A Literary Micro-Press

vampires

The EXAMINER Interview with Patrick C. Greene, author of ‘The Crimson Calling’

When I was a kid I was scared of vampires. I had nightmares of the world being taken over by them, and if they were creatures like Count Yorga and Christopher Lee’s Dracula, and the merciless vamps…

Source: The EXAMINER Interview with Patrick C. Greene, author of ‘The Crimson Calling’


Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads 

While we wait for news of the contributors to our upcoming WRAPPED IN BLACK anthology – We thought we’d share this NEW RELEASE from fabulous indie-author

Leigh M. Lane

Jane the Hippie Vampire: Love Beads 

CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

CLICK IMAGE TO BUY

She’s broke and homeless. She’s a vegan. She’s undead.

Jane has had one hell of a time ever since she bumped into the wrong guy during the Summer of Love, but she’s taken it all in stride. Wandering from town to town, she seeks out the needy and the broken in hopes of breaking the curse that’s left her bloodthirsty and forever seventeen.

In Love Beads, Jane crosses paths with a middle-aged man who’s encountered her kind before–but he seems happy just to have the company. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, and his secret might just prove to be the end of her.

Love Beads is the first novella in the Jane the Hippie Vampire series.

leigh m laneLeigh M. Lane has been writing for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and twelve published short stories divided among different genre-specific pseudonyms. She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the hot and dusty outskirts of Sin City. Her traditional Gothic horror novel, FINDING POE, was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC Awards in horror.

Her other novels include WORLD-MART–a tribute to Orwell, Serling, and Vonnegut–and the dark allegorical tale, MYTHS OF GODS.

For more information about Leigh M. Lane and her writing, visit her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.

 

 


Holiday 2013 Deals

LIMITED TIME ONLY!!

*** FREEBIES! ***

Four FREE Horror Shorts!
holiday promo 2013

*** OTHER SPECIALS ***

DARK DESTINIES

Paperback and eBook together for ONLY $4.89! Sekhmet Press LLC is bringing you more great sales for the Holidays! Get DARK DESTINIES Paperback for 30% off AND a FREE Kindle version! Makes a great stocking stuffer and supports an indie author! Happy Holidays!

CLICK THE IMAGE TO BUY

 

 WRAPPED IN RED: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror

Kindle Version FREE when you buy the Paperback! Now through Christmas!

CLICK THE IMAGE TO BUY


Author Spotlight – Michael D. Matula

Michael David Matula

is the author of the short story

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of

 TRY NOT TO BURN

michael matula2

Excerpt from:

MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE

“Well, Ms. Bailor, do you have any prior experience as a personal assistant?  Bartholomew Gannen expects a certain level of professionalism and know-how out of his employees.”

Cameron Bailor shrugged, the warm Louisiana air feeling stale in the mansion’s extravagant drawing room.  The whole place smelled of dust and antiques; almost like the mansion had hardly been lived in over the past century or two.

Mr. Haberson noticed her eyes wander down to the bandage plastered to his neck, half covered by the collar of his gray mock turtleneck.  Strangely, the bandage looked like it had been applied by a seven-year-old in the midst of a coughing fit.

Two rather distressing splotches of red had seeped through the gauze, and were starting to bleed into the fabric of his shirt.

Clearing his throat, Haberson shifted his backside in the premium leather of the lounge chair, angling his torso so his injury would be less noticeable.

“Not exactly,” Cameron replied, her eyes skipping back up to his face now that the seeping neck wound was hidden from view.  After looking at his sallow, droopy cheeks for a few seconds, she found herself starting to miss the neck wound.  “I can make a mean cup of coffee, though.  The kids I used to babysit for would absolutely rave about my cappuccinos.”

A frown drew his hangdog features even lower, looking like he’d just tasted something sour.  “I see.”

It took all of her restraint not to face-palm, as she could almost feel her ice-breaker falling flat and shattering the surface of the lake.

Why did she say that?  Why did she even attempt to crack a joke?  She wasn’t funny, not in the slightest.  She was the last person who should be cracking wise in the middle of a harrowing job interview.

