I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by fellow author and New Jersey resident Matt Manochio, in which readers can learn a little more about his new supernatural thriller novel, The Dark Servant (a tale which happens to take place in his own little corner of Weird NJ, of course!) as well as a giveaway!
Krampusnacht is Friday! And I can hear your first question: What the hell is Krampusnacht?
European legend has it that Saint Nicholas (yes, Santa Claus) leaves treats in the good kiddies’ shoes, and farms out the naughty boys and girls to Krampus, a huge, hairy devil that kidnaps bad children and does all sorts of sordid things to them (e.g., he drowns them, he eats them, he makes them watch Katherine Heigl movies—really awful stuff). The big beasty lets loose on December 5 (a.k.a. the Eve of Saint Nicholas, or Krampusnacht).
Europeans celebrate this night by dressing up in some of the most horrifying devil costumes I’ve ever seen and then proceed to run up and down public streets (sometimes drunkenly) with the express purpose of scaring the children brought out by their parents. This is known as a Krampuslauf (Krampus run). Watch a few minutes of this YouTube Krampus run video, shot on a snowy night in Graz, Austria, in 2010, and see for yourself:
I find this wonderfully twisted and don’t find it the least bit surprising that this may have originated in Germany (I can say that because I’m part German, so get over it). Zoom to the 45-second mark and you’ll see a ghost-white Krampus—with a pentangle bloodily carved in its forehead—on its knees, wiggling its finger, motioning for a little boy to approach him.
As you might imagine, the boy, who can’t be any older than 8, is frantic to get behind his father for protection, frightened to the point of crying! And parents deliberately bring their children to this spectacle! There are perverse Thanksgiving Day parade-style floats trundling down the road, but instead of a cheery head-bobbing Turkey or lip-synching C-list celebrities that should’ve packed it in years ago, you’ll see a Grim Reaper steering a wheeled cage in which a man and woman are imprisoned! And for good measure there’s a skull dangling near of the crossbars. Don’t get me wrong, some of the wee tykes think this is cool and likely will be the ones hiding bodies under their floorboards 20 years from now. And it’s not like the dozens of Krampuses are being mean to the children. They pose for pictures, squeeze cheeks, give hugs. In the end, it’s fun.
Now, while Krampusnacht celebrations are a big to-do in Europe, they’re virtually nonexistent in the United States. Fortunately, a few brave souls who enjoy Krampus as much as I do have scheduled Krampusnacht events in, among other places, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Denver and Honolulu. Yes, Honolulu. Men and women will don incredibly hot and furry suits and probably wear leis for good measure. Please go to the website www.Krampus.com for a list 2014 events. There are only a handful now, but I expect more to emerge in future years. So if they’re in your area, go and have a blast—because I can’t find any near where I live.
The Dark Servant:
Santa’s not the only one coming to town …
It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.
“The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
— Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author
“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
— Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor
“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
— Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper
“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!”
— David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series
“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
— Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days
“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”
— Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss
“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
— Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities
“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
— John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes
“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
— Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown
“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
— Jon McGoran, author of Drift
December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.
About Matt Manocchio:
Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway.
He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer.
The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.
To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller.
Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)
Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s Lot, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).
Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.
Photo Credit: Eric Schnare
See more about Matt and his book on his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio), Pinterest.
For everyone! CREATE a PINTEREST board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends, Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.
Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link. Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.
Third Recommendation: Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.
Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at email@example.com your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!
Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.
There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.
And a board about Matt:http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/the-dark-servant-matt-manochio/
Giveaway for Reviewers!
Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at firstname.lastname@example.org, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.