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Archive for the ‘Horror’ Category

crimsonThe Crimson Calling by Patrick C. Greene is a suspenseful, fast-paced tale featuring a strong, bad ass heroine, and lots of non-stop action. It puts a new spin on vampire lore by combining the old myths with the modern military.

In a world where just a few hundred vampires secretly remain after the eradication of 1666, Olivia–Liv–Irons is a young woman with unusual military talents who is emotionally tortured by the loss of her child and the man she loved. One day, she is a approached by an ancient alluring vampire with a proposition she can’t refuse.

Now, it rests in her hands to save the good vampires–as well as humankind–from a sect of the evil undead who want nothing more than to rule the world on their own terms. Including turning humans into foodbags. But at the heart of this mission, there lies a secret…

Olivia is a lovable character, strong and independent, yet kind and vulnerable, the perfect combination with her bad ass attitude. There is also an array of interesting secondary characters as well as a villainess readers will love to hate. Intense and entertaining fight scenes between the immortals will satisfy fans of the military/vampire fiction sub-genre. Adding to this mix are the alluring forests and rolling hills of Eastern Europe, as well as erotic descriptions of vampire transformation.

Greene has a gritty writing style that doesn’t shy away from the nastier side of things–and language. His combat descriptions are awesome. At the same time, he does a skillful job in getting into the mind of his young and vulnerable protagonist, showing us her doubts and fears with a caring touch. The ending seems to be open to a sequel so I’m definitely looking forward to read more. Entertaining and recommended!

Find out more on Amazon.

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patrick headshot interviewsAs a toddler, Patrick C. Greene was creating horrors in crayon and magic marker upon every available surface. Not surprisingly, he soon discovered comic books and immersed himself in the fantastic worlds found therein. Horror fiction and films came next, and despite spending nights of terror hiding under covers, he always found himself drawn back to tales of dark fates.

Greene cut his fangs in the screenwriting business but found his true calling in the world of prose fiction of the kind his heroes King, Barker and Koontz create. With the success of his first novel PROGENY, and the upcoming THE CRIMSON CALLING from Hobbes End Publishing, Greene presents a brand of horror as emotional as it is terrifying, as engaging as it is suspenseful.

Living at night, deep in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Greene answers the call of his morbid muse when not enjoying monstrous helpings of horror, kung fu and doom metal.

Connect with Patrick on the net: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Check out The Crimson Calling on Amazon.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Crimson Calling To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?

A: Centuries after their eradication and the death of their Queen in the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Vampire population now numbers in only the hundreds. A few of the remaining survivors regrouped and a High Council was born. Now a new threat has arrived: modern day military is not only tracking members of the council, they are attempting to create their own vampire soldiers. Enter Olivia Irons. Ex Black Ops. Doing her best to live a normal civilian life, but it never feels right. No family, no friends, and trouble always seems to follow. When the Sanguinarian Council offers her the chance of a lifetime, the biggest risk of all seems like the only path left to choose. How will she answer The Crimson Calling?

Q: What do you think makes a good vampire novel? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: It’s a bit of a balancing act, given that there are so many vampire films and books now. You have to meet certain expectations while defying or reversing others. For me, I’m never going to read a vampire romance novel but they aren’t written for me. For me, it has to be scary.

crimsonThree elements I think are necessary are intelligence on the part of the vampire (s) whether they are pro or antagonist, some sort of relationship between mortals and vamps, and, lastly, some erotic undertones. Vampires have become as much a symbol of sex as of death.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: Most of it was on the fly. I knew there would be a loner recruited by (more-or-less) benevolent vampires. It surprised me that the loner was a young female, as I had pictured a male.

Some times during the process, I could outline a few scenes ahead, but then I had to leave it alone and hope for the best upon finishing that sequence. By the midway point, it basically stream of consciousness. Even as a writer, I don’t like to peek too far ahead.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: I wrote a brief bio for Liv, the kind of thing you might pick up in a conversation with someone you’re stranded in an elevator with for an hour or so. Beyond that I did find myself revising some elements of her but not to the point of deus ex machina, if that makes sense. Sometimes you have to lay down the cards and leave them, see what play off of them.

 

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: With Crimson and my previous novel Progeny, I tried to intersperse exposition-heavy scenes with the more action driven elements of the story, which often means jumping around a bit in the timeline. It’s important to know, for instance, that Olivia is dealing with heavy emotional baggage, but my reasoning was that the source for said baggage need not be tossed right onto the table as one complete package. We all understand loss. We all throw up barriers against its effects. It’s interesting to me to understand not just the loss itself, but the coping strategies as well, through the action, not outside of it. So, though there’s no set formula, I try to create a scene that leaves the reader with a feeling of “Good lord, why’d they do that?” then offer a piece of backstory that serves as a brief respite while giving some clarity while the event is still fresh.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: When reading Ian Fleming James Bond novels as a youth, I found that 007’s globetrotting gave the character a sense of confidence and coolness. I personally tend to have some trepidation about being in places with which I’m not familiar, and Bond was always up on local traditions and customs. So the setting becomes a character inasmuch as it is viewed through the character. When discussing the various international locales of Crimson, I sought to deal with their strangeness rather than their familiarity. Vampire stories need an air of mystery, which is one of the few small differences from zombie stories, for instance, which work better with a sense of familiarity.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: Redemption is the only theme isn’t it? Even if it’s never achieved, we’d all like to have done something differently at some point, or get a shot at a similar situation so we can use what we have learned. A good many characters get a shot at redemption in Crimson and their success levels are wildly divergent.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Eye of the beholder, simplistic as it sounds. Think of a movie or book that terrified or thrilled you as a child, yet seems almost laughable all these years later. If the creator felt some sense of accomplishment beyond the financial payoff, they can be said to have endeavored in genuine art, by definition.

