Windstalker: Awareness

baginski

The soul that has conceived one wickedness can nurse no good thereafter. -SOPHOCLES, Philoctetes

Science fiction, fantasy, romance and inhuman creatures all blend together in author K.M. (Kisa) Baginski’s debut series Windstalker. In Awareness, the first book Baginski introduces, she spins a tale that introduces a force of evil that preys on a group of unsuspecting young adults sucked into a world of chaos. Note to avid fantasy fans: Be prepared for a lot of suspense, with a little nail-biting thrown in!

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

Great title by the way! Tell us a bit about Kisa the author and your debut novel, Windstalker: Awareness.

I’m just getting started in the world of writing and look forward to producing much more. For me there was always drive to get particular stories out of my system. I haven’t been in training like many authors I know and respect. In terms of my educational profile, I was always science matriculated. I’ve just wanted to share stories as they come to me. Storytelling is such a beautiful art form. I hope to grow and continue learning as I tell more of them. Awareness is about the Windstalker creature, an evolved Nephilim- half angel and half human. It’s set in New York City and the creature has an impact on a group of unassuming, nonspiritual and emotionally dysfunctional friends. They try to cling to reality for much of the story, ignoring or avoiding the presence of something they can’t rationalize, until they are forced to accept events and circumstances that defy logic. They become aware of the presence of a supernatural force. A Windstalker.

What was your inspiration for writing a supernatural thriller?

I have these amazing vivid dreams from time to time that are a lot like watching a film. They are usually open around the rising action of the story to its climax. The calm just before the storm and, of course, the storm. Windstalker began as one of these dreams.

It came about because as a teen I dreamt from the perspective of a pair of creatures that hovered in an abandoned lot next to a building. The creatures were disguised as swirling wind but could also morph into men, so human beings did not notice them at all. The building was isolated on a dark corner of the street and only significant because of a woman who lived there. She was a sweet, gentle single mother of an infant. Though she was not a particularly noteworthy citizen, one of the two creatures stalked her. And you have to remember the dream was seen from the perspective of the creature. The woman reminded him of a life he had known previously, when human, a life to which he desperately wanted to return. He didn’t say as much to his formless partner as he knew the partner didn’t want to be alone. The longing creature led a sort of tug-of-war among the three as he searched for and tested ways to permanently revert back to human form. Almost ten years later, I hadn’t forgotten the intensity of that dream. So I thought it would be a great start for a novel-writing future. I have many stories that began that way, waiting to surface.

Introduce us to your main characters. What are some of their struggles throughout the story?

Mitchell Geathers is an ambitious young man. He is a leader in his family and maintains a certain level of control. He’s really driven by fear that he will lose control and endanger his loved ones. Chelsea Easton is lost in the real world. She often feels out of place and thinks she has to divert attention away from herself. But being the product of a broken, dysfunctional family, she actually craves love, affection and validation from others.

What makes your novel unique from other paranormal novels out there?

I would say the creature itself. A windstalker isn’t just a shapeshifter. It is a very difficult creature to destroy and can also be reverted into a human being, given a special set of circumstances the reader will have to discover throughout the series.

Were there any authors you read for inspiration while preparing for your first book?

I read a few Victorian Gothic horror novels such as Dracula (Bram Stoker) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde). I also read Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov); for a while I toyed with making the character Chelsea younger. I read Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) for Tolstoy’s panoramic scenes allowing the reader to understand the same incident from another character’s perspective. I thought if I was going to try writing my own novel, I needed to wrap my mind around some of the most celebrated masters of prose and the horror/fantasy genre.

Is this volume one of its kind or will it be part of a series you are developing?

Awareness is the first in the Windstalker series. There are at least two more parts I’m working on now.

In that case, what can your readers look forward to in the next book in your series?

The next book is geared toward discovering the levels of hierarchy within the Windstalker culture. There is a major division within their inner world. An alliance with the peace keepers among them and the stronger group for the time being and a rogue organization seeking to overthrow the peace keepers and establish themselves as supreme leaders of the species.

