Monthly Archives March 2017

The Deep End interview…with Kenneth W. Cain

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Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Kenneth W. Cain: Born a stone’s throw from the St. Louis border, I grew up a Cardinals fan living in the suburbs of Chicago. If you know anything about that heated baseball rivalry, you’d know I wasn’t the most popular kid. Although I was shy, I never had a problem stating what I liked, which only added to my troubles. The end to each school day was met with four bullies chasing me from the bus stop to my home. Sometimes, they caught me and beat the living crap out of me. Other days, I made it home safe and sound.
And so it went for way too long. Until one day, when I arrived home safely only to find the door locked. My mom told me she wouldn’t open the door until I faced each of those kids and stood up for myself. So, I learned to fight early on, and I think those tough experiences are what I draw from quite a bit in my fiction. I also use many elements from that area: the sewer drains, the storms, some of the people including my bullies.
High school was a whole different monster. We’d moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia. I’d grown up expecting the older kids to bully me, but that never happened in Pennsylvania. I mostly kept to myself. I had a few friends—a couple I’ve even kept in touch with over the years. It was around then I started working the graveyard shift for Pepperidge Farms over the summers. I spent a lot of time on-call, so I had a lot of free time to watch reruns of all those great shows like The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond and all. That’s when I first discovered Edgar Allan Poe in my parent’s Reader’s Digest collection. And, later, Stephen King’s It, which was my introduction to his work.
I used to spend hours in the basement of this used bookstore, reading short story collections and looking for that next book. That bookstore was like a second home to me, and I read a lot back then, which didn’t do much to help pay for college as I’d intended. I kept going to that store after every semester of college to trade in my schoolbooks for horror. It was a sad day when that store went under.
All of those days and nights, I spent a lot of time in my head. I’ve always had a pretty good imagination, so I think that’s where many of my stories got their roots. Though actually writing a story never crossed my mind until college, when I started taking creative writing and literary appreciation classes. Those were formative years, and occasionally I still find story notes I left for myself back then.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

KWC: My high school girlfriend’s parents sat me down and asked what I planned to do with my life. Back then all I wanted to be was an artist. I’d taken private art lessons for years, and it was a passion at the time. My art from those days was dark, though, and not always appreciated. When I told them my plans, they just laughed. So, thinking I’d made a mistake, I decided to go to college for math.
I’d done well on my SATs for math, and I tested high going in. They signed me up for all these special math classes, but none of it appealed to me. I spent a lot of time soul-searching after that first semester, trying to discover myself. I tried many different majors (sociology, psychology, English, history, and others) before eventually landing back on art.
Getting back into art renewed my life, though I continued to pursue writing in the background. I think I even had a few poems accepted to a publication the college put together, though I have no proof of that.
I spent most of my life after school working 60-80 hours a week in graphic design, trying to make my way and support my family. Unfortunately, reading and writing fell mostly to the wayside during those twenty or so years. I’m typically a slow reader, and with so little time, it took me even longer to make it through a book.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

KWC: For me, I felt terrified. I was so afraid of making a mistake. You see, when I got back into writing, I had little idea of what I should or should not do. All I did know was that I loved to write. Even then I had this idea that reading and writing would get me through some hard times. I think that’s why I rediscovered that passion. It came out of a need to escape real-life issues. I was working more than ever then, and playing in an adult league wooden bat baseball league too. So I rarely saw my family, and although I loved baseball, I eventually sacrificed that for work. And then work for my family.
I’m not sure the motivation came until later, when I first felt the criticism that comes with writing. Reviews used to make me very nervous. I watched for them like a hawk, not looking to respond but seeking acceptance. It was actually a Facebook post by Mort Castle a few years back that finally put me at ease, something like “Awards, reviews, and accolades are all nice, but remember that you’re doing what you love. And that’s most important.”
Whatever the actual words were, it opened my eyes. I’ve been more at ease with my writing ever since. I think that’s when I started focusing on writing that better story. My goals have changed, too, with my focus being on writing better fiction. I spent a lot of time rewriting work back then, trying to figure out my weaknesses, and working to fix them. My wife, Heather, was most helpful, showing patience and reading everything with an extremely critical eye.
Eventually I came out on the other side more confident in my skills. But even now, my primary goal is to keep on learning, to keep evolving as a writer. Having refocused my objectives like that has paid off, too.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

KWC: Most of my friends and family have always been supportive of my writing. Not all, though, and to a degree, the story “The Benefit of Being Weighty” is reflective of that. But overall the support has been good. Whenever I’ve felt like giving up, they’ve been there to pick up the pieces and push me onward. Especially Heather, as her and the kids have sacrificed the most to allow me to pursue writing as a career. After all, it isn’t always the best paying gig. That alone inspires me to work harder, to really push myself. Often, Heather tells me I’m too hard on myself, but I feel like I need to be, as there’s a lot at stake, and I’ve gotten a very late start.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

