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An Interview with Frank Cavallo

Published June 11, 2017 by MommaCat

FrankCavallo

 

Welcome to Cat After Dark, Frank! 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.

Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here!

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

In my non-writing life I’m a lawyer. I’ve been at that for about 16 years now, all on the defense side. Initially I worked in juvenile court and then for the last ten-plus years I’ve been trying cases exclusively in felony court, what we call the Court of Common Pleas here in Ohio. Recently I started handling an appellate case load. That’s mostly brief-writing, so I’m still writing even in my non-writing time.

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

I usually balk at answering this question. The only time I ever discussed an active, unfinished project in an interview it later fell apart.

However, in this case I am legitimately between books, so I really don’t have anything to reveal–or to worry about jinxing. I’ve got three or four ideas sitting on my desk, in various stages of outlining. Some are just sketches. Eventually one of them will pick up steam and I’ll run with it.

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 dollar-wise?

I love to travel, that’s probably my one great passion after writing. At last count I’ve visited just over 40 countries, and I’m always trying to add to the list. 

If I had as much money and time as I wanted, that’s all I’d do. I would write for a few months non-stop, then take a month or two off to fly to some far-flung spot, backpack around, sample odd food, tour ancient ruins, look at exotic wildlife, etc.

countries

Pick a country…any country..,

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

I do! I was in the third grade. It was Halloween and I wrote a monster story for class, I believe it was a Dracula story (but it might have been a werewolf story, I’m not sure which one I did first, but I know I did versions of both). Anyway, the other kids passed it around and seemed to like it, so I wrote a few more. I’ve been doing it ever since. 

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.

I’m not believer in any particular religion, so none of the standard answers of Jesus, Buddha, etc. have much appeal to me. Second, my tangential relationship to government in my work-life leads me to believe that most political figures, however great their achievements or bold their leadership, are essentially cut from the same cloth. Most are willing to lie or cheat to get to those positions, and probably have to be that way in order to succeed. So I’m not interested in meeting any of them, even the great ones.

That leaves artists, thinkers, philosophers, maybe military types. Not much interest in the latter bunch, but I do think Leonardo, Shakespeare or Einstein would be on the list. However, if I had to pick one and only one, I’m leaning in a different direction. What I’d probably do is pick a fairly random, otherwise-anonymous person and find out everything I could about him or her.

I’ll give you my reasons, briefly. A few years ago I was at the Topkapi palace museum in Istanbul. There’s a section there with grave markers from the Roman era, going all the way back to the days of the East/West split of the Empire. The engravings are haunting, not because they’re unusual, but because they’re so mundane. They’re just like what we write now, two-thousand years later. People missed their parents. They mourned their spouses or their children who died too young, etc. Except for these markers, these people are completely unknown, unremembered and lost forever.

There are literally billions of people who have lived and died over the ages and we know virtually nothing about them. Not only are their names lost, but everything about them: what they cared about, who they loved, what they dreamt about, what they thought the world they were giving to their children would look like. I want to sit down with one of them. I want to find out all of those things from someone that history has forgotten.

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Would you go on Dancing with the Stars if given the opportunity?

No, never. Absolutely not. I don’t care what they pay. There isn’t enough money in the world to get me to do that. I hate dancing.

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

Seriously tough question!

1) Robert E. Howard’s “Conan the Conqueror” (originally titled “The Hour of the Dragon”) is the first book I really fell in love with. I bought it as a used paperback for five cents at my local library sometime in middle school and read it repeatedly until it nearly fell apart.

2) Frank Herbert’s “Dune” I read one summer in high school, and it opened my eyes to what SciFi can be. It was huge and epic and tackled real, heavy issues. It showed me that speculative fiction could be so much more than spaceships and laser fights.

Dune

3) Super close call on #3 but I’m going to go with Clive Barker’s “The Hellbound Heart.” It’s the first book I read as an adult that just knocked me over and made me say “wow, I wish I could do that.”(Honorable mention here goes to Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere.” These two books are so close that if you asked me on another day, in a different mood, I might very well have reversed the order.

