The Horror Tree Presents … an Interview with John C Adams

Be Your Best Writer’s Self!

Horror Tree sat down with non-binary author and critic John C Adams to talk about how being a critic has helped them be their best writer’s self with their latest fantasy novel, ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’.

Horror Tree: So, you’re an author and a critic in both horror and fantasy?

JCA: Yep. I’ve just published my second fantasy novel, and I’ve also got a dystopian horror novel called Souls for the Master on Kindle and Smashwords.

As a critic, I write regular blog articles and I’m also a reviewer for the British Fantasy Society and Schlock! Webzine. The method of choosing what to review is quite different for each market. With BFS, I am on the team dealing with books, comics and graphic novels, and we get a list of material every month to choose from. They also have a team for self-published books, and indie publishers and RPG games, and a third team that centres around films and TV plus a whole lot more like computer games. Pretty much whatever it is, there’s someone there to review it!

With Schlock! Webzine, they have a different approach in that our team of reviewers will pick a book or film or game they’ve enjoyed recently and review it, rather than being open to submissions. The material is very similar, but each reviewer makes the choice and whereas with the BFS I just review books, with Schlock! if I’ve seen a film I like I can put in a review of that instead of a book.

Horror Tree: What’s the latest thing you’ve reviewed?

JCA: Well, the British Fantasy Society have just published my review of The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw, from Abbadon Books. And my most recent Schlock! review was Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco. I review for Library Thing, Goodreads and Litsy, too, so I quite often delve back into the classics. My next Library Thing review is going to be Sea Dragon Heir by Storm Constantine, and for Goodreads I just reviewed the anthology Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural. On Litsy the other week I was talking about Legacy of Kings by Celia Friedman. Some real old favourites, but being able to go back to the classics helps you understand what they’ve done right to be such an enduring feature of horror and fantasy fiction: what exactly do we love about them and why do we keep coming back to them over and over?

Horror Tree: How does reviewing regularly, more or less every week, help improve you as a writer? How did it help with Dagmar of the Northlands?

JCA: Do you know, there is nothing better than really drilling down into what works and what doesn’t. You need those honed analytical skills and an understanding of what exactly the market is demanding to be able to say, ‘This is what I need to write and for whom’. It helps with identifying your market, your style, your content. It helps with everything! All writers read a lot, but for me I think my best improvement as a writer has come through reading analytically – not necessarily in an academic way but about plot, character, technique, themes, structure. Reading the masters like Ramsey Campbell, Lovecraft, Stephen King, Peter Straub is just the best way to learn, and then to mix it up with more recently emerging writers who are new but still influential in order to absolutely understand what they’re doing right.

Horror Tree: And as a Contributing Editor for Albedo One Magazine you do alot of submissions reading for the Aeon Award?

JCA: That’s right. The work of Contributing Editors varies at Albedo One, which is a SF, horror and fantasy magazine based in Dublin. The magazine runs an international short fiction award every year, and that’s where I do most of my work as a submissions reader as part of the big team we have. Every story gets read twice, actually three times if there’s not agreement between the readers. It’s lovely to be working with other writers who have so much experience, and I’ve learnt alot from their thoughts and analysis of the short stories we read. Again, it has helped me to grow as an author, and I’d definitely recommend doing submissions reading for anyone who’s a writer.

Horror Tree: What are you working on now?

JCA: Well, any novel goes through editing, revisions and pre-order stages, so in fact in the months since Dagmar of the Northlands was complete I’ve been working through the polished draft of my next novel, a horror tale called Welcome to Oblivion, which is the sequel to my dystopian novel Souls for the Master. It should be out in autumn 2020. I like to alternate between fantasy and horror. As soon as ‘WTO’ is with my editor, I’ll be back on fantasy again writing the sequel to Dagmar. I’ve already done quite alot of the groundwork, and it’s always lovely to be back with characters you know and love, and creating some new ones, too.

‘Dagmar of the Northlands’ by John C Adams is out now on Kindle and Smashwords.

You can connect with John here http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

 

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with P.J. Blakey-Novis

Stacey – Hi Peter, it’s great to have you here on the Horror Tree! Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?

 

Peter – Hi Stacey. My name is Peter Blakey-Novis (although I write under P.J.), and I’m a British writer living on the south coast of England. I’m also a co-founder of Red Cape Publishing, and the editor there. I have released, so far, four collections of short horror stories, one novella, two novels, and a children’s book. I have also had stories included in a number of anthologies.

 

Stacey – When did the writing bug first bite?

