WELDON BURGE

Publisher/Full-Time Editor/Freelance Writer

Bullets and Butterflies: A Blog by Weldon Burge

Print Books Are Not Dinosaurs ... Yet

March 27, 2017

Tags: books, paperback books, hardback books, e-books, reading

For the past few years, digital devices and e-books have gained great popularity in schools and homes—and most school-age children have access to the technology. Smartphones and iPads proliferate in many of our schools. Many educators believe that print books will soon become obsolete—or at least decrease in use—as children mature in a world ruled by technology.

Yet, so far, this hasn’t been the case. According to Scholastic’s 2015 Kids & Family Reading Report, the print book is not dead yet. Most students have read an e-book—61% in 2014 compared with 25% in 2010. However, for students ages 6–17, print books are still preferred—65% compared with 60% in 2012, and 77% who had read e-books said that the majority of books they read (especially for pleasure) were in print.

A preference for print books may be a growing trend in our society overall. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales have steadily declined since 2012. Comparing AAP survey results from January 2015 and January 2016, sales of paperback books grew 4.3%, while e-book sales declined 24.9%. (However, in the same period, sales of hardback books fell 18.7%.)

According to a 2015 survey of librarians by the School Library Journal, 56% of schools in the U.S. reported that they include e-books in their libraries, but only 6% of librarians reported a high student interest in e-books. Their observations show that, while students may use e-books for research and school projects, they prefer print books for pleasure reading. They appear to prefer a book “in hand”—there is an apparent physical, tactile element to reading.

This seems also to be true for college students. A new study, recently reported in Tech Times, indicated that 92% of those surveyed preferred print books over e-books. Interestingly, of those who preferred e-books, many expressed concern over the environmental consequences of publishing paper books.

Our teachers use digital books in their classrooms more and more. The next generation of students, taught how to use technology at an early age and now entering our lower schools, may change reading habits. But it’s too early to tell if they will have a greater affinity for e-books. So we are left to wonder how trends will change in the future of education. Most likely, students (and ultimately adults) will develop the ability to use both mediums—print and electronics—for accessing information and enjoying the “fun” of reading. Perhaps this dual ability will positively affect the literacy of our students.

But it’s clear from current research that print books are far from extinction.

First published in The Source for Private School News, Vol. 16, No. 3.

Meet Bram Stoker Award Finalist James Dorr

March 13, 2017

Tags: James Dorr, Bram Stoker Award, The Tears of Isis, Uncommon Assassins, Insidious Assassins, Zippered Flesh 3

Indiana writer James Dorr’s The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. His other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). Also be on the watch for Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, a novel-in-stories due for release from Elder Signs Press in spring 2017. Dorr, an Active Member of HWA and SFWA, has seen his work published in more than 500 publications, from "Alfred Hitchcock's Magazine" to "Xenophilia."

If you're familiar with Smart Rhino's anthologies (and we certainly hope you are!), you may remember his stories "The Wellmaster's Daughter" in Uncommon Assassins, and "Labyrinth" in Insidious Assassins. His story "Golden Age" will be published in Zippered Flesh 3, now in production.

James was happy to spend a few minutes to talk with us. Enjoy!

Your book The Tears of Isis was a Bram Stoker Award finalist in 2014 for the fiction collection category. Your stories have appeared in many anthologies, including Smart Rhino's Uncommon Assassins, Insidious Assassins, and the upcoming Zippered Flesh 3. Do you prefer the short form over writing novels? What's the allure for writing short stories?

Allan Poe wrote in his essay, “The Poetic Principle,” that “a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul.” So, a true poem must necessarily have a certain brevity. “That degree of excitement which would entitle a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a composition of any great length. After the lapse of half an hour, at the very utmost, it flags--fails--a revulsion ensues--and then the poem is, in effect, and in fact, no longer such.” There are such things as epics, of course. But to Poe, despite the need for unity for a work as a whole, such a work in practice becomes a series of shorter poems, though perhaps not so much through the fault of the poet as that of the reader.

