Author Interview – Jon Frankel

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

For the month of February, I bring you an interview with Science Fiction-Noir author and poet, Jon Frankel. I’ve known Jon for a number of years, but never made the time to get to know more about him as a writer until now. So, without any further delay, let’s get to it!

Pamela: 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?

JonFrankelJon: I guess for as long as I can remember I’ve been a writer. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until my senior year of high school, when my poetry teacher, John Perlman, said I was a poet. But long before that I was writing stories and poems and planning novels that I never wrote. I collaborated on comic books, co-authored a play, stuff like that. I started as a poet, but was also writing short stories that I hoped to turn into novels. When I was 28 I decided to write an experimental literary novel based on a story and utterly failed. I was reading Charles Willeford’s Pick Up, a hard boiled noir novel of the early 60s, and realized I could write one of those. I turned to another short story and banged out a 140 page near future noir. That became Specimen Tank, my first novel, after years of revision.

Pamela: I know you work in a library so you must be a fan of the reading as well as writing. Do you read the same sorts of things that you write about and who are some of your favorite authors?

Jon: My reading and writing are intimately related of course, but I read much different stuff than I write. I love nothing more than novels of the late 19th and early 20th century, especially from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I really read pretty indiscriminately though, lots of non-fiction, history and philosophy, and novels of all types and all periods, as well as poetry of course. A list of my favorite authors would be so long! Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Ellison, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Bohumil Hrabal, Jaroslav Hasek, Robert Musil, Charles Willeford, Elizabeth Hand, Raymond Chandler, Edmund Spenser, William Blake, William Shakespeare, China Mieville, Philip K. Dick, Marianne Hauser, DH Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, Anna Kavan…..

Pamela: Like you, for a while I wrote under a pen-name. Why did you choose to use a pen-name in your earlier works and what made you decide to start using your real name instead?

Jon: My first book was a really violent, nihilistic near future noir. I guess I was embarrassed my family would see that all my talk about being a poet and writer had resulted in that. Sort of like if you were studying to compose symphonies and joined a thrash metal band. It was so long between the publication of my first book and my next (20 years!) that I had in the interim established a tiny, but searchable, online presence as Jon Frankel. It was a tough decision to retire Buzz Callaway, especially since GAHA: Babes of the Abyss, is a really violent, nihilistic far future noir. With literary stuff.

Pamela: Tell me a little bit more about your poetry. What inspires you and do your poems share a common theme or are they pretty much all over the place genre-wise depending your mood and the inspiration?

Jon: I think I’ve written the same poem over and over in some ways, but my methods have evolved a lot over the years. I used to write highly improvisational, stream of consciousness poems with strong rhythms and a lot of assonance, but no regular meter or rhyme. I read deeply and wide in the poetic tradition, and always have, but my work was very much New York School if not Beat. Language poetry and the various experimental, avant-garde schools of the 60s-the present really left me cold. I’m a romantic, if not a Romantic, at heart. A number of years ago, as I ran out of gas as a poet, I started to wonder why I didn’t write in meter and rhyme. Slowly I began to experiment with that (and I’m really not great at regular meter, rhyme I can manage) and found I was getting inspired to write, using methods opposite to those I was accustomed to. This essentially meant I could re-explore everything. Which is really exciting. I’m 56, and feel like I have a new sports car, the formal poem. I love to write short, cryptic, intricate rhymed pieces. I think my most basic concern is alchemical, sublimation and metamorphosis, and my methods are playful. The biggest pitfall for me is pompous, pretentious, glaring big statements. But I really hate timidity in poetry. No one reads it, so why not go for the big kahuna?

Pamela: I know you just had a new release back in September 2016. Tell us a little bit about “The Man Who Can’t Die”.  Can you give me the quick, elevator pitch for it?

MANcover Jon: The elevator pitch has always defeated me! Maybe if we were riding to the top of Sears Tower or something, with a stop for a second elevator of the 50th floor. MAN is a really complicated story, about a scientist who invents a drug that cures unhappiness, but kills 10% of everyone who takes it, and a man who wants more than anything to die, but can’t. It takes place 180 years in the future, and the world has been utterly transformed by global warming, and America is a corporate dictatorship. The characters are searching for freedom, but lack the vocabulary and concepts to articulate it. It has beautiful cars, fast women, ray guns, hovercraft and a sexual paradise. It’s a bulging valise of noir and sci fi romance. Sex, drugs and rock and roll as they say.

Pamela: Where can people find out more about you and keep up-to-date your writing?

Jon: I have a website, lastbender.com. My publisher, Whiskey Tit Press, also has a website. I’m on Facebook, too. My poetry is on lastbender.com, as well as essays, reviews and articles about cooking and food. One thing everyone notices in my fiction is the abundance of food, cooking and restaurants. On my website, the most searched thing I’ve written is on how to roast a wild boar ham!

Thank you, Jon. It was great getting to know more about you and your work as a novelist and poet.

Folks, if you want to learn even more about Jon, check out these websites.

Jon Frankel’s WEBSITE
Jon’s Publisher Whiskey Tit Press

20 Questions with B.W. Morris

I was blindfolded and led to an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t a pretty place, but it gave Bob the privacy he needed. I sat on an old wooden grate under a glaring bright light. He yanked off the blindfold, but all I could see of my interrogator was a shadowy outline. I had the feeling others were watching, listening, judging, but I wasn’t about to back down. “Give me your best,” I sneered.

But seriously… here’s a fun 20 Questions Interview I had with B. W. Morris, a fellow writer who will be finding himself on the other side of things in March just before the release of his first novel.

20 Questions with B. W. Morris

And no, we aren’t related … at least not that we know of!

 

 

Author Interview – Thomas S. Gunther

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

ThomasGunther

Let’s get the ball rolling with horror author, Thomas S. Gunther who specializes in short stories.

Pamela – Every writer has a story on how it began for them. When did you first begin to realize you had a knack for storytelling? Was there someone who influenced/encouraged you down the path of being a writer?
Thomas – Storytelling usually got me in trouble as a kid! But, seriously, I think it was an admiration for other storytellers that inspired me. My parents are both avid readers, and were diligent in reading to me as a kid. They introduced me to various classics. The adventurous pictures writers like Kipling and London painted engendered new stories in my own imagination. I started out as more of an artist than a writer, though, and my parents originally tried to discourage my writing–they wanted me to be a commercial artist. I wanted to draw dragons and talking animals, and hash out ideas stewing in my brain. If I had gotten serious earlier I’d have been more likely writing fantasy stuff now, which I might someday, anyway.

Pamela – It’s been said that in order to be a writer, you must be a reader.  What genre(s) do you enjoy reading and what was the last book you read that you really enjoyed?
Thomas – Because of my folks I learned to read at an early age, and read quite a bit, myself. I’ve read all kinds of stuff: the classics, science-fiction and fantasy,  horror, etc. If it hooks me from the start, I’ll usually read it all the way through, though sometimes I’ll lose interest and move on to something else. I am currently reading James Clavell’s, King Rat, and it’s fairly intriguing. But the last book I read that truly had an impact on me was Nabokov’s Lolita which was the driving inspiration behind my short story, Deviant. It’s such a taboo subject, and while it’s not one of my better stories, it was a lot of fun writing it. I’ll admit I rushed the ending, a fault I’m eternally working on, but it was an experiment of sorts, as I want to know just how far I can push the most disturbing subjects.

Pamela – Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. In general, what aspect of a story comes to you first? Do you have a powerful image of a setting, or maybe just a title?
Thomas – Titles are tricky for me. Sometimes I like the ones I come up with, and sometimes I struggle. But, I doubt I’ve ever written a story around a title, though I tried that when I was younger. My story ideas typically come to me as abstract thoughts. They might come to me at any time, regardless of what I’m reading, watching, or doing, and they will be incredibly vivid, but without form or shape. It’s like something I just know in my gut, but can’t quite put my finger on it. I think trying to do so is what I love most about writing, especially writing horror and anything macabre. Maybe it’s a way of pinning down specific fears. I don’t know. That’s a tough question.

