Interview with Author Russell James

Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York, and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Q Island, Dark Inspiration, The Playing Card Killer, The Portal, Lambs Among Wolves, and both the Grant Coleman and Ranger Kathy West adventure series. He has four short story collections, Tales from the Beyond, Outer Rim, Forever Out of Time, and Deeper into Darkness.

CONNECT WITH RUSSELL ONLINE
Website: russellrjames.com
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Russell James – Author
Meet Russell at an upcoming convention in 2022!


What draws you to the horror genre? Apparently, you have a love for it going back to childhood.

Sometime early in high school, I picked up Stephen King’s The Stand. It was on the family bookshelf and I’ll admit that the size of it intimidated me. It ended up being the first novel I ever read that so engrossed me I could not put it down. I jumped on the rest of the King books on the shelves after that, and had the same experience. So, while I’d had a nice diet of horror movies and television shows growing up, these books cemented that link between scary stories and the written word. I am certain that one of the reasons I prefer this genre is that early influence.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

For me, my greatest accomplishments might seem very small. They are the moments when a person tells me that the story I wrote moved them. One man told me that my high school buddies horror story Sacrifice made him look up his old high school friends. Once, a father told me about how I was his young son’s favorite author and his son did a book report on one of my Grant Coleman Adventure novels. Another time, a woman told me that the hero couple in The Portal reminded her of how she and her deceased husband used to be, and it made her smile. I’ll certainly never hit the NYT bestseller list, but every conversation like these inspires me to keep working on the next book.

Why do you write?

Anyone who writes enough to pursue publication will tell you that the desire comes from within, and that there is no other way to satisfy it. Stories and ideas and images bubble up and practically demand to be put on a page. To keep that creative urge from boiling too hard, I try to write every day. But sometimes life disrupts that schedule, like when I attend a four-day convention and that absorbs all my time. I can feel that unreleased storytelling rising inside and can’t wait to get back to the current work-in-progress. It’s the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I have a splendid workspace set up at home with a big south-facing window and a lot of desk space. That space is critical because my cat Timothy thinks if he isn’t close by, I’ll churn out drivel, so he needs his spot where the sun hits the desk.

I’ve found that I can productively create new prose for about four hours a day. After that, I start rushing through the writing process, and the next day it reads like a junior high composition assignment. So in the summer, I spend the morning doing something outdoors like yard work or working on the cars in the garage, and then after lunch when the heat really kicks in, I will write. In the winter, I reverse that order to take advantage of warmer afternoons.

After the creative part of the process delivers a complete rough draft, now comes the editing process. I’m not a pre-plotting kind of writer. My rough drafts contain a lot of notes about continuity errors from earlier I need to fix or foreshadowing I need to add now that I’m certain of what happens later in the book. The first pass fixes all those notes and typos.

The second pass skips through the book, landing on only the scenes a specific character is in. During this pass I work on character continuity and dialogue consistency. In the third pass, I listen to the book read aloud. Here I hope to catch repetitive words or sentence structure, as well as punching up some of the descriptive language.

After that, I can’t stand looking at it anymore, and off it goes to my cherished beta readers.

How do you come up with your ideas for novels?

Every novel springs from a different inspiration, usually from something I’ve observed or an article I’ve read. From that I get a creepy premise that gives me either a way to get a story started or a splendid climax to a conflict. The new release, Demon Dagger, is the only one inspired in the middle.

Russell James

I love visiting the local Florida theme parks. They all have big, costumed characters for photo ops. I thought about how one never knows who is inside that costume and giant head. They could look like anyone, be any gender. As a horror writer, I of course have to look at everything through a dark lens. Normal people assume it is a benevolent person inside the costume head with the fixed smile, but what if it wasn’t? What if a demonically-possessed person was in that costume, ready to prey on the people who let down their guard in the safe fantasy world of the happy theme park?

That got my wheels turning. Who would the demon target? Well, the young son of a demon hunter of course, as revenge for previously sending the demon back to Hell. This idea turned into a short story, and the more I polished that story, the more I filled in the blanks on either side of it. Before I knew it, it had become the center of a novel.

Then I created a beginning to talk about how the demon hunter got into that line of work, and an ending with a climactic battle between the demon and the hunter, with the hunter’s family set squarely in the middle.

What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? What do you read? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I try to do some reading daily, usually after my creativity has been spent for the day. Lately I’ve been reading the works published by the other authors at the presses that publish my work. Flame Tree Press published Demon Dagger and they have some splendid authors there. You can’t beat Catherine Cavendish for gothic horror, JG Faherty for a white-knuckle horror thriller, or Brian Moreland for historical horror. At Severed Press, Hunter Shea is the Master of All Things Monster and the king of cryptid tales.

Writers need to read. It’s the only way to get a varied perspective about the craft. I met a girl at the last con who said she wanted to be a writer and loved to write but hated to read. That’s like saying you want to be a professional skater, but will never watch any skating competitions. If you don’t want to do read, you really don’t want to write.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I am blessed with splendid beta readers. Donna Fitzpatrick and Deb DeAlteriis are huge horror fans who give me great input on the first version of every novel. Teresa Robeson is a fantastic author who was part of my first writing group. She has gone on to publish two award-winning children’s books and has also done beta reading for me.

Sometimes I’ll ask for specific feedback from one person for something within that person’s area of expertise. Demon Dagger got feedback on the family dynamic from horror author and super-mom Somer Canon, and on medical matters from professional nurse Josie Evans. It’s wonderful having friends willing to make me seem more knowledgeable than I really am.

Could you give us a general idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

Demon Dagger comes out this August. In it, Drew is the main character, and when a demon possesses a person, he can see the horrific-looking demon that dwells within. This ability has made him a demon hunter, armed with the one weapon that can send these fiends back to Hell; the demon dagger.

A demon named Nicobar sets its sights on punishing this hunter. It starts by taking the soul of Drew’s son, condemning the boy to life as a psychopath.

This fast-paced, chilling novel follows Drew’s attempt to save his son’s soul and then use the blade to end Nicobar’s time on Earth.

My next Severed Press release is called Temple of the Queen. This is the start of a new series set in the 1930s. Antiques-dealing couple Rick and Rose Sinclair go out looking for lost treasures and find supernatural dangers and giant monsters in each adventure. Their first trip takes them to Arabia in search of the lost treasury of the legendary Queen of Sheba.

Several of your books deal with scenarios in which the protagonist must evade a mass of monsters (for example, Claws or Mammoth Island.) Then several are supernatural horror/ adventure. The Playing Card Killer concerns a protagonist coming off anxiety medication. In Demon Dagger you explain sociopaths using demons. There seems to be a trend from adventurous, Jurassic-Park-type adventures to the supernatural and psychological. What is driving this new focus? Do you have a growing interest in psychology? Is this shift only temporary?

Both types of books are still coming down the pike. The giant monster adventure books are published through Severed Press, who dominates that niche market. Demon Dagger and the more mainstream horror books are distributed through Simon and Schuster, a press better suited to reaching that wider market. Neither publisher would be interested in the works the other have published. I love writing both kinds of stories and I am very blessed to have found two publishers willing to indulge me.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

No one likes getting bad reviews and I cringe when I see a review headline with very few stars. If it is a well-reasoned, insightful review, I can certainly read that with an open mind. I’ve read poor reviews that point out parts of my story that I had my own reservations about, or that highlight problems that I can admit I missed fixing.

Then there are one-star reviews that get me mad, like ones that say the price is too high, or the book was damaged in shipping. None of that has anything to do with the quality of the book. The worst are the reviews that claim there are things in the book that absolutely are not there, or that misinterpret characters in inexplicable ways. I’d love to be able to have those reviews removed, but you can’t.

The most important thing about poor reviews is to let them pass on by. Do not mention them or try to rebut them. All that does is give them oxygen so they can grow to find more readers.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

If you want to be a writer, then write. Sit down and put words on a page. If you are new to the whole thing, get some professional education on the craft. Take an online class, take an in-person class, check out writing self-help books from actual successful writers. Like any other skill, the more you do it, the better you will be.

How do you develop a character? How do you get an idea for a character? Some authors let the characters do as they will (so to speak) while others consider them galley slaves to do exactly as they are told. Where do your characters fit on that spectrum?

I restore classic cars as a hobby (you will see the influence of that in Demon Dagger for sure) so I am mechanically minded. In the same way that every part in a machine works to make it run properly, every character in a story kind of works the same way. Each one has to support and drive the plot, otherwise the reader will read that character’s part in the novel and say “Who cares?”

Looking at it that way, I know I need a protagonist and an antagonist to start with. Those usually come baked into the initial inspiration for the story. Drew, as an example, is the protagonist demon hunter in Demon Dagger.

Then a plot problem arises. How does Drew learn to be a demon hunter? The character of Lincoln is the solution, an older, experienced demon hunter to explain the gift Drew has to see demons and how to kill them.

Now I get to flesh out who is Lincoln. What’s his backstory, and how did that prepare him to be this boy’s mentor? Lincoln had to be tough and independent and a car expert, so he became an African American man who came up doing dirt track racing in the South. That will toughen someone up. Filling in the rest of his backstory details made him a credible person to train Drew. I’ll leave the specifics on that unsaid to not spoil the fun reading them.

Was Demon Dagger or any part of it based on a legend or myth? Is there a historical basis or belief behind this as there is for many works?

There are plenty of myths around demon possession, and facts if you believe the doctrine of the Catholic Church. I used those as a basis for the process of summoning a demon and becoming possessed. In the story, the demon feeds on human souls the owners trade for riches or success. This part I made up, as well as the impact losing one’s soul has, which is that without the moral compass a soul provides, they become a sociopath.

Part of the Demon Dagger story touches on the mission system set up in Spanish California in the 18th and 19th centuries. These settlements were government/church partnerships to pioneer the untamed California coast. I add an ulterior motive to the mission system’s purpose that I won’t spoil by mentioning here, and I also created the fictional missing 22nd mission as a location for the climax of the story.

Nietzsche once posed an interesting question: if you could live your life over and over again for eternity, but had to always live it exactly as you have lived it so far, would you do it? What is your response?

I’m fine with having the one life I’m living. I firmly believe there is a superior afterlife once we die, and that it will be even better than this amazing life I’ve had so far.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I have a pretty extensive convention signing schedule and I love to meet readers and authors on the road. Check out my tour schedule at http://www.russellrjames.com. While you are there, there’s a link on the landing page to sign up for my monthly newsletter that will keep you up to date on all the latest happenings.


Russell James’s new book, Demon Dagger, will be released on August 16, 2022. Watch for it in stores, online, and wherever books are sold.

“A thrilling game of supernatural cat and mouse.” — Publishers Weekly

“A hugely entertaining story of all-too-human heroes battling soul-devouring demons. James’ best novel yet!” — Tim Waggoner author of We Will Rise

“Demons. Possession. Stolen souls. And a body count that’s rising. Demon Dagger delivers all this and more as novice demon hunter Drew Price must stop one of Hell’s most powerful archdemons before the creature destroys Drew’s family. Russell James doesn’t pull any punches as this story races to a thrilling climax.”
– JG Faherty, author of The Wakening and Sins of the Father

Drew Price has a gift, or perhaps a curse.

When a demon possesses a person, Drew can see the horrific-looking demon that dwells within. This ability has made him a demon hunter, armed with the one weapon that can send these fiends back to Hell; the demon dagger.

A demon named Nicobar sets its sights on punishing this hunter. It starts by taking the soul of Drew’s son, condemning the boy to life as a psychopath.

This fast-paced, chilling novel follows Drew’s attempt to save his son’s soul and then use the blade to end Nicobar’s time on Earth.

Demon Dagger is an immensely enjoyable page-turner that wastes no time and will keep you engrossed right from the beginning. I hold out hope that there will be a sequel or two from James in the world of Demon Dagger, as he planted the seeds to follow it up with many more stories.” — Grimdark Magazine

DEMON DAGGER

Flame Tree Press — August 16, 2022

288 pages

Hardcover: $26.95 Paperback: $16.95, Kindle: $4.99

ISBN:  978-1-78758-693-2

FLAME TREE PRESS is the imprint of long-standing independent Flame Tree Publishing dedicated to full-length original fiction in the horror and suspense, science fiction & fantasy, and crime / mystery / thriller categories. The list brings together fantastic new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices. Learn more about Flame Tree Press at www.flametreepress.com and connect on social media @FlameTreePress

Interview with Publisher Phil Slattery Now on Duotrope

At Arkansas Post National Memorial near Gillett, Arkansas, 2020

I was recently interviewed by Duotrope about my work on The Chamber Magazine. That interview is now up. Follow this link to read it.

If you are not familiar with Duotrope, they are a submission engine, i.e. they aid writers in finding magazines, book publishers, and agents to print their stories and poetry. The way they do this is by listing important data on magazines, which their subscribers can search. I have used them for several years and they are a very useful tool in finding publishers. They do charge a nominal fee of about $5/month. What you get out of the website is well worth that $5 many times over. If you are a writer, I recommend them highly. Even if don’t write and only read, they will still be very useful in finding the right magazines for you.

While you are there, check out The Chamber’s listing. It is a good example of how they run their website/database.


Interview with Author Thomas White

Mr. White says about using this submitted graphic instead of an author’s photo: “I have attached a kind of avatar, which I fancy as a visual rendering of my writings as a tour of the underworld and its denizens.”

Approximately a 100-word (more or less) summary of your life.

My early reading included Ray Bradbury and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as A Canticle for Leibowitz and the Classics Book Club. In general, I have lived a literary life, devouring works such as The Inferno, Dune, Something Wicked This Way Comes, 1984, The October Country, The Road, The Shining, Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus, Dracula, The Castle of Otranto, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Other companions along the way: Homer, Franz Kafka, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Albert Camus, Edith Warton, Emily Dickinson, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Raymond Chandler, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, Stephen King, George Orwell, John Updike, and many others.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Firstly, it is writing and publishing not for a narrow group of specialists but for a varied readership interested in my nonfiction—focused on historical and moral concerns—as well as just looking for creepy diversions and adventures in the weird. My writing is democratic in that it caters to a broad spectrum of tastes and interests.

Secondly, I would say writing and publishing in different genres—poetry, fiction, and essays.

I consider these my two greatest accomplishments.

Why do you write?

Firstly, I enjoy the challenge and diversion of creating new worlds, or at least modified realities, that act as vehicles of satire as well as are merely fun to construct for their own sake without any underlying justification. I write in the spirit of Gulliver’s Travels and 1984, among other works, which offer alternate, dystopian realities that deliver a critical, satirical punch.

Secondly, writing is a kind of mind-meld, but without the verbiage of Star Trek lore. When reading, we are consuming the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of another writer, while when writing, we are producing for other readers our thoughts, feelings, and experiences for their consumption.