Editing is an absolute necessity for an author, and all authors should learn to crush their egos underfoot for the sake of the work itself. You need beta readers, you need a sense of neatness and fulfillment throughout your work, and you need to realize that as a creator at any professional level you are giving away that work and letting it become the property of your patrons. So learn to value criticism and outside input. If you can’t cut the fat, be willing to hire someone who will.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Hm. If I’m limited to three I would say third is an enjoyment for at least some part of the process, be it the writing itself or reading the reviews.

Second would be a very thick skin. This plays into the above comment about editing; criticism is unavoidable, unless you’re never putting your work before the public. Unreasonable, even hateful criticism is very likely. Welcome it.

Finally is the habit, discipline or irrational impulse that, like a whispering devil on your shoulder, says you have to do it. Even if it’s only a few sentences, or just a few letters – if you’re not impelled to write something daily with an irresistible force, just forget it. Go back to your smart phone. Some of us are trying to take a serious crack at this and you’re making us look silly.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: Disagree. Writing is like entering worlds with more meaning and adventure and love than anything you’ll find in reality. You can enter this world essentially at will and bring the essence of its joy or sorrow or strangeness back with you and cloak yourself in it. You can move people, and that’s a gift not a curse.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Of course I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and of course I recommend it. I don’t know if they still print that big ass Writers Market manual every year, but if not you can track down copies pretty easily, and they always have several articles about the process from famous and successful writers. I recommend those.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: I would say to all those solitary writers out there languishing on obscurity or oppressive isolation – you are not alone, clichéd as it sounds. You’re tethered to me and a million other world makers, and we are feeding one another.

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Front_Cover_Image_The_ConveyanceHow far would you go for love?

The question has always fascinated me, and during my years as a child therapist, I witnessed to what lengths some people will go to own love or hide love or, in the extreme cases, destroy love.

In other words, love contains a measure of moral responsibility, a duty to protect others from the potential harm of it.

The Conveyance addresses the issue of moral responsibility on several levels, and that’s the story—the real story. Not monsters or mayhem or suicide, but relationships.

Love.

As I mentioned, I’d dealt with the moral responsibility of love as a therapist. While fascinating, as a speculative fiction novelist, I burned to take the issue of moral responsibility to the limit.

That’s the point where the “what if” questions usually start. My books have always begun with “what if?”

What if a bunch of bigots were confronted with the fact a black man was one of the strongest forces of good in our world became the foundation for Forever Man.

Revelation arose from, “What if an atheist were confronted with the irrefutable fact that God exists?”

But for the first time, when I was formulating my approach for The Conveyance, the “what if” failed me. I couldn’t find the story’s voice with “what if” when I knew from the start that something had already happened; a decision had already been made. The forces of plot and motivation were already in motion. “What if” didn’t matter as much. I was stuck.

To get out of this jam, I used an old therapy trick on myself. It’s called “empty chair.” A version of it gets used in The Conveyance when Dr. Brad Jordan asked his patient, Doug Belle, to talk to a doll as if it were his mother. To get past my block, I sat next to an empty chair and “debated” with myself; I spoke to the empty chair pretending the character of Brad Jordan were there, and really grilled him. I let my thoughts fly, didn’t pause, and eventually got mad. That’s when Brad came up with “it’s not what if, dammit, it’s how far!”

That little spark, hidden under layers of my own psyche, jumped out at me.

It wasn’t “what if Brad were confronted with a choice about moral responsibility?”

Instead, it was “how far would someone go for love, and how would he/she/they respond to the moral responsibility of love?”

Love of self, love of family…love of species.

On the surface, The Conveyance is a horror/sci-fi thriller, filled with murders, conspiracies, and violence. The heart of the story—the place where the blood flows and the excitement thrives—is about the moral responsibility of love, and how far people will go for love.

And as with life, not all of the outcomes are good.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Brian W. Matthews’s latest book is The Conveyance, a horror/science fiction novel about a child therapist who uncovers a secret long kept hidden form the world. Together with his friend, police detective Frank Swinicki, he doggedly follows a trail of murder and madness, eventually exposing a sinister conspiracy that threatens the existence of the human race. The Conveyance can be purchased directly from the publisher at www.journalstone.com or from Amazon.  

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Author photo Q Island ReleaseRussell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, Dreamwalker and Q Island. He has two horror short story collections, Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness. His next novel, The Portal, releases in 2016.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, Facebook as Russell R. James, or drop a line complaining about his writing to rrj@russellrjames.com.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Q Island. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?   

A: A virus that turns people into psychopathic killers breaks out on Long Island, New York. The government drops a quarantine and no one can leave. Melanie Bailey and her autistic son, Aiden are trapped there. Aiden becomes infected, but does not get sick. In fact, his autism gets better.  She realizes he may be the key to more than one cure, if shje can get him off the island. She has to get him past the crazed infected, past the government troops, and out of the hands of a gang leader who has his own designs on a boy who may be the cure.

Q: What do you think makes a good thriller? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

QIsland72webA: The first is, you must have good characters, ones that people can connect and empathize with. If the reader doesn’t care what happens to the hero, there is zero tension when he is put in danger.

