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Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

Rhoads Headshots 9-18 FINAL-1782 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Loren Rhoads. Loren Rhoads is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of Lost Angels and its upcoming sequel Angelus Rose. On her own, she’s written a space opera trilogy called In the Wake of the Templars and a nonfiction guidebook to 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.

Loren Rhoads’s latest book, Lost Angels, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the days before the Flood, Azaziel had been a Watcher, sent down to help God’s creatures on Earth. He fell in love with one of Cain’s granddaughters and they passed her mortal life in bliss. Now, he’s imprisoned in the Los Angeles basin. His angelic brethren, Heaven’s misfits, don’t understand the longing Aza feels: once he had been loved entirely for himself.

The succubus Lorelei doesn’t know any of this when she sets her sights on Azaziel. All she knows is that the angel’s fall will bring glory to Hell and acclaim to any succubus who accomplishes it. Of course, it never occurs to Lorelei that Azaziel might try to tame her by possessing her with a mortal girl’s soul. Can the succubus find an exorcist before the fury of Hell is unleashed?

Rhoads LostAngels cover Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Lost Angels?

I wrote a short story for a friend. There was an apartment building in his neighborhood called The Lorelei, so that became the name of the succubus in the story. This was the first time I wrote a story as a serial. I’d write a scene or two each day, then send it to him. Usually, I write things all out of order, then rearrange the scenes in revision, but this time I wrote things linearly.

As it turned out, he couldn’t wait for me to finish the original short story so he could write chapter 2. And then suddenly we were writing a book.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I genuinely like Lorelei, even though she is a morally gray character. She is based on a woman I went to university with who lit up every room she walked in to. Everyone had a crush on Kim, because she was so much fun. Lorelei actually likes her prey and works hard to see that they enjoy themselves before she takes their souls. And then she meets Azaziel – and she definitely bites off more than she can chew.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

The book was originally published by a small press, but I got the rights back a couple of years ago and republished it under my own company. The advantage of doing it myself is that I really like the new cover. The text is exactly the way I wanted it. I’m sort of a control junky.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

Oh, I really like gardener better than pantser. What a great term! I don’t like to know too much about my stories when I start them. I almost never work to an outline. Instead, I write scenes as they come to me, then piece them together like a puzzle. I really love the process of fitting everything together. It’s actually my favorite part of writing. Sometimes I can’t see the whole picture until I get all the scenes assembled and read it through. It’s a revelation to see what the story is really about. I have a friend who says that the author is always the last to know.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I was 10 when I read Dracula for the first time. I’d grown up watching the black and white Universal horror movies on Saturday afternoons. My mom pointed out that a lot of my favorite characters—Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, The Invisible Man – were based on or inspired by books. (She was a junior high school librarian.) So I started with my favorite monster and read his book while we were on a family vacation.

All these years later, I still have a soft spot for monsters and outcasts.

What writing project are you currently working on?

When Brian and I wrote the original book, which we called As Above, So Below, it was huge. It look more than a ream of paper to print out the whole thing. The story had a natural climax about halfway through, so I cut the book in half and got it published as Lost Angels.

I spent Nanowrimo 2018 putting together the sequel. Most of the story was there, but it didn’t stand alone, so I went back in to write character introductions for everyone, along with lots of description for readers who might be encountering these characters for the first time. Or for the first time in a while, since the first book came out in 2016.

I wanted to make the second book more romantic, too. Brian describes the As Above, So Below books as Romeo and Juliette with angels and devils. I wanted those crazy kids to go on some actual dates and have some fun together, in amongst the damning people to hell.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

I met Ray Bradbury once, when he came up to San Francisco for a book signing. I told him I was working on a book, but it was a real struggle. He told me, “Don’t think so much. Just write. You’ll figure it out as you’re writing.” I realized he was completely right. I can research everything, make sure I know everything in advance, or I can just write and leave placeholders for the things I need to research later. If you write before researching, then you know what you need to know. That’s been game-changing for me.

The key has been getting out of my own way. And it helps a lot to write with someone like Brian, who was a researcher in the library at 20th Century Fox. His research made for really rich backstories for our characters.

Want to learn more about Loren Rhoads and Lost Angels? Check out her: BlogFacebook pageTwitterInstagramPinterest, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Lost Angels.

Thanks to author Loren Rhoads for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Jill Shultz on March 14, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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mjgardner5_sm2 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, MJ Gardner. MJ Gardner is a web developer by day, who lays in bed at night and wonders, what if….? Her stories have been published in “Mad Scientist Journal,” “Luna Station Quarterly,” “Plan B” and “Saturday Night Reader.” She published her first novel, Evelyn’s Journal in 2015 and the sequel, Joe Vampire, in 2017.

MJ has an undergrad degree in English and Classics (Greek & Roman studies) and wrote her Master’s thesis on The Vampire in English Literature. She currently lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with her partner of 19 years, and her cat Zoom. She is also the virtual curator of The Suicide Museum.

MJ Gardner’s latest book, Joe Vampire, is the second book in the Darkness & Light Series. A quick summary for my readers: Joe has really turned his life around. With help and support from his girlfriend Evelyn, he has conquered his addictions, left foster care, finished high school and is ready for college. As much as Joe longs for normality, his life is never going to be that way. After all, his girlfriend is a vampire, and she wants him to become one too. That’s a bit too much commitment for Joe. And other members of the vampire community, some of whom refer to him as a snack, won’t leave him alone. Things begin to unravel for Joe when he tries to help a friend cure himself of his many ailments with a vampire’s blood. When things go badly Joe blames himself and turns back to his old addictions for succor. But can Joe cope with the strongest addiction of all?

mj evelyn cover And since Evelyn’s Journal and its characters lead into Joe Vampire, here’s a quick summary of that book for my readers: It’s cold and dark and Evelyn is in the morgue. In a drawer. She doesn’t know how she got there, and Tammi, the morgue attendant who hustles her out into the night, doesn’t have time to answer questions. Evelyn has been robbed of the gift of immortality her absent lover promised her, and plunged instead, alone, into the night-time world of the vampire, where she must learn to survive alone.

Freed from mortality, Evelyn also feels freed from convention, morality, and law. Her first act as a vampire is to secure the house and fortune of the family who rejected her. Then she sets out to look for love. Evelyn finds that love is a difficult thing when you are a vampire and physical closeness leads to hunger as often as desire. When her vampire lover returns and shows his true nature, Evelyn realizes she is not, and doesn’t want to be, a monster. Note: contains sex, violence, a feisty heroine, all the good stuff.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Joe Vampire (Book 2, Darkness & Light Series)?

I really can’t talk about Joe without talking about Evelyn. Back in the day I was on a listserv called Vampyres, and a lot of people would role play and post fiction to the list. Someone commented that all the vampires were titled, centuries old, and rich. Basically, they were spinoffs from Dracula or Anne Rice’s novels. I wanted to create a vampire who was none of those things. Enter Evelyn, a young woman who is only eighteen when the book opens. Evelyn becomes a vampire, but with no mentor and little guidance, she doesn’t really know how to vampire, and she has to figure it out for herself.

Joe is Evelyn’s boyfriend at the end of Evelyn’s Journal. With Joe, I wanted a character who was not only an unlikely vampire (against trope) but also an unlikely match for Evelyn (opposites attract). Joe is young, he’s very poor, he comes from an abusive home, and he is multiply-addicted to various painkillers. He’s sixteen and doesn’t really care if he lives through the day.

mj joe cover At the end of Evelyn’s Journal, Joe is starting to get it together. His relationship with Evelyn is something to live for. At the beginning of Joe Vampire, Joe (who is not a vampire) is doing well: he’s going to college and he has career plans. The only thing dogging him is pressure from Evelyn to join her in the nightlife. Joe doesn’t know if he is ready to commit—to Evelyn or to blood-drinking immortality. Joe’s college roommate is getting married, and he shames Joe into proposing to Evelyn. And from there, things start to unravel.

Basically, I wanted to write about vampires who were/are not suave, wise, or upper class.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Joe. Hands down. He’s so sincere. He keeps trying to make things better, but he’s fighting against a lot of (virtual) demons, most of which stem from his childhood.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

I published both books myself—cover art, typesetting, everything. The manuscripts had been sitting around for over a decade, and I just wanted to get the stories out there. Along came Amazon and Smashwords and made that possible.

The advantage to self-publishing is that you have total control over all aspects of your work. I am lucky in that I have the skills to do cover art, layout, and build my own website. The downside is that I do not have anyone marketing my books. As a self-published author, you have to be able to market your own work. My experience is that this works best face to face. Meet people, talk at conferences, and network. Unfortunately, I am not built for that.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I used to be pantser, but I have found that a book works much better if you know how it ends so that you know what to put in before the end to make that ending significant. You want to make the reader feel the ending, whether it is happy, sad, etc. To do that you need to make sure the reader knows why the ending is so sad, happy, etc. for your character(s). That said, that is about all the planning I do. A lot of the in-between is pantsed.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I bought a copy from Scholastic Books when I was ten. I needed to look up some of the words as I read it the first time, like “misanthropist”. I have re-read it several times since. I like it because it is full of big emotions and ordinary people. Emily Bronte knew it long before Sartre said it: enfer c’est les autres (Hell is other people). The whole scope of the novel is two houses, two families, two generations, and the empty fields in between, and yet whether these places are heaven or hell is determined by the character of the people and their relationships.

I always wanted to be one of the Brontës. It seemed like heaven to me, growing up in a remote location, in a family with sisters who spent their time writing and reading each other’s stories.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a book called Dry Leaves. It is a very different vampire novel, and I don’t use the word vampire in it. It is set in Detroit (I live across the river in Windsor). It started as a long short story, and I kept trying to trim it because most places that publish short stories want them short–often only 3000 words. I got this story down to 8000, shopped it around, got no takers, and decided to just unpack everything I had condensed. It will be a novella. So far it is 12,000 words.

I also have a (longish) short story coming out in Metaphorosis in the coming months (no date yet), called “The Book of Regrets.” It’s a gay time travel romance. Like Wuthering Heights, it is about ordinary people propelled by big emotions. I also have plans for another book in the Darkness & Light Series, a story about a witch who is desperate to escape dying of cancer, and a novel about a family which has no supernatural elements in it at all.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Write what you want, not what you (think) the public wants. The public is fickle: vampires are out; zombies are in. Tomorrow zombies are out and lycanthropy or space operas or ghost lovers are in. If you write what you want it will always feed your soul.

Want to learn more about MJ Gardner and her vampire novels? Check out her: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Evelyn’s Journal and/or Joe Vampire .

Thanks to author MJ Gardner for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Laurel Anne Hill on January 22, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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As Halloween approaches, I think about what monsters frightened me as a child.

I always suspected there were monstrous creatures under my bed, and never let my hands or feet hang over the edge so “they” wouldn’t grab me and drag me under the bed. Likewise, I avoided shadowy places, just in case the shadow-monsters were lurking there, ready to pull me into their shadow world.

With evil clowns capturing recent headlines, I hesitate to mention my dislike of clowns (and mimes – their silent partners in frightening children). My friends thought Bozo and others of his kind were laugh-out-loud funny. But not me. I didn’t want to watch their antics at circuses and fairs, and certainly didn’t want to interact with them at parties.

As for Frankenstein’s monster, I always felt compassion for the fellow. It wasn’t his fault he was the way he was. Dracula? Even as a kid, it seemed fairly easy to me to avoid his fangs – wear a cross around your neck and line your windows with garlic. The whole wooden stake in the heart thing seemed unnecessary if you were careful.

Werewolves were more problematic. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting anyone or anything with a regular bullet, much less a silver one. And as a kid, I had no access to guns – unless you count water pistols and cap guns. And when I thought about zombies, I thought I could out-run their slow shambling gait.

I suppose all those childhood monsters and more have appeared (or are destined to appear) in my dark fantasy and horror stories. One of the benefits of being a writer – I can destroy monsters or make them “nicer” by just typing a few words!

Here’s a link to a wonderful post on Victorian Monsters from my writing friend, Andrew McDowell.

Now, it’s your turn. What monsters frighten you?

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Bats are wonderful creatures. Excellent insect-eaters and plant-polinators, the worrld is a better place because bats are in it. Halloween bats and Dracula are usually portrayed as frightening, but these 3 videos featuring an orphaned bat called Lil’ Drac will melt your heart.

Lil’ Drac Part 1

Lil ‘Drac Part 2

Lil’ Drac’s Treat

Hooray for bats! And hooray for Halloween!

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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