Review: The Crime Interviews, Vol. 3

The Crime Interviews, Volume 3
Len Wanner

Blurb: If you’re interested in learning about how to write, how to be a writer, or about the writing life in general, what greater resource and pleasure than frank, revealing interviews with some of today’s best-selling authors?

Len Wanner’s acclaimed interview series continues with VOLUME THREE, featuring in-depth interviews with twelve of the leading lights of Scottish crime fiction and with a foreword by William McIlvanney, creator of Jack Laidlaw and the Godfather of tartan noir.

The interviews –

– Peter May talks about writing for television, repairing bad dialogue, researching his China thrillers with the help of the Ministry of Propaganda, and receiving international exposure with a book no British publisher wanted to publish, THE BLACKHOUSE.

– Charles Cumming talks about the rewards of a degree in literature, refining expositional storytelling, researching state secrets at home and abroad, writing the great international spy novel, and being recruited by the SIS.

– Campbell Armstrong talks about going abroad to write about home, giving up on teaching creative writing, getting over the paralysis of a bad sentence, going on stake-outs, giving us his memoirs, and getting commissioned to novelise Indiana Jones.

– Caro Ramsay talks about teaching herself how to write with her back against the wall, learning how to write crime fiction from agents and editors, teaching herself how to compartmentalise, and learning how to finish a book.

– Aline Templeton talks about diving in and out of writing, writing a series of cosy police procedurals based on a subterranean cave system, living in the city yet writing about the countryside, and discovering that a fictional protagonist is a living person.

– Lin Anderson talks about the transferrable skills of teaching mathematics and calculating a career in creative writing, the constants of writing about a female serial protagonist, the variables of forensic science, and the lessons of fictional and factual near-death situations.

– Alex Gray talks about the rewards of writing about a policeman twenty years younger than her, returning to education, researching as she writes, writing about what she doesn’t know, and writing rather than retiring.

– Gillian Galbraith talks about learning to nurture her talent for the uncollaborative nature of writing, letting go of her legal career to write about the limits of institutional justice, and leaving her comfort zone as a way of finding her voice and writing about her home.

– GJ Moffat talks about what remains of his initial impulses and his international influences, the rules broken in most legal thrillers, and the rewards of letting his lawyer-cum-judge-cum-executioner break the rules of his day job.

– Craig Robertson talks about the joys of fiction in and after journalism, the pleasure of writing for himself, the pressure of writing for others, the need for brutality in editing, and the greed for brutality in writing.

– Ken McClure talks about the science of storytelling, the survival rate of a series of medical thrillers, the appeal of being his own agent, his second coming as an e-book bestseller, and his involvement in the identification of Gulf War Syndrome.

– And Frederic Lindsay talks about the best ways to propel and pause plots, invent manner along with matter, make the familiar strange with the weight of experience, and exhaust potential to energise narrative.

Review: I may be accused of bias toward all things Scottish, but I certainly enjoyed this third outing of Wanner’s interviews as much or more than the other two. Interviews depend largely on the subjects, of course, and there’s a great bunch here. But the real important part comes from asking the right questions and not always settling for the answers you get without probing a little more and that’s where Wanner truly shines. Well worth the price — a master class in different approaches to writing well.

~ K. A. Laity

From Idea to Page: Weird Noir

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

How do you get from the idea to the story? Here’s a few more of the Weird Noir crew to tell you how they made their uncanny dreams come true:

Creating “Sins of the Brother” by Karina Fabian
 
“It’s been done, Kitten.”
 
I sighed. Talking to my well-read husband could be like sleeping on a bed of tacks—everywhere you turn, there’s a sharp point. For half an hour, I’d brought up story ideas only to have them shot down.
 
“Fine, but I need a unique angle for a dragon story. I want to be in this anthology.”
 
He shrugged, his deep brown eyes echoing my frustration. That’s when the kids called us down to watch Whose Line Is It, Anyway. It’s a comedy improve show, where the actors perform sketches. Much of the humor flew over the kids’ heads like a Concord, but we loved it anyway, especially when they did the noir skits.
 
That’s when it hit me: I could do noir…with a dragon.
 
Meet Vern: an undersized dragon working off a geas from St. George to regain his dragon greatness. Vern lives on the wrong side of the Interdimensional Gap and works as a professional problem solver for people on the right side of Good but the shady side of Law. Vern first appeared in “DragonEye, PI” in Firestorm of Dragons, and has been in two published novels and numerous stories since. He’s uptight, cynical, and sometimes, very funny.
 
But not in the case of “Sins of the Brother.” Patterned after the 1954 movie, World For Ransom, Vern has to solve a kidnapping while protecting the kidnapper. Rather than a femme fatal, Vern’s doing it for a friend who sacrificed his life to protect Vern in the past. The romantic tension is replaced by the tension between Corsican twins, and the political backdrop of two worlds—one of magic, one of technology–forced to get along.

I hope you enjoy the story, and if you like it, you’ll check out Vern’s website at http://dragoneyepi.net. There, you’ll find a list of his books and stories, plus his newsletter and blog.
 

Andrez Bergen

I started writing ‘East of Écarté’ as a background piece for Floyd Maquina, my narrator from Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, intended to address a comment he made in the pages of TSMG: “Turns out they were Seeker Branch reps and were recruiting me because of my experience as a private investigator (I don’t know why — I was a hack — but that’s a long story for another day and another book).”

But when I decided to steer the unfinished yarn into ‘weird noir’ territory to suit K.A. Laity’s upcoming anthology, it stood to reason I needed to ditch Floyd — who’s rooted in a real if surreal, dystopic/dystrophic world — and induct my other detective character Roy Scherer, of Scherer and Miller, Investigators of the Paranormal and Supermundane.

Aside from the fact he dabbles with the supernatural, Roy is most things Floyd is not. Floyd is more I: self-doubting, addicted to movies, a lush. Roy is the rumble-and-tumble type, cocky and cynical.

Here Roy is younger and fresher than in the other stories I’ve written about him and his partner Suzie. He hasn’t reached the pinnacle of sarcasm and cynicism but he’s started the trek.

Mocha Stockholm is a wink at my daughter Cocoa, six years old when I put together this story (she just turned seven). While I write, she’s often entertaining herself dancing ballet beside me in our tiny Tokyo apartment that’s 33 square metres. She accompanies DVDs of performances by Aurélie Dupont, Gillian Murphy and Dorothée Gilbert. Like Mocha, Cocoa adores ballet and creates her own choreography on the fly, with touches of comedy, so of course I glance her way and it’s had its influence.

The character of the male dancer here, Bruno Lermentov, is heavily based on Bruno the “Slobokian Acrobatic Bear” from Robert McKimson’s Bugs Bunny cartoon Big Top Bunny (1951) — a favourite for me and Cocoa — while the artistic director of the ballet company, Murray Helpman, is a loose nod to the great Sir Robert Helpmann, the Australian ballet dancer who choreographed The Red Shoes (1948) and played the evil Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Finally, there are some subverted quotes and character names buried in here from a wealth of ballet-oriented movies, everything from Dario Argento’s Suspiria to Center Stage. Why not?

 

How I Wrote Gus Weatherbourne

By Michael S. Chong

After I saw the submission request for Weird Noir, I was hanging out with my friend Mike the Bike, who owns a bicycle shop, and he mentioned a friend named “Gus Weatherbourne” but I probably didn’t hear him correctly.  Right away that name struck me as a great one and I started to think of the person with that moniker.

Next time, I had some free time at my old job, I started writing about the man with this name.  I wrote a short draft of a few paragraphs and liked the character.  About a week or so later, I lost that job and spent a subsequent stormy day finishing the story.  While the thunder crashed outside, Gus with his left clawed hand and his right hand of lightning helped me let the small stuff just roll off…

International Giveaway

I have a special Limited Edition giveaway for you.

But first I want to tell you about Pay Back!

Pay Back by Evans Light

PAY BACK

About the cover

Some people didn’t like the cover art. When you read the story, look at it again. It fits!

This guy, Stephen Hill, is a perfect example of a loser. He has no redeeming qualities and nothing in his noggin. He’s ignorant, lazy and heaps verbal abuse on all of those around him. His pathetic attempts at belittling Joe, his only friend, to make himself look better, made me angry.

We’ve all know someone like Stephen. He’s a mental bully. His mouth spews out put downs like shit through a goose. All because he’s angry. Angry at the world.

Now Joe is not what you expect. He’s intelligent, well actually he’s a genius. So why does he put up with the abusive Stephen? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

The title “Pay Back” gives you a clue. I was “fist pumping”, saying “Oh Yeah!’

Now let’s get to know Evans Light. And then I have a giveaway!

Hi Evans. I’ve enjoyed reading your books and am so happy to have you here today.

Thanks so much, Laura! I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with readers. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and its thoughtful reviews, as well as your affiliated website A KNIFE AND A QUILL. I’m excited about this opportunity to be a part of the excellent work you’re producing.

PAY BACK is very much a story about bullying. Where did this story come from? Were you ever bullied?

No, I’m happy to say that I’ve been lucky enough to never have been involved in bullying, either as a victim or a perpetrator. PAY BACK originally had nothing to do with bullying, either, but it took a bit of a detour along the way to becoming the story it is.

Most of the stories I’ve written this year have had one of two main themes: either obsession, or deception. I’m not sure why this is the case, and psychology of it would probably require the involvement of a professional, so I’ll not pretend to understand it here. (Smiling)

PAY BACK initially fell firmly into the “obsession” category as the straightforward story of a young boy (the Joe King, “Nard”, character) struck with a far-fetched idea as a child, who then focused every ounce of his energy over the next few decades to execute that idea, achieving many scientific and technical breakthroughs along the way. Everything he accomplished in life was driven solely by his obsession to execute that single deviant idea from his childhood, for no purpose other than to prove to himself that it could be done. Stephen Hill, who is very much a bully in the final version, was originally drawn as a neutral narrator, simply a friend chronicling the story of his obsessed friend, unsure as to what his friend was working towards and then utterly horrified when the gruesome goal was achieved.

As I prepared to write PAY BACK, I started thinking of different ways to tell the story, and the concept of working through an unsympathetic (and ultimately unreliable) narrator emerged. I thought it would be an interesting challenge and stretch my talents as a writer. But there was an inherent risk in using a first-person voice to give life to such a dislikable character: the reader could confuse the hateful character with the author, and think the writer in reality possesses the same hateful viewpoint as the character telling the story.

I knew I was taking a risk in releasing PAY BACK, that it might be misunderstood and generate negative feelings and backlash from first-time readers – something no new author desires. At the same time, however, I felt that this story was something special – bold, new and exciting; it was a chance I was willing to take. Love it or hate it, PAY BACK is likely to be a story that readers will remember, and it stands as my own personal ‘stake in the ground’, to remind myself and show the world that I will never compromise in executing an artistic vision, popular or not.

Could you tell us about your choice for your cover?

I’m a major fan of Joe Hill. I think his short stories in 20th Century Ghosts are among the best ever written; and though Stephen King has become so prolific I can no longer keep up with his current output, his earlier novels informed me as a young man as to what heights a horror novel could achieve, especially in regards to characterization.

When the first collaboration between Stephen King and Joe Hill, THROTTLE, was released shortly before PAY BACK was finished, I saw the simplicity of its cover design, thought it was beautiful, and decided that creating an homage would not only be an appropriate tip of the hat to my favorite authors, but also might bring my work to the attention of the King/Hill fanbase, who might appreciate my books as well.

Do you have a favorite genre, and if so, which one?

Stories of the “Weird Tales” variety remain my favorite. If a story is startling original, fiendishly clever, winks and smiles while scaring the hell out of you, I’m there. Think Joe R. Lansdale’s TIGHT LITTLE STITCHES ON A DEAD MAN’S BACK, Clive Barker’s HAECKEL’s TALE, or David Wong’s JOHN DIES AT THE END, and you’re standing dead center of my reading pleasure zone.

You’ve written many books. Do you have one that is your favorite and why?

Right now my personal favorite of the stories I’ve written is a toss-up between THE MOLE PEOPLE BENEATH THE CITY, and GERTRUDE (found in THE CORPUS CORRUPTUM, written with my brother and fellow author Adam Light).

I’m proud of MOLE PEOPLE because it came out just the way I wanted it to – the right length, the right flow, the right effect. I think I nailed it, at least for myself.

GERTRUDE, on the other hand, was like unexpectedly birthing a hideous deformity. I didn’t even know it was in me, it just popped out one day. It’s only three pages long, and I love it fiercely.

Is there one character from all of your books that stands out for you?

Gerard Faust, the unfortunate author from WHATEVER POSSESSED YOU. There’s probably a lot of me embedded in that character. I can certainly relate to how he feels after writing for long periods of time, consumed, reading finished product later and wondering where it really came from.

I wanted to explore his character in more depth in that story, but I was already cramming what probably should have been a novel into a short story as it was. Maybe someday.

You’ve been in some unusual situations. Care to share a couple?

I love exploring sensory limits and confronting personal fears, and some people have asked me if CRAWLSPACE was born out of time spent in sensory deprivation tanks. It was not a connection I would have made, because to me the inner space that can be explored in that environment is as limitless as the external universe.

The inspiration for CRAWLSPACE was born out of actual life experiences. For about a week as a young teen, I was forced to work underneath an aging house, spreading plastic sheeting and lime after school. I’d work under there for a couple hours at a time. The situation was pretty much exactly as described in the story.

Anyway, the person who owned the house made no bones about his opinion that his life would have been a lot better without me in it. After several days of working alone in the crawlspace spreading lime, I was in the far corner of the house where the clearance overhead was very low. I tried to get every spot covered to avoid punishment later, but as I tried to get the lime into a particularly snug spot I got stuck between the house and the ground. I panicked, and began to scream; it was the closest thing to being buried alive I’ve ever experienced, and it was terrifying.

After a few moments the person making me work under the house poked his head into the tiny crawlspace door, some forty feet away, his dark eyes barely visibly in the dim light of the single bulb. As he understood my predicament, a look of evil pleasure crossed over his face. I knew what he was thinking.

I got myself unstuck and out from under the house as fast as I could, thankful that he hadn’t turned off the light and locked the door behind him. I also made the decision that I would never allow that person to get between me and the crawlspace exit ever again.

What’s next? Are you currently writing something?

I’m currently in the final stages of completing my next project, a novella called ARBOREATUM (yes, that’s the correct spelling. ARBOREATUM is horror, the tale of two settler families stranded on the prairie as they attempt the journey west. I think fans of my previous work will find a lot in this one to enjoy as well.

The cover of PAY BACK drove so many people insane that I decided to make the ARBOREATUM cover a tribute as well – this time to Joe Hill’s soon-to-be released short story THUMBPRINT.

ARBOREATUM should be ready for release within the next thirty days.

I’ve heard of writers who find themselves challenged at times when trying to develop new ideas, new concepts for stories. I have the opposite problem: I already have so many story and book outlines developed and waiting to be written that I doubt that even if I sat and wrote every minute of every day for the rest of my life if I’d ever get them all done – and they just keep on coming. So I feel very fortunate in that regard. My primary struggle as a writer is deciding what to work on next.

Five Fun Shorts!

1) favorite movie?

That’s a tough one, but my first instinct is to say DONNIE DARKO.

2) poker face or open book?

100% poker face when first meeting someone. Once you’ve gained my trust, though – it’s a whole different story. There are some people I trust to the ends of the earth.

3) martini, shaken or stirred?

Ale – Pale or IPA? is a more appropriate question for me.

I’d say IPA, usually.

4) favorite villain in books or movies?

Judging from the pictures and horror paraphernalia in my house, most people would guess THE TALL MAN, from the Phantasm movies. They might be right.

5) best way to travel?

a) plane

b) train

c) automobile

d) other? could be anything!

By plane, definitely. No one can call me, text me or otherwise molest my concentration once the wheels leave the ground; and the white noise the engines afford stoke my imagination and get my “flow” flowing. I can produce pages twice as fast on a plane as I can anywhere else.

I just recently read and reviewed two of Evans books, Whatever Possessed You? and Crawl Space. You can read my reviews here. Loved them. They really creeped me out.

A strange encounter leaves Gerard Faust a changed man. Now with sanity slipping away, he finds himself caught in a race against time to uncover what happened that night – before it possesses him completely.

Fooling around on your wife can be hazardous to your health.

Just ask Tom.

He’s a man who has a lot to juggle: a frustrated wife, a secret new girlfriend, and the unpleasant task of trying to keep his deteriorating farmhouse from falling down around him.

Now with his wife out-of-town for the week, Tom is eager to get busy under the covers with his beautiful new lover – but first there’s something he has to finish up…in the CRAWLSPACE.

This thrilling, full-length short story is a hair-raising adventure for cheating husbands, cheated-on wives, and everyone in between.

And I have a giveaway for you!

Stories, Inc.

Lingering lovesick ghosts and wives hellbent on revenge, along with sinister demons, forgotten campgrounds and malintent friends populate this collection of original, compelling, and downright odd short stories, each as complete and satisfying in their conclusion as a small novel.

This unforgettable anthology features five dark tales from the new master of modern horror and fantasy, and is essential reading for fans of horror, thrillers, black comedy and gothic romance alike.

Includes the following stories:

-Pay Back -CRAWLSPACE -BLaCK DooR -Whatever Possessed You? -Dark Curtains

Evans is giving away Stories, Inc on Amazon. It will be valid worldwide – US, UK, India, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, and run from Monday, October 22nd through Friday, October 27th.

To get your free copy go here . Free for everyone from Monday, Oct. 22nd thru Friday, Oct. 27th.

This Special Limited Edition has four additional free stories included just for this promotion!

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Evans Light

Weird Noir: Up a Dark Alley

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

What makes a body turn to crime? Or a writer turn to the darkside? To filch a little Shakespeare, some are born weird, some become weird and others have it thrust up on them. Here’s a few more of the Weird Noir folks telling us how they came to write the twisted little tales they wrote. Would-be writers take note, but you may discover that the peril of your soul is too much to risk for mere publication.

Or not —

Writers are a strange bunch anyway.

 

JOYCE CHNG

Why did I write Yao Jin?

(Or “A dakini dame walked into my office…”)

A dakini dame did walk into my office, metaphorically. She sat down, blue fur rippling like some midnight blanket, and glared at me with her three amber eyes. Write this, she commanded me, write about my truth. So, I chewed on my cigar and asked about the fees. A decent detective still needed to eat and pay the bills, right?

She only smiled, showing her sharp teeth. You will have peace for the next few weeks, she promised. And that promise was my payment.

~*~

Ninety-percent of the above is true. A dakini dame did walk into my mind and refused to go away. What is a dakini you might ask? A sky dancer, if you want to be poetic. A wrathful protector, if you want to talk about Tibetan Buddhism or – more in depth, the Bardo (or the Tibetan Book of the Dead).

The dakini came in and made herself comfortable in the office. That happened after I checked what weird noir is and got a better idea (or picture). Then the images started arriving like sleep-drunken passengers on a transit flight… and refused to budge.

No, I didn’t set fire to the rain. I sat down and wrote the hell out of it. It was fun. It was weird. It was weird fun. I really enjoyed writing the dark world of the dakini and her friend. I planned for noir and it went south to the land of the weird. Toss in the fact that I like reading about dark worlds (Warhammer 40k, anyone?)… and the story became … well, you need to read it to find out, yes?

 

CHRISTOPHER L. IRVIN

PIs are overrated, or How I wrote “Charred Kraken with Plum Butter”

Private Investigators are overrated.

Well…not really. The trope populates much of classic and contemporary noir and the image of one is what drew me into Noir in the first place. So, in truth, the salty PI/Detective is one of my favorite characters.

Before happily stumbling into a call for Weird Noir via twitter (THANK YOU to whoever retweeted that link!), I had just finished reading What it Was by George Pelecanos (protagonist Derek Strange is a PI) and was in the midst of a paranormal noir anthology, Damnation and Dames (in which several stories begin with a blonde/red bombshell sashaying into a PI’s office.)

I instantly fell in love with the fantastic cover of Weird Noir by SL Johnson and editor K.A. Laity’s passion for the project. I had to submit. With the deadline looming, the only problem was I didn’t have a story that fit…oh, and my wife was due with our first child in just over a week!

The first draft of my submission for Weird Noir started just like the stories I’d been reading. A dark and shady character walks into Private Investigator Miles McGuthrie’s office and sits down. Miles drinks his scotch like water and takes it all in. Cue drama and weird mission! Ugh. It was nothing new. I don’t remember exactly where it was going, but it would not have been a fun tale to tell (or weird or different enough to set myself apart.) Thankfully my brain switched on and brought the axe down fast.

I challenged myself to let everything dump out on the page. I kept my protagonist, Miles McGuthrie, but everything else changed. Miles became the owner of McGuthrie’s Emporium and the setting moved from a real city to a much more weird and fantastical place. Thus, The Underbelly was born with sparkle fish, cricket jelly, moonslugs and of course, kraken.

The story was a blast to write and I see myself returning to explore more of The Underbelly…maybe more Miles and Frank!

What’s in the name you ask? Well, how would you like your kraken?

I’d prefer mine charred with plum butter.

Weird Noir: Tentacles Ho!

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

The days get colder, the nights get longer, and things seem to move in the shadows — which means it’s almost time for Weird Noir to be born! What sort of twisted individuals come up with tales to fit this mash-up of genres? I asked my writers to tell me a bit about the process of getting all weird about noir:

Chloë Yates

I knew I had to get it written, time was running out and the Prof waits for no man. Naturally slothful, I’d been putting it off, waiting for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is an unfeeling bitch alas and so I began hammering at the keys with nothing but the production of words, any words, as my goal. Midway through the first paragraph, Maxxie Vickers came along and kicked me in the nuts. She had a story to tell and she’d chosen me to tell it. Who was I to turn a good looking, if dentally challenged, dame down?

Richard Godwin

I set the ingredients in the pan. I raise the flame. You know, the texture of the meat that night was strangely familiar, reminiscent of a taste my memory had buried. But the corner of London I ended up in gave me this story, dark and lyrical, imbued with the Noir thrill of being touched a certain way as the moonlight shines on your skin.

As I hand you the menu I would like to say there are some unusual flavours on offer here, so set your palate to receive.”The notes are plaintive, haunting, as if she is singing of a time before her life was altered in some way.” Barbara Dauphin is a night club singer who plays Joe Billy Holiday at her flat. She wants to find her missing sister. She realises there is something unusual about Joe…

Jennifer Martin

When I heard the call, the call for submission, I jumped at the chance to have another of my stories published in an awesome anthology.

‘The Darkness Cult’ is a strange and twisted tale that first wormed its way into my head several years ago. I had toyed with the idea of making a novel from it, but alas, I hadn’t finished up that project. Although a complete work in and of itself, it could be expanded on at a later date.

I sat down after reading the call and just knew that this seedy underground story was just what Weird Noir was looking for. I had to flesh it out. Make it whole and ready for the world to read. I did just that. Like a madwoman, I sat for days at my computer and worked on the story with coffee flowing through my veins. When I finally turned it over to my editor for a read through, watching his reactions was reward in itself. He has never quite looked at me the same since reading that particular story…

More to come — we’ll understand the madness soon. See the full line up here.

Interview with Danie Ware, Author of Ecko Rising

Today we’re happy to welcome Danie Ware to AK&AQ. Her new novel Ecko Rising has been receiving some enthusiastic press and she’s on a blog tour to promote her Titan Books title, so be sure to follow along.

Q: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

A: A slightly battered old MacBook white, and MSWord – no quirks to speak of. I carry a Moleskine in my bag, though I’m not sure why because I have Evernote on both iPhone and iPad. Sometimes I end up with flashes of inspiration and random notes that stray from one to the other and I have to sit down and collate them before I start writing properly.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

A: I don’t – I like the quiet! I’ll use music to conjure a character, or a setting, or a mood, but once that frame of mind is in place, I need to hear myself think. I like to be alone, as well, because I still tend to read stuff aloud as I go along.

Q: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

A: it’s a compulsion – I went a long time without writing/being able to write and I missed it! These days, I’m a working single parent and I simply write as and when I can, there’s no formal strategy, I don’t have that much control over my working day. If I’m really up against it, I prefer to get up at silly o’clock in the morning and write, rather than try and write in the evening after my son goes to bed!

Q: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

A: I’m in the bizarre position of knowing many of the authors whose work I most respect – though my job, I’ve met most of them personally. With this goes the knowledge that they may well read my book at some point – and that’s quite a scary thing. As for what they’ll say, I hope they enjoy it – but any experienced and constructive feedback they choose to give me would be welcome.

Q: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

A: On days where the writing doesn’t go so well, I have a commute and job and a child and a mortgage and a fitness plan – the only thing I fantasise about is being able to go on vacation. No, I’m not joking!

Q: What do you read? What do you re-read?

A: I have re-read, again and again, Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Galapagos’ Julian May’s ‘Saga of the Exiles’ and Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series – though have more enjoyed the Mordant’s Need books as I’ve grown older. I went through a long period of not reading genre at all – read a lot of Palahniuk, books like Patrick Suskind’s ‘Perfume’ and Max Barry’s ‘Jennifer Government’. I’ve come back to genre recently with the discovery of audiobooks – to fit my reading in, I listen to new books on the train the work. Most recently, Lavie Tidhar’s ‘The Bookman’, Richard Morgan’s ‘Cold Commands’, China Mieville’s ‘Iron Council’, and Joe Abercrombie’s ‘First Law’ series – as well as some older SF classics, ‘The Death of Grass’ and ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’.

Q: Where did the idea for Ecko Rising come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration?

A: I wish! The idea for this publication was born from the ‘what if’ fun-fic I wrote during my twenties – when I wrote endlessly and purely for the fun of it. In its new incarnation, it’s a distillation of all those old ideas, brought up to professional standard by a diligent and patient editor. Sparking ideas – no, not really. They can come from anywhere, at any time, brought by pictures or music or people or places, or just by waking up in the middle of the night. That’s why I keep the Moleskine!

Following a cynical anti-hero, Ware’s first novel is sardonic fantasy, a sharp new slant on the genre, scattered with a healthy dusting of sex, violence and sarcasm.

Ecko Rising has received glowing accolades from authors including, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Empire in Black and Gold), Mike Carey (X-Men, Lucifer), Lavie Tidhar, (Osama, The Bookman series), and Adam Nevill (Apartment 16).

If you love fantasy, classic or modern, or have a liking for twisted anti-heroes please check out the trailer and blog tour. Find Danie on Twitter or Facebook, too.

Interview: Roman Dirge

Look at that: LENORE is 20 years old. That’s rather venerable for a little undead girl. I had a chance to chat with creator Roman Dirge about the latest collection of LENORE that’s got a lot of fun (and not just the piratey goodness). Her new adventures, SWIRLIES, will be out later this month.

Congratulations on 20 years of Lenore: did you ever imagine you would have such a success with the little undead girl?

Nope. I created her as a magazine filler. She had other plans though, apparently. Also, she has sharp objects.

I know Mike Mignola likes to watch films while he draws, while many other artists prefer to listen to music while working. Do you need silence or do you like some kind of music or film playing? Is it a distraction or inspiration?

I’m more of a film and TV guy. I constantly have something playing on my computer while I work. I do seem to pick the crappiest movies, so I have something going but I don’t have to pay too much attention. When I go the music route, it’s almost always movie soundtracks. Life is a movie if you pretend hard enough.

Do you have any idea where Lenore will go next? How much of a plan have you had all along — or have you just been winging it for two decades?

I have a plan. I’ve even known how Lenore will end when it’s time for years now. I’ve sketched out more issue idea then I will ever be able to draw in my lifetime.

After so much frustration, did you think Mr. Gosh deserved a little bit of hope?

I feel bad for Mr. Gosh. He deserves better. I have stories that involve him for later dates, but I don’t have it worked out how he’ll return after the last heartbreak he suffered under her. That poor, poor bastard.

Roman Dirge (via Wikipedia)

I would say the pirate Lenore was the best image in this collection if it weren’t for the single panel of Ragamuffin ‘riding a rodeo monkey competing in the lil’ Miss Texas Teapot Bowl.’ Do you take especial glee in finding humiliations for him?

I dooooo. I could have done a whole book of JUST Polaroids that Lenore and Pooty took of Ragamuffin while he slept. I’d still like to do it if it’s possible.

What is the best way to tempt a hair hobo to take up residence on your head?

Pee in your hair. It’s fun, mathematically difficult and surprisingly liberating.

LOL! Seeing your German beer adventure I have to ask, have you not tried Belgian beers? Even better than German!

I was in Germany, so it was appropriate. Plus, I’m German ancestry, so I’ll never admit Belgium beer is better. I’ll NEVER EVER talk about how amazingly good Belgium beer is. Nope. I certainly won’t talk about the way Belgium beers have such a perfect aroma and utilize complex flavors to compliment each other. Just not gonna do it. Back off.

Hee! Thanks for the interview.

Reserve your copy of LENORE: SWIRLIES by clicking this picture. We’ll have a review up on the release date, August 21st.

~ K. A. Laity

An Interview with The Flashy K. M. Indovina

L. Vera: K. M., a new upcoming author, that I’m thrilled to have on AKAQ.

K. M. Indovina: Thrilled to be here. AKAQ has quickly risen to being a great, informative little hangout in this corner of the web. Is using the term web too dated? I never know what the cool kids are saying, anymore.

L. Vera: So tell me, what one incident could you tie with yourself to being a writer.

K. M. Indovina: Hmmmm. This past December, I had to move from a house to a one bedroom apartment. The move itself is not extraordinary; I’ve moved about seventeen times since I moved out of my parents’ house as a teenager. When you move about every six months or so, you develop spartan ideas about what has value and what one can do without. I realized I was lugging around two trunks full of old notebooks under the pretense that someday I might need something in one of them for a future story.
After a quick perusal that resulted in much shame and horror, I threw it all out. It was probably at least fifty pounds worth of paper, every page full from top to bottom with fevered scribbling, full of the starry eyed desperation of a bewildered girl trying so very hard to produce a cross between Hamlet and Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
It was a much needed exorcism. But one that highlighted the futility of trying to deny the fact ink rather than blood runs through these veins.

L. Vera: I’ve read your work, and find it very vivid and free. How would you describe it?

K. M. Indovina: Thank you. Your description is one way of putting it. 🙂
Words and images culled from the edge of a madness whose ground lies on a faultline between a romantic heart and a cynical disdain for all of reality.
Or maybe just wacky? I try and let people know that I don’t write with a specific goal or genre in mind. I just sit down and let the characters and situations do their thing.

L. Vera: Your flash fiction piece, The Oatmeal Galaxy is featured in Flashy Shorts. Just the title was already amazing enough for me to to read your piece. Tell me what was the process of writing the piece and how you came up with the title?

K. M. Indovina: I saw there was a contest due that day and sent the first thing that came out of me.
That’s true, but I guess a little unfair. I saw the contest- I think thanks to AKAQ. I stared at the ceiling and the spoon the little girl uses popped into my head. The rest of it was a logical progression. Girl uses spoon to eat oatmeal. What does the oatmeal look like? etc.

L. Vera: Also what should we see in the future and where can we find more of your pieces?

K. M. Indovina: Coming up is a collection of action/adventure/horror stories from pulp publisher Pro Se Books. You can find a piece of speculative horror historical fiction in Dark Moon’s anthology ZOMBIE JESUS AND OTHER TRUE STORIES this Fall. A free story at Shotgun Honey. A love letter (of all things) at Infective Ink. And I have a top secret project that may be published under a pen name. It might involve the German Reformation, mermaids, and sassy French witches, among other sundry topics.

Find K. M. Indovina’s Novel The Definitive Guide To Rochester New York on Amazon and check out her Blog on WordPress.

Interview: Ruth Jacobs

Tell us about In Her Own Words:

To say it’s the transcription of an interview with a London call girl would be the short answer, and an honest one. But it’s so much more than that. Q, the woman interviewed, was so brutally honest about how she really felt, what she thought and believed about herself, her life, society, sex, men and other subjects too. The transcription is completely unedited, leaving every broken sentence and pause. I think this is essential in getting her words across as honestly as she spoke them.

The trauma of her childhood sexual abuse isn’t mentioned in the interview but I think it’s essential that it be known, as 75% of prostitutes have suffered sexual and physical abuse as children. She was also pimped on the streets at the age of fifteen. After escaping her pimp, she carried on working becoming a call girl in London. She was one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, inside and out. The damage to her soul and her spirit comes through in her words. There are contradictions from which it is clear she tries to make herself believe certain things about her work, and then moments later in another sentence she gives an opposing statement. This is how a woman working in prostitution manages without falling apart. There is blog post about this denial written by a friend of Q’s at http://www.xlondoncallgirl.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/denial.html which I think will enlighten people who don’t understand what those contradictory statements are about and where they come from.

How did you get involved in transcribing her story?

I was undertaking research into prostitution, and at the time, in 1998, most books on the subject were not written by prostitutes themselves. I wanted to have firsthand information, so as well as reading quotes from prostitutes in other publications, I decided to interview women who worked as prostitutes. I video interviewed three call girls, and one of those, I fully transcribed. That one was with Q, who was a very dear friend and sadly, she died quite recently. This is the reason I decided to donate all the royalties from the publication to a charity that helps women exit prostitution. The charity I have chosen is Beyond the Streets www.beyondthestreets.org.uk

Ideally how would you like people to respond to this project?

I want people to view women who work as prostitutes as real people, with real feelings, who do not deserved to be shamed or looked down on. I want to change the stigma society has against women who work as prostitutes. Most (75%) have been sexually and physically abused as children. 67% have posttramatic stress disorder. 70% have experienced multiple rapes. These women do not need to be shamed and judged by society. They deserve help to exit prostitution when they want to, and research at Object http://www.object.org.uk  shows that 9 out of 10 women in prostitution would like exit if they could. I would like this short book to dispel the ‘happy hooker’ myth, as I also hope to achieve through the fictional series of novels I am writing, Soul Destruction. Q was one of those so-called ‘happy hookers’ but when you read her words, her pain and suffering is obvious. It goes back to that denial, which XLondonCallGirl explains on her blog. I want people to understand the psychological and emotional damage caused by working as a prostitute, and socially, how it effects relationships with family, friends and men, and how prostitutes feel isolated and apart from the rest of society.

What’s your own writing background?    

I started writing at around thirteen years old. I wrote depressing poetry then, which I don’t think was particularly good, but it was what was going on in my head at the time. At sixteen, I begun writing a novel, which I picked up over the years, read again, deleted the majority of what was written, and rewrote it, many, many times over. A few years ago, I started writing another novel, but it was too personal and I had to give it up. In 2010, I wrote Soul Destruction, the first novel I have ever finished, and that was inspired by Q.

What are your writing plans for the future?

I have a whole series planned for Soul Destruction. I was just beginning the second in the series when I decided to start the blog. I didn’t want to publish that novel on the blog in case it spoiled the chances of it being published traditionally, which is why I started the spin-off to Soul Destruction, with Soul Destruction Diary. I would also like the diary to be a series as well. I recently wrote a short story, Protection, which has been published on Near to the Knuckle, and I hope to write some more shorts in the future.

Where can people find out more on the web about you and about In Her Own Words?

My website is www.soul-destruction.com

I’m on Facebook www.facebook.com/rujacobs

There’s a Soul Destruction Facebook page www.facebook.com/SoulDestructionSeries

I can be found on Twitter www.twitter.com/RuthFJacobs

And there’s a Soul Destruction trailer on YouTube which closely relates to In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl www.youtu.be/MC4LwbCDIp8
“In Her Own Words… Interview with a London Call Girl” is 77p to download from Amazon UK at http://amzn.to/P992RY  & 99c to download from Amazon US at http://amzn.to/Qo3SZD. It’s also available worldwide. All royalties are being donated to Beyond the Streets, a charity helping women exit prostitution.

An Interview With The Ghost Busting Peter Townsend

Author: Peter Townsend, writer of Ghostly Images and all around great guy.

Interviewer: L. Vera, the only ninja on AKAQ, that you know of.

An Interview With The Ghost Busting Peter Townsend:

L. Vera: Peter it’s great to have you here on AKAQ.

Peter: Thanks for inviting me.

L. Vera: So what brought you to wonderful lands of “Literature”?

Peter: I like reading something that is different, quirky and original. Some years ago after reading a few novels with tired and uninspiring plots I thought I’d have a go at writing a story.

L. Vera: And the strange world of the paranormal?

Peter: I tend to have a sceptical outlook by nature. However, writing about Victorian spirit photography in Ghostly Images inevitably involved exploring the views of its paranormal supporters. Seeing apparent ghosts of dead family members and friends on their portrait photographs was proof of the afterlife for such people. Many supporters saw photography as reliable evidence of the spirit world in the golden age of spirit photography from the 1860s to the 1930s. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a pugnacious champion of the authenticity of spirit photography.

Others, in contrast, claimed these photographs were little more than crude and unconvincing fakes. Harry Houdini publicly debunked a number of fraudulent mediums and fake spirit photographers in his time.

L.Vera: Can photography really reveal evidence of the spirit world?

Peter: The American Museum of Photography, on the theme of Do You Believe? Science vs. Séance, has a collection of Victorian ghost photographs. It states: “Many of the images presented here have been studied and debated for nearly a century. Whether they are ludicrous or miraculous is in the eye of the beholder.” Readers might like to look at these photographs and form their own view. Are they ludicrous or miraculous? Why do they continue to fascinate both believers and skeptics today?

The American Museum of Photography 

L. Vera: What should readers expect to find in your book, Ghostly Images?

Peter: A serial murder mystery set in Whitby, North Yorkshire, during 1894. I’ll give you a brief flavour of the novel. David Taylor didn’t believe in the paranormal when he reluctantly became a spirit photographer. When ominous shadows appear on the photographs of young women slain by the Whitby Ripper, David is forced to think the unthinkable. Could his camera possess psychic powers that can predict death and expose a killer?  Meanwhile…The Whitby Ripper waits for his next victim.

L. Vera: Can you tell me more about the ‘other information’ on your blog?

Peter:  There’s information and photographs of Whitby, the setting for the novel. Here are two photographs of the town.

(photos of Whitby attached – you could use 2 or one of these –your choice)

L. Vera: Awesome photos! What other future projects should we look for?

Peter: It’s not very original but I was thinking of pitching an idea for a screenplay to Stephen Spielberg about the cesspit which is the UK banking industry. The title would be ‘Swindler’s List.’

L. Vera: Witty! But I think I’ve heard something similar to this?

Peter: I did warn you it wasn’t very original, didn’t I? But on a much more serious note it’s too early to think about another project at the moment. My novel was only released in June. I’ll see how things go over the coming months. If Ghostly Images attracts a reasonable amount of interest in the UK and US I’ll consider where to go from there.

L. Vera: What’s your favorite quote?

Peter: About bankers?

L. Vera: No. Can you give me your favorite quote about writing?

Peter: “Handwriting is civilization’s casual encephalogram.” – Lance Morrow

L.Vera: What does that mean?

Peter: I’ve no idea.

L.Vera: What do you regard to be the three main rules for anyone writing a novel?

Peter: I think W. Somerset Maugham sums it up well when he says: “There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”

L. Vera: It was great having you here and everyone here at AKAQ wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors and hope to be a small part of it.

Peter: Thanks for your interest and best wishes to you and all at AKAQ.

Readers can find out more about the book, how to buy, together with an excerpt at LL-Publications: http://www.ll-publications.com/ghostlyimages.html

Peter’s blog has details about the history of spirit photography, together with other information at http://ghostlyimages.wordpress.com

(UK) Amazon.co.uk link.

(USA) Amazon. com link