Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ahimsa Kerp's Trial of Socrates

Yet again, it is my pleasure to present an author writing in a time period I enjoy. I got to translate sections of Plato's Apology in college, but Ahimsa Kerp presents a very different view of the Trial of Socrates. Kerp is the author of the historical horror novel Empire of the Undead from Severed Press and co-author of the mosaic fantasy novel The Roads to Baldairn Motte from Reputation Books, as well as a contributor to many anthologies including Cthulhurotica, Tales of the Talisman, and Dead Harvest. Ahimsa hails from the Pacific Northwest but has been living overseas since the aughts.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I don't know exactly. But since I learned how to read, I've always been fascinated with stories. And you can only read so many before you want to start telling your own. I was writing stories about orcs living in Mordor when I was 8, though I'm not sure if I could have articulated that I wanted to be a writer at that age.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
It just depends. Each story needs a different setting and that's part of the initial process. When is best to tell this story?  I one story set in 1920's New Zealand, because a lot was going on in the country then. Another is set during 1890's China, with some of the events right before the Boxer Rebellion. Others are near future, or set ancient Rome or Greece.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Horror, Oh My?
I always thought there was something fishy about Socrates. Why didn't he leave anything recorded? What was his part in the war with Sparta? It's hard to trust Plato and Xenophon, as both clearly had vested interests in his martyrdom. Once I started thinking about the Lovecraftian angles with the worship of new gods, the corruption of youth, and of course Atlantis as a briefly sited R'lyeh, it was hard not to write.

Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the setting?
I re-read the respective Apologies by Plato and Xenophon but frankly not much of that made it in. I realized this story could either be 12,000 words long and have all kinds of historical elements that might not be exciting to anyone other than history geeks, or 2000 words and do a similar job. So in the end I didn't use most of my research.

Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
For reading, I don't have a preference. I love the breadth of history (up unto about the 19th century when it's a bit too modern.) Give me medieval castles, Mongol hordes, Janissary soldiers, intrepid Vikings, solitary Ronin, and the redoubtable Praetorian Guard.

Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work? 
Zoinks; tough question.  I suppose my current favorite is China MiĆ©ville. His prose is poetic and I don't think anyone else is as good at boiling "big ideas" down into pulpy adventure.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
For those who like historical specfic, Tim Powers is super duper incredible. Books like The Anubis Gates, On Stranger Tides, and Declare all use real history but postulate supernatural reasons for unexplained phenomena. It's really cool.

Read Ahimsa Kerp's story for yourself!
History and Horror, Oh My! is now available in ebook formats on Smashwords and in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.

Friday, December 26, 2014

History and Horror, Oh My: Morgan Crooks


The pics _I_ take when I visit Lido Key.
As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a few years studying Greco-Roman history. I'm accustomed to being the only person in the room who likes that stuff, so it was a real pleasure to read stories from professionals in the area. Morgan Crooks grew up in a hamlet in Upstate New York and now teaches ancient history in Massachusetts. His story, “What the Prodigy Learns," is his fourth published work. He lives with his wife, Lauren, near Boston with one professional cat and one amateur dog.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
When I was about five or six I got this brown Fisher Price tape recorder. After I had listened to all of the Berenstain Bear and American History cassettes that came with it, I start recording my own stories. I remember this one where I took a vacation to Mars, which in a weird way feels like the story I've wanted to tell ever since.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Horror, Oh My?
Roman history, particularly the transition from the Republic to the Empire, has always been fascinating to me and I got interested by the idea  a horror story set in that time, focused on Roman characters facing Roman nightmares. Then during my research, I read about wandering scholars like Strabo collecting information for vast encyclopedias. That pretty much gave me the character of Marius and once he started talking the rest of the story seemed to fit together.

Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the setting?
I found a wealth of information about Rome, Roman Daily Life, and social classes but nothing that brought the idea of Roman horror alive. To me this is one of those topics that I’ll never tire of, so I guess the biggest challenge was deciding when enough was enough. Eventually I started reading The Inns of Greece and Rome, and a history of Hospitality from the Dawn of Time to the Middle Ages, by W.C. Firebaugh. Firebaugh describes this system of post-houses that sprung up alongside the Roman road system. Basically with a writ from the government an upper class Roman could make use of these houses anywhere in the Empire. A sort of unofficial pilgrimage existed in the Eastern Half of the Empire, as young Romans saw the splendors of the ancient world as they traveled from inn to inn. That gave me the setting and the impulse to just start writing the first draft already.

Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
That’s a tough question. Being an ancient history teacher, I’d say just about everything I cover - Stone Ages right on through to the Fall of Rome - is incredibly interesting. Late Republican Rome is probably my all-time favorite historical period, though.

Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work? 
Kim Stanley Robinson. In addition to having some of the best depictions of realistic space travel committed to print, he also has a really amazing sense of scale and history. He does what I think every great writer should do - hold up something familiar and boring and show you how it’s the weirdest, most interesting thing in the universe.

What are you working on now?
I’ve got a longer horror novella I’m editing as well as a few flash pieces.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I try my best to keep up with what’s going on in short fiction by reading Apex, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. This year I spent catching up on weird fiction: Laird Barron, John Langan, and Thomas Ligotti but I also found time to read Gibson’s latest, The Peripheral. I’d recommend it.

Do you have any other works out right now?
My flash science fiction story, “Belongings," came out on the Theme of Absence website on December 12th. I’ve also got a science fiction story about drones that will be appearing in this month’s The New Accelerator anthology. I’d check out my blog at ancientlogic.blogspot.com to see what other work I’ve got out there.

Read Morgan's story for Yourself!
History and Horror, Oh My! is now available in ebook formats on Smashwords and in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Interview with Jonah Buck

Most of my friends know that I am a Lovecraft fan. Some of them also know I spent several years studying Greek, Latin, and Greco-Roman history in college. How could I not fall for a story like “And if Thine Eye Offend Thee”, written by Jonah Buck?

Jonah splits his time between studying law at the University of Oregon, performing stage magic, writing horror, and other disreputable pursuits. He is an avid historian, exotic poultry fancier, fossil hunter, and B-grade monster movie enthusiast.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Horror, Oh My?
Being the scintillating personality that I am, I got the first kernel of my story from reading about the legal aspects of the Byzantine Empire’s guild system in the 11th century. While this topic might sound “boring” or “mega-crazy-turbo boring” to most, it’s actually quite interesting. The Byzantines built this whole elaborate, state-sponsored guild system for certain industries, and they enforced it through some pretty horrific violence.