Reading and writing are thus two sides of the same coin for me. I enjoy this cooperative mind-meld, a group-think with plenty of individual voices.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write?)

My writing process and favorite place? I’m sitting in front of the laptop and typing on Word while listening to quiet music on the internet radio. I break this up with bouts of reading. Nothing quirky or eccentric.

“Clowns at the End of the World” is a fascinating, surreal, apocalyptic tale. How did you get the idea for that? What prompted you to write it?

This story was prompted by thoughts about the end of the world, in which all of the guardrails of civilization, namely predictability and sanity, collapse. The Apocalypse is not linked to some supernatural event but to irrational powers within unpredictable, surreal human nature. My idea for creating the story was linked to these observations.

On another level, I use the surreal and weird in this story to satirize the media, “mall life,” and consumer culture. Consumerism defines the world more and more, so the end of the world means the disintegration of that world. The weirdness of the clowns as messengers of that collapse is part of the loss of predictability; people’s expectations of clowns as being funny are shattered; they now terrorize instead of amuse. Meanwhile, humans become numb and indifferent to this New (Insane) Normal—or seek to greedily exploit it.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

All reviews should be read with a sense of humor and as a source of insight. But, if you write for the sheer pleasure of it, then reviews, bad or good, are beside the point. Think of someone who just dances for the joy of dancing. The critics’ reviews of the style and technique of that dancer are irrelevant. Ditto for the art of writing. Dance as if no judge was watching you, write as if no critic was reading you, is not a bad credo for a writer. As to negative reviews and rejections, remember that numerous critically acclaimed writers were originally rejected by publishers—not once but many times. 

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Writing should become part of you, not just be an occasional pastime or a functional task to be disposed of as quickly as possible. Ray Bradbury said that, for him, writing was akin to “breathing.” It was not something he scheduled but something he just did.

The novice writer needs to ask: is writing an activity that I will enjoy doing even if I never win literary prizes or produce bestsellers? A child plays with a toy for happiness, not for financial gain. A good model for a writer would be to enjoy playing with words as toys to create new worlds rather than be constantly distressed by the pressures of the marketplace. Rainer Maria Rilke advised an aspiring poet to avoid being “disturbed when certain publishers reject your efforts” and instead focus on “turning inward… into your own world.” William Faulkner observed that when he “shut the door on publishers’ addresses,” he concluded, “Now I can write.” But J.D. Salinger said it best of all: “There is a marvelous peace in not publishing… I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure. “

My writer-hero in this vein is Emily Dickinson, who was a creative spirit outside the demands and pressures of the marketplace. Her audience found her (not the opposite), but only after her death. A spoiler alert for all writers, whether experienced or novice.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Good writers are good readers. Books by other writers (whatever the genre) are some of the most important resources a novice writer can have: watching experienced writers at work.  While Ernest Hemingway drew on his extensive nonliterary experience in war and sports, he urged an aspiring writer to read writers ranging from Tolstoy to Gustave Flaubert and Thomas Mann. James Baldwin celebrated voracious reading as a way to learn about writing. Baldwin rejected any specific method: “I don’t know what technique is. All I know is that you have to make the reader see it. This I learned from Dostoevsky, from Balzac. “

I certainly would urge a novice writer to study the advice of experienced writers on how to write. But to also remember that there is no dogmatic “how-to-do-it” resource on writing that can give you a set-in-stone, one-size-fits-all method. Reading other writers is key, however, as long as aspiring writers understand that they will find no magic technique there.

William Faulkner said it perfectly: “Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. “

Where can people find out more about your writing? (websites, social media, etc.).

My poetry collection, Ghostly Pornographers, published by an indie publisher, Weasel Press, is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback, as well as on other websites. Additional writing can be found on The Chamber Magazine website and elsewhere. Go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for samples of my work.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

All writers are unique. No one can imitate another creative voice. There can only be one Margaret Atwood at a time.

There is no fixed educational path for writers. Good writers and good writing existed long before creative writing degrees or formal workshops. Joyce Carol Oates had an outstanding academic career, but F. Scott Fitzgerald famously dropped out of Princeton after being put on academic probation.

While there is no chance you will see Stephen King serving up lattes at Starbucks, there is no shame in being both a writer and having conventional employment. I highly recommend this essay on famous writers who held day jobs.

And finally, don’t believe the famous saying, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” One should enjoy writing for pleasure, as J.D. Salinger said. Wise advice because, just as there are no guarantees in life, there are no guarantees in publishing.


Go to The Chamber’s search bar and search for “Thomas White” to read Mr. White’s stories published in The Chamber.


Interview with Author Robb White

Bio: 

I live in a small Northeastern Ohio town on Lake Erie—“a Harbor rat,” as we say here. Except for my years in graduate school (Fayetteville, AR) and a brief teaching stint in West Virginia (Salem, WV), I’ve lived most of my life within sight of the house where Igrew up. I’d add a 2-week trip to China two decades ago as an exception to my basic reclusiveness.    

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Being able to write at leisure without the financial burden of being unable to write. It took decades to get to this point, but being here is a joy—and a relief.

Why do you write?

It’s a hobby. But I feel terrible if I don’t write.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

It’s unsophisticated, non-compulsive, and haphazard. I don’t plan much. I rarely revise short stories or novels, although I should. My satisfaction ends with the word -END-. I don’t reread anything published because I’ll see places where revisions would have improved it, which fact of laziness compounds my guilt for not revising more. I write in the afternoons because mornings are taken up by sleeping in and refusing to acknowledge the world until my caffeine addiction makes it agreeable to do so. Besides, my first    impulses are to do yard work or small repair jobs around the house, although my penchant for “MacGyvering” has been the source of many spats between my beloved frau and me. I used to write into the wee hours but that ceased with aging and the slowing down of the mental apparatus.

How did you come up with the idea for your story “Blue Genie”?

My 3-year-old granddaughter Calliope spends much time at our house with us. We love    having her around, seeing her grow up, watching her expand her vocabulary, and her knowledge of the world around  her. She likes sticker books. One my wife bought her had caricatures of different kinds of faces where she’d attach mouths, eyes, moustaches, etc.  One was a formidable-looking genie with a sneering expression she called “Blue Genie” because of his blue face. I happened to be thinking of  that genie when purchasing lotto tickets at my local supermarket—a habit before shopping. The story of a shy woman, her envious classmate whose toddler in the shopping cart thrusts a picture of a blue-faced genie at her came to me at the ticket counter. The story developed fast from that point, and I wrote it in one draft when I got home.   

What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I have a doctorate in contemporary literature. I once read voraciously, as does any lit major, but time and sloth undid me. I vowed to read every one of the 5-page list of titles of novels, stories, poems, and plays accumulated over the years of my career but never got around to. A particular goal was to read Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish—a favorite novel, read many times in Gregory Rabassa’s fine translation. That oath didn’t survive 20 pages. And I never got to the B’s on my list.   

Conversely (or perversely), I don’t think it’s necessary to read much. In genre fiction, I     avoid reading all but my favorite trio: Martin Cruz Smith, Thomas Harris, and David L. Lindsey. Because I can never duplicate their stylistic genius, I don’t fear being “contaminated,” and I derive as much pleasure from rereading their books as the first time.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No. My wife refuses to read anything I write. Yet she’ll sit through multiple episodes of Hoarders, enjoying that grotesquerie  of psychological self-abuse by people who fill their houses with filth and trash. I turn my eyes just walking past the television when she’s watching. What paper being can compare to that depravity? I have one outstanding editor, Chris Black at Fahrenheit Press, who not only finds the grammar miscues I’m blind to but he slashes through my self-indulgent passages with ruthless aplomb and makes me a better writer.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I’ve produced 3 pages of notes for a third outing of my second private eye, Ray Jarvi. I have all the characters in mind, but I lack the unifying plot to put them all in the same story world cohesively.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have a collection of hardboiled stories featuring my first private eye, Thomas Haftmann, which is in the queue at the publisher’s: The Dearborn Terrorist Plot & 4 Stories.

I’ve given exactly one talk about my works, that being the first collection of stories, Out   of Breath. That was in Cleveland while I was still teaching. I’ve been asked by my local libraries to give talks, and a literature professor at one of the SUNY schools in New York has asked me to be a guest lecturer. He’s been using one of my stories collected in a Bouchercon anthology. Regrettably, I’ve declined. Despite the fact I’ve spent the majority of my working life yapping to thousands of  docile students as a professor and grad student lecturer, I’m prone to anxiety attacks nowadays when it comes to speaking in public. I blame my pathologically introverted mother for that—and varicose  veins.    

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

Nothing. I’m pleased to say I have nothing to gain or lose.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Negative reviews amuse me. I wonder if some of these people are well in their minds. None (yet) have been helpful, and they all lack the capacity to harm. Perhaps that sounds like a boastful writer’s bravado or sheer insouciance. I don’t mean it to be. I’m too old to care what others think. Bad reviews have no effect. (For one thing, I don’t believe them—other than the typos I had failed to fix, which I do deplore as a failure.)

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I almost skipped this question, but it’s too tempting. Two bits of advice: don’t self-reject. I had a crime story rejected 9 times, according to my tracking records. It was selected by no less than Otto Penzler for his annual collection Best American Mystery Stories in 2019. Made me a nice bit of cash, too. The other bit of cheap advice is to ignore another writer’s advice.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

For me, it’s a rapid Google search—as fast as I can harvest the information I need at the time of composing. I get in, get out, and get back to the story I’m working on.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My website Robb T. White <tomhaftmann.wixsite.com/robbtwhite>. I also have a Twitter account in my private eye’s name: @tomhaftmann. Thank you for asking.

I took a look at your Amazon site and see that you are quite a prolific author. I could spend all day asking questions about your work One book that intrigues me though is Waiting on a Bridge of Maggots, which is set on Chaco Canyon Mesa (also the premise is very interesting). As part of my regular job, from October to December 2018, I worked in Chaco Canyon and lived in park housing.  I used to hike around there, and I know a couple of the mesas and most of the greathouses. Some of your other works seem to be set in Cleveland. How did you come to set a story in such an out-of-the-way place as Chaco Canyon?

You chose my best novel, one I put more of myself, psychologically speaking, than into anything else I’ve written. The title, by the way, is based on a Japanese myth of the Star Lovers involving a “bridge of magpies.”

The Chaco Canyon Mesa was pure serendipity as a setting. I had been reading about the early indigenous peoples in that region. I found it fascinating, and the sheer beauty—I’ll use the misapplied slang of a teenager— the awesomeness of the terrain grabbed my attention. Before I had the plot or the characters, I had the setting. But I have never seen that magnificent land with my own eyes.

Cleveland (and sometimes Youngstown) are vastly bigger cities than my little burg, which I generically call “Northtown” in the recent novels and stories. I stupidly took the advice of a New York literary agent who argued for big cities “for a wider readership.” I couldn’t tone down the violence sufficiently, so she dropped me. My revenge, however, was a novella I’d previously sent her, knocked off in 5 weeks, which she ignored. That novel has 100 reviews on Amazon—and some highly negative ones, by the way. But it led me to Fahrenheit Press and its Managing Editor, Chris Black, who fortunately for me doesn’t mind the fact that readers “either love me or hate me.”     

You seem to focus on the hard-boiled detective (e.g., Thomas Haftmann) stories and neo-noir. What attracts you to that genre?

An addiction to Raymond Chandler. My mother had always been an avid reader of mysteries, mainly cozies with a rare excursion into a Highsmith novel. I never read mysteries growing up other than an occasional Conan Doyle story. Agatha Christie bores me to tears. I discovered Chandler as a graduate student and never looked back. His style, those delightful similes, mesmerized me. I was hooked but never able to write for reasons of small mountains of freshman essays needing to be graded all weekend, tenure to be earned, and many other tasks I blame myself now for taking so seriously.

How did you find out about The Chamber Magazine?

I was browsing online mystery sites for places to submit one day just prior to submitting “Blue Genie.” I was immediately attracted to the gorgeous artwork of both the site and the covers. Intrigued, I lingered and was encouraged by the editorial text to submit. I’ve found that sometimes what a site says it wants and will accept is not always the case; for example, I had a story rejected recently by two online sites that purport to be hardboiled but both deemed that story “too extreme.” I won’t always submit where I see a   possibility. The Chamber Magazine gave me a good vibe.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

A smidgeon of an older man’s philosophy of life vis-à-vis his writing genre fiction for the past couple of decades and that is this: the world, our portion of it, is a dark, violent, and scary place just beneath the shimmering surface of a society where people are overfed and overpaid and where too little is required for “success.” Morons abound in every profession, often sadly in the so-called educated ones. It takes a little effort to notice, but it’s there all the same. As a teenager, I sailed on the Great Lakes as a deckhand. I met a variety of men on the three ore boats where I had a berth. Most were normal, one or two             good or bad as human beings go. One watchman I sailed with talked about his Navy experiences in the Arctic or Antarctic. He told me about a sailor who wandered onto the ice. The sailor looked down through the crystalline ice, noticed a small, dark speck growing larger. By the time, he realized this rotating, black-and-white object exploded through the ice, it was too late—a killer whale hunting seals.  A likely “fish story” from a blowhard in my youth, but it serves as an analogy for surviving the monsters out there,   mostly human. Reading darker kinds of fiction is a protection and a pleasure; it’s a way to enjoy life and a way to endure it both.(I’m stealing from Dr. Johnson here, I believe.) After all, what is Crime and Punishment fundamentally but a crackling good detective story.

Interview with Author and Poet Alan Catlin

Bio:

Named after grade B movie actor. Phantom Lady. Male lead. Mother’s Secret life as. Divorce year of 1953. Spent as Stranger in Paradise. Home as found. The Snake Pit. Visiting Days on Psychiatric Ward. High school as Hell. College as Ice Hell. Grad school a Lower circle of. Work as Cocktail. Living below the poverty line. A brief Walk in the Sun becomes Interviews with Hideous People. More Cocktail. Show me the way to the next whiskey. The Long Goodbye. The Book Lover. Sober as a judge in a tank full of Drunks. What I am today

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Longevity.

Why do you write?

Writers write because they have to. I know I do. There is no such thing as a writer who stops writing. There are writers who quit but the essence is still the word. You never stop writing, either writing stops you, or something else does. Like disability. Death.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Once upon a time, when I worked nights and I drank a lot, I used to write only at night. Often that would be at 2 or 3 in the morning until I couldn’t see straight any longer.  When I started working days, I still wrote at night though not as late.  Then I stopped drinking and could write any time, anywhere.  Doesn’t matter where I write or when. I’m not one of those professionals that sits down a desk or with an open note book and crank out a required number of words or pages.  I write when I have an actual inspiration to write. If I don’t, I take notes and come back to the notes for inspiration

 One place that always inspires me is Block Island a tiny island off the coast of Rhode Island (though on a clear day you can see Montauk Point so you could equally say just North of Long Island as the sea gull flies.) Offseason, when we go there, it is quiet and satisfyingly picaresque as it rarely is the same in one place from day to day no matter how often you go to a particular place and we have been going there for thirty years. And the sea air. There is nothing like sea air.

