Coy Hall has had a love for horror fiction as long as he can remember.
When he was a child, Halloween family movie nights included classic Universal and Hammer films featuring Bela Lugosi and Peter Crushing. As his interest in classic films grew, so did his interest in the actors featured in those films.
“My mom would get me actor biographies from the library,” Hall recalled. “She brought home one every week for a while. I read biographies of Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Humphrey Bogart and even Steve McQueen. I wanted to read that because he was in The Blob.”
These were also the days of VHS rentals, and Hall and his older sister were allowed one horror movie pick from the wall of $1 tapes.
“I got into reading horror around the same time,” he said. “Both of my parents liked books, so there were always paperbacks around the house. I read the classics early on: ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Dracula,’ ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ and ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’ In Portsmouth, Ohio, there was a Goodwill bookstore. It was Goodwill, but only books — like a warehouse of books. I sincerely loved that place. My mom would take me there, and I’d leave with a stack each time. That led me to writers like HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, Ramsey Campbell and Clive Barker.”
Soon, Hall will be able to count himself among his favorite writers as a horror novelist.
The Ashland Community and Technical College associate professor of history’s novel, “Grimoire of the Four Impostors,” is set to be released by Nosetouch Press in September 2021.
Hall wrote the tale in 2018, which features four protagonists who weave through the 17th century from England to the Holy Roman Empire to Hungary to the Caribbean.
“The horror is atmospheric, and dread quietly builds,” Hall said. “The ornate title is a reference to real grimoires of the time. All of the sections in the book have baroque titles like ‘The Orb of Wasp and Fly: Being a Psalm of the Malformed Mind’ or ‘Brine and Bone Alchemy.’
“Each of the main characters — a monk, an executioner, an occult scholar and a soldier/adventurer — encounters an impostor that takes their knowledge of the world and subverts it, opening their eyes to horrors that cannot be unseen and truths that cannot be unlearned.”
Although this will be Hall’s first full-length novel to be published, he has been writing for more than a decade. He started writing horror stories as a teenager. Taking advice from author Ray Bradbury, who said the only education for a writer is to read constantly and write a million words, Hall did just that. He consumed as many horror, crime, mystery, adventure, westerns and history books as he could. And he wrote those million words, which took about eight years.
“I wrote my first novel, which will never see the light of day, when I was 18,” Hall said. “I’ve been writing short stories and novels ever since. I published my first short story in 2009. I’ve published around 40 stories since in the genres of horror, crime, mystery, western, fantasy and science fiction.”
Hall, a Huntington resident, graduated with a Master of Arts in History from the University of Louisville in 2011. His area of expertise is European history of the 16th and 17th centuries, and U.S. history of the early 20th century.
Until he began writing “Grimoire of the Four Impostors,” Hall hadn’t written anything set earlier than the 1800s.
“It dawned on me that I could find a niche writing the type of horror I was setting in the 1920s, say, by placing the same story in the 17th century,” Hall said. “It’s my favorite era to study, because of its uncanny mix of medieval and modern. It’s truly the first phase in the modern age, so it has one foot in the Middle Ages and one foot reaching toward today. I knew a lot about the era — I teach classes that focus on that era. It hit me then: combine your interests of history and fiction and create something unique.
“There are lot of details in the book that are real: the Thirty Years’ War, the Turkish siege of Vienna, the way an executioner is shunned like an untouchable. Once I got started, all the material I talked about in class washed over me. The book just poured out. I’m still mining that material for stories.”
Although Hall’s book will be released next year, he’s been working on other short stories, some of which have recently been published.
His story, “A Hazard of the Job,” made the cover of Mystery Weekly Magazine in July and is available via Amazon.com.
On Sept. 1, a short story collection called “The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror” was released and features Hall’s story “Hour of the Cat’s Eye.”
“In 2018, Nosetouch Press released ‘The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror,’ and I had a story included called ‘Sire of the Hatchet,’” Hall said. “That book was the most exposure I’d had as an author up to that point. My story was recommended for a Bram Stoker Award for best short fiction. In the voting, I made it to the top ten. Unfortunately, only the top five make the final ballot — only the top five can claim to be ‘Bram Stoker Nominated.’ It was a thrill to be in the running with Joe Hill, regardless. With the story, I was qualified to join the Horror Writers Association. I’m now a member.”
“The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror” is available in paperback, hardcover and ebook at any site that sells books, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
During March and April’s stay-at-home orders, Hall began working on what he hopes will be his second published novel. Called “A Séance for Wicked King Death,” the work is a crime/noir novel set in 1956 Huntington.
To keep up with Hall and his work, follow him on Facebook page, Coy Hall — Author.