A Little Behind…


I know I promised a weekly free flash piece starring Darlene Bobich and her zombie tale, but another story has caught me by the you-know-what’s and I’m writing fast and furious, trying to get this book out before I lose it…

You know how that is, right?

I’m about 40,000 words into a novel tentatively titled “Chelsea Avenue”, a horror tale set in Long Branch, New Jersey starting from the night of the Long Branch pier fire on July 8th 1987…

More to follow, and Darlene, too!

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Zombie Short Story Accepted


Just got word that my zombie short story “Undead On Arrival” was accepted for the upcoming Code Z anthology from Knightwatch Press…

http://knightwatchpress.info/codez.html

More details to follow as they become available…

Guest Blog Interview – W.D. Gagliani


Tell us about your story appearing in the “Undead Tales” zombie anthology (no spoilers, please!) 

“Until Hell Calls Our Names” was my first zombie story, although I believe I’ve only written two more after that one! (Need to remedy that!) It was inspired partly by my reading of S.P. Somtow’s DARKER ANGELS, an incredible Civil War novel only one facet of which included zombies. That book was constructed as a mind-blowing set of concentric tales told by characters to other characters, and it inspired me to do a second-hand kind of story too. Plus I’d been reading about the Confederate submarine, the Hunley (this was before they actually found it and raised it), and wanted to use it in a story. When the Memphis-themed anthology More Monsters From Memphis came up, it seemed perfect because the battle of Memphis was fought by gunboats on the Mississippi. How simple to slip a Confederate sub into the historical facts! It’s a bit of an alternate history tale, too, as well as horror. It’s one of my favorites.

 

Is this your first zombie tale? 

It was indeed, though I didn’t think of it as a zombie tale at the time. My friends John Everson and Dave Benton and I are working on a zombie novel called Sing Zombie Electric, so I imagine I’ll revisit the world of zombies a bit more in the near future.

 

 

What do you think of the horror book market, and the zombie subgenre?

The entire book industry in transition right now! I think there’s room for both paper and digital, and I like both. I use both. I have a foot in each camp. I have ebooks out there, and I have traditional books. I think horror lends itself to ebooks because people can load up their devices and go to town. But there’s something cool about a paper book with a great cover you can see better. The transitional phase makes it hard to assess the horror market by itself – it’s inextricably linked to what’s happening throughout the industry.

The zombie subgenre has been surprising, in a way. It’s been taking some of the vampire’s thunder! But – as a werewolf guy – I hope my favorite werewolves will get a turn. In the meantime it’s true that zombies have somewhat taken over – the zombified classics are testament to that! As long as readers don’t tire of the shambling dead, there will be zombie apocalypse tales. Hit TV shows like The Walking Dead haven’t hurt, either.

 

 Some of your favorite authors that inspired you?

Tim Powers, whose “secret histories” have blown my mind since 1984 – and who did zombies pretty early on in On Stranger Tides (yes, it was optioned and adapted for the Disney Pirates franchise, but the book predates all that and it’s so much better). His books The Anubis Gates, Last Call, The Stress of Her Regard (among others) are touchstones in my formative years. Of course, Stephen King turned me from thrillers, my first love, to horror – in 1976 when I read ‘Salem’s Lot! I grew up on Jules Verne, then kids’ books like the Brains Benton and Three Investigators series, then jumped to adult stuff like Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean and writers of thrillers, many of them British (which may have shaped my style as sometimes more formal than average). Then King came along and I went in that direction, eventually finding the so-called splatterpunks of the 80s: Laymon, Lee, Schow, Skipp & Spector, Lansdale, Garton. I was a huge mystery and crime fan, as well, in my high school years – grounded myself in Chandler, Hammett, and later Block, Westlake, Parker and so many others. In the 90s and later I came to love the short stories of people such as Gary Braunbeck, Brian Hodge, and Brian Hopkins, for instance. My roots led me to create thriller-crime-horror blends that are exactly like the kinds of stuff I prefer to read. Of course, I could add about three or four dozen authors to this brief list! (For instance, I’m neglecting to mention my large SF phase, as well, in which my favorite authors included Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick.)

 

What is your ultimate – realistic – goal as a writer? 

