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26 -May -2017 - 16:47

MEET THE CONTRIBUTORS

 

 

AUTHOR ROCKY ALEXANDER

 

 

Hello, Rocky. Tell us a little about who you are.

 

I live on a farm in the middle of the woods in North Carolina with my darling wife and various critters. I began writing horror stories at the age of seven, after watching the 1976 William Girdler film, “Grizzly.” I sold my first short story when I was nineteen, then took a hiatus from writing to pursue a music career. Later I became a personal trainer and boxing coach, which I still am today. In early 2012 I returned to horror writing and have since been published in several anthologies and magazines.

 

The characters in your stories were once described as having “heartbeats that pulsate through sentences which bleed terror, pulling us into captivating worlds where innocence and humanity are challenged by vein-freezing horrors.” Describe the methods you use for character development.

 

I don’t consciously create any of my characters; they already exist somewhere deep in my mind, in some shadowy alcove from which I can summon them at will. I don’t know why they are there, or where they came from, but some of them have some very interesting stories to tell.

 

When I was a kid, we had a neighbor named Kenneth Sparks who kept a small herd of cows on ten acres. Every night about an hour before dusk I would hear him calling his cows into the barn for the night, “Heeeeeere cow.” My brothers and I would make fun of him behind his back because his voice was so high-pitched that he sounded like an old woman sometimes. He was a very obese man–huge, easily weighing over four hundred pounds. He had diabetes, and the toes of his right foot had been amputated due to resulting circulatory problems. He walked with a cane that he carved himself from the branch of a big black walnut tree on the hill. Mr. Sparks liked to bake pies. His diabetes prohibited him from eating them himself, so he would bring his pies to my mother, who I’m pretty sure he was secretly in love with, even though he was about thirty years older than she was. My brothers and I would eat his pie and listen to him talk to Mom about nothing for hours in his high-pitched Missouri drawl, always sweating like a nun in a porn shop and gasping for breath when the simple act of conversing became too much for him. I felt sorry for the guy. His wife had died years earlier, and you could see the loneliness in his eyes. He seemed like a nice old dude though. At least until the cops discovered three women chained in his basement. One had been dead for quite some time, and Mr. Sparks hadn’t bothered to dispose of the body. The other two were still alive, but had been subjected to tortures beyond what my young mind could even begin to comprehend. They found the remains of other women buried around his property, but I never learned exactly how many.

 

None of this is true of course, but Mr. Sparks does reside in that dark niche in my head. I met him just now.

 

How did you find that place within yourself that allows you to write horror?

 

I’ve been fascinated with horror for as long as I can remember. I grew up during the Cold War, and as anyone else alive during that period can attest, it was a very fearful time. What is more frightening than the thought–and real possibility–of a large portion of mankind being consumed by fire without warning, leaving the survivors to die a slow, agonizing death from radiation poisoning and starvation? The concept, to me, was terrifying. Back then, the chance of such a thing actually occurring was high enough that I questioned if I would live to adulthood. I think that fictional horror allowed me to confront fear on my own terms, to face it head-on and enjoy the rush of it and know that, regardless of the atrocities being inflicted on the characters in a book or film, I still get to walk away at the end, unscathed and in control and feeling more alive than ever. I get to experience the relief that is so elusive when you live with the day-to-day horrors of real life. Writing horror offers the same benefits as reading or watching. I generally start out knowing how my story will begin and how it will end. What my characters do in between is up to them. How they progress through the frightening world in which I have placed them is anyone’s guess, but I am with them every step of the way. Their fear is my fear, as is the relief that comes at the end of their journey. And if none of them should make it out alive, I still know that I will.  

 

As a writer, how important to you is research?