Nevertheless, I think I agree with what Poe is getting at--that at best the “good bits” will be interspersed with duller parts in a reader’s perception. And judging from Poe’s own works of fiction, I think he means for this to apply to prose as well. So as to my own work, yes, at least as a writer I prefer short stories to novels. I often write horror (I also write fantasy, sf, mystery, and even some humor I should add, as well as poetry), which I see in part as a study of character under unnatural stress. And while I love diversions and atmosphere and descriptions and explanations to help as intellectual support, I think there is an emotional center which only can be sustained for so long. Now, not everything I write is that exciting--“Golden Age” in Zippered Flesh 3, for instance, is written as a measured reflection. But even there I think there is an emotional core, and a puzzle perhaps for the reader to discover through empathy with the narrator, of why the story should stop where it does. But the point is still that it does stop, that to carry it farther would weaken the effect as a whole.

So that’s the challenge I find in short fiction, again as a writer, to write as much as a story needs to drive its point through, and not a word more. Because what should come after is the reader’s own addition, through his or her own thought, to what I have written.

Speaking of novels, your book Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth is scheduled for release later this year. Can you tell us a little about the novel?

"It had been a time when the world needed legends, those years so long past now. Because there was something else legends could offer, or so the Poet believed. He didn't know quite what--ghouls were not skilled at imagination. Their world was a concrete one, one of stone and flesh. Struggle and survival. Survival predicated on others' deaths. Far in the future, when our sun grows ever larger, scorching the earth. When seas become poisonous and men are needed to guard the crypts from the scavengers of the dead. A ghoul-poet will share stories of love and loss, death and resurrection. Tombs is a beautifully written examination of the human condition of life, love, and death, through the prism of a dystopian apocalypse."

This is the publisher’s blurb on Amazon, condensed perhaps but fair enough (and positively flattering in that last sentence!). But there’s something to be said about structure too. Tombs is written as a novel-in-stories, or what’s sometimes called a “mosaic novel,” one not so much presented as a continuous narrative, from start to finish, but rather assembled from independent chapter stories. Some in fact were published before (two even appear in The Tears of Isis, while a third story there, while not in Tombs, is set in the same universe). The idea is there’s a larger story, in this case that of the world itself. But the approach to it is oblique, as if through, say, a series of snapshots in a photo album from which the reader might assemble a more complete picture in his or her own head.

One example is a book written more than sixty years ago--and one of my favorite novels of all time--Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, in this case assembling a “history” of the colonization of Mars through a series of stories, strung together with shorter vignettes. There are other examples in non-science fiction/dark fiction/fantasy contexts such as Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club or John Dos Passos’s USA trilogy. But the thing is, this is one way around Poe’s dictum, above, of being able to sustain a core idea--intellectual, aesthetic, emotional--only for so long.

So why not, then, an assemblage of ideas? Of corpse-trains that ply bridges crossing a great river, bearing a city’s dead, braving attacks from flesh-eating ghouls. Of rat-catchers, gravediggers, grave guards, and artists. Of Mangol the Ghoul, of musician-lovers Flute and Harp who once played back a storm, of the Beautiful Corpse. A city consumed by a huge conflagration, a woman frozen for thousands of years. A flower that eats memories….

And in the center of all, the great necropolis, the Tombs.

What do you find most difficult about freelance writing? The most rewarding?

The difficulty, frankly, for me is getting ideas. Not that ideas alone may not abound, but an idea-cluster that I can write a story around is a more difficult matter. My “muse,” as it were, is a nasty one who does not give things easily but must be wrestled into surrender. But then the joy, when that idea comes, the exhilaration of putting its various parts together, and realizing when I’ve finished a story that I’ve created something worth creating, that’s the reward. The grind of marketing will come later, and there’s a joy too when a story sells, especially if to a major market, but still the real reward for me is the creation itself.

What advice would you offer a novice writer looking to submit short stories to anthologies, magazines, or online venues?

