Author Interview – Xtina Marie

This month we switch it up and instead of a novelist, I’ve coerced a writer of dark poetry to answer a few questions. Read on as we catch up with Xtina Marie, the Dark Poet Princess.

Xtina, thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions.

  1. Though I’ve written a lot of poetry, I haven’t shared it with many people. For me, it’s a lot more personal than working with fiction. How long have you been writing poetry and what inspired you to share it so publicly with the rest of the world?

28191326_2035996173351588_1643383694_n Poetry is a lot more personal! While I’ve been sharing my stories since I was in middle school, it took a lot longer to share my poetry. I remember my first poem, when I was about 17. I was sitting in a dark room, candles lit, and heartbroken over some boy. I wrote often, after that. It seemed a good way for me to purge my demons. A few years ago, I had this author buddy. While we were chatting one day, she mentioned that she was proofreading a poetry book. I decided to share my work with her. And she loved my words. Encouraged me to publish.

 

 

  1. You’re known as the Dark Poet Princess. There’s got to be a story behind that. Could you share the origins of that title with us?

Man, that’s a tough one. I remember who I got the name from, but not necessarily how. Let’s see. My first book of poetry, Dark Musings, was published with a new small publishing house. The founder of the company was a guest on a podcast, and it was on the air where he made mention of The Dark Poet Princess, Xtina Marie. And it just kinda stuck.

  1. You co-host a weekly podcast with the owner of Hellbound Books Publishing, James H. Longmore called The New Panic Room Radio Show. How did you and James meet and what inspired the two of you to do the show? And, where on earth did that name come from?

30180295_2067340520217153_1936629352_nThese are some good questions! The Panic Room was the idea of the former publisher I mentioned in the previous answer. We were all in a group chat on Facebook minutes before the first episode, when the boss says, “You ready, Xtina?” I about had a heart attack. Ready for what?? And no, I most certainly was not ready! But, I am a trooper. I called in and co-hosted that first episode. It was a train wreck, and I think we had 8 listeners. It was filled with embarrassing dead air, and my co-host would occasionally burst into song. We did a two hour show for a few weeks, and James Longmore was a guest on one of them. I was a tiny bit familiar with his work but had never spoken to him before. That show was great! After, the former publisher asked James if he wanted to co-host the show with the other woman and I. That company fell apart and James and I changed the name to The New Panic Room Radio Show, and we are now almost 100 episodes in.

  1. You’ve already released a few books of poetry. What’s next for Xtina? Have you ever considered writing short stories or maybe even a novel?

30180602_2067340550217150_1628519275_n I have a book of poetry set to release in the fall, I am very excited about it. In my opinion, it’s my best poetry to date. And I am in the early stages of both a horror novel and a erotic romance.

  1. Where can people get your books and find out all there is to know about the Dark Poet Princess? My website has links to my books, as well as the HellBound website, and Amazon.

Website: The World of Xtina Marie

Publisher Author Page: HellBound Books Publishing

Amazon Author Page: Author – Xtina Marie

 

 

A Few Weekend Happenings

Got a few things going on this weekend.

COVER-WARS

On SUNDAY APRIL 15th, voting for my entry in Cover Wars begins. Voting runs for a week and you can vote every 24 hours. Can’t emphasis enough how important it is that you vote for Dark Hollow Road each and every day. The winner receives a week’s worth of free publicity and will be the featured author of the week. There’s a lot of potential there to get my work known better and to boost sales. So, come Sunday morning, go to COVER WARS and VOTE FOR ME – or rather – VOTE FOR DARK HOLLOW ROAD HERE and help me win the coveted prize.

Screenshot-2018-4-13 Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

I was recently interviewed by Curtis Freeman over at Cedar Hollow Horror. I haven’t done an interview in a while so am super excited to get another one out there. We talk about my favorite books and movies, totem animals, works in progress, and most importantly, beer!

I was recently made aware that a friend of my son is also a poet! She’s a wonderful young woman and I hope you’ll take some time to hop over to Amazon to check out her first book of poetry WELL OF MIDNIGHT.

Last but not least, The Witch’s Backbone Part 2: The Murder has finally made its way to Draft 3 status. It will soon be handed off to a select few beta readers who will tell me what they really think and from there I’ll either take their advice or say, “Are you kidding me? I am NOT changing that!” LOL. But, seriously – it’s getting closer and closer to being done with, so all of you that have already read TWB1: The Curse can at last find out the fate of remaining characters! And for those of you you haven't - you still have time to catch up.

Until next time – Write On!

Author Interview – Joshua Palmatier

  1. Josh, thanks so much more agreeing to this interview. I’ve admired your work for a long time. It’s so well-written and though you don’t skimp word count, your work isn’t wordy in a bad way at all, for which I am truly thankful. What first inspired you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write stories?

BenTate I was always an avid reader, of course, but in the eighth grade I had an English teacher who gave us an assignment: write a Twilight Zone story, 500 words.  I’d never had a teacher assign anything creative like this—it has always been three-paragraph arguments or essays—so this assignment was a pleasant surprise.  But 500 words!  *grin*  I managed to write a story called “Aquantico” about a man watching his world be destroyed by water as his spaceship escaped the cataclysm.  Basically, a rip-off of Atlantis.  The teacher loved it and wrote, “You should write more,” on top of the paper.  That lit a supernova in my head: someone was writing these stories that I loved to read … and that someone could be me.  I began writing short stories immediately, moving on to novels fairly quickly.

  1. Writers also tend to be big readers. Who are some of the authors that you enjoy reading or ones that have inspired your own work?

Early inspiration came from Terry Brooks and Katherine Kurtz and Andre Norton.  They were the ones who shaped my writing while I was teaching myself how to write.  Later inspiration came from authors such as Tad Williams and Guy Gavriel Kay.  For all of them, I loved the worlds they created, the characters that lived there, and the sense of awe they inspired.  I wanted to duplicate that with my own worlds, my own characters.

