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 WRAPPED IN RED: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror

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Author Spotlight (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) – Patrick C. Greene

MASTER eBook CoverPatrick C. Greene is the author of the short story NIGHTBOUND in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

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He is also the author of PROGENY, a contributor to the anthologies ENDLANDS 1 & 2, and writer of multiple short stories including TRICK, SILVER SURROGATE, FINDERS KEEPERS, and the collection DARK DESTINIES. And for his birthday Hobbes End Publishing is giving away FREE Kindle editions of PROGENY. Click the image to get your copy!birthday pcg progeny

Excerpt From WRAPPED IN RED

NIGHTBOUND

Freedom should be better than this, Blake Zagarino thought, dabbing sweat from his neck with a bandana, as yet another bout of shrill laughter assaulted his ears from the backseat of the lot-fresh, stolen Buick. But Zagarino played it cool. DeWitt, the laughing man, raised a snub-nosed .38, childishly making shooting sounds while he mimicked the gun’s recoil. Like the .38, he was small, oily and deadly. “Blamblamblam!” DeWitt bellowed, “No! Don’t kill me!” he said in a mocking falsetto, then came a fit of giggly laughter, and finally: “Please! I got a daughter!” More laughter. “Blamblam! Daddy’s gonna be REAL late tonight, sweetheart! HeeheeheeHEEEE!” Continuing to drive the winding road between hilltop homes, Zagarino did nothing to betray the disgust he felt with his partner, confident DeWitt would grow distracted soon, as he usually did. Bonner, the boss of their criminal triumvirate, was considerably less patient. “Put that down, you idiot!” he snarled. “If you get us caught, I swear I’ll beat you dead, boy!” Bonner’s grayish brush cut glistened with sweat, which then rolled down into his stubble. Zagarino hoped he wouldn’t turn his head around too swiftly and thus sling some of the grimy sweat onto him. “Okay okay, sorry” DeWitt began, “I can’t help it! Man was that fun! I never knocked over no armored car before! And wasted the guards to boot! WHOOO!” “Shaddup,” Bonner ordered, and DeWitt looked out the window, issuing a low titter to himself. “If your girl’s info was right, we’ve got at least ten minutes before the guards are supposed to check in. We should be dug in by…” Zagarino checked his watch and calculated. “…11:30.” “Don’t you worry about MaryAnn. She wouldn’t tell me wrong. She knows better. You just better be right about this hideout,” Bonner grumbled. “Couple that owns it live in Eastern Europe,” Zagarino reiterated again, “They only come here on vacation. And who’d wanna vacation in this Godforsaken heat?” “Get used to it, Zag. Two weeks, we’ll be in Mexico.” “Now you’re talkin’ my language!” DeWitt enjoined. “Here I c-c-c-come, senoritas!” “Gotta eighty-six this car,” said Bonner. “Hope you boys are up for a hike.” Zagarino drove into one of the many small forests surrounding and separating the clusters of secluded and exclusive neighborhoods in the rural outskirts of Chicago. He drove behind a thick pine and they quickly concealed the Buick under branches and lightweight fallen pine logs, until it looked something like a teepee fort made by local kids or hobos. The forest ended at a weedy hill some sixty yards high and steep enough to be daunting to outsiders; one of the selling points pushed by its developers and realtors. There was no wind to cool the cons, who had grown used to the cool comfort of medium security. Trudging up the uneven, scrubby hill carrying four heavily-loaded canvas sacks, Zagarino wished he had exercised more in prison. But he had never cared for the company of the aggressive, steroid-addicted meatheads who hovered around the weight benches and the penitentiary’s depressing excuse for a running track. DeWitt shared his regret. “Hey, slow down!” he huffed. He had stopped entirely-and this would not be acceptable to Bonner. Though stocky and physically very tough, Bonner was in his early fifties and heading toward “pudgy” himself, but he wasn’t about to abide DeWitt’s complaints. “DeWitt, get your ass up and move it! Now!” “Wait a minute, boss. …I need a break. Heat’s killing me…all this cash must weigh a hundred tons.” “Get up, or so help me, dipshit, your corpse will fry in this heat,” Bonner warned. “Okay, okay. How much further, Zag?” DeWitt asked, as much to buy another second of rest as to know. “The house is just a few yards from the top of the hill,” Zagarino answered evenly, and started moving. From the top of the hill, there was still a good ten yards to the large, oddly plain house. The nearest neighboring homes were a good distance away and arranged so that rows of trees fairly concealed them from one another; the very wealthy apparently needed comfortable degrees of separation even from one another. But the three desperate men nonetheless hunkered low, using the high weeds of the unkempt backyard to hide behind as they dragged the moneybags around to a front door sheltered under a pair of leafy poplars. Drawing a small black case from his pocket, Zagarino kneeled and went to work on the lock with measured finesse, feeling the antsy tension coming off his partners in stinking waves. “Come on, man!” DeWitt stage whispered. “Shut it,” Bonner ordered quietly, knowing that the kind of work Zagarino did was best not rushed. After a moment, Zagarino removed his tools from the lock and rolled them up in their pouch, then stood, opened the door and took a step inside, into pure darkness. DeWitt tried to go in next, but Bonner muscled him aside, raising the sturdy flashlight he had taken off one of the dead guards. He traced its beam over the sheeted furnishings, capturing huge dust motes that seemed to swim toward them curiously. For a long moment, they silently took measure of the enormous front room, the dusty stairway that dominated the center, the many doors on either side leading to reading rooms and the like. Swinging double doors at the rear gave way to a kitchen, beside which was a plain and heavy black door that could only lead to a basement. “Made in the shade, man!” DeWitt said aloud. Bonner turned to him sharply. A mouse scurried somewhere close to the walls, drawing startled grunts from DeWitt and him. “It’s all right,” Zagarino reassured them, “Just vermin. No one’s been here in months.” Bonner dropped the money bags on the floor, and the other two followed suit. The muffled thump echoed back at them from the mahogany walls. “These curtains are thick as a woolly mastodon’s hide,” noted DeWitt. “I don’t even care what that is,” Bonner grumbled. “Open ‘em, but just a little bit, so we can see to move around in here,”. Bonner wiped sweat from his brow as he regarded the dark forms of his partners. “MaryAnn’ll be here after five.” Zagarino cleared his throat, sparking a zippo to light a three-pronged silver candelabra. “About that…” “…What?” Bonner asked sharply. “You sure we can trust her? I mean, she is selling out the company she works for. Who’s to say she wouldn’t do the same to us?” Bonner laughed. “That bitch wants money, Zagarino. Just like all of ’em. When I was in the joint, and she was sending me those letters, I knew right away that what she really wanted was a man that could give her a great big, thick…wad of dough. And that’s all.” Bonner’s face took on a discomforting, slimy grin, as he grasped his crotch. “Fine by me, ’cause she’s damn sure gonna give me my money’s worth before it’s all over. And if for one minute, I start thinkin’ she’s lookin’ to screw me in anything less than the literal sense… BAM!…just like I’d do to either one a you. Got it?” Bonner’s face looked as crazy as it was cruel in the crossfire of candlelight and muted sunshine. READ MORE.