Cameron could see him judging her in his bloodshot little eyes.  She couldn’t say she hadn’t been judging him from the moment she walked in the door, but still, it never felt particularly good to be on the receiving end of such withering contempt.

Should she tell him it was an attempt at humor?  That she wasn’t actually a caffeine pusher for toddlers?  Or would that be an insult to his intelligence?  Perhaps he knew it was a joke, and he was simply judging Cameron for her poor comedic timing.

“Do you mind if I ask…” she started to say, hoping to switch his mind off of her own shortcomings as a comedian and onto something he’d prefer thinking about.

Namely, himself.  Men loved talking about themselves.  If there was one thing she knew about men, that was it.

Except for when they had something to hide, of course.

“…what happened to your neck?” she finished asking, realizing the folly of her ways the moment the lead-laced words had fallen onto what remained of the proverbial ice.

She couldn’t help but wince at his complete lack of an expression.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” he grunted.

Of course he didn’t want to talk about it.  It was the one thing he’d been hoping she wouldn’t notice.  Why couldn’t she have asked him about the weather or something equally bland and unalienating?  Why couldn’t she have complimented him on his fashion sense?  No, that might have actually made him like her.

After all, he probably injured himself in some sort of kinky asphyxiation thing, and no one wanted to discuss their deviant sexual practices with a total stranger.  Much less a pushy twenty-six-year-old who seemed to be unable to keep her mouth shut.

Mr. Haberson sighed.  “Ms. Bailor, I’m sure you know that Bartholomew Gannen is a very important man.  He may have retired from the limelight, but he still requires a capable, sturdy individual to fend off negative press and overeager fans.  He needs someone who is willing to work long daytime hours, and someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.  Do you really think you would be capable of handling these responsibilities?”

Cameron tried to pull herself together.  He was still talking to her.  That was a good sign, wasn’t it?  At least he hadn’t grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and tossed her sorry derriere out onto the regal front porch of the mansion.

She still had a fighting chance.  And she still had four full “release-in-case-of-emergency” buttons to go through on the blouse.  She had undone the first one in the car.  She’d wanted that casual look.

The second button would show that she could be playful.  She wasn’t desperate enough to release button number two yet, but she was getting there.

If she undid button number three, it would show that she could be saucy.  A real firecracker.  A fourth button would cross the line into epic levels of inappropriateness.  But she might still get the job.

She’d never had to go four full buttons before.  She knew the day would have to come eventually, though.

“Absolutely.”  Cameron’s mousy voice did its best to sound confident.

“Interesting.”

Interesting?

“I must admit, Ms. Bailor,” Mr. Haberson continued, “that I’m somewhat short on time this afternoon.  Today was the only day I could interview replacements for my job in person, for I’ll be unable to work days following tonight.”

“Um-hm.”  There you go, Cam.  Smile and nod.  Keep eye contact.  Don’t look at the gross sex bandage…

All right.  Well, don’t look at it again.

“It saddens me to say,” he told her with substantial hesitation, “that you’ve got the job, Ms. Bailor.”

Cameron flashed her best “deer in the face of blinding headlights” look.

“Really?  This isn’t some sort of joke, is it?”

“It saddens me to say,” he added, with just as much hesitation as before, “that it is not.  We haven’t had many applicants for the position, and I find myself unable to wait for anyone else.  If Mr. Gannen is not satisfied with your work, then he’ll deal with you later.”  Haberson cleared his throat.  “He’ll hire someone later, I should say.”

“Sure.”

She actually got the job?  Seriously?  With only one button undone?

She must be better at this whole interview thing than she thought.

Mr. Haberson knitted his fingers together.  “I must insist that you begin working immediately, however, as there is much you need to do, and I have limited time before the dawn arrives on the morrow.”  He inclined his head toward the rather fusty coffee table to his left.  “Your job responsibilities have been printed on the parchment there.  Mr. Gannen has been somewhat… quiet, shall we say, over the last few days, so I took an educated guess at what some of his needs would be.  If you require anything, try my mobile phone.  The number’s at the top of the page.  My flight’s at three o’clock this afternoon, though, so you may have some difficulty reaching me after that.”