  1. You’ve also write as Benjamin Tate (or does he write as Joshua Palmatier?) who is the author listed on my copy of Well of Sorrows. Can we look forward to more from this alter ego and what inspired you to write as him when you were already well-established using your own name?

Benjamin Tate is the pseudonym of Joshua Palmatier and he was created solely as a marketing strategy.  Essentially, DAW Books—my publisher—wanted to use a pseudonym for the second series in an attempt to increase my audience.  It was an open secret, meaning that I could tell anyone I wanted that it was really me, Joshua Palmatier, but the bookstores wouldn’t know that it was me and so they would treat the Benjamin Tate releases as a debut author.  The hope was that everyone who loved Joshua Palmatier would hear that Ben Tate was really me and buy the books, while customers at the bookstore would see the books and try out a new author.  The strategy didn’t really work, so at this point, Benjamin Tate is dead.  The “Well of Sorrows” series has been re-released under the Joshua Palmatier name and all books since then have been released under my real name.

  1. You’ve started your own imprint recently, Zombies Need Brains. Would you tell us more about this project, how it started, and where you hope for it to go?

Well, way back when, Patricia Bray and I had this idea for a themed anthology—a bar that represented the epitome of all bars at any one moment, and as soon as it went out of style, the bar would shift to a new location and be popular once again.  We decided that Gilgamesh would be the bartender—his solution to finding immortality.  We pitched the idea to Tekno, who pitched it to DAW, and so AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR was released by DAW.  We enjoyed the editing experience so much, we pitched another idea and THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY came into existence.  But then the publishing world went through a major shake-up and DAW ended up cutting their anthology line down to just a few anthologies per year (if that).  I waited to see if they’d bring the anthology line back once things settled down, but after a few years I gave up and decided I’d just create my own small press and release the anthologies on my own.  Thus Zombies Need Brains was born, a small press focused on releasing themed SF&F anthologies.  We fund the anthologies using Kickstarters (usually running around mid-August to mid-September) and we open up the anthologies to an open call, meaning anyone can submit their stories to the anthologies during a certain window.  So far, we’ve produced seven anthologies, with three more funded and expected to be released in September.  We’re hoping to run another Kickstarter this August sometime for at least two more anthologies, possibly three.  I’d like to continue doing anthologies, but hope to eventually expand the small press into other projects, such as original novels, mosaic novels, etc.  But right now, we’re focusing on the anthologies.

  1. With the Erenthrall books behind you, what can we look forward to next from you as far as novels or short stories are concerned?

ReapingCover I’m currently working on the first book in a new series, set in an entirely new world from that used for the “Throne of Amenkor,” “Well of Sorrows,” and “Ley” series.  So of course it’s taking me a longer to write.  Hopefully I’ll have that done this summer (which means it wouldn’t be released until 2019 at the earliest).  I’m also continuing with the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, with three new releases this year and the new Kickstarter to run in August/September.  Assuming that’s a success, I’ll be working on the new anthologies for 2019 as well.  So lots of projects either finishing up or coming up in the near future.

  1. Thanks for taking part, Josh. Where are all the best places to find out more about you and your work?

I have webpages at www.joshuapalmatier.com and www.zombiesneedbrains.com.  You can also find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/joshua.b.palmatier and https://www.facebook.com/zombiesneedbrainsllc/) and Twitter (@bentateauthor and @ZNBLLC).  I also have an Instragram account:  https://www.instagram.com/joshuab.palmatier/.

JOSHUA PALMATIER is a fantasy author with a PhD in mathematics.  He currently teaches at SUNY Oneonta in upstate New York, while writing in his “spare” time, editing anthologies, and running the anthology-producing small press Zombies Need Brains LLC.  His most recent fantasy novel, Reaping the Aurora, concludes the fantasy series begun in Shattering the Ley and Threading the Needle, although you can also find his “Throne of Amenkor” series and the “Well of Sorrows” series still on the shelves.  He is currently hard at work writing his next novel and designing the kickstarter for the next Zombies Need Brains anthology project.  You can find out more at www.joshuapalmatier.com or at the small press’ site www.zombiesneedbrains.com.  Or follow him on Twitter as @bentateauthor or @ZNBLLC.

Author Interview – I.E. Lester

This month I’m happy to bring you all an interview with sci-fi and horror author I.E. Lester (aka Edmund Lester). Edmund’s YA supernatural novel “The Stairs Lead Down” is scheduled for release on Oct. 31st.

  1. Let’s start at the beginning. When did the writing bug bite you? Was it something that you aspired to as a youngster or is it a more recent interest?

The thought of writing fiction never occurred to my teenage or twenty-something self. I was a voracious reader in those days, mostly of science fiction, fantasy and horror, although some other fiction would occasionally sneak in. In my youth the reading bug was absolute; as was the collecting bug. As a result forty years after reading my first science fiction book, a short story collection by Isaac Asimov, I have a collection containing more than 16,000 books and magazines.

The first time the idea of writing science fiction appeared was when I created a science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction website called the Eternal Night. On this site I reviewed books, conducted author interviews, wrote articles about science fiction and science fact. I ran the site for the best part of ten years until the age of social media started and people moved away from web 1.0 sites.

During this period I was fortunate to meet many, many authors for the interviews section but also socially; including one particular group called the Terror Scribes. One or two of them wondered why I had never tried my hand at writing fiction. They encouraged me to give it a try although I was very hesitant. My background is in mathematics and physics. My day job was coding software systems. I was used to writing technical documents, an easy switch to the science articles, but I didn’t think I had any chance of adapting my writing style to fiction.

When I hit forty my wife told me to give it a try. Well, how could I disappoint her. So I tried writing some short stories and several of them sold, mostly to webzines but also to some small press magazines and anthologies. I continued with the short form for three years until an opportunity to set up a side line business selling superhero comics, toys, and merchandise presented itself which consumed all of the spare time I had.

