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:

Peter’s blog has details about the history of spirit photography, together with other information at

(UK) link.

(USA) Amazon. com link


John The Aussie Interviews Jessica McHugh

Interviewer: John The Aussie

Author: JessicaMcHugh, writer of Rabbits in the Garden

I was recently suggested to read a book by an author friend of mine (Because I’m in the know and all).  “Jessica has been around for a few years now and is getting quite popular.  Listen if you don’t like her book, delete it from you kindle and ignore my suggestions.  If ya like it, you may prefer to get into her alternate history and fantasy novels.”

So obviously I took his sketchy advice, downloaded it to kindle and read it.  At first I was honestly wondering what I was reading without checking what the genre was, who the author was or even what the book was about… I was nearly ready to kick the referer to the curb “This barstard sent me a soap opera book!”  Well that was until the main character beat some rabbit to death with her hare bare hands, walked into her cellar and later woke up to find herself at the steps to a mental asylum (paraphrased).

All of a sudden I am thrown into a world of psychosis, murder, sex, affairs and MORE murder.  I didn’t put the book down, and I found it a relatively easy to read.

So I got onto the author and after much debating on which time suited us both, being on opposite ends of the world, we finally caught a moment where we both could catch up for some coffee via chat…

: G’day Jessica. Thanks for giving me the oppurtunity for this interview. I was recently recommended to purchase your book ‘Rabbits In The Garden’ and I must say, it was a whole new genre for me to break into. It was a real page turner.

Avery Norton, the twelve year old girl in which was accused of multiple murders and sent to an asylum, how did you create such a victimized character?

Jessica McHugh: Thank you so much for this opportunity, John. I’m so happy you enjoyed the story.

The story and most of the characters in “Rabbits in the Garden,” came from two distinct places. The first was a story I started writing when I was 21. That is where the “rabbits in the garden” storyline originated, including Avery Norton and her mother Faye. At this point, I knew she was going to endure a lot, although I had no idea exactly what until I finished the book several years later.

The other piece of the story, which centers around Avery’s time in the asylum came from a dream I had. The morning after the dream, I wrote it all down and added the idea “1950s Asylum Love Story” to my corkboard. There was also an “Avery” in the dream, as well as a domineering mother. The stories fit so well together that I decided to merge the storylines. That’s when Avery got her depth and I was able to see what kind of character she would be. It was tough at times to write her. I felt very bad for what I put her through…and not so bad.


John : Avery was admitted to Taunton State Hospital (formerly known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Taunton), a psychiatric hospital, where she is promptly given the nickname of Lizzie. The alias given to her by her roomate, was from Lizzie Borden from the infamous Fall River, Massachusetts massacre.

Did Lizzie Borden have any influence in the design of the story?

Jessica McHugh: Not hugely. I did read up on Lizzie Borden’s hijinks, (Has it been long enough that we can refer to them as “hijinks?”) but Lizzie was brought into the story because my mother and father mentioned her being confined to Taunton. My parents grew up in Massachusetts, my mother actually on Martha’s Vineyard, so their input was invaluable while I was doing research.

John: I find a lot of authors have invaluable input from their families and friends. Of which however Avery’s father dissapeared at a young, her sister was sent to boarding school and she is left at home with an overbearing mother. The bond between Avery and her sister Natalie have such a strong union between them and although they were kept apart, their bond stayed relatively strong. Who inspired this sibling relationship?

Jessica McHugh: I grew up with two older brothers, and I think only sisters could have the kind of bond Avery and Natalie have, especially considering their mother’s harrowing lessons. I never had an especially close relationship with either of my brothers, not even close to the Norton sisters’…but, in a way, our distance helped me create the closeness between the sisters. Sometimes you write about what you have. Sometimes you write about what you wish you’d have.

John : The influence of absense, that really surprised me. Though this isn’t the only relationship that Avery has and the other I would assume nearly comes close to sisterhood. The roomate mentioned earlier in which gave Avery her alias was Francine, aka Flint. Such a befitting name for a pyromaniac, or arsonist as Flint prefers. Though a rocky start to the friendship, their friendship blooms to how I would describe as a tangled rose bush. Avery’s innocence has her refuse to acknowledge, or simply assume that everyone in the hospital is normal, especially Flints. After a great loss, she finally realizes that everyone once around her when Flint sacrifices herself to help Avery escape. Did you find it hard to essentially ‘kill’ off some of the characters?

Jessica McHugh: Absolutely. I cried when I wrote Flint’s death scene. Also when I realized that in burning down the hospital, I had also killed hundreds of others I’d never even met. I didn’t even know their names. Avery’s realization that she’d really become a murderer was my own. Of course, I don’t think of writers as murderers, but hey, I think a lot of us take some delight in it. Even through the tears of cutting Flint out of Avery’s life, I was tickled at knowing that my readers would feel the same pain as I felt. It is amazing to twist the hearts and stomachs of people I’ve never met, and may never meet.
This is book with a high body count, and I suffered at writing every death, even the ones that deserved it. But I also rejoiced. It’s one of my favorite parts of writing horror.

John : “I suffered at writing every death, even the ones that deserved it.” is this to mean you take Faye’s stance (Avery’s overbearing mother), or just those that were actually evil enough to deserve their fate?

Jessica McHugh: I’m not sure anyone was truly “evil,” but I think Faye definitely got what she deserved…in Avery’s mind, at the very least. To herself, Faye was a saint. A martyr. There are probably some people out there in the real world who agree with her, which is even more disturbing than the character, I think.

John : Faye was disturbing enough as it was, to start thinking about people who would actually martyr her.

We come to the last of Avery’s major relationships, which is with Paul, her childhood sweetheart that forever truly believed her innocent of her accused crimes. A true roller coaster ride of a relationship which the love never disappears from. Paul, after growing up, faces his fears head on, face to face, which was such a change from when he was young and made his promise to Avery. The internal growth inspired by personal experience or witnessing a friend grow into their ‘zone’? Was there a moment when you thought “This is so when….”?

Jessica McHugh: Honestly, the emotion between Avery and Paul was straight from the dream. It was one of the most amazing dreams of my life, in that an entire story was revealed to me. Obviously, there were some parts that had to be changed. For instance, Angelina Jolie couldn’t be in it.

But Avery and Paul were “a thing” when I started the book. Writing them was a breeze because I felt for them. It was the same for Faye and Avery. I felt like I knew those characters so well, writing dialogue was an absolute delight.

I still love reading that original journal entry about my “1950s Asylum Love Story.” It’s very close to what “Rabbits in the Garden” ended up being.

John : Is the Journal available for everyone to see, if so where do we find it?

Jessica McHugh: Ha! No, it’s not online right now, but I’m not opposed to sharing the the entry.

John : Can I be the first to release it?

Jessica McHugh: (2009)

Idea for story from dream

Story of unrequited lovers in the 1940s/50s.
The daughter is locked away in a nuthouse even though she isn’t really crazy, and she gets frequent visits from her mother who teases her with information about the man her daughter loves (ie when he marries her older sister.)
When the man is discovered having a male lover on the side, the sister steps aside, but the mother, furious and trying to kill both lover and man, kill the lover and her eldest daughter instead.
The youngest daughter finally gets out of the asylum and is prepared to find the man she loves, to be with him and help care for the baby he had with her sister, but her mother blows up the boat he is on: killing him. But the daughter jumps in and saves the baby. The baby’s cries sound like voices to her, voices telling her the story of how she actually has been driven insane and telling her what she needs to do to finally be at peace. Those who have died come to her, including a badly burned man that she loved, who finally “makes love to her”. (Angelina Jolie, James Duval singing part) The people are still talking to her when she leaves the room for a while, and when she comes back and sits down, she is confronted by another dead person: her mother whom she has just killed; perhaps burned alive. (teeth- no lips)
The last scene is her crying tears of joy (which she has never been able to do before) as she rocks the baby to sleep.

Clearly, I changed the “male lover” bit…a bit. 

John : It’s amazing of what become of an entry and a dream; such a dark story to be told, with so much emotion involved.

So I have two questions left to finish up with one being for you and one for Avery.

You – Naked writing is it for you?

Jessica McHugh: Nah not so much. Although I do dig thin summer dresses, tall frosty beers, and writing outside at patio bars.

John : A good drink helps the words flow…

and Avery – with so much compassion and story to be told, what is the one thing you’d like to share with those that shared your life?

Jessica McHugh (as Avery): Sometimes, the opportunity to deny the past may give someone the ability to have a future, to *have* something for the first time ever. Second chances are a godsend.

John : Thanks Avery, and thank you again Jessica for joining me over cyber coffee for a chat.

Jessica McHugh: Thank you for having me, John. It was a lot of fun!

You can purchase Rabbits in the Garden from:

US Amazon: Rabbits in the Garden

UK Amazon: Rabbits in the Garden

You can also find Jessica McHugh and her latest news in the following places.
Rabbits in the Garden – Facebook page
Twitter: @theJessMcHugh

An Interview With The Murderous Edward Lorn

Author: Edward Lorn

Interviewer: L. Vera

Part of The Dastardly Blog Tour

L. Vera: Edward Lorn, It’s a pleasure to have you on AKAQ.

Edward Lorn: It’s my pleasure being here. Thank you for your support of Three After and interest in joining the Dastardly blog tour.

L. Vera: So it must be fun writing horror. What’s your most favorite “death” that you have written?

Edward Lorn: I don’t really have a favorite death. I tend to fall in love with my characters. Sometimes they die. It’s just what happens in a horror novel. But if I absolutely had to choose, a death that stands out for me would probably be in my short story, World’s Greatest Dad. It involves a bad guy and a meat hook. That death was fun, only because I believe it was completely deserved.

L. Vera: Any crazier deaths in the future of your writing career?

Edward Lorn: I’d hate to give away any spoilers, but I assure you there will be plenty of deaths in my future novels. Who knows? I might write a book where everyone dies. That would be crazy.

L. Vera: Why Horror? I know you’ve dabbled in other genres, but what brings you back to horror every time?

Edward Lorn: Horror is a passion of mine. I enjoy all types of reading material, but while writing, I tend to go for the darker side of things. Horror contains elements of every other genre, or at least it should. I prefer horror with a little heart. I want people to feel bad when someone dies. I try to do that with all my characters.

L. Vera: If you can give other authors a writing tip? What would it be?

Edward Lorn: To just shut up and write. Stop piddling around wondering what your next project is going to be about and let your characters speak for themselves. So much more fun that way.

L. Vera: What should we expect in the future from you?

Edward Lorn: I have one new novel done, but it’s sitting in a virtual drawer for now so I can come back to it with fresh eyes at a later date. I’m about a quarter through another one, but I have no idea which will be next.

L. Vera: Thank you Edward Lorn. It was both a pleasure and a treat to have you on AKAQ.

Edward Lorn: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate what you’re doing here. Keep up the good work.

My Tricky Interview With A Zombie

This is a special day. Not only will I be reviewing Zed by Stephen Herfst, he has also graciously accepted my invitation for an interview.

My Review

Imagine being the only Zombie that can think. Do you belong with other zombies, or should you avoid them? You would have to wonder, why me? Why am I the only one, and where do I belong?

Zed chooses a life of seclusion, away from zombies and humans alike. That is until one eventful night when he encounters Chase. Thrown together by chance, they stay together to survive. There is danger for a young girl in these times, especially one traveling alone. Not to mention the human horde that wants to kill and mount all zombies they come across. Maybe, if they work together, Chase and Zed can make it to a safe zone and live their lives in peace.

I am still struggling to tell you about this story. It is much more than the gratuitous zombies eating people scenes, of which there are some doozies. It is also funny, like when Zed goes to the maul. And Chase, man is she a firecracker. She provides the spark and sets his book on fire. You can not help but love her.

Let me tell you, this book is an amazing read. There are so many ups and downs, spins and teeth-clenching thrills inside it. It is unlike any other zombie book you have read and you should not miss out. Get Zed and get reading. I hear there are more books to come.

Now I have a special treat for you. Today I was supposed to be interviewing Stephen Herfst. Alas, he was unable to attend, so he sent Zed in his stead.

To those of you who have not met Zed, Stephen Herfst has written a whole book about him. The book is called Zed.

Now, Zed is a zombie and we know they don’t like to be kept waiting, so I better get to the interview.

Would you prefer eating brains from a man or a woman?

Hmm…it would be relative to what I am in the mood for; the flavour of a woman’s brain is intense, sweet and decidedly complex with hidden nuances that require my full attention. A man’s brain is musky, with a strong flavour that underlies the overall demeanour of the host. of course, certain nationalities would result in some differences, for example, Italians/Spanish are prone to irrational bursts of flavour.

Could you describe what brains taste like?

First of all, the texture deserves some focus: a combination I would best describe as between broiled cauliflower and pate. A pert outer-shell that gives way to a smooth creamy centre. The flavour of the brain is subtle, and its most basic flavour tastes similar to pureed fatty chicken bathed in a brine of embryonic fluid. The flavour is also influenced by the host’s diet, with a wine-favouring host being the most delectable. I do like a good red wine marinade.

Would you date another zombie?

If the right female zombie came along…maybe. I take a pride in my appearance and so my partner would need to follow suit. There is a certain predictability to the female of my species, and so, they simply require no more than the offering of some human flesh to win their heart. it is true what they about the way to one’s heart.

Do you want to remember who you were before?

It does irritate that the information does not come to me. All of my knowledge I have gained since my rebirth. Sometimes something triggers what might be a glimpse into what I think is the past. I am not sure but I have times , so  when it happens, it will be one more thing that I can tick off my list.

What pet would you prefer?

I already have many pets. My books are house-trained, silent and speak to me when prompted and they can be silenced just as easily.

Do you floss?

Yes. Personal hygiene is important. I certainly would not want to suffer from gingivitis(or gum-disease). – certainly do not want to exacerbate any additional flesh rot.

Where would you like to live?

Wherever I can be left to my own devices. Humans are a troublesome horde, always wanting to kill me, mount me, or worse, rescue me. It irritates me that they would somehow think my present situation would require rescuing.

If you were like other zombies that only mutter brains and could say something else, what would you say?

I have to admit, I do use the classic call of Brains when enticing my antagonists into one of my traps. I believe it is best to play to expectation until their realisation comes too late. Alternatively, I prefer saying nothing. Why would you want your prey knowing ahead of time of their impending doom, anyway?

Now I think I have answered more than enough questions. It is a good thing that I am in a good mood(and do not have my Zombie Kit with me). You caught me at a moment of weakness…and I do not like it. Now be off before I find reason to change my mind…zombies are known for that, after all.

Well, I beat a hasty exit, glad to still be in one piece.

My thanks to Zed for being so obliging and to Stephen for allowing this interview.

For a prologue of Zed and my comments you can go here:

You can read more about Stephen and Zed here:

To purchase your copy of Zed just click on the cover image above.

An Interview with the Gun-Toting Darren Sant

L. Vera: I would like to start off by saying how awesome it is to have you on my blog and you would be the second person I have ever interviewed. I think I’m already getting the hang of it.

Darren Sant: It’s great to be here Luis. I must say you have the comfy chair alright but dude, where’s the booze?

L. Vera: No booze, at least not yet. But speaking of booze, I stumbled upon this picture and wondered why you don’t use it more often? (picture on the right)

Darren Sant: Ah, you’ve unearthed THAT one have you…That is my Benny Hill look. I do an impression to go with it. The wife hates it which is probably why I do it. I like to live dangerously.

L. Vera: If I were you I’d include with every story submission. There’s something about it that makes me more interested in you and your stories. Maybe it’s the realism you don’t see in writer’s profile pictures, everyone takes them way too serious. Which brings me to a harder question, how serious is writing to you?

Darren Sant: It’s serious in that I care about the message I put out. It’s serious in that I’m constantly striving to improve. I work full time and my writing time is limited but I’m with a publisher, Byker Books, and it’s important to me that I don’t let myself or them down. Seriousness aside I do like to have a little humour in all of my fiction. More in the some than stories than others.

L. Vera: May 1st, your story “Punishment and Lola” will dance in the pages of Burning Bridges. What should we expect in this tale besides some violence and underaged girls?

Darren Sant: You can expect vengeance, betrayal, cars, sex, poker, gangsters and lots more. All in under two thousand words!

L. Vera: Why did you choose Burning Bridges for this story?

Darren Sant: Well hmmm….A difficult question to answer. I wrote this story especially for Burning Bridges. All of the Burning Bridges authors have something in common. We all got our fingers burned and the anthology is our way of turning a negative into a positive. It is our phoenix from the ashes.

L. Vera: And the title, is very … different, which I like. So which came first, the title or the story?

Darren Sant: The title came first and the story mere seconds behind, almost fully formed.

L. Vera: What should we expect from you in the future?

Darren Sant: The first volume of my Tales From The Longcroft Estate is already available on Amazon.

I’m working very hard to finish volume two soon. These are urban, gritty tales with a sense of humour, a dose of grit and some darkness. Social realism if you like all set in a run down housing estate featuring colourful characters. After volume two I’ll be writing a long work of fiction of novella length.

L. Vera: Thanks for the quick interview. I can’t wait to read “Punishment and Lola”. Also, check out Darren Sant at his blog and his website.

Reposted from LVERAWRITES.

Interview with the Ravenous Anthony Neil Smith

Interviewer: L. Vera

Writer/Author: Anthony Neil Smith

L. Vera: The Doctor of Noir is in. Anthony Neil Smith, recent Spinetingler winner for Best Novel. It’s nice to have you here.

Anthony Neil Smith: Thanks for your invitation. The cool thing about the Spinetingler is that they have more than one novel category. Mine was for “Rising Star”, which is flattering. Most days, I don’t feel like a rising star so much as a salmon struggling upstream against a strong current and a bunch of people swatting at me with sticks. But hey, I’m glad someone likes what I’m doing.

L. Vera: Noir. What do you think defines noir? Is it a genre, a state of mind?

Anthony Neil Smith: Yeah, I do think noir is a genre, with its own styles (notice the plural), worldview, and subject matter. But as with any genre, I think it has to mutate and grow in order to survive. I wince at all of the people who disdain the “neo-noir” writers for not being classically noir enough, because it’s as if those critics are fighting to keep noir stuck in a rut. It would be like Western critics saying “They can only be set between the years 18__ and 18__ and must feature one of these nine U.S. States.” What’s the fun in trying to make those people happy? So I love noir, but I could give a shit about what noir scholars and critics think about my work.

L. Vera: Why write noir? Would prefer to write other genres?

Anthony Neil Smith: I embrace the label “crime novelist”, and I would be happy to write those throughout my career. I don’t have any plans for sci-fi or fantasy or “literary” novels (I have to say, though, that I think lots of works in many genres are literary in scope, and that the small subgenre that calls itself “literary fiction” shouldn’t sit on top of the genre heap looking down on all the others). I write what I like to read, and I write what interests me–which is usually the stuff that scares me. But I have always hoped to find a character around which I could base a detective series. It would be flavored with noir, but I don’t think it would be strictly categorized as such. I enjoy many crime novels that seem to exist outside of the noir/hardboiled/cozy labels, using elements of those for atmosphere and style more than the whole enchilada.

L. Vera: Now I have two of your novels, All The Young Warriors
and Psychosomatic. Which should I read first?

Anthony Neil Smith: Aw, sorry, but you should read Yellow Medicine first.

I’m kidding, actually. Of those two, I would say read ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS because it is the best I could do. It forced me to reach farther than I’ve ever had to, and I felt more invested in these characters than any of my others (except for Hogdoggin’). In the earlier books, there’s a lot of “noir glee” in bashing peoples’ lives around, seeing how much shit they can take. There are plenty of unsympathetic characters who, rightfully, repulse the reader, and yet I’m having some sort of nasty fun shoving them in the readers’ faces. That begins to change halfway through YELLOW MEDICINE, I think. After that, the challenge became making the reader feel deeply for unsympathetic characters–rooting for them in spite of hating them. Or at least becoming more fascinated with them over the course of the book.

L. Vera: What should we expect from you in the near future?

Anthony Neil Smith: I’m working on a book in Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin’s DEAD MAN series for Amazon. Those are a crazy bit of fun, half-horror and half-men’s adventure. I really love what they’ve done by getting several handfuls of great novelists to contribute to the series, so each book tastes a little different. After that, I’m getting back to work on a follow-up novel to ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS, revisiting Adem and Mustafa several years after the events of that book. Crossing fingers that it works out. The story is developing in interesting, unexpected ways.

L. Vera: If I wanted to find a great steak place. Where would that be?

Anthony Neil Smith: You know, one of the best steaks I’ve ever had was cooked by Sean Doolittle on his Weber Grill in his backyard. But the beauty of steak restaurants is that you are often surprised by how different the experiences can be from place to place. That said, I’m looking forward to a visit to Murray’s in Minneapolis later in June. It’s one of those “old school” joints I’ve always dreamed of trying but so far haven’t had the opportunity. Check back with me in July.

L. Vera: I will. And how bloody should it be?

Anthony Neil Smith: Medium-Rare. It is the perfect temp for all steaks. Anything more and you miss out. Anything less and you’re just chest-beating, trying to show how manly you are. Chill out. You’re in a suit in a restaurant eating with a knife and fork, so no one is impressed that you said, “I want it still mooing!” If you really want to show off, here’s a chainsaw, there’s a bull. Get to work.

L. Vera: I agree, no other way to eat a steak, like it wasn’t recently murdered. Yumm.Thank you for coming on A Knife And A Quill. I wish you the best of luck in the future. Buy Anthony Neil Smith’s books here on Amazon, find him on twitter and visit his blog and say hi.

John the Aussie Interviews Kirk Allmond

Interviewer: John The Aussie

Author: Kirk Allmond, writer of his newest book What Zombies Fear: The Maxists. Also, read the first book for free.
Kirk: Morning mate.

John: Evening bud. Shall we start?

Kirk: Sure

John: Kirk, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me, I hope I can do you at least some justice.

Kirk: Any time, John. I’m always happy to talk about zombies.

John: So this is my first interview so I’m going to jump right into it. Your series of novels are called ‘What Zombies Fear’. You’ve released three in the series so far, publicly working on the draft for the fourth book at this moment and with a new author I hear?

Kirk: That’s right, chapter 22 of the fourth book in the series,”What Zombies Fear: Fracture” was published to last Thursday, that chapter put the book at 50,000 words, so about 2/3 finished. I’m really excited about this one.

I’ve been working with my co-author Laura Bretz for a little while now; she started contributing in the beginning of the 3rd book, “The Gathering”.

Laura has had a huge impact on my writing. She writes all the parts involving the character Kris.

John: Working with such a great contributor is hard to come by. Although Laura has contributed a large amount in your 4th upcoming book ‘ What Zombies Fear: Fracture’ and touched a fair amount in the ‘The Gathering’. This isn’t the first person to help contribute to the What Zombies Fear series, including “A Father’s Quest” and “The Maxists”. Do you enjoy working with others in the development of your story?

Kirk: I really do, I think it brings fresh perspective, and is one of the reasons people love the characters so much. Each character is based on a real person in my life, so they feel more real in the book.

John: Where did the story of your first novel “What Zombies Fear: A Father’s Quest” originate? What were you inspirations?

Kirk: I have been a zombie fan ever since I was little. The story has been in my head for years. Victor Tookes is roughly based on me, and Max is very clearly based on my real son Jack. Years ago I wrote my plan for what I’m going to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, and posted it to my site When I started writing the novel, I started with my real life zombie plan and turned it into a story.

The ideas for zombies created by an alien parasite, some of them having super powers and for there being humans who are immune to the parasite but also gain super powers have been rattling around in my head since I was little. The scenarios in the book are just fictionalized accounts of what I would actually do in that situation.

John: I’ve seen the plans and the characters of the book stay close to the idea, with some tweaks. The characters of “A Father’s Quest” are heroic and evil. Can you quickly sum up the main characters? How you see them on paper, so to speak.

Kirk: Victor Tookes is an average middle manager for a medium sized software company prior to the outbreak. During the trip down to the family farm he learns about loss, and that has a profound effect on his actions. He is determined to do anything to keep his son safe, whatever the cost.

John Hazard is Victor’s best friend. John is courageous and loyal. He is always there when Victor needs him, constantly saving Vic and asking very little in return. John is a family man, with ties to his own children as strong as Victors. In fact, later books are entirely set around the group of heroes travelling across country to get to John’s family.

Leo Kis is hard to define. She’s a soft hearted beautiful person with the spirit of an ancient Spartan warrior. She is fiercely protective of those she cares about. She thinks Victor is slightly crazy, (ok, more than slightly) but she cares about him and Max, so she tries to keep them safe. Leo and John were friends before the outbreak, sharing a common Australian heritage.

Marshall is Victor’s brother. He’s Victor’s rock, in more ways than one. Marshall is the guy who can get through to Vic when no one else can. He is very different than his little brother; Marshall would much prefer stealth and evasion to outright confrontation, where Victor is a head down, charge forward guy.

The main villain, besides the zombies and their leadership, is Colonel Joshua Frye. Frye is in command of the remnants of the military in Virginia, and is a realist. He believes that there is no way to win a direct confrontation with the zombies, so he wants to negotiate with them, to concede to their demands in the hopes of surviving.

John: Did the character of What Zombies Fear grow first or the storyline grow first?

Kirk: Since the characters are all based (some more than others) on actual people in my life, I would say the storyline grew first, since the characters were always there. The people have evolved over the story. Victor is no longer quite so much like me, his personality having been shaped and altered by the experiences of the book.

John: Of “A Father’s Quest” is there anything you wish you could go back and change?

Kirk: I’m very proud of the book, but there are a few of the non-action scenes I’d like to add some more detail to. My writing has improved over the course of the four books, and I think I could do better justice to the people involved now.

Kirk: Overall I think the book stands on its own. There can always be more, and there’s always room for growth. I’d bet that even Stephen King or Dean Koontz feel that way.

John: Oh I’ve seen them make a similar statement in a few interviews. So to do a 180, what part was your most favourite to write in “A Father’s Quest?”

Kirk: I love the scene at the Potomac River Bridge. Writing that scene was the first time I ever got into “the zone” writing, where the details and actions just flowed out of my head. I wrote the rough draft of that chapter in about 30 minutes, watching it in my head like a movie, and typing out what I saw. That’s happened to me several times since, and it’s my favourite thing about writing, when my brain and fingers connect, it’s almost like I’m an outside observer watching the story take shape.

John: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing the first novel?

Kirk: That I could do it! So many people start novels and never finish them. I had an amazing group of people around me who urged me to continue, and provided support and guidance. I’m really grateful to everyone who was involved back then.

John: Zombies being the obvious theme, do you think the zombie genre is dying? Or will the hopes and dreams of an apocalypse and dystopia of any sort will hold the zombie genre and many other post apocalyptic genres high?

Kirk: I think as long as people have feelings of hopelessness and negativity in the world, zombies will always be around. Historically, zombies are popular when there is a large amount of social upheaval in the world, just as there is now. When the world economy picks up, and people are feeling more comfortable and prosperous, the popularity of zombies will wane for a little while, but they never really go away.

John: It’s always good to see people will be interested in another zombie story. I’m going to save chatter of the other books in your series for later, to ensure you come-back for another interview. I would like to finish up with two more questions.

Do you have any advice for people trying to write?

Kirk: Write what you love. That’s the only thing that will carry you through to the end.

John: I hope people love the right things.

And the most important question that I shall lay as a signature question; have you ever written naked?

Kirk: Absolutely! Everything is better naked!

John: Thanks for the interview mate, hope to convince you for another soon.

Kirk: For you, any time! Thank you so much for all you’ve done.

You can find Kirk’s book What Zombies Fear: The Maxists and the free first piece on Amazon.

An Interview With The Super Human Heath Lowrance

Interviewer: L. Vera

Author: Heath Lowrance

L. Vera: Heath Lowrance, man of many words, at least I would hope so. It’s nice to have you here Heath.

Heath Lowrance: Thanks, L.

L. Vera: Tell me a little about how you became a writer? Was it radiation? Revenge? Standing to close to a microwave?

Heath Lowrance: I was bitten by an irradiated Harlan Ellison, and eventually learned that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

L. Vera: I knew it. I’ve read your story “A Freeway on Earth”, and it’s so far my favorite story in Burning Bridges. Did you specifically write this one for me?

Heath Lowrance: I wrote it for you and every other working stiff living a life dictated by an alarm clock. Really, “A Freeway on Earth” was born out of frustration with the day job, and how such a huge chunk of our lives are very jealously owned by someone else. I hate that. And I hate that I would get so anxious and nervous about being even a minute late, because the people that owned my time would read me the riot act about it.

So “Freeway” is about day job anxiety.

L. Vera: Why did you choose to get Burning Bridges together? You and Ben Sobieck were the brains behind the operation, you guys don’t have better things to do?

Heath Lowrance: It just seemed like something that needed to happen. Here’s this group of diverse and amazing writers, all with one thing in common (they’d each been burnt by an unsavory experience with a small press). They’d all crossed over a particular sort of bridge. I loved the idea that this one common experience had brought all these different sorts of writers together. Someone (I think it might have been YOU, L., but I can’t really remember) suggested, maybe half-jokingly, that we do an anthology, I seconded it, and bamm-o, next thing you know here we are. I volunteered to compile it because, you know, I only had three other projects that were way past due, why not add a fourth?

L. Vera: It may have been me. I know I’m always trying to get writers together to make our own website, but no such luck so far. I’m actually very happy this anthology happened. I have already heard lots of good things about the other writers and it was an honor to be included. Was there another writer out there that you wanted to include, that didn’t make it onto the pages of Burning Bridges?

Heath Lowrance: Well, I would’ve loved if our Nigel Bird had the time to do a story. I admire his work greatly. But despite that, I think we managed to gather up a pretty stellar list of contributors.

L. Vera: I was hoping to find him in there as well. Where will I be able to find your books and what else should expect to see you in?

Heath Lowrance: You can always hit my Amazon page. My novel THE BASTARD HAND is still available, as is my short story collection DIG TEN GRAVES. My second full-length novel, CITY OF HERETICS, is coming out soon from Snubnose Press. And there’s two or three other things coming in the next couple of months. Follow my non-award winning blog, Psycho Noir, for updates and details and what-not.

L. Vera: Heath Lowrance, an incredible writer. It was glad to have you on my blog and I hope to see more of your stuff. Till then I just started Dig Ten Graves, great so far and if others want to keep up visit Heath Lowrance’s blog and amazon page.

Heath Lowrance: Thanks for having me.

Notes: Interview reposted from LVERAWRITES

Interview With The Beat Me Up Les Edgerton

“A Knife And A Quill” brings you an interview with Les Edgerton, author of The Bitch and Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go.

L. Vera: It’s an honor to have you on A Knife And A Quill.

Les Edgerton: Thanks for having me, Luis. This is fun.

L. Vera: I downloaded your book Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go and I love it. There are so many examples of good beginnings and how to create your own. I would tell anyone to read this along with Stephen King’s On Writing. I have yet to read Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing. Should I? What should expect to learn?

Les Edgerton: What you should expect to learn is the biggest single reason books don’t get published and how to go about remedying that. Improper story beginnings are actually the second-biggest reason novels don’t get taken, but a writer employing a great voice will overcome all kinds of weaknesses in a work, including poor beginnings. This is why folks will read a work and point out all kinds of flaws and wonder how it ever got published. Almost always, it was because a great voice was on the page. It’s like two people telling a joke. Dull Sam tells one to his classmates and nary a grin; an hour later, Anna Banana tells the same joke in the lunchroom to the same students and the school nurse has to be called as at least three kids are choking with laughter over their peas. Comedians know it’s all in the delivery; more writers ought to learn this.

L. Vera: So, I’m sure you’ve read lots of bad openings in a book. What is the worst one you have ever read?

Les Edgerton: Can’t really answer that. Truly poor beginnings get the book put down, so I really don’t remember them well. One that I read recently—sorry, I can’t remember who the author was—began with backstory—bad enough—but this author compounded the felony by positing as a true thing that this married couple who were first cousins—had deformed kids. You know, kids with flippers for hands and large heads. Problem is, there’s no basis in reality for children of first cousins to be anything but normal. There’s just no genetic, scientific problem with first cousins and their offspring. This is a societal prohibition, not a scientific one. And, only prohibited in certain cultures, notably the U.S. In Europe, for centuries, first cousins have married and mated with absolutely no ill effects. There’s just no genetic basis for their children being any different than any other matings. Brother and sister—sure. Father and daughter, mother and son—absolutely. But nothing genetically adverse about first cousins. This showed to me an author who was basically lazy—simply accepted the common old wives’ tale without doing further research to find out the truth—and I was done with him. Genetic “facts” like this seem to be all over the place—probably a result of internet research and not honest research. Even when there is a genetic cause for abnormal births—such as a brother and sister liaison, most writers get it wrong. All close family couplings like this do is double genes. Doesn’t mean all the kids will be bleeders or idiots, necessarily. The other end of the spectrum often happens. The intelligence sometimes gets doubled. In fact, the single most intelligent group of of people in Europe were found to be the Basques of Spain and that’s because for centuries the Basques were largely isolated because of the terrain (mountains) and culture, and they’ve inbred a lot. In their case, it resulted in a superior intelligence overall, compared to other Europeans. Same thing occurred in Canada. The single most intelligent group of people happens to be a small group in Quebec who are largely inbred because of their language and culture (French) causing them to be isolated from a broader gene pool.

Lately, there seems to be an awful lot of sloppy research and acceptance of bad novel and bad movie “facts” and lore as “truth.” It seems like I’ve been reading more and more books with lazy or nonexistent research like this. Just read a popular author who had three major and flat-out untruths as the basis of his novel. In it, he had a detective who could deduce from handwriting that the writer was a left-handed male and elderly. There are three things that handwriting analysis can’t deduce—age, sex and handedness (if the writer is left-or right-handed). Further, this detective had found his girlfriend in a deserted building and she’d been dead for a year and in all seriousness, this writer had the detective noting that her hair and fingernails had grown significantly after her death. And, this guy has a Ph.D! How do you ever again trust a writer like this? I can’t.

I write mostly crime and noir fiction these days, and the stuff some of the writers in this genre put out as the “reality” of their novels shows me instantly they don’t have a clue how criminals think or talk or act. When see writers using terms seriously like shiv, bulls, ratfinks, or create prison scenes with scores of inmates getting raped, I know I’ve just discovered a writer whose knowledge of the joint amounts to reading a bunch of books by writers like himself—writers who don’t have the first clue what goes on in the joint.

L. Vera: I agree, with Google there’s no excuse for sloppy research. (I gotta do a blog post on that.)

Your latest book The Bitch sounds like a straight up beat the crap out of me thriller. What could you tell us about it? And how many deaths should I expect to read?

Les Edgerton: Luis, you’re the first who’ve described it thusly. Myself, I’d describe it as a psychological thriller. The violence only happens when he’s trying his best to avoid it and keep himself from going back to prison for life. This is just a guy who wants to forget his past as a criminal and become a regular citizen. He only wants to be as boring as those guys whose biggest thrill and purpose in life is to have the best lawn on the block. But, his past and circumstances won’t allow that. It’s a study in how a guy starts off with a moral code he thinks is based on loyalty only to discover that he’s instead a nihilist and whose main concern in life is his survival.

Numbers of deaths? A lot…

L. Vera: Sounds great. Anything you learned while writing “The Bitch”.

Les Edgerton: Lots of things. That it misses what legacy publishers are willing to publish. I just read a writer who had a character in his novel who was a writer describe perfectly the state of publishing. That publishers wanted novels influenced mostly by Hollywood and less by the real world and so he was quitting (writing). More than one of us has felt the same way. In my original version of THE BITCH, I’d ended it with what I felt was the only ending publishers would accept—a version of that “Hollywood” ending, where a kind of moral good is achieved and “balance” (whatever that is) is arrived at. You know, the bad guy loses and citizens can once again rest easy in their beds. Well, as it happened, I got lucky with my editor, Cort McMeel, and he told me to follow my instincts and that he wasn’t much interested in what Hollywood or commercial interests wanted—he was only interested in truth and good writing. The upshot was that I did just that—gave my protagonist and pretty much everybody else (and especially the “nice” people that the reader liked) a bad ending. A true ending. And, Cort loved it. And, then, a guy I respect the hell out of, Brian Lindenmuth, editor and publisher of Spinetingler Magazine and Snubnose Press, who gave me a blurb in which he said, in part, “The Bitch is a dark crime fiction story that never once pulls a punch or ducks behind some bullshit like ‘happy endings’ or ‘closure’. The Bitch isn’t afraid to stay dark until the very end.” And that’s when I knew for sure I’d made the right choice. What I learned mostly is what I continue to learn nearly every day: Trust your instincts and be true to yourself.

L. Vera: And what are you getting ready for us next?

Les Edgerton: Several things. I have a YA thriller coming out soon from StoneGate Ink titled MIRROR, MIRROR, about a young teen who discovers she has a mirror twin who talks her into changing places with her and traps her inside the mirror. I wrote it for fun, for my daughter Britney, and never once thought of it for publication. A few years ago, Britney told me it was over four years after reading it that she would allow herself to gaze into a mirror for more than a few seconds before looking away, and that’s when I realized it was publishable. I’m rewriting my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE, and my agent’s looking for a home for it. I’m writing a new writer’s craft book, titled A FICTION WRITER’S WORKSHOP AT THE BIJOU. Writing a new psychological thriller titled THE FIXER about a hitman with a twist—he makes all his hits look like accidents. For example, for one of his clients, while his mark is drugged, he infects her with rabies. When she awakes, she doesn’t have a clue she’s got the disease. It isn’t until days later that she discovers she’s infected and the nature of rabies is that when you find out you’ve got it—the “use by” date of a cure has passed by. He’s a pretty clever hitman and never gets caught, which won’t appeal to Hollywood but might to those aforementioned readers I respect. And, I have what I consider the best work I’ve ever done so far, coming out next year from New Pulp Press, a dark, dark novel titled THE RAPIST. I can’t wait until that one comes out! Some other novels and such…

L. Vera: It was awesome to have you here. I never expected to interview the author of such a great book. If you have any tips for people trying to get published, what should they keep in mind?

Les Edgerton: Don’t believe people who tell you writing is easy and don’t be a pussy who gives up after ten or twenty or even a hundred rejections. Nobody is “entitled” to being published. Everybody is ”entitled” to being printed. Try to belong to the first group. It’s the only one that counts, unless you’re creating “products” for “customers.” More interested in being a typist than a writer…

L. Vera: Thank you so much. Find Les Edgerton’s books here on Amazon and not reading Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go could be the biggest mistake you ever made.

An Interview With Miranda Stork

“A Knife And A Quill” brings you L. Vera interviewing Miranda Stork, writer of the book Conner.

L. Vera: Miranda Stork, welcome to “A Knife and A Quill”.

Miranda Stork: It’s great to be here. You decorate it yourself?

L. Vera: I sure did and I wanted to add, “Hey you’re using the same theme as us on your blog, WTF?”

Miranda Stork: Clearly great minds think alike! That or we both clicked on the theme in the same drunken haze last week…I know I did.

L. Vera: Let’s go with great drunken minds. We do plan on doing more renovating if we raise enough money. Till then we’ll share it. 🙂 So, tell me about how’s it like to write the way you do? Is there any crazy rituals?

Miranda Stork: Writing has always been like breathing for me from a young age, so I don’t really see any way I write as especially weird, although I’m sure others would disagree. I always blast really loud music (generally Nightwish) into my eardrums as I type, it seems to help me concentrate, and I always need at least the TV on in the background. For some weird reason I can’t write if it’s completely silent, so I like to have some kind of white noise behind everything. I also like to people-watch, which helps with my writing; I just stare at people if I’m out and make up little character stories for them. Most of those people then make their way in some form into my novels. So yes, if I’m staring at you on the train, I am watching you, and yes, you just grew another head. And possibly fur. I also don’t really have a plan when I start writing my novels. I have a basic idea of the beginning, middle, and characters, and like to let it flow from there, clipping and tidying it up at the end.

L. Vera: Your book Conner, seems very interesting in that wierd, unusual way. Tell us more about it.

Miranda Stork: Basically it is a story about the classic things in novels; love between the doomed couple, the evil villain trying his hardest to take all the attention in the book, and the overall fight for humanity. You know, the usual everyday things. The main character, Erin, has a new patient who claims to be a werewolf, and finds herself believing him more and more as the story progresses. Soon someone is after them, as Conner has annoyed a few people in the past, and they flee to Ireland, leaving a lot of corpses behind them in one form or another. The story concludes as Erin begins to realise more about herself, and Conner tries to save her from herself. The idea for Conner came from a random passing thought several years ago about a journalist or psychologist if they were proven wrong about their patient, the fact he turned into a werewolf simply came later, as I love horror and the paranormal. A friend wrote a terrible first chapter for a story on a community writing site (, and challenged me to do better. That was the catalyst for beginning Conner. Basically it began with playing more of the idea that the psychologist might get sucked into the patient’s stories, after I heard at college in Psychology class that they had to see another psychologist themselves every two years or so. As the story continued, it seemed natural somehow that there would be more about Erin (the psychologist), and she would of course be more involved in this strange tale than she first thought, so bringing in more of the darker elements to the story. On top of all this, I am a romantic at heart, so somewhere I had to include a little of the dark side coaxing the heroine (or hero) over, a little ‘Beauty and the Beast’ like.

L. Vera: The cover art is amazing. Who can you credit for that?

Miranda Stork: Well, the trees in the background are a lovely stock photo from Gettyimages, simply recoloured, but the hunky-looking dude in the loincloth is actually my own digital painting work, using a photograph as a reference. Then I slot it all together somehow using Photoshop. As well as masquerading as an author, I like to fit in a little bit of oil painting and digital painting on the side. I’m one of those people who always thinks I can do everything better, so I attempt to learn a bit of everything. It’s at least cheaper, even if it’s a bit hit and miss.

L. Vera: Where else could we find your work?

Miranda Stork: You can try my Amazon Page, Barnes and Noble, and my Goodreads page to spot all the places my book is dotted about. I hear it’s also somewhere about in those old-fashioned things we call bookstores, apparently printed on sheets of paper, not a digital device! I also have my website, where I regularly put up little snippets of stories. If you want to check out my artwork, I have a Saatchionline page.

L. Vera: And in the future, what will we see from you?

Miranda Stork: Well, I have the sequel to Conner coming out in the Autumn this year; ‘Erin’. And in Spring 2013 my first book of a new series comes out, ‘Vigilante of Shadows; Scarlet Rain #1’ It’s a series where humanity has been pushed down by a superior race, and of course our favourite assorted werewolves, demons, and vampires get to fight against them. I promise it’s not as corny as it sounds! I’m also always playing about with other genres and I would love to do a novel that was a take on modern society, a bit like a modern-day ‘Charles Dickens’ style, at some point in the future.

L. Vera: One last thought, Vampires or Werewolves?

Miranda Stork: Oh, oh….*wrings hands together* You really did leave the hardest question till last. I guess…both? Werewolves as long as they don’t leave hair on the sofa, and vampires as long as they don’t bloody sparkle! But if I had to choose, it would be werewolves, as so little has been done with them in literature compared to vampires.

L. Vera: Find Miranda Stork on Amazon and on her Blog. Miranda it was nice having you here. If you could end this interview in three words what would they be?

Miranda Stork: Loved. This. Interview. ;D

L. Vera: We loved having you.

Conner can be found on Ebook and in Paperback.

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