Friday, May 28, 2010

Author Interview: Zoe Winters Part 2

Zoe Winters's first novella, Kept, has become a mainstay in the top ten gothic romance titles on’s bestsellers list. The follow up, Claimed, is receiving rave reviews and quickly climbing up the list as well. The third novella in the trilogy, Mated, is now available and also racking up glowing endorsements from satisfied readers. Recently I had the opportunity to conduct the following interview with Zoe via chat. We had so much fun that I had to divide the interview into two parts. This is the second part.

Part Two

MTM: The Anthony character really develops from Kept to Claimed. He seemed to be just another evil vampire in Kept, but shows another side in Claimed. Did you have that planned for the character all along?

ZW: As soon as I finished with Kept, I got the idea for Charlee and Anthony's story. And Anthony IS an evil vampire. He's the same dude. He just loves Charlee. Love can make men into puppies.

MTM: Nuh uh! … Okay, yeah, that’s true.

ZW: You did it in Lucifera's Pet. Your werewolf was a total badass, but he loved Lucifera and showed her that softer side. But I hadn't planned for Anthony and Charlee as a couple from the very very beginning, not when I was writing Kept, because originally it wasn't going to be a series. It just sort of sprawled out that way. You can bet the side Anthony shows Charlee is not the side almost anyone else ever sees of him.

MTM: Do you find that makes the softer scenes carry even more weight?

ZW: I think so, yes. A reader also commented to me that she thought given the circumstances, that a sex scene would have weakened the romantic aspects. Sometimes it's hotter when a guy shows some restraint. I think that's part of what makes Anthony a likeable hero people can get behind even though he's so morally gray.

MTM: For an evil character such as Anthony, restraint is a surprising trait.

ZW: Well he's actually got a ton of self-control. He's restrained himself from biting Charlee for so long. It was the drugs that screwed his record up, lol. Combined with werecat blood.

MTM: Of course, but when it was revealed that he hadn't fed from her before even though he could have, that brought a level of complexity to the character for me.

ZW: He doesn't want her in this world. Doesn't want her to see the monster in him because he's afraid he'll lose the banter they have. She makes him feel like a person.

MTM: So, supernatural beings exist outside of "normal" society, but they still have their own problems and hang-ups?

ZW: Of course. Doesn't everyone? :P

MTM: Humanity within the monster ... are any of the characters in their world beyond redemption?

ZW: I'm really not sure. I think many "won't" change. I'm not sure that means they "can't." Actually Linus is kind of beyond redemption but that's a moot point. I can't really see Callie changing either. (villains in Claimed.)

MTM: On your writing in general, I would describe it as "all killer no filler." Have you always written that way or did that develop over your writing career?

ZW: Well Kept is the first thing I put out, so I feel weird calling anything before that a "career." Hell, I feel weird saying "career" now. I have quite a way to go for career, I think. Maybe in ten years I can call it a career. But, I've always tried to skip the boring parts. It was a revelation to me when I realized I didn't have to write super long fiction if I wrote better at a shorter length. I figure if I can't still be entertained by a section on the 50th reading, a reader doesn't need it the first time.

MTM: The novella concept worked really well for the Blood Lust stories. Will you continue that trend for future books in this series?

ZW: I think the future work will be shorter novels. The world is starting to expand out to the point where I need a little more space to work so to speak. But they won't be super long novels. We're talking probably around 65k words where Claimed and Mated are each around 35k. I "may" write some novellas in this series in the future, but if so they will probably be extra material and not the main story.

MTM: I asked this question in my blog and several readers got a kick out of it. Hollywood comes knocking on your door and wants to make a movie version of one or all of the Bloodlust stories. What is your dream cast and/or director for the big screen version?

ZW: LOL, man I have no idea, but dream director would probably be Joss Whedon. Though then again his vision would try to usurp my vision and then... yeah. I'm too much of a control freak. I don't see a movie being made, LOL. I know it's completely wrong. I know people dream about their book being made into a movie, but all I can think about is how they'd try to totally change everything so it was more like fanfic than what I wrote and then I'd be pissed and fans of the books wouldn't like it.

MTM: If Joss Whedon were at the helm, half of all your couples would end up pushing up daisies.

ZW: OH I KNOW. He'd break everybody up.

MTM: Hollywood doesn't have a great track record for novel adaptations.

ZW: No, they don't. Except for Rowling and that's only cause she was already famous. She had script approval. So it's a nice idea but unless I "really" needed the money, I can't see it. It pisses me off too much what Hollywood does to perfectly good stories. If they don’t like what's there they should make up their own story without using someone else's name.

MTM: Is there any argument for someone throwing himself or herself into the grind of traditional publishing today?