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Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick C. Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes. Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing. Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard.

Patrick’s INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name:Patrick C Greene Age: Trying not to. Where are you from? The hills of Western North Carolina. A little about yourself… My father was an acclaimed writer of a very literary style of fiction, so I decided to write about monsters and gore. After high school, I immersed myself in martial arts, filmmaking and occasional writing classes. Grew up on the streets. …Well, actually a house near a street. More of a dirt road actually. Married to a very demanding editor/publisher (Sekhmet Press). Two genius sons, one a grown entrepreneur, the other an eleven year old philosopher. Fiona: Tell us your latest news? There’s lots! My debut novel PROGENY published by Hobbes End Publishing is celebrating its one year anniversary this week. PROGENY has received great reviews so far and has maintained a solid ranking on Amazon the entire year, so I’m very grateful for that. My short story NIGHTBOUND will appear in the vampire anthology Wrapped In Red published by Sekhmet Press, which releases next week on October 29. I’m honored to be included among some very talented authors in that anthology. Twisted Fates, a multi-story horror film will be shooting under the auspices of SaintSinner Entertainment and director Amel Fugueroa in the coming months. A comedy script and a web series are also in the works. And finally – I’m polishing my latest novel THE CRIMSON CALLING, Book One of The Sanguinarian Council – an action-packed vampire trilogy. Fiona: When and why did you begin writing? I started when I was around twelve, but I put it away mostly, beyond the odd poem or song, till a few years ago. I was toiling in small roles as an actor and, taking inspiration from Sylvester Stallone, decided to try and write a script and sell it with myself as the lead. That didn’t happen–but the writing continued. Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer? It’s difficult to pinpoint. After that first screenplay, I wrote another, and then another, still thinking I was working toward bolstering my acting career. Then it just became habit. I guess I have to say in retrospect, that that first screenplay, a martial arts actioner titled The Tiger Within, was when I became a writer. Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book? I had a collection of short stories under my belt, that I had written just for fun, and I received a lot of encouragement from my wife, so I started submitting them around a bit. Got some good nibbles, but my biggest coup was having Hobbes End Publishing include two of my stories in their prestigious The Endlands collections. Vince Hobbes and Jairus Reddy, the Hobbes End honchos, encouraged me to submit a novel, so I took the screenplay for PROGENY, which had just come off option, and re-worked it into a novel. So to answer, I guess it was that simple suggestion from Vincent and Jairus that got me going on the first novel. Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? I always try to experiment, whether it be writing in different tenses or perspectives, doing that hardboiled detective thing like Mickey Spillane, or a minimalist, fast moving style that echoes my screenwriting experience.  I would say my style is best described as cinematic. Fiona: How did you come up with the title? For PROGENY, there’s a theme of parental and especially paternal relationships, so the title applies to the children of the story. For NIGHTBOUND, it’s a sort of double entendre, in that the mortal characters are seeking the night to hide their activities while the vampires are of course bound to the night by nature of their aversion to the sun. THE CRIMSON CALLING, my next novel, refers to the vampire’s need to feed on blood. Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? PROGENY expresses an appreciation for my role as a father, and hopefully speaks to that of the readers as well, or just why we shouldn’t take our loved ones for granted. The Crimson Calling’s theme would be that there is always hope, even in the darkest circumstances. Fiona: How much of the book is realistic? PROGENY is very realistic up to the point of how much you believe in the bigfoot legend. THE CRIMSON CALLING has a higher fantasy quotient. Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Screenwriter Keith Strandberg, whom I consider something of a mentor, wrote “Everything goes in the hopper” meaning the least little stand-out experience can become a part of your writing. I definitely draw upon people I know, but even so most of my characters are composites. As far as experiences, they come almost entirely from imagination. Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? Bruce Lee’s Tao Of Jeet Kune Do was a tremendous influence. It’s more than a martial arts manual; Lee’s Taoist philosophy is spelled out in some excellent and passages. King’s On Writing has been a great education. Every writer should have a copy! My favorite novel is probably Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game, due to its rich characterizations and layered story. Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Strandberg, as I mentioned above, in terms of screenwriting, but Vincent Hobbes is easily the most gracious and giving writer I’ve personally had the pleasure of knowing, in addition to being just an amazingly gifted and disciplined storyteller. After finishing up THE CRIMSON CALLING, I plan to spend some time on a few short story ideas I have percolating, and I’ve contributed a short story to an upcoming collection of stories set in the zombie universe of Armand Rosamilia’s DYING DAYS series. Not sure when that will see release, but given the roster of authors involved, I expect that to be a big deal. Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. I mentioned Vince and Jairus of course, so I’ll take this opportunity to acknowledge my friend Regina, who has been a wonderful beta reader and has contributed a lot toward managing my career. Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? Definitely. I can’t see myself not doing it. Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? My latest being THE CRIMSON CALLING, I still have a minute or two to do so if need be.  But with PROGENY, I truly feel it came together quite perfectly. Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? My father was a writer, so I had some exposure and encouragement early on. As a child I was kind of a late bloomer and not athletic, so I didn’t really feel capable of doing much else until I discovered martial arts and later, acting. Writing was an easy enough alternative, given the ability of paper and pen, and my father as an early teacher, Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us? Heeeeere you go: an excerpt from THE CRIMSON CALLING “Shake your ass feathers, Girlie.” Liv allowed a full second, then spun to give Rex a dagger-eyed glare meant to precipitate either an apology or an ass-beating. The cook stared back, an indecipherable grin at the corner of his lips. Holding the hard look, Liv dropped the rag she had been using to clean the counter and stood up straight, giving Rex plenty of opportunity to choose the apology. “Well. So much for this job,” she began, but before she could storm out or leap the counter and shatter Rex’s teeth-she hadn’t decided which yet- Dolly appeared at her side. “Rex, you butthole, you know better than to start that shit with these girls their first day.” Rex’s expression suddenly became harmlessly buffoonish. “Huh? Surely she knows I’m just trying to break the ice.”  His crooked nose might have been a souvenir from some previous ill-advised comment. “Looked to me like Liv here was about to break something of yours,” Dolly said, “she don’t know what a big teddy bear you are just yet.” Rex’s apologetic smile managed to melt the tension, and Liv remembered she was a civilian now, among other civilians. Just because she could beat his ass didn’t mean she should. Joe had certainly taught her better than that. Of course, if Joe were here, she wouldn’t be shaking her ass feathers. “Ah hell, Liv. I guess that was outta line,” he said. Liv smiled at him. “Yeah. But we’re cool now.” Rex smiled back and returned to the grill. “That’s a nice smile, Liv,” said Dolly, “bet it could bring you some pretty good tips.” Dolly’s comment made Liv aware that she was still being aloof, very much caught up in memories and protocol. The tips didn’t matter so much. Fitting –or rather disappearing- into mainstream society did matter. And it was taking time. On her way to refill the tea pitcher, Liv tried her smile on an elderly couple sharing a slice of pie, and was pleased to see it easily returned. Liv’s heart first warmed then ached as she considered the couple. There may have been a time she’d believed in love like that. Believed such a thing could last. She thought of Tony, her first, and how she had naively believed he would be by her side forever. She remembered how happy the pregnancy had made her, however unplanned and unacceptable it may have been. She thought of Joe, and how he accepted her. She thought of how tough he was mentally and physically, how secure he had made her feel, and how he had driven her to become something more than even her boldest aspirations. That was when the robbers made their entrance, and Liv recognized the familiar caress; invisible tendrils of trouble that followed her everywhere. Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? Clive Barker, because of his incredibly vivid and lyrical prose. He’s a painter as well, and his writing seems to reflect that in some indefinable way; in word compositions that have a sweeping effect, like broad, even angry brush strokes at times. read more of the interview HERE.


