So You Wanna Write a Novel…You Must be Crazy!

With the release of my official debut novel, The Haunted Halls, a few weeks away, my next novel nearing completion, I feel compelled to share the arduous task of seeing one of these bad boys through. It’s all that blood, sweat, tears they talk about in the movies (do they talk about writing novels in movies?), but it’s so much more. It’s daunting. It’s fucking tiring. Yet, when it’s all polished, covered and released…well, it’s gone. And if you are a glutton for punishment, you either dive back in with a fresh idea, or charge headlong back into the one you already have cooking on the old laptop or in the notebook. I shared the odd tale of the Haunted Halls a few weeks back. Now, I’d like to let you in on the story that’s been wearing me out since the beginning of June.

My current novel, Window, as of this morning, rests at 50K words. This one was originally started in November of 2011. I had one finished manuscript on my computer (my unreleased werewolf novel) and had just finished my first short story (another one collecting dust while it waits for a makeover). I really loved and still love my werewolf novel, but I wasn’t quite sure what direction to take with my next novel. Honestly, I was still exhausted from the first novel. It took me three months to complete the first draft and another month of doing those first edits. The short story was a fun little excursion, but I had that sickness. I had the bug. I wanted to create another book.

Enter Bruce Springsteen.

Image

First off, let me tell you, this book has nothing to do with Springsteen lyrics or themes. There are plenty of those out there. And my Samhain debut, Abram’s Bridge, certainly borrows its title and genesis from the boss’s classic, “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Window, however, is its own story. Bruce’s contribution came by way of the Wings for Wheels documentary that was included in the 30th Anniversary edition of Born to Run. I don’t remember the exact quote, but Bruce talked about how he wanted Born to Run to be different from his first two records. Instead of just writing songs, he wanted to write songs that would resonate. He chose themes that were timeless. He told stories that were filled with longing, heart, and the need to get out. That hit me on the spot. That’s what I wanted my next novel to be. I didn’t know what I wanted it to be about, but I wanted it to resonate. I wanted it stick with you. That meant I had some serious soul searching to do. Where did I dare to go? How deep into who I am did I dare to open up? How much blood was I prepared to spill on the page? I knew that if I wanted to create something special, I was going to have to have the balls to go into those dark corners and light them up for all to see.

And after the first six chapters, I got distracted. That tends to happen to me a lot. I’m all over the place. Fast forward two and a half years. I began and completed, The Haunted Halls. I started Becoming (which currently rests at about 42K words).  I wrote two novellas, Abram’s Bridge and Boom Town (and sold them both to Samhain Publishing). At this year’s World Horror Convention, I sat down with my editor and discussed “what’s next?” He likes both novellas, but he would really like to see a novel.  I had just started a new novel in April, but I wanted to give my editor something special for that first novel. After I got home from the convention I decided to open up Window. After writing a couple of new chapters, I decided that I was going to finish this novel by the end of June. I was at just under 20K words. Could I get to 63-70K in a month? Sure, if I didn’t work full-time, go to school part-time, play in a band, and have three kiddos to take care of on a daily basis. Still, you’ve got to have goals.

Image

Here we sit, June 29th. I didn’t make it to 70K or even 60K, but I did cross the 50K mark placing the approximate page count at a comfortable 200. That’s pretty good since I do the majority of my story writing between midnight and 5AM Friday and Saturday nights during my two night audit shifts. By Sunday morning, my novel mind is exhausted. It’s not easy to turn it on and push it full speed ahead for those two sold blocks of time. Still, I have a goal. The first two weeks of June I did manage to get in 500 words here, and 500 words there, but by the middle of the month, I just couldn’t make it happen. Too much life going on to get into the zone. It was frustrating at first, but I quickly acquiesced to the fact that hey, I have my weekends to hammer this out. Its summer and I need to devote that time to my kids, my wife, and to myself. We writers need time to rest that creative muscle (not that we aren’t constantly recording what’s going on around us and thinking, “hey, there’s an idea…”).

Sorry for all that rambling, and if you read this all the way through, thanks. Maybe this time next year, Window will be polished and prettied up and maybe it will even have a home. J I’m sure I’ll be working on the next one by then.

Cheers!

 

And don’t forget to pick up my debut novel, The Haunted Halls, in a few weeks!

cover HH of

My review of Kevin Lucia’s Devourer of Souls: Who wants to play a game of Sophan?

Image

I had the pleasure of receiving a review copy of Kevin Lucia’s Ragnarok Publications debut, Devourer of Souls. I would suggest reading Lucia’s fantastic collection Things Slip Through (from Crystal Lake Publishing) prior to diving into these two tales. It’s not necessary, but I would recommend it just to familiarize yourself with the mysterious town of Clifton Heights.