 Quirky? I write my poems by hand on actual paper so I will be forced to do close revisions. When I mentioned this to a college English class I was talking in front of, they thoguht that was hilarious.  Prose usually directly into the computer as my handwriting sucks and there is more editing to do.

As for outside editing, it depends upon the project. I have a friend now who is a professional editor/ghostwriter and a compulsive editor so when I send her something to look at for a reaction, she sends it back with comments. And edits, though I hadn’t expected her to.  It is enormously helpful as I seem to have slept through grammar lessons in high school and it is only recently that I have mastered most of the rudiments of spelling. And I am among the world’s worst two fingered typists. Touch typing ha! I have been known to destroy computer keyboards.  My first typewriter was a Smith Corona “portable” that weighed about fifty pounds.

My wife has helped me greatly with various projects. She’s a good editor but the process is painful. Tact is not her strong point.

How did you come up with the idea for your poem “Past the Point of No Return”?

Years prior to that piece, I wrote a long enjambed poem called “Marching North “which begins as soldiers in a place like Vietnam walking North through the jungle. Along the way they encounter the desolation of a ravaged land that becomes, elementally, increasingly hostile until they are in an Arctic like setting.  There is no reason given why they are marching north and no one appears to be compelling them or leading them, they are just marching because that is what they have to do.  It’s like a Beckett play in that respect.  After 9-11, I thoguht of using that concept only now it was marching to the city.  It is an urban dystopia we can all relate to perhaps inspired by McCarthy’s The Road, but not consciously so.

You could read the piece as a sharp story or as along poem.  Once at writer’s workshop at State University of New York at Albany, the visiting writer, Irishman John Montague said I wrote prosy poetry and poetic prose so take your pick.

What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

 I studied English in college and have a BA.  I am an ABD for an MA that I completed the course work for at Albany but blew off the last steps once I got my draft deferment and I got full time work in my unchosen profession as a barman.

I have always been a voracious reader. I can’t remember not being able to read. Generally speaking, I read 300 plus books and chapbooks a year. I can say this with confidence as I keep track of the titles. I am what has been called an eclectic reader which means I will read just about anything not Romance, Cowboy or fantasy related.  My favorite used book purveyor says no one reads like you do and no one brings in more off the wall books to sell than you do.  I consider that a compliment. I read roughly the same amount of fiction as poetry in a year, though recently I have been upping my non-fiction totals. And I edit a poetry journal on line.  If you check out the review section you can get an idea of what I like to read. I am proponent f reading is essential to a writer. That’s how you learn stuff that might be useful later on.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I spent good deal of the Summer revising old work, most of it prose.  One good thing to come out of the year of reclusive living during a plague, is that I organized, well weeded would be a better description, my personal writing archives.  I literally found whole books of fiction I had completely forgotten about that were never published.  Apparently, I envisioned myself as a prose writer and novelist who occasionally wrote poetry up until I was around 30. I quite my “best job” (as in respected) as a bar manager in a supper club and wrote a half-decent novel that would best be described as speculative fiction/revised history. It was never published, and I sent I to the Brautigan Library of unpublished novels for safe keeping where, appropriately, it disappeared.  I have a certificate sayig that received it once upon a time anyway. Luckily, I have copies. Anyway, one of the first projects was to rewrite a chapbook that is a follow up (companion) to my poetry book Sunshine Superman (Cyberwit). Superman was about my college years in Ice Hell where I majored in English, Intellectual History and Substance Abuse with a minor in card playing.  The premise is a young poet, who just got a fatal diagnosis, writing his friends one last letter as a prose poem, not mentioning that by the time they get it he will be dead. It’s called Dead Letter Office and Cyberwit will be doing it later this year.

Next, I tackled my novel about my nightclub job which I bill as a fictional memoir, called Chaos Management which Alien Buddha printed a couple of months ago and is available on Amazon.  It only took me 14 years to get around to revising it and it took me about 4 hours to get a text together.  I have one last book of Noir movie poems to send out soon. I have published most of the others already under the working title Hollyweird, two as chapbooks Hollyweird (Night Ballet Press) and Blue Velvet (Slipstream winner of the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook contest). The full-length books of three chapbook each are Lessons in Darkness (Luchador Press) and The Road to Perdition (Alien Buddha/Amazon).  The last set for three is Desolation Angels.

I have a complete pair of Memories books ready to go that I am looking for a publisher for. These are abstract, fragmentary prose poems in the manner of the bio above.  I think of them as my unpublishable poems The first book, Memories, of 140 poems, was published by Alien Buddha and the second, Memories Too was published by Dos Madreswas published earlier this year.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Alas no. I used to be fairly active in the area (Tri-city area upstate NY) which and literally dozens of opportunities but the trump Plague shuttered down and most have not reopened. I have done one live streaming at legendary Caffe Lena on Insurrection Day which should still be available through their archived U-Tube app. I did one live reading in the Spring but other than that nada.  Doesn’t look promising going forward either.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I think all writers want to be read. I have had modest success doing that. As I have several books archived in various libraries, research and rare books like Buffalo and Harvard so my books may outlive me.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

The most scathing review I ever had was a rejection letter for Chaos Management which it took me about a decade to realize was, substantively, correct.  I rather wished she had been a little less forthcoming with the diatribes contained within it.  I think her judgment was somewhat prejudice by her intense dislike of the sample she read.

In general, bad reviews and sometimes good ones, just don’t get it and all they do is show how ignorant the reviewer really is. I have been guilty of this myself.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Persevere. No one ever got anywhere giving up.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Your own imagination.  I think true creativity is in synthesizing what other people have done, prior to your writing, into a form that works or you and is entirely your own.  I credit Bernadette Mayer for the origin of my Memories series but as I went along with other influences equally as important, like David Markson, Carol Maso, helped shape poems and provide direction.  Still others occur as I work, too numerous to mention, though right now I am giving the project a rest after a huge outpouring of work. It’s important to know that every idea you could conceive of, every plot, every device, has been done by someone previously and probably better, though maybe not quite as uniquely as you have. There are no purely original ideas.  So read a lot and adapt.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

I am editor of the online poetry journal Misfit Magazine. I write an essay for each of the most recent issues (there are 33 so far) and have done so for roughly six years.  I write most of the reviews so you can get an idea of where I am coming from that way. Any of the standard search engines will yield all kinds of leads though, I haven’t searched myself in years and I wonder what I might find now. The mind reels at the horrors such a search may reveal

How many collections of poetry and novels do you have to your credit? Do you have an agent? How hard is it for you to find a publisher?

I honestly have no idea how many collections, chapbooks anyway, that I have published since early 80’s.  A lot. Several dozen easily.  Most of my books are poetry and a good deal of them are out of print and totally unavailable.  The subjects of these vary from highly personal books about a schizophrenic parent, to a series of drink recipe poems, to bar wars, alien nations, and lately the more noir based Hollyweird series.  I wrote a novella called From the Waters of Oblivion loosely based on my last bar job that I self-published and I have some copies left. Also a group of stories called Death Angels.  And Chaos Management is the novel is easily attainable.  I am trying to decide where to send a loosely related series for stories after Chaos including a novella based on a real life, local serial killer. I’m spinning off a character from that novella in another novella about that character in and out of blackout drunk, fugue states in which he may be killing young women. Even he doesn’t know for sure. I know I don’t know if he did or not.

No agent. It was a bitch finding first publishers. I hit three after years of trying but had to wait years for two of them. My selected poems, Drunk and Disorderly took about five years after the guy who was going to do them literally walked off the street into the bar I was working and proposed a book. After you get to know people, establish a kind of reputation, or establish a relationship, it may get easier.  I have had a rich history of publishers either doing my book and the process failing or dying before they could do the book.

How did you find out about The Chamber Magazine?

A post in a call for manuscripts in a group listing on Facebook. One of the only ones I followed up on from there. I read your guidelines, and some stories, and I liked what I saw plus the layout is good. The site looked like someone was invested in the project and cared about it. I submitted despite not being a writer of horror or anything close to it though I can and will do darkness. Actually, if I were to say name on theme I do best or am most interested in, it would be darkness.

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Interview with Author John Ryland

  • Approximately 100-word (more or less) summary of your life

      I grew up with a big family rural Alabama in a tiny coal mining town named Brookwood. After high school, I joined the U.S. Navy and had the opportunity to see a large part of the world. After my stint was up, I moved back to Tuscaloosa County, and now live in Northport, Alabama with my wife and two sons.

  • What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

      Although I have had ten short stories published in wonderful journals, having two of my novels accepted for publication by traditional presses is my greatest accomplishment so far. These two books, Peripheral (World Castle publishing) and The Man with No Eyes (Moonshine Cove press) will both drop on 2022.

  • Why do you write?

     I am 100% a “pantser”, as in flying by the seat of my pants.  I cannot plot a novel to save my life. I’ve tried. The characters won’t mind. I do, however, think about a story for a long time before I sit down to write it. I develop the general feel of the story and characters. When I do sit down, I just allow things to flow as they will. Sometimes this forces me to backtrack to fix plot holes, but the backbone of the story rarely ever changes.

  • What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

     I don’t really have a process. I now have an office and desk I write in, but I wrote my first novel, Souls Harbor, at our dining room table with kids and dogs running around the house. For me the story is ready to be written and all I have to do is stay out of the way. I do extensive revisions, often making eight or ten passes over a novel and countless passes over a short story. I have used Nicole Neuman on multiple occasions. She edited my collection Southern Gothic and several other short stories for me as well. 

  • How did you come up with the idea for your story “Last Chance Cabin”?

     I was watching National geographic Channel one night and they mentioned the fact that people who build remote cabins in Alaska always leave them unlocked when they leave in case someone is caught in a snowstorm and happens upon them. I began to think about being snowed in in one of these remote cabins, miles from nowhere. The isolation, the mental fatigue, the outright fear. It would have to be one of the worst feelings in the world. From there, my natural tendency to lean toward the macrabe took over.

  • What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

     I don’t have time to read as much as I used to, but I still read quite a lot. I think it’s imperative for a writer to read. I’ve leaned from reading the “masters” as well as pulp fiction paperbacks. For me it’s sentence structure, the ebb and flow, building relatable characters. As a writer you have to make your reader connect with someone you made up, seeing how others do it teaches you a lot.

  • Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

     My wife and my nephew read almost everything I write before anyone else. I also employ beta readers. Sometimes as a writer, it is easy to miss the most obvious things. Other eyes can catch what you miss. Having an editor that you trust helps immensely.

  • Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

     In Peripheral, a young wife is drug into a nether world between life and death and must find a way to fight a centuries old demon if she wants her body back.

     In The Man with No Eyes, a blind genius with the ability to control every system within his body must cross the perilous Yemen/Saudi border region to exact revenge on the sadistic owner of a secret lab that he used to work for who had his eyes surgically removed as punishment.

     Also I have a short story about a mother’s unique way of disciplining her children called “the boards”, and one about a young man who returns to the gravesite of a girl he murdered, only to find himself in deeper than he expected.

  • Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

     I will soon be featured on Twitter’s The Writing Wall podcast and I am organizing a local book signing. I have also just released a YA magical realism novel called Shatter. It’s not my typical genre, but it needed to be written. It’s the story of a young girl made of glass who is tired of playing it safe.

  • What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

     I would like to be successful enough to write full time, but also have at least a small group of devoted fans who really enjoy my work. Being recognized in a restaurant and having someone else pick up the bill wouldn’t be terrible either.

  • What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

     All reviews are just people opinions. There are people who hate Poe, loathe Stephen King, can’t stand Follett. That’s their right. I am lucky that I haven’t gotten anything less than a 4 star, but I am also aware that my writing is not for everyone. If a review is bad, but genuine, I think an author can learn from it. Readers have expectations, realistic or not, and whether we as authors live up to them is that reader’s opinion.

  • What advice do you have for novice writers?

     Never give up. Keep writing. Just write. It doesn’t matter if you never intend to publish that piece, it will teach you. I’ve written three other manuscripts that will never see the light of day, but I learned a lot about structure and flow from them.

  • What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

     The world around them. Most of my ideas come from simple things. I am writing a novella about what might be locked inside a bank vault I saw sitting on a vacant lot. I wrote an entire novel about a sign that I saw that simply said “Watch That Child.” Stories seeds are out there, we just have to find them and co something with them.

  • Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

     The best way to find all things John Ryland is at gspressbooks.com It’s my author website with all my book links, news, my blog, upcoming events, and even a “poetry corner”. I am also on twitter @johnryland10, Instagram at Ryland364 and I have a Facebook author page at https://facebook.com/JRylandtheWriter

  • You have two novels to your credit, Souls Harbor and The Man with No Eyes, which will be published by Moonshine Cove Press in March 2022. How difficult was it for you to find a publisher? Do you have an agent?

     I do not have an agent, though I have tried. It’s a tough business. Souls Harbor, Southern Gothic, and Shatter were all produced through my production company Gnat Smoke Press.

  • How did you find out about The Chamber Magazine?

     I saw your magazine on a submission call. When I checked out your site, I knew I had to submit.

  • Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

     I plan to be around for a while. With two novels coming out next year, two already written and waiting, and no end of ideas in sight, there will be plenty of reading material if you like my work.

Interview with Author and Filmmaker Julian Grant

Bio:

I’m a college professor teaching at Columbia College Chicago and a former professional producer/director. Born in London, England and raised in Canada, I now write, teach and make art here in the Chicagoland area. I’m an outsider by nature pushing boundaries and buttons in all that I do and encourage other artists to be radical creators. It’s my hope as a writer to make works that challenge the conventions of established genre and it’s a great opportunity for me to make worlds as large as I want without the restriction of budget. My work has been published by Dark Fire UK, Quail Bell, Avalon Literary Review, Crepe & Penn, Alternative History Magazine, Granfalloon, Altered Reality, The Chamber Magazine, Clever Magazine, Peeking Cat Literary Journal, Danse Macabre, Fiction on the Web, Night Picnic, CafeLit, Horla, Bond Street Review, Piker Press, Free Bundle, Filth Literary Magazine, Horror Sleaze Trash, The Mythic Circle, Murderous Ink Press & The Adelaide Literary Magazine. 