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

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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 – Brian D. Mazur

Brian D. Mazur is the author of the short story

SHATTERING GLASS in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of the short story DUMAINE in the anthology Dying to Live.

Brian D. Mazur

Excerpt from:

SHATTERING GLASS

It was the second time that Harry Kirkland’s life had changed; it was also the last. It began with a knock at the door as he sat watching the news, a human-interest story. The knock was light, but authoritative. It was a small hand he decided, shuffling to the door.

Rap music boomed from somewhere in the condominium complex, greeting Harry and ushering in a pair of women standing on his front stoop. The older of the two was an attractive woman, about thirty-five or so, he guessed. Her brown hair, short, swept across her forehead, trimmed neatly framed around ears that displayed silver earrings in the shape of feathers that sparkled in the setting sun. She wore a dress brushed with the colors of the rainbow. Her eyes were emerald green and she greeted Harry through a Mary Tyler Moore smile with big gleaming teeth.

Next to her stood a young woman, about the older woman’s height, but not so effervescent in her appearance. She was thin, hollow cheeked, rather morose as she stared at Harry with dull, lifeless eyes. Her hair was straight, dull brown, well past her shoulders, lying lightly on a dress that was too big and seemed as if it should have the same design as her companion’s, but like her, lacked color, life. She hung on almost desperately to the older woman, her right arm intertwined with the woman’s left, hand clutched tightly into her companions until her knuckles were white, her left hand grasping the woman’s upper arm.

Harry thought that he’d seen them before.

“Hello,” the older woman said, brightly, her free arm extended in greeting. “My name is Jennifer Warston. This is my daughter Melissa. We moved into the complex a short time ago. We’ve been so busy that we haven’t had time to introduce ourselves.”

Harry realized that he was still staring at the young woman. He found that looking into Melissa’s eyes a little longer that, yes, he had seen them before. They’d moved in about three months back. It was as if they were just suddenly here. There had been no moving van of any kind. None of the activity normally associated with moving. They had just been . . . here.