KWC: Many people are going to say Stephen King, and I’m not much different. But early on it was Poe. Well, I’d heard Baba Yaga as a child, and that sparked my love for dark fiction. But Poe kept me going back for more. I tore through his work back in high school, and sought other authors because of my love for his writing. So, maybe that’s where the passion really began.
As to who inspires me now, that’s every author. I don’t read a book these days because of who an author is or whether they are male or female. I’m not saying I read blind, because when I choose a book, I see the author’s name. But I don’t choose a book for any reason other than finding something interesting about it, though I do make an effort to read diversely. A lot of times it comes from word of mouth, but in today’s age of social media, it’s quite easy to ask for a list of what people are reading to get some good ideas.
I look at every book as a teaching moment. Good or bad, there’s something for me to learn from a book. Those lessons are what make me a better writer. That said I’m quite fond of Joe’s Hill’s work, especially his short work. I like Ken Liu’s and Damien Angelica Walter’s short work, too. Hill’s “Pop Art” and Liu’s “Paper Menagerie” are stories that inspire me the most, as I’ve always wanted to write a story as perfect as either of those examples.

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

KWC: I’m most proud of this novelette I’ve been shopping around, A Season in Hell. It’s more of a literary piece with a dark edge, detailing the struggles of a female minor league baseball player through a teammate’s eyes, and how her predicament affects his life. I put a lot of myself into that story, bits and pieces of my experiences playing baseball. Also, I think it shows my feelings about some of these dilemmas on a more personal level, as I’ve always told my daughter she can be anything she wants to be. I believe that, too, very much.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

KWC: With all these chronic illnesses I’m plagued with, I never really shoot for a target number of words for each day. For me, it goes more in waves. When I’m up, I write like the devil. I might get 10 or more stories done in a week during those periods. I’ve nearly written entire novels during those stretches. I edit mostly during the low tides, as it allows my critical eye to take its time. I don’t pressure myself with daily goals. My focus is to get done what I can, with as much detail as I can. But all writers face deadlines, so I try to stay ahead of mine by focusing on the task rather than the date.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

KWC: My belief is, and I’ve written about this in Writer’s on Writing 4, we authors should be creating more diverse characters. By that, I mean our characters should be both male and female, represent the LBGT community, and of all colours, sizes, ethnicities, etc. The problem with that is we are often raised with generalizations. For instance, much of what we see on TV or in the movies portrays women as being weak. And sure, there are women who are like that but not each and every one of them. So, if all the female characters in a book are shown as being weak, then that writer needs to work harder because that isn’t an accurate representation of our real world. That said, there will be those who jump on every example that isn’t strong, and that’s wrong, too. Writers need to spend more time trying to create a realistic world with all sorts of people, with all different levels of confidence and strength among other traits. So, perhaps the most difficult struggle with writing is doing that with some sense of accuracy. It’s quite hard to write what you might not know, so you need to put in the extra work in those cases.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

KWC: I’m a bit manic with words these days. No idea why, but they’re pretty much scrolling through my thoughts at all hours. I’ve written entire short stories in my head like that, before I ever sit down at the computer or take notes. Actually, one of the short stories I’m editing now was written one night while I slept (if that’s what you can call it). However, I do enjoy spending time with my family, swimming in the pool or playing games, occasionally watching movies. I didn’t get to have those days with my father when I was young because he was often away on business trips for long stretches, so it’s always been one of my most important goals. Also, I have reef tanks I tend to quite a bit. There’s nothing more relaxing than observing a reef tank.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

KWC: My research for characters typically comes of keeping a watchful eye. For instance, a story I wrote for Fresh Cut Tales called “Split Ends” arose out of spotting a mother violently brushing her daughter’s hair at a pool (at least that was how it looked to me). A lot of my stories come of those sorts of observations. When I do need to research a fact, such as I have for my western stories, the Internet often proves satisfactory enough. But I have sought the advice of lawyers and a judge once, trying to make sure I was getting my facts straight. Those queries aren’t usually with friends, though my stable of knowledgeable people has grown much since those stories. So it’s hard to answer that just yet. I suppose I’ll find out next time I need some fact checking done.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

KWC: I’ve always been awful at putting myself out there. I mean, ask my wife and she might disagree, as I can be quite the social butterfly (her words). That might come from her belief I can talk about most anything, which has sometimes been more of a curse than a gift. What I’m referring to, though, is live readings or talking myself up on podcasts and such. I’ve always been better at putting those things in words than doing them in front of others. I’m terribly critical of myself, and I never am able to turn off the editor, which often makes me stumble over my words. When I make a mistake, I hyper-focus on it. For instance, one of the short readings I did for the Ember’s extra material took some twenty or so takes.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

KWC: Well, I’ve gotten out there more recently, meeting other authors and talking about the craft and all. That’s been a great experience for me. You now, you sit at a computer all day, all by your lonesome, spending time with fake people you create. It’s a rather introverted practice. So it’s not always so easy turning that off, and suddenly become the extrovert (even if I used to be more one). I’ll talk to anyone who will take the time to talk to me, but I’m not always so great at seeking out those conversations. Still, I’ve gotten better at that recently.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

KWC: I created all these illustrated books for my children, trying to help them through specific issues and have some fun doing it. I’m actually glad I put them out there, too. When the shooting at Sandy Hook occurred, I made all the digital copies of those books free, offering them to divert the attention of children away from the tragedy. For a while, I made them available free on each anniversary of that event, and others, as well. Somehow, word of what I’d done got to one of the teachers at Sandy Hook, and she contacted me asking for some signed paperback copies for their library. How could I pass on that? It was such an honour, and it really brought on a good cry, as it made me so happy to be able to give back like that.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

KWC: That’s an easy question. I want—no, need—to write a story to the level of “Pop Art” or “Paper Menagerie”. I place those stories very high on my list because they reached me on a different level than what I expected. There’s a beauty to their words. I want that perfection. Not to hear from someone else who feels I’ve achieved that goal, but to feel it myself, even if no one else ever does. I want all the words to click like some giant puzzle depicting a beautiful scene. That’s my ambition.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind? 