Pamela – I’m often asked which of my novels is my best or favorite. Which of your own stories are you most proud of, and why?
Thomas – I dream of being able to say that. I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually complete a novel. But, to answer your question, I would have to say To Catch the Tears of Darkness. It still feels very different to me then my other work, and it wasn’t an easy story to write. I hate predators that prey on children. I tried to imagine what it was like for Chloe, and I had to put myself in a dark place. How awful. People seemed to really like that story, though, and I got a 5 star review from another writer. I liked that because it was non-biased, from someone I don’t really know. That encouraged me to keep going. That story began years ago as something completely different, and it’s undergone several phases. But, I think what I am proud of, and what I think other people like, is that I think I touched on that awesome element that makes a story great.

IcarusRising_Gunther

Pamela – I know one of your short stories was recently accepted by Jason Nugent’s blog page, (Almost) Average. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Where and when will we be able to find it?
Thomas – Yeah, that was pretty cool. He just asked me out of the blue. He said he was going to start featuring unknowns like myself on his page, and asked me if I wanted to contribute something. I thought my story, Icarus Ascending was the best fit, the best way of introducing my work. If I recall what Jason told me, it should be featured late this month, within the last week I believe.

Pamela – Where can readers find out more about you and where can your work be found?
Thomas – I have a Facebook and Twitter account. The curious are often afforded some insight into what drives me there. As far as my actual work goes, you won’t find me on Amazon at the moment, though I hem and haw about publishing there, simply because Amazon is so dominant. But I’m far more comfortable publishing on #Smashwords–I feel I have more control of my work. But, I am relegated to the adult section, and that sort of makes my stuff difficult to find. However my stuff is available on several different eReader platforms like NOOK, Kobo, and I’ve even found myself listed on iTunes. Once I found one of my stories translated into German. I never did find out if it was anyone authorized to sell my work. I figured, right now, it’s more important for me to get my name out there then worry about making any money. But, on second thought, I need money. Give me money.

Thanks a lot, Thomas. I really enjoyed learning more about you and your work and I hope 2017 proves to be a super successful year of writing for you.

Folks, if you’d like to know more about Thomas and his work, I’m sure he’d love for you to visit and like him on Facebook, give him a Follow on Twitter, and check out his books over at Smashwords. Be sure and read his short story that will be appearing over at Jason Nugent’s website later this month. If you like what you read, look into his other short stories and post a review!

Thomas Gunther on FACEBOOK
Thomas Gunther on TWITTER
Thomas Gunther on SMASHWORDS
Jason Nugent’s – (Almost) Average

 

Author Interview – A Very Haunted Plantation

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

As promised, I have something special to share with you all today, a couple of somethings actually.

First off, I bit the bullet and No Rest For The Wicked will soon be available as an eBook through Amazon. I make no promises about the precision of the formatting. If it’s a mess, I apologize. I was having a heck of a time doing it. Some of it looked as if it had been done before, other parts, well… I beg your forgiveness. Self-publishing has its drawbacks and this is one of them. UGH! I’m a writer not a formatter!

And now the BiG NeWs!

I’ve been reading, loving, and reviewing the works of Horror author Hunter Shea for a couple of years now. So, imagine my surprise when Mr. Shea contacted me and asked if I’d send him one of my books. I was both delighted and terrified at the notion. As the first Hunter Shea novel I ever read was his haunted tale Island of the Forbidden, it seemed appropriate I respond with a ghost story of my own.

This resulted in the following interview with Hunter not too long ago.

A Very Haunted Plantation – Interview With Author Pamela Morris

I can’t thank Hunter enough for showing interest in my work and inspiring me to keep doing what I love so much to do – writing horror that keeps people up into the wee hours reading and sleeping with a light on after.

Have a happy and safe Halloween night, everyone!