Nick Stead- Author Interview (2019)

Hey everyone! Just your Horrormadam here bringing you another amazing author Nick Stead! When reading most literature on werewolves, it becomes apparent that most authors follow the same banal, over-worked imagery. A human is cursed with a wolflike appearance and then they generally kill indiscriminately. Nick Stead has written a very refreshing story arc, where a person has a supernatural lycanthropic event but actually takes on all the aspects of a real wolf. Their social aspects and pack mentality, alpha vs beta, communication and scenting behaviors. Nick’s books are such a joy for me to read because they are such a divergence from the norm. I wanted to introduce you to his work and asked him a few questions so that you may better understand this talented writer! Let’s get to it:

My first obvious question, is why horror? When did you first fall in love with it and what made you want to write in the genre?

I think I’ve always had a love of monsters and things with big fangs and claws so it probably started there. Ghosts and skeletons fascinated me as well–I’m struggling to remember a time when I wasn’t into anything horror! I can’t think of a specific moment from my childhood that started my love of the genre–I know I used to enjoy cartoons like Scooby Doo and would watch them religiously. But my first real taste as a kid was probably the Goosebumps series. Those books probably deepened my attraction to the creepy and the macabre and my love of the genre only grew from there.

It was actually my cousin, ‘Lady’ Sarah, who got me started writing. She’d done a few short stories and got sick of me nagging her to write more so she suggested I start my own and helped brainstorm the first three chapters of what would eventually become Hybrid. I’ve always had a love of fantasy as well but I was getting more and more into horror as I developed into a young adult and started to discover all the classics like Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser. The more I found to watch and read, the more of my own horror stories I wanted to write. My first book was always going to be a werewolf horror thoughI’m too obsessed with them for it to ever have been anything else!

Why did you go with werewolves?

I’ve always been obsessed with wolves and werewolves for as far back as I can remember. There’s just something about the idea of turning into a wolfish creature that really appealed to me when I was younger and it’s something I never grew out of! In many ways Hybrid started out as my own personal werewolf fantasy. The lore I used in the series is a mix of my favourite myths and my own ideasI like to put my own spin on existing mythology where I can.

What are some of your favorite books and who are some of your favorite authors?

Horror wise, Graeme Reynolds’ High Moor trilogy ranks among my all-time favourite werewolf horror stories and I’m really enjoying S.L. Mewse’s Primal Progeny werewolf series as well. I did used to enjoy Darren Shan when I was younger but I’ve not read any of his stuff in years, and I was enjoying the Anita Blake vampire hunter series till it got a bit too much in the relationship’s wayside of things and not enough of the horror for my tastes. I think the last one of them I read was book 12 or 13 so I must be well behind on those by now.

Fantasy wise, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fanlove his Discworld series! Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle is awesome as well, reread all four books a few times and I never tire of them. I also love G.R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and am still mourning the end of the TV adaptationhope we get the next book soon! I have to mention Harry Potter as well even though I haven’t revisited that world since the last book came out which must have been in my late teens/early twenties (I’m 31 now). And Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files!

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein needs mentioning too. We studied the original novel for GCSE English Literature and I really connected with that story and the character of the creature in particular. In fact, there are parts of Hybrid heavily inspired by Shelley’s novel, including the prologueI love how she starts with the letters Captain Walton writes to his sister, as for me it gave it a sense of reading about real events that had actually happened rather than just the usual narrative prose of fiction. So I wanted to bring that same feeling into my own story, but instead of letters I went with the second person opening as a way of bringing the reader directly into the story. I really wanted to give that feel of being there with the character as he tells you about his ‘real’ life as a werewolf.

What are some of your favorite horror films and influences?

I love the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and Hellraiser 1 and 2both Freddy and the Cenobites definitely inspired some of the more creative deaths I’ve written. American Werewolf in London still has the best transformation scene to date, in my opinion, and I never tire of watching that. In fact, it’s more or less how I imagined and described my own character’s transformation in Hybrid and I still remember my excitement at seeing that being brought to life on screen for the first time. The look of the fully transformed wolf doesn’t quite do it for me though. I’m very fussy with my werewolves and if they don’t live up to the right mix of wolf and man I end up being disappointed. Van Helsing still comes in first place for my favourite movie werewolves–those are almost perfect, if only they had tails!

I also love the werewolves in Dog Soldiers and The Howling of course. The prequel to Underworld is another fav–it’s the historical setting in that one that does it for me, probably because of my love of fantasy. And Ginger Snaps is great for its humour and the slightly different take on werewolves with the way they permanently shift into a wolfish creature rather than just under the full moon.

And of course, there’s the 90s adaptation of Frankenstein. This one is the closest I’ve seen to the original book and was a huge influence on my teen self, along with the novel as mentioned above. Seeing Shelley’s story brought to life in a way which I feel really does the book justice (and it’s rarely I say that about a book to screen adaptations!) was almost magical.

Pic Joan RussellAuthour Nick Stead at his home in Golcar, Huddersfield.
Pic Joan Russell Authour Nick Stead at his home in Golcar, Huddersfield.

In your Hybrid series, like the author Darren Shan you chose to use your own name as the main character, how much of yourself is reflected in the character?

There’s a lot of my teenage self in the first book, particularly in the earlier chapters before the character starts to change and grow darker as a result of his curse. Hybrid is actually a really personal story on a lot of levels and there’s probably more in there than fans realise which mirrors what my real teen self was going through in school. I was bullied, and I did suffer with severe depression, partly because of the bullying and partly because of the way things were at home, so the chapters where the character sinks into a similar state were written straight from the heart and much of that raw pain of my teen self survived through to the final edit.

Hybrid Cover

Hunted and Vengeance are more or less pure fiction, and the character is much darker in those books and more adult. We all have those dark urges from time to time, the things we fantasise about doing to people who anger us for whatever reason, and I think a lot of that inner darkness comes out in my fictional self. It’s the perfect place to channel it without actually killing anyone!

In your writing, the specificity of the wolfs thoughts and actions astonished me. How did you get into that mindset?

I used to watch tons of nature documentaries on wolves and other predators so I think a lot of it probably comes from that, plus my own beliefs and passion for animal rights. All the stuff I learnt on real wolf behaviour I was able to bring in to his character, but I wanted to make it clear the monstrous side to him is purely down to the werewolf curse and the darkness of his humanitywolves have been given a bad enough reputation as it is!

When I first started writing I actually found it easier to do the wolf’s character than the humans. Not sure what that says about my teen self!

Why do you think people are so interested in lycanthrope mythology?

I think it speaks to that primal part of us we’ve tried to separate ourselves from over the millennia but can never quite escape. We all have a favourite animal and things about that particular species we admire. I think for earlier civilisations who lived in much greater harmony with the natural world, the idea of shifting into other creatures and taking on their traits to become better hunters or fighters captured their imaginations, and it’s something that has stayed with us as we’ve continued to evolve. Lycanthropy as a curse came much later and historically was always as the result of witchcraft rather than the modern idea of a bite or a scratch passing it on. I think that horror side of things was a way of rationalising human monsters at times, before we came to understand more about the human mind and all that can go wrong with it. And in the modern day I think werewolves are a way for people to continue exploring all that remains uncivilised in our species and the wilder side to our natures.

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The Hybrid series was a long journey for you, can you explain your process and how it led you to being published?

It certainly was, and to think at 15 I was young and naïve enough to believe when it was ready for publishing it would just happen!

After my cousin helped with brainstorming those first three chapters, the scenes we’d come up with started writing themselves in my head and it wasn’t long before I started working on them, amid my last year of school and exams and moving up to college. I would be in lessons daydreaming and my imagination would be going places in the Hybrid universe and coming up with all these scenes till I realised it wasn’t just a short story I had on my hands or even a novel, but an entire series! I’d also get narrative writing itself in my head and would have to commit it to memory if I couldn’t get away with making notes mid-lesson. Then the day would finally finish, I’d go home and get any homework out of the way and write for the rest of the evening (well, not quite the entire evening, every eveningsome nights I’d want to read another author’s work or catch up on TV or enjoy some time on the PlayStation 2!). On weekends once homework was done, I’d devote some time to writing and some time to my other hobbies. I think it took me about a year to finish the first draft of Hybrid so I’d have been 16 when I finished writing it, then it ended up being sat on my PC for the next few years virtually untouched because I was too busy enjoying student life.

