The First Decade of Terror: How Author Thomas M. Malafarina Wrote and Contributed to 15 Books of Horror Fiction

The First Decade of Terror: How Author Thomas M. Malafarina Wrote and Contributed to 15 Books of Horror Fiction

Welcome to the third installment of the Sunbury Press author journey series!

In every book, there's a story. And not just the one between its pages.

Every author has a different journey for how they ended up with the incredible book that landed in our inbox. Sure, we loved the book that they sent to us--enough to publish it and share with you all--but we wanted to know what it took for them to write that book, what drove them toward publication, and to get to know them better as artists.

And instead of keeping those answers to ourselves, we thought--to hell with it, let's share it with YOU.

We are thrilled to continue this new author-centric series with the inspirational Thomas M. Malafarina, horror author of The Ridge of Death and many more.


Now presenting...

The First Decade of Terror

"The First Decade of Terror"

by Thomas M. Malafarina

This year marks my 10th year writing horror for Sunbury Press/Hellbender Books. That’s right, I’m an author of horror fiction. Yep, the dreaded genre. In the eyes of many publishers that makes me the ugly three-headed stepchild. Regardless, I’ve written in various forms all of my life from newspaper reporting at the age of 19 to having created thousands of pages of technical documentation during my 43-year career (and still going strong) as a manufacturing engineer. But one thing I always wanted to do was to write and publish horror fiction.

One might wonder why I would choose a genre that most "serious" authors and publishers tend to frown upon. Most of those publishers are often happy to remind would-be authors that Stephen King, Clive Barker and Dean Koontz already do it better than anyone else, so why bother? I’ve had a life-long love of horror from my childhood days of watching the Universal Monster movies and reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines. My bedroom was decorated with posters of monsters and my dresser was covered with Aurora monster models, which I built and customized.

Thank goodness Sunbury Press saw past all the prejudice against horror and started me on a journey that has resulted in ten years of publishing with over thirteen books currently in print, close to two hundred short stories to my name, with much more terror on the horizon.

But let’s turn the clock back a decade or so. It was spring of 2010 and I was coming up on my fifty-fifth birthday in July. Having completed my first novel, 99 Souls as well as more than a dozen short stories, I was close to completing my second novel, Burn Phone. I had not yet found a publisher but was nonetheless having a blast writing blood-curdling prose.

After a few failed attempts to find a publisher, I had actually considered contracting with one of the vanity press companies (I was unaware of self-publishing websites, if in fact they existed at that time). The bottom line was, I wanted to know if the work I was doing was any good. Vanity press or self-publishing would not answer that question. Only acceptance by a traditional publisher would do that for me. I had works ready to publish but nowhere to publish them. I was like an atheist at his own funeral, all dressed up and no place to go.

Then one day while cruising Craigslist looking for potential gigs for my part-time blues band, I saw an ad for a publisher from Camp Hill called Sunbury Press that was in the process of growing its business and looking for new authors. I did some research and learned at that time, Sunbury was best known for non-fiction and historical types of books.

Never one to be afraid of having yet another door slammed in my face, I contacted Sunbury publisher Lawrence Knorr to see if he would have any interest in looking at my work, even though it was fiction and horror fiction to boot. To my surprise, he agreed. I prepared myself for yet another rejection letter to add to my growing stack. To my astonishment, he offered to publish three books; my novels 99 Souls and Burn Phone as well as a collection of short stories, which he decided to call 13 Nasty Endings.

I was blown away! I went from thinking I might never be published to becoming a published author with a three-book deal. Unfortunately, like all naive and uninformed writers new to publishing, I was mostly concerned about how I would spend all the money that came pouring in. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

Now I can look back and laugh. Writing has not and likely will never make me financially rich (or even comfortable), but it has succeeded in filling my life with the sort of wealth you can only receive from the experience of creating something from nothing and seeing it in print with your name on it. For the record, the tenth or thirteenth book is no less exciting to hold in your hands than the first.

If you total all the books I've published through Sunbury and their imprint Hellbender Books, the number is actually much higher. Some of my earlier works are out of print. I reworked several of them over the years, which we retitled and re-released. 99 Souls is now available as What Waits Beneath. Burn Phone is now Burner. My large novel Fallen Stones has been re-written, streamlined and re-released as Circle Of Blood. 13 Nasty Endings is now available as 13 Deadly Endings and my dark and some say frustrating Eye Contact is now available under the title From The Dark. Three short story collections, Malafarina Malefacarum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 as well as Gallery Of Horror have been discontinued. Their stories have been sprinkled in with new stories for my current series called Malaformed Realities.

Oh, and another thing, we published a collection of my bizarre cartoons called Yes, I Smelled It Too.

Hellbender has published my series of three zombie apocalypse novels called the Dead Kill series. Will there be a Book 4? Time will tell.

