Horror Tree Presents … An Interview with Bobby Crosby, co-creator of “Last Blood”

Editor’s Note: This interview was done a couple of years ago but never published. So, any references which seem dated can be attributed to that!

Bobby Crosby, along with his brother Chris Crosby and Illustrator Owen Gieni, are the creative minds behind the Vampires versus Zombie comic book “Last Blood.” The series premise is about a zombie outbreak that threatens to overtake the world, and vampires fearing the loss of their food source, decide to aid the humans against this mutual threat. The following interview with Bobby sheds light on the stories origins, the writer’s background, and other pertinent information.

 

JDI:  Would you mind explaining the story/concept behind ‘Last Blood’, some of its main characters, and/or anything else that you think would help to inform those of us who are unfamiliar with the series?

BC: After zombies take over the Earth, vampires must protect the last surviving humans so that they can live off of their blood. The central figure, the most important character, is someone who gets very little screen time, but everything that happens in the story is because of him, and that’s The First Zombie.

When a vampire fails to drink human blood for 65 years, which is an extremely painful process (hunger pains multiplied by a billion), they become a new creature, a zombie with the power to mentally control all the other zombies that spring from them. We find out that The First Zombie is trying to wipe out all human life on Earth and that the reason for that is to put all the vampires through the same 65 years of starvation torture that he just went through, for revenge against them for something they did to him.

JDI: With the multitude of zombie comics filling up so much space on comic shelves these days, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest, besides the obvious vampire angle?

BC: I’ve never read an entire issue of a zombie comic, so I can’t comment too much on that, but I have read descriptions of all of them and one major thing that sets “Last Blood” apart is an original concept, as you mentioned. Most zombie comics sound like most zombie movies — boring, unoriginal crap. “Last Blood” at least sounds interesting, and it’s the most popular horror comic online with a growing fan-base.

JDI: Is it true that you’re not a fan of zombie movies? If so, what made you want to do a graphic novel on the living dead? Was there anything you felt was lacking from zombie movies, or comics, that made you feel that you could offer a different perspective?

BC: I’ve only ever liked “Shaun of the Dead,” which was hilarious. The rest are mostly incredibly boring. I did a graphic novel of “Last Blood” because it will help with getting a film made. If I can’t sell the screenplay for the big bucks, I’m going to make the movie myself, and a comic book helps with both of those possibilities, especially if it’s already popular. It’s a lot easier to see the vision for the film when you can actually see it, as opposed to reading a bunch of text. And a successful comic book will help entice studios to purchase it, or a cast and crew to be involved if I make it myself.

JDI: Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself, such as your background in comics and anything else to help inform those of us who are unfamiliar with your work?

BC: I’m 26 years old and have spent most of my life in Southern California. My brother Chris and I started publishing comics when we were kids in the early ’90s. We had our first booth at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1994. I barely even remember the crap we put out back then. It was almost entirely my brother’s thing and I was just tagging along. I never liked comics — always wanted to make movies. I wrote and illustrated a comic of my own in 1993 when I was 12, which was part of our initial launch at Comicfest ’93 in Philadelphia, but it was short-lived and I did very little in comics for the next 13 years.

In August of ’06 I started writing a poker comic strip called “+EV,” which will hit the 200 strip mark this month (November). It’s the most popular poker comic online with about 5,000 daily readers. Then on Christmas Day of ’06 we ran the first page of “Last Blood,” a graphic novel which we’ll complete at a length of 112 pages in early December. It’s the most popular horror comic online with about 10,000 daily readers (rising rapidly). On Valentine’s Day of ’07 we launched “Marry Me,” a romantic comedy graphic novel about a pop star, frustrated with her love life, who goes insane and marries a random fan holding a MARRY ME sign at one of her concerts. I write it and Remy “Eisu” Mokhtar is the artist. It’s my most popular strip with about 12,000 daily readers.

JDI: As you mentioned before “Last Blood” was meant to visualize a screenplay that you and your brother Chris had co-created with one another. Would you mind sharing the story’s evolution from its origins, to where it is presently, to possibly the future of the series?

BC: My brother and I came up with the basic idea of “vampires protecting humans from zombies” in August of ’06, then I fleshed it out and came up with The First Zombie, among other things, and started writing the comic scripts in December of ’06 after hiring Owen. I’m rarely more than one page ahead with the writing and we put the pages up online as soon as they’re completed. I’ve known the vast majority of the story since before I wrote the first page, but of course many changes and additions have been made.

