(#Share the Horror: Interview) Heather Herrman Touches on Horror in the Heartland, Women in Horror Month, and Her Mom’s Book Club Reading Her Novel.

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Glenn Rolfe:  Hi, Heather! Thanks for doing this interview with Share the Horror! Congratulations on your excellent first novel, Consumption, and an extra hell yeah! for making the preliminary Bram Stoker Award ballot for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. That’s a whole lotta awesome.

Heather Herrman:  Thanks, Glenn! I’m really excited about it and very honored to be considered.

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GR: Let’s talk about the book. How long did it take from first draft to final manuscript?

HH: The first draft was completed in about seven months. I was very disciplined about writing 2,000 words a day because, frankly, it was the only thing keeping me sane. My husband and I had just moved across country from Portland, Oregon to Minneapolis, MN, in the middle of the recession, and despite (or maybe because of) my multiple, incredibly useful humanities degrees, I couldn’t find a job to save myself. I finally found an amazing VISTA position with the Minnesota Literacy Council, with whom I then worked for another four years, but my job didn’t start until noon, so I had the morning free to finish the novel. After that, I got an agent in about a month by sending out about sixty or so queries. And then… nothing. Nada. This was 2009, before the Walking Dead, before the zombie craze, and at that point my book was about 145,000 words long. A tome. And there weren’t any publishers willing to take a chance on that for a first novel. Fast-forward four years to my agent sending it out again, Hydra picking it up, and me completely revising the novel to cut about 50,000 words. I still mourn my earlier version, but I think what it is now is what it needed to be to get published as a first novel, and I’m really proud of it.

GR: I always wonder what it would be like to sneak a peek at the original versions of certain novels. I bet Consumption would be great. Wonder what else you did to this town?Why did you bring this evil to poor little Cavus?

HH: Dude, Cavus was asking for it. JK. But seriously, I am very intrigued by the transformations small middle-America towns have experienced in the last few decades. I grew up in farm country, spending a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm in the small town of Bennington, Kansas. And even from when I was a kid to now, I’ve seen so much change, specifically in the way farming happens. For example, I just did a harvest ride along with my uncle, who still farms and is now, in fact, one of the bigger farmers in the state. He said that whereas before his dad—my grandfather—used to work from dawn ’til dusk during harvest, now they worked all night sometimes, because technology provided lights and automated steering to make this possible. This meant that for farmers, there was no longer any natural “end of the work day;” the natural cycle had been shifted. He and I talked about how this was a really hard thing for a farmer and a farmer’s family. But technology had to happen, and it is, in a lot of ways, a good thing—farms can produce much higher yields than they did before. However, at what cost? Because now we’re talking about mono-crops with giant yields and what struck me is that even though I grew up in the middle of farm country, when I come back home I can’t eat any of the food that the farmers are growing. All of the food in restaurants is flown or trucked in. This—along with small farms disappearing and with them their lifestyle—seemed to beg the question, if we aren’t consuming what we grow, what are consuming? And obviously I mean that on more than a literal level. What is filling what the disappearing farming lifestyle left behind? And thus Cavus was born. I didn’t set it in Kansas because I needed the mental distance to write about it honestly. Cavus is actually based on a small town in Montana that I drove through on the move to Minnesota.  I can’t for the life of me remember which one, just that it had this incredibly creepy energy.

GR: One of the aspects I really enjoyed was the bizarre creatures your Feeders become when they slip their human disguise and take form. That, among other things, reminded me of Bentley Little. More than just horror or monsters, The Feeders (or you) put these really macabre images in my head. And it’s always alongside something ordinary or something that appears ordinary. I think there’s a scene when John is walking back to Bunny’s and there’s this little girl, and thanks to all of the previous freaky imagery, we’re sort of on the edge of our seats to see if it’s really a little girl or something else. I loved that. I’m assuming Little is an influence for you?

HH: Man, it’s so interesting you say that because a few people have made that comparison. I’m completely flattered, but I don’t think he is an influence that I realized until hearing people say so. I read several Little books in the past years, and going back to think about those books, I think they really did creep into my sub-conscious, especially some of those gorgeously disturbing images he creates (I’m thinking of the dead in The Walking). Anyway, if asked I’d put King or Katherine Anne Porter as immediate influences, but I wonder if the more powerful influences are sometimes the ones buried in the deepest depths, the true raw stuff that just kind of oozes out when you write.

GR: I love Little, so it is definitely a compliment. Of those Little books that you have read, any stick out to you?

HH: As I said before, I loved The Walking. The Summoning is also great. In both of these books you get monsters that go beyond the traditional, which I really appreciate. A vampire isn’t just a vampire, and a zombie isn’t just a zombie. Anyway, thanks to you, I’m going to go back now and try to read all Bentley’s work at a stretch, which is something one of my old professors did with any author he really liked. He’d take a summer and work his way through an author’s entire publishing catalogue, no matter how deep it was. He said this was the best way to get to know an author as well as learn from them as a writer. I’ve only done this a few times, but I think Bentley and I are about to spend the summer together. I hope he likes tequila.

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GR: I thought the factory bit, these mother fuckers getting ready to unleash this to the rest of the world was scary as hell. I know King brings religion and God into a lot of his works. You used the communion wafer in here as that potential weapon to take down the world. Is there a religious stance going on here? Or is that just where the story demanded to go?

HH: Did my mom put you up to this? Seriously, she just gave me a talking to about those poor church-goers and their communion wafers a few nights ago. For whatever reason she and her nursing friends have decided to read Consumption for their book club (god love them), and my mom wants to be prepared with an answer about why her daughter is going to hell.

Truthfully, I find much to loathe and admire about organized religion, and I think the communion wafers were just my way of exploring that. Any organized institution begs corruption of power, and religion has had some splendid examples of this. At the same time, you most often find your Everyman there, trying to do good, trying to find something to believe in. For me, those communion wafers harkened back to the consumption theme. As in, what are we consuming beyond the physical food we’re eating? Communion wafers are symbolic, and they’re meant to represent something holy and good, and yet what if even this isn’t safe from globalized capitalism in its greediest form? In what ways do we already infuse religion with politics and use it to sway the opinions of believers from all walks of life? Which is not to say that I am not a believer, or that I don’t think religion is important or doesn’t produce some very good things like charity and a structured belief system that can be a strong foundation for families and communities. But. And. To believe in such a system is to question it. And if you can question it and still find belief, if you can step outside of your glass bubble where everyone thinks the same thing as you and believes the same things you do, and still find a way to bring that belief to life, then, I think, you have something truly worthwhile.