When I sold the company after four years I decided to give writing another try only this time I wanted to see if I could write a novel. I did. And then I wrote another. Neither of them was any good but they proved to me I could stick with it all the way to typing those two glorious words, “The End”.

I wrote a third, a huge science fiction alternate history book that was intended to be the first in a series. It was the first novel I’d written where I felt it was actually a novel someone might read. I sent it out to every agent and publisher I could find who might consider it. None of them went for it; although a couple did request a full manuscript so that was encouraging. I wrote a fourth, a horror book based in part on my own childhood growing up just south of Birmingham in the 1970s. It too failed to find a home. I kept trying.

This was followed by a handful of weird novellas featuring a middle-aged, middle-class, middle-Englander whom I torment in strange ways; another horror novel, this one a claustrophobic tale of people stuck in a village store; a ya fantasy novel; a bawdy comedic space opera; two surreal novels on company culture and the fame game; and the YA supernatural, The Stairs Lead Down coming out on Hallowe’en 2017.

  1. I saw you had an article in Darker Matter some time ago called Generation Spaceships. Your other work has centered around the Horror genre, so I’m curious about a piece that is so very much Sci-Fi. It was quite a detailed piece of work.

My background is in science. I studied mathematics and physics at University and trained to be a teacher. I have maintained an interest in science ever since. Before the idea of writing fiction I had written and sold dozens of articles on science, history, horror, linguistics, plus a number of mini-biographies of people I admire.

When the online magazine Darker Matter started the editor was kind enough to consider my suggestion of including a non-fiction article in its first issue. I write a piece on Exoplanets, a topic I’d studied at University albeit it only in theory as it was 5 years after I left that the first one was discovered. The article seemed to go down well with his readers so we turned it into a series of articles on astrophysics. I enjoyed researching and writing these articles and was disappointed when the magazine ended.

You are right about the horror focus on my other published work. When I first started writing short stories the majority of the stories were horror. I couldn’t see the point of trying to write fantasy short stories. Fantasy to me is long form. Science fiction is a very friendly genre to the short form and I did write a number of sf shorts but I found horror much easier. There’s something satisfying about getting a little scare in, in just a few words. I had a particular fondness for writing horror drabbles (100 word stories), especially comedic ones.

For interest here is one I wrote six years ago. It was accepted by a magazine that unfortunately folded before it was published.

Don’t Blame Me

“Don’t blame me, you made this,” he repeated

I looked at him, really looked at him.  His eyes glowed red; his forehead was bumpy; behind him something flickered. A tail?

“Satan?” I asked uncertainly.

“Who were you expecting, Mother Theresa?”

“What do you mean, ‘I made this’?”

“Our policy is to make each hell fit the individual.  Kind of a personal service eternal suffering you might say.”

“But a neon-lit karaoke bar, who would create something like this?”

“You! It’s your idea of the worst possible night out. Eternity here should be complete hell.

Then Satan vanished.

  1. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes that want to give writers a verbal beating because we’re not sitting at our computers writing 24/7, 365. I simply can’t do that. What sort of writing work schedule and routine do you try to keep?

I do not have a very good writing schedule. Routines do not work for me. I go through peaks and troughs with it. Sometimes I can sit and write for hours on end and it all comes naturally; other times it is a struggle. Of late it’s been a trough time so I’m not writing all that often and when I do it becomes a chore.

In contrast when I’m on a peak the words just flow and I never want to leave the keyboard. To give you an example of what these times can be like. I had the idea for my sf alternate history novel walking down a road in the Netherlands whilst on holiday in May 2015. I started writing the novel on my return, with one week of the month to go. I finished the first draft by the start of August; 122,000 words long. In that time I’d also written a 30,000 words novella, the Intersection due out next year. In two months and all while maintaining a day job (I do have to keep paying the mortgage) I’d written more than 150,000 words of fiction. The revision of them both was done in another month.

This year’s been much more of a struggle. I’ve fought through writing a surreal satire around the entertainment industry and a full rewrite of my YA fantasy as requested by the publisher interested in it. They were not easy though. It really did feel like work for much of it.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to get out of the funk soon. I have so many stories I want to tell.

  1. Your first novel, The Stairs Lead Down, is scheduled to be released on Halloween of this year! Can you tell us a bit of the back story, what inspired it, and maybe share a little sneak-peak excerpt?

The Stairs Lead Down was one of a couple of the stories I’ve written that have come around because of films I’ve watched; only for all the wrong reasons. If I watch a good film or a good TV series I will walk away with happy but with a clear head. I am satisfied with how it was told. If however, I watch a film I find terrible it is quite the opposite. I start wondering how I would have written it; what I could have done to make it better.

These thought processes always end up with nothing of the original story remaining. My brain swaps out literally every single part of the film, its setting, its plot, its characters, its time period; everything. Then I sit down with a notebook and start scribbling down my idea. I keep an A5 notebook for every story idea large enough in scope to potentially become a novel or a series. If at the end of this scribbling I have enough I construct a framework plot, flesh it out with characters and scenes, all still in the notebook. Then when I’m happy I start typing.

The Stairs Lead Down, is set in my hometown, Ashby de la Zouch (rather than the big city in the USA in the film that started me thinking). There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly it makes research really easy. I know we live in the age of Google Maps but actually walking up and down the streets where the story is set is so much more valuable to me. But the main reason I picked Ashby is its history. It’s existed for more than a thousand years and everywhere you look there is history. When you’re writing a ghost story this is invaluable. I can have ghosts from any point in history just drop in as needed.

Having the two main characters as twins is possibly the only holdover from when I started thinking of the story. Twins are simultaneously freaky to non-twins but common enough that having them in a story isn’t unrealistic. (There were no twins in the film the idea started from.)

The twins in my story share a power that allows them to see the ghost realms (also non-existent in the film) hidden to everyone else. It also exposes them to danger as there are people in the world who want to rip this power from them for their own, obviously nefarious, purposes.