Fans of science fiction thrillers that touch on romance will easily devour a story like Windstalker. If you could choose a couple of famous folks to play your characters, who comes to mind?

It’s funny but the only character I could see having a famous actor doppelganger is Eli Roberts. I see Eli being played by Charlie Hunnam for some reason.

Give us a few of your favorite films or television shows that might compare to the theme of Windstalker.

I’d like to think Windstalker: Awareness could very well resonate with True Blood, Dexter, Dead Like Me or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV fans; or fans of the movie Fallen – for the Grigori Angel mythology. Most of these projects had a dark premise, complex characters and a good mix between horror, romance, thriller and comedy genres.

There are so many online resources today where readers can learn all about their favorite authors. How can readers stay connected to you and any future book projects?

Windstalker stories are available on Amazon and my Windstalker books website. I’ll be announcing any new Windstalker projects as they surface. There is currently a short story prequel (Windstaker: The Fall of Samyaza) and novella about a character named Drew Royce (from Awareness) in development. Both will be released before the second book in the series.

Can you provide your audience with any retail and/or review links as well?

The series website is www.windstalkerbooks.com.

The Ghoul Archipelago

The_Ghoul_Archipelago_ebook_cover

Zombies and villains and ghouls – oh my! It’s one thing for life as we know it to all come undone. It’s quite another when whoever – or whatever – is left starts calling the shots in a most unpleasant way. After the undead apocalypse,  a warlord, a robber baron and a cult leader struggle against each other for control of the remnants of civilization in Stephen Kozeniewski’s taut horror novel, “The Ghoul Archipelago.”

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

**********

Q: The title alone is a grabber! How did you come up with it?

A:  Why, thank you!  You’re going to laugh but I have had people (educated people, lawyers, for instance) come up to me and say, “Hey, did you ever hear of this guy Solzhenitsyn?  He wrote a book with a name just like yours!”  But, yes, basically the pun seemed like a slam dunk when I came up with the idea of having a nautical zombie adventure.  I hope this does turn into a popular series because I’ve come up with a bunch more Russian lit pun titles: GORE AND PEACE, NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD, THE WIGHT GUARD…

Q: In your opinion, what do you suppose accounts for the longstanding fascination that book lovers and movie goers have with end-of-the-world themes, dystopian societies, and scary undead folks?

A:  That’s a whole bunch of things to address.  The scary undead folks thing I think is a pretty primal fascination.  We’ve always wondered what happens after we die, and the flip side of playing a harp amongst the pink fluffy clouds with Katy Perry is the secret fear that we’re really just rotting bags of bones and nothing more.  I think the obsession with the end of the world and the dystopian future, though, is a function of the fact that every generation thinks that it was the pinnacle of achievement and when they hand it over to those rotten kids everything’s going straight to the sewer.  Actually, I guess I handled both of those complicated sociological issues pretty succinctly.  Go Team Me!

Q: Is the zombie genre playing itself out or do you think it’s going to linger for the foreseeable future?

A:  I think the zombie genre won’t ever be played out for the same reason mob movies won’t ever be played out.  As long as you have a good story to tell, there’s no reason why it will suddenly become bad just because it contains braineating corpses (or mafia thugs.)   Now, that being said, there is an issue with far too many zombie novels being dimestore ripoffs of The Walking Dead, which was itself a dimestore ripoff of Romero’s Holy Trilogy.  People are bored with having the same old “survivors refuse to believe at first then slowly enter the grim world of the apocalypse” story rehashed over and over again with only superficial changes.  The good news is a whole new generation of authors are starting to break the old mold.  Check out almost anything Severed Press has released if you don’t believe me.  (Shameless plug!)

Q: What attracted you as a writer to delve into the world of modern horror?

A:  In two words: Brian Keene.  The dude made me believe that “zombie novelist” was a viable career choice.

Q: Is this your first foray into publishing?