I have always wanted to be a writer, to tell stories. I also love reading the stories of others (which is probably why I became a book reviewer as well, starting in 1986). It’s probably too late to make writing my full-time career, but a realistic goal is to continue to explore the themes and characters I love and which intrigue me, and at the same time watch it grow into a credible second income. That’s one goal that has eluded me so far, but there are signs of that changing. The main thing is to have happy readers, though, and my mail referring to my werewolf cop series about Nick Lupo has been so overwhelming and satisfying that I could see writing about him for years to come. Maybe he’ll meet some zombies, someday. So part of my goal is to continue to tell stories I like and which I hope readers will also like, whether or not about zombies…

 

 What are some of your influences?

See question 4 for some of the authors – and I stress some – but movies and TV shows also helped. I’ve been a Bond fan since I was four or five and my folks took me to “Goldfinger.” Ian Fleming and Bond had a huge impact on me, both the literary and the film versions. I was a science fiction fan and fantasy followed, though never much the Tolkienesque… I preferred urban fantasy and dark fantasy, and the Tim Powers version of historical fantasy blended with horror. But as a kid, I thrilled to the 50s and 60s SF and monster movies. On TV, the 70s were a gold mine: the ABC Movie of the Week managed to hit all the horror subgenres! There were great shows from The Twilight Zone (earlier but I caught up in the 70s), Night Gallery, Ghost Story, and so many others. Eventually I was an X-Files fan because, like Mulder, I wanted to believe… in terrible conspiracies, horrifying creatures, and the bizarre. The traditional horror movies helped – I saw “Jaws” three times the summer it opened. I saw “The Omen” three times, too, and “The Exorcist.” The Universal monster movies were concurrent joys for me, and Creature Features, because, again, I was catching up. I dare anyone to watch “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and not see the roots of what so many of us do, creating laughs and shivers both – and with the classic actors, too. I consider all of those influential. And I have to thank my parents because they never censored my viewing habits. In fact, they took me to R-rated movies when I was too young! And I love them for having done that. Sheltering kids is a terrible crime. I have an open mind because of that.

 

Give us a typical day in your writing schedule.

Well, since I have a day job, a typical day involves finding a few minutes here and there to write or take notes. As a book reviewer (not as active as I was, but still active), I’m often drafting a review in those short opportunities. After work I may head over to my local Starbucks where I tend to veg out and work on something, though nowadays that includes a fair amount of social media for marketing purposes. Sometimes I fall asleep at the computer, trying to do some writing – I think ultimately I do a lot more writing on weekends, since on weekdays my opportunities are few and far between… and shorter. But plotting is something I do in my head almost constantly – whatever I may be working on is on my mind from when I’m standing in the shower, to lunch, to breaks, and so on. I think a writer is always writing, even if there is no pen or keyboard in his or her hand. It’s more a calling than a job or a hobby, that’s for sure. I find that I can’t not write or work on something related. And when I can’t actually write, then reading is a perfect alternative because I love it so much.

 

What story/book of yours are you most proud of, and why? 

Right up there with “Until Hell Calls Our Names” is my story “Icewall,” which can also be found in my Shadowplays collection. It was my first big fiction sale, and it went to Robert Bloch’s Psychos, an HWA anthology edited by Robert Bloch (the master who wrote Psycho) and which included stories by some of my idols including Stephen King and Charles Grant and Gary Braunbeck. I’m proud of pretty much all the stories I wrote in the 90s, because they all found homes here and there. A couple appeared in cd-rom anthology projects by Brian Hopkins, who is himself an exquisite writer. Those sales gave me confidence when I might have surrendered – I’d been submitting stories since 1976, while still in high school! Those stories, and a couple contest wins and close calls, and later Honorable Mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies, all helped get me through dark times while I worked on my first novel.

Wolf’s Trap took nine years, was heavily workshopped with author Elaine Bergstrom’s group in the mid-90s, was published in the small press, and went on to earn a nomination for the Bram Stoker Award. Then it went to Leisure Books, sold well, and led to three sequels. I’m especially proud of that book because it was hard work, writing without knowing if anyone would ever care, and I let it all hang out – pushing my own boundaries – and the response was gratifying. I’m proud of all my Wolf novels, but the one coming in October 2011 from Samhain, my new publisher since the shake-up at Dorchester, is also a proud moment because it involves a parallel story that arose out of anecdotes my parents told me of growing up during World War 2 in Italy, first occupied by the Germans and later bombed and re-occupied by the Allies. I wrote some heavy scenes for that book, scenes that made me highly uncomfortable and touched too close to home. I wrote a scene that had me in tears, which doesn’t usually happen. And I think that’s what it takes – our work (call it “art” if you will, but I just think of it as “the work”) should make us uncomfortable, push our buttons and boundaries, and challenge us and/or our emotions in some way. Because if it doesn’t, then it’s not really effective. Even simple genre work, just like the pulps we now tend to revere, can be an effective bearer of what I call “cosmic truth,” or narrative honesty, which I think is what writing is all about. I’m proud when someone tells me that something I wrote affected them somehow. To me it’s ultimately better than financial reward. Though I wouldn’t mind some financial reward, too, I hasten to add!

