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An Interview with James Newman & Mark Steensland

Published June 14, 2019 by MommaCat

Welcome to Cat After Dark, Mark – and welcome back James!

First things first. Let’s talk about this second book the two of you collaborated on. After THE SPECIAL how much beer did it take to decide that writing together again might be a good idea? How did you overcome the obstacles of being on opposite ends of the country?

James:  No beer required on this side of the table (I prefer Jack-n’-Coke anyway). Mark’s a dear friend and a fantastic “idea man”. The latter has worked to my advantage because it seems he’s always ready to collaborate at the perfect time – when I’m in a creative rut and desperately need an idea to grab hold of me and refuse to let go.

As far as my co-writer living on the west coast while I’m here in North Carolina? It’s not a problem, because I’ve been involved with quite a few collaborations over the last few years and none of them were “in person” (before I started IN THE SCRAPE with Mark, I just finished up SCAPEGOAT with Adam Howe, who’s located in the U.K.!).

Mark: Believe it or not, no beer was involved in either decision. Even though In the Scrape is very different from The Special in terms of subject matter and tone. James and I have known each other at a distance for a long time. I adapted his novel Animosity into a screenplay and have repeatedly tried to get it made into a movie. No luck, so far. But maybe after the movie version of The Special comes out, someone will be interested. Best part about right now is that location is not an obstacle anymore. Even with my filmmaking. My films have been scored by composers in England and in Italy. All via the internet.

Separately or together, what are you each working on for future release?

James:  I’m working on a few solo projects, mostly shorter stuff, like a novella I’m excited about called HOMEWRECKER. I’m itching to jump into a new novel soon as well. Most likely the novel will be another collaboration. It’s too early to run my mouth about that project right now, but I will say it’s a vampire novel and it will be the first time I’ve collaborated with this fellow.

Mark: The paperback of Jimmy the Freak (which I co-wrote with Charles Colyott) should be out later this month. Then I’ve got a longish short story called “The Black-Jar Man” which has been accepted for an anthology coming out later this year (I think).

What are some of the things you enjoy doing when you’re not working? And what are some of the items on your bucket list?

James:  I read constantly. Watch movies. My wife and I collect those silly Funko Pop figures. I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family, hiking and biking, except when college basketball season comes around (go Tar Heels!).

I don’t really have a bucket list. I’m not what you would call an adventurous sort, with a desire to jump out of a plane or swim with sharks or anything like that. I would like to go to Europe one day, to see Stonehenge if nothing else, so I guess that applies here.

Mark: Sleeping. Otherwise, I am working. Even on vacation. Especially on vacation. I’m gathering new information about people and places and whatever else I can so that I can figure out a way to write about it in the future. My bucket list is being able to do it full time.

If you could spend the evening having drinks with any one person in the history of the world, who would you choose and why?

James:  Jesus Christ.

If drinks are a must, He could turn water into Jack-n’-Coke instead of wine, I suppose. All joking aside, once that was taken care of . . . I would love to know if He feels like there’s anything mankind is doing right. Anything at all. Because I know there’s got to be something.

Mark: My dad. He died when I was six-years old, so I hardly knew him. Now that I know so much more about him, I wish we could talk about it. He served in World War Two and was decorated for being injured and for bravery (Silver Star). He worked in radio and television in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I’d love to find out more about that. Then he became an Episcopal priest and did all kinds of stuff, including marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama after Bloody Sunday. I’d probably need more than an evening.

If you could swap bodies with one person for one day who would it be and what would you do?

James: Batman. I would just do what he does, ‘cause Batman is the coolest.

You didn’t say this person had to be REAL.

Mark: I’d switch with Stephen King and spend the day tweeting about what an awesome writer Mark Steensland is.

What five books would you like everyone to read? And what are you reading now?

James: 

  1. BOY’S LIFE, by Robert R. McCammon. It’s my favorite novel of all time, and the only book that ever made me cry.
  2. CHRISTINE, by Stephen King. Although it’s rarely cited as one of his best, this one’s probably my personal fave of King’s work, if I was forced to pick just one. CHRISTINE perfectly captures what it’s like to be an angry young man who’s bullied endlessly, a fragile soul who’s easily sucked in by something that ultimately will be his undoing. I can relate to that, as I hated high school with a passion and it left scars that remain to this day.
  3. SHARP OBJECTS, by Gillian Flynn. Aspiring writers who want to know how to craft flawed characters, characters your readers will root for even if they don’t always adore them or agree with the decisions they make . . . well, it doesn’t get much better than SHARP OBJECTS.
  4. LIGHTNING, by Dean Koontz. Man, how I loved his early work. This one’s a prime example of how a master craftsman can successfully mix multiple genres and transcend them all to reach mainstream success. Is LIGHTNING a thriller? Sci-fi? A spy novel? Romance? It’s all of the above, and it’s wonderful.
  5. TELLING LIES FOR FUN & PROFIT, by Lawrence Block. The best “how to” book on writing fiction, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like a master magician pulling back the curtain, showing you all his secrets. I can’t recommend this one highly enough to anyone wanting to make a go at this writing game.

As for what I’m currently reading: THE FRIGHTENERS by Peter Laws (a nonfiction book about what it means to be a horror fan in “polite society” and why we dig this stuff, written by an ordained Baptist minister!) . . . an unpublished novel called DEVIL’S CREEK by Todd Keisling (this thing won’t stay unpublished for long, though, ‘cause it’s fantastic) . . . and I’m finishing up RECEPTION by Kenzie Jennings (think Bentley Little through a woman’s perspective, then ramp up the craziness tenfold – so much fun!).

Mark: Only five? Okay. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevksy. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. Ghost Story, by Peter Straub. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. I’m currently reading Pop. 1280, by Jim Thompson. Again. But Yorgos Lanthimos is making a movie out of it and I can’t wait to see what he does with it.

