29 September 2010

Switching Gears

Lately, I’ve been working on writing related activities only; writing, editing, designing book trailers, researching, marketing, reading…etc.
But I was restless.
I wondered why this feeling of missing on something was gnawing at me. Between writing (remember the word is a big umbrella for everything related to it) and housework, I hardly have a moment of rest. I don’t fall a sleep, I faint into it at the end of the day. Yes, I’m a busy person.
Still, something was missing.
So, I read a writing-reference book instead of the usual novella or novel. The first chapter covered the importance of paying attention to things surrounding us—people, buildings, smells, textures, tastes, and sounds.
The one thing that gave me that power to taste life, besides writing, was painting. And so, I switched gears and went after the other hobby that infused me with creativity. In doing so, I remembered why I haven’t been painting; I’m one of those meticulous people who go over one spot several times to perfect it. As a result, I decided to challenge myself, sort of tricking the inner me to be less deliberate.
Using the help of a half hour tutorial, I gave myself two hours to finish a painting. The topic wasn’t original, but my aim was to get my strokes to relax and flow on the canvas.

This is what I accomplished. It still has a long way to go, but I think in two hours and a half I’ve managed to capture the essence of a painting. Usually I achieve that after two days.
Sometimes, trying something new suffuses life with a bit of extra creativity.
Restlessness is gone, hunger to create is back; mission accomplished. Now I’m ready to tackle that dicey scene that has been annoying me.

23 September 2010

Author Interview: Yolanda Sfetsos

Yolanda Sfetsos is an Australian author who loves to read and write tales of the otherworldly. Her writing mostly falls under the paranormal and urban fantasy; that includes horror and sci-fi/futuristic as well.

She’s one active storyteller. Let's find out more about her and her latest release Damaged.

