Both Water Like Crimson Sorrow: Shades of Midnight Book 2 and Autumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories for the Wicked Soul will be out in October Thanks to Michael Fish Fisher and Dave McGlumphy for the great covers! Autumn Burning has been coming along quite nicely and I think Sam Gregory , who came up with this great antho, agrees that we're going to have a great book to put out there in October. Keep an eye out for it! Water Like Crimson Sorrow is the gorier, more brutal half of the original ELBF book. I'll be submitting the 3rd book very soon.
Both Water Like Crimson Sorrow: Shades of Midnight Book 2 and Autumn Burning: Dreadtime Stories for the Wicked Soul will be out in October Thanks to Michael Fish Fisher and Dave McGlumphy for the great covers! Autumn Burning has been coming along quite nicely and I think Sam Gregory , who came up with this great antho, agrees that we're going to have a great book to put out there in October. Keep an eye out for it! Water Like Crimson Sorrow is the gorier, more brutal half of the original ELBF book. I'll be submitting the 3rd book very soon.
I'm going to be polishing Water Like Crimson Sorrow some more today, which means you'll be seeing it out on the market in another month or two. For fans of ELBF when it was a self-titled book, this will be the 2nd half of that book and will feature it's very own well-deserved cover. Once that's out, I will be submitting book 3 (which will be the first new book for you folks that read the first ELBF before we split it) Cool Green Waters. CGW features quite a bit more about three characters that had less focus in the first book. Mateo, Zero and Michael become far more interesting and detailed here and we also get a bit more about Raven and Katja, of course! Expect a lot of action, suspense, dark happenings and some elements that are a little more on the sexy side of things (Mateo happens to run an S/M club) as well.
I have a wee bit of book four to work with too, but it will be a bit before it's ready. That book, titled Hollow Black Corners of the Soul will hopefully be completed in the next year or two, so don't worry! I also have a few ideas in mind for book five which also features some surprising return characters. By the way we'll be calling this series Shades of Midnight, rather apt considering each title features a color, eh?
I will have a short in the JEA horror collection Rejected for Content and will again be taking part in a collaborative 666 project, this one, called Lycanthroship, will feature werewolves and is set shortly after WWII. Both of these books should be working toward completion and are hoped to be out this Fall.
Apocrypha is still in the works, with Robert Lyons working on his, I might just put together a few more for that too. I also have a couple of other books to work on finishing up like Other Dangers, Jodie, one that's barely developed called The Farm and another which will have dark, posssibly YA fantasy themes and doesn't have a title yet. Long story short there will be a great deal more to expect in the coming years and I do hope you'll enjoy them all as they do. In the meantime, please look into my 3 latest releases below:
Bio: A year ago Mark Woods was just a chef who wrote book reviews, but when horror author, Catt Dahman, persuaded him to write his own stories, she unwittingly created a monster. Since then his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies to critical acclaim, his debut novella, Time Of Tides, has proved phenomenally popular and he is one of the key authors behind the upcoming, groundbreaking novel, Feral Hearts; a unique and original take on the vampire legend like nothing you have ever seen done before!
Mark is currently working on numerous projects including his first full length novel and several other short novella. He also continues to write his short fiction whilst still doing what he calls 'the day job'.
Mark is an occasional Blogger and full time book geek who writes reviews for such sites as Amazon, Goodreads and Dooyoo when not writing his fiction.
His Blog, miss muppet are my hamster, can be found here: http://sparkymarky1973.blogspot.co.uk/
1. Time of Tides is a Lovecraftian tale set during a cataclysmic flood, where did you draw your inspiration from and how did it become such a gripping tale?
When Catt asked for scary fish tales, I decided I wanted to do something different from everyone else. I wanted my work to stand out. Quite simply I started brainstorming, throwing out ideas, but honestly had no idea where it was going. As I started writing, there were numerous times I thought of just giving the whole thing up, but I persevered and what you get now is exactly the way it was supposed to be read.
Someone commented recently on a review that they thought it a shame that the family on the Broads lost communications so quickly; the whole point was I wanted to convey a sense of isolation, and in that sense I think it worked.
2. You have shorts in a few different anthologies and have had some great success with Time of Tides. When do you think we’ll get to see your first novel and will it focus on similar themes?
My first full length novel will again be apocalyptic, but this time will concentrate on a zombie theme instead. All my zombie fiction is set in the same universe and this book sets all that up; so you get to see the fall of society at the beginning of an epidemic, followed by several survivors coming together on the rooftop of a small block of flats.
You're probably thinking you've seen all that before, it's been done - but I have a few twists up my sleeve that set it apart from other zombie novels.
Like Tides, it will be heavily character-orientated with as much focus on the survivors as the apocalypse itself. It's sub-title in fact will be 'tales of the survivors' and I promise, it will be a bit less bleak than other stuff I might have written up until now - without losing the sense if doom I think is needed in a true zpoc novel.
3. What sort of work will we be seeing from you in the next few years? Do you write in any other genres besides horror?
I have a sci-fi short that was previously published that I am working on adapting into a full book, but horror is where my heart is right now.
Catt says she thinks I can write anything, and any challenge she has thrown me I have taken on.
I like to experiment, but the main focus is the story - if I don't have a story that will fit a particular genre, I can't write for it.
For example, I write erotica under a pen name but I don't think I could ever write chick lit, but then again if inspiration hit me...
What can you expect in the future? Well I have another novella planned that is intended to be the first in a series that I can release in an omnibus edition at some stage, a story about giant false widow spiders, and plenty more short stories as and when I write them.
4. You’re one of 6 authors who worked together to write Feral Hearts, how did you feel about the project? Was it refreshing to see what other authors came up with for the same premise?
I loved Feral Hearts. Honestly. At first I didn't know how it was going to work, but with Ed Cardillo's encouragement, I think I came up with one of my most fun pieces yet! Taking one character, inventing him from scratch, and then running with him in someone else's story - well, that was just so much fun!
For those who want to know what to expect...my contribution was heavily influenced by 30 days of night - except it all happens in one night!
5. You’ll be joining some of the same authors to work on Lycanthroship, will post-WWII werewolves be much harder than writing about the unlucky modern singles and their run-in with vamps?