Is there another author’s character that you identify with? Or one you wish you could go on an adventure with? Be specific!

James:   The Losers’ Club, from IT. That was my gang, back in the day. From building dams in the “crick” (as we’d call it down South) for no reason, to awkward interactions with the opposite sex (I never thought girls were “gross”, but that didn’t mean I knew what to say to them without looking like a fool), to being pursued by bullies hefting armloads of rocks (in our case, instead of a labyrinth of sewers, we were chased onto the excavated cliffs near a local bowling alley, a place that still exists today less than a mile from where I sit) . . . I lived through it all and I wouldn’t change a thing, because those experiences made me who I am.

For the record, there was no ancient entity that took the shape of a child-eating clown in my story. Although that would have made things even more interesting.

Mark: The Three Investigators, by Robert Arthur (and lots of other authors). I started spending summers with them when I was in third grade. And for years, I wanted to actually be them. I even tried to start my own detective agency when I was nine. Didn’t work out, fortunately. And I discovered I could write about adventures and have even more fun than reading them.

If you were unable to be a writer, what would you like to do to make the world a better place?

James:   Although I rarely write nonfiction, nor am I a filmmaker, I think in an “alternate reality” I might be a documentarian. I imagine that would be a great outlet for creativity, while also making people think. As a fan of documentaries myself (I watch almost as many of these as I do horror movies), I’m especially impressed by those that can either inspire me to research a topic further, or can actually change my mind on that topic, destroying any preconceived notions I might have had from the beginning. I think if a filmmaker can pull that off, it’s a powerful thing.

Mark: I teach film classes in college when I’m not writing. So I am doing something to make the world a better place: teaching them how to make better movies.

How would you like the world to remember you?

James:   As a good father and husband who occasionally wrote twisted stuff that people were stoked to read, and who kept his readers consistently surprised at how different each story was from the one before it.

Mark: I hope people remember the work, not me. That’s what counts more as far as I’m concerned.

Check out Mark’s page here!  It has all his links (like IMDB and YouTube)  Follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook.  

Follow James on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and his sometimes updated website.

IN THE SCRAPE is available at Amazon.com

InTheScrape

IN THE SCRAPE  is a coming of age thriller/horror story about two brothers set in rural North Carolina.  The boys are picked on and dream of nothing more than getting out of of their bad situation.  Their father is abusive; at 9 and 13 years old they woefully ignorant and unprepared.  James and Mark work seamlessly together crafting a tale that’s believable, horrifying and gutwrenching.  Available from Silver Shamrock Press in paperback and kindle.

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An Interview with Erik T Johnson

Published December 1, 2018 by MommaCat

ErikTJohnson

Welcome to Cat After Dark, Erik It’s so nice to meet you. I’m glad that you were able to take time out of your schedule to let us get to know you a little bit better.

Are you a full time writer or do you hold down a regular job as well?

I used to work a full-time job and write at night/whenever I could. Last year, a few things happened that led to my decision to find part-time employment so that I could concentrate more time and focus on my writing. Currently I work just two days a week, which is awesome. Every other day it’s writing, writing, writing . . .

This move to part-time work was precipitated by two factors:

1) I got sick of the bullshit that is a requirement of working full-time—the toxic atmosphere of petty bosses; backstabbing; under-the-bus-throwing; the necessity to conform with cultural “norms” that restrict your ability to express your true personality; the hypocritical concepts like “transparency” and “breaking down silos” and so forth. Look, I’m 45, my life’s half over (if not more than that) and then I’m nothing (In my opinion). So I made a commitment to myself to be exactly who I am, 100% no bullshit for the remainder of my years. And I’m a writer, and I’m a rocker, and I say what I think and feel. I figure, if that gets me fired in the future, so be it. I’ll live on the street, whatever. Because writing—and music—are all I really care about.

2) My writing career began to pick up traction. YES TRESPASSING was very well received by critics and by a faction of readers who enjoy literary Speculative Fiction; I’ve been getting invited to and into more and more high-profile anthologies, doing successful public and private readings on a fairly regular basis, and have slowly but surely become more involved in professional writer’s associations, such as The Horror Writer’s Association (HWA), PEN America, and The Author’s Guild. Sitting on panels at, and attending conventions, has further helped to raise my profile.

I’ve also seen the quality and range of my writing improve in precise correlation with the amount of time I’ve had to dedicate to the (hard but rewarding) working. Most importantly, peers whom I respect have pointed this out to me, without any begging on my part, which is highly validating and encourages me to strive to become ever better.

Basically I feel pretty optimistic about where it’s all going.

What are you working on now? What does your publishing schedule look like for the future?

I have a bunch of exciting things going on.

The biggest, to me, is the formation of the FOU4, a “band” of four writers—Josh Malerman, J. Daniel Stone, John F.D. Taff, and yours ambiguously. With a fifth author (the superior Joe Schwartz), we put out I Can Taste the Blood a few years back, and it became an Amazon #1 bestseller. That book consisted of five novellas with the same title—I Can Taste the Blood.

We’ve become a four-piece—like most of the great rock n’ roll bands—and our current project, I Can Hear the Shadows, consists of one novella from each of us. I’m proud to say that we all agree that our four contributions here far excel the pieces in I Can Taste the Blood. We just finished wrapping up the manuscript, which includes a forward and afterword by Josh Malerman and an introduction by John F.D. Taff, as well as afterwords to each novella (written by the authors themselves) We’re currently shopping around for a publisher.

The plan is for the FOU4 to become a series-making outfit, to continue making “albums” together as long as people wanna read ‘em. We are a personally and professionally tight unit and to be honest, I’m psyched to see what we do next (On the not-so-Q-T: We’ve already that idea ready to go, and it’s going to be very different and awesome . . . )

Next up? I’m working on a novel based on my Private Investigator character Martin Box. YES TRESPASSING contains six Martin Box stories, and when the book was released, just about every review singled these stories out as being especially fun and awesome, one reviewer going so far as to say that they were worth the cost of the whole book—I was humbled and inspired to do more with Box. So the novel, which is coming along (about halfway through), has been a blast to write so far, and I’m planning to finish it in about six to seven months—then it’s pitch time! Oh, and it’s titled MARTIN BOX IS DEAD, and it involves a bunch of cases, including a job where he gets hired to kill God.