The house where the majority of the action takes place is based on the one where an old friend of mine grew up. It has a history almost as old as Ashby, albeit was rebuilt by the Victorians. My friend’s house was actually older, or at least part of its basement was. The foundation of his house was thought to be Roman, some 1,700 years old. The twins house has a later origin being originally built a mere thousand years ago.

Here’s a brief excerpt from Chapter One of The Stairs Lead Down:

Lizzie twisted herself almost entirely around so she could see through the rear window of Dad’s car. Standing outside the gate of her, now old, home was Michelle. There were tears running down Lizzie’s face as she waved to her friend, growing smaller as Dad drove away. It wasn’t fair. Just because Mum and he wanted to move to the country, why did she have to? Her whole life was here. What did she want with Leicestershire?

The car turned the corner. Michelle was now out of sight. A few seconds later she turned back around. Looking back was depressing; and not a little uncomfortable. Dad drove the route she had walked each morning since she’d moved to high school. Within a minute they would be passing the gate she would never walk through again.

Lizzie wasn’t interested in taking one last look though. She fished her iPhone from her pocket and started tapping in a message to Michelle. It was her intention to spend the whole journey like this. She certainly had no intention of saying anything to her father. Five minutes later she’d run out of things to write. She could tell from her messages Michelle was feeling as uninspired as her. She said a quick goodbye to her friend, promising to talk later.

She looked out of the window. She didn’t recognise the road Dad was driving along. It wasn’t somewhere she’d been before; or if she had she hadn’t cared enough to remember it. It was a London street like any other; rows of houses and shops, bus stops and bollards. It wasn’t as nice as Twickenham; but when she thought about it, nowhere was. And she was sure this Ashby de la Zouch, the nearest town to their new house, wasn’t going to be either.

What kind of name was Ashby de la Zouch anyway? It sounded French. What was a town in England doing with a French name? It was stupid. She’d seen pictures of it on the internet. It looked boring; boring and stupid. And it was her new home. She felt miserable.

Lizzie glanced at the Satnav screen. There was still more than two and a half hours to go before they’d arrive; two and a half hours of misery and the weather looked like it agreed with her. Rain started to fall as Dad turned onto the M25. Two hours; it felt horrible. That’s how far she would be from everything she liked about her life; two and a half hours from anything civilised.

She wondered where Noah and Mum were. They’d set out half an hour or so before Dad. He’d agreed to stay to the end; handle the handover of the keys to the estate agent and take care of any last minute paperwork. Lizzie had been glad he had waited. That extra half an hour with Michelle, in civilisation, was precious to her.

For once the traffic on the M25 was free from queues. Every time she’d been on this road (usually for days out or holidays) they’d been held up. Dad would usually start to grow angry and begin cursing. Mum would always tut and remind him of Lizzie and Noah. Mum needn’t have bothered. His language was nothing she hadn’t heard in school; and not even close to the screams of the girls on the hockey pitch. There was nothing she could learn from him.

Her attention was caught by the clicking of the indicator. She looked through the windscreen to see where they were. The sign indicated he was turning onto the M40 and headed for Oxford and Birmingham. Oxford was as far north as Lizzie had ever been before. Her school had organised a trip there last year to visit the Ashmolean Museum. She’d found the museum boring but had enjoyed walking around Oxford itself. The college buildings were pretty.

Birmingham though was something else. She’d never been. From everything she’d heard she never wanted to. She’d met one or two people from the city and they sounded awful. She could hardly understand them. She also couldn’t understand why they allowed themselves to sound like that. She knew if she’d been born there she would have done everything possible to not have that accent.

A horrible thought passed through her head. Would the people in Ashby sound like that? Was she going to be surrounded by people who talked…wrong? Could anything else make this worse?

~*~

Noah was glad Lizzie had opted not to join him and Mum on the drive up. It meant he wouldn’t have to listen to her whining or suffer through the inevitable argument with Mum it would lead to. It also meant he would get to see the house first, explore it and stake his claim on the best bedroom. Lizzie had had the largest, other than Mum and Dad’s, in their house in Twickenham and now it was his turn.

Mum announced a detour. She was going to drive along the high street in Ashby de la Zouch before they headed for the house. Noah was happy when she’d suggested that. It was something else he was going to get to do before his sister. She usually insisted on being first at everything and would always remind him of being born first whenever he questioned it; as if twelve minutes made any difference, beyond their having different birthdays anyway. He’d always liked that. He got his special day and didn’t have to share it with her.

High Street, no Market Street he corrected himself, looked normal. Okay it was a little smaller than Twickenham’s centre but it seemed okay. There were plenty of places where he could hang out with the new friends he was sure he would make. It would be different but he reckoned he would get used to it; and so would Lizzie. She would just be insufferable until she did.

Mum pulled the car into the drive of their new house just behind the first of the removals vans. The drive way was enormous; just like the house. Back in Twickenham one van like the one ahead of them would have filled their driveway. Mum and Dad had had to park carefully if they wanted to get two cars on the drive. Here you could probably fit more than a dozen.

As the removals van turned around ahead of them Noah saw another vehicle was already there; a car he didn’t recognise. The man leaning against it was also unknown to him. Mum did seem to recognise him though. She waved as she pulled on the handbrake and switched off the engine. That was it. Their journey was over. They were here.

Noah unclipped his seatbelt and got out of the car. The gravel of the driveway crunched under his feet. He stared at the house. It looked weird. The stones, wet from the recent rain, gleamed in the sunlight. It looked wrong. This house was so old he thought it would look far better through mist than in bright sunshine.

Mum had crossed the distance to man she’d waved at seconds before. They were talking warmly. When the two of them moved to the front of the house and he unlocked the front door, Noah realised who he must be. He was the estate agent his parents had bought the house from. Mum stepped inside. That confirmed it. It was real. This was his new home.

He had this uncontrollable urge to rush inside and explore but wasn’t sure if he should. Would he just be getting in the way of the removals men? His restraint was never going to last. There was no way anything was going to keep him from seeing where they would be living. He virtually ran across the driveway; wanting to get a closer look at his new home.