Some, I’m sure, will have been heard before, perhaps many times: Perseverance. Don’t quit your day job. Those are the clichés, but they’re still true, that most writers aren’t going to make much money until they’ve been at it for some time, if even then. This is especially true for short story writers (I won’t even think about poets), unless you really, really persist and are willing to write in a number of genres (one person I know, for instance, has made a fair amount ghosting stories in woman’s confession magazines, but that’s not the route we’re taking here). But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some money, several hundred, perhaps even a few thousand dollars a year, if you can sell consistently to the highest paying markets. But most of us won’t.

For us lesser ambitions (in my case I look on money from writing as supplemental income, which I report as business income at tax time, but some years I’ll actually report a loss), be aware of markets when they open, especially anthologies. Ralan.com is one source on the internet, the Submission Grinder another--a third is Duotrope which I still use, although they charge a subscription fee these days. Consider joining groups like the Horror Writers Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. But also look for pages on Facebook for horror and science fiction writers and fans and, if you can, go to sf/horror conventions--these are ways you can meet other writers, as well as editors, and they can meet you. Cultivate friendships and listen for gossip.

But most important: Enjoy what you're doing and strive to do your best. Follow your bliss, to repeat that cliché. Be proud of your work, but be practical too--if an editor advises you to make changes, take it seriously. But remember it’s still advice, especially as you gain more experience, and the one you must please, ultimately, has to be yourself.

Sage advice. Thanks, James.

For more on James and his work, check out his blog at jamesdorr.writer.wordpress.com.



Crowdfunding and Smart Rhino

January 24, 2017

Tags: crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Smart Rhino Publications, Zippered Flesh


Crowdfunding.

Kickstarter. Indiegogo. GoFundMe.

Hmmm …

Worthwhile for independent publishers? I guess we’ll find out.

Smart Rhino Publications is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming ZIPPERED FLESH 3 anthology. We’ve lined up 14 writers so far, and we’d like to pay them pro rates—they deserve it. But it all comes down to the success of the campaign. It’s all or nothing with Kickstarter. Tricky. Suspenseful. Worthwhile? We certainly hope so.

Check out our campaign site, see what you think.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/106699384/zippered-flesh-3-more-tales-of-body-enhancements-g

To help the campaign along, we’re providing great rewards for those folks who pledge in support. You can get a thumb drive containing e-versions of ZF3. Paperback books. A Smart Rhino mug. Books. A print of the cover art. Editing of a short story by yours truly. Did I mention books?

We even created a rather icky promo video for the campaign. (Not for the squeamish!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQTxYqnr4iU

And I also made a personal appeal for the Kickstarter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sACX5OVnBmA

So, what do you think? Does this interest you? Do you feel compelled to support ZIPPERED FLESH 3 and its writers?

We’re crossing our fingers …

Armand Rosamilia Talks About Horror

January 16, 2017

Tags: Armand Rosamilia, Zippered Flesh, Smart Rhino Publications, horror fiction

Armand Rosamilia knows quite a bit about horror writing. His work has appeared in many publications, including his story, "Creeping Death," in the Smart Rhino anthology Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! He's also written a good many novels, including his Dying Days series, Chelsea Avenue: A Supernatural Thriller, Middletown Apocalypse, Dirty Deeds, and others. We were thrilled to have a chance to talk with Armand about one of his favorite topics--horror writing.

Zombies seem to be the rage, especially with the success of The Walking Dead TV series. You've written a good deal of zombie fiction, particularly in your Dying Days books. What do you think is the appeal?

It depends on the person. Some readers love zombie fiction because it is a mirror held up to society. Some think it foreshadows our future. Some think it is an analogy for the way the world is today, and is falling apart. For me, I just think zombies are really cool. I love reading about them and, as a kid, I loved watching zombie movies. So I can see the entertainment value of them first and foremost.

You're an incredibly prolific writer. Where do the creepy, often bizarre ideas come from?

