Friday, October 31, 2014

SPOTLIGHT: "Underground" by members of the NIWA w/ an INTERVIEW with Mike Chinakos


The word underground makes everyone think of something different. I, personally, think of music and underground bands. Others think of mines, secret passageways, claustrophobia, the subway and who knows what else?
The Northwest Independent Writers Association gave some of their members a word count limit abd that one word, and the results are what you'll read in Underground.
You have horror, crime, romance, mystery and the just plain creepy while you make you journey Underground with these talented writers. One story is about a war hero (villain) and a one-eyed crow. In another, the world is literally underwater. An old woman dances with death while a girl is saved from it by a loyal companion.
I loved reading this, because there was no set theme, just an idea. Some stories were better than others, yes, but they were all intriguing and engaging on a different level. Scary, strange and delightful, you should definitely treat yourself to this book!
Below, you'll find a guide to all of the authors who contributed to this book and an interview with author Mike Chinakos!


MIKE CHINAKOS is the author of the Hollywood Cowboys series, the sci-fi short story collection Terminal Horizons, the novella Dead Town, and numerous short stories published in magazines and anthology collections. He is the cofounder and first president of the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). You can find him online at and mikechinakosauthor.

AMBER MICHELLE COOK is the author of two novellas (contemporary fantasy/ urban fairy tales What the Faeries Left Behind and Defense Mechanisms) and two forthcoming novels— a modern adaptation of Through the Looking Glass with an adult Alice set in a Wonderland version of McMenamins’ Edgefield; and Night of the Victorian Dead, Book 1: Welcome to Romero Park, a paranormal/ gothic novel laced with sly humor. Partly raised in Germany, she went to an international high school, majored in linguistics, and loves literature and period pieces.   She’s also a photography/ graphic arts artist of color and wonder, and she blogs on the topic Caution: Adults Playing. Aside from words and stories, she adores dogs and is fascinated by any and everything aquatic.   Especially cephalopods. Find her online at

PAMELA COWAN is best known for her psychological thrillers. Her mystery novel, Something in the Dark, won the NSQ award and was a #1 best seller on Amazon Kindle. She recently published Storm Justice, a suspense thriller, and is currently working on the second book in that series. Her short stories have been published in Alien Skin, Argus, Space and Time, Visions, and various anthologies, and have been read on OPB-supported Golden Hours Radio. She is the former editor of the speculative fiction magazine, Nanobison. An Army brat, she was born in Germany and moved with her family seventeen times before her father retired to Oregon, where she has steadfastly remained.   She has two grown children and lives with her husband and several four-legged house guests.

Having left fabulous Las Vegas, fantasy author JAKE ELLIOT and his wife chose the Pacific Northwest as a great place to have new adventures. Without kids, they are guardians over a sometimes hostile cat by the name of Samson. Minimalists at heart and masters of traveling on a shoestring budget, Jake and his wife travel whenever they can dupe anyone into watching vicious Samson.   Jake’s current published works include two novels with Damnation Books, six short stories, and one story published under a different name. His first novel is temporarily out of print and is being re-formatted for re-launch. Soon, very soon. JONATHAN EMS thinks he so f*** ing clever. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is a constant embarrassment to his friends and family. He’s previously published Obviously, I Anticipated This . . ., a collection of essays and short fiction, and Modus Operandi, a science fiction mystery novel. His current projects include the comedic fantasy novel Vampire Lesbians From Dimension X   and the sci-fi comedy feature film Self Portrait. Find out more about his work at his website,

T.L. KLEINBERG has been writing for her own entertainment nearly all of her life. She was the child who told ghost stories at slumber parties until everyone shivered deliciously in their sleeping bags. A few years ago she decided to write her stories down for those who might enjoy reading them. She lives in Tigard, Oregon, where she and her husband manage an eighty-unit apartment complex. Her dream is to move to the coast and write until she can no longer handle the keyboard.

JASON W. LAPIER was born and raised in Upstate New York and now lives happily with his wife and a long-haired dachshund in Portland, Oregon. He loves gardening, hiking, cooking, and music. During the day, he masquerades as a mild-mannered software engineer. His debut novel, a sci-fi murder mystery called Unexpected Rain, will be published by Harper Voyager in Summer 2015. Find him online at

JASON W. LAPIER was born and raised in Upstate New York and now lives happily with his wife and a long-haired dachshund in Portland, Oregon. He loves gardening, hiking, cooking, and music. During the day, he masquerades as a mild-mannered software engineer. His debut novel, a sci-fi murder mystery called Unexpected Rain, will be published by Harper Voyager in Summer 2015. Find him online at

MAGGIE LYNCH has never missed a chance to learn something new. With degrees in psychology, counseling, computer science, and education she has had opportunities both in private industry and academia that have taken her around the world. She has enjoyed working in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. Her current publishing credits include five non-fiction books, over thirty science fiction short stories, and nine novels across multiple genres.   She is also the founder of Windtree Press, a growing publishing cooperative currently with fourteen self-publishing and hybrid authors. Retired from her consulting and academic career, Maggie now spends most of her time journeying into her imagination. She writes romance and science fiction under the name Maggie Jaimeson, and YA fantasy under the name Maggie Faire. Her non-fiction work is written under Maggie Lynch. You can find her in online at

ROSLYN MCFARLAND is the author of the YA Paranormal Romance See No Sea, currently available in both e-book and paperback formats. In 2006 she was struck down by health problems, undiagnosed and progressing into full immobility over the course of six-and-a-half years. Going out of her mind with worry, frustration, pain, and boredom, her solution and salvation came from getting a childhood recurring dream out of her head by writing it down. With the completion of her first novel came the diagnosis of Lyme Disease, quickly followed by treatment and a cure, thus clearing the way for editing and preparation for publication. God works in mysterious ways. Roslyn currently lives in Oregon with her husband, two extraordinarily active and strong willed little girls (karma) and a house full of fur kids (cats and dogs; she doesn’t expect the goldfish to last long). She’s nearly completed book two and already outlining book three of the No Sea Trilogy, both of which she hopes to release within the next year. She’s already amassing a lengthy list of future series ideas and hopes to be able to continue turning dreams into reality for many years to come.

CODY NEWTON is a 26-year-old freelancer and fiction writer. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism.   He’s won a Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press and a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and he was nominated for a Hearst Award. He’s been published in Ethos, The Source, Crack the Spine, AlterNet, and Willamette Week.
He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the Forest Service as a Wildland Firefighter in the summers. Apart from writing and reading profusely, DEY RIVERS adores Doctor Who and anime. Feeling less than inspired at her soul-sucking job at a bank, she quit and is currently pursuing a degree in art. This is her first venture into publishing.

STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY, from Central Illinois, enjoys football, history, guns, politics, and good fiction. His short stories— 365 in number— have been published in print or digital media. His novels and small press books— Philistine, Overkill, Hell Billy, Thrall, Bad Magick, Bedlam Unleashed, Stronger Than Death, Hawg, Tormentor, and Godforsaken— run from horror to historical high fantasy. Look for his forthcoming novel with Maurice Broaddus, Black Son Rising.

Born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest, DALE IVAN SMITH got into trouble in grade school for sneaking off to the library during class. Later, he earned a degree in history, so naturally he became a librarian. He has worked for Multnomah County Library system since 1987. Dale has his mother to thank for his love of science fiction and fantasy— when he was 15, she loaned him her set of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels and he was hooked for life. He met the love of his life, LeAnn, at a part-time job while a senior in high school and they’ve been together ever since. She shares his love of gaming (board/ card/ roleplaying/ video games) and all things science fiction and fantasy. Dale’s stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction and 10Flash Quarterly, and at Amazon and other online booksellers. A collaboration with K.C. Ball appeared in the June ’14 Perihelion Science Fiction. Currently he is writing an urban fantasy novel and revising his weird western, The Hardscrabble. You can find him at and on Twitter (@

LAUREL STANDLEY is an author and scientist living in Portland, Oregon. In her novels, she focuses on eco-suspense and fictional narrative.   Her novels include Poisoned Seed and Reflections on a Journey. Laurel blogs and tweets (@ Laurel_Standley) on reducing environmental exposures, and she is the author of the nonfiction, self-help book: Toxins Tweet: 140 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Toxins. To learn more, visit her author site at