  •  Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m a writer. I live in a suburb of Sydney with my husband, daughter, and cat. I love making stuff up, and have actually been doing that for years now. Telling dark stories that deal with the supernatural is something that I absolutely love doing. I also enjoy torturing my characters a little too much.
I like to keep busy, and usually find myself swamped with stuff to do.
  • When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing stories in my teens. I used to spend a lot of time alone in my room listening to music and reading, so my mind would wander a lot.
Besides, I’d been making up stories in my head since I was a kid, so writing them down was bound to happen. I’ve never looked back.
  • If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I always answer this question the same way—Clive Barker and Stephen King. When I picked up my first Clive Barker book (Cabal), I was instantly hooked. He filled my head with wondrous, yet horrible things that I couldn’t stop thinking about. His writing style grabbed me, and the depth of his characterization is outstanding. I love his work, he’s a master storyteller. Just like Stephen King.
They’re both amazing and led me down the darker path of storytelling.
  • Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes, I sometimes find myself totally drawn into the worlds that I create. And I can’t stop going back for more. I really enjoy writing sequels, prequels, and spin-offs.
  • How long does it take you to write a book?
That all depends on the length, but if we’re talking about full-length books (over 50k) I can write the first draft in 4-6 weeks. I write very quick first drafts because once I immerse myself in the story, it literally pours out of me. Then I like to put it aside for a little while, before getting stuck into revision.
The final product takes several months, though. I’m a little superstitious and refuse to share my story until three drafts have been completed.
  • What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read, collect books, cruise the Internet, research, hang out with hubby and daughter, go for walks, listen to music, watch anime, TV shows, and movies. I also love to play Rock Band, and Mario Kart DS with hubby.
My fave non-writing thing in the world is having hubby and daughter home so we can just hang out.
  • What does your family think of your writing?
Well, my husband is very supportive. He listens to all my happy chatter about ideas, the actual writing, acceptances, new covers, and also helps me through the harder times, when there are rejections that really sting. He’s great to chat to when I’m indecisive about something in particular. Just chatting to him about it helps me sort it out on my own. He also likes to read my stories, which is super cool!
As for my daughter, she loves checking out my covers, and has even helped me figure out a few things as far as characters go. She’s also come up with some titles for me. She’s only ten, but it looks like she’s inherited my crazy overactive imagination, lol.
  • What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Oh my gosh, I’m one of those writers who loves to jump from one genre to another, as well as blend them together. I write urban fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi, futuristic, horror, and even YA.
If I had to answer the question as truthfully as I can, I would have to say that I’m most comfortable writing when there’s something supernatural/otherworldly going on.
  • Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Oh, yeah, this has definitely happened to me before. Several times. And each time I just can’t answer the what and why of it. I guess it’s just part of being a person who’s had a love affair with horror for many, many years.
  • The perception of the horror writer is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most. Do you find yourself — and other horror writers — to be more idiosyncratic than the average person?
Well, I can’t speak for other writers, but I can say that I am a little peculiar and stranger than most. Unlike most people, I don’t see spending time alone as lonely. I see it as a chance to write more. And I see story ideas in just about anything I see in front of me.
