Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bold Beginner: Interview with Lambert Muir

Welcome back to the latest edition of my author interview series! This week, I shine a spotlight on Lambert Muir. Lambert is just starting out in his writing career, but he’s already well on his way when it comes to leaving his mark on the fiction world.

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

Lambert MuirI don’t believe in Fate or Destiny, but I don’t believe I really decided to be a writer either. I was the weird kid at school, distant, always with his head in a book, living in that head most of the time, had maybe one friend. A C student that no one really thought would go on to pursue higher education. BUT! Find me a book that interested me, most often a book that hadn’t been assigned by a teacher, and I could recite it almost cover to cover. Ask me to write something, not just take dictation, a story of my own and I was on it like I was trying to cure cancer, working madly at it. I wrote past the word limit, I wrote stories that didn’t fit the curriculum. Some teachers encouraged me, most asked to speak with my parents or sent me to speak with the counselor.

Flash forward to some years ago, add some punk and puberty, and I made it to the Cinema program at Dawson only to realise that I cannot stand cameras and sound equipments and editing softwares. The whole moviemaking process is like a piano wire spider web and I want my ideas out there faster than it would allow. There’s no way I’m continuing in this field of study on to University. Fortunately, the nice older man working at the comic shop I frequent tells me that [if] I like coming up with stories, why don’t I try and sign up for the Creative Writing program at Concordia? So I cobble up a portfolio a week before deadline and I get in. Once there…Things felt right.

I’ve been shamelessly calling myself a ‘‘writer’’ ever since, because when I write, it feels like the right thing for me to be doing at the time ,and I want to go on writing in some capacity until I die.

As for favorite writers, I don’t really have one. Let’s just say Grant Morrison, or Arthur Conan Doyle, or Hunter S. Thompson and move on.

Is there a particular genre in which you prefer to write?

No. My writing is predicated on the ideas I have when I have them. They appear as flashes, images, sentences, and evolve as I think about them.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: developing point of view/voice, crafting dialogue, or building conflict?

Again, writing is more a long strange trip for me. Sometimes ideas will come as big story-ready things; sometimes I have to Frankenstein smaller ideas together. But once I have my idea, my story, and what I want to say or do with the story, writing is just a matter of getting to work.

It’s not a perfect process and it results in a lot of beginnings written with ink scattered across quite a few notebooks, unfinished, waiting for something that’ll trigger an idea on what to do with them. Still, it allows for fresh perspectives, new ways of telling the story that I think improve the whole thing. Though, I may just be excusing laziness.

What is best, though, is when you go off. When the actual work of writing is erased by the fun of creating, of coming up with the next bit of the story, when you’re jamming, like, really jamming, going back and forth, writing and rewriting, like…Jamming. I’ve been high, I’ve been drunk, but nothing’s quite like when you just let go and jam your writing. It’s what makes the tenth rewrite tolerable.

The Blasted Tree

What projects are you currently working on? In what directions would you like to take your writing career in the future?

A sci-fi story, maybe a queer love story, a spy story, an autobiographical story about going on the road, a weird detective story…I couldn’t say which will be published first, or which will get worked on next or when, but that’s mostly what’s been in my head this summer.

The way I write is dependent on mood and setting aside time to work, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, least of all me, but I recently joined a group of writers online and while it doesn’t ‘‘motivate’’ me per se, it does keep me thinking about writing, consciously or otherwise.

As for the future, my wildest dream would be to write comics. Marvel, DC, creator owned stuff, I love the medium, I’m a fiend for it and I’d love to contribute to its future. I don’t think I’ll stop writing prose though; maybe I’ll even try this poetry thing I keep hearing about…

Any links you’d like to share?

You can find both “Clarity in Darkness” and “Two Fifteen,” my first published work, at The Blasted Tree’s website. The Blasted Tree is a Canadian art collective and publishing company that provides an outlet to the next generation of Canadian artists, writers and poets. If you’re looking for wild stuff produced by mad Canadian children who witnessed the birth of the 21st Century, then look no further.

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

Happy reading!



