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An Interview with Allan Leverone

Published February 15, 2015 by MommaCat

AllanLeverone

  • What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

Well, I can clearly remember being very young, probably less than two years old, probably a LOT less than two years old, and my mom reading me the P.D. Eastman children’s book, ARE YOU MY MOTHER? I loved that book, and when I got a little older and began reading on my own (sort of), I pored over that book hundreds of times, maybe thousands.

As far as my earliest memory of me telling stories, it would have to be when I was around eight or ten. I had a cheap pressboard desk in my bedroom, and I remember sitting at it and writing a story about a kid who gets lost in the woods in the middle of winter and freezes to death. He’s found months later with one tear frozen to his cheek. I might not have known what genre fiction was back then, but I was already writing it!

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

I don’t think I would want to live my life in any era or place besides exactly when and where I am right now. Being born a few decades earlier than I was might have been kind of fun; those Rat Pack guys looked pretty cool in their thin ties and fedoras. It’s a look I’m not sure I could have pulled off, though, so maybe things worked out for the best.

That said, what would appeal to me would be a time machine that would allow me to move around in history, sort of like Forest Gump, only instead of traveling through a few decades, I could use it to move back and forth over thousands of years.

Think about the possibilities. In addition to finding out exactly what happened in Ferguson, Missouri – not the narratives that have been fed to us by two different sides, but the real story – I could learn the details of the Kennedy assassination, discover whether Shakespeare was a real person or a composite of a number of different writers, find out what Jesus Christ was really like.

The sky would be the limit, and in addition to getting more story ideas than I could ever use, the prospect of actually living through the most significant moments in history would be totally cool.

  • Would you talk about your upcoming books and the production schedule?

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on the third novel in my Tracie Tanner series of thrillers, titled THE OMEGA CONNECTION. That book is due out in early January and also available will be a very cool “soundscape” album of background music, composed and recorded by Steve Buick of Evokescape. It’s a cool idea, and having heard the tracks, I can honestly say they add a lot to the reading experience.

Then, in April, my next dark fiction novel for DarkFuse is due for release. It’s titled AFTER MIDNIGHT, and is the followup to the 2013 novel, MR. MIDNIGHT. Milo Cain is probably the most vile, evil character I’ve ever written, and now he’s back with a vengeance, literally. I’m really excited about this book, and Evokescape will be producing a soundscape album of music to accompany it as well. As with all DarkFuse novels, AFTER MIDNIGHT will feature ebook, paperback, and signed, numbered limited edition hardcover copies.

After that, things are up in the air. I’ve begun work on another DarkFuse novel, but it will likely not be available until 2016.

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

I’ll be fortunate enough to receive prepublication ARCs of a couple of different books coming out soon. CONFESSIONS OF A HIT MAN by Richard Godwin and BLIZZARD by Buzz Bernard are up next.

After those two, I’ll probably read DRACULAS, the collaboration novel written by J.A. Konrath, Black Crouch, F. Paul Wilson and Jeff Strand. I love the idea of four talented authors collaborating on one unified story, and it just looks like a ton of fun – a gory, violent, quick read.

  • What have you never taken the time to do that you really want to do? (bucket list item)

I’d love to see two places, and each is very different from the other. The first is Alaska, as even today it’s wild, vast, and mostly empty. The second is Australia, which I suppose could also qualify as wild, vast and mostly empty, although the temperatures probably aren’t very similar.

The likelihood of me ever getting to either place is pretty slim, but as far as bucket list items go, they would be at the top. And that’s kind of odd, because I generally detest traveling. I’m the ultimate hermit.

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

I think I’d probably trade with my wife. We’ve been together for almost thirty-five years, and it still amazes me she ever even talked to me, much less agreed to marry me and then stay with me for more than three decades. I would love to know what the hell she was thinking. So would she, probably, now that I think about it.

  • Who are the authors that influenced your life the most?

There are so many I’m not sure where to start. But in the world of dark fiction, every writer owes a debt of gratitude to Stephen King. He takes a lot of heat, but King almost single-handedly breathed new life into a mostly stagnant genre back in the 1970s-1980s, opening horror/dark fiction up to masses of readers previously unimagined.

In the world of thrillers, Vince Flynn stands as a great example to anyone who wants to write books. In the face of rejection, he self-published and sold books out of the trunk of his car in an era where self-pubbing was considered career suicide. But he believed in himself and his work, eventually becoming one of the top-selling authors in the world.