I’m also quite happy to spend most of the day at home, too. I’m a little bit of a hermit, except for my daily walks. I must go for a walk every single day… see, there it is. I didn’t mean to, but I just proved myself right. ;)
  • Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My latest release from Damnation Books is a story about an aspiring author caught up in a bad marriage, a plumber who offers hope, a helpful priest, a creepy basement, and a demoness hellbent on getting her way.
It’s a horror story about a woman who thinks she might be losing her mind, but like everything else, there’s always more to the story.
You can find out more about Damaged here: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721795
  • How did you come up with the title for your book?
Well, initially I called this novella The Basement because so much of the creepy stuff actually happens in the basement, but when I revised it and delved deeper into what was really affecting the main character, Lane, I realized that so much in her life was damaged. And that really stuck.
  • Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t go out of my way to embed any sort of message, but I did find that one resonates within the story: how important it is for a person to be happy with their life situation.
There are always going to be negative forces that you can’t control in your life, which I portrayed in the way of a demoness’s effect on Lane’s life, sanity, and marriage, but in real life there are other personal demons we can’t keep from our lives. The one thing we can do is try to overcome them by finding happiness and doing whatever it takes to get there. Things don’t usually fall into your lap. You’ve got to make them happen.
I think it’s important to find happiness. Life’s too short not to.
  • Are there parts of the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Actually, no. Well, okay, the only thing that’s even closely related to real life is the fact that I’ve always been fascinated by attics and basements. Yet, I’ve never lived in a home with either.
  • If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I think Lane and Bill’s tale is told. I’m very happy with how it turned out, thanks to my excellent editor, Andrea.
  • Where can we find you online?
You can visit my website at www.yolandasfetsos.com to find out what the latest is as far as new contracts, new covers, and new releases are concerned. I also offer a variety of free reads that readers might like to grab for themselves to sample my work.
I also like to hang out at Twitter: http://twitter.com/yolandasfetsos

Yolanda, having you over is always a pleasure. Thank you for stopping by and good luck with your new release. 

18 September 2010

Reading Book Reviews

A book review is a great tool that helps readers form an opinion about a book and eventually either decide to purchase it, or add the title to the ‘to-be-purchased’ pile, or simply move on to another book of their liking.
However, giving a book a rating, sometimes misleads, since lately people glance at how many stars the book scored. What one reviewer liked in a book, might be the main reason why it garnered a poor rating from another reviewer. Even if there is an explanation of the rating system, one simply needs to read the review to appreciate the story, the writing style, and the plot’s strengths and weaknesses.
I’m not judging reviewing sites, on the contrary, I salute their efforts to spread the word and promote books in doing so. But I can’t help but wonder, how many people really read the review to find out what triggered the excellent or poor rating? Three and a half stars aren’t that far from four.
For example, let’s say that a reviewer is not keen on detailed love scenes. She might give a well-written book a poor rating because of her discomfort with just that. But if a reader were to read her review, they would discover that this was the only problem she had; otherwise the story was solid and intriguing. A reader, who doesn’t have a problem with detailed love scenes, will grab the book!
I’ve been toying with the idea of reviewing books here on Vivid Sentiments, but had to seriously consider the rating system. I've come to the following decision:
I will write reviews, summarizing the book, listing the details behind my decision, and the recommended audience to read it. To avoid confusion, I won’t be using a rating system.
After all, a review should be read!