Image

Devour of Souls is really two novellas put back-to-back.  It starts off with Sophan. This is a fantastic tale about a dangerous Vietnamese game. Although it has roots in reality, Lucia has twisted it and created his own game of fate (and does a marvelous job, by the way). The story follows a couple of boys from Clifton Heights. Jake and Nate, and the Vietnamese blueberry farmer, Mr. Trung. Mr. Trung displays the Sophan game at his table at the community lawn sale. The boys and a couple of their friends surround the old man and listen to the rules of the game. Mr. Trung and his game hold much more power than any of them know. I’m not one to put spoilers in my reviews, so you can check the story out to see how things turn out for the boys and Mr. Trung. Lucia sprinkles Stand by Me over a twisted mash-up of a Creature Feature version of Mr. Miyagi. The results are a lot of fun.

 

Next, we have The Man in Yellow. The story of a town that is no more and how that came to be. This one happens outside of Clifton Heights, just north in the town of Tahawus. I really connected to the main character here, Stuart. He suffers from cerebral palsy and that keeps him from doing sports and participating in any real physical activities. I battled with Scoliosis my whole life and was (and still am today) restricted from some sports, plus, Stuart’s also a huge metal head/hard rock kid…  Anyways, a preacher (the Man in Yellow) comes to the small town and is rumored to be able to heal people. This presents an inner-struggle for Stuart.  Stuart’s grown comfortable with his “handicap” and is not real keen on God, but soon learns that the He the man in Yellow is preaching about might not be the Christian He. A great concept and a nice beginning, but for me, the story sort of drags a bit. I was hoping for a few things to happen that never did.

Overall, I loved Sophan and thought The Man in Yellow was okay. Devourer of Souls is still totally worth picking up for Sophan alone. Lucia is a great talent and a studious devouer of all things horror (including souls!).

 

 

Stay Tuned for my interview with Mr. Lucia this Wednesday (July 2nd).

And if you’re on Facebook Monday night (June 30th), stop by the Devourer of Souls Facebook party! I’ll be there with Todd Keisling, Mercedes M. Yardley, and more!   Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/253636224830336/

For more on Kevin, check out his official website Kevin Lucia.com

Click here to pick up a copy of Devourer of Souls

Coming Down the Mountain….

I have some fun stuff coming along in the next few weeks here on the Blog. 

Tonight (6-27), I’ll have my review of Kevin Lucia’s Devourer of Souls.

Wednesday (7-2), I’ll be posting the interview I did with Kevin.

Wednesday (7-23), I’ll be reviewing Hunter Shea’s The Montauk Monster.

I’m also working on a few more interviews for July (I’ll let you know when I have things set up).

As for me, I should have a release date for you for The Haunted Halls very soon! 

Also, I’m very proud to announce that I signed my second contract with Samhain Publishing for my next novella, Boom Town. Don D’Auria described it as “The Blob meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.  Very cool. 

Lastly, my short story, “In the Basement of the Amazing Alex Cucumber”, will be included in James Ward Kirk’s “Best of 2013” Anthology coming out sometime in the first couple weeks of July.

Stay tuned for more MADNESS!

TALKING MONTAUK MONSTER, SAMHAIN PUBLISHING, AND METAL WITH AUTHOR, HUNTER SHEA

Image  

Hi Hunter! First off congrats on your success thus far in the horror writing community. I want to start this off with you giving us a brief rundown on Hunter Shea pre-Samhain Publishing.  What kind of jobs did you work?  Are there novels or short stories that you wrote/released or shopped that we don’t know about?

Thanks, Glenn! The last few years have been a crazy ride. I’ve made a lot of stops along the way before I could add ‘author’ to my resume. I’ve done landscaping, retail, supermarkets, pizza delivery, spent a decade with the phone company and then director at a video company. Thankfully, the phone company job was so dreadful, I needed an outlet to make sure my brain didn’t up and die on me. Writing was that outlet. There are plenty of short stories that will never see the light of day. I cringe so hard when I read them, my eyelids almost fuse shut. But hey, that’s all part of the process. You have to learn to crawl before you run. The first full-length novel I ever wrote was, of all things, a romantic comedy. That one I’m still very proud of and may revise it and see what happens.  

Sounds different. Let’s talk about Samhain. How did you get started with Don D’Auria and what has the journey been like?