No, writing that will be no different from anything else I write. I have a story, characters and a plot - the only hard part will be doing some research on post WWII history so that it looks and feels authentic.
Actually, it will be interesting to see what my other writers, and any fans I might have yet, think of what I have come up with!
6. Time of Tides has come out in a brand new print edition with Wendy Won’t Go and will also have an additional story from you. Could you tell us a little about Dairy of the Dead and how it relates to your novel?
Dairy of the Dead was written quite simply because someone got the title of Romero's diary of the dead wrong and I was like 'Yessss, zombie cows!'
I'd just read an anthology called zombie zoology, and loved the idea of zombie animals and knew I had to write the story.
It was set after my short story, up on the roof, which is since becoming my first full length novel as I go on to expand it. Basically, the whole world has gone to hell in a hand basket and the zombie virus has spread to animals as well as humans.
More gets explained as to the whys and wherefores in my upcoming novel that is due to be ready for next year.
7. JEA is a small press that’s really starting to build, has it been a good experience being a part of that success? Is it difficult to find time for your writing between editing, promoting, your day job and home life?
Finding time to write, edit others, work a full time job and deal with family is intense, and don't ask me how I manage it. I find that if I concentrate on editing, my writing gets behind and vice versa so I have to kind of concentrate on one or the other and try and split my limited time as best I can.
J.e.a provided me with the chance to start my career as a published writer and have done nothing but encourage me from the start. For that I owe them the world, and to catt especially because without her, I wouldn't be here where I am right now, no hosey way.
I am hoping along with the press, my name too will become a household name that people know and have heard of.
I owe them a huge debt of allegiance because, right now, I have never been more happy than to see my work, stuff I have written, in print.
It is like the best drug, it really is. I still pinch myself every so often in case it is a dream
8. How do you feel about the work you do as an editor and author at JEA? Where do you see yourself with it after a few years time?
I think I can be a little slow as an editor at times, but that is because I like to be concise and give their work the respect and attention it deserves. If I'm tired, I try not to edit because it is someone else's piece of work and I owe them more than that.
Thankfully, all the authors I have worked with so far appreciate that.
As for my writing, I have seen phenomenal success with time of tides, and the hardest thing for me is accepting that people are buying it, and hopefully, enjoying it!
My goal is to try and become the next James Herbert. An unobtainable goal? Maybe, but you have to aim big or you might as well just go home.
I have lots of ideas, intend to be prolific,and have had lots of people with nothing to gain tell me that my writing shows real promise. In a few years? I'm hoping more people will have heard of me and I have a fan base.
I don't care about getting rich from my writing, though that would be nice; what I do want is for people to carry on reading what I produce and enjoy it.
The satisfaction I get from seeing peoples faces when I tell them I am a writer and explain what I have achieved in a year, then seeing them go 'oh wow, that's really exciting' will never ever get boring to me.
I guess I'm just an attention whore at heart. Lol.
I'm just over halfway into ELBF's edits now and something had occurred to me. If you enjoyed the book when I published it originally you might be wondering if it will be worth picking up a copy of the JEA release. Well, the answer is yes. While the indie print of Eyes Like Blue Fire was a solid one it, like many indie books out there, needed just a bit more polish and refinement to make it the book it always deserved to be. It was also a pretty good sized novel in it's own right and in many ways the events that take place in the first half make up a story worthy of being on it's own, separate from the later half, which stood well on it's own too.
As a result the editors at JEA and I felt it would benefit from being divided into two separate books, ELBF and Water Like Crimson Sorrow. So there will be two books coming out from that one original manuscript and as a result there will be some areas of both chunks that will be getting a well-deserved fleshing out and polishing up before they come out. Why? Well there are some clear points where it needed some refining and others where I could have done more to make the story stronger in that first release. I've enjoyed polishing ELBF these last few months because I was able to see the gems hidden in the rougher bits and make those rougher bits a lot more like the gems. I really think even the fans of that first release are going to enjoy reading this new ELBF and getting a clearer version of the story they love so well. It also means that I'll be able to really focus on that world and get the next book out that much sooner.
Bio: Catt Dahman has been writing for more than 30 years, has taught in public schools, private schools, home school, and college. Her B.S. and M.S. degrees are from Texas A & M. Her areas of study were: Criminal psychology, art, and English. She is a native of North East Texas, has lived all over the US, (and tries to claim Jamaica as a second home) but is currently back in the Fort Worth, Texas area where she lives with her husband, David (a retired Marine), son Nic, cats, a ferret, and dog. She has also been a public speaker, artist, director for a charity, dabbled as a PI, and more. When not working, she enjoys SCUBA diving (PADI), reading, ruining movies for her family by pointing out mistakes, collecting Tarot card sets , playing Legos with her son, and growing herbs. She now writes full time, has zombie series of nine books, short stories, and several books of horror. She is available by e-reader and paperback.
J Ellington Ashton: http://www.jellingtonashton.com/
1.You’re writing a great serial murderer series about a character named Virgil McLendon, could you tell us a little about the character and what he’s facing in your books?
The Virgil McLendon books have grown. I think they are stand alone books, but Virgil began as a small town deputy (book 1) and was teased a little because of his “weird” ways at looking at crimes. He still solved the crime, because of his quirks and not despite. He thinks of music and logic when he sees a case, and he notices things that don't fit and asks why. And he doesn't know it, because it is way back in the 1970s before law enforcement accepted new techniques, but he uses basic psychology. He listens to people and watches them. He looks for what is out of place and asks why. He never forms a theory but lets the facts stand alone. Because he is so unusual, he goes from deputy, to sheriff, to special agent in the FBI and to then one of the founders of the BAU division, and still doesn't understand why others can't see things just as clearly as he does. My favorite part is when a sheriff asks Virgil if it isn't a little unthinkable to have two serial killers acting in one town at the same time. Virgil is flummoxed. He can't imagine why there wouldn't be! Anyway, he is facing the changes of a country and in crime....