15 September 2010

Author Interview: P.L. Blair

P.L. Blair is the author of four fantasy/detective novels, the first of which was published in March 2007. She also writes for a local newspaper in the Coastal Bend area.

Let’s have a look at what drives/compels this author to write.
  • Tell us a bit about yourself.
Native of Texas – born in Tyler. Spent 10 years or so on the Texas coast (Corpus Christi and Rockport) before moving to Sheridan, Wyo., in the late 1980s. Now I'm dividing my time between Rockport (where my sisters live) and Sheridan.
I got degrees (A.A. and B.A.) in journalism, because I knew I wanted to write books, but I also knew I needed to earn a living. Then I got kind of sidetracked by newspaper work (a little more than 30 years), until in 2006, at age 59, I decided if I was going to be a novelist, I'd better get busy. I wrote Shadow Path, the first book in my fantasy/detective Portals series that year.
As it turned out, a friend of mine in Sheridan wanted to launch a publishing company, and she wanted Shadow Path to be her first book. Studio See incorporated in January 2007, and Shadow Path was published in March that year – then reprinted with a new (and better) cover in 2008.
Also in 2008, I finished Stormcaller, which was published that year, then Deathtalker. Book 4 in my series, Sister Hoods, was released June this year.
  • As a child, what did you want to do when you grow up?
Before age 8, I was probably reasonably typical – nurse, doctor, cowgirl (I was a nut over horses). When I was 8, I wrote a story about a witch, which my teacher urged me to read to my classmates. I did, and – wonder of wonders – they liked it! So I was like, wow! I can entertain people with this stuff!
So 8 years old, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I did havebrief flings with other career choices as I got older – historian, paleontologist, archeologist, geologist. But I could never settle down to any one choice, and I finally realized, as a writer, I could dabble in all those things too. I loved doing research!
Best of all, as a writer, I never really had to deal with the issue of what I was going to be when I grew up. Which is probably a good thing, because I've never really grown up either.
  • What inspired you to write your first book?
A lifelong interest in mythology and folklore, coupled with heavy doses of Tolkien and a dash of the CSI television shows. I was kind of kicking around the idea – not as a book but just as a concept – that common motifs run through most of the world's folklore: nearly every culture has dragons or the equivalent … elves or elf-like beings … some type of magic-wielders …
So I started running this “what-if” scenario in my mind: What if the world of magic really does exist? What if it's adjacent to our world, and the reason we have all these stories of elves and dragons and wizards, trolls and ogres and so on is because our distant ancestors actually came in contact with these creatures? What if our world and the realms of magic are separated by portals … and the portals at some time were closed – which is why we think of these beings as products of our ancestors' imaginations?
And what if … at some point in the near future … these portals opened again, and we humans of the 21st century found ourselves face to face with ogres and pixies, fairies and elves and dragons?
And while this was going through my head, I actually saw an image of a herd of unicorns meandering across Everhart Street, which is a heavily-trafficked thoroughfare in Corpus Christi.
And I thought – I have to write this book.
That's where the CSI shows come in. They influenced my decision to make my main characters detectives.
  • What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I'm a morning person, up between 5 and 5:30, feed dogs, feed cats, feed me, spend some time with my sisters before they head off to work. I'm usually at the computer between 7 and 7:30, and I'll write for two or three hours – unless the book is going well, in which case I may put in another half-hour or so. But I love to write – or driven, depending on point of view. I've told my publisher, you probably don't have to be obsessive-compulsive to be a writer, but it doesn't hurt.
I do write for a local newspaper, a weekly, in the Coastal Bend area, so on Mondays and Tuesdays (deadline days for the paper), my schedule changes a little. I write at least a few paragraphs on the books nearly every day – I have to. It's like an addiction; if I go more than a couple of days without putting in book time, I start feeling cranky, restless … withdrawal symptoms.
  • Where do you get your ideas for your books from?
From my own head – which is pretty scary when I stop to think about it. Everything is in there – from my main characters, who are good and caring, to my villains, most of whom I wouldn't want to meet even on one of their good days.
But they come from me!
Sometimes, the book starts out as the flash of an image – as with Sister Hoods, when I “saw” a band of uzi-toting little nymphs holding up a bank. “Deathtalker” was the result of extrapolation: What would happen if a creature of legend, known for incidentally leaving corpses in his wake, should decide to deliberately kill his victims.
Sometimes it's a matter of knowing that, now or later, I want to use a particular creature from legend. I want to do something with Baba Yaga, a witch who figures in Russian folklore; I just haven't worked out what yet.
And I know at some point, I'll take my Corpus Christi detectives to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming, because I want them to deal with a dragon. And maybe a few Dwarves.
I did manage to get some Black Dogs into “Leprechauns.”
  • What does your family think of your writing?
My sisters think it's great! They're very supportive – sharing their copies of my books with friends, letting friends and co-workers know when I have book events coming up. My youngest sister posts copies of book reviews outside the door of her office, for her colleagues to read.
