Devil’s Nightmare Series
Publisher: Forsaken Imprint
Date of Publication: July 15, 2015
Cover Artist: Laura Hidalgo
Veteran homicide detective Aaron Sanders thought he’d seen it all, but nothing could have prepared the seasoned detective for the mutilated remains of a kid’s parents or the equally vicious deaths of three boys at another crime scene.
As Aaron works to solve the cases and protect his only witness, an orphaned child, he learns of an ancient curse that leaves him questioning all he’s ever believed. Now, to save himself and the child, Aaron must confront his own inner demons, and some he never knew existed. But if he does, will he make it out alive?
Devil’s Nightmare is an occult suspense horror novel by Robert Pruneda, who shakes readers with his visually graphic scenes, supernatural twists, and disturbing settings in this first installment of the Devil’s Nightmare series.
About the Author:
Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though.
He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!
Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.
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Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes I get my ideas from dreams. Other times, I get an idea for a story from personal experiences. I got the idea for my supernatural occult horror novel Devil’s Nightmare from an experience I had as a child. I had made the mistake of playing with a Ouija board alone, which you are not supposed to do, lest you risk oppression from spirits . . . or even demons. I had become obsessed with the Ouija board and ignored the rules. I had played with it to talk with spirits, asking silly questions about girlfriends, money, fame, and so forth. It had seemed like innocent fun at first, but it had not been long before I suffered intense nightmares and anxiety attacks.
I had woken up around three o’clock in the morning one night. Pressure on my chest had made it difficult for me to breathe. A silhouette with a pair of hideous eyes had then appeared floating above me, staring at me just inches above my face. The pressure on my chest had somehow paralyzed my ability to scream or even move. I had never been so terrified in my life. Suddenly, I was able to take in a deep breath and cry out in desperation for my parents. The oppressing apparition disappeared moments later after my parents had rushed into the room and turned on my bedroom light. I had truly believed it was a demon. Do I believe that today? Maybe it was, or perhaps my imagination had created that illusion. Scientifically speaking, it could have been nothing more than a hallucination and a condition known as sleep paralysis. Explain that to a kid, though. The Ouija board burned in the fireplace the next day.
That experience is what inspired Devil’s Nightmare. Of course, the only similarity in the novel is the Ouija board, nightmares, and the occult. If you read it, you will likely notice little details that point back to my disturbing childhood experience. Real or a figment of my imagination, I will never forget what happened that night at my home in Austin, Texas.
Have you ever played with a Ouija board? Have you ever experienced strange supernatural occurrences? Let me know in the comments.
Who is your favourite author?
I’ve always been a Stephen King fan. In fact, he’s the reason why I started writing horror in the first place. I self-published my first novel in 2004, a coming-of-age story about a kid’s dream of becoming a professional race car driver, but it wasn’t until 2011 that I considered writing novels as a means of income. When I read Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, I discovered that not only did I want to pursue my own dream of writing for a living, but I also wanted to write in my favorite genre. I published Devil’s Nightmare as an indie author in 2013, and I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that so many people have enjoyed what I wrote. Call it a lack of confidence in myself, at first, but when I read that someone enjoyed something that I wrote and is looking forward to the next book, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I have had many successes and failures in my life, but writing and publishing novels (and actually selling them) is a dream come true. I’m very grateful.
Earlier this year, I signed with Booktrope to publish the Devil’s Nightmare series under their Forsaken horror imprint. It now has an awesome new cover designed by the talented Laura Hidalgo, and has gone through a professional edit. Carolyn Ridder Aspenson did an amazing job helping me polish this manuscript for republication, and I owe her much gratitude. The past several months have been a very exciting for me as an author . . . and I owe it to Stephen King for giving me inspiration and helping me build confidence in his book On Writing.
Do you have a favourite book?
That’s a tough one, because there are so many great novels I have read over the years. My favorite genres are horror and fantasy, but I also like to try out different genres written by both traditional and indie authors. If I absolutely had to choose one book, though, it would have to be the first book that came to mind . . . It by Stephen King. Pennywise (the creepy clown in the novel) didn’t turn me into a Coulrophobe like he did to many of my friends. However, I’m not completely immune to a fear of clowns. Thanks to Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist, clown dolls freak me out. I can’t stand them! Someone had forgotten to pass that memo to my grandparents, too, because when I’d visit them as a kid, I had to sleep in a room with a clown that looked identical to the one in Poltergeist. Thanks, for the nightmares, Grandma! Steven Spielberg also happens to be the reason I avoid swimming in saltwater. I don’t fear sharks, I just respect them enough to know that the ocean is their home and not my playground. What are your fears? vV””Vv
Do you have a soundtrack to your book?
I don’t have a specific soundtrack, but I did create a Silent Hill radio station on Pandora specifically for writing Devil’s Nightmare. I’m an avid gamer, and the Silent Hill survival horror series is my favorite. I love the music and atmosphere of those games, which helped me focus on writing my horror novels. You can technically call the music that S.E. Rise Films chose for my book trailer as my book’s soundtrack. It fits the essence of Devil’s Nightmare very well. You can watch it on my website here: https://videopress.com/v/EtULIeaF
How do you handle writer’s block?
Writer’s block is something that we all face as writers in one form or another. It’s annoying as hell, too! Instead of going into a trance as that blinking curser taunts me from the computer screen, I’ll do one of two things. First, I’ll try some free writing, where I just start writing about nothing in particular. It doesn’t make sense, is poorly written, and often doesn’t even form complete sentences. It is simply a way to exercise my brain to try and get those creative juices flowing again. I guess you could compare this technique to an artist doodling on a piece of paper.
Sometimes the exercise works and I’m back to writing my novel. If I’m lucky, it may even result in another idea for a future story. If free writing doesn’t work, then I step away from the manuscript completely and do something else. That usually does the trick. When I least expect it, I get an idea that helps tear down that wall. At that point, momentum kicks in and I’ll spend hours writing.
My worst case of writer’s block lasted for months. That was not a fun time for me as an author, but I was also dealing with difficult family issues at the time. I’m certain that had much to do with it.
I arrived at the crime scene at seven-thirty on Monday morning and parked my black ’81 Corvette Stingray behind a police car that had the left rear door hanging open. A young boy with sandy blond hair sat in the back, staring at the seat in front of him. Emergency vehicles packed the street in front of the house. Police officers, crime scene investigators, and paramedics performed their jobs while reporters yelled out questions to anyone within earshot. A mob of reporters barked a barrage of questions at me, but I ignored them and ducked under the police tape, making my way to the front porch. A bloodstained curtain hung out of a broken window to the right of the front entrance. The shattered bay window to left of the entrance had pieces of the frame bent towards the interior of the house. The highest-ranking officer of the Austin Police Department, and an old friend of mine of many years, exited the home just as I stepped onto the front porch. I shook his hand. “So, what’ve we got here, Chief?” “It’s bad, Aaron. Tenemos dos víctimas.” Chief David Hernandez spoke perfect English, and without much of an accent, but that didn’t stop him from throwing in a little bit of Spanish for my benefit. It was David’s not-so-subtle way of trying to mold me into a bilingual detective, which of course is useful in Texas. I still couldn’t speak the language, but, thanks to David, I could at least understand it. “So, who are our two vics?” “Carol and Tony Scoletti. Whoever killed them must have been really pissed.” “Yeah, that’s usually the case” I bobbed my head in agreement. Murderers do tend to have slight anger issues. “So, we have a double-homicide. Doesn’t happen here much, but what’s so unusual?” “You haven’t seen the bodies… or what’s left of them, that is.” “Okay.” I lowered my brow. “Now you have my attention. Just what exactly are we dealing with?” “Follow me,” he said, and led me to the living room. The body of a decapitated Caucasian woman lay mangled on top of a shattered glass coffee table. Her left arm hung from her shoulder, attached only by tendons. Intestines spilled onto the floor from her torn