GR: How are things going with Hydra? How is their marketing team and your overall experience with the publisher been?

HH: Hydra is incredible. Truly. Sarah Peed and Ashleigh Heaton in particular have worked really hard on getting the book out there and making sure it was all it could be. I certainly have had to do a lot of my own publicizing (as do all authors these days)—for instance, I came up with the idea of a blog video to go with Consumption’s release—but any time I had something like that I wanted to do and asked for their help they were completely on board. I also did a Mary Shelley b-day party on Facebook with two other Hydra authors whom I really admire—Michael M. Hughes and Adam Cesare. That was a lot of fun. What I really appreciate about Hydra is the level of talent that they bring in. I think the books that they have out there and are currently curating are top-notch.

GR: Growing up in Kansas,  are there any scary incidents from your youth that may have led you down this path?

HH: The usual childhood stuff, I guess. As do all kids, I experienced some rough patches growing up, and I remember one of my earliest horror books was King’s It. I was in sixth or seventh grade and borrowed it from my aunt’s house (she didn’t know), and it scared the shit out of me. But more than that, it comforted me. It took me out of any bad stuff happening in the real world and let me not just escape, but believe in the importance of small actions and small people. Which I think really good horror does. By which I don’t mean handing us a neat good and evil dichotomy on a platter, but forcing us to find the grayness and walk within it. As for any particular scary events happening, I think its more landscape for me. As I said before, I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm, and at night I would go outside and listen to the coyotes, and there was such beauty and wildness there, that I just knew there was so much more than what we were seeing. I still find a magic when I go back there. And also my friend’s basement was completely haunted, so there’s that.

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GR: I know that February is Women in Horror month. With all of this blow up over the Oscars and whether or not African-Americans are getting hosed or not, I was wondering your feelings on Woman in Horror vs. Men in Horror. I saw actress Stacy Dash, who happens to be black, on Fox News talking about how having channels like BET and the BET Awards where you can only be nominated if you’re black is a double standard and that they need to do away with those if African Americans are going to try and play this card. I know this isn’t as deep rooted an issue as race, but some do bring discrimination into it. Personally, I think ladies can be twice as vicious as guys, but WiHM did make me look at how many male authors I was reading vs. how many woman authors. It was predominantly male for me. It did convince me to purchase books by Shirley Jackson, Rena Mason, and Mercedes Yardley. Does WiHM mean anything to you? Do you see it as something that’s necessary or not? Is there a problem in our industry?

HH: First let me say I think it’s really badass of you to actively take a look at your reading list and think proactively about what that meant and how you could change it. Kudos.

Actually, inequality of race and gender are old bedfellows, going all the way back to suffragettes and abolitionists. So I think talking about them in tandem is gonna happen regardless—though obviously each also contains its own, complex issues. But to your specific question, I’ve said a lot of things lately about women in horror, and posted a video about the lack of women on the Stoker ballot. That video kept me up a few nights—I posted it right when the ballot came out, and we were on vacation, and I kept second-guessing myself and thinking that I should have polished it more, or said things in a clearer way so that men didn’t feel like I was specifically attacking them, but at the end of the day I just needed to say something and get it out there without overly-censoring myself which, I think, is a real danger for women. And honestly, almost everyone in the horror community—especially HWA members, have been incredibly supportive. They were and are already talking about the issue and recognizing a need for change. I admire a lot of what they’ve done with, for example, recruiting more women for specific chapters and creating a Diversity Committee, but I think we’re all on the same page in saying there’s still a lot of work to be done. When you’ve got the Stokers preliminary awards ballot with over 70 percent men on it, there’s a problem. Let’s not sugar-coat it.

By and large I think horror readers and writers are one of the smartest groups out there—people who haven’t maybe always fit in elsewhere but find a home in horror. Horror can either reinforce the status quo or explode it, and obviously, at least for me, it’s the latter possibility that’s the most interesting. Which would, in my mind, dictate a need for inclusiveness in storytelling. You’re going to see the exciting stuff happening in genre first— we already are—and that’s why I think horror and specifically the HWA is an important place to honor this.

But, you know, I’m new to this game. I should just make sure that’s out there. Plenty of other women horror authors have already taken up the cause of getting great work by women published and noticed. HWA president Lisa Morton comes to mind. So I don’t want to have the audacity to come in an presume to speak for all women. It’s a complicated topic, and we’re all just figuring it out, but we’ve got to figure it out together. And to answer your specific question, yeah, I’m all for Women in Horror month. Do I wish we didn’t need it? Sure. Is there a danger that it boxes women into a little, safe corner where they can just eat crumpets and drink their tea? Absolutely. But anything that brings more women’s fiction to the public is fine by me.

In regards to Stacey Dash and her comments—when she said what she said, I think you also have to look at the context in which she said it. Which means thinking about who her audience was, and what the benefit vs. the risk of saying what she said might be. She is absolutely entitled to her own opinion, and discrimination of race or gender, while tied in many ways, are also their own very complicated issues. I would never presume to know what a person of color, for example, might be experiencing. But I will say that in terms of gender and writing, we’ve got a problem that is deeply systematic. I would never say let’s just throw more women’s names on the Stoker Ballot, for example, because that’s not going to solve anything. We all want work based on merit—there’s never a question of that. But we need to think about the deeper issues—like how do we even get women’s work and voices to the table in the first place and, in my mind, perhaps more importantly, deeper into the publishing and literary world so that more of the behind the scenes decisions such as what books are being published and reviewed are in the hands of a much more diverse membership. This of course goes for race and gender both.

There are so many stories that need to be told, and giving voice to them will only make horror, and all genres better. What we absolutely don’t need to do, however, is to demonize one group of people—let’s say white men—because that gets us absolutely nowhere. And some of the biggest advocates for increasing women’s recognition in horror come from men. But what we do need to do is have a dialogue that goes beyond the usual finger-pointing or victim vs. man in power that we’re so used to having. This is a nuanced issue and everyone, including men, should feel that their story is valid. We may, however, need to do more thinking about what that actual story is and the inherent privilege (of which I also as a white, cisgender, hetero woman enjoy) that entails. But this doesn’t have to mean a winner/ loser situation. It’s like thinking, as an author, that for me to do well, somebody else has to fail. When in truth, we both do better if we both succeed. The more books out there being valued, the wider the audiences reached and the stronger the market.