 

Research is extremely important to me. If you’re going to ask a reader to suspend disbelief and buy into your zombie apocalypse or resurrection of ancient vampires, at least make sure you’re honest and accurate in regard to mundane details. Nothing takes me out of a story like the character who fires thirty rounds from his seven-shot handgun without reloading. It’s only fair to the reader to get these things right. Most won’t notice the inaccuracy of a vehicle exploding in a massive fireball after careening off a forty-foot cliff, but those who understand the fuel/air mixture in a car’s gas tank will know that such a thing cannot happen, unless, of course, the car is packed with Hollywood explosives. Unless you wish to insult a reader’s intelligence, research is invaluable. To me, it’s one of the more exciting aspects of being an author. It allows me to experience things I likely wouldn’t have otherwise, such as firing a fully automatic submachine gun through a sound suppressor, or visiting a body farm to see firsthand how a human body decays, or hanging out with a street gang, or going on a ride-along in a police car. There is a host of interesting things in the world that most people will never experience, simply because there isn’t a reason to. Writing gives me a reason.

 

What do your friends and family think of your choice of genre?

 

My wife is one of the very best writers and editors I’ve ever known. Her command of language is beyond what I can hope to match in my lifetime. She has been extremely supportive of my work, as well as inspiring. She’s also brutally honest; she won’t hesitate to let me know when my writing isn’t up to par, or when it has her on the edge of her seat. She can be tough (as nails) to impress, so when she uses words like “beautiful” and “riveting,” then I know I have a good thing going. But when she says things such as “disjointed” and “crap,” then I know I have some rewriting to do. Unfortunately, my writing scares the hell out of her, so she isn’t able to review every story I churn out. I suspect some of my stuff has permanently traumatized her. I do hope she recovers one day.

My mother has a copy of every book and magazine that contains my work.  I don’t think she’s read any of it. Thank God.

 

What writers influenced you the most?

 

The usual culprits: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon. I started reading Cormac McCarthy about a year ago and, holy Pulitzer Prize, Batman! I’m blown away by this man’s work. Increasingly, I’m noticing itsy bitsy fragments of him in my writing. His style is simply absorbing. He takes the traditional rules of grammar and bends them and breaks them and rebuilds them until he is no longer writing, but speaking–actually vocalizing–from the page. He is sitting at the campfire and telling me stories directly from his mouth, with disregard for the nuisances of commas and quotations, and I am mesmerized, hanging on his every word. Genius.

 

What is your favorite among the stories you’ve written?  Why this one?

 

I wrote a novelette recently called “The Him.” This story stands out to me probably because of the gamut of emotions it dragged me through as I wrote it.  It’s about a small group of family and friends on a camping trip in Arkansas when they are thrust into a situation more horrifying than their worst nightmares. I've written some pretty disturbing stories, but I really took the gloves off for this one. The things that happen to these people are some of the most sadistic acts of violence I can imagine being inflicted on anyone. It sickened me to write it, but I wanted to give myself the freedom to explore the brutality that mankind perpetrates against itself entirely without cause or explanation. I don’t necessarily believe in evil, in terms of an asomatous, compelling force, but it’s hard not to when I consider that right now, in this very moment, someone out there in the world is committing some unfathomable act of savagery against another human being without guilt or remorse or any inhibition whatsoever. Real horror is waking up in the middle of the night with an axe-wielding sociopath standing over you, unsure of why he wants to chop you to bits but wanting to nonetheless. These people exist, and in “The Him,” I introduce you to a few.

 

What are your future plans?

 

I’m currently building an army of robots that I plan to use to take over the world. I’m also editing my novel of the apocalypse, “The Twitchy Things,” which was inspired by my short story of the same title. Look for it soon. I plan to write many more novels and short stories in the coming months and years.  

 

Please use this space to write whatever you like:

 

Please connect with me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rocky.alexander.56

 

Thank you for your time, Rocky!

 

It’s been a pleasure.

 

Rocky Alexander is an author of horror and dark fiction who lives with his wife in central North Carolina. He spends his days as a professional boxing coach, but at night, from the acres of woods surrounding his house, he can hear the sounds of the zombies, cannibals, serial killers, and a host of other magnificently loathsome things that hide among the trees, and every so often, he catches a glimpse...Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or connect with him on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/rocky.alexander.56..

AUTHOR MURPHY EDWARDS

 

Hello, Murphy. You’re well known for writing both hard-edged crime and intense horror. Do you prefer one over the other?  I actually quite like them both. Each has its own dark elements and I’m not above combining the two genres liberally when it’s called for. After all, some of the biggest horrors involve a crime and true crime is often shocking and horrific at its core. I also love a good western like Deadwood. So, eventually, I plan on trying to write a few dark, old west stories as well.

 

How do you come up with your characters?  Obviously, there’s a little bit of me in some of my characters. The balance are based on people I’ve met, worked with, grew up with or observed at some point in life. Some characters hit the page fully developed and ready to play. Others grow as the story takes shape.

 

Any current favorites? Currently, I’m kind of partial to Ace from my story “Ace of Spades” in the anthology Grave Robbers. Ace is a vicious and sneaky criminal, but when I started writing “Ace of Spades” he was one of those characters that ran around in my head, kicking holes in the wallboard, breaking bottles and smashing furniture, demanding to be written about. He’s a wicked little bastard, Ace is.

 

You recently signed a contract with Severed Press Publishing for a new novel titled, “Dead Lake.” How did that come about? My relationship with Gary Lucas and Severed Press Publishing began when a few years ago I answered a submission call for their anthology “Dead Bait.” Gary liked my story “Noodlers” and featured it alongside Tim Curran, David Dunwoody, Bosely Gravel and some other excellent authors. I was thrilled to get that opportunity. Gary then invited me to submit a piece for the sequel anthology, “Dead Bait 2”, which resulted in my cross-genre crime / horror story “Heavy Weather.”  DB2 included features by Ramsey Campbell and Tim Curran, so again, I was delighted to be in such good company. Shortly after “Dead Bait 2” was released, I learned Severed Press was planning another anthology. I contacted Gary Lucas with an offer to write a crime / horror piece exclusively for “Dead Bait 3.” I penned “Sinkers” and it made the cut.

 

Fast forward to late 2012 and a busy Holiday season and Gary Lucas sends me a very nice e-mail with an offer I can’t refuse. Cue The Godfather Theme here. Gary was planning to develop a new series of novels for Severed Press Publishing centered around the Dead Bait theme. He asked if I would be interested in writing and submitting a novel for the series. I sent Gary a proposal with a full novel synopsis for his consideration. “Dead Lake” is the result of that proposal.  

 

What’s “Dead Lake” about? The novel is centered around a recreational lake built by the government as a flood control project. It takes place in the fictional town of Vivid Valley. There is a curse on the lake, brought about by man’s greed and ignorance and their lack of respect for both ancient and modern burial sites. As the waters of Vivid Valley Lake turn sour, a monstrous aquatic mutant takes shape that dole out a vengeance that will change Vivid Valley forever.

 

What writers influenced you the most? Oh my, there are so many. I’ll try and scratch the surface, but I know I’ll forget a bunch. Let’s go with Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, Urban Waite, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, Victor Gischler, Alan Guthrie, Tim Curran, Dean Koontz, F. Pail Wilson, Jack Ketchum, Elmore and Peter Leonard. On the more local / regional front I’d include Jeffrey Ashby, David Scott Pointer, Brian Rosenberger, David Bain, Paula D. Ashe, Rebecca Besser, Mike Jansen and Chantal Noordeloos. And I can’t forget Charles Bukowski, Robert B. Parker, Edgar Alan Poe and J. Lee Butts.

 

You and I have worked together on Indiana Crime for two years now with Indiana Crime 2012 & 2013. What do you enjoy most about this project? I get really charged up when I open up one of our submissions, read the first couple paragraphs and immediately get pulled into a tale that just will not let me put it down. Those are the times when I lean back in my worn and ratty office chair, get good and comfortable with an author’s work and say, “Ah, that’s the stuff.”

