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An Interview with Craig Saunders

Published December 24, 2014 by MommaCat

CraigSaunders

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

I don’t have any memories before around the age of ten. I don’t think I was created in a vat, or cloned…but I can’t be sure. But Lord of the Rings, probably. Think I read that around ten or eleven. I know I read things like The Hardy Boys when I was a nipper, but Lord of the Rings is the one that grabbed me, and still does. I do like a bit of fantasy.

2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

Right here, right now. Pretty dull answer, I guess, but I’m content and very lucky. I’ve got everything I need, and I like where I am. I’m sure Middle Earth, or Gilead, or even Tatooine are very nice this time of year, but I’ll stick right here in my shed.

3) You have quite a few books coming out over the next several months. Would you like to talk about some of them?

Ooh, books. I like writing books. Keeps me out of all the other sorts of trouble. In 2015 I’ve got two novellas and two novels out with DarkFuse.

The first of the novels is ‘Masters of Blood and Bone’, due February. Holland, the main character, is a contract killer, but a nice one (ha) who only kills supernatural creatures…you know, Gods, things like that. I like those novels. There’s a little more globetrotting that usual, and I have to do my research. It’s good to stretch those muscles.

‘Flesh and Coin’ is out the month after (March, in case your readers are squiffy on months 😉 ). That one concerns a family that keep cropping up in my work (the Mulrones) and their matriarch in particular (Ma Mulrone). I like that story, and it links in with Deadlift, too.

There are two others due later in the year (‘Left to Darkness’ (a novel) and ‘Unit 731’ (novella). I’ve just finished another called ‘Highwayman’ which is shares a little of the ‘lore’ from another novel ‘Hangman’ (a reissue due from DarkFuse) and sheds some light on the origins of the mysterious mask featured in Deadlift.

I should think there will be more than four. Aside from the horror gig, I’m trying to release one fantasy title a year on my own. Anything outside of ‘straight’ horror I tend to publish independently.

Oh, and I’m collaborating for the first time in 2015, too, which is pretty cool.

4) What are the next three books you’re planning to read?

I’m a pretty shoddy reader, but I’m going to the library tomorrow. I guess if they’ve got the new Joe Abercrombie I’ll nab that, and maybe an Iain M. Banks I haven’t read. On the Kindle, I’ll probably read a DF title, as I’m trying to catch up there – maybe Tim Curran, as I know I like him.

5) When the weather outside is frightful, would you rather be playing outside in the snow or curled up snug by a fire? Please describe your perfect winter day.

Every winter day is perfect, as far as I’m concerned. Outdoors or in, I vastly prefer a nice chill to a hot and bright summer’s day. I think I’d like to sit by a fire, with the windows/doors open. Maybe somewhere Swiss, too. Swiss winters seem like proper winters. Here, the snow is fairly hit and miss.

I lived in Japan for a while. Snow there, up in the mountains, was just about perfect. So, cabin, fire, and fresh air all together. That’s my answer. Is it right? What do I win?

6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?

Bodies? What, like with Jeffrey Dahmer? Oh…you don’t mean like that. Well, in that case, Hugh Jackman, because it’s as close as I’ll get to being Wolverine.

7) Who are the authors that influenced your writing the most?

Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Haruki Murakami, Stephen King, David Gemmell, Terry Pratchett, Iain Banks, Douglas Adams, Clive Barker…there are probably thousands more, but that’ll do for now. With regard to ‘style’ (I’m not sure my writing has a ‘style’!) probably some of the snappier writers – Charlie Huston springs to mind.

8) If you saw rabbit pull a pocket watch out of his waistcoat and call out that he was late, would you try to follow him no matter where he went?

Nope. Rabbits are crazy. They’re always running around, bouncing, like little furry lunatics. I’d rather just sit still with a nice cup of tea. Realistically, what do I care if the rabbit’s late? Not my circus, not my monkeys. Or…er…rabbit.

9) What five people – living or dead- would you invite to a dinner party? (Universal translators will be provided)

Ghandi, Hitler, George W. Bush, Cher and David Letterman. Not to my dinner party. Oh, no. To someone else’s. I don’t have dinner parties. I live in a shed. No way I’d fit all the crockery in here, let alone dinner and five other people.

10) How do you want the world to remember you?

By committing seppuku at the site of my tomb. Or, just be nice to each other. That’d suit me just fine, too. For preference, the nice thing. But I’m dead, so please yourselves.