As the series go, we know the characters and sometimes some issues are not resolved. Virgil's entire family is in law enforcement and there are a few family secrets, so besides the legal work, Virgil has a beautiful wife who wants a family and career, friends who are sometimes in danger, and his own fears of failure.
2. These are based on real serial killer cases, was it difficult doing the research? Was it hard reading into some of the more brutal crimes?
It should be, but I guess I have become calloused to the cruelty. That said, one case I can't read about is the Adam Walsh murder, that is the one that gets to me, mainly because there is nothing worse than a killer that brags brutal details- it makes me physically ill. I read a lot, I began in criminal investigation, and even did some work as a private investigator, so I think I've seen a lot and learned to turn off the emotion for most cases. That said, I do have issue with the cases never solved or those that are so confusing that I have to pull court records and sift through before I understand them. One such case occurred close to where I live and for years I was torn on whether the person was guilty. I finally wrote about it and let “Virgil” look at it. I came to a partial conclusion, but not one I feel at peace with. Those cases..the ones where there is doubt...those bother me.
3. Of Blood and Water starts the series and right away you’re tackling some seriously brutal stuff, child murders during the 1970s. Was it difficult to cover that territory or did you feel the subject matter made the book that much more compelling?
That case hurt. After research and writing, I feel the wrong man died for the crime, a guilty man walked free, and I reflected that somewhat in the book. That was supposedly one of the first times that profiling was used, but it was- in my opinion- used without sound experience. It was more that I was using it to fit a scene than allowing the scene to dictate the parameters. It was hard to describe the deaths of the children, and I did try to stay with most facts, but I have done the same for the entire series and it never gets easier. The California Killer was horribly brutal and there was a man who fed victims to alligators...so they are all rough. I read and research the real cases before twisting them and making them a little more difficult to solve . I do feel the reality makes me stay more honest to the real evil that resides in the killers. While some cases are never really resolved (as opposed to solved), in my books, the killers generally meet a bad end. My good guys win. Mostly. There are a few who will be taken care of in later books...it was just not time to let them be punished yet.
4. Criminal profiling was very new during the era McLendon is utilizing it, was it interesting researching how it worked when it was first used? Is it much different than it is today?
People treat Virgil as if he uses magic. People think it's crazy, that he can tell so much from a crime scene and profile a killer because it just wasn't done back then. Virgil uses more of what we use today...he's way ahead of his time. But people are shocked at his logic. I get a kick out of having Virgil smarter than the others. Because of the changes in the 70s, we saw new things. Back then, it never dawned on us that a killer might be a female or a normal person. We still thought it had to be a crazed killer or the drifter or the black man. Virgil is aware that it is never the outside element and that mostly, it is someone very much like the victims as far as race and experiences. I have enjoyed allowing the first female and African American FBI agents to work with Virgil and hope that shows the changes of the country and changes in thinking.
5. Book two Of Lions and Lambs focuses on a male serial killer attacking young men and mutilating them, Of Guilt and Innocence takes place at an institute for the criminally insane, Of Lost and Found takes place at a huge house known for disappearances and book five Of Truth and Lies is about a killer who helps McLendon solve a copycat killer’s case. This is a series that covers a lot of ground! Was it hard coming up with great cases to base McLendon’s cases on?
Unfortunately, there are many brutal crimes available to take from. Of Guilt and Innocence is probably the one that doesn't fit because it is almost fully made up and not based on a crime per se. (The people incarcerated there have committed crimes we may be aware of or have heard in urban myths) but it's really about secrets related to Abraham Lincoln and the research I did is solid, but it's almost over the top as far as believability. Yet, the facts are pretty strong to support my “case”. The stories keep coming because there are so many mysteries out there and I get to combine them with my murder cases. The famed Winchester House appears, but I was able to reinvent it as something far worse. I guess real cases give me a seed, but I take the stories in new ways and tangle them so nothing is ever easy or how it seems. I wouldn't even say the books are about what they look to be. The first is about family traditions (bad ones). I love to tackle that topic and have done so in several books. The second is is more about people being seen as female, black, gay, whatever...as individuals in a changing world. I have dealt with forced religion and it taking ominous meanings, and more. I think I take social situations...injustices or changes...and show this with mysteries. In a new book, I am delving into rape and blaming the victim instead of the offender, but it looks like a simple murder mystery. I don't think I will ever run out of wrongness to write about. (oh...I have a new tag line???)
6. You’re known for taking risks with your writing and enjoying unusual subject matter, tell us a few of your more interesting stories/books and why you like to seek out the unique.
I probably take far too many risks. I don't set out to, and generally have an idea like...”what if some girls took revenge and then”....and from there it gets weird because I find connections and I let the characters control the action and there is always far worse than what we think. To me, there may be a fin at the surface, but I know that down deep, there will be a school of hungry sharks and probably someone who likes the bloodshed and a horrible back story. But isn't that normal? If we see a lady with a black eye, did she really run into a door? Or is there a terrible story there? I think I am all about the secrets and hidden stories because they are truth. I am one of those truth-seekers. No matter how bad it will be, I like to know. And as Virgil would say, why wouldn't there be all kinds of scary things going on behind the normal? We all once were innocents, but we lost that...maybe with Vietnam.
7. You also took part in a collaborative book called Feral Hearts due out from your publishing house J Ellington Ashton very soon, did you enjoy the project? Is it tougher to work with a mixed group of writers than it is to work alone?
I loved the story and the process. I loved working with such a talented crew that challenged me. But, that said, it was hard and I would have failed if not for Edward Cardillo. I tend to write myself into corners and blaze my way out; that wasn't workable for this project. Ed saved my bacon and made my work far more reader friendly. It's a great book and very, very unusual with the writers having to work off a single premise, but the other writers were far better at this than I was. In my defense, I am not a short-story writer ( a handful at most) and I am character heavy, so it killed me to have random characters that might do things I didn't expect! I have tons of respect and admiration for the rest who did so well. On the other hand, I am thrilled that Ed and I could collaborate (a nice word for his work to save my butt). And by far, it was harder to write with others; I don't play well in a group. I think I do better when I am sent to the corner alone so I don't bother others. :)
8. Tell us a little about Feral Hearts and what we can expect from your collaboration. What was your favorite part of working on it? Were there any major elements you really liked about it?