 

The truly exciting part is just how many gifted writers there are in this crazy old world. Most are putting down some excellent fiction, but sadly going largely unrecognized. Hopefully we are helping to correct that. Since we began working together on the Indiana Crime Series, I have had the opportunity to read and meet some amazingly talented authors and poets. Strangely, though I’ve always liked poetry and have written song lyrics, I never got into poetry heavily until this project. The exposure to well crafted poems has helped me grow as an author and a reader too. I have to say, the writers we have worked with are all professionals with a deep dedication to the craft and they all bring something unique to the table. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the artists. We’ve seen some beautiful art, paintings, photography and graphics and performance artists. I enjoy it immensely. 

 

What are your future plans? I have a sequel to “Dead Lake” planned and partially written, which I hope Gary Lucas and Severed Press Publishing will consider. I’m also releasing three of my short story collections as independent print and eBooks in 2013, followed by two dark crime novels I currently have hiding out under my desk. And the Indiana Crime Anthology project  looks to be a long-term endeavor as well.

 

What puts your transmission in overdrive? A fresh pot of coffee, a good book, some tasty prog or metal music, a trip to the book store, a head full of fresh stories and characters screaming to spill their blood out on the page.

 

Thank you for your time Murphy! Any time. Thank you for being such a good friend and a positive supporter of the writing community.

 

Visit Murphy Edwards on the web: www.murphyedwards.wordpress.com

                                                          www.facebook.com/murphy.edwards.96

 

 


 

AUTHOR PAULA D. ASHE

 

Hello, Paula.  Your work has been described as “raw and beautiful.”  Tell us a little about who you are.

Thanks very much! I am a writer of dark fiction, an educator, a black lesbian feminist, a progressive, a secular humanist, a grad student, a nerd, a geek, a wife, a pet mom, and a general shit-starter. Despite these things, I am usually well-liked by moms and animals.

How did you find that place within yourself that allows you to write horror? 

I remember at a very young age -- maybe three or four -- I wrote a story about the apocalypse, appropriately titled, “The End of the World”. I made the book out of typewriter paper folded in half and stapled down the middle. On the cover I drew a picture of a cracked open earth with flaming stars plummeting through space. I grew up in a fairly religious Christian household, so I heard stories about “the Rapture” all the time. They absolutely terrified me. I couldn't even think about the book of Revelations without essentially having a panic attack. I think I made that little book as a way to express my anxieties about the “end times”. I have always been drawn to darkness, cliche as that may sound.

I was able to read before I was really able to walk, so it made sense that my love of language wormed its way into my fascination with pain, suffering, and violence. Note, my fascination has no basis in wanting to inflict that on anyone, but I have always wondered why and how people can do what they do to each other. This is a prominent theme in all of my work. I've realized that as an adult, writing horror helps me express my anxieties about the vileness of human behavior and the seeming indifference of the universe.

What do your friends and family think of your choice of genre?

They are overwhelmingly supportive of me, but their interest in the genre depends on the person. My friends are uber-supportive and always curious about what I’m working on. Many of my friends are writers or artists in some way, so we are all supportive of each other's work. My spouse is extraordinarily supportive; I really can't sing her praises enough. My family…they’re quite supportive but not nearly as enthusiastic about the genre as I am. 

As a kid, I read all the time. Once I was able to go to the library by myself, I would come home with stacks and stacks of horror novels and anthologies. I had an aunt (who passed away a few years ago, sadly) who told my mom that if I kept reading those “evil books” I would get possessed by the devil. My mother, who is thankfully a fairly rational woman, didn’t believe her. She told me what my aunt had said, and she also told me that she didn’t care what I read as long as I was reading.  

What writers influenced you the most?

The three that come immediately to mind are Clive Barker, Elizabeth Massie, and Toni Morrison.  I love the carnal spirituality of Barker's work. I admire the fearlessness of his storytelling and the lyricism of his prose. I also appreciate the honesty in everything he does; he's so prolific and I think it's because he does not compromise himself or his art. He has such confidence in his vision and that is something I am attempting to nurture in myself.

