Nine Questions with… Aaron Marcusson

Today my guest is Aaron Marcusson. Aaron, why don’t you introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you. 

I’m Aaron Marcusson and I’m the author of the Chronicles of the Twelve series.  So far I have written and epublished Vampire Redemption and its sequel, Vampire Rebellion.  I am working on the third and final book in the series.  I am also working on a steampunk project, various zombie novels, and a few other horror/supernatural stories.  I have a Master’s Degree from the University of Nebraska in exercise science education, and I’ve written a few articles for peer-reviewed journals as well as articles for exercise magazines and a motorcycle rag.  I was raised in the American Midwest but now live in Dallas, Texas with my wife, Melissa, and our several dogs and cats.

Geez, you sound busy! How do you fit it all in? Do you have a specific writing process?

My writing process consists of three phases.  The first one often occurs in the shower or when I am asleep.  Hopefully I didn’t lose any of your readers with that sentence.  Let me clarify:  Snippets of dialogue or characterizations come to me while I’m in the shower.  I know it seems kind of odd; some people sing in the shower, I formulate story particulars.  I also wake up from dreams (most people would call them “nightmares”) with some wicked story starts.  The second phase is actually jotting down my ideas…which is not easy when you have shampoo in your hair or you have just willed yourself to wake up before the monsters reach you.  I wonder just how many great books have evaporated in the time it takes me to rinse my hair or wake up enough to manipulate a pencil.  The third part to my writing process is to just sit and do it.  I can’t force it, but I do my best to at least attempt to get something typed out every day.  Once I get into the groove, the words just come.  Character idiosyncracies and narrative details develop along the way; it is very organic and the way I’ve always done it.

Moving right along from all the shower talk (this is a PG blog, you know *winks*)… Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I would love to write and illustrate children’s books, but I just don’t have any ideas that would work, at least not yet.  I’ve heard it’s the most difficult genre to break into, but we’ll see what happens if I ever get a solid idea.

That’s an interesting desire. As a much younger version of myself, I can remember reading books of different genres and now that I’m older, I’ve often wondered who thought up some of the stuff I read as a child. That actually brings us to my next question – what are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice – I read this book in high school over a two-day period, so I guess “devoured” would be a better verb choice.  It was the first vampire fiction I can remember reading that didn’t scare me (I’m looking at you, Salem’s Lot) but intrigued me.  I guess it was my first exposure to sensual vampires.

Shogun, James Clavell – Another book I read in high school.  I loved every minute of it.  Violence, sex, honor, love all set amid a feudal Japan backdrop – what’s not to love with all of that going on?  Plus, I got a grade for reading it and doing a book report over it!  Win-win!

Twilight, Stephanie Meyer – I know, I know…seriously, though, everyone bags on this series NOW, but they sure didn’t seem so vocal back when these books debuted.  I am not all about the emo “vampires” or the now way overplayed vampire vs. werewolf angle, but I did enjoy the books when they came out.  I actually read all four of them before my wife even picked one up.  She assumed they were hardcore vamp books, and she’s not a fan of horror per se, so she didn’t read any of them until the first movie premiered.  I’ll never forget going to the first movie – I was the only male there – and one of the Twicougar moms walked up to me and said, “So you got dragged here against your will, huh?”  I replied, “Actually, I’ve read all four of the books…my wife is about halfway through the first.”  I think that lady’s husband fell a few notches in the “sensitive male” department.  Either that or he looked a lot more manly comparatively.  Anyway, Twilight made me realize people will pay lots of money for anything “vampire” related.  Meyer’s “vampires” aren’t the classic version; my vampires are much more so, but still change things up enough to be fresh and bring something new to the table.

Beowulf, Author unknown – I was amazed at Beowulf the first time I read it in, you guessed it, high school.  It was like a comic book for the 8th Century – so much heroism, blood, and courage!  The characters were larger than life, and that is one of the reasons I like writing about the supernatural: I can make my characters as heroic or evil, powerful or vulnerable as I want and no one can stop me from doing so!  I still read it yearly.

Mythology, Edith Hamilton – I received this unassuming little paperback in a box of books from a friend when I was really young (I was an avid reader even back then.  My mother taught English her entire professional career, so guess where I inherited my love of language and the written word…) and I spent HOURS reading and rereading this thing.  It focuses primarily on Greek mythology, but again, heroes, heroines, gods, and goddesses really got my mind going.  I have been a student of mythology since then, and have branched out and am currently researching Norse and Celtic mythology (as that is my cultural heritage) and some Japanese (I don’t care what scary stories you have read, Asian ghosts are BY FAR the most twisted!).

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I would love to see my Chronicles series on the big screen!  They play out like movies in my head, so that’s how I write them.  As far as casting goes, I would want Chris Hemsworth as Blauge.  That’s the easy one.  As for Smith, I think Jeff Bridges or an “aged” Jason Statham would do a great job.  Doctor Natalie Jones is a bit more difficult.  I keep seeing Lady Gaga, Bitchin’ Kitchen’s Nadia G, or perhaps Candice Accola filling the bill.  Nat is a petite, hot blonde genius and I think it would be fun to see any of the three women I listed portraying her.  Akim is the real trick.  I’ve given it so much thought but still don’t know exactly who I would want to see as him.  Perhaps Alexander Skarsgaard, though he would have to be much more reserved than the way he plays Eric Northman.  In reality, I think it would have to be an unknown actor – handsome, muscly, and perfect in every way.  I suppose I have time to think more about it…Hollywood isn’t beating down my door wanting movie rights…yet. *wink*

Not yet anyways, Aaron. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Probably spit coffee all over my laptop.  Beyond that, I have no idea, but I would like to find out!

Ahh, so you mentioned the dreaded coffee – elixir of the prolific writer… Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I do.  Music is something I turn to in a big way, and what I listen to really depends on what I am writing.  If I am working on my Chronicles of the Twelve series, I listen to a lot of Japanese metal (Dir en Grey or Girugamesh, mainly) as well as Lordi, DethKlok, and Shaolin Death Squad.  It just goes with the mindset I have when I am “talking to” Akim and Blauge.  Two of my newest intellectual properties have me listening to a ton of Amon Amarth and Corvus Corax.  Music really helps to set the tone of the locations and time periods I am writing about at that moment.  Coffee also helps a great deal with keeping my fingers moving as fast as my mind.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

This summer I really got into leathercrafting.  I make gun holsters, belts, purses, bracers, bookmarks, and some other stuff now and I can’t aptly describe how much I enjoy doing it.  I also make jewelry, including chainmaille; I love working with my hands.  Beyond that, I happily spend time renovating our house, antiquing with my wife, going to the local gun range, and playing videogames on my PS3.

I’ve seen pictures of some of the artisan pieces you’ve created – very nice work! Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

I can’t share the beginning of the final book in the Chronicles of the Twelve as it would give too many things away, but I can give you a sneak peek of something I am working on.  This is the first time anyone but myself has seen this (not even Melissa has read this so it’s kind of a big deal!), and I will give you the first two paragraphs as nine lines doesn’t break it in a great spot.  Here goes:

The sun broke over the horizon that frigid morning, promising to bring unseasonable warmth, though the promise seemed incredibly weak at the moment.  The first wan rays revealed the two armies lining up across the valley from each other.  The army on the south consisted of nearly five hundred men, many of them close to seven feet tall and more than half of them clothed in bearskins, making them look even more menacing.  Their bright steel swords glinted, throwing flashing shards of light across the valley at their opponents.  These swords they beat against their shields as they prepared to rush the field.  The random thumps started to fall into a slow cadence that built in tempo.  Once it reached a frenzied pitch, the burly Vikings would storm the field to meet their opponents in glorious battle.

Their opponents were Vikings as well, though their appearance was quite different.  They were strapping men, as thickly-muscled as the men on the southern side, but these men did not wear bearskins and none was over six feet tall.  Their swords and shields looked much the same as those of the bear clan, but they did not beat them together.  Instead, a third of the warriors lay them on the frosty grass and began to disrobe.  Their numbers were the greatest difference; there were less than fifty men on the north side of the valley.

Well Aaron, that certainly sounds intriguing! Keep me posted on how it pans out for you!

If you’re interested in Aaron’s Chronicle of the Twelve novels, here’s some information about them. FYI – clicking on the cover of either book will take you to its Amazon page.

