Author Archives: John F.D. Taff

About John F.D. Taff

John F.D. Taff is a writer, published author, raconteur and wrangler of angry stoats. He has more than 80 short stories and 7 novels published. He lives in the great, unspoiled vastness of the Midwest. He has a tremendous wife named Debbie, three pugs, Sadie, Tovah and Muriel, and three great kids--Harry, Sam and Molly.

A Guest Post from Fellow Author & All-Around Sweetheart Julie Hutchings

harpy cover.jpg


OK, so I screwed up and forgot to post this when I promised Julie I would.  Ugh…it’s been kind of hectic here at Taff Lodge.  My sweet mother-in-law, who’s slowly sailing into Alzhemier’s, fell in her home about two months ago and broke her hip.  Serious for any 78-year-old, but even more troublesome for someone suffering from this insidious disease.  So, yes, this is my bald-faced attempt to generate some sympathy for forgetting to post this as promised.

I’ve “known” Julie (in the odd modern way we know digital peers) for about six or seven years now.  She was one of the inaugural group of authors assembled by Books of the Dead, of which I, too, was one.  Julie’s book, Running Home, was a beautifully written tale of vampires steeped in Japanese mythology, and she did very well with it.  With Books of the Dead’s demise a year or so ago, Julie struck out on her own and has continued to write and publish.

I love Julie and I think, after reading this, you will want to read her novels.  And you will love her, too.  Take it away, Julie:


By Julie Hutchings
Pretty Scary Author

I wrote this book, THE HARPY, and let me tell you a thing: it was scary. Not scary because of the mutilation and viscera, not because of the hellscape setting, not because of the monster Charity Blake turns into, not even because of the horrible past she survived.
The real horror is in what that past has made Charity feel about herself.

Horror comes in many forms, caters to every dark corner, all the recesses. As a writer, if I don’t search out the corners of where the scary comes from, I haven’t given my readers anything new. I have to dig deeper than surface scary, and for me, that’s the scariest part of all. Exposing the ugliness that follows a victim long after the horror has died away.

Charity ran away from her past, made a new name for herself that she hardly lives up to, and destroys herself little by little in a thousand ways because of the lie she now believes: that she’s worthless. Trash. Destroyed already. And as a result she runs straight into an escape that isn’t an escape at all, that rips her limb from limb as she herself rips her victims limb from limb. She becomes the monster she’s believes in. The emotional damage manifests physically, dragging the victim back out while pushing her into the body of a predator. A different kind of predator than the ones who ruined her, but a predator all the same.

The question is, does circumstance excuse becoming evil?


The hurt creates the horror. The horror becomes the woman. The woman becomes the horror.

The aftermath of the real horror, the abuse and neglect Charity survived, stays with her as long as the physical scars. (The physical scars that the reader doesn’t even hear about until the last third of the book.) Because the outward hurt isn’t always what makes something truly disturbing. The inescapable psychological damage is where we find something we ourselves fear more than torture, the sight of our own intestines falling out, the idea of our loved ones being brutally murdered when we could have stopped it… Any long list of scary stuff to make us wince is never really as frightening as the thing in ourselves that we strive to keep buried. The constant fear that the ugliness within, the secret, the lie we believe, will come out and change everything we know, even if all we know is the dregs of evil.

In writing a horror that hurts, I was pretty terrified myself, of a lot of things. What people would think, of course. Who I would hurt by making them relive things they’d rather not. I don’t want to hurt anyone—but I’m afraid of keeping things in the recesses that pop into my head. And more than that, it’s my responsibility to deliver something that makes my reader think, makes them feel, makes them read again and again, even if they hate themselves for it. In the end, I hope more than anything that the story helps. Shock value has its own merit, but disturbance that chills places we’d rather not go is important. It draws out the ugly, takes its power away, even just for a moment. It has weight.

So I ask you: what line is too far to cross in horror, or in writing at all?


Charity Blake survived a nightmare.

Now she is one.

Punk-rock runaway Charity Blake becomes a Harpy at night—a treacherous mythical monster who preys upon men just like the ones who abused her. Struggling through an endless stream of crappy coffee shop jobs, revolted stares, and self-isolation during the day, Charity longs to turn into the beast at night. Doing the right thing in all the wrong ways suits her.