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I got serious about being published again once I finished my studiesit was the only career that really interested me, despite doing a couple of different courses in my college years to try and find a back-up plan in case making a living as a published author never happened for me. But when I went back to this ‘masterpiece’ my younger self believed would be an instant bestseller, it was something of a reality check. I soon realised it needed a good rewrite, so I then spent an intensive year doing just that.

I’d not heard of beta reading at that point but a few friends begged me to let them read it so I did do, and two of those I still use for beta reading now. They say you should never use friends and family as beta readers because they never give you honest feedback, but I’m lucky that the friends who beta read for me are very good at picking up on any issues and feeding that back to me. So once I’d tested it on those brave guinea pigs and acted on the feedback I was given, I then started sending out submissions to all the big agencies I could find who would accept supernatural horror.

This was probably the hardest part of the whole process. It’s always disappointing to get a rejection letterthat’s one thing you have to learn to deal with as a writer. But so many places just don’t bother to acknowledge they’ve received your submission at all and it’s so soul destroying to go through weeks or even months of waiting and hoping you’ll receive a reply expressing interest and asking to see the full manuscript (as the initial submission is only ever a sample of your work, usually of the first three chapters, and a synopsis), only to finally accept, it’s probably another no. I did try chasing up one or two who never replied but didn’t even get an answer to my email asking if they’d received it!

I must have spent three years submitting to agencies (as it’s frowned upon to do a big blanket submission so I was restricting myself to sending out to a handful of places at a time) before I finally found Wild Wolf Publishing. They thought the story showed promise, but they felt the manuscript needed more work before it was ready for publishing, so I then did another major rewrite to fix what they felt was the main issuenamely that some parts read too YA while others were more adult, and it needed to be consistent for one or the other. I’d always intended it to be for adults so I edited out a lot of the really YA stuff, though the first one still ended up in the teen/YA section on Amazon, anyway! But Wild Wolf loved the new edited version I sent them and didn’t take long to write back asking to see the full manuscript. Things happened really quickly after thatit took only a month to hear back on the final decision once they’d read the full thing and it was the good news I’d been dreaming of all those yearsthey wanted to publish it for me.

Wild Wolf has been very fair with things like royalties and giving me a say in the cover design. It’s been much harder than I ever anticipated to try to make a name for myself though! As Wild Wolf are only a small publisher, I have to do 99% of the work marketing myself and chasing opportunities for doing readings and signings. Sometimes it feels like the world is against indie authors and publishers but I live in hope that someday I’ll be one of the big names in horror, even if it takes years of hard work to get there.

I have read that you are also going to be working in the dark fantasy genre, what themes are you going to be exploring?

The premise is basically immortal beings playing a game, using the fantasy world like a chessboard and mortals as pawns, which I touched on in my short story, Immortal Game. I wrote that one for a competition and when I shared it with the other members of Huddersfield Author’s Circle they all enjoyed it and told me to carry on with that world, then when I got into live action roleplay it really inspired me to write a short piece based on my experiences at my first larp event. The character in the piece is essentially the same one I play at larp but the world it’s set in is my own. So that then led to a load of ideas for developing the concept I’d got in Immortal Game and the two immortal characters in that story but set in the fantasy world of the larp inspired piece rather than modern day earth like Immortal Game. I’ve got tons of ideas for the gods and demons attached to that world, as well as the mortal main characters caught up in the game they’re playing, but it’s going to be a big project with all the world building so I haven’t done much with it yet.

Link for reading: https://nick-stead.co.uk/work/short-stories/immortal-game/

I’d say one of the recurring themes across my work is the damage we’re doing to the planet and animal rights and there is going to be a sense of that in this one as well, but the corruption in that world will mostly come from the demons. It’s hard to say for certain before I’ve really started working on it (as I don’t do too much planning in advance – I’m more the type of writer who has an idea and just runs with it and sees where it goes!) but I think there’ll be themes of loyalty and betrayal like with my Hybrid series. It will be the kind of fantasy world that has magic and dragons but I much prefer writing anti-heroes and villains to out and out good guys; conflicted characters who have their own inner struggles which impacts the decisions they make, rather than just doing something because it’s right all the time. So it will definitely be dark fantasy rather than high fantasy, and there will probably be a good dose of my trademark gore in there.

What new projects should we be on the lookout for?

I’m currently in the process of moving my Hybrid series over from Wild Wolf Publishing to Miami Fox Publishing after the success of The Complete History of the Howling. The move will see a re-release of the first three books with brand new cover designs and they’ve had another edit for these second editions, plus there’s going to be just over 19,000 words of never before seen bonus content. This will take the form of a short story from a different character’s perspective to my fictional werewolf self. I had a lot of fun with that piece, building on the character’s backstory and exploring more of the history of the Hybrid universe, as well as doing a bit of a crossover with Vengeance and hinting at things to come in book 4.

Link to interview for The Complete History of the Howling in case you missed it! https://horrormadam.com/2019/05/20/the-complete-history-of-the-howling-author-interview-2019/

Book 4 is now drafted and has been through a round of editing and is now going through the beta reading phase so I would hope to have that out later this year as well. And Hybrid fans can also look forward to another short piece in an upcoming werewolf anthology by Graeme Reynolds called Leaders of the Pack. My contribution is a prequel piece from the point of view of the werewolf who bites my character at the start of Hybrid. I’d written that one before doing the bonus piece for the second editions so there’s a little bit of a crossover with two of the characters from the prequel appearing in the second edition bonus story. I think fans are going to love it.

And finally (for now), in 2017 after finishing Vengeance I announced I was going to take a little break from the Hybrid series to work on my own take on the Pendle witch trials of 1612. It took a lot longer to write than anticipated due to the amount of research I had to put innot just reading up on the trials and what we know of the people involved but into the time period in general to make sure all the little details were as accurate as I could get them when it comes to setting and things. I finally finished the first draft early autumn 2018 then went back to the Hybrid universe to do book 4 while the witches went through beta reading. I’m now about to start the next round of editing based on the feedback I’ve had and I’m hoping this one will also be out later this year, but it depends how much more work needs doing.

Many stories have been written about the Pendle trials but in my take on it I’ve really tried to put my own unique spin on the tale, weaving the supernatural into the historical setting and combining the horrors of the time with my twisted imagination. The feedback from beta readers has overall been very positive and is hopefully a good sign I’ve succeeded in doing the story justice. If anyone wants a little taster, this is another that started out as a short piece, though this one was written for a competition category ‘opening for a novel’ so it was written with the intention of being carried on with rather than a one off short story. It’s one of the free to read pieces I’ve published on my site and is currently titled The Reckoning. (Which works for this short opening but not the novel it grew intoI’ve still to settle on a title for the full novel.)

Link to: https://nick-stead.co.uk/work/short-stories/the-reckoning/

I want to thank Nick so much for taking the time to answer my questions! You will really enjoy his work and we have included links below to find out more about him and get your hands on his books!

