Thank you to Spilling Ink for having me! Tons of fun and lots of laughs. GO WATCH IT HERE.
Long ago, before Underworld, before the blasphemy of Twilight, I started a Vampire novel. It wasn’t really meant to be a novel, but let’s not split hairs. I started writing Talon, which had (and still does) have a much deeper meaning to me than first appearances. I took the Vampire trope and rewrote it to be the way *I* wanted it to be.
Crosses? Ha. Only if properly blessed, so that little trinket you bought at Wal-mart won’t help you. Bibles. Again, only if properly blessed. Garlic? Best served on bread and served with spaghetti. Need an invitation to your house? Hardly. Vamps will walk right on in. Daylight? Yea, it weakens them a bit so they try to limit their time out in it, but explode? Naw. That’s Hollywood bullshit. Stakes through the heart? Hurts but won’t kill. Going to high school and sparkling? Get the fuck out of here.
Vampires aren’t soulless Demons. They also don’t tend to be broody melancholic creatures who would fit in at an emo gathering. They can run the full gambit of emotions, but the blood that gave them immortality has corrupted them. It brings out the worst in each of them. So yes, they tend to be brutal, even sadistic monsters–all the worst of mankind’s emotions walking around with an insatiable thirst. But, under the right circumstances, they can be much more than that. And that’s where I found Nicky.
Nicky is definitely an Alpha-predator. He’s not only been trained to be sadistic and cruel, part of him takes great pleasure in it. He never wanted to be a hero. He never asked to be saved. He knows what he’s done is wrong. He knows a lot of the thing he *continues* to do is wrong. He sees himself as unworthy, already damned, case closed, shut the book, game over, man–game over. I think this is where Nicky and my souls overlap just a little bit.
As a person who has done some bad things in his life (nothing like Nicky mind you), I have felt that “I’m already damned.” feeling. I never asked for redemption. I never felt I was worthy of it, but through chance, or destiny, I ended up on a better road than I was one. Like Nicky, I was given the chance to atone for my sins. Nicky’s story, while brutal, vulgar, full of violence and foul language–in the end this saga is truly about being redeemed and God using the worst of us for good if we’ll just take that chance.
The Talon series, despite being so many things that would turn most Christians off, actually has a strong Christian undertone that comes out over the course of many books. You see Angels, Devils, Demons, Lucifer, and even God himself hiding in plain sight in this series. It’s an action/adventure full of blood, gore, and violence. But there’s also a love story and the question of “How far would you go to protect someone you loved?” I can’t classify this series as any one thing. Is it dark fantasy? Yes. Is it action/adventure? Yes. Is there a touch of paranormal romance in there? Yes. It is blood and gore and violence and beauty and ecstasy and chaos. It’s a beautiful chaos. There’s something for everyone in this series. It’s my great symphony, my Bohemian Rhapsody, my attempt to leave a mark on the world.
So, what is Talon about? It’s about everything and everyone. It’s the Alpha and the Omega. It’s the hope that even washed up, battered, broken and twisted people can find some peace in the world. Now bring on the Demons. Nicky has some ass to kick.
Been a minute since I updated, so forgive me. Let’s do some news reveals!
APRIL SECOND: A release party will be held for Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends on Facebook. The party starts at 2pm – 7 pm Central Standard Time. We have some free goodies and e copies in books up for grabs so come spend the day with me. You can find the event HERE.
April 9th: My first book signing! If you happen to be in the Walker County area, come to the Jasper public library between 2-4 pm Central Standard Time. I will have autographed copies of The Rise of UMBRA and Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends for sale. I will also have 11 x 17 framed posters of the book covers for sale at $25. UMBRA will be $15, Alabama: Nightmares & Urban Legends will be $20. You can find the library’s facebook page HERE.
July 22: Talon: The Spider’s Web is finally coming out! Everyone’s favorite fanged Alabama resident makes his formal debut. Five Points South, Smith Lake, Homewood–a whole bunch of local places get featured as this Vampire tears a bloody path through the state. You don’t have to be an Alabama resident to enjoy this dark fantasy adventure. Get ready…it’s almost time!
I am openly working on The Rise of UMBRA sequel while waiting on Talon’s edits. I have tons going on. Keep coming back. I promise to be more active.
The Rise of UMBRA: Get it HERE.
Burning Willow Press: Find their awesomeness RIGHT HERE.
NEW ANTHOLOGY RELEASE THIS MARCH: Death & Pestilence featuring my story “The Board.” Find it HERE.
So yea, life was peachy-fucking-keen. Sure, I was alone…and a murderer. Yea, guess I shouldn’t leave that part out, huh? Well, what the fuck do you expect? I’m a fucking Vampire. I drink blood. It’s what I fucking do. Everything was just fine, until I saw her.
If my heart still beat, it would have stopped. If I still breathed, it would have taken my breath away. It was like staring at a ghost. No, it was worse than that. This girl was real. She was right there in front of me. The strawberry blonde curls, the line of freckles running across the bridge of her nose, the same sad brown eyes—in every way imaginable, this girl looked just like my dead sister.
It wasn’t enough that she was dead. Oh, no. She had been murdered right in front of me along with my mother. I was seventeen at the time, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The Colony of Roanoke had itself a good ole fashioned fucking witch hunt, and my family was the victim.
I should have died that night. Shit, sometimes I wish I had died that night. But no, God and his sick fucking sense of humor had me live through it long enough to catch the attention of a Vampire named Tessa. She was beautiful—red hair and emerald green eyes. She looked like an Angel. Man, was I ever wrong about that.
As beautiful as she was, she was twice as ruthless. She taught me to kill. She taught me to relish in the suffering of others—and I did. I became the very hate that I despised. One by one, we killed them all. Well, all but Molly Hale. She was the daughter of the bastard who murdered my family, and I had loved her as a mortal. Tessa thought it fitting that I turn her. So I did. She became my Dark Bride. Together we slaughtered all who crossed our paths, and tortured for our own amusement. Others’ suffering became my bliss. Their agony became my release. Some flee from the darkness. I ran into it and let it consume me.
Four hundred years. Four hundred fucking years of death and mayhem, all ruined in a moment by the eyes of a stranger. I trembled. I remembered my humanity and I hated myself for it. I thought of my sister, frozen in the woods, tied to a fucking tree like some discarded piece of trash left to rot. The soul that I was sure had died oh so long ago twisted up in my belly until the agony of it set my mind on fire. Worse than any pain I had ever felt, it was like dying all over again—and I wept. Tears fell from my eyes, something that hadn’t happened in centuries. Suddenly, I wasn’t the monster I had become. I was that scared seventeen year old boy watching his sister die all over again.
And I shouted in my mind, “No! Fuck you, God! Not again! Not like this! Not here and not today! Not on my watch, old man. You’ve already taken everything from me. Would you really torture me like this again?”
Of course, there was no fucking answer—there never is, but I knew what I had to do. I could right the wrong. The monster could be the hero. Where I had failed, I could succeed. This poor girl, whoever she was, I would save her and atone for my sins. I would do this, for my sister Lizzie’s sake.
How could I have known that plucking this thread would unravel my entire world. Everything I knew, everything I was, everything I was meant to be would be turned on its head. The road it set me upon, there would be no turning back. There would be no stopping the avalanche once it started pouring down the mountain. No more cares. No more regrets. This is the path I’m on and I will ride it all the way either to the gates of Heaven or the pit of Hell. I care not which.
So, come for me, dark ones. I can hear you hiding in the shadows, whispering your foul threats and lies in my direction. If it’s my head you want, come and fucking take it. You say I’ve broken your rules. Fuck your rules. Fuck your petty aristocracy with your noses turned up in the fucking air. Fuck being bound by an authority I no longer recognize as my superior. I am my own man. I make my own rules. I am the Vampire Talon, and I will fucking destroy you.
–Nicholas “Talon” Watson
Talon: The Spider’s Web: 7/22/17 from Burning Willow Press
Since “The Rise of UMBRA has been so successful, selling nearly 30 copies in just over a week, I immediately started working on the sequel. The title will be: UMBRA: The Nightmare Squadron. All your favorite characters are back facing an enemy that they know nothing about. Full of action, snarky wit, and all the things you loved about the first. So far, I’m three chapters in and closing in on 10k words! Stay tuned! UMBRA ain’t done yet!
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
It’s a very interesting day here at the Oddest Interview Segment on the Internet, as we do our first character interview. I am joined today but Autumn from the novel “The Rise of UMBRA.” First of all, welcome to the show Autumn!
Okay, would you like to tell people about yourself? I hear you and your partner, Sive, are the best assassins the Crime Cartel ever had.
Okay, firstly…We’re not an assassins. We’re bounty hunters. Somebody fucks up, we come and get you. If you fight, well…that’s on you. I have no issue putting a slug in someone’s head…including nosy interviewers.
Ahem, alrighty then. You and your partner, Sive–how did you meet?
I was a homeless teenager, living off of what I could steal. One day I just happened to pick Sive’s ship. There was enough loot in there to live like a Queen for months. Too bad he caught me. Not really sure why he didn’t kill me. He had every right to, but instead he took me on and trained me to be his partner.
And UMBRA, how did this team come together?
Hey! How do you know about UMBRA?
Well, I kind of wrote the book.
Book? What book? Are you keeping tabs on us? Because Dread wouldn’t like that in the least bit.
Yes, Dread. He’s the leader of the team right? Isn’t he the one who sent you on the mission to Mars?
I’m not sure how you know this, but yes. We were given the option of infiltrating a Martian research facility or death. That made the decision pretty easy.
How do you like your teammates?
Some of them are annoying–I won’t lie. Bumblebee for one. He’s let the fact he used to be a big deal in the cage fighting leagues go to his head. He’s used to women just throwing themselves at him. I don’t think he knew how to handle me when we met.
What about the others?
Well, Harmonica is an older fellow–really nice. He used to work for the Earth military and he’s seen some things nobody should see. I like him though. He’s kind of a father figure type.
Leviathan is kind of quiet, but he’s a hell of a hacker. He’s the one who is the most different in the group. He’s not really into our business for the mayhem. He’s just trying to take care of his family. I think you kind of have to respect him for that.
Bloody is a British smuggler, usually too stoned to really give a fuck. He’s a bit of prankster though. I still owe him for the little speech he made right before I had to jump out of his ship.
You had to jump out of his ship?
Fuck yea, I did. Only way to get to the planet’s surface without being noticed. Fucking high altitude atmospheric reentry. I wouldn’t recommend it.
What about Dread? What’s he like?
Master strategist. I’ve got to give it to the man, he’s got the brains to make shit happen and the connections to cover his ass. He’s not a man to fuck with.
And what about his 2nd in command, D’leet?
The man is a fucking legend. He’s a muscle type but he’s smart too. Don’t let his reputation make you think otherwise.
Anything you’d like the fans to know before we finish?
Yea, don’t fuck with UMBRA. We WILL get you.