If you're really determined to be a writer, you can probably succeed without the support of your family, but having that support is absolutely fantastic!
  • How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I really don't. I sit down and start writing. It's a seat-of-the-pants style that doesn't work for everyone, but it's a good fit for me. I'm not a sit down and plan things out kind of person. I like setting things in motion and let situations build on each other.
My style goes back to my school days – to those term papers where we were required to have an outline for our term papers. I was one of the kids who wrote the paper – then did the outline based on the finished document.
  • Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Oh yeah. Which is why I don't write straight horror. I scare the daylights out of myself.
I do incorporate elements of horror into my Portals series. The Deathtalker, as I've mentioned, is a kind of psychic vampire. And in Stormcaller, I introduce a sentient, and somewhat hostile, forest that creates creatures that harass Kat, Tevis and their allies. On one occasion, they find themselves confronted by a giant spider that disintegrates into hundreds of smaller, but equally deadly, spiders. On another, Kat is attacked by a giant anaconda intent on making a meal of her.
I was quite pleased when my publisher said I'd given her nightmares about spiders and giant snakes ...
  • Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write. And keep writing.
At book events, I'm always approached by at least one person who says, “I've got a book in my head.”
Get it out of your head and onto paper!
The other comment I hear: “I want to write a book, but I can't find the time.”
If you wait to “find the time,” your book will never been written. Time can't be found these days. It has to be seized by the throat and wrestled into submission.
My mentors, Michael and Kathleen Gear, at one seminar I attended, asked what are you willing to give up to become a writer. They actually lived in a log cabin without amenities for a while. My own “sacrifices” weren't quite so extreme: I got up an hour earlier in the mornings and gave up some lunches while I was writing Shadow Path.
  • What are your current projects?
I'm attending book events to promote Book 4, Sister Hoods – heading for FenCon, an SF/fantasy convention in Dallas, Sept. 17-19. Book 5, A Plague of Leprechauns, is with my publisher – set for late November/early December release; can't do much about that except wait, which I can do, but not too well. So now I'm working on Book 6, Unholy Cause – 17 chapters in, although I'm currently revising some earlier chapter.
  • Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sister Hoods begins with a bank robbery (in Rockport, Texas), perpetrated by nymphs and satyrs. It started with an image – a lot of my books start with images – of nymphs armed with uzis, holding female bank tellers at bay while the bank's male employees tripped over themselves to load the bank's money into bags for the nymphs.
After I brought in the satyrs, I didn't need the uzis. Ah well … But the bank robbery serves to bring Kat, Tevis and their allies (including a Wizard, Arvandus) into the investigation – and they discover the incident is much more than it seems. The nymphs need money to keep a greedy developer from taking over the woodlands in which they live …
Because the woodlands, on the Lamar Peninsula on Texas' coast, are extremely magical – and being sought by a group of evil Wizards who want to bend the magic to their own dark purposes.
And if the woodlands are destroyed, a wyvern will be released. Wyverns are distant kin to dragons, their lives regulated by only three imperatives: to eat, to sleep, to breed. The one in the woodlands is sleeping, but if he wakes, he will be ravenously hungry.
And wyverns' favored food is humans ...
  • How did you come up with the title for your book?
All my titles are puns or word plays. My first book, Shadow Path, deals with a necromancer, a wizard who deals in death magic and the dead. The villain of Stormcaller is Tlaloc, an ancient Aztec god of storms, agriculture and fertility - who could summon (“call”) storms.
Book 3, Deathtalker, is the play on “lovetalker,” a creature in Irish folklore who seduced young women then left them to pine away and die. The Deathtalker of my title is a lovetalker turned serial killer, who deliberately coerces women into killing themselves so he can feed on their life force as they die. Kind of a psychic vampire.
Sister Hoods suggested itself to me because the nymphs are sisters - and criminals (“hoods”).
  • Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don't do messages. I write purely for entertainment. I sometimes think books are another variation of those inkblot tests, where you look for images, and the psychologist analyzes you according to what you tell him you see.
I'm delighted when people tell me about some insight or other they've discovered in my characters, or in a situation or plot line, but it isn't there on purpose. At heart, I'm a storyteller. If I can give a reader a few hours of pleasure and escape, that's good enough.
  • Are there parts of the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No – and yes. My human character, Kat Morales, is kind of the me I'd like to be – strong, intelligent (well, I'll admit to that), young, good-looking and gutsy.
Tevis, her elven partner, is something of a cross between Illya Kuryakin (the old Man From Uncle TV series), on whom I had a crush, and Sherlock Holmes, the first fictional detective I met.
I suspect after 30 years of working for newspapers, I've incorporated bits and pieces of just about everyone I've ever met or heard of into one or more of my characters in all of my books.
  • Where can we find you online?
Books can be ordered directly from my publisher's web site, http://www.studiosee.com/
Since I always have a few of my books with me for promotional purposes, Pam has on occasion called me and asked if I would sign a book to someone and send it to them. I'm always happy to do that.
You can read more about me on my website: http://www.plblair.com/

