The Mental Shrillness ward will shock you with six twist ending horror tales: experience a showdown between a ramshackle mansion and a soldier's painful, recurring war memories, a spouse's gruesome betrayal, intense love and loss inside a haunted bathtub, marriage devotion warped into sadomasochism, a compelling voice with self-mutilation intentions, and a nightmarish struggle at a carnival between good and evil.
Todd Russell started writing at eight years old and has honed his bizarre style along the likes of Rod Serling, Robert R. McCammon, and Stephen King. Mental Shrillness, a collection of six horror short stories, is his first book.
What will readers like about your book?
Firstly, thank you for the interview, it's much appreciated.
Mental Shrillness is for readers who would enjoy a combination of the classic Twilight Zone and Stephen King's Creepshow plus enough steroids to make a MLB slugger envious. Two of the stories were first place contest winners at AOL keyword: novel, judged by unbiased writers. All of the stories have been seen and commented on by other readers and writers and each fit the Mental Shrillness theme: a strong mental experience. Thought processes covering: memories, betrayal, love, devotion, voices and the most all-consuming thought: death. I am excited for new readers who haven't read these stories and look forward to their feedback.
Why did you self publish?
I'm in good health but not getting any younger. I have been writing tales for over 30 years now and it's time to start publishing my work in book format. I've entered contests and shared many short stories online (webzines have previously published two of the stories in this collection) but none of my work has ever been compiled and published in book or eBook format until now. I didn't want to be the guy who dies and boxes full of completed novels and stories are discovered and people say: "Look! This guy was a writer. Wonder why he never published any of this stuff?"
What is your writing process?
Ideas become pregnant in my brain and either get aborted or delivered to the page. Flash fiction is completed in one setting with very little rewrite or copy editing, longer short stories and novellas might be one or two writing sessions and novels take many writing sessions. With the longer works, I will go back in with a chainsaw and remove the unnecessary parts: characters, dialogue, extraneous description, scenes, etc. Sometimes the removed parts are sewn into other works. It's writing surgery. Sometimes the patient makes it and the work is branded publishable. Since I'm brand new to the publishing part, I'll go now and wash the blood from my hands.
Jackie needed body heat.
Ben turned up the bath as hot as the tap would go. Her flesh took on a yellowy-white tint and her body had begun to stiffen. "Jackie, don't go." Ben whispered, and kissed her firm, cold lips. "Please don't leave me this way."
The water steamed the bathroom windows and beads of sweat coursed down his forehead to race against his tears. "You just need a little more heat, Jackie." He went to the kitchen and filled up saucepan of water and boiled it. If he raised the temperature of Jackie's body just enough then maybe...maybe she would tell him what to do. Jackie always knew what to do, where to go, who to see, when to go. Always, he followed.
The water bubbled and steamed and he could faintly smell Jackie's spaghetti. It was jusssst right. Tasted so good. The meaty, garlic aroma. He longed for it almost as much as her hands stirring and her smile, oh, JACKIE. He kept going back and forth from the kitchen. Filling the tub and draining. Raising the temperature on Jackie's cool body. He could warm her up. As he poured the boiling water over her, the flesh on her skin reddened and sizzled softly. Warming up!
Back. Forth. Hotter. Backforthhotterbackforthhotter--
He brought in the space heater, set it on the toilet seat and cranked the heater until the coil eyes blinked angrily on. He turned the heat in the bathroom up to 80 degrees. Ben panted, dripping with sweat. BACK. FORTH. BACK. FORTH.
Barnes & Noble NOOK
Smashwords (multiple e-formats)
Tod Russell's Official Website