JENNIFER WILLIS is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. Her articles have appeared in The Oregonian, The Christian Science Monitor,, The Portland Tribune, The Writer, Religion and Politics, Spirituality & Health, and other print and online publications at home and across the globe.   In fiction, she focuses on urban fantasy and playful mayhem. She is the author of the Valhalla series and Rhythm.   Jennifer is the 2014 and 2015 editor of the NIWA Anthology and was the 2013 Director of NIWA’s NSQ Program, for which she was honored with the inaugural Adam Copeland Award. She and her boyfriend share their home with a mutt, a crazy wolf-dog, and two incredibly quirky cats. Find her online at



1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I started my love affair with writing fiction in the fourth grade. A wonderful teacher, Mrs. Pool, had her class put together their own books as part of an English assignment. She wanted us to write short stories and create illustrations to go with them. You probably won't be surprised to find that most of the books put together by the kids in the class were very heavy on the drawing, but light on actual stories. To this day I have trouble drawing one dimensional stick figures, let alone any kind of quality picture! But through that assignment I discovered a passion for fictional storytelling. Mrs. Pool strongly encouraged me to follow that passion. As the years went by, I wrote a lot, but would never have considered myself a writer.
Jump forward to 2009 when the economy took a nose dive: I was laid off of a job I thought I'd be working at until I retired. At that time I was close to finishing up what I consider my first real endeavor as a professional writer, the first book in the Hollywood Cowboys series, called oddly enough,Hollywood Cowboys. At the time I was devastated at losing my job. But in hindsight, it turned out to be one of the best things to happen in my life. With free time on my hands, I decided to make a go at writing for a living. I've never been happier about making such a big life changing decision. I've never looked back.

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

The same year I fell in love with writing I discovered Ray Bradbury. I read the Martian Chronicles and it further cemented my desire to tell stories. Other authors that inspired me, and continue to inspire me are, William F. Nolan, Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Steve Perry, Michael Moorcock, Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, Joe R. Lansdale, Isaac Asimov, Joseph Conrad, Fred Saberhagen and George R.R. Martin. Just to name a few!
Recently I've been revisiting and discovering some works of Michael Moorcock. Back in the 90s, White Wolf publishing put together an amazing 15 book omnibus collection of the Eternal Champion stories, and let Moorcock put them in the order he thought they should appear. And of course, like everybody else, I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in the Ice and Fire series by Martin. When I'm in the middle of writing a piece of fiction I never read fiction. I take that time to read biographies (often about my favorite Rock 'n Roll or Metal bands), history books, political books, etc.

3. What was the inspiration behind your story for NIWA?

Hmmmm... this one could get me in a little bit of trouble, but I'll spill the beans. There's a character in the story that doesn't spend much time on the pages, but is kind of the glue that holds the story together and gives motivation to the plot. That person is largely based on an actual drill sergeant I had while in the army. I combined that character with a theme I explored in a couple of back to back short stories; the effects of the physical and emotional damage suffered by our wounded warriors over the past decade when they return home. Down in a Hole, which appears in the 2014 anthology, deals more with both physical and emotional damage. The Other Side of Daylight is a short story that appears in my most recent anthology, Grim Highways.

4. What was out about 1980's metal that made you decide to write a novel about it with Hollywood Cowboys?

First and foremost, it's METAL!!!! My love affair with all things Hard Rock and Metal is no secret to those that know me. Like I said in my blog about my musical evolution, "As hard as those middle school days could be on a D&D-playing, Star Wars-loving, glasses-wearing geek, Metal was like a healing salve for my soul. Or should I say it was more like pouring gasoline on an already roaring bonfire of hormones and barely contained energy?" If your readers are interested in checking out that blog, or any of my other blogs, they can do so here:
But what really got me to specifically write Hollywood Cowboys was when a very good friend, and fantastic musician, let me read him a short story of mine that became the prolog of the novel. At the time it was just a short piece. I had no plans of it going any further, but when he heard it, that all changed. My friend basically gave me the old "write what you know" advice. And I know music and horror as well as my friend knows his way around a guitar. So I set out to write a homage to my favorite horror flicks and my favorite bands. The first novel in the series came out in 2010. Since then there's been a huge wave of 80s nostalgia. I feel lucky that grabbed my surf board early on to ride that wave! A second edition, the Hollywood Cowboys Triple Platinum edition, will be out after the first of the year.

5. You claim to be a metal fan. I am as well! What are some of your favorite bands?

Sooooo many! But to name a few, and not all Metal: Rush (my favorite band in the world), Black Sabbath, Black Label Society, Anthrax, Testament, Machine Head, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Rage Against the Machine, Van Halen, Korn, Motley Crue, Guns 'N Roses (actually, anything with Slash), Prince (I said not all Metal!), AC/DC, The Cult, Dan Reed Network, Oingo Boingo, Blue Murder, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Into Eternity, FuzzBot, anything with Sammy Hagar... Okay, I gotta stop! I could keep going for hours!

6. Do you ever take characters' personalities from real life?

Very rarely. But Hollywood Cowboys is the major exception to that rule. There's a whole lot of my life, and the lives of other people I know, in those books.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I've written Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and Steampunk. I have plans for some thrillers in the future. I'm also in the middle of a Splatterpunk re-telling of Romeo and Juliet for an anthology I was asked to contribute to... and if you can believe it after seeing those previous genres... I might take a stab at Historical Romance.

8. You've written steampunk and horror. What are the biggest differences between them?

That's kind of a tricky question. On the surface, some might think they have little in common. But both of my Steampunk stories have a horror element to a degree. I would suspect that the biggest differences between the two genres is situational suspense and the gore factor. Creating suspenseful scenes for any genre is all part of good storytelling, but knowing what factors into the suspense of a genre and knowing when gore is appropriate or not is also important. At the heart of it all, you have to have a story with a great hook, believable characters and solid writing.

9. What kind of monster (vampire, demon, etc.) is your favorite and why?

Damn you and your difficult questions! I love them all! But I'm really intrigued with the thought of living forever, so probably a vampire. No! Wait! I take that back. I want to be a towering, city-destroying behemoth! I want to be a Kaiju monster! That sounds like a great time!

10. Would you like to see any if your novels as a film? If yes, which one and who do you want to see play your characters?

Are you kidding? Of course that would rock! And the big paycheck wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. I'd love to see the Hollywood Cowboys trilogy brought to the big screen in all of its tongue-in-cheek glory. I'm going to take some creative license with the casting and cast people that might be dead, not actors, or younger versions of themselves to fit the images of the characters in my head:
Myself as Jonny Mosh (because who wouldn't want to be a lead singer in a Metal band from the 80s?)
Brandon Lee as Charlie Chance
Michael Anthony as D.C. Hunter
Slash as Tommy T
Scarlet Johansen as Lana Achates
Richard Biggs (from Babylon 5) as Les Jones
Donald Sutherland (about 20 years younger) as J.J. Jezreel
David Lee Roth as Diamond Dave
Haley Joel Osment (as a kid) as Jericho
Tom Savani as Kane
Bill Paxton as Sabbat

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?

Hopefully with some best sellers! But for sure, well-entrenched in my career. I'd like to get a few screenplays under my belt as well.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

In a perfect version of the world? Fronting a band!

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

As a major project I'm currently working on the third book in the Hollywood Cowboys series, called Season of the Dead. I'm also working on the Triple Platinum edition of Hollywood Cowboys as well as numerous short stories.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Pam Cowan, Fred Saberhagen and George R.R. Martin: that way I could help him crank out the Ice and Fire books faster! Just kidding, George. Take all the time you need because the stories are fantastic!

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Interesting question. Here goes:
1.) Despite my love of the horror genre, I'm actually a man of science. I don't believe in the supernatural as much as I relish writing about it. 
2.) And again, despite my love of horror, I'm actually a pretty down to earth guy who prefers peace over conflict. Yep. I know I can write some pretty sick shit, but I swear I'm fairly normal. At least that's what the voices in my head keep telling me.
3.) I love writing in all genres. That's why I admire writers like King, Bradbury, Moorcock and Saberhagen. I don't want to be tied down to only one genre. I have too many stories fighting to get out of my head to limit my ability to share them with the world!

Find Mr. Chinakos online via:


Official site

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