5 Questions for John Urbancik

The Author

John Urbancik and I met years and years ago at one of the World Horror Conventions. So many years ago that I can’t even tell you which one it was. The first of his books I read was Necropolis, a thoroughly addictive little book of stories set in graveyards.

John, author of Stale Reality, DarkWalker, and The Corpse and the Girl from Miami, is about to release his first nonfiction book, InkStained: On Creativity, Writing, and Art. His business card proclaims: “Writer. Photographer. Adventurer. Man.” Born in Manhattan, and living as far afield as Sydney, Australia and Madrid, Spain, John can’t be easily found. He’s currently wandering the United States in parts unknown.

 

InkStained CoverSo what is InkStained: On Creativity, Writing, and Art?

John Urbancik has written an exploration of our personal creativity that intends to inspire, encourage, and challenge. Part autobiography, part conversation, part field guide to creativity, part treatise on writing — and filled with exercises and explorations — InkStained, taken from the InkStains project and podcast of John Urbancik, is at times humorous, at times brutal, and always honest.

Did something in the real world inspire InkStained: On Creativity, Writing, and Art?

The book was inspired by the podcast. The InkStains podcast ran for 100 episodes. I would read stories and I talk about – well, creativity, writing, and art. The podcast was inspired by the project, InkStains, where I wrote a story a day every day for a year. By hand. I took one day off a month, and I did the project three times.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

I can’t spoil a nonfiction book – which is good, because I don’t enjoy spoilers. I spent almost 100,000 words trying to encourage you, and to enlighten you – not to tell you what to do because this is the path to success, but to tell you how I, and others, did those things. So some of my favorite parts are where I talk about my processes, which are a little unorthodox, and how they work for me. I talk about the birth of some of my novels – for example, how I spent a few night in Boston specifically so I could finish the dark fantasy novel, The Corpse and the Girl from Miami — which does not take place in Miami; and also how I scribble random words in notepads until one pops up and demands to be part of a story.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

The process for this one was a little unusual. I either took scripts from the podcast or transcribed the things I talked about, and put these all together as a massive 175,000-word file, then went through to eliminate duplication, and to excise the things that strayed off topic, then divided what was left into the three sections that eventually became the book. I combined pieces that were about the same topic, and I tried to put them into some sort of order. I think I succeeded, and the early responses suggest I have, but I guess I don’t really know yet. It was different than any other project I’ve worked on, in part because I had to spend so much time listening to myself speak. And the way I speak, while some people may think it’s great, doesn’t translate into the written word without quite a bit of work.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

I’ve reached out for blurbs and reviewers and early readers more for InkStained than I ever have before, and it’s been exciting to see some sort of momentum build. Promotion is the part of the process I’m least comfortable with. I’m a writer. It’s normal for me to lock myself in a house or apartment or cabin or something and scribble, type, and stare down walls until I work all the way through the book. It’s also normal for me to wander outside, through the woods and through cities, into places I’ve never been, seeking new experiences I can incorporate into whatever’s coming next. To be doing that now, finding those new experiences, and hearing back from so many people excited either in anticipation of my first nonfiction book or because they managed to get their hands on one – that’s the best part.

What do you have planned next?

I will continue to wander across the United States for the remainder of 2019, visiting friends in cities I’ve never seen or, in some cases, ever dreamt existed. I’ve just delivered a dark fantasy manuscript to my agent. My horror-SF novel Stale Reality will be released in Russian in 2020, my first ever translation. And I’ve been putting together a book of poetry, with some of my photography, and I’m really excited by that project – but that would require a separate interview to fully explain.

You can pick up a copy of InkStained from Amazon: https://amzn.to/32TEC41

Take a look at all of John’s books here: https://amzn.to/2lc2BeN

Check out John’s home page at www.darkfluidity.com

You can also support his writing at www.patreon.com/Urbancik.

