Thank you to Spilling Ink for having me! Tons of fun and lots of laughs. GO WATCH IT HERE.
Hello readers, internet maniacs, and other assorted freaks, goths, and lovers of the odd! Our series of author spotlights continues! Today’s subject in the hot seat is author Carol Browne (with and “E” at the end, don’t forget the “E”, boys and girls!) Firstly, Carol, nice to have you with us. You’re another member of the Burning Willow Press asylum. How you diggin’ life over at Burning Willow?
Thanks, Mikey. So good of you to have me on your blog and thanks for pointing out the ‘e’. It has dogged me all my life. My name sounds simple and ordinary but I’ve spent my life saying, “That’s Carol without an ‘e’ and Browne with an ‘e’.” My middle name is Ann and I don’t use it as it would further complicate matters. To answer your question, I have been very impressed with BWP. I find most authors I know are friendly and supportive but the management can vary a great deal. Edd and Kindra at BWP seem to do such a lot for their authors and get involved in promotional activities far more than I had expected. The company has a very upbeat vibe and a family feeling and that is so necessary when you are dealing with the fragile egos of creative people!
Carol is one of our very first authors (that I’m aware of) that actually has a piece of non-fiction published. We like to have a lot of fun in our interview series, but for a minute I think we need to actually be serious because of how important a story it is that you’ve written. Please share with the readers what this touching story is about and why it’s important this story gets told and is remembered. Also, explain how you came to write this, as I’ve heard it’s a bit of an unusual story.
My novella Being Krystyna – A Story of Survival in WWII was published as an eBook on 11-11-16 and I was delighted when it came fourth in the 19th Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for non-fiction, especially as writing non-fiction wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. In 2011 I had a chance encounter with a guy in a Polish restaurant who told me it was his dream to see his mother’s life story in a book. She was a Polish Jew who had survived the Holocaust and emigrated to the UK. He knew I was a writer but I said I couldn’t do it; I only write fiction. Non-fiction to me seemed like doing assignments at school. Anyway, I tried to find someone who might be interested in taking this on but no-one was. I knew it was important to tell these kinds of stories and so eventually I said I’d have a go at it. He gave me some notes he had made, details of his mother’s life, and they threw me into a panic. How to turn them into a book rather than just a string of facts? How to treat the subject sensitively while also creating something people would want to read? But I had this flash of inspiration for the structure of the book, telling the story through the eyes of a biographer who visits the old lady, Krystyna, in the care home where she lives. I used my Polish friend Agnieszka for this because she really did visit Krystyna twice and this also allowed me to highlight the contrast between the lives of two Polish women and the reasons why they ended up living in the UK. It turned out that my publisher Dilliebooks, of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK, was looking for this type of creative non-fiction for a new series of novellas they were planning and Being Krystyna was a perfect fit. My publisher felt that, given what is happening in the world now, the book’s message is extremely relevant and important. The racism and intolerance that brought about the persecution of the Jews have never gone away and you know, Mikey, there’s that old saying that those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it. It’s important that stories like Krystyna’s are recorded and remembered so people are aware of what can happen when we start treating our fellow humans differently because we don’t like their race, colour or creed.
Check out this amazing story RIGHT HERE.
Wow. That is fucking amazing. Next time you see or speak with that lovely lady will you tell her someone from across the pond sends their love. Nothing but respect for that lady, seriously. And kudos to you for writing it. Stories like that need remembering. Thank you.
Thanks, Mikey. I only met Krystyna once but I made sure I shook her hand when I left. I wanted to touch someone who had been through things I had only heard about or seen on old news reels. She’s 95 now and her dementia is really bad so I doubt I’ll see her again. She certainly would have no idea who I was. Sadly, she will never read this book about her life.
And I hope you know just how hard you’ve made this interview. Do you have any idea how hard it is to follow up the Holocaust? But alas, I must try. I like to give my readers a little insight into each author and point out their quirks or interests. You have one of the most unique interests that I’ve come across yet. I’ve heard you read tarot cards. How’d you get into this and what’s one of the stranger readings that you could share?
It all started when a friend gave me a pack of tarot cards when I was 19. My mother’s family are all a bit psychic in varying degrees and while I think I’m probably as psychic as a house brick, I do have quite good intuition and I found I could do very accurate tarot readings. I didn’t have much confidence in myself—which goes for most things I do—so the small fee I used to charge, which was a couple of quid, I would give to animal charities. My cards became like blankets eventually so I got a new pack and I just couldn’t work with them. Some years later I have received another pack from the friend who gave me my original deck and I am trying to get back into the craft again.