But a Harpy’s life belongs in Hell—the gruesome Wood of Suicides, where the Harpy queen offers Charity just what she’s looking for: a home where she can reign supreme and leave behind the agony of her past. The choice to stay in Hell would be easy, were it not for a rock-and-roll neighbor who loves her for the woman she is—even when he discovers the creature she becomes—and unexpected new friends with their own deranged pasts and desires who see Charity as their savior. But salvation isn’t in the cards for Charity. Not when her friends see through her vicious attitude and fall in love with her power as the Harpy.

Struggling between the life of an injured outcast and the grizzly champion of a blood-red hellscape, Charity must thwart her friends’ craving for her power enough to fear her corruption—and determine once and for all where her salvation lies: in eternal revenge or mortal love.



Julie’s a mythology-twisting, pizza-hoarding karate kicker who left her ten-year panty peddling career to devote all her time to writing. She is the author of Running Home, Running Away, The Wind Between Worlds, and The Harpy. Julie revels in all things Buffy, will beat you at Tekken, and drinks more coffee than Juan Valdez and his donkey combined, if that donkey is allowed to drink coffee. Julie lives in Plymouth, MA, forever running a Scholastic Book Fair and awaiting thunderstorms with her wildly supportive husband, two magnificent boys, and an army of reptiles.

For all things Julie, visit her at her Amazon Author Page.



Two Strong Reviews for Little Black Spots

LITTLE BLACK SPOTS continues to garner praise, which is very fulfilling since I think the book contains some of my best short work.

First up, the venerable speculative fiction review site Tangent Online issued a strong review for the book on its site today.  I was even told that two of the new stories featured in it made it to the site’s recommended reading list for 2018.  I don’t know which stories these are.  We’ll all find out when it publishes its annual list, sometime in December.

Go here to read the Tangent review.

Second, noted critic and WHC Horror Grandmaster Michael Collings published his review of LITTLE BLACK SPOTS today, too.  In a perfect, positive example of when it rains, it pours, he seems to quite like the book as well.

“Taff is capable of direct storytelling, but his greatest strength lies in his poeticism, his ability to transform the gristle and bone of horror into something that passes through the visceral and approaches the transcendent.”


Go here to read all of Michael’s review.

Interested in reading it?  Go here to get your copy.

And thanks for giving it a read.




Great video review for Little Black Spots!

Great review.  Stick with it, even with the helium-tainted narration.

Great Reviews Coming in for LITTLE BLACK SPOTS

Little Black Spots, my latest collection, won’t be out from Grey Matter Press until next Tuesday, Sept. 18, but already great reviews are coming in.

Here’s what people are already saying:

“John Taff has been writing—and publishing—for a long time, and it shows. He’s a first-class storyteller with a brilliant imagination.”—Richard Chizmar, publisher of Cemetery Dance magazine and author of Gwendy’s Button Box (with Stephen King) and Widow’s Point (with Billy Chizmar).

“John F. D. Taff has rapidly become one of my favorite writers in the horror genre. His horror is grounded in our day-to-day lives, in our families, our work, our most private thoughts. His stories vibrate with emotion and life and his prose is cathartic, deeply satisfying, like popping the bubbles in bubble wrap. And it’s just as addictive. Taff is not a genre star yet, but I predict he will be. He’s that good.”— Ray Garton, Horror Grandmaster and author of Live Girls and Ravenous.

“John F.D. Taff is a master storyteller. There are few who excel so brilliantly at the short story form in particular as he does. I’ve read and reviewed John’s work for the past several years, and each time he impresses me more than the last. He’s the real deal, folks.” A.E. Siraki, Author and Reviewer.

“Often times with collections, I read them in spurts and take breaks in between. That wasn’t the case with Little Black Spots. This collection grabbed me right away and I found myself unable to put it down for long. The one thing that remains constant is Taff’s powerful and unique voice. All of these stories bear his signature style, but it finds him exploring that style and applying it in new and exciting ways. Taff strikes the perfect balance between genre fiction and literary and it makes for a haunting and intoxicating combination. Grab a copy of Little Black Spots and treat yourself to one of the year’s best horror collections.”—Rich Duncan, Reviewer with Ink Heist.

Little Black Spots features 15 short horror stories, author notes, a terrific introduction by Bram Stoker Award-Winner Doug Murano (he of Gutted and Behold! fame), as well as a sneak preview of my upcoming epic novel The Fearing, out next spring from Grey Matter Press.

Pre-order Little Black Spots here.  Out in all formats worldwide Sept. 18

Humanity is tarnished.