Thanks for having me!

Thanks for being had, Craig! It was fun.  Be sure to visit Craig here, here and @Grumblesprout on Twitter!

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Flesh and Coin by Craig Saunders

Published December 24, 2014 by MommaCat

FLESH AND COIN is a bone-chilling novella about death. It takes place mainly on a ward in a hospice in England.  Cathy is a good hearted woman and extremely hard worker who spends time reading and talking to the dying men long after her shift is over. She spends most of her time reading to what seems to be an empty bed. Is she crazy and more than ready to retire or does she see someone that others do not?

Craig Saunders takes readers on a haunted thrill ride not to be forgotten by occult loving fans.  You’ll be glad you got this!

Get FLESH AND COIN at Amazon.com!

FleshandCoin

An Interview with Jeff Mariotte

Published December 14, 2014 by MommaCat

 

Jeff Mariotte

 

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

There were always books in the house, growing up. I don’t remember my parents telling me stories from their imaginations, but I know I was read to, and when I learned to read I was thrilled at the freedom it offered. One of my early loves—passed down by my older brother—was the Hardy Boys mystery series. After reading a few of those, I started writing my own (highly derivative) mystery stories, and that’s the first memory I have of actually making up stories of my own. I suspect my love of telling and reading stories of crime and detection and suspense is a holdover from those early days.

 

2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

I’m not sure I entirely fit in the 21st century, but I’m also not sure there’s anywhen or anywhere else that I’d be a better match for. There are fictional settings I’d love to visit—Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar or Roger Zelazny’s Amber, for instance—but I might not survive for long. I was a fencer in high school and college, and still own a lot of swords, so I could have some chance, I guess. I’ve written a lot of Western fiction, and would like to experience the Old West as it really was. But I’m also fond of indoor plumbing, electricity at the flip of a switch, and high-speed internet, so again, that could only be a brief visit, not an extended stay. The sad truth is that in most eras of Earth history, brutal, bloody death was pretty common, as it is in most of the fictional settings that interest me, so I’m probably better off staying put.

 

3) Do you write every day? Can you imagine a day coming where you stop writing?

I don’t write fiction every day, but I write every day. I was a full-time writer for a while, but the Great Recession ended that, and in 2010 I had to take a day job. Fortunately, I work as a technical editor, so I still spend my days working with words and grammar and the like. I think it’s helped make my prose more precise, which isn’t a bad thing. I’d love to get back to writing fiction full-time, but I have to admit it’s nice to have a steady income, health insurance, and paid vacations. And no, I don’t see myself not writing, ever. I expect that I’ll die partway through a novel, because that seems to be where I usually am.

 

4) How much research do you do?

That depends on how much any given project needs. I have a huge western history/natural history book collection, and I’ve spent my entire adult life living and traveling in the west, so when I’m working on a western project, a lot of the details are already in my brain. If I’m writing about someplace I’ve never been, then I do more, to find out what it’s actually like to be on the ground there, what somebody would see and hear and smell, and so on. But I greatly prefer to walk that ground myself. For my horror novel River Runs Red, for example, I made multiple trips to west Texas, spent time there, crossed the border into Mexico a couple of times, read the local newspapers, visited local history museums, and so on, in addition to the online and book research I did from my own desk. For a Star Trek book, because there are 40-some years of history over multiple shows and hundreds of novels, I have to do a ton of research just to try to get the details of that universe right. I like researching, and I like getting my facts straight, and I especially like seeing new places, so I don’t mind doing as much as it takes.

 

5) What’s your comfort food?

I don’t have a particular one. There are food items and types that I want to have around all the time, like chocolate chip cookies and pizza, but nothing that I turn to for comfort after a hard day, or anything like that.

 

6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?

That seems like a dangerous idea. Whoever got my body probably wouldn’t want to give it back.

 

7) Who are the authors that influenced your life the most?

The one that comes to mind first is a western writer named Gordon D. Shirreffs, who wrote a young adult novel called The Mystery of the Haunted Mine. That book contained elements of westerns, horror, mystery, romance, and magic—virtually everything I write today. It was set in Arizona, where I live today. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it had a huge effect on my life. My first published novel was a collaboration with Christopher Golden, who then introduced me to Lisa Clancy, his Buffy the Vampire Slayer editor, so those two largely launched my writing career. Beyond that, my whole working career has been in the book business—bookselling, publishing, writing, consulting—so books in general have been major forces. Some of the authors who have steered me or made me think or affected my craft include Wallace Stegner, Ross Macdonald, Thomas Gifford, William Goldman, James Lee Burke, Robert E. Howard, Ray Bradbury, Joan Vinge, Charles Bowden, Terry Tempest Williams… it’s a long, basically endless list.