KWC: That wasn’t always an easy question, as I had this need to get my stories out there as soon as possible early on in my career, thinking that was the legacy I wanted to leave behind. As such, not everything I’ve written is at the level I would hope. But I’m not afraid of having all my bumps and bruises out there for everyone to read. I never had the expectation that I would become a great writer overnight. As with any profession, that takes both time and great effort. But, occasionally I did hit the right notes in some of those early pieces. Those are the lower rungs on my ladder, so they’re important to me.
That all changed for me a couple years back, when my daughter started writing. I’m quite proud of both her and my son for their accomplishments. My children are legacy enough for me.

 
Author: Kenneth W. Cain
Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

Embers: A Collection of Dark Fiction

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Where darkness dwells, embers light the way. More info →
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Writers on Writing Volume 1-4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide
Writers on Writing: Vol. 4
Tales from the Lake: Volume 3

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 31, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release! Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar

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It’s launch day over at Crystal Lake Publishing. Sit back and enjoy this 552 page Supernatural Thriller of a novel on Kindle or paperback: (http://getbook.at/Aletheia)!

ALETHEIA by J.S. Breukelaar


Deep below the island, something monstrous lies waiting for Thettie, and it knows her name.

“Family and small town desires and secrets simmer in J. S. Breukelaar's melancholy and affecting mix of literary, noir, and horror by the lake. ALETHEIA is a compelling 21st century ghost story. Don't lose your Gila monster!”—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock.

The remote lake town of Little Ridge has a memory problem. There is an island out on the lake somewhere, but no one can remember exactly where it is—and what it has to do with the disappearance of the eccentric Frankie Harpur or the seven-year-old son of a local artist, Lee Montour.

When Thettie Harpur brings her family home to find Frankie, she faces opposition from all sides—including from the clan leader himself, the psychotic Doc Murphy.

Lee, her one true ally in grief and love, might not be enough to help take on her worst nightmare. The lake itself.

A tale of that most human of monsters—memory—Aletheia is part ghost story, part love story, a novel about the damage done, and the damage yet to come. About terror itself. Not only for what lies ahead, but also for what we think we have left behind.

Brought to you by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.

“Sometimes the monster lurks within us, and sometimes it prowls the world we inhabit, made flesh. Both reside in this unsettling, moving, and haunting story about family, loss, and the dark shadows that loom at the edge of our perception.”—Richard Thomas, author of Breaker and Tribulations

“In Aletheia by JS Breukelaar the prodigal children of a strange lake come home, their return dredging up old enmities and reopening barely healed wounds. Breukelaar’s prose is as warm as blood and sharp as a scalpel, and even the smallest moment is made miraculous. By turns unsettling, terrifying, and uplifting, Aletheia is a stunning examination of the intersections between memory, love, life and death.”—Angela Slatter, World Fantasy Award-winning author of The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings 

Purchase it now!
Add Aletheia on Goodreads
  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 24, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with J.S. Breukelaar

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Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

JS: I grew up in a small town in western New York State modelled on Little Ridge, in Aletheia. When I was a teenager, my family moved us to Sydney, Australia, which for a small-town American girl was like going to a different planet. I moved back to the States for a while and these days I straddle the two hemispheres pretty seamlessly, but I think that shock to my system—moving from a remote lake town to the big smoke on the other side of the planet—was profoundly disorientating and this sense of disorientation is in everything I write.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

JS: No. I was always an author, if not in action then in intention. The moment when I decided to stop taking crap jobs to support those intentions was when I was a young mother and my husband and I decided to go back to school. We had two kids and I was still doing all sorts of part-time jobs like temping and data entry and so on and one of my husband’s colleagues offered me another data entry job. It was worth $300 and I said no. I decided that hell or high water, writing for money—didn’t matter what kind of writing—to support writing for love was going to be the rule from then on. The next week, a friend at Time Warner Publications sent me a book for me to write a sample review. If it was any good, I could be a regular book reviewer for Who Weekly (the Australia-New Zealand title of People Weekly). They took my review and that, along with a gig ghostwriting fashion copy for a clothing manufacturer (like Elaine in Seinfeld for the J Peterman catalogue), was how I paid my way through school. Since then, all my day jobs have been writing or teaching.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

I got an article accepted by the San Diego Herald Tribune and I yelled so loud you could hear me down in Mexico. It was a total high. I sold my first fiction story to John Joseph Adams at Lightspeed. Cue more screaming and yelling.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

JS: It hasn’t. Of course I’ve made some friends who I wouldn’t have made without being a writer, and my life is better with them in it. My family continues to be the air that I breathe, and the reason I do this is to make them proud, so I love it when they are. Except that probably would have been the case no matter what career I chose. Intense writing jags, when I don’t come out of my office for days at a time, are tough on my husband, but that’s what you sign up for, right? I try and make it up to him. 

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

JS: Pretty sure that my early career was influenced by writers I read at college, and before that even. Cervantes first, then Poe, Melville, Shelley, Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Oates, McCarthy, Borges. I read, along with Cervantes, a lot of Latino writers and I’m sure they had a lasting influence—Cisneros, Fuentes, Bolano, Marquez—along with Straub, King, Shelley. And the list just gets longer—Stephen Graham Jones, Kelly Link, Joe Hill, Jeffrey Ford, Cathrynne Valente, Amelia Gray, Seb Doubinsky—I wouldn’t call them influences as much as wild rides thundering up the road just ahead of me, just around the next bend.

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

JS: I’m proud of my breakout story, “Lion Man.” That took me back to a house that had been haunting me for a while and unleashed a lot of other stories I didn’t know were in me. And I’m proud of a recent story, “Rogues Bay 3030” (Gamut), which is set in a different landscape, a more antipodean place that was harder for me to reach in my fiction, and I’m glad I finally did.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

JS: Itchy all over.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

JS: They’re all difficult.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

JS: I always think about writing. I’m most relaxed when I’m working. I run. I spend time with my family. I’m a Netflix junkie.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

JS: For my first book, which was about a DJ, I met a bunch of musicians and DJs. They were generous of their time and talents, but I’m not really still friends with them. For American Monster, I spent time on the road in Southern California, and people I met worked their way into the book, and I’m grateful for that kindness of strangers. The characters in that book are still very much my friends if that counts.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

JS: Being organised. It’s a skill I haven’t mastered yet but it’s the one that, when I do, will give me special powers.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

JS: Not really at all. I wasn’t ever not an author.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

JS: That’s impossible to say. Every single time anyone reaches out—either in person or on Goodreads or wherever— to tell me that something I wrote touched them in some indelible way, it pretty much proves to me that this thing with words is something we should all just keep doing the best way we can. Most recently I was at WFC and a reader commented that American Monster destroyed them and made them different after that, and by the end of the conversation we were both in tears. I’ll always be grateful for moments like that. Oh, and a beta reader for Aletheia told me that after she finished the read, she went on to an iconic novel by a bestselling author, and the whole time she was reading that she couldn’t get my characters out of her head. “How do you do that?” she asked. So I guess that thing we do, finding characters that live on in hearts and minds, is pretty much the end game here.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

JS: Survival. I don’t mean that flippantly, or even in terms of the “business,” but literally. Getting this wascally wabbit under control is part of that, but it’s ongoing. Every time you think you’ve got it wrangled—words and sentences and story and character and time—it slips out from under and you’re back to that same old thing again. Process. Practice. Survival.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

JS: I don’t think about that, honestly. Kind of like asking a bullfighter or a gladiator or a werewolf about legacies. You’re too caught up in going the distance to think about what happens after that.

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 23, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview…with Kevin Lucia

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Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

KL: Growing up my parents indulged me only one thing: books and comic books. Every week I got to buy a new comic book at the mall, when Dad went on business trips he bought a book for me as a gift, I made lists every Christmas for the books I wanted. My mother volunteered for our local RIF (Reading is Fundamental) chapter, so when they visited our school for book fairs, I got first pick, and I also got books on discount after the fair was over, because she volunteered.
Reading pretty much defined my childhood. Over the summers, when I’d exhausted all my play options, I bunkered down in my cool basement and read for hours. When I was in sixth grade, having read through almost everything in the elementary library, I received special permission to walk across the parking lot to the high school library and sign books out from there. By the time I was senior, I’d read through all those books—even teen romances. If it was fiction, I read it.
My great grandmother had a whole library of cloth-bound pulp novels. When I was fourteen, she started giving me one a month. When she passed, they were all given to me. I devoured those over and over (really vague titles, like The Black Glove of Darkness and The Tree That  Screamed), and I still have them today.
I also have fond memories of doing things with my family. Camping trips, walking in the woods, roasting hot dogs over a fire on a summer night, while listening to reruns of The Shadow on public radio. Roaming all over the countryside, riding my bike up the road, walking along the railroad tracks. My mother loved to restore furniture, so over the summers we’d spend a whole morning searching garage sales, and we’d always get books or toys for a quarter.
My childhood wasn’t a perfect one, but I certainly enjoyed it. Would be fair to say that, like a lot of writers, I suppose, they still stand out to me as purer, simpler times.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

KL: Fortunately for me, my career teaching high school English has meshed well with a writing career. They complement each other nicely; my writing career has informed my writing instruction, and there’s no downside to spending my days pouring over literary classics and more modern works with my students. I get a lot of work done over the summer, which is also a good time to attend conventions.
I can say other sacrifices had to be made, however. Since getting serious about this ten years ago, I’ve had to choose what I’d rather spend my time doing—watching my favourite TV shows, playing in basketball leagues, hanging out with friends—or writing. Fortunately also, I’ve always lived somewhat of a simple life, so it was really no contest, honestly.

