Friday, July 23, 2021

Interview With Author Ceara Comeau

 Hello again- today's treat is a chat with up-and-coming author Ceara Comeau. 


Let's find out more about her and her work, including The King's Redemption.


Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin. 

A. This is the second book of a trilogy I have been writing. When I wrote the first book, I had every intention of keeping it a single book, but when I realized I left it on a cliffhanger…well, I couldn’t leave it like that. I knew there was more to the characters that I was writing.


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting? 

A. Book 2 of the trilogy was mapped out rather thoroughly, although there were some areas where I wanted to see where the characters would take me. 


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?  Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book? 

A. “The King’s Redemption” is just that—redemption. This theme is carried throughout the book in both the first and second half as there’s more than one character looking to be redeemed. There’s also a sense of unity in this book, especially the first half. I wanted the reader to take away from this book the idea that not only do opposites attract, but sometimes we need to work with people in our lives who are very different from us.


Q. What makes a good book or engaging story? 

A book that makes you want to know more about the world it’s describing. As a reader, I get really into the books I pick up to the point that I want to know every detail—even the mundane. I think these minute details are what makes the story come alive.


Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A. I’d like to compare my writing to that of J.K. Rowling, Orson Scott Card…a mixture of the two. But in recent years I’ve heard readers compare my writing to that of Robert Jordan’s, “Wheel of Time” series. 

Right off the bat, I have two very wonderful influences in my life. The first being my best friend from college, Stephanie. She is another writer who not only encourages me with everything I write, but she taught me new techniques. Any time I’m in a writing rut, I always go to her first. The second influence would be my cover designer, Matt Crafton. I met him at a Comic Con where he was displaying his artwork right next to me. I immediately knew we’d be not only friends, but great art partners. He takes his work to a whole new level and makes sure that every detail is perfect. I’m at that point in our partnership where I give him a vague idea and he knows EXACTLY what to do. Watching him make the covers on streaming really amps up my creative side.


Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story? 

A. My main goal with story telling is to get people out of the chaos of the world around them. Even if it’s for an hour or two (depending on how long it takes for them to read my books), I want them to experience a universe of magic that they’ve never encountered before.


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally? 

A. I’d like to try and get into screenplay writing. That’s something I’ve been working on with a film friend of mine. Recently, I’ve been taking my old stories and fleshing them out into screenplays. As of this interview, we are on the second draft of edits. I’m hoping the stories will turn into a series that leads up to my first sci-fi/fantasy book, “Memories of Chronosalis”.


Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it? 

A. I revise probably more than I write the actual book. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my writing to the point that I probably annoy my beta readers. In the back of my mind, when I send it off to be printed. I have to divorce myself from the mentality that, “Oh, but I could have re-written this!” This phrase is something that both my husband and beta readers are VERY familiar with. At the end of the day, I am fairly happy with the book when it’s finished, but I as a perfectionist, I always know I can do better and strive for that in the next book.


Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels? 

A. I go through a group of beta readers before I send anything to my editor. They look for plot holes, character issues, and some of the big technical things that I overlook. Usually this can take up to a month (maybe more) of revisions. Then, I send it to my editor who will give me another set of fixes, but she explains her reasonings very well and I keep her suggestions on a list so I know for future books.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help? 

A. I’d say that although it’s important to always be writing, don’t forget to give yourself a break. If you burn yourself out, it’s VERY difficult to get back into the groove of writing. Make sure to balance your writing life out with another hobby. It could be similar to writing or it could have nothing to do with it. But make sure you find a way to return to the writing world. It’s all about a “happy balance.”


Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling? 

A. I can see my books definitely being turned into a film at some point in the future. Writing screenplays of my older stories, I’ve seen that there are some things that can be put into film and other things that can’t. I think it does alter the story, but I feel that if I were to write my own screenplays for these films, that I’d have a say in how much it is altered.




Friday, July 16, 2021

Lowell Art Market

After a long drought, we finally had a live bookselling event! 

