Tag Archives: Writing

Girls & Monsters, the blog tour

Get ready, people – it’s coming your way…

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Chatting with… Sean Munger

My friend Emma Cunningham said his book Life Without Giamotti was her favorite of all times; he writes horror and zombies; he’s a cool guy. So here I present to you Sean Munger, author of the book Zombies of Byzantium.

I often wonder about why I write genre – how about you? Why did you write a horror story?

ZombiesofByzantium300Strangely, before I wrote Zombies of Byzantium, I had never written anything in the horror genre except a short story. I’ve been a lover of Byzantium for years, and since I began reading Byzantine history I wanted to do a book set there. The thing that struck me about it was how much it was like a constructed world out of a fantasy or science fiction book, like Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings or Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Marsbooks—but Byzantium was a real place where real people lived. I tried about three or four different ideas, all of them I guess you’d say historical fiction, which were all extremely flat, dull and lifeless. Then I hatched the idea of a zombie outbreak in medieval Constantinople. Amazingly, shifting to the horror genre suddenly made Byzantium come to life on the page. It was like flipping a switch, or that famous cut in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door in black-and-white and suddenly Oz is in color. I really can’t explain it, but something made it live.
Once I started to get into the story itself it made me realize how much the genre of horror can really explore aspects of the world you never thought of before. I’ve read a lot of books about Byzantium but in all of that reading I never once encountered the concept of fear or horror. If Byzantines believed in ghosts or the supernatural, for instance, they must have done so entirely in a religious context. So what would scare you if you lived in 8th century Constantinople? If a horde of flesh-eating undead zombies was fanning out through the streets devouring your neighbors, how would you, as a person living in that place and time, react? When this became more interesting to think about than the setting itself, I knew I had a story worth telling.

That’s so weird, the genre chose you instead of the usual way – like me. I’ve always loved horror, but more of the darker kind than slasher or graphic. I love to explore how people can appear normal but are far from it; those are the best characters, surprising not only the characters in the story but the writer, too.

So I gather you do a lot of research before you write your stories, but how else do you prepare? I’m a crazy outliner and I cannot start to write unless I know where my plot is going and who’s doing what and the most important: the ending. Are you like that, too?

My relationship with outlining is sort of complex. How completely I outline a story really depends on the story. I’m not a rigid outliner for the most part, usually because an outline is sort of like a military battle plan. It looks great on paper, but once you get on the battlefield, events can render it obsolete pretty quickly, and trying at all costs to conform reality to the plan often gets people killed.

I usually do start with a strong idea of what the end point is going to be, though. The ending is pretty much everything and I agree it’s the most important point. As I go along I usually make a list of things that need to happen and, particularly, potential questions or objections the reader might have that need to be addressed. If I strongly want something to happen, I have to write things into the story that close off other opportunities and leave the desired path as the only possible one.

Are you familiar with a movie from the 70s called “The Warriors”? That movie made me incredibly angry. The plot concerns a gang that gets framed for a murder, and they have to cross the entirety of New York City, which is controlled by rival gangs, in order to reach their own territory. They do this on foot, naturally. What made me angry is, the movie never explained why the gang just doesn’t hail a taxi. Wouldn’t that be much easier? Obviously the writers needed it to be the way it was, but they never explained that potential objection, and the whole plot hinges on it. So if I was writing “The Warriors,” the next scene after the murder would be some plot device to explain why they can’t just take a taxi back to their territory.

Sean Munger’s Important Links:

Girls & Monsters Blog Tour & Skellies

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Dear reader, the time is *almost* upon us for the Girls & Monsters Blog Tour ♥ Starting on March the 25th and ending on April 30th on releaseday, I’ll be visiting 28 blogs. At each stop, not only will you discover something new about the stories and/or me, but also about my wonderfully generous hosts ranging from reviewers, authors, bloggers, YA and horror fans all alike.

photo 5To celebrate my debut collection of novelettes, I have been hard at work on a special Skellies set representing each monsters of the stories. Handmade in felt, *you* dear reader, have the chance to own your very own killer mermaid, heartless neighbor, bone to tame your own Black Dog, Bunny the spider and a bone-broken zombie. The contest will run during the tour with chances to win Girls & Monsters softcovers as well.

Now, if you just cannot wait for the release day to get your very own copy, there’s always the Goodreads giveaway with an extravageant 10 chances to win ♥


Cover Reveal: Stolen by Keren Kiesslinger

With a handle like Gothic_Angel, I had to Twitter-friends her – and then I learn she not only reviews books, but she’s also a writer with a book coming out! Here it is, peeps, take a look at the Stolen cover…

Stolen Cover by Cara

Keren needs to know what YOU think: should she keep this cover or change it? You can reach her by commenting here, or…

Keren’s Goodreads profile

Keren’s Facebook

Keren’s author blog


Chatting with… Axel Howerton

The Trick: Axel is the brains behind the popular Coffin Hop for horror writers at Halloween. The Treat: his book hot Sinatra just came out and he’s talking inspiration. Enjoy, peeps ♥

 

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

“uhhhhhhhhh…”

It’s a dialogue transaction that every writer knows like the back of their QWERTY hand. Sometimes we hear it so often that the ol’ mental third round bell rings and we lunge out of the corner screaming “YO MOMMA GAVE ‘EM TO ME”. Sometimes we stuff our hands in corduroy pockets and mumble an apologetic “here and there”. And sometimes, someone as lovely, talented and congenial as Anne Michaud asks, and you dig deep and give honestly in the name of art and entertainment.

Hot_Sinatra_300dpi_2x3DSMy latest experiment in the fictional pursuits, Hot Sinatra, is a throwback to the pulp fiction of the 20’s and 30’s, typified by the likes of Hammett and Chandler, James M. Cain, Erle Stanley Gardner, Carroll John Daly, Raoul Whitfield and the like. Stories about hard men who used fists and guns to save endangered dames and foil the plans of nefarious millionaires and dangerous gangsters. The language was highly colloquial and tied to the time and place, most of it actually created by writers with no ties to the real nitty gritty of crime in the 30’s. More often than not, the criminals and gangbangers picked up their slang from the pulp mags, like Black Mask and Detective Story.  Today’s idea of “Detective Fiction”, and the archetype of the “square-jawed, two-fisted hero”, came directly from those pages of adventure and crime-fighting.

Chief among my own inspirations from the era was Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, main man of most of Chandler’s oeuvre. Marlowe was smart, but tough, wily, but always just naïve enough to fall for the wrong girl, or the wrong explanation. I love the idea of an everyman hero who is actually a far sight beyond the everyman. Smarter, nobler, more loyal, and always letting his own morality hobble his potential. He never quite makes the big payoff. He always misses happiness and contentment by a hair’s breadth, and always because he tries to be a better kind of man. Maybe it’s my own struggles with the dreaded potential, or the idea that, maybe… just maybe, this will be the day that karma pays back. Whatever it is, the contradictions inherent to those characters intrigue me.

So I sat back, filled to the brim with hundreds of pulp detective stories, and thought about how to best approach such a story. I wanted to bring it into a modern setting, but without the lazy fallback of everyone wearing zoot suits and talking like bad Bogey impersonators. I didn’t want to pull a Romeo + Juliet and just throw archaic language in the mouths of modern characters.  I settled on making my protagonist a man-out-of-time, struggling to fulfill the expectations of a real-life Phillip Marlowe, personified in the ghost of a dead grandfather. It gave Mossimo Cole the background to act more like a stand-up guy of the 30’s and speak in the kind of rambling, self-reflecting narrative voice that Raymond Chandler perfected so many decades ago. It also gave me occasion to work in some of the reverence and respect I have for my own grandfathers, one who was a kind, but serious man, who led a very hard life. The other is one of the most generous, gregarious and charming storytellers I have ever known.

So many other inspirations fell out of me like surging rivers of pop-culture ephemera, everything from punk rock to tattoos, from Sinatra to my own horrible coffee addiction, and a liberal dose of my own misspent youth and experiences with alcohol abuse and self-destructive nihilism.

One last inspiration I really should mention is that of my dear departed friend, Ryan “Foxy” Fox. Much of that previously mentioned “misspent youth” was spent in the company of Foxy. He was that one dude in a million, who lit up every room he entered, and left with the friendship and goodwill of every single person present. Foxy was a whirlwind of energy, a constant source of mirth and merriment, and the best friend a guy could ask for. He was a rockabilly rebel, lead singer and guitar-slinger of The Nightstalkers, wild and unkempt and exploding into every corner of the world. His untimely death left everyone he knew with a hole in their hearts, and my own is still scarred and empty in that spot. I didn’t plan on writing him into the story, but he came out, loud and strong and alive as ever. I like to think Foxy is the real heart of the story, and the one person Mossimo Cole could never live without.

In the end, I think my little novel has come out pretty damn well. It has been lauded for its voice, for its ability to invoke the Phillip Marlowe’s and Sam Spades of yesterday, while remaining a thoroughly modern story of love and violence, crime and comedy. I like that. I’m proud of that, and I sure hope you’ll give it a chance.

Hot Sinatra is available now in paperback and eBook formats from most online retailers and retail outlets including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

 

twilight oneAxel Howerton is the author of the quirky neo-noir novel Hot Sinatra, the mini-anthology Living Dead at Zigfreidt & Roy, and a bevy of short stories and hidden gems. Axel is the co-creator of the annual Coffin Hop author extravaganza and the long-time editor of http://www.eyecrave.net. His work has recently appeared in Big Pulp, Fires on the Plain, Steampunk Originals, A Career Guide To Your Job In Hell and the holiday anthology Let It Snow: Season’s Readings For A Super-Cool Yule. Axel is currently working on several projects, including a Steampunk novella for the Empires of Steam & Rust series, and a bottle of Irish whiskey.

He lives in Western Canada with his two brilliant young sons and a wife that is way out of his league. You can visit Axel online at http://www.axelhowerton.com


Chatting with… Steve McHugh

Well, it happened to Steve McHugh: his self-published book Crimes Against Magic was a great success! And his second just came out, so I needed to pick his brains about it…

Born-of-Hatred (3)How to you tackle a sequel? You’ve got your characters, you know them already, so is it more about plot and making them suffer more?

SM: It is a little about making them suffer. You always make the characters you like suffer the most. You give them difficult situations and see how’d they’d react. So in a way it’s more about the plot, by the time you get to the second book you should know how your characters will act in a given situation. Sometimes you’re surprised, because the way you think they’d act isn’t how they actually do. I think they grow as a person the more you write them, and like any person they evolve in your mind.

The new characters, and their relationships with the established ones are a lot of fun to write, but they’re probably the hardest part of a sequel. You don’t want to have identikit characters, you need to make them unique somehow. It’s especially true when you’re writing main characters who will be in multiple books.
You’ve got tremendous success with your first book, so how do you deal with the pressure to create the second one? Do you give the readers what they want or do you do it your way?
SM:  The pressure was hard. Probably harder than it was with book 1. With the first book, I was an unknown, no one had any expectations. But with the second book, and after having people tell me how much they enjoyed book 1, there was a lot more pressure to make sure that Born of Hatred lived up to those new expectations and in most cases exceed them.

You have to do it your way, trying to make everyone happy will drive you nuts and make no one happy. So while I was nervous as hell, I tried to ignore it and just make the book the best it could be. Hopefully I managed that.
What are you plans after you complete this sequel? For sure it’s a trilogy…
SM: Well I have notes for well over 15 books with Nate, so I have long term plans for him. The next book is book 3, With Silent Screams.

After that, I have a three part historical fantasy I’d like to write and a steam punk book too. I just have to get a few extra hours into the day, or figure out a way to never sleep.
Buy it!!

Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in  an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to  have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad  language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to  his teachers and got him an A.

It  wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length  novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexbrough, South Yorkshire, but now  lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.


Girls & Monsters’ Peekaboo

A giant spider, a killer mermaid, a mad neighbor, zombies and a very dark soul – monsters, everywhere. Wanna see what girls can do to them? Check out my collection of 5 dark novelettes. Here’s a peek at DEATH SONG…

girls&monstersSomething catches in the back of my throat. I hide my face in my hands to quiet the sobs. But then, something ain’t right. Air moves around me and I stop. I look between my fingers, but the blur of my tears thickens everything: the bathtub, the towels, and someone on the floor.
A woman’s in here with me, door still closed and locked. An exhale, like after a deep swim, and a smell, like the swamp close to my empty home. A chill runs down my back, I wipe my eyes, rub and scratch them to see more clearly. And I do.
Two gray hands scratch the floor tiles, nails green with algae, putrid flesh sagging on her legs, arms and torso, hair so long and wet and heavy, it drags her down. Diluted, impossible to focus on, like little waves rippling over her body from head to foot, seaweed in the water. Scales and fins, mermaidlike, little knives, those are. And they scrape the floor, like a fork on a plate. It’s her—Limnade.

She opens her mouth of scissor-teeth and the rotten smell of fish wraps around my throat like two hands trying to choke me. “You can’t be…” I don’t finish my breathless thought and jump backward, knocking over the dish of decorative soaps. Blurry waves, vision impaired, out of focus, unreal. She crawls toward me, eyes unblinking, lethal, hands inches from me: my legs refuse to move, as my body feels like stone. Frozen, hypnotized, a statue. Then I hear something coming from within her…
A melody, reminding me of something lost, tickles my ears. It drags on until the sweetness turns sickly, vibrating into a full-on super-scream, hyenalike, enough to pop my ears and make them bleed. Her large mouth deforms her face into one gap of black, the cry so high and strident, I scream from the pain.
Limnade stares at me, everything but her fades away—Jo’s nice bathroom, Jo’s new life, Jo himself, none of it matters anymore. Her fingers brush my forehead, they’re cold and sticky like clams. And I let the darkness take me away.

Goodreads


Michelle Muto’s The Haunting Season

NEW RELASE! THE HAUNTING SEASON

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New Adult/Horror Recommended for readers 17+

 

Be careful what you let in…

Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.

The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.

 

Available now!michelle muto writer

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