Gouging someone’s eyes out with hot stakes was a popular method of dealing with troublemakers, and that’s where my story “And if Thine Eye Offend Thee” got its start. There’s already a bracing shot of horror there. Just toss in some demons, mix well, and SHAZZAM. Who needs the latest slasher movie when you have the Byzantine penal code?

Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
Most of my stories take place in the 1920s. There’s a few reasons for that. It’s a really interesting era. On the one hand, you have the rise of radio as mass media, the Prohibition experiment, and women’s suffrage. On the other hand, you have the blight of the Klan, Tommy gun toting gangsters, and geopolitical upheaval. It’s the age of Lovecraft, Ford, Houdini, and Rockefeller. There are a lot of really colorful ideas to play with that are still relevant today.

What are you working on now?
In the near future, I’ll be appearing in Attack! of the B-Movie Monsters: Alien Encounters. I also have a story in the original B-Movie Monster anthology, Night of Gigantis, which you can buy right now. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but along with History and Horror, Oh My!, it’s pretty much the pinnacle of all western literature.

Read Jonah Buck's story for Yourself!
History and Horror, Oh My! is now available in ebook formats on Smashwords and in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.








Saturday, December 20, 2014

History and Horror, Oh My: Scott T. Barnes


Scott T. Barnes writes primarily science fiction and fantasy. His short story "Insect Sculptor" won second place in the Writers of the Future Contest, 2011. Since graduating Odyssey, the Fantasy Writing Workshop in 2008, Scott's short fiction has appeared in over a dozen magazines and anthologies. A country boy at heart, having grown up on a California farm and cattle ranch, Scott adores the history of the West with passion that can be plainly seen in "The China Queen." His fourth-grade reader Rancho San Felipe—A Story of California One Hundred Years Ago, coauthored and illustrated by Sarah Duque and published in conjunction with the Olaf Wieghorst Western Heritage Center, is used as a textbook in several Southern California schools.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I remember wanting to become a writer from the age of 11 years old. A couple of years ago when I won the Writers of the Future Award knowing if that memory were accurate or not became important to me. I went back through my mom’s old photos and found a shot of me banging away at our manual typewriter on my first book. It was about skeletons with flaming heads (walking dead) and a flaming sword. As I recall I wrote 65 pages on it. It was called The Fire Skeletons. I would give much to find the original manuscript.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
My first love has always been fantasy followed by science fiction. When I was young, early elementary school, my mom would leave me at the bookstore in the mall, go shopping, and return to collect me 3-4 hours later. She knew right where to find me—in the science fiction and fantasy section of B. Dalton. And so I write mostly fantasy with the occasional science fiction piece. Since I grew up on a farm with a family much concerned about its history in farming and cattle ranching, I am also passionate about Western Americana. Both of these loves, speculative fiction and Western Americana, can readily be seen in “The China Queen” in History and Horror, Oh My!

How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Horror, Oh My?
The original seed for this came from a “24 hour” story assignment at the Writers of the Future event. The winners of that award get treated to a week of education by some of the best writers in the field. The two lead teachers when I was there were Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates) and Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Permeable Borders). They assigned everyone the task writing a story in 24 hours after 1) picking a random book from the library, 2) interviewing a random person on Hollywood Blvd., and 3) picking a random object from a hat. All of these writing prompts had to be used in the story.

From the library I grabbed a book on sheep ranching, from the hat I picked some sort of object that might have been a miniature bracelet, and on the street I ran into an honest-to-goodness world-class magician. From there grew “The China Queen.” While I had the draft done in 24 hours, it took me a couple of years to dust it off, polish it up, and submit it here.

Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the setting?
It took some research to get the 1860s era correct. I’m a stickler for detail so I had to place my imaginary sheep ranch on a real map from the era. I had to know what guns people would be carrying, what clothes they would be wearing, what books they would be reading and so forth. It helps that I raised sheep to show at the local fair every year and so I had some background on that already.

Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
Probably my favorite era to read about is the 1840s when fur trappers were wandering the west. It was really a wild place. Unfortunately, very few of them wrote down their adventures, and fewer still did so without exaggerating outrageously. George Frederick Ruxton is the best of the writers from that period, in my opinion.

Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work? 
I wish I could surprise you here, but the authors I like are the same ones everyone likes. Ursula K. LeGuin and J.R.R. Tolkien are probably the top two. I flatter myself in thinking that my prose is not dissimilar to Neil Gaiman’s in terms of style. I would also like to emulate Roger Zelazny and Barry B. Longyear. I love lush prose (think Isak Dinesen), a tight plot and complex characters (Barry B. Longyear), and soaring feats of imagination (Ray Bradbury). Each of the authors I cited above, LeGuin, Tolkien, Gaiman, Longyear and Zelazny, carries off all three remarkably well. Bradbury and Dinesen sometimes fall short on plot.

What are you working on now?
I have finished the first draft of a story much like Watership Down except with salmon as the protagonists. That has taken A LOT of research to get right. I’ve read books and spent hours on the internet. I have interviewed biologists, ichthyologists, sailors and fishermen. I have hiked the Hoh River valley in Olympic National Park.

The research is done, the photos taken and resources studied, the story spread across the canvas--now the revision begins. I hope to have the final draft done by this summer.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, about a book every two weeks, but I force myself to read outside of genre for every third book. That has broadened my horizons considerably. I read biographies, histories, romance, mysteries, you name it. The best books I have read recently were Roger Zelazny’s Amber series. I get the most story ideas from nonfiction. In fact, I forgot to mention a fourth source for “The China Queen”: My Wicked, Wicked Ways, the autobiography of Errol Flynn. One incident in that book also lent an idea to this story. What an interesting read. Did you know Flynn was a slave trader before getting into movies?

Read Scott's story for yourself!
History and Horror, Oh My! is now available in ebook formats on Smashwords and in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.


If you'd like to read more of his work, Scott also edits the online magazine NewMyths.com. His website is www.scotttbarnes.com.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

History and Horror, Oh My! - Henry Snider

Henry Snider is a founding member of Fiction Foundry and the award-winning Colorado Springs Fiction Writer’s Group. During the last two decades he’s dedicated his time to helping others tighten their writing through critique groups, classes, lectures, prison prose programs, and high school fiction contests. Thirteen years to the month from founding the group, he retired from the CSFWG presidency in January, 2009. After a much needed vacation, he returned to the literary world.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I blame my parents for this one. In 1975 my parents took me to see Jaws...at the tender age of five. What I remember, more than staring at the screen, was the number of people who were terrified. The responses the audience gave started me looking for thrills, first in comics, then in novels. By middle school I was working on writing about what scared me, then a few years later I began sharing the works with others.