Nick Stead

home

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nick-Stead/e/B010LSHNJ6?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1561233757&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Nick-Stead/e/B010LSHNJ6?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1561233797&sr=8-1

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Jon O’Bergh- Author Interview (2019)

Hey everybody! I had the great fortune to interview an author and a phenomenal musician Jon O’Berg, He began playing piano at age 7, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine. He has done over a dozen albums ranging in style from atmospheric, to jazz, from funk to experimental, and from electronic to ambient. He has played with the amazing band Gemini Soul https://www.reverbnation.com/geminisoul. And he has written some absolutely fabulous books. I really enjoyed his horror novel Shatter Point which is a ghost story wrapped around the premise that everyone does in fact have a breaking point especially when an extreme haunt is involved,. So I wanted you to get to know him and for you all to check out his works, so let’s get to the questions!
My first obvious questions for horror writers, why horror?
I inherited a love of horror from my parents. Whether it was my mother telling ghost stories to neighborhood kids on warm summer evenings or my artist father painting skeletons, ghostly figures, and deserted buildings, horror surrounded me growing up. Horror speaks to one of our strongest emotions and often symbolizes issues such as social dysfunction and guilt. But even more significantly, for me, it provides the perfect vehicle for exploring the tension and ambiguity between what is real and what is imagined or unknown, which we must grapple with daily. That’s why authors like Paul Tremblay and Gemma Files especially appeal to me.
Do you have any favorite horror films or books that have influenced you or your work?
Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House”—both the novel and the 1963 movie. The shocking twist in Thomas Tryon’s novel “The Other” made a huge impression on me. And although it’s not a horror book, I love “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which has nightmarish elements with the Boo Radley house. Its concern with prejudice and social justice influenced my newest horror novel, which I hope to publish soon.
Have you ever gone to an extreme haunt like in your book The Shatter Point?
Are you crazy??? I wouldn’t last two minutes. Not my idea of a good time. I got the idea for the novel after watching a documentary on extreme haunts. That was close enough. I do like conventional haunted attractions, though. Living in Toronto, I’m fortunate to be near one of North America’s premiere haunts at Casa Loma, a castle that sits on an escarpment overlooking the city. Every October, the proprietors turn the castle and grounds into an impressive haunt. What could be a more appropriate setting for fright than a real castle?
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Why do you think people are so intrigued with being scared?
I think it safely allows us to explore certain feelings and provides an emotional release. Kind of like riding a roller coaster, or the laughter after being frightened at a haunted attraction. I also think it helps us tame fears we have, such as fears of death and the disintegration of the body, and fears about loss of control. As one of the characters in my new novel says, horror is sort of like a vaccine that inoculates us. For a while.
Does anything frighten you?
Wasps. I can’t even be outside in the vicinity of those insects without coming unglued. Murderers. I’ve had close encounters with a serial killer, a mass shooter, and a colleague who chopped up his girlfriend—a triple whammy that continues to haunt my stories. And madness. The first time I experienced panic attacks, I thought I was losing my mind. These incidents, when they occur, are terrifying beyond anything I can describe.
You are a very talented musician, can you tell my readers a little about why you love music, how you pursued it in college and what your favorite styles and influencers are?
My mother wanted me to take piano lessons, which I did for seven years starting at age 7. I’ve always had a creative streak, and music provided an additional outlet beyond writing, making up games for my friends to play, and designing floor plans. In college I started out intending to become a writer, but after two years switched my major to music because, at that time, it came more easily than writing. I love how music and words go hand in hand to enhance each other. A very powerful combination. My tastes are eclectic, and I appreciate most styles of music from classical to rock to pop to jazz to rap. The style isn’t as important to me as the artist’s vision and how well it’s executed. Who’s influenced me? Meshell Ndegeocello, Tori Amos, Steely Dan, Jethro Tull, Herbie Hancock, Laurie Anderson, Todrick Hall, Esperanza Spalding, RuPaul, Joni Mitchell… I could go on.
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Have you ever considered adapting your music to soundtracks for films?
I often get comments that my music (at least some of the instrumental stuff) sounds like a soundtrack. It would be fun to write music for a film.
You have done music for television, can you tell us more about that?
I wrote some background music for a couple of programs years ago—very light, inconsequential wallpaper music. It’s difficult because you’re trying to please a client who can’t necessarily articulate very well what he or she wants. So I didn’t enjoy that. But songs I’ve recorded have been used in programs on NBC, BET, Telemundo, the Hallmark Channel, etc.
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Like your album Ghost Story, if it could be the soundtrack for a film what would you like to see happen in the film?
Hmm… Trying to tie together the different threads, it would be about demonic forces that unleash ghosts from catacombs under the earth to usher in the apocalypse. The ghosts cause people to do horrific acts against one another, like chopping off heads that they keep in a box. (Idea for a new novel?)
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What new projects are you working on, or anything else we should be on the lookout for?
I just completed a novel about a drag queen and his female friend who run a horror podcast and share a passion for fashion, art, and horror. When they learn their apartment building might be haunted, they investigate with the help of their quirky neighbors, but uncover something sinister that threatens them all. And there will be a companion album of horror songs written by one of the characters in the story. I’m currently seeking a publisher. I also have an idea for another novel that I’ll start writing soon.
“The Shatter Point” is available at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2IAFL79) and other online retailers. My music is available at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and most online sources.
LINKS:
Song of Fire music blog: https://obergh.net/songoffire/
I want to thank Jon so much for taking the time to answer my questions today; I encourage you to read all of his works and definitely check out his music; I enjoyed it all immensely.

R. J. Joseph- Author Interview (2019)

In this interview I would like to present you with an amazing woman, a fabulous writer and intellect, and also an inspiration. Her name is Rhonda Jackson Joseph. She is a horror writer, a member of the Horror Writers Association, and a professor based out of Texas. Her analysis of gender, race, and, horror has really inspired me to look at all who indulge in this world of horror that we love so much. Primarily a man’s game, I want to look at the differences we all bring to the table. Male/female, black/white/yellow/brown, different religions, different countries, different sexual orientations… how we all see horror differently. So starting off my adventure, I bring you the great lady herself and her answers to my questions:

First, thank you so much for having me over for a chat, Jaye. I always enjoy talking with other women in horror.

Where did you get your love for the horror genre?

I grew up in a home always filled with books and magazines and the ones my parents didn’t think to hide were the horror ones. I’ve always had a dark nature, so I was drawn to these tales of monsters, weirdness and evil. My father was the one who collected these books and every now and then I would talk him into allowing me to watch the horror movies with him. I was really young, maybe 6 or 7 or so. The adult me is glad he didn’t have the best parenting judgement because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten all that exposure to the things I love so much.

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What are some of your favorite horror films?

Some of my all-time faves are Blacula, the original Poltergeist, Pet Sematary, The Exorcist, Beloved and all the classic Universal monster movies. Recent additions to my list are Get Out, The Quiet Place, and Hereditary. Apparently, I’m drawn to sympathetic monsters and also utterly terrified by parenthood and societal horrors.

How did you get into writing?

Writing has always been how I best express myself. The written word never fails me, even when speaking does. I’ve been full of words since childhood, with a knack for telling stories. I also have a mother who always supported whatever I and my siblings wanted to do and she continuously praised my writing and encouraged me to continue the sharing of myself through words. My insatiable curiosity helps, too. I never run out of things to write about because I question everything, all the time. Everything that happens and my experiences are fodder for stories or poems. Even things that don’t happen are fair game. Writing is such a part of my being that I can just never quit.

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Who are some of your favorite writers?

So many faves! I read way more than I write, which is good in some ways but terrible in others. I love classic writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Mary Shelley. I also like Shirley Jackson, Octavia Butler, and Tananarive Due. Stephen King is one of my favorites as is Linda Addison and Lori Titus. And L.A. Banks will forever be #writergoals.

Which books inspired you?

I mostly read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul as a child, so I was heavily inspired by their works to write my own creepy fare. The works of Tananarive Due and Toni Morrison inspired me immensely because they showed that black women could write riveting horror. But the most influential book overall in my horror writing was the Bible. I was raised as a Southern Baptist and those stories and the ways preachers would impart them were horrifying! I also liked the hidden messages and the ways the words could mean various different things.

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I learned the word misogynoir while researching you. Can you explain it to my readers and how you feel about it or counteract it?

This is an excellent question! Misogynoir is a term coined by African American feminist Professor Moya Bailey to describe a specific hatred that is enacted upon black women. Misogynoir reflects an intersection of race and gender in the ways black women are victimized. I grew up feeling the weight of not just being black but of also being a woman, so the word feels right and encompasses the entirety of my experiences with such hatred in a way that the term misogyny ignores with its single focus on my being a woman.

One specific way I work to combat misogynoir is simply by daring to write black women’s experiences into the horror genre, as an unapologetic black woman. I write about black women being terrorized by monsters because so many experiences of black women are horrific. I write about black women being monstrous because we should be allowed to lean into this element and receive power and sympathy as other monsters do. I write about why we need these depictions, why the genre (really, the world as a whole) should embrace these characters and stories as relevant, lived experiences that encounter horror and monstrosity in various ways.

