The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with William Cook

Meet William Cook: Horror writer, poet, dad, delver into the darkest of minds and ghost lover (her name is Gladys). READ ON!

Ruschelle: William, as a horror writer, I’m glad to see you prepared for our interview. You look good in a top hat and apron stained with blood and entrails.

Speaking of blood and entrails, your stories are not for the squeamish. And that’s just what many readers of the serial killer genre love.  What kind of research have you done to create your characters? Did you study specific serial killers from history?

William: There aren’t any particular serial killer cases that inform my stories and I tend to research as much about abnormal psychology as I do about serial killers (in general) and their methods and characteristics. I read both fiction and non-fictional accounts involving serial killer and watch documentaries in order to get a grasp of the psychological aspects of these freaks. I have a large collection of old Detective magazines that are very lurid and descriptive and these provide great fodder for researching crime and criminals. These are the same types of magazines that many of the serial killers from the 70s to the 90s used to read.

Ruschelle: What’s your literary “body count?”

William: Far too many to count although I feel quite happy that my count is only a figurative one and not literal. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! (winks)

Ruschelle: You’re also an artist. Your pieces reek brutality and dark, sinister entities. My favorite piece is a black and white illustration of a clownferatu. (My name for it) It speaks to me. But I don’t want to go to jail- so I don’t listen. When working with your artwork does your writing inspire your pieces OR do you pull inspiration from what you write- from your art?

William: The piece in question was inspired by none other than Mr. Stephen King’s ‘PennyWise the Clown’ from IT. So in that regard my inspiration came from sources other than my own imagination – all I did was reinterpret it with my own skill-set and materials at hand (charcoal and paper). Usually most of my artworks stem from an interest in a particular subject and are influenced by both visual and textual works. Sometimes, as a happy coincidence, a story or an illustration I have created will inspire a companion piece to go with it.

Ruschelle: Do you have a favorite piece? What is it?

William: I don’t really have a favorite. I get a bigger kick out of other people enjoying them, rather than having a favorite. As soon as they’re done I tend to distance myself from them and move on to the next one. You can see most of the ones I rate as worth public viewing here on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thewilliamcook/

Ruschelle: Fun question- Speaking of Clowns, they’re hot right now thanks to the remake of Stephen King’s It and Twisty the Clown from AHS.  If you could be any killer clown for a day (and I can’t prove you aren’t now but if I find out you are- I won’t tell), which do you identify with and why?  GO.

William: Mmmmmm –killer clowns crack me up as I don’t find them particularly scary. In fact, I find them quite comical. Perhaps the scariest one for me was a real one – the serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s alter-ego, ‘Pogo.’ As far as fictional ones I guess that King’s ‘Pennywise’ rates well for me as I have been involved with this one since reading IT many years ago.

Ruschelle: You’re more recent art work makes use of computer images along with more traditional mediums. What prompted you to take a modern tech approach to your art?

William: I bought Photoshop and loved the freedom that resulted – you can create so much more digitally than with traditional mediums (in my opinion) and it’s so much cleaner e.g. no cleanup, messy brushes and paint etc.

Ruschelle: You’ve recently completed your Master’s thesis, on serial killers no less, which leaves you more time to focus on fiction writing again.  Even though you’ve covered serial killers in your book ‘Blood Related’ did your extended research help you gain any new insight into the deviation?

William: No, not really. I’m not proud to say but my knowledge of these abhorrent humans is quite extensive and was firmly in place before writing my thesis, which incidentally only touches on fictional serial killers.

Ruschelle: Jason from Friday the 13th or Michael Meyers from Halloween?

William: I am a big Halloween fan – especially the original series of films starring Jamie lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance. One of the best slasher franchises in my opinion. In saying that I did enjoy Rob Zombie’s reinterpretations.

Ruschelle: Good answer! Michael Meyers is my favorite scamp too.  Let’s see, you have written the novel; Blood Relation and short story collection; Dreams of Thanatos. You have even penned books of poetry; Corpus Delicti and Moment of Freedom.  You’ve proven you are a man who can adapt his writing to different styles. But we all have that “favorite child” that we continue to nurture and dote on. Even though we don’t always want to admit it. For example, you have 4 lovely daughters. I promise I won’t tell them which one of them is your favorite child (LOL) …..but of your writing, what’s your preference?

William: Tough question as my answer tends to fluctuate depending on my mood. When I’m in a dark mood I write the dark stuff – Horror and psychological thrillers – perhaps as a form of catharsis. When I’m pensive I tend to write poetry as it serves as a great medium to philosophize and wax lyrically. And when I’m upbeat and positive I tend to lean towards non-fiction as I find it comes easier to me in that frame of mind than at other times. Despite the changeable preferences I’m never far away from my first love – scary stories, and will probably die still penning things that go ‘bump in the night!

Ruschelle: Have any of your girls been bitten by dad’s writing bug?

William: Yes! Both my little girls, Sienna (9) and Leila (7) are keen story-tellers and have written enough each to fill a small book. I am planning on helping them self-publish their work in the school holidays.

Ruschelle: Did you sprinkle any of yourself in Blood Related? The upright, family man Detective Ray Truman or one of the Cunningham brothers who are depraved serial killers? Isn’t there a little bit of ourselves in the stories we write?