ZW: LOL, that's a big can of worms! If I say no, then a hundred trad pubbed authors will suddenly appear out of a purple mist to tell everyone exactly why I'm wrong :P But honestly, and I can only go on my personal beliefs here... but I truly believe digital publishing is the future. I believe being well-positioned now for when things really explode is the smart thing to do. A trad publisher will mismanage your e-rights and use agency pricing models and just generally make it impossible for you to get high sales rankings in E unless you're already famous. Already famous people are in an awesome position. Brand new people? Not so much. It's just… 7-10 years is a long damn time to be unable to control your digital rights not worth it to sit on the Titanic deck chairs just to hear the last songs played.

MTM: Great analogy.

ZW: Thanks.

MTM: I have never been a fan of the advice given by old school writers that you must wallpaper an entire room with rejection letters before you are "ready" to put your work out for the world to see. What advice can you give a new author on making sure their work is as good as it can be before they self-publish?

ZW: I agree that's pathologically masochistic. I think they need to get the most brutally honest critique partners and editors they can find to help them. Not friends and family. People who can write. Who understand the genre. Because you can't judge the quality of your own work. That's true even as an indie. There is always stuff I don't catch or don't see. So you HAVE to surround yourself with wise council. Those people will make or break you. If you don't take this vetting process seriously you're going to have your underwear on your head. I'm just saying.

MTM: Personally, I have a friend from Slovenia who pulled no punches on my manuscript, and I appreciate her for that. Is it sometimes difficult to find a brutally honest beta reader?

ZW: It can be. people don't want to hurt your feelings or get yelled at. And sometimes there are those who just want to rip you apart and cut you down. You have to find people who can be honest with you without being verbally abusive or making you otherwise feel like poop. Sometimes it's an intentional thing, and sometimes just a personality clash.
MTM: Cary Town sure feels like a real place. Those of us from the south can spot certain things that really bring it to life. I live a half mile from a Piggly Wiggly grocery store myself. Is the setting for your trilogy based on any town in particular?

ZW: Not Cary Town, no. Cary Town isn't in the south, though Anthony has been in the south. Which is why his Piggly Wiggly reference doesn't make sense to Paul. They aren't in the south and Paul doesn't know what a Piggly Wiggly is. Golatha Falls, the setting for Save My Soul, is an imaginary town in Georgia and parts of it are like an alternate universe version of my town. And the house from Save My Soul exists. Sometimes I walk past it and say, "There's where Luc and Anna live." LOL.

MTM: Thank you for letting me pick your brain. I’d love to do this again sometime down the road.

ZW: Thanks for having me! And sure. Sorry I talk so much that you had to break it into two interviews!

MTM: No worries! It will give me the chance to pretend that I interviewed you twice. ;)

~The novellas that make up Zoe's Blood Lust Trilogy, Kept, Claimed,and Mated,are all available on Amazon.
Connect with Zoe Winters here:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Interview: Zoe Winters Part 1

Today, I am honored to welcome independent author and self-publishing guru Zoe Winters to Werewolf Kibble. With electronic books growing in popularity at an exponential rate, Zoe stands at the front of a wave of talented self-published authors who are breaking into the game that has belonged almost exclusively to the big publishing houses.

Her first novella, Kept, has become a mainstay in the top ten gothic romance titles on’s bestsellers list. The follow up, Claimed, is receiving rave reviews and quickly climbing up the list as well. The third novella in the trilogy, Mated, releases today. Recently I had the opportunity to conduct the following interview with Zoe via chat. We had so much fun that I had to divide the interview into two parts. Here is part one.

MTM: Zoe, thanks for taking the time for this interview. Since Mated is novella three of the Blood Lust trilogy, what characters from the first two stories are appearing in this one?

ZW: Jane, a side character from Claimed, is the heroine and Charlee and Dayne and Greta all make brief cameos. Anthony "sort of" does but he's "off camera."

MTM: When we last saw Jane in Claimed, she was in the arms of fledgling vampire, Paul. What happens between the end of that story and Mated?

ZW: Charlee and Anthony get immediately wrapped up in the politics of running the coven. Paul being a fledge still can't really contribute in any meaningful way so he's sort of pushed to the fringes. He's got this irrational hatred toward Charlee or "that human Anthony's with" because it's changed the dynamic of his friendship with Anthony. He's figured out Jane can take more pain than your average human, and so he's been taking his anger out on her. So basically Jane is in an abusive situation, which is exactly where she was before Gregory rescued her.

MTM: Did her experience with Gregory the vegetarian vampire change her in any way or is she still desperately seeking a vampire who will turn her?