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I’ve recently completed three ‘murder memoirs’, crime novels based upon my life as a professional filmmaker. They’re loud, brash, full of kinky sex, violence and (I hope) a lot of humor. I’ve self-published my first YA novel, “N00bs” which is available on Amazon along with my work as an illustrator on the graphic novel, “History of Her Future” also available worldwide.

What is your creative process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I’m diligent as a writer setting aside specific writing times and formats. I read extensively in the genre(s) I am working as I believe it is important to know the tropes and techniques of specific stories. I love crime/mystery tales, fantasy and whimsy – even straight out horror and espionage stories and each have very specific guidelines. I like outlining and using a ‘big picture’ mind map to help keep longer stories or novels on track while short stories benefit from a fast sketch or outline.

How did you come up with the idea for your stories “Pride and Joy” and “Little Wild”?

This is an example of two distinct genres in my mind. “P&J” is a straight-out horror fiction that is an entry point to a longer piece I’d like to do about vampires and the Old West. “LW” is literary influenced fantasy name dropping a specific author with an ending that allows for transformation for both main characters. Even though both stories are unique, they touch upon themes that are common to all my stories – namely retribution and evolution. My characters and stories are about growing, building and persevering – all traits I believe essential to us as human beings, let alone as writers. Both stories came from the dark, furry recesses of my mind.

What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I read a lot. Every day in multiple genres. I read for fun, for study, to breakdown timing. I outline timing and paragraph structure by established authors, curl up in my reading chair and read for fun and spend at least two hours or more every day furthering my love and knowledge of writing, voice and technique.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

My wife is often a first reader, tagging me for punctuation. I have Beta Readers for my novels and will occasionally send out a short story to a trusted friend if I’m worried about voice or tone – but I usually trust in myself and the editor I’m submitting to.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

So many. I’ve got an “Ironwood” forest fable series that is mulling around plus a continuation of my ‘murder memoirs’. Book 4 takes place at the American Film Market. I’ve got a ‘House of Leaves’ inspired Post-Modern novel I an currently researching not to mention oodles of shorts for online, literary magazine submissions. I love writing these short stories and getting them out there (via Chamber Magazine, naturally) and seeing these pieces embraced.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I don’t do talks (yet) but I’m no stranger to public speaking. I’m waiting for the publisher to give me a date on my ‘murder memoir’ books.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

It would be nice to make a living wage – but it’s not why I write. I’d like to be enjoyed, remembered and even (one day) studied as an author of merit or substance. I hope to achieve some level of personal, professional satisfaction with my written work as I continue to evolve as a wordsmith. I’m getting better with every story.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Having made over 30 movies, I have had my fair share of good – and bad – reviews. I ignore them all (mostly). There are some that cut deep ( a recent IMDB review of my self-produced animated feature stung) but I can’t let them stop me. If I do, the bad guys win. I just keep on slugging knowing that it is easy to hide behind an internet handle or nickname. My best response to critics is – “What have you done?” If they haven’t done anything, well, enough said.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write, Read, Repeat. It’s really important to just keep at it. Expand your literary borders a little and read outside off your usual genres. Try different creative writing forms. Publish a lot of short stories for free everywhere you can.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

They should BELIEVE they can do it and just keep on working it. Don’t fall pray to the endless workshop and guru seeking ‘formulas’ for success. Find a workflow that works for you and use it. Software doesn’t make the writer nor does an elitist attitude or whining about how unfair everything is. Find your peeps, your audience and interact with them. LISTEN to writers that have gone before you and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Know that we are all works-in-progress.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

Find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jgesq. You can also find my WordPress blog under https://juliangrant.wordpress.com/

Checking out your website http://www.juliangrant.com, I see you have a lot of works in literature, graphic novels, and film to your credit. I could ask questions for days about your work. Your work ethic must be incredible. Undoubtedly, with all these successes, you had to have had a lot of rejections too. What drives you to create not only in writing short stories and novels and graphic novels, but to work in film too? To me it seems you must have a great spring of creative force that you channel into four or more directions.

Thank you. I’m a creative artist working in multiple disciplines and as I age, I am leaning into writing more as I can do this as long as I can string words together from anywhere in the world. Filmmaking is a young person’s game and I’m getting old now, not that it’s slowing me down, and I greatly enjoy the opportunity to write as large as I want without having to figure out how to pay for it. This is a luxury I have never known.

Interview with Author Mehreen Ahmed

  • What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I am widely published and had editorial reviews from several notable places, such as The Midwest Book Review, Drunken Druid and reader’s reviews. My book, The Pacifist, has received DD Magazine’s Editor’s Choice. My flash fiction, Dolly, was one of the winners of The Waterloo Short Story Competition, UK. And my short story, The Flower Girl, was finalist in The Adelaide Magazine short story competition. Additionally, my flash and micro-fiction have received Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. I have written seven novels and the eighth on is in the pipeline.

  • Why do you write?

I find writing exhilarating. It serves as a portal leading to a world of pure fantasy. The Narnian world, for instance, where animals can communicate with humans in human language. The Lords of the Rings, where trees walk. Imagination-filled worlds, where practically anything is kosher. Well, nearly anything.

  • What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.) Do  you have any recurring themes or motifs?

I have an obsession for the surreal. Almost every book I wrote, and every story I penned, I have had these outer-worldly themes. One way or the other, they have shaped my style of writing, which is experimental, unique character development, pushing boundaries. Here, my mind traveled freely, weaving the most unexpected stories in the most unusual settings.

  • How did you come up with the idea for your story “Musk”? It seems to hint of a background in folklore or mythology.

Believe it or not, ‘Musk’ was inspired by the planet Mars. I found myself thinking, what if there were no life on planet Earth? What if it were completely barren like Mars? There would be no tragedies: wars, turmoil, greed and lust. The planet would be freed from every vice. And it was in that moment, I conceptualised ‘Musk.’

  • What is your background in literature? How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I have an MA in English literature. I am a slow reader but I am always reading.

I think reading provides the necessary infrastructure in word building, sentence constructions, the language per se. It also provides insight into plot and character development. Reading is vital and lays the foundation for research for original work, a writer may wish to pursue.

  • Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

My editors review them upon acceptance, usually. After the book gets published, my readers then review, criticise and play with it anyway they want.

  • Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My new novel is set in 1960, East Pakistan, present day Bangladesh. It is about a fallen aristocratic family. I don’t have a publisher for it yet, looking for one.

  • Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have done quite a few interviews, readings and keynote speeches on youtube. I was one of the jury members for the KM Anthru International Prize for the Litterateur Magazine. The prize went to Jack Foley.

  • What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

Recognition and love from my readers. I want their understanding for my passion as a story-teller, and understanding of my hard work as a writer. I want them to understand the work first, before they sit down to criticise it, however, that maybe an unrealistic expectation.

  • What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Some of them will always be there. Not everyone can be satisfied.

  • What advice do you have for novice writers?

Read before write. Know how language works before you can play with it and weave it into your thoughts.

  • What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Editing Formatting services, reviews and criticism services, publishing platforms such a personal blogs where they can publish and harness followers, readers and feedback.

  • Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

Amazon stores, online book stores, various literary magazines around the world. I don’t publish anything on social media or websites, other than announcements, except, goodreads.

  • How did you find out about The Chamber Magazine?

From the twitter feed, I think. I really liked the website layout. I think its very classy. Of course, what gets published there, goes without saying.

  • Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I write literary fiction. Anyone interested in my books can buy them from online stores. I am on goodreads, twitter and facebook. I strive to have a long, interesting life.

Interview with Author James Hanna

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina because my father was a State Department officer. At the age of twenty-one, bored with my life in America, I dropped out of a Midwestern college, caught a freighter to Australia, and spent seven years roaming the continent. Returning to the United States, I served a stint in the Army and picked up a couple of degrees in criminology on the GI Bill. I spend twenty years as a counselor and program director in the Indiana Department of Corrections and recently retired from the San Francisco Probation Department where I was assigned to a domestic violence and stalking unit. Due to my background, the Australian Outback and the criminal element figure strongly in my writing.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

My most popular book is Call Me Pomeroy. It’s about a narcissistic street musician on parole who joins the Occupy Oakland Movement and its sister movements in Europe. He does not join for political reasons but to get on television, attract an agent, and score a million-dollar recording contract for his music. The character, Pomeroy, is a consolidation of several criminal types I knew.     

Why do you write?

I write because it is necessary to me. If I don’t write, I feel as though my soul has become congested.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I write every day for most of the day, taking occasional breaks to play tennis. I revise my work continuously, sometimes even after it has been published. I also run my work through my writing critique group.

How did you come up with the idea for your story “The Tallyman”?

When I was a San Francisco probation officer, I had a client who was on probation for stalking a famous movie actress. He was placed on probation after he showed up on a movie set in San Francisco where she was being filmed. I think he intended to kill her because he was carrying a sword. The stalker kept harassing the actress even after he was placed on probation, so I had to arrest him and put him in jail. When the actress did not come to court to testify, the stalker was released and started stalking me personally. Sadly, the San Francisco courts are not very effective in dealing with stalkers because the victims rarely show up to testify. Perturbed by this, I decided to write a story in which a stalker receives justice on a more ethereal plane.

In “The Tallyman”, the narrator references famous literary works several times. What is your background in literature? Did you read English and world lit just in college or do you read it often now? Is it a passion or a way to kill the time or somewhere in between?

I didn’t read much literature in college, but I read a lot of great books after dropping out, sometimes by campfire in the Australian Outback. I particularly like the classics because I’m not sure the best writing was done in more modern times. Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Homer will always be among my favorite writers.   

How much reading do you do? How necessary do you feel it is necessary for an author to read?

I read every evening. Television is okay, but I burn out on television after an hour or two, and then I pick up a book. It is vital for an author to read, and I would recommend that aspiring writers read like the wolf feeds.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, my critique group reviews my writing by checking it for content and grammar. An author can’t go it alone—he needs the help of others to get it right.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My latest book, The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown, was just launched. This is a tale about a naïve young girl from backwoods Kentucky who leaves her dead-end town in search of fortune and love. She ends up getting into a bizarre series of misadventures, which includes starring on a foot fetish site in Los Angeles, hustling bets as a mechanical bull rider in Texas, and serving a stint in West Virginia’s Alderson Prison because she “trusted the wrong kind of fella.” Her ultimate mishap occurs after she seeks the ping-pong championship of San Francisco’s Chinatown—all while hiding out in the Witness Protection Program. The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown is a short, fun read.  

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have nothing scheduled at this time, but that is likely to change.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I hope to write the best books and stories that I can and to market them effectively.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

If you put your work out there for anyone to see, you have to expect hurtful reviews. These are usually written by mean-spirited people who have not read your book in-depth. Bad reviews can embitter a writer if he lets them, so he has to learn to shrug them off. He has to be able to tell himself that whoever wrote the review does not count. Occasionally, an author may glean something from a bad review, but I find this to have rarely been the case.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Read in-depth, write continuously, and join a critique group. Also, learn how to market your books. If an author does not effectively promote his books, he will become the equivalent of a musician playing outside a subway station. No matter how well the musician plays, ninety-nine out of a hundred people will stroll on past him without giving him a second thought.   

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Talent is important, but persistence is more important. There are countless people with the talent to write a book, but lack the persistence to do so. They let life get in their way to the point that their talents never come to fruition.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

They can check out my books on Amazon. Here is the link: amazon.com/james-hanna.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Yes, I hope they enjoyed “The Tallyman.”


Interview with Author and Film/Video Game Producer Tim Carter

Tim says about his life:

“I was born and raised on the West Coast of Canada. Began writing professionally while still in graduate school and survived as a writer and editor ever since. I’m gradually morphed from corporate writing and magazine editing into screenplays, video games, and now fiction. I live in Vancouver, Canada, with a toe still in Los Angeles.”

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I’m proud of my produced movies, but I would have to say the game Sleeping Dogs is my greatest source of pride. The production was very challenging but I love how it came out. Also it’s probably found the greatest worldwide audience. And many of the gangsters are named after friends and in-laws.

Why do you write?

I love storytelling. Also I’m crappy with numbers, so accountant was out of the question, I could never run for office and Canada already has enough hit men.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Except during film production, I start writing every weekday at 9 AM and try to do at least 3 hours of solid creative work. Anything more is a bonus. Anything less is a problem. I have various friends and fellow writers who I exchange notes with. It various from medium to medium. My short stories were all workshopped on the Zoetrope website.

You have written numerous films and several large video games and only recently started exploring narrative fiction. What has the transition from films and games to stories been like so far for you? Have you faced any new challenges in writing narrative fiction?

I’ve found it very different but very rewarding. It’s fun to get inside your characters’ heads, which you can’t do in film. On the other hand, you have to make a lot more decisions about detail, description, etc. There’s no production team to back you up. In a film script I might write “He walks into the office. It’s a mess.” The rest is the set decorator’s problem. You can’t get away with that in fiction, but choosing where and how to be specific and detailed becomes a real challenge.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, I have a whole network of people. Different people review different types of writing. I try as hard as possible to have at least one expert read it, and at least a few women.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My day to day work is in adapting video games. I’m working on several, but I can’t reveal specifics. The gaming industry cares a lot about confidentiality. I’m also working on a novel and a series of short stories that I hope will evolve into a collection or a longer work. It’s fantasy based, so look for it in a fantasy magazine near you soon.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Nothing during covid until my next film or tv project is announced. At that point I’m in the hands of (and at the mercy of) studio PR people.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I love to tell stories and make people feel something. Could be fear, laughter, it really doesn’t matter. Some of my work has political points to get across. Hopefully at least one series lands on the air soon. Beyond that, a happy life and creative fulfillment. Whatever that means.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

They suck. But they’re part of life in a creative field. You have to be zen and just move on, I think.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Keep writing. Finish things. Send them out. Write some more. Build a community of fellow writers. Most of all, keep writing.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

I guess it depends on the story you’re telling. I don’t think you need much.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

http://www.contradictionfilms.com


Interview with Author Titus Green

Titus, tell us a little something about yourself.

I was born in Canada in the early seventies and moved back to the UK with my parents at the age of two. I graduated with a degree in Communication Studies in 1993 and then, via the occupation of teaching English as a foreign language, went on a twenty- six year odyssey that had me residing in six different countries for extended periods. This overseas experience has educated me profoundly and provided the empirical basis for much of my writing. I wrote sporadically in my twenties and thirties, but didn’t have anything published until I was forty-two.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

There are a few highlights I can think of. The first is a story called Odyssey of Tears, published originally in Sediments Literary Arts magazine in 2016, in which (I believe) I portray the colossal tragedy of Syria from 2011 onwards with the power and candor worthy of the subject matter. I am also proud of Quetzalcoatl Comet, published in The Collidescope in 2019, which was my attempt to capture the last delirious days of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, as the conquistadors closed in, in a magical realism style.  

Why do you write?

I write to interpret reality and deviate from it. I also write to express compelling, profound and sometimes uncomfortable truths about the human experience. I am most interested in humanity’s macro themes as subject matter.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I am an undisciplined writer and my concentration span has lost many battles with YouTube and other digital narcotic dens. Don Delillo said: “As writers we spend our lifetime seeking solitude only to squander it” and this is uncomfortably true for me. I have no specific times set aside to write but try to sit down with a text I am working on for at least thirty minutes a day and read through it to make refinements. I’ve never finished a work in one sitting and rarely write for longer than one hour. I simply don’t have the stamina or will-power and can only marvel at the Zen-like focus of the literary masters of the past (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky come to mind) who could commit hours in the chair and produce monumental 800 page novels.

My stories can either be more or less finished articles in one draft or go through several iterations, changing from one submission to the next. My stories rarely have uniform creative processes.

Your story “The Liminal Lure” alludes to Franz Kafka in places. How much of a role has Kafka played in your life so that you decided to have him play a part in this story?  Have you read a lot of Kafka? Has he influenced your worldview a lot? What do you find fascinating about him? What do you think he would think of the 21st century?

I first read The Trial as a callow eighteen year old for my English Literature classes at my local college in Torquay, South Devon where I grew up. Initially, I wasn’t exactly knocked out by the terse, laconic style of the narrative, the bleakness of the setting or the rather enigmatic characters who seemed to have limited internal worlds. There was Joseph K, summoned randomly by court bureaucrats and kept in the dark regarding his ‘crime’ etc. With my immature mind and zero life experience, I just didn’t have the lived knowledge required to discover the novel’s brilliant meaning. In this novel Kafka is showing us that the power-holding institutions of the world are inaccessible because they are occult and occulted. If you don’t have the password, don’t have the connections or haven’t been initiated, then you simply don’t get a look in. This is why K is doomed never to reach the ‘higher court’.

Kafka makes his dream cameo in this story for two reasons. The first was his understanding of why corporations and institutions break us down mentally with Sisyphean tasks such as that experienced by the protagonist in The Liminal Lure. The second was his prescience: he sees the slick architecture of techno-tyranny under construction with a clarity no seminar-selling futurist of the present ever could. His message is, of course, a warning to the protagonist which goes unheeded.

I think Kafka would be justifiably horrified with the world of 2021. Phenomena such as China’s Social Credit System and the West’s corresponding fetish for enhanced surveillance societies, facial-recognition, big data, the ‘internet of things’ etc. would certainly give him pause and motivation to reinterpret reality in his fiction.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, I have to give a shout-out here to my father Paul (also a writer) who has given his time generously to beta-read some of my work and give suggestions.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I recently completed a paranormal short story called The Encounter, which I am planning to submit to (hopefully) receptive editors shortly.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Not currently.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

On a practical level, I’d like to find a publisher enthusiastic enough about my work to put my short fiction into a collection. This will of course be a very difficult and time consuming project and my expectations are realistic. I want to produce a novel but don’t think I have the writing DNA or novelist discipline required for this, as indicated in my earlier comments. The short-form and I just seem to have a natural affinity. I’m a literary ‘sprinter’ while the novelists are the marathon runners.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Frankly, almost no editors of literary magazines ever give feedback these days other than dismissing your submissions with the familiar cliché that your story ‘wasn’t a good fit’, as if the creation of hours of your toil is nothing more than a cheap, badly-fitting suit. I don’t think there’s a perfect algorithm for determining how valuable those rare nuggets of editorial opinion are, because ultimately they are just that: opinions.  

What advice do you have for novice writers?

It’s very important to open your eyes. If you intend to become a literary writer and a true artist, then keen observation of worldly phenomena is mandatory. Travel, wide-reading and accumulation of diverse knowledge are other prerequisites. Reading is particularly important, because without a sense of how the best practitioners use language to communicate their visions, your writing won’t go far. A writer whose own reading is impoverished is unlikely to say anything worth remembering.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

The five senses, imagination and language.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My body of work can be found at

http://titusgreenfiction.com/

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Not at this time. I am very grateful for their interest in my work.

Interview with Author Thomas Elson

Thomas Elson’s short stories, poetry, and flash fiction have been published in numerous venues such as Calliope, The Cabinet of Heed, New Feathers, Pinyon, Lunaris, New Ulster, Lampeter, Selkie, and Adelaide. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.   


What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Even after all these years, my greatest accomplishment is being published for the first time

Why do you write?

I come from a family of Irish storytellers and photographers. As a child I listened to  stories associated with those photographs that grew from snap-shots into fully-developed lives, e.g. an older conservative woman in her 80’s who was a flapper in the 1920’s and the photograph of her in flapper attire; a photograph of three men standing by a county lake and what their stance reveals about their relationship; or an old man and his grandson on a coastline and how that reveals their life together.


What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides, you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I usually write the story in one fell swoop, then rewrite it 10-12 times, after which I turn it over to two beta readers, review their suggestions, and revise again. All this takes place in a back room of the house at an old kitchen table with a laptop and  an IBM-style keyboard and Rossini overtures blaring in the background.

Your two stories published in The Chamber (“Not Yet” and “A Cell in Motion”) seem to be very intense, very personal inside views of the main character. You seem to be getting inside their minds. How do you come up with these viewpoints? How do you imagine being in their metaphorical shoes?

My process is to be with the characters in that particular setting either as a participant or an observer who hears what they hear, smells what they smell, and hurts when they hurt. To me it’s neither a “metaphor” nor an “as if” situation; it’s being with them. After I experience it with them, I write about it.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I have two beta readers who review my work.


Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I have about fifteen short works and two novels near completion.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

To be able to continue what I have wanted to do since the age of twenty four: to write the stories of life’s dramatic interventions and folks’ reactions to them; to take a bunch of words I have tossed onto a page and mold them into a story with emotion and impact.

What do you think of rejections and criticism? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Any editor who takes the time to critique a story of mine, then takes the additional time to reduce that critique to writing is an immediate friend of mine. Some of my most significant growth as a writer has come from critiques contained in rejection letters.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I can’t really give advice, but what I did as a beginning writer was to read:

  • Willa Cather who taught me how to write about the land I came from.
  • Annie Proulx who takes flat, dull people and transforms them into vibrant characters.
  • Mary Karr who taught me I could write about the people I grew up with.
  • Daniel Woodrell who shows emotions through the characters’ behaviors.
  • Alice Munro who taught me the smallest of things in the smallest of towns have large lives.
  • Margaret Attwood and her skill of injecting life and elfin-like humor into the gravest situations.
  • Molls Giles and her ability to take someone sitting on a porch and make it a breathing story.
  • Tania Hershman who can take an upright piano and transform it into a reflection of someone’s life.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

My most useful resources are Writer’s Digest articles and the website, Helping Writers Become Authors, and Literary Hub.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.) 

I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn, but the best way is to google “Thomas Elson – author”.

Interview with John Tustin


The Chamber has published three of Mr. Tustin’s poems (“Dia de Muertos”, “Space Diminishing”, and “Steady on the Wheel”), all within the last three weeks.


Approximately 100-word (more or less) summary of your life: A life of minor aspiration, necessary loneliness and forced exile.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Writing productively almost every night the last two years. For the first time since I began writing again I feel I’ve gotten to the point that I often actually say what I want to say when I write.

Why do you write?

I don’t know. I began writing poetry when I was fourteen. I didn’t have interest in reading poetry but for someone reason I was compelled to write it. I probably write poetry because it’s a good way for an introverted exhibitionist to express themselves.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

My process has changed over time. I used to scoff at people who took out specific time to write. I didn’t understand that it could work like that. I thought that you got the idea or the first line whenever it happened to come to you and then you just started writing. That still happens to me sometimes but most of my poems are written at a specific time set aside for writing.


It works like this: Almost every night I set aside one or more hours to writing. It’s very ritualized – I listen to music and read poetry, waiting for a line or an idea. The poetry definitely inspires me. Since I began doing this about two years ago I’ve written much more and much better.


I use Microsoft Word because it’s important to get the words down quickly. It also makes editing easy. As for revising and editing, I feel that most poetry is unfortunately revised into a shiny lifelessness. I tend to write a poem and rewrite/edit it in the same sitting. It can be no rewrites or a dozen. I also sometimes take small breaks while writing if I’m stuck on the next line or even merely feeling overwhelmed with what I’m writing. 99% of the time my poems are completed in a small timeframe. One thing I always do is wait a month or so after I’ve written something to do a final rewrite/edit. Most of the time I don’t end up editing/rewriting anything at that stage but when I do I’m mostly rewriting lines for clarity. When you get further away from what you’ve written you can edit more clearly.

I can see by the link to Fritzware that you provided, that you have had a lot of poems published since 2009. How do you keep finding new ideas, new motivations for poems? How do you stay original?

Charles Bukowski said poets write about the same few things over and over. I agree. It’s easy to get stale. I read a lot – especially poetry. Living a life and/or being well-read is the best way to get new ideas or find a new way to write something.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No. I have a private Facebook page and I post my poems there as I write them but most of my Facebook friends don’t care about poetry. I had one friend who would constantly critique my poems unasked and I had to unfriend her. I don’t care for being edited beyond typos and it’s probably because my poems are so personal to me.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

As I write this I have poetry forthcoming in over thirty different journals, online and in print. I’m working on my first book of poetry and hope I will begin shopping it soon.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have poetry forthcoming in: Avalon Literary Review, Bare Back Magazine, Blue Unicorn, Cacti Fur, Chiron Review, Dalhousie Review, Eunoia Review, Euphemism, Freshwater Literary Journal, Garfield Lake Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Impspired, In Parenthesis, Ink Sac, Lakeview Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Pangolin Review, Perceptions, Piker Press, Prole, The Rail, Raven Review, Sparks of Calliope, Steam Ticket, Straylight, Tower Poetry, Triggerfish Critical Review, Unique Poetry, Vaughan Street Doubles, Visitant and  Writer’s Block.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I want my poems to reach many people and make some of those people feel the way that I do when I read certain writers. I remember the first time I listened to Bob Dylan when I was about 16 and feeling like someone was expressing my own emotions and thoughts. That’s what I want to do. I want people to read what I write and feel good – feel not so alone. I want people to feel connected to my poems.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

The closest I’ve had to reviews are a few nasty or dismissive rejection letters from editors. I don’t take criticism well but I think it could be helpful. There are a lot of factors to consider.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write. All the time. Write all the time and read much more than you write. Be open to anything and put down any line or idea you have. It’s OK to consider an audience when writing. I usually imagine a single person reading a poem I’m writing. Sometimes it’s an actual person and sometimes it’s an imaginary person. Reading is so important. Read a lot and not just literature.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Life experience and reading/listening. Pay attention to what others write and what they say. Everyone is interesting if you write them well.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

http://fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry/ contains links to my published poems and https://www.facebook.com/johntustinpoetry is my promotional page. I post links when something I’ve written is published and I also post the poems of others I happen to be reading at the time.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I like my words being read by strangers and I like when they are touched in some way by those words. Thank you for reading my poems.


Interview with Author Steve Carr

Steve Carr, author and contributor
The Chamber Magazine
thechambermagazine.com

The Chamber published Mr. Carr’s story “Catacombs of the Doomed” on April 23.


Tell us something about your life.

I was born in impoverished conditions in Cincinnati, Ohio and joined the military for seven years, three in the Army, four in the Navy, right out of high school. During my stint in the Army I was a military journalist. After the military I completed my university degree in English/Theater and afterward worked in healthcare management while writing plays that were produced in several U.S. States. After owning my own theatrical production company, I was able to retire early and took up writing short stories in June 2016. I’ve had 500 stories – new and reprints – published since then.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

The entire process of writing and then submitting a short story to a publication is grueling and sometimes brutal, and I’ve done that successfully over 500 times. That is an accomplishment that few others can lay claim to.

Why do you write?

I needed a verifiable legacy, and that is why I write.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I guess it might be called a process, but I don’t really think of it as that. I write at least 1000 words a day, usually divided into two sessions of writing 500 words each session, writing 500 in the afternoon and the other 500 in the evening. I do permit myself to take time off from writing whenever I want. I don’t adhere to the dictum that you have to write every day. I edit as I write and do one final read and final editing before submitting it as soon as it’s finished. Since I know even before I begin what publication I’m writing for and what they’re looking for, I never need to hold onto a story and search for a publication to submit the story to, unless it has been rejected the first time. No one, ever sees anything I have written until it is published.

You have written over 500 short stories but published your first novel, Redbird, in 2019. What was the transition from writing short stories to writing a novel like for you? If I recall correctly, Hemingway said that a novel is a “different animal” from a short story.

I absolutely hated writing the novel. It didn’t suit my pace of developing a story, required way too much time plotting and planning, and it felt like I was purposely extending the boundaries of the story simply to make it fit a novel word count. I’m not one to say “never” but I can’t see repeating writing a novel, ever.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No one, absolutely no one, sees my work before it is published.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I have a list of ideas for short stories I plan to write but the list would make no sense to anyone else as it is mostly just story titles or very brief notes.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

My short stories are published all the time and it would bore you to tears if I gave out what was being published and when. Despite coming from a theater background, I hate reading my works aloud. Interviews, and I’ve done a lot of those, seem to happen spur of the moment.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

To write that . . .one . . .perfect . . . short story that will be studied and discussed long after I’m dead.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Other than rejections from editors who sometimes think their role is to be a literary critic, I can’t think of a time when a short story of mine actually received a bad review. Not enough people read my novel to review it one way or another. Well it got a few good reviews on Amazon, but it was my friends who bought and reviewed it.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Rejection happens to every writer, don’t take it too seriously. Also don’t become to enamored with your own work. That leads to all kinds of bad writing decisions. Learn grammar and never take advice from someone who knows less about writing than you do.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

(1) Life experience: go everywhere you can, see as much as you can, experience as much as you can, remember everything or keep notes. (2) learn how to use Google. (3) Read. Read. Read. Even the back of a cereal box can be informative.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My website: https://www.stevecarr960.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steven.carr.35977

Twitter: @carrsteven960

My Amazon bibliography: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07CRL1PHF?ref

My publishing imprint Sweetycat Press website: https://www.sweetycatpress.com/about

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Few writers, other than journalists or advertising copywriters, actually make a living by writing. Keep your expectations low and hold on to your day job until you have a healthy bank account, and even after that, resist being okay with living in your parents’ basement.


Interview with Author and Poet Yash Seyedbagheri

Yash Seyedbagheri, contributor
The Chamber Magazine thechambermagazine.com

Biography:

I was born and grew up in Boise, Idaho, attended Boise State University, graduated with a BA in political science and went on to Colorado State University to pursue my MFA degree in creative writing (fiction). I graduated from the MFA in 2018, and have lived in in Garden Valley, Idaho since July 2019.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I would say the several Pushcart nominations I’ve received. I greatly moves me that others see something special in my work, in my craft. So, it’s certainly a good signpost for me moving forward!

Why do you write?

I write because I feel an impulse to write, to create worlds on the page and release my wild imagination. I also write to dissect human behaviors and social conventions.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I try to write in the morning if I can. Sometimes, I’ll listen to classical music, especially Debussy or Tchaikovsky to provide that needed emotional wellspring to produce. With flash fiction pieces, I can often write and rework a piece in a single setting and send things out the same day. Of course, I probably should let some pieces percolate a bit, which is something I’m trying to do more.

In terms of rituals, I like to try to submit to at least six literary journals a day (and often many more). I like to keep up the habit and submit constantly! I’m addicted to submission! I also seek inspiration from my 3-4 daily walks, whether it’s in shadows, Ponderosas swaying, or a butter-colored light glowing at dusk.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I’m a member of a writing group, so with longer stories I do tend to get them workshopped. I also occasionally send poems to friends here and there.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I’m always working on something! I am specifically considering writing a novel set in an MFA program, about legacies and egos (with considerable comic elements). I know writing about writing and writing programs is often verboten, but I’d like to challenge that convention.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I’ve just had a flash fiction piece accepted at SmokeLong Quarterly, which is a real thrill for me! Otherwise, I’m just submitting away!

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I’d ideally like to get a short story collection published. Possibly a flash fiction collection. And hopefully a novel. But I really believe the short story collection has been overlooked too frequently and flash fiction even more so.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

I haven’t received bad reviews per se, but I have received constructive critiques of some submissions. And I think they can be helpful. In particular, I think they signal that someone was attracted to a piece and it’s worth continuing to pursue.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I’d say try to write daily, if possible. Even if it’s a mere 50 words. I’d also say don’t be afraid to submit. Yes, it can be frightening, but having a rejection is proof that you put your work out there. And if you keep submitting and really targeting your submissions, you have a great shot at getting work published!

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Duotrope has been particularly helpful, due to its wide database of lit mags and various metrics, including journals with fast response times, most approachable, etc. It also gives you a sense of response trends at certain venues, given that so many post their responses.

I’d also say joining a writing group can be helpful. It gives you an impetus to write and submit by deadlines and, best case scenario, offers a range of voices and opinions. It’s especially helpful when multiple group members point out certain issues with a piece, as well as calling out the piece’s strengths.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

I don’t have a website at the present and I tend to avoid social media when possible, but much of my work can be found online!

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

I’m a self-proclaimed Romantic and a lover of Coen Brothers movies, especially The Big Lebowski. I wish I could abide like the Dude. But I tend to see travesties all around me like Walter Sobchak!

Interview with Author Garrett Rowlan

Born in San Francisco in 1948, raised in LA, graduate in History at Cal State LA in 1971. Read Krisnamurti’s Thing on These Things and decided to follow my heart and do what I loved, basically read and write. Lived in Sacramento four years doing factory work and moved back to LA in 1976. Journalism, computers, caretaker (for my mother) and 26 years a sub teacher at LAUSD, retired in 2012.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Two novels published. To Die, To Sleep (James Ward Kirk Press) and Too Solid Flesh Melts (Alban Lake Press). 70 other stories published.

Why do you write?

A touch of hypergraphia, ego, the desire to leave something behind, probably because I have no kids.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I write in the mornings, often take a clipboard and walk around the town of South Pasadena, California, writing as sentences occur to me. A touch of cannabis sometimes helps.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Outside of editors, no one else reads my stuff until it is published. I feel that giving yourself some time between versions is the best way to proceed. (Advice I give but don’t always follow.)

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I have published a few stories and essays about Jorge Luis Borges, and I would like to use his story “The Library at Babel” as the basis for a novel.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have four stories accepted and a fifth is probable. I just finished a novel and am looking for an agent, but I’ll probably end up self-publishing.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

As I once read on the back of a novel by Anthony Burgess, “Just keep writing.”

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Wikipedia.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.) 

garrettrowlan.com

Interview with Author Rie Sheridan Rose

Bio:

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Things happened along the way, like school and I gave up the dream for awhile. But when I was laid off a couple of weeks before my wedding in 2003, my fiance said I could stay at home and write. So, I have. I actually had my first published story in 1998, but it was still juggling to get writing in around work and stuff. I consider 2003 my real birth as a writer even though I had two novels published by then.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I think my story in Startling Stories feels like the biggest accomplishment, though having a five book series is a close second. Since that is self-published, it doesn’t have the same feeling of “Wow” that Startling Stories gives me.

Why do you write?

I write because the words in my head want to come out and play. 🙂 Because I have these cool stories that other people might enjoy as well, and I am happy to share them.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I am very definitely a “pantser.” I never outline. Most of the time I sit down and start typing and see where the story goes. Revisions are very subjective. I used to never revise because I hated the editing stage–and then one day I realized that the first draft is just the bones of a story, and the revisions are where you get to add the muscles and flesh. Now, it can be one of my favorite parts. And, this year, I’ve noticed that most of the stories I’ve placed are ones that I looked at again and tweaked a bit. Including “Cheap Sunglasses.”

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I have a group of beta readers that I use most of the time. They are a mix of friends, family, and writing professionals, because you want different types of feedback from different people.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

Well, several of my novels were left homeless when a publisher closed their novel line, so most of those are re-releasing sometime this year. I have a fairy tale romance with a beta reader (who is also a publisher, cross fingers), and I am working on a spin-off novel for my series that may need to be completely rewritten. I also have a poetry book I’m about to start and a couple of WIPs that may or may not go anywhere. Plus I have a goal of submitting at least one piece of work everyday this year to make up for my dismal laziness last year. I am up to 177 so far.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Everything is still pretty much shut down, though I hope maybe to be back at conventions by the fall. I have a story in Good Southern Witches that debuts in April.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I would like to be known. Not necessarily recognized, but if people hear my name they might say, “Yeah, I read something by her somewhere…”

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

It depends on the review. I got a review once on Amazon that purported to be from a specific user. I knew it wasn’t from that specific user, because it was my husband’s user name, and he hadn’t written it. We tried to get them to take it down, but I don’t think we ever succeeded. Mostly, I look at reviews as opinions, and if they seem to have a valid objection to something, I consider it going forward.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Keep writing. Don’t let a few rejections get you down. I did that when I was in college, and didn’t write for years. What a lot of time wasted! My husband made me a challenge one year to get 300 rejections. It was a kind of aversion therapy. By the end of that year, they didn’t bother me as much. Sure, every now and then, a rejection still really hurts, but I’ve got 80 so far this year… The other piece of advice is keep good records. Make a spreadsheet so you know where things have gone and whether or not they were accepted so you don’t accidentally send something out twice and have the awkward duty of pulling one. And carry some form of notetaking device–notebook, app on your phone, file cards…–wherever you go.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

I think the free version of Grammarly is useful. Autocrit is nice, but costs. The Merriam Webster online dictionary. https://www.rhymezone.com/ for poetry. And for submissions, https://www.ralan.com/ and https://trishhopkinson.com/category/call-for-submissions/ are two of my go-tos, as well as the Open Call groups on Facebook. There are several of those.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My main social media links are: Twitter: https://twitter.com/RieSheridanRose; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rie-Sheridan-Rose/38814481714; and my main website: https://riewriter.com/. I am also on Patreon as Rie Sheridan Rose and on Pixabay as RieFlections.

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Always follow your dreams. Write what you want to read. And remember, write what you know doesn’t mean you can’t learn something new and write about it.


Interview with Author/Poet John Ormsby

Photo submitted by John Ormsby

Bio:

I grew up in Toronto where upon graduating university I landed a job as a copy editor for a legal publisher. The work was poorly paid and mind-numbingly forensic with no room whatsoever for any creativity; we were basically word accountants. Upping sticks, I moved to the UK where I’ve ended up teaching high school. It can be a tough gig some days but the kids are insanely creative and there are always lots of opportunities for laughs with them. Often what I hear during the day inspires my writing.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

My greatest accomplishment to date would be starting my blog and sticking at it. I wrote loads when I was a kid, edited the newspaper at university and almost went into journalism so writing’s definitely in the DNA. And then finally, just over a year ago I got off the pot and started my blog. To date, I’ve posted a collection one publisher has called ‘eclectic’- it’s a mixture of humour, horror, poetry, prose, essays and opinions – which has attracted an equally eclectic readership. I’m proud of my efforts and honoured that others consider it worth reading.

Why do you write?

I guess I’ve got lots to say. Sadly, few of us are gifted orators and writing offers me the chance to get my points across without being interrupted. I’m not a very brave sort but when I write I become a superhero who’s unafraid to pull out the creative big guns and tackle anything. I use different styles and voices I wouldn’t normally get away with at home or at work; it’s very liberating being a homicidal demon one moment, then a camp Martian in hot pants the next.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I’m writing this on a laptop with my dog snoring next to me on the sofa. Years ago I used to rise early and write until noon, after which I spent the rest of the day making revisions. These days, however, I can write day or night. I’ll often write and then take the dog for a walk so I can mull it over without seeing it. Usually by the time we’ve returned home I’ve ‘pictured’ what I need to do and make the necessary changes. And I revise constantly, often searching days for the right word until I find it. It sounds tedious and it is, but it’s essential because I rarely do anything right the first time in life.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

As more friends read my blog they’re becoming braver with their criticisms which is invaluable when it comes from those you trust. They’re catching everything from typos to non sequiturs which is surprising because all of them were raised outdoors.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

My blog contains the prologue of a novel entitled The Abomination which you’re featuring. It revolves around the First Nation peoples of Canada, the Church and a lot of cultural rituals we no longer notice within our society. It’s a supernatural thriller and I’ve written about half of it so far. Right now I need to kill a character to further the plot but I can’t bring myself to do it. I think I would have made a terrible vet.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I would like every one of my students to have to read my work and then sit a five-hour exam on it. That would be poetic justice after having had to read all their crap. Other than that, like most authors I simply wish to become widely-read because I’m not writing a diary. That’s it, really.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write about what you know and research what you don’t know before writing about that. And don’t be intimidated because someone’s already covered what you were going to write about – what you have to say may spin the whole thing on its head. In this life, we have few opportunities to break rules without ending up before a judge; writing has no rules except those you impose upon yourself, so impose as few as possible and go for it.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Honesty: draw ideas from all around but don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

A decent vocabulary (or a thesaurus): make every word count because the readers deserve it.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)  

The best place to find out about me is my blog: mrormsbyatlarge.com


Interview with Author Olivia Arieti

Photo courtesy Olivia Arieti

Bio:

I was born in Pisa, Italy, spent my childhood in Miami Beach, my teen years in Detroit and Milan, graduated from the University of Pisa and settled in Torre del Lago Puccini where I live with my family and my four dogs. Being bilingual (English and Italian) I have to deal with two languages constantly, and that’s not always an easy task. Since I was a child my parents have exhorted me to write and I am very grateful to them for that.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I believe that having some work published is an achievement nowadays with all the amazing competition there is.

Why do you write?

Because I enjoy it. My characters whether in a play or a story, end up intriguing me and that’s exciting.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I prefer writing at my pc, generally in the morning. I do a lot of revision as complete satisfaction is never easy to reach.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No, I always review my work by myself.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I’m working on a few short stories and revising a play I wrote years ago.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I have some stories that should be published soon and a streaming of a play in March. It was one of the six finalists in a playwriting competition in London.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I hope to write something good and worthy that may impress my readers and remain in their hearts. 

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Bad reviews are never good and also hurt, but sometimes you can spot some clues that may turn out helpful.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Keep being creative, never stop nourishing your imagination and believe in your work.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

The dictionary and good grammar books are basic tools. There are also useful online resources and writing communities.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)  

On websites that have published my work.


Interview with Marcelo Medone

Marcelo Medone

Marcelo Medone (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1961) is a medical doctor, lyric tenor singer, painter, journalist, fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry has received awards and has been published in reviews and editions in various languages in more than 20 countries, in Latin America, USA, Canada, Spain, France, Nigeria, India and Australia. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.


Bio:

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1961 and was raised in nearby Montevideo,
Uruguay, where I resided till I was 27, when I moved back to Buenos Aires. (I have dual
citizenship: Argentinian and Uruguayan.) I started writing and became a journalist in
Montevideo, working for newspapers and magazines and also on radio. I studied and
became a Medical Doctor in Uruguay and I specialized in Pediatrics in Argentina. I
married, had three children and got divorced. I started singing as a tenor in choirs, studied
cinematography and became a screenwriter, then I dedicated myself to painting. Now I
continue singing, painting, writing and cherishing my children. I currently live in San
Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

In 2009 I earned my first international writing prize with my book “Nada menos que
Juan” (“Nothing Less than Juan”), that was published in Spanish in most of Latin
America, and in Portuguese for the Brazilian market. Since then, I have been published
more than a hundred times in 27 countries, in various languages, thanks to the fact that I
write in English, Portuguese and French in addition to Spanish. The list of places include
Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Spain, France, England, Nigeria, India
and Australia, as well as California, Texas, Illinois and now Arizona in the United States.
Most of these publications are flash fiction and short stories, but my poetry has been
published in 10 countries, so far.

Why do you write?

It is the same urgency that I have with singing or painting. I want to express myself and
produce something that I presume beautiful out of nothing. I read a lot (mostly books in
Spanish and English) and I also watch a lot of movies. And very often I find masterpieces
that inspire me or, on the other hand, good ideas badly executed that trigger my own
writings, in short fiction, poetry or even screenwriting.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks,
traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something
before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I try to write every day, even when I’m on call at the hospital or in my private office,
making annotations in medical prescription pads. I devote three days a week to my
medical profession and four days to writing. Sometimes a story or a poem comes right
away, but most often I read it and revise it many times until I know that it is good
enough, even along many weeks or months. I write in my notebook and keep many of the
intermediate or alternate versions of my writings. Sometimes a short story has two or
three different endings. Sometimes I take a short screen script I have written long ago and transform it in a story or a chapter of a novel. There are some editors that help me but
only when I am sending material to be published with them. In the last two decades, I
participated in many literary workshops as a member. Since 2019, I take part in the
literary workshop coordinated by a great writer, editor and friend of mine named Sergio
Gaut vel Hartman (you can Google him). I upload some of the stories to his workshop
and we discuss them, which often results in better versions.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish
them?

I live alone and, besides the literary workshop, I rarely ask for a second opinion. When I
send a story or a poem to a magazine or to an editor and it is eventually rejected, I revise
it and try to find a reason for the rejection. Sometimes I rewrite it for better. Other times,
I find a most situable destination for it.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

So far, I have written four novels that remain unpublished, the last, a thriller titled
“Wolves and Rabbits”. And I am now writing what I am sure it will be my best novel,
titled “Open Ties”, in which each chapter may function as a separate story, but all
together they constitute a coherent whole, in the style of the great collection of stories
“The Burning Plain” by Mexican Juan Rulfo, one of my favorite authors, alongside Jorge
Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Levrero and Ernest
Hemingway. And I have finished my last feature film script titled “After the Tremor”, in
which a low intensity earthquake shakes a great city and as a consequence a series of
stories intermingle in unexpected ways. Its tagline is “Do you need an earthquake to get
your life shaken?” I have registered the script and I am actively looking for producers.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being
published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or
talks?

I’ve been interviewed many times in the past, for literary and cultural magazines,
newspapers, and radio programs, and participated in various speeches in book fairs or
most recently in teleconferences by Zoom or Google Meet. I have more than fifty works
awaiting verdict in contests around the world and a dozen waiting to be published in the
next months.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I hope to find an original way of telling the same old stories, the same old themes that
have always moved human beings: love, hatred, power, blood ties and the desire to
transcend death. I always have new projects in mind and I believe that my best work is
yet to be written.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

I’ve always had good reviews. Or maybe I was lucky enough for not finding the bad
ones.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Read a lot and varied. Read books with good and bad reviews, but always with a critical
eye. Write every day, even half an hour. And read out loud what you write, whenever it is
possible. You learn to write by writing, revising and correcting what you have written.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

If you are smart enough, you can decode the process of writing of the best well-known
writers in your language or in good translations and find a way to assimilate it to your
writing. This, as for the form. Then, you must observe everything around you as if you’ve
never seen it before and register the little details that may inspire you and give credibility
to your ideas. And use your imagination.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (web sites, social
media, etc.)

My short fiction, stories and poems are scattered among a large number of anthologies
and magazines around the world, mostly in Spanish. “101 Words”, in Berkeley, has
published me twice so far. Besides, you can find some more by visiting me on social
media: Facebook: Marcelo Medone / Instagram: @marcelomedone


Interview with Author Joe Pawlowski

Bio:

Joe Pawlowski is the author of four books: The Vermilion Book of the Macabre (where “The Intruder” originally appears), The Watchful DeadDark House of Dreams, and, most recently, The Cannibal Gardener. He is a retired journalist living in the Minneapolis area with his wife, Debbie, and rescue dog, Lucy. He is a U.S. Army veteran, a secular Buddhist, a major Beatles fan, a vegan, and a lifelong student of classic horror and supernatural literature. Besides reading and writing, he enjoys music, movies and socializing with his many friends. 

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far? 

I was a journalist for many years, both in newspapers and magazines. I was an editor, a columnist and a freelancer. I remember the first time I sold a freelance article to a national publication called U.S. Art, it was pretty exciting. But nothing matches having a book published. I’ve loved horror fiction since I was a grade-schooler reading Edgar Allan Poe, and am thrilled to be working in this same medium. I always think that my best book is my most recent one, but opinions vary. And, hey, having my story printed in The Chamber magazine is pretty cool, too. 

Why do you write? 

The easy answer would be to say I want to scare people, but there’s more to it than that. When I’m in the writing mode, it’s like visiting another world. Admittedly, reality is subjective even in a state of mindfulness, but when I’m writing I’m able to reinvent any aspect of existence. Black is white, up is down, the laws of science aren’t binding. Why? Because in this story, I’ve designed things that way. When I’m writing, I’m in a completely different zone than in my day-to-day life, and I’m totally invested in the lives of people I’ve created; their struggles, their triumphs, their failures. Ultimately, writing is its own reward. 

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.) 

I write pretty much every morning from around 8 or 9 a.m. to about noon or maybe 1. Sometimes longer. Depends if I’m a writing groove. I tend to rewrite quite a bit, mostly as I go along. I write at my kitchen table. My productivity is much higher when I stick to this routine. 

Usually, I start every story with an idea and a basic concept of where the story is headed. I develop my characters, and a lot of the plot hinges on what types of people they are and how they react to their circumstances. I read a lot to research, mine and merge plot points, create atmosphere and construct (hopefully) believable characters. People ask me if I’m a sadist, but I’m really not. I feel for the people I’m putting through the wringer. Even the not-so-nice people. To some degree, even the monsters. 

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them? 

After I’ve written, rewritten and extensively edited a story, I’ll usually ask friends to read it. My stepdaughter, Jennifer Thompson, has a good eye for details and she enjoys reading, so her input is invaluable. I use Grammarly on everything. For novels, I also use the services of Danita Mayer, a class-A professional editor. She’s been very helpful in pointing out ways to improve a story, and I almost always follow her advice. 

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything? 

I’m almost finished with a collection of weird-fiction stories, which should be out in March or April. I’m also writing a novel about a troubled guy who inherits a fishing resort in northern Minnesota. He thinks he’s headed for a simple life of peace and tranquility. Of course, he couldn’t be more wrong. It is a horror novel, right? 

Do you have any writing events coming up?  

I’ll probably do some book signings after this Covid situation gets resolved. 

What do you hope to achieve as a writer? 

A measure of immortality, I guess. The books will be around after I’m gone. For me, writing books is building a legacy of sorts. With digital publishing, there will probably be copies of my work for future great-great-great grandchildren to look up. They can say, my relative wrote some pretty scary stuff. 

On a case-by-case basis, I hope I create fiction that goes beyond tropes and, ultimately, says something about the human condition. 

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you? 

You have to shrug them off bad reviews. Some people are going to like your stuff, others aren’t. If there’s some wisdom to be gleaned from a reader’s remarks then, yeah, I’m listening. If you just don’t like it, well, I’m sorry you wasted your $2.99 or whatever. I can’t please everyone, though, of course, I wish everyone loved my stuff. 

What advice do you have for novice writers? 

Read. I usually read books for an hour or more every day, plus websites. I listen to audiobooks all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies and some TV shows, but the boob tube will devour every free, waking hour of your life if you let it. Same thing with video games. To each his own, but don’t think you can get away with not reading and still be a worthwhile writer. You won’t have the tools to do it. 

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use? 

Be yourself. Be a unique individual. There’s a lot of books out there and, if you want to attract your share of readers, you need a unique voice and outlook. 

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)   

I have a website (www.joepawlowskiauthor.com), and I’m on Facebook (Joe Pawlowski, Author), Instagram (www.instagram.com/joepawlowskiauthor), Goodreads, and MeWe.


Interview with John DeLaughter, Author and Essayist

John DeLaughter photo

John A. DeLaughter M.Div., M.S., is a Data Security Analyst and Lovecraft essayist, horror, and fantasy author. He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife Heidi. His work has appeared in The Lovecraft eZineSamsara: The Magazine of SufferingTigershark eZineTurn To Ash, and The Eldritch Literary Review Journal. John is presently editing his original epic fantasy work, Dark Union Rising.


Bio:

John A. DeLaughter, MDiv, MS is a data security analyst, author, and Lovecraft essayist. Discover his HPL essays in publications such as The Lovecraft eZine, Aphotic Realm, Vastarien: A Literary Journal, Turn to Ash, and Círculo de Lovecraft (Spain). His horror shorts appear in HPL anthologies like “Ancestors and Descendants: Lovecraftian Prequels and Sequels”, “Protector of the Veil”, and “The Fellowship of the Old Ones”.John is also the author of fantasy novels in the Dark Union saga, “Night of the Kwatee and “Dawn of the Dark Union”.  John lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Heidi and two dogs.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

To me, the fun is in when you are asked to join a project out of nowhere. I am not sure that stands as “the greatest accomplishment”. But, it is very satisfying when you have developed a niche with what you have written, and based on whatever reputation that has garnered you, an invitation here and there appears. I think it validates what you have been doing as a writer.

Why do you write?

Once you come to the place where you do write—not just someone who says they want to write “someday” though many of us start out in that category—there is a compelling sense or need to write in order to feel fulfilled in life.

I cannot put it any simpler than that.

Just recognize that your passion to write is not something everyone else, either among your family, friends, or social contacts, is equally interested in or wants to hear you talk about it.

Learn not to be discouraged by that fact. Not everyone is interested to a sport like fishing or Tour-de-France bicycling either.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Particularly in non-fiction writing, I bone-up on the subject quite a bit before I ever begin writing about it. I accumulate MS word files with notes from what I read. Then I begin to assemble my thoughts based on those notes, and the unconscious ideas that suddenly pop into my head that result from all the reading involved.  I work on the order of the ideas, on catchy titles, for the main title and subsections of the essays, etc. I continue to work a piece until it feels right.

Sometimes, I create a MS word file with two columns using the “insert table” feature, use the left column for the wording of the actual essay, while using the right column to gather facts from my notes and work on assembling the ideas into my words and my order of thought. Plus, always cite your sources with end notes. That shows the work that went into the piece and that you are not plagiarizing someone else’s ideas. Nothing kills your credibility more than not citing your sources.

For horror and fantasy fiction, I like to add true ideas and plausible thoughts that lend an air of authenticity and believability to a fictional narrative. For example, from Lovecraft’s writing, he included longitude and latitude readings in “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness” to lean an air of “the fictional, unknown events portrayed occurred here in the known world…’

Or, if the fabled mountain ranges in the Antarctica that were higher than the Himalayas in Lovecraft’s narrative simply do not reflect our modern map of that continent, come up with a logical premise that is plausible and explains the apparent contradictions. Another such device that Lovecraft and others used was to place their fictional, forbidden magical grimoires along side real similar volumes to lend authenticity to their fictional works and the disasters that resulted from using them. For example, the dreaded but fictious “Necronomicon” exists in some of his stories alongside Cotton Mather’s  “Wonders of the Invisible World.” You can do the same with famous, known events from history and either place a fictious event beside the true event. Or give a fictious, horrific explanation of the known event.

One final thought. After you have gone through and made changes, run a standard spell/grammar check over what you’ve just edited. Sometimes, while you are in the process of correcting mistakes, you unintentionally create others.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

There are many people in your life, friends, and family, who promise to read and write a review on what you write. But when it comes down to the actual fulfillment of those promises, it doesn’t happen.

In a recent Time Travel project with three other writers – Byron Craft, Matthew Davenport, and David Hambling – we employed a professional editor/proofreader to tighten up the five stories in that volume and split the cost.

That work, “Time Loopers: Four Tales from a Time War” (2020) has Mythos-elements in each story to varying degrees.

If you do not have a beta-reader or reviewer, once you have made changes, put the work aside for a few days to a week. Then pick it up again. It will help you to have a fresher set of eyes looking for mistakes and logic issues.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

To me, the fun is in when you are asked to join a project out of nowhere. I am not sure that stands as “the greatest accomplishment”. But, it is very satisfying when you have developed a niche with what you have written, and based on whatever reputation that has garnered you, an invitation here and there appears. I think it validates what you have been doing as a writer.

Why do you write?

Once you come to the place where you do write—not just someone who says they want to write “someday” though many of us start out in that category—there is a compelling sense or need to write in order to feel fulfilled in life. I cannot put it any simpler than that.

Just recognize that your passion to write is not something everyone else, either among your family, friends, or social contacts, is equally interested in or wants to hear you talk about it.

Learn not to be discouraged by that fact. Not everyone is interested to a sport like fishing or Tour-de-France bicycling either.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

Particularly in non-fiction writing, I bone-up on the subject quite a bit before I ever begin writing about it. I accumulate MS word files with notes from what I read. Then I begin to assemble my thoughts based on those notes, and the unconscious ideas that suddenly pop into my head that result from all the reading involved.  I work on the order of the ideas, on catchy titles, for the main title and subsections of the essays, etc. I continue to work a piece until it feels right.

Sometimes, I create a MS word file with two columns using the “insert table” feature, use the left column for the wording of the actual essay, while using the right column to gather facts from my notes and work on assembling the ideas into my words and my order of thought. Plus, always cite your sources with end notes. That shows the work that went into the piece and that you are not plagiarizing someone else’s ideas. Nothing kills your credibility more than not citing your sources.

For horror and fantasy fiction, I like to add true ideas and plausible thoughts that lend an air of authenticity and believability to a fictional narrative. For example, from Lovecraft’s writing, he included longitude and latitude readings in “The Call of Cthulhu” and “At the Mountains of Madness” to lean an air of “the fictional, unknown events portrayed occurred here in the known world…’

Or, if the fabled mountain ranges in the Antarctica that were higher than the Himalayas in Lovecraft’s narrative simply do not reflect our modern map of that continent, come up with a logical premise that is plausible and explains the apparent contradictions.

Another such device that Lovecraft and others used was to place their fictional, forbidden magical grimoires along side real similar volumes to lend authenticity to their fictional works and the disasters that resulted from using them. For example, the dreaded but fictious “Necronomicon” exists in some of his stories alongside Cotton Mather’s “Wonders of the Invisible World.” You can do the same with famous, known events from history and either place a fictious event beside the true event. Or give a fictious, horrific explanation of the known event.

One final thought. After you have gone through and made changes, run a standard spell/grammar check over what you’ve just edited. Sometimes, while you are in the process of correcting mistakes, you unintentionally create others.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I am presently editing the final book in a fantasy trilogy series entitled, “Day of the Archmage.” The Dark Union Saga Trilogy has some Lovecraftian/Mythos themes to it. I hope to release that in early 2021.

I have the outlines, research, and an identified market for a H.P. Lovecraft essay, tentatively entitled, “Patrick McGoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’ and HP Lovecraft:

Did Rover Arise from a Bloom of Shoggoths?” I hope the title is self-evident as to the direction of the subject material.

Along with both projects, I will be developing promos and sales pitches to post on the various social media outlets where I maintain a presence.

For now, that is what appears on my literary “Drawing Board” for early 2021.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Once it is completed, The Innsmouth Book Club wants to do an interview about “Patrick McGoohan’s ‘The Prisoner’ and HP Lovecraft: Did Rover Arise from a Bloom of Shoggoths?”

The Innsmouth Book Club is associated with two anthologies my horror work has appeared in, “Ancestors & Descendants: Lovecraftian Prequels & Sequels” (2019) and “Weird Tails: a Lovecraftian Cat Anthology” (2020).

And of course, there is this interview for Phil Slattery’s The Chamber an online horror zine.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

As a non-fiction writer, there are certain topics that continually come up in my mind that I need to address. Since I write about Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the horror writer, it could surround either an event in his life or letters. Or it might concern so aspect of his fiction, such as similarities between his horror stories and the fiction of others. For example, I wrote an essay that examined whether J.R.R. Tolkien’s work was influenced by H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, entitled, “Lovecraft and Tolkien: Lovecraftian Horrors in Middle-Earth?” That one got translated into Spanish and appeared in a Horror-zine based in Spain.

My point is, I like to write about issues in horror non-fiction that others haven’t addressed Or I like to add an angle that hasn’t been fully explored.

In fiction, I have horror as well as fantasy aspirations. I try to give voice to both of those motivations, either through horror shorts at the moment, or through fantasy volumes, such as editing the final volume in a LOTR-style trilogy. That book is entitled, “Day of the Archmage.”  The Dark Union saga does feature some subplots that reviewers say lean a Lovecraftian vibe to the series.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Bad reviews are inevitable. They can be harmful if you struggle to get reviews. Many are over elements in you book that you have no control over it. Disgruntled writers who got rejected from a project write bad reviews about the finished project. People who don’t like the price point or the way the book is formatted, may write a bad review.

If you read a bad review, glance at it, gather quickly any value in it, then move on. Continue to promote the book, because when other reviews come, good reviews will balance out the bad ones.  You cannot let a bad review throw off your composure and your drive.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Write and get published somewhere. You may write for publishing credits for some time versus pay in order to get a name in the writing arena and some type of following.  That has been my path as a writer, but that may not be everyone’s experience.

Next, you must learn how to deal with rejections. They come as “cattle-call” rejections, rejections you can learn from – the rejecting editor give you some helpful advice on what you’ve submitted, rejections from someone who has previously published your work, etc.

One I have is a partial rejection that’s still up in the air. The editors enjoyed my initial submission, but had some issues they felt that needed to be addressed. They spelt out the issues, I revised the project to tailor it to address their issues, and resubmitted it. I have not heard back from them yet. There was no guarantee that if I revised the submission to their specifications that it would be accepted.

You must exercise patience with publishers. You also need to develop a “live-and-let-live” attitude towards a publisher, who may have published some of your submissions, while rejecting others. That’s part of becoming a professional in your outlook as a writer.

One last thing. You need to develop your marketing skills as a writer. If you get published by a traditional publisher or end up self-publishing that is not the end of the process. It begins the second half of the process—which is peddling your work to the masses. Some type of social media presence is a must. And recognize that not everyone who follows you on a social media platform equals a sale that self-same person.

Use what is immediately available to you. For example, if your book or a book you appear in sells through Amazon, develop a related Amazon’s author’s page.

But do not overdo your social media publishing efforts. For instance, there is a “law of diminishing return” i.e., there is a point where doing additional promotional activities does not equate to increased sales. People can get numb to your wonderful ad promos if you push them too much, too often. Related to that is, do not let your promotional time eat up the time and energy you need to write. You need to discover that balance for yourself.

For me, I have a full-time job and family concerns. So, writing and promoting that writing needs to fit into the other priorities in my life. For instance, I do social media promotions seven days a week. That usually occurs in the evenings. But, sometime I have other things to do at night, so you have to make allowances for the rest of your life.

And a final thing. I am foremostly on social media to promote my writing. As a rule, I do not use social media for the reasons other people use those mediums.

Don’t forget we all have literary influences. Mine include H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, C.S. Lewis, Clifford Simak, and J.R.R. Tolkien. If someone reads your work, and brings up “your writing sounds like So-in-So” that’s ok. A writer’s life is constantly developing their own style and voice. Take any such comparisons as a compliment and move on.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Your time, your energy, and your attitude. You need to do whatever you can to “keep your head in the game.” Read things other writers do to keep writing. Hear about their struggles so you don’t think the difficulties you face in writing are insurmountable.

To me, your stick-to-itiveness—meaning dogged perseverance—is your greatest asset as a writer. The odds of lightning striking you—i.e., you becoming a best seller—increase if you are walking around outside in a storm holding a lightning rod. The more you write, the farther afield your work gets published, the greater the chance of getting struck by lightning.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

I have an Amazon Author’s page: https://www.amazon.com/John-DeLaughter/e/B078ZKDR12

I have a Twitter Author’s Page: https://twitter.com/HPL_JDeLaughter

I have a Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/HPLJDeLaughter/

I have an Instagram Author’s Page: https://www.instagram.com/hpl_jdelaughter/?hl=en

Interview with Author Niles Reddick

Niles Reddick
Niles Reddick at Parnassus

Biography

I was born in Southern Georgia to a working-class poor family. I started working when I was 12, mowing grass. I was a custodian and then worked in hotels through high school and college. I worked for the Air Force as a civilian, worked as a counselor, and landed in higher education where I taught and then became an administrator. While I wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until I was teaching that I had my first publication. Married with two teens, we live in Western Tennessee.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I would say that my greatest accomplishment was having a story published in The Saturday Evening Post, and then being named among the best new fiction by The Saturday Evening Post in 2019. However, the accolades from some of my published books have also been very nice.

Why do you write?

I think writing evolves as does the reason one writes. When I began, I wrote about feelings, frustrations, etc. It was a limited and maybe egocentric form of writing, but eventually, I wrote about things that happened in life, injustices, humorous stories, and much more. I think one can’t stifle creativity. It’s a very natural way of being in the world.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I think I have a very “normal” process. I typically compose on my computer and I write early in the morning (I get up at 4am without a clock and always have). I typically go back two or three times to edit, but I usually read most things out loud to my wife. Generally, I catch more errors that way. She also likes to offer her comments. By the way, she doesn’t always like my stories and I’m okay with that.  I then rewrite a couple of other times before I send pieces off for consideration. Sometimes, I have had acceptances the same day, but while those are truly rewarding moments, they have been few and far between. I have had thousands of rejections, but I have also had stories published that were often rejected. I’ve come to know that “fit” is an important part of the writing process that most of us don’t understand even if we know the editor, the magazine, and the requirements. I can even read published pieces in a magazine and still not know “fit” and I’ve read pieces in magazines and couldn’t believe the editor selected or published it. There’s something about the process that is ambiguous and maybe always will be.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

No, early in my career when I was really trying to get published, I had friends who were faculty members review and offer feedback, and I have had other published writers read drafts and offer feedback (such as Lee Smith, Janice Daugharty, Inman Majors, and others), but other than my reading stories out loud to my wife (to mostly catch errors and get any opinion she might have), I don’t ask anyone and I find it a bit awkward when someone asks me to offer a blurb or review or even feedback on a draft. I’m becoming even more shy about that.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

Well, I have a flash fiction collection titled For the Cheesecake (title is from one of the stories published in Forth Magazine in L.A.), a novella-in-flash titled A Blessing and a Curse, and about thirty unpublished stories I’m constantly submitting for consideration. While I certainly don’t have expectations of anything happening, I do have an agent in CA who is pitching two films and a series for me.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

I am teaching a flash fiction workshop through the Pat Conroy Literary Center in South Carolina and am excited about that, and I’m judging a flash fiction prompt for Vancouver Flash Fiction in British Columbia this month. The above submitted works will hopefully get picked up this year. I have several stories forthcoming in multiple journals and magazines like The Hong Kong Review.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

Some of my work has been meaningful with nominations and I think they speak to quality, but I don’t know if they will survive the test of time like other writers may have historically. Plus, I think what survives is changing rapidly. There are lots of writers out there, many publishers, and a lot of magazines that come and go. This has never been about money for me. I have a career. I often joke that I couldn’t pay one month’s house payment with what I have earned in royalties through the years, but to be recognized by peers has been meaningful to me. This year, The Citron Review took a story titled “Keeping Time” and then nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, The Boston Literary Magazine took a piece titled “Mean Boys” and nominated it for a Best Microfiction award, and other magazine in New York, Big City Lit nominated my story “Rotarian on Vacation” for a Pushcart Prize, my third Pushcart nomination. Ultimately, I should be satisfied with what I have done—a novel, two collections, and a novella (plus the ones coming)—and the recognition. I never expected any of it and if I dropped dead tomorrow, I would leave this world very appreciative.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Most of them that are bad typically say something good, so I’m not sure they are actually bad. I think they bring attention, and like the news on a nightly basis, I’m not sure it’s the good or bad that matters. It’s the attention, and actually, I’m not sure I think that’s how it should be, but it’s reality, and what’s even sadder to me is that I don’t think anyone really reads them and I don’t even think a lot of people read in general.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

Don’t give up. Keep it up, keep going, trying. It’ll happen eventually, but you might want to ask yourself starting out, what do you want out of this? If it’s money, you might want to stick with your day job and do this as a hobby. I don’t mean that to be discouraging. On the contrary, I mean for it to be a wake-up call and to be realistic.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

I think social networking and social media are GREAT and have been important to me in my writing/publishing. I actually went to New York City to read with a group of writers I’d met via social media. I really didn’t know any of them and interestingly, some of them thought I was British because of my name—Niles Reddick. When I got on stage to read and this deep Southern accent came out, they were stunned. I thought it was hilarious.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

Website: http://nilesreddick.com/

Twitter: @niles_reddick

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/niles.reddick.9

Instagram: nilesreddick@memphisedu

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niles-reddick-0759b09b/


Interview with Author and Poet Bogdan Dragos


Bogdan Dragos photo

Biography:

I was born in 1992 in Romania and had a happy childhood until I went to school. I never had an answer to the question “What would you like to become when you grow up?” and still don’t. But I was lucky enough, after college, to land a job as a dispatcher at a gambling company. There, I spend 12 hours alone in the office (day and night shifts) supervising casinos through CCTV cameras. I like to think I learned a lot about humanity from this. But I also learned a lot about myself. It’s also where I started writing.biog

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
That’ll be the publication of my poetry chapbook, “Pour The Whiskey Over My Heart And Set It On Fire”. In August 2020 I found myself with quite a bunch of poems and no audience, so I started submitting a few of them to random magazines and publications. I went into this with no expectations whatsoever, so you can imagine how grand my surprise was when the editor-in-chief of one of them asked me to put together a few poems and have them compiled into a chapbook.

Why do you write?
Because my computer is not strong enough to play videogames. The gods might not have blessed me with mad writing skills, but they sure did bless me with immunity to boredom, and I’m very grateful for that. I can spend time with myself and not go crazy.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)
I try to stay away from rituals. It’s best to just sit down and do it. Writing is the one activity you can perform with the simplest of tools. A painter needs the right brushes and colors, and a sculptor needs the finest materials, a musician needs a studio and equipment, but a writer only needs solitude. I find that at work, in the office, and sure, maybe a drop or two of smuggled vodka helps some, but I try not to rely on it. Also, when it comes to poems, I never revise them. They’re the first and final draft. I’m not saying that’s a good idea, I’m just saying that I personally don’t like revisions, it feels too much like work and too little like play.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?
No. I can’t bother my few friends and relatives who understand English with that. Many of them don’t even know that I write. It’s not a secret, but neither do I like to boast it.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?
Well, the result of starting to write at home as well brought about a few works of prose. I’ve an epic fantasy project of about 700.000 words. Maybe it’s time to divide it in books and look for an agent or something.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?
Hmm… Nope, not really.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
A. Since I went into this craft for fun, I never had great expectations, but maybe if I could publish my epic fantasy… well, yeah, that’ll be cool, I guess.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?
It’s simple. Bad reviews are infinity times better than no reviews. I’ll accept everything as long as it’s more than nothing.

What advice do you have for novice writers?
None. But I’ll be happy to hear theirs anytime. Thanks.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?
A troubled mind. Not necessarily theirs.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)
A. Well, there’s my website, https://bogdandragos.com/
and linked to my website is also my twitter: https: //twitter.com/1_dr_bogdan (not much here, only posts that appear on my blog).
Hello Poetry: https://hellopoetry.com/B_R_Dragos/
Poemist: https://www.poemist.com/bogdan-dragos

Interview with Author Tom Garback

Tom Garback
Tom Garback, author

Biography

I was born the winter of 2000 in Philadelphia to a mother, father, and sister. We enjoyed, for the most part, that middle-class, Irish Catholic, suburban lifestyle. Two dogs and a cat passed through our house. I gave up all the many sports I played in Catholic school when I transferred in 4th grade to public, where I warmed up to my love of reading and writing. School came easily to me, and all through my K-12, I enjoyed Scouting, especially the passive outdoors and aggressive service sides of it. I went to Boston for my undergraduate education, from which I’m currently taking a break for personal and pandemic reasons.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I’ve written poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short films, a less short memoir, a YA Fantasy novel, a three-act play, and outlines for every other kind of book out there. But my list of publications is mild, even for the beginning of a writing career. So it meant a lot to hear catapult wanted a short story of mine (slated for February of this year). This feels like the first Big News of its kind, and I hope it’s the First of Many, too.

Why do you write?

For far more interesting reasons than why I breathe, though they’re admittedly some of the few things I can’t put into words.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

If I don’t write by early afternoon, I likely won’t for the rest of the day. My writing place is wherever I live at the moment, be it a dorm or a bedroom in my parents’ home. I can’t write in public, or to put it more honestly, I’ve never tried. I am not superstitious, so I have no tricks or habits, though I wonder if I ought to. My process is messy and scrambled as hell from start to finish, from outlines written one line at a time months apart in variously themed folders on my Reminders app (I once had my Notes app delete hundreds of notes and have since been too scarred to ever use that app again), lines that have no idea who’ll they’ll soon be paired with in a working storyline. First drafts are torturous, and I’m suspicious when they’re not. My revisions fold over one another without sequence, and I’m never quite sure when its time to polish a draft or reconstruct it altogether, though I rarely do the latter because of how meticulous (obsessive, paranoid) my outlines are.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

There’s one of my weakest points as writer, actually. I don’t have a list of beta readers. I’ve always imagined a page of acknowledgements that wryly thanks myself and the publisher alone. Truth is, I am more solitary than is useful when it comes to craft. But I’m still young, and it’s best to know what’s got to change if you’re going to change inevitably.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I am finishing up a second draft of a short story about a murderous traveling sex doll. It’s not as trashy as it sounds, but it’s twice as fucked up. In the next few weeks, I hope to finally (finally) start finalizing an outline for a horror novel about the Catholic parish that raised me.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I want there to be as many readers who hate my work as those who love it.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

They’re as helpful as you make them. Most of the time it depends on the mood you’re in when you read them.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I’d say I’m a novice, too, so my advice is to stay humble.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Despite what I’ve said about my life, other people. No one gets published alone. Like it or not, everything is networking. Books are a business. Ink is money. The resources inside our heads must include creativity and passion as much as professionalism and realism. Now, I never said I’m good at any of this. It’s just that as a Publishing student, I can say there’s a lot of truth to this stuff. But nothing is ever the whole truth, so you’d do well to compensate by making your own.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

You can browse some of my work on my website, which is under construction for the winter, at https://tcgarback.wixsite.com/website/writing