Being an avid reader and horror fan, I was hooked on everything Leisure Books published (part of the now defunct Dorchester Publishing). Don was the editor for legends like Richard Laymon, Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum to name a few of the dozens of brilliant authors that published through Leisure. I wanted desperately to some day work with Don. To me, then and now, if Don plucks you out of the masses, you’ve arrived. When I submitted my first horror novel, Forest of Shadows, I sent it to Don and Don only. It took several years of back and forth before he rescued me from the slush pile. He first offered me a deal with Leisure, and then they collapsed, and came back for me when he joined Samhain. My book was part of the kickoff of Samhain’s horror line. Don is such an incredible guy. Turns out, we grew up relatively close to one another and have many of the same interests when it comes to the world of horror. The best part about him as an editor is his willingness to let his writers take chances and tell the story they want to tell. It’s been freaking awesome.

For those readers out there who may not be familiar with your work yet, give me two pieces you’ve done with Samhain that you would want a Hunter Shea virgin to read.

Naturally, you start with book numero uno, Forest of Shadows. I’m a big paranormal geek and love a creepy ghost story. Nothing I’ve written is as personally revealing as that book. Plus, it’s a launch point for follow up books, Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. Next is my true love – monsters. Swamp Monster Massacre is my love letter to Bigfoot, B movies and ass-kicking fun. Funny enough, that’s the book that landed me the deal to write The Montauk Monster.

Cool. I’ll have to check those out. I recently read Sinister Entity (really enjoyed it) I know it’s the second in this overall story. One thing that struck me personally right off was the 80’s metal/hair metal references. I see we share a love for 80’s hard rock and metal. Is that Hunter or was it mostly for the character.

Image

Dude, I am a product of 80s metal. I was fortunate to be there to watch Motely Crue, Cinderella, Metallica, Tesla, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and so many others perform. Damn that music was raw and just plain fun. When I was creating Jessica’s character in SE, I had to make her a little metal protégé.

I just missed the boat by a couple of years. I was too young to go to shows and had to watch my brother get to go to all the Ozzy and Motley shows. What was the best concert you attended at the time?

The best band I ever saw perform was Tesla. I got there early for one of their shows and while the stage was being set up, they came out and did a 40 minute acoustic set just sitting on metal chairs. Then they came out later to do another 2 hours. To me, they were the true rock geniuses of the 80s.

 Image

Love the metal, but let’s get back to business. I want to touch on your Samhain release from earlier this year, The Waiting. The Waiting is brilliant. To me it is the perfect example of a novella. It’s so tight, full and compact.

Wow, thanks. That was a difficult one to write because I was so close to the source material. What are your thoughts on novellas overall?  Personally, I love them.  I think the novella form is the best form for horror. It’s hard to keep the tension building for a full-length novel. I hate filler, so for me, the novella is ideal.

I checked out some episodes of your Youtube show, Monster Men. It seems like a lot of fun. I have to ask two questions here. First: Who does the theme song? My son, Axl.  was be-bopping like a madman to it.

It is catchy, isn’t it? Like a virulent disease! It was created by Steve Capalbo who is friends with Jack, the other half of the Monster Men. We also have a closing theme that was performed by our mutual buddy Colin Farmer and his band, The DXR All Stars. Jack and I used to work with Colin. We danced a jig when we got those theme songs. It upped the Monster Men game!

And second, during the World War Z review episode you mention that the Zombie genre needs to be “shot in the head and put to bed” . I feel the same way times a hundred.  Do you feel this way more toward the film world or the literature world? Would you ever attempt a zombie novel?

I think we have shambled the gamut of the zombie genre, both in film and literature, though I still hold out hope for quality zombie books. At least in book form, you can be original and out where the buses don’t run. Movies like to play it safe, beating a dead horse until the stink is too much for even the dullest viewer to stand anymore. I still can’t believe that WWZ made a zombie movie without any real blood. Are you kidding me? And Brad Pitt’s character was more resilient than Daffy Duck during hunting season. Oy! I have an idea for an anti-zombie zombie novel, the bullet to the head, so to speak. I’m just not quite ready to commit it to paper yet.

Image

Let’s talk about Montauk Monster. It’s on Pinnacle. How did this come about? Do you have an agent or get to them yourself?

Talk about a wild way to get a book deal. I do have an agent, but this came out of the blue. My editor at Kensington (of which Pinnacle is a part), Gary Goldstein, loaded up his Kindle with a ton of novels and novellas, looking for a new voice. He emailed me out of the blue and said he couldn’t put Swamp Monster Massacre down. At first, I wasn’t even sure he was legit. I thought it was a prank. Seriously. But the more we talked, the more I realized we were of the same mind when it came to loving old monster movies. Together, we wanted to put one in book form. The Montauk Monster is our B-movie come to life, with enough facts thrown between the fiction to keep people nervous.

Give us the gist of the tale.