What drew you to writing in academia?

I often tell folks I’m an accidental academic. I attended graduate school primarily to get a degree that would allow me to work part-time teaching at the college level, where I would make more money than in any other part-time job. I also needed the flexibility so I could still care for my children. I didn’t know the pursuit of that degree and the people I would meet along the way would also create avenues for me to find a still growing corner of this discipline where I might be able to make valuable contributions. I honestly had no idea that writing about black women and horror from an academic standpoint was a thing. Then I met Dr. Kinitra Brooks at a horror convention and searched for everything I could find on her work about black women in horror and popular culture and I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. My entry into academic writing may have unintentional, but apparently, this is where I need and want to be.

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What do you find truly horrific?

Ahour existence is immersed in darkness and overrun by monsters. If I had to choose the most horrific things I’m aching over in this moment, I’d have to say humanity’s lack of empathy and the assassination of intellectual curiosity. It scares me that human beings can deny other humans their right to basic personhood and exalt their cruelty. Now, I wouldn’t say there was ever a time in my lifetime when this empathy existed in abundance, anyway, but I just would have thought we’d be beyond this point by now.

And I grew up surrounded by people who didn’t have advanced educations, sometimes not even through high school, and yet they still sought knowledge and facts to make decisions about their lives in general. Now we have folks who have multiple degrees who disregard facts and make illogical and unsound arguments in bad faithand others blindly follow them. Critical thinking is pretty much dead, and it doesn’t seem it will even be resurrected as a zombie, so when it’s completely gone, it’ll just be gone.

If you could have a frank discussion with any five people in history: living or dead, who would it be and why?

This is a fun one! The chance to ask Mary Shelley about her writing process and inspiration for Frankenstein. I want to hear it from her without the filter of years of research. And meeting Edgar Allen Poe would be a dream. I often wonder how he managed to avoid ultimately succumbing to his demons before he did. I’d absolutely love to have a conversation with Margaret Garner, the enslaved woman whose story of matricide inspired Toni Morrison’s Beloved. As heart wrenching as it would surely be, I’d like to hear from her the desperation that drove her to murder one child and attempt to murder the others in an attempt to save them from slavery. I’d like to talk with Toni Morrison, too. I continue to be inspired by the way she uses words to make experiences immersive. I’d just want to shake her hand and hope some of her glitter rubs off on me. And James Baldwin seems like the kind of person I would seek out at a party, someone I could have stimulating conversations with while the world went on around us. 

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What are you working on now?

I work best when I’m juggling different projects, so I’m currently working on a few things. My main focus right now is an essay on the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House”, for a collection being compiled and edited by Dr. Kevin Wetmore. Also, I’m outlining two different academic book proposals for submission to publishers. In the background of these academic projects is a horror novella and a couple of chewed on and incomplete horror short stories that I hope to finally finish. By the end of the year, I’d like to have a collection of short stories to shop around to publishers.

I would like to yell three shout-outs. The first is to announce that I will be making an academic presentation at the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference at StokerCon in May, called the “Rendering the Invisible Visible: Black Femininity in Horror”. It would be great to have some folks come out to join the conversation.

The second is for Uncovering Stranger Things: Essays on Eighties Nostalgia, Cynicism and Innocence in the Series, a collection of essays edited by Dr. Kevin Wetmore that made it onto the final ballot for this year’s Stoker Awards. The third is for Sycorax’s Daughter’s. edited by Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Linda Addison, and Dr. Susana Morris, which appeared on last year’s Stoker Award final ballot. I’m super proud to have contributed to these amazing books and I look forward to more works from these magnificent writers and editors.

I’m currently accepting abstracts for multidisciplinary academic presentations at the Multiverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Atlanta this October. Please see our call for papers on our website here: https://www.multiversecon.org/papers

I want to thank Rhonda so much for giving me her valuable time and insights! If you would like to learn more about her or her works, I have included some links for your perusal:

Twitter: @rjacksonjoseph
Facebook: facebook.com/rhonda.jacksonjoseph
Facebook official: fb.me/rhondajacksonjosephwriter
Instagram: @rjacksonjoseph
Blog: https://rjjoseph.wordpress.com/
Email: horrorblackademic@gmail.com

https://www.amazon.com/R.-J.-Joseph/e/B0722V9DQT

Uncovering Stranger Things on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C1DTQQ5/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Sycorax’s Daughters on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Sycoraxs-Daughters-Walidah-Imarisha-ebook/dp/B06W2FLLMB/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=sycorax%27s+daughter&qid=1552076025&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

HWA Poetry Showcase, Volume V:

https://www.amazon.com/HWA-Poetry-Showcase-Stephanie-Wytovich-ebook/dp/B07HPGQHXR/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=hwa+poetry+showcase+5&qid=1552076107&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Monstrous Domesticity on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Monstrous-Domesticity-R-J-Joseph-ebook/dp/B016JAT5XC/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmrnull_2?keywords=monstrous+domesticity&qid=1552076186&s=gateway&sr=8-2-fkmrnull

Black Magic Women on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Magic-Women-Terrifying-Sisters/dp/0999852205/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=black+magic+women+saulsonn&qid=1552076358&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Anne Radcliffe Academic Conference at StokerCon 2019:

http://stokercon2019.org/convention/ann-radcliffe-academic-conference/

 

John F Leonard- Author Interview (2019)

Hey guys, Jaye here again to bring you another amazing author for you to go check out: horror author John F Leonard. John hails from the England and is an author who can spin an incredible read from the usual and the mundane by turning the topics on their head. Beautiful character crafting and scenarios that will have chills running up and down your spine and leave you thinking about them long after you are done reading. A dash of social commentary, a morsel of suspense, and a huge dollop of terror will have you clamoring to read more! So let’s get to the questions for him:

Why horror? What got you interested in writing in that genre?

The simplest answer is that I like reading horror and I think you’re best writing something you would like to read. That was all I ever really wanted to do when I started out – write something for myself. A book I’d see and think, yeah, I fancy reading that. I’ve still got the same ambition.

It also depends on your definition of horror. For me, it has clear cross-overs with science fiction – apocalyptic and dystopian stuff – and yet goes beyond that. Elements of horror are found in a lot of the ‘mainstream’ genres. I wouldn’t want to tackle a romance, for example – believe it or not, I have been asked – but a horror romance, now that’s not entirely out of the question. : )

Who are some of your favorite authors, or inspirations or who inspired you?

Too many to list them all. Some of the earliest include James Herbert, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Stephen Donaldson, A.A. Attanasio, Robert McCammon.

It’s a toughie – the early ones are the easiest and still difficult – how far back to go, how do you identify/isolate influence?

I’m holding off on mentioning newer writers because I haven’t read enough recently. That’s a sad admission, but it’s the truth. There are only so many hours in my day and I’m spending most of them writing/working – that’s set to change, once I’ve got through my backlog of work/rejigged my schedule.

Your art work is amazing, any formal training?

I had an excellent education, and it included art. Your strengths (to whatever degree) are invariably your interests – Art, English, History. They were all subjects that fascinated me. Of course, that was a long time ago.

As far as art goes, I sold quite a few sculptures and paintings and came to the awful realisation that it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I drifted away, like you do. Got lost in trying to survive the world.

Sometimes you go back though, rediscover your first loves. Sculpture, drawing, painting – I wasn’t sure what I had left in me for those.

Language, the written word, was a different matter.

It felt like I’d never really explored what I could do there. I think the desire to write is probably the last great motivation I’ll have in my life. When that urge is spent, I’ll be happy to watch the grass grow.

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Where do you get your ideas?

Everywhere and anywhere. I have a list of ideas – it grows nearly as quickly as my To Be Read books and To Be Watched movies list. Reality and its subversion is something currently grabbing my interest. The Scaeth Mythos/Dead Boxes have their foundation in that concept.

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What frightens you?

Mortality – my own and that of my loved ones. There’s a terrible fragility to life. It wasn’t something that concerned me when I was younger, but I worry about it a lot these days.