 

8) Who would you like to co-author a book with?

I’m having a great time working with my incredibly talented writing partner Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell, so that’s already covered. Aside from her, I guess if James Patterson or Stephen King or James Lee Burke called me up, I’d be up for the gig. Obviously, Patterson’s the most likely. I’m easy to find, James!

 

9) What five people – living or dead – would you invite to a dinner party? (Universal translators will be provided)

I’d like to bring together some of the writers I never had a chance to meet, maybe Shirreffs, Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler, and William Goldman, and one I did know but who I would have liked more time with, Roger Zelazny. Of those, Goldman is the only one still with us, so maybe it’s not too late to have dinner with him.

10) Would you talk about your upcoming books and their production schedule?

I’ve just had a dark and twisty horror story released called “John Barleycorn Must Die,” which I wrote with Marcy. It’s in an anthology called Out of Tune, edited by Jonathan Maberry, with all kinds of great writers in it, like Christopher Golden, Nancy Holder, Seanan McGuire, Jack Ketchum, Lisa Morton, and more. A solo story I wrote, set in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse universe, also just hit the stands in a book called Dead But Not Forgotten, edited by Charlaine and Toni L.P. Kelner. My story is called “Taproot,” and it’s focused on Andy Bellefleur.

Marcy and I just turned in (today, as I’m writing this) an action-packed vampire story for another anthology, and we’re working on edits for yet another story, but we can’t talk about those until they’re officially accepted and announced. We’re also waiting to announce a super-creepy horror novella we have coming, as one of the kickoff tales for a new novella series, but again, we have to wait on that.

In terms of books, earlier this year I turned in a horror/western/steampunk extravaganza that will be released in 2016, by Tor. It’s called Deadlands: Thunder Moon Rising, and it’s set in the world of the fantastic role-playing game Deadlands. Tor’s releasing three novels, starting with Jonathan Maberry’s Deadlands: Ghostwalkers, in fall 2015 (I wrote mine first, but his comes out first). Mine’s chock-full of murder and dark magic.

The next novel release–and I’m still waiting for an official publication date–is Empty Rooms, which you already know about, but your readers might like some background on. This is a very important book for me in a number of ways.

I’ve written series books about other people’s characters–Buffy and Angel, Conan, Star Trek, etc., but I’ve never before written one that I hope to turn into a series before. Empty Rooms introduces two characters–a walking encyclopedia of crime and criminals named Richie (Maynard) Krebbs, and Frank Robey, an obsessed detective and former FBI agent who loves comic books and soul music. It’s set largely in contemporary Detroit, which is a troubled city, beloved by some, falling down around some of its residents. I’d like to keep exploring Richie and Frank and Detroit.

The story is very dark, and might be troubling for some. It’s about Frank and Richie searching for a long-time serial pedophile. I tried, of course, to treat that subject with respect and dignity, and I’ve been told that I did, but of course it could be triggery. But it’s also about how these two guys try to stay human when they’re neck-deep in the darkness, immersed in the worst acts human beings can commit. It grew out of a book I wrote called Criminal Minds: Serial Killers, Sociopaths & Other Deviants, which told the true story of every criminal mentioned in the first five seasons of the TV series Criminal Minds–and some who weren’t mentioned, but whose crimes inspired episodes. To do the massive research for that, I had to dwell inside those acts and the minds of those killers for months, and I realized that for a homicide detective, that’s daily life. I wondered how they could cope with that without burning out (though a lot of them do), and I set out to find out and write about it.

In the process, I came to like Richie and Frank too much to let them go. I’m currently plotting out the next installment of their saga. I hope your readers will give it a try, and I hope they like it (and ask for more!).

11.) How do you want the world to remember you?

With fear and awe. Or, you know, as a nice guy who worked hard and wrote as well as he could, and made some people think, or feel joy, or like they weren’t alone in the world, or that there’s magic all around us if they just look hard enough.