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

KL: I sold my very first short story for $100 in 2007, and then sold several stories after that for semi-pro rates. I thought I’d “made it”. I paid $300 for a dealer table at Horrorfind (convention formerly held in Gettysburg, PA), spent a ton on author copies, and expected to sell out. I learned pretty quickly, though, that most folks aren’t interested in buying small press collections just for a story by some guy they’ve never heard of.
I went through something similar with the publication of my first novella, Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, the fourth instalment of Shroud Publishing’s Hiram Grange Chronicles. Here it was, at last—my first solo work. Finally, I must’ve made it! And when the reviews started rolling in and they were mostly positive, I figured success was coming my way. Of course, this was before eBooks. Hiram Grange hit Amazon, and I think mostly sank. To this day, I don’t think my sales ever eclipsed the token royalty I received for it. Even so, I had something which was mine alone, something I could show to folks which didn’t suck.
What this has all taught me is there is no “making it”. You keep working, you keep writing, keep striving to get better, keep putting one foot ahead of the other. Enjoy whatever successes come your way, but a writing career isn’t about making it. It’s about producing work you believe in, and trying to get it to more and more readers.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

KL: I’d be lying if I claimed no effect at all. I’d like to think my college friends and I have slowly separated over time simply because of that: time. Most of them have moved away, and we all have our own lives now. However, something kind of wonderful has happened attending conventions the last few years, and connecting with speculative fiction writers in my own area: I’ve gained a whole new batch of friends, folks who love genre stuff just as much as me, who labour right alongside me in this craft.
There have been bumps, however. When you get married and tell your intended “I want to be a writer someday” neither of you have any idea what that means. Abby and I have wrestled with the distance which can develop between spouses when one is pursuing an artistic career, especially when I was attending so many conventions. Adding a special needs child to the equation (my youngest is high-functioning autistic) only complicates things. Abby and I basically had to agree on some things, and while she’s amazingly supportive of my writing and would never ask me to quit, we did decide to take time off from conventions and for me to only write one hour a day Monday through Friday. I take the weekends off, and why not? I have a full-time job, and right now only write for the small press. The only deadlines I really have are short story deadlines, and my own. My kids are 11 and 9. I don’t want them to look back on these formative years and wonder where Dad was. And I don’t want to lose touch with my wife. Writing is awesome, but it’s not worth that.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

KL: Without a doubt, Stephen King, and honestly, he still does. What gets me about King is his ability to create characters I care about, and believe in, and empathise with. He creates characters who are like the guy living down the road, or, sometimes more frightening, live in my mirror. I for one love his big “bloated” novels (as some of his critics call them) and love learning everything about a small town or minor, secondary characters, and don’t ever consider that stuff distracting from the main story. I’ve always found it enhances his stories. He’s got a wonderful narrative voice, and I don’t think any of his works have ever disappointed me (with the exception of Gerald’s Game. Never got past page one of that).
Stylistically, however, Charles L. Grant’s work has impacted me, also. His tight, lyrical poetry, and his vivid, creeping atmosphere sings. I think I’ve tried to mash the two together—a compelling narrative voice and creeping atmosphere. I don’t know if I’ve accomplished that, but I’ve tried.

Joe: Instead of just focusing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

KL: There’s a lot of me in my novella A Night at Old Webb. It’s not horror at all, simply a coming of age tale of a writer (not me, at all, cough, cough) trying to find his way. I just wrote it to write it, not worrying about genre, or where I’d try to submit it.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day?

KL: I’ve never had any specific number I had to hit. I simply write for an hour a day, and then I’m done. I might get some extra words in during library study hall coverage at school, or before I go to bed, but once I get that hour done, I’m good to go. In my experience, if you wrote an hour a day, five days a week, all year long, you’re going to generate a lot of words.

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

KL: Anything having to do with autism or special needs children. My son is autistic—high functioning—and it basically defines our lives. I’ve tried to write about it in the past, but I ended up just writing long spiels about life with autism, not interesting fiction featuring autism. I’ve recently started something, however, which I may be able to turn into something compelling.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

KL: Well, to me, writing is relaxing. Abby likes to joke that she’d never make me quit writing, because that would make me unbearable to live with. But if I don’t feel like writing and I’m just taking some “me time” (because the first thing I’d do to relax from writing is something with the family or my wife), I’m reading. I fell in love with reading before I ever became a writer, and my desire to write came from my love of reading.

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

KL: To be honest, I’ve never really “met” anyone while researching a book. I’ve borrowed elements from friends and people I’ve known over the years, but we’re all still friends, if only because I don’t believe they’ve read my work.
Yet...

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

KL: Time management. If you want to write a short story or novel, you sit down, do a little bit every day, start to finish, until it’s done. There are many other ways to go about doing it, but this is the one which makes the most sense to me, and works. You want to do this big thing like a novel? Do a little bit every day, until you are finished.

Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

KL: Well, first of all, it’s given me a greater appreciation for anyone who’s written a book and published it, either traditionally or self-published. This stuff’s hard work, man. I no longer think of any writer as a “hack”. They’re basically people who believed in something others didn’t, and they sat down every day and did it, until it was done.
Other than that, I’m not sure how much it has changed, but it has reaffirmed values taught to me at a young age by my parents:  you want something, you work hard until you get it. Once you get it, you don’t stop; you keep working harder, every single day.