What I like about the tarot is that it is more about counselling than divination. Yes, it can point out future trends but if you don’t like where you are going, it gives you the chance to change matters. There are many future paths ahead. A friend recently said that my shtick, if you will, is that I put small details into readings that make them ring true. The first reading I did for my second husband I told him he used to play the trumpet when he was a boy. He was actually in a marching band. “How the hell did you know that?” he asked. I have no idea. Now while you’re wondering how many husbands I’ve had and whether or not they all ate the poisoned mushrooms, I think one of my stranger readings was in my kitchen one evening, doing a lady’s tarot while two of my professional clairvoyant friends were with us. I told her she mustn’t be afraid of the spirits she saw round her bed at night because they were benevolent guides. She said, “How did you know that?” I said, “It’s not me, it’s the cards,” but my other friends then started getting messages from these guides and they were talking to people I couldn’t hear or see. One of my friends said there was a spirit standing over me who had told me to say what I did so they could help the person having the reading and that, “there are loads of spirits in the room now”! I found it very uplifting and weird at the same time. Eat your heart out, Zak Bagans. Am I waffling on a bit, Mikey? I’ll stop now.
I’ve heard you’re a proofreader, which means you’ve probably handled tons of manuscripts. Without giving names, what is the oddest thing you’ve ever been given to proofread?
I’m a really good proofreader because I have OCD and that makes me pay attention to detail! I wish I proofread manuscripts but my clients aren’t writers. They are mainly students. Nearly always immigrants—you know those awful people over here taking our jobs—and they need assignments and CVs checked and some of them have their own businesses so they ask me to proofread their web content or blogs. I don’t recall proofreading anything odd. I proofread a dissertation on James Bond once for a lovely Slovakian lad who is now a teacher and a dissertation on how to test for fungal infections (ew, but who knew you could write a whole dissertation on that!). Today I proofread a newsletter on nutrition. Quite soon I hope to be proofreading a script for a TV comedy.
Also, I know you have a heavy interest in animal rights and the like. You’re quite the little hippie, my dear. Are there any charities you’d like to shine some light on while you’ve got the chance?
Yes, I’m definitely a tree-hugger. I try to tread lightly upon the Earth and believe it is a conscious entity and we should revere it as our mother. I feel an affinity with pagans and indigenous people so I support the rights of those like the Native Americans who are trying to protect their water and sacred land. For ethical reasons I became a vegetarian 33 years ago. For the past 5 years I’ve been a strict vegan and I love it. I support a number of animal welfare organisations when funds allow. In the UK there’s the Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. There’s the International Fund for Animal Welfare which does so much to help animals worldwide and Four Paws and International Animal Rescue and SPANA; I mean, the list is endless and I couldn’t single any out, although one of my favourites is a UK charity that has taken in hundreds of rescued animals of all kinds: Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk. It annoys me when people say never mind about animals why don’t we help people, and I say, why can’t we help both? It’s their world too, isn’t it? We are all just creatures together on this planet and we all have a right to be here and live our lives free from harm and exploitation.
Okay, time for the meat and potatoes as they say: you’ve got a fantasy trilogy with Burning Willow coming up. How ‘bout you break out a little synopsis and give us a sneak peek into what’s coming? I also heard, I believe it’s this story, had a past life somewhere else…so tell everybody the journey this novel has gone on to get where we are now.
Yes, the trilogy is a sword-and-sorcery fantasy set in Britain in 500 CE. I wrote the first draft of Book 1 40 years ago. (Yes, while I was in my pram). When I wasn’t submitting it to publishers, it spent years at a time in cupboards and suitcases, before making an appearance as a self-published behemoth of a book in 2007. It was then entitled The Lorestone and it sold about 70 copies in total. One of the people who bought it loved it so much she begged me to write a sequel. So in 2009 I did (Gateway to Elvendom). A year later I realised there was a third book that needed to be written to make the journey of the characters complete. That book was Wyrd’s End. Inspired by my tiny fan base, I decided to try once more to get the book published and my luck was in. Musa Publishing offered me a three-book contract for what was now The Elwardain Chronicles and Book 1, now entitled The Exile of Elindel (and with at least 33,000 words and many plot holes edited away!), was released as an eBook on 18th April, 2014. Musa sadly went out of business in February, 2015, but I was lucky to be accepted by BWP in December of that same year. And all that because 40 years ago I heard a record on a juke box, had a picture of two characters pop into my head, and felt compelled to write their story.
So you see how you should never give up on a creative project, even though it can take years to get anywhere. And as for all those rejection slips, they are merely battle scars.