 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on that zombie novel with Everson and Benton I mentioned earlier, as well as Wolf’s Deal, which is a Nick Lupo novella that fits between two of the novels, a couple projects for younger readers (also with Dave Benton, with whom I have also written a batch of adult short stories), plus another collaborative project that’s just getting started in the creation phase, plus doing the plotting for a fifth Lupo novel, and allowing a few ideas to brew and bubble at different paces. I tend to get ideas when I can’t begin to deal with them, which is frustrating and can affect my focus. I like to say I have more burners than stove. Or time. I definitely feel the sands of time rushing out the bottom of the glass, but it’s not making me more prolific – just more harried and out of sorts.

 

 

 Shameless plug time… where can we find your work and you?

I have a supply of copies for sale of all three prior Lupo novels in paperback, so anyone who wants to catch up before Wolf’s Edge comes out in October from Samhain (first as an ebook and then in trade paperback a couple months later) can just write to me for details. It’s not necessary to read Wolf’s Trap first, though it helps, but Gambit-Bluff-Edge form a loose trilogy so they should be read in that order. The novella Wolf’s Deal should be a ready by fall (I keep putting it aside to work on something else). Dave Benton and I have Mysteries & Mayhem, a short collection, and a story from that – “Mood Elevator” – which is erotic horror we had published in the legendary Hot Blood series, in Dark Passions: Hot Blood 13, are both available as ebooks. We share a blog here: http://moodelevator.wordpress.com/ where I have also started to post old book reviews as well as our musings and those of some selected other guests. I can be found on Twitter at @WDGagliani, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wdgagliani . And my main websites are www.williamdgagliani.com and www.wdgagliani.com , through which I can be contacted as well.

Thanks for giving me the chance to spout about some of my favorite subjects!

W.D. Gagliani

Books by WD Gagliani:  http://amzn.to/obZAok

Guest Blog Interview – Tim Lieder


 Tell us about your story appearing in the “Undead of Winter” zombie anthology (no spoilers, please!)

Well, it’s a love story. Obviously, you can see the Katy Perry references throughout especially Teenage Dream. After all, I think I was listening to that song pretty heavily when I wrote it and it shows, especially in the scene where the old lady eats her own fingers.

 

 Is this your first zombie tale?
 
I believe that every story in some way is a zombie tale.

 

 
What do you think of the state of horror books, and the zombie subgenre?
 
Ever since F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Tender is the Great Zombie Fucker, zombie literature has been an integral part of American letters. Where would we be without Raymond Carver’s zombie stories from the 1960s or the Toni Morrison pre-Beloved novel Brains? I am happy to see that Stephanie Meyers will be writing a fifth Twilight book in which Bella fucks a truckload of zombie rock stars on their way to a gig in Colorado Springs but I am a little worried about what that will do to the Jacob/Edward dynamic. Still, Bella has always been a zombie and this will finally be a chance for her to be with her own kind.

 

 
Some of your favorite authors that inspired you?
 
Well obviously Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyers. I am paying direct homage to that scene in the Da Vinci Code when the zombies are sucking cock and biting them off due to some bullshit about Jesus’ inbred descendent. But really, I think that Stephanie Meyers really nails the post-apocalyptic zombie world and telling an entire love story from the perspective of a brainless hunk of flesh who walks around looking stunned because she has yet to open up a skull and scoop out the brains. I wanted to incorporate that in my story and I really think that I captured the dream-like prose of Twilight, especially the bit with the dog eating the fingers.
 

 
What is your ultimate – realistic – goal as a writer?
 
New York Times Bestseller list. Required reading in many class curriculum after a brief sojourn as the writer with the books that people pass around to their friends. Also I want a cult following and a planet named after me.

 

 
What are some of your influences?
 
I really like the Czech orgy porn. That might have something to do with having a bit of the ADHD.

 

 
Give us a typical day in your writing schedule.
 
Most of my writing schedule involves sitting in front of the television and writing term papers because those make the most money.
 

 

What story/book of yours are you most proud of, and why?
 
Um, the one with the cat and the cow. I think there’s also a vampire or a clown in the thing.
 