How do you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
I tend to focus first on the story I want to tell, then work on figuring out what would be the best location and time to place them in. This is the answer most "want" to hear. The truth is I don't pick anything. I could be perusing antiques with the missus and see an old inkwell and suddenly I'm pounding the keys about an introvert actually penning someone's life.

How did you come up with the idea for your "Someone to Watch Over Me"?
I was actually researching the first flapper, Olive Thomas, for another project. The story just seemed to grow from there. The burial mound in the story is an actual mound there, as is the island and general setting descriptions and locations.

Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the setting?
Not as many as I expected. History's been a passion of pretty much everyone in my family.

Do you have a favorite historical period you enjoy reading or writing about?
No, not really. I come from a history-heavy household. Both my parents strived to enrich my youth with adventures of eras-gone-by.

Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?
Oh, this isn't a fair question. To me it's like asking which breath of air did you prefer. How about I answer "What authors' works do you read more than once?" That answer would be - in no particular order - Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, William W. Johnstone (his pulp horror, not the westerns), Joe Lansdale, H.P. Lovecraft, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Amanda Quick...wait...did I just include a romance author? A strong author brings me back, but it really depends on the story the wordspinners are weaving.

What are you working on now?
Earlier this year Evil Jester Press released Carnival of the Damned, which I edited. At the moment I'm finishing off the final edits for my novel, Drive-In Feature, which is due out in February, 2015 from Great Old Ones Publishing. After that I'll be completing a novel entitled Rising Water. A baker's dozen-or-so stories are currently out and under consideration.


Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Everything I can get my hands on. Articles, non-fiction, stories, novels, poetry...you name it. My reading list covers everything from horror (obviously) and romance to biographies and history in general.

Thanks for talking with us!
Learn more about Henry Snider at http://fictionfoundry.org/wp/members/henry-snider/

History and Horror, Oh My! is now available in ebook formats on Smashwords and in print and Kindle formats on Amazon.




Sunday, November 16, 2014

Current Distraction: Comedy

Some introductory bullshit: it was a stressful summer. We moved to Safety Harbor, which is a wonderful place, but we have to support ourselves now – not just lot fees and monthly expenses, but debts accrued during our years in Kentucky. You know, back when Gwen and I both had full-time jobs and where the cost of living was so much lower? I enjoy having our own place again so much it’s embarrassing, but I also worry a lot. This is an insecure job market.

Then, Robin Williams killed himself. I didn't expect it to hit me as hard as it did, but I'm still sad about it. His work was so full of zaniness and optimism, which was a tonic to my Eeyore-like nature. So, I decided to see if I could hear some of his bits on Pandora. Yes, I could, and was introduced to a large number of other comedians, too. Below are some of my current favorite tracks. If you listen to comedy,feel free to comment or make suggestions.

Dan Cummins – Here Come the Spoons
Jeff Dunham – Buddy the Peeping Dog
-          Not part of his puppet act, just a great story.
John Pinette – France and Italy
-          Also died far too young.
Craig Gass – Gene Simmons is Going to Kill Me
-          I wouldn’t want to hear this track over and over, but it is horribly funny the first time.
Louis CK – The Time I Thought I Was Going To Die
-          Bad airplane landing story #1
Gabriel Iglesias – Magic Mike Story
-          I love Fluffy!
Matt Braunger – Clown Pub Crawl
Bobcat Goldthwait – The Voice of Death
-          Bad airplane landing story #2.
Ben Bailey – Road Rage
Craig Ferguson – Hotel Porn
Robert Schimmel – My Daughter’s Computer
-          Funnier if you remember the early days of AOL.

---

Friday, November 07, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

I usually participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for the 2% of people reading this post that are probably my relatives.

Basically, people across the country – and the world – try to write a 50,000 word book during the month of November. Why? Because writing. No, seriously, that’s the answer. In order to write. Together. Yes, it’s a social activity. I’m apparently a gregarious writer, too. I get more done during most NaNos than I do the rest of the year.

Not last year. Last year, I had a new job and a slew of personal problems, including a depressed spouse. Didn’t get shit done during NaNo, haven’t gotten much done since. My writing, since we moved down here, has taken a serious hit. I always had problems with my existential angst where writing was concerned, but my brain went on strike. I signed up, but didn’t really participate.

This year, I have a different problem: no mental energy because I have too much to do.

You see, during the day I work for a telephone book company. I handle government listings assigned to me and do quality checks on other people’s work. When I get home, all I want to do is play Criminal Case and watch Untold Stories of the ER. But I have a second job I do, one I’ve chosen for myself: book editor. Right now, I’m dealing with three anthologies, one (possibly two) novels, and a couple of story collections I haven’t received yet. And I’m waaaaaaayyyy behind.

So, I’m logged into the NaNoWriMo site this year, but I am doing a real rebel mission this year: editing books for print. I’ve already done more words than I normally write during NaNo on my personal fiction. Still isn’t enough. I need to hit 50,000 or better this year, or be killed by other writers. They write horror and mystery stories, too, which means I will suffer greatly and no evidence of whodunit will be left behind.

Wish me luck.

 --






Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Lady or the Tiger

The place where I work had a movie day recently. The film they chose was The Life of Pi. It made me cry, but not for the reasons my co-workers had.

The last two years have been the most hellish ones of my life. My wife and I left our home and jobs in Kentucky when my father collapsed in early 2012. We moved into my parents’ house and lived up close and personal while my father made his death spiral, complete with raised and dashed hopes. Anyone who knows me knows what a daddy’s girl I was. It was awful, and once he was gone I appreciated not only the love and guidance I’d gotten from him, but also the security I felt knowing he was there.

For the first few months after his death, I helped settle his affairs. I also sought work, not realizing what a difficult job market the Tampa Bay area was. The search became more desperate because the purpose that kept my mother and I working in unison – keeping Dad alive – no longer existed. He was gone, and now there was no buffer between us. My mother is a wonderful person, but we were not meant to live together. She has no sense of boundaries and wants constant socialization. I am as introverted and territorial as a hornet on the rag.

After five months of searching, I got a temp job. It got me out of the house, but it was a long commute and I was away 11 hours each day – leaving my wife at the house with my mother. No friends, no car, no reliable time to herself. When I got home, it became a war zone. Gwen’s antidepressant failed and she went into her own emotional downspiral. I will not go into further depth about this because I still feel responsible in many ways and it is too painful to write about. For the first time in my life, though, I had to truly be the strong one, the support, the one who had to hold things together because there was no fallback person.

In a stroke of belated but appreciated good fortune, I was taken on as a permanent employee. A few months later, we moved into our own place. Despite the fact that our new home is cheaper than any of the apartments we’ve seen, I still can’t afford to cover our costs on what I make. So Gwen and I frantically sought to find her a job that paid better than the crossing guard position she held. Did I mention that this was a hard place to find work?

My wife finally has a temp job lined up (only three months of searching=better economy?) that should help with the bills. I hope she eventually gets a permanent one so we can be secure in our new home. Right now, I can’t decide if our place is the carnivorous island or the coast of Mexico. If you've seen The Life of Pi, you know what I mean. All I know for sure is that I want the hell off the boat, because I’m not sure if I’m Pi or the tiger any more.



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet John Lemut!

John Lemut, author of “Labor Eco-nom-nom-ics” lives in Wisconsin. He spends his time watching too much TV, brewing and drinking beer, writing, editing, and marrying people. In addition to showing us how zombies can improve the economy, his short stories appear in the anthologies First Time Dead, Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy, Vampires Aren’t Pretty, and Night Gypsy: Journey into Darkness. His website is johnrambles.com.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in the 4th grade. I didn’t think, “I can do that…” I thought, “I want to do that…”

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
I first intended “Labor Eco-nom-nom-ics” as a fairly direct homage to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” – one of my favorite short stories. I thought the concept of a zombie nobody cared about, in place of an angel, had potential. As I developed it, my preconceptions of what I wanted to happen in my story changed significantly, and while it may no longer bear much of a resemblance to Marquez’s story, I certainly owe its existence to the Marquez story.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
I definitely think some of the horror sub-genres (zombie and vampire fiction, in particular) are rife with potential for humor. In all honesty, zombies are pretty absurd. It doesn’t mean I don’t love them, but it also doesn’t take much of a tilt in perspective to find the humor there. I have a sardonic way of looking at most things in the real world. I find mixing zombies in there actually helps mask my attitude a bit.

Plotter or pantser?
I’m a little of both. Usually I’ll work from at least a basic outline, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing is a story taking shape in ways you didn’t anticipate. Then I’ll completely ignore the outline where appropriate.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
I swear this isn’t a shameless plug for a friend, but I most admire Eric Pollarine, a self-published author I’ve done some editing for. First off, Eric writes stories that he wants to write, and I admire that confidence. His ability to write – to push through all the mental blocks and doubts, and get words on the screen – is a gift. I have been fortunate to have been a small part of his process and have learned so much from that. I take inspiration from his work ethic, and value the opportunities I’ve had to work with him.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I broke the habit of only reading authors with names everyone recognizes several years ago. Now I enjoy finding stories from independent publishers and self-published authors that I think will interest me. They aren’t necessarily going to be the most polished books you’ll find, but for originality, edge, and sensibility, few bestsellers compare. Genre-wise I tend to read horror (mostly zombie horror), sci-fi, bizarro, humor, and thrillers – usually my favorite books have been blends of more than one of these. Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series is an excellent example.

Thank you for talking with us!

Strangely Funny II is now available in print or Kindle from Amazon, plus it is also available on Smashwords. Our Goodreads Giveaway only has a couples of days left, so if you want in, now's the time to enter!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet Omar Sakr!

Omar J. Sakr is an Australian writer and poet with a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Sydney. His short story 'Aftertweet' was selected as part of the Twitter Fiction Festival, and his poetry has featured on Cordite Poetry Review, as well as the ABC. He has poetry forthcoming in Meanjin and Carve Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @OmarjSakr or on his website http://omarsakr.wordpress.com .

His story in Strangely Funny II, "Caryard Jack", tells the story of a necromancer awakened after several centuries into the modern world. Unfortunately, his ex still remembers him, and not fondly.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I first tried my hand at writing when I was about 11, and I’d just finished reading Lord of the Rings. I can’t remember what I wrote, except that it was undoubtedly pure plagiarism. Put off by that, it wasn’t until I was 15 that I wrote again. I was hit by a story out of the blue, and sat down to write it.  I finished it in one sitting, hand cramped, page full of my ungainly blue scrawl, and that’s when I knew.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
I like to think I didn’t choose it at all – that it chose me. Truthfully, I had the choice all but dictated to me. When I was about 10, my step-father bet me $10 I couldn’t sit through an entire novel. The novel he chose was King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green. It had magic, kings, queens, knights and witches, and from then, I was lost to this world, and always in another. The next few books I read were largely picked by my mother, in Harry Potter, and Stephen King’s Rose Madder. These are the books which shaped my imagination, a mix of magic, medieval England, and horror.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
I was at work, drudging away, trying to overcome a mental block to a story I was in the middle of writing. I loved the concept, and thought the beginning of it was some of the best writing I’d done. Consequently, I began to treat it too preciously,  and was worried about ruining it. I was stuck – doubly so by being at work – but had the writing itch, so I opened up a page and just started writing the first thing that came to my head. It says a whole lot about me that the first thing I thought of was an ancient murderous bisexual necromancer, but there you have it.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?

Life lends itself to humour; I don’t think there’s a single genre or medium out there that shouldn’t be layered with humour. The universe is an enormous cosmic joke and if I wasn’t able to laugh at it every day, I don’t think I’d manage to get by. That said, any subject dealt with pompously – my dear beloved fantasy, I’m looking at you – ought to have the mickey taken out of it, and no one is more conscious of that then fantasy writers today.

Plotter or pantser?
Pantser. I write as it comes to me, in flashes of inspiration (read: delusion), otherwise I’d likely be too bored if I knew the entirety of it from the outset.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
This is an impossible question to answer. I admire different authors for different things – their prose, mastery of structure, brilliant concepts, etc. If we’re talking in general, I’d say right now the author I admire most is Patrick Rothfuss, for his inspiring charitable work with Worldbuilders.

Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
Turkey, my ancestral homeland.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror predominantly, although if the past year or two is any indication, my current loves are poetry and literary fiction. Above and beyond everything else, short stories remain my favourite reading type. I also love graphic novels and comic books.

Thanks for talking with us!

Be sure to check out Omar's story in Strangely Funny II, now available in print and e-book formats on Amazon and Smashwords. And don't forget - we're also giving away three free copies of the book on Smashwords! The deadline is August 31, so don't delay!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet F.R. Michaels!

