It’s Sunday and here’s another blog post for you guys. This week I have another author interview for you guys, come and meet the true story inspired author; S. J. Krandall!
About S. J. Krandall
Based in New Jersey, S. J. Krandall lives with her husband, two sons and two dogs. Having worked with children for more than twenty years, she’s now a stay at home mom, using what spare time she has to enjoy her interests such as travelling, writing, art and photography.
Fun fact, today is actually her birthday, so please join me in wishing her a very happy birthday!
Fear Farm No Trespassers
Fear Farm No Trespassers is a short story collection that is based on true stories. And there’s something about true story inspired horrors that really interests me, especially after reading the reviews on Amazon! It’s going straight on my wish list!
Within one year, reports of several missing people took over the media. The victims, all had ventured to parts of the deep wooded countryside never to return. Rumors, posted from local townsfolk, of what might have happened to them caught the attention of the public. Some said the undead may have taken them. Others believed that quick changes in weather patterns played part in their disappearances. A survivor, the only witness, was committed for madness as her story went uncredited. Even though some information was strange investigators, family, friends and adventure seekers all looked into them finding nothing. The lack of any evidence baffled the minds of the people involved as they continued to search for answers. Among them, a young woman so obsessed with these stories in her past that her own nightmares become a reality as she stumbles upon unspeakable horrors playing out before her very own eyes. Are they made up in her mind? Are they a dream? Or is she next? Whether real or fantasy, a story was unfolding before her and she could not stop the images that played out as she confronts who or what was responsible for these individuals grotesque fate.
Now, let’s try to understand how her mind works and where the imagination for this book came from…
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from the world around me. Nature plays a significant role and I am able to focus and create through my surroundings. I take walks and visit the country a lot, which where most of my ideas come from.
Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?
I do not have a schedule when writing. I try to fit it in when I can or when the ideas come to me. My days make it harder to follow schedule so this works for me at this time.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I am working on my second book at the moment. It will be part of the Fear Farm series which is a series of quick scary reads. I am also dabbling in some short stories.
What’s your current book about?
My current book, which was published in July, is a collection of shorter stories that all come together for one gruesome ending. It is about missing people and the mystery that surrounds their disappearances. It is all seen through the eyes of one obsessed traveler as it retells each and every person’s horrible fate.
Is your book based on a real person?
My book is based off of real events that have occurred to real people in real settings. Their names and locations have been changed and embellished upon for the sake of fiction.
Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?
I need to read the book first and compare it to the movie version, but I am a movie buff. I love watching movies.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing I love to create in other ways. I do photography (which can be seen on my social media accounts) and art. I love to garden, take walks and travel. I am also a mom to two wonderful sons and we do many things as a family.
How do you use social media as an author?
I am still learning a lot about social media use. I can be found on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I post a bit about myself and my work along with my photography and other fun things. I like trying to communicate with readers and other horror fans and I love to see what others are creating in return. I have seen such amazing talent on those sites.
Big thanks to S. J. Krandall and opening me up to her extremely interesting book! Another happy birthday and all the best in future endeavors! (i.e. Book 2!)
If you would like to learn more about S.J. Krandall and her books, or follow her on social media, here are a few links:
So, November is here, whether we like it or not. Which means it’s officially Autumn and Winter will soon be here (no, we’re not talking about the C word!)
November for me has always been greeted with a mixture of feelings; I dislike the fact it’s getting cold, I dislike that it’s getting darker at night and less hours in the day – although sometimes I don’t mind the early dark nights – but I love the colours on the trees.
But, there is one thing that is ‘personal’ about November…
November, is also the month I was born! It’s my birthday!
And this year, I’m doing something very different; I’m planting trees!
Okay, so, technically, I won’t be the one physically planting them. But after moving to Inverness (you can read about that here and here) I came across a great charity that is planting trees to re-wild the Highlands; Trees for Life.
Up on the Highlands of Scotland used to be a vast forest; the Caledonian Forest, spanning the right across, with only select areas now remaining. Trees for Life is an ambitious, award-winning conservation charity that is rewilding the Scottish Highlands, planting trees and encoraging wildlife to return.
So, rather than writing a wish list full of new books, DVDs, music, things for my new flat, tech, etc, for my birthday, I set up a website on Trees of Life for people to consider donating a small fee to this Grove to help rewild Scotland, restoring balance to the ecosystem and combating CO2 emissions. I have already paid to have one tree planted, each new tree is only £6!
