Through the Black Hole » LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD – David Tocher (review & interview)

LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD – David Tocher (review & interview)

Written by Tony Northrup


To say author David Tocher is an established young talent would be an understatement. David studied Shakespeare’s life and complete works, World literature, English literature, theology, and holds an Associate of Divinity degree, studied Judaism, has studied novel writing, editing and proofreading. His accomplishments are quite extensive.

He’s also a graduate of CDI College in British Columbia, Canada. He is also a supporter of the film arts, and has a list of associate producer credits to his name. David is also a contributor in both of my books, STEPHEN KING DOLLAR BABY:The Book, as well as my upcoming release of STEPHEN KING DOLLAR BABY:The Sequel.

David has also published his own short stories. He has quite the knack for drawing his readers in, holding their interest, taking them over the top (right up to the very end), then reminding us… “it’s just a book”.

In David Tocher’s latest book, LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD, he brings his readers a mixed bag. It’s a collection of six short stories that tap into a gamut of feelings bordering on fear, sadness, adventure, and horror. Right to the last page, he has his readers right where he likes them: wanting more!

These six new stories consist of:

  • Letters From A Dead World – a science fiction story with strong overtones of reality. A good spin on the apocalyptic genre.
  • Chelsea Mourning – a vampire tale that deserves to have a sequel to it.
  • Feather Canyon – a creepy, yet sad tale.
  • Confidence Man – a good tale, solid and entertaining.
  • Rebecca Raven – David takes the old “hitchhiker scenario” to a new level. It is well written, and although a strong tale, it is also sad and emotional. This is my personal favorite.
  • Ekphrasis – This was another of my favorites. It is very reminiscent of something you’d see as a Twilight Zone episode. Be careful the next time you see someone with a sketch pad.

The cover art is eerie, and brilliantly done by Lordan June Pinore. The introduction was intriguing, and well written by Nancy Kilpatrick. All in all, LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD is a gripping read, and holds your attention until author David Tocher is ready to let you go.

I had the privilege of interviewing David regarding this new book and here’s what he had to say! 


Anthony Northrup – Thank you David for taking time with us today. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
David Tocher – Sure thing. I’m David Tocher (pronounced “talker”), and I’m based in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada. My work spans various roles as an editor, a fiction author, and an essayist. I’ve also been fortunate to be credited as an Associate Producer of several independent films. When I’m not deep into my writing or immersed in reading fiction, you can bet I’m kicking back and enjoying some B-movie horror films – it’s a guilty pleasure I relish every minute of.

AN – When did you first take interest in writing, and who were your influences?
DT – Writing’s been in my blood since I was a little kid. Words and books, they’ve been my thing right from the start. I received some formal education in college and university, and I’ll tell you, that really changed the game for me. Choosing to study World Literature and English Literature, well, that was one of the best moves I made as a writer. Back in the early days, I was cutting my teeth on authors like Stephen King, Peter Straub, Richard Laymon, Robert Bloch, and Ray Bradbury, among others. They were the contemporary legends who inspired me. And as the years rolled on, I also found myself head over heels for classic literature.

AN – Let’s talk about your new book, LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD. When did you first begin this project, and what made you decide to do a short story anthology as opposed to a full novel?
DT – I delved into crafting Letters from a Dead World after finding inspiration in the works of Lovecraft, Poe, Dickens, and Brothers Grimm. Over the course of fourteen years, my short stories initially found their homes in small press anthologies, and, to be honest, I thought they’d just linger there indefinitely. But then, the unexpected happened. Readers from around the world began reaching out online, expressing their enjoyment of my work and asking for more. It was a delightful surprise, to say the least. Eventually, the rights to these stories reverted back to me, and I had a thought: Why not gather them all into a single book? It just felt like the right thing to do—a little gift for all those incredible readers who had shown me their love. So, Letters from a Dead World is my way of sharing these stories with you, each with a modern twist on the classic inspirations of Lovecraft, Poe, Dickens, and Brothers Grimm. For example, Feather Canyon is my interpretation of Poe’s Annabel Lee; Rebecca Raven lifts the plot structure of Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood (a.k.a. Little Red Cap); and, Confidence Man is a mashup of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors. I invite readers to take a seat, immerse themselves in these tales, and hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, they’ll find my stories as captivating as I did while writing them. And by the way, the full novel is in the works. It’s coming soon.

AN – Are there any stories in the book that you feel a more personal connection to? If so, why?
DT – Feather Canyon is the story that has the biggest piece of my heart. You see, I penned it during my time out in Eastern Canada, while I was yearning for the West Coast, especially my old stomping grounds in Victoria, BC. Those were my young adult years, where I’d hang out in pubs, coffee shops, and strum my guitar at open stages with other budding musicians. The ocean, the mossy trees, the ferns – I missed it all. But there’s more to it. I wrote this story not long after a dear friend of mine passed away. It hit me hard, and writing Feather Canyon turned out to be a sort of therapy, helping me come to terms with the grief.

AN – I call this book a mixed bag of stories. Some scary, some sad, some that make you think. Do you prefer mixing things up a bit as opposed to sticking to a certain theme throughout the book?
DT – You know, that’s a great question. The epigraph for my collection really sets the stage here: ‘Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better’. It’s from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, and it pretty much sums up the entire theme of my book. All my stories, in one way or another, grapple with sorrow. They dig into how characters deal with it – whether they let sorrow shape them into better people, like in Rebecca Raven, or if it steers them down a darker path (like in Chelsea Mourning). So, even though my collection is a mixed bag of stories, they’re all tied together by this common thread of sorrow and how it molds people.

AN – The stories take place in your home country of Canada. What do you enjoy most about living there, and will you have future stories that take place in other parts of the country?
DT – You know, I’ve got a soft spot for my home province of British Columbia. It’s a place that’s pretty special to me. I mean, the mountains, the forests, the lakes, they’re just amazing. And don’t get me started on the coastline and the rich First Nations history here. Plus, the people—they’re great too. In a sense, I consider British Columbia to be somewhat like its own distinct nation. As for my future stories, most of them will likely be set right here, with the occasional tale in another province just to keep things interesting.

AN – Some of these stories have heavy subject matter. What type of research did you do for them, and which story had the most difficult research to study?
DT – When it came to research for the titular story, Letters from a Dead World, it was quite the journey. I dove deep into some intriguing subjects. Initially, I studied the enigmatic world of parasites, with a special emphasis on the T-gondii—let me tell you, it’s truly bizarre. Then, my focus shifted to the military. Learning about the operations of the Canadian Armed Forces was a challenge. Thankfully, I have a military friend who helped me out, ensuring accuracy. He helped me to smooth out details like the firearms they employ, their strategic maneuvers, the diverse array of vehicles used in various scenarios, and the intricate hierarchy within their ranks. In this tale, the antagonist holds the rank of Colonel, and it was of utmost importance to me to paint him as a rogue element who has betrayed both his country and its military. I hold deep respect for Canada’s armed forces and its honourable servicemen and women, so I aimed to tell a thrilling story about a military project gone awry while doing my best to show respect towards those who serve.

AN – My personal favorite story in the book was, REBECCA RAVEN. You personally thank Chief Simmons of the Waknakin First Nation Council for his assistance for this story. Can you share what that experience was like?
DT – My interview with Chief Simmons of the Waknakin First Nations Council felt a lot like what the filmmakers of Critters 2 must have experienced when they received support from the good people of Grover’s Bend. It was a truly endearing encounter.

AN – How have readers responded to your work?
DT – People have really embraced the book. Over on Amazon and Goodreads, I’ve been fortunate to receive some generous reviews, with readers consistently giving it 4 to 5- star ratings. It’s been heartening to see the positive response.

AN – Can we expect a Volume 2, and what other projects can we expect from you in the near future?
DT – No plans for a Volume 2, but I do have more short stories in development. Right now, I’m cooking up a novella that aspires to be nothing more than what my writing already is–pulpy genre horror. I don’t want to reveal anything about the storyline yet, but let’s just say I draw a lot of imagery from Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. Also, keep an eye out for the anthology About That Snowy Evening, put together by Stephen Spignesi, Andy Rausch, and Keith Lansdale. You’ll spot my short story, Shadow in the Gully, right in there alongside fiction from some well-known authors like Bev Vincent, Robin Furth, Billy Chizmar, and George Beahm. It’s a cozy little collection inspired by classic poetry, and I think readers will love it.

AN – Thank you David for taking the time to be with us today. How can readers learn more about you, and where can they find your books?
DT – You’re welcome, Anthony. And thank you for having me. Readers can learn more about me and find my books through the following links:
Letters from a Dead World:
Letters from a Dead World (universal link):
Author Page:
My X profile:

We certainly look forward to seeing more wonderful projects from David Tocher in the near future. Make sure to pick up your copy of LETTERS FROM A DEAD WORLD today!

Posted in Horror and Interviews by Tony Northrup on November 15th, 2023 at %I:%M %p.

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