When a vampire who has lived five thousand years decides to take revenge against one of his own kind, the powers involved and the repercussions felt are on a Biblical scale.

Vampire Redemption is the story of a vampire known only as “Brother” who loses the one thing that matters most in his long life: Complete, unadulterated freedom. The son of a fallen angel father and a human mother, our protagonist has embraced his vampiric nature for fifty centuries, moving behind the tapestry of time, weaving history as we know it, as have his eleven brothers.

Now, with his human wife murdered by one of his own and a paramilitary group closing in on him, he is feeling something new for the first time in millennia: Fear. Doubt. Regret. Who can he trust? Who can he turn to? Will he fight to the bitter end, all the while struggling internally with what he is and what he can be, or will he make the most important decision of his long life and be redeemed?

Vampire Redemption is the first book in The Chronicles of the Twelve series. It presents an alternate history for human events and challenges the common vampire mythos. The sequel, Vampire Rebellion, is on track for a 2010 release. 

Be warned: These aren’t your little sister’s vampires.


The boys are back in town!

Vampire Rebellion is the pulse-pounding sequel to Vampire Redemption and finds Akim questioning his place in the world. A five-thousand-year-old vampire has a tendency to get set in his ways; when everything in his life changes, he has to rethink his very existence. He’s not the only one; his vampiric brothers are having to do some soul-searching of their own. One of the twelve brothers has been murdered by one of their own, a feat none of them ever considered possible. The murderer must be dealt with, but if he truly has become more powerful than any of his brothers, what action can be taken against him? And what about Smith, the human mercenary with a deep-seated grudge and Doctor Natalie Jones, the human who took pity on Akim in Russia? The real vampires are back and better than ever in the second book in the Chronicles of the Twelve Trilogy!

Thank you to Aaron for stopping by and giving us a glimpse into his world of Vampires, Vikings, and plotting sessions in the shower. Check back with me next Wednesday when I’ll be joined by Matthew Wood!

Nine Questions With… Querus Abuttu

For the inaugural post of Nine Questions With… I’m joined by author Querus Abuttu.

Querus, let’s introduce you to the captive audience that we have before us. 

Querus Abuttu, “Q,” is a MFA student in the “Writing Popular Fiction” program at Seton Hill University. She enjoys writing horror, bizarre tales and dark science fiction and loves reading more of the same. Her work has been published in the online magazine, “69 Flavors of Paranoia,” and is the first short story in an anthology titled, “Hazard Yet Forward.” She has worked as a Certified Nurse Midwife and Forensic Nurse for the Indian Health Services and United States Navy for over twenty years. Querus lives in Ventura, California with her most understanding husband Jim, two resilient teenagers (Kira and Sean), her dog Paris and three cats (Nyha, Maddie and Chi). When she’s not writing; she’s surfing the wild Pacific waves or dabbling in a little local ghost hunting which has yet to result in locating real ghosts. Despite her failure at tracking the paranormal, she still hopes to capture the phantoms one day and make their stories her own.

Querus dedicates the story of her writing career to her unofficial mentor and horror writer/professor, Scott Johnson, and to her official mentors Tim Waggoner and Timmons Esaias. Her critique partners Gina Greenway, Stephanie Wytovich and Joe Borrelli have provided amazing and valuable points of view on her work, and the Ventura Fiction Writers Group (Broos, Mark and Wendy) constantly keep her honest in her work. An additional shout out goes to horror writer, Larry Connolly, who encouraged her to submit her stories and helped her cultivate a necessary faith in her art. And to Q’s family, who put up with endless hours of her typing on the computer and who listen to her stories as she reads them out loud over and over again . . . she is eternally grateful for each of you and loves you more than you will ever know.

Now that we have that out of the way, how would you describe your writing process?

I wander around city and country until I find an idea, I write it down and I expand on it. From there I do a basic outline. I’ve recently discovered the 9-Box-Plot method, which is sheer genius, and I use it as a set up for all of my stories (short and long).

The 9-Box-Plot method? I sense a Google search in my near future! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

No. I already write a variety of genres (Sci-fi, fantasy, horror and non-fiction). I don’t feel like I have to “break into it.” I just write for the love of writing and if someone likes a piece I send in then it’s a bonus!

