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Indie Authors 20 Questions: Red Tash


My guest this week is Red Tash, roller girl turned novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. <–(stole that from her page on Amazon! Love it!)

And since I couldn’t come up with a better way to introduce you than you did for yourself, how about we get to the interrogation. . . errr. . . I mean, questions 🙂

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m amazing.  Is that little enough?

Okay, seriously, I’m pretty crazy and I write A LOT.

2.) How long have you been writing?

Best I can tell, about 30 years.  God, that makes me sound ancient, but honestly, my first published poem went into the local metro paper when I was ten.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I’d like to say “no favorites,” because there are so many fantastic books out there and I really hate genre labels.  Having said that, the reality is when I look at what I choose to read, it’s mostly YA fantasy.  I grew up reading more horror and SciFi than I do now, and went through a phase where I was very literary with my tastes.  I love poetry, too—but what leaps off the shelf at me usually involves children and evil fairies.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

My latest is Troll Or Derby, and it’s everywhere fine ebooks are sold, and a few places paperbacks are sold.  All those links are at http://RedTash.com/TrollOrDerby

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Girl’s quest to save sister leads to showdown troll druglord, she becomes fairy nightmare angel.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

Well, I’ve always loved fairies, especially their dark sides.  I decided to write a book about trolls because no one else was doing it, and then the fairies found their way into it after I realized it was going to be a roller derby book, too.  In roller derby we have blockers and jammers.  I felt certain that the best jammers would be fairies and the best blockers trolls, although in the book there are lots of characters who are hybrids of the two species.  Also, I live in Southern Indiana where meth labs are a very real danger to children, and kids are hooked on the stuff all the time.  I got to thinking about what would happen if trolls were dealing meth cut w/ fairy drugs, and ended up writing those whole “seedy underworld” story that ended up literarlly climaxing in a cave, beneath the surface of the plebian reality that can be life in the Midwest.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Considering it was interrupted by several months of roller derby when I was so exhausted I didn’t have time or energy to write, followed by a couple of years of scrambling to get back at it between major life changes (divorce, remarriage, baby…) I’m pretty pleased to say it only took me four years.  My first book took about seven.  Here’s hoping all the sequels come together faster now that my life has settled down!

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

For a novel, I do outline.  I use Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method, although I don’t take it to chapter or scene level.  Then, when I sit down to write, I use my snowblower and screw that all to hell.  I usually find the story goes elsewhere, and then I have to re-evaluate what my next choices are going to be.  Things don’t usually end exactly the same way I think they will, so in that way I’m a pantser, for sure.  A bit of both, then.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

Oh, sure.  Sometimes when I think I’m supposed to be writing from plot point A to plot point B I don’t actually feel like writing that part, and I struggle with how to make it more exciting, interesting, whatever.  That’s happening to me right now with a work-in-progress that’s very important to me, so I’m just putting it aside for awhile.  What I usually do is skip past that scene and write what I do want to write, then come back and fill in all the missing stuff in the rewrites.  It’s not as satisfying as feeling like I just banged out a prize-winning first draft, but who sees the first draft, anyway?

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

Anything violent, sick, or twisted seems to come easily to me.  Sad, huh?

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

I’m not aware of any other book in the Fairy Roller Derby books, so the closest genre is probably YA fantasy.  YA or Teen Fantasy has a lot of fairies, and it’s true that there are now a few trolls, but none of them that I know of play roller derby, are rock stars, or are involved in gritty drug rings.  One of my reviewers said this about the book:

“The best part of Troll or Derby is neither the element of fantasy or that of derby: it’s the element of the real. Deb, assumed to be a lesbian, embraces, for a time, a sexual relationship with a beautiful but shallow girl, while “married” to Harlow, a boy she genuinely likes and whose friendship she values. She faces questions of loyalty and love, bonds of attraction and bonds of friendship, and muddles her way through those questions just like most teenagers would. She runs away from an alcoholic mother, instead seeking nurture from other adults, the way many teens piece together a sort of “parent pie” made from adults who look after them. Deb’s sister is addicted to drugs; both the “real” world and the “underworld” of magical creatures are edgy, dangerous, filled with drugs, sex, rock and roll, and blood. (Parents, be aware: if your younger child reads this, he or she will be reading about meth and other serious drugs; sex, both hetero and homosexual, rape, violence, and murder, bloody deeds, runaway teens, trailer parks, and violent rock shows. Thus, he or she will want to read it. You have been forewarned.)” ~Merchant of Vengeance, DerbyLife.com (http://www.derbylife.com/articles/2012/07/book_review_troll_or_derby)