 

Posted in author interview | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Questions for John Everson

johneverson-horrorbles

I met John Everson through the zine Cyberpsychos AOD and the Death Equinox conventions at the end of the 90s.  We used to run into each other over the years at the World Horror Conventions. John gave me my first big break in publishing, when he asked for four short stories for an anthology he wanted to assemble called Sins of the Sirens.  He’s also the author of a book that scarred me more than any other, his novel NightWhere.

John Everson is a staunch advocate for the culinary joys of the jalapeno and an unabashed fan of 1970s European horror and giallo cinema.  He’s also the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and ten other novels. Over the past 25 years, his short stories have appeared in more than 75 magazines and anthologies. He has written novelettes for The Vampire Diaries and Jonathan Maberry’s V-Wars universe, which has since been developed into a Netflix series. For more on his obsession with jalapenos and exploitation cinema, as well as his fiction, art, and music, visit www.johneverson.com.

John’s latest book is The Devil’s Equinox:

DevilsEquinox-formatsAustin secretly wishes his wife would drop dead. He even says so one boozy midnight at the bar to a sultry stranger with a mysterious tattoo. When his wife later introduces that stranger as Regina, their new neighbor, Austin hopes she will be a good influence on his wife. Instead, one night he comes home to find his wife dead. Soon he’s entranced with Regina, who introduces him to a strange world of bloodletting, rituals and magic. A world that puts everything he loves in peril. Can Austin save his daughter, and himself, before the planets align for the Devil’s Equinox?

Did something in the real world inspire The Devil’s Equinox?

Not overtly. I haven’t seen any news stories about real demonic cults that want to sacrifice a baby to get unearthly powers…though I suppose there has to be one out there somewhere.  Certainly there are touches from the real world that don’t involve the fantastic element. The idea of a young couple who have grown to resent each other over the isolation that having a baby can bring…that happens. The opening scene, where Austin is getting drunk at a bar and wishing his wife was dead…that kind of post-fight angst happens in most relationships at some point.  The guy who is lured by the quiet sexuality of a mysterious, Bohemian woman…absolutely!

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Well, my favorite scene is probably the end, so I’m not going to give that away. But I am proud of some other moments.  There is a scene when Austin’s girlfriend  introduces him to a strange, underground club filled with erotic and demonic rituals by his new girlfriend where he sees “nuns” wearing transparent habits. He tries to play nonchalant, but then in a “club within a club” room called “The Cloister,” he is faced with a menu of drinks that include ingredients that seem…unsanitary at best:

Selene’s Spell:  Lavender-infused Three Women Vodka with 7 drops of aged Blood Orange aired for power beneath the light of the last full moon. Sensual and serene.

Red Tide: Three Women Vodka aged with Samsara rose petals and shaken with crushed raspberries and 3 drops of Sister Evangeline Lust Oil and one splash Coitus Burgundy wine. Prepare to be naked.

He looks for the beer menu, and it gets worse:

Seminal Milk:  Cask-conditioned Irish stout brewed with vanilla beans used in the Dark Night Festival and semen spilled on the Venus Altar. Drink the milk of life.

Bitter Love: Mosaic Hops steeped in the gold of the Cloister Servants during the Maypole Celebration. Steam-brewed for clarity. Earthy, bitter, and bright at the same time.  See with the clarity of lust.

But the drinks are just the faintest hint of the obscenities he will soon witness.

I just love this whole scene because it’s the first introduction of the naïve innocent to the secret society. And as such, he’s both repelled and fascinated by elements.  As I think most with a little prurient interest and a touch of curiosity about “the dark side” would be.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

This is a novel that I’ve wanted to work on for a really long time.  I first brainstormed and jotted down ideas for it 13 years ago. That same brainstorming session also generated the original idea that would become my eighth novel, The Family Tree.  I wrote a nine-page synopsis for The Devil’s Equinox 11 years ago, right after I signed with Leisure Books. At the time, after writing three “demon” books in a row, my editor and I opted to table this one at that time in favor of a couple books that were a bit different.  After doing a handful of other books, it seemed like the time was right to come back to it finally last year.