A:  THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is actually my sophomore novel, and it is very different from my debut, BRAINEATER JONES.  I like to describe it this way: GHOUL is 90% horror, 10% humor and BRAINEATER is 90% humor, 10% horror.

Q: Are there limits or taboos in crafting this type of story?

A:  The short answer is no, and that’s part of the joy of writing horror.  I truly, truly, truly appreciate when people tell me things like, “Your novel made me want to vomit.”  I think every horror novelist (of a certain stripe) desires to push the boundaries of what went before.  And horror fans are a jaded type; they demand the ultimate in cutting edge gore.  I did ask my publisher what it meant in my contract that the work was not “defamatory or obscene” considering that this was a hardcore horror novel and he responded “that just means things like scat or child abuse.”  So, I guess there are some limits, legally speaking, but the urge to transgress further and further is integral to writing horror.

Q: What was your favorite scene to write?

A:  Oh, the puppet scene.  Hands down.  I have a morbid and possibly unwholesome fascination with puppets.  I almost never find my own work funny, but writing that scene I was laughing so hard it made me cry.

Q: Editors and publishers typically advise against “head-hopping” – the practice of writing from multiple points of view. What are your thoughts about that?

A:  I think it’s extremely important not to change POV mid-scene or mid-chapter.  That’s just going to give your reader vertigo at best or nausea at worst.  That being said, I think that once you see those three magical asterisks or a page break, then all bets are off.  Head-hopping over the course of a narrative allows you to put together a much more complete story, like providing the reader with overlapping Venn diagrams until they finally see the “truth” in the center.  This is the approach I used in THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, and I even made sure to identify each POV character in the chapter title, a method I shamelessly stole from George R.R. Martin.

Q: How does this interface with the pros and cons of using first and third person narrative to move a story forward?

A:  I’ve now published two novels, one in first person and one in third.  First is very limiting because you almost have to be constantly using deus ex machinas to ensure that the viewpoint character, and consequently the reader, receives all the information necessary to the plot.  It’s a whole lot of “Ooh, look, I found a letter” and “Ah, here’s a character who will tell me what I didn’t know!”  Third person allows for a different level of dramatic tension – say, the reader can know what the villain is doing but the hero doesn’t.  Still, the limitations of first person are offset by the lived-in feeling of actually occupying someone’s headspace.  There’s an intimacy to first person that can’t be achieved with any other form of writing.

Q:  Which do you suppose is a greater challenge – for a male to write strong female characters or a female writer to capture the mindset and motivations of a strong man?

A:  Three of the viewpoint characters in GHOUL are strong females.  I think I found it easiest to write for LtCol West, because I know what it’s like to be a genuinely competent officer but maybe a little too sensitive for the military.  Writing for Eve I also drew on my own experience, because I’ve more than once felt the frustration of being the only intelligent person propping up a foolhardy boss.  Butch was the biggest stretch for me, because I’ve never really had to fight to survive relying only on my charisma.  I think the key to writing any character well is getting to the emotional core of that person, and since we’re all people, we’re all capable of it, regardless of gender.  But I won’t deny it’s harder for me to write females than males.  Did I just dodge the actual question like a crooked Southern politician?  No comment.

Q: Writing has been described as a solitary craft where you spend a lot of time inside your own head. How, then, does one become part of the author community and interact with kindred spirits?

A:  Based on the voluminous correspondence of Lovecraft, for instance, I think the practice of authors reaching out to one another from behind their desk is nothing new, although the internet is making it far easier.  I talk to other authors literally daily on Facebook.  Less so on Twitter, though there are some semi-famous authors who I’m pleased to have a “sometimes he tweets me back” relationship with.  The community has been incredibly welcoming and I think there’s a certain expectation that peers have to take care of one another and the old guard always has to “pay it forward” to the next generation.  That’s definitely been my experience so far.

Q: Share with us your experience publishing through an independent press, as well as what governed that decision for you.

A:  Oh, Severed is one of, if not the world’s premiere zombie horror press.  I jumped at the opportunity to sign with them.  Gary Lucas and his crew have been quick, responsive, and extremely professional.  I got to work closely with them on my editing and cover design.  And they were lightning fast in turnaround on everything.  Plus: how many people can say their publisher is in Tasmania?