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
Rural Indiana, present day.  I write what I know.  😉

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

Deb is a teenager with a slightly older sister who gets herself tangled up with a sleazy older guy.  She sets out to save her sis after her mom babbles some confusing abuse at her—she’s already a fringe sort of kid, probably the only obviously gay kid in her high school class.

Then there’s Harlow, a solitary, good-natured troll with a memory problem.  Did someone put a spell on him to block his memory.  Maybe we’ll find out in the next book, maybe book three, I haven’t decided yet!  Regardless, he’s a kind-hearted singer, very talented with both magic as well as music.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Well, here’s the blurb:

In TROLL OR DERBY, fifteen year old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different.  When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her.  Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel.  But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price.  Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll?  Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and the blonde temptress April, forever?

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

Hopefully it’s pure entertainment, but it gets into their psyches, as well.  I put a lot of heart into everything I do.  I hope they get a glimpse of that, and that it inspires their own imaginations to take flight.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

So far I’ve planned two more books to follow Troll Or Derby.  Troll Or Park, and Troll Or Trash.

17.) Where can readers find you?

RedTash.com

Goodreads

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

I was a journalist, and I wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column under my real name.  I’m addicted to chocolate!  I played roller derby at Tyra Durden of Derby City Rollergirls in Louisville, KY.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

I have four kids, so I have no down time.  Down time to me = sleep.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

Chapter One

Burning Down the House

Deb

 

Meth fires are blue, the hottest kind of flame. I’d heard it before, probably from Derek, but now I was seeing it firsthand. Lucky me.

A sickly smell hung on the air. The remains of chemicals, plastic, and pharmaceutical ingredients brutalized my lungs, but I couldn’t back away. I wouldn’t—no matter what.

The trailer crackled with flame, and Gennifer was inside. Tall, eerie tongues of fire licked the outer walls–ten feet high, at least. I had no idea flames could reach that size.

Plasticine, sticky smoke—brown and thick—engulfed me as I neared the trailer. I didn’t know where to look for my sister, but I was sure she was inside. A moan, then a scream—I could hear her through the thin aluminum walls.

The trailer was melting into sludge and toxic smoke, and it cracked and popped on a warping metal frame. I didn’t know if I should try and run through the fire at the kitchen end of the mess, where a gaping hole belched sickening fire. Maybe I could try to get Gennifer to open or break a window and climb out from the other side. I wondered if she’d have it in her to bleed a little, to save her own life.

The window was way too high for me to reach.

“Open the window, Gennifer! Climb out!”

She was never right when she was doing the drugs Dave gave her—could she even understand what I was saying? Could she hear me?

I thought maybe I could pitch something hard enough into the glass to break her out. I ran to the woods, looking for a log or branch I could ram through the window. Everything was too rotten to be of any use—sticks and limbs crumbled in my shaking hands. Gennifer’s screams were getting louder, higher pitched. Was she on fire? Why wouldn’t she help herself?

If only I had a crowbar.

Then I saw them—tools. The trailer was up on blocks, with no underpinning.  Of course Dave would be too cheap to finish out his rustic rural meth lab.  I crawled beneath, the leaky septic line christening me as I stooped, groping for the abandoned tools. I hoped the mobile home wouldn’t collapse on top of me before I could crawl back out, but it wasn’t sounding so good.

Dave and his gang of junkie slaves had been working beneath the trailer, and sure enough, they’d been too distracted, dumb, or high to put away a set of screwdrivers, some ratchets, and a really, really heavy wrench.

It’s no crowbar, but it’ll have to do.

Liquid shit dripped on me, but I didn’t have time to care. My sister was screaming her head off in a burning trailer and I was reasonably certain she was out of her mind on drugs.

I flung the wrench at the window, but it didn’t break. I tried again, and again, but only managed to crack the damned glass, and Gennifer still hadn’t appeared at the window to save herself.

There was only one thing to do. I grabbed the wrench and ran to the kitchen end of the trailer.  I took a deep breath of fresh air, then I hurled myself through the cloud of fumes. The fire and smoke obscured everything, and I shut my eyes against the sting of chemicals. For a moment, I thought I saw the shapes of blue and orange dancers in the flames.

I braced myself for the heat, but I didn’t feel it. Pops and hisses all around me sounded like whispers or cackles. The fire was eating through the trailer, and I felt the floor giving out with every step. I wouldn’t let it take Gennifer—I wouldn’t let it consume me, either.

The hallway was short, and the door Gennifer was locked behind very thin. Her screams were so loud, there was no point trying to yell to her that I was coming in, especially if it meant inhaling more smoke.

I swung at the handle, holding the wrench like a baseball bat. The brass knob fell to the floor, a chunk of splintered wood still clinging to it. I kicked the bedroom door in, and Gennifer stopped screaming long enough to pass out.

Lovely. Now I’ll have to carry her.

She wore a black bra and jeans, and her skin was burning with fever. I put my hands under her armpits and lugged her over my shoulder. She had at least 75 pounds on me, so I should have crumpled under her, I suppose. Instead, I stumbled into the door frame as I carried her across the spongy floor of the burning trailer.

The heat touched my hair—I could hear it sizzle, could smell it burning, even—but I felt nothing but determination as I carried my sister out of that meth lab.

With Gennifer still on my back, I jumped. She fell hard on top of me, and I was just pushing her off, struggling for breath, when the trailer collapsed onto the ground. The sound of sirens in the distance was no surprise—the smoke was so black and thick that farmers in the vicinity surely could tell this was no typical trash fire. I pulled my sister as far away from the flames as I could and watched for the EMTs to roll up.

Gennifer groaned, and her eyes flickered open for a sec. She met my gaze and frowned. She closed her eyes again and drew a deep breath.

“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch,” I said.

“Dave didn’t do it,” she said. Her words were slurred. She reached up to rub her eyes, lazily, as if waking up from a nap.

“Yeah, right, Gennifer. He’s such a saint, locking you in a burning trailer and all.”

I didn’t see the point of arguing with her, though. I let it drop.

Something sticky and hot dripped too close to my eyes, and I reached to wipe it off. Please don’t let it be crap from the sewer line. I pulled my hand away, and it was covered in blood. Even better. I won’t think of that now—nope, not at all.

The fire truck roared up the gravel driveway.  Guys in black rubber suits jumped off the truck–someone put a face mask on Gennifer and asked me if there was anyone still inside.

I shook my head no, and then I fell through trees, air, sky, into the black. I felt my head hitting the hard ground near where my backpack lay, could hear the EMTs shouting, and then—nothing.

Chapter 1.5

I’d Love to Change the World

Harlow

 

I want you to understand something.  I didn’t rise up out of the ground fully grown, I wasn’t the bastard child of an angry god, and I didn’t become this way because I was cursed.  My skin’s not green and I won’t turn to stone in the sunlight.

When I was young, I had a mother, and she was a troll.  I had a mother and a father who were both trolls, in fact–and we were a family.  Yes, I had a family.  Just like you.

Scared yet?

Almost everything I know about humans, I’ve learned from their trash.  Redbook and Woman’s Day show up at my doorstep more than any other source, I reckon.  It may not be a perfect picture of what your life is like, but I’m betting I’ve got a more accurate view of your lifestyle than you have of mine, at least for the time being.

For starters, there’s a shopping mall full of differences between troll family life, and how human families live.  Trolls, for instance, do not typically invest a lot of emotion into their own young–often don’t even raise them.  They especially don’t socialize with their relatives for special occasions.  You won’t see us breaking out the patio umbrellas and the ice chests full of soda for a family barbecue.  A special occasion in troll culture is when the villagers rise up and try to corral one of us in a cave, or something like that.  At least, that’s how it used to be.  That’s what my mom told me.  I remember that.