GR: I do my Share the Horror page partly because I love to bring things to people’s attention, partly as a way to pay it forward, and basically share any knowledge that I have or that of my interviewees. You’ve done some great YouTube videos offering up advice to writers. Is that kind of the same deal? Is it something you enjoy doing? (You guys can check her YouTube Page HERE )

HH: I love the concept of Share the Horror. A sincere thank you because you are truly bringing a much needed resource to the genre. And yeah, that is, I guess, what I like to do with my videos and blog in regard to writing in general. Not that I have it all figured out, far from it, but I have taught it a lot and had some great teachers myself, and so when I start thinking about a topic in my own writing, I’m interested in putting it out there just to enter the ever-evolving dialogue of what it means to be a writer

GR: What’s next from Heather Herrman?

HH: Currently I’m about 3/4 of the way through a new manuscript with the tentative title ’Til Death. It features a failing couple at a marriage retreat that also happens to harbor a serial killer. This book has been a lot of fun for me, and whereas Consumption tackled a lot of big ideas, this one has allowed me to cut loose a little and just enjoy the blood.

GR: Okay, it’s time for some rapid fire!Give me three of your favorite scary movies:

HH: The Descent, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and High Tension.

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GR: Name a book you got so caught up in that it made you yell out loud:

HH: Not yell but just kind of put it down with a sigh and think motherfucker, I will never be able to write like this, how did you do it and why didn’t I think of it first? That was Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. Oh! And also the short-story “The Debutante” by Leonora Carrington. Go read it right now. The BEST, gorgeously insane horror story ever. Now, if you’re talking about throwing a book in anger, pretty much any book every written for a child under two. It’s called iambic pentameter, people. Learn it. And dear god can someone please write something that I can read 500 times and not vomit? I think a children’s book line penned exclusively by horror writers is definitely needed. Maybe featuring titles like, Even Zombies Potty. I’ll keep working on it.

GR: An album that you own that you don’t want anyone to know you own?

HH: Hey, I’ll claim them all. No shame here. Shakespeare Sisters, maybe? I busted out “Stay” at a New Year’s party we were hosting last year and had to by dragged off the living room table with boos for my rendition. I like a lot of classical music as well because I used to play cello, so there’s some pretty over-the-top tear your coattails and bleed your suffering stuff like Rachmaninoff in my collection.

GR: You have a day completely to yourself. You’re not allowed to write. What are you going to do instead?

HH: First I’m going to get outdoors some how some way, maybe a quick game of basketball, and then I’m going to hit up a brewery. I am a big fan of small-batch local beer, and there’s such exciting stuff happening with it right now. Surly, though not so small anymore, will always hold a special place in my heart. Since this is fantasy, I would also like a giant truffle (fungus, not chocolate) to eat like an apple while this is happening. And of course capping all that off with a scary movie while eating popcorn with milk-duds (and you gotta put the milk duds in the popcorn) couldn’t hurt. I realize I haven’t mentioned my kid once here, poor little dude, but I’m gonna assume he is with a babysitter who is exponentially more fun than I could ever be. Oh, and there’s definitely some reading going on in there somewhere. Maybe during the Surly-drinking/truffle-eating phase? Okay, wait. Can we pretend my liver and stamina are still 21? Because then I’d throw a live show of some sort in there. Maybe catch a band at the Slowdown or something and stare creepily at the lead singer while dreaming about what it would be like if I could actually sing. But if I do that I’m going to also need some late night pizza from Gumby’s, and they don’t deliver to Omaha, so…. Also, this is sounding like a lot of work. Let me just revise and say Read. Beer. Truffle. Movie. Perfect day. Done.

GR: Thanks for doing this, Heather. Good luck with Consumption and the Stokers.

HH: Thanks, Glenn!

 

Find Heather at her official site: Heather Herrman

And go buy CONSUMPTION!

She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

 

 

Blood, guts, and gory meet character and heart: The Gentle Art of Finding the balance

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This week, I started writing a brand new novel. Anyone who has paid attention to me knows that I’m already working on more than four other pieces. So, what the hell am I thinking starting something else? That’s just how my ADD writing brain works. Part of the inspiration was trying to choose my summer re-read (every summer I like to re-read one of my favorite books). This year, I was trying to choose between one of my favorite Richard Laymon novels, The Woods Are Dark, and Jonathan Janz’s Savage Species. Holding the two righteously vicious novels and thinking about my first Laymon-inspired debut, The Haunted Halls, I felt that old familiar pull to scribble another chainsaw attack of a horror story. One that would make Ketchum or the late Laymon smile.

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I decided to go with Laymon’s re-stored classic.

I got ready to read it and a light bulb went off in my brain.

I opened a new word document and started typing.

In less than 24 hours I typed up the first 8K words for a new novel I’m calling, The Last Show.

Unlike with The Haunted Halls where I had to go back and re-work the story to make it more than just a outright trail of blood and scares, this time around, I want to add great characters and a dump-truck load of heart. Will I succeed? That’s the real trick, isn’t it? Finding the balance between vicious and tender. Heart and outright gore-a-palooza.  Sometimes these mad romps of killers tearing apart semi-innocent campers and travelers don’t really call for any Love Me Tender moments, but I believe the ones that stick with us have other memorable characters outside of our violent death dealers. There can be more magic moments than the jaw dropping scenes that scorch our brains. Scenes like, well, almost any in Ketchum’s Off Season, or the fantastic kickstart opening to Laymon’s Woods…(A hairy, half-bodied man who chucks a severed hand at two girls driving down a back road????). These things stick with us, for horror writers, the do a little more. These scenes stain us.

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My favorite thing about a guy like Laymon is the surprising helpings of heart he manages to slip in between the line of entrails and the cock with razor sharp teeth that is also a pleasure machine. The Traveling Vampire Show’s childhood romance between its two main characters brought me back to those early episodes of The Wonder Years. Watching Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold kiss for the first time.

How can we replicate this masterful art of blood and beauty? Well, it ain’t easy or everyone would do it. I think the key is one word: honesty.  Keep it real (as real as your monsters will allow). It is far easier said than done.Our imaginations can get pretty fantastic. It is easy to get lost on the dark side. To get caught up in the crimson pool of guts that we paint the page with. Sometimes, that’s all a story calls for. I couldn’t write that way, but I know some authors who do and pull it off. For me, I have to push a couple more buttons on my readers. I have to hit those buttons in myself first. I bring up my own guts, my own pain, my own joys, and then I let the monsters terrorize the hell out of all that goodness, all those emotions, all of the honesty.