 

Good things all to be remembered  as, Jeff.  I hope you won’t forget about Cat After Dark and will stop by here again to chat sometime.  For those of you who would like to see where he hangs out, you can pop over jeffmariotte.com. You can check out his blog here or go to his Facebook page here.

Empty Rooms by Jeffrey Mariotte

Published December 14, 2014 by MommaCat

I’m honored to have revealed the cover to EMPTY ROOMS and proud and super stoked to give the first review.  Jeff has stated on his blog that more information will be forthcoming from him regarding the release date – I can tell you it’s worth the wait!

Fans of cold case file type cop stories will immediately be attracted to EMPTY ROOMS.  Go along with wannabe cop Richie ‘Maynard’ Krebbs and his police buddy Frank as they attempt to find a pedophile who has been kidnapping six year old girls for the past dozen years.  Jeff’s pacing in this novel is excellent. He slowly builds the pace allowing the reader to get to know all of the characters and draw conclusions along the way.  He clearly did his research as nothing was left unanswered and no stone un-turned.  His research into pedophiles produced interesting information as well; some I was probably better off left in the dark about.  As the story wound down to its conclusion it didn’t have that rushed feeling that so thrillers many do.  This was a very satisfying novel to read.  Excellent writing, great secondary themes and a great finish make this a must read for dark fiction fans.

Available now in paperback at Amazon.com!

Empty Rooms Cover_small

An Interview with Lisa von Biela

Published December 7, 2014 by MommaCat

 

Lisa Von Biela

 

 

1) What would your power be if you were a super hero?

I would love to be able to teleport. As long as I didn’t smash into someone else and mix up my molecules, it would be a very practical power to have. Imagine the commute time that would save!

2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

Every single real one I can think of has a downside I don’t like. So, I’d like to live in a place of my own design, so I could have everything I want. I’d have a nice two-story log cabin set on a good-sized chunk of land in the middle of nowhere—think Montana or Wyoming, that sort of setting. There would be lots of trees, both evergreen and the kind that make for great fall colors. There would be acres of green, a little stream, maybe a large pond with some fish. It would have a warm, rustic feel, but it would also have fast, reliable Internet and all the modern conveniences. It would be quiet and serene. Deer and other critters would roam freely. There would be all manner of birds. And because I’d be able to teleport, if I needed something in the city, it would be a quick trip to go get it and return to my little paradise. Oh, and I would like to be able to control the weather. Snow is fine if I’m roasting a turkey. But I’d like to be able to conjure up fall, summer or spring, depending on my mood.

3) Do you write every day? Can you envision a day where you no longer write stories?

No, I don’t. Work and commuting take up most of my time and energy during the week. I do most of my writing on the weekends. Sometimes I am able to sneak some in before I leave for work in the morning. I actually envision the opposite of your question. I aim for the day when I can write every day. I often get ideas and have to hang onto them for later. I would love to be able to work on multiple writing projects at a time, but I only have the bandwidth to focus on one at a time right now.

4) How much research do you do?

That depends on the project. If it’s something along the lines of dark fantasy, something out of my head, I generally have little to no research to do. If it involves IT, I just fall back on my prior professional experience (as I did for THE GENESIS CODE). My pre-vet/undergrad experience gives me a good baseline for basic biology and some medical aspects. But, when there are deeper medical or other technical aspects to the story, I may do a fair bit of research. For example, in THE JANUS LEGACY, Crohn’s Disease played a key role, so I looked into the symptoms, the underlying disease mechanism, currently available treatments, and so forth. For the novel I’m working on right now, I did quite a bit of research before I could even outline the plot. I needed to learn about GMO soy, commercial cattle feed, amino acid structures, and more! I was trying to build up a cause-and-effect that would be central to the story, and I wanted it to be reasonably based on science.

5) What’s your comfort food?

A carnitas burrito, covered in sauce, with sour cream and moderately hot salsa loaded with fresh cilantro. And a margarita. Rocks. That’s good stuff.

6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?

Kathryn Budig, the yoga guru. She appears in a series of ads for yoga products in Yoga Journal. The photography in those ads is beautifully done—really showcases her strength and flexibility. If I could be that strong and flexible for a day, well, I might not want to return the body.

7) What are the next three books you plan to read?

<checks Kindle> Looks like Dandelion Wine by Bradbury, The Philip K. Dick Megapack (of short stories), and either The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty or the Dead Clown Barbeque Expansion Pack by Jeff Strand. That could change! I usually read more novels and novellas than short story collections. Just happens that I picked up several collections recently and they’re in the TBR.

8) Who would you like to co-author a book with?

Hmm, tough choice. I’ll limit this one to living people, just to narrow it down. I’d like to co-author with Greg F. Gifune because I think I’d learn a ton about characterization, and I bet he’d be a blast to work with. He’s certainly been a great advisor and editor to me over the years. I’d also like to co-author with Robin Cook because he actually is a doctor, and I try to write as if I were one. I might pick up a thing or two from him. While I’m at it, how about Margaret Atwood? She has an amazing imagination. She comes up with entire worlds in her work.

9) What five people – living or dead – would you invite to a dinner party? (language & time are not problems)

No question, Rod Serling for sure! Then, how about Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury to sort of round that out nicely. Then throw in William Shatner. He’d be a hoot, I have no doubt. We could all talk about “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”

10) Would you talk about your upcoming books and their production schedule?

Yes, I’d love to!  So, BLOCKBUSTER is coming out in January.  My second novella, SKINSHIFT, is due out in June.  It’s a dark tale with supernatural and fantastical elements.  Dominic Donato is someone not to be trifled with.  When his partners in crime double-cross him and dump him in the Mojave desert to die, he is so driven by rage that he finds a unique way to not only survive, but to retaliate.  Quite effectively, too.

I also signed a 3-novel, 3-year contract with DarkFuse earlier this year, and am very proud and honored to be part of the author roster.  As this interview goes to press, I’m in the final editing stages on my first book under this contract, BROKEN CHAIN.  It’s a medical/scientific thriller about a serious break in the food chain that’s related to a widespread outbreak of violent behavior.  So it’s part medical detective story to identify the root cause and the linkage—and part Armageddon/aftermath story once the linkage is found and food bans and other programs go into effect to try to resolve the problem.

11) How do you want the world to remember you?

Well, I don’t have any kids that I know of, so I can’t fall back on that. I suppose I’d like to be remembered as someone who changed something for the better with her writing—whether that happens with my legal writing or my fiction (preferably both!). On the fiction side, it would be great if I could write something that becomes a classic for some reason. Like something from Bradbury—terrific writing and visionary as well. If I could do something like that and have the world remember me that way, that would be great. Yeah, I do aim high.

 

If you don’t aim high,you won’t hit the sky. Thanks for visiting Cat After Dark, Lisa. I loved having you visit. Please come back again!

Lisa hangs out at lisavonbiela.com

The Genesis Code by Lisa Von Biela

Published December 7, 2014 by MommaCat

In December of 2013 Lisa Von Biela’s first novel, THE GENESIS CODE was published by Darkfuse Publications. She couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for a first novel especially since she just signed her first three book contract with them and shows no sign of slowing down her writing.

GENESIS CODE formed the foundation to show us what Von Biela does best. The techno-thriller.  She mixes Michael Crichton and John Saul to create her own style.  GC tells the story of a Silicon Valley type company that pays their employees extremely well and expects the employees life in return. It’s all about dedicating your life to the good of the company.  The rewards are great but is your life worth it?

Completely believable, GENESIS CODE will keep you on the edge of your seat turning pages right up to the very end.

Buy THE GENESIS CODE at Amazon.com now.

Genesis Code

 

Blockbuster by Lisa Von Biela

Published December 7, 2014 by MommaCat

BLOCKBUSTER enters the world of the big pharmaceutical companies – and, wow – did that ever hit a nerve with me. Whose lives don’t they touch? Big Pharma, like car salesmen and the IRS manage to touch and infect everyone’s life at one time or another don’t they?

Von Biela as always has just the right mix of present and near future high tech in her story. it’s all chillingly real and had me questioning yet again if she didn’t have inside information and was actually leaking a story that had already happened.  After all, in this she wrote about computer watches – the iWatch was barely released, while she spent the last several months (at a minimum) writing this book.

Lisa has big ideas. She’s best suited for long epic novels. I wouldn’t mind seeing her go up against Stephen King in book length. Her stories unfold gradually as do his. Her mind is so active that the ideas just keep coming.  I’m glad.  Her future looks bright, even if the future she writes about is bleak.

BLOCKBUSTER is at Amazon. Buy it today!

Blockbuster cover

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