I remember a lot more now than I did, when this adventure started—but I’ll get to that.

Best I can tell, my nuclear family was more like a human family than a troll one.  The extended family, as you English would call it, was a mess.  A big, illegal, drug-running, slaving mess.  But I’ll get to that.  This is my part of the story and I want to begin in the beginning.  I’m not a storyteller.  It’s not my profession.  Bear with me while I sort this out, okay?

Sure, you’re going to think what you want about trolls.  I mean, you’ve seen movies, you’ve read Rowling and Tolkein.  I’m telling you that the real-live working-class trolls of the Midwest are nothing like you’ve been told.  We’re capable of great violence, sure, and I’ll concede that our proclivity is largely toward evil, but let’s face it—a lot of that comes down to breeding and culture.

In our world, might most definitely makes right.  That’s the fundamental law of troll culture, although most trolls would forego the flowery wording and just express it with a grunt and blow to the head.

Trolls as a species, though, are capable of great love.  I know, because I’ve experienced it.  You don’t live with something like that and ever forget.  If you do, you’re a fool, anyway.

My parents weren’t totally solitary like so many other trolls are.  They even had a very close friendship with a fairy family called the Wheelers.  If we’d celebrated holidays, the Wheelers were the ones we’d have invited over for a Fourth of July cookout.  We didn’t do that a lot, that I can recall.  We did raid sinkholes filled with garbage on a few occasions, though.  Good times.

The Wheelers were not just fairies, they were Protectors.  Fleet of foot and quick of mind, their instincts were so well-tuned as to be mistaken for psychic powers, by most.  According to my mother, in the old days humans and fairies alike worshiped or feared the breed of fairy the Wheelers were.  Their massive black wings shimmering in air above a crowd of would-be foes were beautiful and awesome—I remember that, too.  Sometimes.  The memories come and go, unless I’m looking at Deb.  Then I can’t forget.

Anyway, these two particular Wheelers, Marnie and Mannox, were so powerful and strong, everyone lived in fear of them.  Everyone but my folks, and me, I guess.  The Wheelers were my fairy godparents.  I don’t remember much about them, but I remember that.

Trying to remember is a full-time job.  I’ve visited the library in Bloomington, and even picked through the local bookstore in Bedrock, curious about what the old days used to be like.  Maybe there’d be a book there, or something.  I read in a muddy copy of Psychology Today once that some therapists use fairy tales to trigger vital memories in their patients—and I used to get these blank spots, this fogginess.

Anyway, my point is, among the children’s stories and the romantic teen fiction, and even in a lot of the comic books, there’s some truth.  Mostly fiction, but if you look hard enough, you can see through the tall tales, and find the common thread within.  I’ve always been good at that sort of thing.  Figuring stuff out.

The one thing I wish I’d figured out sooner was what to do about my uncle Jag.

Why?  Well, for starters, my uncle killed my parents, and my fairy godparents.  It was immediately after the bonding ceremony between their baby daughter and me.  The Wheelers had pledged to protect my parents, and by extension, me.  My parents were to protect Deb, and I was, by extension . . .

Well, I jump ahead of myself.  I told you I’m not good with stories.

I should start with an introduction, shouldn’t I?

My name is Harlow Saarkenner.  I am an American Troll living in rural Indiana, and this is the story of how I met a kick-ass rollergirl, rejoined a rock band, and lived happily ever after.

In a landfill.  Did I mention that?

But there’s more.  Stay tuned.  I’m just going to tell it like it happened, best I can.  Deb will fill in the rest.

* * * * *

Find buy links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, and all sorts of bookstores that carry the paperback version of Troll Or Derby at http://RedTash.com.  Discover the rest of Red’s work there, as well.


Wow! Great first chapter! If you’re as intrigued as I am, be sure to run out and pick this up!

Thanks!
Melissa

 

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Indie Author 20 Questions: Kristy Berridge


1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a thirty year old gym junkie/book lover. I have a serious problem saying no to chocolate, and cockroaches make me scream like a fourteen year old boy after a good nutcrackin’. I’m obsessive compulsive when it comes to doing the dishes, and I have a secret desire to become a vampire so I can kick ass at everything. Oh yeah … and I’m a writer.

2.) How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about twelve years old, but I kept it a big secret until the day I had a publishing contract in my hot little hand. Before then I didn’t really believe my writing would eventuate into a successful novel. Now it’s a series with the second book due for release in a month or two. Go figure.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I love anything supernatural or YA, preferably the two combined. So hence my writing has also evolved from this love of teenage angst and paranormal interpretation into a series littered with passion, violence and all things vampire.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

My first book in The Hunted Series is aptly called ‘The Hunted’. You can find this via Amazon or any good book seller site. You can purchase through Australian bookstores, but I’m not sure the international community is completely aware of my awesomeness yet 🙂

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Vampires, werewolves, angels and Magic reign supreme. True violence and a strong female lead deliver non-stop excitement.

Damn! Just over fifteen words. I just couldn’t do it.

— LOL, that’s ok 😉 MS

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

Any and all good supernatural fiction films. I have been addicted to this genre since I was a kid, but there wasn’t one specific moment where the light bulb flared to life within. I guess I just thought to myself ‘why the hell not?’ and so, I started writing.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Well, I’d actually completed up to the end of the third novel before I submitted my manuscript for assessment. So, by the time I was signed, editing, and producing the first book, I’d already knocked off decent drafts for the rest of the novels. But I would say that in total since starting and publishing, about two years.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

Well, there has to be structure to any novel. I like to work out my ending and define points of achievement with clear concepts on characterization, struggle and resolution, and consistency. I don’t leave anything to chance, but once I’m settled with confident and structured ideas, I free flow—try to get inside my novel and live it, breathe it, love it.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

Editing is an ongoing learning curve. You may think you have all the tricks up your sleeve until your editor slaps your manuscript back in front of you with a myriad of distasteful red scribbles. But alas, it’s all part of making your work of art more enjoyable for others.

— Distasteful red scribbles…ugh! Hate the color red in my manuscript! MS

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

I think when you are so in love with the written word like I am, even the struggles feel like an electric slide on the dance floor. I never think of writing as work, therefore, I guess I glide through all processes and take the more challenging aspects on the chin.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

That’s so hard to answer, but at the same time, I was determined to make sure that my YA novel was realistic. I really went back to my teenage years and relived them. I remembered my sassy attitude, my inability to go through a day without cussing, and my customary action before thought process issues. I also didn’t want to priss the action. I really went for detail when it came to gore and sentiment. I never wanted my readers to think that I’d dulled anything down for a younger audience.

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

I wrote the book in real time, so it’s probably around 2008-ish. The location was easy—my own backyard and expanding as the series progresses to cities internationally that I have travelled to, or been fascinated by.

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

Elena Manory is my female protagonist. She is adopted but very much aware that she was born a vampire. Currently she remains human, but she was raised by a family of Protectors (magical entities) that have trained her to ally their causes and fear her own race. She is sharp, witty, and inquisitive, yet she hungers for the truth of her origins and understanding of the vampiric nature within.

Lucas Manory is Elena’s adopted brother. He is a protector and powerful beyond his knowledge. He is likeable, charming and undeniably a pussy, but he is fiercely loyal to Elena and to anyone protecting the interests of those he loves.

William Granville is a vampire with a checkered past and a point to prove. He spends his existence hunting Vânătors (werewolves) and never expected to fall in love with a human, let alone a human who resembles a hated member of a previous coven of vicious vampires …

All three are inexplicably tied, pulled together by the wandering pack of European Vânătors. Hunting becomes a common purpose, but the hectic twist in their fates is what really changes the story and the characters within.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

Synopsis: Elena Manory is by no means an ordinary teenage girl. Being born with the ability to heal her from any injury, and with the knowledge that on her eighteenth birthday she will become a Vampire, Elena is aware that she is more than a little different from other girls her age.