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

KL: As a Christian who prefers to communicate his worldview through thematic fiction and art, it’s always reaffirming and a little startling when strangers read my work, then approach me and ask me if I’m a Christian, because they could “just tell by my work”. That’s what I’ve always wanted. But I work so hard at focusing on story first, trying to get out of the way and let the story tell itself, I’m always amazed when someone says that.

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

KL: Inspirational answer: to keep writing work of substance which is true to me and my values, which will hopefully continue to find readers in all walks of life.
Crass, self-serving answer: I would love to someday write at least one book for someone like Medallion, Angry Robot, Titan Books or Kensington. The thought of signing a big contract with an actual, for-real deadline scares the dickens out of me, but I also want to push myself to meet a deadline like that, just once.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

KL: Being a loving father and husband who put his family first and did his best to serve them. A teacher who tried his best to meet his students’ needs. A writer and editor who acted professionally and kind at all times, and performed his best on every writing endeavour. And to always be thankful for everything God has blessed me with.

 
Author: Kevin Lucia
Writers on Writing Volume 1-4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide
Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories
Devourer of Souls

Devourer of Souls

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Author:
Series: The Clifton Heights Saga, Book 3
Genre: Collection
Welcome back to Clifton Heights. More info →
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Through the Mirror, Darkly

Through the Mirror, Darkly

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Series: The Clifton Heights Saga, Book 2
Genre: Collection
There are a lot more truths in the books we read, than we’d like to admit. More info →
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Things Slip Through

Things Slip Through

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Series: The Clifton Heights Saga, Book 1
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When a child mysteriously disappears from a small town and even his mother seems indifferent, it’s time for the new sheriff to step in. More info →
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For the Night is Dark

For the Night is Dark

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Darkness, our most primitive fear since shadows first moved. The Dark is coming! Call your friends. No one should wander through the dark alone. More info →
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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 20, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

Our HORROR 201 Interview with Wes Craven

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Joe Mynhardt: I can still recall a very young me hiding behind an oversized pillow as Freddy Krueger walked towards me. As the writer and director for A Nightmare on Elm Street, which elements of the Freddy Krueger character were written by you, and which parts came from Robert Englund’s take on this iconic character?

Wes Craven: I’m pretty sure that all the basic things about Freddy were in the script, but what Robert brought to the table was enormous enthusiasm for the role, a fearlessness that had no hesitation at playing a character that was deeply evil and a predator of children, a fantastic vocal instrument, and endless inventiveness in manner and movement, right down to his use of the glove – how he gestured with it, how he draped it over things, how he brought it to his face. Freddy was written as an evil old man, but beyond that, Robert inhabited Freddy with a stunning interpretation of that, and send chills up and down the spines of a whole generation. In fact, maybe two or three generations.

Joe: When I start watching your movies, I always wonder if you’ll do another appearance. But only after I lose myself in the story do you pop up. Tell us a bit more about your acting experiences.

Wes: I think I’m a lousy actor. For one thing, I can’t remember lines, and I think I look weird, especially now. I secretly thought I’d make a great actor, until I tried it. Then I saw the wisdom of my staying behind the camera except for a very few exceptions.

Joe: I’m certain all the writers out there would love to know who your favorite author is. Or perhaps a specific book that inspired you.

Wes: Endless authors. I was a kid who always had a book in my hand, especially since I wasn’t allowed to see movies for idiotic religious reasons. The names won’t ring many bells to today’s generation. Hemingway, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky, Brecht, Terry Southern, Beckett, Roald Dahl’s “Kiss Kiss” short stories, Mailer, Poe, Dickens, Kerouac, Kesey, King, you get the idea. In many, many ways that deep history of reading helped and matured me, and I needed it. It didn’t help me at all with knowing the techniques and concepts of film, though, and when I started making movies, I was starting from absolute scratch. So, I just invented my own version of what a movie should be. It seems to have worked.

Joe: Definitely. Can you recall the funniest story that ever happened on set or during the development of a movie?

Wes: No. My sets are full of laughter and funny things, actually. There’s something about dealing with gore and death and all those forbidden topics that lightens things. We’re like little kids making mud pies, in a way. Doing what would horrify mom and having a hell of a good time doing it. At least until the killing starts. Then things get very, very quiet.

Joe: And what was the scariest moment you’ve ever experienced on set?

Wes: The scariest things are the real things. Making movies is a fairly dangerous thing. Lots of heavy equipment, things hanging overhead that just might fall down on you, like a 50 lb light, for instance, not to mention Grips hanging off rafters or up 80 feet in the air on condors packed with lights in the middle of the night. Then there’s stunts… I have all of those things go bad in the middle of shooting. Those are the truly scary things.

Joe: Another great movie that inspired me personally was Swamp Thing, which you also wrote and directed. Is there anything specific for you that stood out from that experience? The location must’ve been a nightmare, but you really managed to use it effectively in the story.

Wes: I’d never been to that part of the country, and I found it fascinating. The swamps were full of things that wanted to bite you, from alligators to stinging black caterpillars that fell out of the trees and down the neck of your shirt, to water moccasins. The grips all carried side arms, I kid you not.