William: For sure. I think any fictional work has some element of truth in it that stems from the author’s own experience/s of life. In my case, writing about taboo subjects is my vent – that is, rather than doing these horrible things in real life, I write about them and that seems to satisfy the demons that lurk in the dark realms of my brain. The same, of course, applies to the heroic actions of my ‘good’ characters – in essence, yes, I live vicariously through my stories and characters.

Ruschelle: You hail from New Zealand. Is there any ‘lore’ or hauntings in your country that has intrigued you and have squirmed their way into your stories or art?

William: New Zealand is a very new country in the whole scheme of things – colonial settlement is less than 200 years old and the indigenous peoples (the Maori and the Mori Ori) have their own cultural legends and myths dating back approximately 500 years before that when they first occupied the land. So in this respect there are two main threads of myth and legend where tales of ghosts and lore originate in New Zealand. There seems to be only a few tales that really stand out, but we do have a bloody colonial and pre-colonial history that is ripe for turning into some solid horror fiction, which I plan to do at some point.

Ruschelle: Many new writers out there would love to know your writing “routine” or ritual. It may inspire them to try something new to spur on their own writing practice. Tell us a bit of your routine when preparing to write.

William: Unfortunately, my routine is that I don’t have a routine so I’m not the best person to ask about this subject. It is something I am trying to develop as I get older, but I tend to rely on the ‘muse’ and shape my stories in my head until I have enough to put down on paper. I make notes with pen and notebook first and create a basic outline with first paragraphs and go from there. I guess, my main routine for writing is to read as it will inspire me to create stories (usually).

Ruschelle: Would you rather be the first man to be probed by a brand new visiting alien species that no one has been probed by before OR would you rather be “romanced” by a 100 year old ghost named Gladys who read your last book and is now your number one fan? I’m really looking forward to your answer here….

William: Ummm – I try to avoid being ‘probed’ at all costs so I guess I’ll have to go with Gladys. She sounds like a nice ol’ gal. Ghost sex is nothing new to me (winks).

Ruschelle: Oooh we’ll save THAT for another interview! Heh heh. In addition to writing fiction you have also written non-fiction, ‘Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors’ being one of them. You’ve mentioned to me that you are now publishing your own books. Why did you decide to go that route?

William: Having gone down the traditional publishing route before with most of my main titles having been published by other publishers, I realized that I could do more effectively what they could not. Most small-medium publishing companies have little-to-no-time to promote their authors so the marketing always fell back to me anyway. Editorial decisions were sometimes dubious and destructive in terms of the intended effect of the book and took away any control. I had some good experiences with publishers such as Black Bed Sheet books but at the end of the day I realized that with my publishing and marketing background I could get my books ranking higher if I had control over the ‘dashboard’ end of the publishing process. After receiving contractual rights back for my novel ‘Blood Related’ I decided to do it myself and managed to get my book ranking highly on Amazon and actually making good money out of it for a change. Ultimately, the huge increase in royalties and the creative control determined my commitment to publishing my own work. I still outsource editing, formatting and cover design so as not to let myself get complacent with the quality of my work but I am very happy with my decision and I’d recommend it to any author thinking of going for it. Check out my website http://selfpublishingsuccessfully.com for lots of good tips and information about the process.

Ruschelle: Black Bed Sheet Books is awesome, if I may say so myself. And I just did. But any who…If you were lucky enough to visit one haunted/creepy place in the world where you could find inspiration and write your next book where would that place be?

William: I’d love to do the ‘Haunted London’ tour one day.

Ruschelle: I’m going to stow away in your suitcase for that one. Sooo….what is your favorite way to dispose of a body? As per your research, of course.

William: Have to be fire – no DNA and negligible remains. Bwahahaha

Ruschelle: Fire. Nice choice!  Very toasty. Your new book Dark Deaths: Selected Horror Fiction, is out soon. Could you give us a little taste of your new offering?

William: This collection is my second (first – Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales) and will be the last one I put out for quite a while as I am now devoting myself to writing novels and novellas. It includes a bunch that have previously been published in anthologies and magazines and a couple of unpublished pieces also. The stories are pretty solid in my estimation and I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Should be out end of September/early October via Amazon exclusively.

Ruschelle: Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview? Ya know, perversions, bank account number, the usual…

William: Ha ha ha – not really, just thank you for the interview and the great questions. Hello to any new readers out there and old ones alike.

Ruschelle: You’re giving away some of your blood and sweat online. How can we get a nibble of your works?

William: If you check out my website you can get a copy of my novel-length first collection Dreams of Thanatos: Collected Macabre Tales, in the digital format of your choice, absolutely free. All you have to do is sign-up for my rather infrequent newsletter here: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html

Want more of William Cook?  Well, here ya go!

Website: http://www.williamcookwriter.com/p/subscribe-now.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/William-Cook/e/B003PA513I

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamCookWriter/

 

The Horror Tree Presents…An Interview with Lee Battersby

Selene – Please tell us a bit about yourself. Namely, why do you have two blogs, same content, two different places?

Lee – Heh. The two blogs thing is because I’m a touch lazy and a touch sentimental: I’ve had the Battersblog running on the Blogger platform for nearly 14 years now. It’s got a readership, and it’s archived by the Australian National Archives, so I’m rather fond of it. In the last year, I also set up a permanent website at leebattersby.com through WordPress, which has a blog as part of its central functionality, and is much more flexible than the Blogger platform, so I can include multiple pages and whatnot. But I’m still sentimentally attached to my old blog, and can’t bear to just shut it down and shift everything over to the new platform permanently. So, yeah: two blogs, with matching content– one of which is my shiny, tells-you-everything website, and one still hanging around like an old dog, lying blind and useless on my front porch, farting and gumming away at a bone.

