Journeying into the Infernal ... by Stephen Zimmer (guest post & giveaway)

Journeying into the Infernal
& Expanding My Writing Horizons
by Stephen Zimmer

Hellscapes, Volume II has arrived just in time for the week of Halloween, and many thoughts go through my mind with the release of this one, my eleventh book overall.   On some levels, I feel I need to put a warning label on these books for many of my readers who are used to my epic fantasy (Fires in Eden series) or cross-genre novels (The Rising Dawn Saga), simply due to the fact that the Hellscapes tales are very different in nature, imagery and intensity.   They are, quite simply, full-throttle horror stories with no holds barred.

Yet at the same time I feel as strongly about these books and tales as a writer as I do about any of my others.  The Hellscapes series represents a wonderful added dimension for me on my path as a writer, giving me more room to express and explore writing in ways that are not as readily available when writing in other genres.

I’ve commented before about how the Hellscapes tales finally have given me a chance to show the areas where I have been influenced by writers like Clive Barker, one of my biggest inspirations as a writer growing up.  I’ve always resonated with Clive’s very visual, cinematic style, and the way he fused that style so smoothly with macabre, visceral elements.  So, from a stylistic, craft standpoint, the Hellscapes tales offer me a chance to to really immerse in creating powerful imagery that carries a real hard-hitting edge to it.  There is a definite art to that.

The kinds of tales in Hellscapes have no boundaries when it comes to the macabre or visceral.  When your story settings are the realms of Hell, there are really no perimeters when it comes to how dark, bizarre, or menacing elements can be within a given story.  As a writer, that gives me a lot of room to play in, or a very broad pallet to paint the canvas with, so to speak.

At the same time, I’ve never been about “torture porn” films or anything of that nature, so there’s an added layer, or one might say challenge, to this in terms of making sure that the atmospheres, events, and situations within the story have a purpose and are not just there for shock value or a gross-out factor.   Each story centers upon a particular character and comes to reveal why they find themselves in Hell.  The environment they find themselves within, the other characters and creatures they encounter, the torments they suffer, all tend to revolve around the kind of evil the character did in their lives.

As such, a scene or overall story may be very bloody or violent, but there is always a purpose that underscores the ultimate moral to each tale.  Often the things that happen or the sufferings endured are very important and intrinsic to the purpose, as the evil being explored is not always as straightforward as one person murdering another, for example.  In many instances, the evil being depicted is what kinds of indirect destruction are caused in others’ lives which the primary character’s deeds in life gave rise and power to.

This could hone in on the exercise of power a politician might make, or the consequences of the business aims of a person of great wealth.  Those things often carry staggering human cost, engender suffering and misery in the lives of countless thousands, but are so often glossed over where it is easy to identify the thief, the liar, or the violent killer in a one on one scenario.  Many Hellscapes tales explore these more complicated visions of evil and those who commit those kinds of evils.  The powerful who pass from the world surrounded by wealth, comfort, and ease are held firmly to account within the infernal realms.

The truly limitless scope of imagery and beings that can be used in this style of story and writing really gives me numerous options in how to symbolize or depict these more complex types of evils.  That, as much as anything else, inspires me to write these kinds of stories, as a part of my broader kaleidoscope of work.  A wealth of symbolism and metaphor is at my hands when engaging in this particular kind of writing.  

These dynamics also demonstrate the true literary value of the horror genre and the ways in which shocking or gruesome imagery can be completely relevant to the themes and message contained within a tale.  True, this type of book and these types of tales are not suited for every reader, but they do have their place in the world of readers and writers alike.

I certainly hope that new readers give these tales a try.  You will find very powerful imagery in them, but they are not absent of substance.  Exploring the infernal in all of its dark wonder has definitely allowed me to grow as a writer and expand my horizons.


About the Author

Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky.  His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.

Twitter: @sgzimmer

Instagram: @stephenzimmer7


About the Book

Hellscapes, Volume II
by Stephen Zimmer

Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!

Included in the pages of Hellscapes, Volume II:

In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.

A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby.  But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.

A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”.  Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.

Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life.  A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.

Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.

Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness.  One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.


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  1. Not into torture porn style horror either. I do like Clive Barker though! Congratulations, Stephen, and I will be picking up Hellscapes II.

    1. Thank you Alex. Very much appreciated and thanks for reading. I don't shy away from visceral/intense imagery, but it has a definite role and purpose in a story and is not just there for shock value. Clive definitely was and is a big influence on me and I think that influence does show more strongly in these tales. :)

  2. Bob, thank you very much for the opportunity to visit and the chance to discuss the value of the horror genre to me as a writer. I do feel this genre is very underestimated/underappreciated in many literary circles and has a lot to offer. great to be at Beauty in Ruins! :)

  3. look word I won something, weird but great, thank you Stephen Zimmer, wish you great streak of inspiration.


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