In no particular order after that, a thriller has to move. No navel-gazing introspection, no four-page back story, no meandering conversations. Every chapter, every paragraph lives to advance the story. Then, thriller readers want a roller coaster with more downward rushes then upward pulls. I also like a thriller to have plenty of twists, plenty of “Oh wow!” reveals that sent the hero in a different, untraveled direction.

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I am a discovery writer, seat-of-the-pants writer, organic writer, whatever you want to call it. I start with a situation, then I try to have some kind of plausible ending in mind. Then I create the main characters with some pretty broad brush strokes and start writing. Everything kind of blossoms as I write. About two-thirds of the way through, I have to go back and construct an outline so I know how everything is fitting together and that the timeline makes sense.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Melanie Bailey went through several transformations. She starts out the story weak and dependent on her husband, a jackass stockbroker who gets trapped on the other side of the quarantine. She’s all alone with her special needs son and it overwhelms her. But she gets stronger through the story as she realizes she has no safety net, and if her son is to survive, only she will make that happen. Early readers didn’t think she grew enough, or couldn’t see the turning point in her life, so I had to go back and add several scenes and change others.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: There are villains galore in Q Island. A lot of readers tell me that the uninfected are more scary than the infected. One of them is Paul, an oddball survivalist who lives in Melanie’s condo complex. The people turn to him in their hour of need, and the power most certainly goes to his head. I’ve seen lots of examples where people are put in charge of something and they turn all Napoleon. I amped that up and let Paul’s sadistic streak bloom. You’ll love to hate him.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: If I got to a section where it bored me to write it, I guessed it would bore someone to read it as well, so I cut it out or shrank it. Q Island also follows a few different parallel stories, that eventually all intersect, so I had several people who could encounter something amazing and I could pick who’s turn it was to get riveting. I think that read better than having one point of view person who experienced every adventure. That just starts to feel unrealistic after a while.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A:Setting almost sank the manuscript. I selected Long Island because it was large and relatively easy to isolate. A tunnel, a few bridges, a few ferries. Close them and the only way out is swimming. But then I had to do the world building in the post-Paleovirus version of the island. I wanted it to be more realistic than a lot of post-apocalyptic works are. That meant I needed to answer a lot of questions like will the mainland still supply electricity? The world won’t let them starve to death, so how does food and gasoline and medicine get through quarantine? Some businesses will disappear, like the mom-and-pop store making gourmet dog treats. How will those people live? Some jobs have to stay filled, like water treatment operators and police. Who pays them when there is no economy generating money in the zone? The whole thing seemed unmanageable and I set the manuscript aside. Later I read some other post-apocalyptic stories that got it right, and I was inspired to get the story rolling again. I think I did pretty well with it in the end.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I don’t have a theme when I start a story. One usually surfaces. Sacrifice is about the bonds of friendship. Black Magic is about the strength of family. I really don’t notice the theme until I review the final product. I think more authors have theme running subconsciously when they write than people doing literary analysis want to believe.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: Wow. Can I answer something that deep? To me, art is personal. “Here’s an expression of my life and experience and inspiration.” It is made with little to no assessment of whether it will appeal to anyone else. It touches the heart of the creator. Commercially viable work is something that touches the hearts of the masses. An editor, understandably, wants the latter. That’s his job. In my experience with Don D’Auria at Samhain, and editor and a writer can collaborate and make certain that the finished work tells the story the writer wants in a way people would be driven to read. If an editor wants a writer to turn the whole story upside down, the writer should probably find someone else more aligned with the initial creative vision that drove the work.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Number One is drive. I remember watching a politician mount a very low energy bid for the presidential nomination, and reporters wondered if he really wanted the job all that much. He later dropped out of the race. Successful people in any profession need to have that drive to do the work to win. Authors have to have it by the barrelful, because they face a much higher failure rate, harsher criticism, and delayed rewards because publication, and any positive feedback, may be years from the moment the story was finished.

Number Two is being ready to improve. You have never mastered the craft. In the same way that athletes are always training, and golfers sometimes call in a coach to rebuild their swing, a writer needs to always be exploring ways to improve what they create. New, often unpublished. writers who prickle at constructive criticism likely won’t ever sell a thing. To apply and paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we need to be free to doubt our own infallibility.

Number Three, sorry to say, is luck. There are many good authors out there without publishing contracts. An editor had a bad day, a manuscript file was deleted accidentally, the work’s genre is stone cold this month, the writer missed the open call posting. There are a million different reasons good things stay on writers’ hard drives. That is why it is so important to scroll back up and make sure that you have Number One covered. The more you work, the more you submit, the more you publicize, the more the odds turn in your favor that the right opportunity will be there for your work.

See how I left out talent? You can be successful without it. (I’m skipping listing famous names here.) But without the top three above, you can’t be successful, even with it.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: True, but it is homework in a subject that you enjoy.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: Any aspiring author who hasn’t read Stephen King’s On Writing needs to close their laptop, buy it, and read it cover to cover, twice. I had great experiences with the Gotham Writer’s Workshop classes that are held online. But all classes are dependent of the skill of the instructor and the participation and caliber of the students.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: If you have the itch within you that says you must write, you have no choice. It will not go away if you ignore it. It will irritate you for years, even decades, and until you scratch it, it will offer no relief.

Just start. Sit and write. Read good writing. Sit and write some more. Do not give up, do not be discouraged. Since man first painted pictures on cave walls, some of us have been driven to share stories with the tribe. That is the DNA that has been passed down to you. Embrace it, and enthrall others.

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authornovellaQ: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Devil’s Engine. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it? 