As to myself, I’ve been around for about 16 years. I have 3 novels, a collection, and just over 80 stories on my ledger. I’ve won a couple of Australian Shadows Awards, an Aurealis, and a few others. I’m too fat, have pretty much run out of hair, and am addicted to Pokémon Go, dinosaurs, Nottingham Forest, Lego, boxing, graphic novels and metheglin. Apparently, I’m also an adult. I’m married to a brilliant writer in her own right, Lyn, and have three bonus kids and 2 of my own that I have to take responsibility for and can’t blame their behaviour on pixies.

Selene – I noticed a lot of humour on your blog, and there is a relationship between humour and horror. What makes you laugh? 

Lee – I have a fairly absurd sense of humour: I grew up inside an English tradition of comedy, so I have a lot of comedic heroes and influences like Spike Milligan, Kenneth Horne, Peter Cook and the like: the whole Oxbridge Mafia, and the British comics who came through the war are huge influences. But I’ve always been a bit dark, psychologically—my family situation growing up wasn’t ideal, and I’ve developed a fairly bleak and cynical side that probably expresses itself best in my horror work. I can be pretty misanthropic, and I think that comes out, too: a friend once said that even if I was capable of writing a story about fluffy, happy bunnies, they’d all end up in a soup.

Selene – Reading your bio would lead any of us noobs to think that you’re a sci-fi writer, although this is a horror blog. How do you approach writing horror vs. sci-fi? I mean, we all know the difference between, say, rocket ships and serial killers, but is there a thematic or structural approach that is fundamentally different?

Lee – That’s funny, because a science fiction writer is just about the last thing I think of myself as being. In something like 80-plus stories, I think I could point to less than half a dozen and say they were real science fiction. I just don’t have the scientific grounding, or curiosity, to write good science fiction. At best, I think I skirt the outsides of what the New Wave of the 60’s referred to as ‘science fantasy’—something a bit sciency, maybe, if you squinted at it in a dim light, but which is really a fantasy story that conforms to fantastic rules rather than scientific rigour. If I’m honest, I’ve published more poems than pure SF stories.

The same goes for horror. I think there are fairly entrenched rules for horror writing, and I think I come off as more of a fantasist who takes his fantasy into dark places. The two forms are much more closely aligned, but I think I write very differently than, say, James Herbert or Karon Warren. I think more along the lines of Paul Haines, who considered himself a fantasy author, but one who write fantasies you didn’t want to get caught up in.

Most styles of narrative writing require discipline and structural rules—most effective storytelling follows a character in action across a setting. It all has to contain a sense of verisimilitude, character identification, and willing suspension of disbelief. Where, say, horror and SF depart from each other is in the narrative components required to achieve that: good SF demands scientific and physical rigour, and realism that is more upfront than in more fantastic stories (I’m generalising like a mad thing, of course: for every argument, there is an equal and opposite ‘Yeah, but…’). More socially-based genres, such as horror and fantasy, require a set list of general physical rules but throw the weight of verisimilitude on cultural interaction and emotional believability.

That is the grossest, and most generalised approach to outlining the differences you could ask for, but it is, perhaps, a starting point. What I tend to refer to when teaching writing is the concept of ‘The World Plus One’—the easiest way to create a fantasy narrative is to take a recognisable world and alter one component so that it no longer fits: you could enter a particular genre based on what component you choose to alter, and how.

I could ramble about the various whys and wherefores all day, but that would be a column in its own right……

Selene – How did you start writing, and why genre fiction instead of something else? 

 

Lee – My first publications, way back when I was attending University in the late 80s and early 90s, were poems. I never set out to be a speculative fiction writer. All I’ve ever wanted to do was be a writer, period. But I’ve been a lifelong reader of speculative fiction, so my thought processes fall naturally into that sphere. And once I’d made my first sale within the genre, they kept coming. In effect, I trapped myself into a way of working that became a simple circle of call-and-response. I’m now in a position where I’m trying to broaden myself again—to work across several genres and forms as I’d always intended—but my reputation remains largely within the Australian speculative fiction field.

 

I have an enormous amount of love for speculative fiction, and for the SF community, but as an artist I don’t want to limit my growth by sticking to one label.

 

 

Selene –  You mentioned a former teacher who hated genre fiction. What do you think are the differences between genre and other types of writing? 

 

Lee – Suspension of disbelief. A good story has to contain the necessary elements, no matter what form it comes in. The only difference is that ‘genre’ fiction has a secondary set of criteria to match—not just speculative fiction, but romance, westerns, crime: anything that can be pigeonholed by its narrative conventions is ‘genre’. Frankly, the snobbery towards speculative fiction boggles me. I’ve written across a number of forms and genres, and it’s all bloody difficult to get right. That’s what makes it fun. If it was easy, anybody could do it.

 

That particular tutor—Elizabeth Jolley—was a contemptuous sort of teacher, who held anything not in her own wheelhouse in disdain. She should never have been in charge of a group of aspiring authors: she had no understanding of the requirements of writing, in a wider sense, and absolutely no ability to interact with people who wanted to work in anything outside her very strict, realist definition of literature. God knows what she’d have done with an aspiring Keats or Borges. But her name brought credibility to what was one of only 2 or 3 tertiary writing programs in the country at the time, I guess. It probably took me ten years to unlearn what she taught, and to create work that actually found a market.

