Category Archives: Interviews

Interview with Author Steve Malik Swayne 

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get into writing?

I am Steve Malik Swayne. I was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in Salt Lake City, UT and Las Vegas, NV. I became fascinated with words in elementary school, where I began writing short stories and poems. This eventually led to me writing music and fictional novels.

Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Traitor was inspired by actual events. Traitor gave me the chance to express how I felt during my first few years of incarceration on a poetically creative level. The story was a release for me – the transformation of darkness into light, if you will.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In this specific piece, I would like for the reader to recognize the in-depth expression of what can dwell inside of each one of us when driven or pushed by betrayal. Secondly, I would like the reader to be dazzled by poetry and comparison to life and recognize we all have some kind of monster inside of us, rather it be negative or positive. Finally, I would like the readers to enjoy the various plots, twists, and craftiness of mental perception that Traitor delivers.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I am a complex thinker. Psychology was one of my favorite classes in college, not to mention, I am a major fan of thriller and suspense. I honestly put myself to the test with this one; I wanted to see if I truly had an understanding of what it is to create suspenseful dissimulation in the context of an urban thriller.

Advertisements

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

This is a difficult one, I mean, I am essentially the creator of their thoughts. So, there isn’t an answer they’d provide that I wouldn’t know. I guess if anyone, I would sit down with Xavier. Many times throughout the book, Xavier vowed he would never go back to prison. I would ask Xavier if he was nervous, worried, or concerned he could possibly be found connected to the downfall of his former friend, Tyson, causing him to go back to prison.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I would have to say Facebook thus far, although we have barely begun adventuring into our social media campaigns.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just let the ideas flow. What begins as a simple thought may very well snowball into something monumental. As long as you believe in yourself, there is nothing you can’t accomplish, for creativity has no bounds.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have three new projects that I have recently finished, all in different genres written from an urban perspective, delivering a unique message within each of them. I believe it’s invaluable to be able to deliver a relevant message through artful composure while still entertaining people. My ultimate goal is to bring my works to life on the big screen so that I may furnish people with entertainment on a broader platform.

Advertisements

About the Author 

What’s up everybody! I am Steve Malik Swayne. I was born in Ogden, Utah and raised in Salt Lake City / Las Vegas, NV. I became fascinated with words in elementary school where I began writing short stories and poems which eventually led to me writing music. After years of pursing a music career, I began running the streets, headed down the wrong path eventually leading to my incarceration. While incarcerated, (a father of three) I decided I wouldn’t become a statistic. I enrolled in college classes where I obtained two associate degrees, one in Liberal Arts and the other in General Business Administration. Still passionate about writing, I began writing fictional novels, calling home to my wife, where she would record my writings, then take the hours of recordings and type them into her laptop. From there, we pursued publication and now those publications are being introduced to the world.

Social Media:

Instagram @stevemalikswayne_theauthor

Facebook @SteveMalikeSwayne

Twitter @Malik_theAuthor

Website traitorthenovel.com

Available on Amazon & Barnes&Noble

Interview with Author Park and Barbara Lien-Cooper

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Barb’s answer: I’m Barb Lien-Cooper.  My writing partner is my husband, Park Cooper, an English professor. 

As for how I got into writing: as a child I was always daydreaming, writing stories in my head.  Later, for a while, I was a singer-songwriter in Minneapolis, but just as I was starting to get somewhere, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so that dream died a sad, lonely little death.  Then I got into comics and graphic novels.  There was one comic I loved more than any other, named Hellblazer.  I read that series and said “I want to write that character so badly…”  There I was, just some punk gal, thinking I would be allowed to write a major character like John Constantine!  In retrospect, what was I thinking?  But, that desire led me into writing for a women-in-comics site that I co-founded that they named Sequential Tart.  

I had nibbles here and there concerning writing comics, but not a lot panned out.  After a while, I said “I don’t really want to write someone else’s characters, I want to write my own characters,” so I wrote a webcomic called Gun Street Girl with artist Ryan Howe.  I also did a graphic novel called Half Dead with my husband and artist, Jimmy Bott.  I did a one-year stint as the managing editor of the award-winning magazine Comic Book Artist (one of the awards was for the time I was working there), and then I got a job in manga as a manga adapter for Tokyopop and Viz.  After the manga boom went bust, I started writing prose, which eventually led to writing novels. 

Park’s answer: I wrote a thing in 9th grade about how I’d like to be a writer– a science-fiction writer, specifically, as I recall. I wrote things now and then, just a little, in high school and especially college, small things, just because it was something I felt I had to do now and then, but I didn’t really take it seriously as something I should do until I met Barb. Even then, I started just editing her stuff– if she needed a monster described, or a fight scene, I’d write that for the artist… and I slowly started doing more and more until finally, by the time she was writing prose stories, I was basically co-writing stuff with her, and then I started writing some projects myself, too, like my cyberpunk comic Swipe and some prose novels.

Advertisements

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

Barb’s answer: Well, I have loved world mythology since I was around eight years old.  I also developed an interest in comparative religions around that time.  I was a weird kid, let me tell you.  A little later, I developed an interest in supernatural literature, which led to a love for the horror genre, particularly quiet horror, and folk horror.  I have a great fondness for horror films, especially foreign horror such as Asian horror films like R-Point and A Tale of Two Sisters, horror from Mexico such as Carlos Enrique Taboada’s films, and Giallo films such as Deep Red, Lisa and the Devil, and The Psychic.  From those films, I realized that horror and urban fantasy could be the most imaginative genres because anything could happen in them.

When my webcomic Gun Street Girl couldn’t find a publisher, it distressed me quite a bit. I was told that it was “excellent” but publishers just “couldn’t take a risk” (possibly because the lead character was a lesbian??). So, when Ryan and I started pursuing separate career paths, I had a ton of excellent GSG stories just sitting there.  Since I couldn’t in good conscience ask my artist to continue on with the series, I thought that maybe some of the plots might work better as prose. I mulled over the stories a lot, then said: “Hey, what if I had a supernatural investigator go to a psychiatrist about his problems, and have his therapy sessions be his caseload and his past cases?”

From there, I had to really think about my world-building, who my characters would be, etc.  After I got into the groove, I realized that I had a lot more story ideas than just my old GSG scripts, so I kept writing until I had a series of books.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Barb’s answer: I am not a writer with any kind of agenda except entertaining my readership.  Having said that, I guess there are two themes in my book that I hope readers will pick up on:

1/  World mythology is wonderful.  It’s always entertained me.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

2/  Writers don’t have to use the same genre tropes over and over again.  We can make new tropes.  We can subvert the cliches of the genre.  We live in a postmodern age.  We can do anything now, as long as we use our imaginations to entertain our readership.

