Thank you to Spilling Ink for having me! Tons of fun and lots of laughs. GO WATCH IT HERE.
Have you checked out “The Rise of UMBRA” yet? It’s a Sci Fi action/adventure story with shades of “Firefly” like humor. For a limited time, I am offering autographed copies for the price of $15. This will INCLUDE shipping (as long as you live within the continental U.S.) This is LESS than the book costs from Amazon after you add in shipping and handling AND you are getting it autographed. Each autograph will be personalized and I will also include 2 bookmarks, 1 autographed as a keepsake and another for you to use.
If interested, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “UMBRA AUTOGRAPH COPY” in the subject. There’s a limited number of these so act fast.
In the hotseat today we have Charles Lee Mullenix. He’s another author at Burning Willow Press and quite a character. First, let’s start off with what you already have released “The Future is Built on Ashes.” This is a wild mash-up of Cyberpunk fantasy and dystopian and has just about every niche of those genres in it in some capacity. Please, tell the readers what they’re missing by not reading this gem.
They would be missing everything found in genre fiction. Literally…everything. That’s not like when hipsters say literally, and mean figuratively. I’m talking literally everything. This book was born out of my frustration from years of writing low-budget screenplays. My imagination was always being restricted by the limitations of money, time, locations, available actors, etc, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought if I switched to books I could write anything I wanted with no creative ceiling, and I went f@#king crazy. From dragons to cyborgs to ninjas to monsters to myths to Gods/Devils to Demon/Angels, and even put my spin on classic literary icons. I like to play a game where I have somebody try to think of something ‘cool’ from genre fiction, and no matter what they think of I have it within this book or the series of books to follow. It’s got it all. My main protagonist is an original ‘being’, and I created a couple new monsters/technologies totally unique to this franchise.
But this book about EVERYTHING RIGHT HERE.
Not only are you a writer but I’ve heard you’re a Martial Artist. Considering S.L. Kerns is a body builder I’ve thought of having you two square off in a Burning Willow Mortal Kombat fight, but that’s for another day. What got you into the Martial Arts and what discipline or disciplines do you practice?
I’ve seen that dude with his shirt off, S.L. Kerns, so I’m tellin’ ya right now that I’m not fighting fair. I will have a knife on me. Haha I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio, and it’s historically a fighter’s city. Tons of world champs, or well-known pro fighters have come from here. We have streets named after boxers, and I think for whatever reason it’s just genetically in us. We’re a scrappy town, so I was always into fighting kids as early as elementary school. But, in first grade I saw Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee, and it was over. I was hooked. I would watch movies, kickboxing fights, MMA stuff before it was even considered MMA, and anything I could find Martial Arts related and I would study it. Watch entire movies, and fights in slow motion. Break down the body mechanics until I could do it myself. We’re talkin’ second or third grade. My mom bought me some instructional videos, and by 15 I was training at a local Jeet Kune Do gym. That’s the Martial Art that Bruce Lee created which was meant to be a blend of styles not limited to just one. My Sifu had studied under the man who took over Jeet Kune Do from Bruce after his death. The school was filled with top notch talent, and pro fighters. I’ve trained with some well-known icons and fighters during my time. All in all I’ve studied 26 arts in the equal number of years, so there’s a ton of disciplines in there. I’ve just kinda made them all my own. Pick and choose what works for me, but try to learn as much as possible.
Okay, that being said…Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris in real life with both in their prime. Who takes it and why?
I’ve gotta go with Bruce for obvious reasons, but I will give Chuck credit. Not only did Bruce handpick him for the final fight in Way of the Dragon, but he did so to spar with him. Norris was a beast back in the day.
Bruce approves of this answer.
Were you a fan of Kung-Fu movies as a kid? I know I was. If so, what were your favorites?
Huge. Huge, huge fan. Enter the Dragon was epic. I grew up in the ‘80’s, and that was the height of the ninja phase of low-budget movies. Sho Kosugi is a God. All his movies. Enter the Ninja, Pray for Death, Ninja 3: Domination, and Black Eagle with VanDamme. Jean-Claude was a big deal too. Bloodsport. Kickboxer. Dude, there’s too many to name.
Okay, we’ve covered that…but wait, kids. There’s more! You’re the lead vocalist of a metal band? You are quite literally getting cooler by the moment. What bands influenced your music and/or are just your favorite to listen to?
Thanks, man. You’re cool yourself. Best questions ever. Um, Guns n’ Roses in third grade changed my life. I’m adopted, and I’d tell people Axel Rose was my father. He’s not. I’ve been in mostly metal bands, so I’m inspired by a lot of wild, heavy sh@t that nobody has heard of. Every Time I Die, Dillinger Escape Plan, this Japanese Death Metal Goth band Dir En Grey is the most insane thing on this planet, but I also dig a lot of Hip Hop, Blues, Jazz, and Classical stuff.
Did Charles’ mom take Axl to Paradise City? You decide…
So….greatest metal band ever: Black Sabbath….or Black Sabbath? Lol Okay, I’ll be fair, you can pick any band you choose. (whispers: the correct answer is Black Sabbath)
If I ask Ozzy, or Dio version of Black Sabbath will I get slapped? Haha Love the Sabbath I do, but my favorite is actually Led Zeppelin.
This debate still rages to this very day.
Hypothetical question: You can pick any two authors, alive or dead, and spend the day with them (one at a time) to pick their brains. Who do you pick and why?
Bret Easton Ellis. He inspired me a lot in my early twenties, and is still to this day probably my biggest influence. I’d love for him to show me the New York City that he knows while doing mountains of cocaine. Even though I’m sober now I’d come out of retirement for that. My second pick would be Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes books were a huge deal for me as a kid. I’d just like to sip tea, and chat writing with him at an old library. He was English. He’d like tea, right?
Mr. Ellis, you have been officially paged.
And if y’all thought we were done with Charles’ extra curricular activities, WRONG! You’re also a filmmaker about to start production on your first feature film. What’s the film name and what is it about? Who in the film industry has been an influence to you? Do you find film making and authoring to be related? Is the transition easy or is it hard? Sorry, that’s a lot of questions, so take your time answering.
I don’t want to give too much away about the movie, but like all my work it shares a unified universe with everything else. It is going to be a wild ride filled with sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and Kung-Fu that ties into my books/comics. Quentin Tarantino was a big deal in my early teens, Japanese director Takashi Miike is a punk rock god who has directed like a hundred movies, Gareth Evans is a genius, and yes I think the mediums are related in ways. Maybe not for everyone, but it is all storytelling to me. One you just have to think of camera angles. I don’t think one is easier, or harder, but there is a lot more freedom when writing novels.
Quentin can do my segment, as long as I don’t have to be “Mr. Pink.”
Last, but not least, you have a release coming out this summer I believe it is called “Block.” I’ve already been given a brief run down on it and it sounds intriguing. Tease the people with a little info to get them salivating for that pre-order date to get here.
“Block” follows a writer with writer’s block named Arthur Turk, direct nod to Arthur Conan Doyle, who is growing insane from frustration not being able to write anything of quality while navigating the world of a writer trying to get published. He’s strangely offered a dream job writing by a mysterious man named Mr. Mayflower, and from there he sees a supernatural world open before his eyes. One that was always there, and now he has become a part of it. Don’t wanna give too much away.
One last question, and I’m stealing this one (I’ll admit it). If Heaven’s real and God one day opens up the pearly gates for you, what do you want to hear him say?
Hey, everybody. Chill the f@#k out.
Thanks for your time, Charles. Looking forward to that new release!
Thank you, sir. This has been fantastic. Really fun. Thank you for your time, and I hope everybody checks out my work as well as all other Burning Willow Press authors. The entire crew over there from top to bottom are really great, talented people. Very passionate about writers/writing, and driven to help authors get their work to the masses.
Mr. Charles Lee Mullenix. Tell me that’s not punk as fuck! 🙂
I write this as I came to wrestle this very question the other day. I’ve posted some snippets from the Sci Fi Novella I’m working on and there was something I wanted to do a little different at the end. I wanted to add a horror element.
But you’re writing Sci Fi! And it hasn’t been horror at to this point!
Both points are true, but it felt like I had come to a natural place in the story where it just fit. Yes, the piece has pretty much been a Sci Fi Crime/Action piece with a sprinkling of spy work in it! But we’re at the point where they’re making the return trip home and someone really wants to see them not make it, so there’s a surprise on the ship.
I wrestled with this idea for days. Would the reader get mad at me for the sudden swerve? Would they revolt at the change of tone? And then it hit me: Life isn’t one genre. Sure, you can point at certain times in your life where THIS genre or THAT genre was dominating but life never looses that multi-genre status. Happy romance stories turn to tragedies in a heartbeat. Funny, adventure stories can turn into horror nightmares. As time moves along, the genre we’re in changes, bends a little, and sometimes completely gives itself over to another genre. “Hey, buddy, I’ve had a blast, but it’s your turn…. give ’em Hell.”
So I’m going to do it. All the action and character builds are going to lead us right into a suspenseful ride of horror back to earth. Is it risky? Yes. Am I okay with that? Yes. Life isn’t just one genre and your story doesn’t have to be either.
“The Rise of UMBRA” is a Sci Fi adventure set around 300 years into the future. A select group of the Crime Cartel that runs Earth’s mafia have been selected for a special mission. After finding out every other member of the Cartel has either been arrested or assassinated, they are given a choice: infiltrate a Martian military base and steal whatever secrets they can find (which will have their records, including birth certificates, criminal records, everything–it will be like they are ghosts), or they can refuse and be hunted down by the government of Earth like their counterparts. The accept the mission, hoping to reform the Cartel in their own image once they are successful,but they discover they’ve bitten off more than they thought once they reach the Red Planet.
We’re here today with author Kindra Sowder. Kindra, it’s nice to have you here. I understand you have a new book that just came out. What is it and what can you share with us about it?
- My new book is titled “The Harvested” and is the first in a five part Dystopian series in a world where a wall surrounds the United States (keeping it war-free) about a woman named Mila that has a secret. She has a power that no one could imagine and is about to be found out. The dictator of her society, Emerson King, orders mandatory DNA testing because scientists have discovered a genetic marker that betrays them as different. She is found out and taken into custody to be experimented on and tested. So many other juicy things happen, but I won’t give that away.
So this was your first Dystopian novel? What was it like trying something new? Do you think you’ll stick with this genre or will you jump back and forth in genres just depending on your mood?
- It was indeed my first Dystopian novel and it was a blast to write. It has been a favorite genre of mine for years and I wanted to get my hands dirty. I know I have plenty other Dystopian novel ideas in my head so I’ll definitely be writing more of them, but I do have others that are from the genres that I am already known for. I’ll most likely go back and forth. I just have too many stories to tell to stick to one genre.
What inspired you to write this book?
- I can’t say I am entirely certain what inspired me to write it. It was an idea that popped into my head and I spent a lot of time developing it and then, finally, writing it.
Of all the characters in your new book? Who was your favorite to write and who did you most identify with as a reader?
- I have a lot of favorites, Mila, our main character, being one of them. But my favorite is actually our villain. Emerson King is a bad man down to his very core, evil even with no sense of empathy. And he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. I like him because he reminds me of that part in all of us that we don’t let out.
So what got you into writing? Were there any authors that inspired you to do this?
- I wrote my very first story when I was 12 for an assignment at school. Halloween was coming up and we had to write a short story. That started it even though I didn’t really write anything again till I was 15. That was when I started the Executioner Trilogy. The authors that inspired me most were Stephen King and Anne Rice for sure.
What’s the one book you wish YOU had written that someone else wrote?
- I’ll just say I sat here for 30 minutes thinking about this question to come to one conclusion. There isn’t one that I wish I wrote. Bet no one saw that coming.
Not everyone knows this but you are owner/operator of Burning Willow Press. What made you decide to start a publishing company? What was the hardest part of getting started?
- Well, I was with another publisher a couple of years ago. After some soul-searching when they changed some business models I decided to dissolve my contract. But I still wanted to publish my work and help those who had also suffered the same atrocities known to the publishing industry. So I decided to start my own. The hardest thing about getting started was being taken seriously as a publisher. Almost 2 years later, we have so many amazing authors I can’t even count them.
Of all the books you’ve helped be published with BWP, what are a few that are your favorites?
- Well, because I can’t choose, ALL OF THEM! (here is a link for our books page) http://www.burningwillowpressllc.com/#!books/c24vq
What books do we have to look forward to that BWP will soon be releasing?
- We do have one coming out this month called “Back Horizon: The Commonwealth Cycle Book 1” and it is our first science fiction novel here at BWP! And we have so many more coming and I am looking forward to all of them.
What books do we have to look forward to that YOU will be releasing in the future?
- So far, once I start it, I will have another Miss Hyde Novella coming as well as book 2 of The Permutation Archives “The Pursuit” coming out in December with CHBB Publishing. I am working on some co-authorships as well and have so many more ideas just waiting.
Last question, three favorite books of all time…
- Pandora by Anne Rice
- The Dark Half by Stephen King
- Parasite by Mira Grant
I would like to thank Kindra Sowder for being my very first interview subject. As you can see she has a lot on her plate and is a busy woman but if you’d like to ask her questions, feel free to leave comments below. If you liked the interview, please follow the blog and give us some love. For those wanting to check out Kindra’s new book, here is both the cover and the link to Amazon to find it:
I don’t power read books and I did that with this one! It is AMAZING! Five stars and then some!
There are only a few things Mila is afraid of. Most are pretty common fears, but there is one that sets her apart from those around her. The fear of a secret. With one drop of blood, her secret of a power beyond anything anyone had ever seen before is unleashed, landing her in a place where she is a prisoner. And an experiment. And there are only a few that know their dictator’s ultimate goal. Some are willing to save her, others want to exploit her for their own dark and sinister intentions, and it is up to her to stop them before it’s too late.