ZW: She just wants to survive. And becoming a vampire is the only way she knows to get them to leave her alone. She needs something that will take her out of this victim space, but given her peculiar situation of being able to sense vampires and having some of that blood in her veins, she's somewhat perpetually trapped.

MTM: Tell me a little bit about the main players and what we will see in Mated.

ZW: Jane ends up with Cole, the alpha of the werewolf pack because of a gambling debt her abusive vampire... I hesitate to say 'boyfriend'... has accrued. Cole takes Jane in lieu of ten grand

MTM: I'm sure Jane appreciates being bartered for a marker.

ZW: LOL. Oh she's freaked the hell out. But personally I think what Paul was going to do otherwise was worse. He was planning on passing her around to the other vamps to raise funds. Classy guy, huh?

MTM: Wow. I agree. Boyfriend isn't the right word unless she is used to dating ogres.

ZW: LOL Unfortunately "ogres" are all she's ever really known due to her particular gift. She's really more his pet. And not in a positive cutesy way. But she can't help it. She can see/sense vampires because she has their blood in her veins. They pretty much make it their mission in life to punish her for that. She's wanted to be turned in order to be safe, but they won’t turn her. They've basically enslaved her instead.

MTM: No mind tricks for her then?

ZW: Nope. They can't thrall her, another reason they hate her. They could just kill her, but vamps like playing with their food too much. They're more amused by the prospects of keeping her alive. So she's basically been passed from sadistic psycho to sadistic psycho except for the brief reprieve when Gregory was protecting her.

MTM: My favorite character of the series so far is the vampire, Anthony. He is about as far from the typical “tortured vampire with a heart of gold” as it gets.

ZW: Thank you! I don't care for sparkly vampires. Vampires are supposed to be bad. Is it wrong that I LOVE when Anthony says all nonchalant-like, "Well, she's mine now"?

MTM: I did catch that and it was cool! He strikes me as being along the lines of badass Spike from the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Is that a fair comparison?

ZW: Oooh! yeah I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. He is definitely in the same category as season two Spike. He's very morally gray. As becomes clear in later books, sometimes he'll be hero-like sometimes villain-like.

MTM: The men of your universe seem to fall into those gray areas a lot. Are there any "goody two shoes" guys floating around in there?

ZW: Oh good lord no. I don’t find that sexy at ALL. I could never bring myself to let one of my heroines sleep with a pussy. I think Dayne was about as wimpy as they get, though Cole is a very gentle alpha but he scares the crap out of Jane at first cause the wolves have a worse rep than the vamps. But that's all political BS.

MTM: I think most people would agree that morally ambiguous characters are much more interesting. Personally, I prefer it when the leading lady has some badass in her as well.

ZW: I think my heroines have got some fire in there, though they also are in messed up situations and I HATE when females in fiction act totally unlike real females because it might look "weak." Well um, if he could crush you easily you're not going to be too brave until you know you're safe.

MTM: I like that about your females. They don't turn into Ripley from Aliens just because they are the protagonist.

ZW: There are different types of strength and I like to think my female characters are strong, intelligent, and sassy, but they aren't unrealistic. Even though Greta was stronger physically than Dayne, she wasn't kicking his ass all the time.

MTM: Dayne was very much about how others perceived him. He was widely regarded by the Therians as dangerous but it seemed as though he may have been much darker before Greta came along. Had his character mellowed some by the time of the events in Kept?

ZW: Well he was never really a badass, not to his reputation's degree anyway. He'd fallen in love with Jaden (Greta's adoptive mother) and she'd been a part of a plot to hurt him and get him out of the way. He went in thinking he was saving her and really he had to save himself, but all the werecats he killed in self defense gave him this reputation. So in order to protect himself from further betrayal, he just withdrew and let people believe it. Basically a lot of it is a protective wall because Jaden really hurt him, and here he thinks Greta is there to do the same thing.

MTM: After Blood Lust, will you revisit any of the same couples?

ZW: Actually yes. There will be future books where some of these characters will play pivotal roles in what happens, and one of them will be a romance between a previous couple as they go through a challenge their love has to grow stronger for. Right now I'm setting up a lot of the power structure, such as with Dayne and Anthony and Cole and Cain (he's an incubus you meet in Mated). A lot of these men because of their positions of power will play major parts in future books.

MTM: Can you tell me a little more about Cain? Does he protect Jane?

ZW: Cain is too much of a serial killer to be protecting anyone at the moment.

MTM: Sounds like my kind of guy. LOL

ZW: Haha. Well, Cain kills his food. He's evil. (Since there is reincarnation in my world and Cain knows that, he doesn't see it as "ending" someone, just inconveniencing them and sending them back to start.) Though he gets his own book later. He's also quite charming when he wants to be. And he's ultimately redeemable.