Going into FH, I was the weak link because I don't write short stories, don't delve into vampires, and had never collaborated. Even with that, my fellow authors are so strong that they covered my weaknesses and ran with the character I created. Designing “Jenna” -the OCD saturated nut of the bunch- was more than fun. I had a ball with her, adding little hints and secrets here and there, and giving her a life of her own. I feel like she stands as a strong character and frankly, that's all I do -develop characters and let them run amok. I like how others embraced my little monster, but that shows professionalism in their work. Again, I claim weakness, but the rest and editor Ed Cardillo are what makes FH a strong book. The voices are distinct and the action is solid. I think readers will get a favorite book out of this because of the diversity. They will at least get a shock!
9. Lycanthroship is currently in progress and utilizes some of the same authors as Feral Hearts, could you tell us a little about the premise? What makes the book unique from it’s siblings FH and Fish Tales?
It's (Lycanthroship) a looser type book...as far as the set up....I threw out a set up and said , “RUN!”. That works for me. FH was more controlled. One type isn't the better of the two...we get very different results with these and they can't be compared. I think FH with vampires, has some expected rules and twists, but with werewolves like in Lycanthroship, we get turmoil and confusions. Werewolves are just such messy beasts! What is interesting is that the authors don't replicate characters; they go in very different ways than in FH. Again, it shows that the authors are solid writers and not only think outside the box, but see no box at all! Fish Tales is a collection of frightening stories that are related ONLY by water. Lycanthroship and FH are stories set within a defined universe, a time and place in common and the characters interact.
10. As the CEO of JEA you have to make a lot of tough decisions about which authors to pick up. What are the biggest things you look for in an ideal author?
Sometimes, I can “smell” when a book is right. Sometimes, I don't know, but have a feeling. I know for a fact we have passed on several books that were fantastic and if I were to go back in time, I'd grab them. At the time, maybe a word threw me or we had something similar, or I was distracted by something else. I make mistakes. I never know how we decide something isn't right, except that we get a lot of subs and can only take a few. I have taken a few as favors, I admit that. I have taken some before because the pitch and the credentials were amazing. I'm impressed when a sub meets the exact requirements we ask for!
I took Keith Milstead as an unfinished sub, (that's unheard of) but his voice shocked me. I did ask for a few changes, but the story was rock solid. It's worth waiting for. Andy Bove was an author I asked to sub to us because his pose was virtually perfect. Sometimes I speak to an author and feel a connection and see their wit (Tabitha Baumander).
There is no ideal author. We have missed a few, but the most ideal ones I know are those with us. They are amazing. Those who want to be with us and who are....those are ideal because they believe. Mark Woods may be the most ideal. He was shy and quiet about his writing, took the swift kick in the rear I gave him, and came out selling like a monster! Anyone can say he is a great writer, but I take notice when I see that someone is and yet that person is humble. Still water runs deep...always has. I see authors boast about sales and waving hands and jumping around, and they generally don't impress me. I think the strongest writers are the ones who let their work say it all.
Bio: Jim Goforth is a horror author currently based in Holbrook, Australia. Happily married with two kids and a cat he has been writing tales of horror since the early nineties.
After years of detouring into working with the worldwide extreme metal community and writing reviews for hundreds of bands across the globe with Black Belle Music he has returned to his biggest writing love with first book Plebs published by J. Ellington Ashton Press.
Jim also has a couple of collaborations due out later this year, involving other notable authors, and appears in the heavy metal horror themed anthology Axes of Evil from Diabolus in Musica, an imprint of Chupa Cabra House.
At present Jim is working on a host of full length novels and a handful of short stories with a variety of ideas for anthologies in the works.
Plebs on Amazon http://smarturl.it/Plebs
Axes of Evil on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Axes-Evil-Heavy-Metal-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00JAQ1F72/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397204394&sr=1-1&keywords=axes+of+evil
J. Ellington Ashton Press http://www.jellingtonashton.com/jim-goforth.html
1) Plebs is an intense thrill-ride of a novel likened to classic grindhouse slashers and it’s earned you quite a few 5 star reviews. What do you think of the response to your first published novel?
I’ve been pretty damn thrilled by the overall response to Plebs so far, the reviews have all been exemplary and there have been some wonderful things said. Having the work likened to some of the names that have been mentioned in various reviews is quite awe-inspiring and extremely flattering. I’m anticipating that a book like this isn’t going to be exactly everybody’s cup of tea and inevitably some folk are going to hate it, and I’d be rather interested to see what sort of negative response would be garnered from someone who didn’t particularly like it. I’m constantly saying that a bad review can generate as much attention, if not more than a good one, but so far it has been awesome feedback as a whole.
2) The plot centers around a band of men looking for a good time and via a group of lovely ladies allowing themselves to run afoul of a group of people called Plebs. Can you tell us a little about them?
Corey Somerset, Lee Hunter and Tim Hayworth are the young men still out celebrating after a friend’s birthday celebrations, making the unwise choice to wander a little further afield than they might have otherwise done if they weren’t under the influence of too much alcohol. They’re basically good guys, just somewhat prone to making bad decisions and not thinking a great deal of how much trouble some of those choices are going to land them in. Various circumstances in each of their lives have led to them being fairly shiftless slackers who lack any real motivation to find purpose; one is an idle rich kid, one is a bullied stoner and the other is a big brash ladiesman.
Their random intoxicated stumblings bring them into the domain of a group of mysterious women who are all fugitives from one thing or another, and who carry a host of killer secrets. These women share the domain in which they reside in an uneasy co-existence with the freakish creatures from which the book takes its name from, the Plebs themselves. Fundamentally, these entities were once upon a time human, now morphed and warped into bloodthirsty subhuman mutants courtesy of the experimentations of a disgraced scientist and through their encounter with the dangerous band of women, the three drunken adventurers come face to face with these horrors.
From then on in, things go to hell in a rush.
3) Unlike some of the old slasher films Plebs is a novel with a solid plot that pulls you along at breakneck speed, according to many reviews the 600 pages fly by. Would you tell us a bit about the writing process for the novel?
Plebs wasn’t actually supposed to turn out as a novel, much less one that clocked 180k words and spanned out to 600 pages. When the original idea occurred I was aiming to write it as a short story, with a similar premise to the events that occur in the first ten chapters or so, albeit probably with less happening than what I ended up with. The more I wrote though, the more I realised there was a whole lot more that was meant to happen with this story, the more I grew fond of building the characters and tossing them into horrendous situations. Ideas kept coming, new characters emerged to stamp their indelible mark on the thing and ultimately it had to become a full length, though even then I didn’t envision how lengthy it was going to be. I used to write all of my stories with trusty old pen and paper, shorts and novels alike, and Plebs was one of those that was entirely written that way, and I’m not talking notebooks, I’m talking pages upon pages of blank A4 printer paper. I have two prior novels which were written in notebooks, but with this one meant to be a short story I figured I would have it wrapped up with a handful of sheets of paper. Wrong. I’d be writing and writing in lunch breaks at work, on the train to and from work and all kinds of things. It was a staggered process and even at the time I was writing it, I wasn’t essentially writing to publish, I was writing to get the story out of my head and down on paper. I wrote it around a host of other things I was doing at the time and it was actually on hiatus unfinished for a while at one stage. It was written from start to finish without jumping between scenes or writing sections out of order, and then of course when it was finally complete I had to type the whole damn thing up from a stack of paper probably comprised of several small forests. I submitted it as a first draft, nothing was changed or altered from the very first write, and I’m pretty happy to say, even after a couple of rounds of edits, there was still very minimal alterations and absolutely nothing which changed the integrity of the story at all.
4) Has the length posed you any problems with editing or sales?
In terms of editing no, there were no problems at all. As I mentioned, the amount of edits required were so minimal that it was no issue going through any suggestions, or minor sentence restructurings or anything of the sort. I was more than impressed with the work done by the brilliant editors who presided over Plebs and have high praise for them. As a general rule I just write and almost never agonise over changing things, scrapping parts or worrying about how the story is coming out as I’m telling it and consequently I might underuse commas or overuse superfluous works. The editing process of Plebs has been more of a benefit to me than anything, it has definitely taught me a few things on honing my craft.
Plebs is certainly selling so I can’t say there are any problems there, though as a first book, I don’t really have anything to measure it by. I have the ability to track sales through Amazon and do so, but I know it’s selling elsewhere in places like Book Depository and Barnes & Noble which I don’t personally have the means to track.
I suppose the length may be somewhat daunting to some and in this day and age where ebooks are a massive industry, and a 20 page quick read can be published as a standalone work, a giant book may not be a reader’s first choice when there are so many shorts/novellas etc becoming available every day.
On the other side of the coin, there are those people who want to read a big book, who want to be immersed in a story that isn’t over in the blink of an eye, but instead is something where they can become fully involved with the characters and their fates. I love to read epic books that you don’t really want to end and have the ability to hold interest throughout, and I love to write them as well, and it would seem that other people are digging that too.
5) Before you decided to get back to your writing recently you were involved with reviewing and promoting extreme metal bands. Do you think the experience has given your work an interesting edge?
Most definitely. I’m a massive extreme metal aficionado and being involved with the scenes on a global scale in terms of reviews and interviews and promoting, and putting on gigs and metal shows locally has given me all kinds of interesting insights into a wide array of things. This isn’t confined to mere music itself, but the people who make it, the people who follow it, all sorts of perceptions of human nature and behaviours, some good and of course, some hideous. It is a veritable wealth of fodder for not just horror fiction like I write, but fiction and in fact non-fiction, in general. Some pretty ugly character traits can surface in there as they can in any given scene, which works fine for me, I have some rather ugly characters in my work.
On the upside, I always maintain that horror and metal go hand in hand, and the pair often intersect supremely successfully, the types of metal I most often choose to listen to are the dark varieties, black and death metal. If extreme metal was a fiction genre it would slot easily into horror or dark fiction realms, and vice versa.
Courtesy of the lifelong passion I’ve had for metal which parallels the lifelong obsession I’ve had with horror, I frequently incorporate elements of music into stories, even to some points where the music I love is a key facet, or in fact something a whole written piece may revolve around. Since many have referred to Plebs as a grindhouse/splatterpunk opus, I’ve taken to adopting that as an easy way to describe the way I write, adding in the fact that it is grindhouse horror driven by heavy metal.
6) You've got a story in Axes of Evil: The Heavy Metal Anthology, tell us a little about it and your experience working on it.
The story I have in Axes of Evil was not a story that was specifically written for that particular anthology, it was actually one written quite some time ago, well before I’d even started to write Plebs, but when the idea for the anthology came up I figured this piece Sinister Cavan had the requisite elements to fit the bill there. As with plenty of my writing it is a meld of heavy metal with some horror and so I submitted it and managed to score a spot in exactly the type of metal driven horror I’m stoked to be a part of.
Basically the story revolves around a morals crusader with a history of stamping out mediums (music, film etc) he considers to be evil and corrupting influences attempting to prevent a blasphemous metal band from playing a show in his hometown and the lengths he is prepared to go to when he finds he isn’t able to prevent it, in opposition to many of the things he’s closed down in the past. The underlying theme is primarily revolving around a juxtaposition of what people consider to be evil.
Because it was written a fair few years ago, it possibly isn’t something that can be considered a great representation of where my writing is at today, but in the vein of Axes of Evil it seemed rather appropriate.
It is around the 11k mark and was written very quickly when I had a whole slew of different ideas for short stories and was writing a bunch of them. The beast that eventually became Plebs was also among those seeds of ideas though it didn’t start to come to fruition until a little while later.
7) You also took part in Feral Hearts a cooperative novel with 5 other JEA authors, have you enjoyed collaborating and taking part in anthologies?
The Feral Hearts collab (and the Lycanthroship project as well) was an enormous amount of fun and I’m massively proud of being part of it with five truly excellent authors who are at the top of their game. Each of those involved has brought their own unique touches to the novel and the amount of variety and talent exhibited in this work is phenomenal, and it is something I cannot wait to see unleashed on the world.