So, two and a half hours from now.  Well, that should give her enough time to look over

the list and see if she…

“It’s settled, then.”  Haberson unfurled his fingers and rose to his feet, extending his right hand toward Cameron.  “Welcome aboard, Ms. Bailor.  Do strive to do your best, whatever that amounts to in your particular case, as Mr. Gannen is rather quick to do away with incompetents.”

She accepted his hand, too giddy about the fact she just got the job to concern herself with the heavy-handed dose of condescension.

He grunted daintily as he lifted up his suitcase, then started to power walk through the mansion toward the entrance hall.

“You’re leaving already?” she asked his rapidly retreating form.

“You know how the rat race can get,” he called back to her as the door creaked open.  “Busy busy busy.”

The door slammed shut behind him.

She waited to hear the tires squeal as he raced away in madcap cartoon fashion, but the walls and blacked-out windows of the mansion were much too thick to allow for it.

With him gone, Cameron finally allowed herself to take her first real gander around the place.  She hadn’t wanted to look like she was casing the joint in front of Haberson before.

As antiquated as it was, the mansion was still quite impressive, absolutely dripping with Southern charm and class.  Aside from Mr. Gannen’s apparent love of doilies, that was, as it looked like he had allowed his great grandmother to decorate the place.

“You’ve finally made it, Cam,” she said, talking to herself and referring to herself by name, which was by no means the mark of a crazy person.  “Actual, honest-to-goodness employment.  A career, if I can keep from screwing things up like I normally do.”

No more selling electronics of varying legality out of the trunk of her car.

Nope, she was in an actual building this time.  A mansion.  The kind of house that little houses wished they could be when they grew up. READ MORE

______________________________________

Michael Matula is a novelist and story writer from Chicago, IL. He was born on a Friday the 13th, which could explain some of the darker themes in his writing. He once dreamed of becoming a comic artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the words and images tumbling in his head, he started writing stories based on his characters instead. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name Michael Matula

Age  35

Where are you from

I was born and raised in the Chicago area.

A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.

There isn’t too much to say.  I went to Glenbard North High School, enjoy watching movies when I can scrape up the time, and I find that I’m getting more obsessive-compulsive as each day goes by.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My latest short story, “My Boss is a Vampire,” will be appearing in Wrapped in Red, the new anthology from Sekhmet Press, on October 29th.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I always wanted to be a comic book artist.  I wrote and drew my own comics as a teenager, usually during study hall, but occasionally during classes.  But I had too many ideas for the stories, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with everything I wanted to do.  Nor could I quite match the images that I was seeing in my mind.  So I wrote out a side story for one of my characters, and I never really looked back after that.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Pretty much right away.  I finished writing my first book in high school.  Looking back, it wasn’t very well-written, and I’d probably die of embarrassment if anyone read it now, but I still hold a lot of the characters and the story very close to my heart, and I hope to one day rewrite it.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I had an idea for a woman who was not too dissimilar to me.  She’s struggling to find work, doing lots of odd jobs while trying to be a writer in an age where print is dead.  And basically, every job she takes goes wrong somehow, though she would never admit to it ever being her own fault.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I mostly just write the story as the character, placing myself in their heads as much as possible, and whatever they would think is usually how I tell it.  I always think that the key to writing is to find characters you like.  Then, the characters do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I think I had the title before I actually wrote the story, which is often how I do things.  A good title can give you inspiration for the story, and makes me excited to write it.

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

Be wary of kids who learn voodoo curses off the internet.  You might have career trouble later in life.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

Not much, if I’m being honest.  It’s part parody, part suspense, and hopefully all fun.  If any parts of it are realistic, then it’s probably unintentional.

Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?