The writing process itself was actually pretty calm. A lot of my books have a kind of “travelogue” behind them, which has always been fun to summarize after the fact.  For a lot of years, I traveled a lot for my day job, so each book’s preface listed a half dozen cities and bars where I worked on the novel at hand.  (I hate sitting in hotel rooms, so I tend to write in Irish pubs — good music, good food, good beer!). I also have a few local haunts that I’ve spent many hours in working on books after heading home from my day job. Last year, however, I didn’t travel much and I put in long hours at the office, so I didn’t even go out to write at my local pubs after work. So aside from a couple nights with my laptop at local bars, I really wrote nearly all of The Devil’s Equinox at the oak bar I built in my basement, or at the glass-topped outdoor bar that sits on my patio, with a steady soundtrack of Elsiane, Delerium, Cocteau Twins, and other dreampop artists. This novel was probably written more at home than any other.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

I wish you had asked me that LAST year!  For my novel The House By The Cemetery (which was set in a real, historical haunted cemetery that I grew up near called Bachelors Grove) I ended up going to Book Expo in New York City for a special pre-release book signing in the spring. The book was one of the “lead off” books for a new imprint and thus got a lot of attention. That’s the first time I’ve ever gotten to go to Book Expo. My publisher actually brought me in to do it. Then in the fall, the publicist for Flame Tree Press got me interviews not only with the Chicago Tribune, but with FOX-TV in Chicago, who did a live broadcast with me about the book on location at Bachelors Grove Cemetery. THAT was probably the “promo moment” of my career thus far.  I also stopped in at my local FM rock radio station (95.9 The River) to do an interview about it on the morning drive show. They’ve had me in before, but not for a few years.

The Devil’s Equinox has had a much quieter launch, since the imprint is more established now and the book didn’t have the “local  Chicago-area haunted place” tie-in to raise area media  interest.  I also had to skip going to Book Expo this year because it was the same day as my son’s 8th grade graduation.  I did, however, “debut” it at the venerable Flashback: Chicago Horror Convention held here every year and do a couple of fun signings at Chicago-area Barnes & Noble stores. As I write this, I’m looking forward to signing in Chicago at Bucket O’ Blood Books and Music, an awesome store that has always been supportive. (It’s scheduled for October 24.)

What do you have planned next?

I’m currently working on a novel called Voodoo Heart.  It’s another book I’ve actually wanted to do for a long time. It’s based on the title story to my second short fiction collection, Vigilantes of Love, and revolves around a detective and a voodoo curse that is claiming more and more people every month on the night of the full moon. I’m hoping to finish it be the end of the year (my editor would likely suggest that “hoping” is not the right operative word here. I will. I will finish it by the end of the year!) It’s due out from Flame Tree Press just in time for Halloween 2020.

Thanks for asking me to do this, Loren! Really appreciate it!

Pick up a copy of The Devil’s Equinox for yourself: https://amzn.to/2P0vZBv

See all John’s books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2nTGCLd

Follow John:

Facebook / Twitter / InstagramBookBub / Goodreads / Amazon

Check out his homepage: www.johneverson.com

 

Posted in author interview | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vicious (Villians #1)

Vicious (Villains, #1)Vicious by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This may be the angstiest book I’ve ever read, but for me, that’s a good thing. One of the characters says that there are no good guys in this story, which proves to be true in surprising and shocking ways. I didn’t find either of those things to be a drawback at all. In fact, I was impressed with how interesting the author made these broken, violent people out to be.

Of all V. E. Schwab’s books I’ve read (6 so far), this one has the best pacing. Three nights in a row, characters killed themselves right before I turned the light out at night, so I was hooked. Beyond that, this may be one of the most unusual examinations of “superheroes,” since it doesn’t have any actual heroes in it.

One of my criticisms of A Gathering of Shadows (Book 2 of the Shade of Magic series) was that it ended on an entirely unnecessary cliffhanger. Vicious comes to a very satisfying ending and stand entirely on its own. That said, I’m glad that Vengeful, the second book in the series, comes out in paperback in January. I need to read something a little lighter — probably cemetery history — before I dive back into this world.