Interdisciplinary Iconoclast: Interview with Nicole DeGennaro

For today’s author interview, I’m pleased to introduce Nicole DeGennaro. She’s a speculative fiction writer with stories appearing in numerous anthologies. Her upcoming project called 341 is a fantastic interdisciplinary project that involves both authors and artists in an unusual hands-on way. Plus, Nicole cites both Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson as her horror inspirations, so there’s no way to deny this author knows her stuff.

Below, we talk about her upcoming project as well as her favorite part of the writing process.

When did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Nicole DeGennaroTo be honest, it was never a conscious decision that I made. I grew up as a voracious reader (and still am), so I’ve always considered it a natural progression that I would go from reading to writing. A few years ago it occurred to me that people other than my friends and family might like to read my stories, and that’s when I started submitting to anthologies and whatnot.

Some of my favorite authors are Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, and Maggie Steifvater.

Much of your work belongs to the gothic and/or horror genre. When did you first become interested in horror, and do you find yourself returning to certain stories/poems/films for inspiration?

I grew up watching The X-Files (and am SO excited for the new season), and I read some Stephen King when I was relatively young; The Stand is still one of my favorite books. Eventually I branched out into Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury and other staples of the genre. Like writing in general, writing horror was never a conscious choice for me either; most of the ideas I come up with just naturally take a dark turn!

I re-read The Stand often, but it isn’t exactly for inspiration. I tend to seek new sources of inspiration instead of returning to old ones because I’m always looking for ways to improve and expand my own writing, and I feel a good way to do that is to read new authors and stories. I do sometimes re-read the same short story collections from authors like Matheson and Bradbury because those will offer a lot of variety, which I find can plant new story ideas in my head.

You work in New York City. How does the omnipresent bustle of one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas impact your work (if at all)?

What a great question! New York City is such a large and diverse city; it’s great for people watching. You can get glimpses into lives that are completely unlike your own, and also see the full range of human emotions in a very short span of time (especially during the morning and evening commutes). It’s a great way to learn the nuances of human behavior. So I think being there almost every day has a more general rather than specific impact on my writing.

In what directions do you see the horror genre going in the next ten to twenty years?

I’d like to think it’s going to become more inclusive with regard to author and character diversity. This is already happening, but I hope it continues to do so. I also think that as technology continues to advance, horror will follow that. Like the movie “Unfriended” that came out recently (although I haven’t seen it yet). We’ll see more stories that play on our fears related to social media and technology. But I think the classic staples of the genre, like supernatural creatures and psychological horror, will always be around. They feed into a more primordial fear that I don’t think humanity can escape no matter how far we advance. (I should note that I am terrible at predictions.)

You have three works appearing in an upcoming illustrated short story book. What can you share about this project?

I am so excited about this project! It’s called 341; my girlfriend came up with the idea a few years ago, and we asked another of our friends to participate. It’s an interesting concept: each of us wrote one main story, then we read each other’s main stories and each wrote a response. So each author has three stories in the collection. Our responses had to be inspired in some way by the main story, but it was a loose requirement: we could do the same theme, or try to mimic the writing style, or repeat the imagery, etc. Then we each got an artist on board to illustrate our stories, and the artists have to do the same thing, taking inspiration from each other’s artwork. It’s been great fun so far. The collection should be available in October.

We’re hoping to do similar projects in the future and expand the number of writers and artists we have involved. Our Kickstarter for this first collection was successfully funded, so we know there is a good deal of interest in the idea.

Gothic Blue BookIf forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: developing characters, creating setting, or plotting the story?

Hands down, it’s developing characters. Most of my stories are character driven; I am so interested in how people react to events, how they grow over time, how we can damage and also heal one another. So it’s no surprise that when I do write horror, it’s mostly psychological.

Once I have the characters, the story usually follows. Sometimes I have to write character sketches, just figuring out the inner workings, before I even know what the story involving the character will be.

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

I feel like all writers must dread this question! It’s so hard to choose; they’re each like a little piece of me, and they have their strengths and weaknesses. Currently, though, I think my favorite is “Making Friends,” which is in Gothic Blue Book IV from Burial Day Books. It’s just this creepy story about loneliness, and I really love how it turned out.

Big thanks to Nicole for being part of my author interview series! Find her at her blog where you can learn more about the 341 project as well as her upcoming publications!