We were at the Lowell Art Market on Saturday the 17th, along with fellow SIPA members Sara Marks, Laura Fedolfi, and Kameryn James. That's the Society for Independent Publishers and Authors, and we're happy to be live again, and able to meet the public. 



Great day- the rain held off, and we had a steady stream of book buyers- so great to meet and make new fans! Sales were brisk, and we had a great time. 

We set up at Gage Park in Lowell, in the Robinson School Parking Lot. There was lots of other stuff to see and do, with over 40 vendors!

Hope to do more of these in the future! 






Sunday, June 27, 2021

Featured in a National Magazine

Now I'm getting some wider appeal. I'm featured in the Killer Nashville Magazine, a mystery publication put out by the folks of the Killer Nashville mystery conference. They've revived this pub, and I'll be having an article in there every two weeks. 


My article is The Changed World of Publishing, and it talks about how publishing has changed for all writers, and how one can take advantage of the freedom offered now. 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Our big night at the Literary Crawl of the Boston Book Festival

We had the most terrific night at the Literary Crawl of the Boston Book Festival.

I was there with fellow writers from the Sisters in Crime. It was my first live book event in a year and a half, held in the lovely Starlight Square in Cambridge. 

Perfect weather brought a big crowd to hear six of us put together a mystery from audience suggestions.

The audience was into it, and we had a lot of fun for everyone crafting a mystery story on the spot. 

Here's some of those attending: L to R are Clea Simon, Sarah Smith, Kate Flora, Leslie Wheeler, and myself. Not in the shot is fellow panelist Carolyn Wilkins


Here are the ladies with the booksellers at the event from All She Wrote Books


And the booksellers set things up to sell books for us. Great getting new fans!







Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Latest Novel Out

 Got the latest novel out in ebook form, with print and audio to follow. 

This one's a change of pace.

Welcome to Resurrection, a former mining company town with too many dark secrets, where science and religion form a shady alliance. Sixteen-year-old Judy Winstead is forced to move there with her recently widowed mother, but finds few allies among the tight-lipped townsfolk. People who stand out or speak out endanger themselves, while dreadful experiments and worse take place in the caverns and tunnels beneath the town. 


You can get it here for now.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Interview With Author Tom Deady

 Today we've got another treat, an interview with author Tom Deady

Tom was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has endured a career as an IT professional. He has a Masters Degree in English and Creative Writing from SNHU, and is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers. His first novel, HAVEN, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He has a number of other titles, including his new one, Of Men and Monsters--


Let's find out more...

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Like many kids growing up in the seventies, I read a lot of comic books. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I leaned toward stuff like Unexpected and Tales from the Crypt. But what fascinated me as much as the stories and the artwork were those ads in the back. Charles Atlas (yes, I was the kid that got sand kicked in his face), X-Ray Glasses, and, of course, Sea Monkeys. I always wondered, what if they just kept growing?


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I very rarely outline. I start, as you said, with the germ of an idea, and let it grow. Sometimes that’s a single scene or even just a character. Of Men and Monsters started out being just a fun “creature feature” story. Kind of a throwback to something you might have found in an old comic book. Then, as often happens with my writing, the characters took over and told a very different story.


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. There is a very strong coming-of-age vibe in the story, and of course the creature plays a role. In the end, I guess the theme is that humans are the real monsters. 

 
Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I think it’s important for people to see they aren’t alone in their struggle. Domestic abuse is a real problem, and its victims are harmed emotionally and psychologically in addition to the physical abuse. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a kid to go through this, wondering why they’re going through it, thinking they did something wrong. Maybe someone reading this will be helped, even in some small way.

 
Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. For me, it’s all about the characters and creating empathy. If I don’t care about the fate of a character, the best plot in the world isn’t going to keep me reading. That goes for both the good guys and the bad guys. Sometimes, it’s just as much fun to root against the villain as it is to root for the protagonist. What I really like is the gray area in a character’s make-up. The hero who’s done bad things to survive or the serial killer who donates all his money to an orphanage. It’s the complexity of these characters that really intrigues me.


Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A, The coming-of-age theme is prevalent in horror. The “big three” in that category, for me, are:
It by Stephen King
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons


Q. Each of these classics has had a major influence on my writing. There’s something about the magic of childhood and the importance of friendships that draws me to read these stories and to want to write them. Like King said in “The Body”: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?“

A. Regarding the “people are the real monsters” I don’t think you have to look very hard to prove that one, just watch the news. But it’s also been examined quite a bit in the horror genre. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a great example. The cruelty exhibited by the townspeople is what ultimately drives the story to its sad conclusion. Revisiting It, Bev’s father, Eddie’s mother, Bill’s parents, and numerous other adult characters represent evil in a different form than Pennywise, but evil nonetheless. I hope I’ve captured some of that in Of Men and Monsters.


Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions?

A. I hate to answer any question like this, but it can be both. There are stories that retell or modernize fables that include a “moral of the story” or a lesson to be learned. There are cautionary tales and stories with strong themes that really make the reader think. But, as Stephen King said in 11/22/63, “Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story.”
 

Q. Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. It really depends on the story. I always start out just trying to tell a good story. Sometimes, certain themes come into play based on a character’s behavior and I decide to use that, to focus on it throughout the story. In Haven, for example, the concept of redemption was evident with Paul Greymore from the start. As the story progressed, I was able to weave that theme into the arc of other characters. Usually, when I write short stories I tend to focus mainly on plot and the recurring themes or morals don’t develop within that word count restraint.


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
 
A. I feel like I started this journey so late in life that I have a lot to catch up on. I have no shortage of story ideas, and plenty of goals to achieve. I think every writer would like to see their work made into a film or television series, that’s a reach goal of mine. Winning the Bram Stoker Award for Haven was such a surreal and overwhelming experience, I’d love to be in the running again. Mostly, I just want to keep writing, and help other writers or aspiring writers in any way I can. I had a small writers retreat organized in 2020 but the pandemic put an end to that. I plan to revisit that as (hopefully) an annual event that people look forward to. I don’t know, I have a lot of things I want to accomplish!


Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

A. I wouldn’t say I write fast, but I don’t do a lot of rewrites. I like to get the story out of my head for the first draft as quickly as I can. I’m constantly taking notes throughout the process, and when I do the second draft, that’s when I layer in any recurring themes or add foreshadowing. The second draft is also where I try to create a specific atmosphere for each scene. I bring the five senses into play, add description to the setting or characters, and tailor dialogue to match the mood I’m trying to create. Then I do one more read and fix anything I find wrong. After that, it’s off to the editors for a red ink bath!
 

Q. When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. Most of the time, I’m very happy with it. I’m always excited to be “done” with a story and eager to hear how it’s received once it’s out in the wild. There was only one instance where I was getting tired of a story because I’d done so many rewrites. But, it was all worth it – the story was better for all the extra work. Editors know their stuff!


Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. I have a couple of go-to editors I use regularly, Ben Eads and Linda Nagle. In addition to the fundamental tasks of grammar, word use, and punctuation, Ben and Linda challenge me to dig deeper into a plot or take bigger chances with my characters. I can honestly say that there are very few changes they suggest that I don’t accept. Both really know their stuff and are exceptional to work with.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I had a lot of help when I was starting out. The horror community is an amazing group of like-minded people who will do anything they can to help an aspiring writer. I’d like to do that as well. As far as advice goes, I think the worst advice for a new writer is the old “write every day” saw. It’s an intimidating and overwhelming concept for someone who is probably working a full-time job and raising a family. I like to modify it to say write as much as you can. Set a reasonable word-count goal and try to achieve it. It’s amazing how quickly those words pile up!
 

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. Many of my books are available in audio form. I think it’s a great medium, especially for folks who have long commutes. My dream is to have a film or television adaptation done. I think Haven would make a great one-season series on Netflix or Shudder. Of Men and Monsters, on the other hand, would be a great episode of Creepshow. A guy can dream, right?


Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I have my first YA horror novel coming out this summer. The Clearing will be published by Vesuvian Media Group on August 10th. I’m really excited about this one and I’m already working on book two in the series. Next up is the sequel to Eternal Darkness. I ended that book on a pretty big cliffhanger and there are a few fans that may show up with torches and pitchforks if I don’t get the sequel out. I’m hoping to get that one published by the end of the year, early 2022 at the latest. I’ve also got a ghost story novel and a zombie-type novel almost ready to go, and a creature feature novel underway. I just need more hours in the day!


Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I was an extra on the first season of Hulu’s Castle Rock. I was a proud member of the Castle Rock Sheriff’s Dept. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scenes where you can actually tell it’s me. Oh, and the rules during filming were pretty strict (they made us give up our phones) so I don’t even have a picture of myself in uniform. You’ll just have to take my word for it.


Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. I’d just like to thank everyone who’s supported me over the years. Far too many people to name and I’d surely forget a few. As I mentioned, the horror community is amazing and I’m thrilled to be a part of the family. Also, thank you, Dale, for giving me the chance to ramble on about myself and my work.

---

Web page: My web site is https://www.tomdeady.com/ where you can purchase signed copies of my books and sign up for my newsletter.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Interview with Author Vin Zandri

Today we have a treat, a chat with author Vin Zandri

Vincent Zandri  is the  New York Times  and  USA Today  best-selling author of more than forty novels and novellas. His books have won the ITW Thriller Award, the Shamus Award, have been nominated for the Derringer Award, and have been translated into many languages. A freelance photojournalist, he is also the creator of The Vincent Zandri Vox. He lives in New York.

He's got a new book out: Paradox Lake, available where all good books are sold.


Let's find out more:

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A, Paradox Lake started out as one of those writing in the dark experiments, a la Dean Wesley Smith and perhaps even yourself. I used my ex-wife and my daughter as the protagonists. I make a sort of cameo appearance as one of the characters. I also use one of my best college friends as the bad guy, something I often do. Thank God those guys are especially good-natured people. I guess I wondered what it would be like for a mother, who is an art teacher at a local college, to take a fall semester sabbatical and to head up to the mountains, and in particular to a cabin on Paradox Lake. Her daughter would come along and be home schooled, even though the daughter naturally hates the idea of leaving her friends for a few months. But the mother really wants to bond with the daughter, since her oldest daughter and husband have both died. I took it step further and wondered what would happen is the mother ends up falling in love with a general store owner up in the town of Paradox and all does not go quite right. That's about as far as I go explaining. Don't want to give too much away. In any case, I found that the novel sort of wrote itself. Oceanview Publishing picked up right away in a "nice" deal.  


Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. No. Like I said, it was sort of writing in the dark, with just the characters kind of floating around in my mind. I never map things out anymore after writing 50 novels, publishing 40 of them, plus novellas and short stories. I always imagine what would logically happen next and that's what I write, and like the great Hemingway once said, I always know where the story is going the next morning before I finish up for the day. That way you don't get stuck. 


Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. One woman and her daughter against the world (this one, like my novel The Remains, is told from the POV of a woman, which I seem to do fairly often). Or if you want a tag line, "Stay away from the Paradox Lake!" 

 

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book? And what makes a good book or engaging story?

A. I think most of my books are a sort of anthropological study in one man or woman up against the most dreadful situations imaginable. How do they manage to get out of it, and stay alive? It's also a study in fear and dealing with that fear. Do they panic and lose it? Or do they suck it up and fight back? I think deep down inside we all wrestle with fear to a degree, and I think that might answer why my standalone psychological thrillers like The Remains, Everything Burns, The Girl Who Wasn't There, and others have sold hundreds of thousands of copies altogether. I'd like to think the plots and the stories resonates with readers. Also, I write short, pithy chapters that keeps the reading going all night. If I can get them to stay up an extra hour, telling themselves, "Just one more chapter...just one more...just one more," than I've done my job. 