In the beautiful beach town of Montauk, Long Island, bodies are piling up, torn to shreds, fizzing with a strange toxicity. County cop Dalton Gray is the man on the scene as the disturbing deaths occur during his watch, the graveyard shift. The citizens of Montauk are reporting strange creatures lurking in the night, their numbers increasing. It doesn’t take long before the whole town is thrown into a full-scale panic. Can Gray discover the truth behind these hideous creatures before it’s too late? The action is non-stop and the monsters (and their origin) are terrifying. If you need a book to bring to the beach or on vacation this summer, The Montauk Monster is it.

That sounds awesome. Before we finish, I know you are still working with Samhain. I’m assuming this will continue?

You can’t pry me away from Samhain. My next book with them, a horror western, actually comes out in July. It’s called Hell Hole and is a total departure from anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve got cowboys, black eyes kids, wild men, Rough Riders and ghost hunters all descending on an abandoned mining town in Wyoming in 1905. Next up with Samhain is the sequel to Sinister Entity, Island of the Forbidden. It takes place a few years after SE. Jessica and Eddie are apart and not the same people they used to be. That’s slated to come out January of 2015.

What else do we have to look forward to in late 2014/first half of 2015 from Hunter Shea?

Aside from my Samhian books, my second book with Pinnacle should be out some time next year. I just handed in the manuscript, so I’m waiting for the date.

Busy man. All right, we all love some rapid fire, so here we go:

Give me your favorite TV show right now that no one would guess you liked.

Longmire. Best show on TV. I want to be a sheriff in Wyoming because of that show!

Two writers you think people should be reading:

Jim Lehrer (he of the McNeil/Lehrer fame on PBS) for straight up quality storytelling and Brian Moreland for superb horror.

Lastly, I’ve read ‘Salem’s Lot 4 times. What book have you read the most?

A Moveable Feast by Hemingway. I read it every year since I discovered it, so I’m guessing I’ve read it at least 20 times. Thank you for taking the time, Hunter. Best of luck with The Montauk Monster and Hell Hole. Hey, thanks for having me. And welcome to the Samhain family. I’ll be grilling – er, interviewing you very soon!

Thanks, man. I look forward to it.

 

Check out Hunter’s official website: Hunter Shea

Find Hunter and his friends at Samhain Horror

And order your copy of his summer masterpiece, The Montauk Monster

 

 

The Strange Journey of The Haunted Halls, and the People Who Have Taken it With Me.

Image

The release of my debut novel, The Haunted Halls, is weeks away. I’m sort of excited.  I figured I would take a minute and let those of you not familiar with me or my work in on the history of this book.

It all started with a short story I wrote in November of 2012, “Night Swim”. I work the front desk at a hotel in Augusta, Maine. One night while doing the night audit I walked past the pool and imagined something crawled out. I ran down to my laptop and wrote “Night Swim”. A few weeks later, while surfing Duotrope for a place to send the story I stumbled upon JukePopSerials.com. They were paying for serial novels. I had never written a serial novel, but recalled the way Stephen King originally unleashed The Green Mile back in the late-nineties and decided it might be fun to try.  I looked at “Night Swim” again and thought, “Hey! That could really be a great opening chapter.” In late December (of 2012), the people at JukePop Serials thought so, too.

At JukePop (at the time), after you submitted your chapter, there was no way to edit it. I didn’t have an editor and was still pretty new at this writing game. Within my first few weeks working with the site I found a number of horrifying mistakes.  These errors were so bad that I didn’t want to share my story. That’s when I took a look at Amazon’s world of self-publishing. I devised a plan. I would release the Haunted Halls on my own. I would carry on the serial idea by releasing the story in volumes. In order to get JukePop to give me back the story I had to offer them a new one.

Throughout 2013, with the help of my artist/musician friend, Jason Lynch, doing the amazing covers,  I managed to release the first five (out of six) volumes of the story. It was perfectly clear as I released volume five that the story was good, but it still needed a professional edit. Volume five went up and came back down within a couple of weeks. I then took down volume two, three, and four, while I began my search for an editor. I spoke online with Robert S. Wilson about taking a look at the manuscript and he was all for it. It took me a few months to scrounge up some cash to move ahead with Bob, but in that time, I found my publisher, James Ward Kirk.

Four of my short stories have been published by James in various James Ward Kirk anthologies. When James heard I had a completed manuscript, he was instantly excited and told me he’d love to put it out. We hatched a plan to release the book in February of 2014…then March of 2014….and then summer of 2014.  Okay, Bob is a busy, busy guy. He writes, he edits…oh, and he runs a little indie publishing company called, Nightscape Press. You know, the guys that have produced the last two Bram Stoker Award-winning books in the Best First Novel category? With Jason, Bob, and James busting their humps for me, The Haunted Halls is finally the shining gem we all thought it could and would be.