Happy reading!

Finding Humor in the Horrific: Interview with Larry Hinkle

For this week’s author interview, I’m pleased to present Larry Hinkle. Larry is a talented speculative fiction writer hailing from Colorado. Like many of the writers previously featured on this blog, Larry and I met through Sanitarium Magazine where we’re both slushpile readers. Below, we discuss the perils of works in progress and how the editing process never really ends.

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

Larry HinkleI’ve only been writing fiction for a couple years, but I’ve been writing ads (I’m a copywriter by trade) for over 20 years now.

I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, and took a couple classes in college, but the feedback was so soul-crushing it convinced me I wasn’t good enough, which is how I ended up in advertising. Now, instead of writing stories that scare people into peeing their pants, I write ads that scare people into buying adult diapers lest they be caught peeing their pants.

Reading On Writing by Stephen King gave me the courage to try writing stories again. I’m never going to make a living at it, but it helps me avoid more dangerous vices like exercise or meditation.

My favorite author is early Stephen King (he’s still a great writer, just not that scary anymore). His son, Joe Hill, has a great collection of short stories, and his last book N0S4A2, reminded me of his dad’s early work. David Wellington is really good. David Wong (editor of has a couple books that are hilariously scary fun. Same with Jeff Strand.

Tell me a little about your writing process. When do you find time, do you edit as you go, and how long do you typically spend on revisions?

I do most of my writing late at night, after my wife’s gone to bed and before the Lunesta kicks in. Sometimes when I get stuck on writing an ad during the workday, I’ll write a piece of flash or work on a chapter just to get my mind off advertising.

I’m constantly editing. (In fact, I’ve edited these answers at least nine times now.) I’ll give stories to friends to read for me, and by the time they send it back, I’ve already rewritten it another two or three times. Personally, I don’t think a story is ever finished; you just find a point where you’re happy enough with it to let it go. But when it comes back with a rejection slip, that’s also another chance to tighten it up and make it better.

Your published fiction belongs primarily to the speculative genre. Do you plan to branch out into other genres, or is speculative what you prefer to write?

Horror is definitely my favorite genre, although everything I write seems to have a little bit of humor thrown in. So I guess horror-humor is my favorite genre. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of outlets looking to publish such an unholy hybrid.

I used to be a staff writer for a couple of big entertainment websites doing recaps back when recaps were cool, and I mixed in humor and horror and literary/pop culture references whenever I could. I once did a recap of a Mad Men episode mashed up with Night of the Living Dead. Another favorite was WWE Raw mashed with West Side Story, which, now that I think about it, is a pretty frightening concept.

My Favorite ApocalypseOut of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?

Probably “The Quantum Dead,” which used quantum physics as a backdrop to explain the zombie apocalypse. It was a good mix of horror and humor, with a nice twist at the end, which are great when they work, but not always required. (I’m looking at you, M. Night Shyamalan.)

My friends would probably pick “The Outpost,” which unfortunately has yet to find a home, so you’ll have to take their word for it. Or my word for it, I guess, since I’m the one saying it’s their favorite.

What projects are you currently working on?

Too many. I’m much better at starting stories than I am ending them. A few of the ones right now that don’t totally suck include stories about a guy who wakes up in a different version of himself every day; a company that helps customers prelive a memory (instead of reliving it); a GPS app that’s also a dimensional portal; a guy who uses his blind spot to make things disappear from reality; and a murderous garden gnome. Will any of them survive to see the light of day? Probably not.

Any links you’d like to share? Thank you to Larry Hinkle for being part of this week’s author interview series! Be sure to check out his stories in publications in My Favorite Apocalypse and in Another Dimension Magazine!

Happy reading!

Film Fanatic: Interview with Austin Muratori

For this week’s author interview, I am pleased to spotlight the work of Austin Muratori. Like so many great authors who have previously appeared on this blog, Austin and I met through the Sanitarium Magazine forum. His varied interests as a burgeoning filmmaker and a genre author set him apart in both fields. Below we discuss the overlap between filmmaking and fiction writing as well as how well-written dialogue makes all the difference in both artistic mediums.

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

Austin MuratoriMy love for writing came at an early age–as soon as I learned how to write, I was hooked. I would write these little stories for my family and then gather everyone I could find, so I could read and perform those stories. I talked a lot as a child, so even before I could write, I would ramble on and on to my family, making up crazy stories.

Then, as I got older and into middle school, I competed in the ‘Young Authors’ contest my school held every year. I actually won three years in a row! That really motivated me to want to become a writer. In high school, I had a creative writing class and learned about the different forms of writing, which really excited me! That was when I found poetry and all the various styles and formats. I also learned actual story structure and that was when things really started to click for me. My teacher played a big part in me wanting to continue my journey of becoming a writer. She pulled me aside one day, and told me that she really appreciates my work, that I have a lot of talent, and that I should certainly continue to pursue my dreams because big things were in store for me.

When it comes to my favorite authors, I would never be able to list them all because I have so many favorites and that list keeps growing and growing. With that being said, some of the authors that have impacted me in a major way are Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Blake Crouch and Dean Koontz.

How does your work as a filmmaker and as a prose writer overlap? Are there any ways the two are at odds with each other?

Filmmaking starts with a script. In fact, the script is the most important part of the filmmaking process because it is the blueprint for the story you are planning to tell, and without that, you really don’t have anything. Essentially, writing is the most important part to the filmmaking process, just as writing is the most important part of prose writing.

With prose, you have more freedom to explore and develop your world and characters; however, you have to be extremely descriptive in order to create a visual image for the reader to imagine, whereas in filmmaking, you have to show what is happening rather than tell. The screenplay has to be simple and visual; you have to show what your character is doing as opposed to describing it. Filmmaking is a very powerful storytelling medium; you get to create amazing visuals, and that allows the audience to share an experience together. Though prose writing is a powerful medium as well, the difference is that in prose writing, everyone will have a different experience while reading a story because they are forced to use their imaginations and everyone’s imaginations are different.

In film, the audience collectively can see exactly the same thing on screen. The cool thing is that like prose writing, people will get something from the story, and that message means something different to each and every person who sees the film. One other interesting thing is that filmmaking is a process. The script is written and rewritten and [the] film that is written is going to be completely different once production starts and everything is filmed. Then it changes one more time as it is edited. So throughout each different process, the story constantly evolves. In prose, the story evolves through one process, and that is rewriting.

My work as a filmmaker and as a prose writer goes hand in hand. I love the challenges both fields present. I think being a versatile artist is very rewarding! Plus it is really fun! For me, the stories will dictate whether they are best suited as a film or if they are best suited as a short story, novel or poem.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: developing character, crafting dialogue, or establishing setting?

Sanitarium MagazineI would say that my favorite part of the writing process would have to be crafting dialogue. I love being able to make a character come to life through dialogue. To be honest, I take pride in making sure my dialogue is realistic and unique to each and every character. Personally, I feel that without good dialogue, it is almost impossible for a reader to not only get into the story but also to relate to the character overall. I also really like developing characters! I find it fun to be able to live vicariously through a character and not only live a life that is completely different from my own but also to do things that I would never do in real life. It is very exhilarating.

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

So far, my absolute favorite is a poem called “The City Within,” which was featured in Sanitarium issue 26. The reason it is my favorite is because while I was working on it, I managed to tap into a flow state that I never had experienced before. Words came easily, and so did the overall emotion of the piece. It has been compared to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, which is really humbling. Also, it was the first piece that I had published, and in fact, it was my first time even submitting anything anywhere. Being a perfectionist, I struggled with being confident enough to submit because I felt like even after a bunch of rewrites that it still wasn’t ready. For this piece, I worked up the courage and made the decision to try and I sure am glad I did!

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

I would like to explore more genres and other forms of writing in the future. I have so many short stories, poems and novels that I would like to get published at some point. I also have a lot of screenplays that I would like to get made. Overall I just want to be able to continue to get better as a filmmaker and prose writer and do what I love for the rest of my life. I recently became a faculty member for Sanitarium Magazine and I love it! I really enjoy editing! I hope to do more of it in the future.

Thanks to Austin for being part of my author interview series. Find him online at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and his main site.

Happy reading!