Shells Chats with author Brian Rosenberger

What's your background with writing?

I’ve always been an avid reader. I’ve been a big comic book fan from an early age and have never fully been able to shake that particular vice. Without it, I’d probably be much closer to retirement. I have a BA in English. I use to write movie reviews for various websites and was writing a lot of poetry around the same time, which led me to publishing my own online zine, Decompositions, specializing in horror poetry. My first prose work was published in my university’s literary magazine but I’ve always been more prolific with poetry.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I don’t know if I have any real influences. The writers I really enjoyed as a teenager were your Barker’s, King’s, Herbert’s, Bloch’s, etc along with the before mentioned comic books. Throw in heavy metal and pro-wrestling, both of which have larger than life characters, and that’s kind of trough I’ve fed from. Inspirations come from everywhere. For example, I was working out this morning (rare occasion) and peered upwards through the skylight and noticed the tree limbs formed this weird cobweb. I’ll write a poem based off that image.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?

I’ve never been super prolific. I’m kind of surprised with what I have had published. For me, just the fact I’ve been able to complete something is an accomplishment, let alone sell it for publication. I also get a kick out of sharing a table of contents with other authors whose work I enjoy.

What genre do you feel the most comfortable writing in?

Horror, mainly because I’ve always been a big fan. That’s probably the most fun genre for me. I also write a fair amount of non spec work, including erotica.

You have written many short stories, which is your favorite and where can we find some of them?

I don’t think I could pinpoint one or three as a favorite. Whatever is the most current is what I have the strongest connection to. But there’s always a turn of phrase or a moment within individual stories that I can point to as something I really like. Like In GodTV, a revenge story with two demons. At the story’s end, one demon offers the other a stick of gum. Trident. That still makes me smile. There’s always little things like that I get a kick out off. As the Worm Turns is my first short story collection. It’s a good cross selection of my fiction.

What do you find the most challenging about writing a short story?

Taking an original concept to completion. All too frequently, stories can take on a life of their own. They want to do their own thing and you have to beat them into submission. I still have lasting bruises.

On your website you put humor with horror, some find that distressing to put the two together, how do you feel about that?

I feel good about it. It gives me a warm and. fuzzy feeling, much like those nights during the full moon. I just watched a John Landis interview, Landis of course being the director of Animal House and An American Werewolf in London , among others. He spoke of how both humor and horror are cathartic experiences. I think if you can pull it off, it’s great. Guys like Robert Block, Ed Lee, and Joe Lansdale are masters of it and are among my favorites. For the distressed, I suggest trepanning, either by a professional or in these economically challenged times, do it yourself.

Can you tell us about "As the Worm Turns?"

It’s 226 pages of literary goodness (and more than a little nastiness). One reader said “I feel like a novice boxer in the ring with a master who keeps punching me in the face before I can recover.” Do you feel up to the challenge, sissy? It features some reprints, some original tales, and an introduction by none other than Prof. Morte, who is the south’s reigning scream king ( That alone is worth the price of admission.

Where did the ideas for the stories come from for this collection?

All over. Some originated in the small town I grew up in. Others have a foot hold in real life. One or two may have arrived unexpectedly in the mail. One I definitely picked up at a garage sale. Great deal. And to be honest, some I just made up. Most of them, in fact,

Who did the artwork for "As the Worm Turns?"

The immensely talented and dedicated Laura Ostman. I mean have you ever tried posing that many worms?

Why pick Blue Room Publishing for your collection?

Blue Room Publishing ( prides itself on publishing the finest in left-of-center fiction and poetry, which is an apt description for my writing. In addition, one of their previous publications is Craig Sernotti’s brilliant poetry collection, Forked Tongue. I know Craig from my Decompositions years and was impressed with his collection. Blue Room seemed like a good fit.

Where can we purchase "As the Worm Turns?"

The usually places – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, flea markets, etc. I understand you can also contact the author directly for signed copies. He loves slashing prices (and limbs). Supplies are limited so get yours today.

How do you feel about working with small presses and would you suggest them to new writers compared to the mainstream publishers?

If you’re a new author and can get a deal with a mainstream publisher, good luck and go for it. Until then, I think you should try to make your work accessible to as many people as possible. If you think your work is great and enjoy reading it, that’s one thing but if your valued manuscript is collecting dust on your hard drive waiting for a major publishing house to come calling, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

I’ve worked with a variety of small press over the years, some with better results and others. With any publishing project, you should learn from it and build on that knowledge for the future.

How do you or have handled marketing your own work and what suggestions would you have for others for marketing their work?

Leave no stone unturned. Anything that gets the word out there whether it’s social media like facebook, giveaway contests, signings, etc, you never know what could produce results. Be persistent.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I had three books published this year – As the Worm Turns from Blue Room Publishing, And For My Next Trick, a mostly non spec poetry collection from BeWrite Books, and Scream For Me, a collection of a lot of my previously uncollected horror poetry, available for preorder from Panic Press. This year I hope to get back into the writing groove, the problem being I have more ideas than hands.

Any future talk show or book signing appearances?

None scheduled but with the release of Scream For Me imminent, I hope to make the rounds and go into full shill mode.

Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?

It’s a good idea to become acquainted with a publisher’s product before submitting. Both and Duotrope are both great market resources. The most important thing is to just keep writing and keep submitting. Don’t get discouraged with rejection. What one publisher hates, the next may love. Some of my biggest sales have stemmed from thrice plus rejected work.

Where can people know more about you? and I can also be found on facebook,, etc. Basically there’s no party I won’t crash so lock up the booze and hide the women or vice versa. Speaking of which, who’s got this round? You or me?

Words with Shells Walter, Author of "Dead Practices"

What's your background with writing?

I've been writing since I was 11 years old. I started with poetry as a way to deal with some emotional issues when I was young. It was often dark and had grabbed some people's attention. Later on I moved to short stories, screenplays, novels and novellas. I fell in love with the Horror genre at that age as well, reading Poe and Lovecraft, and of course later King.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I would have to say experiences. My writing tends to have floating pieces of experiences I have had whether emotional or physical in some form or another. Ideas come to me

Can you tell us a little bit about "Dead Practices?"

Dead Practices is about Jerrod who is an attorney, but not just any attorney, he is a zombie or more better a "Zombie Citizen." A zombie citizen who was turned into a functioning member of society compared to the just 'flesh eating' zombies of the past.

There is a break-out in a jail that is also the place of employment of his friend Rusty, a police officer, who is also a "Zombie Citizen." The break-out is caused by a human who found the ability to change some of the "Zombie Citizens" back to the way zombies were a long time ago. The human just happens to be Jerrod's new client.

Jerrod and Rusty go for an adventure to try and track down Jerrod's client. The adventure spans all the way to dealing with some White House figures and a lot of super-glue.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

Jerrod Brown who hand painted the cover, which also inspired me to name the main character after him.

Where can you find "Dead Practices?"

At Sonar4 Publications website, Amazon, and other online retail stores.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

I have done several online blog talk show interviews, which are fun and suggest to new authors to try out. I have also done several other interviews, regularly visit social sites where people can see where to get my work. I also have my own website and blog.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

One interview I was asked what my weapon would be of choice if I could get away with something. Odd question, but made me think.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

"Eat or be Eaten" a 3 part novella written by me, Matt Nord and Jessica Weiss based on one of my shorts called "Tooth Decay" is being worked on and is coming out by Wicked East Press sometime in the near future.

I'm also currently working on a new zombie novel called Undead Paradise.

Where can people find out more about you?

They can contact me at my website at

Revisiting R.A. Salvatore's "The Crystal Shard"

The other day I had a strange impulse to revisit R.A. Salvatore's "The Crystal Shard."  I'd originally read this book back in 1988 when it was first released.  I was still in grade school back then, and my method of picking out books was pretty heavily dependent on the cover.  "The Crystal Shard" had a Larry Elmore cover, and I'd especially liked his work from the Dragonlance series.

I can't say that I was blown away by "The Crystal Shard" even when I read it back then, but I liked it enough to keep with R.A. Salvatore and stick with him over the other "Forgotten Realms" authors.  I waded through a couple trilogies by guys such as Douglas Niles and Troy Denning, but those two authors never impressed me.  There was something a little bit more alive about Salvatore's characters, I suppose.

Actually, when I was 13, the main thing I was looking for in a book was battle scenes and an author who got to them quickly!  I remember thinking that "The Crystal Shard" was a bit boring, only to have my dad point out that there were two or three murders in the first fifteen pages or so (it wasn't the type of book my dad would read normally, but he picked up my copy once while we were waiting for a plane to land...and wasn't all that impressed).  I suppose "The Crystal Shard" fits into that genre that you could almost call a prose comic book.  I know, I know...that genre doesn't technically exists, but if there is such a thing as a "graphic novel" then there should be a "prose comic book" right?

R.A. Salvatore has had a dream career as a fantasy novelist.  His books sell like mad and all you have to do is check out the reviews on Amazon to see he's got an intensely loyal following.  I have to admit that when I was writing The Bone Sword or Dominvs, I reflected back on Salvatore's way of setting up a battle scene.  The fact is, the guy simply knows how to get right to the action and keep his foot on the gas until the finish line.

"The Crystal Shard" was his first published novel, and it is kind of an interesting hodgepodge of ideas.  From my understanding, Salvatore himself wanted to title the book "The Tyrant of Icewind Dale" which for my money is a much better title than "The Crystal Shard."  In fact, "The Crystal Shard" is an extremely bland name, and it's even stranger since the crystal shard the title refers to is about the least compelling object in the whole book.

Like many fantasy writers, Salvatore was obviously trying to channel Tolkien and just not be all that obvious about it.  Honestly, I don't think this is too big of a problem since it's what pretty much EVERY fantasy writer does.  Let's face it, Tolkien's work sets the bar on the genre and there is nobody within a thousand miles of it. The similarities to Tolkien are abundant in "The Crystal Shard."  There is a halfling called Regis who is very Hobbitlike, a dwarf who has taken up refuge in the frozen north because his people "delved too deep" in their ancestral home of "Mithril hall," there is a sentient object of unspeakable evil (the crystal shard), etc.

Now, as a discerning reader, what are you supposed to make of blatant similarities to Tolkien like that?  When I was 13, the similarities didn't bother me in the least honestly.  I was actually happy for them because they gave me kind of a reference as to what to expect.  Also, where are you going to draw the line?  Is the fact that a book is populated with elves, dwarves, and orcs enough to say that it is a Tolkien rip-off?  What about the fact that you're writing a fantasy book at all?   These are kind of interesting questions (and for another blog article I think).

The thing that saves "The Crystal Shard" (and, indeed, probably Salvatore's entire career as a writer) was that he introduced a character that was a dark elf, or drow.  Drow had traditionally been evil in the D&D universe (a book like this is really just an extension of D&D...which is brilliant in terms of marketing, so good for them).  By introducing a "rogue" drow (therefore a "good" drow), Salvatore was able to invent and explore an entire world of "evil" characters that nobody in fantasy had ever really gone into (he did this in the "Homeland" trilogy which I remember to be excellent, but which I haven't read in decades).  Although the drow character, Drizzt, was proposed as only a supporting character, he's pretty clearly the hero of the book.

So, just to recap, when I first read "The Crystal Shard" I was about 13 and pretty much willing to read anything with a good cover and the promise of a lot of evil creatures getting chopped up.  Now, at 35 after having earned a degree in English Literature and penned a couple fantasy novels myself, I sincerely have to put R.A. Salvatore among my primary influences.  I think I'm pretty lucky in that I went through my degree program kicking and screaming and I wasn't the type of student who just blindly accepted everything the professors said.  Because of that, I proud to say that I can still enjoy a book like "The Crystal Shard."

Sure, there are a couple point of view shifts and even some minor grammatical problems in the book (there are two points where he writes "breath" instead of "breathe,") but that's never been the type of thing to slow me down.  I think the main difference between "The Crystal Shard" and my novel "The Bone Sword" is that, for one, I've never been a big fan of battles with non-human characters.  I think I first got put off to that while watching "Battlestar Galactica" in which the humans were always killing the boring robot Cylons.  I think it's a lot easier to generate conflict when you have human beings killing human beings (and Salvatore does get into conflict like this in later novels.  Another difference is that my characters tend to doubt themselves a lot more than the characters of "The Crystal Shard" doubt themselves (again, this is something you see appearing more and more in later Salvatore works).

I'd be really curious to hear what Salvatore fans had to say about "The Bone Sword."  Heck, I'd be interested to hear what Salvatore had to say!  Hopefully he wouldn't suggest that I borrowed from him in the same way I suggested he borrowed from Tolkien...but you never know!

I'm off...maybe I'll go and read the second "Icewind Dale" book, "Streams of Silver" (which I remember being an almost word for word rewrite of "The Hobbit").

Shells Chats with author and publisher Chris Bartholomew

What's your background with writing?

I’ve always loved to write; when I was younger it was poetry. I didn’t start writing to publish until 2005.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

This is always a tough question, because I don’t really have any influences. I’ve never said, ‘oh, I’d like to be like so and so,’ I just write because I enjoy it. Inspiration comes from all sorts of places, mostly my own experiences, research, and interests.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?

I think that the biggest accomplishment a writer can have is for someone else to acknowledge that you can write. So… the biggest accomplishment is publication.

What genre do you feel the most comfortable writing in?

Fantasy, Horror, and non-fiction.

You have written many short stories, which is your favorite and where can we find some of them? Groomed was my first accepted story to a place that is still online. My first writing credits came from an ezine called Ragged Edge Publishing, but they are not around anymore.

What do you find the most challenging about writing a short story?

Finding something that is uniquely mine. I guess it took a few years to develop my own voice. So, voice and a unique story are the most challenging things to me, aside from finding the time to actually sit here long enough to write.

You have written a lot of non-fiction articles, how does that compared to your fiction writing, has it helped or hindered any stories you might do?

To me, they are just about the same. I think story telling has helped my non-fiction writing, but not really the other way around.

Do you do any research for your stories?

Mostly just for the non-fiction, but sometimes for fiction, to make sure what I’m saying is actually how it is, but usually for horror or fantasy, I don’t research.

Why did you start Static Movement Ezine?

I started the ezine because I loved getting published and wanted to give others a chance to do the same. I wanted to give people stories they could enjoy, get lost in.

Has it helped or hindered you as an author?

It has not helped my writing, but it certainly has helped me get known. A writer wants people to read their work and having an online presence helped me there. A lot of writers don’t like to be interviewed or don’t want people to know much about them, but it’s necessary in a sea with hundreds of thousands of writers to stand out in some way.

Who does the artwork for Static Movement Ezine?

Lee Kuruganti has always done the covers for the different issues. John D Stanton did the cover on the main page that has always been there.

Where can people find Static Movement Ezine and guidelines for submissions? both the ezine and print guidelines can be found at this link.

There is a print collection of stories from the ezine, can you tell us a bit about that and where we may find it?

Issue 1 was published by Razar Magazine and is available on amazon.

Issue 2 was published by Liquid Imagination and is available on Lulu.

Issue 3 is being put together now and will be available at a later date. Lee Kuruganti is illustrating all of the stories and.

You have moved into the small press publishing world as well with several anthologies, how has that impacted your writing and can you tell us a bit more about the Static Movement Imprint?

It’s hard to write while reading hundreds of submissions from other people, so it’s impacted my writing in that way. I don’t write unless I’ve promised someone a story by a deadline.

Who does the artwork for your anthologies?

Jessy Marie Roberts does all of the covers for Static Movement print books.

How do you feel about working as a small press and do you find it can be more challenging compared to mainstream presses?

I don’t think I’ve had any dealings with mainstream presses so I don’t really know what to say here. I suppose they are more known and trusted… there are many more small presses out there than mainstream publishers.

How do you handle marketing your own work and others and what suggestions would you have for others for marketing their work?

When I have something published, I put it on my credits page at Static Movement. and I have a forum where I post a link to the work, or rather lately a link to buy the anthology I’m in.

I suggest that every writer have a website, blog, a place that is totally theirs to market their work, a place to point others so that people can see what they are about if they are interested. So many writers don’t have sites and that is a shame. You have to put yourself out there, it’s not magically going to get done by someone else.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I have a story to write for Jason Baker Photography for his Abandoned series by Feb. 2011. Right now that is the only deadline I have. I plan to just keep on writing and publishing and doing whatever comes along – as I’ve always done.

Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?

Believe in yourself and start with the paying markets. Many of us started backwards… submitted to free venues until we had confidence, but the way to do it is: submit to pro, then semi pro, then token, then nonpaying.

Learn to follow the guidelines… if you aren’t willing to do what a publisher wants you to do as far as formatting your story for them to consider publishing then you are not serious about your work and you don’t care, hence, you will get rejected out of hand without your story being read in most cases. Don’t be lazy, put in the work and give the editor what they want and you will stand a better chance.

Where can people know more about you?

Great Review at the Innsmouth Free Press (the names Tolkien and Martin are mentioned)

Merry Christmas!

Here's a great review that I just discovered over at the Innsmouth Free Press.  It's more of a synopsis than a review, but I'm glad that they mentioned me in the same breath as George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien (I need to stick a few more R's in my name by the look of it eh?).

If you're into digg, you can digg this story here!  (Let me know if you do that so I can put you on my Digg list!


Shells Chats with author and screenwriter David Moody

What's your background with writing?
Sounds crazy, but I can remember the exact day I started writing seriously: it was the 1st January, 1994. I’d been messing around for a while, trying to write a book but failing miserably, so I set myself a New Year’s resolution – the only resolution I think I’ve ever kept! I gave myself a few basic rules (write at least a page a day, don’t stop and edit until each draft is finished etc. etc.). Within 6 months my first novel – “Straight to You” – was finished. I signed with a small UK publisher and, very unrealistically, expected to be a huge success. The book didn’t sell and so, when it came to getting my next book (“Autumn”) published, I decided to try a different approach. I knew that the most important thing was to get the book out to as many people as possible, and so I started giving the book away for free via my website It was a great success (very few people were giving full books away like that back then). A series of sequels followed, as did a few other novels. I started a small press (Infected Books) to get the books into print and was on the verge of making a decent living for myself when I sold the film rights to a couple of my novels. Following that I signed with Thomas Dunne Books in the UK.

Who are your inspirations/influences?
I always wanted to be a film-maker, not an author (I still do if I’m honest), so most of my influences are from the film world. That said, my favourite book is “The Day of the Triffids” by John Wyndham. I read it when I was very young (probably too young) and was blown away by the way Wyndham destroyed the world and had mankind under threat from walking plants and yet he still made it feel believable. Another story which had a similar impact was H G Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”. Film-wise, watching Romero’s original “Night of the Living Dead” was a turning point for me. I grew up loving old Universal monster movies, 1950’s B movies (“Brain from Planet Aros”, “The Day the World Ended” etc.), and Hammer films, but the directors who’ve had the biggest influence on me have to be John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?
I think I’d have to say “Hater”, for a number of reasons. It was actually the last book I self-published through Infected Books before being signed to a ‘proper’ publisher. But what I’m most proud of is the fact that my original version of the novel was strong enough to result in an approach for the film rights from major film producers. Not only that, but the book hardly needed any work to prepare it for mainstream publication. There were no major edits and, in several countries, the publishers even used / adapted my original cover art!

If you had to pick a favorite character out of everything that you have written, who and why?
Easy – it would have to be Danny McCoyne, the central character from the “Hater” series. Danny is easily the most believably character I’ve written – he begins the series as an ordinary, struggling, poor, brow-beaten guy who could have been any one of us (I’ll say more about that in a moment!), but he goes on an incredible journey throughout the books and his life changes on almost every conceivable level. He’s become quite controversial – some people hate him because he’s initially a useless, moaning idiot, but others find him easy to identify with for precisely that reason! He’s actually a very autobiographical character, and that’s another reason I love him. Danny was based in part on me, many years back when I found myself in a job I detested, with hardly any cash, living in a house that was too small with my wife and a lot of kids. His frustrations and problems at the beginning of the first book are very reminiscent of the grief I was going through!

The Horror genre has changed a bit through the years, how do you feel the Horror genre is impacting readers in today's world?
It’s funny – Horror is the genre which often gets frowned upon, and yet I think it’s generally the most relevant genre too. People look down their noses at it but horror writers and filmmakers often have a lot to say about the world. I think that horror reflects what’s happening in the world, and that’s never been more the case than today. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, horror played on our fears of Armageddon, stirred up by the Cold War and the perceived threat from the ‘evil Soviet empire’. After that, directors like Romero and Cronenberg made movies which were almost commentaries on the political and sociological issues of the day. I think that horror in the 1980’s and 1990’s had a lot to say about the excesses of those times, and also the rapid changes in the media and its sudden growth were reflected in many stories. These days, though, I think horror is more relevant than ever. I think that’s because, in some ways, we’re living in very frightening times. Terrorism has given us all a faceless enemy – our attackers could be anyone, at any time, in any place. When you combine that with the huge effect that the Internet has had on our lives in making us all more interconnected (instant direct communication, an incredible pool of information on tap, Wikileaks etc.), it makes the world a much more unpredictable and potentially frightening place. The genre seems to reflect that.

You started out with allowing people to see your work on websites and then formed a publishing company of your own to promote your work, how do you feel that helped you as an author?
It was hugely beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, as a writer, publishing my books in this way gave me an invaluable connection with the people who were finding my stories and reading them. There was a lot of direct feedback which really helped: people often wrote and told me what they liked or didn’t like about my books, and I could speak to them and find out more about why they felt that way. Over time I built up a close group of readers who I’d ask to read all my books before they were released. As well as helping me proof-read, they were as close to an editor as I had. The decision to open Infected Books was an important one. Back then, self-publishing was really not the done thing, and many people wouldn’t give a self-published book the time of day, irrespective of how good it might have been. When I moved into producing print versions of my books, I wanted them to be of the same quality as any other book you might find on the shelves. Using Infected Books as a ‘shield’ to hide behind really helped in that regard. And as the company grew, I learnt a heck of a lot I wasn’t expecting about book production, design, marketing and the industry in general. That knowledge really helped me when I began working with ‘real’ publishers.

What advice would you give to other authors about marketing their work based on your experience?
I guess I’d just repeat what I said above: when you’re publishing your own work, you have to make it appear to be of the same standard as ‘professionally produced’ books. You need to edit and carefully proof read, spend time working on the layout and design etc. Nothing will stop people reading quicker than if your work is riddled with silly mistakes. So having a marketable product is the vital first step. Once you’ve got that, you can start promoting. But don’t expect overnight results (it was almost 15 years between me finishing my first novel and having my first mass-market release). It takes time to build up a readership, and I’d recommend taking every opportunity you can to self-promote. Start a website (that’s absolutely vital) and regularly update it. Link to other similar sites. Join relevant forums (and become an active part of the community, don’t just paste your adverts there!). Start your own message board. Build a mailing list. Add an email signature about your book to every message you send. Produce flyers. Leave post cards in book stores. Attend conventions... the list goes on and on. The final, and perhaps the most important thing I’d say is you should actively seek feedback and act upon it. In my old job I worked as a trainer for a while and we were told there was no such thing as negative feedback – you can often learn much more from bad reviews than from those people who tell you you’re fantastic!

The movie experience with "Autumn" how did you feel about that and "Hater" has been commissioned for a film as well, can you give us more details on that?
I had a mad few weeks a couple of years back when I received enquiries about the availability of film rights to “Hater” and “Autumn” within days of each other. The approaches were very different: a large LA-based production company were interested in “Hater” and, at the other end of the scale, a small, independent Canadian company wanted to obtain the rights to “Autumn”. I decided to go with both, figuring that it would be interesting to get experience of working with people at the extremes of the industry.
The “Autumn” movie was made on a very limited budget and is now available on DVD. There’s a lot to admire about the movie: they achieved a lot with limited resources and managed to pull together a great cast which included Dexter Fletcher (from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and the late David Carradine (in his last film role). The thing about “Autumn” (both the film and the book) is that it divides people – they either love it or hate it. When Carradine died, an unfinished version of the film was leaked online and it generated a lot of bad press which it struggled to recover from. At the end of the day, I’m very proud that the film was made, and it was exceptionally cool to appear in it as a featured zombie!
The “Hater” movie is being produced by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Mark Johnson (The Narnia films) and will be directed by J A Bayona (The Orphanage). There hasn’t been a lot of news about the project recently, but I understand that might be about to change...

Can you tell us a little bit about "Hater and Dog Blood?"
The basic premise of “Hater” is simple: as a species, we find so many ways to divide ourselves up – race, age, sex, beliefs etc. etc. What if something happened which would split the human race in two, irrespective of all previous divisions, and what would happen if the people on either side of this new divide knew they had no option but to kill those people who were no longer ‘like them’. Without giving too much away, the first book deals with how individuals deal with the introduction of the divide (parents turn against their kids, lovers try to kill each other, etc. etc.). In book two, “Dog Blood”, the population is well and truly split and a bloody war has broken out which will only end when one side has completely wiped out the other. The final book in the series “Them or Us” will be released in late 2011.

Where did the idea for "Hater" series come from?
I’d been developing the basic idea for the story for a while – I thought the idea of something happening which would immediately and irrevocably change all our existing ties and allegiances would be fascinating. But the story was lacking something. As I was getting ready to write the book in Summer 2005, London was attacked by suicide bombers. It was subsequently revealed that one of the bombers worked in a primary school as a classroom assistant, and I found it incredible that the same person could go from teaching kids one week, to going onto a tube train with a bomb with the sole intention of killing as many people as possible the next. That kind of change of personality became the focus for the book – people being prepared to kill and maim because they believe they’re right and everyone else is wrong.

Who did the artwork for "Hater and Dog Blood"?
I did the original artwork for “Hater”. I knew I wanted something which was visually arresting, but not overly gruesome. I decided to use red on white because I wanted the book to stand out and pretty much every other horror novel I saw at the time seemed to have black, foreboding covers. I used my youngest daughter’s paints and mixed up a pot of ‘blood’, then sat outside on the patio scrawling the word ‘Hater’ over and over on pieces of paper! I’ve already mentioned that I’m incredibly proud of the fact several publishers around the world have used or adapted my original design – it’s a huge compliment. The “Dog Blood” covers have been a little more varied from publisher to publisher, but they’re all very bloody!

Where can we find "Hater and Dog Blood?"
Pretty much everywhere, hopefully! The books are published by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Gollancz in the UK – both very large publishers – and they can be found at all the usual places online as well as on the shelves of the major book store chains. “Hater” has also been published as an audio book and in many other countries: Germany, France, Spain, Czech, Taiwan, Poland, Portugal, Brazil... hopefully people will be able to find a copy!

Your work has been translated into different languages, how do you feel about the world wide experience of your writing?
Working with foreign publishers has been a really interesting experience as a writer. I’ve had to answer a plethora of questions about the detail of the books, because things you wouldn’t expect have an impact on translation. For example, the Taiwanese translator needed to know a minor character’s precise age because there are different words for younger or older sister! It’s also been interesting to see how the different editions of the books have been packaged and marketed for each country. All the covers are on display at - you can see a massive variation there.

New authors hear horror stories about working with mainstream publishers, how has the experience been for you and any advice you would give to new authors getting into the publishing area?
Working with a mainstream publisher certainly has its ups and downs, but the ups more than outweigh the downs. There’s such a contrast between mainstream publishing and self-publishing though. When I self-published, I enjoyed the control I had over every aspect of my books. Now that’s gone to an extent and whilst I can have my say and make my voice heard, I’m no longer the only one making the decisions. The different speed of the two approaches to publishing is also something that took me by surprise. When I published myself I could finish a book on one day and have it on sale a few days later. Now there’s a delay of months, sometimes even years before books hit the shelves. My advice for any author new to this side of the business would be to do some research so you know a). what to expect and b). what’s expected of you. Learn how the process works and where you fit in so you don’t get caught out when opportunities present themselves. Publishing is also about networking – get yourself out and about and meet people.

Any new projects in the future you can tell us about?
At the moment I’m busy finishing up both the “Autumn” and “Hater” series and I’m currently planning what to do next. I have lots in mind, but nothing I can talk about just yet!

Any book signings or talk show appearances lined up for future dates?
I’m hoping to get out and about a lot more in 2011. I have a few convention appearances and signings lined up already, and you can find out about them on If things work out the way I’m planning, I’d like to get over to the US next year. I’ve been there as a tourist several times, but it would be great to organize a few signings and events.

Where can people find out more about you?
The best place is online. I’m all over the place, but these are the main sites:

Shells Chats with author BellaDonna Drakul

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I have always given props to anybody who’s lived the life of an author but as far as inspiration goes, I’m a Bram Stoker girl. :D I have loved him and his work since I was a child and he never gave up on his dream of writing/getting published which I didn’t either. But I must say that I worship Edgar Allan Poe as well for his broody darkness that has also inspired me to love the art of death in literature. In my opinion, they are both part of my writing style as a reflection and I admire them for giving me the courage to write.

As authors, we tend to put our emotions into our writings, do you ever feel at times drained from writing one of your stories because of the emotional impact it may have?

I have actually and I live by a quote I once read: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." I feel that if I don’t have strong feelings/emotions for my characters then I can’t expect my readers to either. I have even caught myself crying when I write because of a character’s death and since I write on a first person basis and about people I know personally, I feel as if that person actually died rather than my character. But then again most writers tend to be a bit emotional, right? ;)

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?

There are so many accomplishments that I have had as an author but if I had to pinpoint one it would have to be Stephen King owning a copy of my first book. If you write horror then you know you’re somebody if the king of horror owns your book. I hope that one day he will own my second book so keep your fingers crossed on that one! :D

Why pick vampires out of every monster out there for the Horror genre?

I have been asked that numerous times and all I can say is that I know them better than anything else. I am a vampirologist and I have always loved the world of those that feed off of blood in their immortal lives. I can relate to them on so many levels and I feel that I have a stronger and deeper understanding of them in the sense that I feel their pain. Yes, they’ve become glamorous creatures over time but I have always felt their pain of being alone with a world of death at their feet. I guess that’s what makes me a lady of darkness...

How do you feel vampires are portrayed now in the mainstream compared to older times?

Frankly... I think the modern vampires of our time are jokes as compared to the nightmarish beings of the past. And while I give kudos to the original concept of a "sparkly vampire", I do not praise those who worship them in a romantic tween sense. Vampires are deadly beings that feast on blood and cause horror to those who love them and not a best friend who is a vampire vegetarian. Actually, I could go on all day about this topic but you might lose a few readers because of that. ;)

Can you tell us a bit about The League of Extraordinary Women of Paranormal?

Ah... my fellow paranormal/horror ladies and how I love them so! Basically, The League is a group of female horror and paranormal authors who teach others about their knowledge of their particular field. Hosted by the wonderful, Amy Williamson, we are united by what we’ve experienced in our fields and tell others of our lives as women in a "man’s world of paranormal/horror writing". And I would like to mention that there is also a blog called "League Of Extraordinary Paranormal-Horror Women" in which the authors blog about their fields on numerous levels and readers can see who we really are. I’m known as the dark one who is unreadable (as quoted by Amy Williamson) so my blogs tend to be crazy rants or gothic informational writings that many enjoy. You may check out the site for more information here.

Can you tell us a little bit about "The Vampire Collection and The Immortal Memoirs?"

Both of my books are first person based collections of vampire short stories and novellas unlike any the world has ever seen. My first book was written over the span of nearly thirteen years and tells the stories of vampires full of undying love, hate, and an innocence that not even time can alter. There are short stories about vampires made of ice, vampires fighting with humans and werewolves, female vampires with a thirst for blood and destruction, and many more tales of a youthful nature. My second book, on the other hand, is more of a male point of view telling and was written in only a month but is double the size of my first book. In that book there are novellas about an infamous mockery of a "vampire" killer, a freak show with diabolical beings, a vampire that feasts on fetal blood, and others that will scare the reader to death. And what is the difference between my books? My first was written more so as a teenager to adulthood so there’s a lot of love whereas my second book was written as an adult with lots of horror and blood. Basically, you can see how my views have changed throughout my books which I think readers will find interesting.

Where can we find " The Vampire Collection and The Immortal Memoirs "?

You can find my books anywhere online including my Facebook, MySpace, or at Publish America in the Online Bookstore in the Horror section. Or if you’re willing to travel to Oklahoma, you can pick up a signed copy of my book directly from me at one of my horror conventions (the next one is in March).

Who was responsible for the cover/book designs of your books?

My first book cover was my design editor’s idea which represented me with the beautiful but deadly amaryllis belladonna... I was not a fan of that one when I first saw it. My first book was more of a female perspective so the flowers made sense, but I’m not a fan of pink flowers as the designers would have thought. My second book cover, however, was all my idea because it was more of a male perspective so it had to be darker and deadlier hence the creepy cemetery layout. But when I look at both covers now, each one fits the interior of the book. My first book had a deadly sweetness to it represented by the dark flowers and my second was all about death and revenge so the cemetery fit it. All in all, I’m now happy with both designs and I can’t wait to see what my designers do for my third book. :)

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

Oh, I have so many stories including some I can’t list here! On radio interviews I’ve been over medicated from being sick which was my first interview that turned out surprisingly well, I’ve brought more laughter than horror to the conversation on others, and I’m becoming known as the disturbing yet hilarious guest that everybody wants to book which makes me happy. And on signings/horror conventions I have been groped by many a fan, been up to the level of celebrity status (that’s a big plus), met celebrities that have all adored me, and sold many books to make me grow as an author with love from all. I’m not bragging by any means, but it’s a pretty good life! :D

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I am currently working on my third book of first person based vampire novellas entitled "The Kindred Confessions" which I’m having a bit of writer’s block with at the moment. :( However, once I get over that I think it will be worth it in the long run and it will be triple the horror and blood which I hope my readers will love. I’m also doing a few anthologies here and there so I’m keeping pretty busy with that plus interviews and such.

Any events or book signings for the future?

Well... I’m thinking 2011 is going to be a great year for my career. I have a horror convention in March known as "Underground Horror Fest II" (full details on my websites), interviews beyond belief, several other conventions (one being in August), and I’m sure a few book signings at bookstores in between. I’m usually pretty busy, but I’m never too busy to sign books for my current and new fans. I’m excited for all my upcoming events and hopefully next year will be over booked with signings galore.

Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?

I know it sounds a bit cliche, but never give up no matter how many rejections you get! It is very hard to get published and it might be easier to sell your own soul but oh, it’s so worth it once it happens and your book is in your hands. In fact, I cried when I first received a copy of my first book because I was so moved and proud that I had accomplished something that I had dreamt of for so long. And me personally, I’m all about self promotion so if you have a bad publisher don’t let it get you down. You need to go out in the world and sell your book like your life depends on it! Otherwise, your book will sit on a shelf collecting dust...

Where can people know more about you?

My books and information about my books, interviews, and upcoming events can all be found anywhere online or at the vampire collection, my facebook page, or as I mentioned earlier Publish America in the Online Bookstore in the Horror section. Vampire kisses to you all and until then...

Articles on Social Media Book and Blog Promotion

I've just realized that over the last year I've done a huge number of articles on book and blog promotion.  I've decided to put them all together in one place so that you all have a convenient reference point that you can bookmark.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  Whatever type of writing you're involved with (blogging, articles, short stories, novels) it is absolutely imperative that you develop a huge network of people dedicated to mutual promotion.  You know I'm telling the truth, because I'm not promising you overnight success.  This is a "chip away" mentality that will bring you results over the long haul.

Below are a list of articles with a brief description of their usefulness.  I hope they are helpful to you!

Notes for Contributors: I have several blogs in which I allow other people to upload content.  However, there are some basic guidelines that I like my contributors to follow.  They are established in this article.

How to Use Google's Picassa to Display your photos in a slideshow on your web page:  I haven't used this in a while, but it's a convenient way to upload a bunch of photos.

How to Schedule Blog Posts for the Future:  I prefer that there is no more than one post a day on my blog.  If you're contributing, this article shows you how to schedule your post for an unclaimed day.

How to Upload Pictures in Blogger's New Interface:  This is just a semi-technical article about blogger's interface.

How to Use Digg for Book Promotion:  An article about Digg.  If you're interested in sharing diggs with me, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Using Social Media for Book Promotion: A general overview of social media.

Using Facebook and Networked Blogs for Book Promotion:  This is my blueprint for how I plan to build my "Heroic Fantasy" Facebook page.

Heroic Fantasy Page: Join this if you haven't already.

Heroic Fantasy Group:  Join this if you haven't already.

I'll be sure to add more as I write them!

Shells chats with author David Dunwoody

What's your background with writing?

I started taking it seriously and submitting works to independent publications and small-press outlets in 2004. In 2006 I began serializing my first novel online. EMPIRE was later picked up and released by Permuted Press in 2008, and Gallery Books this past March.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

Key influences in terms of their philosophy are H.P. Lovecraft and the filmmaker David Cronenberg. One explores the terror of the great unknown, and the other the terror of what lies within us. Clive Barker’s beautiful style and imagination with regard to monsters are also big inspirations.

Has any of the writing you've done every scared you or grossed you out where you thought ' I wrote this?'

“Crawlies,” from the anthology DEAD BAIT, is one where I grossed myself out. It has to do with millipedes and orifices. I’ll leave it at that. It’s really the millipedes that gross me out – meaty segmented bugs really get under my skin.

In comparison to short stories, which you have a lot in different anthologies, which one is your favorite and how do you compare that to writing longer works?

Right now I would probably peg my favorite as “Childhood,” which can be read for free online (the link is at under Free Fiction). It deals with a figure which has always fascinated and disturbed me – the clown – plus some elements from my actual childhood. Compared to novels, there’s not always as much room to stretch your legs and delve deeper into concepts, but with a short story you can still paint a vivid picture and then leave the reader with one potent blow to the senses.

As authors, we tend to put our emotions into our writings, do you ever feel at times drained from writing one of your stories because of the emotional impact it may have?

UNBOUND, a novel from the collection UNBOUND & OTHER TALES, was the first work where I really allowed my emotions and thoughts to run free, and it was definitely a cathartic but draining experience. I’m going through something similar with the novel I’m working on at the moment…though it can be a little frightening at times, too, revealing so much of oneself, I’m finding myself more excited with each completed bit of it. I guess it’s worth the pain.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?

Probably the completion of UNBOUND, as it was written during a very dark period, and I had to overcome some demons in order to get it done and ready for print. I’m thrilled that Permuted inked a deal with Simon & Schuster for the EMPIRE re-release, and I can’t wait for the sequel to hit in April.

Can you tell us a little bit about "Empire and Empire's End?"

EMPIRE is set 105 years after a global zombie outbreak. In the transformed world, the survivors include a handful of folks trying to fight the good fight, and more than a few maniacs. Also included is the Grim Reaper, who has gotten tired of the dead’s refusal to stay dead. In EMPIRE’S END, the Reaper’s journey will continue as winter alters the landscape, and he will learn more about his own origin. The zombies, meanwhile, are beginning to realize their own potential, and a crew of undead sideshow performers proves to be among the deadliest “ferals” pursuing the living.

How did you come up with this idea for the Empire series?

While working on a story for a Permuted Press anthology, I thought Death in the flesh would be a fitting nemesis for zombies. I was in the early stages of outlining EMPIRE at the time, and when I decided to plug the Reaper into that story too, it took off.

You have done a book with Eric S. Brown called "Anti-Heroes", can you tell us a bit about the book and how it was to work with Mr. Brown?

Though Eric and I didn’t actually collaborate on any of the tales in ANTI-HEROES, it was our shared love of comics and dark heroes which inspired the book. My novella, “Enslaver of Worlds,” pits a sort of Lovecraftian Hulk against both humans and its alien creators. Eric’s “The Zombie Farm” sees his Agent Death tangle with monstrous forces from the other side. I also wrote a bonus story, “Suicide at Dawn’s Door,” which is about the Devil hunting vampires. It’s a pretty diverse and fun collection.

What was it like working with the publishers you have and where can we find out more information on them?

The publishers I have done the most with are Permuted Press, Library of the Living Dead and Belfire Press. Dark Regions Press also published my first collection, DARK ENTITIES. In all cases I’ve enjoyed working with the staff and have found everyone to be both professional and friendly. They are why I love the small press community. The sites for these publishers are:

Who was responsible for the cover/book designs of your books?

So many great artists! I don’t know who did the cover for the EMPIRE re-release, but the original was by an artist named Michael Brack, and this year for my birthday I bought the original drawing to display in my home. Jodi Lee did UNBOUND and NEVERMORE, Tom Moran did both the cover and interior illustrations for DARK ENTITIES, and Deedee Davies did the amazing cover for ANTI-HEROES. In addition, a lot of fine people like Kody Boye and Scott A. Johnson have given unique touches to the interior designs of books like UNBOUND and ANTI-HEROES.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

I always have fun doing interviews and signings (even though I am always nervous), but the most outrageous times have been with Greg Hall on “The Funky Werepig.” Greg’s a great friend and a hilarious host and is responsible for inflicting the nickname “THE Dunwoody” upon me. I recently paid him back by sending him a werepig-looking bust that I found at the dollar store over Halloween. The lead paint is currently eroding his brain.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

There are a lot of short stories in the hopper which should be appearing soon in various anthologies. I always update my site whenever I have news about one or two that are on the horizon…the novel I’m working on right now is a very personal one which draws from some recent experiences, then adds flesh-eating monsters and things like that. It’s tentatively titled THINGS INSIDE.

Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?

I mainly use to look for markets where my stories might fit. I’m also a big believer in spending a little time on Google reading up on a press. Forums like those at Library of the Living Dead and Permuted Press are very active both in terms of market news and writing help.

Where can people know more about you? is the hub for all my insanity. There everybody can find free stuff, interviews and purchasing links. Maybe another contest if I ever get off my butt.

You can purchase most of David Dunwoody's books on and other online retailers and bookstores near you.

Words with E.M. MacCallum, author of "Zombie Killer Bill"

Can you tell us a little bit about "Zombie Killer Bill."

Zombie-Killer Bill is about a freelance gunslinger who's hired to kill the Illegal zombies of the wild west.

The Illegals - raging, flesh-eating creatures - spread the infection and it's up to Bill to stop it. This new job however, is bigger than just a routine zombie slaying. Dozens of Legal and Slave zombies have been brutally murdered on a Zombie Farm. To solve the murders Bill teams up with an unlikely partner and hits the dusty trail after a mad-scientist. Risking life, limb and sanity they have to catch the culprit before he finds a way to change the west as they know it.

What's your background with writing?

I'm sorry to admit that I've never attended college for writing fiction. My education isn't anything outside of a normal curriculum at your average public school. Most of my knowledge comes from online research, forums, fellow writers and networking.

I started writing when I was eight. It wasn't until 2009 that I saw an opportunity to write a short story for publication. I'm happy to say that it was accepted. I can't even describe the joy I felt when I received that letter. Since then I've made it into a few other anthologies and have a proud collection of rejection letters. I've kept every last one of them.

This would be my debut novella, though I doubt it will be my last.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I was originally influenced by the talented and witty Ann Hodgman. Today I find authors like Robert McCammon, Richard Laymon, Richard Matheson, Terry Brooks, Dan Brown and Jim Butcher to be inspirations, though all for different reasons.

What was it like working with Sonar4 Publications?

Wonderful! This was my first time dealing with a publisher that wasn't an anthology. They were so patient with me and answered all of my questions right away. I consider myself lucky to have found them.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

Sonar4 Publications is responsible for all the outside work. An artist named Philip Rogers did that outstanding front cover for them.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

Well, it'll all start with my family. There's quite a few relatives I know I can shamelessly self-promote to, haha. Afterward, I have plans with a few local bookstores, at least one convention (if there's more I'll find them!), newspapers and whatever networking I can do online.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

I've only done one book signing (that wasn't for a family member). I sat at a convention table for two days and chatted with all sorts of people from a variety of backgrounds though only signed one book. I 'm sure I creeped him out by smiling too much but he certainly made my day.

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

Readers can basically expect to see my process through this writing world, what I'm doing with it and how I'm trying to achieve the goals I set for myself. There are plenty of failures and triumphs to be had.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

A few novels are in the works. Everything from vampires, demons and more dead things are spilling out on those pages. I hope to put out many more short stories in 2011 and have fun with what I'm doing.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

If ever curious you can check out some of the anthologies I'm in. There's two through Sonar4 Publications, one being "Throw Down Your Dead" where Zombie-Killer Bill makes his first appearance in print or "For the Oceans" an charity anthology where proceeds are given to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Then there's my first publication with Northern Frights Publishing in their "Shadows of the Emerald City" anthology.

"Zombie Killer Bill" is scheduled to be released in 2011.  Keep an eye on the publisher for updates!

Hank Quense interviews Walter Rhein

Hello All,
Here's a link to an interview I just did for fellow author Hank Quense.  For those of you who have been tirelessly reading all my interviews...I promise I tried to give different spins on all the questions (as always)!

Words with Hank Quense, author of "Tales From Gundarland"

Can you tell us a little bit about your fantasy blog.
Actually, it's a general purpose blog. I use it to post book reviews, news about my writing adventures and occasional rant. It's also the exclusive distributor of Faux News Network reports. You can subscribe here!

What's your background with writing?
I took an early retirement from my sales manager position to start a fiction writing career. I've been at it for over a decade and in that time I've had over 40 short stories and a half-dozen fiction writing articles published, all in paying markets. I also have four books published.

I noticed that you prefer to write humorous fantasy stories, why is that?
I refuse to write serious stuff. I've taken it as my mission to improve the health of the general population by making them laugh at my stories. Laughing decreases stress and lowers blood pressure. What more can you ask of a book?

Who are your inspirations/influences?
I love authors Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Chris Moore. Reading their stories must have influenced me. Other than that, my influences are real life. I just observe life and write my stories around it. Newspapers and TV news are a fertile source of material for satire (See my Faux News Network blog posts)

Where are some places that your short stories have appeared?
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Darker Matter (deceased unfortunately), Neopsis, Best of Neopsis, Afterburn SF Flash Fiction Online, Tales of the Unexpected, Faeries (France) and others.

Which of your stories is your favorite?
MacBeth: the Sequel. I took Shakespeare's Wyrd Sisters from his MacBeth play and gave them a starring role instead of being just walk-ons. They're out to save their pet monster, Nessie. While they're at it, they hope to find some lusty yeomen who will harvest their maidenheads.

Can you tell us a little bit about "Fool's Gold?"
It's a retelling of the ancient Rhinegold myth. I changed the setting from the Dark Ages to the future and replaced the fantasy creatures with aliens. It's great fun!

Who was the publisher and what was it like working with them?
ETreasures. Frustrating. I didn't know enough back then to ask if they used a distributor like Ingram or Baker and Taylor. They didn't so the book isn't available in very many venues. The publisher also expected me to do all the marketing while they kept most of the sales revenue. That publishing experience and other factors convinced me to self-publish Tales From Gundarland.

What have you done to promote your book?
Press releases, interviews, social media sites, book reviews (and the review for Tales from Gundarland are great: you can read them here). Recently, I started scheduling public appearances. I also put together a sampler of my work and offer it as a free download on Smashwords. Folks can read it to get a feel for my writing and my bizarre sense of humor.

What projects do you have planned for the future?
In January, I'll release Zaftan Entrepreneurs, Book One of the Zaftan Trilogy. I'm currently halfway through a new short novel. I don't have a title so I'm calling it "Hamlet and Othello meet Falstaff." As you might expect, it's a Shakespearean spoof and I'm having a ball writing it.

Are your stories safe to read?
Very good question. There are some basic medical precautions readers should take. First, check with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough to take part in spontaneous laughter. Second, if you are suffering from a contagious disease such as the flu, wear a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs when you laugh out loud. Finally, no one should read my stories while driving a car or operating heavy machinery.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

Thoughts on Mads Mikkelsen in "Valhalla Rising"

I felt like writing something different today, so I decided to jot down some random words on "Valhalla Rising."  I'm not going to call this a review, since I think this film is kind of impervious to reviews.  If the director cared what anybody else thought, he probably would have picked a whole different career.

Honestly, I always like it when an artist goes ahead and breaks all the rules.  I like it even more when that artist breaks all the rules and it makes all the critics and the entire viewing public FURIOUS.  That's more or less the case with "Valhalla Rising" which, from my understanding, wasn't the world's biggest commercial success.  Nicholas Winding Refn is the director's name.  When I stumble across an artistic personality like him, I always fail to figure out who funds their films.  That information always seems to be hidden somehow.  The reality is that it's probably just the guy's multi-millionaire or billionaire daddy who lets him be a filmmaker so he can have a respectable profession to rattle off when people ask him about his son at fancy parties.  But deep down I hope this guy went through things legitimately, and found some other crazy billionaires who weren't related to him and somehow convinced them to finance his professional life.

More power to the guy, we need more psycho movies like this.

If you have seen "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" you've essentially seen "Valhalla Rising," well, the second part anyway.  For the first part it's as if they discovered an unfinished manuscript to a Robert E. Howard novel and once they got done filming that, they just kind of decided to tack "Aguirre: Wrath of God" on the end.  To kind of brush over the awkwardness of this pairing, they stuck some chapter headings in there.  I believe I read that there are only 120 lines of dialogue in this whole if you add in the chapter headings, that kind of makes it 125 lines of dialogue.

Most of the time the chapter headings are unnecessary and ridiculous.  I mean, the point of the film is to have you a little off-guard.  I don't like when you have this after image of a chapter heading floating around in your mind and telling you exactly what to expect.

A lot (and I mean a LOT) of this film is just Mads Mikkelsen staring off into the distance.  There are few actors who are interesting enough to support a 30 second extended shot of them just looking around.  Remarkably, Mikkelsen manages to more or less pull it off.  Oh, and he doesn't say anything for the entire film, he's mute.

You might remember Mikkelsen as Tristan in that Clive Owen "King Arthur" movie...the one that had Keira Knightly painted blue...remember that (she was Guinevere of course).  Anyway, Mikkelsen was probably the only interesting thing in that entire film.  I keep thinking to myself, "it'd be nice to see that guy who played Tristan in King Arthur in another film."  Trouble is, he's BEEN in a bunch of other films.  He was the bad guy in Casino Royale (kind of wasted there actually...but that was a good film), and he was one of the silly warrior dudes from the terrible remake of "Clash of the Titans" (they should have used the script from the 80's version...that's one of THE significant movies).  He's probably been in other things too...but these roles are forgettable.

Unfortunately, his role as "One-Eye" in "Valhalla Rising" is going to be forgettable too (although he does show off some significant acting chops...only in that he's clearly more interesting to watch than anyone else in the film).  Also, he kills a couple people in probably the most gruesome ways ever to have been filmed...seriously, there's a couple early scenes that are going to make you squirm.  This is just before they head off to a descent down the river and hell and blah, blah, blah.

Essentially, "Valhalla Rising" is the kind of film that college professors love because it's so sparse you can write a convincing paper about how it means...just about anything you want.  My wife, on the other hand, fell asleep.  If that doesn't give you an idea of what this film is like...I don't know what will!

Solid Review of The Bone Sword

Hello All,
I just got this review from Julie Ann Dawson, and I'm pretty pleased with it.  Over at Amazon, she gave the book three out of five stars which essentially means that the book worked for her even though there were things she didn't like.  Honestly, I always find that when I'm buying a book, I'm more prone to reading the 1, 2, and 3 star reviews than the glowing ones (it's pretty rare these days I rate anything 5 stars).

Her summary of the book is spot on.  She liked the fact that this was just a short, to the point, action adventure.  Seriously, there are books out there that haven't even introduced all of the characters yet in the same page count that contains the entirety of "The Bone Sword."  The point of this book isn't to have an absurd, convoluted plot.  The point is to get to the action quickly, and keep the pedal to the metal until the story is done.  I'm very happy that Julie Dawson recognized that and appreciated the book for what it was.

She was down on my adverb usage in a couple of places, and in reading this criticism I think there is a little bit of validity. I've been discussing the adverb question with some of my writer friends, and I think I'll experiment with seeing how future passages I write read with and without adverb constructions.  It does seem to be true that an adverb takes you a little bit out of the scene and places the reader more in an "observer" rather than "participant" role...which is fascinating.  

Dawson's comment wasn't that I overused adverbs, but that I used some strange ones, which is definitely true.  You see, I really like to play with language, and there are more components to a good sentence than simply what it means.  You also have to consider how it looks, and how it sounds.  Sometimes the word that doesn't have the right meaning does have the right rhythm and sound, and if you read that sentence while considering other aesthetic considerations besides meaning, the craftsmanship is obvious.  It's sort of like how the sun doesn't contain the color green, but an artist might use the color green to paint the sun in a way that helps tie it in with the rest of his/her painting.

Still, I can see Dawson's point that if the meaning consideration is too far displaced, it can have a jarring effect on the reader.

Essentially, this review has given me a couple good things to think about which I fully intend to incorporate into other works.  Three star reviews are often the most valuable reviews because your happy to read them, yet they contain some valid criticisms (5 star reviews tend to be all praise, and 1 star reviews are all criticism...3 star reviews are the useful ones).

Anyway, read the review (and buy everyone in your family a copy of this don't want to be left behind when the sequel comes out!).