 


 What are you working on now?
 
 A business paper for a client who will put her name on it and turn it in as if she wrote it herself. I’m so ashamed.

 


Shameless plug time… where can we find your work and you?

I edited She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror. It features authors Elissa Malcohn, Catherynne Valente and Christi Krug. There’s also a Stephanie Meyers story in it called “Fuck Joseph Smith with a Vampire Dildo!” which was a tough sell for me, but I bought it because I really think I want to give Stephanie a chance to try something more romantic.

Guest Blog Interview – Scott Nicholson


Tell us about your story appearing in the “Undead Tales” zombie anthology (no spoilers, please!)


I just wanted to do a moment-in-time mood piece of impending zombie doom. But aren’t all zombie tales of that mood?

 

Is this your first zombie tale?

No, I’ve written a decent handful, and most are collected in the ebook Zombie Bits, with bonus stories from Jonathan Maberry, J.A. Konrath, and Joe McKinney.

 

What do you think of the horror book market, and the zombie subgenre?

I think the digital era is opening up a lot more audiences to new material. It’s great, and of course zombie fans can find stuff more easily than ever.

 

Some of your favorite authors that inspired you?

 

Stephen King is the main one. After that, probably dozens of influences, mostly the old-school writers, though I do sample widely.

 

 What is your ultimate – realistic – goal as a writer?

 

I’m already living my goal of doing this for a living. There are no guarantees but I just need to keep working consistently and with good intent.

 

What are some of your influences?

 

As a former musician, I like to feel the mood of the music while I am writing. Any art that is thought-provoking and not just mindless entertainment is worth it to me.

 

 

Give us a typical day in your writing schedule.

 

I spend the mornings handling business tasks and some promotion. For some reason, I write at night now, even though I used to write in the mornings. Being an indie writer means running a small business, so there’s more than just writing.

 

 

What story/book of yours are you most proud of, and why?

 

The Red Church has been a perennial favorite and seems to attract a steady audience even after eight years. The audio version is about to be released and it’s fun to listen to the words you once typed.

 

 What are you working on now?

 

I’m finishing up the Liquid Fear sequel, and Chronic Fear should be out at Christmas. I am doing another book with J.R. Rain and will probably have another story collection out later this year.

 

Shameless plug time… where can we find your work and you?

 

My books are at http://www.hauntedcomputer.com and I’m “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter and Facebook. You can also find me in most of the ebook stores.

 Thanks, Armand, for having me.

“Hey, I have an idea for you to write..”


If I had a dollar for every time someone approached me with that line… people seem to think that us writerly types are completely out of ideas, just wandering around asking non-writerly types for their totally original and insightful ideas so that we can make a great book and split the millions with them…

The truth is – and I speak for myself here, but I’m sure it pertains to most other authors – that I have enough ideas to write three score books, a couple hundred short story ideas, and perhaps another hundred flash fiction pieces…

What I don’t have is time to do it all…

I made the mistake this morning of listing all of the unfinished work I have saved as well as the multiple ideas jotted down on scrap paper, napkins, unpaid bills, cardboard boxes…

The real problem becomes: where to start?

Usually an idea will hit me and I’ll run with it, punching out a few pages until the muse leaves me. I always have 3-5 stories up at all times and I work from one to the next as the mood strikes. Some days I can stay with one story and punch out a couple of chapters, but other days I write a few paragraphs on five different stories.

I have five novels pulled up right now, in various levels of completion… one is at the 38,000 word mark and the smallest just broke 2,400 words. Everything else is in between.

Back in the far, far past (2010) I would have rushed to finish them one at a time and then hunker down and send them out to publishers, crossing my fingers as I kept one eye on the rejection/acceptance pile and the other eye on the next book.

Now? Thanks to writers I admire like Scott Nicholson (who, coincidentally, is featured tomorrow right here as a Guest Blog Interview) I’ve ‘seen the light’.

I now write for me, and when it is finished I decide whether its worthy enough to be published… by me.

I’ve been going back and forth between publishing my own work and doing anthologies under the Rymfire eBook name, melding the two of them slowly together.

Of course, I’ll keep searching for great anthologies to get published in, but for the most part I’ll be simply publishing my work for me and my fans out there. You are out there, right? 

Guest Blog Interview – Blaze McRob


Tell us about your story appearing in the “Undead of Winter” zombie anthology (no spoilers, please!)

