Interview with Author and Man of Snakebite Horror Mark Goddard

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Thank you for having me. Well, my name is Mark and I am horror addict from the UK. I am the creator of the review site Snakebite Horror who also writes here and there. I have a short out in the anthology 31 NIGHTS OF HALLOWEEN and I am the co-author of THE HORROR FILM QUIZ BOOK

 

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I have always loved reading in my younger years. I remember the fear and excitement of reading Goosebumps and Point Horror, but what got me interested the most was a story my older brother wrote for one of his school projects. The stories was about a group of commandos very much in the style of a command and conquer game. I stole the idea and made my own story based on it. From that I evolved the story every other year when something took my interest till the TV Show angel took the whole thing to where it is now in my upcoming vampire series.

 

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

There is a lot of struggles out there. Main stream publishers are always hard to please and with bookshops in the UK lacking in the horror department it is harder for new fans for the genre to find great fiction.

 

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

My first book was THE HORROR FILM QUIZ BOOK which I co-Wrote with Chris Cowlin. I was running events at my local bookshop at the time and it was originally just a brainstorm idea while chatting with Chris. I am a huge horror film fan so it was a blast to be able to do the book.

A sneak peek of what lies within:

HALLOWEEN
1. Which character was played by Jamie Lee Curtis?
2. In which year was the first film released – 1977, 1978 or 1979?
3. Who directed the first film?
4. What was the subtitle of Halloween 4?
5. What was the name of Michael Myers’ sister, who was brutally stabbed to death?
6. In which year did Halloween III: Season of the Witch released?
7. Who shots Michael Myers six times at the end of the first film?
8. In which year was a remake of the original film made?
9. Why is Hallowell III different to all the others?
10. What relation is Laurie to Michael Myers?

 

CANDYMAN

 

11. To call forth the candyman you must say his name how many times – 3, 5, 7?
12. Candyman is based on a short story by which horror writer?
13. The cause of Candyman’s death was being stung to death by which kind of insect?
14. What does Candyman have instead of a right hand?
15. What is the name of the actress who played Helen Lyle?
16. How did Candyman enter Helen’s apartment?
17. Helen decided to write a thesis on which subject?
18. Who is Helen accused on murdering?
19. Candyman spawned a series of sequels, but what was the name of the second film?
20. Which actor played Candyman?

 

BLADE

 

21. Who was Blade’s mentor and weaponsmith?
22. True or false: The song “Rattle the Fear” by Spirit Fire Child was in Blade?
23. In which year Blade first released – 1997, 1998 or 1999?
24. Which doctor was Karen’s ex-boyfriend?
25. In which country was this film made?
26. Who directed Blade?
27. What was the full title of the third Blade film?
28. What colour is the writing of the word ‘Blade’ on the movie poster?
29. Which actor plays Blade, a half-vampire “daywalker” who hunts vampires?
30. In Blade II where does Blade return to in order to settle an old score with a vampire flunky?

 

My short story THE LICKED HAND appears in the anthology 31 NIGHTS OF HALLOWEEN. It is based on an urban legend of a similar name but I made it a bit more gory.

An excerpt from The Licked Hand:

This time the dripping sounded closer, like the water was hitting wood. She looked up towards to roof. “Ah for god sake the roof can’t be leaking” she complained out loud. She got out of bed and walked out onto the landing. The dripping continued, but it seemed like it coming from behind her. She headed back into the bedroom, stopped still and listened. The noise was coming from the wardrobe. Cautiously she walked towards it, her hand clammy, sweat formed on the forehead. She opened the door and screamed…

 

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I would love to do a follow up quiz book however there are no plans from the publisher for a second one however is someone was to approach me about doing it by all means I would jump at the chance.

 

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Got several ideas floating about. I am working on the first book in my vampire series SCAR OF THE REAPER, a haunted house novella and I am making THE LICKED HAND into a novella.

 

Bec: Elevator or stairs?

Elevator. I am a lazy bastard at the best of times

 

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Black or White depends on the time of year.

 

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Depends on the story. Most of the time I listen to film soundtracks on my Spotify account other times classical music or rock and metal.

 

Bec: If a dragon was attacking your hometown, what would you do?

Run like hell.

 

Bec: If you were going to be murdered, would you want it to happen in the daytime, or the nighttime?

Night time. The best murders always happen at night, right?

 

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Horror is my tipple of choice and a damn fine genre it is, although I would like to do a bittersweet drama romance novel for some reason.

 

Bec: If someone was going to shove an animal down your pants, would you prefer it to be a squirrel, a rat, or a weasel?

If I HAD to choose, it would say Weasel as I doubt it would bite as much.

 

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

It can be a very lonely profession. We spend unknown amounts of time in a dark room typing away from any form of human light which is fine by me.

 

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

You will always think your writing sucks, but, trust me, it isn’t as bad as you think it is. Also take bad reviews in your stride, there are some nasty people out there who are too far up their own arses to see a good story.

 

Bec: There’s a pack of wild dogs in your front yard, and you have to go to work… How would you distract them so you could get to your car?