Thank you, Pat!

12 September 2010

Bad Memory? Suggested Solutions

I admit, a goldfish has a better memory than yours truly. There are many incidents in my life to support my claim. I would forget what I was saying midsentence, or that one time when I forgot my son’s name and had to call him “Hey!” to draw his attention.
I’m ashamed of myself, though I hold on pig-headedly to the excuse of having too many things/thoughts happening and swarming in my head at the same time; even during my sleep.
It is a serious problem, to tell you the truth. Grocery items just pop in my head, or an idea for a book materializes out of thin air and wouldn’t let go until I jotted it down. There are also appointments to remember, blogs to schedule, interviews to post…the list goes on.
So what are my glorified solutions?
Well, here they are (they work nicely, by the way):

Just a small one in my handbag, I can pull it out any minute and jot down a word, a sentence or a date with minimum explanation. Hey, I have a lousy memory, but with a small hint, it all comes back.
If you’re an author, make it a habit to keep a notebook by your bed. Most of the greatest ideas come to an author when about to sleep or upon waking up. Write them down, and if they sound silly later on, delete them if you like.

Cell phone: 
  • Recorder: Record when lazy to write. Late at night, I hate to wake my husband by switching on the light to write down an idea. I whisper it into the recorder, and its there for safe keeping.
  • Note: There’s a “Note” option under “Applications”, I jot grocery items, measurements of objects I need to buy for the house. It’s really handy, since my cell is with me wherever I go.
  • To-Do option: Mine has an alarm associated with it, use it as a reminder.
I’ve made it a point to check both these resources for entries before I start my day. In one incident, I laughed till I cried at the sleepy whispery voice reminding me to give the hero a bikini wax. Not sure whether I misheard it or I was heavily medicated on the sinus medicine, but it was a hoot!
To tell you the truth, I still haven’t figured a solution for remembering, midsentence, what I wanted to say.
Any suggestions?

09 September 2010

Author Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Kathryn Meyer Griffith is a fellow author from Damnation Books. She’s also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother who worked in the corporate world for twenty-three years as a graphic designer and have been writing now for about thirty-nine years; the last ten years full time.
  • As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
From about nine years old I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to grow up and be rich and famous for it. I started drawing objects, mainly horses and cats, and could reproduce almost anything in realistic detail. As one child of seven in a big, poor family that was my way of standing out. It also impressed the nuns to no end at my catholic grade school that I could exactly copy a holy card. Ha, ha.
  • When and why did you begin writing?
At twenty one or so I was home, married and bored, after my son was born, and I read this historical romance that was sooo bad…and thought: I could write one better than this! And so, on my old typewriter, using lots of white-out because I’d never learned to type, I tried to write one. Twelve years later, after I’d grow up a lot (got divorced, went out in the world to work and got remarried) I went back to it and it sold as my second published novel THE HEART OF THE ROSE in 1985….which, by the way, is one of seven of my old Leisure and Zebra paperbacks being revised and rewritten by me and rereleased by Damnation Books and Eternal Press – and in e-books for the first time – in the next twenty months. I just finished rewriting it and was horrified, ironically, to see how bad it was. Well, 39 years ago, I thought, I sure didn’t know much! POV was all over the place and there were way too many adjectives and exclamation marks. I’m so glad I got to rewrite it.
  • When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Strangely, not until I’d had seven novels published. It was 1994. But truthfully, it’s only been recently that I could call myself a real writer and not feel like a fraud or pretentious…with all the books (14 now) and short stories (7) and a long history of rejections, experiences and years of writing and being published behind me I finally feel like I’m a true writer. I’ve lived the life and paid dearly for it in many ways. I quit a good job many years ago to write; never have made a lot of money, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished over the thirty-nine years and that I never gave up no matter what. At least someday when I’m real old I won’t wish I’d gone after my dream, because I did and though not famous or wealthy, at least, I tried. I did what made me happy.
  • If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King. I know every horror writer probably says that but for me it’s true. Not just because he writes horror but because his writing spans genres. He can write about anything. I admire his courage to do that. Like me, he’s not just a horror writer.
  • What book are you reading now?