Sunglasses After Dark was one of the books that made me want to be a writer.  That, and the Wheel of Time series, along with some of Michael Crichton’s books.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I just completed the sequel to my first novel, Try Not To Burn, which is about three people struggling to escape eternal damnation and redeem their sins.  It’s part suspense, part psychological thriller, and part monster movie.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

A teacher I had in elementary school, Mrs. McArdle, pushed me to join an advanced program, which may have helped steer me into a creative path.  I also remember one time that I was supposed to write down an answer to a question “What’s one thing you do better than anyone else?” It was supposed to just be a fun thing, a throwaway question, but I didn’t have an answer, as I’ve never felt particularly special.  So I asked her, and she said I was better at making her laugh than anyone else.  It was something that will always stick with me, and it was one of the first times as a kid that I’d ever felt like I mattered.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’d love it to be.  There’s nothing I’d rather do full-time than write. READ MORE


Author Spotlight – Suzi M

Suzi M is the author of the short story

BLOOD IN THE WATER

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

She is also the author of

 Apocrypha of the Apocalypse

suzi m4

Excerpt from:

BLOOD IN THE WATER

The roar of the boat engine cut out, leaving only the slapping of waves against the sides of the craft. Lilith closed her eyes with relief and embraced the brief silence.
She could feel the eyes of the crew crawling over the back of her wetsuit and a cold smile lit her features for the briefest of moments until she remembered why she was on a boat a few miles off the coast of Rhode Island. She had business to attend and possible miles to go before she could enjoy any pleasure. She would wait.
“Ma’am?”
She acknowledged the ship’s captain without taking her gaze off the surface of the water and mentally checked their position. If the notes had been correct, they were close to their target.
“We’ve reached the coordinates you gave us.”
She tapped her long, red-lacquered nails against the boat’s railing as she contemplated the ocean. It occurred to her that time had the uncanny ability to slip away unnoticed in a way that was akin to a one-night stand sneaking out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. Lilith contemplated her own lost time and sighed. Millennia had crept by unnoticed since she last considered ruling mankind and since she had tried to reunite her brethren. She had lost track of them, assumed they had all been killed in the Flood, until a writer in the 20th century gave her reason to believe they might be very much alive somewhere. With the blink of an eye she was back in the present moment and staring out at the sea, closing in on her goal.
She made a show of sniffing the air, but in reality she was opening herself up in a way that she had reserved only for one man over the years. Her eyes snapped open and she sucked in air. It was faint but it was there, beneath the waves. The stories had all been true and the writer she had tortured for the information all those years ago had not been lying. She glanced again at the long-dead writer’s journal and gave a slow nod.
Turning back to the captain she said, “We need to go one more mile in that direction.”
She pointed further out and the captain’s expression shifted. “Why over there, if you don’t mind my asking, ma’am?”
Lilith closed the distance between them and leaned in close. The tension she felt coming off the man was like an electric storm and it excited her. There was a pale mark shining on his left ring finger where he had pried off his wedding band as she had stepped onto the deck of his boat, and she knew she could have him if she wanted him. She drank in the energy that emanated from the entire crew like steam off of a cup of hot coffee and relaxed just a little. She was always a bitchy flirt when she was hungry. With effort she forced her fangs to stay put so her smile would not appear odd to the already skittish sailors.
“I do mind your asking, Captain. I chartered this boat for a reason, and it wasn’t to get questioned.” READ MORE

_________________________________________

Lurking in a Pennsylvania town near historic Gettysburg, Suzi M is weaving webs of horror: including gothic, noir, ghosts, demons, angels, occult, and the occasional historic and/or post-apocalyptic thriller. Her storytelling has been compared to that of Tanith Lee and HP Lovecraft. Suzi’s writing explores the thrill and the secrecy; the untold mysteries waiting in the shadows. In addition to a few other humans, including the tiny Hypnospawn, Suzi shares her home with a 30lb black house panther named Mr. Pants. When she’s not busy with her own work or getting pictures and autographs with people who recognize her on the street, Suzi helps support the efforts of independent artists, writers, musicians, and film-makers. She is also a self-described “fiberfreak,” finding time to spin, knit, crochet or weave when the muse allows. She will most likely achieve fame and fortune with her hand-crafted socks.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name Suzi M