I Wanted to Keep Up with My Blog & I Just Noticed It’s Been 2 Months Since I Last Posted…

Ugh.  That’s a long headline.  So, sorry for that.

And I wanted to keep up with my blog better, but then realized it’s been two months since I triumphantly announced that I’d updated it.  Double ugh.

So, let’s try this again.  I’ll attempt to do better.  Promise.

Ahem.  So some stuff to report.

This little beauty is up for pre-order RIGHT NOW.  Shhhh…it wasn’t supposed to be up until the 11th, but it’s up right now.  Paperback will be up for sale Sept. 18.

Little Black Spots is a collection of 15 short horror stories, some of my best work, at least I think so.  But, meh, I’m biased.  Introduced by Stoker-Winning Editor Doug Murano, a swell guy and editor of such critically acclaimed anthos as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories (with my story “Cards for His Spokes, Coins for His Fare”), Behold: Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders (with my story “A Ware That Will Not Keep”), and Shadows Over Main Street 2 (with my story “Shug”).  Plus author notes and stuff.  Plus Plus an excerpt from my epic horror novel The Fearing, which will be out next Spring. Both from Grey Matter Press.

Want to know what others are saying about Little Black Spots?

“John F. D. Taff has rapidly become one of my favorite writers in the horror genre. His horror is grounded in our day-to-day lives, in our families, our work, our most private thoughts. His stories vibrate with emotion and life and his prose is cathartic, deeply satisfying, like popping the bubbles in bubble wrap.” – Ray Garton, Grand Master of Horror and author of Live Girls and Ravenous.

“John Taff has been writing — and publishing — for a long time, and it shows. He’s a first-class storyteller with a brilliant imagination.” — Richard Chizmar, publisher of Cemetery Dance magazine, author of Gwendy’s Button Box and Widow’s Point.

So, that will have to hold you until the Spring, when The Fearing will publish.




Ugh, So I’ve Updated My Blog Already…

From time to time, I remember that I do, indeed, have a blog that I’m supposed to maintain, that the six of you who follow my career–such as it is–actually consult from time to time to see what I’m up to.  Generally, when I remember this, I go through several Kubler-Ross-type stages.  First is denial.  That usually doesn’t work.  Then comes anger at the idea of having to update it.  Then comes…well, frankly other stuff that I’m too lazy to keep this idea going…Blah, blah, blah.

So since I’m here already, I might as well actually update you as what I’m actually doing.

So, definites first.  My new collection LITTLE BLACK SPOTS will be out from Grey Matter Press in probably September or October.  We’re waiting for a really swell Horror Biggie to write a really swell introduction for it.  (I actually know who this is, I just can’t tell you.  Yet.)  This one features 16 stories, half of them unseen by any save me and a ridiculously few other lucky souls, half of them reprinted.  I think some of these stories are my best work, while others of them are my work.

Then, in the spring of next year, my epic novel, THE FEARING, is out from Grey Matter.  It’s a huge, door-stoppery kind of book of which plenty of BIG AUTHORS have great things to say.  You’ll hear more on this one later, but I’m really proud of this work.  If you love grand, apocalyptic tales with multiple groups of characters coming together to DO THE THING, you will love this book.  At least I think so.

I’ve got stories appearing in a few places that you should know about.  I have a story that will be in I CAN HEAR THE SHADOWS, my group project with The 5ive–Joe Schwartz, Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone and Josh Malerman.  We’re finishing this up right now, and we’ll be looking for a publisher for what we plan as a series of books.  I’ve read all of them except for Josh’s at the moment, and they’re FANTASTIC.

I’ve also got a story called “All You Care to Eat” in a secret project I’ve concocted that does have a publisher, whom I can’t mention yet because they haven’t announced it, for release in probably 2019 sometime.

Also got a secret collaborative project with Brian Kirk, which I will begin soon.

I’m finishing up a tight little 1970s nostalgic coming-of-age horror story called HE LEFT.  No publisher as of yet, but I’ll be shopping it around soon.

Got another story for another secret project with some fantastic, award-winning editor that I can’t yet mention.

Collaborating with another effin’ great author with the initials of J.Malerman, which I can’t say too much about.  Oh, and another secret project with Josh M. that I can’t talk about.

Anything else?  Um, yeah, I have the follow-up to THE END IN ALL BEGINNINGS simmering away, five or six novellas on a theme I don’t want to throw out there just yet.  But I have the title ready.  ALL WE LEAVE BEHIND.

There.  That’s about it.  Blog update until I remember it next.

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