 

Peter – I’d always written little stories and bits of poetry (mostly teenage, depressing bits), but it wasn’t until 2016 that I made my first real attempt to get a novel written. I had no plan as to what to do with it when it was finished – it really was just a hobby at the time.

 

Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

 

Peter – Writing has always been a great outlet for me, allowing me to say things which would be hard to verbalize. The stories that I write always seem to take on a life of their own, and I never really know where they will go until the events unfold.

 

Stacey – What scares you?

 

Peter – People! I don’t have any fears of the supernatural, but psychotic killers, home-invasion type situations especially, are quite terrifying.

 

Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

 

Peter – Since I began writing horror stories, I also began reading a lot more in the same genre, particularly from independent authors. I’ve been really impressed by the writing of many, but in particular I’d have to highlight the work of D.J. Doyle, Toneye Eyenot, (who have given me the confidence not to hold back when it comes to blood and gore) and Lou Yardley is incredibly talented at mixing true horror with elements of comedy.

 

Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

 

Peter – There isn’t all that much of a process. This may be why I have three half-written books on the go, and I’m already about to start a fourth. For short stories It’s quite straightforward – I get an idea of a scene and flesh it out from there. Once the rough draft is down, I leave it for a week or so before going back over it. When it comes to novels, I do plan it out a little, but only very vaguely. I usually have an idea of a beginning, a middle, and an end, but this often changes as the story comes together.

 

Stacey – Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?

 

Peter – I don’t know about losing its meaning, but I’ve certainly written a word so many times that it begins to look as if it’s spelled wrongly.

 

Stacey – Why do you think Horror and Halloween go together so well?

 

Peter – Halloween, as far as I’m aware, is supposed to be the night that the wall between the spirit world and our is thinnest. This potential for supernatural encounters, however frightening that may be, of course fits well with the horror genre.

 

Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

 

Peter – There have been a few, but I won’t name them. If I don’t finish a book then it has to be something that I find boring, or if it is riddled with mistakes. I do make an effort to finish as many books as I can, though, but my TBR list grows longer by the day!

 

Stacey –The first movie I saw at the cinemas as a child was Hocus Pocus. It’s stuck with me ever since. Name one horror movie that’s stuck with you?

 

Peter – At the cinema it would have been the first Scream movie. I was underage by a few years and hadn’t watched anything like it before. It really did scare me at the time, but I couldn’t wait to watch more like it. I also watched The Exorcist alone, in the dark, when I was in my teens and that was pretty terrifying.

 

Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

 

Peter – ???

 

Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

 

Peter – Get the book written, of course, but make sure it is as good as it can be before you release it. Publishing a book doesn’t need to be hugely expensive, but it isn’t free either. A professional cover and a decent editor are essential. Interact with potential readers and other writers in the same genre as you, be willing to take advice and criticism, and ultimately enjoy it.

 

Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

 

Peter – This is the beginning paragraph of a short story which is included in the anthology Elements of Horror Book Three: Fire.

The flames had surrounded the only viable exit points by the time the smoke had pulled me from my slumber. My wife, Jessica, just beginning to rouse, spluttered wet coughs. Dark plumes of noxious smoke billowed from beneath the door, filling our bedroom, stinging eyes and throats. I knew not to grab at the metal doorknob, as it would certainly be too hot to touch, and kicked at the door half-heartedly. The door refused to budge, and I knew we were finished. I could see in Jessica’s eyes that she understood as well.

“The girls…” she murmured, fearful for the safety of our twelve-year-old twins. “You need to save them.” I smiled sadly.

“No, I don’t. This is for the best.” I uttered the words too quietly for my wife to hear, knowing she wouldn’t understand things the way I did. It was too late for any of us now.

 

Thank you so much for your time Peter! If you would like to find out more about the author, check out the links below.

 

Website: www.redcapepublishing.com/book-shop

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pjbnauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pjbn_author

Instagram: www.instagram.com/pjbn_author

Amazon page: https://author.to/pjbnauthor

 

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Isabella Hunter

Stacey – Hi Isabella, it’s great to have you here on the Horror Tree! Alright, so in the spirit of getting the mundane questions out of the way first, tell our audience a little about yourself and where you’re from?

 

Isabella – I’m a British Author currently living in Manchester. I have been published in several horror and fantasy anthologies over the last few years. My writing it heavily influenced by Japanese myths and folklore with my personal favourites being the Kitsune and Jorogumo.

 

Stacey – When did the writing bug first bite?

 

Isabella – I started writing fiction in primary school, sending stories to my father and teachers. My dad loved it, but the teachers got a bit worried after the fifth horror story in a row. I’ve written consistently ever since then, posting on online blogs, and more recently publishing in anthologies.