You can get a copy of your own on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2N5f3rU

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

5 Questions for Martha Allard

mart photoMy friend Martha is crushing it this year.  She’s already had a collection of short stories published (I interviewed her about it here) but now she’s got a novelette out called Speak My Name, which picks up on characters from some of her short stories in her Psychic Surgery collection and expands their stories.  Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes and Speak My Name, Part 2 will follow soon.

Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like Talebones and Not One of Us.  She was the editor of Nice Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction, and co-edited the anthology Out of the Green: Tales from Fairyland. Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect and Death’s Garden. Her novel Black Light is a tale of love, sacrifice, and rock and roll in the 1980s. Her short stories are collected in Psychic Surgery. You can find her blog at Martha J Allard.com.

About Speak My Name:

Speak My Name coverBefore time began, Frank was an Angel who followed his beloved Lucifer into battle. They were defeated. Frank lost his wings and was cast downward. He’s been falling ever since. Now he’s the sole tender of Dark’s, a bar at the edge of reality that is owned by hell. He longs for the company of his brother demons, the scorch of Lucifer’s heat. Instead he spends his nights serving drinks, tempting souls. Every night that passes is the same night. Each human that stumbles in is the same. Lost. Desperate.

Mica is neither of those things. Human, but able to see through Frank to all his true forms. Mica seems sure of what he wants: not a savior, not an annihilator of souls. He wants Frank.

But Frank is still tethered to Lucifer and Hell and he knows that demons are made for destruction, torment, not love. Until Mica touches him, he’s never wanted for more. For Frank to find the humanity he needs to return Mica’s love, he must travel back to the depths of hell to break the bond Lucifer set in his heart. But when he gets there, Lucifer has already released Frank. Now his attention is fixed on Mica’s soul.

Did something in the real world inspire Speak My Name?

I’m pretty sure it started when I was a kid. I very seriously told my mom that I would have an easier time believing in God if there was a Devil to believe in.  She was horrified and explained that our church taught that the Devil was a concept. I thought: but a really interesting concept. Angels also got short shrift, relegated to Christmas or Easter stories, or gazing down from the stained glass windows. And I thought, what story are you not telling me?  There were lots of other influences, including your As Above, So Below books with Brian Thomas, both Lost Angels and the next one, Angelus Rose. But I think that childhood conversation was the start of it.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

There are a couple. First, I think, is when Frank wakes up after the first night with Mica. He thinks, this must be what mortals feel like when they fall in love. Then he thinks, I can’t have this, I will break it and I will break him. I felt terrible for him when I wrote it.  The other scene I really love is when Mica meets Lucifer for the first time, in a comic shop. It dawns on Mica slowly who this stranger is with the stained-glass eyes. Lucifer’s the bad guy, but he’s also pretty fun.

What was your process while writing this book?

I worked on Speak My Name and Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes at the same time, so it was a matter of shifting between two really different tones and voices.  I had more rewriting to do on Speak My Name, since it’s been rolling around for a while, so that takes different muscles. I’d like to say I had a hard and fast schedule, but that’s hardly ever true for me.  But this is the first book I’ve put up for preorder, so it gave me deadline to contend with.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

I did a reading in mid-October at the Witchtober Fest in Flint, Michigan. Also, as I said, I did a pre-order for this book, which is a new thing for me. We will see what happens with that.

Black light coverWhat do you have planned next?

Oh, so many THINGS. Next is the prequel to Black Light, Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes, which will be out in November. It’s about Albrecht Christian and his first true love, the Loch Ness monster. Then part two of Speak My Name, which will be out at the beginning of December. It’s called Breaking Heaven. Early next year I will have my full-length neo-Victorian novel, The Night Was Not, done. Finally.

