Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mike McCarty Interview

In your novel, Liquid Diet and Midnight Snack (Whiskey Creek Publishing), it features a right-wing religious organization. Although they may be fictional, some religious groups frown upon the horror genre. What was your intent on this inclusion?

Michael McCarty: The Opposition to the Occult is a fictional organization (thank God), but they represent different groups who have targeted horror, heavy metal music, gay marriage, different religions and different cultures – anything that is outside the norm.

Your novels have been printed through various publishers. Do any of those publishers stand out in any specific way?

McCarty: My favorite so far are: Wildside Press (who have published Giants of the Genre, More Giants of the Genre and Dark Duets), Damnation Books (who have published A Hell of A Job and Partners in Slime), Whiskey Creek Publishing (who have published Liquid Diet), Sam’s Dot Publishing (who have published Little Creatures, A Little Help From My Fiends and Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures), BearManor Media (who have published Esoteria-Land, Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers), Medallion Books (who will be publishing Monster Behind The Wheel) and McFarland & Company (who published the first edition of Modern Mythmakers). I also enjoyed Delirium Books & Corrosion Press too.

We have a mutual friend, Joe McKinney. What was it like to work with him?

McCarty: I really enjoy working with Joe, he is a very hard working writer and is very imaginative, full of so many ideas and directions; it is a delight collaborating with him. Joe and I are both members of the Horror Writers Association and that is how we met.

When I was putting together my short story collection A Little Help From My Fiends, I asked Joe to write the afterword, which he wrote a great one for the book.

Joe asked me to look at a manuscript he was working on and asked if I wanted to collaborate, the project eventually became the novella Lost Girl Of The Lake, which is one of my best pieces of long fiction. It is set the early 1960s and has as many twists and turns as a rattlesnake slithering across a hot highway does. The book is set to release early 2012 from Bad Moon Books.

Joe and I just finished another novella called Terror Of Bristol Plains for the anthology Before Plan 9: Plans 1-8 from Outer Space.

Do you have any horror mythos that you haven't written about? If so do you plan on doing so?

McCarty: I’ve written about vampires in Liquid Diet and Midnight Snack and Bloodless (with Jody LaGreca) -- a novel I am currently shopping around and all the short story collections. I’ve written about werewolves. I’ve written about robots for the kid’s book Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures with Sherry Decker. I’ve written about zombies with Mark McLaughlin with Monster Behind The Wheel. I’ve written about ghost with Amy Grech with Fallen Angel.

I’d like to write more about vampires because they are my favorite and zombies too. As for something I’ve never written about before, I’d love to write a book about Frankenstein’s monster, I have some ideas and might tackle that someday.

A comedian, a musician, a managing editor. Those are just a few of your previous jobs. So what made you pursue such a (successful) career as an author?

McCarty: Actually I have been writing since 1973. I sold my first newspaper article in 1983. I sold my first national magazine article in 1993. My first book was published in 2003. I did all the other things such as stand-up comedian, musician and editor between my writing gigs.

What can you tell us about Monster Behind The Wheel the novel you co-written with Mark McLaughlin and going to get published by Medallion Press?

McCarty: The automobile is the most dangerous weapon in our society. Cars kill more people than wars do. More than 50,000 people will die this year in car accidents. Monster Behind The Wheel tells the story of Jeremy Carmichael. During his childhood he falls from a Ferris wheel, landing on and killing a beautiful woman. Years later, as a young man, he is involved in a horrific car crash. Soon he finds himself transported between the worlds of the living and the dead on an all-too-regular basis. Jeremy strikes a bargain with an older woman and purchases her car (a 1970 Barracuda), exchanging sexual favors in returned for a reduced payment plan. Then, all hell breaks loose – literally. We learn the shocking aftermath of that long-ago fall from the Ferris wheel.

This novel is a surreal helter-skelter ride of humor, lust, thrills and gut-wrenching horror and oil changes (laughs). I hope the readers will enjoy it. It took five years for Mark and I to finish this novel.

Sounds like an interesting book. How would you describe your protagonist Jeremy Carmichael from Monster Behind The Wheel in 10 words or less?

McCarty: He’s a young man desperate to outrace his own demons.

Why did you choose a 1970 Barracuda as the haunted car?