A: Thanks! It’s really one of those “couple of curious kids start poking around the wrong place” kind of tales. In this case it involves three teenagers and an abandoned – or rather deliberately forgotten – train shed they find at a Hudson rail yard, and how they inadvertently awaken a sleeping bit of diabolical train technology from the 1930s. If you’re like I was when I was a kid, you’re almost genetically programmed to do the stupidest things…

One of the frequent ways I come up with stories is by simply going out to places and meeting people and seeing what connects. One day I was out biking past the Metro North repair shops at Croton Harmon and spotted an old neglected rail shed which got me thinking . . . ‘what if something was walled up in there? What would it be?’ An old steam engine of course. Which then got me thinking about the somehow menacing-looking ‘Commode Vanderbilt’ locomotive model I’d spotted at the Transit Museum shop at Grand Central Terminal not long before. From there it all fell together. I grew up with a love of trains (courtesy of my father) and snooping around abandoned places, so it all it needed was the ‘what if . . .?’ applied to it.

Q: What do you think makes a good horror story? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

A: I’ll give it a shot. 1) Always tell a good story. 2) Always make your characters believable and engaging. Make your reader forget he’s reading. 3) Be original. The overriding one of course is #1. And as Joseph Campbell said, the key to any good story is “Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.”

Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

A: I never plot anything. I’m a firm believer in Robert Frost’s dictum: ‘No surprise the author, no surprise the reader’. Besides, it’s much more fun to let the story tell itself and see where it goes. Pacing and plot twists is where rewrites come in, but more often than not if you’re being sincere about your process, you’ll catch it yourself. If the story starts feeling flat, it already is. Remember: Trouble trouble trouble.

Devils Engine CoverQ: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

A: Well, there’s arguably three protagonists in this story, though I guess Trent Rhodes – the high-school kid who sets things in motion – is the pivotal one. On one level he’s your typical white suburban rebel, edgy but privileged. His best friend is the opposite – black but artsy and having to work for a living, and the girl unlike the other two; pretty shy and smart.

As to the writing process I’ve developed for myself, it’s rather ad hoc – I develop a digital scrapbook file while developing each story where I throw in bits of dialogue, random ideas and concepts. The characters tend to develop organically from there. Not sure I can explain how, though. It just sort of coagulates.

Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

A: In this case it was dreadfully simple: unstoppable juggernaut. Based on historic steam engine. Toss in pseudo-scientific ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ technology with my version of ‘Quantum Occultism”. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

A: Oof. The best thing I can say is repeat what I said above – follow your instinct. If it feels flat then it probably is. If you’re not sure then try reading it aloud, either to yourself or to someone. That often reveals the weak spots, like run-on sentences or parts that drag. When in doubt, have something bad happen.

Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

A: Observation and research. Whenever possible I like to experience things firsthand – like in this case standing there studying an old train yard; listening, smelling, absorbing. Get out of the house and explore – there’s a whole world out there to experience and that tactile knowledge will translate into your stories. When I bring that all back into the story the trick is to see it in your mind – see yourself there – then transcribe that for the reader. If it’s not real to you it sure as heck won’t be real to the reader.

Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

A: I never know what the theme is at the beginning of the story – for me it always starts with a title and a few lines describing anything from a simple concept to a scene. But there are typical themes I suppose – dabbling in forces out of our control, the mysteries of science and magic and what happens when they cross over into each other’s territory, the ability for us to manipulate our own realities and ultimately, life and death.

Q: Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

A: That’s an elusive one. I would have to say that art is being exploratory and discovering new territories (or reimagining them at least) whereas craft is more about discipline and execution. A good writer should embrace and balance both I think. As to editing? I would argue a good editor is critical to the writing process. By nature most creative people tend to be self-indulgent and an editor will see that creation and polish off the rough edges. They’ll make that sucker shine. They see things a writer is often blind to – typos, plot holes and redundancies. On the other hand, if your editor is butchering your story to turn it into something for mass market appeal, it’s time to find a new one. I’ve been fortunate in this regard; I’ve worked with several who really refined the story in a way I never would have achieved by myself. Sure, you can be egotistical and run around screaming “Not MY BABY! Never!” but you probably won’t end up a very good writer.

Q: What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

A: Sincerity, originality and spinning a tale that draws me in to the point of forgetting myself.

Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?

A: I disagree. (Typically) Homework is something somebody else forces upon you to do. Writing is something you choose to do, or are at the very least compelled to do by an inner drive. To me at least, writing is a blast. Homework a headache. I was a lousy student.

Q: Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

A: One editor put me onto a book that was immensely helpful “Self-editing for Fiction Writers”by Renni Browne & Dave King  – invaluable for training yourself to avoid rookie mistakes. And of course Stephen King’s “On Writing” is excellent, though I don’t fully agree with everything in it. But at the end of the day his main point is really the best – youlearn how to write by writing. If you don’t focus on that all the workshops and books and sites aren’t going to help you.

Q:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

A: My own personal thing: write for yourself and write your own stories, not someone else’s. Find that inner voice that is you and you only. Forget market trends, popular genres and all that BS – strike out on your own new path and take us with you, that’s your job as an author.

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About the book:

The Devil’s Engine is a YA horror novella about three curious teenagers who discover a mysterious train born in the shadows of occult World War II research. 

Author’s bio:

Robert J. Stava is a writer who now lives in the lower Hudson Valley just north of NYC, apparently not far from that half-imaginary village he sets so many of his stories in, Wyvern Falls. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and after pursuing a degree in Fine Arts, wound up making his career in advertising at Y&R and J. Walter Thompson in NYC. He went on to become a multimedia Art Director and later as Creative Director ran the 3d Media Group at Arup, an international UK-based design and engineering company before catapulting into the wild world of writing horror fiction.