So, what does the future hold for me? What does my next decade of terror look like? Shortly, Hellbender will be releasing a short story collection I co-curated with Catherine Jordon (she did an excellent job of editing—thanks, Cathy!) called Hellbent, which consists of stories from many Hellbender authors. As I mentioned earlier, Malaformed Realities 4 and 5 are slated for 2020 release, unless COVID-19 screws that up. Also, scheduled to be released will be a new novel, which might become a series called, Death Bringer Jones, Zombie Slayer. He is a spinoff character from my Dead Kill Series.

I'm also working on a new novel (which has the potential to become yet another series), a novella or two and a ton of short stories so new, this is the first I’ve mentioned them. I'm always writing something. I love to write. I never tire of writing and never seem to run out of ideas. Professional writers take vacations to get away from writing; I look forward to writing while on vacation. Writing is actually a sort of vacation for me.

So now you know why the past ten years with Sunbury Press have been so rewarding to me. It's not about the money. Publishing my books allows me to share my crazy ideas with many readers. It permits me to proudly call myself a published author. Most importantly, it offers me a platform from which I can launch many, many more stories for as long as I can keep coming up with fresh new ideas. Be ready, folks. The next decade of terror is right around the corner.


About the Author

Thomas Malafarina

Thomas M. Malafarina is a horror author from Berks County, Pennsylvania. He has been featured in over 15 books, including seven novels and even one book of often-strange single panel cartoons called Yes I Smelled It Too. Learn more on his website.

Get 15% OFF these books by Malafarina below. Click on the cover photo and use SPRING15S at checkout.


Stay tuned for more from Sunbury Press!

Thanks for checking out this author journey blog post by author Thomas M. Malafarina! Sunbury Press has over 700 titles to choose from--the best in fiction and nonfiction through various imprints--and we love helping readers find their next favorite book.

If you liked what you read, check out these "4 Binge-Worthy Mystery Novels from Sunbury Press" or browse our virtual bookstore.

It Started with a Dream: How Oxana Lapchuk Wrote The Journalist, a Holocaust Story

It Started with a Dream: How Oxana Lapchuk Wrote The Journalist, a Holocaust Story

Welcome to the second installment of the Sunbury Press author journey series!

In every book, there's a story. And not just the one between its pages.

Every author has a different journey for how they ended up with the incredible book that landed in our inbox. Sure, we loved the book that they sent to us--enough to publish it and share with you all--but we wanted to know what it took for them to write that book, what drove them toward publication, and to get to know them better as artists.

And instead of keeping those answers to ourselves, we thought--to hell with it, let's share it with YOU.

We are thrilled to continue this new author-centric series with the inspirational Oxana Lapchuk, author of The Journalist: A Holocaust Story.


"It Started with a Dream"

by Oxana Lapchuk

Oxana Lapchuk author journey

My book journey started ten years ago on May 5, 2010 when I dreamed that I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby. The baby was chunky and laughed profusely. While I knew I wouldn’t be having a baby, I did know that God was speaking to me in a different way; instead, he was telling me that I'd bring something new into the world. To me, that meant it was finally time to write a book about the story that meant the most to me: my father’s holocaust experiences.

Now, this happened right around the time that I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Thanks to the dream, I had newfound confidence that I would beat it and that my book-baby would become a reality. I needed to focus on it, not the cancer. I had surgery shortly after the dream, cutting out the need for chemo or radiation and giving me inspiration to get to work.

But when I focused my attention toward the book, I found that there were many challenges to getting it written.

First and foremost, my father had died 20 years earlier. I had to recall my conversations with him about his experiences and dig through his records and documents (he was a journalist) to try to piece it all together. I found some old photos that shed some light on his timeline and was able to get a clearer picture. However, I knew it wasn’t enough; I needed to go to the actual concentration camps to get further clarification.

In 2018, a friend of mine connected me to a German teacher who focused on the Holocaust. I spoke to her about my father’s history in Buchenwald and working in the underground tunnels of the Dora-Mittlebau complex. She helped me locate someone at the Buchenwald Memorial who was able to gather even more documents about his personal information while he was at the camps.

I made arrangements with her to pick us up at the train station in Nordhausen, Germany and to take us to the underground tunnels in Dora-Mittlebau. They only opened the tunnels in 2006 so we were able to take a tour and see for ourselves the horrible working conditions that the prisoners had to endure.

Then she drove us to Buchenwald—about an hour away. We met with the head of the Memorial Archives and she had all the documents ready for me. We spent an hour going over everything, and I realized that some of my information was not accurate.

So I had to make some revisions as to my father’s timeline while in the different camps. The most amazing experience for me was when they took me to the actual spot where my father slept in the barracks in the “Little Camp.” It was block 63. I stood on that grassy spot where there was once a building. It was as if I was walking in his footsteps and reliving some of his experiences.  I couldn’t believe it.

When I went back to the states, I immediately started rewriting to make it as accurate as possible. At the time I was thinking I might self-publish it, but I wasn’t young anymore and didn’t have the time or the finances to go through that whole process. I had been a member of the Florida Writers Association and found out they were having a conference in October 2018 near my city.  So, I went.

At the conference, I made an appointment to meet with Lawrence Knorr of Sunbury Press, Inc. To my surprise, he was actually interested in publishing it! And one year later, my book (and my father's story) was published.

Some amazing things have happened since it got published. I was able to reconnect with friends that I hadn’t been in touch with for 45 years. I was able to reconnect with an old roommate. But the most amazing connection was with a woman whose father is in several chapters of the book. His name was Stefan, and he was arrested along with my father and spent some time with him in two of the camps. They were in Buchenwald together and my father’s prisoner number was 25362 (adds up to 18) which in the Hebrew means “life” and her father’s number was 25363.

She lives in Idaho and had done a lot of research about her father and had also been trying to locate my father as well.  When she found my book on the internet, she was amazed and told me the book filled in a lot of gaps for her. Her father had died in 1998, and before the war was studying to be a priest in Lviv, Ukraine. Our fathers never reconnected after the war once they moved to the states.

Writing and researching this book has been an amazing journey and has opened up a lot of doors for me. I’ll even be doing an event at the local holocaust center here in my town in the fall, and the local paper has written an article about me and the book. My old alma mater even has two of my books in their libraries!

I’m excited about where else the wind will take this book, especially if it can get out to those who need it. One of the reasons for writing it was to give hope to many people out there who are facing challenging situations. I believe they’ll find help in the principles my father practiced that enabled him to overcome and triumph in the midst of his adverse circumstances.


About the Author

This is an author photo of Oxana Lapchuk, author of the journalist a holocaust story

Oxana Lapchuk was born in New York, New York the same year her father emigrated to the United States. A lifelong student of Ukrainian history and culture, she has worked as an interpreter in Ukraine and Israel and now lives in Florida. This is her first book.


Praise for The Journalist: A Holocaust Story

Buy the Book

Get 15% OFF at Sunbury Store

Interview with Keith Rommel

Interview with Keith Rommel

Meet author Keith Rommel:

This is the author photo of keith rommel, author of The Thanatology Series

Keith Rommel is a multi-award-winning author and screenwriter best known for his Thanatology dark suspense series. In addition to writing thirteen books, he also had the honor of co-writing The Cursed Man and The Lurking Man movies which have garnished over 160 awards combined, including best screenplay and best feature film.

The Thanatology Series


Interview with Keith Rommel

Q: Keith Rommel, author of the Thanatology series, thanks for chatting with me!

A: Thank you for having me.

Q: Let’s hear that elevator pitch. How would you describe the series to someone who knew nothing about it?

A: The Thanatology series is a collection of realistic and supernatural novels that explore humanity and its inherently corrupt nature. Some people don't seem to care until they're forced to face the unthinkable, so what does it look like when the unthinkable happens? What sacrifices would you be willing to make to undo your wrongs?

Q: At this point, we’re six books deep into the series. It might feel like a while since it’s all started, but put yourself in that early writer’s shoes. What made you first begin this project?

A: The project started with my desire to tell a story that hasn't been told before. As an avid reader, I've felt the market has been saturated with stories that have been told many different times. I always strive for unique storytelling, and six books later, I'm pleased to say that people are still interested in what I have to say.

Q: We’ve heard quite a few reviewers telling us how much they enjoyed The Sinful Man (among others of course). But I’m curious: what is it about that book that resonates best with you?

A: Like most books in the Thanatology series, there are universal truths in which the story of The Sinful Man is based off of. I'm particularly attached to that one because the stories of sin and hopeful redemption have affected people I know, meaning this book is a sort of outlet for me to share these important truths. 

Q: Two of the novels in the series (The Lurking Man and The Cursed Man) were turned into award-winning films. How exciting is that! What was it like seeing your characters and story come to life on screen like that?

A: It is truly an honor to have had my works brought to life. At times the feeling is surreal. I remember being nervous, excited, suspended by disbelief, and ultimately satisfied. The price is long, and it teaches you patience. Above all things I mention, I remain humble and remain focused on telling great stories. I have many more to tell and hopefully one of them will be worthy enough for film adaptation.

Q: Where can we watch those movies?

A: The Lurking Man is the first released title and is available on Amazon Prime TV.VUDU and many other platforms are forthcoming. That is a great intro to the film series.

Q: Sure, these novels are suspenseful, but there always seem to be something innately human about them. What feelings do you aim to evoke in readers as they finish your book(s)?

A: Realism is important to me, and that is why I always incorporate truth within my fiction. I feel when you blend truth, it allows the reader in to connect to each emotion running through the characters, so in my series, you can expect to feel desperation, fear, motivation, and eventually, elation.

Q: Are you working on anything right now? Can we expect more out of the Thanatology series?

A: I'm currently in the middle of what I believe to be my best book yet. I'm hoping to see it completed and renewed by year end 2020. This book is raw, emotional and very VERY personal. For now, the title will remain a secret. Visit keithrommel.com to stay informed.


Thanks for checking out my interview with Keith Rommel! If you dare, take a chance on the first book in the series (The Sinful Man). When you close the last page, I'm confident you'll be crawling back for more.

View The Sinful Man in the Sunbury Store