Joe: Some of my other favorite movies include People under the Stairs, Scream, The Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes. You’ve been creating great films for over 40 years now, as well as equally amazing memories for yourself and your fans. So what are the biggest highlights of your writing and directing career?

Wes: There sure is something terrific about directing something you’ve also written. So Last House, Hills, Swamp Thing, Nightmare, My Soul to Take all have special places in my heart. But every once in a while you get your hands on a terrific script that someone else has written, and that is a very, very good feeling as well, and you don’t have to stay up all night while shooting to do re-writes. So, thanks to Carl Ellsworth and Kevin Williamson and many others for their terrific work on scripts I’ve directed and done very well with.

Joe: I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to know, but are there any future projects can we look forward to?

Wes: Yes.

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.1

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.1

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Series: Horror 201, Book 1
Genre: non-fiction
The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field. More info →
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Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.2

Horror 201: The Silver Scream Vol.2

$3,99
Series: Horror 201, Book 2
Genre: non-fiction
The definitive guide to filmmaking and filmmakers by the best in the field.
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  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 08, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

C.H.U.D. LIVES! TOC Announcement!

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With the contracts sorted and exclusive permission from the C.H.U.D film makers and copyright holders, we’re happy to reveal the full lineup of authors to tackle this anthology.

Coming early November – edited by Eric S. Brown:

Introduction by David Drake

Interview with producer Andrew Bonime

JG Faherty

Martin Powell

Ben Fisher

Mort Castle

Jason White

Chad Lutzke

Ross Baxter

Philip C Perron

David Bernstein

Nick Cato

Alex Laybourne

Michael Hanson

Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes

David Robbins

Robert Waters

Greg Mitchell

Tim Waggoner

Ryan C. Thomas

An interview with screenwriter Parnell Hall.

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 06, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

New Release: our very first YA Horror/Mystery Adventure

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Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt – A Supernatural Adventure/Mystery Novel

The fate of the world rests in the hands of four dysfunctional teenagers and a bunch of oddball adults. What could possibly go wrong?

This supernatural / adventure / mystery novel is perfect for fans of The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three Investigators, Goonies, Monster Club, Lost Boys, and Miss Peregrine. It might be a YA book perfect for ages 13 and older, but it’s a fun read no matter what age you are.

Dorsal Finn is a sleepy coastal town facing the gleaming Atlantic Ocean. It is a town with quaint customs and inhabited by people who are as welcoming as they are weird.  It is also a place where long lost tombs hide long held secrets.

Because beneath Dorsal Finn lies The Dark Heart, an ancient and malevolent entity determined to be free of its eternal prison. It has lured allies to the town, people with corrupt agendas determined to resurrect the greatest evil history has ever known, and in doing so release The Dark Heart upon an unsuspecting world.

What could possibly go wrong?

Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing – Tales from the Darkest Depths

Get it today from Amazon
And add it on Goodreads

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 03, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More

The Deep End interview with Dave Jeffery

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Joe: Tell us a bit (or a lot) more about your childhood. Primary school, high school, etc. How do you think your experiences benefited or influenced your career?

Dave Jeffery: I grew up in an area known as ‘The Black Country’. It was at one point the industrial heartland of the UK. Growing up there had its challenges but everyone seemed to get through days with a blunt sense of humour. I moved around a lot when I was very young. My parents split when I was eight and I was raised by grandparents and my dad. During this time, I used to love losing myself in adventure mystery books such as the Secret Seven, Famous Five, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. From there I found myself seeking out harder-edged mysteries such as Ellery Queen Whodunit and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators.

The council estate where I lived for most of my teenage years was rough, a landscape based on economic struggle, but the people around me, family, friends, always had a sense of pride. I can never say that I didn’t get lucky; we were a close-knit family and emotionally I wanted for nothing. I went to the local comprehensive school and at that point wanted to write and draw comic books. I was okay at art, but in reality just not good enough. I had a mate who was pretty damn good and we produced comic strips based on Planet of the Apes and Star Trek. We sold these for a few pennies each in the playground. Kept us in regular snacks for about half of a school year. I was 10 when I first read James Herbert’s The Rats, and found an instant connection with the gritty style of writing and graphic descriptions. This was followed by Guy N. Smith’s Night of the Crabs, and Herbert’s follow-up The Fog (which is one of my all-time favourite genre books), and from that point on I was hooked.

Looking back, I think it was inevitable that I would eventually gravitate to the idea of fusing the adventure mystery and horror elements that are fundamental to Cryptic Crypt.  The process of writing it certainly felt natural and unforced. Sometimes stories work out that way. It was pretty much the same with the Necropolis Rising series.

Joe: Can you recall a moment where you had to choose between being an author/artist and another career? A decisive moment where you decided to go all out?

DJ: Initially it was a simple exercise in economics that had me moving towards a career in mental health nursing, I wasn’t going to be able to make a living just by writing. In my 32 years in the profession, I have come across a significant amount of creatives who, for one reason or another, have put these fundamental aspects of their personality aside in order to help others.  This job has been an incredible experience and a privilege. You see people at their most vulnerable, witness the extremes in terms of violence and aggression, the desperation of depression and the tragedies that mental illness imposes on the person and their families. But you also see the triumphs, and it is in those moments you realise what it is that kept you doing what it is you do. 

Joe: How did you respond to your very first success as an author? Was it just rewarding, or did it motivate you even more? Or, did it perhaps feel underwhelmed, which motivated you to even greater heights? 

DJ: My first success was when the Necropolis Rising novel hit #1 on the Amazon UK charts in 2010. I was pretty amazed if I’m honest. I was also surprised by the responses from other people. This ranged from those undermining the achievement because it wasn’t released through one of the ‘big four’ publishers, to those who heralded the success as an example of what could be achieved in the current independent publishing sector. It did motivate me to write, but offers that came in were for short stories and I went with those for a while. It always amazes me when editors get in touch and invite me to contribute to anthologies. I guess it’s an acknowledgement that people like what I do and feel it will add to whatever publication they are putting together.

Joe: How has your career as an author affected relationships with friends and family? 

DJ: My career, such as it is at this juncture, is underpinned by my family. Justine, my wife, is totally supportive and is just as excited as seeing Beatrice Beecham out with Crystal Lake Publishing. Over the past twelve years Justine has put up with late nights and conversations halted in mid flow because I’m writing something on a Blackberry or iPhone. This is as much her achievement as mine.

I don’t often tell people I write. It seems with the advent of online publishing everyone does it so I don’t see it as that big a deal. I always respect the views of those who have invested time and money in my work.

Joe: Which author most influenced your early career? And who still does?

DJ: That’s an easy one: John Steinbeck. In my view, no one writes such sparse prose that can deliver such a profound impact. He inspires me even today. Cannery Row is my all-time favourite novel. I wish I had an eighth of the ability he had. If people want to pin me down to a horror influence then it would be James Herbert and Guy N. Smith based on my earlier comments. I was fortunate to meet Guy and he was highly supportive of my writing.  A true gentleman.

Joe: Instead of just focussing on your most successful work, which story are you the proudest of, a story that managed to capture a piece of who you are?

DJ: Finding Jericho, a contemporary novel based on a teenager coping with his uncle’s mental illness, says more about me than anything else I have written. It encapsulates my experiences of working in mental health, and tries to tell the stories of those I have met, and raise awareness of the stigma associated with having a mental illness.

Joe: How do you feel when you don’t make your target words for the day? 

DJ: I’m pleased to say that I never let a daily word count dictate the terms. That privilege is reserved for the story and the characters in them. Sometimes they have a lot to say; other times they are silent. I never force myself to write. I usually have several pieces of work on the go at any one time. I have found this a good way to avoid the infamous ‘writer’s block’. If one story doesn’t feel the need to step forward, another will. If they are all reluctant, then I go and watch a movie or read. They soon get bored and start making noises!

Joe: What’s the most difficult topic for you to write?

DJ: Anything which involves the death of or cruelty towards a child. Being a parent contributes to that, I guess. I have written about such things, but I automatically adopt a sensitive writing voice. I am conscious of it and I’m not sure I would want to change how I do this kind of thing. I’m not one for cheap shocks using taboo subject matter. I have done it for commissioned pieces, but it is not something I would choose for my own projects.

Joe: What do you do to distract you enough to actually relax a bit? Or do you always think about writing?

DJ: I love to read (the obvious one) and watch movies. I also write scripts and film under the umbrella of VLM Productions. Writing pretty much dominates my spare time these days. I spend most of the remaining time with my family. Or catching Pokémon! 

Joe: Tell us a bit about the people you met while researching a book. Are you still friends with some of them?

DJ: Only people I don’t like make it into my books, just so I can kill them off. Only kidding!  There are some people I’ve met whose personality traits have been blended into some of the characters; especially in the Beatrice Beecham books. People are always coming up with great names that I tend to give to the townsfolk of Dorsal Finn.

Joe: Outside of the actual craft, what is the most useful skill you learnt from being an author? 

DJ: Write what you want to read. It’s a cliché but it’s true. If you write for yourself then, more often than not, you give your worst critic access to the quality control button. Also, write what you know, purely because it will feel more authentic. And you don’t have to do so much research!


Joe: How did being author change you as a person?

DJ: I don’t think it has. Personally, I think it’s the person who creates the writer, their experiences and their worldview. I have always been creative and, to be fair, introverted. I’m good at speaking in public, but it is not a natural thing and in preference I’d rather not. However, this quickly becomes an issue if you’re asked to do a reading! 

Joe: Which response/comment from a reader has touched you the most throughout your career?

DJ: One reader told me that reading Finding Jericho had changed their life. As a writer, how the hell do you top something like that?

Joe: What is your life-long goal as an author?

DJ: I would like to write full time. I can retire in a few years and still have to do two days a week. The rest of the time will be dedicated to writing. I’m hoping that over the next few years I can shave those last few days down and write full time. That would be my kind of heaven.

Joe: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

DJ: Every once in a while for people to think, ‘Dave Jeffery? He’s the oddball who wrote those Beatrice Beecham books, right?’

 

  Crystal Lake Publishing   Mar 02, 2017   Blog   0 Comment Read More