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

Posts tagged “ghosts

STINGY JACK Available Now!

AVAILABLE NOW at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play,  Kobo, Smashwords, and Overdrive.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-27 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.

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STINGY JACK is coming soon…

COMING SOON to Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.

Click below for more information and scroll down to read an excerpt from the new story

STINGY JACK, OL’ SCRATCH, AND A HEAD FULL OF FIRE

STINGY JACK and Other Tales

Screenshot-2017-10-3 Stingy Jack and Other Tales


Excerpt from:

Stingy Jack, Ol’ Scratch, and a Head Full of Fire

Jack shuffled into the cottage, his grimy hat gripped in both blackened hands, and stopped just past the door.

His sister Elspeth rose from stoking the fire and huffed at the sight of him, hoisting her skirt to stalk past him and out, slamming the door behind.

Jack lay his hat over the wooden peg on the wall, and took a single, miserly step forward, watching the old woman -who now seemed almost like a stranger to him- for signs of wakefulness. It would be a relief if she didn’t rouse, if she never roused, for she hadn’t offered a single kind or comforting word in many years, not since he was a teenager. Despite circumstances, Jack did not expect a change.

But family and neighbors lingered outside, and none would spare a charitable thought or word for him if he spent any less than a good halved hour tearfully apologizing to the poor old woman, and swearing his renewed, unshakable devotion to the path of The Straight and The Narrow.

Tears were not to be, alas, but the time he could manage, so long as the old woman slept most of it away.

Jack looked at the fireplace, stayed well back from it. Elspeth had almost always taken care of the fires –she’d had to be after all, for Jack hated fire and avoided it like leprosy, even when he inherited the blacksmith business from his uncle. Thanks be to God he had inherited his uncle’s helper, Colm as well.

But hearing the low eerie squeal of steam escaping from the young birch logs, he shook his head vigorously. That sound was why he only allowed Colm to use wood left drying for a season or so. It was bad enough he had to be around fire all day. Screaming fire was insufferable.

His gaze rose to the silver cup on the mantle and he immediately wondered what value it held. Then a hoarse cough from behind had him cringing.

He turned and saw that his mother’s eyes, watery and fogged, were open and focused on him. Her frail hand rose from her side, weakly wriggling fingers of summons.

He hoped for the regretful and forgiving love of the dying, but when he extended his hand, she clutched with such harsh strength and speed it gave him a start.

He leaned toward her, but just a few inches. Dead and dying bodies sent him queasy. Even mere mice in the mouths of the village cats -whose eyes gone wild and distant with some fugue caused by killing, their ears pointed backward to detect would-be thieves- made him feel like a wee lad in a vast dark forest.

His old mum, already interred under a mound of quilts, managed a string of clear and concise words. “Jacky. Ye make my heart hurt.”

“It’s gonna be all right, mum.” Jack whispered. “Just get your rest and ye’ll be back on-“

“Ye’ll never change.” She coughed again, a droplet splatting Jack’s cheek, making him revulse. “An’ I can’t protect ye any longer! I’m bound fer glory…”

“No mum. Ye’re gonna be fine.”

She ignored him, drawing her other hand from under the heavy quilts, a trying labor. In it was her cross, the silver one for which she had saved and saved, to buy from a silversmith the next town over when she was just a lass. She had worn it all these years, hanging it on one bit of string after another as they wore thin.

She held it up in trembling hands, on the opposite side of the bed from where Jack stood; the side pushed against the wall. Jack had to reach across her to take it, holding his breath as he did for fear he would inhale some essence of her ancient illness.

As she released it, thoughts of its value danced in his mind, and of potential buyers.

“Keep it with ye, boy,” his mother rasped. “Once I’m gone, ye won’t have my prayers to scare away the evils of the world.”

“Don’t say that, M-“

She sat up so fast it sent a thin rod of ice through his spine, and had him falling onto his ass as if kicked by a mule. Her eyes reflected the fire, and in so doing, brought Jack’s very worst memory to the fore. “That’s yer only hope, boy!” she bellowed, then fell back to the bed and gave off a hiss like that of the birch logs crumbling to ash in the fireplace.

Jack closed his eyes and shook his head till it hurt, trying to break apart that image against the inside of his head. But the vigil watchers would have heard the cry; they would be crashing in, and it wouldn’t look good for him to be cowering on the floor, so he quickly rose and approached her, looking for the rise of the quilt over her chest.

There was none. He reached out to shake her gently, and realized his calloused hands were shaking.

Then the door burst open, and Elspeth was pushing past him.

“Mother!?” She frantically patted the corpse’s pale cheeks, shook the scrawny, purple-veined hands, put her ear to the old woman’s ears. More watchers came in to crowd past him, and Jack suddenly realized he was in the presence of a dead body. He dashed out of the cottage, roughly pushing past the vigil keepers as he went to the big Ash tree behind the chicken coop and vomited his gorge of beef, turnip hearts and very much beer.


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