One major change to the ending only came a few months ago when I thought of a much cooler resolution. As far as the future goes, there’s a million different stories to tell in this universe, like the origin of The First Zombie and a more detailed look at exactly how he took over the world in that first month, and there can definitely be sequels as well. The first film/graphic novel has a specific ending and it’s certainly not a cliffhanger, but the story’s not over yet.

JDI: Do you, Chris, and Owen have any favorite character(s)? How about one that perhaps you sympathize more, or even less for?

BC: I think we’re all loving Rage right now. Grady, Mac and Murdo are other favorites. Devian’s cool too. And who doesn’t love Addison Payne? Jeez, I was recently thinking that all the characters suck and the story’s so boring, but I guess there are a couple decent ones. I sympathize the most with a character we haven’t met yet, who ends up being the hero of the entire story. I sympathize the least with The First Zombie.

JDI: Does any of the characters draw inspiration from yourself or your friends? If yes, how so?

BC: Well, Mac is named after my buddy Kevin “Mac” McDermott, an actor who has appeared on “Cheers,” “ER,” and many other hit shows. Owen was also instructed to make the character look like Mac, and of course Mac will play himself in the film if I end up directing it. That’s the only character who was inspired from anyone I know.

JDI: In casting the “Last Blood” as a film is there any “dream cast” or studio you’d like to do this with? If so, who?

BC: Well, my current #1 choice for Mattheson (pretty much the star of the film) is Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Desmond on “Lost.” Other than that, I just have a lot of fun choices, but no clear cut #1s, besides Mac.

JDI: Would you mind sharing with us the special partnership that you and the rest of your team have with www.wowio.com? How did you find out about this site and what are some of the benefits of it compared to the more traditional ways of comic book publishing?

BC: Nothing special about the partnership — I think they accept almost all book publishers. The only thing special, I guess, is that our books are dominating the top 10 list on the site, usually with five titles in the top 10, sometimes with the entire top 5. I don’t recall the first time I heard of WOWIO — we heard about it from many different sources and I wish we put our books on there sooner.

The benefits are that we get 50 cents per download per issue and all we have to do is submit the issues in an online PDF file. The only cost of it is optional advertising to drive up downloads. Much simpler than printing a lot of books when you’re often not certain they’ll be profitable.

JDI: For those interested in purchasing a copy of the Last Blood books what outlets can they find them at?

BC: Their local comic book shop, since the comic is distributed through Diamond, which most stores use. Ask for “Last Blood” from Blatant Comics. If they do not have a local comic book shop and/or if they badly want signed copies, they can order them from me on the site [www.blatantcomics.com].

JDI: Tyler [Mane] just happens to be an ex-wrestler, and although he isn’t short and stout like the character Rage, he could fit that part well.

BC: Rage doesn’t actually have to be short — he could go either way. Tyler’s great, but I don’t know if I’d want to draw the comparison even more to Sabertooth. He’d certainly be a strong choice, though, and that might work out well.

JDI: I appreciate your time in doing this interview and wish you the best with the future of this series.

BC: Thanks, buddy.

Links:

Last Blood Keenspot page

Bobby Crosby’s Comixology page

Marry Me IMDB page

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Liz Butcher

Ruschelle – Great to have to you back here at The Horror Tree! Now you are the interviewee instead of the interviewer sharing your choice bones and tender meaty pieces of yourself with us. So, let’s take a bite, shall we?

Fates’ Fury, your newest title to be released << squee >> gives us a taste of an apocalypse with a supernatural slant. While writing the End of Days, did it bring about any real fears? The end of everything we know can be a truly horrific prospect, even for a writer.

Liz – If writing an apocalypse doesn’t scare you, then you’re probably not doing it right! In Fates, the fear comes from the absolute lack of control mankind has over what’s happening to them. On one hand, we have mother nature wreaking havoc (with a little help from the Fates), and on the other hand, we have supernatural entities killing people left, right and center.  I think situations where there is no discrimination, no way to guarantee your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, are the most terrifying.

 

Ruschelle – Luckily, we are not in the throes of an apocalypse…that we know of…

So, what inspired Fates’ Fury?

Liz – It was an idea that niggled at me for a while before I started writing it. I’ve always been a huge ancient history/mythology nerd, and I found myself wondering what the gods of old would think of the world today. In all the time that’s passed since they were worshipped, how far have we really come as a race? Sure, there’s been technological advancement etc. but how have we changed or grown as a species? We’re still hurting and killing each other. So, what if the Fates’ decided to call it? Time’s up people, you’ve used up your last chance!

 

Ruschelle – The cover art for Fates’ Fury was created by none other than Andrew Butcher! Was this a collaboration or a fabulous surprise from Andrew after reading your offering?