There are other things. Stupidity, for one. That scares the brown stuff out of me. Not being able to intelligently reason is a surefire recipe for bad decisions and worse outcomes. It’s great friends with greed, you often find them skipping hand in hand through the wastelands they’ve created.

Heights is another, more prosaic one. Not in and of themselves – nothing wrong with simply being up high, its height combined with a feeling of vulnerability. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower is an amazing experience. Beautiful and breathtaking. Stuck at the top of a stepladder trying to fix your roof is insane!

Thinking on it, probably doesn’t count – comes under mortality.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Nothing very exciting. I love to read when I’m not knee deep in my own writing.

Television – I can vegetate in front of the box with the best of them. My viewing mostly consists of horror, science fiction, comedies. Some drama, although a lot of it is dross. Some sport, football and snooker. Current affairs (when you can filter the truth from what the networks want to give you).

I like a drink and relaxing with family and friends. Don’t do enough of that.

Sleep! I know that sounds factitious, but there’s nothing like a genuinely restful spell under the duvet.

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Do you have a writing muse or mantra?

I don’t think so. Not sure I actually subscribe to the idea (on a personal level). I believe the need to create exists in most of us. How it comes out is down to the individual – art, writing, learning how to fix the plumbing. Whatever.

For me, the process isn’t always easy. It’s often hard work. Putting in the effort and hours. What makes it worthwhile is the end result. Well, sometimes anyway. Now and again, you finish up, wipe your hands on the oily rag, and find out you’ve written a turkey. Or the damn tap is still dripping : )

Whilst I love it, writing doesn’t belong on any sort of pedestal. It’s an admirable ability, but ultimately just another skill.

Where did the Scaeth Mythos come from?

It began with me asking family and friends to suggest a name for an Irish vampire (I’m of Irish heritage and very proud of the fact).

I was inundated by ideas – seems my folk can’t resist taking the pee. ‘Mick the Biter’ was one suggestion that made me howl with laughter.

Anyway, I cogitated and researched and eventually got to ‘The Scaeth’.

The vampire side of it also morphed into something else. Broadened into a bigger concept. The Scaeth is a kind of cosmic vampire. A parasite infesting the walls of reality. It’s hollowed out a space for itself and no longer resides in any universe, just plunders those it can access. Dips into them to interfere and feed. It loves to feed.

If you could have dinner with any 5 people, living/dead/real/fiction who would it be and why?

That’s a killer question! Can’t even begin to factor in fictional. This would change with my mood, but here we go:

  1. R. Giger – The mind that created Alien, that’s all I need say. Plus, I’d try to persuade him to get me a Harkonnen chair.

George Best – knew how to enjoy himself and my favourite footballer.

Peter Cushing – a gentleman, part of the Hammer Horror crew so lots of gossip/insights.

Siouxsie Sioux (from the Banshees) – a punk presence.

James Herbert – ignited my love of horror and struck me as a bloke with hidden depths.

We’d need an extra seat – my wife is usually at my side for big events.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been busy lately with some shorter fiction, novellas of varying lengths. I may put together a collection of what’s already out there along with new, unpublished stuff. After that a novel is most likely.

My latest is A Plague of Pages – another story from the Dead Boxes Archive. In the same territory as Bad Pennies and Call Drops. Old school horror, to my way of thinking anyway, about the perils of writing under diabolical influence.

What happens when a normal guy wants to redefine himself and become a horror writer …it doesn’t work how he plans. Not surprising, there are supernatural, cosmic forces cooking the books, so as to speak : )

I want to thank John so much for taking the time to answer my questions and may I say his dinner guest list was inspiring. If you would like to know more about John, read his works or connect with him on social media, just follow these links:

A Plague of Pages:

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N7MPMGN

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N7MPMGN

Get in touch with John on Twitter – https://twitter.com/john_f_leonard

John F Leonard Author Pages:

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01BHUE6Z6/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/John-F-Leonard/e/B01BHUE6Z6/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14953570.John_F_Leonard

 

Ellie Douglas-Author Interview (2019)

Hey guys, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite new authors Ellie Douglas. In conjunction with this being Women in Horror Month I wanted to interview a woman whose work is so visceral and thought provoking, chilling with both gore and wonderfully thought out horror narratives. I recommend most highly and if you are a fan of the horror genre, you can not go wrong with any of her works! Ellies books personify horror.

She is a multiple award-winning author who comes from New Zealand. She is also a freelance graphic artist who designs and creates beautiful, imaginative, and professional pre-made book covers and coloring books. She has also spent ten years working with autistic children.

 

So let’s get down to it and ask her some questions:

What is it that drew you to the horror genre?

That is a good question. A lot of things have drawn me into the horror genre. It started from a very early age. I would sneak up and watch horror movies that my dad was watching. He did not know I was there. I’d be watching from behind the half-closed living room door. I was scared, actually I was terrified, but I loved the thrill of it. I believe watching horrors from such a young age is what sparked my love of horror. It grew from there. My brothers and I would do some seriously crazy things after watching movies like Friday the 13th for example. After watching that, we were being silly kids and decided to pull a prank on our mother. So we ripped the head off of one of my dolls, stuck a screwdriver into it, leaving the top part of the screwdriver sticking out through its now matted hair. Then we poured tomato sauce all over it. Smeared it with black and blue ink to look like bruises and dirt and then we put it on a plate and left it in the refrigerator for our mother to find. Needless to say when she did, she gave us the thrill we were after when she screamed bloody murder; however, when she was calm and realized it wasn’t a real babies head, we got into big trouble. My brother was 14 at the time, and I was 13. So it’s really been running through my veins since I was a young girl.

Who are some of your favorite authors or books?

Some favorite authors. Stephen King. James Herbert. Dean Koontz.

Your short stories are so intriguing. How do you decide whether to keep them short or to develop them into a novel?

I had already written five full sized novels, and I wanted to challenge myself by writing short stories. I discovered I was good at it. I enjoyed it a lot and kept ongoing. Some of those shorts will be turned into full-sized novels. Deciding to keep them short was the challenge, and because of that headspace I was in I already knew ahead of time that they were going to be shorts 🙂

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Where do you get your inspiration for your writing?

I get my inspiration from so many different things. Sometimes I will create a cover of a book before I’ve even written it, to use that as my muse. Other times it will come from something I’ve experienced. Other times from movies or books. Wherever I am, be it at home, or out and about, ideas hit me hard and fast. My imagination is pretty wicked.

Being a graphic artist where do you get your ideas for your custom book covers?

As with the answer above, it can come from anywhere. Something I’ve read, watched in a movie or TV show, something the kids have said or done. Images elsewhere, my inspiration for creating covers and for writing both arrive from the same place. Also talking to people, finding out what they want and working with them often ignites my imagination, and it just takes off.

How did you get into developing adult coloring books?

I have always loved to color and thought how fun would it be to have a zombie coloring book. I’d not seen one, ever. Especially in this country, New Zealand. So I created my first adult coloring book and then decided I would make more. They are fun and very therapeutic, plus they make excellent gifts to give to the adult who has everything.

What inspired you to create an online casino slot game?

I love playing the slots, and I hate wasting money. So I thought why not make a game that I could play. One that would give me the best of both worlds. It would be the kind of game that one would win no matter what. No losers in that game. I need to say unfortunately it has been taken off the market due to the people at ITunes claiming that it shows too much skin. One of the characters from a fairy game is wearing a bodice that shows too much cleavage. So they pulled it down. I can not get it back up at this time, due to not having the money needed to remake that particular game.

“Hounded” has won multiple awards. Why do you think zombies resonate so much with horror fans?

I believe that it resonates well because of the damage that zombies can do. In particular, my book Hounded is not about human zombies. It is about K9’s, man’s best friend turned zombies. Four legged zombies cause way more damage and are a lot scarier. It for me I believe is because of what they can do and how scary zombies are no matter if they are human or animal. They will tear you apart, and that’s a thrill we all love. Also, it is hyped up about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse actually happening. I personally don’t believe that one will happen. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be cool and that I could instantly become prepared for one lol.

 

Can you tell us something about your work with autistic children and why it is such a passionate cause for you?