“I’m sorry. Harry Kirkland.”  He shook her hand. “Welcome to the neighborhood. Actually, I think that introductions should have been my responsibility. I have seen you and your daughter around but neglected to introduce myself.”

She didn’t respond, only smiling a very pretty smile.

“Won’t you come in for a moment?” he stepped back and swung the door open wider. “If you don’t mind the bachelor’s ambiance that  . . .”

Jennifer shook her head vigorously, her earrings dancing with slivers of sunlight off its metal.

“No, no, no, thank you anyway. Melissa and I have to get to the grocery store. We just came by to introduce ourselves and to invite you to dinner tomorrow night at our place. Number twenty-four.”  She turned and pointed back across the court.

Harry glanced quickly to Melissa, who was staring blindly, still clutching at her mother as if she were about to be taken away forever. He looked back to Jennifer who was still smiling.

“Can you make it, Harry?”

Harry considered the invitation for a moment and the twinge of guilt that rode with his thoughts. He hadn’t realized his devotion to Lois was still so strong, but there it was.

It came at first, the changing of his life, in total silence. It greeted him, as he stood in the entranceway of the old Victorian, unmoving; the house vibrating with what was not in the air. When he came home, he would always hear Lois singing in the kitchen as she cooked. That night being their fortieth anniversary, he had expected her to be singing loud and clear with that alto warbling voice of hers.

“Lois?” he called out.

He placed his lunch bag on the little table between the umbrella stand and a fifty-year-old cherry wood coat tree. His gaze skidded along the immaculately polished wood floor of the short hallway ahead, to the kitchen door at the end. A yellowish white glow around the doorjamb reflected white pools on the floor and on the thirty years of memories that covered the walls on either side.

He stepped forward with some hesitation. Something wasn’t right. It was too quiet.  READ MORE

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In the summer of 2009, Brian’s short story “Raven and the Darkness” appeared in Horror Bound’s anthology Return of the Raven.  2011 saw “What She Dreams” in another Horror Bound publication, Fear of the Dark. In 2012 his short story, “Home Coming”, was published in Wicked East Press’, Behind Locked Doors and from Jaletta Celgg & Frances Pauli, the weedy anthology Wandering Weeds: Tale of Rabid Vegetation, is his horror/dark fantasy influenced, “Oh, Dark Tumbleweed”. The last twenty years have seen numerous publications in smaller press magazines as well.

Brian also leads a local writing group of no specific genre, from which evolved his first public reading, June 2013.


Author Spotlight – Domyelle Rhyse

Domyelle Rhyse is the author of the short story

PROMISES in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

Domyelle Rhyse

Excerpt from:

PROMISES

“He’s dying.” She watched surprise pool in Anthony’s old, mud colored eyes.
“How do you know this?” Anger and suspicion, tangled with his possessive jealousy, chilled his voice, and Amelia resisted the desire to step back. She couldn’t risk being locked away. Not now.
“You think I’ve learned nothing from you all these years?” She brushed her hair back over her shoulders, letting it fall into a stream of blue-black to her slim hips, with a hand too slender, too pale. “I want to go see him.”
He glared. “You promised to remain with me, Amelia.”
“And I have, and you spared his life. But now he’s dying. I need to go to him.” She softened her voice and knelt with her hands on his knees, pleading with the blue-gray eyes he claimed to love. “Anthony, please? I’ve stayed for so long, never seeing him, never going to him, not even asking about him, but always here with you, just like you wanted. Please let me go. Give us this one night.”
He rose, his body lean and hard, and crossed to the window to peer out into the night. His porcelain skin paled in the moon’s fullness, turning to unshadowed ice. “You wish to turn him.”
“No!” She took a deep, ragged breath against the shock. After so many attempts to escape, to die, after forcing her to promise to stay with him by threatening Nathan, how could he believe she would want to bring the man she loved into this life? “No, I would never imprison Nathan this way.”
Anthony turned and studied her, sucking her into the depths of his gaze. “You will return.”
She heard the hint of desperation he tried to hide. Nodding, she kept her tone even, playing the game that had kept Nathan safe all these years. “I will return.”
“Then go.” A sly smile carved into his marble face. “Give him my regards.”
She controlled her anger. Soon enough she would be free. But she couldn’t leave him thinking he held the upper hand. “You may have stolen me from him, but he has always held my heart.”
She left before he could respond, back stiff with her pride. There was only so much time before dawn, and she had to speak to Nathan before the sun rose. Taking nothing with her, not even a coat to ward off the new winter chill, she fled into the night, racing to the man she would have married if Anthony had not come into their lives.
Anthony. Pale skin, cinnamon hair, regal, flawless, amusing for the first few hours of their acquaintance with him. They had met the night Nathan proposed, on the patio of a tiny bistro. So many had come up to congratulate them, strangers who showered them with well wishes. Anthony waited until the crowd dissipated and ended up spending most of the evening with them. That was a part of his power. He became woven into the moment, subduing all objections without a single word.
He had taken her while they danced, one cool hand in hers, the other wrapped around her slender body, and promised to leave her fiancé alone only if she stayed with him. To keep Nathan safe, she had given her word.
But it was a hard promise to keep. Amelia was unsuited to the life Anthony had given her, the blood distasteful, and she missed Nathan more than the beating of her now still heart. She tried to starve herself, but he threatened her beloved, warned her that death would not save her lover. She had given in, hoping to keep herself pure from what she had become, always knowing that Nathan’s natural death would release her.
The biting air scraped against her skin, but it was nothing against the desire, the need, to get to Nathan. She reached the rest home just shy of midnight. Age and despair touched the sick-laden air surrounding the low, red brick building, bringing a sour taste to her mouth. She stood in the shadows of an old oak, hesitant, uncertain. Nathan would be over 90 now. Did she want to see him elderly and weak, or did she want to remember him as the man she had said yes to on a cool, spring night? She wandered the yard, seeking his scent, stopping outside his window when she still didn’t have an answer.
Her last memory of him was the night Anthony had found them. Handsome despite his too large ears–he kept them hidden under his thick, ash-blonde hair. His eyes, a hazel green, always hard to meet in their intensity, had been one of the first things to draw her to him. She could feel his calloused fingertips and smooth palms sliding over her skin, sending a shiver through her the like of which she hadn’t felt in years.
It didn’t matter if she saw him now. What could have been, should have been, would remain with her forever. READ MORE

Domyelle Rhyse, or domy (as she prefers to be called), started writing at the age of 10 and fell in love with fantasy when a fifth grade teacher read The Hobbit to the class. She started annoying friends with weird stories in high school but didn’t take her writing seriously until after earning a college degree in English and having a family that took pride in interrupting her every minute. Her short stories and articles have appeared in several online and print magazines and anthologies, including Aoife’s Kiss, Beyond Centauri, Golden Visions, and Distant Passages:  The Best from Double-Edged Publishing Vol. 1. As an editor and an admin of Dreaming In Ink Writers Workshop, she’s had the honor of working with a number of authors whose works have been published by both small press and trade publishers. Denyse is the mother of four children and lives in Georgia with her chef husband, her autistic son, and three cats.

The  INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Denyse but I only answer to domynoe these days

Age: 25…again

Where are you from: All over the US and Puerto Rico, but most recently settled in Georgia.

A little about yourself: Bachelor’s in English with a Creative Writing Concentration, Associates in Early Childhood Studies, self-trained baker. Been a teacher and an editor, about to go into baking to help the hubs get his name out therehe does the savory, I do the sweet, which pretty much defines our relationship…mostly. I get the spicy in there sometimes. I have four kids, three girls and one boy, and three kitty kids named after X-men. I also run Dreaming In Ink Writers Workshop, a free crit group/workshop that takes all levels of writing and all genres that just turned 11 this year. Also, I’m not as scary as some people seem to think, not a redhead, and am lots thinner than I was 3 years ago.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

The Hobbit. Prior to that, I read all the standard classics for my age: 101 Dalmatians, Black Beauty, etc. A fifth grade teacher read a little of The Hobbit to the class every Friday, and I’ve never been the same. I immersed myself in fantasy, and now my brain defaults to that genre, even when I dream. Some of my biggest fantasy influences are Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, the  Raymond E. Feist/Janny Wurts pair up, Melanie Rawn, Katherine Kurtz, Marion Zimmer Bradley:, and most recently Patricia McKillip (I want to grow up and be like her). Because of these authors, my writing is more visual and has more details in everything from description to culture. I love the beauty in McKillip’s writing and hope one day that mine will be as eloquent, richly textured, and lyrical.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Out in the wilds are Assassin’s Choice, an epic fantasy on the small press circuit, and Blood Charms, an urban fantasy still being looked at by agents. I’m working on the second book for the Charms series, another epic fantasy in the same world but at a much later time than Assassin’s, and another urban fantasy in the same world as Charms but on the opposite coast and with a different main character. I can’t stop at just one….

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

Dreaming In Ink. I’ve grown a lot, not just in my actual writing but also in how I perceive it, because of the input from other members. And it allows me to be social while still focusing on what I want to do, which is write. And having others believe in you, others who don’t say something is cool just because they know you, when you’re having trouble believing in yourself is amazing. And watching them grow and develop their careers makes me proud to have been a part of their lives in even a small way. Past and present members have all been an amazing group of people.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d like to. I just need writing as a career to see me.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I’ve always dabbled in the creative, so probably an artist, an actor, possibly a musician. But never a singer. I’d couldn’t subject people to the torture. That’s reserved for characters.

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

Strangely, revising. I go through this phase when I absolutely hate what I’m working on. I only keep at it because I’m a glutton for punishment…and I refuse to let anything defeat me. The good news is that coming out of that phase and falling in love again is when I know a novel is about ready for that final polish.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Experiment and find what works for you as a writer, the process that will enable you to complete what you start, then don’t let anyone tell you that your process is wrong. When I started taking my writing seriously, I had people tell me how I was writing wasn’t the “right” way to do it, and it hung me up for years. Don’t get hung up on right or wrong when it comes to process. Do what works for you. On the flip side, if you’re not finishing projects, you probably need to try a different process, so feel free to experiment. And sometimes a book needs a different process than worked before, so again, experiment. Bottom line: it has to work for you and a pox on all those nay sayers. Read more HERE


Author Spotlight – Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams is the author of the short story DADDY USED TO DRINK TOO MUCH in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED.

He is also the author of PERISHABLES and TOOTH & NAIL  (The Withrow Chronicles).

Michael G. Williams

Excerpt from:

Daddy Used to Drink Too Much

Percy came to me for the first time when Mama had been dead for sixteen days.
She’d waxed and waned like some consumptive moon for years, chasing normal life just like a cat after a string. One day in the middle of what had been a pretty good spell she said she felt real weak. That night I watched her eyes go blank while the sun set. She let out a long breath like a chain clanking and that was that. I’d never seen a person die but I could feel her go when she did.
Daddy walked over the hill to town for a preacher. When they returned the next afternoon I’d washed Mama and wrapped her in a sheet. Daddy dug the grave that night while the preacher and I sat with her. The reverend fell asleep eventually but I stayed awake all night listening to the shovel strike earth, out in the clearing beyond the creek, down a hole that could never be big enough to contain our grief.
I was sixteen so I basically ran the house already with all the time Mama spent sick. Daddy and I went through the motions for a few days without saying much, following our habits in heavy silence. Mama and Daddy grew up together in a little town over the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina. There’d been bad blood between their people so they ran away. Mama and Daddy went southwest along the ridges, up and down old logging roads, until they found a place without any opinions about them at all.
Town was most of a day’s walk on deer trails and abandoned mining or logging roads. Times were bad all over in the Depression but worse than anywhere up in Appalachia. Daddy found work for a while with a logging operation but it closed so he was stuck doing odd jobs. Mama would sew now and again. When her hands were steady she’d tat lace flowers twice as pretty as the real things. Mama would mail them to a store in Asheville; a few weeks later the store would mail her a little money after the tatting sold. Sometimes they’d send colored thread and a special request. Mama would always fret over those custom orders the most but she’d be so proud when she was done. We were all good with our hands, good at making things and doing for ourselves. I learned as much as I could from her as a little girl, before sickness crept in one bloodied handkerchief at a time until Mama was frail and tired. I read, too. Every Christmas and every birthday I’d get new shoes and books. Sometimes Mama would get books mailed to her from that store in Asheville. On warm evenings I’d sit out front under a tree and read of things that could never happen set in places far away.
Mama and Daddy were both pretty free with how I was permitted to spend my time, what I could read, how I could think. They ordered me books from all over, grownup books from distant places. Mama said they didn’t want to keep me ignorant the way they’d been kept. There was one thing absolutely forbidden me: Daddy was always clear that he wouldn’t have spirituous drink in the house. Sometimes he’d get worked up and rant about it. When he wasn’t around once, I asked Mama why. “Daddy used to drink too much,” she said. Her voice was quiet even though he was down the hill working in the corn. “He gave that up when we got together. Him and me, we saved each other from a lot of things by coming here. He’s trying to save you from it, too.”
I went to a school down the hollow, an hour’s walk away, when Mama was doing well and they could spare me. Daddy would always ask me when I got back if there were boys at school who were “troublemakers or drunkards”. He’d warn me that most young men only want one thing and they’d use liquor to get it from me. He never said what it was but I had books aplenty to tell me that.   READ MORE

Michael G. Williams is a native of the Appalachian Mountains and grew up near Asheville, North Carolina. He describes his writing as wry horror or suburban fantasy: stories told from the perspectives of vampires, unconventional investigators, magicians and hackers who live in the places so many of us also call home. Michael is also an avid athlete, a gamer and a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi.

Michael’s INTERVIEW with Fiona Mcvie

Name Michael G. Williams

Age     Physically 39, mentally 23.

Where are you fromI was born near Asheville, NC, and live in Durham, NC.

A little about your self…

I grew up in a very rural area surrounded by shadowy woods and oddball characters and, though I moved as far away as I could manage the second I had the opportunity, I am extremely grateful for that upbringing. The middle of nowhere is both sheltering and smothering. In college I became a brother in St. Anthony Hall and a brother in Mu Beta Psi, both of which did a lot to encourage creativity. I have a degree in Performance Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and work in information security. I’m a professional geek, which is a lot like being a very specialized type of plumber. It demands a type of creativity very different from writing, which I find is important to having anything left to devote to my work.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My very latest is that my short story “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” will be featured in Wrapped in Red: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror from Sekhmet Press. This has been an extremely productive year for me overall: I published a short story on my own, published Tooth & Nail (the sequel to my first novel,Perishables) and have a short story titled “The Several Monsters of Sainte-Sara-La-Noire” in the recently-released Theme-Thology: Invasion from HDWP Books.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Storytelling is highly valued in my family and in traditional Appalachian culture in general. I was listening to people relate oral histories as a tiny child and wanted to get in on the action. I tried to write a novel in third grade. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have some teachers who really encouraged me, very early on in life, so by the junior high school I was really trying to mimic my favorite writers and explore different ideas. Again, I’m not saying they were great – I was no savant – but I was doing my adolescent best.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered it an important hobby by age 14 or so. I started calling myself a writer, however, when I started doing National Novel Writing Month and was really working to accomplish long-form stories and challenging myself to work across different genres. That was in my late 20’s. Prior to then it was something I enjoyed but not something I considered myself always to be doing. NaNoWriMo really put me in a mindset of always being preparing for the next project. That made a huge difference in my thinking.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

“Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” is based in part on a desire to see the other side of a vampire story: the perspective of the people who are victims, the people who have to try to put their lives together once the Count is sated and goes on his merry way. Vampire tales are often encrypted stories of abuse, of personal relationships (sexual or otherwise) fouled by power disparities and of the corrupting, intoxicating nature of that power. Lots of works derive their horror from a close study of the monster and I wanted to focus instead on the humans who may find themselves just as monstrous in their own way.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Almost everything I write is genre fiction, usually some flavor of vampire or detective story or, when I’m really feeling it, vampire detectives. I also write the occasional science fiction story. I enjoy literary fiction but genre fiction is also literature and it’s way more enjoyable to write. I also write almost exclusively in first-person. It’s much easier for me. It lets writing be a role-play exercise and I find myself just as surprised by the ending as the characters are.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Titles are very, very important to me. I almost always have a title before I have a story. The title is something about which I’ll do a little brainstorming and then I’ll let it bake until one pops into my head. The rest of the story is informed by that title. I knew for this anthology, for instance, I wanted to write a vampire story set in Depression-era Appalachia. It was a setting I hadn’t explored but of which I’d heard many stories from relatives. I knew right away I wanted the title to feel a little colloquial to reflect the rural setting and to give it the right ambience. The word “daddy” occurred to me right away so I let that sit for a day or two as various phrases cropped up: “Daddy Won’t Wake Up” was one that came to mind but for which I didn’t have a story; “Daddy Darkness” was another; “Fetch Daddy a [Something?]” was another. Eventually the phrase “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” came to mind. I liked it, and it immediately suggested the question of to whom it could be attributed. That got me thinking about a narrator and the story blossomed from there.

