Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's the Most Stressful Time of the Yearrrrrrrr!

Sing with me, everyone! Huzzah! The holidays are nearly over!

No more fruitcakes (no, no, not the food...that ONE uncle. Yeah, you know which one I'm talking about). Say goodbye to the wrasslin' wranglers of the store aisles, the ones who give soccer players a run for their money. So long to false smiles when you open a box of tighty-whities (I killed the snickers when I threatened to model them). And no more uncomfortable hugs. Especially uncomfortable hugs.

I think I'm the only one who has a problem knowing when to hug. Hugging protocol isn't in my armory. In my family, if you accidentally touch someone, the knee-jerk reaction is to jump like an Olympic kangaroo. Yet, there's my wife's family, the huggin'-est family around. No problem with that, as I love 'em all, truly I do. I think it's nice, actually. So I studied and watched them. Maybe it's an Oklahoma thing, I naively thought.  When the Fed Ex man rang the doorbell, I put what I'd learned into play, welcoming him with a big ol' bear hug.

Well, turns out I still have a bit more to learn.

Anyway, Christmas time. I used to look forward to the holiday. Not so much anymore. Call me a curmudgeon or a realist, I'm okay with both.

Yet this Christmas was different in many ways. For instance, I only heard the cloying "Santa Baby" song whenever we went shopping. Usually it's a mainstay that digs into your head like a dentist's drill. But on Christmas day, the song of choice seemed to be "Let It Snow,"  a song I loath because the sentiment is treasured only by children and drunk television weathermen. Obviously the singer lives in Florida.

This particular holiday was filled with more than its fair share of excitement, not the particularly good, cozy gather-around-the-fireplace type, either.

A niece I adore decided to get married on December 21st in Midwest Kansas, home of winter blizzards. So, that Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. (my wife's a hard-charger), we set off for Hays, attempting to stay one step ahead of "Storm (I think they named it) Dumbledore." You know, the storm that blew the socks off everyone in the States (Canada, I'm looking at you!).

We got there okay, albeit bleary-eyed, delirious, and pumped up on caffeine and sugar. My daughter woke up in the back seat, yawned, and with a happily contented tone said, "Wow, that trip wasn't so bad." Even though she's 21, I grounded her for life.

BOOM! Flat tire after lunch. 22 degrees outside. (Merry Christmas, everybody!) Freezing, yet determined to show my masculine side, I changed the tire in, say, fifty-five minutes. Much cursing ensued. Icing on the cake? My wife ("accidentally," she says) kicked me in the nose. Grease-stained, sniffing, and broken-nosed, we're just in time for wedding pictures.

It was a nice and festive wedding. "The Washing of the Feet Ceremony" was interesting. Word of advice to anyone who plans on doing this in the future...wear loose socks.

The next morning (6:30 a.m. again) I'm dreary and suffering a bad back from the lousy hotel bed. And the ice machine, birthing baby cubes right outside our door, kept us up all night. (Happy Horror-days!) But I pulled up my big-boy britches 'cause it was time to go to Oklahoma to celebrate Christmas with my wife's family. At one stretch, the highway was covered with huge chunks and stalactites of snow. It felt like we were four-wheeling (it's a Midwest thing, folks, don't worry about it). And we nearly got stuck in the parking lot of a "Pilot" store getting gas.

And these know, I never knew there was such a variety of "quick in and out stores." I think we visited them all across the Midwest. There was the aforementioned "Pilot," the downtrodden "Stop-Shop (home of the world's filthiest bathrooms)," numerous "Kum-n-Go's (tee-hee)," and, of course, my personal new favorite discovery, "The Wood Shed." I'm telling you, "The Wood Shed" is Nirvana. It's what the Stuckey's of my childhood used to be. Their logo is great, a Beaver or something glaring at you with googly eyes. When you open the door--just like a carnival funhouse--a ginormous fan blasts you with a ghostly groan and a seriously threatening whirlwind of heat. (While I was waiting for my wife, I amused myself by watching newcomers freak out when they crossed the Barrier of the Damned.)  After you survive tornado alley, a giant blow-up snowman with an evil grin looms over you! Fantastic! And the bathrooms...the glorious, wondrous, old-fashioned, smelly bathrooms with antiquated machines boasting of  mysterious treasures such as "Big Wally" and other enticing sundries. Plus there was a plethora of crap for tourists to get suckered into. Gave me Christmas chills.

Then the trip turned nightmarish. My wife ran over a red squirrel in the highway. His eyes still haunt me. Took me seconds to shake it...

Had a great time with my wife's family. But I was sleep-deprived and loopy the whole time (kinda' like how I was during college). I found myself drifting off on many occasions--taking a Scrooge-like trippy side-trip--looking down on the proceedings as if I'd died or something. Maybe I did for a minute. With a turkey leg in my mouth.

The undisputed highlight was my mother-in-law's riveting rum-cake performance. She taunted us with a rum-cake she'd discovered in the freezer after a year. Then she decided to taste it - the plan was that we'd all get some if it hadn't gone bad. She sat down at the table with much deliberation, fork dangling over the tantalizing, yet ultimately terrifying, chocolocity (new word!). We sat on the edge of our seats, awaiting the final verdict. But my mother-in-law has nothing on Hitchcock. Ever the master of suspense, she'd lift a forkful up, then drop it back on the plate to recite another amusing anecdote. Many, many times. Finally! We had lift-off! And it was good. And tasty.

It's over!

Merry Christmas everyone and God help us one and all!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tex and the God Squad is here! Before the New Year! Get used to it!

So I paraphrased a gay rallying battle-cry but it seems somewhat appropriate considering the content of the newest Tex, the Witch Boy book, the final one in the trilogy.
The first two books in the series have been leading up to this one. Everything's about to explode. I tried (don't know if I succeeded; you guys be the judge) to make it bigger, badder, more expansive in action, setting, and, especially, relevant themes. Plus, all of the characters' storylines are resolved. For better or for worse. And if you've read the first two books, you KNOW everyone's expendable. I'm a sadist. But as a writer, finishing the series felt sad, yet somewhat satisfying. However, it's time to put the kids to bed.
Tex and the God Squad tackles teen suicide, gay and lesbian issues, religion, bad food, tornadoes, competitive witches, a hooded murderer, satanic cats, a runaway car, a deadly paintball competition, and questions about what to do with one's life post high school. Sounds as traumatic as a Swedish art film, doesn't it? But, not to worry, there's plenty of humor and romance to smooth over the rough parts. Plus, Elspeth's back (if you don't know who she is, go read Tex and the Gangs of Suburbia).
Then there's the villain of the evil religious sect called "The Clarendon Baptist Church." Well. I live in Kansas. Part of Kansas's sad burden to bear is they host the heinous Westboro Baptist Church. Sorry, sorry, sorry...on behalf of all Kansans, I apologize.
You know, I don't understand how any church--sect, cult, call them what you want--proclaims to spread the word of God when their message is full of hatred, intolerance and ugliness. My understanding of Jesus (and I'm no expert; smoke coils off me whenever I enter a church) is that he was open to everyone regardless of beliefs, sexual orientation, or you know, anything. Kinda' like how my niece described Martin Luther King, "Just an all-around good guy."
I don't know much about religion, but I certainly understand bullying. And the WBC is one of the biggest bullies around.
Read the book and watch Tex take 'em down. 
(Psst. Keep this on the down-low, but Elspeth returns in her own book next Summer).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Unveiling The Wizard's Shroud with Eric Price

Please welcome Eric Price, author of the YA fantasy tale, Unveiling The Wizard's Shroud! Give it a read and here we go (it still boggles my mind that writers want to be grilled by me, but there's no accounting for taste).

Hey, you’re a fellow Midwestern writer! Tell us why Iowan’s make for good fantasy writers, Eric.
I’m amazed at the number of writers from the Midwest I’ve met since signing my contract. I don’t know about Iowan’s specifically (I’ve only been one for 2 ½ years; I grew up eating breakfast, lunch, and supper—I incorporated second breakfast after reading Tolkien—but I’m still uncertain what dinner means), but I’m a firm believer in write what you know. I know sword fighting—I fenced in college—and I’ve read enough fantasy to know dragons and magic. All of my other published stories have been science fiction; my fantasy manuscripts kept getting rejected, so I was about to give up and call myself a science fiction writer before I signed the contract for Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.

*Wow, so you know your way around a sword. Cool, and I hope I don’t ever get on your bad side! Tell us about your book, Unveiling The Wizards’ Shroud.
Owen is the only son of King Kendrick, which almost guarantees his birthright as heir to the throne, something he does not desire. Magic is the only thing he despises more than the idea of being king. When his father falls ill at Owen’s birthday celebration, he has to seek out an ingredient needed to save him, and the only way to succeed in his quest, is to team up with the very magician he holds responsible for the death of his mother.

*”Owen” seems to me a strange choice of name for a fantasy-based character. Are your Midwest origins showing?
Owen means “young warrior.” When I write, I give all of my characters names based upon their personality. Many writers do this, but the first time I realized it was Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land.’ When I start writing, many characters end up getting new names. Cedric, Yara, and Hagen all started with different names. I intended to change Owen’s name. I wanted something more exotic sounding, but the longer I wrote, the more this young warrior became “Owen.”

Also, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I won’t discount the possibility it’s a subconscious reference to Owen Lars that my mind refused to let go.
*Huh. Sorry to say I don’t know Owen Lars (yet, I’ve seen all the Star Wars flicks), but that’s awesome. I had no idea “Owen” means “young warrior.” You’ve obviously given a lot of thought to your tale. So, there’s a lot of prejudice against wizards in your tale, Eric. I’m detecting a sorta’ Professor X and Magneto vibe (yes, I’m letting my nerd flag fly) between Cedric and Argnam with Cedric promoting living in peace with mere mortals, and Argnam wanting to wipe humans out.

Anyone who read the post I did for Kai Strand (you can read it here) knows I love myself some X-Men, especially the mid-nineties variety. I’ve always liked the sympathetic villain like Magneto (an extremely brief synopsis for anyone who doesn’t know—his family was killed in the concentration camps in the 1940s, so he has a hard time believing in a world where normal people will live in peace with mutants). I didn’t want a villain just pouring forth evil (not that I don’t like those villains, I just didn’t want Argnam to be one).
*I like sympathetic villains, too, Eric. Some of my fave characters. Is the prejudice against wizards a metaphor for anything happening in the world today?

I think prejudice, fear, and hate will always surround the unknown or the different. I didn’t write Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud with any particular metaphor in mind—and I certainly didn’t want to preach a message, but even if I did, I wouldn’t say my book means this, because to some people, it may mean that. Now I’ve taken away from the book for them, because I said what they thought meant that actually meant this. See how bad that, or this, could get?
*Ai-yi-yi! Don’t make me think too much. Not a good thing. Yara’s a good, strong female character and Cedric’s a pretty interesting wizard as well. Good characterization, Eric! Are they based on anyone you know?

I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I like to think she’d be like Yara in strength and attitude. For Cedric I combined three of my favorite wizards: Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Zeddicus “Zed” Zu'l Zorander. Then I made him much more flawed than these three.
*I liked how you interwove various short stories depicting the past Wizard Rebellion throughout the epic quest, making for a richer tapestry. What were your influences?

I had to get the back story incorporated into the book. Had I just let Cedric tell Owen everything, I’d have lost 90% of my readers by the end of the third chapter. Stephen King’s “Wizard and Glass” (The Dark Tower IV) is almost entirely back-story, but it’s written like the events are currently happening. I tried mimicking his style, and I think it works in Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from readers about it.
*There’re more beasties in this tale than a Ray Harryhausen film, the way I like my fantasy. So, tell me, did the shadow lizards originate from a dream? Or somewhere else?

I’m a recovering video game addict. I played a lot of The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy. If these games teach us anything, it’s that beasts are everywhere in fantasy. The whole cave scene is my homage to a Zelda game. I just didn’t include a map, compass, bats, or a master key.
*Eric, there are support groups for recovering video game addicts.

Obviously, Unveiling The Wizards’ Shroud is set up for a sequel. Are you currently at work on it? When can we expect it? Give us a few hints on what to expect.
A sequel? Hmm, the idea never crossed my mind. Oh, who am I trying to fool? Well, I’m not actively working on it. My son asked me to write a baseball book for him, so that gets done first. But then I’ll be back to Wittatun. I actually have plans for a lot of stories in this world, but I don’t want to say this is part 1, this is part 2, etc. I do plan at least one direct sequel to Unveiling. I have two more quests to take care of (one for Yara, another for Owen). The two stories will take place simultaneously; I’m just not sure if it will fit in one book, or if I’ll need two.

*Can’t wait to read your baseball book. Sure it’ll be awesome.
Finally—and for no reason, really, other than your last name is “Price”—what’s your favorite Vincent Price performance in a movie. Bonus points if you write the answer like Vincent Price would say it—over the top, hammy, and dripping with menace!

The ten thousand dollars offered by a millionaire to stay in a spooky house with him and his wife seems like easy money. But when the doors are locked, the screams are unleashed. This makes The House on Haunted Hill the best of them all.

By the way, I wanted to name either of my sons Vincent. My wife rejected it so hard, the word Vincent disappeared from our book of baby names. I still don’t see the big deal. We could have called him Vince.