MTM: Redeemable? How so?

ZW: Actually, yes. When you find out Cain's history it will make a lot more sense. But let's face it... if you watched Buffy, Spike killed humans for freaking EVER before falling in love with Buffy. So did Angel. And yet we let them be heroes of their own stories. We don't stop to think about the fact that they are basically reformed serial killers.

MTM: Save The Cat!

ZW: Haha. What?

MTM: LOL. It’s a book by Blake Snyder. He suggests if you put a villain in a heroic situation, the reader can forgive all.

ZW: YES. LOL. It's much more interesting when you can make a reader have sympathy for the devil, but I have an unholy crush on Cain. It's so wrong. But he knows he's getting his own book

MTM: How many books do you currently have in your mind for this series?

ZW: At least 10, but 8 are semi-planned already. I'm creating a big world that I can play in endlessly. Because we aren't following every single character through every book, hopefully it will stay fresh way past the point a series usually starts to get blah blah.

MTM: That’s a great way to keep breathing life into it and avoid the dreaded Anita Blake syndrome.

ZW: Oh, we'll also have some books set in "the future" about 20 years from now when everybody knows about vampires and therians and such and everything is crazy. Then for the next book, we'll hop back to the present where people don't know. One of the heroines is going to be Charlee and Anthony's daughter.

MTM: Spoilers!

ZW: So, see? Anthony and Charlee have sex!


ZW: That wasn't TOO spoilery though. Just a little. I also like throwing out little easter eggs, so people following and paying attention catch them.

~Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Interview with Zoe on Friday. Claimed and Mated are both available now.
Connect with Zoe Winters here:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Interview: R. Van Saint and A.R. Braun

MTM: For you dark fiction and horror fans out there, allow me to introduce you to R. Van Saint and A.R. Braun, co-authors of the upcoming anthology, Tales From The Abyss. This collection will be available exclusively through R. Van Saint’s website, for readers who sign up for the Zero to Rockstar Media newsletter. To lift a line from RVS’s description, Tales From The Abyss consists of “weird-ass and scary stories for weird-ass and scary people.”

Sign me up!

I appreciate both of you taking the time to conduct this interview. Let’s get started.

What would you like for readers to know about you and your work before they delve into it?

ARB: I can't speak for Ro, but with my work, I try to find answers to why people act the way they do, when they act strange. It makes me feel better when there's a reason, like the people who tell themselves, "That person must've had a rough day." It just makes me feel better about people. I also tend to be very brutal, but that's not because I'm an evil person. Life is brutal, so it makes the work realistic.

RVS: I like to challenge the rules and experiment with format. The subject matter to my stories is usually dark, weird and sometimes absurd. I've dabbled in film and animation so I tend to set up my scenes and dialogue from a cinematic standpoint. I think that helps readers envision the story as they're reading it. I like to write stories around a character typically. I spend a lot of time picking a character's head before I even start a story.

MTM: I think we can all agree that the human mind can be a dark and scary place. What do you think it is about horror and dark fiction that fascinates us?

RVS: The fact that it makes us acknowledge the unspeakable aspects of the human condition. It makes us confront the things that make us uncomfortable. As for the unknown and unexplainable, it's just exciting to explore the what ifs that the genre has to offer.

ARB: It's fun and it's cathartic. We're just ambulance chasers, aren't we? Ha-ha. I saw a study one time on TV saying that we need the feel-good, fake scare to face our fears in real life. I like to think there's a purpose to it, but sometimes it is just because it's fun.

MTM: What are your thoughts on recent books and films within the genre?

ARB: I don't think there's a lot of great ones. It's the same way with music. I'm picky. I don't like a lot of bands. I prefer 70's authors because they were scarier, but that's all a matter of opinion. I think Rosemary's Baby is the scariest—Ira Levin's amazing—but there are some high-quality, new works out there: Scott Smith's The Ruins; Gary A. Braunbeck's Coffin County; Jeff Long's The Descent; The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King and others. With films, I think they've lost the scare factor present in so many movies made in the 60's, 70's and early 80's and have replaced it with CGI. We get about one great movie a year: Prey, The Ruins, The Descent and The Ring are some that I've liked recently.

RVS: A lot of it is derivative but once in a while you come across something different. Derivative is ok if you're in the mood  for a blockbuster summer hit mindless entertainment kind of thing. I'm not a big fan of the new remakes that are coming out. If it was great the first time around, don't futz with it. Some of the recent movies I've seen that I actually enjoyed - Let The Right One In & Triangle. Three...Extremes (came out around 2005 I think) was pretty damn original. Dead Snow was fun to watch. As for books - I've enjoyed The Strain by Del Toro and Hogan. Neil Gaiman's work is mind-blowing. I also dig Sarah Langan and Joe Hill's work. I think the sub-par horror films rely too much on gore and violence and not enough on the build-up of suspense. I'm actually doing the opposite - I'm getting into more of the older films (pre-1960s). The last one I watched was The Virgin Spring by Bergman. Wes Craven even said The Last House on the Left is basically a reworking of that film.