stomach. She also had three large gashes across her breasts and several more on her bare legs. “Jesus! You weren’t kidding. What the hell did this guy come at her with, a chainsaw?” “You haven’t seen anything yet,” Chief Hernandez answered, and then headed down the hallway towards the bedrooms. I followed him inside the first bedroom. Blood and gore painted the walls and ceiling. Only the torso of what used to be a body lay in the middle of the room in a pool of blood, guts and ripped flesh. Pieces of bloody flesh hung from the ceiling fan. There was a severed arm on a blood-soaked pillow on the bed and a detached leg protruding out from underneath it. Where was the rest of the body? “This is the kid’s bedroom,” he said. “He’s lucky to be alive. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but why spare him?” I noticed muddy footprints mixed in blood underneath the shattered window. “Come on, Aaron. You don’t really think anyone would do this to a kid, do you?” No, I didn’t, but you could never know for sure. Some people have absolutely no conscience whatsoever. The kid was lucky. After examining the remains of a man’s body, I asked, “That kid in the squad car. Has he said anything?” “Nada. Not a word since we arrived.” “I’ll go to talk to him. See if I can get him to open up.” I tapped the shoulder of the crime scene investigator taking photos of the body. “You have a swab kit I can borrow?” “Yeah, sure.” The young CSI set her camera down and retrieved the items from her crime scene kit. “Need me to come with?” “Nah, that’s okay. I got it.” My heart sank from the boy’s blank expression. Dry blood splatter peppered his cheeks and forehead. The blood covering his clothes told me he’d had a front seat view of what had happened. A seat that would have also given him a clear view of the perpetrator. “What’s his name?” I asked the police officer in charge of babysitting the boy, while a bunch of strangers with badges, guns, and funny-looking suits, filtered in and out of his home. “Cody Sumner,” the officer answered. “I can’t imagine what he’s going through.” She shook her head and added, “Poor baby.” I knelt down next to Cody and introduced myself. “Hi, Cody. My name is Detective Aaron Sanders, with the Austin Police Department. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” Cody didn’t acknowledge my presence. “Are you hurt anywhere?” Nothing. He just stared ahead. “Can I see your hands?” That time he gave me a subtle shrug. I put on a pair of latex gloves and tenderly turned his hands over. Dried blood covered his palms. I sighed and placed the boy’s hands back on his lap. I pulled a buccal swab from the kit that I borrowed from the crime scene investigator. “I need to get some samples off your clothing and hands. It’s not going to hurt though. Can you give me a little nod if that’s okay?” Cody faced me, his blue eyes watering, and said, “They’re dead.” “I’m sorry.” I placed my hand on the back seat. “I promise we’ll find and punish the person who did this, Cody, but we need your help. Can you tell me what happened?” Cody focused on the back seat again. His crying came in constricted whimpers and sniffling. “That’s okay.” I squeezed the boy’s shoulder. “We’ll talk later.” “Aaron!” Chief Hernandez yelled from the porch, gesturing me toward him. I met him halfway on the front lawn. “What is it?” “We have another crime scene.” “Another one?” “Memorial Heights Cemetery. Busy day for the APD, and it’s about to get even busier for you, amigo.” “Can we get Anderson or—” “No, I want you on this. You should head over there right away.” “Why? What’s so special about this one?” “The grounds crew found three bodies. Two of them with their heads missing.” He rubbed his hand over his face and took a breath. “What?” Finding dead bodies at a cemetery was normal enough, but they tend to arrive in caskets. And they typically have their heads attached. I asked again, “What?” “They’re kids, Aaron. Niños!” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. “What the hell is going on here?” “I don’t know, pero we have one sick cabrón targeting children now. I need you to head over to the cemetery. I’ll call the FBI. This is way over our heads.” “Whoa, wait a minute.” I hated dealing with feds. “The last thing we need is a bunch of bureaucratic suits flashing badges around here and putting up a bunch of red tape. We can handle it ourselves.” “Aaron, this isn’t a typical murder case. I think we’re dealing with a serial.” “Yeah… maybe.” “Maybe?” Chief Hernandez said. “Decapitations and bodies ripped apart don’t exactly fit the description of a normal homicide. And speaking of decapitations, where’re the victims’ heads?” Good question. “All right, I see your point. I’ll check out the cemetery. What about that kid over there?” Cody had stopped crying. A police officer handed him a bottled water. “He’s our only witness.” “I’ll let you know where he ends up. Probably Brackenridge. Now go.” “All right, all right. I’m going.”