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

Well, King won’t return my calls and Flynn is dead, so I suppose those guys are out. But I’m honored to be a member of The Twelve with some incredible authors. Names like Robert Gregory Browne, Brett Battles, J. Carson Black, Diane Capri and all the other members are outstanding mystery/thriller writers. I would be honored to co-author a book with any of them, given the opportunity.

One member in particular, though, Vincent Zandri, would in my opinion make the perfect co-author for me. Our writing styles are pretty similar, as are our genre preferences. Vince is professional and talented, and was among the first authors to agree to blurb my debut thriller before it came out back in 2011. He’s a great guy and a great writer, and he would be my first choice.

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

Jesus Christ would have to top the guest list. There aren’t many people—maybe not any—who have had a greater effect on world history, and it would be cool to break bread with The Man himself.

Next would be Mother Teresa. She worked so hard serving others for her entire life that it would be nice to see her just sit down and relax.

The third invitation would go to my father. He was the greatest influence on my life by far, and died almost seventeen years ago, long before I had the chance to say everything I wanted to say to him.

Edgar Allen Poe would also get a spot at the table. He was such a fascinating guy, and I would love to learn, from the horse’s mouth so to speak, the actual circumstances of his death. Assuming he could even remember.

Finally, I would extend an invitation to Lawrence Block. The man is a legend, and has been supporting himself through his writing since just about the time I was born. For a looong time, in other words. He very graciously agreed to an interview on my blog a couple of years ago, and I found him to be a thoughtful and intelligent interview subject in addition to being a great writer.

  • How do you want the world to remember you?

Every one of my books represents a part of me that will hopefully live on long after I’m gone. But I would like to be remembered as a guy who worked hard, dealt with people honestly, and tried to do right by his family. I know I’m not going to change the world, but if the people who knew me remember me fondly—and maybe toss a review or two up on Amazon—that will be good enough for me.

Thank you so much for a terrific interview, Al!  It was good to have you here.  I look forward to reading your next book.   Allan can be found on the web, on Facebook and on Twitter.  Be sure to look him up!  

Mr. Midnight by Allan Leverone

Published February 15, 2015 by MommaCat

MR. MIDNIGHT is the story of Cait Connolly and Milo Cain, a set of twins given up at at birth.  They have paranormal visions that Cait calls ‘flickers’ and yet neither twin knows about the others existence.

This is a good twin – bad twin sort of story with a lot of gore. It’s a slasher story and a very good one at that.  I appreciated Leverone’s balance of good and bad throughout the book.  Milo Cain is probably one of the most evil characters I have ever read about in fiction.  it’s a must read.

MR. MIDNIGHT is available in paperback and kindle at Amazon.com.

MrMidnight

After Midnight by Allan Leverone

Published February 15, 2015 by MommaCat

AFTER MIDNIGHT is the gripping sequel to MR. MIDNIGHT.  While the sequence of events begins a few months later, for this reader it’s as if no time has passed and the action is off and running.  The plot thickens and Allan Leverone is at his devious best. Cait has a relationship now with her birth mother and Milo is again wreaking havoc.  No one has a clue that he is behind the deaths that are occurring.

Use the “I want” box on your wish list to remind you to pre-order this the second it’s available!  Don’t miss this.

AFTER MIDNIGHT is available for pre-order at Amazon.com now!

AfterMidmight

An Interview with Norman Prentiss

Published February 1, 2015 by MommaCat

Norm Prentiss

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

My earliest memory of somebody else as a storyteller would be my Dad. He was a schoolteacher, and got a good reputation for telling stories to his students–adventures that he made up. They were long stories, though, and I only remember him telling me and my brother a story a couple times. One story was about a kid who met an angry bear in the forest, and my Dad used a fur hat as a puppet for the bear. Later, we’d beg him to tell us another story, and he wouldn’t!

As for myself as a storyteller, I remember a few badly drawn comic books in the fifth grade, and also some “serialized” horror stories I wrote, complete with cliffhanger endings. They were mostly based on monster movies. The segments were badly written, but I had very careful handwriting. When I turned in the stories to my teacher, I left a note at the top: “Please make comments in pencil, not pen,” so I could erase the teacher’s comments. I guess I felt like my handwritten versions were like publications. I found one of these a while back, with my note at the top, and the teacher’s comments throughout, IN PEN. What was wrong with her? Ha ha!

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

I think I’d only want to visit another land/era–because I’ve grown too comfortable with today’s technology and the social climate. For a temporary change, I’d want most to go back to Oxford in 1983-4, which was where I spent my Junior Year Abroad in college. This was an interesting time for me, and I think where I developed a lot of my adult personality–for better or worse. I didn’t have much money to spend, and no transportation, so I walked everywhere. I only had one suitcase of possessions and somehow I did fine–no clutter!

3) Do you consider yourself handy around the house?

Not by a longshot! That’s the one big drawback with owning a home now. I really loved when we could simply call the landlord when the sink was clogged or whatever. I guess I’m supposed to learn more things myself (especially to avoid fees for plumbers and electricians). As it is, the ceilings are really high in our place, so it’s even an effort even to change lightbulbs…

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

I’m on the Graphic Novel Jury for the Bram Stoker Awards, so one of them will definitely be a graphic novel. I’m looking forward to Spirits of the Dead which is a collection of Richard Corben adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories. Always loved his artwork in Creepy magazine, back in the 80s.

I’m also a teacher, currently doing a college class on Horror Fiction, so I will have the pleasure of rereading Dracula–and this time I’ll get to consult Mort Castle’s annotated edition, which will be fun.

The current book I’m reading on my Kindle is a Ray Garton novel I hadn’t owned before: Dark Channels. There’s a lot of authors I used to check for in used bookstores, since their paperbacks were often rare and out-of-print, and Garton was one of my favorite “happy finds”–along with Douglas Clegg, T. M. Wright, Thomas Monteleone, Elizabeth Massie, Graham Masterton, David Morrell, Richard Matheson, Robert McCammon (I always slowed down when I got to “M” on the shelf). That treasure hunt in used book stores was pretty fun, but I gotta say it’s pretty cool now to find many of my favorite authors so easily in electronic editions. Cheaper, and without all the wear and tear from previous owners. I’ve re-bought a lot of books this way!

5) If you could claim one book as your own – think fame, not fortune – what book do you wish you wrote and why?

I’d say To Kill a Mockingbird. Not really that I’d want to write that book, because I couldn’t. But it would be nice to do something like it: maybe a horror version of TKAM, something with a similar coming-of-age feel. And if a horror book could have this much truth in it… that would really be something, wouldn’t it?

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

Gee, I don’t know how to answer that! Maybe I’d just want my current body to cooperate a little better: more energy, burn calories the way it did fifteen years ago (I swear I eat the same as I used to, but the food stays differently). Then again, if I had the same body I had fifteen years ago, I’d probably be having a kidney stone right now. Somehow at least that one issue has fixed itself.

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

A lot of the people I listed in my used bookstore “wish list” above. I’ve been so lucky in recent years to get to meet and sometimes work with people I idolized as a younger reader. Tom Monteleone with his Borderlands writer’s workshop was a huge influence. This was a weekend “bootcamp” with intensive feedback and instruction about writing. It’s really like a whole MFA packed into 3 days–intense and very rewarding, and great for networking with peers. At the first Bootcamp, my instructors were Tom, F. Paul Wilson, David Morrell, and Richard Chizmar–and meeting Rich helped start my association with Cemetery Dance, so that was huge for me. Rich and Brian Freeman at CD really changed things for me, trusting me as a proofreader then slush reader for Cemetery Dance magazine, where I still work as an associate editor; they also published my first book, Invisible Fences, in their novella series, which was a dream come true. I’d also count T. M. Wright as an influence, with his existential version of horror. And last but definitely not least, Douglas Clegg–who combines a literary style with a page-turner pace, better than anyone, and has such an amazing sense of storytelling. He’s a great friend, really wonderful to talk to and laugh with, and so generous with advice about the writing business.

8) What do you do to lift yourself up when you’re feeling down?

Wow, if you’d asked me this about a few years ago, I might have said I didn’t know what you mean about feeling down. I’d have some rough patches here and there, but mostly temporary, and my partner of 30 plus years has always been there, so the relationship stuff is great. But some things have been hitting me harder lately: job stress and difficulties, and hammered with deaths of several close family members, all in a short space. I don’t know if I’d built enough of the tools over my life to help me deal with such things… but I guess denial and avoidance helps a bit, and reading or writing my way out of a funk. Actually, cat videos on youtube might have been the easier answer.

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

I think I’ll dine with the living–that just seems more pleasant! Kidding aside, I’m mostly fine with meeting dead folks through their words. That’s how I’ve gotten to “know” them already, and I wouldn’t want them disappointing me, or contradicting my interpretations. Is it cheating to say I’d just invite a few friends?–like a dinner out at a horror convention, or a college reunion, or the people I’d see to celebrate a book sale or a new job.

10) Your last two books, THE NARRATOR and THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN have both been collaborations.  They have flowed seamlessly which speaks in part to the brilliance of the authors involved – Michael McBride and Brian James Freeman as well as yourself.  Would you talk about the logistics in developing and finalizing the stories and tell us how they came to be?

Each of the collaborations was different, and I imagine that’s often the case.  The books have different needs, and authors have to get used to each others writing styles and work styles.  With Mike and THE NARRATOR, it was very easy to divide up the roles:  The novella takes place in a sixth grade classroom, where the students become increasingly frightened by stories they’ve heard. I did the overarching frame story, and Mike did the weird tales that frighten the children. The way it worked was that I’d drop some kind of hint in the frame tale about a story or a kid’s particular fear–for example, a cover image on a book that a student was reading–and Mike would write the story.  Sometimes I’d give Mike a hint about what I thought might work, but he always came up with something better–which was a cool part of the process, waiting to see how each story turned out, and then writing my part accordingly.  With THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN, we wrote the book over a longer time period, and it ended up the length of a short novel, so the process was a little more complicated. The initial idea was for each of us to take a different character’s point-of-view: I had the husband and Brian had the wife.  But as the story grew, we often had ideas for the other person’s section, and would take a stab at it.  So, we sometimes “ghost-wrote” each others’ section, or added to a segment that was already written.  Reading it over again, I’ll sometimes think: “this part’s pretty cool. I wonder if I wrote it?”, haha!

I definitely learned a lot from each collaboration, and it was incredible that I got to work with two of my favorite writers.

11) And finally, if you would be so kind, tell us what you have planned for the future?

I’m working on a novel called Life in a Haunted House, which has a bit of a YA feel. I also have a novel I’m continuing to polish and shop around, called Odd Adventures with Your Other Father–a segment of this one appeared as a standalone story in a collection from PS Publishing (“Beneath Their Shoulders” in Dark Fusions, edited by Lois H. Gresh). A few short stories here and there, too!

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

As a cheerful, sometimes inappropriate guy who always meant well. And, oh yeah, he wrote that one story or book that was pretty good, but nobody can recall the title.

Thank you so much for visiting with us at Cat After Dark Norm! I truly enjoyed meeting and chatting with you. Please come back again any time. Readers can visit Norm on the web, on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

**And because this interview was done months ago, there’s an update to Norm’s professional life.  He’s now an editor for Cemetery Dance.  If you have a moment, congratulate him. 

The Narrator by Norman Prentiss and Michael McBride

Published February 1, 2015 by MommaCat

Moving on to another fine piece of storytelling we have the joint venture of THE NARRATOR.  Norman Prentiss together with Michael McBride turned out an amazing story that was actually a set of stories within a story.  Confused?  Don’t be! This was another seamless blending of minds of two very gifted authors.

The main story revolves around a 6th grade class and Abbie, the girl who seems to be at the heart of the darkness.  Go with the authors as they travel into the past to delve into three of the children’s worst fears. This must read book is still available from Thunderstorm Books and will soon be coming to kindle.

Narrator

THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN by Norman Prentiss and Brian James Freeman

Published February 1, 2015 by MommaCat

You, my horror loving friends are in for such a treat!  I almost didn’t know where to begin.  So, why not start with my favorite holiday, Halloween?  We can’t go wrong with Halloween in February, can we?    Neither can it hurt that we have two fabulous authors collaborating to give us one of the best Halloween stories that I can remember in a very long time.

What’s going on inside the gated community apartments?  Nothing, if management has its way.  No parties, no decorations and certainly no trick or treating.  The annual potluck is canceled.  It’s to be just another night.

But at the apartment belonging to  handyman Harris and his family something strange is happening.  Harris’ wife is keeping a journal for a marriage counselor that only she is seeing.  And that’s just the beginning…

Prentiss and Freeman write flawlessly attesting to their skill and professionalism.  They weave their words together as if they had always written together and this reader hopes they will continue to publish stories together. What a treat THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN was.  Originally published in October 2014 by Earthling Publications in a limited run of 500 signed copies, soon to be available in a trade paperback edition and on kindle.  That could happen any day now.  Keep watching Cemetery Dance for news and availability.

 Halloween Children

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