Today, we say 'hello' to F.R. Michaels, author of "Dead People, Seriously". He's a multitalented guy. His first short story, “Mrs. Edgecliff”, appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and received an honorable mention in The Year’s Finest Fantasy and Horror Sixth Annual Collection by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Another short story, “Fluf”, appeared in Haunts magazine and was made into a short film that was shown at the Sundance film festival. He also does artwork and illustrations that have appeared in various fan publications and small press works.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
Ever since I found out that no one was writing the stories I wanted to read. I think I was 8.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
Nothing gives a person the same thrill as a good scary story. As for the setting, I have a collection of fictional towns based on Long Island's north shore where I grew up; "Dead People, Seriously" takes place there.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
There are a lot of zombie stories out there where the undead are a plague of mindless relentless monsters... but what if a zombie was raised from the dead and was the same person he was during his life? Multiply that by a whole graveyard full of people, throw in a couple of college frat boys who should not be playing with black magic, shake vigorously, and "Dead People, Seriously" is what came out.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
I think you can inject humor into any genre. What I like about humor in a horror setting is the horror can build such a storm head of tension and the humor can release it. Think American Werewolf in London.

Plotter or pantser?
Oh, I'm not nearly organized enough to be a plotter. Come to think, I'm not even organized enough to be a pantser. But closer to pantser than plotter, definitely.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
Mary Wollstonecraft "Scary Mary" Shelley. She wrote Frankenstein when she was 19, on a bet, published it anonymously, and wrote the very first science fiction novel and one of the scariest stories in existence even today, back in a time when women weren't even considered writers. That's hardcore.

Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
I'm not that much of a traveler. There are places in my own head I don't like to go.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I love old school: Poe, Stoker, Shelley, LeFanu, Saki, Bierce, Machen, Blackwood, Lovecraft, Robert Louis Stevenson, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc - and fall back to them periodically. That being said, I think there's a small renaissance going on right now in modern speculative fiction, with small press and e-book publishers leading the way. There is an entire roster of new and emergent authors who are breaking some exciting new ground. I'm gobbling up as much of that as I can, and liking what I find.

Thanks for your time!!!
You're welcome. Can you untie me now...?

Frank Raymond Michaels (F. R. Michaels) is actually a very nice, normal person who happens to like weird stories and scary artwork. No, seriously. He lives on Long Island with his wife, daughter, several cats, a small dog, a big dog, and whoever happens to be in his basement at the time. He writes horror and dark fantasy. He is currently working on several short horror fiction and artwork projects and a Swords and Sorcery novel.

Meanwhile, you can enjoy "Dead People, Seriously" in Strangely Funny II, now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet B. David Spicer!

Today, we meet B. David Spicer, author of "Two Martini Lunch", which appears in Strangely Funny II. Mr. Spicer writes crime fiction, science fiction and horror fiction and occasionally writes scripts for independent comic book publishers. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals throughout the country and overseas. In "Two Martini Lunch", we meet a vampire who prefers a specific... taste to his blood.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
By the time I turned twelve I’d read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, and after that I knew I wanted to write. Unfortunately, it took over twenty years from that point for me to get serious about writing.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
When I was in high school I played a role-playing game with my friends called Vampire: The Masquerade. One of the characters I played was an alcoholic who got turned into a vampire, but still wanted to get drunk, which led to some hilarious situations. Something my dad said reminded me of that character, and I knew right then what I wanted to write about.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
Absolutely, especially horror. The things that scare us are often patently ridiculous when you look at them closely. Take zombie movies for instance. Why would a dead person, even one who could still walk around, need to eat? Are they digesting all those brains? Do they use ketchup or mustard? What would a zombie do if it got an upset stomach?

Plotter or pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I start with an idea and let the story grow organically. I think trying to force a story to fit inside a pre-plotted framework hampers the growth of the story. If I’m writing a scene and get a great idea for a plot-twist that’ll take the story off in a completely different direction, I run with it. Tolkien once said that The Lord of the Rings “grew in the telling,” which I’ve always taken to mean that it grew well beyond his original conception of the story and went off in a direction he hadn’t thought of at the beginning. That’s how I write, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
Well, I’ve already mentioned how Tolkien influenced me from a young age. Reading The Hobbit for the first time was a turning point for me, one that changed me forever. Reading went from being a fun hobby to an outright obsession, and I began to create stories of my own in my mind, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to write them down. Tolkien instilled in me a love of fantasy and the fantastic, and more importantly a love of reading, and eventually writing. I wouldn’t be a writer today if it hadn’t been for Tolkien.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
During my formative years I read mostly fantasy series, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, David Eddings, Tad Williams and the like. In high school I found Stephen King and read him obsessively for a few years. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself drawn to Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Charles Dickens. Within just the last five years I’ve read almost all of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayer’s mysteries. Likewise I’ve delved into the hardboiled style mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I think my future holds a few mystery stories.

We'll be looking forward to those! Thanks for talking with us!

Be sure to check out B. David Spicer's contribution to Strangely Funny II. He also has several other stories out now: the Torched anthology by Nocturnal Press Publications, Dark Light Book Four by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Press, and The RudderHaven Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology II by RudderHaven Publications.







Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet DJ Tyrer!

Once again, we invite DJ Tyrer to an interview. When we last met him, he had a story in All Hallows' Evil. We learned then about his fascination with the King in Yellow and his involvement with The Yellow Site wikia. This time, he's come to the funny side and joined us for Strangely Funny II!

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I've always wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember and have written stories ever since I could write. I grew up surrounded by books, so writing has always been part of my life.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
A lot of my fiction falls within the boundaries of horror and I also write quite a bit of humour (because if you push horror too far it becomes comedic and if you push humour too far it becomes horrific). However, I've never consciously chosen to write in a specific genre or style, as I like to experiment and prefer to let my writing go where it will rather than force it to conform. I think I've confused a people when they discover that I write quite divergent fare!

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II? 
The idea for Costumed Hero popped into my head when I was attempting to come up with a horror story for a Hallowe'en-themed anthology. As I thought through all the aspects of the holiday the title for this story came to me. Initially, I played with various permutations of partygoers dressing up as superheroes to no success when the plot just came from nowhere.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
Horror is easy to blend into humour, as they are effectively either ends of a sliding scale. If you push horror too far it ceases to be scary and becomes humorous in its grotesque absurdity, whilst humour pushed too far ceases to be funny and becomes horrific. Paranormal fiction that isn't intended to be horror per se (such as that which my story draws upon) is also ripe for humour as it can easily be pushed into absurdity. It's much the same for other genres – push them through the unpleasant until you find yourself laughing rather than crying or cringing – it's just that the darker genres are already close to that point.