For those of you who know, it was recently my 31st birthday!
I remember for a friend’s birthday one year, in true Penny tradition, we had the discussion of where birthday cakes came from (although I cannot remember the details), and wondering over other birthday traditions.
Since my birthday was recently and I was deliberating options of a blog post, I thought it fitting to talk about where the celebration of birthdays came from
So I did a little bit of research.
Birthday celebrations isn’t Christian!
… In fact, the Church considered celebrating birthdays evil!
Forgive me if this is inaccurate, as I am by no means well versed when it comes to the bible. But I happened across an interesting article .
In the bible there are a few mentions of celebrating birthdays. In the book of Genesis, the Old Testament, the first mention was of a Pharaoh, the Egyptian king. It is said that God told Joseph in a dream, that the Pharaoh’s butler and baker would lose his life. Three days later, on the Pharaoh’s own birthday party, the Pharaoh hanged his baker at the party.
The second account, this time in the New Testament, Herod the tetrarch made a promise at his birthday party which he did not want to keep, this resulted John the Baptist loosing his life.
The third and final account is found in the book of Job. Job’s seven sons “went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and drink with them”. During the birthday party of Job’s oldest son, God allowed Satan to kill all ten of Job’s children with a tornado.
The article then continues to discuss that Job spent his time cursing his birth, the author says “his words make plain that there is nothing good about the day of a man’s birth”.
What is interesting is that these were interpreted by the writer in the article from the bible, s/he continued to explain “the central lesson of each of these accounts” and that those familiar with the accounts “ignore Job’s comments”.
Of course, this is just a single article, writen by a single human person on a website, a clearly religious and devote Christian and is just his/her interpretation of what is in the bible.
In fact, another website  explains that there is no hint that it was wrong for the Pharaoh or Herod to celebrate their birthdays, not does Scripture discourage Christians from celebrating birthdays.
But it is said that birthday’s weren’t celebrated by Christians until the 4th century. This was because birthdays were tied to “pagan” gods, and due to the belif that humans were born with “original sin”. 
Of course, it’s possible Christians changed their minds about celebration and began celebrating the birth of Jesus (hello, Christmas!) and let’s not even get into the idea that the Church may have done this to cover up the Pagan celebration of Saturnalia.
So, when did celebrating a birthday first start?
Actually, I’ve technically already answered that question.
The first mention of a celebration of a birthday was in the bible! The Pharaoh’s birthday! Around 3,000 B.C.E (before common era).
But, it’s interesting to note here, that this birthday was not the birth of a man, but birth of a god. In Egypt, when a man was made Pharaoh, it was believed that he was reborn a god. And of course, what is more important than a man’s birthday but a god’s birthday? It’s therefore possible this reference to the Pharaoh’s birthday was actually his coronation.
Where did birthday cake come from?
Celebrating birthdays with cake was first found in Germany in the 15th century. Typically single layer cakes and typically for first birthdays, called Kinderfesten.
The birthday cake would have a candle for each year they’d been alive, and an extra one (usually in the centre of the cake) to symbolize the hope of living for at least one more year. A wish would also be made upon blowing the candles out.
Using candles on cakes, however, didn’t begin in Germany, this tradition dates back to ancient Greece, where they represented the goddess of the moon, the hunt and chastity; Artemis. The round cakes were a symbol of the moon with the candles a symbol of light.
The first birthday gift
Much like the first birthday celebration, the tradition of gift giving on a birthday is hard to trace back, and there are a few theories on where it originated from.
Of course, us humans have been avid gift givers for many many years, you could probably go back as far as the cavemen! But since there was no calendar back then, you couldn’t say this was for birthdays!
One theory is that the first birthday gift exchanges were seen in the first century AD with the Romans, “showering the emperor with gifts”.
Another theory is that birthday gift giving originated in Europe (although I’m unsure what time period). People believed evil spirits haunt a person on their birthday, and the way to ward them off was to present them with gifts (gifts were symbolic tools).
And of course, many Christians believed birthday gift giving began with Jesus Christ, the three wise men offering frankincense, gold and myrrh to Jesus when he was born (which can also be linked to celebrating and gift-giving at Christmas!)
Birthday Traditions across the globe
One thing that has interested me, as I know many people across the globe, including my brother’s girlfriend who is Thai, is that birthday celebrations are different in many different countries.
My brother’s girlfriend, for example, doesn’t typically receive gifts for her birthday (although she got a little something from Scotland from myself and my parents!) but she does celebrate the day.
