Category Archives: horror

Author Interview – Jack Strange


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Jack Strange

 

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

It energizes me the same way climbing a small mountain might energize you.

You’re exhausted by the effort but feel good about what you’ve done, so you have enough left in the tank to climb down – and do it over again the next day!

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

The mid-point of any novel. I always begin novels in a fever of excitement but half-way through I get bogged down and have to work really hard to keep going to the end. I suspect a lot of authors feel the same way.

Man Vice

  1. What’s the best thing you’ve written?

That would have to be my latest novel Manchester Vice.

I’m very proud of the positive reviews it’s had, including a great video review in “Words on Words” (The Eclectic Storm radio).

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Robert Bose and Axel Howerton of Coffin Hop Press have become good friends of mine. Rob edited my novel Manchester Vice and in the process taught me a lot about tightening up a narrative; Axel told me he liked my novel and because he’s a literature graduate that boosted my confidence no end!

I have a writer friend called Martin Mulligan who has a great way with words – he’s helped me get my sentences flowing better, just by being a good influence.

Confessions of an English Psychopath

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’d like to build a body of work, but the books aren’t interconnected. There are probably common themes, though. My future critics and reviewers may one day work out what those themes are!

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Oh, such a good question! Probably the money I spent on the novel It Happened in Boston? By Russell H Greenan. That was the book most responsible for my decision to write novels myself. It was – is – a great read.

THATCHENSTEIN

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My parents telling me off when I was little; my Dad in particular knew how to scare the hell out of me!

Later I began reading books by the likes of Harlan Ellison and began to get a feel for language from them.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

It Happened in Boston? By Russell H Greenan. It’s well-written, well-plotted, has a compelling central character and a cast of wonderful secondary characters.

Zomcats

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

As a cat-lover it’d have to be a cat. That said, there’s a cat in my novel Manchester Vice which is drugged by its owner. I got a rap on the knuckles from a couple of reviewers for that part of the story!

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I always have a few on the go.

Right now I have a finished novella that’s looking for a publisher: I also have a novel that’s about two-thirds written; and two or three half-finished manuscripts I’ll be bringing to completion some time in the future.

  1. What does literary success look like to you?

I’ll know it when I see it!

But seriously, I want the full enchilada: a substantial body of work, great reviews, and great sales figures.

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I seldom do much research because my books are about personal relations so it’s a matter of drawing on experience, twisting it around, and using my imagination to transform it into something new, and, hopefully, entertaining.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I can’t put a figure on it. All I can say is as many as I can, other commitments permitting.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

With difficulty!

Names are important to me and I try hard to get them right. The old adage about a rose smelling just as sweet by any other name doesn’t seem to apply in fiction. People get a handle on a character through his name – at least in my view – so the name has to be right.

Chef Zombie

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote an attempted rape scene in one book.

I didn’t want it to be pornographic, or gratuitous, and I didn’t want to make the woman on the receiving and appear to be a victim.

Most difficult of all, I wanted women to be able to read it and feel comfortable with it, not see it as some kind of sexploitation scene.

For those reasons, that was the most difficult scene I’ve ever had to write.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I started out by reading sci-fi and horror when I was young. This pretty much doomed me to become a genre-writer with an emphasis on speculative fiction.

I write more than one genre (so far I’ve tried my hand at comedy horror and crime) but all my books could be classed as pulp fiction – or pulp with literary pretensions.

I like to grab the reader’s attention from the opening sentence and keep him or her hooked with cliff-hanger chapter endings and twisting plots right up to the final sentence.

As for how I balance them – pass. It’s instinctive, I guess – just like it was for the pulp writers of old.

  1. How long have you been writing?

As a serious fiction author – about 5 years now.