I hope when I write THE END on the last page of The Last Show, I’ll have accomplished all of that.I promise you one thing–I will give it my best shot.

Here’s to heart, horror, and that crazy Laymon inside of us all.

Cheers!

Follow Your Arrow (Part 2): Stay Gold, Ponyboy

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Stay Gold, Ponyboy…

I started writing in 2011. It took me four months to write the first draft of my first novel. Ever since then, I’ve been working on getting better as a writer. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was: “Don’t let schooling change how you write” She was talking about my voice as a writer, but I think that line of advice can be applied to any sort of lesson or instruction you may receive on how to be a writer.

I know plenty of people, great authors, who pay good money to attend writing classes, or workshops, or writing boot-camps,  and I think if you can afford them and have the time, go for it. The concern in taking classes and instruction is that you may take every lesson as a “how-to” manual. The problem there is that, for some writers, you begin to think that anything that doesn’t go step-by-step the way you were taught is somehow wrong.

Writing is more than that. There is definitely some structure involved. It’s not an “anything goes” venture. Not everyone can or should do it (even though Amazon says you can). You have to have an idea about how a story should flow, how to bring characters to life, write dialogue, and have a decent grasp on grammar. I believe the best way to learn is simply to read. Read your favorite authors, read the classics, and mix in some riff raff. Yes, you can learn plenty of what not to do by reading through those bad books, too. The key is to find a few authors you truly enjoy and marvel over, and note in your writing brain what they did that worked so well for you. And likewise with the bad ones–what really killed the book? Where did it all go horribly wrong? I read like crazy. I read more now that I’m writing than I did before.

I like to look at learning as taking advice. Use what works for you. Use what you’re comfortable with. I often will send my pieces to another writer friend or an editor and ask them what they think. More times than not, I get a great piece of advice in return, or some little nugget that I never thought about. When I first started the process of using beta readers, I took everything I was told to heart. Besides, the rules and suggestions were coming from professionals. Then, I began to notice things in books I love that went against the rules. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like the move from innocent reader to writer/reader, but this enlightenment is inevitable. After a while, it got a little better.  Like anything in life, we go from not knowing, to thinking we know, to understanding.  I started to see that what we are taught, the advice we are given, is just that–advice. Yes, the lesson is coming from a professional, someone who has been there, done that, but that does not mean you must play strictly by these rules.  Your story doesn’t have to fit into the Writer’s Box.  Some of the ones that fit perfectly in that box are heartless. Almost like someone was doing paint-by-numbers with their book.  That is the travesty.

“Permission to Boogie”

Writing is about heart and soul. You can learn how to build the robot, but can you make it move? It’s about finding your voice. To do that you have to use what moves you to move the reader. What scares you? What breaks your heart? What makes you trust somebody? Hopefully you don’t have first-hand experience in disemboweling people (unless maybe you’re a doctor, or a mortician), but you need to use what makes your blood pump in real life and transfer that into your story. When you succeed in doing this, the magic comes to life. Your book comes alive. Your robot begins to boogie.

So yes, take the class, do the workshop, take notes when someone explains what didn’t work for them or what they would like to see, but don’t let it erase what makes you special. Apply the advice to what you already do. If your story doesn’t fit exactly into the manual, if your colors don’t stay in the lines, so be it. Art is about doing your thing, expressing who you are.  Readers will find you through one of your books or stories, but they’ll keep coming back to you for you.

Goodreads–A great place to spread the gospel

Do you read a lot? Are you just a bookworm or are you a professional reviewer? Whatever the case may be, authors love to get reviewed. Goodreads is one of the top spots to find these reviews. Authors have to do the majority of their promotions these days. Sites like Goodreads and Booklikes are helpful tools that assist authors in lightening the load we have to shoulder in the ever-changing world of promotions. These sites provide a place for the readers to spread the word on the books and authors they like. As a fairly new writer, I am grateful for these types of sites, Goodreads in particular.

I read quite a bit. I try and review each and every novel or novella that I read. I love to report on my favorites reads, the ones that really surprised me, and sometimes, the ones that let me down. It’s in this latter case that we authors cringe a bit, and honestly, as a reviewer, so do I. It’s never easy to write about a book that didn’t work for you, but, as long as the review is honest and not an obvious outright attack on the author, the review is (or at least should be) appreciated.

Word of mouth, grassroots, whichever you see it as, Goodreads, and sites like it,  provide a great place for readers to help authors reach their target audience.  If you have a Goodreads account and appreciate any of my works, or are interested in checking out any of my works, please take a second and click the “g” below my book covers here.

I look forward to reading your reviews (good or bad) on Abram’s Bridge or Boom Town. There’s also a Goodreads page for my next novel, Blood and Rain. Werewolf fans may want to click and add this one 😉

Abram's Bridge (2015)
Abram’s Bridge (2015)

 

Abram's Bridge
Boom Town (2015)
Boom Town (2015)
Boom Town
Blood and Rain (October, 2015)
Blood and Rain (October, 2015)
Blood And Rain

Preliminary Stoker Nomination News and More

The preliminary ballot for this years Bram Stoker nominees came out this week and I was happy to find out that two books that I’m included in have made that list. This doesn’t mean either will make it through to the final ballot, but it is still pretty cool.

In the non-fiction catagory:  Horror 101: The Way Forward  (Crystal Lake Publishing, 2014) 

This one features a TON of authors and editors, etc.  The eBook edition contained the interview I conducted with Leisure Books/Samhain Horror maestro, Don D’Auria.

Horror101

Horror 101: The Way Forward – a comprehensive overview of the Horror fiction genre and career opportunities available to established and aspiring authors.

Have you ever wanted to be a horror writer? Perhaps you have already realized that dream and you’re looking to expand your repertoire. Writing comic books sounds nice, right? Or how about screenplays?
That’s what Horror 101: The Way Forward is all about. It’s not your average On Writing guide that covers active vs. passive and other writing tips, Horror 101 focuses on the career of a horror writer. It covers not only insights into the horror genre, but the people who successfully make a living from it.

Covering aspects such as movies, comics, short stories, ghost-writing, audiobooks, editing, publishing, self-publishing, blogging, writer’s block, YA horror, reviewing, dark poetry, networking, collaborations, eBooks, podcasts, conventions, series, formatting, web serials, artwork, social media, agents, and career advice from seasoned professionals and up-and-coming talents, Horror 101 is just what you need to kick your career into high gear.

Horror 101: The Way Forward is not your average On Writing guide, as it is more focused on the career options available to authors. But don’t fret, this book is loaded with career tips and behind-the-scene stories on how your favourite authors broke into their respective fields.