MTM: I enjoyed The Ring as well. My wife is from Japan and talked me into watching the original Japanese version before the U.S. remake came out. We watched it on a bootleg video no less, which adds to the freaky factor given the subject matter. Let The Right One In is my favorite vampire film of all time. The upcoming Hollywood remake of that one worries me, but I digress. Is there a particular author, book, or film that has profoundly influenced you as a writer?

ARB: Of course. That's how you avoid writer's block—you read like a fiend and become inspired. I had to read "The Telltale Heart" as a reading assignment in high school, and that was the first time I ever enjoyed my homework. That's when I knew I wanted to do this. Whoever I read at the time will influence a certain short story. One tale up for consideration had rich descriptions influenced by Ray Garton's Live Girls. Other notable influences include: H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Reece, Tamara Thorne and Gary A. Braunbeck.

RVS: Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman. They're all prolific and I love their short stories. Chuck Palahniuk for his unique style. I'm a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Night Gallery. I'm also into comic books, one of my all time favs is Rising Stars.

MTM: I am a comic buff myself. Anyone who doesn’t think comics are relevant to literature should read Gaiman’s Sandman series. Amazing stuff. How did the idea for Tales From The Abyss come about?

RVS: Alan and I were just tossing around ideas and this was one of them. We decided to contribute a couple of stories each and make it available for free a) to help spread the word about our individual works and b) to give readers a sample of what we do.

Plus, I've never collaborated with another writer so I figured this would be a fun thing to try.

It's also subscription only and absolutely free, so you have to join the list to receive it on June 1. The list has other perks but this is the initial launch.

ARB: I've always wanted to collaborate with another writer, but it just never happened. There was one time I was going to collab' with Elizabeth Herrington, but it just never came to be. So I was thrilled that Ro was willing to do it. "RSVP" is the first story we wrote together, but it isn't included in Tales. I don't want people to get the wrong idea. Tales is two stories from her and two from me, free, just to give you a taste of what you'll be getting later. The next book will have even better stories and, depending on whether the one we wrote together is published in one of the pro-payment 'zines or not, "RSVP" could possibly be included in the next book. That is the most brutal story I've ever taken part in, so if any of you get a chance to collab' I'd definitely jump at it. Two heads are better than one, the old cliché goes.

MTM: The concept for “RSVP” is intriguing. How does the process for co-authoring a story differ from writing on your own?

RVS: A little bit of compromise goes a long way. It was surprisingly not difficult, for this particular story anyway. I had the idea in my head so I started the story then I sent it off to A.R., I gave him a rough idea of where I needed the story to go but he was free to craft additional characters and just go crazy with it. I was pleased with the result and he just made some minor edits. I expected a little bit of ego clashing from both of us but it wasn't even an issue. I think the secret is to let the other person do what they do best. If you combine your strengths then there's no way to f**k things up really. Plus, we set a realistic deadline and communicated well, which definitely helps.

ARB: Well, to begin with, I wasn't sure how the process even worked.  She and I being in different parts of the world, I just guessed that one would start the story and another would finish it. The plot was Ro's idea, so she started it, and I added all the gory details. It worked very well that way so we'll probably continue to do that.

MTM: What can readers expect from Tales From The Abyss? Can you give us a teaser?

ARB: I'll let Ro describe her stories. As far as my pieces, "Alien Consciousness" is what the title suggests. It's about a part of your body taking on a sentient consciousness all its own. I originally wrote the tale for Everyday Weirdness, but it didn't strike the editor's fancy. "The Woman in Black" is a ghost story.

RVS: My stories "The F Bomb" and "Arc of Descent" are connected, using one of the scenes as a link between the two. It's a subtle link but if you're paying attention you'll get it. "The F Bomb" is written during one of my experimental moods, it almost reads like prose and it's a glimpse of the alien and human interaction in an earth where alien beings act as overlords, just because they can and because there are humans who are willing participants to their schemes and experiments. "Arc of Descent" is about one of the experiments I just mentioned. You'll be seeing more from this universe, I think. 

MTM: Individually, what is next on your writing agenda after the collaboration?