Give a big hand to Eric Price for being a good sport! And look for his YA fantasy epic, Unveiling The Wizards’ Shroud, available now. And Eric and I are in a particularly giving mood now, since the holidays are upon us, so…the first person who can do another stellar, hammy Vincent Price impression via words, gets a free copy of Eric’s book and my first tale, Tex, The Witch Boy.

Make it over-the-top and dripping with creepy. Go!


Where you can find me:

Website/Blog I’m always running contests!

Twitter: @AuthorEricPrice


Friday, December 6, 2013

Bunny-Foo-Foo Is Dead

Apologies to everyone, but my dog ate Bunny Foo Foo.

It doesn't thrill me, but it's my job to report the facts.

Couple days ago, I kicked my Dog Of Destruction, Zak, outside. After that, the quiet, calm atmosphere that overlay the house was unsettling. No barking, tearing of furniture, dropping of dog-toys in my lap. It was quiet. TOO quiet. Just like the war films from the forties.

When I opened the back door, I saw something horrific, unsettling, something I'll never forget in my life.

Two grey, long legs drooped out of Zak's mouth like the world's worst walrus mustache. Blood splattered his jowls. Somehow his tongue worked its way around the (half) carcass to show just how tasty his impromptu yard meal was.

Yet he didn't look like a demonic hell-hound. His eyes were round and full of good-time fun, his demeanor one of "hey, look what I did!" His tail wagged more than a politician changing his mind. He was dang proud of his catch.

Panic set in. I didn't know what to do.

First thing? I called my wife, couldn't get ahold of her. Crap.

Second thing? Told my daughter about it while she ate breakfast. Explained how she'd better watch out if Zak licked her (Essential step? Probably not, but I did derive a little sadistic satisfaction out of her reaction. Let's call it payback for all the sleepless nights she's caused me.).

Third step? I donned blue rubber gloves (the kind only TV show medical examiners and housewives in commercials wear), snapped 'em up past my wrists. Grabbed a shovel and a trash bag. Whipped on a painting mask like I was a rock star. Took it off again so I could moisturize, because my wife says I must, then put it back on. Slapped the shovel in my hand and said, "Let's do this" in a gravelly voice.

Zak decided it was a good time to play "keepaway." After futilely chasing him around the yard, I went inside, tried a different tactic. Enlisting my daughter in the war against grotesqueries, we concocted an elaborate plan to lure him inside while I bagged the gory Grail.

My bravado failed me once I approached the half-bunny. Hugest half-rabbit I'd ever seen in my life. I'd like to think Zak didn't gnaw off the top half.

But the other option was even more unsettling...Monsters. Under the deck.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Movie-going adventures in 2013

Today, my friend and I went to see "Oldboy." Okay. First of all, when did Josh Brolin turn into Nick Nolte on a bender? Second? Movie-going has changed.

Bought the tickets, automated. A human (yay!) ticket tearer tore our tickets, asked how we were doing. At first my friend replied, "Just fine." But,since he's going through a divorce, he changed his answer. He came back with, "No, I lied. Nothing's fine. Everything's terrible." The ticket-tearer did her job, tore paper like the wind, stared at us dumb-facedly, ignored my friend's impassioned plea for humanity, and handed back our worthless half-tickets. But we were on target. Still plenty of time to urinate. Twice.

But then trouble hit. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to put ice in a cup. Everything's automated now. No more pimply-faced staffers willing to help you out. You gotta' do it on your own. Overwhelming to a point, I felt like raising my fists to the Heavens and screaming, "How do you get frickin' ice?" I tried several different machines, none of them worked. Just push buttons. That's what I was supposed to do, still couldn't get ice. There was even a "wheel-chair button" on the automated soda machine and, desperately, I pushed that. Nothing happened. Why is there a "wheel-chair button" on the soda machine anyway? I mean, it's not like handicapped people can't push a button. But, apparently, you need to be a rocket scientist to figure out these damn things. Some guy next to me gave me an understanding "been there, haven't done that" nod. In times of movie-viewing crises, friendships are born.

At first my pal and I were ecstatic to have a private viewing, being the only ones in the theatre. He felt free to drop loud "eff-bombs." Liberating. Then another guy shuffled in, smelling like a bag of potatoes. Okay, the theatre's empty, did he have to sit DIRECTLY behind us? Apparently so. Felt his breath on the back of my neck through-out the movie.

Finally, two others entered the theatre. A big dad with a kid. Really. Even though the movie's known to be uber-violent, it's perfect for a nice father/son outing.

The movie's good, gripping, disturbing as all get out. But we ended up cracking up at one of the most outlandish plot twists. We really shouldn't have. But we did. If there were more people in attendance, I'm sure we would've been kicked out. The father in front of us actually moaned, tossed out a "Good Lord!" at the plot-twist while we giggled like sorority sisters. The serial killer behind us remained frighteningly quiet.

Well. A fun day for all (except for the other three film-goers who probably hated us). But it's like vomiting. If my friend cracks up, I do it, too.

We saw an awful trailer for "Grudge Match," some stupid boxing film with Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro. Chock full of old people unfunny jokes; a youthful, vibrant, "hilarious," wise-cracking black sidekick; Alan Arkin standing in for the Burgess Meredeth role; and bombastic music. Comedy of the year, even if it's supposed to be a drama. Can't wait.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sorry, I Got Nothin'

Well, hell, after eighty or so posts, in fewer than those weeks, for the first time ever, I have absolutely nothing to write about.

Zilch, nada, nunca, nyet, washout, shutout, zippo, duck egg. Nothingness. Nullity.

Apologies. It's not a good feeling. I feel impotent. I mean, I'm the guy people are usually telling to shut up. Do they, like, have a "Viagra" for mind limpness?

Of course I could go on and bore everyone, fill a post up with fluff, explaining the entire futile existentialist nature of having nothing on my mind.

But I respect my readers too much to do such a thing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Movie Guilt: Aliens & Zombies

So, recently I watched two very different films.

My wife and I saw Ender's Game in the theatre. Was it a good movie? I dunno. It was entertaining enough, but it hit upon all military-based entertainment cliché's. Tough Sargent, intensely evil (for no good reason) competition, obligatory love interest (and we know how soldiers like to hook up in the face of battle), and an underdog, who despite all odds, rallies his team behind him into a cohesive fighting machine.

Sigh. Been there, seen that. Soldiers in space. The underrated (albeit, admittedly fascist) Starship Troopers did it better. Plus it offered exploding alien bug creatures. And Neil Patrick Harris as a nerdy bug-killing expert. Since we all know Harris is openly gay, I thought I'd already paid my liberal cinematic dues.

But sitting through Ender's Game, I couldn't help but feel guilty watching it. I mean, the author, whose book the film is based upon, Orson Scott Card, has made his viewpoints regarding gay marriage quite clear. It ain't pretty. Yet there we sat, a bag of popcorn perched between us, taking in the CGI spectacle.

