The Horror Zine
Lane Bryant
Mort Castle

Mort Castle shows us that tragedy can be a prime inspiration for a writer

He says: “This was an actual crime that happened as described in Tinley Park in a Lane Bryant store. The killer has not been found. I casually knew one of the victims, a nice kid who was a school counselor. She was to have been married in the next few months.”


Gabrielle Faust
Brent Monahan
Mark Crislip
John Russo
Joe R. Lansdale
Ellen Datlow
Lisa Morton
Owen King

by Mort Castle

What do you think of this? he wants to know. This is his concept for a horror novel and he is enthusiastic.

Because I have written horror stories, have led workshops on writing horror, have edited a book dealing with horror, he has come to me.

And then, he shares this with me.

Earlier, on the morning of this same snowy day, I turned on my radio to learn which tollways were icy and if commuter trains would be running late.

Tollways were normal and trains were on time and there was news about what had happened in Tinley Park, a suburb some twenty minutes from mine. Five women had been found shot to death in the back room of a clothing store. Police announced they had died in a botched
robbery attempt.

Vampires, he says. More vampires than any one book has ever had. A greater variety of vampires. Some will drink only the blood of children. Others have forsworn drinking blood. Some are devout Christians. Others see themselves in a God-abandoned universe …

The clothing store specialized in plus-sized apparel. This was mentioned so often that it was as though it were something of great importance or even a clue or a code.

Mentioned almost as often was the fact that the victims had been bound with duct tape. It was not thought to be duct tape that had been in the store. The killer had brought his own.

You see what we can have here? It’s a totally claustrophobic atmosphere, with walls of blood and rivers of blood and showers of blood. The poor human beings who are caught up in this world, well, what chance do they have? It’s like Lovecraft meets the Naturalists …

The women who died ranged in age from twenty-two to forty-two. They had not known each other prior to their becoming the women who were bound with duct tape and shot during a botched robbery attempt.

Okay, I ask, what about the people?

They’re, you know, just people, like people you could meet every day. But now, they have to be more than just people, okay, because they are encountering the Greatest Horror anyone could ever know. There is no safety. So they can hide or they can fight. And as they confront the horror, they have to reach deep within themselves.

One woman was the store manager. One woman was a nurse. One woman was a recent college graduate. One woman was a social worker at a high school. One woman was a stay-at-home mom.

You see, there’s not just gimmick! There’s humanity here.

Something quite strange happens. It is late in the day when we have the news that there was a sixth woman. She was shot, but the bullet just grazed her neck. She is alive and in protective custody.

We do not learn if she was shot first or fourth or last. Somehow, the news teams are held at bay and not permitted to ask if she was praying or crying or if she now feels there is a special grace in the universe reserved for her.

The survivor is able to provide police a description. There is a reward offered.

The survivor says, “My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to their families and friends. Please know that during the unfathomable events of that day, their thoughts were focused on you and coming home. My heart aches that they were unable to do so.”

So, what do you think, he asks. Do I have horror or do I have horror? Vampires hunting people.

I don’t know, is what I say.

Because right now, I don’t think he knows anything about horror. And neither do I.







































About Mort Castle

Mort Castle

Mort Castle is a horror author, editor, and a writing teacher with more than a dozen books to his credit. A former stage hypnotist, folksinger, and high school teacher, MortCastle has been a publishing writer since 1967. He’s been deemed a “horror doyen” by Publishers Weekly, “El Maestro del Terror” by South America’s Galaxia Cthulhu, and “the master of contemporary horror” by Poland’s Nowa Fantastyka magazine.

Many times a nominee for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award®, Castle and co-editor Sam Weller earned the prize in the anthology category for 2012's Shadow Show: All New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. Castle's New Moon on the Water also won for "Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection.” Castle's got a pair of Black Quill awards for editing, and has been nominated for The International Horror Guild Award, the Pushcart Prize, and others, and 30 stories have been cited for "honorable Mention," "Notable," etc. or included in annual Year's Best compilations in the literary, mystery, horror, science-fiction, and fantasy genres. In 2008, his novel The Strangers made Newsweek's (pl) Top Ten List of Best Books Published in Poland.

Castle has published about 600 “shorter things,” mostly articles and short stories, in a variety of magazines, including Penthouse, Twilight Zone, Cavalier, Bombay Gin, Writer's Digest, and many more. His work has been translated into, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Hungarian, Turkish, Czech, Hebrew, and Polish.

See more about Mort Castle HERE

Shadow Show

New Moon

The Strangers


Shadow Show New Moon