The Official Portal to the Madness of Dark Fiction Author Patrick C. Greene

Interviews

Thorne and Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE

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Patrick C. Greene is a lifelong horror fan who lives in the mountains of western North Carolina. He launched his Ember Hollow series with Red Harvest and is currently working on the third novel in the series. He is also the author of the novels Progeny and The Crimson Calling, as well as numerous short stories featured in collections and anthologies.

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Red Harvest Blog Tour

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The Last Supper by Allison M. Dickson

TLS Front CoverThe world ended not with a bang, but with a grain of pollen on a puff of wind. People called them serpent weeds, and they consumed all the crops and eventually entire cities and civilization itself. A power rose from the ashes calling itself the Divine Rite, and they asserted a deadly new order in this ravaged world. Putting survivors to the test in a most literal way, they devised a yearly test called Justification. Pass and you can live. Fail, and you receive your Last Supper. This is the only life John Welland ever knew. But after his wife receives her final feast, he gradually immerses himself in a new rebellion, with a group of underground revolutionaries fighting to escape the Divine Rite’s reach. But the farther they travel across America’s haunted landscape, the more surreal and alien everything becomes. Not just the weeds, or the creatures with extraordinary powers, but John himself.

logo-consumerPublishers weekly says of THE LAST SUPPER in a starred review: “Marrying speculative, realistic, and fabulist traditions to dystopian formula, Dickson’s paean to individualism both breaks and strengthens the heart. Welland’s character receives “no comfort as he comes face to face with his own tragedy.” The Kafkaesque world of warped normalcy and cruel politics brings intimacy to the classic theme of self-definition in the face of oppression.”

Today I have the honor and pleasure of interviewing the incredibly talented Allison M. Dickson.

PCG: Well, you’ve gone and written yourself a post-apocalypse. What are we to do with you? What brought you to this vision of dystopia? Are you a prophet?

AMD: I think the real prophets of the dystopian genre were Huxley and Orwell, and I definitely don’t profess to be playing in that ballpark. But back in early 2008, when I started this story, I was pumping hot Orwell-loving Libertarian blood through my veins, and I was also concerned (and still am) about the eroding wall between church and state. While my individualist streak has mellowed a great bit over the last few years (a crashing stock market and resulting recession, which affected my husband and me greatly, had something to do with that), I came back to the story intent on making it more about perversions of nature. I want to be clear that I am not using my book to take a stance on GMOs or religion. I think there is a place for them in this world. Rather, I wanted to write about the potentially bad things that can take place when corrupt individuals gain control of certain technologies or belief systems. I think that latter bit is what brought me to this particular vision of dystopia.
ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER!! through 12/21/14

ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

PCG: We all know it’s coming, but there are a good trillion or so ideas of just what it will be. Which fictional -or sincerely predicted- endorama stuck in your skull during your formative years? How much of that influences this here shit-hitting-the-fan-tasy?

AMD: I had the good fortune of being a teenager in the 90s, when things were relatively peaceful and people were far less afraid of the world. Then 9/11 happened, and we all know the rest. Though we do a good job of rattling our sabers at one another, I imagine if humanity were really to face extinction, it would be at the behest of forces well beyond our control. Asteroids, viruses, climate-driven catastrophes, supervolcanoes or some other Permian-esque event. I cut my teeth on The Stand. I ate up books like The Dark Tower series, where reality is coming apart at the seams. I guess if any of that stuff influenced THE LAST SUPPER, it’s those things, only with a bit of a helping hand from people. Nature will have its way one way or another, but I think a human hand will tip the first domino. Or perhaps already has.

beginning_of_end_poster_01PCG: Ever seen that 50s sci fi flick The Beginning of The End? Reason I ask is because its Big Bad is an army of enormous locusts. There’s an enormous locust on your cover, so for me, there’s a bit of a retro vibe. Would you keep a giant locust as a pet, if it was reasonably manageable? Or are bugs too grody for ya?

AMD: I haven’t seen that movie, but now I feel driven to watch it, because I’m fascinated by locusts. You know, I’m not the biggest fan of bugs, but it’s weird how some drive my phobias and others don’t. I actually love grasshoppers and the like! Cicadas are pretty cool too, and praying mantises. They have the most fascinating exoskeletons, and they seem very intelligent to me. Keep one as a pet, though? Nah. I’m happy to admire them from afar.

PCG: Okay, down to brass tacks. You wrote a short story in 2008 that eventually expanded into this novel. King did much the same with his story Captain Tripps, which sparked The Stand, as well as Jerusalem’s Lot. Do you feel that starting with the short format is a good measure of a story’s viability as a novel?

AMD: Actually, it’s interesting how novels start out, because I know you have developed a lot of your novels from screenplays you’ve written. I have developed quite a few longer projects from short stories, though it isn’t a strategy I actually set out to use. STRINGS evolved from a short story as well. When I write a short, my intention is always to just let it be that, but sometimes you get to the end, and a few weeks or even months or years later, you find there’s still plenty of thread left to spool out. I do think using the short format is a great way to map characters and get a basic trajectory started, but a decent expansion depends on what kind of story you have written. Starting with something more open-ended is vital, I think. I tried to turn “Dust” into the novel, but there was too much finality in the original story. I did stretch it out and add an additional 6000 words for a special edition recently, but that’s as far as I ever got. STRINGS was very easy to develop, because it basically picked up right where the short story left off.

PCG: Without becoming too political, this idea of food changing in some way so that it becomes uncontrollable or deadly may not be too far off the mark in the near future. Are you trying to warn us? You’re a cooking hobbyist, so would it feel like loss for you to have the luxury of cooking and experimenting with recipes disappear?

AMD: As I was putting together the final incarnation of the story, I was in the middle of reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which spoke a lot about how our food supply has changed so much over the decades, and I think a good bit of that seeped in. Be that as it may, though, I’m not sure if my intention was to warn people about that with this story. If I write too much with a message in my head, it has a way of stilting things. THE LAST SUPPER is more about self-discovery than anything external. The oddities of the world in which John Welland finds himself are more of the vehicle for him learning the great and terrible things he’s capable of. As for losing the ability to cook if some of the events of this story came to pass, I think I can adapt. Being of limited means most times, I thrive on finding solutions and alternatives when options are few. And the good news is in the Supperverse, the fermenting of various fruits and grains lives on. As long as that remains possible, I know I can survive.

ENTER TO WIN! THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

ENTER TO WIN THE LAST SUPPER today through 12/21/14

PCG: Which character in The Last Supper has the most you in it? Do you intentionally choose a character to represent your feelings and opinions going in, or does that happen organically –or at all?

AMD: I think it’s so impossible separate yourself or your personal knowledge completely from your characters, at least if you’re writing honestly. Even if those characters are terrible people, they aren’t truly three-dimensional until you put that spark of humanity in them and let them be complex, and that usually happens when you imprint something of yourself onto them, even if it’s something subtle that only you can see. I try to refrain from letting characters be my mouthpieces for my views – that’s Heinlein territory, and it was cute when he did it, but it can be tiresome when authors do it to excess. But John represents the part of myself that is on a constant journey of self-discovery, and all the pain and fear and guilt that goes with it. Genevieve represents my more feminine sensibilities, but also the no-bullshit side. Turpin, the old man, represents the part of me that knows the score deep down, even if I’m not ready to face it.

Scenes from THE LAST SUPPER

Scenes from THE LAST SUPPER

PCG: There’s a pretty elaborate world built here that delves into different versions of bio-domes, banned literature, as well as hardcore social upheaval. Was the idea to keep it as close as possible to the direction our society could very well go, given recent events, or did you want to delve a bit more into fantasy? Of course, this question assumes that those are a matter of relative perspective.

AMD: In the earliest version I wrote of this story, it had none of the fantastical elements, and I think I had intended to keep it more about a reality-based upheaval. But eventually I started weaving in the fantasy and mystical elements and it just took on a life of its own. I have often felt that sci-fi is a genre of possibilities, which is why I don’t like to strictly define SUPPER as sci-fi, but more of a mixed bag of sci-fi and fantasy. A bit in the same way Star Wars is, I guess.

PCG: As a personal aside, I’m divided between looking at your blog entries about TLS and just letting it surprise me. STRINGS was page after page of surprises, and I really liked that. I don’t expect that TLS will be as intense, at least not as relentlessly so. Are there any nightmare moments for us hardcore horror sickos?

AMD: Good question! While there are more harrowing and sad moments in the book than downright frightening, there is one good nightmarish scene that takes place in a basement. Aren’t basements pretty much the scariest of human inventions? I think so. They’re basically like graves beneath our houses that we put our junk in.

PCG: So The Mystic Oracle tells me there has been some interest in bringing some AMD to the film world. How much can you tell us about that?

amd consAMD: Well, I had the good fortune of having a gentleman name Jim Terr take heavy interest in my Consumption Trilogy for film development, and I got to sign my very first film option earlier this year. So far he’s done a staged reading of a script he developed, but he’s also hoping to pitch it to some big wigs in the film industry. As you probably know, getting things like this to catch on in Hollywood is like trying to light a campfire with wet matches, but it’s just been fascinating (and a little scary?) watching people act out my work, and I remain hopeful something will spark. People can watch the reading if they want to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DognYowCidI

PCG: 2014 has been a good year for you! Celebrate with us a bit, your accomplishments and coming soons, that we might worship.

AMD: Well, in addition to seeing TLS enter the world, Strings had a great run in its first year. I also completed my suspense novel KUDZU back in June, and that earned me representation by my agent, Stephanie Rostan. Hoping we see big things happen with that one in 2015. I also sold a story to Apex Magazine (my first pro-rate sale), which will be appearing in the January 2015 issue, and I had the great fortune of having two of my stories appear in anthologies (Wrapped in White and Wrapped in Black) by the lovely Sekhmet Press! I also hit the comic con circuit in my area this year with my good friend and Colt Coltrane artist, Justin Wasson, and it’s been great meeting local people and watching them take interest in my books – Justin is hard at work on the cover for the next Coltrane book releasing in March 2015! Finally, I was just offered a position to teach a writing workshop in January of 2015 at a local arts center. Hoping it goes well enough that I can get more workshop gigs, either at the center or at writing conventions. So it’s been a fantastic year, and a lot of seeds have been planted that are set to bloom next year, and that’s always the most exciting part. It keeps me going.

PCG: Other than Yerz Trooly, which author could call you tomorrow, ask to collaborate, and send you into an absolute giddy headspace of uncertainty and terror and anguished joy?

AMD: Actually it’s funny you say that, because I would totally love to collaborate with you on something one day. Other authors would be Chuck Wendig or Joe Hill. I don’t consider my style identical to theirs, but I think we could complement, challenge, and energize each other, and it would be a pretty awesome product at the end.

PCG: What kind of music or other ambiance, do you employ during the brutal rapture of creating?

AMD: Brutal rapture is a great choice of words. It really depends on the project. When I’m working on Colt Coltrane, it absolutely has to be jazz. But I have a selection of movie scores I like to choose from with varying moods. The Red Violin is a big favorite, as is the score for The Fountain. A recent favorite has been the Hans Zimmer score for Interstellar, which is just so awe-inspiring. When I was writing Kudzu, I listened to Carolina Drama by The Raconteurs almost religiously. I also listened to a lot of forlorn sounding bluegrass, like You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive by Ruby Friedman.

PCG: So, back to the apocalypse: how long do we as a race have? What can we do to stave off the screaming and the suffering and the zombies and the seas of blood?

AMD: Honestly, I think we have longer than we think we do. That’s usually the case. Human, being cursed with knowledge of their own mortality, love to meditate heavily on death and mass extinction. Of course that doesn’t mean millions of us won’t die in the rising seas and wars perpetuated ugly fights over greed and dwindling resources, but that has been the story of human existence since its inception. I guess if we don’t find a way off this rock or learn to adapt harmoniously, we probably have another 5000 years or so before we either die out or the earth opens up its maw and swallows us. But who knows how human we’ll actually be in even 500 years? I imagine we might be some plasticized hive mind by then.