Plotter or pantser?
In almost every area of my life I like to have everything planned out. However, when it comes to plots, that's not generally true. Even when I write a plot down I usually treat it as an aide memoir of points to include rather than a map – when I have crafted a detailed plan, it usually gets binned before the halfway point as developments render it irrelevant! However, whilst I sometimes go into a story 'blind' having no idea where it's going – or perhaps knowing how it should end but having no idea how it'll get there – I frequently have a constantly-changing mental map of the plot. Or, to be it another way, a bit of both!

Which author do you most admire, and why?
I struggle with requests for my top ten favourite authors/books, let alone whittling them all down to one! Different authors have different strengths, so it's difficult to put one above the other in terms of quality or importance.

Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
I would love to visit the archaeological sites of Egypt and the Middle East, as the ancient world is one of my passions.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I read a wide variety of fiction from different genres, but the authors I return to most often are the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Robert W. Chambers, HP Lovecraft, JRR Tolkien, Weis & Hickman, Arthur Machen, Clarke Ashton Smith, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde. Other Cthulhu Mythos fiction and the various Doctor Who novels also feature regularly and I also enjoy reading JK Rowling, Clive Cussler and James Patterson. A nostalgic fondness for the Nancy Drew series and the Worst Witch stories of Jill Murphy never fails to baffle some!

I also read a lot of non-fiction, especially history, which has always been an obsession of mine.

Thanks for talking with us!

DJ Tyrer's story The Promised Messiah can be found in the new Steampunk Cthulhu anthology from Chaosium, whilst his sorcerous fantasy Kamilda of Ys can be found in the new Tales of the Black Arts anthology from Hazardous Press, both of which are available now from Amazon. You can learn more about DJ and his publications from his blog at http://djtyrer.blogspot.co.uk/ .

Strangely Funny II is now available in print or Kindle from Amazon, plus it is also available on Smashwords. You can also get a shot at a free copy right now via our giveaways!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet Marc Sorondo!

Today, I introduce you to Marc Sorondo, author of "The Trouble with Decorations". The story involves a decorative item/toy that didn't exist when I was young (I would have flushed that ratfink). This particular specimen, however, is more gifted than the ones available in stores.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I started writing stories when I was a kid. I want to say junior high, but it could have been freshman year of high school. I was hooked right away and based my college choice on the writing program it offered.

How did you pick the genre/setting/era you (usually) write in?
My stories are all over the place: distant past to sci-fi future, and all over the world (and universe in some of the science fiction). I go where the stories seem to want to go, but I do get some extra enjoyment out of setting stories in places I’ve actually been and know. I love adding little details about settings that are completely accurate but that only someone who has been to a place would recognize as being real.

How did you come up with the idea for your story in Strangely Funny II?
The toy “Elf on a Shelf”…it creeps me out. A little elf doll that comes alive and spies on you. Come on, that thing is a horror tale already without knowing it.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
I think a humorous twist can work with any genre.

Plotter or pantser?
Hybrid. I tend to let ideas marinate for a long time in my head before I actually sit down to write them. I’ll spend months or even years letting an idea ripen and jotting down notes on scraps of paper. Then, when I write a story, I've got some scenes that are already written and vaguely in order, but with a bunch of emptiness in between that I fill in as I go.

Which author do you most admire, and why?
I’m going to cheat a bit and name two. For pure storytelling skill, I love Stephen King. The man can weave an insanely layered and complicated story without it ever lagging for a paragraph, but he can also compose a short tale that packs a tremendous punch. He’s a master of both the long and short form. For the poetic nature of his prose, I envy Ray Bradbury. There is a quality to his writing that is unique to Bradbury…it’s got a haunting simplicity and a rhythmic aspect. His shorts and his novels all feel like long narrative poems.

Which place that you haven’t visited would you most like to go?
I’ve got a long list of places that I’d like to see. At the top, battling for primacy are Spain and Germany.

Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Right now I’m working on a Ph.D. in History, so I read a lot of history and science history. In between semesters, I load up on fiction. I’ve already mentioned my love of King and Bradbury. Some of my other favorites are Clive Barker, Dan Simmons, Joe Hill, and Robert McCammon. There are a million others who I admire and probably should name, but I’m trying to keep this short.

Thanks for talking to us today!

Marc Sorondo lives with his wife and children in New York. He loves to read, and his interests range from fiction to comic books, physics to history, oceanography to cryptozoology, and just about everything in between. He's a long time student and occasional teacher. To learn more about Marc's fiction, including his novella Aurora: Dawn of a New Era, visit his site at:

Monday, August 04, 2014

Strangely Funny II Authors: Meet David Bernard/Goudsward!


Aaaannnnd our press is back with Strangely Funny II, the followup to last year's collection. It's already available in print and e-book formats on Amazon and Smashwords.

I'd like to introduce you to an author who has appeared in both anthologies. David Bernard is the pen name of David Goudsward, a native New Englander who now lives (albeit under protest) in South Florida, a paradoxical place where, when temperatures drops below 60˚, locals break out parkas to wear over their shorts and sandals. Fans and detractors alike will enjoy the Florida-set "Goldy Luke and the Three Gators".

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I started writing back in 1975. I was in a local theatre group and started correcting errors in the script – I’m not talking grammar. I’m talking about dialogue so bad it confused the word ancestor for descendant. That was my “I can do this, and I can do this better” moment. I immediately set out with a cohort and we wrote the production for the next summer’s children theater group. More or less wrote plays through high school, switched to radio plays when a friend started a pirate radio station. I flirted with an internship at a newspaper and stayed with non-fiction after that. I didn’t return to fiction until 2010 at the insistence of my brother. By that point, I already had seven books out on non-fiction topics.

Do you think certain genres lend themselves to a humorous twist?
I think most genres lend themselves to humor, but I also think there’s a difference between humor and parody. I rarely find making fun of a style lends itself to hilarity unless it’s done by someone well-versed in the nuances of the genre; this is also why so many spoof movies bomb. Then you look at Robert Bloch – the man could integrate humor into horror so seamlessly and subtly that it bumps the horror up a notch.

Plotter or pantser?
I’m sort of a hybrid – I start all stories with an idea that I just run with, making me a pantser. But I’m also a stickler for as much accuracy as possible in details and chronology, so if I’m doing a story in a historical setting, I’ll plot out the real world events occurring during the story. More often than not, the outline will give me a new angle to consider. But pantsing makes it hard to meet deadlines on calls for submissions, since I really have no idea where the story is going until it arrives. Many a half-finished tale has been abandoned at a missed deadline until a later publisher sent out a call for submissions for stories of a similar ilk.

