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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!

 

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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 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 F. Paul Wilson

Published July 1, 2016 by MommaCat

FPaulWilson

 

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

Panacea is out July 5. I’m writing a sequel of sorts, The God Gene, now. Not really a sequel, simply another mystery-adventure with the same two lead characters. Lemme tell you, it was with no little trepidation that handed in Panacea — my first non-Repairman Jack novel in many years. It’s a significant departure, since the Jack books are noirish crime stories with a fantastic back story. Panacea is a continent-hopping mystery adventure in search of the legendary cure-all. But the publisher loved it and even wanted another like it. Thus, The God Gene.

And sometime this year Tom Monteleone and I will finish The Silent Ones, third and last in our YA series, Nocturnia.

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

Tons. In no particular order: H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Sax Rohmer, Bill Blatty, Robert Heinlein, Victor Hugo, Robert B. Parker, Poul Anderson, Raymond Chandler, Larry Niven, Dashiell Hammett, Charles Dickens, Fred Pohl, C.M. Kornbluth, Henry Kuttner, Charles Fort, and lots of others whose names escape me at the moment. And I suppose I shouldn’t leave out EC Comics, Captain Video, The Shadow, King Kong, the old Flash Gordon serials. Anyone and anything that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.

I’m standing on the shoulders of all of the above, but the one still influencing me thematically (not stylistically), is H. P. Lovecraft. His cosmic horror, his materialistic take on the universe as indifferent at best, but most often malign, shook up my worldview when I was in my teens and has stayed with me since. It echoes all through the Adversary Cycle and Repairman Jack novels, and even into Panacea.

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 wish Henry Kuttner were around to write more Gallagher stories, and I could do with a couple more Hogben tales.

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

I’d very much like to live in Barry Schenck’s Retropolis. You can find it at http://thrilling-tales.webomator.com/ It’s sort of the way the present was supposed to look from the perspective of the 1930s (if that makes any sense). Check out the website or check out the 1930 film Just Imagine. (Full feature at http://tinyurl.com/h4bomxf – it’s awful in the way only early talkies can be, but visually it’s a jewel. Watch the first 3 minutes to get an idea of the retrofuture I’m talking about.)

This wouldn’t be an interview with you if we didn’t talk about Repairman Jack and The Secret History of the World. How far into writing your books did you realize you could convert your stories into one epic world? Were you influenced by anyone? Is there a story behind the story?

Well, the Secret History sort of grew. It starts with Lovecraft’s materialist, mechanistic universe – his so-called cosmic horror – amplified by the Fermi Paradox which boils down to: Where is everyone?  With billions of Earth-type planets in our galaxy with the potential for supporting life – many of them much older than ours – why haven’t we been contacted?  The answer could be that sentience and sapience don’t occur very often in the universe. What if the human level of sapience is so rare that when it occurs it attracts… attention? What if we are under the scrutiny of (to quote Wells) “intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic”?  Lovecraft and Charles Fort (who declared “We are property”) mined that vein, and I’m following in their footsteps. Those unsympathetic intellects have shaped human history from behind the scenes, that’s why it’s called the Secret History.

Humanity being the plaything of vast, unknowable forces percolates through The Keep, The Tomb, and The Touch even though they were all intended as stand-alones. I started another completely unrelated novel with the working title The Chadham Clone. I meant for it to look like Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen on the surface but actually be something different (just as The Keep looks like a vampire novel for a while, but it’s not). I wanted to use an evil entity other than the tired old Antichrist, but who? Then I realized I already had that entity in Rasalom from The Keep. I needed a suburban setting convenient to Manhattan, and realized I already had one in Monroe where The Touch took place. I became intrigued by the challenge of tying those two novels, and The Tomb as well, into Rasalom’s reincarnation, bringing the books full circle. It worked so well that I suspect my subconscious might have been linking them all along.

Things grew from there. The result was an outline for a 1,000+ page novel. Nobody was going to publish that, so I broke it down into a trilogy that became Reborn, Reprisal, and Nightworld. When I was done I called all 6 novels The Adversary Cycle, and that formed the foundation of the Secret History. When I brought Jack back in 1998, he was already part of the Secret History, so I used him to expand on the story.

We also know that you are a medical doctor specializing in family practice. But like Repairman Jack, do you have plans to retire? What will you do when that time comes?

I’ve been a part-time physician working 2 days a week for quite some time now (I’d never have been able to write all those books had I been full time). I’ve got a few more practice years left in me. I love my patients, but the government and the insurance companies are conspiring to drive me insane. As for writing, I’ll probably keep that up till I die or develop full-blown dementia.

And Jack? He’ll be back. I have no doubt that a suitable novel will come along and I’ll bring him in from the pasture and put him to work. Can’t say just when, though.

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

Willie Dixon in the late 1950s. I’m writing “Little Red Rooster,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “I Just Wanna Make Love to You,” “Spoonful” and other blues classics. I’m doing session work for Chess Records, I’m playing upright bass in Chuck Berry’s band. I’m not a household name, but I’m defining the Chicago Blues sound. (Later on, in the 60s, my songs will be covered by the Stones, Led Zep, Cream, the Doors, Hendrix, even Dylan.)