With editor and author supreme Michael Bailey (proprietor of Written Backwards press, who put out YES TRESPASSING), I’ve completed a dark fantasy/Young Adult novel that takes place in an alternate 19th Century, focusing on a skeleton boy named Sunday. The novel follows Sunday’s adventures on an off this fantastic location, and is intended to be the first in a trilogy.  We’ve worked out synopses for the next two books (and even the next SIX—because if it does well, we’re doing a series of seven volumes). We asked some of our most respected peers to read it and so far everyone’s loved it; now it’s—you guessed it—pitch time! Our hope is to find a publishing house for it in 2019.

In terms of the near future, I’ll be on hand at Dark Delicacies bookstore in LA on October 28th for the Launch of Birthing Monsters, a beautiful, unique anthology of writings on Shelley’s Frankenstein, being put out by delightfully brilliant Firbolg Publishing. I’ll be signing and reading along with a bunch of other contributors (whose presence there I will be honored to share). The introduction is by S.T. Joshi, and the Table of Contents include these talented and occasionally award-winning folks::

Darren Speegle

Michael Bailey

Marge Simon

B.E. Scully

Doctor Alex Scully

E.F. Schraeder

Robert Payne Cabeen

Jason V. Brock

Bruce Boston

Carina Bisset

Adam Bolivar

Scott Edelman

Eric Guignard

Thierry Jandrok

Brian Evenson

Lisa Morton

The other thing coming out, perhaps around the same time as Birthing Monsters, is Chiral Mad 4, edited by Lucy Snyder and Michael Bailey. I’ve had the great luck to’ve been included in every installment of Written Backwards’ groundbreaking Chiral Mad series to-date. Chiral Mad 4 is probably the most special:

The editors have chosen to make this an anthology of collaborations, and the competition was fierce, so I am super-proud about getting in here. My FOU4 brother J. Daniel Stone and I wrote the story “Ghost Drawl” together; the full Table of Contents (God I am lucky fucker; check out my fellow contributors!) are:

4 short stories:

“The Substance of Belief” – Elizabeth Massie & Marge Simon

“Home and Hope Both Sound a Little Bit Like ‘Hunger'” – Seanan McGuire & Jennifer Brozek

“Wolf at the Door” – Anthony R Cardno & Maurice Broaddus

“Ghost Drawl” – Erik T. Johnson & J Daniel Stone

4 novelettes:

“Golden Sun” – Richard Thomas, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters & Michael Wehunt

“Peregrination” – Chesya Burke & Lawana Holland-Moore

“Detritus Girl” – P. Gardner Goldsmith & Valerie Marcley

“Asperitas” – Kristopher Triana & Chad Stroup

4 novellas:

“How We Broke” – Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson

“The Long and the Short of It” – Erinn Kemper & F Paul Wilson

“The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward” – Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear

“In Her Flightless Wings, a Fire” – Emily Cataneo & Gwendolyn Kiste

4 graphic adaptations:

“Firedance” – Jack Ketchum & Glenn Chadbourne

“Fade to Null” – Brian Keene & Daniele Serra

“The Ghost of the Bayou Piténn” – James Chambers, Jason Whitley & Christopher Mills

“Sudden Sanctuary” – Glen Krisch & Orion Zangara

Check out the Written Backwards website for more details, or for direct links to purchase any of these titles.

. . . And I’ll have more announcements soon (very cool stuff that I can’t talk about yet)!

What are some of the things you enjoy doing when you’re not working? And how would you spend your time if there were no restrictions in place – either time or moneywise?

This is pretty much all I do: Write, read, draw, listen to music, play music, record music, and play in an Iggy Pop/Stooges cover band, METALLIC K.O. (We’ve only rehearsed 3x, but what rehearsals—hope to be gigging by fall of 2018). In the latter I just do Iggy, which is a fucking blast and we will take no prisoners. When that gets going I’ll be adding a section to my website, eriktjohnson.net, dedicated to that project.

If you had a superhero power, what would it be and what would you do first?

Cliché as it sounds, I think invisibility is a no-brainer. As a writer, I am naturally inclined towards seeing the forbidden (going so far as to watch myself for salacious neural events). I’m that guy who has to go as far as possible and then some, push the envelope so hard nobody can find it, striving (if failing) to write the most beautiful, filthy, outrageous, thoughtful, compassionate, humorous, satirical, scary, poignant, terrifying shit that I can. Fuck the stars; I believe in shooting for the harder targets of dark matter. I am the posterchild for going down in flames. I’d rather fail attempting to accomplish the impossible than safely produce work that takes no risks.

Where was I? Oh yeah, invisibility . . .

If you could spend the evening chatting with any one person from history, who would you choose and why? Language is not a problem.

Nikolai Tesla. Because, I mean, NIKOLAI TESLA!

You’re a guy who clearly loves words, I didn’t realize just how much until I read YES TRESPASSING, how do you think your fascination with language came to be?

I wrote my first “book” when I was five. It was called “My Life as a Convict” and ended with me getting my head cut off as punishment for murder. I’ve always been enraptured by words. I grew up in a family that held a lot of esoteric/occult beliefs, so I had things like The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Finnish Kalevala, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and tons of other mythic literature on hand. These ancient books contain poetry in every line and to this day I am an ardent reader of ancient texts; I find the alien word constructions and conceptions intoxicating.

From the Book of the Dead:

I am the great Benu-bird which is in Heliopolis, the supervisor of What Exists . . .

