Monthly Archives: October 2015

Shooting Star: Interview with Geosi Gyasi

For this week’s author interview, I’m pleased to introduce Geosi Gyasi. Geosi is a fantastic author and a huge supporter of indie writers. On his site, Geosi Reads, he interviews up-and-coming authors, and I was honored to appear there over the summer. His questions are well-researched and in-depth, and his writing is the same. This is one writer whose star has only begun to rise.

A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I became a writer when I started taking writing “seriously” – thus – in the latter part of my final year at the university. I wrote a number of short-fiction until after several rejections, I turned to poetry.

For my favorite writers, I would always go for Benjamin Kwakye and J.M Coetzee.

Your site, Geosi Reads, is a fantastic project that, in part, helps new writers get their names out there through your insightful interviews. What inspired you to start reaching out to up-and-coming writers?

This is an important question as I also identify as a budding writer. It is often too common that budding writers are not always given the needed exposure from the beginning of their writing careers. My role as an interviewer is to give them this exposure they need to blossom. My site is therefore a celebration of both budding and established writers.

What is your favorite medium as a writer: short stories, novels, or nonfiction articles?

Poetry is my favorite medium.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a couple of poetry but at the same time, my book of interviews is forthcoming by Lamar University Press Books in 2016.

Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?

In five years from now, I hope to have a couple of chapbooks out and also to pursue further studies in writing and make a descent living as a writer.

Any links you’d like to share?

Sure!

  1. A Journey: http://visualverse.org/submissions/a-journey/
  2. A Writer’s Block: http://visualverse.org/submissions/a-writers-block/
  3. Three Poems: http://afrikana.ng/the-olduvain-review/poetry/three-poems-4/
  4. On Your Birthday: http://literaryyard.com/2015/09/15/poem-on-your-birthday/
  5. If You Truly Enjoyed My Voice, Why Did You Reject Me: http://www.artvilla.com/plt/if-you-truly-enjoyed-my-voice-why-did-you-reject-me-a-poem-by-geosi-gyasi/

And then an interview: http://www.africanwriter.com/interview-with-geosi-gyasi-founder-of-geosi-reads/

Big thanks to Geosi for being part of this week’s author interview!

Happy reading!

 

Prolific Prose: Interview with Dina Leacock

For this week’s author interview, I would like to welcome writer Dina Leacock. Dina is the successful author of hundreds (yes, hundreds) of short stories. She and I recently discussed her incredible bibliography as well as why she enjoys writing dark fiction.

A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?  

Dina LeacockI loved so many that I had to become a writer. My favorites were Harlan Ellison and William Tenn but there were just so many great writers and great books. I loved short story collections. I think I read just about every author from the Golden age through the 1970s. By the 1980s and 90s I was writing fiction in what little spare time I had, I was writing a lot of nonfiction working for newspapers, having a few columns and freelancing, and I had  two young children so time was precious.

What attracted you to the horror genre, and what in your opinion makes horror such a distinct medium?

I have always read horror, my main source of reading material was my brother’s library which had a lot of SF but tons of horror and horror comics. I grew up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey so it was a heavily wooded area, very dark and very scary. And my brother and sister loved to scare me with stories. So I naturally turned to horror, because I had a never ending source since everything scares me. I never run out of scary thoughts.

You’ve had around 200 stories published as well as a couple full-length books. How do you keep yourself motivated to keep writing, especially when it comes to the rejections that authors so often must endure?

State of HorrorI’m really stupid.  Seriously, rejection just never bothers me; I just send the story back out.  I had one story that was rejected 27 times before it was published in a really tacky magazine.  The kicker to this tale is that the story, which is short, humorous and seasonal, has been published 7 more times as a reprint. I just knew the story had merit, so I didn’t care about the editors who didn’t like it. I had confidence in my story. My second book is a reference book on writing which is now out of print, but I’m thinking of resurrecting it. And I now have about 210 or so stories published.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: developing characters, plotting the story arc, or establishing setting?

Writing the story. Each one is different, the process changes but I usually have the plot figured out before I start writing and then the story takes on that life of its own and changes by the time it’s completed.

Out of your published pieces so far, do you have a personal favorite?

I have a couple and oddly enough they are the ones having a hard time finding a home. I loved my story, “To The Farm,” which has been up for a Derringer and won the Spinetinglers Monthly Contest.  Usually my favorite pieces are both speculative, usually dark and very funny.

Big thanks to Dina Leacock for being part of this week’s author interview series. You can find her work at Sha’Daa and the State of Horror anthology series.

Happy reading!

Wacky, Weird, and Wolfish: Interview with Brandon Getz

For this week’s author interview, I am pleased to spotlight writer Brandon Getz. In fact, I’m pleased to say that today’s post marks a first for this site. Unlike the previous interviewees who I found through the vast expanse of the world wide web, I actually met Brandon in real-life. Yes, writers do indeed exist in places other than online! It was a shock to me too! Brandon writes cool, offbeat literature, and we recently discussed his space opera serial as well as his future writing plans.