Thanks for talking with us!

David's most recent works include short stories in anthologies such as Once upon an Apocalypse and Mortis Operandi. His newest nonfiction book is Horror Guide to Massachusetts from Post Mortem Press.





Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer of Zombie 2014 SPOTLIGHT ON: Timothy Baker

Timothy Baker is a retired firefighter and an aspiring, perspiring, horror writer. He is published in Fifty Shades of Decay by Angelic Knight Press with his zombie/erotica story, Love Stinks, and the forthcoming Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nightbreed from Tor. Tim has also received a commendation in the Australian Horror Writer’s Association 2009 Short Story Competition. We're grateful to feature him on the Summer of Zombie Tour today!




So: What is your latest zombie release?

Quick description of it (no spoilers)
In Tibet, in a village riding a foot of Seche La Mountain, the zombie apocalypse arrives. With hundreds gathering for a holy day, the carnage is overwhelming and the town burns. Five survivors, a Chinese soldier, a Buddhist High Monk and his bodyguard nun, a ten-year-old boy, and a Nirvana seeking Shoalin monk, flee in the only direction they can: into the high mists of the mountain to barricade themselves against the following dead in the long abandoned, cliff-clutching monastery, Eagle's Nest.

There's a lot of zombie stories out there. Tell us something unique about yours.
The Tibet setting, a rural village that thrives near the top of the world. And it has a Kung Fu monk and a mute, badass, warrior nun!

Learn more about Timothy Baker at:

There's also a great interview with him at Beauty in Ruins!



The stench of rotting flesh is in the air! Welcome to the Summer of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 33 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of June.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #SummerZombie

AND so you don't miss any of the posts in June, here's the complete list, updated daily:




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dark Poetry: Anthony Crowley

‘I never felt alive on this dreaded world called Earth,
I’ve been driven into sadness and pain all my past life,
The darkened blessed shadows allowed me for a beginning of a
symbolic rebirth..'
(from Sanitarium Magazine 14)

Today, we take a detour into the world of poetry. Many of the great early horror authors, like Poe, Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith, were poets as well as authors. I normally interview fiction authors, but British author Anthony Crowley is also a dark poet. I haven't written much poetry, so I thought I might learn something if I asked him a few questions.

Q. Does poetry offer you a different type of satisfaction than writing fiction?
A. I have complete satisfaction from both poetry and fiction. But when I write I can express my writing in the different forms and styles with a different emotion involved into the idea. When I write stories I can be more descriptive with the Characters and themes and let my mind travel and wander around the whole nightmare or scenario and revert back to the original plot and with my poetic writings I focus mainly on one theme and subject and be descriptive and fluent as I can.

Q. What drew you to horror?
A. From childhood I always felt comforted by Horror; it was my escape and felt perfectly natural, it is my scenic home and mental abode. But also I was inspired by the classic literature of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker. Dennis Wheatley and H.P.Lovecraft and two of my favourite story adaptions was 'The Devils Ride Out' and 'The Raven'. I also have several more inspirations within these subjects, but these are just an example.

Q. Can you tell us a little about your writing process? (for instance, do you have a secret hideout that you go to when you're working, or maybe a comfortable chair overlooking the garden) 
A. My hideout is my mind; the doorways within there create thoughts regularly on a daily basis. Sometimes one word can open up a visual piece of literature. All around us is inspiration and the creation of ideas.

Q. Who is your favorite author and what really strikes you about their work?
A. I have several influential Authors I could name and including the Authors I mentioned in previous question. One of those has to be Edgar Allan Poe and when I first heard The Raven' and Masque of Red Death' I really admire the mysterious atmosphere in which Edgar creates visually and poetically.

Q.What is your current project?
A. I am working on several projects. Some of these writings are unfinished works from during the last 6 years. I am also working on a few new projects and I have just published 'The Black Diaries (Volume One) which forms part of a new series which shall include a variation of Horror themed short stories and poetic dark verse. Tombstones is a collection of a variation of horror-related poetic literature which is also available now on both paperback and kindle editions.These publications were also in the Top 10 Horror literature charts at five consecutive Amazon sites. I have this week revised my first published Supernatural short story of 'The Light of Keeps Passage'. During these recent days, I have been editing and finishing my long-awaited novella 'The Mirrored Room', which was a semi-finalist at the 2013 book awards at 'authorsdB'.

Thanks for visiting with us!

Learn more about Anthony Crowley and his writing on his Amazon page at:
http://www.amazon.com/ANTHONY-CROWLEY/e/B0048E5L3K/







Friday, April 11, 2014

Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks Interview: Andrea Smith

Published by Blue River Press.
Please allow me to introduce you to yet another author from Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks. The tales in Hoosier Hoops, the current anthology from the Speed City Indiana chapter of Sisters in Crime, all involve one of Indiana's greatest obsessions: basketball.

Today's guest is Andrea Smith, the president of the Speed City chapter. She began writing mysteries and romantic suspense because there were few positive African-American female protagonists in her favorite genre. Smith has published three short stories featuring her Chicago police detective Ariel Lawrence. Her story in this anthology, "Fallen Idols", introduces a new character: Lenora Wise.

Q. What gave you the idea for "Fallen Idols"?

I actually sort of ripped it from the headlines. When we chose a basketball theme for our chapter’s third anthology, I thought about all the sports figures who were in the news for behaving badly. Indianapolis really loves its basketball, so I wondered what if there are some heroes on the city’s beloved team who aren’t what they seem and don’t deserve the pedestal they’ve been put on.

Q. You're using a new heroine in this anthology: Lenora Wise. Tell us a little more about her.

Like many who go into law enforcement, Lenora Wise became a cop after losing a loved one to crime. Her mother was shot and killed in a carjacking, and the killer was never found. Every time Lenora catches a murderer, she feels she’s getting justice for her mother. I developed Lenora for this story because I wanted to explore what it’s like for a detective to move to a new city and have to fit into a new police structure. Lenora had been with the St. Louis police department and became disillusioned because her superiors were more concerned about boosting their careers than getting criminals off the street. She hoped the Indianapolis police department would be different.

Q. Will there be more stories with Ariel Lawrence?

Absolutely. I have an Ariel Lawrence novel under revision. She has to catch a serial killer while working with a partner she loathes. There are ideas for three other stories in the Ariel Lawrence detective series. Ariel’s a fierce defender of justice for the everyday person who can’t defend themselves. And she believes neither money nor prominence should make a person immune from the law. Often her cases involve white-collar criminals who believe their position and their millions mean they don’t have to play by the same rules as others.

Q. Who is your favorite author (or current fave) and what really strikes you about their work?

Walter Mosley who writes the Easy Rawlins Mysteries is one of my faves. His writing is lyrical to me, and he’s created an iconic character who will forever live in readers’ minds. That’s something I’d like to achieve.

I also enjoyed Lisa Scottoline’s legal thriller series and like her stand-alone novels. She draws strong women characters and mixes thrilling plots with humor.

Q. What's your current (or next) project?

In addition to the Ariel Lawrence novel, I’m finishing a historical mystery short story for our chapter’s next anthology. It’s set in 1930s Indianapolis, and features a husband and wife who find themselves hunted by police for a murder they didn’t commit. I also plan to turn a short story I wrote featuring an amateur sleuth into a novel. The character, Lela Ames, is a feisty, middle-aged beauty salon owner/entrepreneur who everyone brings their troubles to. Usually those troubles result in Lela having to solve a murder.

Thanks for visiting us today!

Check out Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks on Amazon. You can learn more about Andrea Smith at the Speed City chapter's website.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thoughts

When I take the trash and recyclables to the curb on Sunday, I often think about the changes my life has gone through.

I used to think, "A year ago, I was in my own home."
Then, it became, "A year ago, my father was alive."
Now, it's become, "Two years ago, I was in my own home."
Next month, will I say, "Two years ago, my father was alive--?"

Do we ever stop grieving for what we once had?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mardi Gras Murder interview: Meet Selina Alaniz

Art by Karrett Barbosa
Selina Alaniz contributed "The Jester and the Girl" to Mardi Gras Murder. When the story begins, you think you know what's going to happen... but there's a surprise. We decided to ask her for more details.

Your story, "The Jester and the Girl", deals with an unusual meeting. Can you tell us what inspired the story without giving too many spoilers?  :)

My inspiration for "The Jester and the Girl" came from me wanting to tell a story that was a little different and a little twisted. I wrote these characters with this in mind and just allowed them to take me down this mysterious path. I also think New Orleans itself helped shape some of the elements like the tone and atmosphere. The city has a lot of history and has an allure that lends itself to telling a story like this.

We're pleased we're the ones who got to be your first short story publisher. Any more stories in the works? Novels?

I am so thankful and grateful that Mystery and Horror LLC were the ones to publish my first story. I don't have anything definitive yet but the wheels are turning so we'll see what I can come up with.

Speaking of novels... What do you enjoy reading?

I have to mention R.L. Stine because he was the author I grew up reading. I read every Fear Street and Goosebumps published. I still have most of those books and intend to keep them as long as possible. I love Charlaine Harris, Rachel Caine, and Stephen King. I also love Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters. Right now I am reading Dystopian novels. I find it interesting to read all these different authors ideas of how people would survive in these end of the world scenarios.

Plotter or pantser?

That is a good question. I think I am a pantser with a hint of plotter. I like to have a general outline of my characters and story but I will sit at the computer and just type away. I'll let my characters do the talking and just go with it even it differs with what I initially started with.

Thank you for being with us today!

Mardi Gras Murder contains thirteen tales of crime that take place during the carnival season. It's now available at Amazon.com in print and Kindle formats. Other authors in Mardi Gras Murder include Paul Wartenberg, Nathan Pettigrew, and Debra H. Goldstein.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Mardi Gras Murder Interview: Meet Daniel Moore

Today, we're meeting Daniel Moore, the author of "Even". The tale is straight-up modern noir and I knew that I was going to be sending an acceptance before I even finished reading it. What drives an author to write noir? Moore gave me some clues.

Sarah: What inspired the idea for "Even"?

Daniel: While going through my personal backlog of books a few months back, I found myself reading all the Ken Bruen titles on the list. Bruen's a brilliant crime fiction author who once lived a criminal life alongside people who were obvious inspirations for the heroes in his books. That kind of credibility rally pulled me in. The book which got me into the drafting process for "Even" was "Her Last Call to Louis Macniece" where an aging English hood gets tangled in an affair with an American pickpocket. The idea that a seasoned crook and murderer could've been so easily crippled by a young woman paying him too much attention and wind up disrupting his entire enterprise struck me as an easy-to-understand joke that related far beyond crime fiction. It was a nice reminder of what a villain could look like to a protagonist that appears almost too capable in the face of danger.

Sarah: How did you pick the genre/setting/era you write in?

Daniel: I wrote this piece as a crime story because I think criminality and the law are the home of the modern and postmodern romances. Whether this speaks good or bad about society today I can't say, but there is, I feel, a deep fascination with what is and isn't criminal and who falls on either side of that line. I have that interest too and I think that's to blame for why the story takes place in seedy dwellings just beyond more civilized settings. I think the story reads as thought it takes place today, but I never think of my stories in the present but rather years from when I'm putting the words to paper. I think if you read the story with that in mind it'll drastically change the experience.

Sarah: Who is your favorite author and what really strikes you about their work?

Daniel: I can't give enough praise to William Gibson as being the author who speaks most directly to my imagination as a reader and a writer. If there's one external influence I'm grateful for in giving me the idea of going down the path to becoming a writer it'd be him and his work. Gibson has a way with words I don't think any other author has. Sometimes it reads as though he's perfectly translating what's in his head onto paper in a way that makes no compromises for the sake of the reader and forces you to bend to his will. And after a page, you'll do just that. Whether it’s the exploration of the mind through drugs or choice or technology, Gibson has a way to remain scarily relevant and topical after decades of writing in a way that only Vonnegut was capable of. His work has always been a source of inspiration. If one day my work were ever to be compared to his, it would be the only time a comparison wouldn't feel like an insult.

Thank you for being with us today!

See Daniel's story for yourself. Mardi Gras Murder is now available at Amazon.com in print and Kindle formats. Other authors include Harriette Sackler, Nathan Pettigrew, and Marian Allen.



Sunday, January 05, 2014

Must-see news from A Strong Man's Cup of Tea

Any survivor of the USA holiday marathon MUST read this post from Keith Stewart.

A Strong Man's Cup of Tea: Holiday News You May Have Missed
NOW is the appropriate time for the Hallelujah Chorus to wash over our cities and towns, for the almost never-ending "Holiday Season" is finally complete. For whatever rea$ons, we have stretched and pulled what really is a 2-3 day celebration and made it into a 3-4 MONTH blowout.

Seriously, go there and read the entire article. Hilarious.

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