Liz – A bit of a collaboration. I gave him a rough idea of what I was hoping for and he took it from there. He’d come up with a few designs, but we both loved this one. He also designed the cover for After Dark for me, so I’m lucky to have such a talented hubby!

 

Ruschelle – Your pen drips with the blood of many genres – horror, mythology, romance etc. Which genre do you find yourself splattering the pages with more often than not?

Liz – Horror, for sure. The vast majority of my work is in the vein of horror/dark fantasy.

 

Ruschelle – If you could have Fates’ Fury developed into a major motion picture, which famous actors would you choose to play your characters?

Liz – I love this question – what author doesn’t? There’re far too many characters to cast them all for you, but here’s some of the main players and who I’d love to see cast in their roles:

Jonah Sands – Max Irons

Tristan Carter – James Franco

Ava Carter – Sophia Bush

Alex Carter – Tom Hanks

Mallory Carter – Gillian Anderson

Zeus – Eric Bana

Isis – Zoe Saldana

Enki – Naveen Andrews

Hades – Jared Leto

Charon – Paul Bettany

 

Ruschelle – You have recently signed on with publicist Mickey Mikkelson from Creative Edge. Sweet! What does this mean for author Liz Butcher?

Liz – Yes! It’s an exciting development and Mickey is proving to be a wonderful mentor in this new endeavor. Having a publicist means further exposure and opportunities and I already have a number of interviews/blog posts/podcasts lined up. It’s taking me out of my comfort zone—but I’m grateful for it. I plan to make the most of it!

 

Ruschelle – Last year you released your collection of short stories entitled, After Dark. Are there any stories from your collection that may one day receive the ‘novel treatment’?

Liz – Potentially. I’ve received some great feedback from readers about some of the stories they’d love to see expanded on. Dorcha Scath is a popular request, as are Amber, Sail Away and Gethen. As Amber and Sail Away are the shorter of the group, I’d probably look at expanding them first.

 

Ruschelle – Which writing process do you prefer, the energetic fervor of crafting short stories or the slow burn penning of novels?

Liz – Now, I would have to say the slow burn of penning a novel. It was a surprising challenge making the shift, to be honest. There’s so much more you have to consider when writing something that’s novel length as opposed to a short story, but you also have the freedom to explore more of your storyline and get to know your characters on a deeper level.

 

Ruschelle – Where did you mine the raw material of your stories to polish into shiny baubles?

Liz – My overactive imagination, primarily! Some come from strange dreams, others are just random ideas and concepts that popped into my head at one time or another. I actually have a box full of scrawled-on index cards, with each card representing another story idea.

 

Ruschelle – Are there any ‘taboo’ scenes or topics that you refuse to include in your writing? For example, graphic sex or gore?

Liz – No, not really. If I felt any of those topics were essential to the story or to the character, then I’d absolutely go there. In saying that, though, I wouldn’t include it just for the sake of it either.

 

Ruschelle – What is the one piece of writing advice that was suggested to you that you NEVER use because it was awful advice?

Liz – Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve received any bad advice!

 

Ruschelle – If you could do research for a project, where would it be? For example- a famous haunted house, a long-deserted disaster area or a sacred desert etc…

Liz – The list would be endless…absolutely all the haunted or deserted buildings and castles, tracking ley-lines and petroglyphs or researching an archaeological dig. The Gran Telescopio Canarias or the Subaru telescope, or even the Hadron Collider—I could go on and on, haha!

 

Ruschelle – You received your degree in psychology. The human psyche is so interesting and sometimes scary. Has your knowledge of the mind played a role in any of your characterizations?

Liz – I’ve always been fascinated by the psyche, the endless possibilities of our brains and the vastness that is the subconscious. My knowledge of the mind and of personality types and traits would certainly play a role in my writing, though I don’t think it’s something I actively sit down and process.

 

Ruschelle – What comes first for you, plot or characters or title?

Liz – It’s always the concept first for me, which becomes the plot and the characters pop up as I go along. I might have a general idea of the main character(s) at inception, but they tend to develop as the plot does.

 

Ruschelle – Criticism, writers need to grow a tough Godzilla-esque hide to repel all the negativity. How do you handle criticism?

Liz – I just view criticism as an opportunity for growth. I don’t want to be molly-coddled and told something is wonderful when it’s not. I’m always open to constructive criticism for this reason. One of the many things I love about my editor (and talented author) Kathrin Hutson, is she never shies away from telling me something isn’t good enough, or to rewrite a section because she knows I can do better. That way when she gets excited about a line or a passage, then I know I’ve really nailed it.

When it comes to querying it can be daunting watching the rejections come in, but you can’t let it upset you. It’s all part of the process.

