Listen up guys! I was so enamored with Beyond the Rail that I reached out to Ichabod for an interview! He was gracious enough to spill the beans and answer my questions!
Title: Beyond the Rail and Other Nightmares
Author: Ichabod Ebenezer
Release: June 2021
Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction
Beyond the Rail and other Nightmares is a beautifully creepy horror and dark fiction collection. What led you to write horror?
I’ve always been intrigued by the supernatural. Creatures from Greek Mythology to the stories of the Brothers Grimm, and every ghost story in between. I loved the design of the creatures and I was fascinated by the rules they lived by. How a fey creature needed a certain permission before they could replace your baby with a changeling, why a ghost could pull your hair, but also pass through walls. To me, it was pure imagination fodder.
My favorite stories in this book often had female protagonists, including “Condemned” and “Beyond the Rail”. As a fan of yours, I have always been attached to your female characters because they are strong and smart and you don’t put a big emphasis on their beauty which allows their other qualities to bloom. Where do you find inspiration for your female characters?
First off, and I know this will be a shock to some, women are people. If you consider that you are creating a person and not an object, whether that be Love Interest or Mary Sue, you go a lot further toward making a great story. Second, their appearance only comes into it if it’s important for the plot. In Fertile Minds, Chelsea plays on men’s desires and their underestimation of women, so her appearance becomes part of the story. In the other stories with female leads, it isn’t important. I like when the reader’s imagination plays a role in the story. I think story at its best is a cooperative art between writer and reader. As far as inspiration goes, aside from what I put in the notes at the end, most characters are bits and pieces of several people I know. My mother, my wife, my daughter, former schoolmates and ex-girlfriends, that one woman in line at Starbucks. :D
The namesake story in this book is very short, but I was aghast with realization when I was hit by the depth of the story and concept. This was well after I’d finished it. My mind just clicked! Can you tell us how Beyond the Rail came about and why you selected it as the title for the collection?
I’m so glad to hear you say that! I have a lot of faith in my readers, but every now and then you wonder whether something will go over their heads. This was one of those stories I just had to write once the concept came to me. I didn’t write it for any particular publication, it was just to get it out of my head. The idea actually came to me while I was trying to write another psychological horror piece (which never made it very far). As for why it became the title story, that’s twofold. First, my cover designer, François Vaillancourt, came up with 4 designs based on different stories in the collection, and my wife and I liked this one best. Even still, the original title was “Singalong and Other Nightmares.” I liked the idea of a singalong being an implied nightmare. But then I hired Tory Hunter to critique the book, and she recommended a number of changes including the title change.
The first story in the collection is “Singalong”. I thought this was a great choice to start because it was funny and brought back such fun childhood memories, but was also terrifying. What inspired this story?
Singalong was pitched to https://www.thejollypress.com/horror/ for an anthology on Cursed Objects. They loved the story, but didn’t have room for it in the collection. It turns out the timing of a good scare and a good joke are very similar, but they serve different purposes. I love the dichotomy of having both in one story. For this one, I wanted to take the most innocent thing I could imagine and turn it sinister. And what could be more innocent than children’s songs?
Once again, I have Tory to thank for its position. I was a little worried about putting it first and potentially setting reader expectations for humor throughout. To balance that out, I put Transplant next, which is pretty far from funny.
In the back of the book, you leave a few notes on how each story came to be. What was your process in selecting and organizing these stories for the collection?
I did have a little help with placement, as mentioned above. Other than that, I wanted to make sure The Ritual was at the midpoint, and then it was a matter of spacing out the ghost stories, the curse stories, the humorous ones, and the ones that are a little more out-there. I really felt this collection was the place for Fertile Minds and Two Shadows, One Gun, but placement was important.
Are there any secrets in the book you want to hint to us about?
I’ll give you two:
Two Hundred Miles was initially written in first person because it sprang in its entirety from a dream. Patrick’s parents are my parents. The rest has been altered to protect the innocent.
Chelsea Pepperdine will be back. I’ve had a lot of people ask about her, and she was a ton of fun to write. I’ve got several story seeds in mind… I just need to decide what form those stories will take.
What are you planning for your next release?
I’ve usually got a few projects in the works, but I’m really excited about this next one. I’m just finishing up a second draft of a Fantasy novel along the lines of Game of Thrones or The Blade Itself. It centers on a nine-year-old girl named Cassia who was raised on the border of two kingdoms and helps support her family by robbing the corpses on a nearby perennial battlefield.
What are you reading now?
I recently finished Midnight Vigilante by Leonor Bass, which was really fun, and I just started on Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar. I’m only one chapter in, but it’s great so far.
Ichabod Ebenezer is the genre-promiscuous author of “A Shadow Stained in Blood” as well as countless short stories ranging from Horror to Sci-fi, from Fantasy to Mystery.
He lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest with his family, a chameleon, and the ghosts of three cats. He is currently working on a Fantasy novel, but there is always another skeleton at the back of his closet.