Horror 101: The Way Forward is perfect for people who:
• are suffering from writer’s block
• are starting their writing careers
• are looking to expand their writing repertoire
• are planning on infiltrating a different field in horror writing
• are looking to pay more bills with their art
• are trying to further their careers
• are trying to establish a name brand
• are looking to get published
• are planning on self-publishing
• want to learn more about the pros in the horror genre
• are looking for motivation and/or inspiration
• love the horror genre
• are not sure where to take their writing careers

Includes articles by Jack Ketchum, Graham Masterton, Edward Lee, Lucy A. Snyder, Emma Audsley, RJ Cavender, Scott Nicholson, Weston Ochse, Taylor Grant, Paul Kane, Lisa Morton, Shane McKenzie, Dean M. Drinkel, Simon Marshall-Jones, Robert W. Walker, Don D’Auria and Glenn Rolfe, Harry Shannon, Chet Williamson, Lawrence Santoro, Thomas Smith, Blaze McRob, Rocky Wood, Ellen Datlow, Iain Rob Wright, Kenneth W. Cain, Daniel I. Russell, Michael McCarty, Richard Thomas, Joan De La Haye, Michael Wilson, Francois Bloemhof, C.E.L. Welsh, Jasper Bark, Niall Parkinson, Armand Rosamilia, Tonia Brown, Ramsey Campbell, Tim Waggoner, Gary McMahon, V.H. Leslie, Eric S Brown, William Meikle, John Kenny, Gary Fry, Diane Parkin, Jim Mcleod, Siobhan McKinney, Rick Carufel, Ben Eads, Theresa Derwin, Rena Mason, Steve Rasnic Tem, Michael A. Arnzen, Joe Mynhardt, John Palisano, Mark West, Steven Savile, and a writer so famous he’s required to stay anonymous.

The second book that made the prelim ballot is in the Anthology category: Journals of Horror: Found Fiction (Pleasant Storm Entertainment, INC, 2014)

This one is edited by Terry M. West and features a ton of great writers and one of my freakier pieces, “Killing Jessica”.

JOH

It would be cool to make the final ballot, but this is still rad, too.

On the downside, my debut novel, The Haunted Halls (James Ward Kirk Publishing, 2014) was ineligible, because I had self-published pieces of it in 2013.  😦   Oh well, you live and learn.

HH Promo

Another thing that surprised me was the lack of consideration for any of the stellar Samhain Horror titles from 2014. The company (yes, they happen to be my publisher)  released a ton of terrific novels and novellas that I believe should have appeared….somewhere on the Stoker lists.

Releases from Adam Cesare, Jonathan Janz, Hunter Shea, Tim Waggoner, JG Faherty, Catherine Cavendish, John Everson, David Bernstein, Eric Red, Matt Manochio, and many, many others all went unsung. That’s some sort of shame.

I proclaim 2015 the year of the SAMHAIN ARMY!   We will make our presence known!

Let’s get the word out starting NOW. Click the logo and grab some great horror.

AA SH

Slow ride…take it easy. Why you should consider setting that first draft aside. Part One: The Novella

 

This year has been busy. I released my first novel, finished and sold my first two novellas, re-wrote 55-60% of a novel I thought was finished, and put out my first collection of short stories. Also, in the last two months, I finished the first drafts of another new novella and a novel I started last year. Seems like a lot to some, but I’m a slow poke to some of the scribblers I roll with. So, where am I going with all of this? Where is the slow down?

There was recently a little Confession Session between myself and some writing friends of mine. We talked about our pace. Our speed, our need to create and release. We discussed our process a bit. How long we waited, if we waited, to start our first edits/re-writes on a just finished piece. For some, the answer was immediately. For others, myself included, it was a matter of weeks. I believe it’s like that book I read to my daughters about little Ruby the duckling, we all work at our own pace, and get things done, like Ruby, in our own time.

rubyduckling

So, here’s my process and why I choose to do things the way I do.

Obviously, with each piece, with each baby, the process has room to move and change accordingly.

If I’m writing a short story, I may jump right on the edits. Usually, that means I’m trying to sub somewhere that has a submission deadline, otherwise the piece may sit in my laptop until I stumble across it in a desperate attempt to mine some forgotten gold.

I’ve written three novellas now (and I love them all equally). The first one came really fast (don’t be a pervert).I had a submission deadline to aim for that was fast approaching. Even with the pressure, the story truly was a magical experience to craft. I hate taking credit for it when they feel that way. I prefer to think that I was granted access to the great writing ether and weaseled the tale down through my fingertips. When that first draft was complete, I immediately sought out and found four or five beta readers to hand it over to and have point out the flaws (there are always flaws). The few early readers mostly enjoyed the story, gave me their questions and and tips, and I was onto editing/rewrites. That was it. That story was not taken by the intended publisher, but on a whim (and a hope and a prayer), I sent it to Samhain, and they said yes!

Novella #2 was a different case. It started the same: deadline less than a month away, idea, story, go! I had no time for beta readers and no time to make sure the story looked real pretty. What do you think happened? Rejected. Of course. That story was put away (to be mined at a later date). Almost a year after finishing that 1st draft, I hauled it back out and re-read it. There was a great story in there….I just needed to decide for certain about a very important aspect of the story that read very wishy-washy. Very John Kerry, if you will. I made up my mind and viola! I wrote a new beginning, re-wrote a few middle bits, and fixed the ending in accordance with my other changes. Two beta readers, and one editor later, and BAM! novella #2 subbed and sold.

john kerry

I finished the first draft to novella #3 at the beginning of September (started it in late-July). Again, I got a late start on a submission deadline. I finished the first draft in time for the deadline (with 2 days to spare!), but, having learned my lesson from novella#2, decided not to submit it. I knew it needed edits and re-writes. I know it needs to be looked at by another set of eyes, or two, or three. I just started those edits/re-writes last night, and I’m glad I waited.

What have I learned, and why should you care?

Maybe you don’t care, but I do. I’ve learned that I can craft a novella in about four to six weeks (first draft, mind you). I’ve learned that I can’t see all of those ugly spots right after finishing it. I need time and space to step back and help me gain some perspective.