I am Facebook's resident Elizabeth Massie creepy fangirl, so I'm going to try to be brief. The first story I read by her was "Stephen" in one of the Borderlands books. I wrote a "review" of the story in 2012 on my blog to celebrate women in horror month, so I won't spend too much time describing it here. But Massie has a saying that has resonated with me on so many levels, "I write horror because I believe that when we look into the darkness we can better understand and find the light." She is one of my favorite writers because I know that when I read her work there will be an honest examination of human nature and the human condition, but one that will also disturb the hell out of me. Her writing, in terms of prose and plot, just stays with you for days. Stories like "Stephen", "Abed", "Snow Day", and "I Am Not My Smell" take no prisoners. I admire and write with that same ovarian might (as opposed to "ballsiness") because I know that want my work to kick my readers in the gut and leave a terrible bruise.

Finally, Toni Morrison influences me in that she is a master of language. She knows how to present a story in such a unique, unmistakable way without sacrificing clarity or impact. I read very little (contemporary) literary fiction because most of it reads like pretentious wankery. Toni Morrison's work is some of the most ego-free stuff I have ever encountered. I try to develop my sense of story, try to nurture that deep stillness needed to listen to the tale, and tell it in a way that is as honest as it possibly can be. 

What is your favorite among the stories you’ve written?  Why this one?

My current favorite is the story, "Bereft" that will be published in "Songs for the Raven". It's the most controversial thing I've done, and the most painful story I've written. It's my favorite because I think it represents some of the themes I mentioned earlier in a very pure, uncompromising way. Also, one of my good friends helped me with the editing process and I have never edited and revised a story more than this one.

"Bereft" is the story of two sisters who have survived chronic sexual abuse by their father after their mother's death. For years, he's tortured, raped, and mutilated them while keeping them locked in a cage in his basement. They escape, but not without being marked in their individual ways by their father's legacy.

Writing this story was excruciating. I felt ashamed. Disgusted. Perverse. Abnormal. I was terrified that I would never find any place to publish it because of its graphic sexual content. But, this wasn't a story that could be censored. If I didn't find anywhere to publish it, so be it. As polarizing and “extreme” as the story is; it is not a story I’m telling just for attention or shock value. This story was inspired by recent incidents in Austria and the United States where men were discovered to have sexually assaulted and imprisoned their daughters for decades before being caught. These girls (now women) were forced to bear their father’s children/grandchildren and their own children/siblings and raise them. In some cases, once the offspring reached sexual maturity, the father would begin the cycle of victimization again on the next generation.

What are your future plans?

My major writing plans will come to fruition by the end of this summer. At the suggestion of my wife and a few other close friends, I’ve decided to take the summer off from teaching to write.

As much as I am loftily influenced by the aforementioned people, I am learning that perseverance and determination turns a writer into an author. Murphy Edwards, Todd Card, Chantal Noordeloos, James Ward Kirk, William Cook, Brady Allen, Dale Eldon…I could go on and on. These are all a-list writers/authors who have (in the parlance of my people) “done the damn thing.” I admire that they get in front of the computer (or notebook or voice recorder) and do their work. I will spend a lot of time completing and polishing stories for a number of upcoming anthologies that have summer deadlines.

I also plan to finish the first complete draft of my dark fantasy/horror novel, “Through Silver in Blood”. Additional information about the novel can be found on my blog (pauladashe.wordpress.com/) under the “Projects” tab.

 

Please use this space to write whatever you like:

Thanks so much for taking the time interview me James!

 

Thank you for your time Paula!

Blog interview series #2: James Ward Kirk

Welcome to the second in a series of short interviews focusing on “Team R.J.”: people who have influenced, worked with, or played some other vital role in taking me where I am today.

Throwing practical matters out the window, I pursued a creative writing degree at IUPUI. James Kirk and I met as fellow undergraduates, first in creative writing classes, then as co-staff members of the university literary magazine. James also worked in the university library, and after I’d graduated, James went on to receive his masters in literature. He taught literature for the university for several years.