I would call in sick, no way I’m going out there.

 

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Wow! I’m not really sure tbh. I was given so much advice from the authors I met during the events at the bookshop from the likes of ANDY BRIGGS and even the horror master GRAHAM MASTERTON.

 

Bec: Hot or cold?

Cold. It is easier to wrap up warm then to cool down.

 

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Definitely, it is always great to talk writing with other people in your field. It is also the best way to get advice and learn from your elders. haha

 

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

AHH! So many! I will have to pick the book that changed my view of the horror genre forever, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum. When I started my career as a bookseller I wasn’t clued up to the more hardcore horror fiction out on the market and it was the horror buyer who passed me this book and said, “Dude, this is real horror”. The book left me feeling cold in the same way the film Martyrs made me feel a year or so later. Goes to show also why Jack Ketchum is the best there is.

 

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

As above: Jack Ketchum. His story telling is out of this world and with I have failed to find a book of his I didn’t enjoy. From OFFSEASON to LADIES NIGHT to my favourite THE GIRL NEXT DOOR all his books show us readers and future writers where horror should be.

 

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

I think you covered everything. I will say check out Snakebitehorror.co.uk and buy a copy of THE HORROR FILM QUIZ BOOK just as a shameless plug.

 

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

Thank you for having me. Love the blog.

 

  ©Rebecca Besser & Mark Goddard, 2012. All rights reserved.

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The Apocalypse – Why Is It Wanted?

With all the apocalyptic fiction and fascination going around, have you ever wondered why so many people are looking forward to the end of the world as we know it? Have you ever found it strange that people want the world to be destoryed? I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, and I don’t think it’s just because of December 21, 2012…

There are a few reasons I think normal people wouldn’t mind the end of the world happening, and that they in fact wish for it!

Here they are in no particular order:

1) Politics – People are so damn tired of being lied to and having no control over how we live our lives. Different countries have different issues, but it all comes down to lies and those in government using us to get what they want. I think in some way we all wish for the ‘systems’ to be completely taken away so that we could start again and build something real… Isn’t that a great thought?

2) Finances – Debt and money suck. There’s no arguing that. The cost of everything is rising and people are struggling to get by, and that just adds stress to life. If something would happen where money didn’t exist and people had to work for, find, or trade for the things they needed, they might feel more in control of their world. Wouldn’t it beat the hell out of worrying if you were going to get evicted from your house, or not have the money to buy gas just to drive back and forth to work? Apocalypse = bye, bye money!

3) Human Nature – Technology is slowly stripping us of the basest of human interaction, and it’s getting to the point where we’re almost completely dependant on it to survive. The basic instincts that make us human are being lost, or rather, buried deep.

Example: There’s something in a man that makes him want to stake his claim on something physical and protect it, but the way society works today you can’t do that (if you want to stay out of jail!). It’s like above with the finances…there’s this helpless feeling knowing you can’t do anything about a situation because your hands are tied and someone can kick you and your family out of your house over money. You can’t stand up and defend what’s yours, you can’t fight for it. If a man stood at his door with a shotgun and physically defended his house and his family when someone came to remove them, it would be all over the news and people would be calling him crazy, where in truth…he’s being human, being a man.

We’ve lost the beauty in being connected with who we truly are. Yes, there are bad parts to base animalistic instincts, but there are good things we’re losing too.

This really becomes evident in society with dating rituals, role reversals, etc, but we won’t go into that.

4) Overpopulation/Nature – We all know that the world is over populated and is currently straining the Earth’s resources (and will just get worse the more the population grows). If most of the population was wiped out in some way, the Earth would have an easier time keeping up, and ‘nature’ could reclaim what humanity has taken from it.

If the apocalypse happened, you could rebuild society/government, have new control over finacial/aquiring situations (even if it’s through taking what you wanted), get back in touch with human nature because you would be reviving what’s buried deep within by today’s society, and cut the population.

Basically, the apocalypse means a grand ‘do over’ to fix everything that we feel is wrong with the world, and I think that’s why it appeals to so many people. It’s like taking back control over everything that has gotten out of hand. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has made it out alive, that is. That’s one of the kickers right there – the human lottery of who survives.

Who wouldn’t like for all the a-holes of the world to be wiped out, and a few, good, strong people surviving to rebuild the world? Unfortunately, it won’t happen like that though. If/when things do go down, good and bad people will still be around. But, with the return of strength to human nature and survival instincts, you might not have as much trouble dealing with them – you’ll be allowed to punch them in the mouth (or worse) if they bother you.

I hope if it does happen, that the people who survive want to rebuild and rebirth humanity in a positive way.

Anyways, these are just some of the reasons I think some people want the apocalypse to happen, whether they realize it or not. I hope they have made you think of about what the world is and what it could be, should the apocalypse happen.