I read a lot. Always have. Dean Koontz books started me on this journey at 12. I read mostly nonfiction now and watch Discovery Channel Investigation shows. The real horror is all around us, and is easy to tap into as an author. I have so many ideas for novels and shorts I'll never get to, and it would be a large chunk of my day just to write them all down. Whenever I don't have a specific contract on my desk and I'm able to add whatever I want to my writing schedule I simply tap into my brain and see what's at the front of the ideas and if I'm excited about writing it right now.

What's your latest (or impending) release? Can you tell us about it?

I always have a few projects on the horizon. I just released Green River Blend: A Supernatural Thriller with Devil Dog Press. It is a story about coffee. Yep, coffee. A mysterious man opens a coffee shop in a small Florida town and, when the residents get addicted to his coffee, strange things begin to happen. Beta readers said it was very much Bentley Little-ish, and I agree. When I began writing the novel, I was looking for that exact feel to it.

Next up is my crime thriller Dirty Deeds. I won a Kindle Scout contract with it. Look for it the end of January. I'm excited about it because I've never strayed this far from what I normally write. The advance readers love it, so it will definitely turn into an ongoing series.

Thanks, Armand, for giving us some background on your incredible work!

For more information about Armand, visit his website.

(This interview was originally published in the January 2016 issue of the Smart Rhino Publications e-letter.)

Talking with Chantal Noordeloos, Author of Coyote the Outlander

December 19, 2016

Tags: Chantal Noordeloos, Smart Rhino Publications, Coyote the Outlander

Chantal Noordeloos lives in the Netherlands, where she spends a lot of time arguing with characters (aka writing). In 1999, Chantal graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she focused mostly on creative writing. There are many genres that Chantal likes to explore in her writing. Currently steampunk is a focus of hers, leading her to write her Coyote novels about a female bounty who faces bizarre challenges.

But Chantal's "go to" genre will always be horror. "It helps being scared of everything. That gives me plenty of inspiration," she says.

Chantal is one of Smart Rhino's favorite writers, and we always enjoy talking with her. She gladly provided the following interview--which captures much of her inherent wackiness. Enjoy!


Your Coyote novels, Coyote the Outlander and Coyote: The Clockwork Dragonfly, are uniquely steampunk. Coyote is a strong and fascinating heroine. How much of Coyote is Chantal?

Ha! You caught me there. There’s quite a lot of me in Coyote, more so than any other character I’ve written so far. I think that also has a lot to do with that she’s an old role-play character of mine, from back in the days that we played Dead Lands.

There are a great deal of differences, of course. I can’t shoot a gun to save my life (in all honesty, I would more likely shoot myself than an opponent) and even if I could, I don’t think I’d have it in me to kill anyone. In a fight of flight situation … well, let’s just say I do the worst … I freeze. *cringes*

So, not so much the heroic bounty hunter, more the useless cannon fodder. If the *insert scary monster here* Apocalypse should ever happen, I would be among the first to die—and I probably won’t even die with dignity.

But at least I get to live vicariously through Coyote, right? Right? *bites lip*

Where I think we’re similar, she and I, is that Coyote has my zany outlook on life, and my sense of humor. One could argue that all characters I write have "my sense of humor" since, ehm … I wrote them, but that’s not exactly true. There is a difference between what I write and how I am in real life—there are plenty of characters I’ve written where I thought: "Dude, wtf is wrong with you?" Not sure what that says about my own mental state, but there you have it.

Coyote reflects how I feel about subjects such as inequality. She also mirrors some of the awkwardness I felt as a young girl/woman for being a tomboy. When I write Coyote, I base her very much on the parts of my personality that are confident, yet at the same time I give her some of my own insecurities, too. I would say she is the braver version of me—one who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.


Your novel Angel Manor is straight up horror. Do you think your writing will lean more toward that genre in your future work? (more…)

Liz DeJesus, Writer of Modern-Day Fairy Tales

October 26, 2016

Tags: Liz DeJesus, Fairy Tales

Liz DeJesus loves taking familiar fairy tales themes and giving them new twists--if not turning them upside-down. She is a novelist, freelance author, writing coach, and poet. If you enjoy the retelling of fairy tales, be sure to check out her work--including Jackets, First Frost, Glass Frost, Shattered Frost, and several others. Her story, "Sisters: A Fairy Tale," was published in the Smart Rhino anthology, Someone Wicked.

Liz agreed to talk with us about her work--and, as always, we enjoyed the conversation!

Let's start with the easy question for you. Why fairy tales?

It goes all the way back to my childhood. I was bullied as a kid throughout most of my childhood and fairy tales were a safe haven for me. Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Charles Perrault. Their books and stories all conveyed the message that I could have hope and that things could get better for me. I needed that message so badly at that time in my life. So I read them over and over again just to keep myself afloat. It took a while but things did eventually change for me.

So that’s the main reason I always gravitate towards fairy tales. In life and in my writing. Besides, it’s so much fun to play with these stories!

I love reimagining these fairy tales. I especially adore writing fairy tale retellings. I like to think about what it would’ve been like to have been in their shoes. Cinderella, Snow White, Red Riding Hood … just to name a few.

I remember the short story I wrote for the Someone Wicked Anthology, "Sisters: A Fairy Tale." It’s a fairy tale retelling of the story "Toads and Diamonds." That was a lot of fun to write. I got to see two sides of a story I always wanted to know more about.

With The Frost Series (First Frost, Glass Frost, and Shattered Frost), I use fairy tales as the foundation of the story. What if Snow White and all these fairy tale princesses had children? What happened to those children? Bianca Frost is the main character of the series and she’s a witch as well as a descendant of Snow White.

In my collection of short stories, Mugshots, I use fairy tales once more except that this is a modern retelling of Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and Goldilocks and they all commit crimes that land them in jail. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll! Believe me, I had WAY too much fun writing that particular book.

If you could start over, what would you do differently? (more…)

Graham Masterton: Horror and Suspense Master Extraordinaire

October 14, 2016

Tags: Graham Masterton, horror fiction, horror, suspense fiction, suspense

Graham Masterton is something of a literary chameleon. A prolific author, his 100+ books run the gamut from horror to thrillers to historical fiction to sex “how-to” manuals to his current series of Katie Maquire crime fiction. His debut as a horror writer began with the immensely popular novel, The Manitou, in 1975, which was also made into a movie starring Tony Curtis and Susan Strasberg. Several of his short stories have been adapted for television, including three for Tony Scott’s Hunger series. The man has been around the block a few times.

Graham is magnanimous and more than willing to talk about writing and publishing, and has long been a supporter of other writers in the field. In fact, he will talk your ear off given half the chance. I was thrilled that he was willing to take some time out of his busy day to answer a few questions for Suspense Magazine.

So, where did it all start?

I was writing fiction from an early age. I loved the novels of Jules Verne like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and H.G. Wells like The War of the Worlds, and wrote my own adventure novels and bound them in cardboard. At the age of 10 or 11, I discovered Edgar Allan Poe and loved the stories of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and blazing dwarves. I started writing my own short horror stories to read to my friends during break time at school. Some of my friends met me years later and told me that I had given them nightmares. I wrote a 250-page novel (by hand) about giant supernatural crabs when I was 12 (which I still have). When I was 14, I wrote a 400-page vampire novel that has been lost.

I was expelled from school was I was 17. Expulsion was the making of me, though, because I then got a job as a trainee reporter on my local newspaper. In those days, local newspapers were staffed by retired Fleet Street men (national newspaper reporters). They taught me how to write a tight, compelling news story that would grab a reader’s attention—how to write vividly and concisely—but more than anything else, how to interview people. I quickly learned that most people are bursting to tell you their innermost secrets, particularly since you are sympathetic and you listen carefully to them and ask the most penetrating questions. They will tell you things that they would never tell their friends or their families, because you are a stranger.

When I left the local paper at the age of 21 and was appointed deputy editor of a new British Playboy-style magazine called Mayfair, I was called on to interview the girls who appeared in the center-spread every month. Most of the men who met them simply “gawped” at their breasts, but I always made a point of talking to them about their ambitions and their love lives and whatever made them unhappy. Out of that experience, I developed a question-and-answer sex feature in the magazine called Quest, which purported to be conversations with couples about their sex problems. I wrote it all myself, but almost all the content was quoted pretty much verbatim from real girls.

I left Mayfair after three years after a spat with the editor and joined Penthouse the following week as deputy editor. Not long afterwards I was appointed executive editor. Penthouse had recently been launched in the U.S. at that time, so I got to travel frequently to New York in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. There I met several publishers and it was suggested to me by Howard Kaminsky from Warner Paperback Library that I write a sex “how-to” book in the same anecdotal style as Quest. That was how I came to write How A Woman Loves To Be Loved by “Angel Smith”. It was hugely popular (especially since Angel looked gorgeous on the cover) because few sex books had been written before in such a conversational style … most had been either medical or prescriptive. I’ve written 29 manuals over the years.


How did your earlier career with men’s magazines and writing sex manuals inform your fiction writing?
(more…)

Meet Thriller Writer John Gilstrap

August 11, 2016

Tags: John Gilstrap Interview, Suspense Magazine, suspense fiction

Most people know bestselling author John Gilstrap for his thrillers, especially his Jonathan Grave novels (No Mercy, Hostage Zero, High Treason, Damage Control, End Game, Threat Warning). But fewer know that he is also an accomplished screenwriter, writing screen adaptations of novels by Nelson DeMille, Thomas Harris, Norman McLean, and of course his own work. Outside of his writing, John has an extensive background in hazardous waste management, fire behavior, and explosives—knowledge that he has incorporated at times in his fiction.

John welcomed an interview for Suspense Magazine, and I thoroughly enjoyed our Q&A session!

Let’s start with your screenwriting. Your first screenplay was an adaptation of your own novel, Nathan’s Run. Apparently you knew nothing about screenwriting before taking on the job. Yet you wrote the screenplay in, what, less than a week? What did you do to get up-to-speed on that project?

Two years after I’d sold the movie rights to Nathan’s Run, my film agent at CAA called with the bad news that Warner Bros was putting Nathan’s Run in turn-around—the first in a complex series of steps that generally lead to a movie’s death. All because of script problems. I told my agent that the previous script writers were missing the point of the story; that I could do better, if only given the chance. Important Hollywood Lesson: Be careful what you say.

“Hmm,” my agent said. “Do you think you could do it by next week?” The word “sure” escaped my lips before the filter in my brain had a chance to stop it. Sure I could write a screenplay in a week. Why should I let a little detail like never having seen a screenplay—let alone write one—stand in my way? Bravado, baby.

So, with so little time to deal with the deadline, what did you do?

I dashed out to my local bookstore and picked up a copy of William Goldman’s book, Adventures in the Screen Trade, and read it cover to cover in a day. In it, he’s got the complete script for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and when I finished it, I thought I had a handle on this screenwriting thing, so I started writing. Three days later, I had a completed script for Nathan’s Run.

Wow, three days? How did it go over? (more…)

The Multi-talented Aaron J. French Discusses Writing, Editing, and His Love for Anthologies

July 21, 2016

Tags: Aaron French interview, horror fiction, Lovecraftian fiction, anthologies, Smart Rhino Publications, Zippered Flesh

Aaron J. French is one busy guy! Besides being a prolific writer, he is an accomplished editor and has pulled together some of the best horror and weird fiction anthologies now available. His story, "Whirling Machine Man," appeared in the Smart Rhino anthology, Zippered Flesh. His latest novella, The Dream Beings, is a hard-boiled Lovecraftian tale involving a serial killer and an investigator who is pulled into cosmic horrors.

Aaron agreed to answer some questions for us--and we hope you'll learn something from his vast experience!

Aaron, you and I have similar backgrounds: writer, editor, anthologist. Let’s start with your own fiction. Your collection of stories, Aberrations of Reality, has been described as a “modern grimoire of mystical horror,” and you’ve also written a zombie collection, Up From Fresh Soil. Your The Dream Beings is an incredibly creepy serial killer/occult novel. Plus you’ve written a number of novellas. How do you manage to juggle your time to write your own work, considering your many other obligations? Do you have a defined routine?

Thanks. Yes, it’s a lot of work, there’s really no getting around that. But it’s work I love to do, so that makes it worth it. I used to have a steady routine of writing 1000 words a day, and I did that for many years. But at this point, I’m basically just working all the time, whether writing, editing, and working academically (still writing). So I basically just do as much as I can on all fronts, but focus on whichever one has the nearest deadline (ha). But whenever I have a break, I try to write a new short story, or at least revise one that I have already written. It’s a way of keeping myself working on my own fiction, given everything else I do. And yet, I will say that more and more—as you mentioned with AoR and The Dream Beings—I have been using my own personal experiences and my research into science, religion, and magic to inform my stories. Yes, life is weird. So, while I still write to entertain (as it were) or for a certain market, lately I have been formulating more of a specific agenda with what I want to do with my fiction. You can see this most explicitly with Aberrations. I feel almost like a scientist, and I am doing experiments with my work to see what I can tease out of it. Ultimately, I want to explore how horror and science fiction affect states of consciousness.

You’re a book editor for JournalStone Publishing and the Editor-in-Chief for Dark Discoveries magazine. What advice would you offer horror and other fiction writers looking to publish their work? What are the common “mistakes” you see in the submissions that come across your editor’s desk? (more…)

Meet Horror/Suspense Writer W.D. Gagliani

June 30, 2016

Tags: W.D. Gagliani interview, Smart Rhino Publications, horror fiction, suspense fiction, Zippered Flesh

W.D. Gagliani is the author of many novels, including Savage Nights, Wolf’s Trap, Wolf’s Gambit, Wolf’s Bluff, Wolf’s Edge, and more. Wolf’s Trap was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award in 2004. Bill has published fiction and nonfiction in numerous anthologies and publications. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the International Thriller Writers (ITW), and the Authors Guild. Raised in Genova, Italy, as well as Kenosha, Wisconsin, he now lives and writes in Milwaukee.

Bill, with his co-writer David Benton, wrote the story "Piper at the Gates," published in the Smart Rhino anthology Zippered Flesh 2: More Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! We had fun in the following interview!

You tend to write a hybridization of horror and crime fiction/suspense. Do you find this combination easy to write, and why?

I do find it easier (no writing is truly easy, as you know). But not because there’s something magical about the mix that I’m tapping into. I find it easier because I grew up loving thrillers (and mystery and other genres, but thrillers were big), and later fell under the spell of one S. King, who blew my mind and sent it reeling into that black hole of terror I’d always been circling anyway. I had enjoyed horror before, such as James Herbert’s The Rats and The Fog, but when King came along with ‘Salem’s Lot, I truly was lost. I went all in on horror then. I took a break for my first couple years of college, then jumped back in. It became my favorite genre to read.

But, in any case, I never quite lost the thrill of the thriller. I loved the British authors the most. I admit, writers such as Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, and Duncan Kyle. Although David Morrell made a huge impact with First Blood and I started discovering great American writers, too. After quite a few years concentrating on horror, I just naturally started to channel the thriller people I’d always liked so much. So, the idea that thrillers and horror aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive swirled around in my head, but subconsciously. I think in the long run I found that I couldn’t always sustain that sense of terror or dread needed in a horror novel, but if I mixed in a sense of more realistic suspense, maybe less supernatural and more grounded in what happens every day in the world (violence seems to be the true universal language, unfortunately), I was able to fill out the plots in a way that seemed more fulfilling to me. Since I came to love the so-called splatterpunks of the '80s, whose work tended to be more visceral and less supernatural, it was like blending two primary colors to create a third (secondary) color, you know? Whether or not it works, I don’t know. I have fun with it, so I hope that sense of fun translates down to the reader.

The sixth Nick Lupo novel was recently released. How did you develop a character who is a werewolf homicide detective? (more…)

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