McCarty: Another great question. The 1970 Barracuda was completely restyled and re-engineered. It was considered then and remains to this day one of the finest muscle cars design from Chrysler. The high performance ‘Cuda model came standard 426 Hemi engine. The car also had the shaker hoodscope that sat atop the 426 six-barrel. It was, and still is, a real monster on the road. It could eat Christine for breakfast.

You have the same name as the acclaimed horror special effects artist, Mike McCarty. Has anyone ever confused you two?

McCarty: Oh yes, it happens from time to time. I met Mike at the World Horror Convention in Burbank, California when Monster Behind The Wheel was up for Best First Novel at the Bram Stokers. I wish I took a photo of the two of us, we will probably crossed paths again someday. I’m a big fan of Mike’s work. He is a very talented special effects guy and enjoy seeing is work.

What novels do you enjoy reading? If any?

McCarty: I am a book nerd, so I am also reading a ton of books. Currently I’m reading Bentley Little’s His Father’s Son, I also picked up his book The Disappearance (which I plan to read next, I am a big fan of Bentley Little). I interviewed Bentley in Modern Mythmakers and he wrote the introduction to my book Dark Duets.

I am also re-reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The 50th Anniversary Edition; I haven’t read this book since high school and am glad I am reading it again. I interviewed Ray for two of my books Masters of Imagination and Modern Mythmakers.

I am also reading Joe McKinney’s Flesh Eaters. I read the other two books in his zombie series Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead which I really enjoyed both. He’s cranking the zombie books out faster than I can read them.

What about movies?

McCarty: I really want to see that remake of Fright Night. Recent genre movies I saw include Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which was great) and Cowboy & Aliens (which was okay) – I saw both of them at a drive-in this summer. My wife and I enjoyed the third season of TrueBlood. We also really enjoyed the last season of Futurama. I am looking forward to season two of Walking Dead. Other movies I enjoyed this year Paul. I also enjoyed the comedies Cedar Rapids, Hang Over 2 and Horrible Bosses.

If one of your novels was turned into a movie, which would you choose. Why?

McCarty: That’s a great question, but a tough one to answer. I always write in a very visual style, so all my novels would make great movies. But if I had to choose just one, I’d say Liquid Diet because vampires are so popular right now and there is a lot of humor in the book and the novel does feature cameos by real life people like The Amazing Kreskin, Joe Hill, Chris Alexander (the editor of Fangoria) – it would be fun to have them appear in a film version of the book.

The novel is set in Chicago, which is a very visually interesting city, and plot-wise it there is a lot of action adventure and biting in it, so that would also make great cinema.

Last words?

Thank you Steven Foley for a great interview. If people are interested in getting my books, here are some links they can go to get most of them:
Most of my books can be found at:

Liquid Diet & Midnight Snack:

Monster Behind The Wheel:

Rusty the Robot’s Holiday Adventures:

Sam’s Dot Publishing:

Other Social Media:

Good Reads



Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goosebumps Horror Land: Claws by R.L. Stine

ME! OW!!!

Mickey is put in charge of his vacationing neighbors' cat, Bella. His best friend, Amanda, comes along to help out. All they have to do is make sure Bella has enough to ear and doesn't destroy the furniture. Seems simple enough. But Bella escapes from the house and is hit by a truck. Mickey feels awful. What is he going to do? Amanda has an idea to replace the cat with a look-alike from the local pet store, Cat Heaven. They find a cat that looks exactly like Bella, but the clerk won't sell it to them, so they decide to steal it. Big mistake! These cats are more than what they seem to be...

This was another ARC I received from my friend Mandee at Scholastic Publisher's. My first thought when I saw the title of this book on the catalog I was sent, was the recollection of reading R.L. Stine when I was a child. It brought back some great memories and rekindled my love for the author's creative tales of scary stories for children.

Goosebumps Horror Land is a new collection of stories from R.L. Stine. In the beginning of the story there is The Storykeeper. He collects the stories of children from Horror Land and retells them for the reader's pleasure. I think that this is a unique way to inspire children's passion for all things horror.

Chapter one introduced the main characters and set the pace for the entire novel, in only a matter of two pages. The main characters are Mickey and his best friend Amanda. I believe that R.L. Stine has significantly portrayed the friendship of two young children in a very realistic way. This is something that will help any child reading this feel that it is relevant to themselves. Another thing that is great for the reader is at the end of each chapter they are all cliffhangers. This suspense keeps them eager to continue the story.