Oh, and if you like scifi apocalyptic fiction, feel free to check out Earth’s End, edited by me, with a story about elderly cyborgs by me! LOL

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author David Moody

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m David Moody, author of the Hater and Autumn novels. I’m from the UK and live just outside Birmingham with my wife and daughters. I’m the only male in the house, and it’s hard going! (Even the dog’s a bitch!). I’ve been writing seriously for longer than I care to mention (almost 20 years, I think), and I’ve been a full-time writer since 2008. I’d been self-publishing with a fair amount of success for several years when my books were acquired by a major US publisher after Guillermo del Toro bought the film rights to Hater.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I actually had a burning desire to make films, but back in the day when I was at school, it was pretty much impossible to get into movie making. There were very few courses, and limited opportunities. I ended up working in a bank! I was going out of my mind behind the counter, and so decided to try and write the stories I’d been working on, rather than trying to get them filmed. I set myself a target of writing a page a day, and within five months I’d finished my first novel.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

There are several, I think. It used to be hard for a writer to get their work published, but self-publishing and ebooks etc. have made it possible for anyone to connect with literally millions of potential readers. The downside of that, however, is that the marketplace is now incredibly crowded. Whether you’re self-publishing, being published for the first time by a press, or an established author, I think one of the key issues writers have today is keeping themselves in the public eye. We’re all bombarded with books, TV, music etc. constantly, and it’s a struggle for an author to a). build up a following and b). keep their readers’ interest.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

I have two major series just coming to an end. The AUTUMN books are traditional character-focused zombie stories with a few twists which differentiate them from other similar books. There’s a wealth of information and over 100,000 words of free AUTUMN fiction available here: www.lastoftheliving.net. The HATER books are often referred to as zombie novels, but they’re not really. They’re a trilogy of books about a world tearing itself apart when one third of the population (the Haters) are forced to do all they can to kill the other two thirds (the Unchanged). Again, more information can be found over at the HATER website: www.thehatertrilogy.com

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Both series are actually coming to an end right now, and I’m moving on to something new. The final HATER book – THEM OR US – came out last November, and the final AUTUMN book – AFTERMATH – is out in March.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I’ve got a stack of projects I’m juggling right now. I’m reworking two early novels TRUST and STRAIGHT TO YOU with a view to republishing them later this year, and I’m also planning two further novels and a five book horror/science-fiction series. I’m also working on an independent film, tentatively called ISOLATION, the first part of which we’re hoping to shoot this summer. There’s a little more about that over at www.isolationmovie.net

Bec: What was the title of the first story you ever wrote?

I can’t remember any of the stories I wrote at school (it was too long ago now!), so I’ll just have to go with my first novel, STRAIGHT TO YOU.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Silver.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Both. I have a playlist I write to. I can’t write listening to people singing, strangely enough, so it’s all instrumental. There are a lot of artists on it: Bowie, NIN, Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Unkle to name but a few…

Bec: If you could call Satan and ask him one question, what would it be?

I wouldn’t get an answer. Don’t believe in any gods, so I don’t believe in devils either!

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I like to write about ordinary people who find themselves in extreme situations, usually apocalyptic in nature. I think the end of the world is a great environment for looking at how people react and interact with each other – it’s very extreme, and there’s no safety net for any of your characters.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Yes, but I like the solitude so I don’t mind. It tends to be one extreme or the other with me… I spend months alone writing books, then end up at conventions and signings etc. telling loads of people at a time what I’ve been up to! In all honesty, I prefer the writing part of the job!

Bec: What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet?

I have 26 joint favourites. I couldn’t pick one.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

You’ll probably spend most of your time telling yourself you’re a completely crap or completely brilliant writer. My guess is you’re probably wrong. Let your readers decide for you, and listen to what they say.

Bec: What’s your favorite thing to eat peanut butter on?

Fresh white sliced bread.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

To have faith, because all those hundreds and hundreds of hours working will be worth it. You come across a lot of doubters when you start telling people you want to write books.

Bec: Money no longer exists. What could you do as a ‘trade’ to support your family in a world based on the barter system?

I’d operate a protection racket.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Absolutely. Reading other people’s work and discussing it with them is vital. Even if you don’t discuss it with the authors, I believe you should read as much as you can. And if you’re not reading, watch films. Stimulate your brain!

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

The Day of the Triffids. It was the first apocalyptic book I’d read and it changed how I thought about things. It took a bizarre premise (the population of the planet are blinded, then hunted by eight foot tall carnivorous walking plants) and made it feel believable.

Bec: You walk into the kitchen to sit down for supper and a camel is standing at your place, eating your food. What do you do?

Leave the kids to eat with the camel and take the missus to the pub!

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

John Wyndham (author of Triffids). Why? As I mentioned in my last answer, reading his work changed everything for me and set me on the path to writing the kind of books I write!

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Not that I can think of. That’s some pretty intense questioning, Bec!

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

You’re welcome and thanks for having me!

 

©Rebecca Besser & David Moody, 2012. All rights reserved.

Blood Splatter/Brain Matter – The Patterns of a Twisted Mind

Since I was wondering what my readers wanted to know/read, I asked for blog post ideas on my Facebook profile the other day. One of the people who replied asked me how I came up with story ideas, etc, and since I write horror, I assumed they wanted to explored the dark, damp, cold, twisted paths of my brain that come up with all the sick, twisted, carnage I sometimes write.

When I write I try to make the characters as real as possible, and then I sit there and think – once I’ve gotten to know the character – about what would really freak them out, or at least cause the reader to cringe. I consider it an extra bonus if I can make my myself cringe while writing. I did so when I wrote the end of chapter 13 in my Nurse Blood series. Hell, I still cringe, just thinking about it…

To truly write something horrific, you have to be able to tap into that part of yourself that’s willing to see the horrors in life for what they are and where they stem from. What wouldn’t you want someone to do to you or your body while you’re still awake and alive? What is really in the mind of a serial killer? Do they know they’re wrong, or does their thought process make sense to them? What if monsters were real? What would they look like? Would they hunt you down until they caught and killed you? Would you be strong enough to save yourself?

Horror is also a search through the weakened human condition. Once you realize that most fear comes from a weakness we see or perceive in ourselves, that someone else might find out about and capitalize on, you’ve opened up a world of possibilities.
Our bodies – one of the greatest weaknesses we have – are often ripped to shreds or tortured in horror. We, as human beings, fear what we can’t control when it comes to our bodies, whether it’s disease, or someone doing things to us to hurt or damage us. Everyone wants to be, and stay, in good health; the very idea of someone violating or torturing us will send us into a frenzy of panic. Being unable to prevent bad things from happening to us is horrifying. How would you like to be injected with or exposed to a disease that will kill you and there’s nothing that can be done about it? How would you like to be kidnapped, tied down, and tortured for someone’s sick pleasure? The helpless, you just got screwed over and there’s nothing you can do about it feeling is the biggest bitch in the world, and she likes to hunt you down in horror.

There’s also the psychological trappings that can just go off the charts. What’s it like to be inside a crazy person’s head? Is it happy in there? Is it filled with twisted thoughts? Or is it misunderstood and filled with pain? There are so many ways a writer can go with this to make the reader think: What if?

Like… What if the crazy person shows up at your door? What if the crazy person has targeted your children, or someone else in your family? What if they think you’re in love with them?

I just wrote a story entitled, “Bubble Bath of Blood,” where a man who has escaped from a mental hospital is fixated on a woman who doesn’t know he exists. In his mind, they have a real relationship and are in love. The only thing standing in way of them being together – in his mind – is her husband, and he plans to take that obstacle away.

Can you even imagine being in that situation? How would you deal with the out of control chaos focused on destroying your life for the soul purpose of bringing about the happiness that only exists in one person’s mind?

Unfortunately, it happens all too often in real life, and that brings another level of fear into it. There’s a layer of ‘real‘ in the idea that would have you checking to make sure your doors and windows are always locked.

Fear is horror – horror is fear.

You may be wondering at this point if exploring these dark places of one’s mind is a good idea. The truth is…not everyone can do it and still stay sane. Most of us who do, are either strong enough or have a rift in our soul that lets the darkness in every now and again to play. Some do this with alcohol, etc. But it’s not true only with horror. The truth of the matter is that all artists who can make you feel something (even if it’s a bad something) delve deep within themselves; there’s a reason why artists of all varieties are deep and moody. We dance with the demons in our souls that others lock away and hide from.

I hope my rambling has given you some insight into where horror comes from and how I find fear to write about.

Stay sane, or insane.  Whatever you’re comfortable with.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Joe McKinney

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself:

Joe McKinney:  Thanks!  Okay, well, I’m a husband, a father, an author, and a police officer.  All of those things have come together to form my public persona as a horror writer.  They also define the directions I’ve chosen to pursue in my stories.  I draw on each to shape the stuff I write.  Those four sides of my personality form the nucleus of my themes, my characters, even the stories themselves.  I guess that pretty much describes me in a nutshell.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

JM:  I’ve been writing since I was twelve or thirteen.  I don’t really remember what made me decide to start writing stories, but once I did I found I loved it.  After that, writing became something I did every chance I got.  It’s an addiction, you know?  There’s a thrill that comes from completing a story, and especially a novel, that is unlike any other.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

JM:  Marketing, by far.  Marketing, in fact, sucks.  There’s nothing I hate worse than getting on Facebook and reading yet another post from writers who sound like used car salesmen trying to put me in a lemon.  I cringe, then I get angry – or rather, resentful – because I know that, to a certain extent, marketing is necessary.  The trouble is that so many people are unable to do it tastefully.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

JM:  I’ve written quite a bit, though my most popular by far have been the four books that make up my Dead World series.  Zombies are hot right now, and of course the Dead World books are all about our undead du jour.  Dead CityApocalypse of the DeadFlesh Eaters, and the soon to be released Mutated, have all been very kind to me, and I’m grateful for the success they’ve brought me.  They are, in fact, putting my kids through college.  But they represent a very small part of my professional interests and endeavors.  I’ve worked in crime fiction, for example, turning out a novel, Dodging Bullets, and several dozen short stories.  I’ve also worked in fantasy and science fiction, such as with my novel Quarantined.  The fact is that I have a lot of paths still to try, and my future novels will hopefully showcase that.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

JM:  My next full length novel release is going to be the final book in the Dead World series.  It’s called Mutated.  It takes place eight years after the events described inApocalypse of the Dead and should tie up a lot of the loose ends left by earlier books in the series.  Of course, not all the loose ends will go away.  A writer has to keep a few cards close to the vest, just in case, but I think readers will feel rewarded for sticking with the series as long as they have.  And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I could do another Dead World novel after Mutated.  Like I said, I haven’t played all my cards.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

JM:  For this year, my major products include a police procedural ghost story novel called The Charge, a zombie novella for Creeping Hemlock Press, a haunted house novella called Crooked House for Dark Regions Press, a werewolf novella that hasn’t found a home yet, and a zombie novel called Midnight Buffet.  In between I have several short stories, articles, blurbs and introductions to write, but those are the major fiction projects.  It should be a great, if not incredibly busy, year.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

JM:  Green.  A deep forest green.

Bec: It’s midnight, and you’re starving! What would be your snack of choice?

JM:  A tomato and goat cheese omelet.  I make a damn good omelet.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

JM:  Complete silence.  I’ve tried listening to music, but it just doesn’t work for me.  I have to have the house completely quiet, otherwise I find it hard to concentrate.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

JM:  My favorite genres to write are horror and crime.  To read?  Well, I read just about everything that catches my eye, though I love biographies and the anthropology of food most of all.

Bec: If you had the choice of riding a camel, elephant, or ostrich around town, which would it be?

JM:  Hmm, probably the elephant.  It’d be a bitch to park, but something tells me people would do their best to get out of your way.  Besides, camels spit and ostriches are a bit peckish.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

JM:  Not at all.  My world has grown considerably since I started writing professionally.  I’m grateful for that.

Bec: If something was going to suck your brains out, which orifice would you prefer the procedure be done through?

JM:  My urethra, definitely.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

JM:  Treat writing like a business, because that’s what it is.  If you want to do this “for the love,” then go ahead and do whatever.  But if you want to make a living at writing, you need to treat it like a job.  You need to show up for work everyday.  You need to put in a solid day’s work.  You need to turn out a professional product with an eye on the fact that you’re only as good as the last thing you wrote.  The public has a short memory, and if you don’t bring your A game every time, chances are you won’t get a second chance.

Bec: Snot, blood, or vomit?

JM:  Blood is always nice, for a horror writer, but a good thriller has to have all three.  If you’re writing action the way it needs to be written, you really do need all three.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

JM:  To be mindful of career architecture.  In many respects, our writing careers are beyond our control.  At least from a commercial standpoint.  Consider the dedicated short story writer whose first novel turns into a bestseller.  That writer will feel the pressure to turn out more novels along the same vein…perhaps even a sequel.  When I started out, that was me, the dedicated short story writer.  I had no intention of writing more novels.  I was happy cranking out stories that never went much further than the corner of my desk.  But when Dead City hit it big, I found myself suddenly branded as a zombie writer.  I didn’t, and still don’t, regret that.  I love zombies, and I’m both thrilled by, and imminently pleased with, the success I’ve had in that direction.  But I wish somebody had been there at the beginning to tell me how to space out short stories, novels, and articles.  The trick, for the commercial writer, at least, is to something out on a more or less regular basis.  And, if you want to know the truth, that something really should be a novel.  Novels do far better commercially than short stories.  Don’t get bogged down in all the offers to do short stories for anthologies.  Short stories are great, they keep you fresh, and interesting, but they won’t do anything to get your name out there.  That’s where novels really pay.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

JM:  Absolutely, as long as they are also readers.  I don’t think much of people who don’t love books.  The key ingredient to good writing is good reading, and nothing promotes good reading like having other writers around you.  Trust me, if you don’t read, you won’t ever write anything worth reading.  Sorry.  That’s just the way it is.  Surround yourself with readers, and you will find your writing improving by leaps and bounds.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

JM:  This is one of those questions that I will answer differently on Tuesday than I do on Wednesday.  Or Thursday.  Or…but you get the idea.  I’m protean on this subject.  However, I can point to the two books that have had the most influence on me as a writer.  They are Nightshift, by Stephen King, and The October Country, by Ray Bradbury.  It’s perhaps no accident that both are short story collections.  I was attracted early to the short story, and when I started writing, it was natural for me to turn to that genre.  Even today, after I’ve written a number of novels and gotten to the point that I can support myself and my family on the sales of those novels, I still gravitate to the short story.  There is a magic there that I first encountered in Nightshift and The October Country, and that I keep trying to recapture.  I think that is why those books deserve my nod for absolute favorites.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

JM:  There’s a famous saying – and forgive me, I don’t know who said it – that there are two types of horror writers working today: those who were influenced by Stephen King, and those who are lying when they say they weren’t influenced by Stephen King.  It’s certainly true of me that Stephen King was my biggest influence…but is he my favorite writer?  Hardly.  My favorite, by a long country mile, is Charles Dickens.  I would also put John McPhee, Philip K. Dick, Cordwainer Smith, Algernon Blackwood, and others up there pretty close to the top, but Dickens owns the top rung on my ladder.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

JM:  Yes: I love cheese, good booze, and a huge grilled ribeye steak slathered in melted butter and sprinkled lightly with chopped parsley.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

JM:  Thanks, Bec!  I had fun.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Joe McKinney, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Gregory L. Norris

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Hello Rebecca (and Rebecca’s readers). My name is Gregory L. Norris and when I was little, I promised my grandmother, the late, great Lovey Norris, that I would discover the secret for immortality so that she would live forever. My grandmother was a brilliant, gifted woman. In a way, I kept my promise because I frequently write about her, and dedicate books like my The Q Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Alyson Books, 2008) to her. So as long as my work stays in print, she has been immortalized, after a fashion.

I am a professional writer, with work published in a wide range of venues. For many years, I wrote feature articles and columns for national magazines, mostly sports and celebrity stuff. I’ve had many short stories and over a dozen novels published, the odd nonfiction book, even a TV episode or two. Now, I am solely focused on my fiction writing, in its various formats – the short story, novella, novel, and screenplay. Writing is all that I’ve wanted to do since I was fifteen years old. And pretty much all that I have done, even when the world has tossed up roadblocks and distractions. Now, in my mid-40s, I’m blessed to be able to write full-time without much in the way of distraction.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I grew up in a beautiful small town called Windham, New Hampshire, surrounded by tall, dense pine trees, a lake, meadows.  I had a best friend.  We watched Lost in Space, the original Star Trek, and the most-awesome Creature Double-Features on WLVI Channel 56 out of Boston – on rabbit ears.  When he moved away, my only close friend was my imagination.  The year I turned ten, Gerry Anderson’s brilliant series Space:1999premiered on an early September Tuesday night.  I was so blown away, so challenged by the pilot episode in which the moon is blasted out of Earth’s orbit, taking the men and women of Moonbase Alpha deep into unexplored and often hostile space, that I picked up a pen and began to write my own episodes.  Those juvenile stories still lurk in the top drawer of one of my lateral filing cabinets.  I’m approaching my 1000th completed fiction project, and #1000 will be a Space:1999 novel called Metamorphosis.  I plan to finish it in Los Angeles in September of 2012 – at the 1999 fan convention, where actors from the show will be in attendance, which I think is fitting.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

From experience, I know the biggest and worst of them is the wolf at the door that threatens a writer’s survival.  I worked very long hours, often with disappointing results, to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, the bills paid, and my pets fed.  I’ve had many experiences in the past where I worked like a madman to deliver articles, books, etc., on time, only to have paychecks show up later than promised, if at all.  One national publication folded leaving me owed more than $5,000.00 for work that was contracted for and published – at a time when that kind of money would have made all the difference in the world.  The worry about staying afloat is a terrible thing for a writer to face and keep writing – and even great writers like Lovecraft struggled to keep that wolf away.  But it can also motivate, and has lit a match under my theso (as my Lebanese grandmother would have said) to produce, to complete, to edit, and to submit to ever larger markets.

As for marketing, I’ve learned that one truly has to network through social media, a decent blog, and by constantly submitting only the best, most polished work.  One must and should be vigilant to get the right sort of notice.  I don’t believe in the writer’s block, which I think is a convenient excuse for not writing daily.  I choose to believe in the Muse, instead.  The passionate relationship I’ve earned with mine has led to incredible output.  One of the best obstacles I’ve overcome is learning to get out of my own way.  Once I did that, the amount of joy for writing in every phase of the creative process has been constant.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

My short stories routinely appear in anthologies.  In the summer of 2011, I was approached about doing a single-author collection of original stories by the editorial powers-that-be at Evil Jester Press, who recently published the brilliant Help! Wanted anthology.  The stories could be anything I wanted, so long as they were engaging, creepy, and page-turners.  I think I accomplished that with The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse: Twenty-Six Tales from the Terrifying Mind of Gregory L. Norris, which is being launched in March at World Horror Con in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As a note, I turned in the manuscript last November, as it was then-envisioned at a very healthy 100,000 words.  Senior Editor Peter Giglio came back to me with an offer to bulk up the book to twice that length, to include a number of the stories I sold to various anthologies at The Library of Horror, who cancelled most of their anthology projects this past October – I had some two dozen stories and novellas accepted for those books.  This also gave me the opportunity to add to the variety of the collection, so I penned five original stories to enhance what already existed, four of those five novella-length.  Muse is a tip of the hat to those old Creature Double-Features, and explores all the things that have terrified me over the years, like homelessness, spiders, haunted houses, snake-infested swamps, giant monsters, alien abduction, dolls, my father.  In one of the stories, a brooding castle high on a hill can only be seen when the wind is blowing just right – as a kid growing up, our town had such a castle, and you could see it at certain times of the year if the weather conditions were correct.  I had many dreams about trying to cross the woods to reach the castle, and my story “Alms of the Dead” plays off one such dream.  There is also a horror novella with romance elements that I hope surprises readers.  The whole collection, I hope, is surprising.  One story is set in ancient Abydos, Egypt; another, 1960s London.  I take readers to Tora Bora in Afghanistan, the Everglades in 1946, Rwanda in 1994, and to the L-shaped room at the back of my home.

I am the author of numerous novels, both as Gregory L. Norris and my Rom-de-plume, Jo Atkinson.  A decent selection of my titles can be found at Ravenous Romance (www.ravenousromance.com) or by doing a Google.  My novella “The Mushrooms” was one of five contained in the recent Grand Mal Press release, MalContents.  I’m particularly fond of that tale, which pits a celebrity chef in a kind of kitchen competition she never imagined after a jealous wannabe convinced the chef has stolen a family recipe corners her, intent on revenge.

Presently, I am wrapping up new manuscripts for my publishers, including a novel for GMP, two for Ravenous Romance, and a boxing-themed novel for another publisher who has graciously invited me to be one of his regular novel writers.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I am – a novella, “Windtryst,” which is a sequel to a swashbuckling future romance I penned last year called “The Winter Waltz.”  I am also wrapping up a sequel to my shapeshifter romance novel, The Wolfpact 1: Endangered Love (Ravenous Romance), which was republished as a special edition by Home Shopping Network for their “Escape With Romance” collection in 2009 and 2010.

Bec: If the world came to an end, which restaurant would you raid for food first?

Though I have a fondness for Panera Bread’s asiago bagels, it would have to be a Chinese restaurant, one with a great hot-and-sour soup, boneless spare ribs, and a decent egg foo yong, with lots of brown sauce.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I have a screenplay in draft form that I’m pretty excited about called “Bully” and a bunch of stories of varying length and format that I’m eager to tackle.  I was invited by three different editors to contribute to anthologies they’re publishing, so I’m also working on half a dozen short stories.  One, “Mason’s Murder,” is a surreal mystery set at a private beach and is really challenging me, which I love the work to do.  Since I was fifteen, I’ve kept all of my ideas on note cards stored in a metal recipe box, which sits on my desk.  For three decades, I’ve gone to sleep, hearing them call to me in the night.  Eventually, I hope to listen to every last one.  Empty out that idea box.  The most recent headcount was 132 unwritten ideas, which sounds a lot, but six years ago, the number surpassed 260, which was a bit overwhelming.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Cobalt blue.  My wardrobe is peppered with it – shirts and even my new black cross-trainers have cobalt blue laces and soles.  We have cobalt blue glass lamps, plates, goblets, bowls, and other decorative pieces all around the house.  Seafoam-green pulled a close second for a long while.  I find builder beige and eggshell repellent.

Bec: If a bridge troll told you that you had to give them one of your limbs to cross the bridge and get back to your family, which would you give him?

Hmmm…I like my legs, I love both arms right where they are.  I’d probably try to trick him with that fake limb I keep in the closet, behind my Christmas decorations.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

I love to listen to the right music.  Nothing that screams at me.  I also love to write to the television.  When I first started writing, I would write in front of the tube, lying on my stomach, with root beer and pretzels at my side – a favorite writing snack to this day.  In the summer, I write with baseball in the background.  In the autumn on Sundays, I love to write in my living room with the football game on our flatscreen TV.  And when there’s aStargate Atlantis or Project Runway marathon on the tube, I’m in there all day, tearing fresh pages off, one after another.  I’ve written in cafés, in hotel rooms, at the MFA in Boston in front of original van Gogh paintings, on trains, buses, and airplanes…though the cabin pressure tends to force the ink out of my fountain pens in big blots.  Messy business when I’m traveling to Los Angeles.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I love Paranormal Romance – to read and to write.  I love good, spooky horror, preferably light on the gore.  I’m a sucker for a mystery, an epic science fiction tale, anything, really, even the literary genre.  I used to say that I hated Westerns because growing up, that’s what they showed on TV for the rest of the weekend when the cool stuff, the Creature Double-Features, weren’t on.  Then I wrote a romantic Western and have been in love with the genre since, to read and to write.

Bec: If you came face to face with the REAL Santa, what would you say to him?

How the hell did you get in and out of the heating system in the house where I grew up?  We had no chimney.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

I did, once, a very long time ago, but even then the payoff for devoting my time to so worthwhile an effort far outweighed anything else I might have gained by walking away from the desk.  Today, and for the past six years, I don’t feel alone.  In the late spring of 2006, I gave my Muse a face, and he’s been a constant companion, equal parts taskmaster and lover.  So I certainly don’t feel lonely or alone, and if I don’t spend copious amounts of time with the Muse, the writing, I get very cranky.  So does he!

Bec: Which do you think is more valuable to a writer: Toilet paper or printer paper?

I live in the country, where we have plenty of trees and, as such, leaves, so I’m going with the printer paper.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

To write often, every day in fact.  You can always find some time to put fingers to keyboard or pen to paper.  A true writer will generally do this anyway; it’s impossible to resist the Muse.  To write when no one else believes in you. To edit fiercely and submit only your best effort, every time.  When an editor passes on a manuscript but asks to see your next, thank the editor and send along your next.  More than anything, to embrace one’s writing like the gift that it is, which is a second heartbeat, as important as blood and oxygen.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Demand ‘Notice of Tentative Credits’ upfront and early – a screenwriting term I learned the importance of too late while working on my two episodes of Paramount Television’s Star Trek: Voyager series.  ‘Notice’ entitles you to see how the writing credits will appear at the start of your episode and to challenge them if your name isn’t spelled correctly (or even there!).

Bec: If there was only one kind of cheese in the world, which would you like it to be?

Muenster.  Because it’s really yummy and it sounds like “Monster.”  We love our Monster Cheese in this house, with rosemary and olive oil crackers, summer sausage, and big bunches of red seedless grapes.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

I think having the right writer friends can be tremendously helpful.  Throughout high school, my friendship with a poet named Tina proved invaluable.  We read our work to one another, wrote together, talked shop and shared our very big dreams.  For the past nineteen years, I’ve split my time between three different writing groups, with mixed results.  I’ve met and made some great friends, but also seen the absolute worst that can result from rubbing elbows with your fellow creatives, such as jealous writers seeking any entrance into the publishing realm; individuals who would leave deep divots in your spine from walking over you.  So again, the friendships that result can be wonderful and supportive, and those are the ones you want.  The people who knife you in the shoulders are to be avoided, and will make great villains in your stories.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

I would have to say On Writing by Stephen King.  That book gave me a sort of permission slip that I needed at the time when I first read it.  I usually read that book twice yearly as a bit of a refresher.  It’s also a fun read.  On my recent trip to New York City, I cracked open the latest issue of The Writer and read it cover to cover.  I enjoy upbeat trade publications.

Bec: What’s your favorite kind of jello?

Black raspberry or blackberry.  This question conjured an image I haven’t thought about in a very long time: seeing the plastic rings of jello parfait at the grocery store when I was a kid, all those bright and dreamy colors, and salivating in response.  To this day, I’d take jello with fruit over chocolate cake any night of the week.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Edgar Allen Poe.  When my first book Ghost Kisses was published in 1994, I would travel to my writers group a few hours early on Thursday nights with a fresh contributor copy and a beat-up paperback of Poe’s stories and poems in my backpack and camp out in a remote grotto outside the campus library where that group used to meet.  There, I would read Poe aloud, and memorized my favorite of all poems, his or otherwise, “Lenore.”  My book was a collection of Gothic gay romance tales, so we established a kind of literary kinship.  I love Poe.  Years later, I still have “Lenore” memorized, line for line.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Only that I truly appreciate your interest in me and my work.  Being a writer isn’t the easiest thing in the world, all the time.  But I daresay it’s the most rewarding.  I hope that shows in the writing of mine you’ll read – that I loved the creative process and, as a result, your emotions, too, were stirred.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future projects!

 

©Rebecca Besser & Gregory L. Norris, 2012. All rights reserved.

Writer’s Blind Spot – The Value Of A Reader’s Feedback

You – as a writer – have the challenge of putting you visions and ideas down on paper with words.

Most of the time you can clearly see everything in your head, and sometimes you forget the reader can’t. This is what I’m calling a ‘Writer’s Blind Spot’. There’s a slight gap in what you know and what needs to be conveyed to the reader, and it’s very important for you to make everything clear for those who will read your work.

You have a perspective on the story that no one else can have, because it’s in your brain as your own creation. When you type (or write) it out sometimes little details that you know aren’t communicated to the reader. This can cause confusion.

A good way for you to make sure that everything is coming across clear and makes sense (and that you haven’t left out important details), is to have someone read your work and give you feedback.

The feedback most specific to the issue of a ‘Writer’s Blind Spot’ would be confusing wording, or lack of information that’s somehow integral to the story.

If a reader (for any reason) finds a part of your story confusing, or says it doesn’t make sense, you should at least take that into consideration and go through the scene again to see if you can make it more clear.

If something is confusing for the reader, it’s not their fault!

As a writer it’s your job to make sure that what you’re trying to get across is getting across, otherwise you’re failing the reader.

I know that the first reaction of a writer is sometimes, “What? Are they stupid? I couldn’t make it more clear!” But, if that was the case, the reader wouldn’t be having issues, now would they? (And I’m sure some of you are cursing me right now for saying all this! LOL) As it happens most times with critiques, once you calm down, you start to see the merit behind such comments and realize your mistake. Make sure you don’t lash out at your reader, because again, it isn’t their fault!

You have to keep in mind that every time a reader stops to question anything, they’re being taken out of the story. If they have to go back two pages to see if something makes sense or if they just read something wrong, it takes them out of the story.

You never want your reader to be out of the story!

That’s why I say its a failure on the part of the writer. If your reader can’t ‘enjoy the ride‘ of your story/book, then what’s the point of them reading it? You aren’t going to get fans or loyal, repeat readers of your work if they have to re-read everything to understand it!

Take the time to get reader’s feedback, and when they give it to you… Listen! Because the readers aren’t stupid — they’ve noticed that you’ve failed them.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

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