1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I first decided to become a writer when I was twelve, shortly after writing my first real story. I studied for a long while after and wrote lots of stories to see what I could do. The one gift I really had as a child was my imagination and that remains true now. That first story showed me that I could move people with my words and imagination, it was a powerful feeling and I knew I had found my calling.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Bentley Little, Richard Laymon, Alice Borchardt, there are many, many writers I could list here. I’ve always been enamored with books and what I could find in them. These writers remain valid to me today. I read just about anything I can get my hands on from horror and fantasy to mystery, noir and historical or literary fiction. Story pulls me in and good writing.
3. What was the inspiration behind your novels Eyes Like Blue Fire and Water Like Crimson Sorrow?
Actually, the two books first started life as one book, the first one I had ever finished. It started as a page of freewriting I’d jotted down, not sure what I wanted to do with it, and over time I started a regimen to complete it, writing every day as often as I could. I suppose you could say that Anne Rice had a hand in inspiring me, her and many other gothic vampire writers who were publishing or had been published by the time I was in high school where I originally completed ELBF. I was also a very lonely person then, so the loneliness became something I could draw from when writing it.
4. Will we ever see these characters again?
Yes, actually the third book, Cool Green Waters, should be out in 2015 and there is already a beginning for the fourth, Hollow Black Corners of the Soul. I know there will be at least one more book after that and from there we shall have to see. These two books focus more on Zero, Michael, Mateo and another vampire named Aremia, but also feature Katja and Raven who are trying to deal with the events that happened in the first two books. There is quite a lot to learn about these characters and I cover a good sized chunk of it in these books. There are several surprises in store and, starting with Cool Green Waters, things are going to get a bit more intense in places and in overall tone. I’m hoping that readers enjoy what they find out.
5. Can you tell the readers a little about your previous work?
ELBF was my first book, most of what came before it were short stories and things that I’m not sure will ever see the light of day being early work and a bit rickety. I do have some short stories in anthologies and a novelette out called Wendy Won’t Go which also comes in a collector’s edition with another of my stories and one by one of my fellow JEA staff members, Mark Woods.
6. Were any of the characters’ personalities or emotions taken from real life?
The whole book features quite a lot of the angst, loneliness and frustration I was feeling when I wrote it and all of the characters have a piece of me in them. Raven and Katja in particular are different facets of me trying to understand themselves. Its overall message of moving on, getting past the awfulness of a sad past and taking on your future with a certain strength seems to have been a message I was trying to tell myself. After the first two books Raven does take on some elements of my fiancé Todd, but most of their traits are still my own or from my own imagination.
7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?
Interestingly, I think that’s been a struggle for me, my books and stories can take on elements of several different genres and then become hard to classify and market. ELBF is neither completely horror or pnr, its gothic vampires, so where does it fit in? Fantasy often comes into my stories and, more recently, edges of sci-fi. I’ve also tried my hand at erotica and might try some bizarro down the road. I focus on stories more than anything, stories about people we can imagine and empathize with.
8. What would you do if you were Katja?
Hopefully, I would be able to find happiness with Raven, become grounded and more secure in myself. As a person, I might not be quite so worried about having the time to do all that I want to do with my life, to write, to learn, to enjoy things more rather than hurry through or dart around trying to make time for things. I think I would miss the daylight though I’m a night owl most of the time. I know I would have killed Marie as Katja did and then continue to try and understand myself and my master’s past.
9. Along with vampires, you have ghouls and half-bloods. What made you create these monsters in this particular storyline?
With the half-bloods I think it made sense to have a way for Marie to feel cheated and vengeful, what would be worse than feeling like your vampirehood was less than you deserved? It’s also a way to offer Marie underlings and address some of the elements of revenants, renfields and violent vampires we see in other popular vampire legends. In the case of beings like Zero, it also means that we can see what an extended life could offer and how it could wound you.
10. Would you like to see Katja's story as a film or TV show? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?
I used to dream of that when I first wrote it, but I wonder if there would be anyone that quite matched my mental images of them. It would also be hard to keep the same tone, I think. I would have to address it when it came up. I had imagined Zero being played by David Duchovny when it was first written and he was young enough to play him, he’s not really suited to the character as he stands now though. I suppose it would have to be unknowns to avoid issues.
11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
I’m hoping that things keep going strong. I didn’t see myself being published, much less a Lead Editor at J. Ellington Ashton Press, as of April 2013 when ELBF was originally self-published. Now I’m both traditionally published there and have been a part of building it over time. In ten years I’m hoping that JEA is doing even better than we are now and that my books are doing well. I would love to find myself writing more and creating great books. It’s strange to consider that my son would be 19 and my daughter nearly 13 then. Time is always surprising us in many ways, I hope the surprises to come are good ones. Maybe Nikolai and I’s book The Boy Who Slayed Dragons would have some sequels and maybe even more worlds. I think it would be great to see Nikki succeed in many ways. He has such a beautiful imagination and intelligence, I want to see where he goes with it. Feeling grounded and stable, maybe having a house of our own would also be wonderful.
12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
I’m not sure, about the only other thing that ever interested me was forensic pathology, so maybe that, Maybe being a teacher?
13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?
I’m going to be releasing a collection this year or next which contains all of my short stories from anthos and some that have yet to be published, it’s called Apocrypha. I’m also the editor for Inanna Rising: Women Forged by Fire and co-editing both Fearotica (an erotica horror antho) and For Love of Leelah: An Anthology About Souls (a charity anthology to donate to The Trevor Project in honor of Leelah Alcorn) with Alex S. Johnson from JEA.
One of my early short stories, Jodie, is in the progress of becoming a novel and I hope to see that done by next year. It’s about a teenage girl who has been through a great deal and, when faced with a series of awful events unfolding in her life, begins to exhibit some strange gifts involving her dolls. I also have Other Dangers to complete, an apocalypse novel with horror and dark fantasy themes that I’m hoping people really like, it’s been a work in progress for many years. It may take longer than a year to finish, I don’t know. It’s about an author who writes the end of the world and then watches it happen all around her, its black magic, bad choices and redemption at a heavy price.
14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with two collaborative novels at JEA, it’s quite the experience! Feral Hearts, the vampire one is already out and Lycanthroship should hopefully be out later this year, that one features werewolves. I think it would be interesting to write something with my fiancé Todd Misura and maybe Anne Rice or another author with gothic overtones.
15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
1. I’m a horror author who’s afraid of a lot of things, not on a phobia level, but many things give me the shivers.
2. I faced death 3 times to have kids, one we lost and the other two are here with me. While it terrified me, in the end I have my kids and I’m still here.
3. I’m an introvert who could write your eyes out of your head once I got to know you or even have great big long conversations, but for most things I have to have a safe ground, a comfort level. I have a limit on how long I can be social and I can be overwhelmed by large crowds.
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