The way I write plays a huge part in this, as well. I can’t plot to save my life. I always , ALWAYS fly by the seat of my pants. I start with a character or two, an idea, and a scene. I let the story take it from there. So, I usually don’t even know who my main character is when I get going. By the time I type in ‘the end’ I do,  and this always leaves room for change. As with novella #2, #3 has a John Kerry-thing going on that needs to be pressed for a decision. I could just leave that piece in there. I could, but looking at it a month and a half later, I think it is a weak spot in a good story. The pain is that I’ll have to do more re-writes, and then make sure  the flow and continuity remains intact. It’s more work, but if I think the story deserves the extra elbow grease, why wouldn’t I shut up and make it happen? Aren’t these things supposed to be precious to us? I’m doing my first revisions now… that time is coming. Rather than fear it, cry about the extra work, or allow myself to think that the rest of the story will make up for that weak spot, I welcome the challenge. I want this story to be really good.

My plate is full. I usually have multiple stories going, and I’ll admit, the temptation to rush a story in, because I have an editor that is willing to look at any piece I think he should see, is always poking at me. Selling a piece is an amazing feeling, but I’m putting these things, the babies, out there for the world to see. Why not make sure the story is as awesome as it can be, as awesome as it deserves to be?

slow down

 

My advice for any writer, from the slowest to the most speedy, who finishes that first draft…let it breath. Some people have that pre-sold story, those plotters and their trusty editors, but if you have the option… set it aside, work on anything else, and then come back to the piece and be ready to have to do some more heavy lifting. You might be able to take that good story and turn it into a great one.

 

Novella #1 is available for pre-order now at Amazon, and on December 7th at  Samhain Publishing.

Abram’s Bridge (Samhain Publishing, Jan. 6th, 2015)

AB SAM

 

PRETTY LITTLE AWESOME: MERCEDES M. YARDLEY TALKS THE BONE ANGEL TRILOGY, PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS, AND THE POWER OF HEARTBREAK AND OPENNESS

mmy

She’s an amazing woman who has been faced with more heartache and challenges than anyone I’ve ever known and come through life’s shit-storm to pound out some of the most unique, beautiful , and bloody little stories I’ve read this year. Her debut novel, NAMELESS: THE DARKNESS COMES, has garnered mad acclaim and landed her a sweet deal with its publisher Ragnarok Publications  (two more Bone Angel books).

On September 29th, Mercedes M. Yardley and Ragnarok Publications will release her next novel, PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS. I got a chance to talk with Mercedes about her whirlwind 2014 and a whole lot more.

First off, Nameless  66 Amazon reviews—40 5 stars, 24 4 stars (2 meat-heads that didn’t get it). Congrats on the success. One of the reviews I saw called it “Buffy meets Odd Thomas”. To quote Dylan: How does it feel?

MMY: It feels surreal. I can’t believe that many people have read it! And to take the time to review? That’s just awesome. It seems to be hitting people in different ways, too. Some say they laughed out loud. Some love Luna, some hate her. Some people identified with the mental illness aspect. Others ask me how I feel about the demonic personally. It’s been a ride.

But a fun one, I’m sure. How are the follow-up books coming along?

MMY: They’re coming. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to continue a series. Do I pick up where I left off? Assume (arrogantly) that everybody has read Book One? Reintroduce characters and risk sounding like I’m talking down to the audience? These are things I hadn’t considered before, and quite frankly, I dig it. The sequels are challenges, and I thrive on challenges.

Any idea when we can expect #2?

MMY: Book Two is slated to release in January of 2015. So just a few more months! Book Three is set to release in January 2016. Things are coming along smoothly, and I’m excited. Book Two will be exceptionally dark. I’m pushing Luna to her breaking point, trying to see if I can shatter her psyche. It’s terribly fun.

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In August you announced the upcoming release of Pretty Little Dead Girls. (I FUCKING LOVE that title!)  You said, “…my favorite thing I ever wrote will be coming out this fall…” Is this still true and why is it your favorite?

MMY: Oh, it’s true! I love all of my books. Each character becomes important to me. But this particular story, and the way it’s written…it was a joy.  I wrote this story in three weeks, Glenn. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Everything spilled out onto the page in this great flurry of happiness.

I abandoned the project I felt I was “supposed” to do, and wrote something devastating joyful and unique. It’s a fairy tale with a high body count. It has lyrical language. It breaks the fourth wall. It’s magical realism sprinkled with horror. I love the characters with my whole heart and soul.  Bryony, the protagonist, is all about seizing the moment, about living life as hard as she can before she’s murdered. She’s soft and ephemeral and chats with flowers and stars. She wears fluffy mittens and wears every emotion on her face. When I started writing Nameless, I called Luna the “Anti-Bryony.” They’re both aspects of my personality, but to an extreme. Bryony is open and exceptionally naive. Luna is spiny and sarcastic. These two ladies are Yin and Yang, and I love them fiercely.

There are also several little Easter Eggs in this story. The places she lives. The names of some of the characters, including a shout-out to the Shock Totem boys. The detective is named after members of my writer’s group. If you have read Beautiful Sorrows, there’s a story in there that’s the killer’s origin story. Things like that. Shiny things that tie into other places.

I had the most fun writing PLDG than any other project. I’ll always remember that.

Give us the gist of the story.

MMY: Bryony Adams is destined to be murdered, but fortunately Fate has terrible marksmanship. In order to survive, she must run as far and as fast as she can. After arriving in Seattle, Bryony befriends a tortured musician, a market fish-thrower, and a starry-eyed hero who is secretly a serial killer bent on fulfilling Bryony’s dark destiny.

Sounds so cool! And there will be a limited run of a hardcover edition?

MMY: Yes! Ragnarok Publications is putting out a special signed limited edition hardcover. It’ll have a beautiful piece of art created exclusively for the hardcover by Orion Zangara, who is a phenomenal artist. I mean, I saw his stuff and commissioned him that day, if that tells you how stunning his work is. And Hugo Award Winner and all-around wonderful lady Galen Dara did the cover. It’s exquisite. Dark, ephemeral, and perfectly captures the terrible beauty of the story. The LE hardcover is limited to 100 copies, and they’re currently available for preorder on the Ragnarok site. When they’re gone, they’re gone. You can still purchase paperbacks and hardcovers, I believe, but without the extra bells and whistles.

Awesome. Check that out people!

Some of your works have been audio-ized. Which ones are available and  which ones are coming?