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

We are not the sum of our errors, nor are those we love cursed to bear them for us.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

A great deal of it, actually. The notion of a family tucked away high in the mountains in a stagnant economy with little but one another and their overshadowing past is no feat of fantasy. There are elements drawn from my own ancestors’ biographies.

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

Hmmm. Given the content of my story, I think maybe I should plead the fifth on this one. Heh.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Reading Dracula in seventh grade was absolutely life-changing. The epistolary format and the notion of friendship and trust overcoming the looming darkness were incredibly important to me. It made me seek out close friends with whom I could create strong bonds and it made me want more stories about how big concepts or larger-than-life characters could impact the individual experiences of baseline humans. It’s a very personal novel, in terms of the characters and the narrative arcs they experience, and that gives it its power.

On the other hand, reading Foundation in college was also perspective-shifting. It’s a story about how whole societies can be affected by one small person at a time. Over and over again, Asimov’s stories are about how the fates of entire civilizations are decided in small moments by exceptional but entirely believablepersons. They are amazing reading and they definitely inspired me to activism.

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

If I could attend a writing workshop with any writer, it would be Terry Pratchett. He creates such compelling characters and his stories are so driven by their motivations rather than by arbitrary events, but he has this incredible ability to keep the world alive and changing and tell a huge, overarching story over many, many novels. I could read his books over and over again for the rest of my life.

Anne Rice has to be the substitute teacher on days Sir Terry is under the weather, however.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Real talk, here’s my currently-reading list:

Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast (Jay M. Smith): non-fiction about a completely real werewolf scare in early-Renaissance France.

Food for the Dead (Michael E. Bell): non-fiction about completely real vampire scares in 19th century New England.

The Black Knight Chronicles (John Hartness): humorous and adventurous vampire fiction set in NC.

Pirate’s Honor (Chris A. Jackson): fantasy adventure fiction set in thePathfinder world and written by a really nice guy who lives on an actual boat.

House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski): exceptionally good multi-format literary horror.

Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy (Peter Carlson): non-fiction about two journalists who traveled south during the Civil War.

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (Robert E. Howard): classic tales of the renegade Puritan on a mission to scrub the world of injustice, mostly by stabbing it.

Operation Trojan Horse (John Keel): delightfully crazy ideas about the nature of all sorts of paranormal phenomena, UFOs and other bits of weirdness cropping up in the experience of humanity to exhibit highly irrational behaviors. Excellent reading for anyone who needs to refill their tanks with the truly weird.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m usually “currently” reading anywhere around a dozen books. It takes me forever to finish one, yes, but I have to be able to flit between them. We don’t get our ideas from nowhere. We get our ideas from what we consume and digest and so we must always be consuming if we want always to be producing.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Right now I’m mostly working on editing Deal With the Devil, the third novel inThe Withrow Chronicles, my vampire series set in the small-town and small-city South. It’s a five-book arc in which I tackle different genres by inserting into them a misanthropic gay vampire from the 1940’s who lives in suburbia. I love writing Withrow and I love getting to play around in suburban fantasy (as opposed to urban fantasy). It started with Perishables (a zombie story), thenTooth & Nail (vampire novel) and now Deal With the Devil is a superhero book. The fourth will be a spy novel titled Attempted Immortality and the fifth will be a war story titled Nobody Gets Out Alive.

I’m also crazy excited about the anthologies I’m in this autumn. Wrapped in Redand Theme-Thology: Invasion both consist of really incredible stories.

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

St. Anthony Hall (also known as the Fraternity of Delta Psi), hands down. My brothers and sisters are a community of people who believe in one another and the ideas of one another. It challenged me to think for myself, to defend my conclusions and to seek new ways to present myself.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

No, I see it as a vocation. It isn’t just what I do, and I’m not sure it will ever pay the bills, but it’s what I feel I should do.

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

Only a couple of hundred thousand things, I’m sure. I have never met the writer who was truly satisfied with a story, no matter its publication status. That’s one of the skills we have to develop as part of our craft: we have to learn when to type THE END and let it go so we can move on to the next idea. Some creators never figure that out. It was one of the first big unexpected temptations I experienced in self-publishing: realizing I could go back and “fix” the Kindle edition of a novel any time I felt like it. I’ve had to be very strict with myself.

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

From “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much”:

It was a high, lilting tune and in my mind I always saw a lonesome figure tracing some far horizon as they made their way from this world to the next. The boy’s voice was as pure as an angel’s and I barely breathed as he neared the house. I hadn’t thought on that song in years but it seemed to have been written just for me.

The singer–Percy–emerged from the woods singing one of the last lines:I want to shout salvation’s story in concert with the blood-washed band. He looked about my age with long orange hair and pale skin gone silver in the moonlight. He wore dark clothes and an old gray cloak called an Inverness coat. It had a coal company logo on it in bright white stitching. Percy was thin, like he’d snap in a strong wind. He smiled at me. His canine teeth were bone white, sharp and long as the blades on a pair of sewing scissors.