On the downside of the novel, I was confused at how Mickey supposedly always got along well with cats. It appeared, from my perspective, that he never once got along with any cat! The ending felt like the author simply ran out of energy. It just appeared to be too simplistic of an ending, almost as if his muse disappeared.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Amber Kizer Interview

What inspired you to become a writer?
My freshman year of college I developed a rare nerve disorder in my legs. You can’t tell by looking, but I deal with a ton of whacky and weird symptoms including really tough pain on a daily basis. So I had to change my plans and figure out how to have a career that was flexible and didn’t rely heavily on my legs cooperating on a schedule.

I took a friend’s writing workshop and by the end had a story idea I wanted to keep working on, the first manuscript was born! Then it’s about studying the craft and practicing it like an Olympic athlete or a concert pianist. It’s not easy, it takes discipline and determination to be a published author. It takes writing when you can’t even remember how to spell “Muse.”

How long have you been writing for?
I started working on ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME in 2005 and it was published in 2007 by Delacorte Press/Random House. The second in the series, which actually stands alone too, is coming out in April 2011 and it called 7 KINDS OF ORDINARY CATASTROPHES.

Of your work, which is your favorite, or that you hold dear for one reason or another?
At the time I'm writing a book that is my favorite book. You have to remember that authors are working on books that readers will see in 1-3 years. Right now I'm writing a survival odyssey called ECHOES OF 1492 and it's my favorite. I absolutely adore Gert Garibaldi's voice (ONE BUTT CHEEK and 7 KINDS)--she's a hoot to write. But I also love dealing with the taboos and mythology around death like in the Fenestra series of MERIDIAN and WILDCAT FIREFLIES (July 12 2011). There's something I love about all of them. I wouldn't want to give readers a story I didn't love--what's the point of that? :)

As an author who is your favorite to read from?
I read 20-25 books concurrently—like other people change channels on the remote. Readers who are interested can keep up with me on Goodreads, Facebook or by joining my email list at, I recommend my faves for the month in my newsletter. Overall favorites include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Jude Deveraux, Nora Roberts, Stephen King...I read just about anything but math theory and computer programming--everything else is fair game!

What is your favorite genre?
I grew up in a house full of books and love of story, but it wasn't until I found romances in seventh grade that I really fell in love with stories. So they will always hold a special place in my heart--I am a sap for happy endings! But YA is amazing in the last five years--it's exploded, there is something for everyone in that section and adults who don't read in it are missing a ton.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Writing isn't an answer! :)
I'm a huge college basketball fan--so there's that. I love reality TV--the trashier the better. I do a lot of gardening (when my legs cooperate). I quilt. Make cakes and lots of yummy desserts for friends. I spend time with the dog, cats, chickens and wildlife of the area. Spending time with family and friends is a priority even though they know when I'm working I tend to disappear for weeks or months. There is never enough time in the day to explore all the amazing adventures in the world.

Have you ever collaborated with another author? Or plan too?
I have a critique partner and we work each other's writing. I don't have a plan to collaborate officially with an author, I wouldn't rule it out though!

Do you have any pen name(s)? If so, why do you choose to use a pen name?
Nope, I write under my own name!

Any words of wisdom for your fans and readers?
I want to thank readers for their enthusiasm and heart. You guys rock! More questions and answers can be found at my websites:, and Be sure to sign up for my newsletter--I'll be sending out a sneak peek to my fans via there and Facebook in February.

I think the one piece of wisdom I have worth sharing is to not limit yourself to the books and stories you're willing to try reading. You never know what will connect with you on an emotional level. Some of the best books I've ever read I picked up in an airport (I love book buying in airports!) because I was just browsing and open to reading anything that struck my fancy. So when people say "I don't like this genre" or "I only read this" I feel bad for them because there are amazing stories--both made up and true in our world and they'll miss them!

Thanks very much for having me! Happy reading! Amber

Leah Cypess Interview

What inspired you to become a writer?
Hard to say, since I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I don't remember deciding - it feels like I always knew.

How long have you been writing for?
I have a copy of my first short story, which I wrote when I was in first grade (it was told from the point of view of an ice cream cone). I began writing what I thought of as my first "book" when I was in third grade. And when I was 15, I finished the first book that I thought was publishable (I was wrong).

As an author who is your favorite to read from?
I can't possibly pick a favorite! But of the books I read this past month (yes, that's about as far as I can take it) my favorites were WHISPER by Phoebe Kitanidis and MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins.

What is your favorite genre?
Fantasy. (See, *that* one was easy.)