Typical birthday here in the UK
Here in the UK – at least from my own experience – children are given gifts of toys, books, chocolates, sweets, sometimes clothes and other foods as birthday presents. They might have a day out to celebrate their birthdays or a birthday party at home or at a venue with family and/or friends.
As we get older, not much changes, although many people aren’t so bothered about celebrating lavishingly. Usually the 16th, 18ths, 21st are big birthdays. Including any new decades such as 30th, 40th, etc.
Smashing cakes and sweet sixteens in the US
In the United States, it’s similar to the UK, although they do a few things differently. One such difference is the sweet sixteen birthday party, originally a party to celebrate a girl’s coming of age. Although sometimes a young boy can celebrate. These birthday parties can range from the smaller quieter ones to the large one with DJs, make-up, expensive gowns and ballrooms.
Smashing cakes is also a typically US tradition, where extra cakes are baked specifically for children to destroy.
Candy filled Pinata in Mexico
Another common one is hitting a pinata (usually a colourful horse shape made out of papier-mache) filled with candy and small toys. Originating from Mexico, the birthday boy or girl hit the pinata blindfolded with a stick. I’ve seen this celebrated in the US at times too.
A country-celebrated birthday in Vietnam
In Vietnam, they do things very differently. Rather than each individual celebrating their birthday on the day they were born, the country has a day called ‘Tet’. This day allows the country to celebrate their birthday on one day, regardless of their actual birth date, they add one year to their age. Children typically get a red envelope containing “lucky money” (li xi) by their parents on the morning of Tet. What’s more, Tet is also Vietnam’s New Year.
Strange scare and pie in Switzerland
I certainly wouldn’t want to visit Switzerland for my birthday, as parents will hire an evil looking clown to scare the birthday boy or girl. After a day of stalking and tormenting, sometimes for a few days, the clown will put a pie in their faces. Supposedly all this is meant to bring health and happiness!
Reverse gift giving and bad luck in Russia
In Russia, rather than the birthday boy or girl getting gifts, it’s a tradition that they instead are the ones to give the gifts. It’s also seen as bad luck to celebrate their birthday before the birth date, it’s thought that you are most weakened and vulnerable on the eve of your birthday.
Long noodles in China
A chinese tradition for a birthday person is to eat a plate of long noodles, they are meant to symbolize longevity; the more you are able to slurp into your mouth before biting the longer you are thought to live.
There are many others, from ambushing celebrators with butter on their noses in Canada, to upside-down birthday bumps in Ireland. Each country certainly celebrates differently!
I know I have a few places I’d like to go to on my birthday now (and a particular day, in the case of Vietnam) and at least the one place to avoid (Sorry Switzerland!)
The Queen has two birthdays!
Her Majest Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (and other commonwealth realms), has two birthdays!
One birthday, April the 21st, is the Queens real birthday, usually celebrated by a series of gun salutes around London (Hyde Park, Windsor Great Park and the Tower of London!) but other than this, it is mostly celebrated privately.
Her other birthday, her “official birthday”, usually the first Saturday in June, is also on ‘Trooping the Colour’, this is a large birthday celebration, where the Queen and other members of the Royal Family parade through London on horseback and carriages. The display closes with a fly-past organised by the RAF, watched from the Buckingham Palace balcony.
It’s not just Queen Elizabeth II either, it’s a tradition by many British monarchs, originally started by King George II in 1748, who had the misfortune of being born in November (I feel you King George!). Rather than having his subjects risk getting ill, he combined his birthday celebration with the Trooping the Colour.
How did I celebrate my birthday?
This year I celebrated my birthday with my mother in Edinburgh.
My parents bought a night stay in a hotel for myself and my mother, so on the Friday we travelled into Edinburgh (I actually had a job interview that day in Edinburgh, killing two birds with one stone, as they say) had a lovely meal in a Thai restaurant in the city in the evening, went back to the hotel for a drink in the bar and had something for desert (not many options in a Thai restaurant!). The next day my mother and I were up, went for breakfast, did a little bit of shopping along Princes Street, walked up to the castle along the Royal Mile, back down and found a pub called “The World’s End” and had “The World’s End” bitter, before heading to Marks and Spencers for something for dinner (and to-go lunch) before heading to Waverly station to get the train home.
All photos are my own. Copyrighted to myself, Penny Hooper.
If you liked this post, don’t forget to check out my other blog posts!