Age: old enough

Where are you from: New York City

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

Suzi lives with her husband, son, and house panther in the wilds of Pennsylvania. When not writing she enjoys reading, spinning yarn, and knitting lace. She has also released several stories and novellas under the names Xircon and James Glass.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Suzi: Working on several new projects, one is the next installment of the Murdered Metatron. The most recent works are ‘The Vampire of Plum Run’ written as James Glass, and my story ‘Blood in the Water’ was just released in the Wrapped in Red vampire anthology.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Suzi: I started writing in high school. Come to think of it, I wrote NEMESIS, the first book in my Immortal War series, in my senior year. My writing came about as a side effect of my English teacher trying to coax me to use a new technology: a laptop. Man, that makes me feel old as hell.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Suzi: When it became clear that calling myself an ‘epic storyteller’ left people confused.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Suzi: My 12th grade English teacher, though I have to admit my intention was not to write an entire novel at the time.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Suzi: I have several specific writing styles, it just depends what name I’m writing under at the time.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Suzi: Going with the main character’s name for the title seemed like a good way to go.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Suzi: Yes and no. Depending on the story, sometimes it’s just a story. Since I have several novels and novellas, it’s hard to choose just one and say ‘This is the message’ because each reader will infer his or her own meaning from the work, regardless of what I might say. If someone contacts me to discuss my work, I’m happy to discuss their interpretation versus how I felt about it, but I won’t spoonfeed my readers.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Suzi: Again, depends on which book or novella we’re talking about. For example, my post-apocalyptic novella ‘The Lazarus Stone’ (written as Xircon) was very much realistic. I put a lot (maybe too much) research into it to the point I have a pretty decent description of how to build a functioning fallout shelter. My vampire novels feature formerly real places in New York, but it was a landscape that existed well over a decade ago. A lot has changed since then.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Suzi: I never kiss and tell. READ MORE


Author Spotlight – Maynard Blackoak

Maynard Blackoak is the author of the short story

Dangerous Dan Tucker: Vampire Gunslinger in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

Maynard Blackoak

Excerpt from:

Dangerous Dan Tucker: Vampire Gunslinger

The north Texas night found me perched wearily atop my faithful mustang, Mesquite. We had been riding since the break of dawn, headed for a range war just across the Red River, into the town of Cale, in Choctaw Nation. Fred Sterritt, the man who had hired my gun hand, awaited my arrival with a one hundred dollar payday for my services. It was to be a quick job, with only a rival rancher’s young, inexperienced hired gun and a few slow handed cowhands that I would be facing.
Feeling Mesquite’s lumbering gait, I knew my horse and I would need a decent rest before continuing on to Cale to meet with my latest employer. As we topped a hill in Dennison, overlooking the Red River, I spotted a cantina sitting on the Texas side of the river. I decided to pay the little establishment a visit, for a few drinks and a period of rest before continuing with my journey.
While my horse refreshed himself in the waters of the river, I ventured inside the lively confines of Rosarita’s cantina. Strolling casually, I made my way through drunken cowboys and the saloon girls who coquettishly helped separate patrons from their money. Two of the ladies approached me, as I headed toward the bar. Not wishing to be relieved of my money, nor in the mood for their brand of company, I declined their offers.
After purchasing a cheap bottle of watered down whiskey, I searched for an empty table where I could enjoy my drink in solitude. Spotting a place in a corner, I navigated through the raucous crowd. Sidestepping stumbling cowboys and prancing saloon girls, I was vigilant to keep from bumping into anyone along the way.
The slightest wrong move on my part could instigate a fight that I wished to avoid. Not that I feared any man there. I knew that I could take any one of them if it came down to it. However, I lived by a strict code. I didn’t believe in looking for trouble. But rest assured, I was ready with a gun if it found me. That code had kept me alive in a dangerous profession for many years, while most my contemporaries had met their ends long before.
As I neared the table, my eyes inadvertently made contact with the most alluring woman I had ever seen. Her eyes were like the blackest velvet, sprinkled with stardust that sparkled in the flickering candle light. Long, black hair flowed behind her like a train, gently rippling in the breeze. Her silky smooth, burnt umber skin wrapped her in beauty, enhancing her perfectly constructed features.
I was struck by the odd nature of her presence there. While most the women who worked saloons had a tendency to be hard and coarse in appearance, she seemed soft, almost demure. She carried herself elegantly, passing among the rowdy patrons and shamelessly flirtatious women.
“May I join you?” she inquired, after gracefully strolling up to my table.
“Nothin’ personal, m’am. I’m just not lookin’ to share right now. I just want to have a quiet drink alone.” I refused, even though I could not take my eyes off her.
“I only want to sit and talk to you.” she countered with a sly grin, “I have no interest in your drink.”
Though I wanted to be alone, I found myself agreeing to her company. There was a mysterious hold her eyes had over me, something that not only prevented me from turning her away, but kept my own eyes fixated on hers. Never before had I encountered such mesmerizing beauty. The longer I stared into her sparkling pools of darkness, the more I felt myself drawn into a desire to be with her. I found the situation both vexing and at the same time, pleasing.
“I am Felina.”
“Dan Tucker m’am.”
“Dangerous Dan Tucker, the fastest gun in all the west?” she asked with a lilt of excitement in her voice.
I looked at her with a hint of surprise showing in my expression. I had not expected such a graceful lady to know of me and my reputation with a gun. Still, I have to admit it pleased me that she did.
“The one and the same.” I replied, a twinge of vanity showing in my tone. “But I ain’t so sure about being the fastest m’am. I ain’t faced ever gunslinger out there. Truth be told, if I had my druthers, I’d just as soon not.”
She nodded, chuckled amiably, then said, “Please Dangerous Dan, call me Felina.”
“Alright Felina it is. And what’s say we keep the Dangerous Dan talk under our hats. Don’t want any of these yahoos gettin’ ideas about makin’ a name for themselves by takin’ on ole Dangerous Dan Tucker.”
“It will be our little secret….Dan” READ MORE

______________________________________

Maynard Blackoak is a freelance writer living in the backwoods of Pawnee County, Oklahoma. He began writing as a student in high school. His first piece was published in 1976 as part of an anthology of stories and poetry written by high school students in Oklahoma. He has written many short stories, reviews, articles and conducted interviews for various magazines. His latest work, Under the Black Oak Tree, a short story included in The Endlands Vol 2 anthology through Hobbes End Publishing, is currently available in print and ebook form.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Maynard Blackoak

55

Lives in Pawnee County, Oklahoma

Prefers night to day and enjoys aimlessly walking along a dirt road or absorbing the darkness in a forgotten cemetery. Two daughters, two granddaughters and one grandson with another due to arrive in December.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I will have two short stories in the soon to be released anthology, A World of Dark Spirits and the Fay.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as a senior in high school at the urging of my creative writing instructor.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I honestly don’t consider myself to be a writer. I just don’t have the body of work.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I was researching some interesting characters of the wild west and learned about a gunfighter who simply vanished from sight.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve never really thought about it. Perhaps I’m just a story teller in an old fashioned balladeer style.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The title came from the main character, Dangerous Dan Tucker

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp(?

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just to show that history can be fun

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

Only the main character is based on reality. He was a lawman who decided he could make more money selling his gunhand.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I wish!

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and A Christmas Carol

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’d be insulting one of the classic authors to consider them a mentor

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I recently read The Grapes of Wrath

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

There are a few I’d like to read. However, there are still some classics I need to read first.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I really don’t have anything new at the present. I’m in somewhat of a holding pattern, waiting to see if something good happens.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Not really. I just don’t believe the talent is there.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I haven’t published a novel. So I can’t answer that.

Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

My high school teacher suggested it. I just didn’t pursue it seriously until recently. One day about twenty years ago I dabbled with it, though.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

About a month ago, I wrote a novella about antihero who tortures and assassinates corrupt politicians and corporate heads

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The challenge is to get published. There are too many talented writers out there.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Poe for his darkness. Dickens for the images his stories paint in my head. Conan Doyle for the way his novels challenge my mind. READ MORE


Author Spotlight – Mark Parker

Mark Parker is the author of the short story

 THE SCARLET GALLEON in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of WAY OF THE WITCH and HALLOWEEN NIGHT

mark parker headshot

Excerpt from:

THE SCARLET GALLEON

ADRIFT – 1634 A.D., Somewhere off the Coast of Spain

The Orenta has been at sea for so many days, my crew has nearly lost count.  Days melt into nights, nights bleed back into days, until sunlight, starlight, and moonlight together, have become one relentless fabric of waning hope. Teasing us like an all-too-distant mirage. Tempting the weak of heart, and causing even further suspicion, in the minds of those seafaring souls who have lived long and hard enough – to not be misled by the beguiling vixens that are the celestial bodies above.

Santos Consuega, Captain of the Orenta, had all but run out of excuses to offer his men for all this maddening drifting they’d been forced to endure.  The war had not been kind to the Orenta.  Her sails had been irreparably damaged by round after round of cannon fire, and her two main masts were listing – much like the Captain’s own flagging spirits.  And, if that wasn’t enough, night was once again upon them.In deep, velvety folds, the night air stood deft and infernal around the Orenta, much like the abysmal nothingness of Hell itself, had only the Fates been merciful enough to deliver the vessel and her bereft crew to its obsidian shores.

But alas – as of yet – it had not.

Rather, Consuega and his men had been consigned to this earthly hell of supposition, knowing full well that land must be out there somewhere…perhaps neither close nor far…but surely within enough proximity to keep the Captain’s mind from forever guessing of its whereabouts.

If only I could deliver the galleon and my crew to the hope of some distant shore by the fanciful endeavor of imagining it so.

 In his despair, Consuega knew nothing could be further from the truth.

Even now he found himself wondering if he and his men would ever see land again.  But then, as if in answer to his unarticulated question – not yet voiced to the entombed silence of the listless night around him – came a clamorous sound that all but tore the night in two.  It was as if the stalwart crust of the earth itself had somehow risen up through countless fathoms to meet the vessel’s sea-ravaged bow, just as the wayward warship’s bulk came to a sudden and hull-shearing halt beneath Consuega’s own uncertain footing.

The mind-rending thought was like a sulfurous thing; exploding and re-exploding in the Captain’s mind until he was able to wrap the breadth of his well-schooled intellect around the enormity of the matter.  The Orentahis Orenta – had run aground under the blackened veil of night.

Once the sky-splitting cacophony of the vessel’s grounding had subsided, all the creaks and growls gradually put to rest, there came a moment of the most unnerving silence, the likes of which Consuega had never before encountered.  Such voluminous silence caused the Captain’s already unsteady mind to question whether the grounding had occurred at all.

Despite the caustic heat of his surroundings, the air in Consuega’s lungs had frozen.  His mind was a jumble; thoughts colliding one into the other.  He desperately fought to seize upon anything that might help stabilize his battle weary mind and reconnect him to at least some sort of rooted truth.

Try as he might, Consuega couldn’t find a single thing to latch onto.  Not one moment’s worth of consolation to stave off his most disparaging of fears.  There was no vestige of reprieve to glean strength from, nothing to rightly exorcise the thrashing tangle of demons that assaulted him from all sides; tearing at his weakened will with their most tortuous of tests.

The Orenta’s grounding was a fate he and his crew would be forced to endure together, just as they had so much since first departing from their beloved Spain all those months ago.

Although the Orenta boasted a crew of a hundred men or more, Consuega had never felt more alone in his life.  Such deafening silence threatened to undo him at any moment.  A solitary soul adrift on a sea of malignant isolation; a man desperate to find his way home.

In the expanse of a single well-drawn breath, the Captain could feel the weight of his current predicament seated upon his chest, as if the Orenta itself had somehow been hoisted upon him – the weight threatening to crush the very life out of him where he stood.