My story “Snow Of Blood” just leaped out of me. When Armand asked for Extreme, I figured, “I can do extreme.” So I did. As with everything I write, once the first sentence is done, the rest materializes. My story people decide what’s going to happen, and I go along for the ride. All my fiction tales include non-fiction parts. My readers can decide what’s what and even it out in their minds. Does it really matter?  I don’t think so. Real life horror can be worse than contrived horror. A good writer knows how to mix the two. This way no one has to read a boring auto-biography about Blaze. Every bit will be told within my horror. A piece here; a piece there.

 

 

Is this your first zombie tale?

This is my first zombie tale. It was a lot of fun writing it. It won’t be my last. In fact, one of the novels I’m writing now has some of the critters in it.

 

 

What do you think of the state of horror books, and the zombie subgenre?

The general state of horror books needs to freshen up a bit with new monsters or radical changes to the old ones. Stereotypes are getting boring to a lot of readers. Yes, the “purists” are going to pick new books apart and say, “But this is all wrong! These new writers haven’t done their homework.” Hey, following the old ways is passe unless you’re writing within a particular age and want your story to fit the times. Take Carole Gill for example: she writes Gothic literature which happens to be horror based. She has to get the history right. And she does a damned fine job of it. She is my favorite vampire author. Blaze, on the other hand, writes from time periods he knows. My little nasties can be whatever they want to be. No restrictions. Fresh meat. No formulas for me.

Zombies are no exception. We don’t simply want the old. Does anyone care about the exact x/y chromosome count in the blood or the specifics of the virus that devastated the world? I would dare say no. Action is what readers want. New reasons for zombies arriving on the scene. Originality. Yeah, baby! That’s what rocks the zombie world. Zombie stories are huge at the moment. We writers want to keep the flames alive.

 

 

Some of your favorite authors that inspired you?

Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Earle Stanley Gardner, Stephen King, Brian Keene, Mario Acevedo, John Saul, Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, Peter Straub, Carole Gill, E.A. Irwin, Marissa Farrar, Yvonne Bishop, Sue Midlock, Todd Card, Tyr Kiernan, William Cook, Robert Frost, Kathy Rowe, and sooo many others. Obviously, I read a lot in different genres and find inspiration in many words.

 

 

What is your ultimate – realistic – goal as a writer?

I want my stories to be remembered, not for artistic literary genius, but for a good read. A good tale. That means selling a lot of novels. The only way for Blaze’s novels to be remembered is to get them into readers’ hands. Simple fact. Two hundred novels read by friends won’t cut the mustard. Readers, not writers, will have to buy them. Okay, I’ll have to learn marketing, won’t I? So be it. I will.

 

 

 What are some of your influences?

My influences come from life: good and bad. There is always both. I am inspired by struggles of heroic people around me and sickened by the despicable actions of demons who call themselves humans. Many times, those who are under the worst possible pressure achieve the greatest things, show the most compassion. This is as far as I have to look.

 

 

 Give us a typical day in your writing schedule.

A typical day for me includes checking my emails for emergency type messages-I answer the rest later- then I’ll write a thousand words. Following that it’s off to the gym on my bicycle. I exercise 3 to 4 hours a day. Back to the office to work on my blogs and answer more emails. I average 500 to 700 emails a day. Then at night, I’ll write another thousand words or more. This will all change this fall when Yvonne and I finally get together. Great changes.

 

 

What story/book of yours are you most proud of, and why?

My first novel because I was the one who had to rise from the ashes to write it. I conquered disease and became a writer at the same time. Sorry, it was a ghostwritten novel so I can’t divulge what it is.

 

 

What are you working on now? 

I am editing ” ’68 Buick,” a Grim reaper novel for Vamplit Publishing that I recently finished; I’m writing “Bokor,”the sequel to ” ‘ 68 Buick”; and I’m also writing “The Butcher’s Brain,” another novel. I have another novel series getting ready to come out called “The Devil’s Tongue”- all these novels will be published by Vamplit Publishing if they want them- and I’m working on some short stories. Soon Yvonne Bishop and I will publish some short stories through Angelic Knight Press.

 

 

 Shameless plug time… where can we find your work and you?

I am on Facebook and will soon have an author page there. I will be starting Twitter soon.  My blog sites are Blaze McRob’s Tales Of Horror, blazemcrob.com, and Angelic Knight Press, angelicknightpress.com, which is the small publishing house Yvonne and I started up for non-Vamplit things. I have some big news coming out for the press this week.

Thank you for giving me a bully-pulpit this week Armand. Much appreciated.