Here’s the blurb of The Exile of Elindel as it now stands. The rest of the trilogy is the continuing story of these same characters but with more sub plots, magical creatures, and relationship complexities.
Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?
I know you live over in the UK. Are you sick of the fact that most Americans think everyone over there talks like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins? And while we’re at it, “Need ya chimney swept, gub’ner?”
I don’t know what you mean, Mikey. I sound exactly like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, just in a higher register. I do have a chimney as well and it hasn’t been swept for about 20 years so probably does need a bit of a clean. My godfather went to America when I was a child and never came back. He loved it and took American citizenship, and once a month would write to me about his adventures there. He instilled in me a lasting fondness for the US of A. We have our own misconceptions about the States too, mainly thanks to all the American TV we were bombarded with as kids. (But you also gave us Star Trek and The Big Bang Theory so all is forgiven.)
Okay, you’re writing fantasy: How does modern fantasy like Harry Potter compare to the classics like Lord of the Rings?
As someone with an honours degree in English Language & Literature, I should be able to answer this fluently and easily while impressing you with my erudition but I feel I’ve been poked in the grey matter with a pointed stick. All I can come up with is the difference in style, which is a result of changing trends in writing over the years. Tolkein’s prose has more padding than a warehouse full of duvets and if LOTR landed on a publisher’s desk today, some ruthless editing would be required. Nowadays, there’s a great deal of emphasis on the active voice and the POVs too. When I first worked with an editor, I had no idea that head-hopping was a hanging offence or that adverbs were the spawn of Satan. As a reader, reading books like LOTR, I had grown up with that particular wordy style, and it didn’t seem odd to me. Bit of a culture shock! And what in heaven’s name was the active voice?
You’re stuck on a deserted island. Which fantasy character from your favorite fantasy novel would you want to have stuck with you and why?
I’m torn here between Gandalf from LOTR and Lord Mhoram from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (but have long suspected they are really one and the same being). I reckon if you’re marooned somewhere, having a companion who can wield magic is probably a good thing.
Last question, once you do your fantasy trilogy with Burning Willow Press, what’s the one genre or the one story you really would like to get out there?
I have a sci-fi novella called The Star Attraction I would love to see published. It’s about a shapeshifting prostitute called Tyler who works in The House on Glimmer Street on a planet called Genevra where all the trade routes in the galaxy converge. When Tyler falls in with British cop, Jerry Kinsella—who has come from Earth on the trail of a fugitive—hilarity, drama, and sexual ambiguity ensue. At least, I hope so. I have only submitted it to one publisher so far and, being British like me, I thought they would get its quirkiness, but no.
Thank you, Carol, for putting up with the interview. For anyone interested we’ll hook you up with links where you can find Carol and her writing below.
Thanks, Mikey, for a splendid interview, and apologies for waffling on and using British English (assuming you kept the spellings!). I’d like a quick shout out here too, if I may, for my UK publisher Dilliebooks.co.uk. They are open for submissions if anyone wants to try their hand at non-fiction!
Amazon US – https://tinyurl.com/jesnssb
Amazon UK – https://tinyurl.com/js4d2ab
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne
Twitter : https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne
Welcome back to the oddest interview segment on the internet. Tonight, our guest brings the thunder from down under! Miss Mirren Hogan.
So, Mirren, please introduce yourself to the readers out there. What would you like them to know about you?
Hi Mikey. Well I write fantasy and even like making up fantasy names. Like- a lot! I also write scifi, paranormal, horror… basically everything but romance.
How long have you been writing? What were some of your early influences to take up the career?
I first remember writing in year 5 or 6, so pretty much as long as I’ve been able to put pencil to paper (and pen when I got my pen licence). I was inspired by Narnia and The Secret Garden; books which were magical and/ or about magic. I’ve been enchanted by them ever since.
Okay, off the wall question, would you rather be a great writer who wasn’t exactly known…or would you rather feel like your work was mediocre but a huge success?
I’d be happy to be a good writer whose work gets noticed, but I could deal with mediocre as long as I’m not writing crap.
I know you’ve co-authored a few novels before. Please, tell us how that works.
Basically I write a paragraph or two, then send it to my co-author who adds a bit more and sends it back. The story generally happens organically, with us throwing twists at each other whenever we can to keep things fun.
I’ve heard you’ve got a new piece of work coming out. Please tell everyone what it’s about, where the idea came from, just any and everything about the project you think we should know. The floor is yours. Run with it.
