Monthly Archives: September 2018

A Bewitching Wonder: Interview with Gaby Triana

Welcome back! Today, it’s my great pleasure to feature Gaby Triana. Gaby is the award-winning author of numerous young adult and horror books including Wake the Hollow and River of Ghosts as well as the ghostwriter for several dozen more books.

Over the summer, Gaby and I discussed her transition from young adult to horror writing, as well as what she’s got planned next!

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

Gaby TrianaHi, Gwendolyn! I don’t think I ever decided to be a writer. I’ve been doing so since I was 5 when I wrote my mom a note telling her I was running away. I’ve always been dramatic that way. In 3rd grade, I wrote a short story called “Skeeter Creek,” and my teacher told me I’d be an author one day. Though I graduated with a master’s in Elementary Education but don’t teach anymore, I’ve always been writing. Full-time, since 2000. Some of my favorite authors are Anne Rice, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Lois Duncan, Deborah Harkness, and Shirley Jackson.

You have a new novel, River of Ghosts, due out soon. Can you tell us a little about the book as well as your Haunted Florida series?

River of Ghosts comes out 9/26. It’s the 2nd in my Haunted Florida series. The first was Island of Bones about a haunted resort in Key West, buried treasure, and family secrets. I wanted to write a collection of stories taking place in my part of the world. I’ve always love gothic, paranormal horror, but I couldn’t find many ghost novels taking place in Miami, the keys, or Everglades, so I set out to write them myself. There is so much here to draw from—Indian history, bloody battles, wives who killed themselves waiting for their seafaring men to return, romantic lighthouses, santería, pirates, you name it. South Florida is chock full of gothic inspiration.

River of Ghosts is about Avila Cypress, a Miccosukee woman who gives airboat rides to tourists in the Everglades. She’s asked by a TV production crew of a paranormal show to escort them out to an obscure haunted location with a murderous past. It’s a place she’s always been curious about, she’s dreamed about all her life, and knows is full of dark energy but she doesn’t want to go against her traditional Miccosukee traditions by dealing with the occult. Needless to say, she goes in secret, and things don’t go well.

River of GhostsWhat draws you to writing in the young adult genre? Do you feel that horror and YA pair particularly well together? 

The teen years are a breeding ground for drama and confrontation. They’re also the perfect years to figure out who you are, what you believe in, don’t believe in, and I love putting teens in stressful situations that help them determine who they are. My only book which combines a teen character and horror is WAKE THE HOLLOW, a re-imagining of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where the main character is Latina and discovers some pretty well-hidden secrets about her family’s past. All with a spooky hometown setting taking place during the month of October, of course, because…Halloween. All my other novels are either contemporary YA (except for CAKESPELL which is romantic magical realism) or adult horror.

You run a very popular and active blog, The Witch Haunt, which blends witchcraft, writing, Halloween, and other horror influences. What inspired you to start the site? 

I’m new to the adult horror genre as a writer after spending 17 years in YA, which means new readership, new peers, new everything. Nobody knows who I am on this side of the fence, even though I’ve been a horror reader all my life and have been publishing for almost 20 years, so I figured this would be a great way to get to know others in the horror industry, while introducing myself to others, and also talking about things I love anyway—witchcraft, reiki, spells, haunted locations, and random things related to Halloween.

You’ve ghost-written over 40 novels. How does your approach differ between the writing you do under your own name and your ghost-writing projects? 

The writing I do for others is highly structured and organized. To sell my services, I often have to outline an entire story in order to show I’m ready, have it all planned out, and can start writing, so I’ll have these full outlines and summaries where everything’s thought out, which allows me to just jump in and start writing, and I usually lay a draft down very quickly (within 2-3 weeks for 55K words). With my own stories, I’ll plot out a few plot points—beginning, a couple middle plot points, and an ending—and that’s enough to get started, but I usually take a little longer. I have more freedom with my own stories, since they’re mine, whereas with ghostwriting, I usually stick to the client’s vision without much room for expanding or growing, whether or not I agree with it. They hired me to write, not consult, so I just give them what they want, unless they ask me for my opinion which does happen with several clients.

Wake the HollowYou’re a big fan of Halloween. You recently asked me on your blog about my favorite Halloween tradition, so now I get to ask you: what activities do you like to do every Halloween? Also, do you have a favorite Halloween memory or costume from over the years? 

I’ve always been the Halloween Queen in the family. My favorite tradition is throwing an annual Halloween party. In my 20s, this would involve putting on a big bash with my brother, and we’d invite all our friends. There’d be lots of adult debauchery but once I got married and had kids, the parties shifted to bobbing for apples, carving jack-o-lanterns, and themed parties like Nightmare Before Christmas, Stranger Things, or even Doctor Who. We also watch scary movies every Halloween as we pass out candy, or we might stand outside in costume scaring kids who come up to the door.

A favorite Halloween memory is being about 10 years old, trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. I’m from Miami, Florida where it’s hot, sweaty, and not very fall-like all year round, so being witchy little Gaby, I wanted the weather to be more autumnal. Well, that one year, I got my wish. The temperature dropped into the 60s, the leaves swished outside, the full moon was out, and for the first time ever, I got to experience that quintessential chilly Halloween night. I’ll never forget it.

Back to your fiction, out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite? 

I used to tell people that no, that would be like choosing between my children. But that was before WAKE THE HOLLOW came out. I’m particularly proud of this story, because it was an ambitious project that I like to think I pulled off, or knocked out of the park. My goal was to write a modern version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, making the traditional storyline the subplot and laying a brand new modern mystery on top as the main plotline. I also wanted to incorporate themes of family secrets, Cuban background (since my family is Cuban and I always like to work that in somehow), plus create a subplot involving a rumored relationship between Washington Irving (author of LOSH) and Mary Shelley after her husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, died. The book got a kickass Kirkus review, lots of praise in School Library Journal and YA blogs, and to this day, is still my personal favorite.

What projects are you currently working on? 

Right now, I’m putting the final touches on River of Ghosts, then I’m finishing a ghostwriting project for a client, at which point I’ll be starting to write the 3rd book in my Haunted Florida series. After that, I have several ideas brainstormed that I want to explore. One is about killer cats, one is called Witchchild even though it hasn’t been written yet (it’s in my head), and another is about an old-style movie theater that’s trying to kill people. Always something ready to go!

Tremendous thanks to Gaby Triana for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find her online at her author site and her blog as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Happy reading!

Film, Fiction, and Beyond: Interview with Marc Abbott

Welcome back! This week’s author interview is with the talented Marc Abbott. Marc is the author of A Gamble of Faith, The Hooky Party, and Etienne and the Stardust Express. He is also an acclaimed filmmaker and actor with his work appearing in numerous film festivals including the New Jersey Horror Con Film Festival and the Coney Island Film Festival.

Recently, Marc and I discussed his evolution as a writer, how his work in film and acting impact his fiction, and what his future writing plans include.

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

Marc AbbottI have always loved writing ever since I was young. I used to get into trouble in grade school because instead of paying attention in class, I was writing short stories in my notebook. But it wasn’t until I got to HS that I realized I wanted to do it as a profession. Being a movie buff, I just knew that what I wanted to do was write movies and TV shows. But I also liked to get immersed in novels and short stories. I was a big Stephen King and Clive Barker fan and I was always reading one of their books. Especially their anthologies. I was also a Peter Benchley fan as well. I loved how he could take us inside the head of the creatures he wrote about like Jaws and The Beast. After college, I began taking the craft more seriously and started writing with the intention to become published.

We met earlier this year at StokerCon when we shared a reading time slot. I absolutely loved your story, which featured a very feisty cat and dog fighting a creature that lived in the dark. Can you share a little bit about that story?

Poohbear and SmokeyAh, Poohbear and Smokey. Both animals are based off of pets I knew. Poohbear was my neighbor’s dog, Smokey was based off my cat, Hobbs, both of whom have passed on. The idea for this came to me several years ago when I noticed my cat would suddenly jump up and start meowing at nothing then give chase to whatever it was he saw around the house. There is always this talk about how animals can see into the spirit world and I thought “What if our pets, at night, were protecting us from forces beyond our sight. Is that why cats sit in doorways? Dogs sleep at the foot of the bed?” and so I designed this story where the pets fought off evil spirits. In the beginning I wasn’t sure what the enemy would be. But then I remembered growing up thinking something was living in my closet. Rather than make the enemy a spirit I chose an old fashion demon, not really the boogeyman but something equally dangerous. The relationship between the cat and dog was based on my aunt’s own pets who, before they passed, shared a very close bond with one another. Up to the point that when the dog passed, the cat mourned him and would sit in front of the dog house meowing. I used that for the basis that these two animals could communicate and watch one another’s back. And of course the fact that they team up to fight a monster that only a child can see and are chastised by the adults for being wild, that just added to flare and realness of how pets really are in our world.

You’ve written both novels and short stories. Do you prefer one length to another, or do both appeal to you more or less equally as an author? Also, do you consider one length of fiction more challenging than the other?

I love novel writing because I can get lost in the world I am creating and bond with my characters. I feel like I can take my time and let things grow. Short fiction I would say is more challenging. For one thing I tend to pour everything into a short story that I don’t have to. Reason being is that when people ask me questions about a short story and I give the back story answer they always say I should have put that in the story. Short Fiction is also more difficult to edit. I never know what to take out. I do enjoy the fact that with a short story I can get to the punch quicker but it does present a greater challenge.

You’re a fiction writer, a filmmaker, and a playwright. How is your approach to writing similar or different across mediums?

I approach the majority of my work through dialogue first. I like to get into the mind and mouth of my characters early because it’s a perfect way to define them. That being said, when it comes to novel writing, much of my work has started out as a screenplay first. I write the dialogue and actions of the characters first then go back and fill in the rest of the story. Since I don’t have to concentrate as hard on backgrounds, world building and that sort of thing in my scripts and screenplays, I can stick to the same format of writing across the board. Once I go back to fill everything in, that’s when things become different because in a book, I have to give the reader the information so that they can visualize it in their minds. On stage and screen, it’s all right there for them to see. You don’t need to use your imagination there unless it’s a scene that you don’t show but allow the audience to create the scenario in their minds.

Just to add to your illustrious resume, you’re also an actor! Do you feel that performing in front of the camera has helped you with doing live readings as an author? Also, do you feel like being an actor and becoming familiar with the inner workings of dialogue has helped you craft dialogue in your fiction?

Absolutely. Live readings are performances. When acting I’m interpreting a story someone else has written. But when I read, I’m telling a story I am very close to. I know how the characters sound, how they behave and I get a kick out of being able to voice them. For me, I often talk out sequences in my books. I will literally get up and act out the sequences alone if I get stuck. Having been on stage and screen, I kind of know from a directing standpoint how to direct myself when I do that. So it helps to act it out sometimes because then I get to understand my characters better and know which way I want to go with a story. Dialogue, for me, is one of the most important parts of any story. So when I read my work at events, I like to get into those characters and give different voices so people aren’t just hearing me talk, they’re in the story with the characters and feel for them.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: drafting new ideas, writing a first draft, or polishing an almost finished piece?

Etienne and the Stardust ExpressHands down it’s writing the first draft. Finishing a first draft always feels so good. I often treat myself with coffee and a slice of cheesecake when I’m done. Something about fleshing out all the ideas and making it whole is gratifying. Polishing is always a daunting task. I don’t enjoy it as much. It seems to take so much longer and after awhile I start to get tired of dealing with the same characters so I have to walk away from it, which takes up more time. Drafting new ideas, always fun but not as gratifying.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on an anthology with a fellow writer, Steven Van Patten. I don’t want to get into the logistics of it but it’s a horror anthology with a twist. And most recently, I launched a children’s book called Etienne and the Stardust Express.

Out of your published work, do you have a personal favorite?

The Dead Syndicate, which is out of print at the moment, was my personal favorite. I spent several years working on that book with a sequel in mind so it was the one most near and dear to my heart.

Where can we find you online?

You can find me at my website and follow me on Facebook Who Is Marc L Abbott?

Tremendous thanks to Marc Abbott for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Fall into Fiction and Verse: Submission Roundup for September 2018

Welcome back for this month’s Submission Roundup! Plenty of fabulous opportunities to send your fiction and poetry out into the world, but first, the usual disclaimer: I’m not a representative for any of these publications. If you’ve got any questions, please direct them to the respective editors!

And now with that out of the way, onward with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupEye to the Telescope
Payment: .03/word (minimum $3, maximum $25)
Length: No specific line limits
Deadline: September 15th, 2018
What They Want: Open to poetry on the theme of witches.
Find the details here.

Corpus Press non-themed horror anthology
Payment: .03/word ($150 max)
Length: 2,500 to 4,500 words
Deadline: September 15th, 2018
What They Want: Open to a wide range of horror short stories.
Find the details here.

Do Not Go Quietly
Payment: .06/word (minimum $60)
Length: up to 7,500 words
Deadline: September 19th, 2018
What They Want: The editors are seeking original speculative fiction about revolution and resistance.
Find the details here.

Excession Press
Payment: $300 advance plus royalties
Length: 30,000 to 60,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2018
What They Want: Open to character-driven horror, dark fantasy, weird western, and science fiction.
Find the details here.

Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline
Payment: .01/word
Length: up to 7,500 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2018
What They Want: An anthology of fairy tales that have a dieselpunk and decopunk twist.
Find the details here.

Pseudopod: Artemis Rising 5
Payment: .06/word for original fiction; $100/flat for short story reprints
Length: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Deadline: September 30th, 2018
What They Want: Open to horror fiction written by authors who identify to any degree as women. Original fiction preferred over reprints.
Find the details here.

Rosalind’s Siblings
Payment: .08/word GBP
Length: 500 to 7,500 words
Deadline: Opens to submissions on November 1st, 2018
What They Want: Open to speculative fiction and nonfiction essays about people of marginalized genders/sexes who are scientists.
Find the details here.

Novella series at Twelfth Planet Press
Payment: $300 advance plus royalties
Length: 17,000 to 40,000 words
Deadline: November 30th, 2018
What They Want: Twelfth Planet Press is seeking novellas in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and crime genres.
Find the details here.

Happy submitting!