 

Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

 

Isabella – I’m a creative person and I love to share that with other people. I enjoy writing as a way of expressing the ideas and images that I have, but I also hope people do enjoy what I write as well. I love all forms of story telling though, I’ve done script writing, and even had a go at game development. I will do anything to tell the story I have imagined.

 

Stacey – What scares you?

 

Isabella – I have a massive phobia of vomit, that I’m currently going through therapy for, but that leads into a whole host of other fears. I’m scared of a lot of things including; hospitals, zombies, and the dark to name a few. I do love watching and reading things I know will scare me though.

 

Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?

 

Isabella – I have to say Kelley Armstrong is probably the person who has inspired me most. It was her work that made me want to write my own work and a particular scene in Dime Store Magic was one of the first times a book had terrified me. Her YA series Darkest Power is more supernatural horror than her adult series and they are some of my favourite books. I generally write in a second world fantasy setting though and I think Trudi Canavan and her Black Magician Trilogy was who made me fall back in love with it.

 

Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

 

Isabella – I am a big fan of brain storming to get my idea. As I normally write short stories I can do a summary of the plot and write it just based on a paragraph or two of information. Although I am working on a novel at the moment which is a much harder task for me. I came up with an idea and then kept hitting dead ends where I ran out of information on where it was going. I have to stop and do a bit more brainstorming when that happens to help me get back on track. Luckily I seem to be on the home stretch but this is new territory for me, so fingers crossed.

 

Stacey – Have you ever used a word or said a word aloud so many times it’s lost all meaning?

 

Isabella – All the time. At the start of this I was convinced British wasn’t right. Once I forgot the word town, I knew what it was and how to describe it, but the word had been almost erased from my memory. I had to ask my partner ‘what is the place that’s bigger than a village but smaller than a city?’

 

Stacey – Why do you think Horror and Halloween go together so well?

 

Isabella – Halloween is all about the weakening of the barriers between the world of the living and the world of the spirits. It’s only natural that it would pair perfectly with horror, that’s why so many horror movies take place at Halloween. Plus it is like a modern day masquerade, everyone is wearing masks, allowing people to reveal their true selves.

 

Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?

 

Isabella – I’m a bit stubborn so even if I don’t like a book I have to finish it. I do this with TV series as well. I feel like it is a cope out but when I was quite young I picked up Eragon, didn’t even make it past the first page. I couldn’t deal with books with glossaries of fantasy words at that point. I’ve been thinking of going back and trying to finish though. I even finished The Hobbit with a six year hiatus (I’d dog eared the page!)

 

Stacey –The first movie I saw at the cinemas as a child was Hocus Pocus. It’s stuck with me ever since. Name one horror movie that’s stuck with you?

 

Isabella – The Grudge. I watched it when I was nine when my dad rented it from Blockbusters. It terrified me. I was convinced I was going to get attacked whenever I turned the lights out (hence my fear of the dark). It was also my first run in with the On-Ryo myth which I’ve since written about as well.

 

Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?

 

Isabella – I would love to meet Angela Carter. She is one of my favourite authors and The Bloody Chamber had a massive influence on many of my short stories. It was my first experience with magic realism and opened up a whole new style of writing I hadn’t given the time of day to.

 

Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?

 

Isabella – I know it’s said all the time but it’s true. Keep writing. Keep submitting. I’ve been writing for pretty much my entire life and I’ve published for two of those. I have had countless rejections to getting more acceptances than rejections in the year. Also, just because one person doesn’t like your work doesn’t mean everyone will hate it. I’ve had the same piece rejected, saying I clearly don’t know my subject matter to others thanking me for submitting to them and allowing them to publish it. Keep at it.

 

Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

 

Her muscles clenched and she curled up on the chair as pain ripped through her back. She reached around and felt something moving under her kimono, under her skin. It pushed hard and she pulled her hand away. It punctured her skin and ripped through the back of her clothes. She let out a long screech as her claws scraped across the wooden table.

 

There is a paragraph from The Spider Sister which is my first ever published horror story. The entire story is free to read on the Tell-Tale Press Library.

 

https://telltalepresshorrorlibrary.blogspot.com/2019/05/creatures-short-story-13-spider-sister.html

 

Thank you so much for your time Isabella! If you would like to find out more about the author, check out the links below.

