Welcome back to the Crossroads

What happens when we die? 

It’s a question that cannot be answered by man, so far anyway. And until that riddle’s been solved all we’re left with are theories. Some believe that nothing happens and our memories, thoughts, and our personality just stop when our bodies finally give out. I’m not sure if I like that theory. Maybe it’s because I refuse to think all of my efforts and time, while insignificant in the larger scope of the universe, simply don’t matter.

Another theory is that death is but a door to another higher plane of existence. Call it what you like: Heaven, the afterlife, Valhalla, the void. Every religion has some place where the soul goes when the body perishes. Often, there’s a good place (heaven) and a bad place (hell) depending on the actions of the soul during its duration on earth. 

The final theory I’ll discuss (there are plenty more, but I don’t have all day) is a combination of the two above mentioned theories. If you take the idea of no plane of existence and combine it with the idea of a soul, what do you get?

Well, you actually get two things:

1. Ghosts

2. A good story.

The souls of those that died, released by the death of their mortal bodies, forever to wander the earth searching for the lives that they once cherished. Ghost stories can be found in every part of the world. Often, ghosts don’t travel far from where they lived when they still had physical bodies. Ghosts are sometimes sent as messengers to those in need of some guidance (Ebenezer Scrooge for example). Sometimes, ghosts are jealous entities that terrorize the living. Sometimes their friendly ghosts (I’m looking at you Casper). 

What I’m trying to get across to you is that whatever your comfort level is, there is a ghost story for you. There’s no better way to figure out what kind of ghost stories you like than purchasing the new anthology by Burning Willow Press.

Crossroads in the Dark IV: GHOSTS is a collection of short stories developed in hopes of bringing awareness to suicide prevention around the world. While the stories do not tell of suicide, they do tell of GHOSTS. For whom are the ghosts that haunt us daily? What are the remains of an otherwise perfect life ended far too soon? Which are the people who we find hardest to move forward from when we lose them? The easy answer is the ones we failed to save. 

For those that haven’t read the last three CRITD anthologies, welcome.

For those that have, welcome back to the crossroads.

• Forward by Lily Luchesi, author of the “Paranormal Detective” series.

Stories by:

Kerry Alan Denney

Alice J. Black

Michael Schutz

Kindra Sowder

James Master (that’s me)

Frank Martin

L. Bachman

Carol Browne

C.C. Adams

Mirren Hogan

Erin Yoshikawa

Peter Oliver Wonder

Rachel de la Fuente

W.T. Watson

Cindy Johnson

• James Crawford

Nikki Collins-Mewha

Kevin Wimer

Brian G. Murray

– Lloyd Kerns

Edd Sowder

James Crawford

For my inaugural Interview with an Author, I get the opportunity to interview horror and supernatural author James Crawford. Crawford is the author of the Blood Soaked series, Manleigh Cheese, and other works.

“I’ve written zombie-style horror, supernatural horror, and am currently moving into supernatural action and fantasy,” Crawford said.

james crawford.png
James Crawford

Stephen King once stated that writers must be able to do two things above all else: read a lot and write a lot. James and I share more than a first name, we share the same appreciation for the same authors.

“I was a huge Jim Butcher fan for quite a while, and loved Laurell K. Hamilton before her work become polyamory and sex with just a splash of horror. I’m pretty keen on Mario Acevedo, Mark Reefe, and Ian Banks as well,” said Crawford. He goes on to say that during his lull in writing, he plans to read more small press authors. For those that are interested in Mark Reefe, James and I are authors with Reefe under the Burning Willow Press umbrella, take a look at my review of his work here.

The inspiration to begin writing is often an unique experience for authors. For Crawford, the inspiration came from designing the perfect weapon against the undead.

“I was having a conversation with other bladesmiths about the ideal weapon to use against zombies,” he said adding that his design for the perfect bladed weapon was beyond his capabilities. “So I looked into how much the individual components would cost. The answer wasn’t pleasant. My response to this news was, ‘Well I’ll just write about it instead!’ Here we are, many years later.”

Crawford doesn’t write with the expectations that he’ll end up living off the income, he writes for the fun of it. If it did become possible to work full-time as an author, Crawford stated that he would want to keep a 9-5 job anyway.

Just one of the many talented images drawn by Crawford. Look for them on his Instagram account, pensloth.

In his spare time, he’s a collector of fountain pens and cartooning. You can find his interesting and amusing works on his Instagram account, pensloth. He also writes and does some light silversmithing on the side.

“I might get back into forging knives, but that’s still under consideration,” he adds.

He’s currently working on one novella as well as working on notes for his first sci-fi venture. Three books are planned as an unpublished trilogy. Crawford is also crafting some sterling silver adornments for his fountain pens.

When you ask a father which child he loves the most, a good father will not give a response. If he did it’d be in the form of one of those dad jokes. Authors are a lot like parents, the books they write are their children. How could an author pick a single work as their favorite? Well, James Crawford can, but it wasn’t an easy question for him to answer.

“Damn it… that’s a tough question. I’m particularly proud of the story “Where You’re Resting” from Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under Your Bed anthology,” he admits.

Besides our fandom of Jim Butcher and our first name, James and I have another thing in common. We both have stories in CRITD III: Monsters Under Your Bed. “Where You’re Resting” is one of my favorites in that anthology. If you’ve never crossed roads with it or it’s predecessors, I’d advise picking them up. While you’re at it, pick up Crawford’s other works if you’re a fan of comedy and horror. Or as the author himself would put it “if they want ridiculous sarcasm, snarky characters, and laughter before and after horrible things happen.”

James Crawford is a life-long resident of the Washington, DC area, currently residing in Maryland. Prior to becoming an author, he graduated with a degree in Fine Art, and worked in the graphic design field for quite a few years. Since then, he’s changed careers, and has collected various hobbies and vocations along the way.

His first novel, Blood Soaked and Contagious, as well as it’s two sequels are published by Permuted Press. Currently, James is working with Burning Willow Press and has published Manleigh Cheese as well as having stories in the Crossroad in the Dark anthology series.

You can find him on Instagram as pensloth or on Facebook at @JamesCrawfordAuthor.