A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Brandon GetzI started writing stories independently (not for school assignments) when I was ten. My first story, “A Dangerous Dude,” filled 64 pages in a Taz notebook. It’s a ten-year-old’s mishmash of ‘90s action movies, super-soldier serums, inter-dimensional travel, cyberpunk futurism, and all the guns from Doom. Pretty ridiculous. I’ve been writing ever since. It’s more of a compulsion than a vocation; I can’t not write stories. I think my head would explode. Current favorites are China Miéville, Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Lethem, David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood. Neil Gaiman inspired me to write my first “literary” short story when I was sixteen. George Saunders was my idol later on, especially in grad school. I still love his work—a fantastic blend of satire, pathos, and genre elements borrowed from sci-fi and horror. I’ve read “Sea Oak” probably 20 times.

Until recently, your background as a fiction writer was mostly in the literary genre, but with your current serial, Lars Breaxface, Werewolf in Space, you are segueing into speculative fiction. How, if at all, has that transition changed your approach to writing?

My stories have always tended toward the weird. A man’s mid-life crisis unfolding in a taxidermy factory. A widower and his baby daughter visited by demons. A mysterious bottle of unicorn tears, or the strange white neighbors next door. With Lars Breaxface, Werewolf in Space, though, I think I’m just cranking the weird-o-meter up to 11. It’s a send-up to all the sci-fi and monster movies I’ve been watching since I was a kid, and I’m trying to keep it as ridiculous as possible. My ten-year-old self would love it.

Lars Breaxface releases a new installment every week or two. Prior to the launch of chapter one, did you plot the entire serial, or are you allowing some elements to develop organically as you go along?

Werewolf in SpaceTotally organic. When I wrote chapter one, I didn’t even know who the mysterious stranger he meets in chapter two was going to be. After I introduced Jay, I got a rough idea of what I was going to do, a couple of classic monster riffs I wanted to introduce as characters (witch, zombie, creature from the space lagoon…), and where I thought the story would end up eventually. Almost seven chapters in, all of that is holding together pretty well, but if the story decides to take me somewhere else, I’m gonna follow.

In addition to your fiction, you also write poetry and nonfiction. How is your process different (or similar) for each?

Story ideas are like earworms–they infest and evolve, they’ll gestate for days or weeks before I finally put them on the page. Poetry tends to be more spontaneous. An idea pops in and I just write it in one brief sitting, usually focused around a central image. Nonfiction, so far, has only been the paid kind, mostly in the form of short portraits of artists and performers involved in local events. I love it—I love talking to people who are creating art and are passionate about what they do. But it’s a whole different animal from the creative stuff.

Out of your published pieces so far, do you have a personal favorite?

Probably “White People,” which came out in The After Happy Hour Review this spring. It’s my newest published piece (minus Lars Breaxface, which I won’t count since it’s still ongoing), so maybe that’s why I’d call it the favorite. But… it is pretty hilarious. I laughed out loud writing it. I’m also still partial to my first published story, about God and the Devil playing chess. At first I’d written that story as a joke, a kind of challenge to see if I could turn the cliché on its head. It was such an affirmation to have that piece be my first in print. It was the complete opposite of the Raymond Carver knockoff bullshit I thought I was supposed to be writing. Also, I wrote a story about a robot on a park bench that was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I feel obligated to list that among the favorites. It’s called “Robot on a Park Bench.”

Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?

Shopping a novel and a collection. With Werewolf in Space, I’m still feeling out the process of novel writing, something I’ve been trying to learn for the past three years (two aborted/on-hiatus projects still bear the scars of my novice attempts to push beyond 4,000 words). Whatever happens with Lars after his space-faring serial, I hope to apply this writing process to future projects. As for the collection, I’m about halfway there. Seven stories finished and published, a handful of others in the pipeline. I’ve got a graphic novel project in the works with Pittsburgh artist Ross Kennedy of Armature Tattoo, and I’m also mulling the idea of a kids’ series. More adventures with monsters and silliness, R.L. Stine-style.

Big thanks to Brandon for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him at his website and on Twitter.

Happy reading!

Falling for Fiction: Interview with James Everington

Welcome back to this week’s author interview series. Today, our featured writer is James Everington. Based in Nottingham, England, he writes lots of cool and strange stories, which have been featured in numerous publications including his own short story collection, Falling Over.

Over the summer, James and I discussed the great icons of horror, the future of the genre, and what this dedicated author has in store for his readers.

A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

James EveringtonThere was no lightbulb moment when I decided to become a writer; I’ve always loved books and stories and at some point as a teenager I just started writing and never stopped, really. I guess the main decision was to focus on one particular style–horror–which I felt I had the most aptitude for. I wrote a lot of other stuff when I was younger: realistic fiction, poetry, a dreadful Martin Amis-y novel. If I die, I sure to god hope none of it comes to light! But it was all useful; it’s as important to know what you can’t do as what you can.

In terms of favourite authors who’ve also been an influence on me, I’d pick Ramsey Campbell, Shirley Jackson and Robert Aickman as my key guiding lights. But there’s so many great horror and weird fiction authors writing today as well; it’s hard to keep up with the amount of talent in our field.

I must take this moment and commend your choice of social media banners: the inimitable Christopher Lee commanding a brood of pagans in front of an eponymous wicker man. With all the classic Hollywood horror icons gone, do you ever find yourself concerned about the future of horror cinema, or are you less cynical than me and think a new brigade of talent will soon assume the mantle?

Thank you! It’s certainly true that a lot of my favourite horror films are of that era: The Wicker Man (obviously), Alien, Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, Videodrome and my absolute Number 1, Dont Look Now. But there were a lot of shit films back then, let’s not kid ourselves. As for more recent films, I’m probably not the best person to ask; I don’t see enough modern films to be able to give anything like a comprehensive answer. There’s obviously still a lot of shit, but things like The Awakening, It Follows and plenty of foreign films seem to be at least trying to do something interesting.

Your short story collection, Falling Over, was released in 2013. Was it difficult choosing which stories to reprint from your past publications, and did the decision in any way impact the new stories you wrote exclusively for the collection?  

I was most concerned in getting the stories to flow right. I always think of sequencing a collection like making a mix-tape for someone: you want to start with a bang, then build on that, then maybe take it down a notch by having a slower, more contemplative piece. And at the same time, you want the stories to talk to each other. I think of that collection as my ‘falling stories’ – they nearly all have some literal or metaphorical descent in them.

Since youve done both, which do you prefer writing: short fiction or novels?

Well, the only novel-length work I’ve had published is The Quarantined City which is being published episodically throughout 2015. And each episode contains a complete, self-contained short story: the central character is searching the quarantined city for a reclusive writer called Boursier, one of whose stories features in every episode.

All of which is an oblique way of saying that, whilst I certainly intend to write further novel length work in the future, my first love is short stories (I loathe it when people call them ‘shorts’, especially other writers) and I’ll always be drawn to writing them.

Falling OverOut of your published pieces so far, do you have a personal favorite?

I’m not sure about favourite, but the title story of my collection Falling Over is one I think sums up my style and themes pretty well, which is why I picked it to name the collection as well. It’s my take on the doppelganger/pod-people idea, but it’s also about very human things: individuality, growing up and the spark we might lose doing so.

What projects are you currently working on?

There’s the finishing touches to The Quarantined City and then onto a novella called Paupers Graves which will hopefully be out in 2016. It’s set in a real cemetery here in Nottingham, so I’m doing some research, taking photos of interesting looked graves–cheery stuff like that! I’m aiming for austerity-horror with this one.

I’m also working on my first anthology project, called The Hyde Hotel which will be out from KnightWatch Press sometime this year. The other editor (Dan Howarth) and I created a strange and creepy hotel, and then invited some fantastic authors to each write a story about someone staying in one of the rooms. To my surprise, they all said yes!

Thanks to James for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at Scattershot Writing.

Happy reading!

A Dog’s Life: Interview with Gowon Fisher

This week’s author spotlight features writer and illustrator Gowon M. Fisher. Gowon writes charming children’s book, including Kenai’s Thanksgiving, which is a sweet tale of holidays and one very curious dog. Recently, Gowon offered a pithy perspective into his life as an artist.

A few icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

I decided to become a writer in 2013. I have always enjoyed drawing, and writing, but 2013 was when I decided to put my ideas into action. I love writing children’s books and was inspired by the works of children’s authors, whose books I read as a child. These authors include William Steig, James Marshall, and Maurice Sendak.

In addition to your writing, you are also an illustrator. What are your favorite mediums as an artist?

I love experimenting with different mediums. In my newest book, the illustrations are done in acrylic paint. However, I also like to do illustrations in colored pencil.

Kenai's ThanksgivingYour children’s book, “Kenai’s Thanksgiving,” is such a wonderful concept. What inspired you to create a book from the point of view of your Siberian Husky? (He’s adorable by the way.)

Kenai’s Thanksgiving was inspired by an actual event that took place on Thanksgiving. I felt that this would make a wonderful children’s story because it is funny, and tells the story from the point of view of Kenai. He lives in a world with such wonders, and is curious about everything!  But sometimes his curiosity leads to chaos.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on publishing a new children’s book called The Great Squirrel Rebellion. This story is about a group of squirrels who try to eat seed from a bird feeder. However, the woman who owns the feeder does not want squirrels eating her seed. Only birds. The squirrels devise all manner of tricks to gain seed, and the woman tries her hardest to keep them away. A bitter conflict ensues. However, in the end, both parties learn that compromise is always the best way to solve problems.

In what directions would you like to take your writing career in the future?

In the future, I would like to gain employment as an illustrator of children’s books. Right now, I am just working on getting my ideas out in the public.

Thanks to Gowon Fisher for being part of this week’s author interview series! You can find Kenai’s Thanksgiving at Amazon!

Happy reading!