It isn’t until she meets William Granville, an alluring and impossibly handsome vampire, that she begins to question her destiny and what secrets the Institute of Magical Intervention and her adopted family have withheld—secrets that could change the fates of not only her own life, but of the lives of all the immortals.

As events spiral out of control, William may be the only person Elena can place her trust in. He, and Elena’s magical family, must fight to save her, joining forces to defeat a common, deadly foe. For William, it is his chance to save the girl that he has searched eternity to find.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

A smile and an insane need to read some more!

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a standalone?

There are five books in The Hunted Series but I’ll never stop there. You see it’s all about world domination. So I will continue to write until I have a strictly dry cleanable white suit, a creepy bald cat, and one billion dollars.

17.) Where can readers find you?

Ooh, I love stalkers, so here I am:

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

Website

YouTube & also here.

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

  • I love mopping the floor while dancing to Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’ – I know random, right?
  • I’m addicted to reality TV – except Jersey Shore. That show just makes me feel dumb.
  • I can’t look back into a mirror once I’ve turned away from it. I fully expect there to be another face in it besides mine that will undoubtedly unhinge its jaw and swallow me whole.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

Downtime? What is this foreign activity that you speak of? Kidding. Well, I love to read but I’m like anyone. I love movie days, going to the beach, going to the gym, or just hanging out with friends.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

You gotta Love Amazon and their sample sections

******************

Kristy, You were great fun to have as a guest! I hope to have you back some day!

 

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Indie Author 20 Questions: Jack Wallen


1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.

At this point I would normally start of by saying something pithy about being strange, but unfortunately everyone seems to have taken the “strange” label – and I’m not one to follow trends. Oh wait, there ya go… back in high school I was voted most likely to start a fad (also most likely to appear on Broadway – which I did). I was notorious in high school for doing the strangest things just to see if I could get others to do them. As soon as whatever it was I was doing caught on, I’d stop doing it and watch everyone continue on.

Packed like lemmings into tiny metal boxes (as it were).

I’m the underdog’s underdog and go out of my way to support and root for the little guy (I’m 5’4” – I kinda have to root for the little guy).

——and since I top the ruler at 4’10” I’m glad you root for the little guy! 😀 –MS

2.) How long have you been writing?

I’m not one of those that came out of the womb with a pen and a cup of coffee in hand. I came from a small town in Indiana where reading wasn’t nearly as encouraged as dribbling a ball – so I didn’t start really reading for pleasure until college. It wasn’t until I discovered Clive Barker that books pimp slapped me in the face and said “You must make us part of your life!”

——My dad loves Clive Barker books! –MS

I started really writing in grad school. It was a strange turn of events. I was involved in a pretty serious, on-going game of Vampire: The Masquerade. When we finished the game I wasn’t done with my character and decided to write a story. Oh how hooked I was!

Flash forward a few years. I was working very steadily as an actor and in between gigs I started writing books to keep my artistic muse happy.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?

I write and read horror. It’s my passion. Though two of my series venture outside of that genre, even Shero and the Fringe Killer books grace the gore now and then.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

All of my books can be found at the usual spots ( Amazon,  Barnes & Noble,  Smashwords,  Createspace – and a few other spots). The books are (as of this writing):

Fringe Killer Series: A Blade Away, Gothica, Endgame

Shero Series: Shero, Shero II: Zombie A GoGo!

I Zombie Series: I Zombie I, My Zombie My, Die Zombie Die, Lie Zombie Lie

I’m about to complete the first book in a new series called Screampark.

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Let me just take the first book in the I Zombie series (I Zombie I):

Journalist Jacob Plummer chronicles his traumatic transformation into one of the undead.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

I seriously woke up one morning wondering what it would feel like to turn into one of the undead. The question became a sort of obsession for me and I realized the only way I could answer it was in book form.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

It’s been a while, but I believe from the moment my pen first hit paper to the day of publication was around six months. I write much more efficiently now. In fact, I will have the first draft of Screampark done in under two months!

——WOW! Congrats! –MS

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?

I write without a net. I used to write with an outline but I found that process to be too restrictive. I was trained in grad school to trust my instincts and I have come to fully depend upon them in my writing. So I just start and see where it goes. That process has the added benefit of me getting to experience the book as if I’m not only writing it, but reading it!

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

I’ll just say this – I fully appreciate the relationship between a writer and an editor. Without an editor, I can only hang my head and watch as the , . … ; – : and they take absolute control over my work.

I’m also dyslexic. Because of that I repeat words a lot. My editor has become really good at spotting “the the”.

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?

The creative process and dialog. I think because of my acting training I can do dialog really well. And I never have a problem twisting and turning my plots until they become something worth presenting to the public.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?

Truth. I go to great lengths to try to bring to life a truthful environment for the apocalypse. Sure there is technology that might not exist at the moment, but I make sure my characters deal with those unrealistic situations in very realistic ways. I also have some very interesting main characters. A hot red head that is also incredibly brilliant. A detective who is partnered with a very flamboyant gay man, and a transgender superhero. Where else are you going to find such characters? 😉

——Why, in one of your books! –MS

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?

Shero takes place in the time of Fabulousness. 😉 The I Zombie series assumes the virus was released in 2015-ish, and the Fringe Killer series takes place right…about…now!

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?

There are so many of them! Bethany Nitshimi is the real main character of the I Zombie series. She is one of the most brilliant hackers on the planet who just happens to become irrevocably involved with ridding the planet of not only the Mengele Virus (that which drop-kicked the human race into undead-land), but taking down the Zero Day Collective (those the brought the virus to life). She is a fierce red head who fell in love with Jacob Plummer and has vowed to do everything she can to avenge… oh, that’s really all I can say about that. If I say more, Bethany just might do very bad things to me.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

In paperback form my books are about 6 inches by… oh, that’s not what you want to know. Let me tell you something about my books I don’t tell many people. When I write my books, I always do so with film in mind. I fully intend on seeing some of my books give birth to film projects. My goal – to have Rob Zombie direct the I Zombie series and to have the Fringe Killer books turned into a TV series. Shero? Well, I don’t have much control over him – he’s too fabulous for film or TV.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?

I want my readers to know there is always hope for the persecuted. There are so many wonderful people out there who can’t seem to catch a break because they don’t fit the standard mold society has decided to use to judge if you are worthy. To those people (of which I have always been) I say stand up, believe in yourself, and know that you are insanely special and the world simply would be a vapid, boring place without you.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?

Puhlenty more! I am going to write the I Zombie series until that point before I jump the shark – at which point it will bridge to a new series (The Book of Jacob). The same goes for my other series. I also plan to make Screampark a series as well as write a steampunk series and who knows what else.

17.) Where can readers find you?

Blog: Facebook: Twitter:

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.

The Kilt is my “pants” of choice. I’m a vegetarian going on twenty-five years. My real name is Jackie Lee Wallen, Jr. I dumped the “Jackie” when I was in elementary school thanks to a school bully harassing me about having a girls name. I wish I would have never done that. Be loud and proud!

——First of all, let me say a man in a kilt is sexy as hell!! And where are the pic’s? –MS

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.

My wife and I race mountain bikes and cyclocross, so we’re on bikes year round. That’s my other passion.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?

From I Zombie I:

The following is a transcription of the written journal and audio recordings of Jacob Plummer

Chapter 1: It begins

The blast ripped through the air, stopping all time and thought. Even from within my hotel room, I felt the concussion deep within my cells. I felt it in my gut, my eyes, my brain. It rang in my skull and burned my skin. The sensation and sound were everywhere and everything. And then it was nothing…which was the strangest part of it all. I expected the sounds of chaos―alarms, cries, screams―but there was nothing. I was confronted with an all-encompassing nothing. For an instant, I felt as if someone had lowered me into a deprivation chamber, where all was lost save some scattered randomness in my brain. At first I thought maybe the concussion had blown out my hearing, but the sound of breathing and the rustling of sheets neatly tucked away the fear of going deaf.

The blast and the shaking room were enough to make me worry that something serious had happened. Against my personal moral code, I decided to turn on the television in hope that it would have some explanation. Surely the local news would interrupt whatever reality-trash was broadcasting to instruct citizens on what to do in case of an emergency. The television brought me nothing―nothing but static and white noise. The snow-filled screen was hypnotic. I have no idea how long I sat and stared. It felt like forever, but with the fear that gripped my gut, the black and white of the static was soothing. I wanted to hear some fifties-era tones echo from the speaker informing me to get to my nearest bomb shelter, anything that would give me some indication the world hadn’t finally managed to destroy itself. Instead, the noise of the static did its best to lull me into some semblance of comfort. I wanted to stare into the void until everything just disappeared.

After I managed to pull myself away from the hypnosis of the empty screen, I decided that maybe the front desk would have something to offer. I was wrong. I let the phone ring, and ring, and ring…nothing. No “Front desk, how may I help you?” Not even an answering machine.

I tried the radio. Static.

I checked the hallway. Empty.

I opened the curtains only to be greeted by a thick, grayish fog preventing me from seeing anything a foot beyond the glass.

Even without the fog, I was too high up to see the streets clearly, so I couldn’t even assume the city was awake and reacting to whatever had happened. Wonderful. I was in a strange city, I knew no one, and I couldn’t reach anyone. I was afraid the world had ended and left me behind. Me. Why me?

~

I think I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I should probably fill you in on who I am before I write another page. At least then you can decide if you care enough to draw your own conclusions to the question “Why me?” Of course, I’m being presumptuous in assuming there is still a ‘you’ left out there to be reading my words. After what shocked me out of bed…

Anyway. My name is Jacob Plummer. I’m a writer. Actually, I’m a reporter, which was probably even more fitting for someone trying to chronicle what might be a cataclysmic disaster. Another presumption. I keep writing as if I know for a fact that something tragic has happened. Maybe that’s the reporter in me desperately hoping for a story. Okay, okay…focus.

I work as a political, world news, and events correspondent for a newspaper owned by one of the largest media umbrella companies in the United States. It’s a good company, and I get to travel a lot. Unfortunately, most of my traveling places me right in the middle of war. This time around, however, I was assigned to Munich for an unveiling of an epic scale. Why me? Because I’m one of the few reporters on staff with absolutely zero family to keep me tied down. No wife, no girlfriend, parents dead, only child, and no real friends to speak of. All I have is my job. It defines me. It is me, in a sense. There really is no “Jacob;” there is only “Reporter.” Therefore, good old Jacob can roam the planet in search of the next great story for the paper. Speaking of which…

A physicist, Dr. Lindsay Godwin, allegedly developed a device that would solve the world energy crisis. The device was supposedly of the nuclear fission sort which would promise a “greener than solar” and “safer than standard nuclear” renewable energy source. No more dependency on oil, no more need for gasoline. No more OPEC. No more price gouging. No more pollution. The global economy would be salvaged and the epic depression, suffered world-wide, would disappear. These were bold promises at a time when any promise, no matter how small, brought about both hope and doubt in the same breath.

So on the day this salvation was to be handed to the planet, I planned to wake, lie in bed, gather my research, and write a few notes when, before I could even get started, something must have gone horribly wrong. Or so I presume.

So here I am, in a hotel room unable to make contact with another human being and surrounded by an implausible silence…a silence so consuming it seems there is nothing left outside the walls that stand between me and whatever lies beyond. But I will go. I have to go. And like a typical journalist, I will document everything I see and do. But I do hope my fear and musings are all for naught. I hope to step out of this room into some bizarre practical joke where the unveiling goes off without a hitch, and I can head back to the States to my loft in Manhattan, where the sounds of the city completely consume me.

But know this, if I don’t write another page, then one of two things has happened: whatever lies in wait outside of this hotel has silenced me, or there is nothing else to report. That’s not completely true. I do have a rather important event to cover, and with that event comes a crucial deadline. So if I’m not dead, I will continue writing; only the subject will have changed. Enough about me…back to chaos.

I’d also like to have a picture of you and a picture of your book. No bigger than 200×200 pixels please.

Thanks!
Melissa

 

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