 

Facebook –
https://www.facebook.com/writerisabellahunter/

 

Twitter –

https://twitter.com/EvanovaLev

 

Blog –

https://isabellahunter.blog/

 

The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With Carissa Ann Lynch

Jen – I am grateful to be able to talk with you!  You have such an amazing collection of work published!  How hard was it to get started in writing?  I know some authors have been writing since they were little while others discover it later in life.  Is this something you have done on and off in your life or just something you found yourself doing one day?

Carissa – Getting started was the easiest part– I’ve always loved books and journaling, but the decision to write a full-length novel came to me on a whim out of sheer boredom in my late twenties.

It was keeping the momentum going, and finishing the project, that was so difficult for me.  I had no idea that writing a book could be so hard!  It took me more than a year to finish my first book.  Once I received my first publishing contract, I felt a boost of confidence that kept me going…writing is always tough, but it’s gotten easier over the years now that I know I have readers who are eager to enjoy my stories.

 

Jen – Goodreads says that you never really considered yourself a writer until recently.  Do you consider yourself one now or just lucky?  I have a few friends that are published and they still think it was a fluke.  People see the outside and the finished product.  They don’t see the blood, sweat and tears it can take to just get the words out!

Carissa I consider myself a writer now, but I felt like an imposter at first.  I’ve always loved books and never considered writing my own stories…but now that I do, it just feels RIGHT.  I love that I get to spend most of my days reading and writing—it’s a dream job!  If luck is defined as “factors outside of one’s control”, then yes—I do think there is an element of luck in publishing.  For example, you could write an incredible book…but if that genre isn’t selling right then, or if the editors already bought a similar project…well. Your book might never see the light of day.  You can’t control the market, so all you can do is focus on yourself and your stories.

I think the real keys to success in publishing are stubbornness, patience, passion, and the willingness to accept feedback.  You have to be stubborn and patient in the business because you will hear a lot of “No”s before you get that “Yes”.  You have to keep going no matter how many times you’re told no…and the publishing process is incredibly slow, so buckle up and get ready to wait some.

And when one book doesn’t sell, write another.  And another.  And another.  Keep going until others have no choice but to finally sit up and pay attention.

Also, if you get criticism or feedback, USE IT!  There’s always room for improvement, and there’s no such thing as the perfect book…readers are fickle creatures; we don’t like everything we read, and it’s ok if some people don’t like my books…  One of my goals this year is to shake off that “imposter syndrome” and give myself more credit—I’ve worked really hard to get where I am in my writing career.  And I hope I can keep pushing harder and getting better and growing my confidence.

 

Jen – If you weren’t an author what would you be (even if you had no qualifications to do it)?

Carissa – Before I wrote, I worked in social work and corrections. I enjoyed it but the burn-out…yeah, the burn-out…it’s draining.  If I wasn’t a writer, I think I would do something else…but still something related to books—like working in a bookshop or becoming a librarian.

 

Jen – What do you want people to remember about you?

Carissa – I want people to remember that I am a reader first, and my number one goal is to create stories that keep them turning pages into the night…and also: I adore my readers.  I want them to know how much they mean to me and how excited I get when I know they are reading my work!

 

Jen – Do you have any favorite books?  Have they helped you with your writing?

Carissa – Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite book because it changes all the time!  My favorite genre is psychological thriller, but I’ll read anything that looks good.  I recently finished The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. All three were fantastic! Reading is part of my job and I DEFINITELY think I’ve been influenced by all of the books I’ve read. Especially other female thriller writers—their books inspire and excite me!  Books are tools—every single one I read improves my craft in one way or another, even the ones I don’t like… I truly believe that.

 

Jen – What is the scariest thing you’ve written (even if it never got published)?

Carissa – The scariest thing I’ve ever written…hmmm.  I’m not sure.  All of my books scare me ma little—if my own heart isn’t pounding a little during a scary scene, I know I need to turn up the heat!  My Sister Is Missing might be the one that scared me the most…writing some of those scenes left me feeling rattled.

 

Jen – I was able to meet a few of my writing heroes over the years.  Have you been able to meet any of yours?

Carissa – I live in a small town in Indiana, so I haven’t had many opportunities to meet other authors.  I would like to change that though!  I did, however, meet Chuck Palhniuk once in Louisville, Kentucky.  I waited in line for hours to meet him, and when I got up there, I just blanked out completely.  I honestly have no idea what I even said to him.  So embarrassing!

 

Jen – Carissa thank you so very much for your time!  I really enjoyed talking with you!

Carissa – Thanks for the questions!  I hope I didn’t ramble too much!