What do you like to do in your spare time? Writing isn't an answer! :)
Is "I don't have spare time" an answer? ;) Reading, obviously; but I also really love biking, and I don't get to do it as often as I like. I live near some great biking/walking trails in Boston, one of which takes me along a creek, past two lakes, and to the Arboretum. With occasional scatterings of wild geese along the way.

Have you ever collaborated with another author? Or plan too?
My cousin and I used to try and write joint books when we were in high school. None of them ever came to anything. However, we once wrote down 100 "first lines" for stories, and tried to each write a story starting from the same first line. The story I wrote for that exercise ended up being the first story I got professionally published. (It was called Temple of Stone, and you can read it for free on my website!)

Do you have any pen name(s)? If so, why do you choose to use a pen name?
I don't.

Any words of wisdom for your fans and readers?
Don't give up on your dream, but at the same time be flexible about it. For writers specifically, this translates into not letting rejection get you down - but also being ready to move on to another manuscript if the first one isn't going anywhere.


Shawna Yang Ryan Interview

Did the inspiration of Water Ghosts come from your ethnic background? Or was that just a portion of it?
--I was interested in exploring Chinese American history, but my interest in exploring local history was more of an inspiration for Water Ghosts. I grew up in Sacramento, but I knew very little about its history, or the role the Chinese played. The wonderful thing about fiction writing is that it's an opportunity to research topics I'm curious about and then apply what I've discovered.

Water Ghosts is your debut novel? Do you plan on writing any further novels?
--Water Ghosts is my first novel. I have about 4 other novels floating around in my head, two others in drawers (ok,well, laptop files) and one on paper, halfway through. So the answer is yes!

With its US success, how has the novel faired overseas?
--Water Ghosts has been published in New Zealand/Australia by Pier 9, and in Israel by Modan. The reception has been kind, but I am curious about the connection readers may feel to a story set so far away in time and place.

Originally Water Ghosts was published as Locke 1928. What is the significance of the novel's name change?
--Locke 1928 referred to the name of the town where the story is set--Locke. But outside of Northern California, Locke is not that well known. The new title--which came when Penguin picked it up from the original small press--reflects a different aspect of the book--the more supernatural elements--the water ghosts.

The way you wrote Water Ghosts is different than any book I have ever read. Why did you choose to write the character conversations without using the usual quotation marks? Was this a form of creativity? Or something else?
--The style of the book is very moody--a lot of the scene transitions follow an emotional logic. I thought this would help the reader feel more intimate with the characters. To go along with that, I didn't use quotation marks in dialogue because it gives a quieter feel to the words, like the characters are whispering in your ear. At least I hope! But rest assured, my next book definitely uses quotation marks!

The brief glimpses into homosexuality with both male and female characters; was this from the Asian culture point-of-view, author view, or a personal one?
--That's an interesting question. I was reacting in part to what I felt was the pigeon-holing of non-white ethnic writers, which I read as being: "If you are a person of color, you must write about color!" I wanted to show the complexity of my characters beyond race and culture, so I also touched on sexuality. I also think you can't write about the immigration laws, which were so sex-focused, and the old Chinese bachelor communities without writing about sex.

What was the importance for you on the tales you included into this story?
--Fairy tales from any culture are so fascinating in that they really offer a window into cultural values. So I included some of the Chinese ghost stories--but I also included them to underline the ghost story I was trying to tell, and just because I found them fun.

In clarification the "ghosts" in the story, were they of a mental of physical presence.
--Ooh! I'll have to leave that up to the reader to decide! ;)

Priscilla Cummings Interview

What made you want to write a novel about blind adolescents, Blindsided?
I was invited to speak at The Maryland School for the Blind some years ago and was so impressed by the teenagers, especially. I was surprised because many of them were just regular teens with a great sense of humor despite their situation. Also, before I left, a student gave me a poem he had written about being blind. Driving home that day, I vowed I would return to do a story about those kids.

You've written both children and young adult novels. Have you thought of expanding to adult novels?
I’ve thought about it, sure. I have written short stories for adults. But I’m quite happy writing for young adults these days. I had a bad middle school experience so maybe part of my psyche is stuck there . . .

On your website, your author info speaks of keeping a diary and having over twenty pen pals. Was that where your love for writing began? Or was that just a growth of it?
I have always loved reading and writing stories, from the time I was four and five years old. I was one of those kids stapling paper together to make a little book then drawing pictures and scribbling out the words I didn’t yet know how to write to tell my stories.

Both you and I have cats named Romeo! That's a cool coincidence. Animals must be a huge inspiration for your novels?
Oh, my gosh, I love animals. I grew up on a farm and had many, many pets growing up including my beloved palomino, Goldenboy. These days I have a chocolate lab named Sophie and two cats, Shoog and Romeo,both of whom actually belong to my daughter who is away at college. While she’s gone they’re mine, all mine, and sometimes I call Romeo, Mr. Romeow. He is a Maine Coon cat and quite the lover.

With writers as parents, do your children enjoy writing as much as the rest of the family does?
No, they don’t. But they have other talents.

When writer's block hits, how do you overcome it?
First, I try to just write something – anything – and hope that gets me started. If that fails, then I turn off the computer and read for a couple days. I find that reading unlocks my own creativity.

As you work on your stories do you chose the pen & paper method, typewriter, or pc?

Your novel What Mr. Mattero Did has a very serious subject matter. Was this written for a fictional education, or a different reason?
The story was inspired by an unfortunate situation in Maryland some years ago. While accusations, such as the ones made by the seventh grade girls in my story, must always be taken seriously, I wanted to write a story that showed both sides of the issue. What happens when a middle schooler makes up a story about a teacher? And what happens to that teacher and his or her family?

Before Blindsided, you spent many months with blind people (teenagers and adults). What did you learn the most from that experience?
I learned so much in those months when I was visiting the Maryland School for the Blind that I don’t think I could ever point to just one thing. But for sure, I discovered that many of those young people are just kids who happen to have a vision problem. They don’t want to be different. They don’t want to be treated different. They just want a life -- a job, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a place of their own. They want to be happy.

With Blindsided being written about blind people, was the novel published in Braille as well, for the people in reality who could most enjoy it?
The novel is currently being made into Braille by both the state of Maryland and The Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Tim Lebbon Interview

1) You have quite a collection of works published. Which one was the hardest to get published? The easiest?
Nothing's easy to get published. I guess I'm pretty lucky now in that most of what I write is to commission, but I still get rejections, and am still delighted whenever I receive an acceptance for something.

2) What was is like for you when you got your first book to film deal?
First time I had something optioned I thought, 'This is it, buy a house and a car and never have to worry again!' I've now gone through about fifteen options, and have quickly learnt that it's just the first step in a long process. There's always a chance that something optioned will make it to the screen, but the chance is usually small, and there are any number of obstacles in the way.

There are several film projects that are now looking more and more likely to be made, but I prefer not to say too much until they hit the screen!

3) You have an upcoming series of novels with Christopher Golden, The Secret Journeys of Jack London. Can you tell us more on them?
We're retelling Jack London's most famous works with him as the main character, and with the supernatural as a big part of the story ... the set-up is that he lived through these tales, but they were so challenging and traumatising that he could not face writing them as biography. So he changed details, and wrote them as fiction, and we're telling his Secret Journeys. We're just about to deliver Book 2, and we're having a huge amount of fun. Fox have acquired the movie rights, and Chris and I have been hired to write the screenplay.

4) As a big fan of Twilight, that I am, I found the picture on your site hysterical. Who knew bestiality and necrophilia could be so popular?
Don't knock it til you've tried it.

5) As you write, do you work on one piece at a time or multiple novels?
Usually I'm working on a novel of my own, a collaboration with Chris Golden, and proposals for future novels or screenplays. I've always got several projects at various stages, and - depending on deadlines - I'm able to drop onto a screenplay if I'm having a bit of trouble with a novel, or vice versa. I like being busy.

6) Who are your favorite horror/fantasy authors?
Wow, what a question. King, Simmons, Machen, Blackwood, Hodgson, Lansdale, Straub, Connolly, Golden, Banks, Clarke, Erikson, Carroll, Barker, Smith, Chadbourn, and a thousand others.

7) Can you remember your first horror movie?
It was a TV show actually, Beasts by Nigel Kneale. The episode was called Baby, and was utterly terrifying.

8) Are you reading any novels currently?
The Ocean Dark by Jack Rogan. A great supernatural thriller debut ... he's going to be huge.

9) What do you think makes so many people interested in horror? Sense of thrill? Sheer curiousity?
Fascination with the dark side, death, bad things. Escapism. A good story.

10) What three things do you need while you write?
Solitude, music, coffee.