Having never been involved with something of this magnitude, or indeed any form of collaboration with other authors I was extremely interested to see how I would work by stepping outside my own usual writing processes and having to adhere to certain guidelines and premises as was the case with these collab projects. I found it very much to my liking, incredibly challenging as well, but so much fun I would be keen to be part of something like it any time at all, the enjoyment I derived from it was immense. I’d never previously considered that I would be the type of author who could thrive in writing to specifics, or collaborating and working to a rule set, but now having done so, I can safely say I loved it.
8) Do you have any other novels or short stories in the works? Tell us a little about your ideas.
I’m almost always working on something, and more often than not it is multiple projects. This is my main method of dealing with anything that resembles writers block striking me, if that happens then I shift from the problem child work to another project and write on that either until I knock it over, or recharge inspiration for the other one.
The chief reason I have myriad things on the go at any one time though is because I’m always being inundated with ideas and concepts to write about, most of them, wildly dissimilar and unable to be all used in one specific story, so I have to get them all out, even if a few have to wait while I work on others.
Right now I am concentrating on one full length novel, after clocking 180k words on another one which I’m going to have to look at making into a couple of books in two parts since even at 180k it is only partially done.
The one I’m investing the majority of my writing time is my first exploration of the oft-travelled route of the undead, albeit with my own interpretation of a few things. Referring back to the remarks about my past experience with extreme metal and passion for the music, this book draws plenty from that since it revolves around various scenes of black and death metal, and a bunch of aficionados and band members who find themselves up to their necks in flesheating undead ghouls. Like Plebs, this book was actually supposed to be a short story which was going to form part of a series of shorts/novellas.
The other book, which is essentially complete if I decide it’s going to have to be two books was one that was always going to be split into two parts (I just didn’t imagine it would expand into such a giant monster in the first part alone). This revolves around a host of disgruntled ex-employees of a quaint rustic little carnival/circus creation who find themselves unceremoniously fired when their good natured old boss abruptly vanishes and is replaced by a sinister soul intent on turning the place into something entirely different. Not content on taking this indignity lying down, these suddenly jobless folk cook up some plans for revenge and discover there is much more to the apparent blueprint to turn their beloved former place of work into a new modern horror park than appears on the surface.
Aside from that I currently have a collection of short stories in with JEA and between writing on the novels I’m always writing an assortment of other novellas/shorts of all kinds of horrific things. I have a series of other music related horror tales I will be getting together at some stage, so when I’m not dedicating writing time to bringing that undead expedition to a conclusion, I’m writing on these.
Michael Fisher, Fish to his friends and family, has worn many hats in his long life including US Navy Hospital Corpsman, club DJ, security specialist, psychiatric technician, painter, and currently, father, Mason, author and tattooer, not necessarily in that order. He has a love of hats and ugly Hawaian shirts. He also bears a passing resemblance to Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski. His work has been previously published in The Tall Book of Zombie Shorts from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Anthologies as well as winning Honorable Mention for Short Story of the Year 2013 for The Return of the Devil Fly in the Midnight Remains anthology from J. Ellington Ashton Press. His first novel, DCs Dead will be coming out from JEA Press in 2014. He is also an editor with JEA Press
1) DCs Dead started out as a story you hit a block on, has it become more of a nostalgia trip now that you’ve been able to complete it or a learning tool that helped you get back into writing? Both?
DCs Dead was the beginning to a long road that, I hope, will continue stretching into my old age.
I would definitely say that it qualifies as both. It is very much a nostalgia trip because the people in it are not only friends that I have not seen in over a decade, but also a time and place that I hold very dear. This was before that world change for America as it was pre-9/11, an era when we still had our illusion of safety. A time when people were more trusting and accepting, when soon after, the entire populace became paranoid of strangers while, simultaneously, welcoming of those that were like them.
It was also a learning tool. When I started writing it, I knew very little about writing and story structure outside what we were taught in school. For this reason, the version of DCs Dead that appeared in the Tall Book of Zombie Shorts is quite different from the final version. That ten year block was quite frustrating. I think part of the reason that I gave up for so long was I felt that no one would ever see it and that I really had no reason to continue it. It started as a way to fill time during very slow days when I wasn’t making much money. It turns out that all it took was someone reading it and seeing potential, however rough it was. When I was told that it was good and needed to be finished, it spurred my imagination into action and now, a year or so later, it won’t stop.
2) Do you think the many hats you’ve worn over the years have better prepared you for being an author, artist and editor now than you were when you first started writing?
I think my varied experiences have helped my writing all around. I have seen many different areas of this nation and encountered so many different types of people in all walks of life. These experiences have given me seeds from which my story elements can sprout. Most of those experiences happened in my twenties. Now that I am well into my forties, it can look back on them both fondly as well as giving them a critical appraisal. There are so many things I have done that I look back on them and ask myself, “Were you an idiot or something?” They say that hindsight is 20/20, but it can also be hilarious.
In my almost twenty year career as a tattoo artist, I have seen more than my share of odd people and heard their stories. Add that on top of eight years working as a psychiatric tech, I am never surprised by the colorful eccentricities this world contains.
3) All of your current and upcoming releases have been in the horror genre, do you think you might write in other genres later on or is horror your primary interest as a writer?
I have a deep love of the horror genre that goes all the way back to my earliest memories. I have vague recollections of watching the Bela Lugosi Dracula with my mother when I was four years old, then running around the playground at Montessori the next day, pretending to be Dracula. Needless to say, the nuns that ran the school were not happy about a tiny blond boy chasing the girls, screaming “I vant to suck your blood!” My parents were not restrictive at all when it came to scary movies. I saw Dawn of the Dead in ’78when I was eight years old, only a year after falling in love with Star Wars, and Phantasm and Alien in ’79, which were the last two movies to give me nightmares as a child. So, back to the main question, yes, I do plan to work in other genres. A novel I am currently working on has more in common with shows like CSI and all the other alphabet shows (CSI, SVU, NCIS, XYZ) than they do with Nightmare on Elm Street. While they are genres ones that may have some aspect of fear, I will always return to my old lover, the scary story.
4) Has becoming an editor changed the way you look at your own work and the work of others?
Sadly, I think I was invited to become and editor because I was already spotting issue with other author’s writing. Sometimes, it would be simple things like typos that made it past other editors. Other times, I would find error where the original author did not do thorough enough research. I sincerely hope that when author’s get my recommendations, they do not get offended by them. I try to make suggestions without changing the author’s voice.
I am my worst critic when I am editing my own works. I have had many occasions where I found something that flowed well in a later part of the story, but realized it hadn’t been mentioned or explored earlier in the story so I would have to go back and figure out where it belonged and expound upon it.
There was a case where I found a consistent misspelling of a creature from the Cthulhu Mythos in a story. As an HP Lovecraft nut, I knew the spelling, while not a proper English word, looked wrong. So I went back and consulted the original author’s spelling and saw it was something as simple as an E replacing an O. Most of the readers likely would not have noticed, but I felt that it should be changed, both out of respect to the original writer as well to make the story fit well into the established Mythos, something the die-hard fans would immediately recognize.
5) Feral Hearts was a collaborative effort; do you think you’ll pursue more projects like it in the future?
I had a hell of a lot of fun with Feral Hearts, just letting go and running with the character of Barry the Needle. I think I will wait to see how it is received before diving headfirst into another one though, as I have quite a few other projects I am working on. Of course, that is what I say now but I have a hard time saying, “No.” You can ask my wife.
6) The novel length version of DC’s Dead and Feral Hearts are due to come out later this year, do you have any other works in progress?
I am working on a story that is currently titled It Always Bites You in the End which is the police procedural/murder mystery with a supernatural element. It should easily be my second novel. I have a short story I am writing to submit to the upcoming heavy metal horror anthology Axes of Evil II. I hope it will be accepted as well. I also have another zombie story in the very early stages, this one set on a cargo freighter en route to South America from Miami. As it passes through the Caribbean, it gets more than it could want. I also have a short story that I wrote for a specific anthology, and was passed on, which I am currently reworking in hopes it can get released later this year or early next year. Finally, I have my ongoing editing work for J. Ellington Ashton Press, just trying to help us release the best stories we can.
Now that I have a new home in JEA, I've become an editor there and Wendy Won't Go has made its way onto Kindle I think it's time I announce the re-release of my first book Eyes Like Blue Fire! I don't have a definitive release date yet (we're editing it up and making sure you get a great copy of the book) but I am proud to present the lovely new cover made for me by Marla Ringling Rhysen. I'm so happy to have a cover that really seems to catch some of the atmosphere of the book! This scene is where Katja first walks up on Raven in the cemetery and anyone who's read the book will know that is a very pivotal scene. I hope you all like it and that you agree about it fitting my novel :) Please feel free to tell me what you think and keep an eye out for its release in the coming months!
One of my favorite songs from the long ago days of my youth. Some days are just going to better than others and we're going through a lot right now and hoping for the best. I won't go into it because it's just too personal to cover here but suffice to say I'm feeling less than secure. I will explain a bit about what I can with my stress over my writing.
Eyes Like Blue Fire hasn't exactly been a big success and while that sucks I am making an effort to see about improving the book overall and rereleasing it after I sort out the bugs. It was my first book and it was originally written in high school, I had very little luck getting folks to read it back then and spent a lot of years looking for proofreaders and editing it myself. I probably took way too long fussing over it and the lack of readers added to my anxiety over it's quality but with little changing on that front all I could really do was rewrite and edit it until I felt I had something solid I could submit. That 2nd rewrite actually had me invested and encouraged enough to start it's sequel Cool Green Waters in 2002 which I knew to be a better book because of everything I
I'd learned rewriting ELBF. I got about halfway into that and then went back to working on Other Dangers in fits and spurts.
ELBF was the one book I finished and the one I was most insecure about. It didn't help that most of my friends were guys and that as guys they really didn't get my attraction to the gothic romance elements that are the base for the gothic horror in ELBF. If you've ever read any of ELBF you'll note that in the beginning it's centered on Katja and her struggle with love and it's complications in her past. Well eventually it does move on from those initial romantic elements to deal with some very dark horror elements that Katja must face to get to a new place in her life.
The fact that ELBF is neither completely horror or paranormal romance makes it a bit of a pariah in both genres. In paranormal romance it's an outcast because the horror elements are very dark and bloody, neither Katja nor Raven fit the stereotypes of the genre (Katja is the hero but a very reluctant one while Raven isn't a musclebound badass with no weaknesses), while there are action sequences these scenes do not make up the bulk of the novel, and while the romance is important to the plot it isn't the overall focus. In horror it's an outcast because it has strong romantic themes, the horror elements aren't the overall theme and the goal is not to scare as much as to convey the emotional and personal change that needs to happen for the lead characters.
ELBF was written before PNR had really had it's big rise to fame and it was never meant to be a part of this genre despite the fact that it's the only romance genre that's approached vampires and I knew it was never going to be a straight up horror novel. Still people pick it up thinking that is one or the other of these genres and then either find a pleasant surprise in it's differences or write it off because it has elements of the opposing genre (another reason it's been difficult to market. I've had it attributed to PNR like Twilight and Vampire Diaries despite the lack of similarities and written off because it doesn't suit the tropes of the genre of their choice. The animosity between the two genres due to such novels creates a bit a of shutoff and rejection point in some readers. )I never meant the book to be a genre stereotype. I wrote it to for what it was and what it was meant to be.
ELBF was written in my Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite days. I was lonely and I was struggling to understand myself as a person. I was Katja and I was Raven I wanted to find myself in the eyes, the heart, and the touch of another human being so badly that I couldn't see how inherently flawed that outlook was. I dwelled on my past and all of it's pain refusing to let it go and try to face my future and the being I could be. I couldn't see past all of these personal tragedies, these flaws that I'd pasted up all around me. Completing that first draft was one of the few really brave things I did in those days. I was and in many ways still am an introvert. I had few friends and the friends I had were not always going to be able understand where I was coming from because even I didn't understand it for a very long time. It is no wonder then that the original book and I suppose the current version are still colored by that outlook. It made many transitions over the years I reworked the novel but in the end the book is still about coming to terms with ones past and choosing to move on to the next thing.