 

To find out more visit:

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008324490/my-sister-is-missing/

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780008324506/without-a-trace/

 

 

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Miracle Austin

Ruschelle: Welcome to the Tree. We’ve grown a twisted branch especially for you. Speaking of twisted, give us a little taste of your horror writer’s mind. What is a line from your works you are most proud and frightened of?

Miracle:

There are several, but I’m going to go with a short line from my short story, “Meat Lover’s Special” in Boundless:

“Get out now! You may have less than 15 minutes after consumption, before…” the rep replied, breathing hard and stuttering into the phone receiver.”

 

Ruschelle: By day, you don your glasses, Ala Clark Kent and ‘voila,’ you’re a mild mannered Social Worker. Has any of your experiences in social work, bled into your writing?

In my book, Social Workers are the ones that wears the cape and are quite heroic.

Miracle:

Absolutely, Ruschelle. Over the years, I’ve worked in various fields—mental health (adults/teens), domestic violence (victims/survivors), hospice, and currently geriatrics. Some of my work experiences have bled over to formulate some story ideas, while past and present personal encounters continue to inspire other ideas.

 

Ruschelle: Where do you mine your creativity? Books, movies, real life?

Miracle:

My mom has been a huge part of my creativity. She introduced me to horror via an AM radio horror show that aired on Friday nights, when I was in the fifth grade. My mom also told me some interesting stories about growing up in Crawford, Texas, and her personal journeys. Many books, movies, and personal experiences from my elementary to college years, also fuel my creative juices.

 

Ruschelle: You dove into the novel world with book one in your series, Doll. What challenges did you face while creating a new world with fantastic characters growing through multiple books?

Miracle:

I believe replacing my fears with procrastination was the biggest challenge for me to write my first novel, Doll. My self-confidence was poor, and I fed myself a lot of negativity, such as, “No one will like this… might as well stop writing…” Then, one day, I figured that I’m going to finish this story inside of me, no matter what. If one person enjoyed it, then I’ve succeeded, but most of all, I conquered my fear by completing it.

 

Ruschelle: Doll, takes place in halls of Frost High. Did you base any characters from your own high school classmates and experiences? Well, maybe not the witches and mayhem…

Miracle:

Ruschelle, some of my high school experiences assisted me to build my story. As we all know, mean girls existed way back when and will always, whether in an educational institution or any workplace. Being teased in junior high and high school, myself, and seeing others impacted way more than I had to deal with ignited part of this story. I wanted the underdogs to win and beat the main antagonists. Did they? Just have to read the Doll Trilogy to find out… wink… wink.

Since I mentioned the Doll Trilogy, I wanted to share a little more about it. It’s a coming of age supernatural love story, which deals with outcasts, friendships, family, sacrifices, free-will, bullying, romance, grief, new identity struggles, betrayal, making healthy/unhealthy choices, revenge, racism, and teen domestic violence with some unexpected twists and turns. At the end of each book, I give my readers an unrelated bonus short story and a little surprise in Doll 3: The Hunting.

Be Careful What You Wish For

 

Ruschelle: You won 2nd place in the Young Adult category for ‘Doll’ in the Purple Dragonfly Awards. Kudos! How did it feel to have your first novel written, recognized?

Miracle:

Thank you very much, Ruschelle. I was shocked and didn’t believe my little book stood a chance. I reviewed that email so many times, and once I received my certificate in the mail, I knew it was real. Ruschelle, it was and always will be an extreme honor to possess a Purple Dragonfly Award. It definitely boosted my self-confidence.

 

Ruschelle: You mention in your bio that the Cars song, Drive, was what helped inspire you to become a writer. This sounds like a great story, so please share.

Miracle:

Ruschelle, first of all, music is my natural therapy. I love listening to all kinds of music with the 80s—#StrangerThingsForever—being my favorite, especially love and soft rock songs, but I Iove everything! So, when I first heard Drive by the Cars, those lyrics really stuck with me. I wrote them down on a sheet of paper in my purple and white Trapper Keeper. This was probably the first time I really paid attention to how the words from a song told a story, and then boom, I started writing free-verse poems. This song led me off the dance floor to sit at a table with a typewriter, pen, paper, and a pocket dictionary.

 

Ruschelle: Love me some 70’s and early 80’s soft rock! You’re a girl after my own dark little heart.

As a horror writer who is a fan of the blood suckers of the night, aka. Vamps- if you could change anything from the vampire mythos, what would it be?

Miracle:

Ruschelle, this is a really hard question because vampires possess so many extraordinary abilities and powers. I’m a huge fan of many vampire stories/original movies, such as: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Fright Night,” “From Dusk til Dawn,” “The Lost Boys” “Blade,” “Salem’s Lot,” “Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals,” and “The Strain”

At this time, I wouldn’t change anything. The vampire world continues to evolve, and I’m anticipating to watch, read, and/or write the next vampire story.

