Interview with Author Joe Giambrone

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
In high school I finally dove into rock and roll. I began playing guitar, singing, and I wrote countless lyrics, as well as band names. Not sure if any of the songs live on in any form, but that’s where I concentrated my words. I hear rhythms, melodies, harmonies in my mind once I get ramped up, and so it’s basically a matter of trying to capture on paper what I’m already hearing.

I next wanted to understand my own brain. So I began a massive research project on psychology, philosophy, the theory of Primal Pain, and evolution. The book wound up more plagiarized than original, and so I eventually scrapped it. But I learned a lot.

2) What inspired you to write your book?
Wrecking Balls–and thanks for reviewing it–was a labor of love, the love of stand-up comedy. I’ve always been a stand-up fan. That’s where the artist has zero oversight, zero distance from the listener. It’s raw, uncensored, unfiltered, verbal mayhem, or whatever. I tend to appreciate the mayhem side of it, as if that wasn’t clear from the text. It’s one of the last places you can still push boundaries in the arts, without it devolving into straight political propaganda. My heroes were people like George Carlin and Bill Hicks. They could deliver the death blow without flinching AND it was funny.
There’s actually more to my motivation than all that. My personal life took a turn for the worse, and I needed to laugh. Originally, I was to follow up my YA science fiction thriller (Transfixion) with a superhero story (Demigods), also aimed somewhat at younger readers. I just wasn’t writing it, wasn’t feeling it. So, I watched every stand-up routine and documentary that Youtube had to offer that year, instead of writing. The motivation had left me. I wanted something adult, raw, full of obscenities and pushing people’s buttons; I mean, those are the kinds of books I want to read: Hunter S. Thompson for example. I prefer the ravings of an author who does not give a fuck what you think, and he’s going to say what he needs to say, without you even as an afterthought. That’s sort of the diametrical opposite of today’s “market.”
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The Wrecking Balls story evolved quite a bit from its initial inspiration. I knew it was a buddy comedy, something there seems to be no genre category for in literature but is a staple in movies. Odd. So it’s about the limits of friendship, the boundaries, the lines that should not be crossed. Once I accepted that as the premise, it was natural to pluck a bunch of related scenes. These guys are not heroes, and they shouldn’t be shoehorned into appearing like heroes. That’s not real life. They’re both jerks at times. This is more realistic than fantastical. I was almost convinced it actually happened, because it could have happened, or something quite similar.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I’ve always loved comedy, provocative comedy not slapstick. It’s an opportunity to ram a banana into someone’s brain. When it works it’s glorious. When it bombs it’s universally painful. The highs are higher and the lows lower. As the old saying goes, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.” It is hard, and so it is quite a challenge to take on. You know you’re not going to please everyone, but the few you do will probably be fans.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
Ignoring how hot Amanda Winters is, and that I fall madly in love with female comics all the time… that’s a tough one. I’d probably ask Amanda all the cliché, usual, boy questions about life on the road as a woman in stand-up comedy. They hate that, by the way. Don’t do it.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I suppose Facebook, numerically speaking. I like the formatting options of WordPress better.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Write so many stories that you can do whatever you want, because there are another dozen waiting to go. That’s liberating. Don’t let perceived rules dictate content for you.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I may be directing and producing a vampire film at the end of the year. The script is just about done, and my lead actress has potential.
It’s a mad plan but a hell of a lot more feasible than just a few years ago. A strong spine to the story, it’s a movie I very much want to see. Someday, if you click past a no-budget indie horror film called Peculiar Blood, rent it.

 

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Interview with Author Jennifer Renson

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Hello, my name is Jennifer Renson and I love to write. I started writing as a child. I remember keeping diaries and coming up with short fictional stories. As I got older I developed story ideas and wrote poetry. While attending Monmouth University I participated in the university newspaper and literary magazine. I decided to write three poetry books and two books finally putting my writing skills to the test. Today I write articles for Lost Treasure Magazine and became a contributor for UnDead Walking. For years I read my poetry at Open Mic nights in New Jersey while attending comic conventions and having the opportunity to be filmed for The Walking Dead TWD100 videos. Aside from writing I love history, animals and sewing.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
Both Carousel and The Cottontail started with the villain of both books: Feletti. He was the first well thought out character that I wanted to create a story around. At the time I was on a real history kick, specifically Italy in the late 1490’s. By taking my favorite ride as a child and combining it with a very Tim Burton inspired fairy tale I was able to write Carousel. After I received warm feedback and interest in that world I created I decided to take a step back and write the prequel The Cottontail. 
 
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I want readers to be swept away by the world I created in both books. To feel frightened when Feletti speaks, enamored when Princio and Marian/Victorio and Antoinette bond, awed by the carousel and the palace it resided in. As long as readers can imagine being a part of the books and enjoy them I have done my duty as a writer. 
 
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I’ve always enjoyed fiction and fantasy books. Though I have been writing for years, Carousel was my first finished book. I wanted to write a completely different story than the others I’ve been working on. This was a true experiment to see how well I could write fantasy and I’m happy with the results. 
 
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
Though I love all my characters equally, Placido from Carousel has a special place in my heart. Although he’s not a main character, I named him after a relative in my family. I would love to pick Placido’s brain and find out what he would ask his deceased father. Placido was left with a huge responsibility of caring for his younger sister Marian after his father dies. Placido juggles being a older brother, father figure and running his newly opened toy shop. I truly want to know what he thinks of his father’s decision. I can almost picture it being a awkward conversation, having Placido sit, arms folded at his chest stuck between wanting his father to speak first and wanting answers.
 
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I use a few social media sites and although I believe all of them help I would say Twitter has been the most helpful. It’s the most fun, engaging and has introduced me to new writers in a similar boat as myself.
 
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Write what you want with passion and strength. No one is perfect and you will receive feedback, both good and bad. Do not let the bad reviews bring you down but raise you up. It’s important to differentiate between critics who will nitpick but offer advice to improve your writing and the bitter complaints that hold no water.
My own personal motto is, “There is no apology for passion”.
 
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
After ending my contract with my publisher I am going to self publish Carousel and The Cottontail. I am in the process of redoing the covers and once complete they will be available online. Be sure to keep your eyes open for them in the near future. My three poetry books: Uncharted, Eo: Go, walk, ride, sail, pass, travel and Delightfully Dark: A Collection of Poems and Tales are doing well and I hope to add a fourth book of poetry soon. I’ve been writing pieces for UnDead Walking and I hope it will lead to more writing opportunities. My first historical fiction book is undergoing edits. I’m not sure where my future will take me but I hope it will lead to more writing experiences.  
The Cottontail