I’ve known Frank Michaels Errington professionally for several years now and there’s no doubt he’s one of the biggest fans of horror fiction. Frank is one of the most prolific readers and reviewers of horror and his review website, Horrible Book Reviews has quite the following. He goes above and beyond for authors and artists to promote their work, for very little reward.
Now Frank needs our help. He needs a kidney. I wanted to help Frank spread his message so I decided to have a bit of a chat to him about his situation and of course, his love of the horror genre. Please read and if you can help, please make contact with Frank via the details below. Frank, I hope you get the help you need mate.
When did you first get hooked on horror fiction and what was the story you first read?
The first horror story is a more difficult question than how I got “hooked” on horror. I do remember being introduced to Edgar Allan Poe while in High School. His works made me want to read outside of the classroom. As far as getting “hooked,” it was Stephen King. After college, I had this mindset where I felt I would never want to read again. I’d had too much. But then I saw the Brian DePalma version of Carrie, based on the book by Stephen King, and I was walking past Gene Books, a wonderful independent bookstore in the King of Prussia Plaza (sadly it’s gone now). But, they always had great display windows and as I walked past I saw Night Shift, a collection of short stories by the author of Carrie. Well, that piqued my curiosity and got me back into reading for fun and although I read many types of books, I have found I really enjoy horror the most. I even got to share this story with Stephen the night he did a phone interview for my radio show “Tucson Talk” way back in 1980. That interview is still one of the highlights of my 35 years in radio.
How many novels do you think you’ve reviewed over the years? How many books do you read a year?
A check of my blog indicates I’ve just crossed the 700 review threshold and that just since I’ve been doing the blog at http://www.frankmichaelserrington.blogspot.com. I started doing this because I’d constantly hear writers saying how important reviews were and I wanted to do something more than just post to Amazon and Goodreads, which I still do. For the last few years, I’ve read more than 100 books a year.
Your reputation as a reviewer precedes you, so much so that you’re now writing reviews for Cemetery Dance Online. Do you find writing reviews easy or more of a challenge?
The Kindle has been a godsend. Whereas I used to keep a pen and paper nearby when reading to make notes for my review, I can do all of that right on the Kindle screen. Even though publishers occasionally send me printed copies, I’d much rather read it on my Kindle. Plus, I’m running out of bookshelf space and my wife often threatens to leave me if I bring one more book into the house. I think she’s just kidding, but I don’t want to test her.
How do you think the horror genre has changed over the years?
It could be just me, but even with the rise and fall of many specialty presses, which seem to be the stronghold of horror, it seems there is more horror, in all its many forms, being written today than ever before.
You’ve penned countless reviews of horror – have you ever written a horror story yourself or aspired too?
Aspire to? Perhaps someday. I did have a psychic on my talk show once told me I’d be a successful writer, but to do that I’d actually have to write something and that really scares the hell out of me.
What do you think makes a truly great horror story?
I’ve thought about this question quite a bit over the years. One thing that keeps coming to mind is editing, particularly in times when many authors are self-publishing. Get yourself a good editor and proofread, proofread, proofread. One thing I hate as a reader is being distracted from the story by silly grammatical errors, redundancy or continuity issues, etc.
I also equate a good horror story with a roller-coaster, even at my somewhat advanced age of 64, I still love a good coaster. There’s the slow build, the rush of adrenaline as you hit that first plunge, followed by many unexpected twists and turns and being able to say, “Wow! What a rush” at the conclusion of the ride or at the end of the book.
One more thing, I love good characters in what I read. Make me care. Doesn’t matter if I love them or hate them, just make me give a fuck. And don’t be afraid to kill the bastards.
What conventions have you been to over the years and who was the most famous author you’ve met?
I’m not a big convention goer, although I did get to go to one of the last Horrorfind conventions in Gettysburg, PA a few years back. It’s where I got to meet and chat with the likes of Brian Keene, Thomas Monteleone, Joe R. Lansdale, and Jack Ketchum, the author of Off Season, one of my all-time favorite horror novels. Talk about an incredible ride.
I’ve also gone to Horrible Saturday, an annual event at the York Emporium and Used Book Store in York Pennsylvania. It’s where I got to meet the late J.F. Gonzalez, Kelli Owen, Bob Ford, Chet Williamson, Mary SanGiovani and many others.
And then there’s NeCon. The NorthEast Writers Conference held each July. As a matter of fact, the 37th annual event is coming up in less than two weeks and, if my health holds out, I’ll be sure to be there for just the second time. With horror writers and fans, too numerous to name them all, it’s a relaxed opportunity to get to know each other, network, and let your hair down (if you have any).
Any special signed editions on your shelf that we’d all be jealous of?
At this point, I have hundreds of signed, limited editions I’ve purchased over the years. I have one Stephen King, The Dome, still in shrink-wrap from Simon and Schuster and another I’m really fond of is Bloodstained Oz, a collaboration between Christopher Golden and James A. Moore, a couple of writers I got to meet at last year’s NeCon.
Now I understand you are going through a major struggle with your health and that you’re currently in search of a kidney donor. Can you tell us a bit about that and how we might be able to help you?
Due to complications from 30+ years of type 2 Diabetes, my kidney functions have been deteriorating for a few years. That damage is irreversible and dialysis is an eventuality and I’ve been on the National Transplant list since last November. The wait time is typically 3-5 years. The best case scenario is to find that special person who is willing to donate one of their two kidneys. Believe it or not, we only need one working kidney to live a long and healthy life. The problem in my case is finding someone who matches my blood type. I’m O-negative. This makes me a Universal donor, but I can only receive a kidney from someone who is also O-negative. So even finding a donor through the exchange program is challenging since an O-negative donor can donate to their person in need and rarely makes it into the exchange program. Anyone interested in additional information can contact the Kidney Transplant Center at Lankenau Hospital in Bryn Mawr, PA 484-476-8485.
Thanks for having me, Greg.
You can find Frank on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/FrankMichaels