 

Ruschelle – Do you have any ‘Liz Butcher’ signature lines or characters that seep their way into most of your stories/books?

Liz – Not so far—or at least, not that I’ve noticed. But I do like to drop subtle pieces into my work. For example, the name of a character or a place might have some special link or meaning to the story.

 

Ruschelle – The perfect title can be a bit elusive. How do you choose your titles for your works? Do faerie deliver them to you in dreams?

Liz – Perhaps they do! The short story titles came to me fairly easily, and After Dark was the result of some quick and fruitful brainstorming. Fates’ Fury was a longer process…and the third title!

 

Ruschelle – Your newfound fans need to know where they can find all things Liz Butcher on the www. Let’s help them out!

Liz – Absolutely! And thanks for having me.

Website: https://lizbutcherauthor.wixsite.com/lizbutcher

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/lunaloveliz

Instagram: @lunaloveliz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00X6XN5O6

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/lizbutcherauthor/

 

The Horror Tree Presents… an Interview with Anita Frank

Hi Anita, welcome to the Horror Tree and thank you for agreeing to chat about your début novel, The Lost Ones, which is due out on Halloween – 31 October and is published by HQ aka HarperCollins.

Thank you for having me!

How long has The Lost Ones been in the making? From the initial idea through its writing to final publication?

I’d had sketches of the main characters – Stella, Annie and Tristan – milling around in my mind for a while, and I had thought up a few random scenes, but it wasn’t until January 2017 that I started trying to incorporate them into a proper story. Three months later I had completed a first draft, but in truth it wasn’t very good – a bit Casper the Friendly Ghost meets Nancy Drew! So, I ripped it up, replotted and started afresh at the end of September 2017. I submitted the finished manuscript eight months later.

What’s the experience been like of reading the amazing early reviews to the book? How exciting is the upcoming launch? Will there be a party?

There is to be a party! My launch is taking place at the wonderful Goldsboro Books in London, and I’m really looking forward to it – not least because I will (at last!) get to meet some of the fantastic members of the Twitter writing community who have become my ‘virtual’ friends over the past twelve months.

The response to the book so far has exceeded my wildest dreams, so I am thrilled to bits and extremely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read and review it. That said, reading is very subjective, and I totally appreciate it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

How much research did you do for the novel? With the era it is set in? (Note – 1917, England, while the Great War rages abroad). You depict a microcosm of social history too, with the different classes living under one roof at Greyswick- did you need to read about this aspect?

I’ve always loved history, particularly social history, and studied it for my degree, so a lot of what is contained in The Lost Ones is knowledge accumulated over a good number of years, though I did supplement it by drawing on relevant memoirs and histories.

You also movingly depict an injured war veteran (Tristan Sheers) who visits the house to debunk the ghost theory. Again, did you research the post-war lives of such men?

I’m certainly no specialist, but I’ve long been interested in the First World War, and those that served in and survived it, so again, I’ve read histories, memoirs, watched documentaries etc for many, many years. I also visited the Imperial War Museum, which has fascinating displays on this conflict, including the pioneering work done to improve artificial limbs, for which there was an unprecedented demand at this time.

Did you have a favourite character in The Lost Ones?

Oh my! That’s like asking if I have a favourite child! I really enjoyed writing Lady Brightwell, and I do have a soft spot for Tristan!

Is writing something you always saw yourself doing? Or has going in this direction surprised you?

Being a writer is all I’ve ever wanted to do, but increasingly a lack of confidence held me back. I submitted a couple of awful Mills and Boon style romances when I was in my late teens, which were of course rejected, and some years later won a competition run by my local library in association with Historical Mills and Boon, though, again, they declined to take the finished manuscript. Shortly after that my son, who was eighteen months old at the time, was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy that was to leave him severely mentally disabled. Caring for him, and looking after my two older girls, took all my time and energy. I used to daydream about being published, but I was too afraid to pursue my ambition – while I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail, and so I could keep my dream alive. A friend then pointed out that if I didn’t try, I would never know, and she encouraged me to write my ghost story. I hadn’t written anything for over twelve years so even completing a manuscript felt like a major achievement. The best I was hoping for when I sent The Lost Ones off to agents was some feedback on my submission – having it go the distance to publication has been an incredible turn of events.

I read online that you did your History degree at UEA (where I also studied); which periods are you most drawn to? Is historical fiction your favourite genre of choice for reading and then for your own writing?

Always lovely to encounter another UEA graduate! Historical fiction is definitely my go-to genre, but I do try and read outside of it as well, so I’ll happily dip into anything – thrillers, rom-coms, women’s fiction, literary fiction – with a premise that appeals, to be honest! Most of my story ideas have historical settings – usually somewhere between 1800 and 1950.