 

Ruschelle: We are in the upswing into Fall, which means many things to us Horror Writers but to those of us with a sweet tooth, it means CANDY! So what is the scariest candy you ever received in your bag on Halloween?

Miracle:

I attended trick or treating in the neighborhood, once when I was maybe seven-years old, according to stories my mom has shared with me. My mom checked the candy before I was ready to consume it. Luckily, she did, because she found a sewing needle inside a Snickers Bar. To this very day, I’ll check any soft candy before I eat it. Honestly, I inspect everything.

 

Ruschelle: Holy cats! I thought the ‘needle in the candy bar’ was just an urban legend. Wow!

Most writers seek out and find their niche, be it horror, romance, non-fiction, children’s books etc. What drew you to writing Young Adult books?

Miracle:

Ruschelle, I never imagined that I would write stories for young adults. When I rediscovered my passion to write a few years ago, my mind was focused on writing for adults. A promising publisher in the past told me that the majority of my stories would fall into the young adult arena. So, I thought about what he told me and realized that he was right. Therefore, young and new adult became my arenas of focus. Plus, I absolutely love to reflect back on my teen years/struggles and/or read, hear, watch teen stories, which is why I enjoy writing young adult books and short stories.

 

Ruschelle: You have been a panelist at comic conventions and book festivals as well as a guest speaker for schools and writing inspired events. What topics do you enjoy discussing the most as an author? Which are your least?

Miracle:

I enjoy talking about everything, especially the ideas behind my stories, and inspired playlists.

 

Ruschelle: Do you find that there are certain questions and requests for pieces of advice that come up over and over again?

Miracle:

I love talking about this and, it comes up sometimes: What would you tell your younger self, right now?

I also like to share, if applicable: “Never allow anyone to tell you that you cannot do something or you’re not good enough because guess what? You can. You’re awesomeness, so soar. BOOM!”

One of my favorite quotations about believing in yourself and realizing your sparkly magic:

“Just remember that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”  ~Stephen King~

 

Ruschelle: Explain your ‘fan-girl’ status? DC? Marvel? Manga? Tell us more?

Miracle:

Marvel/DC/Horror/ComicCon Fan-Girl! I used to be a really shy person, especially in late elementary/junior high and high school. However, the Marvel/DC and horror universes allowed me to crawl out of my shyness cocoon, which helped me to develop my invisible confidence cape, it’s hot pink with silver and plum stars plastered all over.

Wonder Woman, Captain America, Blade, Squirrel Girl, Kevin Wendell Crumb, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers are a few of my faves! By the way, I love collecting T-shirts, mostly comic book related and horror. I also love to attend comic cons, when I can.

By the way, I love to watch all the cosplayers walk past me. I find their unique costumes, just mesmerizing and their energy, simply… magical. I believe people need to escape from their realities for a little bit and be whoever they desire to be. Comic cons allow them to do that.

I’ve seen this magic many times before with my sweet hubby, when he cosplays. It’s as if once the cosplayer takes on his or her character, then he or she can dwell in that extraordinary dimension and share it with others.

Plus, I think cosplaying boosts self-esteem for some, especially when others are watching that cosplayer and requesting to take selfies. Cosplayers are celebrities, and you never know who you may bump into!

 

Ruschelle: If you could be any superhero or gain fantastic superpowers to ‘save the day,’ who would you be or what powers would you have?

Miracle:

Definitely, the absorption of any super-power, as long as I desired, with incredible martial art skills to use for the good! My costume would be a fantastic mash-up of Wonder Woman, Captain America, and Blade gear.

 

Ruschelle: Blade gear? Awesome! 

Of all your projects was there one that was a particular, dare I say, monster? Yep, I dared.

Miracle:

WereVamCabra—part werewolf, vampire, and chupacabra—a trio hybrid. You can find an interesting short story in Boundless called “Study Break about this creature.

 

Ruschelle: Your newfound fans would love to hear about your next big projects. Could you, would you, share a little?

Miracle:

Of course, I’ll be attending a few exciting book related events in the fall. Please feel free to check out my website for locations and dates.

As for my current writing project, I’m working on my next Young Adult novel, Misties. I bet you’re wondering what in the heck is that about. I’ll give you a little hint—stake or not to stake

 

Ruschelle: Tell us all how we can follow you and your works on the www.