Right now I’m reading Mary Beard’s “SPQR” which is a study of the early days of the Roman Republic, the centuries before Caesar that set the stage for what Rome eventually became. I switch off between fiction and non-fiction, and try to read a little of both.

Beard

You just invented a magic portal. Anyone who passed though the portal would be ‘unexisted’. So they would not be missed and life would work itself out. You can send three people through the portal. Who will you send? Why?

That’s another tough one. It’s uncomfortably close to “who would you kill if you could get away with it?” Given my job, I’d be loath to wade into those waters. If I want to be consistent that I am against the use of the death penalty for anyone, no matter the offense, then I can’t in good conscience say that I think I possess the wisdom to use it “properly” if it were left up to my judgment. So I’ll have to abstain on this one.

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

If we’re talking about the entire history of the Earth, then I’d probably visit one day before the Chicxulub impact about 65 million years ago. Take in the last day of the dinosaurs.

What would your death row meal consist of?

A large “Number 8” with everything from Nick’s Pizzeria in Bergenfield, New Jersey. It’s the best sandwich I’ve ever had, anywhere. I’ve literally dreamed about this hero before trips back home to visit. Ham, Genoa salami, capicola, prosciuttini, provolone, lettuce, tomato and onion with oil and vinegar on fresh-baked Italian bread. It is as close to a perfect sandwich as mankind will ever get.

NicksSandwich

How would you like the world to remember you?

I read an obituary recently in which they said the deceased had been “generous and kind to small children and animals.” I can’t imagine being remembered any better than that.

Amazon author page

CavalloBooks
Frank’s website

Twitter

Facebook 

Are you looking for something a little different to read?  Frank’s newest book, published just this past December is probably just what you’re craving. RITES OF AZATHOTH is a well thought out, super descriptive FBI thriller by way of Lovecraftian science fiction epic. Wow! It was a good storyline and if it seemed a little long in the beginning, I got over that once the story got started and I was invested in the plot, I read straight through to the end in with just one sleep break.

Available at Amazon.com

 

RitesofAzathoth

Thank you for an excellent interview, Frank.  You sound like a fascinating person for whom one interview is not nearly enough!  Thanks so much!

 

An Interview with Stuart R. West

Published April 30, 2017 by MommaCat

stuartwest

 

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

Hey, MommaCat, thanks for letting me yak away on your blog. Demon with a Comb-Over has just been released (it’d been out earlier, but the publisher went under) with a new prequel along for the ride. It’s a (pseudo-autobiographical) tale about a crappy stand-up comedian (that part is true; well, I at least bombed on open-mic night) who ticks off a demon with a comb-over (that part’s not so true).

Dread and Breakfast was released last month. It’s a terrifying (oddly amusing) tale about a bunch of people stranded at the world’s worst bed & breakfast during a Midwest winter storm. It plays heavily on my fear of guys named “Kevin” who constantly shove muffins at you at such places. And it proves the old axiom: fear antiquing.

I’m wrapping up a horror short story collection, starting a new thriller called “Chili Run,” and will soon dig into my third Zak and Zora mystery (the series about a vapid male stripper and his very put upon, no-nonsense detective sister).

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

Depends on what day you ask me, MommaCat. Hmm. Dick and Jane books. Elmore Leonard. Dr. Seuss. Chuck Dickens. Stephen King. Donald Westlake. John Farris.

Who would you like to have drinks with?

The above-mentioned writers would be a hoot-and-a-half to tie one on with at a round table drinkathon.

Maybe Trump. So I could get him liquored up, ruffle his awful hair and say, “Okay, Don…what’s REALLY going on? You’re joking, right?”

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

I’d say Willy Wonka’s factory. But now we’re being lead by an orange Oompa-Loompa, so that’s not fantastical enough. I definitely want to avoid Katniss’s world. My life expectancy kinda’ plummets there. Perhaps I’d like to live in Stars Hollow. Yeah. Everything there is cute and whimsical.

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

I did have a devastating, very short run as a stand-up comedian. But I euthanized that deal and everyone owes me a huge thanks for it.

For several years, I worked at a public relations firm where my duties included driving Whizzo the clown around town while he chain-smoked and hawked loogies out the window (he couldn’t drive because of his huge clown feet). I also got to see Dr. Joyce Brothers in her underwear (public relations is a dangerous and ugly job at times).

Joyce Brothers

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

Again, I’ve gotta’ pull the Trump card. I’d call a press conference, say “Just kidding” and grab the nearest person to me and declare him/her president.

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

Sorry, MommaCat, I never plan ahead. On anything. Writing or reading.

If you won a billion dollar Powerball all by yourself, what would you do after the check cleared? Would you say screw the bills and buy a solid gold kazoo? Or something else?

First, I’d buy a new house with certain requirements: swimming pool, Jacuzzi tub and theatre room. Then I’d toss some to charity and all that crap.

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

I love to watch terrible movies from the ‘60’s through the ‘80’s. The golden age of awful.

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

Easy! Andy Kaufman, Adolf Hitler, Salvadore Dali, Charlie Sheen and Phyllis Diller.

How do you want the world to remember you?

With clean underwear please.

Boxers-vs-Briefs-title

 

STUARTDARKFICTION(1)

Demon with a Comb-OvRer (featuring The Book of Kobal) available in Kindle format and paperback.

Dread and Breakfast: Kindle and paperback.

Stuart R. West Blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley

Amazon author page Facebook Twitter

I read DEMON WITH A COMBOVER way back in the wayback when it was published by Samhain.  You can find my review by clicking on the Random Reviews link on the right hand side of the page.  I probably should have asked Stuart for an interview then, but, nooo.  I had to wait for them to go out of business! All of his books are well written, and combine horror and humor.  That’s really hard to do.  But, when it works what you get is a fun read. Sometimes we want gore and scares, but sometimes it’s good to sit back and relax a laugh a little.  Stuart is a sure thing if that’s what you’re looking for.  Check out his books and see what you think.

An Interview with David Whitman

Published March 1, 2017 by MommaCat

david-whitman

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

I have two upcoming books. The first is a short novel entitled The Witch, the Murderer, and the Devil in Black. Martin Kent can channel the souls of the dead into animals. He roams about his small town with his dead wife, who is in the body of a deer. When a tragic experiment causes the death of every animal in town, Martin embarks on an angry quest to get his wife’s damned soul back from God. He enlists the aid of an elderly woman, who can speak to the dead, and a murderer. It is set in the Victorian era. This novel is finished and I am currently waiting word on finding a home for it.

The second is a follow-up to my critically acclaimed novella Deadfellas. It is entitled Deadfellas 2: One Step Beyond. It is a surrealistic dark comedy that mixes The Wizard of Oz with Hitmen and zombies. I have been working on this for about a decade. It’s nearly complete, and so far I am very proud of what it has become. It is certainly not just a repeat of the first and it is quite epic in its scope and weirdness. The first Deadfellas can be found on Amazon Kindle and Apple Itunes.

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

Two authors that have influenced me the most are Philip K. Dick and Joe R. Lansdale. As a teenager, I read and re-read PKD’s work obsessively, even collecting obscure works from the 1950’s and 60’s. I think PKD is an absolute genius–a writer can get an idea for a whole novel in just one of his paragraphs. It is a joy to see that the world has embraced his work and that he is no longer just a cult writer.

I read Joe Lansdale’s work in my early twenties and his words just went through me like lightning. He rewired my brain and showed me that there were no rules as far as the imagination goes. The first work I found by him was his collection BY BIZARRE HANDS–it was like explosives went off in my mind.

pkdick

Would you talk about how you and Weston Ochse came to collaborate on SCARY REDNECKS AND OTHER INBRED HORRORS (and APPALACHIAN GALAPAGOS).

Weston and I met through an email message forum around 1998 and found that we both had similar influences. We were both young and eager and soon collaborated on a few short stories. We sent those stories to a publisher and immediately they wanted more. Scary Rednecks was born. Weston has gone on to win the Bram Stoker award and has become one of the most prolific writers in the business. I am very proud of him and so happy for any success he achieves. I still feel our novella “Up Shits Creek with a Case of Beer and No Fucking Paddles” (from APPALACHIAN GALAPAGOS) is one of the best creative projects I have ever been part of. I have faith that it will one day be made into an excellent film.

westono

I loved Harlan. That was a very different tale from REDNECKS. What brought that story to life?

I was heavily influenced by John Hughes films, such as The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Also, a film called Pump up the Volume was very influential. I wanted to create a story that had the elements of those films, but also took a darker and more adult bent. I found the writing of that novel to be more emotionally draining than I had expected and I think it shows in the finished product. I am very proud of HARLAN.

Do you have any plans to turn one of your short stories into a novel or novella?

There are a bunch of short stories that speak to me and seem to want to be revisited. I very rarely write a short story with a solid sense of closure. I believe that style makes the reader ask questions and want more. My latest novel (mentioned above) was born from a short story. I also want to start writing screenplays and there are so many of my stories that seem to have potential to be bigger. I have a short story in my collection DELIGHTFUL AGONY entitled “Some of Us are Looking at the Stars”. It is a sort of science-fiction retelling of APOCALYPSE NOW. I think that it would be perfect for a longer tale.

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

I would probably choose someone with a lot of security clearances–a world leader or perhaps someone in the Pentagon. I am a huge conspiracy and UFO enthusiast. I would immediately seek access to the Roswell files.

roswell

FYI – They’ve been declassified recently. Whether everything is out or not remains to be seen.  MC

What are you reading now?

I am reading George Martin’s GAME OF THRONES. I also recently read some John D. Macdonald. I have been taking my time with the Travis McGee novels for a long time now–reading one every few years. It is like revisiting a long time friend.

gofthronestravism

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

I am a huge Star Trek fan. I will occasionally read a Trek novel because I can finish one in about five hours. I don’t really believe in the concept of guilty pleasures. I think you should proudly like whatever you want to. If it makes you happy, just own up to it.

startrek

How do you want the world to remember you?

I want to be remembered as a good father and husband. I certainly won’t mind being remembered as a writer. With a book, the author gets to live forever in a way.

David Whitman – Facebook
David Whitman (davidwhitman666) – Amazing Pinterest pins!
all David’s books are available on Amazon.  Check em out!
 bodycounting
 BODY COUNTING is a short story collection that is easily devoured all at once.  With so many collections I find myself reading a story here and one or two there an going back a coupe of weeks later for another dose.  Not so with BODY COUNTING.  With a mix of strange, weird, horror, sci-fi and one very odd (to me) story  there’s a great read just waiting for you.
I’m so glad that David agreed to this interview!  Thanks for visiting CAD today and please come back soon.

 

 

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

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Book Reviews vs.Book Reports

Published September 13, 2014 by MommaCat

I remember being in school and the teacher wanting a book report on some hated piece of classic literature. Teachers that were known for being hard would ask questions that had to be worked into the report. Answers could only be found if you actually read the book, the answers either had to be deduced or could only be found on a specific page and line.  The report was exactly that.  A report detailing what happened in the book, proof that you had read it cover to cover.  Liked it? Nobody cared if you liked it or not! A book report is full of spoilers – plain and simple.

A book review however is a bare bones description of the book in question. It should contain enough information to whet the reader’s appetite without giving away plot spoilers.  The reviewer should focus on what they liked about the book. Was the author successful in building tension, atmosphere and believable characters?  Were you, the reader, engaged by the language? Spoilers, if any, should be highlighted and boldly marked.

But why ramble on about what happens?  Talk about why the book is so good using your great language skills!  Save the telling of the story for the storytellers.

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