MMY: NAMELESS and APOCALYPTIC MONTESSA AND NUCLEAR LULU: A TALE OF ATOMIC LOVE are both available right now! I adore the narrators they chose. They did a wonderful job. BEAUTIFUL SORROWS will be available fairly soon, I believe. Perhaps in the new year. I’m narrating it with my fellow writer Mason Bundschuh recording, and we still need to do a few overdubs. The problem is that we have 6 ½ children between us, so it’s difficult to find a time when we can get together and record while the kids are quiet. Ha. Those darn kids, playing and having fun. What trouble. 😉

I also caught the “in the closet” photo of you doing the Beautiful Sorrows audio. That’s how I did the vocals for the Never Nudes EP. There’s nothing like getting in there and going for it is there?

closet

MMY: Did you? I didn’t know that! Yep, that’s Mason and his wife’s closet. His wife had the most beautiful pair of boots in there. I fell in love with them during recording. It was strange and fun lurking in their closet. My house doesn’t have a single closet that big. What a shame.

That’s a damn shame.

Let’s talk shop for a minute….

I recently finished up a couple of pieces and found myself leaning heavily on a couple friends of mine. They really kicked my ass and wouldn’t allow me to cut corners or write anything stupid. Do you have someone or someones like that? If so, who? And what makes you trust them ?

MMY: I do. I rely on my writer’s group, The Illiterati. It consists of Mason, Billie the girl, Ryan, Matt, and myself. I ran into Mason at a city writer’s group, and he brought me into the fold, so to speak. We’ve all been working together for five or six years now, and we’ve become family. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If one of them tells me something, I’m going to listen. It doesn’t mean I always agree with the critique or the advice, but I know it’s coming from a place of love and skill. They’ve helped me improve so much.

In fact, The Desert Companion had journalist and photographer hang out with us last week at an Illiterati meeting! It was so awesome. They’re doing a write-up on us for the October issue, which I think is pretty cool. The group is amazing. We travel to conventions together. We go to each other’s birthday parties. We play ukuleles and banjos and guitars together. I love these cats.

I told you not too long ago that two of my pieces from last year were heavily influenced by Beautiful Sorrows, or at least, I tried to soften my edges and slip into more whimsical/magical realms (even if only for bits here and there). Thank you for that.  What’s the last couple of things you read that you feel really inspired your latest works?

MMY: Glenn, you don’t know how much that pleases me. Thank you! I can’t wait to pick up your newest. Coming from Samhain, right?

Absolutely.

I read this utterly breathtaking book titled THE MOON SISTERS by Therese Walsh. It’s about a mother who may or may not have committed suicide, and how her family deals with the aftermath. Heartbreakingly lovely. Quite frankly, I wish I had written it.

moon

My debut novel, NAMELESS, has a sort of Dean Koontz feel. It’s been compared to both TICK TOCK, which I loved, and his ODD THOMAS. That’s pretty flattering. I suppose I did borrow some of the tone from TICK TOCK, because I loved it so much. They have this fun banter back and forth that really amused me, and I think the dialogue is one of NAMELESS’ strong points.

Another one of your strong points is your heart, your openness.

Real life’s cheap shots often fuel the artist. In light of some of the hardships in your personal life, do you let your pain in, and how do you use it. Do you lash out with a harder edge, or do you let it lend that extra weight to your more melancholy pieces?

MMY: I have to let my pain in. As an artist, I tend to feel things especially deeply. I was never good at letting things roll off my back or walking by somebody who was suffering. I always manage to get right down there in the trenches with them, to see if I can help. Sometimes a little kindness is all I can offer, but you can’t underestimate the value of kindness when it seems like the world is dark.

Sometimes I lash out. In Luna’s case, she deals with things in a very ferocious, biting manner. I finished the second half of that book after losing two babies, so it was a cleansing and safe way for me to scream at the world using her voice. And sometimes I allow sorrow and loss to drift into some of the softer things I do. That melancholy is always there. It always has been. Melancholy runs under my skin like a thin vein of sorrow, and I don’t think that will ever change. But I try to use it instead of letting it weigh me down to the point where I can’t get back up.

My wife is a children’s case manager. She deals with special needs kids on a daily basis. She was looking over my shoulder while I was going through some of your blog posts. When I read some of your posts, I was like ‘ damn.’ . My wife says, “Some people are dealt a shitty hand because the lessons that they can learn can help others.”  And I feel like with your openness and willingness to share your heartbreak and challenges, that’s exactly what you’ve done and continue to do. Can you touch on that?

MMY: Your wife put it beautifully. Please thank her for me.

Heartbreak and challenges. It isn’t something that most people want to share. We’re taught not to show our weakness, and that’s damaging. We all struggle. We all suffer. To put on a happy face when you’re really falling apart inside is insane. It only hurts us. I’ve found being open about some of our challenges allows others to open up as well. To say, “Oh, thank goodness! I thought I was the only one.” You’re not. Whatever you’re going through, somebody has struggled through it, or is currently there.

My oldest son has Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that turned our world inside out. He was abused by a teacher. I had post-partum preeclampsia with my middle child, which the doctors said didn’t technically exist. My organs were shutting down and they called my husband in to say goodbye. My last pregnancy were three beautiful triplets. Two passed away with a rare genetic disease called alobar holoprosencephaly. Be very careful if you research that. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

So we have things that come up and they feel like too much weight to handle. But I’ve found that when I say, “Help,” others are there to reach out and help. When Niko was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, I didn’t know one other person who had it. I started my Williams blog (www.williamssyndrome.blogpost.com) and I was simply screaming into the universe. Now I’m in a support group with over a thousand members, all who understand the syndrome.

There are strong, sensitive people out there who understand you and whatever you’re going through. The Internet makes it especially easy to reach these people. I hope that by talking about things I used to feel ashamed about, like having a bad day with a special needs child, or grief, or anger, or depression, that others will see that they’re not alone. That’s what I think the purpose of life is. Relationships. Giving each other a hand or a hug or a pillow fort when needed. Protecting those you care about. Realizing that there is dignity in all things, even suffering.

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I also saw that earlier this year you were in a book called, Three Minus One. How did that come about? And have you heard back from any of its readers?

MMY: I have heard back from some readers on that one. Three Minus One is a book dealing with the death of a child. I was still processing my feelings about it and I saw the submissions call. I wrote about the conflict of losing two of my three triplets. Celebrating birthdays and death days, and how difficult that is. I was shopping for a stroller and a casket on the simultaneously, and it was so conflicting and surreal. But the readers seem to find comfort in the book, in knowing they aren’t alone. That’s what I hoped to do by contributing my story along with the others.

It is an amazing ability to be able to accept what comes our way, and an even more admirable gift to be able to put yourself out there and be that someone for those who think no one else gets it.

I want to switch gears back to writing and inspiration.