Yes, the book is titled Night Witches. It’s my one historical fiction, in spite of the name. The Night Witches were actually a regiment of Soviet women who flew bombing raids on the front lines during WW2. At times they fought alongside regiments of men, and lived in the same rough conditions. They also had no parachutes or radios for much of the war, and flew in canvas and wood biplanes. Think flying matchsticks, they were that flammable.
My book follows Nadia as she signs up to go and fly against the Nazis. She meets some interesting (and many actual historical) characters along the way, and grows up – well – in a war zone.
Get Night Witches RIGHT HERE.
Okay, everybody has their normal big name authors they list when asked who their favorites are. Who are some lesser known authors whose work you really enjoy and would recommend to people?
Why Jay Michael Wright II is a fine author, as is Kerry Alan Denney, Kindra Sowder, SL Perrine, MA Ray, Michelle Irwin and JS Frankel, to name a few.
And, yea, I’m totally stealing this from the Actor’s Studio, but I don’t care. If there’s a God, when he opened up the pearly gates for you, what would you like to hear him say to you?
Yes, there are iPads and books in heaven, now that way to the wine, cheese, pizza and chocolate.
Mirren Hogan’s facebook: RIGHT HERE.
Mirren Hogan’s Amazon page: RIGHT HERE.
Hello readers and misfits! We’re back with the oddest author interview segment on the internet! Today’s contestant is Brian G Murray…so come one down! You’re the next contestant on the Price is…wait, that’s not my show. Still, sit your ass down, sir. Let’s talk some books.
Forgotten Hero is currently out on the market, tell the folks ‘cross the internet what it’s about.
Forgotten Hero is an epic heroic fantasy novel with good versus evil. Our heroes have to try and stop a Darklord from completing a ritual to resurrect his master and plunge the world back into darkness. But, here’s the thing, one of the heroes is a character called Death and he used to be evil’s champion. As the reader, you need to try and work out who is Death and who’s side is on. Swords, sorcery, battles, intrigue, mysteries, love, romance, heroes, villains and mayhem – what more do you want?
Want to add this goodie to your reading list? Buy it RIGHT HERE.
The sequel I’ve heard is scheduled to come out June 17. That’s like a month before Vampire novel hits. You tryin’ to steal my thunder? Wanna take this out outside? Meet me outsie, how baw dat? Shudder Ugh, sorry, can’t believe I went there. Ok, seriously, tell us a little about the sequel and why the people need to get on book one so they can enjoy this little gem.
Book 2 – Dark Times follows on exactly where Forgotten Hero ends and continues the story. I throw our heroes into even more perils, forcing them to travel to the belly of hell itself. Will they stop the Dark One from returning? He need Death to do what Death does best and that’s to kill, but will he? I do not want to say much more and give spoilers, but this book continues to take the reader on an epic ride with so many twists and turns.
Stop strangling, me I will not give any spoilers – Arggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Now, what people might not know is that you are quite the comic book collector. How many books do you have in the collection and what’s the one comic you’d follow Frodo across Mordor to try and get back? Yes, which book is “your precious?”
I have about 15,000 comics, loads of statutes and graphic novels. My precious, well, it had been X-Men issue 1 from 1963, but I have that now. But being a completest, I collect all variants for the Uncanny X-Men series, and the bane of my life and my new Precious is Uncanny X-Men 510 partial sketch cover – that bugger is selling for several thousand dollars per copy – kidney or comic!?!?!??!
You know, that’s mighty pretty. I can see why he likes it.
Okay, let’s piss off the fanboys: Marvel or DC and why?
Marvel all the way – I was brought up on the X-Men and Spider-Man so will always be a Marvel fanboy. Many of my friends at the time read DC, Batman and Superman, but I never got into them. Oh, and confession time – I do read a little DC, some Batman occasionally.
I know you’re a huge X-men fan. Which of the movies made you fanboy and which could you have done without?
I was a fanboy long before the movies so I still hold the first X-Men movie in high regard. At the time we criticized the idea of Jackman being Wolverine – ‘He’s too fucking tall’, but give the actor kudos, he made the character his own – BUT he is STILL TOO FUCKING TALL!!!!!!
“Say it to my fucking face, bub.” Hmm, appears Wolverine may not approve…
Jean Gray: Cyclops or Wolverine? Who’s her true love?
I am an old romantic, and though Wolverine is my favourite character, it has to be Jean Grey and Cyclops – I mean the covers to Uncanny X-Men 136 and 137 says it all. Oh and to be pedantic – it’s Grey not Gray – don’t shoot me – I am a geek!
I don’t know. She seems to be digging on his Weapon-X right here…
Who’s your favorite comic book character of all time?
My favourite comic book hero is Wolverine, the best at what he does, and fuck Marvel for killing him off.
One of the true greats has fallen…
Okay, who was more annoying in the beginning: Jubilee or Kitty Pryde?
I would say Jubilee as a reader I went through all the young girl getting powers with Kitty Pryde, so going through it a second time irked.
Annoying young girl getting powers A or B? YOU make the call.
What’s your all-time favorite comic book story arc? Which story arc can you just not stand and don’t understand why people love it?
Favourite all time comic book story arc, there are a few and some non-X-Men related ones, but if I have to pick one it’s – Days of Future Past – when I first read that story I was blown away. Story I cannot stand has to be Batman – The Dark Knight Returns, I did not like it when I first read it and still do not like it – and yes I have tried reading it on numerous occasions but now given up. And before you ask, yes I do own the original first printings and the signed hardcover graphic novel – why . . . they are a must have.
Do you agree or disagree on these picks, people?
Do you think it hurts comic books that the reader knows people never stay dead? I mean, how many heroes of they killed off just to bring back later? Isn’t it almost a cheap ploy just to get sales?
Too right – if a character is dead then they are dead – but the issues is that Marvel for example has so many fucking continuities, it was getting hard to remember in which one the character is dead or alive. At the moment Wolverine is dead, but for how long – opps he came back as Old Man Logan. The bigger issue for me – oh prepare for the rant – is the number of re-starts, i.e. number 1’s and then the number of fucking variants they have for each issues. Collecting modern comics, as a completest is getting more and more expensive. . . Breathe, I need to remember to breathe – bastards! I have stopped buying new issues because of this – but that’s a whole new level of me ranting!!
Okay, I’m going to say some comic book character names. You tell me what comes to mind immediately.
Leader – true X-Men
Best at what he does
Pussy in a metal suit
Give me patience
Last comic book question, how fucking awesome was the Deadpool movie?
I have to say I am NOT a fan of Deadpool – I am collecting all Mutant related comic book titles so Deadpool falls within that bracket, but the movie. . . fuck yeah, I have not laughed so much in years. They finally found a role Ryan Reynolds can play without fucking it up – looking forward to the second movie.
Last question of the interview: if you could spend the day with Stan Lee, what would you talk to him about?
I would talk to him about the early days of Marvel, with the legends of the comic world, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, how they created the characters and how they developed the stories. I would also like to know what character did not make the cut and why – he must have so many character that did not make it to print – that would be fascinating.
Want more Brian Murray? Find him below:
Website – http://www.briangmurray.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/briangmurrayauthor
Amazon page – www.amazon.com/author/briangmurray
Publisher – http://www.burningwillowpressllc.com
Well, would you? There’s a couple ways to ask. You can either email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org (please put “Interview Request” in the subject line) or you can message me on facebook through my authors page which is located RIGHT HERE.
There will be a brief pre-interview question session so I can properly ask you relevant questions and help the readers get to know you better. I am all about posting links to your work and what not, so that’s part of the Author Spotlight.
And you don’t have to be an author. Are you a publisher? An artist? Heck, even editors and beta readers welcome! Anything and everything to do with the business, I’d love to have you! So contact me if you are up to the oddest interview series on the internet!
Today, we are joined by S.L. Kerns. I came to know Lloyd as we were both included in the Burning Willow Press Anthology, Crossroads in the Dark 2: Urban Legends. How about you start by telling us about that story before we get a little deeper into what you have in the works?
Foremost, many thanks for the warm welcome and the opportunity to discuss my life and my writing. Also, congrats on the release of your first novel. The Rise of Umbra has some very impressive cover art and sounds action-packed. I’m holding out for a paperback edition.
“The Spirited Children” is a post-apocalyptic short story about a momma’s boy from Kentucky. Once his mother, a globetrotting woman, innocently brings a Luk Thep doll—check them out on YouTube to be freaked out—back from Thailand, Hell ensues.
The dolls are housing homeless spirits brought on by black magic in their Pali-Sanskrit tattoos (known as sak yant—it’s a real thing), and these souls are hungry for retribution. They have the ability to corrupt the people near them, turning them into possessed, zombie-like creatures who must make sacrifices for the spirits inside the dolls. Our unlikely hero’s family suffers a tragedy that sends him on a journey to rid the world of the popular doll that trended heavier than Furby and Cabbage Patch ever dreamed of.
My story “Ugly as Sin” is also slated to appear in Crossroads in the Dark III: Monsters Under the Bed. Big shout out to Edd Sowder and all at Burning Willow Press for believing in my writing and for all their great releases. A great many of them I have recently read.
I have to bring this up, because I’m a HUGE fan of Queen. I heard you were in a charity Freddie Mercury anthology. Could you tell the reader what inspired you to write that particular piece and what charity it supports, and please, give us a link because I’m all about helping out charities.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t appreciate the songwriting and vocal talents of the late Freddie Mercury. Not everybody likes Queen, but a performance by Freddie commands respect and awe. My favorite clips are those of him serenading the masses with “Somebody to Love” on the grand piano. Breathtaking.
Chris Thompson of Penny Dreadful Publications must agree because he put together this great anthology to benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust for HIV Research Foundation, with all proceeds going there. I had worked with Chris before on two volumes of an antho inspired by David Bowie, and he is an honest and pleasant guy. My stories “Guizhou Girl” and “Silhouettes and Shadows” were included with all proceeds, again, going to cancer research.
Please support the causes and read my heartbreaking tale “Mon Ami, Le Papillon.” One reader said it had “a beautiful ending.”
Want a copy? Get it RIGHT HERE.
Not everyone might know this, but you actually live in Japan now. How’d you get over there? Was it a culture shock? Would you recommend it? From what I hear quite a few Americans are looking at alternative living locations… snicker
When I was eleven-ish, I distinctly recall telling Mom my plan to relocate to Japan after school. My best buddy, Ken, has and American dad and Japanese mother, and with little diversity in my farm town in Kentucky, I was fascinated by him. Every visit he made to Japan, he’d return with futuristic-looking magazines showcasing the Land of the Rising Sun’s uniqueness. I was mesmerized.
It was while studying at Western Kentucky University—the home of the fake “Bowling Green Massacre” reported by the Trump squad—I had the opportunity to befriend several foreign students and, long story short, met my Thai wife. This ultimately derailed the plan to uproot to a place famous for samurais and robots, and instead I spent six years in the Land of Smiles. I still love Thailand, but the clock of life is ticking and there is much to do. My wife and I made the transition to Takamatsu, Japan two years ago and it has proven to be an experience to cherish.
Thanks to my wife, I have seen more of the world than I ever dreamed. I’ve been to Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and of course, Japan and Thailand. I’ve met people from countries I’ve never heard of, and I can’t fathom what people back home are so afraid of. Every person in every place has been welcoming.
Just got to throw this out there: sushi or pizza?
Well, my wife and I often buy sashimi and frozen pizzas from the local supermarket and combine the two in the oven. You gotta try it! Of course, that is only for my weekly cheat meals. I got to stay in shape for the annual bodybuilding competition. It’s held each August in Takamatsu.
Leading to the next topic: you’re pretty heavy into bodybuilding. For those of you who don’t know, the man is ripped like a Bruce Lee villain. I kid you not! You don’t see a lot of authors chiseled from stone. What’s it like balancing that creative side with your drive in bodybuilding? Do they ever get in the way of each other or do they balance themselves naturally?
Honestly, I don’t watch must television. My new home doesn’t even have a TV. So that shaves a few hours wasted off of each day. Doing competitive bodybuilding and writing on top of my full-time teaching job is very challenging. Both take tremendous effort. My dad taught me to be a hard worker by following his example. And bodybuilding has taught me discipline. To paraphrase the Austrian Oak, everything is possible with reps. Just like training pound after pound, writing is all about repetitions of words. Same goes for my guitar playing and learning languages. Just repeat. Training is two hours of my day, tops. Dieting is non-stop. If a person can handle that, I reckon they can accomplish anything, and if I did it, anyone can. I used to think I’d never get defined abs…like it was genetic. It’s not. It’s discipline.
Photo taken August 8, 2016 in my first competition by my incredibly gifted friend, Kevin Cozma.
I know from some of our previous discussions that you’re a criminology minor. I also know one of the manuscripts you’re writing stars a criminologist in a psychological horror. How much did the schooling influence the story? I imagine if anything it should lead to the story being much more authentic as you have a background in that career path. And please, feel free to share as much of the plot as you’re comfortable sharing.
This is still in the works, but I know where it’s headed. Tentatively titled “Rut”, this story is a psychological horror. The main character is writing his second non-fiction manuscript. In doing so he meets a serial killer who believes in hypnosis and mind-control. This murderer is part of a cult who believe they can earn rankings in Hell and experience Satan’s power on earth. This is also believed by some denominations of Christians on the opposite end, dealing with the Holy Spirit and God’s divine power.