A few feet short of the door he pulled up to a halt. There was a name carved into the stone about the door. It was weathered but still just about readable. His new home was called Clemency House. It was an odd name. He wondered what it meant. He shook his head. That was a matter for later. Right now he had more important things to do.  He jumped through the large oak front door into the entrance hall beyond. He was in his new home.

5. What other things have you got going on in the writing arena? Now that you’ve written one novel, and have another one in the works, do you think that will be your preferred method of story-telling or do you have some more short stories in mind?

I have aforementioned finished novels I will be submitting out at some point in the future once they’ve been revised and polished. I’ve been a little remiss on doing this so at least six are sitting there at first draft only. I like to convince myself it’s because I have had to concentrate on the revisions of the books publishers want but it’s not entirely true. Writing new fiction is much more fun than revising a previously written story; especially once you get to drafts 3 and above.

The draft of The Patternmaker’s Daughter I sent in to the publisher at the end of August was draft 5 (plus a final polish so you might almost call it draft 6). All I know is by the time I had gone through it that many times, I was finding it hard to keep liking the world and its characters as much as I had when I was inventing them. I can’t complain too much as I can see how much these reworking have improved the story. I’m just hoping the publisher believes it sufficiently improved to be worthy of publication.

I do have a number of possible projects. I have written the first 3 chapters of the sequel to The Stairs Lead Down. This second book, called Breath of Imagined Dead, a title which will make sense to anyone who reads it, is set a few months after the end of the first book. The characters are having to deal with the consequences of the events in book one and getting used to having powers and wondering what perils are likely to come their way in future. These chapters, when I’ve polished them, will be available as a taster with the release of book one. I’ve left them with a bit of a cliffhanger. I hope people aren’t too annoyed by me for where I’ve left the story.

Away from that I have a number of other novel ideas in preparation, all adult level rather than ya. There are two fantasy stories, both of which will take a number of books to tell, one set in a roughly Industrial Revolution period world and the other in an alternate 21st Century, having diverted away from our history in the 1930s. I’m a little hesitant to pick either of these two as if Patternmaker’s sells it will start its own series and maintaining two fantasy series simultaneously does not seem a good idea.

The main science fiction idea I have is also a multiple book story. It would probably take three books to tell. It’s a post nuclear war Earth recovering tale set in Africa and Australia, the two areas least affected by the war and involves the fast rise of a new religion.

Then of course there are the weird novellas. I have scribbled down nearly twenty ways in which I could make the life of my middle-aged, middle-class, middle-Englander go to hell in a handcart. These are so much fun to write. I base a lot of this character on me, although with characteristics from some of the people I’ve known over the years to blur it a little. For one thing he’s not as tall as I am. I didn’t want him to be anything other in average in any way. Making him 6’8” wouldn’t fit with this. Also he has a child, whereas I don’t. Most people do have children so he needed to if he was going to be ordinary. I made him an accountant too, as one of my former colleagues was an accountant and I felt having a boring character being an accountant might annoy him.

As far as short stories go, none of the ideas I’ve had for fiction since returning to writing have fitted the short form. I’m not dismissing the idea of writing any in future but when you have a world encompassing idea that needs dozens of characters in various different countries to tell you just need more words than a short story can contain. Let’s see what the future brings though. I might get a slew of short fiction ideas. That would be fun.

  1. Where can people learn more about you and your work? Website? Twitter? Facebook?

My main social media presence is Twitter. I like the 140 character limit. You can find me at https://twitter.com/ielester/

I tweet most days. I tweet most often on writing days, usually giving progress reports and announcing the music I’m using for inspiration. I always write listening to music – I’m doing this interview with my foot tapping along to Ian Dury and the Blockheads. A band I’ve loved for more than 30 years. I have an eclectic taste in music and use many different genres to keep me going. As a result you’ll see mentions of bands and artists like Rush, the Who, It Bites, Lou Reed, Metallica, Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Springsteen, Tanita Tikaram, Marillion and Ultravox. I don’t see the point sticking to a particular type of music. I go where the mood takes me and will even admit to listening to my guilty pleasures.

I tend to interact with people a lot on twitter and will always reply if someone tweets at me. I don’t reply to the automatic DMs that get fired off when you follow some people. They annoy me. Obviously personal DMs have a much better chance. I reply to most of those.

Twitter will also be the place where I make any announcements regarding my writing.

I do have a blog although I have to admit to being terrible at maintaining it. I’ve just noticed it’s been seven months since I last posted. I will have to change that. In fact I’m going to post once I’ve finished this interview.

Here’s the link – http://ielester.blogspot.co.uk/

In the past I’ve been a lot better, posting much more regularly. This seems to go in the same phases as my writing with the peaks and troughs. I’m hoping typing up the answers to this interview might inspire. For some reason I’ve found it easy to type (hence the huge amount of words). This could be a turning point.

I have got a Facebook page. My wife set it up for me last year but I keep forgetting to update it. I must get better at this. As for a website. For someone who maintained a sffh website that ended up with 22,000 pages I have been completely terrible at getting around to creating an author website. I must make time for this.

Thanks, Edmund! What a great interview! I wish you all the best on your new book and may it lead to many more.

Folks, if you want to look further into Edmund’s novel The Stairs Lead Down – check out Writer’s Sanctum Publishing for all the details.

http://www.writerssanctumpublishing.co.uk/the-stairs-lead-down/4593890758

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell

On the second day of his new job, Leo is witness to a murder. His boss, Victor, stabs his own brother, Stanley, with a mysterious dagger known as the Witchblade. But Stanley suffers from no normal stab wound. Instead he is drawn into what appears to be a black piece of fabric and is consumed. No body is left behind and Leo can’t rid himself of the final, terrifying image of Stanley before he completely vanishes. What madness has Leo gotten himself into by taking a simple job as a chauffeur?

The more questions Leo asks, the deeper he finds himself as part of the insanity. Soon, there is no escape. He must see this through to the bitter end. He wants answers, not the least of which what his friend Richard Goodwin has to do with it all. It was Richard who got him the job with Victor and also Richard who seems to know much more about Leo’s forgotten life than he’s willing to say.

The Shadow Fabric is an action-packed and fast-paced run through the underbelly of a realm of darkness, insanity, and a secret mythos that all but the very few are aware of.  Leo took my hand, gripped it tight, and yanked me along through it all right along with him. His fears became my fears. His desire to find the answers, were mine. The feelings of betrayal and hopelessness that he felt made me cling to each page, urging him to continue to fight and find the truth.

I’ve not been held so tight by a novel in a long time and am looking forward to reading more of Mark’s work in as near the future as possible. The mythology he’s created around the Witchblade and Shadow Fabric is rich and deep and there’s no doubt the depth will be plumbed even further in the other stories related to it. He left me knowing enough to end the story, but with the promise that theres more to this telling than a single novel can hold.

Check out the Book Trailer Here.

5 out of 5 Ravens.

Author Interview – Israel Finn

I’m pleased to be able to bring to you an interview with the author of “Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs”, a collection of twelve imaginative short stories, Israel Finn. He is the winner of the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition and lives in Southern California.

Q: Every writer has a story on how it all began for them. When did you first begin to realize you had a knack for story telling? Was there someone that influenced\encouraged you down the path of being a writer?

A: I can hardly remember not wanting to be a writer or storyteller. It seems like something that’s always been there, inside me. My dad encouraged reading, but never really took my writing aspirations seriously, which was heartbreaking for me. If not for my mom, I may have abandoned my dreams early on, but probably not. Dreams are persistent that way. But my mom always made me believe I could do anything I wanted. She knew I was the odd ball among my siblings, and she actually nurtured that oddness.

Q: I’ve been asked many times which book of mine is my favorite, usually by someone trying to decide which one to buy. Do any of your stories stand out as a favorite to you? And why?

strandedA: There are two short stories in my collection, Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs, that really resonate with me. The first is the opening story, Stranded. It deals with a man who experiences dark karma because of an angry comment he made in the heat of the moment. That comment comes back to haunt him in a real way. I wrote it after my wife and I had an argument (can’t even remember what it was about now) and I realized the power that words hold. Sometimes we say things in the heat of anger that we don’t mean, but that we can never take back. Stranded was my way of examining that, and also trying to teach myself a lesson in restraint. The second story is The Present. It concerns a woman named Mary in the 1960s who is abused by her husband. In those days, women had far fewer resources and recourse than they do today, so Mary is truly trapped in a horrifying situation. But as tends to happen in my stories, dark fate intervenes, and she discovers a possible way out. Mary was real to me, as was the world around her, which began to change in profound and disturbing ways. There’s a touch of time travel and other-dimensional exploration in the story, which I’m a huge fan of. And it introduces the pale man, an integral character who will appear in the novel I’m currently writing.

Q: Though I’ve written a fair amount of short-stories, I don’t consider myself very good at it. Are you strictly a short-story writer or can we look forward to something of novel length from you one of these days?

A: I’m a little over 50,000 words into my novel, which is a gritty, realistic tale about an inter-dimensional traveler who is given the daunting task of saving the multiverse from collapse into chaos. I know “realistic” and “inter-dimensional traveler” would seem to cancel each other out, but it’s my belief that you must first establish a real world foundation if you expect your readers to buy into the fantastic.

Q: Some writers swear by an outline, others go at it much more organically. How much do you plan ahead for a story or is it something that comes to you pretty much intact?

DATTOML digital coverA: It varies. Short stories come to me almost fully formed, or at least with a strong idea that can be quickly worked up. But I’ve learned that writing a novel is much different, at least for me. And especially with the one I’m writing now, with all its detail. I think maybe you could write a completely linear novel by the seat of your pants, but one with a more complicated storyline, like my current project, you need some structure. I don’t micromanage every tiny detail, but I have set up the main plot points. It’s like architecture: The outline is like nailing the studs and putting up the drywall. The writing itself is more like decorating, hanging curtains and picking out furniture.

Q: Every writer I know always has several projects in the works. Can you tell us about any current projects you may have going on?

A: I’ve got a long list of works-in-progress and half-formed ideas, and I’m always adding to it and pulling from it. Right now I’ve got three in the works. One is a straight-up ghost story. Another is a dark time travel story. And yet another is about an artist who realizes that what he paints becomes real, so he decides to paint his dead wife.

Q: Where can people find you lurking on the internet and where can they purchase what you already have out there?

A: My website is israelfinn.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And much of my work is on Amazon.

Thank you for participating, Israel.

Folks, check out Israel’s collection of short stories, Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs. You’re sure to find something thought-provoking and slightly sinister, or both!

 

 

Author Interview – Lorelei Buckley

This month I’m pleased to bring you an interview with Paranormal Romance author Lorelei Buckley. Oooh — spooky and sexy all at the same time!

  1. Some writers come to writing later in life, almost accidentally, while others seem to have wanted it for as long as they can remember. How did your journey as a writer begin?

LoreleiBuckleyMy writing journey started in grade school with poetry. Well actually my writing journey began with love letters to Donnie Osmond. For most of fifth grade, a classmate named Sondra paid me ten bucks per sugary heartfelt-letter addressed to her future husband, Mr. Osmond. It was mutually beneficial. I believe she received some sort of fan club VIP article, and I made a little cash and gained the confidence to enter and win a poetry contest. That’s when the idea of being a writer formulated.

  1. Some people swear by an outline, while others do something I’ve learned to call organic writing, in that many times throughout the writing process they aren’t 100% sure what’s going to happen next. Would you tell us a little bit about your process?

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I generally write a pre-manuscript synopsis. So, I’ll have the bones, but the meat comes as I’m writing. For instance, in Direct Strike I knew Zoey was going to be struck by lightning and end up with a kind of supernatural side-effect. But the details didn’t come forward until I was knee deep in the story. I tend to backtrack quite a bit as I learn more about the plot, character, etc. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but it works for me.

  1. You write in a somewhat specialized genre, Paranormal Romance. Which one really got you started, the paranormal aspect or the romance side of things? What, or who, inspired you to go in that direction?

I was definitely drawn to the paranormal elements. I’ve always had interest in dream work, psychic phenomenons, the spirit world, mysticism, etc. – Since childhood. Initially I wanted to be a horror writer. I penned a few short stories, but then I had a dream about a couple who moved into a haunted house. They were just married and despite the shadows slithering up and down the walls, they were madly in love. And the love they had for each other helped them overcome their fear. I woke up feeling warm and fuzzy and with the desire to explore paranormal romance. The dream inspired my first published novel.

  1. Would you be able to provide my readers with a tiny teaser for you current work in progress?

I’m working on a couple of things. One is a horror screenplay ironically titled: The  Paranormals, and the other is the long awaited next book in the Midnight Road series titled: Blue Moon House. Each story takes place in the same town, and one thing binds the characters, but they’re stand alone books. Readers aren’t left hanging at the end of any of the Midnight Road novellas.

Here’s an unedited snippet from Chapter One of Blue Moon House:

“We’ve got to be close.” Sophia’s Subaru headlamps cut through the pitch-black night. Fixated on the road ahead, she gripped the steering wheel. At a glance to her right, Danny’s face glowed in the hue of his cell phone. Her muscles contracted. She could hardly stand to breathe the same air as him.
“Long drive. Airplanes are awesome,” he said.
He knew she had a fear of flying. Dick. She exhaled. She wondered if somewhere deep beneath grueling daily arguments, she still loved him. Not likely. A year ago she would have died for Danny. Twelve months later she wanted to murder him. No, she reminded herself, she wanted to kill the marriage. No, she corrected herself, she truly wanted to kill Danny.

  1. In addition to being psychic, your character Scarlett is what I’d call a sort of New Age Kitchen Witch. As a writer myself, I know some characters have a lot of me in them. Is that the case for you with Scarlett or is there another character you more closely identify with?

Yes, I can relate to Scarlett, somewhat. In fact her iron skillet-Epsom salt method to exterminate negative/uninvited energy was a family recipe. But she’s much mousier than me.

  1. Can you fill us in on your latest release and what will be available next? Where can perf5.000x8.000.inddfolks find out more about you, your work, and purchase your books?

Next up will be Blue Moon House. Currently, Medium Crossing and Midnight Road: Lighthouse can be purchased on Amazon. Direct Strike is available on Amazon and Kensingtonbooks.com. For updates and social media links, go to: loreleibuckley.com

Thanks so much, Lorelei. It was great getting to know a little bit more about you and your work! Folks – if you’d like to delve a bit deeper into your paranormal romantic side, be sure and visit Lorelei’s website!

Feeling Panicked! YIKES!

After weeks of stalking, and under threats of being subjected to the constant drone of baseball playing fruit flies, XTina has finally broken me down and I’ve agreed to join her and James Longmore on The Panic Room Radio Show this THURSDAY, AUG. 10th at 9:30 CST. I’ll be blathering on about my latest release “No Rest For The Wicked”, doing a reading from the same, and possibly answering ten of the Eleven Questions. What other terrors will I have to endure? There’s only one way to find out! Tune in and have a listen!

The Panic Room Radio Show

Author Interview – Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

Welcome to July’s Author Interview. This month we’re in for twice the fun with twin sisters, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, also known as The Sisters of Slaughter. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

  1. Every writer has a story on how it all began for them. When did each of you first begin to realize you shared a knack for story telling? And what made you decide to write together instead of separately?

We wanted to become storytellers before we even realized what writers actually do. Before we learned to read and write we loved using our imaginations and our dad used to tell everyone scary stories around campfires while we were on family vacations and that magic really stuck with us. We started writing stories when we were eight years old and the need to write never went away. We didn’t start trying to get published until we were turning thirty. We figured we needed to try, it was time to cast aside the self-doubt and go for it.

  1. There’s a set of twins in the town I live in that everyone agrees are a bit on the creepy side. They always dress exactly the same and you never see one without the other. As twins, why do you think other people find twins so unusual apart from the obvious? Have you had any experiences that you would define as a ‘twin thing’, such as the much talked about Secret Twin Language or something akin to mind-reading?

Being a twin is like being born with a best friend. We did have a twin language when we were babies. We would jibber jabber to each other and understand what one another was saying even when no one else did. We’ve often showed up for family gatherings wearing outfits nearly identical even though we never planned it and so on. Twins really do have a deep bond that goes beyond anything, our motto is “from the womb to the tomb.” That’s how much we love each other.

  1. In my experience, writers are also avid readers. It’s easy to assume you both enjoy reading dark fantasy and horror, but what genre or other types of books do you enjoy that your fans might be surprised about?

Our favorite genres are horror and dark fantasy but we’ve always read regular fantasy as well and we cut our teeth on Roald Dahl and Gary Paulsen. Books like “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien changed the way we saw storytellers when we were younger and Cormac McCarthy is one of our favorites. It’s important to read everything you possibly can, it expands the imagination and your capacity as a writer.

  1. I’ve tried a few times to write with others and it was always an epic fail. I don’t like other people telling my characters what to do, I guess. What is your process for writing together and who comes up with the ideas? Is it pretty much 50/50 or do you feel one of you is stronger in some areas than other? Is one person stronger with characters and dialogue and the other more into plot twists and describing locations and moods?

Our writing process is natural to us because we’ve done it since we were little girls. Writing with other people might not be so easy because we know each other better than anyone in the world. We share the mutual vision of what we want to achieve. It sounds strange but we’re like one person split in two. We don’t fight over pieces of the story, we compromise and work together always. We start by sharing our ideas for stories, whichever ideas and decide which one we’re going to write then we outline it and split up the work equally. One of us works on a couple chapters before handing it over to the other. We always read each chunk of work out loud to be certain it’s something we both enjoy. A lot of it is handwritten first and then typed up, that is our first draft. While typing if something needs to be elaborated on or taken out we discuss the change and proceed. That’s how we’ve always done it, except as kids we only had handwritten books with illustrations.

  1. I see you have new novel coming out with Bloodshot Books this summer. What’s the elevator pitch for “Those Who Follow” and do you have an official release date yet?

those-who-follow-kindle-cover “Those Who Follow” is a sequel to a short story we wrote for a benefit anthology called “Widowmakers”. The pitch is a young woman goes up against a serial killer who takes his prey to another dimension to torture and kill them to try to rescue a sister she never knew she had.

  1. Where can readers find Michelle and Melissa hanging out on the internet and how can we get a hold of your books?

We are on Facebook and Twitter if anyone wants to follow along in our shenanigans. There’s definitely more news on the writing front for us so please stay tuned.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sistersofhorror/?fref=mentions
Twitter:@fiendbooks
Sinister Grin Press: http://sinistergrinpress.com/authors/michelle-garza-melissa-lason/

In addition to “Those Who Follow”, the sisters’ first novel MAYAN BLUE was one of the five Bram Stoker Awards nominees this year in the category of Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

 

Author Interview – Jason J. Nugent

Welcome to the June edition of my monthly Author Interview blog. This month (or at least this weekend) it’s all about Jason J. Nugent, author of two short story collections and a brand-spanking new YA Sci-Fi novel called The Selection.

Pamela: Welcome, Jason and thanks for agreeing to being placed under a white-hot light bulb in an otherwise pitch-black room. Tell me a little bit about how you became interested in writing. Have you known since an early age or is this something new you’ve recently started to get involved in?

Jason: I wrote sappy poetry as an angst-filled teen. Once in college, I wrote stories in English class. Instead of pursuing a degree in creative writing, I chose History, going on to earn a Master’s Degree in Early Medieval History. I always wanted to try fiction but was too scared to. About eight years ago, I had a good friend convince me to give NaNoWriMo a try. I failed miserably! I tried the following year and failed again. I then “won” at my third try. That was all the motivation I needed. I proved to myself that I could do it and decided to make writing a priority. I started writing all kinds of flash fiction and short stories, almost all with strange or dark twists.

Pamela: Whether by choice or by fate, we’ve both gone the self-publishing route. What have been your biggest challenges and your greatest rewards as an Indie Author?

Jason: My greatest challenge—by far! is finding new readers for my work. There are so many  Jasonchoices for readers today and to get them to spend their money on a relatively unknown quantity is difficult. The greatest reward has been meeting other writers who enjoy what I write and share it with others. The indie community, in my experience, has been super supportive and always helpful. Having those advocates means everything to me. The first review I received was from writer and blogger Mike Wolff. I had no idea who he was at the time, but he gave (Almost) Average Anthology an excellent review. I’ve come to know him since then and we support each other all the time. He’s a great guy and knows his stuff. Without writing, I would never have met him or Aaron Hamilton, or Thomas Gunther, or the crew from Inklings Press (Stephen and Brent), or the excellent writer Maria Haskins, or yourself. I can list a ton of other excellent writers I’ve met and they’ve all been encouraging.

Pamela: I see you are part of a Science Fiction game development team. That’s pretty neat. Can you tell me more about ‘The Status Quo Project’, your role, and how you got involved in it?

Jason: Yeah, this has been an amazing experience. Status Quo is a game where there are seven races, seven planets, and three factions. There is combat in space and on the planets. It’s going to be one heck of a game!

statusquoI was introduced to “Cheshire,” the lead project manager for “Status Quo” through Alex (I always knew him as Dolphi) a gaming buddy of mine. He knew I wrote stories and he put me in contact with Cheshire. I was given a test assignment of writing bounty hunter missions for one of the planets and it went over so well, I was given another planet to write bounty hunter missions for. I nailed that and was offered the opportunity to write ALL the missions–three factions worth and civilian missions–for an entire planet. I did almost all of those missions so when you play the game and end up on the planet Arthas, almost every mission you do there was written by me. I still can’t wrap my head around it! The team Cheshire assembled to work on this game is amazing! I cannot wait for it to come out.

Pamela: April was a busy month for you. Your YA Sci-Fi novel, “The Selection” was released and you had a short story appear in Sci-Fan magazine. Was making the transition from short stories to a novel a difficult one for you?

Jason: Thanks! It was a pretty good month for me! The transition from short stores to novels wasn’t too difficult. I enjoy the longer form as it allows me to explore a character in greater detail. I’ve got four NaNoWriMo “wins” under my belt which helps me plan and write a longer piece of fiction. If I need a break from the novel, I’ll write a short story or revise one I’ve written so I can keep the writing going while not burning out on any one project.

Pamela: There’s an old adage that writers should ‘Write What You Know’. Can you explain how someone who’s studied Early Medieval History extensively uses that to bring life to your work as a Sci-Fi author? What sort of research is involved in all that? It must be tremendous.

Jason: Yeah, historical research can be daunting for sure! I think studying history allows me to bring a sense of realism to my writing. When I studied Early Medieval Ireland, I had to research people and incidents in depth to get at the answers I wanted. I feel that’s helped me to make my stories relatable, no matter the setting. I want you the reader to feel at home even if you’re on a planet thousands of light years away with strange creatures.

Pamela: What can we look forward to from you next and where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Jason: I’ve got a short story coming out in August in an anthology titled “Twilight Madness.” It will be an ebook and paperback release from Schreyer Ink Publishing. I’ve started a sequel to “The Selection” and I’m looking to rework an earlier novel as well. You can find out all about me at jasonjnugent.com. While there, feel free to sign-up to my mailing list and you’ll get a free ebook copy of my first collection of dark fiction short stories (Almost) Average Anthology.

Thanks, Jason! I really enjoyed learning more about you. Best of luck with The Selection and with its sequel.

Next month we’ll learn more about … The Sisters of Slaughter!