 

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I haven't read a lot of Stephen King but the little I have read has definitely had an impact on my more scary thrillers like Paradox Lake and The Ashes. Charlie Houston is another great hard-boiled writer who has influenced my more recent fiction, especially his Hank Thompson Trilogy which is just genius. he should have won some major awards for those books. I have to admit, there isn't a whole lot of writers who knock me out, but when I find them, I want to read all their work. I just read a spectacular novel by Jonathan Ashley called The Cost of Doing Business from Down & Out Books. I loved it so much I decided to read all his stuff. But it turns out he killed himself not long ago. I don't think he was 40 years old. I called the publisher at Down & Out to ask if it was true and he confirmed it. He has one more novel of Ashley's to publish posthumously. 

 

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. I don't think of writing in those terms. I can act all professorial about it and say something like, "Going back to the stone ages, telling stories around the campfire was a way to both entertain and teach..." but we've heard all that before. Oddly, enough, if I'm entertaining myself while writing a novel, I think of it as entertaining the reader. You can tell when an author is just mailing a bunch of shit in just to get a check. 

My goals are nothing more than to write for a living, no matter how humble at times, and to make my fans happy in the process. Is this my measure of success? Maybe. I've been broke as a writer and I've made hundreds of thousands as a writer, and during both periods, I never stopped my word count. Not for even a single moment. 

I recently read a great Bob Dylan quote in a terrific book by Dale T. Phillips, How to be a Successful Indie Writer. It goes something like, a success is someone who wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night having spent his day doing what he wants to do

Note:  (I swear, didn't pay him for that!  :-)  )


Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. More recently, and this might have something to do with the Pandemic and literally ten years worth of changes occurring in the publishing business with in 12 month period, I've decided to really fill up my indie list with more short stories, novelettes, and more indie novels. I'm presently working with about five publishers, from small to big, and I'm finding they are having more and more trouble on the marketing end of things. And advances are getting smaller and smaller. I've been a hybrid author for a long time, but I find myself leaning more and more towards indie. As for the personal side of things, for obvious reasons, I haven't traveled at all in more than a year. I'm used to spending three months overseas every year. So as soon as I am able, I'm hopping a flight and not coming back for a long, long time. I'm not married and my kids are grown, so nothing's stopping me.  

 

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. I do very little rewriting these days since I edit as I go. I make sure every chapter is right before I move on to the next one. It's a more efficient way of writing. For a novel I write a first draft, then make a paper copy, go through it with a red pen, make the corrections to the manuscript, read it over once more and then hand it in to my agent who, once upon a time suggested edits, but almost never does anymore. I also work with a really good editor for my indie books. She catches everything and more. She doesn't come cheap but she's worth it. 

 

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. Looks like I just answered this one. In a word, they see things and pick up on story omissions that I can't or would never see. You can't put a book out, be in indie or traditionally published, without the help of a good editor. I've also had editors fuck up some of my books. I won't name names but the editor for When Shadows Come, which was put out by Thomas & Mercer, could have done a better job. I'm tempted to ask for the rights back to that one and release the real version prior to their edits. But hey, it was still chosen by Suspense Magazine as one of the Best Thrillers of the Year 2016.


Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I think I'd tell them to write a lot. Write all the time, read a lot and watch movies and TV series. But only the stuff they like watching and reading. Then I'd suggest maybe trying to publish a book traditionally, but not give it too much time. Put a limit on it, say, like a year. If the book doesn't get picked up, find a really good editor, get it edited and put it out on your own label. 

 

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. My agent, Chip Macgregor, is constantly fielding calls from Hollywood producers including Sylvester Stallone, who reads my work. But I have yet to have a TV series and/or movie made. But the good Lord whispers in my ear at times, "Just be patient, buddy. All good things in time." 

 

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. Writing the next sentence, and the one after that, and the one after that. Then heading out for a beer and maybe a Jameson. 


Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I'm five feet seven inches tall and I tower over both Don Winslow and Scott Turrow. I also work out for two hours per day and in the summer, divide my day between writing and fly fishing. Now there's the life, my friend. 


Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. If you wish to become a successful author, avoid politics, religion, trends, and political correctness. Just be yourself and write what you love to read. Thanks for having me Dale.