Let me try and explain the book as it is. Please be aware there will be spoilers ahead if you haven't read ELBF.
The first part of the novel focuses on her past because it's exactly where Katja's focus has remained for the majority of her life up until the point at which she meets Raven. In that past we meet Sebastian who colored her view of the world by being her first love, Sabine the daughter they had and lost which became a symbol of her hopes for the future, and of course the very flawed Anton Freneau. Anton really is the idealized partner a young woman seeks before she knows what she wants. He rushes in to rescue her from the tragedy of her mortal life only to fail her because he can't deal with his own issues. She isn't able to let him go because he was the person she pinned all of her hopes and dreams on without realizing that his promises were as flawed and impossible as Sabastian's not just because he is unable to fulfill those promises but because Katja hasn't come to terms with herself as a person. Anton is so incapable of facing his own issues in fact, that he forces Katja to do the worst thing she has ever done in her life and instead of taking responsibility for his flaws dumps all of that onto Katja who doesn't even know all of it has become her debt in life. Full of regret and refusing to move on Katja creates a loop of memory and loss that she relives while physically going out into the world and acting without much thought or consciousness for her actions.
When she meets Raven it's a strange experience because her mind is focused on Anton and Raven himself is focused on his own lost love Kathryn. Now some of this similarity is meant to be clearly in their minds and is meant to be read that way but some of that is actually there because Raven based his ideal partner elements on his ideal of what Katja was when he was a child (he only knew her through a painting and at a time of great conflict in his life) and according to what we understand of Anton's actions he placed a bit of his soul in Raven's family line. In this first meeting they're seeing what they want to see in each other and as a result things go much farther than either has intended and Katja runs. She runs because she hasn't moved on from her past and because she isn't really ready to confront the reality of her ideal partner in a man like Raven who isn't without flaws but is far more evolved in personal development. Raven mourns her loss because he struggles to feel grounded in a life that has had very few really solid people and she offered some sense of that solidarity by embodying both Kathryn and the base ideals he's been seeking his whole life. Their interaction over the distance is colored by this and their own evolving relationship with their pasts. This is where Marie comes in.
Marie Gaston is the horror of Katja's past balled up into one big nasty nightmare of a person and she is all of the things Katja has chosen to ignore so that she can dwell on the things she would rather see. She (and all of the other characters who are also damaged by their pasts) must face her in order to claim her future with Raven and the person she would be if she were to move on. Marie doesn't come into the novel as it stands until about a third of the way into it because (as in life) it isn't until Katja's confronted with a new path and romance with Raven that the elements of her past that could do the most damage rear their ugly head. It's also about this point that our other villian Trudeau comes in. Trudeau is Raven's personal demons and dreams attempting to offer him a distraction at the same time as digging open old wounds. The pair of these beings together are causing Raven serious damage in order to damage Katja and her potential future. we also meet Zero at about this point and he's Katja's confidence and a sort of conscience trying to tell her that Anton's life was a lie and that it's poisoned all of the people he's touched. Zero's role is to get her focused on addressing her problems and past so that she can be the person she needs to be to battle and overcome our villains.
Raven plays the role generally given to women in these novels not just to switch up gender roles but because he's actually an extension of Katja coming under attack and therefore not capable of facing the threats that have far more to do with Katja than himself. He's sort of a barely begun dream that doesn't have the strength yet to rescue her or himself from the threat. He is also representative of the aspects of masculinity which are not about battles and strength but emotions and the confusion they cause. These aspects get far less focus in novels than they should precisely because men are more often translated as "the strong one" and the one that has to attack the evil in order to fulfill his gender role. The truth is that men are not always the ones who are strongest and they deal with emotional turmoil just as much as women do. Raven is a more emotional side of the masculine and therefore not the stereotype.
Ok that's a lot I'm sorry. Anyway the point is that book is about facing up to one's self and one's past. It isn't supposed to be a straight up romance novel and it isn't just about the horror these characters face either. It's about the personal journey of one woman and the people she affects as she takes that journey. The opposite is expected of it and I'm having to work out what I can change about the current book to make it more marketable without sacrificing the entirety of the story or huge chunks of the point to do it. I'm hoping my friend can help me see the bits that need work (for whatever reason) and perhaps the 2nd version will do better. I guess it boils down to wanting all of that work to have been all it needed to be it's best. It makes me anxious about my other writing despite the fact that this is my only work (with the exception of CGW of course) that has these sort of niche elements. everything else I've written might have genre bending elements but nothing I can see causing those pieces to be as hard to find readers for as ELBF has been. I suppose one could say that making this my first book means that I've always gone about things the hard way...anyway I'm a tad frustrated but still determined to see this book through. For the moment my focus is going to be on Apocrpyha and seeing that to market and perhaps working on Other Dangers if I can't work on CGW as a result of that frustration for the time being.
I have Jodie, that fantasy story with the boy and his mother, a couple of YA books, the novel about a farming couple and their farm going all Lovecraft and a few other books to complete as well. I suppose that's another reason I want to be done with ELBF I spent so much time working on it or not at all that there are so many other projects backed up as a result. With luck all of out personal issues will play out to a positive end and that will allow me to relax too. Anyway now that I've gone on forever, I hope that things are good with all of my readers and those who follow me because they know me in person or online. I want the best for so many people.
This is one of my best features on a blog yet! If you'd like an early look at my short story collection Apocrypha and Cool Green Waters (Broken Edges #2) this is a good place to find them as well. Have a look:
Page 1 a listing of interviews and blubs for Eyes Like Blue Fire as well as a few samples from the book : http://chucklesbookcave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/featured-author-amanda-m-lyons.html
Page 2 A long piece from Eyes Like BLue Fire and a sample from Cool Green Waters http://chucklesbookcave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/featured-author-amanda-lyons-news.html
Page 3 A sample from Apocrypha, specifically a bit of Wendy Won't Go a ghost story: http://chucklesbookcave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/new-release-apocrypha-by-amanda-m-lyons.html
Amanda M Lyons
Ms. Lyons is an author of fantasy, horror, and an avid reader of all genres.