My wife cited a news story she listened to that suggested we should donate to a gay cause if we paid to see the movie to balance out the inequality. Not a bad idea. But where to start? I offered up donating to the "Bugs In Space Need Love, Too" program, but was quickly shot down. Guess I missed the point.

But aliens (friendly ones, of course) should be allowed equal rights as well. I wouldn't oppose an alien and human marriage, as long as the alien signs a prenuptial contract not to eat his partner's face.

No one rallies for aliens (except for "E.T.," and he doesn't count, because we all KNOW he's just a hunk of cutesy, Spielbergian plastic).

No love for zombies, either, even though they're real. Duh. What with global warming, toxic waste dumping, and run-afoul, mad scientists, I'm surprised zombies aren't more of a political hot-topic now.

Which brings me to the other film I watched several nights ago: Zombie Strippers.

Oddly enough, I didn't experience an iota of guilt watching it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stuart Goes To Twerking School

So, I thought I enlisted in a class about social media, hoping to pick up a few tips. Twerking 101. Awesome. I need to learn self-promotion and all that stuff.

I walked into the building, excited. The frantic, thumping music shoulda' clued me in as I climbed (out-of-breath, natch) to the third floor.  Laptop under my arm, clad in a Hawaiian shirt and jeans, I forged on. When I pushed open the door, I was met with a Boschian vision of Hell.

Clandex-covered bottoms thrust repeatedly toward the roof. Demonically possessed pelvises grinded, gyrated, found various bean-bags and "hoppity-hops" to take their aggression out on.

The instructor barked, "Twerk! Twerk like you mean it! Nice twerking, Sinsilla!"

I was horrified, appalled, embarrassed. I felt compelled to leave immediately. But not before I took a few photos on my camera. Look...

Okay. Sorry, that didn't really happen.

But, really, Twerking. It's kinda' sad this word's in the popular lexicon now. I mean, where did it come from? Did Miley Cyrus decide that if she "twists" her body, then "jerks" her bottom, she could toss the words in a blender, trend the crap outta' it?

These kids today (and yes, I'm channeling my most cranky grandfather mode, wearing my gray sweater and knee-high, black socks). They have no idea "twerking's" been around since the cavemen days. Used to be a mating ritual amongst primal man. They'd toss their posterior in the air, shake it, women would come running. Nothing new under the sun.

Just check out this hieroglyphic anthropologists found in a cave...even dinosaurs got into the act.

How far will the Twerkademic go? Will corporations have twerking-casual days on Friday? Will Twerkers get half-off appetizers at Applebees? How about greeting cards wishing you a "happy Twerky-Day?"

Please send me money to help stop the madness.

But let me take a few more photos first, just for, you know, research.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Talking Unicorns With Suzanne de Montigny

Okay, first of all, unicorns exist. Deal with it. Second, my friend, Suzanne de Montigny (her name's harder to write than a good lima bean recipe) has written a stellar middle-grade/YA fantasy novel about unicorns. Read it. It's good. And Ms. de Montigny takes that extra step to make it very odd which I appreciate. If you're a fan of the great Japanese fantasist, Hayao Miyazaki, then this will appeal to you. It puts me in mind of Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke." Both of these epic fantasies have green tales to tell in entertaining ways.

So, hey, enough of my yakking. What's up, Suzanne, and why Unicorns?

When I was a girl, I wanted a horse more than anything in the world, but never got one. Unicorns were just an extension of that. I was also a dog and cat lover. The love of animals ran in my family.

*I love animals too, Suzanne. But my dog's about to drive me up the wall. Want him? Anyway, I digress. The juxtaposition between unicorns and dinosaurs threw me for a loop at first. But you made it work. Truly imaginative. What inspired you to mix up the two very unusual critters?

The entire story is based on a story I wrote in grade six. It was six chapters long and fully illustrated by my sister. In the original book, the unicorn’s best friend was a stegosaurus named Dino. Later, as an adult, I changed him into a gigantisaurus named Darius in the new book.

*Um, if I beg, can we PLEASE see some of those illustrations? Pretty please with a horn on top? No? Fine. Back to the interview. Will we see Azaria and friends age along with the books or will they remain at a young age?

No, you won’t see them except possibly for a page or two depending on what I decide. The next story takes place 60 years in the future. New characters, new situation. But I will tell you that they do find Darius again. He’s very old now, but still the same wonderful creature he always was.

 *I know the books are geared toward middle-grade readers, but, honestly, they're awesome for all age ranges. Devious plan or happy circumstance?

Happy circumstances. In reality, the unicorns’ situation resembles the plight of the rhinos and elephants in Africa who are poached for the ivory in their horns. This story gives a first-hand look at the problem through the eyes of the animal hunted.

*Okay, awesome, you're my kinda' person, Suzanne. Reading your book, I was put in mind of Richard Adam's classic Watership Down. The Shadow Of The Unicorn shares many environmental concerns and is very humane. Was Adam's book an influence?

No, it wasn’t. I only read his book about a year ago. Just loved it.

*Whatever you do, don't watch the British animated adaptation of Adam's follow-up book, The Plague Dogs.  Good Lord, they even turned the ending more downbeat. Kids stay away for fear of future scarring! Okay. Sorry. Back to you. Would you consider yourself an animal rights activist (okay, I know this question's outta' nowhere, but to me, the book practically screams out for animal rights)?

No, I'm not. I'm definitely concerned about the extinction of animals through land encroachment, global warming, and poaching, we do live in an eco-system. So when I see news stories about deer attacking humans and animal rights activists screaming to leave them alone, my immediate thought is: but we live in an eco-system where the numbers would be controlled by hunting by humans and other creatures. I mean, if I go walking into the woods alone in cougar country, there’s a good chance I might be eaten by a cougar since I’m part of that food chain. I think hunting is okay if it the meat is used for food. But I don’t think people should engage in it just for sport, and definitely not for the harvest of ivory.

*But, Suzanne, where do zombies fit into your world-view? I think everyone should take a zombie to lunch. Digressing again. You present a pretty bleak portrait of humanity with the particularly heinous villain Ishmael, although I found his characterization interesting. Do you have any empathy for him Do you feel he's greed-driven? Doesn't know any better? Pure evil and hubris at work? Can we expect a kinder side of humanity in the future?

He’s absolutely greed-driven! And no, I have 0 empathy for him. He has no concept of animals having souls or feelings. They’re either meant for the table, or as beasts of burden, in this case—healers. Yes, we shall find kinder humans, but it’ll take a while. A lot of the second book deals with the need to trust some humans. Then, in the last book, it’s unicorn pitted against unicorn.