I can’t wait!  In the meantime, you should pick up a copy of Speak My Name: https://amzn.to/2MfwmGi

Or see all Martha’s books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/31jL9nQ

Coming soon:

Mart advertisement copy

 

Posted in author appearance | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Questions for Sonora Taylor

Sonora_hs19-33I interviewed Sonora Taylor last year about her book The Crow’s Gift. She returned the favor by inviting me to stop by her blog to talk about 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, as well as my Alondra stories. We met through the clandestine Ladies of Horror Facebook group.

Sonora Taylor is the author of four books, including Without Condition and The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales. Taylor’s work frequently appears in The Sirens Call. Her work has also appeared in Mercurial Stories, Tales to Terrify, and the Ladies of Horror fiction podcast. Her third short story collection, Little Paranoias, will be out October 22, 2019. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Little-Paranoias-Cover-Front

Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?

Little Paranoias: Stories features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear — after all, it’s those little paranoias that drive our day-to-day.

Did something in the real world inspire Little Paranoias: Stories?

Most of the stories were inspired by pictures or writing prompts I saw online. A couple, however, were inspired by things I saw in the real world. “The Note on the Door” is based on an actual door I saw daily on my way to work. It was a glass door attached to a house that was otherwise under construction. I squinted for a bit to see what it said, couldn’t read it, then walked off. But as I kept walking, I started to think up a story around someone seeing a note on a door and not being able to stop thinking about its contents. It culminated into a very short story, one that I find effectively sinister.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Oh gee — I always have a hard time picking a scene for this one! I have many, and especially so in a collection of short stories, where I have a favorite scene in each story. So, favorite scene 1 of 20 is… Just kidding.

If I had to pick one, I’d probably pick Penny Pinkerton’s story in “Weary Bones.” “Weary Bones” cuts between a primary character named Brandon and a cast of different women as they all react in different ways to a serum that promises a second life. The story focuses on death and grief — a barrel of laughs, I know. But Penny Pinkerton’s story was genuinely a laugh to write. I wrote it in tribute to the pulpier stories and movies I enjoy: stories that are a bit seedy, with people to match. I mean, her name is Penny Pinkerton! I can still see her blonde coif and neon pink lingerie. It was a fun passage to write.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

Little Paranoias: Stories is a compilation of stories I’ve written over the past year. Several of the pieces — mostly the flash pieces — were written for Nina D’Arcangela’s monthly  picture prompt challenge on her blog, Spreading the Writer’s Word. Others were responses to calls for submissions. Some were rejected, and I chose to revise them and publish them myself, which gave me more freedom in terms of word count and style. “Hearts are Just ‘Likes’” was previously published in Camden Park Press’s award-winning anthology Quoth the Raven: A Contemporary Reimagining of the Works of Edgar Allan Poe. Some of the Little Paranoias pieces were also published in slightly different form in The Sirens Call, a bimonthly eZine, and in Mercurial Stories.

So it is a compilation of previously published stories combined with brand new, never-before-published pieces. My first two short story collections were four stories apiece, and none of those were published before. It’s exciting to release a collection that compiles stories I’ve published elsewhere — it feels like the next step in my writing journey.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

The enthusiasm for the cover reveal. I was really touched to see so many people sharing the cover and extending their congratulations on the upcoming collection. I hope they like the stories just as much.

What do you have planned next?

Right now I’m working on my third novel, tentatively called Seeing Things. It’s based on an idea I’ve had for a couple years now, where a 13-year-old girl discovers she can see the dead but, unfortunately, none of them want to talk to her. She’s left wondering why she has this gift if the dead seem to actively avoid her, which leads to her wondering why they’re avoiding her. The answers begin coming into focus when she goes to visit her uncle for the summer.

I’ve also started writing down ideas and a rough table of contents for my next short story collection: Someone to Share My Nightmares: Love Stories, which will focus on romantic horror.

See what Sonora has been up to by checking out her website at https://sonorawrites.com

You can see all her books on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2maReUO

Or order a copy of Little Paranoias: Stories here: https://amzn.to/2mdTri6. It comes out tomorrow!

Posted in author interview | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment