show episodes
 
Shane Douglas Keene, Laurel Hightower, and Rich Duncan talk about a variety of subjects related to the horror and crime genres. We also talk to authors and other guests about different topics including books, diversity, and the craft of creating high-quality dark speculative fiction. We're also a bunch of irreverent smartasses.
 
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show series
 
When it comes to stress, they say selling a house is up there with divorce and death. Now imagine that house is haunted… by demonic puppets. Yeah – that’s the premise of Grady Hendrix’s brand-new horror novel, How to Sell a Haunted House. It combines Grady’s trademark humour, genre-knowledge and playfulness, with a genuinely frightening story about…
 
…AAAND WE’RE BACK! I hope you’re slipping into 2023 like it’s a warm bath, but either way this week’s episode will be a cold, sharp system shock. The guest is Stephen Markley; the book is The Deluge – a 900-page beast of ecological and societal disintegration, and the best book I have read in decades. Imagine The Stand was based on rigorous scienti…
 
The year is almost over. What is left to do except offer you my last-minute ranking of the best books I’ve read and enjoyed in 2022. I will warn you – I am poorly and my voice sounds like ten miles of bad gravel. This sounds like the Reba McIntyre book club. I am HUSKY!! Hang around for the afterword when my voice finally gives out as I labour over…
 
It’s that time of year again. A time to reflect, to look back over a tumultuous twelve months, and to talk about the horror books that helped us survive them. 2022 has been a helluva year for the good kind of horror. Far too much for one man to cover. So I’ve drafted in some highly qualified friends – Emily Hughes and Janelle Janson. They have thei…
 
It’s the Christmas Special and with the obligatory requirement to do something different – we’re turning the tables. Yes, I’m the one being interviewed this week. To make that a palatable offering for listeners, the guest interviewers are none other than Rachel Harrison and Josh Malerman. Friends of the show and horror superstars who, out of the go…
 
Are you ready for some learnin’? This week rather than focusing on any single book, or any single author – I thought we’d have a little look at … y’know … the entire friggin’ history of Horror and Gothic across the centuries. After all, what’s a Christmas break from podcasting if you aren’t doubling the length of your episodes and making the scope …
 
This week I’m beginning my supposed ‘break’ from reading. There is still an episode, however, and it’s a doozy. You may be glad to hear I’ve put down the books for a short while, ‘cos my guest is a huge name from the cinematic aisle of the horror world – Craig Engler, GM of Shudder is in the house!! He joined me for a conversation back in October, …
 
The time has come: it’s the final episode of Casting Lots. For real this time. Join Alix and Carmella for all your remaining cannibalism questions answered, plus a bonus Arctic adventure involving an Italian airship and a very good dog. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/CastingLotsPod/sh…
 
We are joined by our final dinner guests, writer Nibedita Sen and Ana and Luca of The Mayday Podcast, to talk speculative fiction, colonialism and some disastrous adventures that may not have ended in survival cannibalism, but probably should have. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/Casti…
 
Get ready to be sickened by my praise. My guest this week is Philip Fracassi. Last year his historical horror, The Boys in the Valley got the Stephen King endorsement. He’s already following up with A Child Alone With Strangers - his second novel (or is it his first, or his third – as you’ll hear it’s complicated). This book is an all-timer. It ble…
 
Are you a city mouse or a country mouse? That’s the question at the heart of my conversation with Charlotte Northedge. Her new novel, The People Before argues that though the city may be a hassle, it’s a lot less scary than what waits out there in the fields and farmhouses of this pleasant land. Charlotte is very much a city mouse. She’s also the H…
 
Why do we (being the specific group of people who make and listen to Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast) enjoy narratives about survival cannibalism so much? Authors Ally Wilkes and Linnea Hartsuyker join us to discuss the power of storytelling. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/peopl…
 
It’s coming home, it’s coming … horror’s coming home! Alright, no one panic – this isn’t about football. We’ll avoid that particular nightmare of human corruption and talk about something much more nourishing – the delights of British Folk Horror. Our guest is Fiona Barnett, and these days it’s seems like a mini-celebration everytime I have a fello…
 
One historian and six podcasters walk into a bar… This week, we’re chatting corpse medicine, recipe recommendations and penny dreadfuls with academic Richard Sugg, Ric and Anton of the Curiosity of a Child podcast, and Teddy and Catriona of the Grave History podcast. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubb…
 
I don’t always talk about Bigfoot … but when I do it’s with the BEST people. Our guest this week is Erika T. Wurth, author, narrative artist and creative writing guru. She is of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent and she pours all of that skill and heritage into her new novel White Horse. It’s a tale of haunting, hard-living and violence, with a cer…
 
What’s so scary about cannibalism? We talk to horror experts Neil McRobert, host of Talking Scared Podcast, and Nicasio Andres Reed, editor at the Deadlands, to find out. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/CastingLotsPod/shop CREDITS Written, hosted and produced by Alix Penn and Carmella …
 
Halloween may be over but I trust you aren’t tired of horror? No? Good. ‘Cos this week’s guest packs a double-whammy – horror novels and horror movies all in one. Brian McAuley is a screenwriter and debut novelist. His first book, Curse of the Reaper is a behind-the-scenes look at how the horror movie sausage gets made, featuring the greatest slash…
 
Are you ready for an extra bite? In this bonus mini-season, Alix and Carmella invite some special dinner guests to the table. Today, bioarchaeologist Stacy Hackner and folklorist Paul Cowdell join us to talk cannibal ballads, coprolites and the custom of the sea. Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.c…
 
The last episode before Halloween and it’s suitably about my favourite book of the year: Andy Davidson’s The Hollow Kind Andy is the Stoker-nominated author of In the Valley of the Sun and The Boatman’s Daughter. The Hollow Kind is his third book and it packs a lot into its 400 pages. It’s as dense and weighty as an imploding paper star. It’s a hau…
 
It was Thomas Wolfe who wrote “you can never go home again.” Huh, what did he know? (yes, I understand the metaphor – move on!) This week’s guest proves that whilst you can go home, you may not want to. Erin E. Adams is an actor, playwright and now the debut author of JACKAL, a novel of homecomings horrid and awful. Each year, in the small Pennsylv…
 
Do you know anyone with hairy palms? Weird question, but as this week’s novel-in-question will convince you, it’s best to be careful around the hirsute. Our guest is Rachel Harrison, returning to Talking Scared with her brand new SUCH SHARP TEETH. It’s a tale of small-town relationships, female transformation, love and … werewolves. Anyone who has …
 
The best and spookiest season starts in earnest, this year on Talking Scared. Our guest is Jamie Flanagan, actor, screenwriter, and part of the team who delivered such televisual delights as The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass and now, The Midnight Club. With The Midnight Club due to land on Netflix worldwide this Friday – I rejigged the sched…
 
Coming 31 October 2022: Season 4 of Casting Lots: A Survival Cannibalism Podcast. Join Alix and Carmella for an extra helping of survival cannibalism in this bonus mini-season, featuring a number of special dinner guests. CREDITS Written, hosted and produced by Alix Penn and Carmella Lowkis. Theme music by Daniel Wackett. Find him on Twitter @ds_wa…
 
It’s not only vampires that drink blood. That’s what we find out on this week’s episode. Our guest is Alexis Henderson – author of The Year of the Witching and now, her sophomore novel, House of Hunger. It’s a luscious, lurid tale of dark fantasy, blood and sex. Y’know … all the good stuff. Oh, and it’s one of my favourite books of the year. Alexis…
 
Wanna get haunted? That’s the delightful proposition offered by Clay McLeod Chapman’s Ghost Eaters – a novel of ghosts, grief and ghastly narcotics. Just take one pill and you can sell all the phantoms that surround you. What a premise! It’s Clay’s second time on Talking Scared and he’s always welcome. There are few more honest, open, and thoughtfu…
 
The time has finally come to go to the scariest place imaginable – the inside of the human mind. Thankfully, we have a friend to accompany us on this most hideous of trips. I’m joined this week by Gemma Amor, author of the brand-new techno-horror FULL IMMERSION. It’s a book that deals with trauma, psychosis and experimental treatment, and it’s the …
 
Finally, she’s here! After months of waiting for schedules and book releases to align, Hailey Piper is on the show. She’s here to talk about both of her 2022 releases – each is a kidnapping experience. The novella Your Mind is a Terrible Thing takes us up into the void and into creepy inner space. Her forthcoming novel No Gods for Drowning transpor…
 
Time to get weird and wiggy and wondrous. Our guest this week is Zin E. Rocklyn, author of many short fictions, and her (very) recently award-winning novella Flowers for the Sea. It’s an afro-speculative blend of science fiction, horror, fantasy, myth, dystopia, pre-history and apocalypse – all confined to a single boat in a big, bad ocean, and all…
 
Get your bell bottoms, your peace sign, your tie dye and your … crucifix! This week’s guest is Gwendolyn Kiste and her new novel, Reluctant Immortals, transports us to San Francisco in 1968, the summer after the Summer of Love, when the sun is setting on the hippie movement. Into this chaos comes a quarter of iconic Gothic characters, ready to figh…
 
This week we’re crossing the podcast streams again – and broadening our reading at the same time. Agatha Andrews is the host of She Wore Black, a Texas-based podcast of Gothic, Mystery and Horror. She’s also my horror-podcasting buddy, the romantic yin to my dark, depraved yang. And she knows a thing or two about Gothic Romance. It turns out it’s n…
 
Are your doors and windows locked? Good. ‘Cos this one is going to scare you! This week I’m joined by Michael J. Seidlinger, author of the new home-invasion nightmare, Anybody Home. You’ve read this scenario before – invasion, torture, death and suffering – but never like this. We talk about why home invasion is so singularly frightening, about the…
 
What scared you as a kid? Monsters? Ghosts? The thing in your closet? The perilous state of the environment and the terrible carbon footprint of children’s toys? If it’s any of the former then you’re in good company. (If it’s the latter then boy did we need you in 1987!) This week’s guests understand the fear that makes the childlike mind tick and …
 
Do you like scary movies? Yes, course you do – you’re listening to a horror podcast. Okay, cliched horror quote asides – this week is something a little different for the show. It’s been a minute since we’ve had some non-fiction, and how better to scratch that itch-for-facts than with a discussion of BRAINZZZZZ? Our guest is Nina Nesseth: scientist…
 
We’re heading into largely uncharted horror waters this week with our guest Nat Cassidy. Nat’s debut horror novel, Mary: An Awakening of Terror dares to confront one of the last true taboos of horror fiction. No, it’s not cannibalism, or necrophilia, or the bowel movements of Tucker Carlson … no… it’s the menopause. That’s right. Female physiology.…
 
DUM DUM DUM!!! 100 episodes!! We did it. We reached an utterly abstract threshold together guys and we are DELIGHTED to be here. I’m also delighted to welcome Paul Tremblay back to the show for a neat bit of circularity (as he was the one to kick things off way back in episode 1). Paul’s new novel, The Pallbearer’s Club came out just at the right t…
 
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. So, let’s have a laugh: Poe-style! Our guest is T. Kingfisher. She’s an expert in taking dry, dark horror classics and investing them with newfound life. In What Moves the Dead she manages to find the gruesome joy in even the most dolorous of text. What Moves the Dead reconfigures and reapproaches Poe’s classic, “…
 
Things are a bit fishy this week, as I’m joined by long-time friend-of-the-show Tim McGregor (@TimMcGregor1) to talk about the long history of fish-tailed women and why we find them so frightening … and sexy! Tim’s forthcoming novella, Lure, is a mermaid story with bite! No Ariel here; Sebastian the Crab is hiding. Instead it’s about the war of att…
 
This week on Talking Scared it’s monsters all day, every day. To celebrate the release of Screams From the Dark: 29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous, we gather around the campfire with editor Ellen Datlow and three of her contributors – no less than Nathan Ballingrud, Chikodili Emelumadu and the great Joe R. Lansdale. As a result, this is not yo…
 
We’re closing out our (very) loose trilogy of episodes devoted to sinister schools and magical children. This week it involves pentagrams and witch-burnings, which are always a good time. Our guest, Stephen Lloyd, is better known for his comedy than his horror. He has spent a career crafting some of the biggest sitcoms of the century (some of which…
 
This week we go to magic school, but there isn’t a f***ing owl or a talking hat in sight. Instead, it’s a much more macabre affair, as J. M. Miro begins his trilogy of dark sorcery with Ordinary Monsters. J. M. goes by a different name in his other, more prosaic writing life, but here, with us, in the blood and the shadows he writes as his second s…
 
This week we go behind the curtain to look at the inner workings of a bona-fide modern classic. Our guest is Scott Hawkins, whose debut novel, The Library At Mount Char delighted genre fans back in 2015. Now, to commemorate its first UK publication, Scott joins me for a conversation about its many madcap secrets. We talk about everything from cosmi…
 
Here I come, ready or not! Our guest this week is Kiersten White. She’s the award-winning author of numerous macabre YA fictions, but now she’s making her debut in adult fiction (not that kind!) with Hide – a tale of life-or-death hide-and-seek. It’s a fantastic premise to begin with. Think The Hunger Games meets Squid Game, or any other kind of ga…
 
This week’s episode couldn’t have come at a more pertinent time. As women’s reproductive rights come under assault in the US, as Roe V Wade gets rolled back and fat, sweaty men in suits make rules they will never have to obey – I’m joined by a writer who wrote a book about the cult of having babies. Anne Heltzel is the author of Just Like Mother, a…
 
Do think kids’ drawings are creepy? They are, right? All big smiles and suns with eyes and weird flowers the size of people… and the dead girls in the background. Right? Our guest this week has built a whole horror story around these little paper nightmares. Hidden Pictures is a novel that blends text and image in ways that I’ve never seen done bef…
 
It’s a week of deep-dives, haunted-houses and academic horror-stories this week on Talking Scared. Our guest is Isabel Cañas. And she’s having the busiest week known to (wo)mankind. Not only is she defending her doctoral thesis on Medieval Turkish Poetry, she also has the small matter of her debut novel – a sweetly sinister piece of Latin Gothic ca…
 
This week Alma Katsu brings her brand of immaculate historical horror to Talking Scared. After the The Hunger upped the ante on the Donner Party, and The Deep gave us a sinking feeling about the Titanic, Alma is back with The Fervor – a book too dark to write a pun about. It’s a tale of haunting and conspiracy during the years of Japanese internmen…
 
After much recent politickin’ and metaphor – we’re back with a good old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness ghost story. And from a friend, no less. V. L. Valentine came on the show last year (ep.31) to talk about her debut medical horror whodunnit, The Plague Letters. Now she’s back with her sophomore novel, a ripe Gothic treat called Begars Abbey. It p…
 
I promise this week isn’t a pandemic novel. I know … we all need a break. No, Malcolm Devlin’s And Then I Woke Up IS about a disease, but not one that makes you cough, vomit or melt. Instead it’s a disease (drum roll), OF THE MIND!! But even then, it’s not what you think – no rage monsters here. Well, not really. Instead, this novella is a perfect …
 
Alan Baxter is the Lord of Weird Australia. I said it before, he liked it, so I’ll say it again. Alan Baxter is the Lord of Weird Australia. Perhaps nothing he has written is as weird, or as Australian as the stories set in and around the town of Gulpepper. He took us there in The Gulp and now he’s taking us back in The Fall, the second collection …
 
In time honoured tradition, have a laugh on us this April Fool’s Day. It’s the blooper reel! Did you know Casting Lots now has merch? Find us on Redbubble: https://www.redbubble.com/people/CastingLotsPod/shop CREDITS Written, hosted and produced by Alix Penn and Carmella Lowkis. Theme music by Daniel Wackett. Find him on Twitter @ds_wack and Soundc…
 
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