*Okay, the idea of unicorn against unicorn scares me, Suzanne. I love your creatures. Make the killing stop! I imagine Shadow Of The Unicorn will leave a lasting impression on your middle-grade readers. There's a lot of sadness, death of likable characters, and a fear of an uncertain future. I remember being that age and this is the kind of book I liked; strong, no coddling, ultimately hopeful. Thoughts?

I like to write stories that teach children values. And in order to finish the lesson I’m teaching, I have to end with the unicorns triumphing. Book one ended on a sour note because it’s not over yet for another two books.

*Suzanne, are we looking at an alternative time-line, different universe or the past?

Definitely an alternate history. It happens 12,000 years ago. And though some small mammals did exist alongside dinosaur in later history, I’ve made humans, equines, and dinosaurs wander the earth all at the same time.

*You've said the original version of Shadow was a lot more downbeat and depressing. Call me morbid, but I want to know how.

Morbid doesn’t describe it. Far more unicorns died. And you know the scene where Ishmael gathered up his cronies to slaughter all the unicorns in his pen for their horns? In the first version, he succeeded. But my sister read it and thought it was too cruel, so I introduced Adiva, Ishmael’s compassionate wife, who lets them go. Also, near the end, both of Azaria’s parents were killed. Again, my sister cried, “NO!” so I changed it to Polaris sacrificing himself for the herd.

*Good grief. Thank God for Adiva. Um, cheer up? Lol. Is there a major unicorn plan in place? Epic? I want to know and I want to read! How many books in the series can we anticipate?

Yes. I’m nearly finished rewriting the second of the trilogy. We are cast forward sixty years in time where a corrupt Great Stallion rules through intimidation and by creating a false god. Only one, very old unicorn remembers the truth and the story is mostly about the quest to find the truth. Also, there is another huge natural disaster impending. I’m planning on submitting this one to Muse in January.

*Sounds great, looking forward to it. Okay, cheat time. From our previous correspondence, you dropped a mention about a mystery involving violins. I put you on the spot, so spill the details. Can we expect to read it soon?

My boys and I are avid fiddlers. We study with one of the top fiddlers in Canada when she’s not on tour. In this story, Kira, a 13-year-old child prodigy in classical violin, has a tough time fitting in the small town of Hope. Her father dies at the beginning, and the money put aside for the new violin needed to do her final exam will be used to pay household expenses until the will comes through. To add to the angst, a strange red-haired fiddler with strange pale blue eyes attends her father’s funeral, and within days takes the town by storm with her mysterious Celtic music. Then when someone begins vandalizing the town, leaving dead and gutted birds as a calling card, only Kira knows who the real perpetrator is.

*Very intriguing! Bonus question, but don't treat it as much: What's your least favorite food? Ever?

It’s a toss up between liver and brussel sprouts.

*Hmm. Have to give it up to liver, Suzanne. Or lima beans.

Anyway. You guys go pick up Suzanne's book, The Shadow Of The Unicorn. Very different, very good and recommended, particularly for those imaginative at heart.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's The Most Spookiest Time Of The Year...

It's the most magical time of the year. Everything's turning orange. The air outside is crisper than a cracker. My wife's donning turtlenecks. Leaves are starting to fall, crackling with a pleasant crunch underfoot (until I have to rake). Deranged serial killers are lurking behind trees wearing plastic masks...wait, what?

Okay! Being the Halloween season, I'm doing my due diligence and delving into horror films. And man, have I delved. I won't hit you up with every loser I struggled through. But I'll mention the noteworthy (for various reasons) films. Get used to it. I'm going to do this each year.

*Possibly the biggest surprise to me was the remake of Fright Night (2011). I hadn't expected to like this in the least, after having suffered through so many poor remakes of horror "classics (debatable term)." But this film is surprising, funny, well-acted and sharply-written. I actually like the original, but I think the filmmakers, for once, improved on the original recipe. Recommended.

*Well, anything Guillermo DelToro touches is (usually) golden. He produced Mama, and it's a pseudo-classic. I sorta' freaked out on the feral kids, but that only hints at the spooky moments here. Very scary film. Too bad the last five minutes nearly derail the whole damn thing.

*Dead Silence. Sigh. What can I say? It's not very good. Pretty much sucks in fact. But. Anytime you
toss in a ventriloquist dummy, with those dead, yet alive (SQUIRREL!) eyes, I'm terrified. And there's some pretty freaky imagery throughout the whole film. For the ladies, Ryan Kwanten (Jason from True Blood) stars and thankfully keeps his clothes on. Still can't act very well.

*Hey, punch in that Duran-Duran eight-track tape and welcome to the eighties! The Newlydeads is truly awful. It has some sorta', maybe, kinda' plot about a transvestite ghost, a hero the film  apparently doesn't mind is a murderer, some psychic woman, fun decapitations, and lots of trees. If you're a fan of blowsy, big-haired, blond women in "mom jeans (the kind they wear up over their navel and wide at the hip like my dad used to wear)"--and admittedly, I'm a closeted fan--this is your film. I loved it for all the wrong reasons. Most I laughed all year.

*I bought into the hype and checked out three Boris Karloff "horror" films. Man, am I stupid. Night Key, The Black Castle, and The Climax (um, not a porno film). Obviously trying to leach onto Karloff's success in Frankenstein, all of these films' trailers claim to be the "most terrifying thing since Frankenstein." Yeah, right. The first two are mediocre melodramas. The Climax is horrifying alright. It's a friggin' musical that features one of those god-awful, bird-chirping, warbling singers from the forties. She'll make your tooth-fillings ache. And the lead guy's one of those rosy-cheeked, earnestly high-pitched voiced dudes who'll make you want to pull your hair out. I call unfair. And definitely not recommended. Any of 'em.

That about does it. I'd love to hear about everyone else's Halloween viewing.

Stay spooky.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Squirrels Gone Wild

Our yard, set in a nice suburban Kansas neighborhood, contains a potpourri of wildlife, practically a wildlife habitat. Rabbits bounce, procreate, and my wife instructs our dog to eat them when they gnaw away at her garden. Snakes slither through the grass, pop out of bushes like a cobra out of a basket (I shriek like a child but let's not dwell on that). Bats flap at night, strange unidentifiable birds make weird, inexplicable electronic noises in the mornings. My favorite critter is the grand-daddy of all possums, who I used to see slowly lumbering home every morning at seven A.M., after a night of wild partying (a kindred soul), and sleeping it off underneath our deck. Haven't seen him in a while. Hope he's okay. Fist bump, possum.

But it's the squirrels. The freaky, scary, damn squirrels.

Couple summers ago, I walked out to my car parked in the street. A huge Oak tree-biggest in the 'hood-hovers over our house, practically shading the whole neighborhood. I had a hand on the car door when a loud explosion woke me up more than a barrel full of coffee. A squirrel magically materialized on the car-roof, stretched his neck up to the sky, checking out his bearings. He shook his head, I kid you not, clearing the cobwebs from his addled squirrel-brain after he plummeted from the tree onto my car's roof. We locked eyes. His cold, dark murderous black orbs glared at me. I swear he furrowed his brow. It was an instant frozen in time and twice as scary. Then he ran off, seemingly no worse for the wear. Long fall, too. But...that look. I know he blamed me. J'accuse!

Isolated incident? I think not. The other morning my wife left for work. Plunk! An acorn hit her head. She looked up. A squirrel glowered at her, challenging her. There was no doubt in her mind (and she's a scientist, for God's sake) he tossed it at her.

Not that I'm a specieist, but (and whenever someone prefaces a sentence like that, it means they usually are what they claim they're not) these dang squirrels are taking over. An animal coup d'état is on the horizon, Planet Of The Apes style.

I'm reminded of the mercifully short-lived "Man vs. Nature" horror films of the '70's. They usually starred people like Leslie Nielson (before his "funny stage") and Joan Collins (in her "washed up stage") as evil capitalists who want to destroy nature in the name of the almighty buck. Then the animals inevitably revolt. Anyone remember these films? No? Am I the only one? One particular film that haunted me in my childhood was Frogs starring Ray Milland. Of course it totally sucks in hindsight (I mean, frogs? Really? How harmful can they be?).But now...I don't know. Seems pretty omniscient.

Squirrels. Be careful, gang. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Return Of The Christian Werewolf Erotica!

I swear. Some time back, I joked about writing a Christian, werewolf erotica novel. You know what? It's been my most popular blog post thus far. So, I'm going with another entry. Y'all better be careful for what you wish. I'm now contemplating unleashing (rabies and all) a whole novel full of this idiocy.

Fair warning, folks. The heat level's gonna' rise! So, tuck in the little ones, grab a glass of wine, settle back and sizzle.

Clears throat. Okay, here we go...

I nibbled on his ear like a communion wafer. His furry unibrow raised up to Heaven, his toes bent down to Hades. He gazed at me, howled, then asked, "Do Fox network news?" The question didn't need to be answered, no time for words. Nothing mattered but the moment. I grabbed his pointed ears like handlebars, pulled him down next to me. A true gentleman, he lapped at his privates. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. He jumped up, circled the bed several times like a dog before a nap, panted, then fell back in bed. His tongue lashed out at my face. After wiping his saliva off, I maneuvered my way on top of him. Being an internet-certified pastor, I quickly delivered a marriage ceremony. Now I could truly enjoy the pleasures of his lupine body, no sinning involved.

"Ethel," he moaned. "Oh, God..."

"Yes, praise him," I replied.

"You're the first human woman I've been with."

"And the last..."

"No, I mean, really, arooooooo! I've only been with were-men before you."


Ooh! I've just turned my Christian erotica werewolf novel into a GAY Christian erotica werewolf novel! This suckah's gonna' sell through the roof!

Okay, what do you guys think? I'm either going to Hell or becoming a millionaire.

Working title is "50 Fleas Of Fur."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

No government? Fine. No taxes

Well, crap, we no longer have any government. Weird, right? So far there's no rioting in the streets, looting, or embarrassing flash-mobs in the malls. And since we're still civilized in the malls-the last bastion of humanity-we just might weather through this.

So a bunch of tea party (pinky fingers uplifted, of course, while they sip their drinks) members and republicans threw a hissy fit because they didn't get their way. Cry me a river and let me urinate in it. Sorry for the vulgarity, gang, but I'm pretty pissed.

The One Percent is gonna' come out of this just fine and dandy, probably better than ever, thank you very much. Interest rates are going to rise. The high and mighty decision-makers will sit back in their leather recliners, stroking their white cats in their laps, and giggling at the misery they've wrought. Can't ever get enough money, after all, and that's what it's all about. Meanwhile, lots of people are hurting, government funded programs now defunct. And hard-working folks are losing their jobs.

Why? We know the answer. Greed and stupidity.

SO what's the upside? Not a damn thing. But I'm thinking of forcing an upside. If the so-called decision-makers of the United States decides there's no more government, then I'll back them. That means I shouldn't have to pay taxes anymore, right? Hell, yeah. It's a revolution started on my sofa!

Fight the man!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Come Party With Meradeth Houston. Colors Like Memories Is In Print!

Hi! *waves* I'm incredibly excited to announce the paperback release for COLORS LIKE MEMORIES. The ebook release has been a blast, and it is especially awesome to actually hold the book in my hands :) Here are three things I think you might find fun about the book:

1. It's got a pretty sweet cover :) And I'm rather partial to the blurb:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

 2. There have been some pretty awesome things said about it (if I do say so myself, but I may be a bit biased). See:

 -"...I applaud the author for providing a writing that has the power to encourage, inspire, help, heal and simply serve as a platform to stimulate communication for any reader (regardless of age), who is feeling hopeless. If you are looking for an interesting read, this book is well written, interesting and has several positive messages that the reader can take away from the story. I would recommend this book to any reader."
TWC Amazon Review

 -"Colors Like Memories was an amazing YA paranormal romance. It will make you soar with wings then drop you off and catch you once you get near the ground." Michelle Kullman Amazon Review

 -"COLORS LIKE MEMORIES is an achingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and new beginnings. Meradeth Houston writes with a clean, clear prose that packs a punch. She carries her characters through the full spectrum of emotions, and the reader is swept along in the journey." RunningnWriting Amazon Review

 3. You don't have to wait for book #2! THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE, also set in the Sary world, is already available, and you can grab a copy at Amazon, B&N, or my publisher MuseItUp Publishing. Book #3, SURRENDER THE SKY, will also be released soon :)
You can pre-order COLORS LIKE MEMORIES at my publisher's site: MuseItUp Publishing, or find it on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Ebook copies are also available on all vendor sites!

Those are my three things, and if that's not enough to interest you, well, I've also got a little giveaway running for a book of your choice. Check out the rafflecopter below :)


A bit about Meradeth:

 >She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.

 >When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!

 >She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!

 >If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

Get Meradeth's book here:

Find her online:
Website : Blog : Twitter : Facebook : Pinterest : Goodreads

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct link to Rafflecopter.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Wife's A Serial Killer!

I woke up this morning angry at my wife. When I got out of the shower, I told her as much.

"Why?" she asked. "Did I flush on you again?"

"No." For once it wasn't that. But she does have an uncanny knack of flushing the upstairs toilet as soon as I enter the shower downstairs. Makes for an eye-opening, genital-shrinking, freezing way to kick off your morning. "No, you woke me up at four A.M. because of what you did in my nightmare."

In my dream, a friend of hers called, asked her if she'd be interested in killing someone. All in the name of science, of course. At first she declined. But I saw the spark in her eye, her killer cogs turning. Soon, she said she'd like to do it, wanted to know if I'd like to join in on the weekend excursion. I hemmed and hawed, then gave into her. It went against my better judgment, but I saw how much it meant to her. So six of us got a motel room (three couples, three double-size beds) and proceeded to collect three people to murder. I chickened out, lay on the bed with the pillow over my head while the wacky antics ensued around me. At some point my in-laws showed up. The next morning it was time to check out. But there was a strange Hawaiian-shirted cop in the room, asking questions. The cops were closing in and...

I woke up. Couldn't believe my wife put me through that.

But that's unfair, I feel you thinking. You have to understand, I'm the guy who grounded my daughter years ago because of her behavior in one of my dreams.

The weird thing is, this is a variation on a recurring nightmare I have. I'm always somehow involved in a murder (usually an accident), I try and cover it up using the most convoluted methods in the world (yet at the time, they make perfect sense), and the cops are ready to nail me.

Huh. I told my daughter about these nightmares a few days ago. She launched into full-on psychoanalytical mode. She said, "Dad, either you feel guilty about something or...all of the macabre events you write about are getting to you."

Maybe I am taking my work to bed with me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Strolling Down The Dark Side With L.J. Holmes

Groundhog L. J!
L. J. Holmes is a long-time author of romantic and erotica fiction, practically one of the cornerstones of our publisher, Muse-It-Up Publishing. But I'm especially taken with her shorter works of dark fiction. They're extremely evocative and well-written. Always expect the unexpected. Please give a big ol' welcome to L. J. Holmes!

*Hi, L. J., thanks for stopping by. I think you'll fit right in here at "Twisted Tales."

Thank you Stuart, for having me. I'm honored, and I'm blushing. Thank you for your generous description.

*In your story, "She's Gone," you've written one of the best mystery set-ups I've read in some time. Tell our readers a little about it.

This is a story about a man who comes home from work at the end of the day, expecting to find his wife and her cat waiting to greet him and his life to be what it was yesterday,

the day before and so on...but it's not. The house echoes with
its emptiness. There's no sound of life, no scents of dinner being made. It like he's walked into a tomb of the home he knows. A quick search tells him something is wrong...very wrong. His wife is gone. Her side of the closet is empty, but he can't wrap his head around it. Before leaving for work that very morning they'd made passionate love. So where is his wife? Backtracking he starts to see odd things slightly out of place and begins tallying up the clues...but the solution nearly drives him to his knees.

*What I like about the plot is it's so simple, yet brilliant. I defy anyone to not finish the tale! In fact, I think it'd be a great tale to teach in a creative writing course. You could withhold your ending, see what your students come up with.

I love writing stories with surprise endings. Most of my short stories have surprise endings that haunt and surprise me, the author, and those who've read my work. One of my best surprise endings takes place in another short I wrote called FOREVER WITH YOU. No one has ever anticipated the ending to that one.

*It's hard to talk about the story without giving away the ending (NOT what I expected). But it's a powerful ending. Without getting into specifics (it's hard, I know), does the ending hold special significance for you?

Yes, but as you said, talking about it would give it away.

*The writing is deceptively simple, yet clever. It develops its own rhythm, almost free-form jazz style. The recurring refrain "She's gone" almost plays like a drum riff punctuating the protagonist's thoughts. Was this intentional? Or, um, do I have a lot of spare time on my hands?

No you're absolutely right. I wanted the continual reciting of the title and of course the dilemma and mystery he's facing to ratchet up the tension.

*Having read "She's Gone," the first thing that struck me is I bet you'd write a great mystery noir, full of tough guys, double-crossing women, and snappy patter. Have you ever given this genre any thought?

I actually never thought I could write any kind of mystery. I'm a big Agatha Christie fan. She was brilliant. The way she incorporates the clues throughout the story so you really don't catch on who she's aiming her finger at until you reach the very end and then go back and reread it takes my breath away. I don't think of myself as clever enough to do that.

*Let's move onto "Twilight Comes." What starts out
as an interesting character study about a rather self-involved stockbroker soon turns into, um, something quite different. Almost did a spit-take with my morning coffee! Thoughts?

Yeah...this is one of the hardest stories I've ever written and the most difficult for me to figure out how to promote and/or discuss, but life is filled with things that are hard to discuss...but we can't run from them either. It is a very powerful story, and one I'm very proud to have written.

*Then there's "Life's Journey." The tale details a woman, perilously close to death, who is guided through her past life by her grandmother's spirit. Then she has a tough decision to make. Now your protagonist certainly had a tough life. My question to you is how much of it is autobiographical?

99%. The only fiction is the leg injury. I did not lose my leg.

*What's your personal take on the afterlife?

I've had several surgeries throughout my thirties and forties. I don't do well under anesthetics and have had a few cardiac arrests while on the table. I also drowned when I was four. To date, I've had three Near Death Experiences, and each one showed me another aspect of the After-Life.

I know there are those who will say what I experienced was caused by lack of oxygen, and they may be right...except, what I experienced changed me, and if lack of oxygen can bring peace and absolute belief in a Father/Mother capable of loving me the way I felt loved, give me more lack of oxygen, please.

Because of my experiences, I don't fear death, but I also know I'm here for a purpose and that is to be the best me I can figure out how to be.

*Do you feel your protagonist made the right decision?

Since it's about me...and I DID make the decision, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

*What compels you to go to the "dark side?"

The same thing that drove me to get my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. I was married to a very violent, controlling man who carried a Federal Badge he thought gave him absolute rights over everyone. It took me eleven years to find resources willing to stand behind me in the legal system so I could get myself and my children away from him. I needed to understand how a human being could say he loves me and do the things he did. I'm STILL trying to figure it out. Through writing about the darker side of life, I'm able to explore all kinds of motivations, and I'm hoping to make the path easier for someone else.

*How much of your life is reflected in your writing?

It depends on what I'm writing about, but a great deal of who I am comes through in the journeys I have my characters go through. At least 85%.

*What's up next for L.J?

I have four releases coming out between now and the end of this year. Two of them are sequels...the first coming out in September is a sequel to a story I wrote tongue-in-cheek for our Publisher here at Muse It Up because I wanted to cheer her up. It's erotica with humor and called SUC-U TOO. (Book One is SUC-U).

Another one I wrote again, tongue-in-cheek and is coming out in October is DIAMONDS FROM THE ROUGHAGE. Ever wonder where diamonds REALLY come from? Well, I tell all.

In December I have TWO releases...the first is the final book in my Christmas Miracles Series called CHRISTMAS GOES GREEN with a heroine who's half leprechaun-half witch, and a hero who's half elf-half human. My first in this series, SANTA IS A LADY amazed when it won the 2010 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. It took fifth place in its category less than two months after its release. I'm hoping CHRISTMAS GOES GREEN will be as well received.
My second December release is a short called THE END OF TOMORROW and is somewhat dark...but does have a Happy Ending.

There you have it, folks. Thanks, Lin, these are great answers and you're a very interesting person. Please do seek out her tales, they're well worth your time.

Here's her Muse-It-Up Publishing page:

And Amazon:

Monday, September 23, 2013

Doggy Dreams

As I sit here watching my dog go through the rituals of REM sleep, I have to wonder what exactly do dogs dream about?

His eyes flutter beneath his lids.  His paws, first back, then front, kick out and shake.  Maybe he's in a vast field,  pursuing the most delectable bunny ever. But the whimper tells me otherwise. Could be a doggy nightmare: vacuum cleaners roaring and coming at him, no way out, surrounded on all sides.

Or perhaps it's a heavenly dream. Shredding the mailman like an industrial-strength mulcher. Sitting back afterward, working a toothpick between his teeth, and sighing. "Ahhhh, that was a particularly tasty mailman. Hate those guys."

Either way it's gotta' be less frightening than our dreams. Right?

A few nights ago, I had a nightmare. Woke up in a cold sweat. Sure, it's a cliché, but sometimes clichés are more truthful than we'd like to admit. I was in college again, forced to take an advanced dance class. First session (and we were all required to bring uncooked meat as an introductory token), the professor asked every student to demonstrate "what we got." Well. I ain't got nothin'. Talk about horrifying. My idea of dancing is planting my feet, swiveling my hips, and thrusting my arms out, hoping not to hit anyone. Every student was exceptional. My turn was crawling closer. I prayed for the class to end before my turn. Then I'd go straight to the office tomorrow and drop the class. But there was still plenty of time left. What to do, I wondered, as I held my blood-dripping pound-and-a-half ground beef? "The chicken dance?" The "Macarena?" Gyrate like an epileptic madman like I did in college?

I woke up before I had to show "what I got."

Maybe I'm not being fair to dogs. Who's to say their nightmares are less frightening than ours? All I ask, is next time you see your dog dreaming? Give him an extra pat on the head, tell him, "I know, I know," and toss him a bone.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reaping Good Fiction With Dorothy Dreyer

With a huge ol’ drum-roll (please supply that yourself. Just put your lips together and water-boat), I present to you my good friend, and awesome author, Dorothy Dreyer! Her debut book, My Sister’s Reaper, is really a great YA supernatural thriller, gang. Buy it, already.

*Dorothy, okay, you’re dipping into the supernatural pond. Personal beliefs?

 I’ve always believed in magic. Maybe not outright magic magic, but a little of that unexplainable that always remains a mystery in life. As for the supernatural world, I’ve read a lot of evidence (and even heard from close relatives) of ghosts or some other entities that “interfere” with our world now and again. Though it’s spooky, I tend to believe it’s out there.

 *So...what's up with "reapers?" They carry your book. Tell your new readers what they're in for.

 I think the idea of writing a book involving grim reapers stemmed from episodes of Supernatural. Except in Supernatural, the reapers took human form. In my books, they’re out and out reapers, tattered cloaks and all. I thought it would be interesting to delve into that kind of world, where one (or two) would have to battle death.

 *Hm. Wondering if you're a Sam or Dean gal. But I digress. Zadie’s a great, strong female character. Don’t wanna’ hit you up immediately with a stupid question (when has that ever stopped me?), but what’re her origins?

 My protagonist couldn’t just be fighting death with no weapons at her side, right? In MY SISTER’S REAPER, Zadie discovers that she’s no ordinary girl. Her roots lie in the supernatural worlds of faeries and witches. What she does with this information, and the power that comes with it, is up to her.

 *Along these lines, Zadie’s sister, Mara? The sister Zadie risks everything for? Curious how you view her. Personally, I thought she was rather awful, alive or dead. Maybe it’s just me. Always hated “popular” girls.

 To me, Mara is just a girl who’s made bad decisions, like all teenagers are prone to do. She wanted to be popular and get the cutest boy in school to be her boyfriend, and then just went about it the wrong way when she figured out she could. After the Reaper gets a hold of her, however, her actions were not entirely her own. I like to think Zadie understands this. And Zadie, who has a huge heart, remembers all the good things about her sister, and so it comes naturally to want to risk everything for her.

*I was particularly taken with several scenes in the book that were downright spooky! Great job! I love the spooky. Are you a fan of horror fiction?

 The funny thing is, I’m not! I have read Stephen King books, and though I admire his writing, I tend to go towards books with “magic” rather than books with “horror.” My husband, however, loves horror. I used to fight him when he wanted to see a scary movie. Now I just think of it as research, lol.

*Well, can I hang out with your husband? My wife's the same way. Not a fan of horror films. Now quit derailing this interview, Dorothy! Your tale’s practically a cousin to my books. We share a lot of the same sensibilities it would seem. I can see our characters interacting easily. Even in the same universe. So…who would win in a fist fight? Mickey or Lilura, your witchy mentor character?

 That would be a tough one. They’re both pretty crafty and know they’re stuff. Mickey is probably physically stronger. But Lilura is clever enough that she’d think to distract Mickey with some fried chicken, then she could take her down.

*I’m sure I’m in the minority (maybe not. A tribute to your well-fleshed out characters), but I was sorta’ pulling for Zadie to hook up with Chase as opposed to the hunk Gavin, who she has her sights set on. Hope you follow up with this in the sequel. Don’t leave me hangin’! Um, there IS going to be a sequel, right?

 Though it’s not an all out love triangle, I did enjoy toying with the Zadie/Gavin/Chase aspect of the book. It gave the story a fun (or maybe dramatic) facet that I thought would work well in a young adult book. To answer your questions: yes, there will be a sequel (coming out in spring 2014), and yes, we follow up with this trio in the next book.

*I may be the only one who’s absolutely thrilled about this, but I LOVE that the two main characters share a passion for bad “B movies.” Hobby of mine, actually. Elaborate.

 B movies are something I remember growing up with. The love of these “bad” movies had to take place in my book. I thought it was also ironic, seeing as how Zadie is dealing with terrible things happening, just like in the movies she loves. And then to have that as something she has in common with Gavin makes it even sweeter.

*Please watch a horrible film entitled, "Winterbeast." Then get back to me. And I'm apologizing ahead of time. I, too, grew up with B-movies. Sadly, I STILL haven't outgrown them. Okay. Back on track.

This is something I just recently discovered. Which is way cool. But you do music videos, yeah? Guys, check this out:

 *What’s up next on Dorothy’s awesome keyboard?

 I’m revising book two, which I’m getting really excited about. And working on some other things that may be revealed in the future. ;)

Told you guys Dorothy’s awesome. Read her book. You’ll like, you will.