Which other authors do you enjoy reading? Both now as an adult and when you were growing up?

Growing up I loved Enid Blyton, David Eddings, The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and I read a lot of Vietnam memoirs as well. Now, Anita Shreve, Sarah Waters, Kate Riordan, Laura Purcell, Kate Morton and John Boyne are among my favourites and I do love indulging in a good Georgette Heyer every now and then!

Do you have a daily writing routine? Or place you write? Pen or pc? In silence or with music on? Coffee or tea breaks?

I mainline tea – not so much ‘a break’ as a constant infusion. I don’t have a strict routine as such because it very much depends on how my boy is doing that day and what sort of night he’s had, but generally, I get him into school (which can be any time from 9am – 12pm!), come home and try and get cracking as soon as possible. I write on a pc (my handwriting is appalling), sitting on the sofa in the lounge. I work in silence. Whilst I find music inspirational, it would prove too distracting to write to.

Do you watch films? If so, are you a fan of ghost stories? There has been a mini renaissance lately in those sort of films like The Conjuring franchise, starring Annabelle, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, The Babadook, Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger and of course The Woman in Black.

You write, I thought, rather cinematically, (just my opinion) and I wondered if you drew on films you’ve seen consciously or not?

I love watching television and films, and I do love ghost stories – inevitable I guess, having grown up in a haunted house – but if something fails to grab me, I don’t tend to stick with it – that’s The Haunting of Hill House I’m afraid! I watched the first few episodes, but then gave up on it. I enjoyed The Enfield Haunting, and I liked The Awakening and The Woman in Black – I’ve yet to see The Little Stranger, but I’m looking forward to that. I’m not much of a horror fan though. I’m not interested in gruesome, or something scaring the pants off me, I’m interested in the mystery that lies behind the haunting – what might cause a spirit to linger – and I think that’s very much reflected in The Lost Ones.

I do have a vivid imagination, so I tend to ‘see’ the scenes as – to quote Miss Saigon – ‘a movie in my mind’, and I try to describe as accurately as I can what I’m visualising. I used to do a lot of amateur acting and improvising too, so the dialogue I write might reflect that. I do try and draw on the world around me, and there may well be some subconscious calling on things I’ve watched, but I certainly can’t say I do it consciously. I would imagine that would apply to most people involved in a creative process though; it’s inevitable we are influenced by the things we are exposed to, to some degree or other.

How involved are you with social media? Where can readers follow you?

It’s on my ‘to-do’ list, so I hope to have a Facebook page and website before too long. I am active on Twitter and would very much welcome followers @Ajes74

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers, especially those trying to get their first novel accepted?

Edit. Edit. Edit. And then edit some more. The one piece of advice I read but never took, and really wish I had, was: ‘once you’ve finished your book, put it away for a month’. That break will help you see your work in a new light, and I can guarantee there will be things you’ve missed that scream out at you when you come back to it. I never edited my manuscript enough before sending it out, and it cost me opportunities – I had a couple of full requests within the first week of submission, and I had to respond with a manuscript which had been hastily edited, and which was completely unpolished. Unsurprisingly those initial requests resulted in rejections. I learnt the ‘edit, edit, edit’ lesson the hard way!

Make sure your cover letter is professional – no gimmicks! Your letter is the first opportunity you have of convincing an agent that you know what you’re doing and that it’s worth their while taking your submission seriously. Try and create a one-line pitch for your book to catch the agent’s attention, include some examples of comparable novels to show you understand where your book would sit in the market, and then captivate them in with some brilliant blurb.

Find your tribe. Writing can be a very lonely exercise. Reach out to people who are on the same journey, so you can share the ups and downs with them and support each other with honest beta reading. Be prepared to take on board criticism, but at the end of the day, you will have to decide when to take advice and when to follow your gut. It’s your book.

Do you have a writing group (either in person or online) you turn to for support and feedback?

I am very lucky to have a friend who also writes living five minutes away from me. She was the one who cajoled me into writing The Lost Ones in the first place, and then challenged me to do better after having read my original draft. I really wouldn’t be where I am today without her encouragement and support.

I am also very happy and very proud to be a member of the Virtual Writing Group, who can be found on Twitter at @virtwriting. They are an AMAZING group of writers, many of whom are now enjoying success, and believe me, there’s lots more to come! They are so supportive and such great fun – I would be lost without them!

What are you currently working on?  

I’m currently working on my second book which is set during the Second World War. It’s not a ghost story!

Find out more about The Lost Ones here.

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/

 

Pin It on Pinterest