Interview – Roma Gray – Haunted House Harbor

(interview by Sam Gregory:

Tell us about your book:

Haunted House Harbor: Humanity’s Hope (Book 1). The world has just been struck by the “Perfect Apocalypse”: Nuclear bombs, disease, famine, zombies, killer bees and many other hidden terrors. As the world crumbles, a group of survivors discovers there is only one safe haven: the mysterious town of Haunted House Harbor. For some reason, all of the unleashed perils cannot penetrate the city limits. But there’s one problem—Haunted House Harbor has its own dark side. Suicides, mass murders, and insanity have plagued the town for over a hundred years. Is Haunted House Harbor humanity’s last hope, or is it in fact, their ultimate doom?

That is the core concept behind the book. Essentially, the situation is rock or hard place – make your choice.

In most zompoc books, the authors explore not only the world’s shock and horror at being thrown into a zombie apocalypse, but they also explore man’s inhumanity to man. Certainly plenty to explore there, but I wanted to take the genre in a new direction.

You see, I’ve always thought, if zombies turned out to be real, doesn’t that imply that perhaps other creatures that go bump in the night are real as well? And if they are real, what if they decide to take advantage of the situation?

In this case, we have The Amityville Horror meets The Walking Dead. Most people remember the famous final scene in the movie where the Lutz family members are running for the front door as all hell breaks loose, (similar final scene in Poltergeist too, for that matter). Well ask yourself, would they have run out that door if they knew zombies were waiting for them on the front porch? Maybe not. Maybe the Lutz family would have decided bleeding walls and a disembodied voice that growls “Get out!!” were livable conditions. But of course, the question becomes, for how long? How long can you be trapped in a frying pan before the fire starts looking pretty damn good?

The real difference between the two choices is the hell outside of HHH is pretty brutal and in your face. Inside HHH, well, this town has been tormenting people for over a hundred years; it’s subtle and insidious. Kind of that scenario with the frog sitting in water, not noticing that someone has turned up the heat; you don’t get how much trouble you’re in at first. And as time goes by, what will you put up with to avoid the zombies? What price are you willing to pay?

In regards to the “Perfect Apocalypse”, I wanted the situation to evolve into something bigger than a simple zombie apocalypse. Take special note of the line “many other hidden terrors”. I don’t reveal all of the dangers right off, not even in the first book. Trust me when I say, the apocalypse will escalate inside and outside of the town.

 Who is your main character and what can you tell us about him/her?

Like in most zombie books, there is a wide range of individuals who get thrown together, but the main character is a seventeen-year-old girl by the name of Norma Kershaw. She has Asperger’s which is a form of autism (high-functioning) and also suffers from agoraphobia (the fear of going outside). When the apocalypse hits, she’s at home with her mother who is in a wheel chair.

I got the idea from another marvelous book Queen of Bones written by Gregg Zimmerman, where the main character is also in an apocalypse and has a problem with her hip. From reading this book, I became fascinated with the idea of what someone with a handicap would do during an apocalypse. You will see I took it a few steps further by exploring different handicaps (spread across several characters).

I especially wanted to explore this concept during a zombie apocalypse, because most zombie books have military men save the day. Well what if you don’t have combat training? Or what if these military men show up and aren’t the saviors you thought they’d be? This has certainly come up many times in other Zompoc books. The way I see it, no matter your state of combat readiness or physical, mental, or emotional challenges, you’d be doing everything in your power to save yourself and your family. And I believe people are capable of doing amazing things when the occasion calls for it. I’ve known many individuals with handicaps (including three teenage girls with Asperger’s) and I believe people who face challenges in life are sometimes better equipped to handle changing situations than other people.

Is this a standalone or part of a series?

Well, I have an odd answer for you. It’s part of two series, actually.

The Haunted House Harbor series has three books: 1) Humanity’s Hope, 2) Humanity’s Horror and 3) Humanity’s Hell. There are only three books in the series because I ran out of H words to use (haha).

So why all of the damn H’s? What the “H” is my obsession with the letter “H”?

Because that’s what this book was supposed to be, it was meant to represent the letter “H” in project 26 (p26) being put out by J. Ellington Ashton Press. The publisher, Catt Dahman, came up with the idea last year for our press to publish 26 books, each one representing a letter in the alphabet that in turn stood for a horror concept. She offered me four letters, J for Jurassic (my other novel this year is Jurassic Jackaroo: Jasper’s Junction), Q (Quarantine, an anthology), N (Nocturnal Nightmares, an anthology) and H (for haunted house).

I was thrilled with all of them, but I had to admit, H had me shaking in my boots. I’ve always wanted to write a book on haunted houses, but I couldn’t think of anything original to do with this concept. As always, I took my dog for a walk to think it out. Being the Czarina of Fusion Horror, I came up with this idea after about an hour. I knew the characters, the situation, and even how the book series would end.

I asked the publisher if she was surprised with the direction my novel took. She said that little surprises her anymore (in the horror genre, I wouldn’t doubt that for a second) but that she was very proud of how this book turned out and the creativity involved. A very high compliment from a very talented lady. Thanks Catt Dahman!

What are you working on next?

The sequel to my Hunted Tribe series, The Hunted Tribe: Rocket’s Red Glare