  1. What inspires you?  

Anything and everything, particularly people and anecdotes friends tell me. I often think, when somebody tells me a story about themselves, that with the right development it could become a written piece.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

I have to be ruthless, mainly with myself, and stop myself from goofing off doing other stuff. That’s my only secret. I think it’s every writer’s secret.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m very excited about the novel I’m two-thirds through, which I jokingly refer to as my bestseller. That’s because I’ve researched what kinds of book sell well, and I’m aiming to write one which falls squarely into a bestselling category.

That category is Domestic Noir – ie, a thriller in a domestic setting.

Everything else is taking a back seat at present.

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

More domestic noir if the current project sells; and a sequel to my psychopath novel.

  1. Share a link to your author website.

https://jackdmclean.blogspot.com/

Thank you Mandy, I will. It’s been great talking to you!

Bio:

Jack is an English author, who loves genre fiction, particularly thrillers and horror, although he can find just about any genre fun, as long as the story grabs him and doesn’t let his attention go. Jack is not so big on literary fiction but has read the occasional classic.

Jack’s own writing tends to be dark and funny – or so he is told.

His interests are:
Reading (unsurprisingly), Writing (naturally), My own books (sorry!), 
Self-promotion (ok, I admit it, I can be a bit of a bore sometimes).
Walking, Strength training with body weight, Strength training with barbells, Fitness,
Judo, Boxing.  Jack’s home town is Huddersfield, which is in West Yorkshire, England.

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday


keys

The inspiration for this week’s writing prompt is ‘keys’. Let your imagination take over. What is your story?

I wrote this short story as my mind gazed at the keys above.

Her hand trembled, hesitant to pick up a key. If it were the wrong one, she would be held hostage for another month. Her hand hovered over the tabletop covered in keys. Ever shape and size, old and new, which one would release her?

“Hurry up and take one. I don’t have all day.”

She turned to see him glaring at her the knife in his right hand and the end of the chain in the other. With a silent pray she took one key and gave it to him. He bent down to insert it into the padlock. She willed it to fit with all her might.

There was a click. The padlock sprung open. I’m free? Please let me be free. Is it a trick?

“Well, there’s a surprise, you found the right one.”

He pulled at the chain making her stumble and kneel at his feet. She held her breath waiting for some sort of punishment but he un-linked the chain from the padlock and pulled it away from her ankles.

“Go on then, run.”

Her dazed mind held her still for a moment. He pushed her towards the door. The sunlight was bright, the air fresh. She looked up to see acres of forest before her.

“Find your way and no telling or I’ll bring you back.”

She ran, stumbling over tree roots and rocks. Freedom. She was on her way home. The bullet struck the back of her head. No more fear, no more pain. He dragged the body to the pit and kicked it into the depths.

He would drive eastward tomorrow and pick up another hitchhiker.

I know my mind can be dark but your story will be completely different.

Genres of Literature – Slipstream


slipstream

Slipstream can be defined as a kind of fantastic or non-realistic fiction that crosses conventional genre boundaries between science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. The term was coined by Bruce Sterling, a cyberpunk author: “… this is a kind of writing which simply makes you feel very strange; the way that living in the twentieth century makes you feel, if you are a person of a certain sensibility.”

Slipstream fiction is “the fiction of strangeness” in which cognitive dissonance is at the heart of the story inducing a sense of ‘otherness’ in the audience, like a glimpse into a distorting mirror and imparts a sense that reality might not be quite as certain as we think. 

Slipstream narratives do not always employ elements of science fiction or fantasy, as they are not crucial to the plot, but provide setting and background. The common unifying factor is a degree of the surreal, the not-entirely-real, or the markedly anti-real.

It is certainly a little known genre to the mainstream reader but does have a loyal following. If you are interested in reading this genre here is a list: http://www.flashlightworthybooks.com/Best-Slipstream-Books/525

 

Genres of Literature – Bizarro Fiction


bizarro

Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which aims to be both strange and entertaining,  containing hefty doses of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque  along with pop-surrealism and genre-fiction staples, thus creating subversive, weird, and entertaining works. The term was adopted in 2005 by the independent publishing companies Eraserhead Press, Raw Dog Screaming Perss and Afterbirth Books.

The first Bizarro Starter Kit described Bizarro as “literature’s equivalent to the cult section at the video store” and a genre that “strives not only to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.”

In general however, Bizarro has more in common with speculative fiction, such as science-fiction, horror and fantasy than with avant-garde movements (such as Dadaism and surrealism, which readers and critics often associate it with.

It seems to be a small niche genre and one that appeals to a select audience. However, I think it would be a fun exercise to write a story in this genre.

How about you? Have you written this genre? Or read any books in it?

 

 

 

 

Author Interview M.J. Preston


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MJ Preston

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

That depends. In the beginning of a project I am most definitely energized and that is because the story is yet to be told. By the end of a project, after the editing multiple drafts, the process is mentally exhausting. Luckily, I have a very short memory and repeat this process again and again. 

2. What is your writing Kryptonite?

Distraction. When I write, all social media and the internet are shut down, except for bringing up a browser to reference something pertaining to the piece I am working on.

Acadia

3. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

MJ Preston is as close to a pseudonym as I ever got.

4. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Too many authors to name really. A short list would be Gregory L. Norris, B.E. Scully, F. Paul Wilson, Kevin M. Sullivan, Joseph Boyden. Reading their work certainly helps. I am often in awe at their creativity.

Equinox

5. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

My latest novel, which is in pre-publication has no connection to my other works, but often I will revisit characters and link them to other works.

6. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

That’s a tough one. Let me get back to you.

7. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I believe it was around 1983. I wrote my first letter to the editor of my home town paper. The subject was regarding employers who pay their employees poorly. At that time, I was working for $4.00 per hour in a local carwash. The response to that letter blew me away. There was no email or internet back then, so people put pen to paper and mailed in their responses. That impressed me. Even those who disagreed with my opinion impressed on me that words were a way of invoking discussion and sometimes debate.

8. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I’d have to say, Robert R. McCammon’s vampire novel, THEY THIRST. A great book, set in the 70’s and fun read.

9. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Easy answer. The raven. I have always had love for these dark creatures. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of them. Written stories and a novel that included them and I am always taken back by their intelligence.

10. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I don’t discuss unpublished work.

11. What does literary success look like to you?

Readers. Plenty of readers. I don’t care much about awards or being the darling of critics. I just want more readers.

 

 

12. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Research is certainly part of the process. It varies by project. In most cases, the research begins and continues during the project.

13. How many hours a day/week do you write?

I don’t know really. Again, it varies. Could be 20 hours, could be 30, depending on my schedule. Let’s just say I write as much as I can and as long as my muse is available.

14. How do you select the names of your characters?

Usually, it’s random thought, but once that’s exhausted the internet provides a well of opportunity.

Highwayman

15. What was your hardest scene to write?

I have written about the murder of children. Not an easy task. You have to know where your line is and whether or not you’ve crossed it.

16. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I guess I would be categorized as a horror/thriller writer, but I often ponder writing a book that is completely away from that genre. I sometimes write small pieces or opinion pieces that are of a more serious nature. Balance doesn’t really come in to. If somebody asked about me it would probably be, “That M.J. Preston is a horror writer.” ―but I consider myself a writer.

17. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing fiction since the 70’s, with a hiatus from about 1986 to 1998. During that period, I wrote articles for newspapers while serving in the Canadian military. So, technically, I’ve always wrote, but my love of fiction took a short vacation.

18. What inspires you?

Reading the work of others inspires me.  

19. How do you find or make time to write?

If you want to be a writer you just make time. That’s what I do, anyway.

4-large

20. What projects are you working on at the present?

I said I don’t discuss unfinished work, so I’ll avoid specifics. I will say that there is a new book on the horizon pre-publication as well as another in the works.

21.    22. What do your plans for future projects include?

Warmer climates? 😊

Share a link to your author website.

Folks can visit my author website: http://mjpreston.net