Throughout the time, James remained dedicated to his writing, probably with at least as much passion and focus as I had in my own work. Horror was his genre of choice even then (I saw myself as more of a sci-fi guy, and still do), and his approach of unsettling the reader by dropping them into the viewpoint of mentally unstable characters did much to distinguish his stories. And it’s an approach he continues to use to this day.

Many years and a Facebook connection later, I caught up with James a few months ago and found he was returning to his writing after a long break. Since then, he’s released his first novel, The Butterfly Killer, and has had some success with his short stories.

Q: You were a driven, passionate writer when we first met almost…yikes, OVER…20 years ago. When did you get the writing “bug” and what drives you to keep pursuing it?

A: I remember a writing assignment from the third grade. The teacher read the short story to the class, a comedic kind of story. It was a hoot. My classmates loved it and the teacher praised me.

Q: What writers inspired you? What made you pick the horror/psychological thriller genres as “your” genres?

A: I really enjoy John Connolly. He incorporates the supernatural with the private detective genre. Of course, I grew up with Stephen King—not literally, dang it. My favorite film genre is psychological thrillers and horror. The music I listen to relates well with psychological thriller, horror and the supernatural (Goth Industrial, Goth Metal, Symphonic Goth Metal).

Q: What circumstances caused a break in your writing, and what were the challenges when you returned to it?

A: First comes love, and then comes James pushing a baby carriage. Work and family came first. After the kids were out of the house, I picked up the pencil and paper again. Creativity never left. I encountered no problems with the creative process and writing the novel. The challenges came with the mechanics. Grammar, sentence structure, passive sentences, bad words: “that” and “had,” and so on. Thanks to RJ for jogging my memory.

Q: You attended a university campus for many years, worked in the university library, taught classes in your alma mater. How do you think the university environment affected your approach to the publishing business, good and bad?

A: I don’t remember a single instance of an instructor teaching anything at all about the publishing business, even while working on my Master’s degree. I worked with genesis, the university’s student literary journal as a board member, senior editor, and as faculty advisor. I did learn about the publishing business to a small degree while working with genesis.

Q: Describe your unique approach to your characters. How do you “psyche yourself up” to get into the bizarre mindset of your characters?

A: I just be myself.

Q: Tell us about The Butterfly Killer. Include an excerpt.

A: The Butterfly Killer is the first novel of a planned trilogy. I’ve finished two-thirds of the follow up novel. I am incorporating Christian spirituality. The protagonist is chosen by God to metamorphose into an agent against evil. The protagonist, female, is beginning to catch on by the novel’s conclusion. The first novel focuses primarily on human evil. The second novel incorporates the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, demons and saints in addition to just plain mean people. Excerpt:

Engelbert didn’t believe in God. But, of course, God believed in him.

Engelbert pondered this truth, momentarily, as the flames of his life burned cruelly, just like his mother’s final moments, and as his arterial blood sprayed into the very shadows he’d considered his fortress, from his surgically cut throat by the hand of God, He who rules the darkness and its violent dramatis personae, he whispered: there is a God, Momma.

In this instance, “God” is self-proclaimed, the master puppeteer of other serial killers.

Q: Like I did, I know you’re re-approaching old stories from years ago and brushing them off for rewrites. Tell us what that’s like.

A: Taking old short stories and rewriting them was a lot of fun. I got to see where I was and where I am now.

Q: I remember back in college, a singular science fiction piece in your group of short stories. Do you think you’ll continue to experiment with genres?

A: I think you’re speaking of the short story entitled Joe. I don’t think the story was science fiction in the way the novel 1984 is science fiction. The piece was more of a commentary on society than anything else. I don’t see any science fiction in my future unless, of course, I turn Joe into a novel.

Q: One consistent aspect to all your fiction is an element of faith and religion. How does your faith affect what you write and how do you weave it into your narrative.

A: I haven’t been to church in at least a decade. There’s a lot about organized religion that gets on my very last nerve. However, I am spiritual and believe in a higher power. For example, our planet is around three billion years old. Think about the trillions of events and nonevents leading to me sitting here talking about God. I don’t believe in coincidence. Much of my work involves horror.  I don't think God has given much thought about about it.

AUTHOR MIKE JANSEN

Hello, Mike. You are a man of many achievements. Which do you hold closest to your heart and why?

That would be my debut novel, ‘The Failing God’. It marks the end of a difficult period in my life and the rekindling of my writing. I had stopped for almost ten years due to various circumstances, but the need to produce prose has returned with a vengeance.

What current projects are you working on?

Several, actually: I’m writing for various anthologies and magazines, both in the Netherlands and in the US and UK. I also manage some websites for my Dutch publisher, Verschijnsel, and I recently set up the web presence for JWK Fiction (jwkfiction.com) In addition I am also working on my third complete novel, which is part three of a pentalogy. I also help several beginning authors improve their work and get published. And of course I combine that with a family and a busy job as CTO for a high tech startup.

 

You recently joined the staff at JWK Publishing. Tell us about that.

It’s one of these things that happen when people get together and have ambition and drive to create something new, something better, something, perhaps, revolutionary. I had of course assisted in many technical aspects of ebook and print publishing so when the request came to formally join the firm, I accepted the position. The nice thing about being invited is that you can choose your own title. Mine is “Lead Gopher for knicks ‘n knacks and odds ‘n ends”, which seems fitting.

 

The English translation of your critically acclaimed novel The Falling God is nearing completion. Tell us about that.

First of all, it was a time consuming process to get the book translated. When I write in Dutch, my mother tongue, I can write 4-5k words -or more- a day. In English it’s about half and if I want my English to be good I have to think a lot more. That’s why I write my novels in Dutch, because of the speed I can achieve while using the language and the constructions that I want.

So far the book is selling pretty well in the Netherlands, which is of course a very, very, very small market. It is also receiving lots of positive reviews on various sites and it has brought me something completely new and heretofore unknown: fan mail … Another nice thing is that I’ve been compared to George R.R. Martin with a hint of Steven Erikson and Glen Cook intermixed. That’s good company, I would say.

My translator is a professional who unfortunately is very sought after, so she has to do my translation in between the well-paying assignments she does, but the end is now in sight. She told me she has only one problem with the book: once she starts translating she often forgets translating and begins to read ahead to find out what’s next. For me that’s the biggest compliment.

It seems a certain publisher named jwkfiction has expressed interest in publishing the book. What coincidence, eh?

 

You work as a mentor for developing writers. Tell us about your experiences mentoring

Yes, I work with a number of promising Dutch authors. They all have talent, but they need help expressing their talent in proper language and with proper construction of stories. That’s where I come in. We talk, critique and experiment with the goal of producing publishable stories for Dutch and English publications.

It’s very rewarding to see one of your author friends grow and evolve and it feels great whenever one of their stories, that we previously discussed, gets published.

One of my most successful author friends is Chantal Noordeloos, who –with a little prodding from me- started writing for English markets less than a year ago and has managed to win several publications and even an award in that short period of time.

There’s of course a reason for everything. When I was a lot younger, my mentor was Paul Harland, who at that time belonged to the top five of Dutch genre authors. He taught me many things about writing, but he also was looking for companionship in writing, another voice to stand beside him, a competitor even who could help him in turn reach even higher levels of craftsmanship. I guess in a way that rubbed off and I’m helping other writers reach higher levels, perhaps one day to teach me how to grow and evolve.

 

What writers influenced you the most?

When I was young I read fifteen to twenty books a week. Yes, that gets you through a library fast. So I think I’ve read a sizeable chunk of all the SciFi, Fantasy and Horror classics out there. There have been many writers who at some point caught my attention. When I was real young it was Tolkien, Frank Herbert and Stephen Donaldson. Later on I found Tais Teng (he’s Dutch!), Stephen King and James Herbert. Next came William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neil Stephenson, followed by Orson Scott Card, Terry Pratchett, Dan Simmons and Robert Jordan. These days my favorite authors are Glen Cook, George R.R. Martin and Iain M. Banks and I have Steven Erikson on my ‘to read’ list. There are many others I enjoyed reading, but the list would get too exhaustive. I’m on Goodreads, my profile shows the books I’ve rated so far (or rather, the titles I remember.)