He is the author of the novels At Van Eyckmann’s Request and The Feast of Saint Anne, and his first published short story “Municipal Lot #9” appeared in issue 017 of Sanitarium Magazine. Three of his other short stories, “Blynd Haus”, “The Anteater”, and “The Dying Dream of Major Andre” will be featured in anthologies later this year by Dark Chapter Press, Grinning Skull Press, and Legends of Sleepy Hollow, respectively. The third novel in his Hudson Horror series, By Summer’s Last Twilight, is due out in autumn of 2015.

He is also author and designer of Combat Recon: 5th Air Force Images from the SW Pacific 1943-45 (Schiffer Publishing, 2007), a historical account based on his great uncle’s service as a combat photographer during World War II.

Visit his author site: www.robertstava.com

The official Wyvern Falls feature site: www.wyvernfalls.com

You can follow him on Twitter: @robertstava

Link to book purchase page: http://muzzlelandpress.storenvy.com

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Bucelarii - CopyHow many of us (including you) have time to sit and write for endless hours every day? Chances are, very few of us are full-time writers. I’m willing to bet that 70 to 90% of the people writing every day are people trying to make a career of it while still keeping their day job.

But, like any other “second job”, writing is something you need to approach with professionalism and dedication.

We’ve all heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hours” rule: to become an expert at anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours. Well, if you sat down and wrote every day for 8 hours a day, that’s 1,250 days of writing–or nearly 3 ½ years.

I’m willing to bet most people only get about an hour per day–let’s say TWO, just to be generous. At 2 hours per day, you will need 5,000 days to become an expert. Given days off, weekends, and days when you just can’t write, that’s approaching 15 years! 15 years of writing to become an expert!

Of course, you don’t NEED to become an expert to do well at writing. But do you get where I’m going with this?

To become “good” at writing, it takes time–and a lot of it. You may not need 15 years to be a good writer, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

The secret to good writing: writing every day.

Regular practice makes both “perfect” and “permanent”. It’s a cycle of awesome: the more you write, the better you become, and the more you can write, so the better you can become.

But how are you going to reach that “better” and “more” stage? By regular, daily practice.

It’s all about putting in the time, every day, rain or shine, hell or high water. The only way to ensure that it happens is to make it a part of your day.

Some people HATE making schedules. They think it’s trying to force creativity or put it into a box. To them, I say, “Perhaps, but…”

I write for a living (marketing, blogging, advertising, etc.). It’s a creative profession, but far less creative than fiction writing. The fact that I write for a living (along with all of my other activities) means I am already spending time at my computer ALL DAY LONG. To sit down and keep writing fiction isn’t easy.

But that’s where the writing schedule comes in handy. I know that I’ll be finished with my regular work at a certain time of day, so I have X number of hours to organize in order to be productive. It’s a simple matter of choosing a slot of an hour or two and sitting down to write at that time.

Not everyone will have a life that’s neat and tidy. We don’t all work 9-5 jobs (I don’t!) where we can clock in and clock out. But that doesn’t matter! You still need to MAKE time to write in your schedule, no matter how busy you are. You may lose sleep, miss parties, get less TV/gaming time, or even have to spend less time with your family (sucks, but it may necessary).

How much is your “second job” as a writer worth to you? How much are you willing to sacrifice to make it work? If you’re anything like the successful authors in the world–such as Stephen King–you’ll make the time to write every day!

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The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer

The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.

When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

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andy

Andy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website (http://www.andypeloquin.com) is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

He can also be found on his social media pages, such as:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin

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

www.linkedin.com/in/andypeloquin/

https://plus.google.com/100885994638914122147/about

https://www.amazon.com/author/andypeloquin

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.peloquin.1

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Demon cover brown-reducedThe Dreaming Demon is an atmospheric 14,000 word dark fantasy novella, inspired by the classic works of Haggard, Howard, and Lovecraft. My inspiration for this story came from the disappointment of reading too many formulaic modern adventures where ‘a secret that will shake the world’ is uncovered. I have always much preferred reading the classic old adventure tales, and was yearning for a return to this age of storytelling. In writing this novella my aim was to gently regress the reader back in time from the present day to the golden age of adventure, through the memories of the characters. This leads to the uncovering of a tale of adventure with a dark underbelly, as the protagonist gradually realises that something sinister lies behind the expedition he has been persuaded to undertake into the jungle. My work generally involves the uncovering of darkness lurking beneath the surface of our world, although the style of storytelling in the Dreaming Demon is a slight departure for me.

About the Book

In 1592 the monk Ferdinand de Castile set out for the New World to preach to the natives in the jungle without knowing about their Gods and the power they hold. All that survives is his journal, the ramblings of a tortured soul on the fringes of sanity, recounting tales of a forgotten city long since lost to the rain forest. Now an expedition led by Sir Albert is to attempt to rediscover this city and its secrets. What mysteries and horrors led to the city being deserted by its inhabitants and engulfed by the jungle? Why is the beautiful but enigmatic Lady Athelton so intent on following in the monk’s footsteps? Will the mission lead to the discovery of a city paved with gold and jewels, and fame and fortune for all involved? Or does something more sinister lie in wait in the depths of the jungle?

Alex Avrio

About the Author

Alex Avrio was born in England to Greek parents, and has spent her life living in both Athens, Greece and various places in the UK. Alex currently lives with her husband in Newcastle upon Tyne. Alex has always been a keen writer, but waited until she completed her PhD in e-business before finally realising that writing was her calling. She mainly writes in the Dark Fantasy genre, where dark forces or supernatural powers lurk beneath the surface of our world, unknown to the general population. In addition to The Dreaming Demon, Alex also has two novels in the pipeline, which are due for release in 2015.

Website  / Excerpt / Amazon / Smashwords 

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Please welcome my special guest, debut fantasy YA author D.W. Raleigh! His novel, Shiloh’s True Nature, has just been published by Hobbes End Publishing

D.W. Raleigh was born in the Delaware Valley and has spent most of his life in that region. He has attended multiple colleges and universities collecting several Doug Raleigh Picdegrees, including an M.A. in Philosophy. After toiling away for many years in various unfulfilling jobs, he began to realize that what he really wanted to do was write. Scribbling down ideas and little short stories he eventually came up with something he wanted to share with the world. Thus, Shiloh’s True Nature was born. D.W. currently resides in Newark, Delaware with his longtime love, Judy, and their two cats, Lovie and Cheepie.

In this interview, the author talks about his inspiration for the book, his creative process, writer’s anxiety, and the meaning of success, among other things. 

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Shiloh’s True Nature. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Several years ago, I was compiling a list of mythological concepts I found interesting in hopes it would inspire me to write something.  In my research, I came across two books from the late Joseph Campbell; The Power Of Myth & The Hero With A Thousand Faces.  These works really inspired me and provided a blueprint for successful storytelling.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Shiloh Williams is highly inquisitive…in good and bad ways.  His thirst for knowledge and an understanding of his environment is admirable.  However, he also finds himself in dangerous situations because of his need to know.

Q: What was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I think it took a couple of years to outline and then another couple to write and refine it.  I don’t really know how others construct their novels, but I have a very specific building process.  I create a short outline with the basic story structure.  I then continue adding things until I am able to form chapters.  The process goes on and on until the entire book is completely outlined.  In the case of STN, it went on until the outline was about 50,000 words.  So, when I sat down to write the book, I converted the 50,000 word outline into a 90-100,000 word novel.

shiloQ: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I do so by keeping that goal in mind.  As I was outlining the book, I made sure each chapter had specific, relevant goals and ended in such a way as to make the reader want to continue reading.  Was I successful? I think so, but only time will tell.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: No, I don’t experience anxiety…it’s more like what you feel like when you were a kid and had to do your homework.  It’s just hard to get started sometimes…you know you need to do it and you want to, but there are so many other things you could be doing.  I usually combat the feeling by reading the last few paragraphs of what I last wrote.  By the time I get to where I left off, I’m where I need to be mentally.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I have no set writing schedule.  I write when the mood strikes.  Otherwise, if I force myself, I end up not liking what I’ve written.

Q: How do you define success?

A: The minimum definition of success for me will be to make a living from my writing.  I am proud of the fact that I’ve created something that has been published…and I certainly won’t consider it or myself a failure if it doesn’t sell millions of copies, but it would be nice if it did.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It’s tough to deal with a negative situation like a lack of support.  I mean, you have to follow your dreams, but you also have to weigh your priorities and be realistic.  For example, if you and your significant other have a two person business and you decide to abandon that commitment to pursue an author’s life, you’re being irresponsible.  On the other hand, if you’re not in that type of commitment and your significant other doesn’t support you, I think you need to seriously examine your relationship.  Ask yourself, or better yet ask your significant other, how they would feel if you didn’t support their endeavors.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: No, I do not agree.  Given Orwell’s works, particularly Animal Farm and 1984, I could see him saying such a thing.  However, he makes the process sound more arduous than pleasurable.  I am driven to write, but it provides me with tremendous satisfaction.  I’m happy when I put together a great paragraph or chapter…I’m elated when the work takes the shape I intended.  There’s no darkness, or compulsion, or negativity of any sort for me.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A:  I’d like to thank them for their support and hope they’ll all pick up a copy of Shiloh’s True Nature.  The novel can be found at hobbesendpublishing.com or amazon.com

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Shiloh’s True Nature

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Author: D.W. Raleigh

Publisher: Hobbes End Publishing

When 12 year-old farm boy Shiloh Williams is sent to stay with his estranged grandfather, he discovers a mysterious new world inhabited by ‘Movers’. The Movers live in symbiotic harmony with one another, except one extremely powerful Mover who has stolen the town’s most precious artifact, the Eternal Flame. Shiloh investigates his supernatural surroundings, makes new friends, and begins to think of the town as home. However, just as soon as he starts to fit in, he realizes his newfound happiness is about to come to an abrupt end. One decision and one extreme consequence are all that remain.

Amazon Paperback Kindle 

Hobbes End Publishing / Author Page / Facebook

 

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Cover Small - Seed of EvilThis novella begins an entire up-coming saga: The Saga of Evil. In production for about ten years it finally reached the light of day in February of this year and is gradually taking the world by storm. The novella itself combines military Sci-fi and horror and takes it to a whole new level with fast-paced action and more. It’s a book no one should miss out on. The events within the book start a ripple that will in time reach across an entire universe, but right now you just have to ask yourself: Are you ready for what lurks out there? Seed of Evil: An Ancient Evil Rises is a thrilling and intense ride no one should miss out on.

Barbara Garcia from Readers’ Favorite: 

“Seed of Evil: An Ancient Evil Rises by Robert Friedrich takes place in the not too distant future. The moon and Mars have both been colonized, and are being mined. The mining team on Mars has uncovered a structure of non-human origin, and in the process of studying it, have inadvertently released a horrifying evil. Now contact has been lost with the colonists on Mars, and deciphering a corrupted message indicates that something has gone wrong, but no one is prepared for just how terribly wrong. Corey and his elite team of Marines are brought in to investigate, and are confronted with this evil almost right away. As his crew is picked off one by one, Corey finds himself alone to battle the evil that’s been unleashed. It’s an ancient evil with immense power, but Corey gets some help from an unexpected source.”

“It is a fast paced story, but I never felt overwhelmed or rushed through it. Narrated by Corey, I easily got a good sense of who he was, and with good world building and nicely descriptive combat scenes, I was quickly immersed in this story and was rooting for Corey all the way. Being a Marine, Corey kept his cool fairly well when confronting the spawns of this evil, but I was a bit creeped out just envisioning the bloody mess all those bodies made, and most definitely when he had to face the winged creature with all the heads on it. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read packed with action and a spooky sci-fi kind of feel.”

Blurb

THE SAGA OF EVIL BEGINS…

From a distant galaxy far beyond our time, the most ancient of all EVIL awoke before descending upon our unsuspecting galaxy. The planet it reached never faced such a threat, but didn’t submit to it, either. In a final attempt to survive, a prison between dimensions was built, the last hope to hold the DARK POWER for an eternity. The planet withered and died, and its people found a new refuge among the stars. That planet is now known as: Mars.

But even eternity doesn’t last forever. Ignorance and an infantile arrogance of a nation leads to its release. And once again, it only leaves death in its wake.

Read the fast-paced Sci-Fi/Horror, where the elements of OCCULT meet with an advanced MILITARY thriller, wrapped in a colossal battle between good and evil.

The first part of a new, long-awaited Saga, from the internationally renowned author of “The Darkness Within” will give you a gulp of a SMASH HIT and will leave you wanting more…

Bio

robert foto3miniRobert Friedrich is an Author who writes in a multitude of styles which include Novella’s, Short Stories, Poetry and even Screenplays. His books are famous for taking an unconventional route through the darkest of places and emotions, and are generally driven by fast paced action and direct-from-heart dialogue. His current releases include: The Darkness Within: A Novella, Enlightened by Darkness Anthologies, The Book of Metal Lyrics and Seed of Evil, which is the first part of an entire up-coming Saga. Robert surprises his audience by how different, each of his book’s tone, message is and how they are visually descriptive. He also designs his own book covers and trailers.

“A fictional Dystopia is better than a fake Utopia.” — Robert Friedrich

Website: http://robapexenterprise.wix.com/robert-friedrich

Book links (Excerpt is directly there via Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IF63J9K

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00IF63J9K

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8N6oMt4tuU

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8716893Mike Phillips is author of The World Below and Reign of the Nightmare Prince. His short stories have appeared in ParAbnormal Digest, Cemetery Moon, Sinister Tales, Beyond Centauri, the World of Myth, Mystic Signals and many others. Online, his work has appeared in Lorelei Signal, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Midnight Times, and Fringe. He is best known for his Crow Witch and Patrick Donegal series. Please visit Mike at http://www.mikephillipsfantasy.com.

1) Tell us a little about your book. 

The World Below: In ancient times, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in the branches of trees, at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the enchanted peoples are all but gone. Those few that remain fear being stretched out on an examination table in some secret, governmental facility. The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below.

Mitch Hardy is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. With some good advice from a friend, Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town. Things start looking up. Mitch finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl. Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the elder race, the faerie folk.

Lady Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner. When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the Baron, Mitch is pulled into a world he never dreamed existed.

2) What gave you the idea for this particular story? 

I can’t trace The World Below back to a single idea. I knew I wanted to do an urban fantasy, something where I throw out the rules and just have fun. I always liked the bad guys in books and movies, so I thought it might be interesting to let the goblins be heroes for a change. I threw in some adventure and romance and there you go.

3) Do you read widely? 

I have diverse reading habits. Short stories, poetry, novels, I read it all. I have an interest in science and engineering, so I read a lot of non-fiction articles as well. When I’m reading fiction, I gravitate toward stories of the supernatural. Some of the new authors you find in online anthologies are really pushing the boundaries of the genre and are worth checking out if you haven’t already. I also like historical fiction. My most guilty pleasure is the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell.

4) Who are your favorite authors? 

WB Yates, Margaret Atwood, Walter Mosley, Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, James Lee Burke, and Jim Butcher are some of my favorite writers. When I’m taking a break from writing, I like to read old favorites like Watership Down or Anansi Boys.

5) Who influenced you most? 

The poetry of WB Yates has been a big influence on my writing. I love the imagery. My style of writing is most influenced by James Lee Burke. Beyond that, I must give a nod to Dean Koontz. He taught me how to write suspense, how to draw out key moments to make the action more dramatic.

6) What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?  

I love storytelling. I try to make my writing as imaginative and as vivid as I can. I write in the horror and dark fantasy genres, but I don’t go for blood and guts and the gross stuff. I like suspense and things that puts the senses on edge. That said, in The World Below goblins become the heroes. They do, admittedly, tend toward the behavior of fifth grade boys. So you might get a gross out or two from them.

63827907) What scares you? 

Oddly enough, it never fails to surprise me when readers and editors tell me how scary my writing is. On more than one occasion, I’ve been credited with nightmares. I’m not typically frightened by the supernatural. Real violence, especially against women and children and animals, only makes me angry. So for me, the real thing to fear in modern society is accountants.

8) Where can we find you online? 

Staying in touch is not my strong suit.  Sorry. I have mikephillipsfantasy.com, but to date I’ve done nothing with it. I’m a regular on quite a few print and online periodicals. My Crow Witch and Patrick Donegal series of short stories have been especially well received. The World Below launches in a month. I promise to get the website up and running soon.

9) Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell us about it. 

I’m a safety engineer by trade. Being a chemical and industrial hygiene specialist, and living in Michigan, I’ve spent a lot of time in heavy industry. The accident Mitch suffers at the beginning of the story is based upon what I’ve seen in my career. He gets burned by molten iron. I had a similar experience, though mine was certainly not as serious as the one Mitch goes through. I was “baptized”, initiated, into the crew. They overcharged a crucible of iron and jogged the hoist control as it passed by me. It ruined my favorite leather jacket and scared the heck out of me, but they knew what they were doing. I got a shower of sparks without a single burn on me. What a way for the union guys to say, “Welcome to the club, kid.”

10) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? 

I never wanted to be a writer. I went to college, got a great job when I graduated, and was bored out of my skull. I didn’t have any money when going to school, so I was used to working forty hours a week and taking a full time schedule. When I got my “real job” I had more down-time than I ever had in my life. Stories just started developing in my mind and I thought it would be fun to write them down. Now I can’t stop. If I don’t write, the stories work their way into my head anyway. The only way I can get the stories to leave me alone is to write them down. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing, but it was never anything I set out to do.

11) Have you ever written something that you’re afraid to let other people read? Why? 

Talking about my writing embarrasses me. I don’t know why. I’ve had great success with my short stories, but I never told anyone that I was a writer until my first novel, Reign of the Nightmare Prince, came out two years ago. Then, I had to come clean to my friends and family. You know, I get a kick out of seeing my work in print or online, but to me it’s all just academic. I write what pleases me. I don’t think of the people that –wait, now I am…

12) Why do you write the genre(s) you do? 

Stories of the fantastic, stories or terror, these have always delighted me. Writing for me is all about pushing the boundaries of my imagination. The more fantastic it is, the better. That’s why I write in horror, dark fantasy, and Sci-Fi.

13) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? 

The toughest part about writing is marketing and staying in touch with my readers. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all those people who have supported my work over the years. I wish I was better at telling them how much I appreciate their loyalty. I also have a sense of obligation to my publishers. Taking a chance on an unknown like me is a huge financial risk. I feel that I need to be better at supporting what they are trying to do in promotions and sales. I’m afraid that all too often I fall short of expectations in this regard.

14) How much is your protagonist like you? How different? 

In The World Below, the protagonist is a guy name Mitch Hardy. He’s just starting out in life, trying to put himself through college. He wants to be a teacher, to influence young people in a positive way and give back to his community. Life has treated him harshly, but because of those experiences, Mitch has a strong sense of right and wrong. I wish I had been as mature at his age.

16) What kind of research did you do for this type of story? 

I’m proud to say I’ve done absolutely no research for The World Below. It all comes from what was bouncing around in my head at the time.

17) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not? 

I don’t like writing scenes with profanity, explicit sex, or gratuitous violence. The world has enough ugliness in it already. That’s the world we live in, though. That’s the human experience. So ignoring sex and violence would be a mistake.

18) What about your book makes it special? 

The World Below is one of the wildest rides you’ll ever take. It’s full of crazy characters, imagination, magic and action. I hope you all agree.

19) What are your thoughts on the future of books? 

My next book, Dawn of Ages is coming soon from Damnation/Eternal Press. So look for that sometime around the New Year. I’m about half way through a sequel to The World Below. The working title is The World Beyond. I’m also editing a collection of my Crow Witch stories. When completed, I hope to find a good home for that too.

20) What are your hobbies? Do you ever work them into a story? 

I’m a farm kid and I like to get my hands dirty. Every year, I dig up my suburban yard and do something different. My neighbors think I’m nuts. I call it gardening. In my Crow Witch series of short stories, Miss Weigenmeister is an avid gardener. She gets better results than I do.

21) What are you passionate about? 

Spending time with family and friends, travel and the outdoors. Reading and writing fits in there too.

22) How do you want to be remembered? 

Go ahead and forget me when I’m gone. I’m not at all worried about being remembered. I try to be the best person that I can be in the here and now and not worry too much about what life will bring.

23) How does your childhood influence your writing? 

What a great question. This is the most significant influence on my writing. I grew up on a small farm. We grew most of our own fruits, vegetables, meat and eggs. We heated out house with wood. We built the majority of the furniture ourselves in my dad’s workshop. In the summer, my dad turned off the television and brought us to the library. Now, our closest neighbor was a mile away, and they weren’t very fun. So, most of my summer was spent reading. My love of a good story came from that experience. My characters are hardworking, fun loving people. I was the third of four brothers, the rascal, the smart mouth. I like a good scoundrel and I think others do too.

24) Everyone has a quirk; what’s yours? 

I love animals. I grew up with dogs and cats and all the different farm animals you can imagine. I even had a pet duck that used to follow me around. Her name was Peeper and I rescued her from a weasel the night of her birth –or should I say hatching? My wife is allergic to fur, so I can’t have a dog or a cat or any of the usual suspects. I do have a pet rat. Her name is Sassy and she is my second rat. Once you get past the tail and the black plague thing, rats are great pets. They are very affectionate. They are intelligent and trainable too. I often think of Sassy as a very small dog. When I have a party, I bring Sassy out for everyone to meet. Am I cool, or what?

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