I knew exactly what he was, from books.

From Deal With the Devil:

A couple of other vampires and I were watching the local youth ballet perform Dracula in hypnotic slow motion when a perfectly pleasant autumn turned into a whole heap of trouble. It started with a scent: the faint but distinct sickly sweet bloodstench of a fellow predator – another vampire, one I didn’t recognize – in an auditorium I’d expected to hold only humankind. One sniff sent the hairs on the back of my neck straight to standing and I groaned to myself in over-privileged complaint. I’d gone there to get a little culture and found politics in its place.

The ballet performance was good but not great. To be honest, that’s one of the things I liked best about it. At human speeds of perception it probably looked fine enough, maybe a little rickety in the way of every event staged for proud parents and nervous instructors. Ground to a supernaturally slow pace, that same ballet performance took on a poetry improved by its imperfections. A child – a teen, but gods: a child! – was skillfully yet inexpertly donning the mantle of that classic monster and I loved every second of it. The best art speaks to something universal and at the same time to something deeply felt and personal: Faulkner’s tales of familial claustrophobia, a lasting pop song, painted landscapes that snare the viewer’s mind by rearranging all the colors and textures of their local palette into somewhere familiar they’ve never been. These kids were doing the same with the archetypes of predator and prey.

The teenager in the title role was depicting a monster we’d all seen a hundred times, sure, but he was also showing us himself as a monster: how it would look one day when he would stalk one or another type of prey. That probably didn’t occur to the average mom or pop in the audience but their children were on stage hunting and fearing and slaying one another to the applause of those who loved them and it was important – it was art – not just because of the skill or the time they’d invested in it but because they too would one day face monsters and chase each other and they would maybe kill or be killed. These children were dancing us a dream of the nightmares that kept them awake into the gray hours and so too their society. In wide arcs and graceful swoops – and trembling embraces and slightly staggered tempos – their frail vitality contrasted the inevitability of vitality’s end and I reveled in that irony.

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

I’m terrible at outlining and at plotting things out in advance. I tend to jump into the idea, mid-scene, and see what happens. I’m always terrified my story is going nowhere as a result but so far it’s worked out and it seems to be a necessary part of my process. The occasions on which I’ve tried to outline have large been exercises in measuring in how many syllables of written text I would utterly diverge from the planned outline.

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

Favorite? As in, one? Oh, I can’t. Let’s try three:

I am in constant awe of William Faulkner for his incredibly personal and unflinching stories of the good and the bad of life in a small town. The Sound and the Fury is a book every writer should read. Every single writer, bar none, even if they don’t like him, needs to read that book. It has taught me volumes about getting inside the heads of different characters.

Another of the ties for first is Anne Rice. Again, she specializes in the intensely personal and the passions of individuals bound together by fate and circumstance. She figured out how to talk about people whose lives are dangerously lived on the fringes of society: people whose loves or families or other priorities are inescapable by them and intolerable to society. If that isn’t compelling character design, I don’t know what is. Her descriptions are just to die for.

The third tie for favorite is Isaac Asimov. Lots of people find him dry and scientific but that’s part of what’s so amazing about him: his characters have passionate motivations derived almost entirely from their own intellectual pursuits. He didn’t write novels about people who come into conflict and meet with successes or failures just to provide events in a soap opera: his characters are chasing ideas.

Last, H.P. Lovecraft was just amazing. He’s considered to be incredibly creative, but it’s actually possible to see lots of earlier authors’ work in his own output. That isn’t to say he wasn’t creative, though. He worked slavishly to combine his own ideas and interests with a highly concentrated selection of the best and most intriguing ideas he encountered – as every writer does – to come up with something entirely new. I think there’s an argument to be made that he invented the horror/sci-fi crossover. Without him, our shelves would be much thinner, much less interesting. There would be no Alien, no X-Files and countless stories in between.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I do very few in-person events, though I would love to do more. I love traveling and I love sharing my stories with new people and getting to seek inspiration from those places. Every time I go somewhere I find myself seeing it through my characters’ eyes. Withrow loves Scotland; his cousin Roderick prefers Key West.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

The covers for The Withrow Chronicles have all been done by John Ward.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

In the case of “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much”, it was definitely editing it down to the word count limit Sekhmet Press placed on submissions! Ha! I tend to be verbose. (Can you tell?) On the other hand, that was good, important work. It helped me come up with a voice I hadn’t used much before. Withrow is a rambler but the narrator of “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” is much more terse.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Do not let yourself get caught up in anything that is a distraction from writing. Lots of writing groups and writing circles and meetups and the like exist for writers and they are all, in my experience, a way to prevent one’s self from doing actual writing. They are a way to talk about writing and pretending that’s as good as writing. Avoid that trap.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

It’s my hope that my work makes them a little uncomfortable and a little intrigued and a lot entertained. I want my readers to like my characters enough to follow them into the darkness so I can show them something new once we’re there. It is so flattering when that happens: when a reader connects with my work and makes me feel it was worthwhile. I cannot overstate my appreciation for the generosity they show by giving me their time and attention and I sincerely thank them.

READ MORE HERE


THE LAST WEDDING IN THE MIDNIGHT CHAPEL by Allison M. Dickson

“Needless to say, I’m giving the review 5/5
Because… I was locked in from the first page. Because of the story and the way it was delivered. Because the players and their quirks. Because of the way Emmett ties things up after the letter. Because the very end has a Twilight Zone kind of feel that I just LoveLoveLove!” Read more…

via THE LAST WEDDING IN THE MIDNIGHT CHAPEL by Allison M. Dickson.

Midnight Chapel