When Killing Characters Becomes Painful – Why You Should Still Do It

As most of you know, I’m getting really close to the end of my serial: Nurse Blood. I’ve already said it’s going to be a slaughteragazna, and I find myself not wanting to kill off certain characters for certain reasons. I’m not going to disclose which characters those are, in case you’re currently reading (spoilers SUCK!), but I will talk about why we have these feelings and why we should still kill at will (characters in stories only, of course!).

The reason we don’t want to off the characters is because we’ve become attached to them. We either really like them and just want to keep them around, or we don’t want to hurt them. It’s somewhere along the lines of ‘we’re now seeing them as a real person and don’t want to beat the emotional (or physical) crap out of them.’

Yes, I’m fully aware that the characters aren’t real people, and are nothing more than figments of my imaginations… But, while I’m writing the story, I amthem in a way, and I live their existence (how ever NOT REAL it is) inside myself.

Now, a good writer makes their readers feel the same way about their characters, and they don’t want to see harm befall them either.

That’s exactly why you shouldn’t hold back. You should unleash the emotional Hounds of Hell on the character, because it echoes with the reader.

They may hate you for it. They may cry, and rant, and wonder what the hell you were thinking, but they’ll come back for more.

When someone picks up your book, they’re looking for more than just a good story — THEY WANT AN EXPERIENCE!

Readers want to get lost in the story. They want to believe (even if it’s just for a short time) that they are, or know the characters. They want to breathe with them. They want to travel with them. They want to experience what they feel and think.

Now, you may say it’s mean to intentionally harm a character that you love, or that your reader loves, but it really isn’t.

Bad shit happens to everyone in life at some point. If your characters don’t hurt, they aren’t real.

Readers need that connection. They need to feel the joy and the pain of the character’s existence, because even if the situations aren’t the same, it’s a connection to the real world and the real heart of your reader.

So, when you think about holding back and ‘sparing’ your characters death or pain… Grin like a maniac and go for it, and pat yourself on the back. You’ve made that character real to you, so they’ll be real to your reader, and making your reader feel ANYTHING (good or bad) is an amazing skill.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Interview with Author Dane Hatchell

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

I appreciate the invite. It’s been a while since we’ve ‘worked together.’ Work meaning: I made a big mess and you came in and cleaned it up.

My dad was a Baptist Redneck from Livingston Parish (we don’t have counties in LA) and my mom a Catholic French-Cajun from West Baton Rouge Parish. I was born four years after they were married, and raised in the middle, East Baton Rouge Parish. I think my dad was afraid to have sex in fear that it might lead to dancing.

Fifty-three years later, I’m still in big BR. I’ve worked at the same oil and chemical plantation since I was nineteen.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

My early exposure to comic books initially lit the fuse. I was a huge fan of Marvel Comics and James Warren’s Creepy and Eerie magazines. I loved the artwork as much as reading the stories. I initially wanted to become an artist. I had zero abilities in that department, and developed a desire to write.

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

Reading is down as a form of entertainment. Paying markets for short stories are at an all-time low. Fortunately, there is still a market for novellas and novels. Unfortunately, the Big Six publishing houses aren’t introducing new authors in the same number as they did in the past.

If you can’t catch the eye of an agent or a publisher, you at least have the option to self-publish. That brings a host of other challenges. Marketing a short story or novel to a target audience can be expensive and can consume 26 of the 24 hours in a day. Your writing time suffers greatly.

The positive with self-publishing is that everyone in the world can now have access to something you have written. A big negative is that you are just a drop in an ocean of digital media. So, you have to find ways to get your work noticed.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Over the last two years, I’ve had around 30 short stories published. They appear in various imprints such as Living Dead Press, Open Casket Press, Pill Hill Press, and Rainstorm press. I’m currently finishing up on a novel that I have been working to perfect for nearly two years.

The title of the novel is Resurrection X: Zombie Evolution. I wanted to just name it Resurrection X, but I was afraid it might get confused for a new erectile dysfunction medication. Let’s just say, it ain’t your grandfather’s zombie survival story.

What I did in the novel is to take zombies and incorporate them into society. The idea has been explored on certain levels before, but not in the way that RX does. The story takes place five years after the zombie apocalypse, in the year 2020. A recombinant DNA weapon turns the flesh-eating zombies into docile slaves. Society is being rebuilt with the aid of the undead, as the Living population had been decreased by half.

That part of the story serves as a backdrop for the protagonist, Lisa Goudard. Lisa is a strong willed, politically conservative, successful member of the Living. An experiment gone awry infects her with a strain of ‘zombie’ virus. A recombinant DNA treatment saves her, preventing the change into a mind-numbed zombie. The caveat is that by receiving the treatment, her human physiology changes, which negates her first class citizenship as a member of the Living. Lisa becomes a member of the Non-Dead, Sub class Y, loses her job and many of her rights, and is forced to seek employment in the labor-service industry.

Lisa finds herself in opposition to her previous societal philosophies, now that the ‘shoe is on the other foot.’ Refusing to accept the wicked hand that fate has dealt her, she fights against the political and religious movements that seek to eliminate the infected in the workforce.

It’s even more complicated than that. Lisa harbors a prototype virus, Resurrection X, designed to produce immortality. While she is fighting to regain her lost rights, a group of strange bedfellows covertly compels her into a lifestyle that permits the viral research to continue.

After she travels through numerous levels of despair, an uninfected man with national political influence connected with her misfortunes eventually falls in love with Lisa, offering new hope, and a chance for a better future.

Multiple characters of the Living and the Non-Dead intertwine in a bitter tale of coercion, lust, and exploitation. Think of True Blood with zombies instead of vampires, with a dash of twisted characters reminiscent of Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

I am ecstatic to announce Resurrection X: Zombie Evolution is scheduled to be published by Post Mortem Press in the June/July 2012 time frame. Eric Beebe of PMP is out to shake the horror world with dynamic new titles. I am proud to be one of his knights storming to push the limits of fiction.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I’m working on both a sequel and a prequel to Resurrection X.

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

I’m currently re-editing my short stories and I will be making them available for digital download through Amazon. They’ll be available for .99 cents a pop. My stories normally range from 5,000 to 9,000 words in length. I’ll bundle some of the shorter ones to give the reader a better value. I did that on my first release, Dreaming of an Undead Christmas. Those two stories totaled around 13,000 words.

Bec: If your wife turned into a zombie, what would you do?

I’d let her sleep with my worst enemy.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I have always had a fascination with green.

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

I like to start with music sometimes, but find myself tuning it out. Complete silence is best for the stories to come together in my head.

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

I like horror, science fiction, and mystery. I read a lot of science books too, mostly particle physics and genetics.

Bec: If a leprachan showed up at your door selling girl scout cookies made from real girl scouts, would you buy some?

Only if he would take me to the end of the rainbow.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

I do, but I like being alone. One day though, I hope to make a friend so I’ll know what the feeling is like.

Bec: Fire or ice?

It’s got to be fire. The universe started that way. The ending will be no less eventful.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

First, don’t write with the goal of earning money. That is not why writers write.

Anything you write will suck if you don’t have an adequate grasp of grammar and sentence structure. All of the boring crap you ignored in English class will come back to haunt you. Do read books on how to write short stories and novels. Pay close attention to established formulas. Don’t think your work is so special that you’ll wow readers by your uniqueness. There is a word for writings like that, it’s called ‘unpublished.’

Try like hell to find a competent, educated critic that will be honest with you. Pay for an editor whenever practical. Listen to the advice. Be honest with yourself and act accordingly. Don’t expect to see drastic changes in your writing in days or weeks. Expect months and years.

Lastly, don’t quit your day job.

Bec: If one part of your body was going to get stuck to dry ice, which part would you prefer it to be?

Maybe my ass. I could stand to lose a little off the backside.

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

Your work never reads as good to others as it does to you.

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

If it instills competition, then yes. Whatever it takes to motivate a person to write a better story or write more often. Otherwise, it just helps to have someone to whine to.

Bec: If you had evil minions, what would their daily routine be?

Breaking the fingers of politicians when they tell a lie. When you run out of fingers, go to toes. When you run out of toes, go to bigger bones.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

I’ll go with Dune, by Frank Herbert. Dune created a world that I immediately became engulfed in. I could feel Paul’s hand frying at the hand of the Bene Gesserit witch. I could smell the cinnamony aroma of the spice through the oil fumes of the drilling rigs. When Paul became the Quizat Haderach, so did I.

Bec: If I gave you $5 and told you to spend it wisely, what would you buy?

I would give it to a food bank. I don’t want anyone to go hungry.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

I’m going with Robert Crais on this one. I met Bob at a sci-fi book club in Baton Rouge when he was in college and I was in high school. Bob pursued his passion to write and established himself in Hollywood writing scripts for TV such as Beretta, Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacy, and a host of others. He changed careers and started a gumshoe detective novel series featuring Elvis Cole and Joe Pike in the late ’80s. He has written a few stand-alone novels here and there. Hostage was made into a movie that starred Bruce Willis.

Bob tells a story the way I think a story should be told. Something about the way he blends action, suspense, and humor just clicks with me.

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

“It is not the present which influences the future, thou fool, but the future which forms the present. You have it all backward. Since the future is set, an unfolding of events which will assure the future is fixed and inevitable.”  FPH

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

Thank you. I’ll meet you at the end of the rainbow and we can share some cookies.

 

 ©Rebecca Besser & Dane Hatchell, 2012. All rights reserved.

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.

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.

Author Rebecca Besser's Blog