Park’s answer: Since The Talking Cure is a novel of magic and psychiatry, I will add, actually, that there is a message that I hope readers take away from reading it, which is that mental illness isn’t anything to be ashamed of– that sometimes people have emotional problems or other kinds of problems, and that it’s good to talk to professionals about it and seek help from other people. Sometimes these problems have a medical basis involving brain chemistry, and sometimes they don’t, but it doesn’t matter– there’s an old stigma about reaching out for help, and since the world is creating more and more situations to give us emotional problems, it’s past time to get rid of the stigma.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Barb’s answer: Well, as I said, I’ve loved horror and dark/urban fantasy all of my life.  But as for being attracted to writing in these genres, it comes down to the freedom I find in writing supernatural literature.  Unlike in other genres like mystery and science fiction, I am not bound by sciences like physics or forensics.  I make the rules of my world building. I always say that if a writer writes characters that the readers care about, in fantasy, you can take the characters anywhere and have them do anything, and the audience will be there with the characters…as long as they act in character. A lot of viewers hated the end of Game of Thrones because a certain character had to act out of character to move the plot forward, for instance. I always say that if a character has to act out of character to advance a plot, change the plot, not the character. 

Park’s answer: I started reading at a ridiculously young age, and found it more engaging than the real world, so I guess it’s just what I grew up with, in books, comic books, and television and movies– when I was a kid someone gave me a video tape with three movies on it: Tron, Time Bandits, and Disney’s original Alice in Wonderland. This was before there was a Blockbuster in our town, so I watched those over and over… and then when you could rent movies, I went for more sci-fi and fantasy…

Advertisements

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Barb’s answer: Fitzgerald once said that he wrote because he wanted to know what he felt about this subject or that. Well, I write to find out what my characters think, feel, and do. My stories are me sitting down with my characters and asking them questions, really. Oh, I’d love to sit down with my supernatural investigator, Zach Cutter, and just let him talk about his caseload. But I can’t do that– another story would pop up instead, and then I’d have to write it.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Barb’s answer: We’ll see once the work gets out there.  Promoting our work is a whole new world for me.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Barb’s answer: John Cage said, “Begin Anywhere.” To me, that means, don’t wait until you have the time to write a thousand words a day, every day.  It means, write when you can and however you can, then build from there.

I will tell those just starting out: please don’t despair if your first story isn’t very good. Writing is a skill. It takes time to learn. That first story of yours is no indication of who you may become as a writer. The truth is that most writers’ early stories are mediocre at best. You’ll get better at it if you keep going.

Park’s answer: Barb has thought about this question far more over the years than have I, so I feel there’s nothing I can add as far as “just starting” authors. But for “aspiring” authors– people who want to start writing, but know they’re not there yet– my advice is to practice writing by writing down what happens to you every day. Specifically, don’t just write down what happened to you every day, or it’ll get like “ate, worked, ate, slept, ate, worked, ate, watched TV, slept.” Instead, write down how you FEEL about what happened that day, and why. Use complete sentences and paragraphs. That’ll start getting you practice that you need.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Barb’s answer: I don’t know what the future holds for me personally, but there are other volumes in the Cutter and Mann series that will come out in the months and years to come. I also have some comic book projects that I hope come to life in terms of publishing. Finally, I have a paranormal novel called Song to the Siren that we plan to get out there before the end of the year.

Advertisements

About the Authors

Barb is originally from Minnesota. She was a radio DJ for a while in college, and then she grew up to become a guitarist/singer-songwriter and got an album put out on the Imp label. However, she also had health issues: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia and extreme environmental sensitivities and allergies. (She also has Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to issues involving her family of origin.)

For a while, brain fog from the CFS and the fibro made it harder for her to read long and involved works of fiction… So (since she’d always loved them in her childhood) she got into reading comics and graphic novels, particularly the comparatively avant-garde work coming out at that time from DC Comics.

Now we pop over to Park, in central Texas. Like Barb, Park also read comics (and a LOT of books) in his youth as well (a lot more sci-fi and fantasy books than Barb, and a lot more Marvel comics than Barb). Then he started college and said “I need an extra hobby or something. Maybe I’ll get back into comics again.” He started doing so, including reading the comparatively avant-garde work coming out at that time from DC Comics…

Then someone in the letter columns of the comic Sandman announced that they were doing a fanzine for readers of that comic. Barb and Park both wrote in.

Barb and Park became aware of one another… Park liked the writing Barb submitted to the fanzine, and he wrote to Barb, and they began writing to each other. Then they started talking on the phone… they fell in love… they started visiting one another…

Reader, they got married (to each other).

Barb wrote for the award-winning website Sequential Tart, made by women about comics and other popular culture things, and Barb wrote a lot of reviews and articles (especially articles)

Park and Barb had a column online for a now-defunct website entitled The Park and Barb show (about the same sorts of things) for 12 years…

A little after they started those things, Barb started writing her comic Gun Street Girl…

A little after that, they started adapting and editing manga for major American publishers importing manga (and sometimes their South Korean and Chinese counterparts) from the far side of the Pacific. Honestly, there were too many to keep track of… lots and lots of titles. Near the end of this, Barb and Park wrote the manga pitch The Hidden for TokyoPop, perfectly timed to appear the week that that company fell apart.

Then Barb and Park wrote the sci-fi vampire graphic novel Half Dead.

Somewhere around this time, Park successfully completed his Ph.D. in literature, and then Barb and Park wrote the vampire prose novel Something More Than Blood.

Eventually Park started writing his cyberpunk comic Swipe for Angry Viking Press.

(You can read more about all of the above projects elsewhere on this website!)

There were also other various short stories (and a novel, in one case) and non-manga-related editing jobs, too many to bother counting here…

These days, Barb and Park live happily together in Austin, Texas.

https://parkgsg.wixsite.com/wickermanstudios/home

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057705847859

Interview with Author Dana Hammer

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m not sure how I got into writing. I’ve always written. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.

Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Drugs, haha. Basically, I wanted to write a satire about the way we treat addicts in our society. On the one hand, we treat them as criminals for something that pretty much everyone agrees is a disease, and that’s messed up.  On the other hand, addicts often do horrible things because of their addictions, and we can’t ignore that, and act like it’s not a problem. To my way of thinking, the solution to addiction isn’t to punish addicts. The solution is to come up with a cure for addiction. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t do that. But I can write a book about it. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

This book has a lot of themes in it, and I’m reluctant to tell people what to take away from it. I just hope that something resonates with them. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I love horror comedy and dystopian fiction. Both genres are always asking the question “what if?” And I think that’s the basis of all really good storytelling.

Advertisements

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d like to hang out with Esteban Zappa, of course! I want him to take me out to a fancy restaurant and introduce me to exotic dishes and I’d ask him to tell me stories about his globetrotting adventures.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

The only social media site I really use is Facebook. I technically have an Instagram account, but I hate taking pictures, so it’s not really for me. Twitter seems like it’s just people being really mean, really fast. Maybe I’ll try TikTok someday. I don’t know.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Marry someone who will support you financially so you have the time and space to write. Alternately, be independently wealthy. I’m mostly kidding, but not entirely.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Yesterday I finished a new draft of my first middle-grade novel, My Best Friend Athena. It’s about an eleven-year-old girl whose best friend is the reincarnation of the Greek goddess, Athena. When Athena accidentally turns the school bully into a cockroach, the girls have to work together to find him and turn him back into a boy. 

We will see if I can get it published. 

Advertisements

About the Author

Dana Hammer is a novelist, short story writer, playwright, and screenwriter living in Anaheim, California.

https://www.danahammer.com/

https://a.co/3x08ftf

Interview with Author Karen Moe

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I am a feminist activist, visual artist, performance artist, art critic, essayist, and author. Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is my debut book. Since I started writing again in 2014, it is as though all of the writing I have done has been in preparation for the writing of this book. 

Like a lot of writers, I started writing as a child. However, I haven’t been writing and honing my skills consistently since then except for in school with creative compositions and essays. In my early adulthood, except for some journaling, I wrote essays at university and became particularly skilled at the formal aspect of essay writing. It was as though, like a painter who begins with figurative drawing, I was learning the rules of essay structure and grammar so that I could break them—which is exactly what I have done and, as I write and think about it now, this breaking of rules has happened in tandem with my development as a revolutionary. My writing now, as with all of my art, is about revolution: being a contributing voice to an ideological revolution—which is the only way we are going to have lasting change in the West (which, tragically, because of globalization, pretty much means the world). I often joke that I write the same thing, over and over again, in different contexts. After all, that’s what the other side has done for millennia! Repeat and convince. Repeat and maintain. We have a lot of repeating to do until everyone hears and believes us, the same way the majority of society believes the dogma they are fed daily that is lived as unbroachable reality. 

I started writing again for real in 2014. One evening, I was at a Graham Gilmore exhibition at a big gallery in Vancouver Canada. At that time, I was immersed in my visual art and, like most (or all) visual artists who have yet to get the coveted representation from a commercial gallery, I had an ulterior motive to go to Graham’s (amazing) exhibition: I wanted to talk with the gallery director and give him my card so that (just maybe) he would be interested enough to check out my work and (please god-of-the-almost-impossible, succeed as an artist in my lifetime) represent me. 

I wandered around the gallery innocently checking out Graham’s paintings; I came up with a clever question about gender; I spied the gallery director; I told him I have a question about one of the paintings; we walked over to it together; I asked him my clever question holding my card strategically in the hand where he couldn’t see it yet.

“Oh!” he exclaimed. “Graham will love that question! I must introduce you to him.” My desperate undiscovered artist’s heart fell. I was escorted over to the famous artist wreathed with his admirers. The gallery director ushered me through the eager mass, all vying for Graham’s attention. Yes, Graham loved my question. He asked for my card. I reluctantly gave him the one I had poised opportunistically in my hand for the gallery director. We chatted a bit. Other admirers jabbed the circle for his attention. I went home, elated by experiencing his exquisitely wrought and culturally important paintings, but with a heavy heart about yet another failed attempt of even getting the slightest interest in my own work.

The next day I received an email from Graham. 

“I want you to write a comprehensive article on my oeuvre. Do you want money? Art? Both?”

“But I’m not an art critic. I’m a visual artist like you.”

“I don’t care,” he responded as the delightful eccentric he is. “I want something different.”

So, I did. I wrote my first piece of art criticism. It’s called: “Excavations: A Feminist Resistance Artist Dialogues with Graham Gilmores Love Sic.” The article was published in Border Crossings, the most important art magazine in Canada. I was even paid over $1000. 

“Oh, I guess I can still write,” I said to myself. Since then, I have written many articles of art criticism and revolution. You can find the links to some of them on my website under essays.

Advertisements

What inspired you to tell your story? What message do you hope readers will take away from your book? What is one message or piece of advice you’d give to anyone who is struggling with experiences similar to or like the ones you share in your book?

As stated above (here is an opportunity for strategic repetition): contributing to the revolution of a culture built with exploitation inspired me to tell my story as it does everything I create. However, the narrative thread of Victim was also inspired by (or one could say based on) the real-life experiences of sexual violence that I have personally been victimized by and survived. It was also inspired by the revolutionary knowledge—embodied knowledge—that I gained by having been victimized by and survived that violence. This can be seen as ironic because typically one thinks of living through sexual violence as a negative, traumatizing, experience. And, of course, it is. And yet, as I write in Victim:

“One of the main effects of my personal victimization has been an acute awareness of injustice, especially regarding sexual assault. Whenever I watch or see or read or hear about rape, prostitution, or pornography, I feel like I am being raped all over again. But, the interesting thing is, it’s not personal anymore; it’s not just about me. And, it may sound strange: it’s not all bad. It is as though, through an experience that is perceived as—and is—horrifying, there is more to it than that. Instead of being weak, passive, and defeated, my experience as a victim kicked me in the ass. It made me start doing something about it.

Don’t get me wrong: I certainly wouldn’t wish my particular form of initiation into the realm of righteous anger on anyone else, but this is good anger, healthy anger, an anger that motivates. I mean, shouldn’t we all be angry about the sexual exploitation of women and children? Shouldn’t we all be angry when more than half of the people on earth are under siege?” (Victim 144-145)

One of the main messages of the book—and the reason that I chose the controversial term ‘victim’ for the title—is because I turn the concept and reality of ‘victimhood’ on its head. When a person lives through extreme violence, you change. It affects you. There is no going back. Victimization has long-term effects because the system that victimizes has not gone away. As Andrea Dworkin said: “Victim is a true word. If you were raped, you were victimized. You damn well were. You were a victim … And if it happens to you systematically because you were born a woman, it means that you live in a political system that uses pain and humiliation to control and hurt you.” I write in the book: “It’s from then on always after.” And, in response to Dworkin’s connection of victimization and the system that does it, this awareness and acknowledgment of the victim being an inescapable result of rape means that the acknowledgment is the source of transforming the system that creates a victim—and the victim not only knows this, they feel it.

Like many other victims, since I became fully conscious of the violence I have experienced and the aftermath of PTSD I still negotiate daily, the politically correct term ‘survivor’ has always felt like it doesn’t tell the full story. Yes, of course, I survived. And, yes, time passes. But what happens during that time, the life passing in what our culture construes as an ever-forward moving trajectory, shouldn’t promote the shedding of experiences, an eradication of life. There is no moving on from a life-altering experience, getting over what will always be a part of our lives. For me, this is not healthy, nor is it realistic. As I say in Victim: “I need to learn to honor my scars. So that they won’t happen again.” Scars are a source of wisdom and empowerment and not inflictions of debilitation and defeat. 

Acknowledging and deriving power from our victimhood also debunks the patriarchal ideology of linearity, constantly moving forward, not looking back (which is the ideological infrastructure of neo-liberalism where no acknowledgment or responsibility is given to what has been plundered through in order to fill the bottomless glut of individualism and greed, that which exploits in order to exist and that which rapes not only women and children, but everything). Linear thinking negates any possibility of sensitivity and awareness; we rush past without noticing what came before, what exists on the margins of our individualist prerogatives to get ahead. Victim was intentionally written as a non-linear narrative not only to overwhelm constrictions, but also for me as the writer to experience the writing process as it happened, as it was remembered. Each part, each memory, each process of remembering, each connection of remembering through the act of writing—what phrase, what word, what rhythm arose—bred the next part of the manuscript. However, remembering is not only a backward trajectory, the inversion of the forward: what memories, what parts of our lived lives have been pushed aside and return with their connection to another memory residing in a word that can re-surface what has been buried. And then we are greeted by the narrative of how we have forgotten this, what caused us to push this aside? And the remembering, the excavating, through writing, continues as a cycle, never a line.

For me, this process of remembering (and being) is how writing happens; it is how being simultaneously conscious and unconscious with all of the obfuscations and clarities in between. You have a topic, what you are going to write about, and maybe you even have a general idea of where you’re are going; however, for me, there is the necessary alchemy of the first sentence that arrives as a miracle from my subconscious and is filtered through a love affair with language. From that first sentence, the work is born and, as I write, I come upon experiences, ideas, and observations that I had no idea were even there, even though they were. Writing, when one opens oneself to it, surprises, teaches and gives the writer a more acute relationship with reality. As the now tall grasses, with their tips of reaching seeds, draw tender cycles, in the ever-moving air.

Men cannot be left out of the discussion of sexual violence, both as perpetrators and as victims. Men cannot be left out of feminism as a movement that is fighting for justice for all and for a culture without violence. In Victim, I write about my very difficult but, in the end, very beautiful, relationship with my father. As women, our relationships with our first sexed and gendered male are absolutely formative in how we negotiate a system of male supremacy and the female oppression that guarantees. While writing Victim and telling all (even to the extent of my own self-condemnation, my own imperfections, my own humanness), I was very interested in the genesis of the victim. However, I was also very interested in (and still am) how a perpetrator is constructed in a violent culture and how men are also victims. Breaking the cycle of abuse is critical. In patriarchy, male victims are conditioned to harden as opposed to opening to the fact that we are all vulnerable and that victimization affects us. In patriarchy, men are not permitted vulnerability. It is an acknowledgment of and living lives as vulnerable creatures that make active empathy possible. Conditioned to be strong and emotionless, those socialized as men have a much more difficult time with this. As Robert Jensen says in his book The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men: “I was socialized in patriarchy into a toxic masculinity that not only subordinates women but also crippled my own capacity to be fully human.” This inability to feel fully inevitably contributes to the creation of the perpetrator—and, most often, his victims. 

It is very significant and special to me that Victim has had wonderful responses from men, including, of course, you Anthony. One male reader said: “This is the most honest book I have ever read (and I have read a lot of books).” Another, as Daniel Gawthrop writes in his article for The British Columbia Review: “Victim is a rich and soulful testament to the power of human resilience that redefines the meaning of victimhood itself.” And your final verdict, Anthony: “While the subject matter of her own life was tragic, her strength and ability to turn her trauma into empowerment gives hope to many for the future and helps shape the blueprints to help build a better society that values compassion, equality, and justice.” Thank you!

I have known for decades that the story of the abduction, how the serial rapist tricked me, what happened psychologically while he had me, and how I got away and ended up being instrumental to his life sentence is a darn interesting story. However, as an artist, I am able to detach from my own personal life and to exist beyond myself in order to create. I have often joked: even my own trauma is interesting and, in a section of the book where I am delving into what happened to me psychologically in order to survive and ultimately over-power the serial rapist, I wrote: “the time has come to perform an autopsy on my twenty-eight-year-old psyche.”(Victim: 39). That said, because the story—however personally terrifying—is so interesting, I’ve often thought that the narrative of the story would make an amazing screenplay. Others have said this now too after reading it, so maybe it will be one someday.

However, beyond my personal narrative, Daniel Gawthrop observes how: “Now fifty-five, Moe says she was emotionally incapable of writing this memoir until now. And that’s a good thing, for Victim is a much better and wiser book than it would have been had she published it within a short time of her terrifying abduction.” It was through the years of activism, research, and scholarship between the writing of the book and the experiences of sexual violence that not only serve to extend the book far beyond the memoirist and into the system that raped her, but also by building a manifesto and a call to arms for both women and men. 

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I was born in 1966, as you will learn when you read the opening pages of my book. As such, I frequently joke that I am half-luddite. I do my best with social media. I have Facebook and Instagram. I can’t stomach the argumentative nature of Twitter, although I know “I should.” I am working towards starting up TikTok. Because I published with a very small Indie Press (Vigilance Press who are great but don’t have the capacity to book the ambitious tours I have been undertaking), I have to do virtually everything myself. That includes organizing and booking these tours. I just completed my US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2022. I am currently organizing my Cross Canada one for September. I hope once it’s set up, I can begin TikTok. As you may have noticed, I have a lot to say. I have started the account —and now I have to figure out how to do it! This is a lengthy process for we Gen Xers and we have to psychologically prepare ourselves for researching YouTube how-tos and make the process as stress-free as possible. My name is “Logical Feminist.” Stay tuned! It will happen! And now it has to because I told you it will. Eeek. 

About the part of the question as to which site has been the most helpful. Maybe Facebook because I have more friends on Facebook (and I know that to a lot of people of younger generations, FB is so passé). Although, more people on Instagram (percentage-wise) seem to be interested in my more revolutionary posts and there have been some feminists within the K’s amount of followers who are noticing me and my revolutionary posts. They haven’t followed me yet. But I seem to be on their radar (if that means anything!). I have DMed them. But, as of yet, no response. We’ll see! If anyone has any social media tips let me know and feel free to follow me and the press. Vigilance Press is an imprint of Vigilance Magazine:

@karenmoeart

@vigilancemagazine

However, for me, I just want to write my next book. And I have started, even though I haven’t finished touring my first. I have heard that the best way to sell your first book is to write you next one asap. That’s not a problem for me as I have two next ones eager to be born. Ideally, social media will take care of itself (I know! A Gen-X-get-someone-to -just-do-this-for-me-already thing to say 😉 Virginie Despentes has someone doing her social media. And she does what she is supposed to do: write. Alone. No one bothers her. Her mind is clear to create. She has space in all senses of the word to say something, to make something, important. #damrightmetoo. 

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Start. And, with writing, always be on the lookout for the opening sentence. The first sentence is the magic. I say to my students, when you have your first sentence, it is in many ways as though the piece of writing is written. The first sentence of Victim that I wrote in November 2016 is “I have lost the mustard yellow suede jacket from that time.” From that sentence, the book poured out of me. 

Also, with writing as with all art, there is no going halfway. Art is a vocation, not a dabble. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people and politically correct artist-run centres say that anyone can be an artist and spend thousands of dollars of culture grants attempting to prove what isn’t true. And, not only is it not true, it’s an insult to all of us who have committed our lives to honing our skills through, most often, personal sacrifice. Everything I do is bent upon creating because, if I don’t, I don’t feel well. Not everyone has to create in order to not feel bad. And, I know that not everyone could live the life on the edge that I, and the majority of other artists, writers, and composers now and throughout history, have lived. You either want to create or you don’t. Wanting to write a book is not based on “Oh, I would love to write a book someday.” For one: there is no someday. And: there is no want. It has to be an all-encompassing need. An obsession to say something. (As an aside, I would like to add that not everyone can be an artist, but everyone can be a revolutionary and contribute to the movement in some way. For example, I could never be a lawyer and we need revolutionary lawyers to give justice to so many rape victims who are never given any and retraumatized by being brave enough to report being raped, not to mention save other women by getting another rapist out of circulation).

However, even though it’s very difficult and discipline is required, for me anyway, the writing is the fun part. It is the getting the agent, the getting the publisher, the literal making of the book that is the hard part. When I first started submitting my book in 2019, I googled how to go about doing just that and the first website I came upon said: “Oh, so you think writing your book was hard!” That statement pretty much sums up what comes next after you’ve triumphantly finished writing your book. Especially your first one. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have had my next book planned for the last couple of years. It came out of the research that I did for Victim. During the time that I was held captive by the serial rapist, he confided: “There’s nothing like a good whore.” Because of that statement, I had to research and write a section on the sex industry. Part of that research ended up being about child sex slavery. Lydia Cacho’s Slavery Inc: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking and Julie Bindel’s The Pimping of Prostitution: Ending the Sex Work Myth were both invaluable resources for not only my first book but for planning my next which will be called Inconceivable Reality. For me, there is no greater proof that the culture we live in is wrong and needs to be revolutionized than the fact that child sex slavery even exists. Of course, all sex slavery is despicable and all human trafficking unforgivable, but child sex slavery takes the proverbial cake in despicability. The fact that typically so-called first-world men will go to the third (and the third world as a geographical and economic site of exploitation also exists in the first) and pay to violate and destroy a child’s life is inconceivable to me and it has to be exposed because child sex slavery, violating a tiny and innocent body and being, has to no longer be true. 

However, recently, another book has appeared on my horizon. It is a book I conceived of last fall during my participation as a forest defender at the Fairy Creek Blockades in British Columbia, Canada. The Fairy Creek Blockades are the largest act of civil disobedience in Canada. Some of the last remaining temperate rainforests is being clear-cut. Of course, it’s the same old story of soullessness and greed—the reason why I write revolution in different contexts, is to resist the non-stop repetition of ‘progress’ and ‘individual gain’ along with throwing up our hands and saying there is nothing we can do about it. Yes, we can. We in the first world still have a semblance of human rights. At the very least, we can tell the world that we don’t agree, that this is wrong, and that what we are asking for, preserving the tiny portion of what is left of pristine ecosystems, is absolutely logical. Unlike countries like Honduras and in the Amazon where land defenders are assassinated, in Canada, the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand we can still protest and we can still win. The forest defenders at Fairy Creek were and are miraculous people and show the good that can be activated in all of us. You can access the articles through my website that I wrote last summer which strive to tell the whole story—as opposed to what is not told by the mainstream media and these gaps, what is left out, become lies in themselves.

The politics of colonialism in Canada, as in every other colonized and colonizing nation, is very complicated. Because the logging of the Fairy Creek Watershed is also an Indigenous land claim issue, the politics are far from limited to capitalism and its acceleration into neo-liberalism: they are firmly entrenched in the ongoing colonial state of Canada. Elder Bill Jones is an ancestral elder of the Pacheedaht Nation. He is the First Nations ancestral elder who invited the settler (non-indigenous peoples) forest defenders to Fairy Creek to help him and the rest of the ancestral Pacheedaht save the old-growth forest and its ecosystem. I will be writing a book (yes, another manifesto) that will center on the life story of Elder Bill Jones, now in his 80s. The book will be called Re-Indigenize: The Revolution of Pacheedaht Elder Bill Jones. 

I am, technically, in terms of labeling, a ‘radical’ feminist; however, during the writing of Victim I thought: “Why is logic radical?” So-called radical feminists look at feminism as eradicating patriarchal hierarchy, as a political movement to change the sexed and gendered distribution of power, eradicate hierarchy and the ideology of taking, and undermine the infrastructure of a masculine system that guarantees exploitation. Hierarchy, violence, and exploitation affect everything: women, gender, race, the environment, animals and yes, of course, men. Everything is connected. 

Advertisements

About the Author

Karen Moe is an art critic, visual and performance artist, author and feminist activist. Her work focuses on systemic violence in patriarchy: be it gender, race, the environment or speciesism. Her art criticism has been published internationally in magazines, anthologies and artist catalogues in English and Spanish and she has exhibited and performed across Canada, in the US and in Mexico. Karen is the recipient of the “Ellie Liston Hero of the Year Award” 2022 for being instrumental in putting the serial rapist, who raped and brutalized herself and countless other women, away for life in 1996. She lives in Mexico City and British Columbia, Canada. Published by Vigilance Press on April 2nd, 2022, Victim: A Feminist Manifesto from a Fierce Survivor is her debut book.

Karen has just returned from her US Trauma & Triumph Tour for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, will be having a variety of events throughout the summer, and will be embarking upon her Cross-Canada Tour in September 2022.

https://www.vigilancemagazine.com/vigilance-press

Interview with Author Terry Tierney 

1)      Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My writing journey began soon after my early love of reading blossomed. When I was eleven I began writing a sci-fi novel about traveling to Mars, but I didn’t get past the first page where my character spies the planet through his spaceship’s porthole. Always a dreamer. Throughout school and college I wrote for campus newspapers and envisioned a career in journalism, beginning as a sportswriter and eventually launching into poetry and fiction. But my sparce finances and the draft intervened. I fell into many other jobs along the way, particularly in tech, but I tried to maintain my literary trajectory.

Advertisements

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

While I was working full time and going to school, I only had enough brain share for poetry and short fiction. But during those smoky evenings when I sat around the stereo trading stories with my friends, they seemed to enjoy my hitchhiking experiences. At some point I had a Kerouac moment and decided to record my oral history and forge it into a novel.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

In many ways, the Vietnam Era portrayed in Lucky Ride mirrors our current emotional and political landscape, especially how people feel alienated from the establishment and from one another. Returning home from the military, Flash the narrator feels like an outsider who must build a new life. In his case, an unraveling marriage creates further complications, but he retains a sense of humor and hope based on his closest friendships. If we asked him, his message would be to find a relationship you trust and build from there.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I wanted to write a story readers would enjoy, and I was drawn to the structure of a road novel because of its continuous adventure and opportunity for humor. Each ride presents its own challenges, but Flash also draws ever closer to reconciling his marriage and his military experience with his desires for the future. His trip begins with a goal of escape and evolves into much more.

Advertisements

5)      If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

In the novel we see the character of Flash’s wife Ronnie though his eyes in his role as first person narrator, although he gathers some perspective from other characters. Because of the pain of her apparent betrayal, Flash is not really an objective observer. It would be interesting to hear more of her side of the story.

6)      What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I have learned a lot from studying authors I admire and how they use social media, and I have read several excellent books and attended many courses and workshops. The authority I return to most often is Jane Friedman, who has advice on everything from building a website to preparing a manuscript and querying an agent: https://www.janefriedman.com/

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Enjoy the process of writing. The thrill of composing a new poem or story and bringing it into the world is all the reason you need to write. This includes successive editing passes to perfect your words once you have an initial draft. Don’t measure yourself by your number of publications, book sales, or other external factors you can’t control because you’re sure to be disappointed. Just bask in the creative experience.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

With Lucky Ride and my poetry collection, The Poet’s Garage, I feel like I’m living a dream, and I never want the moment to end. My second novel, The Bridge on Beer River, will be published by Unsolicited Press in July 2023, and they will publish my second poetry collection in 2024. In addition to writing new poems and stories, I’m editing the rough draft of another novel.  

Advertisements

About the Author

Terry was born in South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis and Cleveland. After serving in the Seabees, he received a BA and MA in English from Binghamton University and a PhD in Victorian Literature from Emory University. He taught college composition and creative writing, and he later survived several Silicon Valley startups as a software engineering manager. His stories and poems have appeared in over forty literary magazines, and his novel Lucky Ride, an irreverent Vietnam era road novel, will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, a Librarian from the University of California, their son, and their goofy Golden Retriever. Terry’s website is http://terrytierney.com.

Purchase Links

https://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p285/luckyride.html

https://bookshop.org/books/lucky-ride-9781950730933

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-ride-terry-tierney/1139820900

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1122846

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/poetsgarage/

Interview with Author V.S. Nelson 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

For some reason, when I was 18, I got it into my head that I wanted to write a book. Being a child who was very focused on maths and science growing up, I wasn’t particularly good at writing. This meant I had to learn how to write while I was an adult. The process was a little shocking, actually. I couldn’t believe the things I didn’t know! Surely I went to school?

What inspired you to write your book?

Death, sadly. I cover this a lot at the end of the book. But after a good friend of mine died at 24, I felt lost. I have been an atheist since I was ten and was happy with the prospect of there being no afterlife. But when my friend died, I was faced with the reality that everything she was was no longer in the universe. That was hard. In a way, I wrote this book to rage against the unfairness of reality. The Archivist is my creation that will keep loved ones tethered to me. It’s a fantasy I can escape into. I hope others escape there too.

Advertisements

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope they enjoy the story more than anything. I don’t like books that preach. However, I think it would be difficult for this book not to light some kind of spark inside the reader. What I hope I’ve portrayed is a flawed system, as opposed to something we can all agree is amazing like having superpowers. On the surface, archivists seem like a wonderful idea that we should want to have in our world, but scratch the surface and you learn they only bring suffering.

I suppose then, if I want the reader to take away anything from the story, it is that death is real and one day they will have to face it. First, the people they love, then their own death. They can believe whatever story they need to calm their feelings, but that doesn’t shield them from the truth. Enjoy your life, enjoy the lives of others. We’ve all only got the one. Don’t waste it.

What drew you into this particular genre?

What genre is this? I called it dark fantasy, buy I’m not sure that’s accurate. Death fantasy, perhaps? Either way, I don’t think I was drawn to the genre, I think the book led me there. I wrote the story I wanted to write then when I took a step back, I understood that it was the genre it became. I never set out to write a specific genre, just a story I wanted told.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I’d ask Sun-young what would make her happy. Sun has been in my head for a long time and so she feels like a part of me. I want her to be happy. Perhaps if I write a sequel, I could give her that happiness.

Advertisements

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Goodreads has been the best, though you do have to prepare yourself for some brutal reviews. I may not have received any of those myself, but I’m still prepared. I check for them around every corner, waiting to jump out at me and criticize my hard work!

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Work at your own pace and write your own story. Writing won’t make you rich. Make sure you have a job, or better yet, a career, and write for your own enjoyment. If you are self publishing, put your money where your mouth is. Don’t toss out some nonsense on KDP without going through several rounds of professional editing. Edit your story, pay for a professional cover and be exacting with what you want. When you get a great review, let that warm feeling of satisfaction run through you for day. When you get a bad review, tell yourself that no story is loved by everyone, buy yourself some chocolate and get on with your life.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have another book in second draft that I hope to get out in two to three years. This one is middle grade science fiction about a girl who sells time and lives with a robot at the base of a space elevator. I’m really excited by it. Totally different to The Archivist, but then I like books to be different and for authors to explore the wider universe of stories.

Advertisements

About the Author

V S Nelson writes unconventional middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction and supernatural stories for readers who enjoy something a little strange.

Their first story was The Keeper of Portals, a middle grade fantasy/sci-fi with plenty of portal jumping and time slipping. Their second story, The Archivist, is a young adult dark fantasy all about death and what happens after.

V S Nelson loves big ideas, fantastical concepts and stories that unsettle the reader and set them thinking about something new.

V S Nelson lives in Winchester with their other half, two children and three cats. When not writing, they’re either working as a theoretical physicist or building Lego.

https://vsnelson.com/

Interview with Author Jeff Parsons

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

One day, in Toastmasters, we were dared to follow our dreams. I’d always wanted to become a writer. So… I gave it a try. It was difficult, but I wrote up a story and submitted it to an online horror magazine. My story didn’t get accepted, but the editor provided me with some very direct and useful feedback. Encouraged, I kept working on my writing skills. After about a half-dozen story attempts and submittals, I was finally rewarded with an acceptance letter. I did it. I was an author! It took a while for this accomplishment to sink in, but when it did, I realized I could do this. I could keep this going. Ever since then, I’ve been trying new methods to improve my wordsmithing. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but the overall trend has been onward and upward, which makes me deliriously happy.

Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I like a challenge! That’s why I took a liking to fiction writing. My book, The Captivating Flames of Madness, is a collection of short horror stories set in the past, present, and future. Some of the stories also qualify as alt-history or sci-fi. 

The inspiration for my stories? I write about the things that interest me. Staying interested is important in life, but also critical for writing. When I follow my interests, the words flow easily. And it’s fun. Essentially, I’m inspired to write about things that interest me. 

I’m lucky, I don’t have a problem finding ideas anymore. [Disclaimer: not all my ideas are good ideas.] I observe what’s going on around me and then think about what would happen if something changed. The ‘what if’ factor has been a game changer for me ever since the beginning. The challenge now is to find credible plots for my ideas.  😊 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

From my book jacket: “we’re all just one event, mishap, or decision away from things that could change our lives forever.” The big takeaway: don’t take life for granted. Anything can and will happen as my stories show. Regardless of what happens, don’t let yourself be afraid. Follow your dreams. Dare to win.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As a young child, I didn’t like feeling afraid, so I decided to do something about it. Face my fears. I’m certainly not fearless right now, but my fears don’t control me like they used to. Horror is the perfect venue for experiencing your fears and living through it, overcoming them while becoming braver in the process. 

I started out reading horror comics. I loved the stories and artwork. They showed me the mystery of the vast unknown world out there. It was eye opening. They also showed me how to interact with the world (at least when it got scary). That doesn’t mean I personally gravitate towards a horrific lifestyle. On the contrary, I’m a fairly cheerful and optimistic spiritual person, but I do love a good scary story. 

Advertisements

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

My WWII short story Lost Souls involves the fate of a German submarine sailor named Hans. At the story’s end, he’s killed by ghosts seeking vengeance. I’d like to talk to him about what happens after death. I’d ask him, from a spiritual perspective, if we’re forgiven for protecting those we love, our neighbors, our country. At what cost is that acceptable? And under what circumstances? 

Why would I ask? As an engineer, I’ve done my part to protect my country; so, I wonder…

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook has been there for me since the beginning of my writing adventure. I created an author’s webpage where I post my new story achievements as well as writer’s tips and humor. This webpage also acts as a go-to site when editors ask if I have a social presence for my work. Also, interacting with other Facebook people provides opportunities, useful networking for wordsmithing, ideas, and marketing.   

Also useful is reaching out to independent writer’s blogs, such as this most excellent blog. 

In the end, I hope we can help each other, become better people as a result, and learn something more about writing.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Do yourself a favor… don’t believe you’re not succeeding if you’re not chugging out reams of perfect prose every day! Research, brainstorming, thinking deeply about ideas, crafting a plot, wordsmithing the prose, and editing editing editing… all of this contributes to writing. Just work at it. That’s how you can become a better writer, day by day. Have fun! 

Don’t give up. One of my stories was rejected 11 times. And in one response, with extreme rudeness. When it finally got accepted at professional rates, I realized that the story was actually quite good, and that there was probably something else going on: the editor may not have been infatuated with the story the way I was, it’s similar to other stories they already had, or it’s a wrong fit for the theme they’re looking for. Really, in the absence of feedback, who knows? Or, to be brutally honest with myself (ouch), other reasons might be I didn’t do the bang-up job I thought I had on the story or I didn’t read the submittal specs close enough. My point, be persistent.   

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ll continue writing short stories for small press magazines. My pattern so far has been to collect these stories into books. 

I’m working on getting my first novel published. The story is about mankind’s first contact with aliens. I think that topic is fascinating; as always, write where the passion takes you. 😊

Advertisements

About the Author

I have over thirty years of scientific, technical, and fictional writing experience. In addition to my two short story books, The Captivating Flames of Madness and Algorithm of Nightmares, I’m published in The Horror Zine, The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories, The Horror Zine’s Book of Werewolf Stories, Aphelion Webzine, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 4, Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Chilling Ghost Short Stories, Dystopia Utopia Short Stories, Wax & Wane: A Coven of Witch Tales, Thinking Through Our Fingers, The Moving Finger Writes, Golden Prose & Poetry, Our Dance With Words, The Voices Within, Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group, Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018, SNM Horror Magazine, and Bonded by Blood IV/ V.

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Parsons/e/B00FIOQCY6%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/6860100.Jeff_Parsons

Interview with Author Chad Miller

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’m Chad Miller, I’m originally from Philly and I’m a pharmacist. I live in Delaware with my girlfriend, Natasha. I first got into writing after I started reading for pleasure. The first books I picked up were the Shining and Cat’s Cradle (they’re very different from each other). I was in college at the time, struggling with my classes, got kicked out of the dorms (long story), and my friend, DK, wrote a short story and it blew me away. It was so well crafted, so interesting and it stuck with me. Even though we were interested in different subject matters, this gave me the inspiration to start writing on my own. I sat down and wrote a story, which an adaptation was included in my current book, The Void, and I’ve never stopped writing. That was 25 years ago.

Advertisements

What inspired you to write your book?

This book, The Void is a culmination of some of my favorite short stories that I have written over the past 25 years. My full-length novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is coming out on October 1st and my publisher (Hear Our Voice) and I wanted to get my name out there pre-release. Before The Void, I’ve had several short stories published in print anthologies and online, but nothing on this scale. Writing is my passion and these 15 tales in The Void show my writing journey.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I want some of the themes, morals, and feelings to stick to the reader, much like DK’s story stuck with me so many years ago. I want to elicit emotion, whether it be fear, sadness, or laughter. Most of my writing is dark, but I try to show a human element in my characters, something the reader might be able to relate to, to empathize. I don’t want to give the reader nightmares, I want to cause them sleepless nights as my tales haunt their thoughts 🙂

What drew you into this particular genre?

There is so much potential in horror. Yes, there are the slasher, vampire, zombie, and werewolf books, and there is definitely a need for these, but I tend to go to the more cerebral. I’m not tied down or boxed in relying on historical accuracies or limited to the physical world. The palate is literally wide open. I feel horror taps into human emotion, much like comedy does. You have to set the groundwork and have a low build to reach that crescendo, the high water mark.

Advertisements

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

In my story Always There, I’d like to meet the ghost, Henry Keijman. First, I would love to learn about his journey in the afterlife, as I’m not a believer in ghosts, I think meeting one would blow my mind and I’d have a million questions. What did he see? Is there a concept of time? Also, he was a prisoner in the Holocaust. My Grandmother, Helen, was a Holocaust survivor so this subject matter runs deep with me. Recently I found an hour-long interview with my Grandmother with the Holocaust museum discussing in detail her experiences. I’d love to hear more of Henry’s story and hear how it related and differed from my Grandmother’s.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

So far, I’d say Facebook. There are so many writer forums and groups that are so helpful and supportive and helped me find several outlets. Now, I’m moving my focus to Goodreads as it is full of readers. I’m, currently learning how to build my base and use this platform to grow my audience. This is all a learning process. Recently, I got into the conversation about the thin line between advertising yourself verse Spamming, and where that line is. I’ve put out a few Facebook ads and most of the feedback was positive, but there are some trolls out there, which is an interesting experience.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

I’d say two things. Just write. Don’t listen to others, don’t listen to the doubt in your head, just get something down on the page. For me, writing isn’t painting a picture, it’s whittling. Sometimes it’s painful to start, and at first, it looks crude, but as the story gets honed, you can see the art come into view. Secondly, once you think you’re ready to publish, do your research. Whether you self-publish or go traditional (there is no wrong avenue) put in the work to how to be successful in this endeavor. Don’t just put it out there into the ocean and hope to be discovered, hope for a miracle. Odds are without putting in the legwork your work may get lost into the abyss, into the void (he-he, get it?).

What does the future hold in store for you? Are any new books/projects on the horizon?

My new book, The Prisoner of Fear is due out on October 1st, and its follow-up, Paroxysm of Fear will come out a few months later. This is a horror novel set in the late 1800s in Philadelphia and follows John Doyle and Thomas Braham as they investigate mysteries that the authorities deem too mysterious to investigate. There are monsters, insane asylums, and suspense. I’d say it’s a cross between Dracula and Sherlock Holmes. My current work in progress is a series of 3 Novellas, called Cerberus. I’d call it a spaghetti western with all its characters based on Greek mythological Gods. What is currently on my mind is a story based on a loose alliteration on Lizzy Borden. It will be called, Confession, but right now it’s just swimming in my mind.

Advertisements

About the Author

Chad Miller has a B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University and a Pharm D from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He’s a pharmacist and lives in lifeless Delaware with his girlfriend, Natasha and her daughter, Sasha, and his three kids, Killian, Willow, and Halina. His novel, The Prisoner of Fear, is being published by Hear Our Voice and will be out fall of 2022. His short story collection, The Void is available on Amazon now! His short story, The Thorn, is published by Sweety Cat Press and is included in the anthology, Beautiful: In the Eye of the Beholder and is out now available on Amazon. His short story, Guilty Pleasure, is published by ILA magazine and is out now. His story, The Nick was published in The World of Myth Magazine and won the story of the month. His story, Diseased, will be included in the anthology, Movement: Bodies in Motion, and will be out 06/01/2022. His story, Last Victory and the Manicure, will be included in the anthology, Year Four and will be out 01/23.

https://www.facebook.com/chadmillerauthor

The Void

Interview with Author John May

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Fame and fortune haha. In my spare time, I started writing stories and creating comic strips around the age of ten or eleven. When life wasn’t fun, creative writing was my escape as a child. It was a great outlet for my imagination and a way to express myself untethered from the restriction of my English teachers because not only did I come up with some wild stories, I was also a very creative speller which drove them crazy.

As a teen, I became an avid reader. Believe it or not, I read all of Charles Dickens’s works while riding on a bus to my after-school/weekend job in a restaurant kitchen. But I think it was Hemmingway’s books that really inspired me to write longer stories. I wanted to be that storyteller. It wasn’t however, until the author of the series of books that I was reading to my children died that I began writing. The kids were upset there would be no more books, so I took it upon myself to write something similar for them as a Christmas present. The only problem was that the short story turned into a novel and with my busy schedule as a doctor, it took two years to complete. By then, my older son was “too old” for it. I decided after my youngest grew up, that although I enjoyed writing my children, I really wanted to write for adults.

Advertisements

What inspired you to write your book?

My family and I experienced the panic and chaos created by the enormous North East blackout of 2003. We were sitting by a campfire completely oblivious until a neighbor approached carrying a shotgun telling us that most of North America was dark. He said it was a Russian cyberattack. My twelve-year-old son couldn’t sleep that night as he was frightened that we were under attack and that enemy soldiers were breaking into the house. That feeling of being in the dark, not knowing the truth was truly terrifying. For the next five days, our part of the world was not functioning – no credit cards – no cash – no ATMs working – the gas pump wouldn’t pump – store shelves were empty – the experience still haunts me and played a large part in motivating me to write Lethal Keystrokes.

In addition, I have always had an interest in technology and computers. In fact, before medical school, I worked as a programmer for IBM. As a physician, I became concerned about the impact of technology on children i.e., too much screen time. But with the intrusion of social media and the ‘internet of everything,’ I feel there is too much connectiveness without true human contact. My biggest concern outside the medical/social sphere is our security – individually and collectively as a nation. There are too many electronic eyes and ears out there. Are they helping and protecting us or making us vulnerable to those who wish harm upon us?

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope that this book causes people, companies, and governments to think about their digital security. We also need to be aware that the voids, created by Western nations in places like Somalia, where there was intervention and then complete withdrawal, are filled by groups that could become terrorist organizations.

What drew you into this particular genre?

To be honest, I was attempting to write a very emotionally charged true-life novel about some of my experiences in cancer and palliative care. It was tough. I needed to step back and ‘reset’. Previously, out of a more academic interest I had researched some of the key political and technological issues key to Lethal Keystrokes. I took that information and started writing something that was pure entertainment, so fast-paced and exciting that you can’t put it down and a total escape from the trials of day-to-day life. Writing it worked wonders for me and I hope that everyone that reads Lethal Keystrokes enjoys immersing themselves in the action. 

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

That is an interesting question. I’m somewhat surprised by my answer. It is not the main antagonist but his sister that I found the most fascinating and challenging character to write, and from the reaction of a few earlier readers, they agree with this choice. She starts out with the same vitriol as her older brother but as she spends more time in Western society, she stops focusing on all its flaws and begins to appreciate the positives, including the opportunities for women. She has to battle through the conflicts between her traditional role that involves support for her brother and her own journey to personal freedom. How does she bridge the chiasm between Islamic culture and her growing acceptance of America’s ideals?

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Marketing has changed so much. If you aren’t good with social media, you’re doomed so I embraced it despite my misgivings about technology. I do not profess to be an expert but Instagram has been quite useful as well as Twitter. Still, I really don’t like the feeling of anarchy – everyone has their own truth – that exists out there in the digital world. Bottom line:  technology is a tool, not a lifestyle.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write a one-page, beginning-to-end, synopsis of your plot. Stream of consciousness writing is unlikely to be successful. Writing toward a known conclusion ends up moving you farther, faster and easier than just sitting down and pecking away, hoping that it will all fall into place. If you can’t come up with the ending you don’t have an idea worthy of your time and energy. And work it is. A novel is much harder than a short story. Keeping an audience engaged for 300 pages is no easy task. So have a complete idea and be disciplined by writing something every day when possible. 

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m still writing the book about my medical experiences.  I have also started a second book featuring the heroes from ‘Lethal Keystrokes’ as they combat a threat to America of a different nature. Hint: It will use more of my medical knowledge.

Advertisements

About the Author

John D. May was born in London, Ontario. He has balanced multiple passions over his life, including his work as a biologist, his career as a physician, his volunteer service at medical outreach clinics in Guatemala, singer-songwriting, and storytelling. He has written several songs for well-known Canadian artists and released two CDs, available on iTunes and Spotify under the name Johnny May. His time is divided between his rural farm property near Toronto and the south of France.

https://linktr.ee/JohnnyMay