Miracle:

Ruschelle, I want to take this time to thank you for seeking me out and interviewing me for The Horror Tree—very grateful for this opportunity and your precious time. Awesome questions!

I love hearing from my fantastic readers, who already know me, and new ones, too!

Website: www.miracleaustin.com

Facebook: Miracle Austin Author   (black, crouching creature with wings is my symbol)

Instagram/Twitter: @MiracleAustin7

Thank you for reading…

 

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Misha Burnett


Selene – Welcome to The Horror Tree, and thanks for agreeing to an interview. Tell us a bit about yourself, namely what is New Wave (horror)? I’m familiar with “new wave” in other contexts (New Wave music of the 80s, French New Wave film, New Wave Of British Heavy Metal…), but not pertaining to horror.

Misha – I think that the spirit of New Wave is to embrace new techniques in order to go back to one’s roots, which sounds paradoxical, I know. But in the examples you cite—music and film—the idea was to recapture the power of earlier works using modern technology. While the instruments of  New Wave music—synthesizers and drum machines—were cutting edge at the time the rhythms and to a certain extent the lyrics were very much roots Rock’n’Roll, 4/4 time with a back beat. New Wave film used modern photographic techniques in order to reach back to the early days of cinema when filmmakers were making it up as they went along.

New Wave Horror is the same principle. I work to recapture the existential horror of the Weird Tales era—not the purple prose or the dated slang of that era, but the feel of a world that has gone off the rails. The core conceit of a universe that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine.

 

Selene – In addition to horror, you have published many short stories in speculative and science fiction anthologies. What genre do you like best, and why?
Misha – I never know what genre I’m working in until the story is finished, and sometimes not even then. I see genres as toolboxes, with different tropes and themes. I’ll use whatever techniques I need to tell the story I want to tell. A little Mystery, a little Romance, some SF and Fantasy. If I had to pick one I’d say I have the most fun working in E C Comics Horror (is that a genre?) I like stories with poetic justice and a healthy dose of irony, that don’t explain or excuse the fantastic elements, just use them to set up the gotcha! at the end.

 

Selene – What are some of your influences, and what do you like to read?

Misha – Tim Powers is my idol. I’m also a huge fan of Samuel Delany, Philip Dick, George Alec Effinger, and Fredrick Brown. Right now I am listening to (I tend to do my pleasure reading by audiobook) a wonderful little novel by Drew Magary called The Hike. It’s a magical realism quest kind of thing, kind of like of The Phantom Tollbooth for middle-aged men.

 

Selene – In your blog post “The Dead Men’s Shoes Society,” you describe a pattern in storytelling wherein one man (emphasis on man) writes or films or creates something, then it becomes popular, then others follow in his shoes. Do you really believe there’s nothing new to be done creatively? Particularly since all the “innovators” you mention are white men of a certain class?

Misha – No, I didn’t mean to say at all that there was nothing new to do creatively, and the examples I gave were just those that came to mind. My point is that artist don’t have to imitate other artists. They can, and it’s certainly easier than blazing one’s own trail, but anyone can invent their own genre. I wish more people would.

 

Selene – You describe your Book Of Lost Doors series as “loosely based on Burroughs’ Nova Express books.” I’m not familiar with Burroughs books, but how do they relate?
Misha – In terms of cosmology. The basic conceit of William Burroughs’ work is that humanity has been influenced by alien intelligences—his famous line about language being a virus from outer space, for example.  I wanted to take that idea and run with it, to see if I could translate it into concrete, practical terms. The Lizard People of Omega IV have just started beaming messages into your head—what do you ask them for?  The other major influence from Burroughs is the idea that the Outsiders are essentially flimflam artists, they are running an intergalactic scam. They lie, cheat, and steal, and are never what they claim to be.

 

Selene – I read the first novel in the series, Catskinner’s Book. You’ve created a unique world and situation; how do you go about world-building?

Misha – I tend to take ideas that I like from as many different sources as I can and then toss them all in a blender and see what comes out. In The Book Of Lost Doors I did set out to create a new mythology—I didn’t want to use vampires or werewolves or faeries. The important thing for me is to present them as matter of fact as possible. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “good idea” in fiction—there are just dumb ideas done well.

 

Selene – Let’s talk about characters. Jim is sort of an anti-hero, a bit of a twist on a superhero (or super villain, if you look at him that way). How did you come up with the character, and what’s it like writing someone with such complex problems?

Misha – James and Catskinner are based on myself, actually. I have Disassociative Identity Disorder, and I wanted to try to capture the feeling of having an alternate personality take control. I tarted it up some, with the superspeed and all, but I pretty much wrote their interactions from my own life experience.