ARB: We'll collaborate on one more short story e-book, then a novella together, then a novel

RVS: My main focus right now is a zombie novel called Panic in Year 2020, which is a direct result of a short story I wrote. I plan on releasing it in podcast form, completely unabridged, as I'm writing it. This puts a lot of pressure on me to just crank the sucker out but I work best under pressure. I have two other novels right behind that, just taunting me. I have a short story collection that I'm compiling and I'm really excited about, I'm shooting for a Fall 2010 release date for that one. My Sid Valentine universe is expanding as a serial. I'm also writing a script for a graphic novel that I'll be illustrating myself. On top of that, additional collaborations. I'll be posting detailed stuff of all my writing adventures in my production journal (Hooligans only, so you better sign up kids!) once I get that set up. I think that's plenty enough to keep me insanely busy.

MTM: Okay, now for something fun. I love to hear authors’ thoughts on the “Hollywood treatment.” Assume you have just won the equivalent of the literary lottery and a major film studio wants to turn your work into a big-budget motion picture. Which of your stories would you like to see as a film, and who would you want to be involved (actors, director, etc.)? Also, CGI or no CGI?

RVS: This is a tough one, Sid Valentine series would be fun.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez/Q.Tarantino

Sid can be played by Bruce Willis or Will Smith. I'm leaning towards Will Smith, he's more charismatic.

Sid's cousin, CEO of Discord, Inc. can be played by Nick Cage.

(yes, my characters are creatures from myth, folklores, fairy tales living in a modern day metropolis, so I say there's no racial boundaries here in terms of family members).

CGI is fine but shouldn't overpower the film.

Soundtrack - varies, as long as it's bad-ass.

ARB: That would be total dream actualization and the best thing that could happen! *Fingers crossed* I'm counting on all of my solo novels becoming movies when I get an agent and a publisher but, for the sake of this interview, "RSVP," of course.  No CGI. I like the horror movies made in the 60's, 70's and early 80's the best. They used the scare element instead of relying on FX. As far as actresses: Emily Perkins, Tatiana Maslany, Katherine Isabelle and Jenna Malone. I don't know about actors. Probably the guys from House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.

MTM: I hope to see those on the big screen someday soon. I will be looking for my VIP tickets on opening weekend. Big thanks to both of you for taking the time for this interview. I look forward to reading Tales From The Abyss soon!

ARB: Thank you very much for your interest in our labor of love, Mike.

RVS: Thanks for the kick-ass interview and allowing me to embrace my inner media whore. That's always fun.

MTM: If it makes me a media pimp, then I’ll take that as a win!

R. Van Saint is a New Yorker living in Austin, TX. She writes dark/sci-fi/weird/pulp fiction.
An avid blogger. A new media nerd. Soon to be podcaster.
Wanna know more? Follow her adventures and experiments at
Don't forget to join The Hooligans.

A.R. BRAUN has numerous publication credits in Downstate Story, the Vermin anthology and the Heavy Metal Horror anthology; Horror Bound magazine; and Micro Horror magazine. “The Interloper” won story of the month through a unanimous vote in the June Full Moon in Bloom issue at SNM Horror, and the piece was included in the anthology, Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red. SNM Horror published two more of his stories. He’ll be included in the upcoming e-book, The Complete Guide to Writing Horror. You can reach A. R. at

Sign up to get Tales From The Abyss for free on June 1:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lucifera's Pet: The Motion Picture!!!

Ok. The title is a little misleading. Has my novel been opted for a major motion picture? No. Not yet. That doesn’t mean I can’t go ahead and get everything planned out for when Hollywood eventually comes knocking on my door.

This morning, I asked a couple of fellow writers the following question for an upcoming interview:

Assume you have just won the equivalent of the literary lottery and a major film studio wants to turn your work into a big-budget motion picture. Which of your stories would you like to see as a film, and who would you want to be involved (actors, director, etc.)? Also, CGI or no CGI?

I decided I wanted to be the first to answer my own question.

Without further ado, here are the cast and main players in the film adaptation of Lucifera’s Pet:


Guillermo Del Toro

He has proven that he can do amazing things within a budget. He also can stay faithful to source material and bring even the most absurd characters to life in such a way that you forget about the prosthetics and just see the character. He can also pepper horror with a healthy dose of comedy. GDT is my guy.


The Werewolf

Robert Downey Jr.

The lead player has to be able to chew up entire chunks of every scene in which he appears. He also has to be simultaneously psychotic and sympathetic. Who better than “the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude?”

Emil Vladu – Master Vampire

Cary Elwes

Let’s turn back the clock and have Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride, circa 1987 play the villain. He already has the air of condescension down to a science.

Robert Marrick – Emil’s henchman

Steve Buscemi

Marrick is creepy and he talks with an exaggerated lisp that makes him sound like a snake. I can think of no one better to play him than my favorite creepy actor.

Nash – Lucifera’s consigliore

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Nash is big, brooding, and never speaks a word. He probably has a little too much charisma for the part, but The Rock will have no trouble filling the role physically.

Christopher Johnson – Newly turned vampire

Justin Long

The awkward, brainy kid from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, will be perfect as the awkward, brainy vampire.

William O’Connell – werewolf

Daniel Day Lewis

O’Connell is big and boisterous with a mustache as big as all outdoors. He also has two knives: one in his hand and one in your back. Daniel Day Lewis is a lock for the role.

Now for the tough part: casting the title character.

Lucifera Romana – Master Vampire of Los Angeles

Shelly Martinez

Whenever I write Lucifera, Shelly in her former role as “Ariel” is how I picture the character. Would she win an Academy Award? Don't know. Don't care. If I were interested in Academy Awards, I’d rewrite the story about an innocent man on death row that Hollywood usually loves to shower with golden statues.

Supporting cast: Sean Connery as Tarquin. Catherine Zeta Jones as Lucrecia. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Cornelius. David Tennant as James. Valerie Bertinelli as Mary. Christian Slater as “The Mugger.”

Special Effects:

The team from Hellboy and Hellboy 2.

In both films, they bring monsters to life that I never believed would work on the big screen. These guys blend makeup, animatronics, and computer graphics in such a way that you forget you are watching something impossible. I would love to see what they could do with a pack of seven-foot-tall werewolves.

There you have it. That’s my film.

Now for the fun part. Tell me about your movie. You can post your thoughts here or we can make it really fun: Add pictures and put it in your blog, then post the link here. Either way, I want to hear about what your vision will look like on the big screen.

M.T. Murphy is the author of Lucifera’s Pet, a violent and sexy dark fiction tale of werewolves and vampires. Connect with him below:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Playing in the graveyard

I began writing this as a reply to one of Ziggy Kinsella’s blogs over at The Feckless Goblin. I liked the subject so much that I decided to develop the reply into a blog article of my own as well. Be sure to check out Ziggy’s original post here.

My family has owned a cemetery since the 1800s. As a child, I used to play with my cousins amongst the head stones and dirt mounds over fresh graves. It never occurred to me to be frightened of the cemetery's occupants six feet below.

In elementary school I was one of the weird kids. Being a bit of an outsider, I was never frightened by the classic monsters. I pitied Frankenstein’s monster and thought the Wolfman got a bad rap. And Dracula? Well, Dracula was just plain cool.

When I was eleven years old, a movie about Jack the Ripper came on television one Sunday night. The hook was that this movie would reveal the “true” identity of the killer. I had to beg mom and dad to let me stay up past my bed time to watch the ending. I immediately regretted doing so. In the last scene that I remember, the authorities dragged away a royal physician as he ranted about “killing whores” and slashed at the air with his empty scalpel hand. For some reason, that image was even more disturbing to me than the recreations of the killings themselves.

Later that night I was just settling down to sleep when I caught a glimpse of my open closet. There in the darkness stood Jack the Ripper, brandishing his scalpel and waiting for me to fall asleep. I leapt out of bed and closed the door. I returned to bed and pulled the covers tightly over my head. Five minutes later, the handle clicked and the door glided open with a slow, agonizing squeak.

I knew Jack the Ripper wasn’t really in my closet. I knew my closet doorknob didn’t work well and was prone to popping open. I also knew that the door had squeaked like that for years. That didn’t make it any less terrifying.

What scared me the most about the Jack the Ripper scenario was the fact that there was no discernable motive. It was unexplainable brutality and, no matter what the movie said, they never found out who the killer really was. With most monsters, books, or other scenarios there is some sense of order. The villain is eventually revealed and has some grand scheme in mind. It may be horrible and barbaric, but there is a reason behind his or her heinous actions. 

The Ripper killings show that human beings sometimes do despicable things for no reason at all. For my painfully logical mind, that is far more frightening than playing in the graveyard.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Judging a book by its cover

I grew up reading comic books. I bet I just lost a lot of you right there. Believe it or not, comics can teach us a lot about how people decide whether or not to look at a book. In no other area is a cover image more important than for monthly periodicals.

I spent several years in magazine circulation and learned that readers flock to a pretty cover. One of the magazines I worked with was a food publication. They could have an issue with the best recipes and articles about food written by world renowned chefs and critics, but if they were stuck with a cover image of a wilted bologna sandwich, they wouldn’t sell an issue.

When I was small, my dad would come home from his job chasing bad guys as a State Trooper every Friday and bring me a comic book. We would sit together and read a story about (what else?) chasing bad guys. He didn’t pay attention to covers. He just grabbed whatever comic was on top of the rack at the convenience store on the way home. I grew up with a love of reading and a love of comics.

I drifted out of comics for several years after dad retired and no longer made it by the convenience store each Friday. One day after school, a comic caught my eye: Incredible Hulk #340. The character Wolverine had his claws drawn and a snarl on his face while a reflection of the Hulk’s face showed that the anger was mutual.

I opened the book and found exactly what I hoped to find: those two characters engaging in a brutal battle.

When I browse novels, nothing thrills me more than an exciting, artistic cover. I have been burned enough times to learn never to buy a book based solely on the cover, but that is what draws me to a book. The cover should be a window inside that gives potential readers a taste of things to come.

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton, is one of my favorite books. It is also the last book in the Anita Blake series that I have been able to finish. Here is the cover art on the version that I originally purchased:

The image is dark and foreboding. There is no question that this is a werewolf tale. I had read one previous book in the series before this one. I bought Blue Moon on the spot and read the other stories leading up to that one shortly thereafter. And then it stopped.

I let a friend borrow my copy of Blue Moon and it was never seen again. I wanted to reread it a few years back and decided to pick up another copy. To my dismay, the image above was now indicative of what that series became. If I were to evaluate Blue Moon based on this image, I would guess that it is a book about a wolf that has sex with a giant smurf. This would be an inaccurate assessment. From what I understand, that does not take place until much later in the series.

One of my favorite books in high school was Surfing Samurai Robots by Mel Gilden. The book can be judged by its cover with 100% accuracy:

When I wrote Lucifera’s Pet, I knew exactly what type of cover I wanted it to have. Alissa Rindels was able to bring the lead characters to life in a painting that became the cover image below. You can take one look and know exactly what to expect.

Will good cover art and design alone sell books? Maybe a few. As a reader, I look for a cover that conveys a true sense of the story contained within a book’s pages. As a writer, I want potential readers to know what they have in store.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Blog by Ziggy Kinsella - The Lords of Uncreativity: The $$$ sign marketing zombies

I read recently that trashy novels are making a comeback (when did they ever go away, I hear you ask?) Pulp fiction is, apparently, the next big thing. If you can massacre twenty people in the first ten pages and have an anti-hero who makes Marlowesque comments about the absurdity of life in the bluntest language possible, then you’re probably on a winner.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’ve had one too many scotches. But, they, it got me thinking. You know me, I do the thinking thing.

In the big, bad world of book publishing, who is in control? We all know the answer to that, don’t we?
Really. Really we do.

It’s the marketers. It’s the people whose mantra is ROI (Return On Investment). It’s all about money, this publishing lark. It’s not about creativity. Which is why you find people saying that there are no new stories under the sun.

Marketers have heads that are full of clichés. Cliches are good in the ROI world. They are what drive today’s writing, particularly in films.

We live in a do-it-by-numbers world. Your character needs a certain set of cliché driven characteristics to succeed. Your plot needs certain things to get past those devils who call themselves marketers.
There’s nothing new they say. Everything that has been said, has been said. It’s all been done before.

Here’s my thing: We’re kept in a perpetual loop of non-performance because it sells. The marketers say it sells.

Vampires. Werewolves. Don’t you just love them? Me, I think they’ve been done to death.
Here’s a point: There’s nothing new under the sun? Really? Really? Really? Or is that just what They tell us. You know who They are, don’t you? They with the closed minds. They with the limited aspirations. They who stand between you and true creativity.

A marketer will tell you that market forces drive success. If it doesn’t sell, it means it’s no good. And that, my friends, is the big lie. The 100 million dollar pile of horseshit that lies under our feet.

You can’t get a publisher without an agent. You can’t get an agent without a publisher. You can’t get any of those unless you can convince the marketer of your business proposition. It’s all a load of contrived, literary bollocks. Who says your work isn’t good enough? How many of you have read a book and thought: I could do better than that!!!

Let me ask a question: Who are we? Us, who lurk in the dark shadows of the internet, pretending we are worth something.

Who are we?

Are we timid scribes who think we aren’t good enough? Or are we the new lions who have something new to say?

And who are They to stamp on our hopes and dreams? Who are those privileged few to say we don’t mean anything?

Go out there my friends, Break the shackles. Tell them true creativity is here. And it’s here to stay.  

Ziggy Kinsella is a Manchester based horror writer with a liking for the macabre and a penchant for the ridiculous. He is currently working on the second draft of his novel CLUBLAND as well as a creepy novella called THE TOWER. Connect with Ziggy below.

Ziggy's short story, "Mavis Trubshaw has left the building," winner of the Spinetinglers short story of the month for May 2010: