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Posts Tagged ‘Mad Scientist Journal’

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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DawnVogel-pic Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Dawn Vogel. Dawn’s academic background is in history, so it’s not surprising that much of her fiction is set in earlier times. By day, she edits reports for historians and archaeologists. In her alleged spare time, she runs a craft business, co-edits Mad Scientist Journal, and tries to find time for writing. She is a member of Broad Universe, SFWA, and Codex Writers. Her steampunk series, Brass and Glass, is being published by Razorgirl Press. She lives in Seattle with her husband, author Jeremy Zimmerman, and their herd of cats.

Dawn’s latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map, is a fun read for those who love adventure. A quick summary for my readers:
dawn vogel book On the hunt for a legendary, cursed map that leads to treasure unimaginable, the crew of The Silent Monsoon, led by the pertinacious Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, soon discover they aren’t the only ones hunting for riches. But there’s more than gold at stake in this pursuit. The Last Emperor’s Hoard is rumored to contain the Gem of the Seas, a device that gives its owner the power to control the oceans.
Wanted by the Air Fleet and dogged by spectres both real and imagined, Svetlana and her crew will have to call in every favor and pull every string—even if it means stirring up more ghosts—to complete the map before the High Council does. This race will require courage, determination, and sacrifice. Will Svetlana have what it takes to win, or will the map’s curse be too high a price?

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map?
My latest book is a sequel to my first published full-length novel, Brass and Glass: The Cask of Cranglimmering. The original book started life as a short story, but grew into a novel. When my small press editors and I were working through the edits on the first book, they asked if there were more books. I hadn’t outlined or planned the other books, but I knew the story wasn’t done yet. So I said yes, I thought I could get a trilogy out of this idea. So in many ways, the second book directly stemmed from my editors loving the first book. The first book also helped to dictate what needed to happen next–the protagonists were in search of a map, and they needed to find all of the pieces. Midway through, they discovered that perhaps the map was more than they’d bargained for, being called the “long-cursed” map and all.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Of course I adore my protagonist, Captain Svetlana Tereshchenko, but I have a lot of fun writing Indigo, the ship’s mechanic. He’s a teenage boy who grew up in a culture that was far removed from the predominant culture in the books. So he’s often encountering things for the first time in his life that the other characters just accept as part of reality. He also has an abnormal speech pattern, which is both challenging and rewarding to get just right.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
My book is indie published through Razorgirl Press, which is a small press based out of the Seattle area. Because it’s a small press, the editors are people I interact with directly and regularly—we will get together at a coffee shop or other locations to work on edits or discuss plans for the book. Because the cover art and editing are done in house, I feel like I get a lot of input into those things, which I might not have as much if I were traditionally published. The downside, of course, is that the marketing also falls on our shoulders, so it’s not as easy to publicize the book as it would be if I was with a traditional press that has a team for marketing and publicity.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I started out as a pantser, but I quickly found that path was not a good fit for me. I started planning out all of my books, and I found I was much more productive that way. That isn’t to say that I never wander off down a garden path while writing, and some of those diversions have wound up being fantastic additions to my plans. But I need at least the bare bones of a structure to keep me on track and not wandering off into the woods beyond the garden.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The one I most remember reading (again and again and again) was The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts. One of my teachers in grade school had this book in her classroom library, and I checked it out and read it so many times that at the end of the school year, she gifted it to me. The main thing I remember about the plot as an adult was that the main character had telekinesis, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I’ve gotten a new copy of the book recently, but I haven’t managed to re-read it since re-acquiring it!

What writing project are you currently working on?
The third book in the Brass and Glass series is in my editors’ hands, so I’ll be working on edits for that in the near future. But in addition to the countless short stories that I’m currently working on, I’m editing the first draft of another novel, this one a post-apocalyptic novel about recovering from past traumas and finding a new place to belong.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Neil Gaiman once said: “You will learn more from a glorious failure than ever you will from something that you never finished.” I took that advice to heart and try to finish all of the stories that I start!

Want to learn more about Dawn Vogel and Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map? Check out her :  Website & Blog,   Facebook Page,
Twitter,   or Amazon Author page.   Or better yet, purchase a copy of Brass and Glass 2: The Long-Cursed Map. 

Thanks to author Dawn Vogel for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Kathryn Sullivan on December 6th.   Happy reading! – Vonnie 

 

 

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