Neferiti by Michelle Moran. At the moment. I’ve also been rereading all of Noel Hynd’s books (who’s also with Damnation Books now). He was one of my contemporaries at Zebra in the early 1990’s and I love his stuff. He’s really good. But I always have to have a book to read. Late at night when my husband is sleeping. It’s my relaxation.
  • What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write with the TV on low, never music, in my recliner with my laptop in my lap; a cup of my homemade chocolate coffee and a donut or chocolate to eat.
  • How many books have you written?
14 novels and 7 short stories. Would be more but I’m in the long tedious process of rewriting seven of my old Zebra and Leisure paperbacks going back 26 years. This, I figure, might take up to a year or more and then I’ll probably start a new book. Right now I’m trying not to let an idea for a new novel take me over, not until I have those seven done.
  • What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That sometimes a character (her/his goals and problems, outlook on life with a past that made him/her that way) or characters just take over and the plot forms around them as the book grows. The books take me where they want to go sometimes and I don’t know where it’s coming from. The endings are sometimes a surprise, too.
  • What do you think makes a good story?
If the reader ends up caring, really caring, for the characters I’ve created. If, during the book, the reader gets carried away to the world I’ve made and, at the end, he or she smiles or cries. Feels something. Then I’ve done my job.
  • How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Of course, I grew up poor in a large family, three brothers and three sisters, mom and dad. I was very close to my grandmother (my mother’s mother); she was a real storyteller. There was no money but there was love. I realized at an early age that to be noticed and to be someone in the world I needed to shine in some way. So I started drawing, making good grades and singing. I started singing with my brother, Jim; though I stopped when I got married and branched off into art and writing. So there’s a lot of my childhood, good and bad, in all my books. People not having much but overcoming adversity is a common theme.
  • What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Horror. I’ve written paranormal romance, historical and time travel romance, murder mysteries…but the creepy always seems to slip in somewhere, somehow. Ghosts, vampires, possessed guns. I can’t stop it. Ha, ha.
  • How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I start with a character or two or three and the plot develops through them. No formulas. No outlines. I just sit down and start writing and the book takes over. I usually have an idea where the plot is going and some kind of ending…but it often changes before I get there.
  • What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Technically speaking? Computers. If I had to still write my books on a typewriter I wouldn’t be writing any more, that’s for sure. Dictionary and thesaurus (never let the computer do the grammar or spell check for you because it doesn’t always do it right). Emotional tools? A thick skin. Self-motivation. Self-discipline. Perseverance. Belief in one self. A sense of imagination. Determination to learn the craft. A writing career is a life-long marathon, not a sprint.
  • What was your first introduction to horror literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
When I was in grade school, through the Weekly Reader – remember those? – I ordered a book of ghostly short stories and I was hooked. A story in school called The Lottery. Then came Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Ahhhh.
  • The perception of the horror writer is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most. Do you find yourself — and other horror writers — to be more idiosyncratic than the average person?
Not really. I think all writers are a little strange. Mainly because we live in our own little worlds and spend so much time alone controlling our characters in make-believe. Can’t do that in real life. But horror writers are seen as stranger because we often deal with the supernatural and people perceive that as bizarre in itself. Most people don’t believe in ghosts, werewolves and vampires – but think that if you write about them, you believe. I published Witches in 1993 and people actually thought I was a witch! Got lots of threatening calls and mail from it, too. Sheesh. I’m no witch.
  • What are your current projects?  
Well, I just had my 13th novel, an apocalyptic horror saga, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons released from Damnation Books, and on Sept. 7, my 14th book, a vampire novel, THE WOMAN IN CRIMSON will be released from Eternal Press. Then I’m rewriting those seven old Leisure and Zebra books from 1984-1994 (Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches and The Calling), which will be rereleased with new covers (the ones I’ve gotten so far from DB and EP are fantastic!), in e-books for the first time and in paperbacks, between now and July 2010 from DB and EP. That’s keeping me real busy right now.

  • Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Well, you can go to any of my websites to see all my book covers, excerpts from my newest books, and see/listen to my self-made book trailers with music soundtracks by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer (www.jsmeyermusic.com). Look me up! Also, you can e-mail me anytime at rdgriff@htc.net if you’d like to talk to me. I love feedback.
 And…thank you so much Su for having me on your lovely blog today. Warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

You’re welcome, Kathryn, it’s nice to have you.


04 September 2010

Author Interview: Mark Edward Hall

Mark Edward Hall (a fellow Damnation Books author) is joining us today. Wasps, his first published story, appeared in Raven’s Tale Magazine in 1995. His latest book is a novella entitled The Haunting of Sam Cabot, which was published by Damnation Books in September of 2009. His next book, The Lost Village is available from Damnation in September of 2010.

  • When and why did you begin writing?
I used to make up all sorts of horror stories when I was a kid and tell them to my friends. It actually became somewhat of an event when we’d get together. People I haven’t seen in years will come up to me and ask if I’m still telling those spooky tales. I tell them yeah, but now I write them down. I guess I’ve always had the writing bug. In high school I began writing poetry and songs. I’ve always been a song writer and have performed them live for years.
  • Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I like to surprise the reader with something new and startling instead of recycling the same old mythos. So yes, coming up with something new and refreshing every time is a challenge.
  • What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like playing in my band. It’s just part time now because I simply don’t have the time for anything more. But I still love doing it. I like hanging with my wife Sheila. We’re soul mates. She’s my number one fan, by the way, and I’m hers. She’s a very talented person in her own right. We enjoy antique shows and flea markets, hunting for rare treasures. We go to camp and hang out at the lake, garden together. Normal, non-horror stuff. Just like everyone else.
  • How many books have you written?
Actually about six novels with two or three more in different stages of completion. I’ve also written and published two collections of short stories and have been published in magazines such as The Book of Dark Wisdom and anthologies such as the recent Masters of Horror anthology edited by Lee Pletzers.
  • How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
My love for fiction and especially my love of anything to do with the macabre came from my grandmother Luella who lived with us during my formative years. She was a psychic, a medium and a great story teller. I sat mesmerized for hours on end while she told tales–most of which she professed were true–of the supernatural. She influenced me greatly. She’s why I began telling my own stories.
  • What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Thoughtful sentence structure. I hate clumsy sentences. Good plotting, meaning keeping a coherent structure throughout the writing. Using the right word in the right context.
  • What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A dictionary, a thesaurus, a word processor, The elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer and The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Oh yeah, and a good imagination.
  • What scares you?
Heart attacks, cancer, auto accidents, plane crashes. Ordinary stuff. It’s why I write horror. It’s a way of dealing with fear. Some people go to church or psychiatrists. I write horror. In a way horror is a rehearsal for death.
  • What was your first introduction to horror literature, the one that made you choose that genre to write?
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

  • Why should fans of horror movies read horror books?
 Because books are better than movies. They take you into the heart of a story like no movie ever could. But we live in a fast food society and I realize that a lot of people would rather spend two hours watching a movie than eight or ten hours with a book. It’s the nature of our world. Sad but true.
  • What one stereotype about horror writers is absolutely wrong? What one stereotype is dead on?
 What’s wrong is that we’re all somehow deranged. What’s dead on is that we’re all somehow deranged. You see where I’m going with this? It’s a double edged sword.

  • What are your current projects?
  A supernatural thriller entitled Soul Thief that I’m publishing on my website as a free serial novel, one chapter at a time. We are now up to chapter eighteen. Those who follow along and comment will receive a free signed copy when it’s published. For those interested go to http://www.markedwardhall.com. Plus I’m Just finishing up a new psychological thriller entitled Cross my Heart and Hope to Die, and a post apocalyptic novel entitled On the Night Wind, an epic science fiction thriller entitled Angel Island, plus, my novelette The Fear is being read as an audio book. There will be a worldwide podcast premier sometime in October. For those who are interested in tuning in I’ll give details on my website and my facebook page when I know more.

  • Can you share a little of your current work with us?
  Sure, The Lost Village is an epic supernatural thriller. The majority of the story takes place in a small town that has somehow gone adrift from the rest of the world. It’s about a man, a woman and a special little girl who join forces with some of the town citizens in an effort to save themselves and possibly all of humanity from a dark fate.
Read more about the book here: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615721856
  • Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book is filled with messages of love, hate, good, evil, questions of faith and hope, despair and redemption. It’s up to the readers to choose which ones are right for them.

  •  If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
 I wouldn’t change a thing.

  •  Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
I hope you enjoy The Lost Village. My heart and soul went into that book, and my life is all the richer for writing it. I would like to think that, in some small way, it might enrich the lives of others.

Mark, thank you for visiting and good luck with your latest release.
You can find Mark Edward Hall online here: