The Writing of The Shadow of Oz, and How it Nearly Killed Me. Or… Heaven and Hell and everywhere in between.

I’ve never been very good about blogging. I prefer speaking to writing in this case, which is very odd considering I’m an author, but I truly had a good reason to not have blogged in a while. The last 9 months have been the most up and down rollercoaster of my life, but it led to a very happy place and the writing of what I think might be my best piece of work yet, The Shadow of Oz–a dark twisted retelling of the Wizard of Oz, but I’m getting ahead of myself. How did I get it written? Well…

It all started when the girl who I made vows to spend the rest of my life with decided to leave me for a guy she met at CHURCH. AT CHURCH! That is possibly the greatest ‘what the fuck, god?’ moment I have ever had. She eventually told me how she knew we were never meant to be together, which broke my heart, not because of her, but because of the three beautiful children she had that knew me as their only father. I tried to work with her, even went out of my way doing things making sure that my daughters (and they ARE my daughters, I don’t care what DNA says) were taken care of. Those three were my angels. I rocked them when they were sick. I kissed booboos. I was there for nightmares, wetting the bed, and just all around needing loved and cuddled. I got to be a daddy and I loved it, but because said ex-girlfriend kept breaking her promises to me, it led to her pulling all contact from the children from me and there’s nothing legally I can do, because being an ex-boyfriend gives me zero rights, no matter how the scene was set and how we lived. Needless to say, it shattered me.

I’m going to open up here and maybe give away too much information, but I have suffered and fought with depression since I was 8 years old. I am a survivor of multiple suicide attempts. It was a monster I thought I had beaten, but having my daughters taken from me brought me back to the darkness. I was falling to pieces, considering options I shouldn’t have and making attempts to get my last affairs in order. Then, fate stepped in.

I had a date with a girl where I got stood up. It seemed about right for the way life was treating me lately. So I called an ex-girlfriend of mine, thinking she’d get a good laugh out of it. Well, come to find out I was only about an hour away from seeing her. I hadn’t seen her in nearly six years. This was the best decision of my life. I met her for lunch and the minute I saw her smile, I was hooked. Just like that. Like the old fights didn’t matter, the break up didn’t matter, all I wanted was to see her again. So, we decided to give it one more try.

Okay, so how does Oz work into this? Well, Oz was meant to be part of a box set. I signed on to doing it somewhere between the “banging a dude at church” and “you can never see your kids again.” Made it nearly impossible to think, but I wanted in this box set. I wanted to take that chance and go for being a best seller.

The muse started working again, and Dorothy’s demented story began to come to me… and that’s when I had the craziest 24 hours of my life. While visiting my beloved, her roommate decides “it’s time to die,” and proceeds to try and hang himself with a belt. Yea, what the fuck indeed. Police get called. Police chase crazy man through woods. Man gets away. By the time this finally finished, it was 4 am. What a night! But it wasn’t over yet. I then get a call from a long-time friend who got himself so sleep deprived from talking to a girl he met online that he fell for, that he had a full snap from reality and threatened to murder me. Not even like, “I’m gonna kill you,” but “I am not afraid of prison, I will put you in the ground for reals kill you/kill you.” Yea, blindsided.

So I end up moving in with my Faith into a room that you could stretch across and touch either wall. It was tight, it was cramped, and it forced us to move in together well before we were ready to do it. All this, while a deadline breathed down my neck.

Luckily, found an apartment that we fell in love with and was out of there in about a month. Now, for 3 weeks we were sleeping on couches and loveseats b/c that’s all we had, but I kept plugging along at the book what I could. When I finally got a proper work space to operate in, I had a month to write a novel more or less. It took me to the very last minute, but i finished.

But there’s even more to this story than that. You see, “Shadow” is a name that is very dear to me. One of my best friends was named  Jessi, and my nickname for her was Shadow (which she spelled Shadeau). We helped each other through so much. I know I talked her down off a lege a dozen times and she talked me down at least that or more. I literally would not be here without her, and a few years ago she ended her life. She was the first dreamer I truly loved. We both wanted to be writers. She never got to see me accomplish my dream. The Shadow of Oz is dedicated to Jessi, and, in many ways, Dorothy IS Jessi. I couldn’t stand the thought of her being gone. Now she can live forever in the pages of a book. I love you, Jess. Wacka-chicka sauce, bitch!

And as for my beloved, Faith, I was alway meant to be with you. Glad we finally realized it. I love you so much. Thank you for your support.

If you’d like to check out “The Shadow of Oz,” you can do it here: viewbook.at/shadowofoz

It’s got dragons, witches, necromancy, revenge, murder, madness… everything Jess would have loved.

Keep your chins up, people. heads on high!

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Autographed Copies of “The Rise of UMBRA” available.

The Rise of Umbra

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: jaymichaelbookoutauthor@gmail.com and put “UMBRA AUTOGRAPH COPY” in the subject. There’s a limited number of these so act fast.

Join my mail list, get the Talon prequel FOR FREE

Like free stuff? Like being kept up to date with book releases and crazy facts? Sign up for my mail list HERE and get Talon: The S.S. Trinity for #FREE as a thank you.

UMBRA sequel in the works!

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!

Author Spotlight: Mirren Hogan

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.

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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.

 

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Mirren Hogan’s facebook: RIGHT HERE.

Mirren Hogan’s Amazon page: RIGHT HERE.

 

Character Interview: Autumn, aka “The Widow” from The Rise of UMBRA

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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!

Yea, whatever.

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.

 

 

Author Spotlight: Charles Lee Mullenix (The oddest interview segment on the internet continues)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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Mr. Charles Lee Mullenix. Tell me that’s not punk as fuck! 🙂