The writer’s life spirals out of control as he begins to question things. He is not sure if the hypnosis worked or if he is living out his own dark desires. His marriage is in a rut and his wife only falls back in love with him after a loved one passes away. She has an extreme fear of death, and it has a way of sobering her up and reminding her what’s important. How far will her husband go to save his marriage? Is it possible to love someone too much? Could he kill for her?
I’ve always wanted to use my degree—outside of the way I use it daily to analyze and scrutinize any and every thing. In writing this tale, I’ve had to go back and brush up on a lot of theories I had learned at university. It’s been enlightening. I grew up in a religious town, but not a very strong Christian upbringing, so I’ve also been spending several hours with the Bible in conducting research for this book. The Bible has always been interpreted in several different ways and I am giving my own interpretation of some aspects here. It may not be correct for all, but I think it’s accurate, or enough so to be believable. It definitely works for the world the characters live in.
Horror, Sci Fi, or Fantasy? (And yes, you can only pick one)
I’m not a big of fantasy. I read the Hobbit and enjoyed it. One of my best friends wrote a fantasy called Twelve Cataclysms that I loved. (Mr. Rob Queen, I know you are busy on the new novels, but I need the second book like yesterday.) I have a thing for realism and realistic scenarios. Twisted people scare me more than monsters and aliens, so if I must choose one, I’ll side with horror. Stephen King got me into horror, but since I’ve read several other greats, including many that are working their way up like fellow BWP authors Mark Reefe, Kerry Alan Denney, and even your short stories, Mikey. I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented group. I’d also like to give a shout out to my poetic friend A.S. Coomer. His debut novel, Rush’s Deal, is important and must be purchased immediately. It’s two stories in one, and includes a non-visual comic. Not sure how that works? Well, check it out. It most definitely works!
By the way, I’ve heard you have a baby on the way! Congratulations! Can you tell us if it’s a boy or a girl yet? And do you have any names picked out?
Let’s see how I do with balancing writing and bodybuilding after our baby arrives this June. This is our first child, and we are over the moon. The docs just confirmed we are having a daughter and now I can’t stop imagining how adorable she’ll be in her itsy Black Flag and Faith No More t-shirts. My sister doesn’t know it yet, but she’ll be making some for me.
Names? That’s tough. I can tell you she will have a Thai first name, English middle, and my surname.
I heard you also have some experience in the musical field. You’ve got that “jack of all trades” going on, sir. What’s harder: writing a song or a story? Which is more rewarding?
Music was my life. I played bass in bands from middle school to the age of 27. My old band in the states were fortunate enough to be a minor part of the Vans Warped Tour 2005 and toured around the USA in a van on a low-budget diet of peanut butter and apples. This was with Ken, my earlier mentioned buddy. He taught me most of what I know about playing. Since, then, my buddy and ex-guitarist Jordan has moved on to playing in a group called Mona who are turning some heads their way.
My band, Polar Bare Knuckles, in Thailand was also a blast. There are some vids on YouTube if you are interested. I now suffer tinnitus in both ears and have given up the loud rock. I pick a little folk and classic country at home these days, and am a fan of John Prine and Blaze Foley.
To answer your question, both are rewarding. For me writing a great song is tougher than a novel. Novels can be planned to perfection, but a song, for me, comes from the soul. However, sharing a novel with the world is more terrifying and likely to be criticized. It’s a bigger risk because it takes longer to create, longer to decipher, and involves more stakes. At least, that is true for me at this stage in the game.
I know you also have a contemporary novel in the works about a washed up punk rocker who has to take a change of careers to support his family and the stress and struggle that causes. Tell everybody what you’ve got going on here. You told me a bit before our interview and it sounds very fascinating.
“Slack on the Wheel: Punk-Trucker Blues” is a contemporary novel that has had some positive feedback from potential publishers with appraise for the writing style and one saying the author—ahem!—has “an amazing talent.” Unfortunately, it never fits what they are looking for. It’s between a romance and “gritty” realism.
The story is told through the POV of two characters: Tommy, the washed-up punker, and Fiona, his ex. Tommy is a hard worker who loathes wasted time. After moving from LA to Kentucky, where he settles for a career trucking to provide for his family, he loses hope and it costs him his marriage. Between the distracting attention of local women, a difficult boss, and the opposing political views of the locals, he can’t stay out of trouble.
Fiona is the love of his life and the mother of his only child—who resides in Thailand with his transgendered fiancé. All Tommy wants is to win her back and get to his son’s wedding overseas. But while Fiona knows she is Tommy’s only light, she realizes he will never change, never stop using his fists to settle his problems, or dreaming, or grow up. Since their split he has also become a sleaze, and the thought of him with other women sickens her, even if he is only with her because she let him go.
However, a frightening date that ends terribly puts things back in perspective. Is she too late? Has Tommy moved on? Maybe she can get him back before he gets killed by the locals or the authorities. Before he finds someone else.
This is a brief summary. There are several minor conflicts that beg attention from the modern world. It’s all relevant to the issues that get debated daily in America.
An appropriate tag line would be: Humor is his only defense against the death of all hope.
Is there anything else you’d like to promote and where can our readers find you on social media?
The next release I have is a collection of poetry called Rise: an Anthology of Power and Unity. Mark Lipman put this together and has set up a release event in California. I’ve been invited but can’t make the jump from East to West that easily. The anthology features two of my poems, “An Amendment in Angst,” and “A Gun to my Head.” Both came about after news of mass shootings and police brutality back home. It pisses me off and, though I’m not a poet, I wrote these frustrations out. Here’s a link to purchase the book and gander at the powerful cover art: http://www.vagabondbooks.net
I don’t tinker much with twitter and haven’t set up an author’s page hardly anywhere. I’m busy with other things, but I do update www.slkerns.wordpress.com quite often. After one of these novels finds a home, I’ll be using every tool I can to market my work and offer some giveaways for any diehard followers. I hope they exist.
Today, I’m with L Bachman, author of The Blasphemer series. I think one of the first things that pop to mind is how does someone in the heart of the Bible belt come up with something called “The Blasphemer” series?
My writing of it isn’t because I live in the heart of the Bible belt as much as I’m aware of what many living here will consider my works of fiction. I’ve given many reasons to the title of the series, they’re all correct because they all fit perfectly to the title of the series, key characters, and how I know I’ll be seen by those that won’t take the time to read the good vs evil storylines.
You may purchase this HERE.
Who were some of your early writing influences?
I’ve always been a fan of the classics. I’ve also been a fan of Anne Rice since I was younger, as well as Mary Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bram Stoker.
Okay, 80s slasher movies, or modern paranormal horror?
80’s slasher movies, but if not that I’ve always enjoyed a good black and white horror flick as well.
Jason approved of her answer.
What projects do you have in the works? What can you tell us about them?
I’ve been working on a story called Mercy based on unexplainable paranormal events that are real. I’ve also been working on a story called Necessary Evil that I hope readers will enjoy but also get them thinking about how events occur in the real world, how historically all it takes is one thing to shift the tide of awareness one way or another. Along with these two, I’m working on the third installment of The Blasphemer Series: Ghosts and a trilogy I recently cover revealed on Facebook called The Burning Man that begins in the time of the witch trials here in America 1692, but for the main character being burned for being a witch when he isn’t in the way of how witches were burned in Europe during their witch trials brings him back, time and time again. For now, this is a trilogy, but it may be something that I pop out time to time after the three books depending.
Favorite Indy author that maybe people aren’t aware of yet?
I think most people I know of are already known by someone, I’m always sharing and promoting my fellow self-pubs, hybrids, and independently published. Hard to narrow down just a single favorite and with that all I can do is recommend people check out my feeds for mentioning of other authors.
I know you work on staff at Burning Willow Press. Without breaching any contracts or getting you into trouble, could you tell us what all you do? I’ve seen some of your work and I have to say, I think it’s bloody gorgeous.
I am staffed in the graphics department of Burning Willow Press, you’re correct. I also work independently from them for my own clients that have been loyal since I first began. For Burning Willow Press, LLC, I do all of the promotional marketing for the authors that are being published. I prep their release materials so that the company and the author can then market the books to the best that they can. Time to time, I also help Loraine Van Tonder do cover work so that she is not overloaded and I help out the webmaster S.L. Perrine by making the images displayed for books released so that everyone can see what is under the BWP umbrella and currently out. I also do editing of images, do any random images that may be handed down to me from Edd Sowder or Kindra Sowder they may be needed, for example flyers or ribbons for awards.
Best version of Dracula ever and/or best actor to play Dracula?
You can never go wrong with the Bram Stoker original, but of course the movie adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola. For me, Dracula, is only best played by Gary Oldman.
Have to say, it’s hard to argue with her.
Mark Twain once said he’d prefer Heaven for the climate but Hell for the company. Do you agree?
I would hope that I’m not heading to hell, for the company or any other reason. I am sure many believe I’m heading there and I’ve even been told as much by a brave few, but that is between me and a higher power after I’m gone. Matthew 7:1-3 Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
L Bachman’s Amazon author page can be found HERE.
Her Facebook fan page, full of info on her latest works can be found HERE.