The warship’s waywardness had been dreadful enough, to be sure, but it was his orders alone that had caused the vessel to veer so completely off course, to encounter grounding as it had.  With the supine expanse of blackened night draped over them like a moisture-laden funeral pall, it was as if they were already dead. READ MORE

_______________________________________

Mark Parker was born in the Midwest, but has lived all over the country, partly while serving in the United States Navy.  For much of his life, he has called coastal New England home—a place rich in literary history—with authors such as Melville, Lovecraft, Poe, Hawthorne, and King, to influence his own mixed brand of horror, suspense, and mystery fiction.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Mark Parker

Age: 50

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Tell us a little about yourself (education, family life, etc.)

I studied at Boston College and hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, and two years towards my Master’s Degree in Theology.

Share some of your latest news.

I recently debuted on Amazon with two short pieces of fiction.  First one is what I would term a “quiet little vampire story” titled BIOLOGY OF BLOOD.  Second, a short “psychosexual-thriller” titled LUCKY YOU.

When and why did you begin writing?

I first began writing when I was twelve or thirteen.  I remember creating a neat little story titled THE ICE CREAM MAN.  My mother loved it and encouraged me to “keep on with it.”  She even bought me a manual typewriter that I clunked away on for years.  The thing was my prized possession, and I was elated to have it.  I remember the story had quite a frightening premise that I still think would make for a cool read today.  And I guess I first knew I wanted to write, when I came across a blood-splattered mass market edition of Stephen King’s CARRIE in 1974 or so.  I think it must’ve been the movie-tie in that had Sissy Spacek on the cover.  It wasn’t so much the story itself that made me want to write—or even the fact that it was horror—but rather that a world could be created with words, and could exist between the foil-lettered covers.  I can remember thinking that was very cool.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s a tough one.  I’ve had people tell me “Writer’s write, so therefore you’re a writer.”  But I guess it was when I first saw my stories go live on Amazon, that it all began to sink in.  I might’ve even said to myself, “Okay, now it’s real…you’re officiallya writer.”  That’s big, heady stuff for someone who’s been dreaming about such a day all his life.  Part of me still thinks I won’t really believe it all until my work is represented by an agent and published by one of the BIG New York publishers.  I supposed if that day ever comes, I’ll know I’ve truly arrived.

What inspired you to write your first book?

The first book I ever wrote was a literary thriller titled FOR THE SAKE OF THE STORY.  I remember it beginning with the question: “How far would you go to get published?” That line was the inspiration for the story and kept me thinking it would be cool if a has-been author met up with a cocky (but talented) young Turk, who might just possibly reinvigorate his waning career and help put him back ON TOP if the two were to collaborate on a project that might even become a bestseller.  I still want to write and publish that novel.  I think it might need to undergo a title change however.  Perhaps something simple like THE COLLABORATION or THE BESTSELLER.  I’m open to title suggestions.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have been told by some that I have an “old world” style.  What I feel about my writing is that while I aim to entertain, chill, and even terrify, I tend to do it all in an admittedly “quieter” way than most.  In my opinion subtlety is a lost art and is very effective if done right.  I have always loved stories like Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY for that very reason; the creep-up-on-you factor I guess you would say.  That is the way I write or the style I tend to most readily implement.  I have a very diverse taste in stories, which is either a plus or minus.  I am interested in writing all kinds of stories, but they most definitely need to have that unexpected element to them; the twist at the end.  When I’m reading a story or a novel, the puzzle is everything for me.  If there isn’t anything for me to figure out or discover for myself, I’m simply not engaged.  An opening with the proverbial hook is what I love and do my best to strive for when beginning a story.  For some reason straight fiction doesn’t hold my interest very much.  Slice of life stories are okay, but again they have to have that element of shock or surprise.  I am most interested in the horror, mystery, and suspense genres, and have most particularly been influenced by the literary works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson—and even the classic works of writers like Melville, Dickens, Poe, and Hawthorne.  I’m currently working on a series of whaling mystery chapbooks that are written in an “old world” gaslight dock style, and have American whaling as their atmospheric backdrop.  For me atmosphere is extremely important.  I oftentimes find myself drawn to a story’s setting as much, if not more, than I am to its plot.  For me, mood is essential. READ MORE