PCG: Far as you know, are there more sojourns to Dystopia in your future?

amd tlsAMD: The Last Supper is actually a planned trilogy. Hopefully the first book is successful enough to warrant the second book. If it isn’t, I’m actually satisfied with where this story ends. Either way, I always have hellish futures swirling around in my brain. And equally hellish present days. Anyone looking for a case of the shiny happies within my pages, regardless of genre, will be sorely disappointed.


amdAllison M. Dickson writes dark contemporary fiction, covering both speculative and realistic realms. Her debut psychological horror novel, STRINGS, released to rave reviews in 2013 and has topped Amazon’s bestseller lists several times. She is also the author of an abundance of short stories as well as the 1940s sci-fi noir Colt Coltrane series. Readers can look forward to her upcoming dystopian epic, THE LAST SUPPER, later in 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found wandering the urban sprawl of Dayton, OH with her husband and two rapidly growing children, or crawling some dungeon in search of good loot. For more information on how to reach Allison or to read her blog, visit http://www.allisonmdicksonbooks.com.


The Harbinger Awaits

Today we welcome David James Bright to the PCG Blog.

David is the author of the new release from Hobbes End Publishing

 HARBINGER

Harbinger_Cover_582x900

When a mysterious fog sets upon the small town of Rowley, Pennsylvania, its residents quickly find themselves isolated from the world. As the thick haze envelopes their once peaceful town, all communication systems fail and residents begin to go missing.  As order gives way panic, the town devolves into violent lawlessness, every citizen with a score to settle acting out their darkest impulses hidden by the cloak of fog.

Amidst the chaos, Ben Dowling realizes something is terribly wrong. It’s not just how people are acting crazy; there’s something more. There’s something out there butchering people. Something that is evil and vicious. 

Something that is hungry.

Ben and his childhood friend Elise venture out into the unknown and confront the shadowy figure behind the mist. Dodging the chaos in the streets they have only each other to depend upon as they try to save their hometown from complete destruction.

The Harbinger awaits them.


 

THE INTERVIEW

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I don’t listen to music often when I write, but there are times I like to turn on classical music as I’m typing away. It is both soothing and relaxing, and I find it loosens my mind up and the words come flowing out.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it? 

I’ve had a few projects that I started, just toying around with them and seeing where they would go, and I lost steam and nothing came of them. Only one time did I approach a project seriously and run out of gas. I believe I got 10,000 words or so in and then the well went dry. It’s strange – I still had the plot outlined and knew where the story was going, I just couldn’t sit down and write it. I have that project as well as the others saved in case I ever feel the urge to complete them.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

I’m currently reading Haunted by Chuck Palahinuk, and that already takes the cake. I thought some of my stuff was vile – now I’m not even sure if I can compare.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer

My freshman year of college, when I attended the University of Pittsburgh, I met someone who would end up becoming a dear friend of mine. We were talking and I told him I was a writer. I told him this because I’d come up with story ideas, start a few casually, and never really take them seriously. It dawned on me then that I was lying to him – I wasn’t a writer, I was a dilettante. In that moment I realized I should harness my creativity and truly become a writer. I couldn’t let it all go to waste.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

Definitely more of a free-form process. If certain days look like they will be free I’ll try to get writing in but by no means do I schedule what I’ll do, how much I’ll do, etc. I’m always thinking about my projects, so when the inspiration particularly strikes that’s when I try to get as much done as I can.

How would you describe your writing style?

It’s certainly evolved since I wrote Harbinger. I think it’s interesting that the public is going to get to read Harbinger and it’s style, when I have four other completed works that all vary very differently. My style, especially with Harbinger, is very literary, somewhat poetic. Very verbose, descriptive of features and thoughts, and using beautiful words often. As I’ve progressed as a writer, however, I’ve tried to cut down on the density of my writer, and my most recent projects are much leaner, allowing the reader to do more of the work. I think there’s much to be appreciated in both approaches.

 What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’ve been writing in the horror and transgressive fiction genres. I’m starting to dive more into transgressive and I’m loving it. As for other genres, I’m interested in writing a fantasy novel. I have a few concepts in mind (one of which was the project I abandoned) and would love to break into that genre.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

It was long one. As stated, Harbinger was my first serious attempt at a novel. After a few months I landed representation with Trident Media Group, a large and well known agency. I thought my journey was over – I thought I made it!

The journey had only just begun. After getting rejected from Random House, Penguin, and a few others, I nearly had a deal with Amazon’s 47North. After going back and forth on it for a few weeks, the editor eventually decided to pass. Months later my agency left the agency and no other agent there desired to represent a horror author. The relationship with Trident Media Group ended (after about a year) and I took my work to Hobbes End, who were enthusiastic about it. Working with them has been a true pleasure.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

I’m going to go the Palahinuk route again here and say the narrator/Tyler Durden from Fight Club. Same person, technically the same character, definitely the protagonist and the antagonist. I enjoy the jaded view of the world that comes from the narrator and his observations about people, society, and their habits. I love Tyler Durden’s philosophy and methodology. I think both characters really provide stunning insight into human nature in very different ways; that’s why that book will always be one of my favorites.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I enjoy paintings. No ability in creating them, but I have a few artist friends and I always love viewing/discussing their works. I also enjoy museum trips to observe paintings and learn the history behind them. It’s the one talent I lack I sorely wish I had.


 

face1David James Bright is an author of horror and transgressive fiction. His debut novel, Harbinger, has received acclaim from such authors as New York Times Best Seller Jonathan Maberry. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Scranton and resides in northeastern Pennsylvania.

 


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Cecilia Dockins

wiw NEW COVERCecilia Dockins is the author of the story

AIN’T THEY BRIGHT

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Cecilia! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

No. I’ve known haunted people, but I’ve never seen the type of physical “ghost” manifestation that one views in the movies. I would be open to that sort of experience, of course.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

Anything with a haunting, resonating quality. I’m a fairly eclectic music listener, but when writing or brainstorming I find myself listening to soundtracks from horror movies. One of my favorite albums is Vitamin String Quartet: Pays Tribute to Horror Classics; it never fails to creep me out.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Yes and no. I may bury a story for an indefinite amount of time, let it decompose in my brain for a bit. But I always dig it up, if only to scavenge for parts.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Sure, I’ve read stories that were more violent or had a higher depravity quotient but not one tale that so clearly highlights in the simplest of terms the brutal nature of humanity.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

From the ages of six to twelve I was plagued with night terrors and vivid nightmares. Writing made it all okay. As an extremely practical person, I didn’t stumble across the idea of getting paid for “therapy” until I had spent almost a decade in a job that I detested.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

I think it is crucial for a writer to have his or her own space, whether it is a grand office or a cozy spot in a neighbor’s attic.  Due to legal ramifications I cannot apprise you of where I write, but what I will say is don’t let your neighbor’s cat out of the house too many times or drink his leftover coffee because he might begin to notice… I admit to nothing.

As for carving out a time to write: I’m a mom to a toddler, so I write every day from 5 a.m. to whenever the toddler wakes, and then from whenever the toddler succumbs to sleep until I pass out from exhaustion. I am completely under her control.

How would you describe your writing style?

I’d like to take a pass on this one. Not only do I feel uncomfortable at the concept of analyzing my own work, but I think each story has a way it demands to be told, if that makes any sense.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’ve explored themes of isolation, domesticity, and motherhood. I think I’d enjoy writing a good, pulpy horror-comedy that scoffs at the idea of themes. But, my favorite novels are ones that macerate genre labels until there’s only the story that’s left; yeah, I want to do that.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

I’m really in the early stages of my writing career and have only begun the long walk to professional-writer status. My first publication was in 2012, I dabbled in an MFA program before personal hardship forced me to reconsider academia, and I’ve accrued my share of rejection slips.

Currently, I’m writing an urban fantasy novel and my short story, “Ain’t They Bright,” will be published in the forthcoming Wrapped in White Anthology by Sekhmet Press.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery is my favorite antagonist in a novel. There’s something about subverting love into a compulsory act of destruction that’s compelling and deeply humanistic. “Pear-Shaped Man” by George R.R. Martin takes the win in the short-story form. The Pear-Shaped Man represents the siren call of the unknown and humanity’s almost fatalistic obsession for the discovery of truth and knowledge. Two words: Cheez Doodles.

Jeff Lindsay created a fascinating protagonist with Dexter Morgan. Dexter, though a sociopath, is very human and deeply flawed. It’s his dualistic nature that really engaged me.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

Photography and cursing.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

cd1Cecilia Dockins lives just a bucket kick from Nashville, Tennessee. She spends most of her time wrangling words, kids, and pets. She doesn’t like to bake and has a healthy mistrust of ribbon dancers. She does enjoy hoarding books and butchering flowers, which she describes as “gardening.”

She earned her B.A. in English from Middle Tennessee State University in 2010. She is a writer of horror and urban fantasy. She has several forthcoming publications and is penning her first novel.

You can visit her at http://www.ceciliadockins.com.

Or befriend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ccdockins


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Gary Buettner

wiw NEW COVERGary Buettner is the author of the story

WHITEOUT

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Gary! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

Alternative

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Constantly.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

The short story The Sixth Sentinel by Poppy Z. Brite.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

Eighth grade Social Studies, we were asked to write a little piece about the disappearance of the Roanoke colonies.  Most everyone wrote “I think….”pieces, but I wrote a mini-suspense story.  The teacher read it aloud and the other kids were enraptured.  I felt like a magician that pulled off a successful trick.  I was hooked from then on.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

I wrote a ton when my computer was on the kitchen table briefly.  I write when I can, though.

How would you describe your writing style?

Minimalistic.  I’m still working Raymond Carver out of my system from college creative writing.  Good times.  I have to work extra hard to expand my stories and flesh things out.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’d like to look at quieter more psychological horror.  I enjoy a “run around and scream” horror, but there are other toys to play with and I’d like to expand my abilities.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

I got my first rejection and my first acceptance on the same day.  I was hooked on submitting from that point.  More recently, I’ve challenged myself to submit something to every call for submissions that I come across.  My fingers are crossed perpetually.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

I think Thomas Harris’s RED DRAGON has a great protagonist/antagonist  combination.  Will Graham is tortured by his own creativity and ability to get into another’s negative head space.  Francis Dolarhyde is a very complex villain.  A cold-hearted killer, but on the verge of getting better and becoming human.  And somewhere in between you have Hannibal Lecter.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I enjoy crafting.  I sew.  I’ve made stuffed monsters and sold them online.  I also occasionally dabble in wood-working.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

012Gary Buettner haunts the suburbs of Northern Indiana.  More than a dozen of his stories have appeared in anthologies and online.


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Solomon Archer, Ph.D.

wiw NEW COVERSolomon Archer is the author of the story

INSEPARABLE

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Solomon! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

I can’t honestly say that I have. I was a bit of a loner as a kid and I desperately wanted to encounter a ghost. And not the saccharine friendly, naïve, vaguely-reminiscent-of-a-KKK-rally-fetal-afterthought-sheet-wearing Casper the Ghost kind. I wanted to meet a real ghost. A lost soul wandering the Earth that was looking for a way to reunite with his or her loved ones in the afterlife. I thought that would be a wonderful if bittersweet friendship. But the more I learned about physics and religion, the more I questioned the whole ephemeral misty trace that was the archetypical ghost of my childhood. I mean, if they were really able to weightlessly float around free from their corporeal vessels, why the hell would they need to stand around anywhere? They’d have to constantly be looking down at the ground to make sure they were at least close to it. Otherwise, why bother appearing at approximately our level and of the same dimensions they were in real life?

But as I got older I started to think less about ghosts as a physical manifestation of the dead and more about the possibility that when people died they left behind traces of themselves that were too weak for most people to detect with their normal senses unless they were particularly attuned (genetic variability could account for such a phenomenon) and only a subset of those people might understand what it was that they were detecting.

One of the worst cases I worked in this field (has been edited out) The important point is that later at the coroner’s office downtown, when I saw the body the police had discovered in the same closet she’d been filmed from, cloaked in two blood-drenched comforters, I could have sworn I felt a trace of her over my shoulder. The solitary drive home that night was quiet and somber. Maybe it was her I heard whispering from somewhere in the car (“It hurt right up until the very end”) – maybe it was only my imagination. So I can’t say definitively that I have ever encountered a ghost. But I have been haunted. 

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I prefer to listen to instrumental music while I’m writing. The soundtrack to BladeRunner by Vangelis has always been a favorite of mine. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. I once gave a street performer in Austin the soundtrack on tape and told him I’d pay him $20 to learn the Love Theme from the movie on his saxophone. And he did! I about died when a few weeks later I was walking down 6th Street and heard that impossibly intimate gravelly brass/woodwind piece drifting through the throngs of weekend revelers. Currently the stations I most frequently return to on Pandora are Tycho, Chicane, Boards of Canada, Ulrich Schnauss, and Sigur Ros. My hands-down new favorite instrumental band is Hammock. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I listen to New Order or The Smiths. If it’s time to explore depression, I turn to George Winston. To get in the mood for aggressive self-destruction, I break out Trent Reznor and Nine-Inch Nails.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. I’ve noticed that my productivity comes in cyclical fits and starts. Sometimes I get inspired to write or draw something and I go at it pretty much non-stop for weeks or months and sometimes I go for years without producing a single original thought on paper. The ideas and thoughts are still there, but I lose the driving fire behind it. Probably the biggest project I had to abandon was a story I had been writing between the ages of 13 and 15. It was called “Phases” and it was about a neglected teenage boy who had the ability to understand messages in the seemingly random sounds of nature. He is guided to a new world within his own by the secret language of the trees, wind, and rivers and he is tasked with saving the Earth from destruction by the hubris, greed, waste, and hostility of humans. I hand-wrote about four or five hundred pages over the course of two years but one day I woke up and realized I hadn’t written anything in over a month. By then, it was too late. I had lost the momentum, purpose, vision, and meaning I had felt while the story had been alive in me and trying to resurrect it felt obscene. So I left it there and it’s been stuck at age 15 ever since.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

I know it sounds jaded, but I haven’t found many books or stories that really shock me. I’m sure part of that is because of my day job. The seemingly bottomless pit of man’s creative and willful cruelty has kind of numbed me to the horror in fiction, where it’s safely ensconced between the acknowledgements page and the author bio. That isn’t to say that I haven’t read books that haunted me long after I finished them. Watership Down comes to mind. Reading that story when I was about eight scared the bejeezus out of me. I still recall the imagery of the waves of blood washing over the meadow and the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness at witnessing the mindless slaughter of the innocent. The idea that grown-ups (people who looked and sounded like my parents, neighbors, and teachers – people I knew) were capable of such senseless violence opened a door in my imagination that I just couldn’t shut. Now if I could just figure out which side of that door the light is coming from, I’d be golden.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

When I started eighth grade I felt a little intimidated. The only non-Christian junior high school on the island I grew up on was in a high crime area and it took me a while to acclimate. The surroundings were pretty dilapidated, everyone was a stranger, and the kids were all bigger, louder, and not at all averse to using profanity. Needless to say, I was fairly intimidated. One way I had of coping was to retreat into fantasy. And since I was a skinny Jewish kid just starting to learn about the holocaust in Sunday school, that fantasy world was very dark and violent. About a month into school, I birthed a character I called “Traque.” I chose that name because it sounded cool and emotionless (looking back, it sounded like something a skinny Jewish kid learning about genocide would come up with, but that’s beside the point). Traque was an assassin. He would develop a list of people that he felt had no reason to live and were a threat to/burden on society and he would abduct and kill them in wildly imaginative ways. I showed the stories to some of my friends and they started coming up to me and saying things like “Mr. Willis sent me to detention for selling candy in class. You should make a story about killing him.” So I would. I’d sit outside the library during lunch and write a little one-page story in which the person requesting the tale could live vicariously through Traque’s adventures. The stories were a great release for me and I like to think they offered some measure of satisfaction for the readers despite the fact that their expressions while reading the stories typically approached revulsion and I didn’t have many encore requests. At any rate, it was very validating to have people (sometimes complete strangers) come up to me and ask me to write for them.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

It is a more free-form process and that has me worried about my future with the craft. I write when I get inspired, but that doesn’t happen every day. Or even every month. I know what I need to do to be productive and stay on top of my game – I just don’t do it reliably. It’s like staying in shape. Everyone knows what you have to do to get in shape: eat right and exercise. It’s not rocket science. It’s the same thing with writing. You need to make time for it and zealously defend that time, even if you don’t come up with a single idea or type a single word. I’m slowly coming to terms with that and am in what William Miller would call the “contemplative stage”. I don’t suffer from “writer’s block” so much as I suffer from “writer’s lack of faith in the process.” I try to worry less about what I’m going to write and more about that I’m going to write. Because the story doesn’t happen in my head. It happens outside on the paper or the screen. I need to have faith not only that the wheels will start turning once I start to write; I have to be okay with not knowing exactly where my writing will take me when I follow it.

How would you describe your writing style?

I would call it “meandering-free-association-driven-spontaneous-road-trip”. As I mentioned before, I rarely know where the story is taking me. I may have an idea about what I want to say but once I start writing, it almost always takes an immediate series of detours. Different thoughts and possibilities pop up along the way and my brain follows them for some distance before getting distracted by some other loosely connected thought or idea that flashes like a neon strip club sign on the side of the road. Before I know it, me and my story have ended up in the boonies and I have no idea where the hell I am or how I got there. But once I’m in the thick of it, writing becomes a compass for finding my way out of the mess I’ve gotten myself into. And that’s how most of my stories come to life. Those that don’t end up abandoned, starving, and dying a slow death in the middle of the woods.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I have always liked the work of Dave Barry and I’ve often thought about writing something more along the lines of humor. I suppose my current work has some levity in it, but the book would not be classified as a “humor publication” by any stretch of the imagination. I really want to keep develop my stamina in writing horror/suspense and psychological thriller stories. There is a story I’ve been dying to write about human trafficking that involves delinquent teens that are abducted and sent to a camp in the South Pacific where they are systematically abused (physically, mentally, and sexually) in preparation for sale to the highest bidder. It’s a bit cliché, I know, but I’ve always wanted to explore that area. I would also like to write a crime novel where the protagonist and antagonist are different alters of a patient with dissociative identity disorder. And of course I also think we’re overdue for a real critical look at the whole Sasquatch legend.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

PsyKu is the only creative work I’ve ever gotten published. It started off as a couple dozen pages of haikus that had been transcribed from scribbling on cocktail napkins, cable bills, the margins of psychological evaluations, or any other surface that happened to be nearby when an idea stuck me. After a while, I got enough for a pamphlet and I started looking for the cheapest way I could mass produce it for friends and family. I didn’t want to have it done at a local office supply store because I worried that the employees would read it during the typesetting process and it would wind up the object of ridicule. I couldn’t bear the thought of my little book being passed around the break room of Office Depot like an altar boy at a Vatican after party but I wanted it to look at least more professional than a high school American History report so I wound up turning to the Internet to see what was available. Now, like a lot of aspiring writers, I found the idea of self-publication to be at best incredibly vain and at worst professionally and morally repugnant. But after doing a little research online I stumbled across a company called LuLu. They had an easy-to-use interface and with only modest effort on my part I uploaded my manuscript and cover, charged the pretty nominal fee to my debit card, hit “Submit” and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t completely suck. About ten days later I got a package in the mail from LuLu and was completely stoked at the results. The book looked great and though it was only about 30 pages at the time, it felt like a real accomplishment and it gave me hope that I might be able to do something more with it. Over time, I added a lot more material including several short stories and some wonderfully disturbing artwork from a very talented artist in Portland and had an editor friend of mine (Allison Dickson) work it over with her literary scalpel. It was Allison who showed the work to Jennifer Greene at Sekhmet Press, who contacted me and asked if I would be interested in publishing under her label.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

Danny Torrance and the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. I have a soft spot in my heart for what I consider “true victims” – innocent, kind-hearted people trying their best to navigate their way through a world that would just as soon take advantage of them for their trust and acceptance as ridicule and marginalize them for daring to search for their place in it. Danny’s only reliable companion is a childlike manifestation of strength and power from the spirit-world, a place he would fit in far better than the world he occupies with his damaged father and ineffective mother, but that will remain elusive as long as he continues to draw breath. Destined for a life devoid of any special purpose or fulfillment, it is quite fitting that his latent talent would become a life-altering gift at a place called the “Overlook.” Danny’s purity among the malevolent spirits surrounding him and his family makes his reluctant bravery heart-achingly endearing if for no other reason than because the reader is all too aware of the unfathomably mismatched power of the hotel against him. For me, the Overlook is such a wonderful antagonist because of its inhuman patience and hidden malevolence, which I consider to be two of the most frightening characteristics of evil men. The hotel’s awful intent is not truly realized until it encounters the right troubled soul that it can use as a conduit to exact blind, impersonal vengeance. The story of Danny and The Overlook is the story of David versus Goliath, but one in which the giant has some recognition of the power of his adversary and the threat that implies. This makes the antagonist more human and by extension more vulnerable. And it ultimately gives us hope that we might prevail against the often unseen and nebulous fears we encounter in our own lives.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

This was obviously one of my first attempts!

This was obviously one of my first attempts!

Drawing. When I was in graduate school, I used to come up with cartoon ideas while in class or during group supervision. I kept a notebook with the premise, tag line, and picture ideas for something like 500 cartoon ideas. One day I was at Barnes and Noble and I happened upon a drawing section and picked out the most rudimentary instruction book I could find. It showed how to draw simple cartoon characters and scenery from basic shapes. I found I was particularly good at drawing pipes, volcanic craters, and happy sharks. Unfortunately, none of the 500 ideas I had written down in my notebook included any one of those elements, let alone all three. So I tried drawing other things. Gary Larson’s “Far Side” was my inspiration. I traced my favorite cartoons of his and I practiced and practiced. Eventually, I was able to do some okay cartoon figures, although each one took me a week or more to do and they all basically looked the same.

This one was a little better

This one was a little better

Still, I had fun with it and even published several of them in my university’s newspaper, which had a daily circulation of around 30,000 – 40,000. I used a pseudonym (the same one I have now) because if my supervisors ever found out I was doing anything other than research, teaching, or clinical work, they would have kicked me out of the program. At one point, I entered some of my drawings in a contest and I won second place for Best Single Panel Cartoon in a national competition! I still have the folder with the cartoon ideas and about three dozen sketches in various stages of incompletion. Maybe one day I’ll take it up again and make a little book of cartoons for my friends and family. If you have any cartoon ideas involving pipes, volcanoes, and happy sharks I’m all ears!

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

sa3Solomon Archer is a Pseudonym. The author of PsyKu is a criminal psychologist. He received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on behavior pathology. He completed his forensic internship through in Ohio where he specialized in working with low-functioning sex offenders and treatment with probationed and paroled offenders.

He continued his work with the mentally ill criminal population through his forensic post-doctoral fellowship in North Carolina with a focus on competency and sanity evaluations.

His career path subsequently branched out to the prison system, where he has worked for well over a decade. The author is currently the Chief Psychologist of the [REDACTED] State Department of Corrections. He spends much of his time working with serious and dangerously mentally ill offenders, some of whom are not so disorganized that they couldn’t figure out a way to free themselves from their restraints and stab him in the head with an altered food tray. (Incidentally, the going rate for shanking a psychologist is two pounds of coffee and three bags of Top tobacco. You know, just in case you were curious).


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Patrick O’Neill

wiw NEW COVERPatrick O’Neill is the author of the story

THE OTHER ONE

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Patrick! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

Do I believe in ghosts? Yes, of course, and I need not see them to know they exist. I feel them walk beside me; cold, mute, all-seeing. Pale memories from a time that is gone, vague traces from a place I would rather be. Yes, I am haunted but I would rather be haunted than alone. To have lost is one thing, but to let go? Well, that is another matter altogether.  And so I conjure them in thought, mind, flesh, blood and spirit. I wish them here, and so it is.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

Mozart, then Metallica topped with ACDC, and then of course, Verdi. That is the sandwich.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Almost every day.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

Book? Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. Story? Every day, on Sky News.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

After reading M.R. James.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

Time ticks. We write what we can.

How would you describe your writing style?

Always in need of improvement. I f you ever get to perceived perfection, something’s wrong.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

None. Horror runs through my veins in great big coagulated lumps.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

Impossible question. But If I had to say one character, it would be Travis Bickle.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

Photography. Take a look here.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

paddy eyePatrick O’Neill is a rising new talent in the world of Horror fiction. He resides in Dorset with wife, Nikki, and son, Benedict. His dark and unsettling tales can be found here:

‘Alderway’, in Chiral Mad, by Written Backwards (Winner of the Compilations/Anthologies Category at the London Book Festival 2012).
‘Passing Affliction’, in Chiral Mad 2, by Written Backwards.
‘Church Farm House’, in Fear: A Modern Anthology of Horror and Terror, by Crooked Cat.
‘The Box’, in Dorset Voices, by Roving Press.
‘The Collection’, in The Darkness Within, by Indigo Mosaic.
‘Another Picture for the Wall’, in The Rogues Gallery, by Firbolg Publishing.

Patrick is currently working on his single author collection, The Darkest Eyes, and on his debut novel, No Contrition.

Patrick can be contacted at padzoneill@hotmail.com


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Michael G. Williams

wiw NEW COVERMichael G. Williams is the author of the story

HIS SHRINE TO SANTA MUERTE

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Michael! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

Yes.
 
I’ll spare you the whole story and simply say it was in a library, after hours, when I was in college. I worked there and part of my job involved staying behind to complete certain work tasks after everyone else left. First I heard the ghost, and it sounded impatient, and later I saw it. The experience was terrifying, of course, but the fear faded into sorrow almost immediately after. The emotional impression it left on me was not that it was angry or malevolent but that it was deeply distraught. It was looking for something it missed from its life and it thought it could not search the library while I was there. It – he – communicated this to me pretty clearly the second time I encountered him. It felt it had to scare me to get me to leave but it felt real anguish over that. He knew he was bullying the staff and he took no pleasure in it but his sorrow was so great he was willing to do so to find what he needed to get back.
 
I found out I was not the only person who had seen him. Half the staff had been chased out of the building at one time or another. I was just the first one to say something. 
 
I quit my job. I quit a lot of things after that, actually. It was a life-changing event. It flew in the face of everything I understood. It terrified me: not just in the immediate, adrenaline-fueled sense of being in the room with a *thing* but in a deeper, more existential way. I felt like I had gotten a glimpse of what *can* happen at death and it was as enticing as it was horrifying. 
 
I would give anything to meet him again.

 

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

It depends a lot on the genre, of course, but I tend to listen to a lot of low-vocal electronica or symphonic when writing and outlining. I want something moody but nothing that will put words into my head. Favorites are Covenant, iNTROSPEKT, Philip Glass, Bit Shifter, Brian Eno, Combustible Edison, Octex, Hot Chip, The Seldon Plan, Glows in the Dark or Robert Rich. If I’m writing something set explicitly in another era, I tend to lean heavily on the music of that time. If I’m doing noir-ish stuff I listen to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dianne Reeves, The Carolina Chocolate Drops or even Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. I’m sorta-kinda working on a series of novels about an unlikely amateur detective in the gay subculture of Nashville, TN, in the 1980’s and for that I just fire up anything I liked in high school. Heh.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Absolutely. I have to imagine every writer has. If they haven’t, they probably aren’t listening to that voice in their head telling them the current project just isn’t ready for their attention. I have to let projects “bake” for a long time, both before and after the first draft. I have to give myself time to think up what I hope will seem clever or interesting on the page and seem all the more so for being experienced more densely than I imagined them over time. I have a Lovecraftian short story called “A Shadow Over Appalachia” that has been started and abandoned multiple times in the last three years. It just isn’t ready for me yet, nor I for it, and time is the only solution. There’s something about the main character and his voice I haven’t figured out yet and I have to wait until I find them. I’m not even sure what it is I’m missing. C’est la guerre.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

Fledgling by Octavia Butler. It reached right down into my guts and up into my brain and twisted both all around with its story and characters and their relationship. It accomplished what I think many of us want: total cognitive dissonance. I found myself rooting for its incredibly unsettling protagonists despite really wishing I had never heard of them.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

I don’t remember which one, but it was a Nancy Drew book. I loved those when I was a kid, and I still do, and I had so much fun reading them I decided I wanted to make something like it. For whatever reason, the switch was flipped to make me realize someone had invented Nancy Drew and made up stories about her and it didn’t take magic powers to do so.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

I do almost all my writing on weekends at a particular coffeeshop. The staff are friendly – the owner declared me their author laureate – and it’s close enough to home to walk or bike but far enough to be sequestered. If I write at home, other demands intrude on my time and attention. I have to go somewhere with easy access to caffeine and sugar and use my ancient laptop (preferred because it cannot play any current videogames). When I hear people say they write all the time, whenever, wherever, in tiny snippets as they get the chance, I feel tremendous respect for them. I have to set aside time and it has to be long enough for my brain to settle down and words to start coming out.

How would you describe your writing style?

First-person sarcastic. I like sassy protagonists and I like to write from their perspective alone so I get to spend all my time in their heads. First-person narratives have a lot of built-in mechanical advantages in the genres I prefer: hard-boiled, noir, investigative stories mashed up with sci-fi or horror or close studies of gay life. They come preloaded with potential for a narrator who misses a detail or doesn’t “get” something or isn’t reliable to begin with. They let the character I find most interesting tell me a story as I write. I love that.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

My major themes tend to be aging and the power of social support networks. Mostly I write stories about people who find themselves living in what I call, in my own life, “the undifferentiated now”. They don’t have kids or extensive families to act as living calendars reminding them of time’s advance. They’re blessed and cursed with the ability not to notice the days going by until all of a sudden they’ve gotten older and so have all their friends. Whether these characters are vampires, gay men or lonely detectives – character types to which I keep returning – they find they have to rely on the found families they have around them, the social networks of friends and neighbors and other persons who care about one another by choice rather than by obligation. All the blessings I’ve enjoyed in life have come to me through the people for whom I care and who care about me. We all need those: friends and lovers and someone to recommend books.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

In 2012 I won a regional writing contest with an unfinished novel called Perishables. That prompted me to finish it and some friends suggested I self-publish it on a lark. I did, but I was terrified to identify myself as someone who wanted others to read his work because, like, what if it was terrible? Instead, I set about an experiment in which failure was explicitly allowed: I wanted to see how tough it would be to sell a copy of Perishables to ten persons I did not already know. I was very public about this and turned it into an open-source marketing and publishing thing, kind of performative in nature, and that got me some attention from other writers and self-publishers. The next thing I knew, I was having a couple of short stories published in anthologies and people were asking for a sequel to Perishables. So, here I am: three books into a five book series and debating which series to start when The Withrow Chronicles conclude next year.

To date, I have never queried an agent. I should get on that, but it seems like it would take a lot of effort away from writing and writing is the part I enjoy.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

My favorite fictional antagonist is Dracula. He’s so weird by modern standards: he comes from this remote place, way up the mountain, and he really grates against the modern sensibilities of the people who find him. (This resembles my experience of being a college freshman in significant ways.) He thinks he’s charming when in fact he’s terribly off-putting. At the same time, his differentness generates a real allure. He appeals to the most old-fashioned and selfish parts of ourselves, the parts of which we must be most wary.

My favorite protagonist is Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. He’s a wiseass and a good guy who can be kind without suffering the compulsion to be nice. He’s a human being who’s been wounded and like any other injured creature he’s dangerous to provoke. The language Chandler lets flow through Marlowe to us, the readers, is music. I consciously chose not to read the last 20 pages of Farewell My Lovely some years ago because I’m not ready to live in a world with no more Marlowe left for me to read.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

In terms of my participation in it, photography. I love to take photographs and I love to view the photography of others, whether they’re fellow photographer friends or professionals exhibiting their work. (If you’re my friend on Facebook and you ever wonder whether anyone actually looks at the photos you post, I totally do.)

I also love music and spent years both as a symphonic musician (trumpet, french horn and clarinet) and as a choral singer and director. I don’t have many opportunities to participate in music anymore but I am always listening to something.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

michael g williams2-001Michael G. Williams is a native of the Appalachian Mountains and grew up near Asheville, North Carolina. He describes his writing as wry horror or suburban fantasy: stories told from the perspectives of vampires, unconventional investigators, magicians and hackers who live in the places so many of us also call home. Michael is also an avid athlete, a gamer and a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi.


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Bryan W. Alaspa

wiw NEW COVERBryan W. Alaspa is the author of the story

THE WITNESS

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Bryan! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

I once spent the night in what is listed as one of the most haunted places in the country – The Lemp Mansion. It was for my book about haunted houses in St. Louis. I wrote an article about it not long after it happened. You can read about it here.

 

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I listen to my favorite radio station – WTTS out of Indianapolis, IN. I discovered them a long time ago when I was married to a woman from Indie. I either listen online or I listen via their phone app. I love classic rock and my favorite group is Pink Floyd, so I listen to them a lot. My other favorite performer is singer/songwriter Peter Himmelman whom I also got to interview for my blog – which was AWESOME.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

All the time. It happens a lot. It seems like I cannot write short stories much anymore so all of the stories are these epic things. I have had several that just sort of petered out. I have a murder mystery that I started about two years ago that I hope to get back to at some point that started strong and then just ran out of steam.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

Wow – I think Thomas Tryon’s outstanding horror novel The Other has one of the greatest twists and shocking scenes in fiction. His other novel Harvest Home also is just terrifying beyond belief (unfortunately I think both may be out of print – but if you can find them, read them). I was completely enraptured by the novel RUN by Blake Crouch and it just chilled me to the bone from the first page.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

Not really. I just remember loving sharks when I was young and this was in the mid-70s when the movie JAWS was coming out. That made the paperback huge and my parents had a copy. I would stare at that cover image and think – wow, someone WROTE this book about SHARKS! How cool! I want to do that!

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

Well, my dream is to be able to write my books and novels full-time and when that happens, I am betting things will get a little more free-form. Since I have a full-time job, I am more structured. I write for an hour or hour-and-a-half each morning before I officially start the day job. I am lucky that the day job lets me work from home, at least. I write 1,000 words a day, minimum, every day.

How would you describe your writing style?

Geez. I really don’t know. I write decent action scenes and I have really good climaxes and endings (or so I have been told). I hope that I create realistic characters and put them into extraordinary situations that thrill and scare.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

Anything. Anything can become a story for me. A news story. Walking the dogs and seeing something out of the corner of my eye. Something someone says. I like writing thrillers, but in the past couple of years I also have had some ideas for what I would classify as drama stories. I have one in my notebook that I think would be my first truly literary work – if I can ever get around to it.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

Well, I wrote my first novel by hand in high school and college and promptly shelved it because it was awful. However, I wrote my first real novel just after college. I could not find a standard publisher for it and this was when Print on Demand publishing came into existence. So, I used that format to get it out. My first book, published by a publisher, was a non-fiction work about haunted houses in St. Louis (I went to college there and lived there for a few years afterward). At some point Kindle came into existence and I began publishing my works that had been available via POD sources for Kindle and, lo and behold, found an audience. That led to connections with other authors and that has led to me being published by other fiction publishers.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

For me, a good villain makes a good hero. So, the more vile and vicious the villain, the better the hero. I think the example that comes to mind that stands out the best is the Joker and Batman. I was (still am) a huge comic book fan, and that dynamic always amazed me. It’s because they are really opposite sides of the same coin. I mean, there is no denying Batman is, in many ways, just as nuts as the Joker. No sane person dresses as a bat and tights and throws themselves into dangerous situations like that without being disturbed. But, like the character of Dexter, he uses his insanity for good things. The Joker lost him mind and decided that there were no consequences to things so he commits wanton murder and mayhem. That dynamic is endlessly fascinating to me.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

Gosh – I don’t do much more than writing, although I have dabbled in photography. I don’t have a really good camera, though, so I haven’t quite reached the levels I would like in that area. However, I was once told by a friend who is a professional photographer that I have an “eye” and that if I got a decent camera I could probably take some great photos.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

bryan w alaspa2Bryan W. Alaspa is a Chicago native and published author of over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction. He has written books in the genres of horror, thrillers, suspense, true crime, history, mysteries, young adult, paranormal and even romance.

When he’s not writing, Bryan enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Melanie, and their two fur babies, Gracie and Pippa.


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Kelli Wilkins

wiw NEW COVERKelli A. Wilkins is the author of the story

THURSDAY NIGHT BINGO

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Kelli! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

Yes, I’ve had plenty of “supernatural” or “paranormal” encounters with spirits. My husband and I like to explore creepy old places (historical houses, castles, battlefields, etc.), whether or not they’re reputed to be haunted. Sometimes we come across spirits, sometimes not. Our travels have taken us all over: the UK, Gettysburg, Alcatraz, Eastern State Prison, local historical sites, and hundreds more I can’t even remember. Sometimes we get a “feel” that there’s someone around and other times we’ve heard things that have no rational explanation such as voices, footsteps, and we’ve even seen a few apparitions. There are too many to go into details on all of them, but I wrote about seeing my husband’s deceased dog in the anthology Departed Pets. When I first saw the dog standing in front of me, I didn’t think much of it. He looked like he always did. Then a minute later I remembered that the dog had been dead for a few weeks. These things don’t scare me or freak me out. I think they’re interesting. A lot of people have ghost stories, but most of them are reluctant to open up about what they’ve experienced.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I listen to everything from A to Z. Depending on my mood and what stage of a writing project I’m in, I might be listening to New Age instrumental one minute, Rob Zombie the next, and then Dwight Yoakam followed by disco. I have a very diverse music collection and am constantly switching up genres.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it? 

Yes. I think most writers have, for one reason or another. I’ve started a few horror short stories, then wondered “Why am I writing this?” and either scrapped what I had entirely, or revamped it. Sometimes I’ll write part of a story, then have to do other things and put the writing aside for a few days or a week. In addition to my horror stories, I also write steamy romances, so I’m constantly switching from one project and genre to another.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?


I’ve read a lot of things that have stuck with me for one reason or another. The first horror story I ever remember scaring me (and still sticks with me) is “Wendigo’s Child” by Thomas F. Monteleone. It was in an anthology for children called Monster Tales: Vampires, Werewolves, & Things. I read it when I was in grade school. Anyone who has read it understands the last line. “It was looking up at him.”

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

Yes. The first book that ever had a major effect on me was Stephen King’s Night Shift. I read this collection of stories when I was nine or ten, and I was impressed. Up until that point, I’d read the Little House books and Nancy Drew mysteries. They were okay reads to pass the time, but something about horror clicked with me. I was entranced by the way the stories were told, the characters, the descriptions, and tone.

At that moment, I decided I wanted to write horror fiction and have my stories published in a book someday. From then on I read every horror novel and short story I could find. Eventually I began writing my own tales of terror!

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

I’m definitely free-form. I’ll write anywhere, anytime. I don’t block out certain hours of the day to write or give myself a goal of writing so many words or pages a day. I find that too suffocating. If I’m writing a story I’ll work on it as much as I can (or want to) until it’s done. Then I put it aside for a while and write something else or take a break from writing for a day or two. I find it hard to be creative on schedule!

How would you describe your writing style?

Unusual! Believe it or not, I write everything in longhand with paper and pen. I think it frees my mind to write whatever I want in a first (and very rough) draft. When I get an idea for a story, I write notes or make a mini-outline, then let the ideas for the characters and plot marinate in my head. When I have a rough idea of what the story is, I go back and start writing.

Of course, my notes/outlines are subject to change and if I get a great new idea, I’ll pursue it. After the first draft is complete, I type the story. At this stage I add more details and edit out parts I’m not crazy about, so by the time I have a typed version it’s almost like a second draft.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

When I’m not writing horror stories, I write romances! Yes, it’s a very strange combination and I like to say that one half of my mind writes the horror and the other half writes the romance. On occasion, I combine them into a paranormal romance, but I have to be careful that the “horror side” doesn’t take over and make the romance too scary or bloody. I am a traditionalist when it comes to “monsters” though, so I have to get past the idea of someone falling in love with a bloodthirsty undead creature. (I think my novella Confession of a Vampire’s Lover did a good job balancing the two ideas.)

I like switching between the two genres because they’re so different. Horror lets me explore characters, themes, plots, and settings that I couldn’t write about in romance. After I finish a romance I usually go on a “binge” and write two or three horror short stories just to switch things up. Aside from horror and romance, I’ve also had dozens of sci-fi stories published in The Sun.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

I started out writing horror stories and submitting them everywhere I could: to contests, magazines, anthologies, you name it. One of my first acceptances came from The First Line. They published my short story “Guest of Honor” and even included it in The Best of the First Line. From there, I wrote sci-fi stories for The Sun, and then won the First Place Award in the Weird Tales World Horror Con writing contest for my story titled, “The Uninvited”. Since then, I follow the same format, write the best story I can, and submit it. I’m happy to say that my short stories have appeared in several horror anthologies.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

I thought about great literary characters and drew a blank. Then I asked myself, what movie do I watch over and over every time it’s on? One of my favorites is Slingblade. The connection between Frank (Lucas Black) and Karl (Billy Bob Thornton) is interesting. I like how Karl immediately bonds with Frank and looks out for him in a big brother way, and yet, Karl has a dark side that everyone else is a little leery of. I think deep down, they both understand more about their situation than they’re letting on, and on a surface level they pretend everything will somehow turn out okay.

And I absolutely love Doyle (Dwight Yoakam). He’s a delightfully nasty SOB who goes over the top and eventually gets what’s coming to him. (The scene where Doyle is playing with his band always cracks me up, because I’m also a fan of Dwight’s music.) The dialog and the many subtle layers of interaction between the characters also make it one of my favorites.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I’d have to say music. I’m constantly listening to music and I go to concerts as often as I can. And after all, songs are short stories set to music!

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts about writing and horror fiction. I welcome feedback and questions from readers.

Happy Haunting!

kelli w ireland2Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, fifteen romance novels, and four non-fiction books. Her speculative fiction has appeared in The Sun, Weird Tales, Dark Moon Digest, The First Line, and in several anthologies, including: Mistresses of the Macabre, Haunted, The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death, Frightmares: A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror, What If… and Dark Things II: Cat Crimes: Tales of Feline Mayhem and Murder.

Kelli publishes a blog (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/) filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.

Catch up with Kelli on the Web:

Website: www.KelliWilkins.com
Blog http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kelli-A.Wilkins/e/B001JSAB24/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/@KWilkinsauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1123678.Kelli_A_Wilkins
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kelli.wilkins1

 

Patrick C. Greene Unveils Michael Matula

wiw NEW COVERMichael D. Matula is the author of the story

YOU’LL THANK ME BY TOMORROW

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Michael! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

Not to my knowledge. I went on a camping trip as a teenager and had some sightings in the woods that I couldn’t explain, though I always attributed that to an overactive imagination, and the fact that the kids I was with had been filling my head with stories that entire weekend. I’m quite skeptical of paranormal phenomena now, but at the time, it didn’t take much to convince me there was something spooky out there.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

When I do listen to music while I write, which isn’t super often these days, it’s usually something retro and familiar.  Something that fades into the background.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Definitely. I often go back to old stories and work on completing/revising them.  I’m not sure if the stories themselves run out of steam, but I’m often unsure where to take them, or get stuck at a crossroads.  That usually happens for me when I didn’t write out an outline beforehand.  When I start from an outline that I feel is strong, then I can usually keep the ball rolling.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

I think the last thing I remember disturbing me was a Terry Goodkind fantasy novel.  My memory’s a bit foggy on it, since I was pretty young at the time, and I didn’t get that much further in the book, but I remember it describing children getting cut apart in pretty graphic detail.  Since I’ve become a writer, though, it’s much harder to shock me.  It’s like trying to shock a Hollywood makeup effects artist by throwing around a bucket of fake blood.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

Back in high school, I was trying to finish sketching out thumbnails for a comic book when I got an idea for another story.  I didn’t have time to draw one comic, let alone two, but I loved the idea, so I wrote out the story instead, just so I could get the idea down on paper.  I think that’s around when I caught the writing bug.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

It’s more free-form, as I try to write whenever I can find the time. I write best when I get started first thing in the morning, but that’s not always doable, unfortunately.

How would you describe your writing style?

Character focused. I try to get in the heads of my characters and let them tell the story. This can sometimes take me to some weird places, though, as some of my characters aren’t exactly fun to be around.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’m open to almost any genre. I’ve always had pretty varied tastes, and so long as there’s an element of danger, I’m up for it.  Fantasy was the genre I first fell in love with, though I seem to have an easier time writing contemporary stories.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

A couple years ago, I started revising the manuscript for TRY NOT TO BURN.  Once I was happy with it, I started submitting it again.  After trying a few agents and not getting anywhere, I revised it yet again, cutting down the word count significantly, and sent it off to a pair of publishers.  One of them passed on it, and the other offered me a contract.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

Jack Burton (from Big Trouble in Little China) is probably my favorite protagonist, largely due to Kurt Russell’s performance, and lines like “If we’re not back by dawn…call the president.” As for my favorite antagonist, that’s a tougher one for me. I’m tempted to go with Hannibal Lecter, partially because I just watched season 1 of Hannibal, and the combination of sadism and  sophistication is as captivating as it is gruesome.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I enjoy drawing when I can squeeze in the time, and I occasionally post some of my sketches on my website.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

michael matula reading1Michael Matula is a thriller novelist and story writer from just outside of Chicago, IL. He once dreamed of being a comic book artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the ideas and storylines he came up with, he wrote out a side story for one of his characters. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back. His first novel, TRY NOT TO BURN, was published by Post Mortem Press, and has been called a “mash-up of The Matrix and Dante’s Inferno.” His short fiction has been published by Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine and DarkFuse, and also appeared in WRAPPED IN RED, a vampire anthology from Sekhmet Press. His next story, “You’ll Thank Me By Tomorrow,” will appear in WRAPPED IN WHITE, a ghost anthology, later this year.

BLOG: http://michaelmatula.blogspot.com/
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/michaeldmatula
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/MichaelDavidMatula
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6536141.Michael_David_Matula


Patrick C. Greene Unveils g. Elmer Munson

wiw NEW COVERg. Elmer Munson is the author of the story

JOHN

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi g. Elmer! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

I certainly hope I’m not the minority on this one, but I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in much, really. Obligatory back story time! When I was a kid, I grew up in a house that just about everybody thought was haunted. Some still do. The prior residents were apparently Satanists. There were bizarre paintings all over the house and outbuildings (like symbols, inverted crosses, and all that). There was one building full of chicken bones and a super creepy Satan (horns and all) painted on the wall. People would tell me about crazy stuff that went on in the house before we moved in and my father gutted the place. Everyone thought they saw and heard things all the time, and for a long time I thought I did too. Then I moved away and life events changed me completely.  I became what some like to call a “hardcore rationalist”, and my capacity for belief pretty much went away. What didn’t go away is one thing: the memory of how good it felt to be scared, to really believe that bad things were waiting around each corner, and to be so scared at night that I tucked my blankets in all around me so nothing could get in. I didn’t sleep with my head in the open until I was in my late teens. These days there are precious few places I can get that feeling from, hence my love of dark fiction. 

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I’m a metalhead at heart. If it’s loud and screaming, I’m probably in. However, I don’t really listen to anything except classical while writing. Anything with a beat takes me out of the story. Editing, though…that’s a different animal altogether. That’s the time for screaming.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it? 

Unfortunately yes, and I find myself thinking about the “what-ifs” from time to time. I’ve even gotten close to 30k words on a project and it just…stopped. It mocks me to this day, staring in my “limbo” list with bold letters. Of course, there is always the chance for a happy ending. I once got about 15k into a novella, stopped working on it for over a year, then finished, edited, and wrapped it within a period of 6 months. It’s currently looking for a home. I just had to wait for the story to speak to me again.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

Oooh, good question. A tough one, too, since I’ve been reading for more years than I care to admit! I’ll go with a recent read: Cannibal Fat Camp by David Hayes and Mark Scioneaux. I wouldn’t call it shocking in a scandalous way, but it’s the first book in years to make me stop reading, stand up in amazement at what I’d just read, and laugh until I couldn’t breathe…more than once. It’s a great book.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

I went through a phase in the 90’s where I was unemployed for a while and pretty much miserable. I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I spent an awful lot of it reading. One day I just thought I’d give it a go (what else was I going to do?) and what I wrote really sucked. I think that made me want to get better. After a decade in the military spent NOT writing, I found the urge to write once again. By this point I had gone through graduate school and understood writing quite a bit better than in the 90’s.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

Totally free-form. I wish I could have dedicated time, but with the various “real world” obligations I have, I write when I can. Sometimes I get the luxury of sitting at a desk in front of a computer, sometimes it’s a laptop on the couch, sometimes it’s a tablet in bed, and sometimes it’s talking to my phone while driving. Most of the time, I write while standing in the kitchen with my laptop sitting on top of the microwave. I have no idea why.

How would you describe your writing style?

I write by the seat of my pants. I tend to get an idea and just start writing, usually with no clue as to where the story is going. The good part of this is that the story is always new to me. The bad part is I can easily write myself into a corner (see the “run out of steam” question above). Even so, I’ll take that chance because there’s not much better than this: being honestly surprised at something you just wrote because you never saw it coming

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’ve said this before, but I’d like to write something where no one dies; just a piece of commercial fiction that anyone could pick up and enjoy. I don’t know if that’s possible though. Once the words start to flow, the blood follows close behind…

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

I try not to think about it. I write and write and write, then edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit. When I think I’m done, I send it out. When someone picks it up, we edit some more. I wish editing was the fun part.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Steven King’s Gunslinger. Shooting guns, killing people, not giving a damn…he’s just cool, you know? I dig a “good guy” who kills everyone. The first story I ever wrote had a protagonist that suspiciously resembled Roland the Gunslinger. Of course, there was a big difference: mine sucked.

As for antagonists, I think the thing from The Thing (1984) is damn creepy. What really does it for me is how no one knows who’s real. Once everyone stops trusting each other, it jumps straight to all bad. That’s the kind of tension you just can’t buy.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I love writing music. I’ve been playing and writing music since I was a kid. Actually, I still do, but it’s something I have little time to enjoy. Given 10 minutes of peace, I’d rather work on a story. 

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

ge1g. Elmer Munson is a New England writer of the strange and unusual as well as the horrors of everyday life.
He lives with his family and a posse of various critters in a creaky farmhouse that’s older than America herself.


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Suzi M

wiw NEW COVERSuzi M is the author of the story

UNSEEN

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Suzi M! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question.Have you ever encountered a ghost?

I think the real question is ‘How MANY ghosts have I encountered’. The answer is yes, many. I grew up in a haunted house with a decent number of ghosts on the property. In fact, one of the scenes in my story is straight out of an experience I had in my parents’ house one night.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

Anything with a kickass bassline and drumbeat. I’m all about the vibe while writing.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

No, but I have sent a few projects to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

To date? The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot. Not because it was meant to be ‘shocking’ in the horror sense, but because it set off a string of ideas I’m still unraveling to this day.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

I was born. Nothing really made me decide to become a writer, I suspect it was always there, lurking jus beneath the surface. What spawned my first novel was a bet with my AP English teacher in high school, however. We had been given ‘laptops’ (thing was a 20lb brick as far as I was concerned), and I refused to use it. She told me to go ahead and try writing a sentence, so I did. It was: “Nemesis gazed out over the cold stone walls of his castle at the bleak gray landscape, laughing under his breath.” She read it, liked it, and told me to write a paragraph, and before I knew it I had an entire first draft of a novel completed by summer vacation.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

I write in bursts, whenever and wherever I have a spare minute or an idea that needs to get jotted down.

How would you describe your writing style?

In one word: chaotic.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’ve been exploring the realm of paranormal mystery with my James Glass scribblings lately, but have been known to wander into post apocalyptic and plain old horror.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

Largely accidental and not really intentional.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

My favorite – ‘personality’ I’ll call it, because he’s really neither antagonist nor protagonist – is my own creation by name of Nemesis. I love his passion and his ability to be absolutely insane yet still retain that element of seduction beneath it all. He runs mainly on instinct and pure reaction with no thought to the consequences. Sometimes it’s not such a great thing, and then he deals with the outcomes as they arise. He’s the flipside to my coin.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

There are a few. Knitting, painting, drawing, spinning yarn, weaving, sculpting, etc.

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

suzi m titled

Lurking in a Pennsylvania town near historicGettysburg, Suzi M is weaving webs of horror: including gothic, noir, ghosts, demons, angels, occult, and the occasional historic and/or post-apocalyptic thriller. Her storytelling has been compared to that of Tanith Lee , HP Lovecraft, and Douglas Adams. Writing under multiple pseudonyms, including James Glass, Suzi’s writing reflects and explores the thrill and the secrecy; the untold mysteries waiting in the shadows. In addition to a few other humans, including the tiny Hypnospawn, Suzi shares her home with a 30lb black house panther named Mr. Pants. When she’s not busy with her own work or getting pictures and autographs with people who recognize her on the street, Suzi helps support the efforts of independent artists, writers, musicians, and film-makers. She is also a self-described “fiberfreak,” finding time to spin, knit, crochet or weave when the muse allows. She will most likely achieve fame and fortune with her hand-crafted socks.

***

Find Suzi on FACEBOOK

Find James on FACEBOOK

Explore THE SMILING GOTH


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Joshua Rex

wiw NEW COVER

CLICK to BUY on Amazon

Joshua Rex is the author of the story

THE WHITE BOY

 in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Joshua! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

When I was a kid, I saw a woman in white in my hallway who I thought was my mother but was not. A few years ago, I filmed a thick mist around a tombstone that I’d done a painting of. Were these ghosts? Who knows. Either way it was interesting.

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I like instrumental stuff like Rachel’s and Dustin O’Halloran. Also, Henry VIII’s music is pretty fantastic.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

I think the danger is running out of steam after a project is finished. When you’re done with the work, that’s only half the battle…the other half is getting it out there so it can be read/seen/heard so that it doesn’t become a relic in your closet.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

AE Van Vogt’s “The Enchanted Village” is a good one. Also, “Pet Sematary”.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

No, but I do remember thinking I was going to have to just give it a go, even if it turned out really bad, because the ideas demanded it. Since then it’s been all about working every day to make it better.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

An hour (revising) every morning, and an hour (writing) every night. I wish both could be tripled…

How would you describe your writing style?

Traditional and straight forward as I can make it, though it usually takes ten drafts to achieve this. I want the work to be story driven, and for myself to be as transparent as possible.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’m game for any theme or genre as long as the idea is good and strong enough

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

I wrote the rough draft of a novel in 2011 and then a bunch of short stories afterwards. I started submitting the shorter works to magazines/podcasts/journals in 2012 and was lucky enough to get a piece accepted by Pseudopod.org on my third try!

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

I’d say Hannibal Lector for the antagonist, though he could also be considered a protagonist I suppose. Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea for the protagonist, though I think the same could be said about him as well…

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I’ve had the most success as a painter, and spent the most time as a musician. 

Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

Joshua RexJoshua Rex is a writer, painter, and musician who works with stringed instruments in Boston, MA. His work has appeared on Pseudopod.org, in Death Throes webzine and most recently the anthology ‘Wrapped in White’ from Sekhmet Press. He recently finished a collection of short stories entitled ‘New Monsters’ and is currently revising his first novel.


Patrick C. Greene Unveils Allison M. Dickson

wiw NEW COVER

CLICK to BUY on Amazon

Allison M. Dickson is the author of the story

DADDY’S GLASSES

in the new anthology from Sekhmet Press

WRAPPED IN WHITE

Thirteen Tales of Spectres, Ghosts, and Spirits

Hi Allison! Thank you for joining me today. Let’s kick off this interview with the most important question. Have you ever encountered a ghost?

 I’ve encountered very strange and palpable energies, particularly in abandoned buildings. I have a bit of an obsession with old architecture and feel like walls are sponges for the things that happen between them. I’ve walked through houses two centuries old as well as an abandoned mental hospital from the early 20th century and the feeling of residual life in them is unmistakable and chilling. I don’t know if this translates as “ghosts” per se, or more to an active imagination and sense of empathy, but it’s as close as I’ve ever come to something “other.”

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

I live on a combination of Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Massive Attack, and movie scores by Clint Mansell, though I am also a big fan of the score for The Red Violin and anything by Hans Zimmer.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it?

Are you kidding me? I’ve had that happen with more projects than haven’t. My file of unfinished or half-started projects is huge. And it’s lucky that I never throw anything away because my upcoming book, THE LAST SUPPER, was just such a project. It was out of steam for three years until I picked it up and found new life lurking in it.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

That would have to be Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Particularly the story “Guts.” I haven’t been the same since I read that.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

I’ve been writing most of my life, but I the moment I decided I needed to do this for real was after I read DUMA KEY by Stephen King. It called to a dormant part of me and slapped it into wakefulness. There are so many great quotes from the book that call to the artists in us all, but this one is my favorite: “Stay hungry. It worked for Michelangelo, it worked for Picasso, and it works for a hundred thousand artists who do it not for love (although that might play a part) but in order to put food on the table. If you want to translate the world, you need to use your appetites. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. There’s no creation without talent, I give you that, but talent is cheap. Talent goes begging. Hunger is the piston of art.” It was a complete rebirth for me when I discovered I was truly hungry and decided to feed myself.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

Definitely a free-form kind of thing. I try to get a good part of my writing done in the daytime hours when everyone is gone, but sometimes things don’t work out that way and I stay up a little late to get things done. I split my time between my laptop/recliner and my office. Some stories require a certain posture.

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m a pretty straightforward, no-frills kind of writer. My sentences don’t get too long in most cases, and I keep my vocabulary pretty simple. I do like description and voice, but I’m not terribly poetic or lyrical about it. Dialect slips in from time to time, but not overly so. I value clarity above all else. I like writers who settle down into their language like a well-worn pair of shoes and don’t get too pretentious with it, and that’s what I aim to be. You can usually tell when a writer is trying to grandstand with the language instead of just telling the story.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I’m just now starting to get more into crime and suspense genres, and I really love it. Dark contemporary fantasy is another genre I’d like to spend more time in, and I have a few projects up my sleeves for that. One is an expansion on my story “Devil Riders” and another is a story about baseball, deities, and small town organized crime I currently have on a back burner.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

Place pen on paper, make one giant scribble. That’s my path. Honestly, if Vincent Hobbes hadn’t found one of my free stories on Amazon, I don’t know where I’d be right now. I’d had a few short story credits and was making my way slowly into the indie world, but if he hadn’t found me, I’m not sure either Strings or The Last Supper would have happened, and I never would have met you or your wife and I wouldn’t be in Wrapped in White. One thing leads to another.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

Roland Deschain of The Dark Tower series is by far my favorite protagonist, probably because he also serves as his own antagonist. He’s a man driven by his own demons and obsessions to do both great and terrible things.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

Movies and food. I’d love to have a career in both one day. Hey, maybe I’ll have a craft services business in Hollywood, where I can serve donuts to the stars!

Just be sure to save me a few! Thanks again for joining me today and letting us get to know you better. I wish you the best of luck with Wrapped In White and all of your future endeavours.

***

Image of Allison M. Dickson

Allison M. Dickson is a writer of dark contemporary fiction. Two of her short stories currently appear in The Endlands Volume 2 from Hobbes End Publishing, and two of her collected works are currently available on Amazon along with her indie pulp novel, COLT COLTRANE AND THE LOTUS KILLER. Her debut novel STRINGS, a psychological suspense story, released to rave reviews from Hobbes End, and the same publisher will be releasing her dystopian sci-fi book, THE LAST SUPPER, in spring of 2014. When she’s not writing, she’s co-hosting a weekly podcast, Creative Commoners. After spending several years in Olympia, Washington she returned with her husband and kids to her native Midwest and currently resides in Dayton, OH.


Smashwords Interviews Patrick C. Greene

Welcome to Smashwords, Patrick C. Greene.

You currently utilize Smashwords to present the readers with “permanent freebies” – What are your future plans with Smashwords?

Yes. That is correct. One of my publishers, Sekhmet Press, offers a few of my older short stories for free.  Although, my best-selling short story, Bill’s Becoming, is now also available via Smashwords (iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobos…) for $0.99. And I believe that trend may continue.  My entire catalog is available via Amazon – short stories, anthologies from Hobbes End, Sekhmet Press and Rymfire Books, and my novel PROGENY from Hobbes End Publishing.

What is the first work of fiction you remember writing?

I wrote a story about a giant praying mantis for school when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. When it was time to introduce my monster, I spelled out ‘GIANT PRAYING MANTIS!’ in scary font. I had this affinity for weird bugs and lizards.

Your work, while definitely horror, seems to reach into other genres as well. Is that something you do consciously?

I believe a story of any genre should be first and foremost, a drama. People joke that The Walking Dead for example, consists of more scenes with the characters arguing than battling zombies. Even George Romero has leveled that criticism. But the strong characters and their efforts to remain the people they were before shit went bad is what keeps the series going. Romero’s films themselves were heavy on the drama.I became interested in martial arts and action films at a young age so I do tend to draw from that to build characters and create suspense. Maintaining a breathless pace seems to work well for many of the scenarios in which I write, but I love a good mood piece as well. And of course, you can’t deny the opportunities for scares in the sci-fi genre.

You have a story in the vampire short story collection Wrapped In Red as well as a vampire novel coming soon. What is your opinion of the current state of vampires?

A few years back when Interview With A Vampire was being adapted to film, there was already some dispute over beautiful, angsty vamps versus the more straight forward Nosferatu types. If we trace the lore all the way back to its origins in old Europe, we find a nasty, mindless, completely feral creature with little humanity. It was probably Stoker who brought a little romance to their game, so really, who are any of us to be critical of one type of vamp over another? There are nearly as many variations of them as there humankind.That said, we should probably try to settle on a general set of guidelines. I haven’t read or seen Twilight, but I doubt there’s a context in which that kind of vampire is scary. So bottom line: let’s keep them scary!

What are your favorite types of monsters and sub-genres of horror?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese monsters. Nobody imagines a monster quite like the Japanese, from the Godzilla/Gamera films to their most twisted anime’. I’ve also gone through phases with all the Universal classics, and as you might imagine, I find the legendary monsters of cryptozoological lore to be endlessly fascinating. Ultimately, a monster that is or was human is the most interesting.

You’re an avowed fan of kung fu films and martial arts in general, often giving your characters fighting experience. Do you feel it’s possible to combine martial arts and horror and make it work?

The Resident Evil films have done okay with that kind of crossover I think. There are actually a good many examples, but I think it’s a thin line. If you’re protagonist is too powerful or heroic then your villain is not as scary, and scares are priority one. Chuck Norris was in a movie called Silent Rage that worked in starts and stops. It’s the same reason horror comedies generally fail; one or the other, folks. Let’s not try to get too cute.

As a screenwriter, how do you feel when you see great horror books adapted for the screen?

I’d rather see great films adapted as books! It’s asking a lot of people who are hamstrung by budget, by creative input from several conflicting contributors, and by everything from weather to location, to ask them to do justice to a book which is really limited only by imagination. They should all be viewed with that understanding. I say, if it draws attention to a great source material then it’s all good.

Your short Silver Surrogate is so surreal, at times it’s just this side of a nightmare. How hard was it to attain that level of oddness?

As any writer will tell you, most stories seem to just be filtering themselves through you. I felt the best way to maintain some kind of dream-like feel was to not set boundaries, in terms of “this” reality versus that of dreams, or free-form drawing, or what have you. So once the characters started doing things that didn’t necessarily make sense at first glance, I knew I couldn’t fight it. I had to let them play out their sick, irrational schemes and hope none of it spilled over into my mind or this–our, world.

Horror is a genre of ever changing trends. What do you see as the future of horror?

It seems we can always count on a handful of archetypes, all leading back to the unknown. Teens will always go camping, scientists will always play God, humans will always want more than they have at an unimaginable cost. As technology begins to take over our lives I think the future of horror will be based around -not the negative effects of that technology, a la Terminator, but the potential loss of it. Already, every horror film has to create a scenario in which cell phones don’t function or are broken or lost. The long-forgotten Y2K scare might have taught us a lesson about the over-reliance on tech, but instead it only served as a Boy Who Cried Wolf, and we are all the villagers, inured to the alarms that have proven false one too many times. Many of us are over-reliant to the point that I can see mass hysteria taking hold tomorrow if we lose internet service, or the ability to text and thus be forced to engage in terrifying person to person communication.

You’ve taken to posting horror haiku on your facebook and twitter accounts on a regular basis. What is the origin story of that?

The first one came about a few years back when a horror website, Dread Central I believe, ran a contest, the entry requirement of which was to submit a haiku based on the Hellraiser mythos. It came pretty easily, and I enjoyed how the form caused me to attempt to evoke a feeling or even tell a story in such strict structure. I like to believe that in a past life, I was a samurai who was renowned for my ability to tell amazing ghost stories that shivered the bones of even the most hardened battlefield veterans.

You’re a self-described aficionado of dark art. In this age of ebooks, what are your feelings on cover art for horror books?

I confess that I miss the painted covers of the past; even the bad ones. It seems to be easier to compose a cover these days and some, digital or otherwise, are very good, very evocative. My wife, chief of Sekhmet Press has gotten to be quite nimble in coming up with covers and advertising materials, so my hat’s off to her and anyone who can create an eye-catching piece. The cover for Progeny, by Jordan Benoit, is outstanding, and I’m darkly blessed to have his work calling attention to mine.Of course, these days we’re dealing with much smaller images when our potential reader is scanning amazon for their next read. They have to be brighter and perhaps more to the point. It may be true that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that cover still has to present some element of the book’s feel and/or plot to draw in the reader, so I believe it’s something worth fretting over, especially for newer or indie authors. Right behind editing services, a good cover artist is a worthwhile investment.

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Possessed or Dispossessed?

Author James Glass is joining me today to celebrate the release of his highly anticipated sequel to THE MURDERED METATRON.

both books mm mm2THE DISPOSSESSED is Book 2 in The Metatron Mysteries series, and I hear the early readers are already begging for Book 3!

***

Playing host to the voice of God can be a strain,

and as John Smith is discovering,

the source of many hangovers.

Add to that a missing demon, and it’s one hell of a week.

***

While I’ve got James here, I thought I’d ask a few questions about the writing process for #METATRON

What kind of music do you listen to for inspiration?

Ultimately, the music depends on the story. When writing the Metatron Mysteries the playlists ran the gamut from Big Band to Industrial. I believe each story has its own evolving soundtrack and feel to it, and it is my task to discover that playlist and put it together as I put pen to paper.

Have you ever started a project, felt it run out of steam and had to abandon it? 

Never have I abandoned a project – yet. Then again, I have not written many stories, so perhaps my time will come. There was a point during the writing of the second Metatron book where I was trapped in a type of limbo with my characters in a small town called Port Jervis, but that is about the closest I’ve come to abandoning all hope.

What’s the most shocking book or story you’ve ever read?

The closest I have come to being shocked by anything I’ve read was a very graphic scene in Lamia by Suzi M. To this day I cringe when I think about it.

Do you remember a particular moment or incident that made you decide to be a writer?

No moment in particular, no. I was born a writer, I suspect.

Do you have a certain space and time set aside for writing or is it more of a free-form process?

It is very much a freeform process because I go where the characters take me. Typically I begin writing in a notebook and eventually translate the written word to typed pages. The most recent example I can give of just how freeform the process is would be during the writing of The Murdered Metatron. I wrote an entire scene from the observation deck of the 44th New York Infantry Monument at Little Roundtop in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania after walking there from the center of town. While looking down on Devil’s Den I remembered a story I had overheard about the stream running through the area and the short story ‘The Vampire of Plum Run’ was born. I am never quite sure what ideas will appear from the ether, or which characters.

How would you describe your writing style?

Hard-boiled urban neo-Noir.

What other sorts of themes or genres would you like to explore?

I have explored erotica as well as horror and been told I am good at both. I do enjoy my detective stories, however.

Please briefly describe your path to publication.

Quite a happy accident, to be honest. I began with random work on Suzi M’s website as a resident writer, took a hiatus and wandered aimlessly for some time, and then it was as if I was resurrected somehow. I wrote the first installment of the Metatron Mysteries with no real expectations other than it would be my best-seller. Shortly after its publication I happened into a conversation with Jennifer Greene over at Sekhmet Press LLC and here we are.

Who are your favorite fictional antagonist and protagonist and what was it about them that struck a chord for you?

To be honest, there are so many I thoroughly enjoy it would be difficult to pick just a pair out and hold them aloft as The Favorite. It is a shifting sandstorm of preferences. The most memorable for me – and possibly because I know the authors quite well – would be Nemesis and Lamia from the Immortal War Series by Suzi M (for those who have read the series, you may recognize Azrael and the nod to Lamia within the pages of The Murdered Metatron), and Kain from the short story ‘Sundogs’ by Xircon (who subsequently makes an appearance in my next work). In Xircon’s novella ‘The Lazarus Stone’ there is a character – the main character, really – who has no name and can easily balance between both antagonist and protagonist at the same time. He fascinates me perhaps because he is a stark contrast to the over-the-top element in the previously mentioned Immortal War Series, the difference between gods versus gods and a man as a lonely god in an empty world.

Aside from writing, what is your favorite artistic medium?

I enjoy painting and playing the mandolin.

Mandolin! You never fail to surprise us James. Thank you so much for being here and I wish you the very best of luck in all of your endeavours and may The Dispossessed go straight to Number 1!

Discover more about James and THE METATRON MYSTERIES

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James Glass

James Glass enjoys his privacy, but frequently finds that he plays an unwilling host to Xircon. When not visiting red light districts of red light cities, he can frequently be found contemplating life in the seediest of libraries.


The Guide: Celebrating Women in Fiction 2014

Via Sekhmet Press LLC 

The Guide: Celebrating Women in Fiction 2014.

Welcome to Books, Babes, and the Business

We will be celebrating women in fiction the entire month of February.

We will  host a guest blogger each day, then on February 28th from 1-3 pm EST you can join us on Facebook for a big party! We’ll have virtual refreshments, hilarious games, and REAL PRIZES! Don’t miss it! Invite your friends!

Feb 1. Welcome to Celebrating Women in Fiction 2014
2. Allison M. Dickson
3. Killion Slade ….CLICK FOR FULL SCHEDULE


WORLD OF BLOOD – Exsanguinate

Author Interview with Killion Slade

Who doesn’t love a great vampire series, especially at Christmas time!

Today we’re interviewing the married writing team, Killion Slade, and featuring their newly released novel

Exsanguinate

blog killion5***

Amidst an impending vampire apocalypse, Cheyenne finds herself both in conflict for survival and for her heart. Will her immortal self derail any hope of solving the multiplying puzzles before time runs out to save her sisters, herself and her humanity?

WATCH THE TRAILER

***

Q.  How did you meet?

A. We met in the virtual reality online game Second Life. Mr. Slade was selling his real world photographs to other game players, and Mrs. Slade was doing research for a client related to the World of Warcraft. After a casual meeting at a dance club, it was discovered that we both worked in the same profession with separate specialties. This led to days at work conferencing  over VoIP, and evenings virtually dating on Second Life. Less than a year later, Mrs. Slade had made the move to Montana. Virtually commuting days at the day job and spending evenings together in real life became our normal lifestyle.blog killion2

Q.  This novel has an interactive second screen website?

A.  Yes, we were inspired by Chantal Noordeloos from her recent release on Coyote, with their second screen version.  To read our novel, it is stand alone, but for those who want a little more – we provided the extra special secret bonus features.  We like to think of it as a Blu-ray of reading.  You loved the movie – now you want to see the special features, deleted scenes, interviews with the characters, etc.  That is how we envisioned a reader might want to enjoy a few of the extended scenes which didn’t necessarily move the story forward or have the action required, but they would enjoy reading an extended zombie parade scene, a Battle Kroc fight sequence, or expand on the haunted houses inside the theme park.

The ebook version has interactive links to the World of Blood website which does exactly that.  It allows the reader, if they so desire, to navigate to the website from their phone, tablet or PC and read the extras, check out the pictures, and learn more from each character’s dossier.  The printed book has a QR code is embedded in the text inviting the reader to experience more if they would like to explore.

Each version of the book stands alone on its own.  A reader need not use the website to enjoy the story. The website is for the extra little goodies. Scenes that we wanted to include, but didn’t necessarily move the story forward at the fast pace needed in today’s instant gratification society.  For example, we enjoyed writing out a detailed zombie parade scene, it was great fun, but all of that detail didn’t have direct impact on the plot structure and needed to be cut.  We wanted to reward the reader who would like to have read the zombie parade scene, and now they can.

Q.  How do you story board inside Second Life?

A. Together we own a small section of mainland where we have a photography studio and enough room to build custom backdrops. The studio has hundreds of poses as well as third party “pose balls” which enable us to position the avatars to build our scenes. Not only does this allow us to set a scene, it also gives us a reason to spend time where we met. Our book trailers rely heavily on the scenes created inside Second Life.

Q.  Why did you choose to write this story?

A. We had both done some personal writing in the past. Deeply interested in vampires, dragons, and other preternatural and natural phenomenon, a spark formed. We began talking about a story line that encompassed our combined interests. This story involves items from history, mythology, virtual realities, and our imaginations.

Q.  Is it hard to write with your spouse?

A. We must both admit that yes, writing with a spouse can definitely have its challenges. But the rewards outweigh any obstacle thrown at us. It’s fun to have a conversation about people who don’t exist and turn them into characters people can enjoy.

Q.  Would you do it again?

A. Not only would we, but we have planned out the World of Blood series to include five, possibly six books.  We look to release The Blood Oath – World of Blood – Book Two in 2014.

About the Author

blog killion1Killion Slade is a married writing team who met in the virtual realms of Second Life and virtually enjoy everything. Members of the Horror Writers Association and the Paranormal Romance Guild, they storyboard their characters inside Second Life as their avatars reveal their stories. Tucked away in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Montana, they stay busy chasing kids, corralling horses and cats, and enjoying the harvest from their garden. Married on Halloween – they love to live life to the fullest and embrace one another each and every day.

Killion Slade can be reached at the following:
Email:  Killion@killionslade.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/killion.slade
Website:  http://www.killionslade.com/contact/

blog killion4


Author Appearing in Asheville NC!

mr k promo 2013

Patrick C. Greene will be appearing LIVE on The Jeff Messer Show and at Mr. K’s Books in Asheville NC

 FRIDAY 11/8/2014

Patrick will be LIVE on the Jeff Messer Radio Show on 880am around

4:30pm

radio logoListen LIVE on iHEART RADIO 

 

After that Patrick will be at Mr. K’s Books signing books and running his mouth from

6-8pm

mr k books2Mr. K’s BOOKS

 

Come out and see us!

 


A Chat with Debut Horror Novelist Allison M. Dickson

Sekhmet Press

REBLOG FROM

The Dark Phantom Review

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, STRINGS. What was your inspiration for it?

A: The book originally began life as a short story I had out for awhile on Amazon called “The Good Girls,” where I told the story of a young and indebted prostitute assigned to visit a horrifying hermit as her final job. But when other readers told me the story read like the beginning to a much longer book, I decided to run with that and the book was born a short time later. I really wanted to tell a story that didn’t have a true hero. I wanted to explore elements of control and freedom, and whether or not those things were illusions. I was inspired a lot by the great crime fiction of Gillian Flynn and Dennis Lehane, but I wanted to add my own special…

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Beast of Boggy Creek sighted in Ghoultown!

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Lyle Blackburn of Fouke Monster and Ghoultown fame!

Lyle Blackburn

Lyle Blackburn

Lyle Blackburn is a frequent contributor and cryptozoology advisor to Rue Morgue magazine, one of the leading horror media publications in print today. Lyle’s Monstro Bizarro blog is featured on Rue Morgue’s website and his “Monstro Bizarro Presents” news column appears monthly in the print magazine. He has also contributed to websites such as Cryptomundo.com, and has been a featured speaker at paranormal conferences and horror conventions around the country.

Growing up in Texas, Lyle has always been fascinated with legends, lore and sighting reports of real-life “monsters.” He has studied the phenomenon in legend, fact and film, and is the author of The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster.

Lyle is also the founder and frontman for the Texas-based rock band, Ghoultown. Since 1998, Ghoultown has released eight albums, toured extensively in both the U.S. and Europe, and has appeared on several horror movie soundtracks. Most recently, Lyle and his band collaborated with legendary television horror hostess, Elvira – Mistress of the Dark, to create her new theme song, which was also turned into an extended music video. The video was featured on Elvira’s Movie Macabre television show, which is syndicated throughout the U.S. on local stations.

Your book The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of The Fouke Monster has been selling consistently well and receiving great reviews. It even has a Video Promo. How long did you spend putting it together?

BBC_BookFrom the time I started researching and writing, it took one year.  Of course I had prior knowledge and experiences that went into the book, but as far as from the time I drove up to Fouke with the intention of book research to the date I finished and got a publishing deal, it was almost one year exactly.  During that year I went to Arkansas many times to conduct interviews, visit the Texarkana libraries, and even go into the swamps and woods myself so I could investigate some of the sighting locations.

Word is there’s a follow up in the works. Can you tell us anything about it yet?

One of these days I plan to write a follow-up to Boggy Creek, but it’ll be awhile before I start.  Since releasing the book, I’ve already investigated several new Fouke Monster sightings, found out about some more old ones, and also dug up some more interesting facts that will make for a great book.  But it still needs time to develop more before starting that.  There’s still stuff coming in so I don’t wanna jump the gun.  In other words, I don’t wanna throw out some sequel just because the first book was popular.  It needs to be worthwhile for myself and the reader.  In the meantime, I have a list of other cryptid books I plan to write, not to mention I just finished a new book that will be out this fall.

When did you start hunting monsters? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I was always interested in strange creatures like bigfoot, yeti, and lake monsters, but never really considered going out to look for them until much later in life.  After seeing The Legend of Boggy Creek as a kid, I did look over my shoulder when we hunted or went camping in Arkansas, but my interest was mostly confined to reading other people’s accounts in books.  Then after years of playing in bands, which pretty much confined me to the jungles of nightclubs and music venues, I decided to cut that off and start getting back to my love of the outdoors and monsters.  I started with bigfoot research, which led to the book, which has now led to most of my time being spent researching cryptids both in a scholarly way and in the field.

The Legend of Boggy Creek was a major inspiration for my novel Progeny as well. You’ve amassed a comprehensive list of Bigfoot flicks. What are some of your favorites?

My favorite, of course, is The Legend of Boggy Creek.  For me it not only satisfies my craving for scary bigfoot tales, but also reminds me so much of my childhood going through small towns like Fouke on the way to bow hunt with my dad.  There was always something creepy about old towns, as if they held monstrous secrets that outsiders could never know.  Such is the basis for many other horror films, I suppose.

Some of my other favorite classic bigfoot films are Creature From Black Lake, Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot, and Snow Beast.  As far as new films, I like Savage and one that was never widely released called Paper Dolls.  But the best of the new crop, and my favorite besides Boggy Creek, is Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek.  It’s not released yet, but I had a chance to see a special screening of it last month.  It’s simply amazing. Something that people probably won’t expect from Bobcat, but certainly one of the best bigfoot films – if not one of the best horror films – I’ve seen in awhile.

Ever had any weird incidents when you were out in the field doing your research? cryptids_poster-r410f1405f77541e1b5010a225da99d10_w2q_8byvr_512

I’ve a had a few.  The most notable was when myself and a friend were canoeing in an Arkansas bayou late one night.  We heard six evenly spaced howls that sent chills up our spines.  We’ve heard all kinds of animals in the woods over the years, but this was something altogether different.  It was a large animal that sounded very unique.  Luckily we got one of the howls recorded.  Back at home I listened to numerous sound clips of animals common to the area, but couldn’t find any matches.  To this day, I’m not sure what we heard.

In previous interviews you’ve stated that you are more inclined to the theory that sasquatch and its variants are flesh and blood creatures, rather than interdimensional travelers with supernatural powers. Does this extend to other strange topics, such as UFOs and ghosts? In other words, have you pretty well ruled out validity of paranormal phenomena?  

Not necessarily.  I think it depends on how we define paranormal.  By definition, unidentified flying objects undoubtedly exist.  People do see strange lights and crafts in the sky.  The question is, are they driven by an extraterrestrial force?  Nobody can conclusively prove that one way or the other, so it certainly falls into the category of paranormal until we have more concrete evidence to go on.  Ghosts too.  I think that people are seeing, hearing, and experiencing things that can’t be easily explained.  The question is, are these the immaterial forms of a dead people?  Again, nobody can say at this point, so that too falls into the category of paranormal.

If you somehow obtained indisputable proof of the existence of one of these creatures, what do you think you would do with it?

I would probably consult a few of my closest and most well-respected friends in the bigfoot research community so that we might be able to thoroughly document the evidence before going public.  Then I would probably hold a press conference or something so that no one could dispute that we had something before the government or some other major scientific organization moves in.  I think it would be an earth-shattering discovery to find something that is so human-like as bigfoot appears to be, so it shouldn’t be something taken lightly or made public in a haphazard way.

Like everything else, Bigfoot and his cousins have found their way to reality television and its ilk. Do you find this to be a positive or negative development for the science of cryptozoology?

cryptoIt’s both good and bad, I guess.  It’s good, in that it makes people feel like they won’t be called crazy if they do report a sighting.  But bad, since reality television is not the same as thorough science or research.  People may draw conclusions about cryptozoology based on the approach of these shows, or even the cast members, when it may not necessarily represent what truly goes on in the field.

That being said, I personally don’t get all stressed out about these shows.  I understand that it’s entertainment television and I choose to enjoy the shows, or not.  I’ve even been on some of them.  Some of them are fun and some are kinda worthless, but overall I think it’s gotten the public fired up about the subject of mystery monsters, and to me, that’s not a bad thing.  So I just don’t spend much energy worrying about things I can’t really control.  I just try to write good books and present good lectures.  That’s the part I can control, so I focus my energies there.

What other anomalous phenomena interest you?

I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and sightings.  I love creepy stuff, so anything like that is cool.  I just got the In Search Of… DVD set, so it’s fun to watch all the different episodes which cover so many weird things.  The world is always a better place when there’s a bit of mystery involved.

Onto music. Your band Ghoultown has been together since 98 which is a pretty long run for a band. How do you guys maintain the magic?

I think the secret to our longevity is that we don’t take it too seriously.  The music business can really kick you in the ass, so at the end of the day you just have to try and have fun doing what you do.  We’re also good friends, so that helps too.

On the Ghoultown website, the band bio concludes with the statement to the effect that you are not a part of any genre, trend or musical scene. Why do you feel it’s important to make this disclaimer–if that’s what it is?

I guess you could call it a statement of independence.  But really it’s just something that popped into my head as I was writing up the new bio.  It sounded cool, so that was that.

There’s no doubt that Ghoultown is a unique melding of genres. Who are some of your influences and favorites?

Spaghetti westerns and horror movies are the main influence for the band.  Most of the bands I listen to have no influence or relation to what I do in Ghoultown, so there’s not very much influence coming in from other music.Ghoultown_Photo1_web current

Of your own songs, which mean the most to you for whatever reason?

“Return of the Living Dead” is my favorite because I think technically, it’s the best song I’ve written.  Some of my other favorites are “Under the Phantom Moon,” Walking Through the Desert With a Crow” and “The Worm.”  I hardly ever go back and listen to our music once it’s been recorded and released, but these are songs I listen to and say ‘wow, did I really write that?’

Anybody ever tell you you look like that dude from Monster Magnet?

Yes.  The clerks at the big retail guitar store give me discount because they think I’m in Monster Magnet.  I just roll with it.

You’re secret’s safe with me bro–but I can’t vouch for the freakos who read this blog.


Character Interview: Abner Summeral from Patrick C Greene’s horror novel PROGENY

Beyond the Books

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Abner from Patrick C Greene’s new horror adventure PROGENY.  Abner is a fifty four year old hunter living in Eagle Ridge North Carolina. It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Abner.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Progeny for mayraPleasure to be here, (ma’am/sir.) I reckon he done a right smart job-I was a skeered all over again, even after all this time, when I read his book. I would like to say that I don’t think I was quite as skittish as he made me out to be, but all them other fellers-the ones what stayed alive, they all say I was actin’ purdy womanly, and I gotta admit–I try not to think about it…

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