One of my own daughters is on the Autism spectrum. This is what got me started in working with other children who are autistic. It is very close to my heart. Raising a special needs child comes with a lot of difficulties, but it also comes with a lot of rewards too. For example, when you see them achieve mainstream goals for the first time, it is very rewarding.

What new scares or projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on a top secret project. I’m unable to say what at this time, but I can say that it is going to blow the minds of readers. I’m pretty sure readers won’t have seen anything like what I’m currently working on. Trust me, it will be something that readers will be very excited about.

My final thoughts is an offer of a short story, for free. If readers of your awesome blog are reading this and would love a taste of my horror, then I have one just for them. If you visit my website, you can join my newsletter and be rewarded instantly with a free book.

https://www.authorellie.com/ Website

I want to thank Ellie so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such fabulous books! If you would like to learn more about her or you would like to read her work, just follow the following links:

http://bit.ly/LinkedIn-Ellie LinkedIn

http://bit.ly/Ellie-Pin Pinterest

http://bit.ly/Ellie-Instagram Instagram

http://bit.ly/FB-ELLIE Facebook

http://bit.ly/EllieTube  YouTube

https://plus.google.com/101411492847090012799 Google Plus

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15292826.Ellie_Douglas Goodreads

https://twitter.com/AuthorEllie Twitter

https://www.authorellie.com/covers

Erik Handy-Author Interview (2019)

My next author interview is with horror writer Erik Handy.  His stories are spine chilling and engaging, dark and imaginative and I really encourage you to check them out! So let’s get to the questions and find out what he says:

When did you first fall in love with horror?

I grew up in the VHS Boom of the 80s. My parents constantly rented just about everything horror and sci-fi. It was probably then.

 

Favorite horror films?

Fright Night, Predator, and The Fog.

Favorite horror authors and books?

I don’t really read anymore, but when I did, I liked Bentley Little a lot.

 

Favorite comic books?

Watchmen. It’s a well-told story first, comic book second, if that makes sense.

 

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

Sometimes from my hyperactive dreams. Sometimes from a stray thought.

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Why are you the King of Horror and Suspense?

Because no one does it better than me.

 

You work and you write which probably doesn’t leave you with much time, but do you have anything else you do to decompress from these activities?

I’ll get all the rest I need when I’m dead.

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Is there anything that scares you?

Knowing there is probably nothing after death. NOTHING.

 

I know you write screenplays. If you had all the power, which of your books would you like to see made into a movie and who would direct and star?

Just one?! Noooooo . . . . I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the stories in Demonica being filmed for an anthology a la Creepshow. A different director for each segment . . . John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Rob Zombie. It’d have to star Jeffrey Combs and Brad Dourif in multiple roles.

 

Lastly, what projects are you working on for the future?

I’m cleaning up my screenplays for publication. After that, I’m going to reissue and finish my Demon Hero series. After THAT, a new short story collection, then maybe a new Bad Boogeyman novel. 2019 is going to be a busy year!

 

I want to thank Erik Handy for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to learn more about him or read his works, just follow these links:

Official site: ErikHandy.com

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00476PH5G

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/erikhandybooks/

Twitter page: https://twitter.com/ErikHandy

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB2-bhZHAXtuMUNrwJHKsdQ

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/erikhandy

 

Ken Stark-Author Interview (2019)

It is a new year and I would love to present you with a new author interview from one of my favorites, Ken Stark. I just love how he describes himself on Twitter…Horror writer, questionable painter, unapologetic nerd, and committed beer enthusiast. Author of the award-winning Stage 3 series of books.

As a fellow nerd I so enjoy his attention to detail and meticulous crafting of each novel. Exceptional characters, provocative scenarios, and fast-paced reading that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I encourage you to give him a read, but in the meantime get to know a little more about him here.

Where did you get your love of horror?

The books and movies and TV shows I remember from my childhood are almost always the ones that scared me. I can remember those scenes in perfect detail decades later while I’ve already forgotten a movie I might have watched only days ago. I’m not into gore for the sake of gore, but I’ve always loved any story that drops a normal, average person into a nightmare, because it’s just so easy to imagine myself in that spot.

As a writer, the prospect of having that same effect on a reader just thrills me to no end. If I can make someone hesitate for a fraction of a second before they throw back the shower curtain, or if I can send a chill down someone’s spine as they come home to a dark house and reach into the shadows for the light switch…. well hell, what writer wouldn’t want that superpower?

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Favorite disaster films?

The Day After. It was a made-for-TV movie from 1983, and it was probably the first movie that accurately depicted the devastation of a nuclear war. Despite the subject matter, it was actually very subdued. Just real-life people struggling to keep their loved ones alive. It was chilling because it was plausible, and I’m afraid to say, it still is. Most disaster movie take place in one building or one city or one state, and it usually ends with our heroes making it out of that location to safety, but when the whole planet’s involved, it becomes a fight for survival in a microcosm. Powerful stuff indeed.

What scares you or just gives you nightmares?

Well, I do have one phobia, but come on, you don’t expect me to tell the world my Kryptonite, do you? As for nightmares, they are so few and far between that I honestly don’t remember what any of them were about. The only exception is one that I had after Stage 3 came out, and I found myself in the very world I’d created. It was certainly scary, but it was awesome! After all, here I am trying to give other people nightmares, and I gave one to myself. But I love that nightmare. Recalling the sensations I’d felt being plunged into that world helps me convey that sense of dread as I continue the series.

Favorite horror/ science fiction novels?

Oh, I fell in love with science fiction early on. I’m sure I’ve read every Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke book ever written. It’s tough to pick a favorite, but I’d have to go with the Asimov’s Foundation series. It astounds me that he was able to pack so much imagination into those books that spanned galaxies and centuries and still have it make perfect sense.

As for horror, I always fall back on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The man wrote not only a great book with a brand new monster, but look at what’s followed since. I can’t think of any other piece of literature that’s had that kind of effect on modern culture.

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What inspires you?

My inspiration to write it simply the number of years I spent keeping my passion on the back burner. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but after a few disappointments in my younger days, I abandoned the dream. Of course I kept writing, but from then on, it was only for myself. Now that I’m doing it for real and can actually call myself a writer, I need zero inspiration. Give me a pen or a keyboard and I’ll write ’til I drop.

As for what inspires a particular story, those can quite simply come from anywhere. All it takes it a dark little tweak on reality and following it to its most horrifying end. Stuck in traffic? Look at the mousey little guy in the next car over and wonder what he might get up to in his spare time. Stopped-up drain? Just what horrible thing is down there, and why? Dining out? What if that chicken isn’t really chicken? Honestly, if you give your imagination free rein, anything and everything can provide inspiration.

What do you like to paint?

I taught myself to paint by watching Bob Ross wield that big ol’ brush of his, so most of my stuff is landscapes. I’ll throw in an elephant here or a deer there, and once in a while I’ll add a person, but I don’t paint people well. I did a few zombie pieces for an online promotion recently, and they were a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely be doing more of those. What do you think, would Bob Ross approve? ‘And let’s put a happy little reanimated corpse right here….’

Does music influence your writing?

No, not at all. I love music and I usually have something on while I write, but I’m barely even aware of it. You could fire a gun next to my ear when I’m writing and I probably wouldn’t hear it.

You have a lot of technological/ scientific information in your books, is this learned or researched?

A little of both, actually. I studied sciences through high school and into University, so some of that will naturally creep into my stories. Sadly, school taught me nothing about zombies, so coming up with a mechanism for getting the dead to walk was tricky, and it required a ton of research. What I came up with might stretch science to the limits, but my background made me want to at least try to make it plausible, and I think it works. Most of my research now is a quick Google search for the kinds of things that can get a person on an NSA watch list. Bullet velocities. Rate of decay of human flesh. Effects of blunt force trauma. You know, casual bedtime reading material.

What do you like to do when not writing?

Pat answer alert! When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Honestly, though, it depends on the weather. For most of the year, I’ll do anything that gets me out in the sun. In winter, I tend to hibernate, so I’m always either reading, writing or throwing paint at a canvas.

Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?