Image

The date isn’t exact (July 9th is the one I’m using), but the novel will be available next month. James agreed that the print version should also include all six of the volume covers that Jason created. Jason agreed to craft a brand new piece for the front cover. That cover will be revealed this week!  Whether it’s Thursday on HorrorNovelReviews.com or Friday here on my blog, is still up in the air (Matt from HNR is also a VERY busy fella).

I want to take this minute to say thanks to some of the special people who have had a hand in this novel’s journey from JukePop, to Amazon, to next month’s official release:

Jodi and Jerry at JukePopSerials.com. Anyone who voted for the first batch of chapters while they were live on the site. Jason Lynch for the brilliant covers and friendship. Matt Molgaard at HorrorNovelReviews.com for being one of the first to review volume one way back in February of 2013. Erin Sweet-Al Mehairi at Oh, For the Hook of a Book! For coming into my life soon after. She has been a HUGE supporter of this novel since getting her hands on volume one. She beta read a bunch of the volumes that followed. Joe Hempel at HNR and Topof theHeapReviews.com. Joe covered each released volume and called me out when I missed a step. Thanks, Joe! My best friend, Ben Pinard, for pushing for Lee Buhl. Ben was my keeper of the Mendoza line. Thanks for your honesty, man. Bob Wilson for his edits and challenges. And of course, James for working with me and allowing me to do this the way I want to do it.

There are others who helped out and supported this baby over the last year Jeanann, Lisa, Amy, and anyone else who reviewed a piece of the original story.

Another couple of thank yous to two authors who read volume one. Rena Mason, for telling me that I  had a good voice. It meant a lot to hear that. Thank you. And to Ronald Malfi who posted on his Facebook page that volume one was “…deliciously creepy…” and shared the link. He didn’t have to do that, but he did it anyway. Ronald has been a bit of a quiet mentor to me since 2012. Ronald, your time and opinions are appreciated.

We’re almost there. Stay tuned for the official cover reveal and the official release date.I can’t wait to share this with all of you.

 

Say hi to my friends:

Erin at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!

Matt at Horror Novel Reviews

The artwork of Jason Lynch at Jlynchgraphics.com

Discover and follow some great serial novels at JukePop Serials

 

and keep up with me at my website:  Glenn Rolfe Horror

 

 

To Blurb or Not to Blurb

To Blurb or Not to Blurb. Is that a question? Yes, yes it is.

Recently, I’ve been led astray…by a blurb.  Yes, honest.Image

THIS BOOKS IS THE BESSSSSSSST!

Have you read these things:

“Big Name Author” raves about “X” author’s new novel:

“Brilliant”  

“I’ve seen the future of __and it is “x”!”

“Unbelievable….Full of surprises.”

“Original, gritty, gives Dan Brown a run for his money!”

Okay, that last one might be funny to some, but I’m a foot-in-the-closet Dan Brown fan (Don’t hate me because I like fast flowing fluff–or do. I don’t really care).

Here’s why I dislike blurbs, especially “Big Name Author” blurbs. Like that old Gin Blossoms song says, “if you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.”  See, when BNA tells me this book is amazing and groundbreaking, and then I go in with this in mind and it ends up not meeting those lofty Gin Blossoms, I feel jipped. And lied to. And duped!

Image

Never trust a man who wears a turtleneck and carries a tambourine.

Why am I ranting about this? I’ll tell you. My debut novel is weeks away from release. I’m working hard on the cover copy so as to entice “constant reader” to choose my book over the next one. I submit this carefully crafted piece of work to my publisher and find out that the publisher wants to put blurbs on the back  cover….and that’s it.  After asking why, my publisher says, “just a style thing, but if you want to go with the old fashioned cover copy that would be fine”. I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s the gist of the conversation.

I have a friend who has offered to do a blurb for my book. He’s very respectable here in our horror community, but he’s also a friend. And as much as I appreciate his support and enthusiasm to help me out, it just feels off to me.  I don’t want someone else telling you how good or special my book is. I want the writing, the characters, and the story to do that. There’s an Aerosmith song called, “Let the Music Do the Talking”. Pretty much how I feel, too.

This is not intended to offend those of you with these great blurbs from BNA. Sometimes, they hit the mark–straight and true–and the book lives up to the hype.  I’m strange. I‘m just going to march to my own drum and keep my Gin Blossoms in the stereo and my Dan Brown on the shelf where everyone can see it.  If you read my book later this summer and you decide you like it, I won’t cry if you leave a review on Amazon or private message me that you enjoyed it. That’s good enough for me.

 

My debut novel, The Haunted Halls, will be released next month from James Ward Kirk Publishing.

 

AEROSMITH- “Let the Music Do the Talking”

 

 

High Body Count Fairytails: My HNR interview with Mercedes M. Yardley (re-post)

 

 

Image

 

(This interview originally appeared on HorrorNovelReviews.com in January 2014)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 sees the release of the first full-length novel from one of the horror writing communities secret darlings, Mercedes M. Yardley, Nameless: The Darkness Comes. Yardley is not so much a secret among our community (with two releases already under her belt–2012’s excellent collection of short fiction, Beautiful Sorrows and last year’s novella, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love), just a more of a hoarded treasure. Kind of like that up and coming band that you love and don’t want the mainstream media to get their fat, nasty, write-me-a-hit-or-you’re-back-on-the-streets hands on.

I had the pleasure of meeting her at the World Horror Con in New Orleans last summer. She is as cool as she is talented. I spoke with her last week about her career, her voice, her works and, of course, Nameless: The Darkness Comes. I think you’ll come to see the light side of the dark side once you open that cold, cold horror heart of yours. Come join us…

 

HORROR NOVEL REVIEWS: Let’s start at the start. How long have you been writing?

MERCEDES M.  YARDLEY: I’ve been writing forever. Always. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t reading or writing. Those annoying Sam and Ann workbooks we used in school? I blew through all of them until the elementary school didn’t have anymore. Then I wrote about how much I hated Sam and Ann, their dog, Nip, and their cat, Fluff. My first grade teacher congratulated my reading and advised me to work on my attitude.

HNR: Was there a story or novel in particular that made you want to write?

MERCEDES: Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist” really resonated with me. The cruelty, the beauty. I read it and thought, “I can never write like that.”  Then I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and I despised it, but it awoke something in me. It shook something loose in my soul and I opened my eyes to magical realism.

HNR: I love it when a writer has that kind of impact. It’s powerful.

You worked for Shock Totem? How did that come about?

MERCEDES: I had a story in their first issue. It was a cool little mag with an amazing staff. I hung out on the forums and got to know everybody. We just rocked together. One day they asked if I wanted to join the magazine as their nonfiction writer. Later on, they promoted me to contributing editor. It was an incredible experience. It definitely accelerated my learning curve. It was a great decision to join staff.

HNR: Will you continue on with them?

MERCEDES: Funny you should ask that. I stepped away from the magazine a few months ago. I found that I wasn’t able to keep my head above water. If I was writing, I’d feel badly that I wasn’t reading ST slush or doing interviews or articles. When I was doing those things, I was torn because I wasn’t writing. Finally I decided that I needed to devote myself to writing full time and focusing on novels. It was scary. It was also sad. But it was the right thing to do, and I still get to see the ST staff around. They were the best part of the gig.

HNR: Your first collection really showcases your unique style and voice. Beautiful Sorrows was next to brilliant. I found it impressive that you had your own style developed right from the get-go. To me, it’s like a terrifying, bizarre fairytale…with sprinkles. How would you describe your style?

MERCEDES: Glenn, thank you! That’s so nice to hear! A terrifying, bizarre fairytale…with sprinkles. Now that’s a blurb!

I have two distinct styles. I call the lyrical style “whimsical horror.” Fairytales with a high body count. The other is more smart aleck swagger. Nameless, the novel that is coming out this month, lands firmly on the swagger side. But the whimsical, starry style…I’d say that shows up more. It’s the way my brain works.

HNR: Where do you think it comes from?

MERCEDES: It comes from getting out of my own way. From reading fairytales and fantasies, and gorging on the exquisite beauty of things. It’s a style that people either love or hate, and I spent a lot of time being afraid of that. I tried to write the way I thought I was “supposed” to. Now I realize there isn’t any such thing. You write happy and hard and see what emerges when the worry stops. It’s lovely.

HNR: And I sense that’s just what you did in your novella,Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. The work had your signature style, and it felt like you got to open it up a little more and really let it breathe. Was that liberating, to write a larger piece? Or did you find it more intimidating?

MERCEDES: It was intimidating, in a way. It was a darker piece with blood and pain, and I didn’t know how my style would lend itself to that. I ended up immensely happy with it, but there were periods of worry and concern. Their tale was so important. The terrible experiences that I touched upon are real to many people, and I wanted to deal with it in a sensitive yet fiercely truthful manner. And I naturally write shorter stories. I write flash fiction quite a bit. Yes, the longer was different, but immensely satisfying.

HNR: And this was put out through Ragnarok Publications. How are they to write for?