 

 

Selene – On your blog, you write about your experiences at a writers’ retreat. How does this enrich one’s experiences as a writer? Most of us who can’t afford it can only look at the photos! 

Lee – I wish I could afford a retreat, too! I was fortunate to be chosen as the Establish Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre this year, and I can’t overstate how wonderful it was to be able to spend 2 weeks focussing solely on my writing, with nobody else’s timetable even entering my mind. Real Life ™ has eaten my writing career alive over the last 2 years: being able to put absolutely everything else aside, even the things and people I love, and focus only on the act of writing, was immensely liberating.

 

Selene –  I guess “where do you get your ideas” is a common question, but what does influence your stories? What do you like to write about?

Lee – A lot of it is simply following your passions and reading widely. I think any artist owes it to themselves to absorb as many experiences as they can. Then it’s a matter of your ability to intertextualise—to draw comparisons and contracts between all those bits of data you have filed away, all those experiences you’ve accumulated. Stories don’t really happen in the learning of facts, or the observation of events—it’s the space in between them, the places where otherwise unrelated nuggets of understanding overlap, that creates ideas. And the more of them you have, the more you’re exposed to the world and creating this ongoing web of connections and inferences, the more ideas you’ll have.

After that, whatever the voices in your head tell you is your problem……

For myself, amongst many other subjects, I have a special love of what I think of as ‘hidden histories’: histories of things outside the mainstream, or which you might not think of as having a story. For example, one of my favourite authors, Catharine Arnold, has written histories of Bethlem Hospital, of London’s funerary practices, its criminal classes, and so on. I also have a deep love of true crime, particularly from before the 20th century. As a horror writer, they’re not bad as staring points J

 

Selene – You mention world-building on your site, and that you’ve developed some theories over the years. What is the best approach to world-building? I know it’s extremely important in sci-fi and fantasy, but how is it the same or different for horror? 

Lee – I think it’s exactly the same. What makes for good speculative fiction is the disturbance in the status quo. But for that to be effective, you first have to establish that status quo. I see a lot of horror stories where writers simply throw everything at the reader in the hopes that some of it will have an effect, and those stories always end up reading a bit like a child jumping in puddles: lots of splashing, very little impact. Verisimilitude is everything: if your reader believes in the world you’re portraying, then they’ll believe in the abuses you visit upon that world when they arrive.

I run entire workshops on this subject, but the very short, Reader’s Digest version is: make sure everything works. If you depart from what we accept as our reality– where the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, and gravity is nine metres per second per second, and up is up and down is down and all that jazz—then that departure has to be justifiable, and it has to work within the physical constraints of the Universe you’re creating.

So, your Universe must have rules, even if you’re writing a story set in the hidden 10th level of Hell, because without them, there is nothing for reality, (or if you’re writing a story about unreality breaking into normalcy, the other way around), to react against. Fiction is based on restraint and conflict—if anything can happen, then nothing that happens has consequence. And without consequence, there is no conflict.

 

Selene – I notice you’re a Doctor Who fan. I’m not (sorry!) and haven’t watched the show since I was very young, back in the late 70s/early 80s when it was the guy with the fro and the scarf. I noticed the trailer for the female Doctor on your site, and was wondering what you think of the gender-flipping that’s been happening with characters. Female Ghostbusters. Female Ocean’s (Eight) Eleven and Lord of the Flies. A male Heather Duke. Is there something to be gained by a gender swap, or is it just a calculated move toward “inclusion?” 

Lee – I’m not at all averse to gender-swapping. I think it can do wonderful things to a narrative, and bring light to issues that may not be apparent in the original text. The Ghostbusters reboot is a fantastic example of that: the original is a story about a bunch of guys who are frustrated in their attempts to catch ghosts because ‘normal’ society thinks they’re a bit kooky. Then it gets gender-swapped, and there’s a whole new level of conversation that happens about how women with innovative ideas are marginalised. It immediately layers the narrative.

Where it enables those new commentaries to be opened up, I think gender-swapping—and colour-swapping, which can also bring new things to a text but doesn’t seem to capture the same media attention– is an excellent idea. Like any narrative tool, if it’s used effectively, then it should be explored. Where it will be ineffective is if it’s just used as a way to drop a female actor into an unchanged text. If so, nothing changes. You just add a layer of exploitation.

 

Selene – I read about your “writing karass” on your blog, the idea that certain people influence you. How did you come up with this idea, and what does it mean? Does this ever affect how you develop your character ideas?

Lee – The karass is a concept dreamed up by Kurt Vonnegut for his novel “Cat’s Cradle”— a group of people who are linked spiritually, without necessarily knowing it or understanding the link. It’s a measure of effect, rather than overt cultural placement. You could be a part of my karass because you performed what, for you, was a small act, but one that had a lasting effect upon me.

I like the idea, because it’s a way for a person to catalogue and include the people who have affected the course of their life, without ever having more than a single act or moment. It also allows you to give equal weight to good or bad actions based not on their intent or duration, but on their effect: Elizabeth Jolley is a member of my writing-based karass because of her negative actions over a period of time, just as Algis Budrys is because of a brief positive action that was small for him, but momentous for me.

 

Selene – Is there a type of character or a story idea you haven’t written yet but would like to? Why or why not?

Lee – Oh, hundreds. As I said earlier, I set out to be a writer, not just a writer of a specific genre. I really want to have the kind of career where I wander from idea to idea as the whim takes me. So, I’ve not written a crime novel yet, or a post-apocalyptic western, or a comic book series. I’ve not written a TV series, or a stage play. I’ve not written an historical, or a memoir, or a picture book.

I have more plans than I have lifetime J

 

Selene – What are you working on now? What’s coming in the near future for you? 

Lee – Writing’s been a bit up and down for me for the last 18 months. I’ve gone through some difficult times at my day job that have affected my writing life. I’m chipping away at a new children’s novel, entitled “Ghost Tracks”, about a boy who is tricked into derailing the ghost of a train and then has to travel to the ghost world to make amends. And my wife and I are about to undergo a big life change that should mean I can devote more time to writing: essentially, we’re going to undergo a job swap that will see her become the main breadwinner and I’ll stay at home. She’s about to finish qualifying as a teacher, and we’ll be going country for the next couple of years, which will enable me to keep house, write, and devote some time to setting up an arts consultancy business, which I’ve been toying with doing for a little while. If that happens, I’ll be looking to spend 2 years absolutely cranking out work to get my career back where I want it to be.

 

 Selene – You mentioned you started writing in 1989. How has writing and publishing changed in the last 28 (gulp!) years, and what’s the same about it?

 

Lee – My first publication—a poem—was in 1989, during my first year of University. It was written on a manual typewriter. I made a copy on the library photocopier, for the princely sum of 4 cents. I sent it in an A4 envelope. When I sent overseas, I had to include International Return Coupons so that my rejection (and they were all rejections) could be sent back to me. I kept track of my submissions using a card system in 2 boxes—one for stories, and one for markets—which I filled out in pen, after having received submission guidelines by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the market in question. Those guidelines I punched and kept in a file.

 

As of right now, I haven’t sent a story in hardcopy to a publisher in over half a decade. All my records are kept in a single Excel spreadsheet. I haven’t received a physical cheque in I don’t know how long—even my overseas payments happen by direct deposit. Everything is quicker, easier, and simpler. The internet is the best invention in the history of writing. And it’s all portable. I have a hard drive the size of my palm that contains my entire career amongst the other 1 terabyte of information inside of it. I love living in the world of tomorrow.

 

Perhaps what’s changed most for me—and keep in mind that I don’t buy e-books, I don’t own an e-reader, and I still get depressed when websites close and take my story with them—is the widespread acceptance of how temporary the nature of the reading experience is, now. Reading is a form of disposable entertainment, whereas the purchase and storage of books is something permanent, and something that can be revisited. It’s illusory, of course—second-hand book stores exist for a reason—but I feel like the last vestige of the generation for whom physical books meant something. That’s my hang-up, though: my inability to adapt to the prevailing culture.

 

On the flip side, as an artist, not a lot about the creation of work has changed: no matter the tools you use, the basic building blocks of creation are as they have always been—the tenets of storytelling still require you to connect with your audience, to gain their belief and participation, and to deliver a satisfying narrative. Everything else—the means by which you do so, the cultural markers and milestones you incorporate, the way you deliver the product– is just adaptation, which should be part of the basic artist toolkit anyway.

 

 

Selene – If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing? 

Lee – I’d be suicidal in the Public Service. When my writing career really kicked off, I was working for the Tax Office, having been shunted there after a disastrous spell in the Child Support Agency, which is the most toxic environment in which I’ve ever worked. I was deeply miserable, and essentially giving in to depression. My arts work, largely based around my writing, was the key to escaping that atmosphere: I was able to get a job in arts administration, and escape. If not for that, I’d probably still be there, and I would be absolutely radioactive as a person.

 

Selene – What advice would you give an aspiring writer, or one who’s just starting now?

Lee – Diversify. Don’t think of yourself as a writer in a lineal sense. Don’t constrain yourself to one genre, or one form of expression. I started out as a poet, am best known for horror and dark fantasy, and find myself working in children’s books at the moment…. with side-quests in stand-up comedy, cartooning, legislative writing, reviews, theatre, and more. Everything I’ve done along the way has given me a new set of skills to draw upon. The bigger your arsenal, the more you’ll have to use when the time comes. Don’t fall into the trap of limiting your experiences, your skill set, and your opportunities, by allowing the publishing industry to dictate what kind of an artist you are.

 

Selene – Is there anything else you’d like to talk about here? 

Lee – I’ve always felt that art should never be comfort food. Even horror has its comfort zones, its warm snuggly blankets, and its banalities. But art should be a guerrilla enterprise—it’s our job, as artists, to question the status quo; to undermine it if necessary. Art should always throw the beliefs and acceptances of the audience into question. It should always discomfit. Write all the happy books about how great grandmothers are that you want. You may even sell them and make some money. But you won’t be remembered. Art is subversion, and we need be strong enough to continue to subvert wherever and whenever we can.

Can I borrow a stepladder? This soapbox is high……

 

You can follow Lee’s blog’s here:

 

leebattersby.com

battersblog.blogspot.com

 

 

‘Full Bleed’ Is Coming To Kickstarter And Might Be Of Interest To You!

I don’t usually post about Kicksters but I felt this one could be of interest. ‘Full Bleed’ is a new quarterly magazine brought by a new division of IDW which will have a focus on the creative community. They’ll obviously be primarily checking out some of the bigger names out there and might give some unique perspective and insight to how they work. I thought it was interesting enough to share all of the details with you!