I believe that everything happens the way it’s supposed to. That belief doesn’t help one iota when things go bad, but I do believe that it all happens exactly how it had to happen. There is a scientific theory that suggests that everything we know is really just information spread across the surface of the universe, in which case, time is an illusion and everything we think we experience is simply information stored in a 2D hologram. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s good to know that there are a few physicists out there who’ve got my back.

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What can we expect from you next?

My plan this year is to write two books. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I’m going to try. I will keep the Stage 3 books coming as long as someone out there likes them (including me!) but I want to alternate between those books and other books entirely unrelated and non-zombie. I think you’ll like what I’m working on now. I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, but it’s good and creepy!

Until then, I always have several short stories on my website that anyone can download for free and share around, and I plan on posting another every month or two. It’s just my way of thanking people for stopping by. The latest is ‘Killing Joe Prince’, about a writer who take hero worship a little too far. Make of that what you will;)

I want to thank Ken so much for agreeing to this interview and for giving such fabulous answers! I cannot recommend enough that you read his wonderful work. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope by reading such engaging responses from Ken that you will go check his work out as well.

Ken Stark’s Website:  https://kenstark.ca/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PennilessScribe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennilessScribe

Amazon Author’s Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Stark/e/B01D911QC2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RW Spryszak- Author Interview (2018)

I am so pleased and honored to introduce you great readers to an astounding writer by the name of RW Spryszak. I have a few interviews under my belt but have never felt like I was reading literature when reading answers. Mr. Spryszak has done that for me here. So eloquent and illuminating that they are a joy to read, I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did. His book Edju was very hard for me to put down. So without further ado, please enjoy and here is a small bio to get you started.

Bio- RW Spryszak’s recent work has appeared in Peculiar Mormyrid, A-Minor Magazine, and Novelty (UK), among others. His early work is archived in the John M Bennett Avant Writing Collection at the Ohio State University Libraries. He is editor at Thrice Fiction Magazine* and recently produced “I Wagered Deep On The Run Of Six Rats To See Which Would Catch The First Fire*,” a collection of contemporary surrealist and outsider writing from around the world for 2018 under that banner, which is also available on Amazon.


Who are some of your favorite authors, or authors that have inspired you?

What inspires me to work is work that isn’t produced. I go into a bookstore just to browse and leave without buying anything. You could ask my wife this. She would verify what I’m saying. This happens a lot. And a long time ago I asked myself, well, what did you want to find that you couldn’t find? And maybe that is what you should write. Write what you’d like to read but can’t find. This is how I work. So, it isn’t what authors have written that inspires me, as you say, it’s what they haven’t written. It’s only a void I’m filling. In my own universe anyway.

Now, as an example of writers whose work has influenced me I have to go back to when I was young and didn’t know what I liked but found things that stayed with me. Gogol’s Dead Souls, first of all. I still have that old worn Penguin Classic copy from when I was in high school. The pages are quite yellow now. Of course, everybody who is a reader discovered Kafka as a teenager I think. But it was people who wrote things that made me go – “You can do this??” I mean when you’re young or naïve you expect a story to go from A to B to C, and twists and unexpected things make your head snap. So, there are the poems of Dylan Thomas and Guillaume Apollinaire. Thomas creates these spiraling images and ideas that blend and weave in and out of each other until you find yourself trapped in his crazy tornado. And Apollinaire writes the kind of things that make you say – “you can do that??” His work is one hundred years old and a lot of it reads like it was done yesterday.

But there’s Robert Walser. Naguib Mahfouz. Jan Potocki. I’m saying these names but I’m quite sure no one is going to look them up or anything. Still, I don’t think – for your audience – you can call yourself a true fan of horror if you haven’t read Potocki’s A Manuscript Found in Saragossa. Just saying. Maybe kitsch horror, but not gothic horror. Dracula, Frankenstein, certainly. But if you haven’t read Manuscript you have a missing part in there. An aspect that would make you say – “you can do that??”

When did you start writing, or what prompted you to start writing?

So how do I answer your question? I don’t know. I used to make up stories in my head as a little boy. Full technicolor epics before I would fall asleep. Wash up. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Roll around making up movies in my head.

And my first rejection letter came from Stan Lee. I wrote a story that pitted Doctor Strange against The Hulk. I was 10 years old. I sent it in and, with the innocent expectations of a kid I also sent along 12 cents to buy the issue my story would appear in. Well, of course, Marvel Comics would never use a hand-written story from a 10-year-old who didn’t know the highway from a footpath. So, here’s my Stan Lee story. 1963 or 4. I got a hand written note back from Stan Lee saying he enjoyed the story but could only use their own material. And – get this – the 12 cents I included with my submission was taped to the blue card he sent back with his note in an envelope. Was he the coolest guy ever? Yes, he was. By the way, Doctor Strange did face The Hulk in one adventure eventually, I think, sometime in the 1990’s I believe. I ought to sue, don’t you think?

How would you describe your style of writing?

I don’t think I think like a writer. I’m influenced by the visual. I look at things like a painter or a sculptor but I couldn’t paint or sculpt to save my skin so I write the form. Writing and acting were always easier than painting. Concepts. Visuals. I think probably because I was influenced by TV and movies when I was small. In Edju, in particular, I used something I learned from my long-ago acting days. How to stay in character from start to finish. Edju is a first-person story, so it’s vital you don’t “break character,” as actors would say.

Though I’m not in the Surrealist camp, so to speak, and never claimed to be, I do use the techniques they’ve developed. They try to bring the unconscious truth to things and so Arp’s ideas about Chance often come into play. Then there’s the process of automatic writing or even sentence collage. These are things I’ll utilize. Take for example in Edju, I used automatic writing as prompts. The start of some chapters is in italics. That was straight from the back of the brain and unedited automatic writing. Then I connected them. I left the strictly Surrealist process when I connected these prompts with a willful, consciously-produced narrative – which makes me not a Surrealist, I think. I don’t know. You’d have to ask them if I’m one of them or not. I mean, several Surrealists, people who have been with that worldview for decades, have supported my work – Max Cafard, J. Karl Bogartte, the New York Surrealist group – but I think that’s because I love the work they produce and have spoken up for their movement – which never went away, contrary to what the New Yorker may think – for years.

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And, really, I think this is a question better asked of my readers than of me. There are people who like my style and people who can’t stand it. Folks who tell me they can’t put it down and folks who can’t get through the first two pages without screaming and burning the damn thing. I know my stuff is difficult sometimes. So, what do I say?

Do you set a certain plot, or go where your writing takes you?

I could never work from an outline. I tried when I was younger. I couldn’t do it. It was like – I’ve written the outline and so the book is done, right? I have nothing but a vague idea and I’ve never known how things were going to end. Not ever. In Edju, I was going along and going along and wrote If I didn’t need to eat I would never trust your world again, and I would stay in these rooms till the spiders wept.” And I stopped and looked at it and said – Okay. That’s the last line. I’m done, now for the edits. And that line will lead into the first line of the next book because Edju, conceptually, is a trilogy. I have two vague notions about the two next pieces but I have no idea where they are going to go. The second book has been started at least five times and I think I only just settled on what to do last week. So, I guess my answer is I go where it takes me after a vague notion, or something like that.

If, while writing, I can’t visualize a title for the thing? I know I’m onto something. Whenever I’ve had a title first, nothing ever works. I don’t understand that. When I get to the point where I can’t come up with a title no matter what and it comes down to I don’t even care what anybody wants to call it, just get it away from me, you decide – it gets published. When I start with a title, it never even gets finished. It’s weird.

What are some of your favorite works of literature?

Well, yes, I mentioned these. Dead Souls, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa. Mahfouz’s The Journey of ibn Fattouma. Walser’s Jakob Von Gunten. But also, from a writer’s viewpoint, there’s technical aspect too, that you have to have. I’m not a big fan, but even if you don’t like him you have to say that Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is the perfectly executed novella. And it’s good to have a grounding. In fact, I’ve always felt you need a grounding in the classical and traditional before you can go off “experimenting.” You’ll find Picasso’s early stuff more traditional than you’d at first think it would be, being Picasso. Then, when he “got it,” so to speak, he created his own world and his own rules. But I’d say he couldn’t do it until he understood the starting point. I think that’s true for everyone to some degree. So, until you can read Dickens and explain why he’s a lousy writer, and he is, you should keep reading the traditional until you “get it.”

What is the most important aspect of writing for you?

Well it’s a compulsion that has to be fulfilled, isn’t it? When I was in my twenties I used to worry about getting published. Have to get published. It must happen. And so on. Of course, that’s when nothing ever happened. It wasn’t until I finally said, you know what, it doesn’t really matter if it gets published or not because I’m going to sit here and write anyway because I have to or I’ll just explode or go crazy. I would write because it was going to happen whether anybody was ever going to read it or not. That, of course, is when people started to accept and publish things.

Oddly enough, after that, I got this crazy notion that I wanted to bust into the mainstream. I had all this alternative work done and it was archived and I had a tribe and – for some reason – I said I’m going to try to break into the big time or something and – poof. Came the drought. I wanted to get published. I needed to get published. And nobody wanted anything I was doing. A couple of the bigger wigs even laughed at it. Because it was actually pathetic stuff, to be honest. So, okay, I went back to just doing what I’d always done and forgot about “trying” so hard and… what do you think? All of a sudden (to use a term that should never appear in anything you ever write), there I was back in print.

That’s the long way around the barn to say the most important aspect of writing, for me, is to not only be yourself, but if it’s working there’s nothing that needs to be fixed. If it ain’t broke. Stay true to your own voice, no matter how trite that may sound. Find your tribe and dance with them.

Do you put any of yourself in your writing?

Yes. There are dozens of things that happened to me, mostly filtered by metaphor, in Edju. Shards of dreams I had. People I’ve met. Or aspects of them. There’s even a scene in the book that I wrote forty years ago for something else. Something I wrote, never kept, but never forgot. It goes on for pages as if I was copying out of an old notebook. I never forgot the scene and it just came into the book on its own. That scene came from a particularly intense part of my growth as a writer. But, yes, they are all over the place. However, well-disguised. And this is all I will say about that.

What led you to write in this genre?

This is crazy because I didn’t write Edju to a genre. I just thought – a book. Maybe Literary Fiction. Maybe Dystopian. I didn’t have a target. When Spuyten Duyvil*, the publisher, first put it on Amazon they listed it as “Gothic.” To be honest, I didn’t even know what Gothic was. Gothic Horror – sure. I’d heard of that. And I didn’t know if there was a difference. Then a few people contacted me and said “Horror,” or “Speculative.” To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it is, exactly. So, my approach is like that old song – “any world that I’m welcomed to.” I’m becoming convinced it belongs in that Gothic category that the publisher listed it in. But you’ll have to believe me when I tell you I seriously didn’t have any kind of thing like genre in my head.

Do any movies or TV shows influence your writing?

Not off hand, no. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. My TV is mostly old movies and Baseball. Baseball is my escape hatch. Outside of that it’s just all noise. I suppose, growing up in the late 50s and 60s there were influences that happened then, but I couldn’t specifically tell you one thing or another.

Any future writing projects you would like to talk about?

The plan is to complete a trilogy with Edju as the lead before I croak. I have no idea what to call it, and that’s a good sign I think. But – you shouldn’t take anything for granted. I’m doing this but there’s no guarantee anyone will take it. Life in the small press universe is like that and you have to expect it. Unless you’re a best-seller you don’t make much money in writing. All the writers I know have a regular job somehow. Teaching, editing, or anything. Every one of them. You have to stay real.

I want to thank RW Spryszak so much for his valuable time and marvelous answers to my questions. For more information or to read his works please check out the following links:

Edju is at https://www.amazon.com/Edju-RW-Spryszak/dp/1947980890

*Spuyten Duyvil is at http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/

* “I Wagered Deep, etc.” is at  https://www.amazon.com/Wagered-Which-Would-Catch-First/dp/1945334045

*Thrice Fiction Magazine is at http://www.thricefiction.com/

http://www.rwspryszak.com/



Dan Klefstad Author Interview (2018)

Radio host, Podcaster, and Author. This amazing man that I have befriended on Twitter is so inspiring. His novel Shepherd and the Professor offers fascinating plot lines and many twists and turns that make it a must read in my book! I am very glad to get to introduce him here to my readers at Chills From the Quill, so lets get to the questions!

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do for WNIJ News and NPR?

I’m the morning host for NPR station WNIJ, and the newscaster for two other NPR stations covering the length of Illinois.

How did you get into podcasting?

The president of the Rockford Writers’ Guild, Connie Kuntz, launched the “Guildy Pleasures” podcast one year ago, and Connie invited me to be the first guest. She read my first novel, Shepherd & the Professor, and was reading my more recent stories about humans who work for a vampire named Fiona. So I went into the studio with Connie and her husband Jesse who engineered the podcasts. During these sessions, I used my experience as a radio announcer to deliver the kind of recordings Connie and Jesse were looking for. We did the first five of my Fiona stories, and they got a great reception — I’ve heard nothing but good things about them.

Are you a horror lover?

I love to be frightened, I love Gothic atmosphere, and I enjoy stories that play up erotic tensions between monsters and humans. I’ll admit I’m not into splatter or torture. But I’ll never refuse a challenge to write this if I think gore can lead to a truly great story.

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Where did the idea for Fiona come from? And are you a fan of vampire fiction?

I’ve always been fascinated by vampires because they work on different levels. As mythical creatures, they transcend human limitations. They’re stronger, sexier, and live forever – who doesn’t dream of this kind of power? But they’re also rich metaphors for things that suck our life force. Your emotionally insecure neighbor is the vampire hidden in plain sight, ambushing you with questions when you return from work, draining whatever energy you have left. The vampire might be your lover, mother or pusher. I guarantee you: somewhere, somehow, a hidden thing is latched to your neck, taking from you and never giving back. When you finally see it, and admit your role in these encounters, I hope you have the strength to put a stake in it.

Favorite or inspiring authors for you?

Anyone who writes vampire fiction owes a debt to John Polidori, Bram Stoker, and Anne Rice. As a horror fan, I also owe much to Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson and Stephen King. In college, I was fascinated by Albert Camus and his treatment of the absurd – where humans desperately seeking meaning are confronted by a universe that offers none. There’s a connection to horror in absurdist philosophy that Jean-Paul Sartre brings home with No Exit. The final line of this play is: “Hell is other people.”

 What are some of your favorite books or works of literature?

To the above, I’ll add John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, Let the Right One In.  Lindqvist also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 movie of the same name, but the book contains an entire plot thread involving Eli’s caretaker, Håkan, that’s gripping and absolutely terrifying. Best horror novel I’ve read in many years.

Do you have a favorite quote?

I’m tempted to repeat that one by Sartre but I’d prefer something more hopeful. With your permission, I’d like to quote a character, Daniel, from my story “The Remains of the Daylight”:

“Because if one person thinks you’re good, you are good – right?”

(That line gives me hope)

What would you really like people to know about you?

I’m an optimist. Readers are often surprised to hear me say that.

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What inspires you to write?

Wow, that stumped me. I’ve done several interviews, but nobody asked me that before. The most truthful answer I can give is: I don’t know. I simply must.

And lastly can you tell us a little about your work and do you have any writing works set for the future?

I’m gathering all my Fiona the vampire stories that appeared in Dark Dossier Magazine’s Halloween issue (11 of them) and will add nine or ten more. These will be chapters in a book called The Guardian which I hope to finish this summer.

Thanks so much, Jaye, for the opportunity to share my thoughts, inspirations, and stories with you. You’ve been a wonderful host!

I am eternally grateful to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions and I hope we have inspired you to read some of his works! You can find links here for podcasts and readings:

The Caretaker” http://bit.ly/2lx3HyD 

“The Interview” http://bit.ly/2m9HKpX 

“Solstice” http://bit.ly/2D47OJg 

“Wolf at Fiona’s Castle” http://bit.ly/2GCZAKt 

“Hauptsturmführer Fillennius” http://bit.ly/2E6OSNL

You can also find him at Twitter at: https://twitter.com/danklefstad?lang=en

And on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/dan.klefstad

And at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Klefstad/e/B01IC5A1XK

 

 

 

 

 

 

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