A couple months ago i watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (great flick). It really inspired me to sit down and write.     Give me the one or two movies that when you watch them they make you want to sit down and craft a new story.

MMY: Stranger Than Fiction made me want to write. I enjoyed it through and through. Also, watching the series LOST made me want to write, too. They dealt with such a huge cast and all of these intricately woven plot lines! I want to do that! Challenge myself by dealing with a large cast of crazy characters. That would be very cool.

What is the scariest novel you ever read?

MMY: Stephen King’s IT scared me. I was eight years old and snuck out to the big, comfy chair in the living room to read it in the middle of the night. Pure terror. We had a gutter and grate right by my house. I was sure Pennywise lived down there. I was also scared by The Amityville Horror. Some of my mom’s romancing were pretty frightening, as well. I thought, “Ewwww! I don’t know what’s going on, but that seems disgusting!”

What’s one novel you haven’t read yet that you’ve TOTALLY been meaning to?

MMY: Oh, geeze. There are so many. I’ve always wanted to read MEIN KAMPF to figure out how a person with such vile views could, with a straight face, explain them. I’ve heard he was a passionate, convincing speaker, and I’m interested in that from a sociological standpoint. I also have so many books from my friends that are on my To Be Read pile. I have three piles, actually. One on my son’s shelf, one in the linen closet, and one by my bed.

I want to read anything that Lee Thompson puts out. Oh, and Gillian Flynn’s SHARP OBJECTS. Armand Rosamilia’s CHELSEA AVENUE. And James Walley’s THE FORTY FIRST WINK. These are all books in my TBR pile or currently on my Kindle.

What about you? What novel have you TOTALLY been meaning to read?

I’ve been meaning to dig into Robert McCammon’s catalog. I read BOY’S LIFE and was dizzied by the magic on the pages. Ronald Malfi’s DECEMBER PARK is also on my very soon list. I also have that friend’s To-be-read collection.

food

Now, everybody loves food. I know you dabble in the kitchen quite a bit.

Personally, I’ve been barbecuing like a mad dog since the beginning of May (I make some pretty tasty BBQ chicken these days). What is the latest kitchen masterpiece from the Yardley home?

MMY: I can’t barbeque to save my life. That’s awesome you do it. I hereby invite myself over to dinner with your family! I’ll bring dessert

We’ve been trying to eat a little healthier. The other day I made potato quinoa patties with curried chickpeas. It sounds bizarre, but it really was delicious and filling. It tasted like comfort food. I’m always making new treats! I made my first full-sized trifle not too long ago. Lemon raspberry, and it was a success. I’m really into making soups right now. Potato, or split pea. Even cauliflower. I pair them with homemade bread sticks or cheddar biscuits with flax and kale added to it. It sounds like it would be dry, but it’s really good.

My biggest achievement right now was putting together freezer meals. I went shopping, cut everything up, and assembled twenty different meals that I can freeze. Pork chops and sweet potatoes, sausage and peppers, rosemary chicken, etc. Then I throw those suckers in a crock pot. Voila, dinner. Because I have three kids, three chickens, a bunny, a turtle, and a fish. Oh, and some insane, brain-exploding deadlines. I just gave myself twenty nights where I don’t have to cook, and that hour and a half will be put toward writing to knock these projects out. It’s crunch time and I’ll use every trick in the book to get things done.

If you guys ever want to come all the way over to the east coast, you are more than welcome.

Thank you so very much for making the time for me. Best of luck with the new book!

MMY: Thanks, Glenn! It’s absolutely a pleasure. And good luck with yours! I’m excited to pick it up.

Find Mercedes and her blog, books, and stories here:

A BROKEN LAPTOP

MERCEDES’S AMAZON PAGE

RAGNAROK PUBLICATIONS

Killing Your Friends: Another Inside Peek at The Haunted Halls

Okay, so writers know that they have to build characters that you (constant reader) care about. Unfortunately, being in the horror business, some of these lovable folks have to die. We’ve read this article/this advice before. Now, how about this? How about we write our “real” friends into our horrible, macabre masterpieces, and then we murder them for you?

This is another true tale from the creation of my debut novel releasing later this month, The Haunted Halls.

HH pronmo

So if you read my previous post on the long journey this novel took to come to fruition, you know it started as a short story for the serial novel site, JukePop Serials. Well, once that first chapter (which turned into the prologue) went live on the website, I needed to write what happened next. I needed a story, and I needed characters–some cool characters to make you care about that story. Who could these people be? I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I started this book. I’d written one novel, one novelette, and a handful of short stories. I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I had that idea. The old “haunted hotel” trope. How do I make it my own? The first thing that occurred to me was I’ll use my friends! Who do I know better? Who do I already care about? Without telling them, I went about creating these “characters”. And eventually, they had to start dying.

Of course.

Once I started putting the first few chapters together, and my real friends (including my wife) started taking on characteristics of their own, I felt compelled to share with these fine folks just what I was up to.  I PM’d them on Facebook. They were all stoked! And after posting about it, I had other friends raise their hands, “Kill me, kill, me, kill me next!”  Now, this happens quite a bit. I’ve seen writers big and small offer to add their friends into their stories. Some do it at a price, some run contests. I’m not being uber-original here, but I think my friends will see how true to them I tried to stay (before I had their eyes poked in, or their skin torn off).

Anyways, I had a lot of fun killing my friends. And I’m sure they felt the same about my literary treatment of them.  I hope if and when you decide to walk down my haunted halls with me, you get to meet and love these guys and gals, too. You can even root for them to make it through! Maybe your favorite will survive, maybe they’ll be the next spattering of brain matter and skull fragments on the in-room microwave. Whatever the case, and however it turns out, I hope you’ll join me  in my debut novel. Maybe I’ll kill you in the next one.

eric geoff jimmy meghan hh5 promotina

For Kurt, Geoff, Rhiannon, Eric, Jimmy, Lee, Tina, and Meghan–Thank you for letting me fuck you up.

For my latest novel, Becoming, I decided to keep the trend going 😉  Check it out sometime. Michele would appreciate it!

Be_Coming_final_d3c09cab_20130413221706PM

Get your copy here: BECOMING

Stay tuned for more madness!

 

 

The Haunted Halls is available here: THE HAUNTED HALLS 

 

Eric Gentry is the lead vocalist of the pop pink band, The Adorkables. He still dabbles in music and has mad love for Phantasm.

Kurt (Costello)  Baker is a well-respected rock ‘n’ roll machine. Check him out!