with friends to listen to urban legends and frightening tales, from La Llorona to Bloody Mary, to strange tales of a woman with the ribbon around her throat that literally held her head on her body, to creepy dolls come to life the moment you closed your eyes to sleep at night.  I knew I’d never be able to sleep at night, but I couldn’t help myself. 

I devoured them! 

In class, we learned more about La Llorona (a figure that inspired my novella, Weep, Woman, Weep), Baba Yaga, and all sorts of spooky stories that gave me a good chill but were rather less terrifying than what I heard on the playground.

Of course, there was no better time to tell and listen to these stories than fall. As the season slowly ripened into Halloween, the days got shorter, and the cool evenings and turning leaves were the perfect backdrop for stories that reminded us that there is more to this world than meets the eye.

I would come home from school filled up on those terrible tales and, after playing in piles of leaves in my backyard, would feel a growing sense of unease as the sun began to set and darkness took over. I was certainly grateful for the comforting presence of my dogs when night stole across the sky. The feelings were pushed away with dinner, in the cozy brightness of the kitchen and the warmth of family, but readily came back when I was tucked in bed later that night.

Every creek, howl of wind, or cricket chirp sounded like a ghostly footstep, the weeping woman, or all manner of supernatural threats. Mirrors were not to be looked in when the sun went down. Windows must be closed at night, lest La Llorona find a way in. Blankets were to be tucked around you up to your chin to protect you from whatever might be lurking under the bed.

I felt would never fall asleep!

But, of course, I did. And with the coming sun came the confidence of youth that there was nothing truly scary in this world and I went right back to the playground ready to consume more lurid and horrible tales. 

They were terrifying. They were also thrilling.  I couldn’t help myself—even when they gave me nightmares and my mom tried to get me to stop listening to these stories—they had this allure to me, pulling me into a world of the strange and the gothic.

The feeling didn’t go away as I got older. Take, for example, the time I went trick o’ treating with a friend in middle school, one of the last times I would venture out on that childhood ritual. I was no stranger to haunted houses—there were plenty in my neighborhood. I lived next door to one and there was another a few blocks away that looked like something out of a gothic novel: big, dark, looming, and a story about a murder so strange and unexpected it devolved into its own neighborhood legend with everyone having a slightly different explanation for why the house just felt…off.

My friend and I were alone on the street and were doing our best to casually walk past the house, feeling very brave and very adult in our fairy costumes, proud of the fact that we could trick-or-treat unchaperoned. But once we neared that house, suddenly home felt so very far away, other groups of Halloween revelers so very far away.  There was only the darkness surrounding us and the specter of that gina those before us. 

Then we heard something—a yip, a yell, from someone in the distance—and we screamed, running for the safety of my home. Gone were the bold, brave adults, and in their place were two frightened children who wanted nothing more than the warm lights and safety of home. As it turns out, the noise we heard was from a bunch of wild partiers, but it became so much more frightening when it was disembodied, and the shadows fed our imaginations, as did all the terrible tales I’d been consuming that season.

As scary as that was, and as silly as my friend and I felt in retrospect, there was no denying the fun we had, nor the deep sense of comfort we felt in returning to my house. That’s what scary stories do for us. They bring us home. We find catharsis in facing the darkness and making it out the other side. We appreciate the light where and when we can find it.  

Here I am now—still loving scary stories. Still a total chicken. Still ready for a good tale of terror…in the daylight. Still not looking in mirrors and closing all my windows at night. And I speed up whenever I have to walk by that haunted house, indeed any haunted house, less the specters inside think to invite me in.

That’s the beauty of these early childhood frights. They gave me a solid appreciation of the thrills of a good scary story and a healthy respect for the unseen worlds or even vibes I get that tell me a person or situation is more than meets the eye. 

This is why I tell spooky stories today. They reveal so much more about ourselves and the world around us than many an ordinary tale. From writing horror comedy about the terrors of dating in Hungry Business to the haunting wails of La Llorona in Weep, Woman, Weep, all my tales are inspired by the ordinary gothic all around us, pairing catharsis as we face the dark and find the light.  

What do you love about scary stories?



Hungry Business: A Gothic Story about the Horrors of Dating
Maria DeBlassie

Genre: horror, comedy
Publisher: Kitchen Witch Press
Date of Publication: October 12, 2020
ASIN: B08L48MVHD
Number of pages: 20
Word Count: 4400

Tagline: Dating. It’s hungry business. 

Book Description:

Looking for love can be deadly...

A short story on the horrors of dating during a zombie apocalypse by bruja and award-winning writer and educator, Maria DeBlassie.

"Simple yet detailed, unique, and innovative. A brilliantly written little gem that is equal part creepy with the plague of walking dead and equal parts cozy with the hot chocolate and watching the neighbor's cat."

"Drawing parallels between the pitfalls of dating and dating in the zombie apocalypse, this short story packs a big world into a few pages."

"Just the right size to occupy your time while waiting. I hope you find the humor I found."

You know how it goes.

You go out, hoping to meet someone.

You wade through your fair share of brainless automatons, lifeless bodies, and ravenous undead, good at passing as human.

The more you go out, the less hope you feel and the colder your body gets.

But you keep at it.

All you need is one beating heart to match your own before yours stops pumping altogether.

How hard can it be to find one living, breathing human in a city full of bodies?

Dating.

It's hungry business.

CW: Assault



He said he’d love to have you for dinner—but you are careful.

A woman has to be careful.  Never give them your address.  Don’t drink too much.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Carry grave dirt to throw at them if they get too forward.  Be ready to run to the nearest safe space if needed.  The good news is that the Hungries, while persistent, are dumb as fuck (brain rot, you know) and slower than the sickness overtaking their bodies.  Unless, of course, they are well fed, which is rarely the case.

This one looks a little better, you think optimistically.

You sit across from each other at the dinner table.  The white tablecloth is as smooth and unblemished as his collared shirt.  He has dressed for the occasion, taking care to hide the evidence of his affliction as best he can (though truly there is only so much he can do with a missing ear and half a brain).  Still, the tuxedo and carefully applied makeup are enough to create the illusion of pumping blood beneath his pallid, blush-stained cheeks—in the right light. Which is another reason why you chose this place.  Candlelight can hide a multitude of sins.

His manners are studied and smooth, as if he has spent a lot of time practicing more human-like movements and behavior. You admire a man who makes that kind of effort.  He watches you as much as you do him, as if he is trying to remember what it was like to be alive. When you reach for your wine glass, so does he—only his thick decaying fingers almost crush the stem, whereas your nimble live ones carefully bring the dark red liquid to your mouth. You try not to notice how he stares at your lips—stained now from the wine—wondering, perhaps, how you taste. As it turns out, he does get a taste of you. You’ve been surreptitiously picking at a hangnail on your pinky finger—that’s how scintillating the conversation is—when you looked down and realize it is your whole fingernail that has come off.  You stare at it in horror, letting the truth of your situation sink in.  

At least he has the decency to wait until you’ve left the table before grabbing your napkin and stuffing your bloodied nail in his mouth.  A little color comes back into his face.  He groans in ecstasy.

Nice to know you could still have that effect on a man.


About the Author:

Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and award-winning educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her first book, Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings (Moon Books 2018), and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning and Living are about everyday magic, ordinary gothic, and the life of a kitchen witch. When she is not practicing her own brand of brujeria, she's reading, teaching, and writing about bodice rippers and things that go bump in the night. She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there.


Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at www.mariaddeblassie.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/enchantmentll

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/enchantmentll

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mdeblassie.writer

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7rY-gLkSH-w8uuVyrhVALA








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1 Comments

Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.