Talking Walls and Cigarettes
(And Other Dark Tales)
by Erin Beck & Kelli Beck
Talking Walls and Cigarettes is a collection of seven dark short stories that deals with both real life monsters and those that dwell within us. A bartender still grieving the tragic death of her brother, shunning from her family, and the whispers in the street is visited by a man who appears out of thin air to offer her a way out of her own personal hell in The Salesman. A poor family is cursed by a mysterious old man in the woods and the children are at risk for falling victim to their parent's unspeakable acts in Porcelain. The title story follows a man as he is tormented by demons in his own mind. In Homecoming, can a young woman find what she's looking for years after her father's abduction by other-worldly beings?
Phillip drank the cough syrup straight from the bottle and set it on the desk, wiping the residue from his lips with the back of his hand.
The detective took her in his arms, and she buried her head in his chest and felt there were no end to the tears and no end to the screams.
The writing was impeccable in its ability to draw you into the story and never let you go. Though the stories are short, the scenes are spun so rapidly that you cannot look away. One story in particular, In His Cellar, absolutely frightened me to no end. There was no happy ending at all, and it played on a very real fear that nearly every person experiences.
The rest of the stories were varying degrees of scary and skin crawling. Some opted for the in your face scare tactic, while others went for the subtle ending that made you stare, open mouthed at the final page. Some stories have a paranormal twist to them. For me, the stories that are always the scariest do not involve paranormal elements. The truly scariest thing out there is the human mind, and this book showcases that.
If you're a fan of the horror genre, this book should be on your shelf. It isn't a campy, monsters say boo book. It is a genuine attempt to uncover your deepest fears and capitalize on them while weaving a story so brilliant around you that you cannot escape. I daresay it'll be a long time before I venture into the horror genre again.
**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Kelli Beck, Erin Beck, and Enchanted Book Promotions.
Find Talking Walls and Cigarettes on: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
1. What's your writing ritual?
Erin: I wouldn’t really call it a ritual, but when I write I do it as soon as I wake up in the morning while sipping a few cups of coffee.
Kelli: I don't have a ritual anymore, unfortunately. With my work schedule bouncing around all the time I don't always have the energy to sit down at night and write. I spend most of my Sunday's writing, and if I can get away with it, Saturdays too.
2. What is the one book that you think everyone should read?
Lamb by Christopher Moore. It's The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal and it's hilarious, and sad, and epic. It's about Jesus' lost years told in first person point of view which gives Jesus' story strong intimacy. It's definitely a comedy but it's also a great story about discrimination, faith, love, and betrayal.
3. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Erin: The hardest part of writing for me is finding the confidence in my abilities.
Kelli: Right now it seems to be sitting down and writing. Mostly that's due to my work obligations. After a long day it's tempting to lounge around and watch some Netflix. Also: I'm addicted to Netflix.
4. Where did the inspiration for Talking Walls and Cigarettes come from?
The inspiration for Talking Walls came from things we may fear. I personally have an irrational fear of alien abduction so writing Homecoming was particularly challenging for me.
5. Why did you decide to do a collection of short stories instead of a full length novel?
We chose to write a short story collection instead of a full-length novel because we wanted to try out self-publishing. We knew of writers were doing it but were a little nervous about it, so we decided to try out a smaller project before putting our full-length novel out there.
6. What authors and/or books have had the greatest influence on your writing?
Erin: I am very influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and Christopher Moore. I know Talking Walls doesn’t really reflect that but I love their style and their stories and wish I could write more like them.
Kelli: I have been in love with Stephen King since I was a little kid. His stories always pulled me in and I could completely get lost in the worlds for the duration of my reading time. Other big influences are Roald Dahl (Matilda especially), Christopher Moore, and J.K. Rowling (we have the same birthday) :)
7. Which actor/actress would you want to portray you in a movie about your life? Why?
Erin: The actress I’d pick to play me in movie would be Ellen Page, only because I’ve been told that her character in Juno has reminded others of me. I’m not sure how tall she is, but she appears short in movies, and I too am short. Also she’s a great actress; I think she could pull off my craziness.
Kelli: Emma Stone. Mostly due to the personality test I just took via Google to find out. :) Emma Stone with red hair though, because I always dye mine red.
8. Which television show would you most want to appear on to promote your book?
Erin: I love The Big Bang Theory. I don’t know how the story line would go on the show with me promoting my book but I think it would be a lot of fun to be on that show.
Kelli: Oh man! American Horror Story!
9. What should we expect next from you? Do you have something in the works?
Our next work will be a full-length novel. We've gone through two drafts but there's still a lot of work to be done. It's a quirky kind of coming-of-age story that's both funny and heartbreaking.
About the Authors:
Erin Beck was born and raised on the mean streets of Chatsworth Illinois. Every day was a struggle to survive, to overcome, to persevere. At the age of twelve, she took up writing. This passion for the written word saved her from such fates as teen pregnancy and tooth decay, that which have befallen many other great Chastworthians. Erin is also the author of The Pursuit of Hair and co-author of Grabappleberry Punch: The Adventures of Mister Tennison Volumes One and Two. Her influences include Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Christopher Moore. Erin spends her leisure time tossing a ball around with her dogs and parasailing, and has on more than one occasion been caught napping in a box full of packing peanuts. She is a drop-out of Hogwarts where she majored in English and minored in the contortion arts. She has scaled the dark tower; she has trekked through middle earth; and she thinks cannibalism is a real hoot. Erin now lives in the woods with her boyfriend and survives off of insects and pine needles. She wrote portions of this short fiction collection on homemade paper and her own blood.
When she is not gold mining or globetrotting with her husband, Kelli spends her time writing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. Often described as “worldly” and “well-traveled,” Kelli is envied amongst co-workers and friends alike. She has a knack for reading minds and can often predict the future. Many people worldwide come to her for financial advice and money as she is the sole proprietor of the only money tree in existence. Her heroes include her father, Stephen King, and Albus Dumbledore. She has read the Harry Potter series many times over and is proud to share her birthday with The Chosen One. She has been described as a fearless leader, charismatic, even bulletproof.