 

Selene – You’ve also created some memorable antagonists and foils for Jim. How do you build a believable antagonist?

Misha – A believable antagonist is a character that would be the protagonist except her or his goals are in opposition to the protagonist character. That is to say, what makes a villain isn’t who the character is, but what the character wants.

 

Selene – On another of your blog posts, you mentioned unlikeable characters, namely the protagonists from Camus’ The Stranger and Fowles’ The Collector, and you cautioned against a predictable character arc for them.  Characters in horror can often fall to this kind of simplistic arc. What are some important characteristics for drawing sympathy (or at least empathy) for a character that’s not immediately likeable?

Misha – I don’t know if I can answer that. I try to make everyone in my stories likeable—even those characters who really need to be put down for the good of humanity. I see a character’s first appearance in a story as a date or a job interview—put your best foot forward. And, I think that meeting someone you want to like and then finding out later that she eats live kittens has a lot more emotional impact.

 

Selene – The plot of Catskinner’s Book is full of twists and turns and the occasional deus ex machina. It also ends abruptly, just as the characters are about to confront another turn. How do you build suspense and avoid predictability?

Misha – I don’t really plot stories out in advance, so the events are frequently as much a surprise for me as they are for my readers. Mostly I try to figure out what would make sense to happen next, given who the character are and what the situation is. I think it comes across as unpredictable because readers are used to stories following a particular pattern which frequently wouldn’t make sense in the real world.

 

Selene – On your blog, you keep a sort of running tally of words written, stories published or submitted, and other writing accomplishments. Do you find this quantification helps your productivity?

Misha – Yes. Accountability is very important to me. It’s much harder for me to make excuses not to be productive when I know that other people are following my progress.

 

Selene – Speaking of productivity, how do you balance your writing with other aspects of your time, and balance one writing project against another?

Misha – I don’t really have any other aspects of my time. I get up, write for an hour, go to my day job, come home and write until I go to sleep. That’s my life. I have no social life at all. As far as balancing projects, I tend to work on one until I am done (or decide it needs to be shelved.) I am terrible at multitasking.

 

Selene – What advice would you give a writer just starting out?

Misha – Try as many different types of projects as you can. Set out to try to work in different forms and different genres. What you think you want to write may not be what you are really good at. Also, write sonnets. If you write a sonnet a day for thirty days your prose will improve markedly. I guarantee it.

 

Selene – In addition to novels, you also work in shorter stories and poetry. While each length of work has its challenges, what’s your favourite?

Misha – Short fiction. My sweet spot is around 10,000 words, give or take. Long enough to fully flesh out a story, but not so long that I (or my readers) get bored with it.

 

Selene – This is going to be a personal question, and I’ll accept if you’re not comfortable answering it. You mentioned working with mental illness. Many of our literary heroes have struggled with mental illness, and we live in a time where as a society we’re finally starting to overcome the stigma and be able to talk openly. How do you find your personal obstacles inform your writing?

Misha – I don’t romanticize insanity. Being crazy hurts. There’s more to that than meets the eye. I write characters who are happy and productive in direct proportion to the extent to which their comprehension of reality conforms to the real world—whatever “real” means in the context of the story. If I have a mission in my fiction (which I kind of hope I don’t) it is to put a stake through the heart of Elwood P Dowd.

 

Selene – A fun question, after a heavier question. If you were to have creative control over a movie of one of your stories, which one would you see made into a film, and who would be the star?

Misha – I think I’d go with “Black Dog” from Duel Visions, and I’d like to get David Morse to play the lead.

 

Selene – What projects do you have upcoming?

Misha – Right now I am focusing on Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts, which is a short story collection coming out from Lagrange Books. The stories are all set in Dracoheim, which is a Fantasy world loosely based on 1960s Los Angeles, with magic and demons added. My main character is Erik Rugar, who is an agent of the department that regulates magic use. Think The Untouchables, only with unlawful spellcasters instead of bootleggers. I also have stories coming out in Storyhack, DimensionBucket, and Switchblade magazines, as well as three different anthologies.

 

Selene – Thank you again for agreeing to an interview. Do you have anything else you’d like to talk about?

Misha – I believe that art is a vital part of the human condition. It’s not something that some people do and those people are “artists”. Everybody needs to do it—your soul will shrivel up and die if you don’t create something. It doesn’t have to be something that anyone else will ever care about or even see. You need to do it for you. Finger paint, knit, sing in the shower, do something. It’s what we’re made for.

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