MERCEDES: Fantastic. They’re talented, timely, and enthusiastic. Genuinely good and fun people. They’re one of the best decisions I’ve made of late, and that’s really exciting.

They also put out my first novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, so I know their coolness isn’t a fluke. They’re actually this great to write for.

Are your ears burning, Ragnarok? I’m saying good things about you!


HNR: And that brings us to the upcoming new Novel,Nameless. It’s coming out this week. What are your readers in for?

MERCEDESNameless!  It’s not only my debut novel, but it’s the first book in The Bone Angel Trilogy. I’m over the moon about it! It’s a dark and scary book about Luna, a sarcastic girl who can see demons. There’s a lot of humor in it. People who were scared to pick up a demon novel are telling me that they’re really enjoying Luna’s voice and that they think it’s funny. So it softens the whole “We Are Legion; Give Us Your Soul” thing. It’s been compared to Dean Koontz Tick Tock and David Wong’s John Dies at the End, which are both books that I enjoyed.

These are some of my favorite characters. They’re just fun to roll around with.

HNR: How was writing this compared to the other works you’ve released?

MERCEDES: Nameless is a different labor of love. I was zipping along with it at lightning speed, literally writing a chapter a night. It was a break from the other things I was working on, and written purely for fun. Meanwhile, I was put on bed rest because I was having triplets. Then we lost two of the triplets, and it took me a while to get my mojo back. The ending was a struggle, and I put it aside for a while. When I came back with fresh eyes, I fell in love with the characters all over again. So this novel represents the best of times and the worst of times, quite literally.

HNR: Do you feel pressure leading up to the release?

MERCEDES: Yeeeeeees. It’s my debut novel and the first of a trilogy. I hope it will go well and people like it. But as I was reminded, I mostly write for myself and I’m pleased with it. Still, I think an author always hopes their work will be well-received.

HNR: You just unveiled on your blog, A Broken Laptop, that Ragnarok Publications picked up the next two in this trilogy? How did this come about? And how does that make you feel?

MERCEDES: Oh, I’m pumped! I was nervous at first. “Can I pull this off? Will somebody want to read three of my books?”  But the characters. They’re fascinating. I love them. I’ll follow them through Hell, literally, and in fact we kinda do. They have things to say, and I’m going to let them.

Nameless is set up for a sequel. I didn’t expect that, actually. I planned it to be a standalone book. Then I realized there was something much bigger behind it, and more to the story. So I set it up as a duology. But then I kept thinking a little more…

Hey, Ragnarok. How about a trilogy?

Hey, Mercedes. How about yes.

It’s perfect. It fits. It’s awesome.

Image

HNR: Switching gears a little, you went through some agent issues recently. How did that affect your writing, if at all, and how is the new agent relationship going?

MERCEDES: I’ve been with my agent for about three years, and we just couldn’t market my work. It doesn’t fit into any of the traditional publishing genres, per se. They want traditional fantasy, or straight noir, or women’s fiction. I do dark fantastic thrillers (or women’s fiction) with strong horror and magical realism elements. Oh yeah, and nonfiction. So I understand being hard to place.

I’m currently sans agent right now. I have a novel titledStormlight that I want to polish up and sub to agents who would be prepared to deal with the eclectic delight that is my screwy work. I still aspire to somebody who thinks they can market me. But I’m very happy where I am right now, too. Giddy happy.

HNR: I want to touch on some things outside of the books. Sort of a quick hits line of questioning.

As a mother and a wife, what are some tricks you use to squeeze in some writing time? Or do you just wait until the house is asleep?

MERCEDES: The house is never asleep. Having three kiddos, and two that are medically fragile, means that somebody is always awake. Someone is always sick and needs the nebulizer. I always leave the computer up so I run to it whenever I have a spare minute. It’s a laptop so I carry it with me from room to room to wherever the kids are. Every spare second is spent darting to the computer. It takes a lot of tenacity and devotion, but the end result is that I get to build a novel. In fact, I’m teaching an online course on that very subject this February for ANWACon. It’s something I think we all struggle with. Using our time wisely and building a novel sentence by sentence, word by word.

HNR: You’re part of a writing group, the Illiterati. Cool name. How do you guys help each other?

MERCEDES: Thanks! We do everything. We travel together to cons, when we go. We critique each other’s work with fangs and claws and then we lick each other’s wounds. The Illiterati is a huge support group. We’re each other’s best cheerleaders. We spread the word about each other’s work and celebrate birthdays together. Mason helped me get an invite to the Tales of Jack the Ripperanthology and helped me record the Beautiful Sorrowsaudiobook. Ryan Bridger and I are writing a very cool trilogy together. Billie is my go-to for the relationships inNameless. She has beautiful ideas. Matt was the perfect traveling companion in New Orleans and didn’t let me get lost. We have THE ILLITERATI: THE WRITERS GROUP and soon we’ll be doing ILLITERATI: THE BAND. One day we’d love to have THE ILLITERATI: THE COMMUNE.

HNR: You guys live where it’s warm, so count me in! Would you suggest a writing group to all writers?

MERCEDES: It works for me, but I like running in a pack. I don’t have that “Oh, I need betas!” problem that a lot of writers have. Mine are built in. I know I’ll be seeing them every Tuesday. I know they’re my first readers. I say everybody should try a writer’s group and see if it works for them. In person, online, it doesn’t matter. But it’s something worthwhile and I think everybody should give it a go.

HNR: All right, let’s get a couple quick ones in here. Favorite treat you’ve brought to a book related event?

MERCEDES: Frozen Junior Mints and Cherry Coke. Mmm!

HNR: Favorite character in a book you read in the last 6 months and why?

MERCEDES: This is horrible. Probably Reed Taylor in my book Nameless. I’ve been reading mostly nonfiction for the past six months. Writing books, enrichment books, true crime books. I can’t very well pick a criminal as my favorite person. But I’ve read and reread Nameless so many times while editing. I’ve gotta go with Reed.

HNR: TV show (old or new) that you secretly love?

MERCEDES: I’m open about my love for The X-Files, so my secret love must be Murder, She Wrote. That squirrely Jessica and her pastel collared shirts! She’s so sassy.

HNR: You play the ukulele. Would you write and record a record with Eddie Vedder if he asked you to?

MERCEDES: In a heartbeat, especially now that he’s softened his style. Our music would be a thing of tragic beauty. Set that up for me, would you, Glenn?

HNR: I agree, and I will see what I can do. Any parting promo or tip for the peeps?

MERCEDES: Yes! This writing thing is awesome, but it’s a business. All of those hurt feelings? Those “I was rejected so I’ll never write again” moments? Let them go. Learn how to breathe through it. If you want to write, then don’t let anything stop you. You have it in you, my darlings. Don’t let anybody tell you anything different.

I also want to say that Nameless: The Darkness Comes is slated for a January 21 release. I’ll also be doing a Reddit AMA on February 11, and I invite everybody to come play with me and ask questions! I’m really looking forward to it.

HNR: Thank you for being rad and taking the time.

MERCEDES: It was a pleasure, Glenn! I was totally digging on some Never Nudes jams while answering the questions. Great sound.

HNR: Thank you, Mercedes. And just so everyone knows, I did not add that last part post-script! Go buy Nameless: The Darkness Calls, and pick up the rest of her work while you’re at it!

 

Buy Nameless: TheDarknesss Comes 

and visit Mercedes blog:  A Broken Laptop

 

Read this interview and others, along with weekly reviews at Horror Novel Reviews

 

Come back next week. I’ll have a brand new interview with Hunter Shea, author of The Montauk Monster

 

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Image

What makes one writer think it’s okay to take shots at another. Is it simply criticism? Is it honest disappointment? Is it meant to push the targeted fellow author to try harder? Or is it that bitter old crow, jealousy? I’ve only been in the writing community for about three years. For the most part, everybody is very cool and supportive. I’ve said it reminds of the punk rock community I’ve come out of where everyone helps to lift up everyone else. We’re in this together. Family.

Everybody has an opinion. This, I think, is the self-justification for publicly chain-sawing one of our contemporaries. Okay, if your reviewing someone’s novel, go ahead, give us your opinion. Tell us what you like and what you don’t. What worked and what didn’t. One of the problems I have is with writers who want to use social media to try and chop down bigger writers (Stephen King seems to be the number one target). Why? What purpose does it really serve?  How do you think that makes you look? I wouldn’t do it. I don’t get the motivation behind these types of public posts. Maybe it is a sincere disappointment in the author’s work, but damn if it doesn’t come off nasty.  I understand it’s an opinion, but if I feel like there are some things that you can keep on a more personal level (in private conversation, maybe a drink with a couple of friends), but plastering it on your Facebook page is lame. If you’ve got nothing good to say…

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do from here on out. I’m gonna unfriend these guys. Yep. I don’t have time to read this unnecessary garbage. There’s no place for it at my table. Some people tend to get cynical and jaded by being in the arts and entertainment business for a good chunk of time. Maybe I just haven’t been here long enough. I hope that’s not the case.

Image

How about this: Instead of telling us that someone is virtually unreadable, how about you just praise someone you enjoy. There’s enough negativity in this world already. To quote my friend, Terry Pole, keep it on the pos.