Willie Dixon

Then again, maybe Kim Kardashian – pre-Kanye, of course. I mean, what’s it like to sit on that butt?

Kim Kardashian Paper magazine cover

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

Just started Watched Too Long by Ann Voss Peterson and J.A. Konrath. The books ahead haven’t been published yet – ARCs by Norman Spinrad and Charles Stross.

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

I’ll read old pulp novels from time to time, but I’m not guilty about them. The snoots turn up their noses but, y’know, who cares? It’s my comfort food. That’s why I wrote “Sex Slaves of the Dragon Tong.”

I do have guilty music, though. I’m a blues guy, but I have a weakness for good harmony and a catchy tune. My iPod hides an occasional song by the Partridge Family, the Carpenters, Air Supply, and others too uncool to cop to. (“Easy Come, Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman – yoiks!)

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

The obvious one is keep writing…write every day. When I started out, writing part time, I found a minimum of 3 first-draft double-spaced pages per day did the trick. That’s 21/week. At that rate you’ve got over 540 pages in 6 months. That’s a decent-sized novel.

In writing those 3 pages per day, avoid tinkering with them. This stalls you by fooling you into thinking you’re still writing. You’re not. And you’re losing momentum. Get those 3 pages down and then leave them alone and go on to the next 3. The time to fix and hone them is after you’ve finished that all-important first draft – what I call the vomit draft. You’ll know your characters better then and can go back and make meaningful edits and additions.

The other is less obvious: Avoid envy. Other writers are going to be more successful than you. Applaud their success rather than begrudge it. Just remember, there’s objective success and subjective success. Objective is counted on bestseller lists and dollar signs. Subjective is defined by you: what are your goals in putting those words on paper? Don’t lose sight of that.

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

Dorothy Parker, Ambrose Bierce, Ogden Nash, Oscar Wilde, and H. L. Mencken. A veritable torrent of wit. Can you imagine the laughs? The unbridled cynicism?

How do you want the world to remember you?

A stand-up guy who poured a mean gimlet and told lots of good stories.

 

You can find Paul on Twitter and follow him, look for @fpaulwilson.  Check out his Facebook page too!  Thank you so much for the interview, Paul.  And thank you for letting me read Panacea.

This is an exciting book! Think Dan Brown meets Michael Crichton. Then, boom! You’re off off on an around the world (Paul’s World – it fits into the Secret History) whirlwind thriller as competing forces attempt to find a cure-all. Can it truly exist? Dead bodies are turning up that were otherwise perfectly healthy…and they shouldn’t have been.  Have fun reading this – I sure did!

Find PANACEA at Amazon.com

panacea

An Interview with Joe Hart

Published March 1, 2016 by MommaCat

JoeHart

 

Being an aspiring published author is_________________.

Not sure I like the term “aspiring” when describing a writer. You either write or you don’t in my opinion.

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

The next book I have coming out is a thriller called THE NIGHT IS DEEP. It is the second book in a series I’m writing about an ex-homicide detective who has a future waiting for him but can’t let go of the past.

lastgirl

Are books 2 and 3 of THE LAST GIRL written and what are the expected release dates?

Book 2 is finished and is the editing stage. It’s due out in September of this year. I’m about a third of the way through the first draft of the last book and that one should be out sometime in early 2017.

It’s clear to me that the world we live in is a misogynistic one. And that’s the premise, at least from the outset of TLG. And that just blows my mind! What made you come up with the idea that men were so destructive that they wouldn’t nurture and revere the few women that remained?

It’s funny because several people have asked that same question, “Why wouldn’t the remaining women be treated well?” When I first came up with the idea of the birthrate for female infants dropping to nearly nothing I asked some of the most important women in my life a question. It went something like this- If there were only a limited number of women left on Earth do you think they’d be treated like queens or like possessions? Every one of them answered (without hesitation) possessions. I’m not sure if even the threat of extinction would stop people (especially men) from trying to take what they want. Pretty sure history supports this.

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

Absolutely. MacArthur Gray from WIDOW TOWN came pretty much fully formed into my mind and I built the plot around him. Zoey from THE LAST GIRL was pretty much formed the moment after I had the general premise for the book as well as Evan Tormer from THE WAITING.

Most authors have had many jobs on their way to a full time writing career. What are some of the jobs you’ve held?

Very true! I’ve worked as an auto mechanic, a line technician at an airport, a customer service agent for Northwest Airlines, an electric motor technician, a personal trainer and manager of a gym.

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

Mr. Stephen King would be at the top of the list. I was reading him around age ten or eleven. I wouldn’t be doing what I am without his work. Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, R.L. Stine, Blake Crouch, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Adams, Harper Lee, Clive Barker, Justin Cronin, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Lovecraft, Poe, the list goes on and on.

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

My son who has autism. Since he can’t tell me, I would give anything to know what he’s thinking.

What scares you? Have you written about it?

I’ll have to echo King here. Everything. Everything scares me. Losing those who you love most. Leaving them alone. Whatever lurks under the bed at night even after you’ve checked it. Things like that. And yes, I’ve written about nearly all the things that scare me, but there’s a lot less to write about.

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

Oh wow. I just finished Robert Jackson Bennett’s CITY OF BLADES, which was excellent and I started reading THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. Past that I have a few books waiting on blurbs and whatnot.

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

Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, Jackie Onassis, and Michael Collins.

hemingway

How do you want the world to remember you?

Someone who tried their best at what they loved.

Thanks very much for all the great questions, it was a blast!

Thanks for a great interview, Joe! THE LAST GIRL is available on Amazon.com and anywhere else books are sold.

You can find Joe on Twitter @AuthorJoeHart and on his website. Check them out! If you would like to read my review of THE LAST GIRL – click here!

An Interview with Jeff Mariotte

Published December 14, 2014 by MommaCat

 

Jeff Mariotte

 

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

4) How much research do you do?

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

 

5) What’s your comfort food?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

An Interview with Edward Lorn

Published September 30, 2014 by MommaCat

EdwardLorn

 

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

One morning, my mother was walking me to school. The route we took passed a construction site. Just beyond the chain link fence was a mound of dirt about twenty feet high, and another one around five feet. I pointed to the larger mound and said, “There’re bodies under there.”

Mom gave me an odd look. “How do you know that?”

Because I can see them. In my brain.”

Well, what’s under the smaller pile?”

I smiled. “The heads.”

Undeterred, my mother asked, “Do you think I should call the cops?”

I nodded. “I think that would be best.”

That was my first day of kindergarten. I was five years old.

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

I could say Oz, because I love the idea of talking scarecrows and flying monkeys, but witches scare the shit out of me. Good or bad. Wonderland might be a better choice, but I have a love/hate relationship with food. I love eating, and hate there’s no more of it. Living in Wonderland would mean existing in a constant state of flux. Big. Small. Gargantuan. Tiny. Don’t think I could handle that. So… let’s go with Mid-World, the land where Stephen King’s Dark Tower series occurs. I want a damn billybumbler, yo. Thankee, sai.

3) Do you write every day? Would you still write if you didn’t need to make money?

I write anywhere from eight to ten hours a day, every day. This isn’t all one sitting, though, as I’m usually bouncing around social media sites whenever I hit a lull in creativity.

To answer the second part of your question, I’ve been putting words down on paper since I was six, and nothing’s going to change that. To this day, I don’t write for the money, anyway, simply because I hate thinking of writing as a job. It’s a hobby I love that just so happens to pay the bills. I intend to keep it that way.

4) How much research do you do?

Research is the bane of my existence, but it’s also a necessary evil. While writing a new piece, I do zero fact checking. I do work, put the words down, and only once I’m done do I hit the books.

5) What’s your comfort food?

Chipotle, the restaurant, as in everything on their menu. Burritos, tacos, salads… hell, just dump their pans directly in my waiting maw, for all I care. I am down for a good twelve hours after eating there, though, so I try to abstain as much as possible. But if I had a method of unending currency and no social obligations, I’d eat there every meal. Except breakfast, of course, ‘cause, you know, they’re closed and whatnot. Selfish bastards.

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

Probably one of my kids. I’d give anything to be a kid again, even if it was only for twenty-four hours. Plus, my kids are rad. It would be nice to be cool for once in my life.

7) Where is the last place you went on vacation?

Took the fam to Disney Land and Universal Orlando back in October of 2011, and we had a blast. Wouldn’t mind doing that again real soon. Wow… I just realized I haven’t been on vacation in three years. That’s kinda depressing. Let’s wrap this interview up so I can do something about that. ‘Kay? Thanks.

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

Hands down, James Newman. Dude can write some serious dark fiction, and I’d love to bounce some ideas off him. His novel, Animosity, is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and working with him would be a true honor.

I would like to add that, if he were still alive, my first choice would have been Richard Laymon. Sadly, he’s been dead since Valentine’s day, 2001, and I miss him and his work greatly.

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

Richard Laymon would be a given, and then I’d add Stephen King, James Newman, Joe Hill, and Kealan Patrick Burke to the guest list. I’d throw Marisha Pessl in there, but I think she’s a little too classy for the likes of us.

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

I’d like to be remembered as a friend. A good friend can make you laugh and cry, they can scare the pants off you or spike your punch with ghost pepper extract and Kraken rum and everyone involved can still laugh about it the following day. Someone you can sit and listen to, and who, given the chance, would listen back. Yeah, I like the idea of being remembered as a tried and true friend. Maybe we didn’t get along all the time, but those times when it worked, damn, weren’t those times the best?

Thanks for having me, Mommacat. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you for visiting Cat After Dark, Ed. The pleasure was all mine. I hope that you’ll come back to visit again soon!

Ed Lorn can be found ruminating on his own blog at edwardlorn.wordpress.com

He also hangs out at booklikes.com

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