Q: In today’s Internet age, authors are required to do more and more self-promotion to get the word out. What resources and venues have you found to be the most helpful in terms of generating a buzz for your work?

A:  Well, buzz and sales are different, so right off the bat I’ll say for sales, BookBub.  But for buzz it’s been blogs like this one.  Most of my reviews at this point are from bloggers, and a number of readers have told me that they only picked up my book to review because they saw it on a blog they liked.

Q: Does every author who’s not JK Rowling suffer from impostor syndrome?

A:  I certainly do.  I’m in constant fear that some bouncer is going to eye me suspiciously one day and shout, “You’re not a real author!” and toss me out of the velvet rope.  Every author I know has confided the same concern to me.  Of course, it’s not like I know authors on every step of the professional ladder.  It’s mostly just beginners.  Overall I get the impression that everyone’s afraid if they don’t have the sales of E.L. James and the critical acclaim of Jonathan Franzen then they’re not a real author.  It’s probably partly the media’s fault, but it could also be something inherent in the psyche of a writer.

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

A:  I have nine tattoos but I’ve been under the needle thirteen times.  (Tantalizing, right?)

Q: So what’s next on your plate?

A:  You know what?  Since you asked me, I’m going to make the big public announcement right here on From the Authors.  I just signed a contract with Permuted Press for my third novel, tentatively titled EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED.  As a post-apocalyptic sci-fi political satire, it’s a bit of a departure for me, but I’m very excited about breaking some new ground and hopefully finding some new fans.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

A:  I’m active on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kozauthor), Twitter (www.twitter.com/outfortune), and my blog (www.manuscriptsburn.blogspot.com).

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A:  Thanks so much for having me!

 

A Bloody Mess in the Wild, Wild West

wildwest

Outlaws, soldiers gone mad and the aftermath of the Civil War encompass the pages of Justin Bienvenue’s horror novel, A Bloody Mess in the Wild, Wild West. Following the Civil War, a corrupt tycoon has taken over one ghost town that must reclaim its peaceful status and survive the struggles of a powerful man with abilities beyond these citizens’ imaginations.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

What can you tell us about your latest work?

My latest work is a western horror called A Bloody, Bloody Mess In The Wild, Wild West. It is a book about struggles and life during western times, the Civil War and, of course, the undead. It focuses on the Mexican outlaw Javier “Bones” Jones and his wish to wreak havoc upon the small town of Toomswood. When the town has had enough of his business in their town, they wish to take him out; however he has gained new abilities and suddenly getting him out of town will mean a lot more than just asking him nicely.

What was the inspiration behind wanting to write this?

I was watching a few horror films on zombies and a few days after that I was watching some of those spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood. I believe the movies were Dawn of the Dead or one of those weird, gory zombie flicks and the Clint Eastwood movies were A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Well upon watching them I thought writing a western would be a great idea. I then thought back to the previous days of watching zombie movies when suddenly the title popped into my head. I realized my brain didn’t need to be sold on it anymore –  I was in! I have always enjoyed westerns and when the thought came into mind that I could actually write one I knew right then and there that this was happening.

How does your book compare to other books written in its particular genre?

I would say they are definitely similar for sure. I didn’t really realize how much of the Western Horror genre was out there until I glanced at some of the books. They have a very good fan base and my concept for the book is a common one in genre but I have found that everyone has their own creative unique spin to it. I have found a few fellow authors of the genre such as Tim Curran, who is highly regarded, Joe R. Lansdale and Eric S. Brown who all have multiple book within the genre and all look very enticing. I think the book shares certain qualities for sure although I also like to think my book gives a small detail to the real hardships of The Civil War and the western times compared to most. However, I know my book doesn’t come close to works of Tim Curran and other such profound western horror writers.

How do you think potential readers will perceive the book?

So far it has been perceived very well. Some have stated it’s got plenty of action and they enjoy being put in that western atmosphere and others have stated it comes off as a manuscript for a horror movie. I realize some will love it and others won’t care for it and either way I am happy with the outcome. I just hope that if they didn’t enjoy it they at least took something from it.

What’s one unique element or quality you put into the book that people would be interested in knowing?

The historical accuracy of certain aspects during The Wild West era. I wasn’t going to just write a book about The Wild West and throw in horror; I wanted to also portray real life events or accurate things during it as well. This includes such things as the right weapons (when certain revolvers came out), the language, certain Civil War accounts and timeframes. Overall, I wanted to give it a good ol’ western feel with real historical events and elements as well.

What is your take on the self-publishing/Indie industry?

My take on the industry is that it is just like the traditional publishing industry although people tend to treat it as less. I believe that Indie publishing is clearly on the rise and that the authors who self-publish work just as hard as those who take the traditional route. Given the spike it has taken, I think more people are going down the Indie route as either a shortcut or they want to do the work themselves and retain control of their work. I do believe for the most part that it is a growing trend in the publishing world and I think it’s a good thing.

How has being a self-published author helped in your writing and what have been some of the downfalls?

It’s helped in the sense that I don’t have people giving me a deadline as to when I need to get the book done. Also there are no certain set of rules or word counts that I need to follow or reach. I believe this helps me by giving me the freedom to set my own rules and pace and this way I can write at the pace I wish and not have to worry about reaching a deadline. The downfall is, of course, not getting the proper processes that follow the finishing of a book such as editing, formatting and proofreading. Traditionally the company tends to have all those on hand whereas a self-published author has to find someone to do it for you – sometimes one person to do it all – but mainly individuals to help assist you in each department. For the most part I have been lucky in finding the proper help but it certainly makes it a challenge when you have to look and find the right person to look over your work.

What do you believe is a benefit in being self-published that traditional publishing doesn’t offer?

Freedom, self-esteem and satisfaction. The freedom in being able to work as you please without having to worry about certain things you’d otherwise worry about with a traditional publisher as I stated above. The feeling that you did all the work yourself and the outcome gives you complete satisfaction. There’s nothing better than working your hardest on something and feeling good in the end knowing you accomplished it.

Was it always your plan to have your book self-published or did you look into traditional ones as well?

For my second book, yes. I went with a bad traditional publishing company with my first book. I believe they were even a vanity press in some degree. Anyway, I had a very bad experience with them so I decided that for my second book it would be best to go down the self-publishing direction. I definitely think it was the right choice and it has been a lot better. I have since gotten out of my contract with that company and also re-published the first book as self-published as well. I am not completely turned off on the idea of traditional publishers in the future but I just feel right now that I like the Indie side of publishing.

What’s one thing you want readers to take from reading your work?

I want them to enjoy what they are reading and I want them take to something with them after reading that will stick with them. I want them to remember something from the book that they find themselves looking back on and either referencing it with something or just thinking “that was a good scene.” Overall I want them to experience the book as if they themselves were a part of it.

 

A Bloody Mess in the Wild, Wild West is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

 

The Fury

TheFuryCoverV1

The Mafia, gangs and a killer hyena. Not your typical day in the New York City life of one female detective. In John Reinhard Dizon’s The Fury, readers will delve into a twisted thriller that combines the battle of good versus evil with the modern day realism of an occult world. A fast-paced read, Dizon will both frighten and intrigue with this tale of suspenseful mayhem.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

Tell the readers a little about your background. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my novella, Enemy Ace, when I was in sixth grade. It was a James Bond knockoff with a German fighter pilot turned British Secret Service agent. I wish I knew what happened to it, maybe it’ll be in a museum someday long after I’m dead. I decided to take my chances when I moved to Missouri ten years ago and submitted a manuscript to Publish America. After having five books published, I decided to try my hand at being my own publicist/agent. I wanted to expand my horizons beyond the POD field, and as it turned out, Netherworld Books shared my vision.

The Fury isn’t your typical horror genre novel, and you took a risk doing so. How did you come up with the premise?

I never wrote anything in the horror genre and took it as a new challenge. A big part of it would be in coming up with a different angle than what is already on the market. Having an African shaman turn into a hyena and be manipulated by West Indian drug gangs in East Harlem is one I hadn’t seen before. My previous experience as a crime fiction writer was a big plus.

Voodoo cults, drug trades, New York City and the Mafia are all featured in your book. How did all of that work together in order to appeal to a common horror fan?

It had to be something that included the Mafia or the book wouldn’t have been realistic, so we have the centuries-old prophecy of an Italian dynasty and French royalty joining to create a demonic kingdom in the New World. The history of voodoo in the West Indies and New Orleans worked perfectly as Bridgette Celine’s ancestry is seen as the missing link between the Rossini Family and Miss Goyette’s voodoo sect. Having a hyena eliminating the competition was the secret ingredient.

You opted for a female main character. Tell us about Bridgette Celine, and what it was like to write from a female point of view.

Bridgette Celine is probably the most aggressive of all my female protagonists in my previous works. She comes from a working-class background and carries lots of emotional baggage that she hides beneath a punk rock demeanor. She handles the danger and the supernatural horror well, but having to deal with her family history leaves her vulnerable and uncertain. People who like strong female characters will love Bridge because she is way over the top. Yet her personality is peeled like an onion as the story progresses, and her different sides gives her the depth of character that makes her special.

I enjoy the challenge of writing from a female perspective. Tiara was largely written from Princess Jennifer’s POV, and Penny Flame focuses on Moneen Murphy’s journey into the unknown. I have a couple more coming up as well -– stay tuned!

Give us the goods on a couple of other characters in the novel. What roles do they play?

Johnny Devlin emerges as the major male protagonist as a street-weary detective in a NYPD ‘black ops’ unit trying to solve the hyena murders plaguing East Harlem. At first he uses his friendship with Bobby Mendoza, Bridge’s boyfriend, to find out more about her relationship with Mafia don Peter Ross. Eventually a mutual respect develops between himself and Bridge, and when he falls in love with her cousin Becca the situation becomes personal. Devlin is used to taking the law into his own hands in dealing with the lowest scum in the NYC underworld, but the Satanists prove to be more than he bargained for.

Anna and Becca, two characters featured, are clearly good people. Is there a downright evil person in your story?

The sorcerer Achok Majok and the voodoo priestess Miss Goyette are the closest resemblances to the Devil Incarnate. Everyone else might find readers seeing them as victims of circumstance. Peter Ross rolls the dice to see if the Satanic prophecy will establish his narcotics empire and loses big-time. Buda Sakumbe is pretty close to what you might call a victim of human trafficking. Even when Bobby Mendoza does a heel turn at the end of the novel, we can see where he was blinded by the demonic promise just like everyone else.

Is there some personal element in your story, or is it just pure fiction?

Lots of the Lower Manhattan scenes were based on personal experiences as a NYC punk rocker in my young adulthood. The characters in Johnny Devlin’s Zombie Squad were all based on people I knew. As a rule, I tend to use real people in my characterizations because lots of the people in my past are so interesting, you couldn’t make them up.

If you were to rewrite your book what changes might you make, if any?

I’d say the editor and I may have dropped the ball in the omniscient narrative as far as the occupants on the second and third floors in the haunted tenement. Miss Goyette seems to move from one apartment to another as do other characters, and it turns into an exercise in postmodernist technique that is too easily perceived as an editing issue. The idea was to convey the sense of helplessness people feel when they get lost in a hostile environment. Ever go into a dark subway, walk all the way to the end of a deserted platform, and find the exit’s locked? Or try to drive through a bad neighborhood at night and find out you misread the map? We should have overemphasized the fact that people kept finding themselves on the wrong floors. Some critics felt like we were the ones who got lost. Regardless of location, the characters make it clear they can’t wait to get out of there.

How about some authors who have inspired you as a writer?

I would have to consider myself a postmodernist author at this stage of my career, and I’ve been studying others of like mind to enhance my own style. Right now I’m reading Kafka; he’s having an enormous influence on my new manuscripts. In my opinion, Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time, and I’ll have to consider him my greatest overall influence. Ian Fleming was the one who inspired me in my early days, and Robert E. Howard was another one who gave me a new perspective in developing my abilities over the years.

Which horror films or books appeal to you, as a viewer or reader?

As far as horror, nobody touches Stephen King, though I hope readers will make favorable comparisons as my work surfaces. I’ll never forget staying up nights reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a school kid. That one stands up against any of King’s books. Moviewise, The Exorcist is the greatest of all time, while I don’t think anyone appreciates the impact Texas Chainsaw Massacre had as the first of the slasher-type flicks. I walked home after the premiere looking over my shoulder.

As writers, we all have habits we employ during a day’s work. What are some of yours?

Lots of times I end up doing more research than writing on any given day. I spent a large amount of time with the historical backdrop on The Fury substantiating the expository narrative. I feel like I’ve validated the work when readers can do some checking up and find out the subplots are based on actual persons, places and events. When I’ve written a dynamic chapter that I know will captivate the audience, I’ll take a break and go for a walk to recharge my batteries and rehearse where the characters are going next. I also enjoy watching pro wrestling to compare notes on how to capture the audience’s imagination with the least dialogue and the most impact.

Where can readers find The Fury, as well as your other novels?

Just plug in John Reinhard Dizon in the Books search engine on Amazon. There’ll be my previous works with Publish America on sale, as well as The Standard available through Tenth Street Press. I take pride in the fact that I don’t allow myself to be confined within any particular genre. Every novel is a new experience that I’m sure the reader will enjoy. I can guarantee that you won’t find any of them a boring read!

 

A Conversation with Amanda Lyons

 

Amanda Lyons

With catchy titles and a journey into a more complex style of horror writing, author Amanda Lyons mixes tales of psychological intrigue that give readers a little bit of everything: fear, romance, fantasy and a variety of complicated characters. You Read It Here First had a chance to learn more about Ms. Lyons, and what goes on inside the mind of a horror genre writer.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

You’ve chosen to write for the horror genre; how is your writing style different from other horror authors?

I write stories and novels that focus a bit more on the development of the people and their psychological perspective than on the horror itself. It can have elements of romance, fantasy and a bit more of a narrative tone than some writers use. I want you to care about the characters in my stories even if it’s just for a few pages. My first novel Eyes Like Blue Fire was gothic horror and therefore had strong romantic elements interlaced with the horror for instance.

When did you first begin writing?

At a pretty young age, about 12. It started with a sappy little story about a homeless family at Christmastime. That story impressed a teacher who liked the detail and it taught me that I could write something that caught the attention of other people. I was hooked and have been writing ever since.

Tell us what Wendy Won’t Go is all about as well as other single titles you’ve released.

Wendy Won’t Go is about a particularly long haunting and the damage it causes. A writer and his daughter are being haunted by his wife; she’s changed and cold now, scaring them and limiting their lives. They don’t know why she’s there and they have to adapt to keep her from causing harm. There’s a lot in the story about pain, loss and the damage time can cause. There are also some surprises about the whole story. I’m hoping it’s a very moving story and that people will like it and think about it long after they read it. For now it’s my only piece of short fiction out there but I’m also working on a short collection with my brother Robert Edward Lyons II called Apocrypha.

What is your upcoming short horror collection Apocrypha about? 

Apocrypha is about all the little things that haunt us in life. For some of the stories it means addressing some urban legends and fairy tales, the little things that we pass on to our kids, but for others it’s about the what ifs and the maybes we face every day. Apocrypha refers to a collection of books and stories with a dubious or unproven origin, this is exactly what these stories are, little bits and pieces from a life that you might never expect to know and you can never really prove ever happened.

How is working with a small press different than your experience as an indie author?

In terms of all of the promotion stuff so far it’s pretty much the same (most small presses need to rely on the author’s ability to sell themselves and their work because there isn’t the time and money to invest in huge campaigns) but there are a lot more people checking on how your writing is going, encouraging you to keep writing and promoting and of course helping with editing, book covers and some more avenues of marketing. You have a really solid group of people invested in your work and making it look its best so that it can catch readers’ eyes and really get the best overall debut. At J. Ellington Ashton Press that atmosphere of camaraderie and support is even more present because we’re all writers and wanting to help each other do our best.

When you’re an indie, you spend hours and hours trying to get everything together and you have a much smaller group of people acting as a support system. I actually think that’s one of the biggest killers for an indie career, that lack of support and encouragement to keep you going through the rough days. Plenty of great writers give up because it’s too overwhelming to get through all of the lack of sales and immediate proof of your quality. It takes at least a year to see any real sales on a novel no matter what market you’re in and so many people think that they’ll be able to pull off serious sales right away. The work is so much harder as an indie and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. It requires a real dedication and confidence in your work, tons of work, tons of promotion and a good attitude.

Describe the kinds of books readers can expect from you in the future.

My imagination is all over the place and I think it’s safe to say that not everything I write will be horror. Here’s a few of the books I currently have in progress and hope to finish in the next few years.

1)      Cool Green Waters: This is the sequel to my gothic horror novel Eyes Like Blue Fire. In this second book we learn a lot more about Mateo, Zero and Michael some characters who were a little underplayed in the first book. We also face Raven and Katja’s remaining problems and a whole new threat from two different characters who were changed by the events in ELBF. This book is a lot darker.

2)      Other Dangers: This is an apocalypse novel dealing with an author who writes the end of the world and then tries to save it when she realizes what she’s done. It’s far more involved than that but there’s so much I have yet to finish so I can’t go into it in too great a detail Suffice to say this is my big epic and it relies on as many fantasy elements as horror ones.

3)      Jodie: This is a novel about a very damaged teenager who wanders the woods and town where she lives and how a group of boys set out to attack her. What they don’t know is that she has a lot more going on than they thought.

4)      The Farm: A couple who own a farm are faced with terrible changes taking place there. It’s sort of Lovecraftian but on a different level.

Okay, give us your favorite established horror authors and tell us why you love them. 

Stephen King (because his narrative voice is very naturally and his books are almost always very good), Anne Rice (because she has a real love for history, atmosphere and the gothic), Gary Braunbeck (because his books and stories are always very moving and emotional), Brian Keene (because he can write such dark work and make it meaningful with great characters), Joe R Lansdale (because he goes to so many unusual places and exposes you to so many different ways of seeing the world. His versatility can have you laughing one minute and horrified the next).

Pick one of those authors and share with us one question you would ask him or her, if you had the chance.

Gary Braunbeck: “Did you always know your writing would take on this emotive and personal tone or did you build that over time?”

Do you think you’ll ever explore other themes as an author?

Yes, definitely. I have ideas that fall in all kinds of genres and subgenres, time will tell which ones I end up putting out there.

What sort of topics do you think are overdone or need to be written about less in horror?

Rape. There is a big difference between rape that has a real purpose and meaning in the story and the kind of thing where it seems tossed in for spice. The later version has become so prevalent that it’s becoming tedious and it’s often used multiple times in one book. The people that use that horrific event in that way, as a casual thing, aren’t helping resolve the rape culture or women who are affected by it.

What do you think are the benefits to self-publishing that aren’t as available to traditionally published authors?

You have a bit more control over the look, marketing and promotion of your work. It’s your choice how all of these things turn out and as a result you can manipulate the overall appeal. You also have the ability to edit and modify these things with relative ease. You control the cost of your book and reap the majority of the benefits when sales come in.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Reading, drawing (really anything creative) hanging out with the kids and my partner Todd, hiking, art, listening to music and hanging out with friends at B movie night.

And of course, you must let us know your all-time favorite horror movie!

Delamorte Delamore known as Cemetery Man in the U.S.