You can check out the full press release below:
IDW Publishing’s Dirk Wood announced the first project to come out of the publisher’s new Portland office and WOODWORKS imprint to a packed house at Rose City Comic Con this past weekend, getting strong positive reactions for both the art and content revealed, and a unique distribution plan. Premiering today on Kickstarter is the new division’s flagship publication: FULL BLEED!

FULL BLEED is a brand-new quarterly, print-only, 200-page hardcover magazine, curated and edited by IDW Publishing’s Dirk Wood alongside CEO and Publisher, Ted Adams. Bringing together the very best in comics, fiction, non-fiction, in-depth interviews, opinion, history, think-pieces, and more, FULL BLEED will be a reading experience like no other. Shot through an international lens, but filtered through the unique perspective of the IDW:PDX satellite office in Portland, Oregon, FULL BLEED will tackle all aspects of the creative culture, and beyond — comics, music, film, television, fine art, photography, design, politics, and more. FULL BLEED seeks true and total diversity through its content, creators and contributors, as well as genre and format.

“IDW is always at its best when we’re breaking new ground and FULL BLEED is the latest example,” says Adams. “Not only is it a great magazine, but I’m also excited about the way we’re launching it. We’re not using Kickstarter to crowdsource funds in the usual sense, because IDW doesn’t need to raise money that way. We’re using Kickstarter to appeal directly to readers and, in an unprecedented and revolutionary way, we’ve worked it out so comic shops can order the books via Kickstarter and have them fulfilled by Diamond. We’re always looking for new ways to sell our books and comics, and we won’t stop until everyone on Earth with a bookshelf knows what IDW can do.”

“This project is a dream come true. Working with such an amazing group of creators, on such a labor of love, is so much fun,” says Wood. “If you think we’ve got a lot of crazy-good content lined up for the first one, just wait until you see what’s coming.”

FULL BLEED is the premiere publication from IDW’s new Oregon-based imprint; WOODWORKS. Following the December launch, IDW & WOODWORKS will be creating a campaign to help Traveling Stories, a charity dedicated to children’s literacy and “outsmarting poverty one book at a time,” as well as the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, to help with their continued work for literacy and libraries. WOODWORKS aims to make “smart books for smart people,” with the hope of “helping to make a few more smart people.”

FULL BLEED launches on Kickstarter today with the first volume scheduled for release in early December.

Setting Self Doubt on Fire: 5 Tips on How to Ignore the Negative Voices

Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words. I know, it’s been a long time since my last post, but I’ve been busy with finishing the third draft of my novel, which took longer to finish than planned, but the third draft is now completed.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, three years ago, I wrote a post titled, ‘The Doubts of Others’. In this post, I talked about how, for some of us writers, there are people out there who feel that we are wasting our time in trying to achieve this dream. Well, that was three years ago, and since then I have had more short stories published and won competitions, but still, there are people out there who belittle my achievements and see my writing as a joke. As I mentioned in the last post, it’s hard enough fighting your own negative thoughts without having to deal with other people’s negative opinions because this only releases Mr Self Doubt. So, today, I want to tell you (and myself) that it’s time to ignore the negative voices.

How do you ignore the negative voices, you ask? Well, I have my famous five tips for you:

  1. Remember, you don’t need anyone’s permission to write – this is an important point because many of us will feel that we need people’s approval to write, and so when we don’t get it we stop writing. The only permission you need to write is your own. If writing makes you happy, if it’s your dream to get published and see your book in a bookshop window, then go for it, and don’t let anyone stop you. It’s your life. You need to do what makes you happy.
  2. Call yourself a writer – no one will believe that you are a writer if you don’t believe it yourself. If you tell people that you do this ‘writing thing’ then you will only encourage them to not take your writing seriously. And even though your writing isn’t important to them it is still important to you, so don’t trivialise what you do. Stand up and tell people, ‘I’m a writer, and I’m proud of that.’ I’m glad to say that I finally call myself a writer because that’s what I do. I’m not a published novelist, yet, but I am a writer.
  3. Don’t waste your energy with anger – it’s understandable that you would want to rip out people’s throats for mocking what you do, but anger only hurts you. So don’t waste your time being angry and thinking about all the terrible things you can do to that person (some of us are horror writers for a reason lol). Instead, accept that these people don’t believe that you will succeed, but don’t let them make you quit.
  4. Focus on the positive voices – you may have people who think you’re wasting your time and not take your writing seriously, but there will be people out there who do. So, don’t focus on the negative people, instead focus on the people who go to your writing events, who celebrate when you are published, and who tell you that you can do this when you feel like you can’t. And if you don’t have anyone like that then you can always find them via writing groups or online. I’m lucky because I have more people in my life who believe in me than I do who don’t believe in me. They see and know that I’m working hard, and it’s those people that I plan to focus on, and you should do the same, even if there’s only one person in your life who believes in you.
  5. Keep writing – yes, this is what you should definitely do. Actually, this should be point one, but I thought it would be a nice way to end the post. You will never achieve your dreams if you stop writing, so don’t listen to the negative voices. Instead, focus on your path and continue with it. And hey, you can always use those negative people to inspire a villain (or victim) in your stories – just make sure that they won’t recognise that it’s them. And when you do have a novel published, you should send them a signed copy of your book.

So there you have it, five tips on how to ignore the negative voices, and none of them involved any violence. There are many reasons why people will put you down for following your dreams, one of the reasons is jealousy because unlike them, you have the courage and determination to pursue your dream. So don’t waste your time with those negative people, instead focus on what truly matters.

Keep writing folks!

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions” – Will Smith

 

The Horror Tree Presents…Interview Questions for Derek Brown

Liz – Tell us a bit about your part of the world.

Derek – Well I am 33 years young, I am married to my beautiful wife and I have two amazing daughters.  They are the driving force behind all that I do.  I am currently a Registered Nurse and work full time.  I was in the Army as an Airborne Infantryman.  I am a really big fan of Batman.  I love football both watching and playing.

Liz – How long have you been a writer for?

Derek – Now that is a bit more of a difficult question, I mean I would say my whole life but I suppose you want me narrow that down a bit.  I have always been an avid reader for as long as I can remember.  I read the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan when I was 15 and it changed my life.  I began devouring books after that, and I think it was Stephen King who said something to the extent, that “you can only read for so long before you have to write your own story.”

So, when I was 29, I decided it was time to start checking on items off my bucket list.  This included completely my first triathlon, completing the swim Alcatraz duathlon, and writing a book.

Liz – That’s some impressive bucket list items right there! What do you enjoy most about writing?

Derek – When I was younger, I remember reading this book and being transported to another world.  So, for me writing is my chance to share the journey with the reader.  I work very hard to make sure that I transport my readers into my world.

Liz – You’re first novel, Until the End, was released last year digitally and will be released in paperback later this year – can you tell us what it’s about?

Derek – At its essence it is a journey about the lengths that a father would go to for his daughter.  Of course, it is told of the course of an outbreak of a virus that causes people to become flesh eating monsters.  I mean if you are thinking to yourself, Zombies, you are on the right path.

So the reason behind the waited release of the paperback version is due to some of the feedback that I have gotten from my readers. I am currently working on some edits, I want to make sure that it is in its most perfect form when it is put on paper.

Liz – What was the inspiration behind it?

Derek – The idea of what I would do my daughters, there is no question, there is nothing that I would not do for them.

Liz – The unbreakable Daddy/Daughter bond! How long did it take you to write, from planning right through to now?

Derek – Too long, but I suppose that is the story of many authors.  The idea started when I was 29 and I would say that is still an ongoing process.  Another quote from Stephen King, a story is never finished as long as the writer is alive.  Basically, I think that as you become a better writer there are always going to be things that you are going to want to improve.

Liz – We can be our own worst enemies…What made you decide to self-publish?

Derek – For me, I didn’t really see any other option to get my book out, as I have gotten more into writing, I realize that there are other avenues but it worked for me.

Liz – How have you found that whole process?

Derek – Self-Publishing has been an amazing process. I like the way that Amazon makes it very easy to see how my book is performing. The control that I have over pricing and sales.  I think it is a great way to reach readers.

Liz – You’re currently working on a collection of short stories and poems – is there a central theme? Or is it a collection of work you have accumulated over time?

Derek – True Horror, every story that I write is something true or something that could happen.  I have always been afraid of the darkness of human nature.

Liz – It’s the scariest kind of horror, I think! In your spare time you enjoy photography, in particular horror photography. What does that entail and how to you prepare your shoots?

Derek – I have always enjoyed photography, trying to get the perfect shot.  I recently came across Joshua Hoffine’s work.  It is amazing and inspiring.  So, I have decided to try my hand at that and see what I can come up with.  I’ll have to get back to on what it entails exactly.

Liz – You also spend time in Cosplay a Batman, The Dark Knight – why Batman?

Andrew – I have always been a huge fan of Batman, I mean the story of a tortured hero, what’s not to like?

Liz – How did you get into entertaining children in hospitals and schools? Was it a natural progression of the cosplay, or was it something you were doing first?

Derek – I got into it with the intention of wanting to do something nice.  After watching the story of Lenny B. Robinson, who was a cosplayer who dressed up visiting hospitals before his untimely death.  I thought it was such an awesome thing that he was doing and said to myself, hey I can do that.  So, I got to work and put my costume together.  It has been such an amazing experience, the people that I have got to meet and interact with because of it.

Liz – That’s amazing, I’m sure your visits are greatly appreciated. I have to ask – you’re the self-appointed ‘Bob’s Burger’s’ Biggest Fan – what makes you so? And what is about the show that you enjoy so much?

Derek – Yes the self-appointed, biggest ‘Bob’s Burger’s’ Fan, I am just a huge fan of the show.  I love watching the show, the dark dry sense of humor, compliments my own so well.  I also got to recently meet the creator and cast, it was a high point of my visit to San Diego Comic Con earlier this year.

Liz – You’ve recently become a Registered Nurse. How do you juggle the nursing and the writing?

Derek – I am blessed to be working as a nurse; fortunately I work three nights a week so I am able to spend my days with my family and my other nights writing.

Liz – Have you always wanted to be a nurse? What do enjoy most about it?

Derek – I have always known that I want to help people.  I just didn’t know what avenue I would take to obtain that goal.  About nine years ago I was faced with a huge decision in my life.  I had been accepted to a Licensed Nurse Program and to a Police Academy.  As part of the application process for the nursing program, I had requested a letter of recommendation from a doctor I worked with.  He spoke with me a few days prior to me needing to make my decision.  He asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was on the fence.  So, he says hold on, goes to his car, comes back with a check for my nursing tuition, and tells me to go to nursing school.  To this day I cannot thank him enough, I still keep in touch and talk to him now.  He completely altered the direction of my life for the better.

Liz – What an amazing gift of generosity! The world needs more acts of kindness like that. Do you find inspiration for your writing in your nursing work?

Derek – I do, I have seen many things in my career as a nurse and it would be hard to not incorporate my experiences into my stories.

Liz – I see you have also directed short films! Can you tell us about them?

Derek – Yes as if I didn’t have enough things on my plate, I have recently tried my hand at writing, directing, and editing short films.  You can check them out at my youtube page.

Liz – Is directing something you would like to do more of in the future?

Derek – It was a ton of fun, but a lot of work.  I will be doing more yes.  My mind rarely stops moving.

Liz – I certainly know that feeling! Aside from Bob’s Burger’s and Batman, who else inspires you?

Derek – If you can’t tell, Stephen King a huge inspiration for me.  Robert Jordan opened up worlds for me.  Raymond E. Fiest ranks among my top favourites, I actually got to meet him a few years ago.  Lee Child’s ability to tell fast paced action filled stories amazes me.  Frank Miller’s dark noir tales are fantastic and KC Wayland’s, We’re Alive, podcast are phenomenal.  I could literally go on.

Liz – Lastly, if you could meet one person in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

Derek – Wow…  I think it would be pretty awesome to meet, Edgar Allen Poe.

Liz – Now that is an impressive choice! Thank you so much for your time, Derek!

 

If you would like to contact Derek, or check out the below links.

E-mail: [email protected]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/derek.brown.75

Twitter: @baronbatman6

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkB55b3ZUPsrBP8oZEom2Uw

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/baronbatman

WordPress Blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/day/zombiedailyblog.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B074J4K9W1

Amazon Reviewer Page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amzn1.account.AHFLSEOCPXWQWTVZQOHNUTMJXWJA?ref%5F=cm%5Faya%5Fbb%5Fpdp&

Photograhpy: https://www.facebook.com/DKphotography6/

Dark Knight Interactive: https://www.facebook.com/baronbatman/

Website: https://ddbrown6.wixsite.com/derekbrown

 

Taking Submissions: NonBinary Review #15 We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Deadline: October 31st, 2017
Payment: 1 cent per word for fiction and nonfiction, and a flat fee of $10 for poetry

NonBinary Review is a quarterly digital literary journal that joins poetry, fiction, essays, and art around each issue’s theme. We invite authors to explore each theme in any way that speaks to them: re-write a familiar story from a new point of view, mash genres together, give us a personal essay about some aspect of our theme that has haunted you all your life. We also invite art that will accompany the literature and be featured on our cover. All submissions must have a clear and obvious relationship to some specific aspect of the source text (a character, episode, or setting). Submissions only related by a vague, general, thematic similarity are unlikely to be accepted.

We are open to submissions which relate to Shirley Jackson’s 1962 book We Have Always Lived In the Castle

Submissions which do not tie into the plots or make use of characters/settings from the stories WILL NOT be considered–there needs to be a clear connection to the source material. 

We want language that makes us reach for a dictionary or a tissue or both. Words in combinations and patterns that leave the faint of heart a little dizzy.

FICTION, CREATIVE NON-FICTION, FLASH & HYBRID/EXPERIMENTAL

NonBinary Review accepts fiction and creative non-fiction of up to 5,000 words in length, although shorter is probably better. Fiction should be double spaced, 12-point type, in Times New Roman or similar font in a Word document or text file. Authors may submit up to 5 pieces of flash fiction, no more than 1000 words each, in this category. Please upload each piece as a separate document on this submission. Flash (fiction or CNF) is the ONLY category where multiple pieces related to the same theme may be selected for publication.

POETRY

NonBinary Review accepts poetry of up to 3 pages in length. Poetry should be single spaced, 12-point type, in Times New Roman or similar font in a Word document or text file. You may submit up to five files with this submission, but each poem must be submitted as a separate document.

VISUAL ART

We prefer high-resolution images in JPEG, PDF, TIFF, GIF or PNG format. Visual art must be related to each issue’s theme and please attach only one file at a time. Each file must be accompanied by the artist’s bio and an artist’s statement, which should be submitted as a Word document or text file, double spaced, 12-point type, in Times New Roman or similar font.

ALL SUBMISSIONS

Your 50-word bio should be included in your cover letter. If your bio is longer than 50 words, it WILL be edited for length if your piece is selected. You may submit more than one piece, but each piece must be submitted as a separate document.

PAYMENT
NonBinary Review pays 1 cent per word for fiction and nonfiction, and a flat fee of $10 for poetry (singular poems or a suite)  and $25 per piece of visual art, payable upon receipt of the signed publication contract. In return, we ask for worldwide serial rights and electronic publishing rights. NonBinary Review accepts previously published work as long as the original publication is clearly credited. All contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which their work appears.

ALPHANUMERIC
If you are interested in your work appearing online, please indicate on your submission that you would like to be considered for our weekly online feature, Alphanumeric.  Alphanumeric pays a flat fee of $10 per piece regardless of genre or length, and adheres to the same theme and style conventions as the current reading period for NonBinary Review. Alphanumeric pieces will be published online for the 3 active months per each issue, after which, these pieces will be published as a compendium to the issue in which they were published.  All contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which their work appears.

Authors and artists should state in their cover letters for which issue their submission is intended. Submissions not related to an upcoming issue’s theme will be deleted unread.

Via: NonBinary Review.

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