As for What Exists, that means his injury. It means Eternity and Everlasting.

As for Eternity, it means daytime; as for Everlasting, it means night.”

How gorgeous and mysterious is that?!

One more . . .

The Kalevala:

He pushed stones straight into their mouths,

stacked rocks on the flat side for the best singers,

for those most proficient in song.

Thus he sang such men—one hither, on thither—off to treeless clearings,

fallow fields, to fishless ponds quite without perch,

sang them under the current into foam,

into rocks in the middle of the rapids,

to burn like fire, to flash like sparks . . . “

I also love poetry and feel more fiction writers should read it. The great poets like Rilke and Wislawa Szymborska, Lautréamont, Fernando Pessoa, and Anne Carson (to name a few) are such masters of language—magicians, really. I aspire to that in my prose. Why not write the most wonderful sentences you can?

More modern fascinations with language came through my discoveries of such authors as Mervyn Peake, Herman Melville, Clarice Lispector, Italo Calvino, Borges, Lord Dunsany, Georges Bataille, and William Burroughs, among many, many other Masters of the Word.

What are your three favorite books? And what are you reading now?

Three is a toughie. But these are close:

1. Moby Dick (Melville)

2. The Gormenghast Trilogy (Mervyn Peake)

3. The Maimed (Hermann Ungar)

If you could choose one time and place in history to visit for a day, where would it be and what would you do?

I would go to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969 and see The Stooges, Alice Cooper, the MC5, and The Flamin’ Groovies play on the same bill (Golden-Age Detroit rock is my favorite genre, though I love everything from Mahler to Leonard Cohen and Slayer).

What makes you laugh?

Almost everything.

How would you like the world to remember you?

I’m more interested in how I’ll remember the world. Particularly in the interesting situation wherein such a recollection could be possible—and complete. I know when I’m dead I’m not gonna care what they think since there’ll be no “I.”

Erik T. Johnson has appeared in numerous periodicals and award-winning anthologies, including the #1 Amazon bestseller, I Can Taste the Blood (alongside bestselling author Josh Malerman and John F.D. Taff). Erik’s short fiction collection, Yes Trespassing, was called “electric” by Malerman; THIS IS HORROR UK wrote: “One of the best, most beautifully written collections of this or any other year. Erik T. Johnson is writing at a level that all authors, new and veteran alike, should aspire to. Because what Johnson has achieved with Yes Trespassing is nothing less than absolute greatness.”

I have read much of Erik’s work prior to reading YES TRESPASSING, and enjoyed it all.  Frankly, YES TRESPASSING blew me away.  I was thrilled to learn that he has more planned for PI Martin Box and hope that all of you will purchase and read this stunning and eclectic collection.

 


 

An Interview with Alan Baxter

Published November 1, 2018 by MommaCat

AlanBaxter

 

Welcome to Cat After Dark, Alan! It’s so nice to meet you. I’m glad that you were able to take time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.

It’s a pleasure, thanks for having me.

When did you start telling stories? When did you seriously consider trying to make your living at writing?

I’ve always told stories, since I was little. As long as I can remember I made up imaginary worlds and inhabited them. I told a lot of lies as a kid, but it was really just me testing out the idea of stories! I decided to take writing seriously in my late 20s. I wish I’d started sooner, to be honest, but I had a big shake up in my life at about 27 or 28 and one of the things that came out of that was the decision to take writing seriously and actively pursue publication.

Who are some of the authors that influenced your writing? After reading the incredible MANIFEST RECALL, I’m guessing Tom Piccirilli would be one of them.

That’s a huge compliment that MANIFEST RECALL makes you think of Tom Piccirilli! I absolutely love his work and it’s tragic he died so young. To be compared to him is an honour and he’s definitely an influence. Probably the biggest influence on me is Clive Barker. Otherwise, there are so many people I could cite. Off the top of my head there’s Stephen King, Ursula K Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Shirley Jackson, H P Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack Ketchum, William Gibson, Roald Dahl, China Mieville… I could go on and on!

roald dahl

What are you working on now? What does your publishing schedule look like for the future?

Well, right now I’m between projects and in the planning stages for a couple of things. I’m toying with ideas for a follow-up to MANIFEST RECALL. It seems people are keen for more Eli Carver! I’m also slowly getting together an outline for a new dark fantasy trilogy. In the meantime, I’ve got a new novel coming out in November from Grey Matter Press (same publisher as MANIFEST RECALL). That novel is called DEVOURING DARK and it’s a kind of London crime meets supernatural vigilante horror mashup. It’s a bit of a Lock, Stock, and Two Supernatural Assassins. I’m quite excited for that release. And I’ve just sent a new finished manuscript to my agent, which is a kind of supernatural thriller, a bit like Stephen King meets Jack Ketchum. So I’m staying pretty busy!

ManifestRecall

What are some of the things you enjoy doing when you’re not working? And how would you spend your time if there were no restrictions in place – either time or moneywise.

Well, I’m a career martial artist and as well as writing; I run a kung fu academy. I love that work as well, and it takes up a lot of my time when I’m not writing. Otherwise, travelling with my family is my real joy. If I didn’t have the kung fu school to run, and money was no object, I’d take my family around the world as many times as we could manage. I can write anywhere, after all.

If you could spend the evening having drinks with any one person from history, who would you choose and why?

Man, that’s a tough one… Does it have to be someone dead? Because, I’d honestly love to sit and chat with Clive Barker!

clive

What are your three favorite books? And what are you reading now?

Aarrgghh! I can’t answer that! I think Clive Barker’s THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOW might be my all-time favourite novel. But I don’t think I can pick just three favourites. I love so many books for so many reasons. One perennial favourite is CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and we’re reading that with our 4 year old son at the moment. I’m getting so much joy from watching him enjoy it as much as I always have. Right now I’m reading GODBLIND by Anna Stephens, which is a dark, grim epic fantasy novel and so far it’s outstanding.

If you could trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and what would you do?

Elon Musk. And I’d give away the vast majority of his fortune to a bunch of charities that really need it.

If you could choose one time and place in history to visit for a day, where would it be and what would you do?

I’d love to live a day in ancient Egypt. It would be a fascinating insight into so much that’s completely alien to my own lived experience. I’d just immerse myself in the culture and try to see and hear as much as possible. It would be good, of course, if I could at least understand the language for this day.

egypt

What book do you wish you had written? Think fame not fortune.

I don’t. Only I can write the books I write and other people can write the books they write. I don’t want to have written any other books. But I sure would like to get as well-read as someone like Stephen King or J K Rowling or George R R Martin, but for the books I write!

How would you like the world to remember you?

Hopefully as someone who was kind and generous and fun, and who left behind a bunch of really great books that can be enjoyed for years to come.

 

I was lucky enough to read the aforementioned DEVOURING DARK this past summer and what a fantastic novel it was!  Alan already described it as a mash-up, and yes, a beautiful mash-up it was – of thriller, fantasy, horror and crime.  There is something for everyone in this deeply dark depiction of death.  And yet like everything there are two sides, so it’s not as heavy as I make it out to be.  It’s a very satisfying read that I hope you will pick up along with MANIFEST RECALL (read my review for MANIFEST RECALL on the Randon Reviews page) both from Grey Matter Press.

devouring dark

 

AlanBaxterbooks

An Interview with John F.D. Taff

Published August 1, 2018 by MommaCat

JohnFDTaff

 

Welcome to Cat After Dark The King of Pain! It’s a thrill to have you here, John, I’ve enjoyed reading your stories for quite some time. I guess the obvious place to start is with your nickname. How did you come to be called “The King of Pain”?

Thanks for having me! And thanks for enjoying my stories.

Yes, my “King of Pain” nickname. When Tony Rivera at Grey Matter Press first read my novella collection The End in All Beginnings, he thought of how he could market it and me. What was it that was the thread that kind of drew all the stories together? What he settled on was the emotional resonance that much of my work has. In other words, Pain. So…King of Pain. I think that when it first got out there, we were both a little embarrassed about it. But it seems to have articulated something that many readers have felt about my work, too. And so we’ve both come to embrace it. Grey Matter is publishing a new collection of short stories from me later this summer entitled Little Black Spots, a reference to a line in The Police song “King of Pain.” If that doesn’t say I’ve embraced the nickname, nothing will.

What are you working on now? What does your publishing schedule look like for the future?

I’m actually pretty busy right now. I’ve got that collection, Little Black Spots, coming out this summer. It’s composed of 50% previously published work and 50% brand, spankin’ new stories. I should be able to make an announcement soon regarding my big, sprawling end-of-the-world novel The Fearing. Me and my four blood brothers—Joe Schwartz, Erik T. Johnson, J. Daniel Stone and Josh Malerman—are working on stories for a follow up to our collection I Can Taste the Blood, this one called I Can Hear the Shadows. I’ve got another big iron in the fire with a group of other authors, for a project that should be announced soon. Then, I’m working with Brian Kirk on a project and with Josh Malerman on at least two other things. I’m hoping to have my next novel, He Left, done this summer. Whew. That’s just for this year and next.

What are some of the things you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I like to read, though that’s getting harder and harder to do, at least for pleasure. Other than that, I love movies, cooking, hanging out with my wife and pugs. We also have a fairly large garden, and I like to tinker around with that. I collect an inordinate number of things, mostly Hot Toys Marvel figures and Star Trek ships. Yes, I’m a geek.

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My Sadie!

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When did you first start telling stories? Do you remember your first story?

I’ve always, and I mean always had a love for reading, and that led to me trying my hand at writing from a fairly early age, if just to entertain myself. I don’t remember my first story, but when I was young I was really into Marvel Comics and Sherlock Holmes and Ellery Queen short mystery stories. I tried my hand at writing and illustrating comic books, and I remember writing little horror/detective story pastiches. I seem to remember writing some story when was probably 12 or 13 that involved a space shuttle disaster—kind of weirdly prescient—though I don’t remember much about it and don’t have a copy of it anymore.

If you could spend the evening having drinks with any one person from history, who would you choose and why? Language is not a problem.

Hmmm…I’ll answer that in two ways. First, who would be fascinating to have a few drinks with? Poe. Wouldn’t that be an evening? I think he’d be all kinds of crazy interesting. Who would be fascinating in a more uplifting sense? Lincoln. Though he probably wouldn’t drink, and I’d be too frankly amazed to drink.

What are your three favorite books? And what are you reading now?

My three favorite books of all time? Sheesh. I’ll give you three, in no particular order. First, The Throat by Peter Straub, my all-time favorite writer and one of my (if not the) favorite novels. The Second would be The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson, which is actually a 10-book series, and as such is a cheaty way of answering your question. The third (or more precisely the 12th) would be Night Shift by Stephen King. That was my introduction to King and his mastery of the short story and as such occupies a special place in my reading heart.

Right now, I am reading Priya Sharma’s lovely All the Fabulous Beasts, a collection of her beautiful short stories, and Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman. I love Malerman’s work. His collection Goblin was one of the absolute best books I’ve read recently, and this new one and its weird western vibe has really hooked me. I just finished Brian Kirk’s upcoming book Will Haunt You, which is a stunner, and Erik T. Johnson’s brilliant dark fantasy Sunday, which he wrote with Michael Bailey. Look for these two books soon.

If you could switch bodies with one person for one day, who would it be? What would you do?

Oh lord, probably someone younger and thinner. And I hesitate to share what I’d do, other than eat and make myself fat all over again.

When you write, do you usually listen to music? If so, what type? Does it affect your storyline?

Yes, I generally have music going when I write, to help me set the mood. But I can’t listen to music with lyrics, as it makes it difficult for me to write. So a lot of classical music and soundtracks. But music plays a huge role in my writing, showing up in my stories and helping to define characters. I also love musicians who are great lyricists, as I look to song lyrics to help me with titles.

What were your favorite books growing up?

I loved anything Sherlock Holmes. Books on ghosts and UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti and Bigfoot aWnd other paranormal stuff played a major role in my reading list. I also loved books like the D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths and Book of Norse Myths. Science fiction (Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein) and fantasy (Tolkien, Donaldson,Vance, Silverberg, Zelazny) also played a huge part in my reading as a teenager. When I finally got into horror, it was Poe, King, Straub, Rice, Garton, Ketchum, Barker. They were the biggies.

How would you like the world to remember you?

If I’m remembered at all, I’d like to be remembered as a writer that people liked to read. And, of course, a helluva nice guy.

lbs

Well, since doing this interview last spring LITTLE BLACK SPOTS was delayed.   So, I still haven’t read it as it’s still going through the editing process and has a publishing date of September 11, 2018.   Keep watching the Random Reviews page since I’ll update that as soon as I finish what is sure to be an awesome read.  

Be sure to follow John on Twitter.  Keep up with his incredibly prolific writing schedule. His webpage is worth checking out – don’t forget to bookmark it!  And as you can see from beautiful Sadie’s picture above, he is also on Instagram.  One of these days I will figure out how to maneuver my way around there…

 

 

An Interview with Glenn Rolfe

Published April 1, 2017 by MommaCat

glenn-rolfe-author-photo

Please tell us about your upcoming books and their production schedule.

I’m currently talking about my re-released pieces. My first novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS, the story of an evil-as-all-hell spirit that takes up residence at a small Maine inn and wreaks all sorts of havoc, has a new eBook edition from Matt Shaw Publications and a new, beautiful print edition from Shadow Work Publishing. Two of my Samhain Publishing novellas just came back out in new editions from Crossroad Press, too. ABRAM’S BRIDGE is a small town mystery/ghost story. Has more of a Ketchum vibe with real life horror at home. THINGS WE FEAR is probably my most ambitious novella in regards to how many issues I tried to tackle within its pages. Each character has their own fight with fear, and of course, it all comes together like one immense car crash. Those are available now.

My next new release will be my novel, BECOMING. I’m aiming to get it out for April 1st. 

This one is about a town where people are vanishing or changing. The stranger things get, the more trouble my three main characters realize they are truly in. Inspired by a mix of James A. Moore’s RABID GROWTH and King’s THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, I’m excited for people to read this one.

Who are the authors that have influenced your writing the most?

For me, King, of course, and Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Bentley Little, and more recently Ronald Malfi and Brian Moreland.

I love the way King and Ketchum work horror into reality. That’s what makes them so huge. Little is just nuts and fun, Laymon had a way of bringing this insanity and viciousness into a pulpy, movie-like realm and keeping you at the edge of your seat. He got a bit ridiculous at times, but like the other, he was fearless in his writing.

Malfi and Moreland are the two authors I look at as my modern gold standard. To me, they’re head and shoulders above the rest right now. They should be publishing with the majors. They are my next King and Ketchum. Their writing is beautiful and characters and stories are fresh and inspiring.

Who would you like to have drinks with?

Well, I had a drink in my hand and a good buzz when talking to Jack Ketchum at a Samhain after-party…does that count?

That was cool. I’d love to have a beer and take in a Red Sox game with King. Can we get that arranged?

If you could live in (or just visit) any world, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

Man, I’d love to visit Australia. It seems so cool. I mean, besides all their freaky, poisonous critters. I’d consider moving to the west coast of the US, too. New Mexico, Arizona, or maybe Oregon or Northern California.

Most authors have held many many jobs on their way to becoming successful. What are some of the jobs you have had?

Too many. I loved delivering newspapers in the middle of the night. Did that for a long time for extra money. I’d listen to Coast to Coast AM and get all freaked out. Also worked at movie theaters a few times. Free movies is always a great benefit. My current hotel job allows for a lot of reading time during the day and writing time on my overnights.

If you were able to trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and why?

Axl Rose. I’d love to get up there with that voice and those songs, with Slash and Duff and just go for it.

AxlRose

What are you reading now?

I just started Stephen King’s IT and Michael McDowell’s THE ELEMENTALS. I’ve never read either of them. I’m already in reading heaven.

I’m also going to squeeze in Kristopher Rufty’s new one, SOMETHING VIOLENT.

Do you have any guilty pleasure books/authors? You know the ones…stuff you don’t let your friends see you reading.

Not really. I don’t care what people think. I can admit to enjoying Dan Brown, can’t I?

THE DAVINCI CODE is amazing. I don’t think “page turner” has ever been more appropriate.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing or reading?

Hang with my wife and kids and listen to tunes or watch movies.

What five people living or dead would you invite to a dinner party?

Stephen King, Bruce Springsteen, Noel Gallagher, Quentin Tarantino, Steve Irwin.

How do you want the world to remember you?

However they want, just remember me! I hope to leave a few great books behind.

He’s off to a great start!  This is one author you won’t soon forget.

Follow him on Twitter 

Facebook

On the web 

I read Abram’s Bridge.  This was a ghost story that was every bit as poignant and heartwrenching as anything to come from the pen of Willie Meikle. Originally published by the now defunct Samhain, it is currently being published by Crossroads Press.  I believe it was Glenn’s debut novella.

It depicts the dark side of life in a small, rural town.  Secrets are handed down from generation to generation.  You’ll be glad you read this.

Buy ABRAM’S BRIDGE at Amazon.com

abrams bridge

An Interview with Stephen Leather

Published November 3, 2016 by MommaCat

stephenleather

Please tell us about your upcoming books and their production schedule.

I have a new book coming out in a few weeks – TAKEDOWN – which features two characters from my Spider Shepherd series. I have taken his former boss – Charlotte Button – and his friend – Lex Harper – and spun a standalone thriller around them, basically a home-grown jihadist plot. It might well end up being the first in a new series, we’ll see!

Writing-wise, I’m midway through a book provisionally titled THE GIRL WHO GOT BURNED about a female firefighter who is badly injured in a fire and is reassigned as an arson investigator. Years ago I wrote two episodes of a TV show about firemen called London’s Burning but a lot has changed since then so I’m doing a lot of research. I’ve visited a fire station and hope to be taken into a training fire soon. Once that’s done and dusted I’ll be starting work on the new Spider Shepherd novel, which will be titled LIGHT TOUCH. It’s got several plotlines including an undercover cop who has gone bad and an evil jihadist who is being protected by MI5.

 

Who are the authors that have influenced your writing the most?

I’ve always been a huge fan of John Le Carre, Jack Higgins, and Gerald Seymour. I read most of their books before I started writing my own thrillers. I also loved the black magic books of Dennis Wheatley and it was those that led me to writing my Jack Nightingale supernatural detective series. I’m also a huge fan of self-published authors Joe Konrath and Mark Dawson, who offer lots of advice on publishing your own work. I’m one of Amazon’s Top 10 UK self-publishers and I’ve learned a lot from Joe and Mark.

 

If you had the ability to bring one author back from the dead to write one more book, who would it be and why?

I love the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams and he died way too young. I’d bring him back to write one more book. Everything he has ever written has had me in fits of laughter.

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If you could live in (or just visit) any world, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

I’d happily visit any world where I can fly. I already have a pilot’s licence but that’s not the same, I want to really fly. I do have vivid dreams where I actually can fly and it’s always a big disappointment when I wake up.

 

If you were able to trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and why?

I always wished I could sing or play a music instrument but I’m not musical at all. I’d like to be Kenny G for the day, just so I could play the saxophone.

sax

 

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

On my desk next to me are RED WATCH by Gordon Honeycombe, about a hotel fire not far from where I live in Maida Vale, London, SOLDIER SPY by Tom Marcus, an MI5 officer’s autobiography, and NOMAD by Alan Partridge alias Steve Coogan. I’m reading that for fun.

 

Do you have any guilty pleasure books/authors? You know the ones…stuff you don’t let your friends see you reading.

I reread my old Enid Blyton books from time to time, especially the Adventure series (River of Adventure etc). I know that world never really existed but I always wish it did.

enid-blyton

 

If you were to give just one piece of advice aspiring writers, what would it be?

Write every day. Even if it’s just a few paragraphs, write something.

 

What five people living or dead would you invite to a dinner party?

I love the idea of a dinner party with dead people – I’m sure there’s a serial killer story in there somewhere! I think if I am bringing people back to life I’d go for the real villains of history, just to see if they were really evil or if they just got a bad press. I’d got for Genghis Kahn, Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao, and Tony Blair. (I know Tony Blair’s still alive, but I live in hope).

 

How do you want the world to remember you?

I don’t really care whether the world remembers me or not. So long as my family and friends remember me, that’s good enough for me. Hopefully they’ll remember the fun times we had.

 

When  I asked Stephen about Social Media he had the following to say (and I couldn’t agree more!)

I’ve stopped using Twitter. Often it’s a nasty place, and even though it’s often great fun and supportive, the nasty bits have spoiled it for me. I left at the same time as Stephen Fry – he went back, I didn’t. I love Facebook, it’s much more supportive and helpful and I enjoy interacting with fans there. My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/stephenleatherofficial/

I have a website at www.stephenleather.com and Jack Nightingale has his own website at www.jacknightingale.com

Stephen’s newest book PENALTIES came out October 31 wherever books are sold.  It’s a nail-biting thriller bringing together the British and Chinese underworld and the game game of football.- soccer to us Americans.
Gabe is a soccer star on his way to breaking a record for penalties scored. Ray is his brother that he hasn’t seen in years due to his choice of profession. Gabe is happily married with a wife and son. His life comes crashing down around him when the Chinese kidnap his wife and son. He is told to throw the game he is just about to play or his family will be killed. But will they be spared if they lose?

Buy it today at Amazon.com

penalties

An Interview with Kristopher Rufty

Published September 1, 2016 by MommaCat

KristRufty

Most authors have had many jobs to pay the bills in their quest to become successful. What are some of the the jobs that you have held?

Wow…so many. Let’s see—I washed dishes for a family-owned restaurant. That was my first job and to this day, I can’t stand washing dishes and need to wear gloves when I do it. I worked for a farm, sowing seed, picking crops. A lot of hard work. I was the cook in a gas station kitchen, and was told I was the best cook they’d ever had. Which I constantly bragged about. I also worked in a fabric store and was the only male on a staff of about fifteen women. Needless to say, I was a bit out of place, but I still enjoyed it. Worked in management at Circuit City for many years, and then worked in I.T. for a University/Hospital.

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

SOMETHING VIOLENT should be coming soon from DarkFuse. I believe the limited edition hardcover releases in December, with the eBook and paperback following three months later. I have three books coming from Thunderstorm this year, reprints of other titles, with one of them being the first ever print edition of A DARK AUTUMN. I’m VERY excited about that. Sinister Grin has a book of mine coming—hopefully—before the end of the year. 2016 has been…crazy to say the least, good and bad, so I’ve gotten very behind on my deadlines. I’m currently working on three books at once, not to mention three collaborations with other authors. I have a lot to finish. Next year will be very packed with Rufty releases.

Have you always been a storyteller? What is your earliest memory about telling a story?

That’s a good question. I suppose I’ve always been telling some kind of story. My earliest was probably after watching Friday the 13th for the first time. I was five years old, a young’un as my grandma called me. I drew pictures, gory crayon illustrations, of people being slaughtered. I remember laying them out in a row and explaining to my parents that it was about people in the woods getting killed. To this day, I am very surprised by how my parents handled that. Those violent kid drawings hung on the fridge for months. My dad kept them all his life and now I have them stored away. The first ever Rufty creation. Had my parents scolded me for it, I might have thought there was something wrong with trying to scare people. I’m glad they embraced my ideas, even though I know they had to be a little worried about me.

Have you ever devised a character and then written a plot around them?

I’ve tried to, but I don’t think I’ve ever been successful at it. I find that I work better without knowing too much about the character when I’m writing. I allow them to tell me who they are through the story. Whenever people used to tell me that was how they did it, I thought they were crazy. I used to spend a lot of time writing out who my characters were and why they might do this or that. It didn’t take me long to learn that I wasn’t programmed that way. I might have some ideas about what they do or where they live when I begin a story, but I never know how they will react, where they’ve come from, and what they might do next until I get there. Sometimes the characters really surprise me, other times they let me down. But they always keep me guessing.

What is your guilty pleasure book or movie? Is there a snack to go with it?

There’s always a snack when it comes to me, or at least a glass of strawberry milk. Guilty pleasure? I don’t know. I really don’t call many things ‘guilty pleasures’ and just kind of freely admit I adore them. I love cartoons and spend a lot of time watching them. Scooby-Doo is something I watch with a passion, always getting the new movies, investing my time in the new shows. I enjoy watching THE PIONEER WOMAN with my wife and, yes, I really like to watch DUCK DYNASTY. I’m a fanatic when it comes to wrestling and an open comic-book junkie. I read a lot of biographies from Cory Feldman’s to Dave Mustaine’s. I’m guilty when it comes to lots of things, I suppose.

Who are the authors that have influenced your writing the most?

Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Wrath James White, Bryan Smith, Ronald Malfi, Brian Keene, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, and so many movies and their filmmakers should be added to that list as well: John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, George Romero, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lloyd Kaufman, Roger Corman, and Trent Haaga…so many. I tend to take a little something from anything I enjoy, even areas that aren’t books, but that tell a great story.

If you were able to trade bodies with one person for one day who would it be and why?

Bodies? Hmmm…I don’t know if I’d want to trade bodies—well, maybe I’d take Ryan Reynolds’s body. But I think it would be neat to witness the creative process inside some other writers’ brains. Take Stephen King, for example. I’d love to experience how his mind works when a story is brewing. Same goes for Richard Laymon, when he was alive. Just to experience it all unfold into the words on the page would be absolutely amazing.

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

Just finished up Adam Cesare’s THE CON SEASON and loved it. I highly recommend it. The next three? I can tell you the next one, for sure. Hunter Shea’s THE JERSEY DEVIL. After that, who knows? I usually go back to my bookcases, sit on the floor and dig through books until one jumps out at me. I got a lot of books from some of my author buddies at Scares That Care III. David Bernstein’s THE SLUDGE keeps eyeballing me, so that may very well be the second book. And a third? I think I’ve ogled Pauline Dunn’s THE CRAWLING DARK on one of my bookshelves long enough and it might be time to finally read it. It’s the last Dunn book I haven’t read, so I’ve been trying to save it.

If you could be a character in a story (and know you could live through it) what book would you jump into and why?

Probably Laymon’s IN THE DARK. That book is packed with thrills and mystery as Jane receives these strange letters from somebody called MOG (Master of Games), and they lead her on some outrageous and terrifying adventures. It was so much fun experiencing that with her, trying to solve the clues and riddles. Knowing I would survive that ordeal would make me much more apt to give it a try.

What five people living or dead would you invite to a dinner party?

Richard Laymon, Stan Lee, Stephen King, John Carpenter, and Bruce Campbell.

How do you want the world to remember you?

Kindly. Just that I tried my best at everything I did. I’d want my kids to remember me as a father who loved them, no matter what, and that he worked hard, even when he failed. That he never gave up and that the impression he left on them would help them in their own adventures and with their own families. I’d hope my wife remembered me as somebody who never stopped loving her and was constantly devoted to her and our family. My friends? I hope they’d remember that I cherished every conversation we ever had and enjoyed our time together.

Look for Kristopher Rufty…you never know what you’ll find!

www.lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com

www.facebook.com/kristopherrufty

www.twitter.com/kristopherrufty

Thank you so much for an awesome interview!  I can’t wait to read SOMETHING VIOLENT.  I just know that’s going to be incredible since it’s being published by DarkFuse!  You’ve had quite the busy year, Krist; you sent me three books to read – I can’t say enough good things about them!  And a western?  A horror-western, of course, whoda thunk it?  But, keep reading.  Here they are!

DESOLATION is on Amazon.com

Desolation

DESOLATION is a revenge story.  That’s the short version. It will suck you in and you’ll think be rooting  for one person but with one a few twists Rufty has you going around re-thinking your position and wondering if maybe you were wrong.  And then he gives you a few more details…Wait! Just who are the bad guys here?  Long time time horror fans are going to love this!

Buy VAMPIRE today!

Vampire of Plainfield

THE VAMPIRE OF PLAINFIELD pitted Ed Gein against a vampire.  Don’t know who Ed Gein was?  Open a new window to Google; we’ll wait.

Back now?  Great!  Doesn’t that sound incredible?  It was!  Krist put together the pieces of a story that made so much sense I couldn’t believe it hadn’t hit the major newspapers and World News. This is an absolute must read.

SEVEN BURIED HILL

seven buried hill

Whoever said you can’t choose a book by it’s cover was wrong.  Dead wrong!  Now I’ve never been one for westerns, not the Zane Grey type of westerns at any rate.  I might have been with a Rufty cover, though.  And this book carries Krist’s distinctive voice.  You know that you’re reading one of his books as soon as you realize that this could happen.  The monsters are real.  Don’t let the fact that this is a western scare you. Or maybe you should.  Bwahahaha!

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