 

What is your favorite among the stories you’ve written? Why this one?

Each new story that I write is an attempt to exceed my craft, to get one step further on the writer’s path. That means each new story is special in some way.

Looking back at the past two years, my story ‘Assigned to Amlwch’ stands out, mostly due to the quite extensive research I did for it and the way in which history fit so well with fantasy.

I’ve done a little over thirty English publications in the past two years with many more now being considered by various magazines and anthologies.

 

What are your future plans?

I want to get my work to as large an audience as possible. I’m a writer, I want my work to be read by as many people as possible and hopefully I can touch them the way other authors have touched me with their work. To that end I will keep on writing short stories and try to get them published in the best magazines and anthologies. Meanwhile my dark fantasy series, The Cranborn Chronicles, will get published and I hope that will also reach a large audience.

 

Please use this space to write whatever you like:

To write is to evolve, to try out new things, new approaches, and new voices even. The past two years have seen that evolution speed up. There used to be a time when I would write two or three stories a year and getting to the next level took many years. It’s an odd sensation, knowing and feeling that the way you write has subtly changed and improved. This has happened three times in the last two years and the pace of evolution seems to be speeding up. It seems there’s no end in sight yet, so I’m curious to see what the coming years will bring. As always, the more you write, the better you get.

 

Thank you for your time Mike!

You’re most welcome, James!

 


The Dale Eldon Blog presents

James Ward Kirk

A writer, a small press founder, and a real Saint! I'm here with James Ward Kirk (and far as I know he's not a star ship captain), and today we're talking about his press and works. So, James, tell us about what made you start your press?

I love horror. I write horror. I wanted to showcase up and coming Indiana horror writers, to give them their first publishing credit. This is a work of love. I make very little money, if any, from the anthos. I hope to someday pay pro rates.



I love the covers for your latest anthologies; wanna tell us some more about, INDIANA HORROR 2012, and INDIANA SCIENCE FICTION 2012?


The cover for Indiana Horror 2012 came from Jim Sorfleet as a gift. I had him as a friend on Facebook and I’m a huge fan. So I thought, “What the hell?” and asked him if he’d donate a cover. And he did! Jim Sorfleet asked me not to tell anyone but at this point I think he’d be okay with it. The Indiana Science Fiction 2012 cover came free from the mad genius Scott Frederic Hargrave. I met Scott through Facebook and Indiana Horror 2011. I asked him if he do a cover and he said “Sure, no problem.” Wow.

I mentioned that you're writer, have any stories you would like to talk about?

I think my favorite personal short story is “The Rose Garden.” The story appeared in the Lovecraftian anthology Shadow of the Unknown. Because of this story, I received a personal invitation to join HWA. The story is about sin, punishment, understanding and accepting punishment, and the absence of redemption.

What got you into writing horror?

I’ve loved horror since childhood. I remember rushing in from the school bus and watching “Dark Shadows.” I loved Star Trek: Anything that carried me from the hum-drum of daily rural life. Burroughs’s “John Carter of Mars” was so fun. The first horror novel that sticks with even today is It. Even my music was scary: Black Sabbath.


These days a lot of horror lacks real scare, what scares you?

A broken mind scares me the most. A lot of what I’m writing today deals with this, in the tradition of Poe’s “William Wilson” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

It's been great having you here, James!

Pick up a copy of, INDIANA HORROR 2012

Pick up a copy of, INDIANA SCINECE FICTION 2012

 

James' Bio:

James Ward Kirk is the publisher and editor of the annual anthologies Indiana Horror, Indiana Crime and Indiana Science Fiction.  He also has his own imprint, James Ward Kirk Publishing where you can find many exciting titles.

 

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