Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween fun with Stan Hampton Sr.


Cate: Please welcome Stan Hampton, Sr. to my special Halloween celebration. Stan, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Stan: Well, since I didn’t provide my “official bio,” the important things are I’m a Choctaw from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and I serve in the Army National Guard. I hold the rank of staff sergeant. I’m studying anthropology, and photography this semester. And, the job market being what it is in Las Vegas, NV (plus I’m middle aged), I’m also unemployed, and living in 2-year VA transitional housing for homeless veterans.



Cate: What do you love most about Halloween?

Stan: Raiding my grandkids goodie bags for Kraft Caramels. They love me, so they don’t complain too much. And caramel apples. I love caramel apples.



Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?

Stan: Wellll...I once worked at a photo lab here in Vegas. As you know, color printing and processing requires total darkness. The color print room was at the end of a long corridor, along which there were numerous smaller rooms for various purposes. The color print processor was in a small room off of the center of the corridor. I was working alone one night on a lengthy print job that a customer needed early the next morning. I exposed my sheet of paper, rolled it up, and walked down the corridor to the processor room. Halfway to the processor room, as I passed one of the small rooms, the hair suddenly stood up on the back of my neck, and a chill went down the back of my head and down my spine. Not figuratively, but literally! I put the paper in the machine, and walked out of the corridor into the well-lit, main photo lab. After I few moments I returned to the corridor, turned all of the lights on, and went back to the print room—all of the while praying that the lights wouldn’t suddenly go out. I turned the equipment off, and went home, leaving the print job incomplete. The next morning I told the lab chief why I didn’t complete the job; he looked at me, just nodded without expressing any criticism or disappointment, and called the customer to say that the job would be finished before noon. You see, numerous people had told me early on that they believed the photo lab was haunted. Mostly they said there was sometimes a feeling of not being alone in that corridor. Once in awhile, when the dim, colored safelights were on, they might catch a glimpse of a moving shadow. I never paid much attention to their claims. But that day, in spite of a paying customer being disappointed at not receiving a promised job on time, no one criticized or ridiculed me, especially the lab chief.



Cate: *shudders* Creepy indeed. What frightens you the most?

Stan: Well, maybe the night, especially when there’s a feeling that something unknown is nearby. Not that I’m admitting to such a fear, but maybe…



Cate: Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?

Stan: Nope. I wouldn’t know how to do that. I think I’d like to, but after the photo lab, wellll…



Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?

Stan: I don’t have any, other than the idea of melting a bunch of caramels in a pan, and dunk and twirl a delicious red apple in it until it’s covered with wonderful, beautiful, sweet, melted caramels!



Cate: Yum. :) Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.

Stan: Well, “An Incident on MSR Tampa” isn’t my latest release. It wasreleased earlier this year by Musa Publishing. But it does take place on Halloween night, in southern Iraq. And, let’s see. It’s about a gun truck crew escorting a supply convoy from northern Kuwait to Baghdad. Except, the gun truck doesn’t get there. Let’s just say that as man pushes the envelope on technology, perhaps we might encounter things that we don’t want to encounter.



Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt? (suitable for general audiences, please)

Stan: Sure. First, the blurb, then the excerpt.



Halloween Night, 2006 – a resupply convoy commanded by the Air Force and escorted by Army gun trucks, is leaving Kuwait for Baghdad. The lonely desert highway north is MSR Tampa, a bloody highway along which for years the convoys suffered insurgent attacks. And on MSR Tampa there is a particular wooded bend that no one speaks of, though many know of its haunted reputation, a reputation given new life by a gun truck crew testing a new generation of enhanced night vision goggles…

            Sergeant Travis Harland peered through the helmet-mounted, experimental Enhanced Next Generation/Night Vision Goggles, called Cyclops, at the bright, fuzzy, greenish-white glow of the Iraqi desert. Isolated homes and small villages swam out of the darkness before disappearing into greenish-black static that reminded him of a haunted landscape. From time to time he was rudely jolted when the Cyclops bumped against the side ballistic window of his growling HMMWV gun truck that led the supply convoy up Main Supply Route Tampa, bound for Baghdad.

            A bright shaft of greenish-white light swept across the dunes and clumps of brush to their right before locking onto a small dusty mound further ahead. A metallic voice sounded in the earphones shoved under Harland’s already tight fitting Kevlar helmet.

            “-at the one o’clock, a hundred yards ahead,” the Gunner, Specialist Paul Bonner, said.

            Harland sighed. A gun truck wasn’t built for comfort, especially when the Gun Truck Commander was tall and thin, as he was. Being thin didn’t provide much of a cushion for sitting, especially on army seats. And communications glitches didn’t help his mood either.

            “Bonner! You hit the off-switch again, you fucking idiot. Say again.”

            “Pile of sand and rocks at the two o’clock, fifty yards ahead. Throwing a glo-stick,” Bonner said. A bright fluorescent stick tumbled through the dusty, windy night to land next to the pile that was already so well marked by glo-sticks from previous convoys. Glo-sticks warned of a sometimes suspicious feature for following vehicles.

            The Driver, Private First Class Lee Stewart, veered into the left lane, away from the pile...


Excerpt

            Sergeant Travis Harland peered through the helmet-mounted, experimental Enhanced Next Generation/Night Vision Goggles, called Cyclops, at the bright, fuzzy, greenish-white glow of the Iraqi desert. Isolated homes and small villages swam out of the darkness before disappearing into greenish-black static that reminded him of a haunted landscape. From time to time he was rudely jolted when the Cyclops bumped against the side ballistic window of his growling HMMWV gun truck that led the supply convoy up Main Supply Route Tampa, bound for Baghdad.

            A bright shaft of greenish-white light swept across the dunes and clumps of brush to their right before locking onto a small dusty mound further ahead. A metallic voice sounded in the earphones shoved under Harland’s already tight fitting Kevlar helmet.

            “-at the one o’clock, a hundred yards ahead,” the Gunner, Specialist Paul Bonner, said.

            Harland sighed. A gun truck wasn’t built for comfort, especially when the Gun Truck Commander was tall and thin, as he was. Being thin didn’t provide much of a cushion for sitting, especially on army seats. And communications glitches didn’t help his mood either.

            “Bonner! You hit the off-switch again, you fucking idiot. Say again.”

            “Pile of sand and rocks at the two o’clock, fifty yards ahead. Throwing a glo-stick,” Bonner said. A bright fluorescent stick tumbled through the dusty, windy night to land next to the pile that was already so well marked by glo-sticks from previous convoys. Glo-sticks warned of a sometimes suspicious feature for following vehicles.

            The Driver, Private First Class Lee Stewart, veered into the left lane, away from the pile...



Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?

Stan: First, I’ve always had an interest in the supernatural, or paranormal. Second, the first just seems to be a natural partner to the horror of war. Third, I’m fascinated by the leaps and bounds that technology has been making in the past 10, even five years. That inspired me to think, “What if…?”



Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?

Stan: Not that I can think of. Just, thank you for having me here today. Happy Halloween!



Cate: Thanks for joining in the fun, Stan! Read Stan's bio below - and buy his book!

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old; his first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that another short story was published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy (forthcoming), Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, he became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.

3 comments:

Cate Masters said...

Welcome Stan! Thanks for sharing your spooky story with us. :)

LD Masterson said...

Interesting interview. Very nice to meet you, Stan.

Yolanda Renee said...

Cate,

Wonderful interview, great spooky photo lab story. I know that feeling of not being alone. Scares the hell out of you when you know your supposed to be! And like me, just go in the other direction, unlike all those horror movies! :)

Wishing all the best success with your book!