Writing in numerous genres is great way to do what you love, I cannot agree with you more. Let’s delve into your reading habits for a moment and ask: what are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Ender’s Game (The entire series really). Orson Scott Card was a mastermind when he wrote this series of novels. Ender’s game incorporates the hero’s journey in a very different way. It’s from the perspective of a young boy (and later a man) as he grows up and makes horrendous mistakes and tries very hard to live with them. Ender’s game is a book I can read over and over again and never tire of the beautiful way it’s put together. It’s strategic, heartbreaking and cold…all at the same time!

The Alchemaster’s Apprentice is a wonderful tale told by the German writer Walter Moers. I fell in love with Moers’ method of allowing me to see through the eyes of a wonderful cat named, “Echo.” Moers does a fantastic job with creating a genius world filled with amazing creatures and his imagination is boundless! He can tell an extremely brilliant story and I’m amazed he doesn’t have a greater following in the U.S.

I’m a Dan Brown fan, and while some people feel the author is not worth his weight in gold, what I admire most about the man is his tenacious research abilities and his knack for incorporating facts into a fiction story that make the reader feels as if they’ve learned several juicy tidbits of knowledge while they are living inside an exciting thriller. The program titled, “I write like…” which analyzes an author’s writing, told me that I write like Dan Brown. Since I love his fast paced writing style which is filled with ancient knowledge and artefacts, I can’t say I’m disappointed to be compared to such a popular author.

Great choices! I have tried that program with two different samples of my writing (different genres) and ended up with Dan Brown and H.P. Lovecraft. Let’s just say I was humbled! Changing gears for a moment, if you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I would choose Johnny Depp to play “Dr Stench” in my one of my novels in progress, “The Flatulent Adventures of Dr Stench and the DC Underground.” Tim Burton would actually play “Hairball.” Matt Damon would be Nano the mouse and Angelina Jolie would be a mischievous batfish named “Siren.”

First off, I love the name of your WIP! And that’s certainly a great cast! Just from my own observations, it seems that most books that get made into movies are from bestselling book lists. What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would roll over and go back to sleep. My dreams are where I get the BEST ideas, and if I’m on the NY Times Bestsellers List, then I figure that’s probably the last time I’m going to get a lot of sleep all at once. I’ll take advantage!

Ahhh, sleep. That gentle mistress. I dare say, it’s one of my vices… Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

My favourite cigars (Man-o-War Ruination) and a good Scotch (McClelland comes to mind).

So, what do you do when you’re not writing?

I work as a Midwife/Nurse Practitioner for the U.S. Navy, and so most of my time is spent seeing patients during the work-week. When I have some off time, I go to the movies with my family, go surfing or engage in a Pilates class. I belong to a writer’s group in Ventura and I meet with them most Sunday mornings. But, truth be told, most of the time, when I’m not writing…I’m wishing that I was writing. And it’s as plain as that.

Now it’s onto the nitty-gritty! Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

From the novel titled “Sapien Farm.”

December 24th, 23:59

“Look here. I’ve modified the germline cells, and the oocytes are ready.”

“And the phenotype?” Miriam put on a pair of gloves.

“Difficult to say with absolute certainty, but it’s a useful blend of what was ordered. The organs will be interchangeable, and the entire species should grow rapidly. One thing I can’t guarantee is . . .” Ben moved away from the microscope and let his senior scientist have a look.


“How intelligent they’ll be. The Cullers wanted options.”

The room was silent for a moment, except for the whirring of a nearby centrifuge.

“And the host is ready?” Miriam lifted her face from the microscope, and peeled off her gloves.

Love that title! Love the excerpt – “The Cullers wanted options.” Such a fantastic line!! If you wish to read more of Q’s work, take a look at her story in Hazard Yet Forward of which a reviewer on Amazon says “Hazard Yet Forward is an incredible compilation and I’ve just begun reading it. The introduction from Mike Arnzen is heartfelt and wonderful and the first story by Querus Abuttu is chilling in its physical sense of place and subject matter.

Seventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program have created a multi-genre charity anthology entitled Hazard Yet Forward. All proceeds from this project will benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program. Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Genres represented in the book range from horror to romance to mystery – and everything in between. Some of the notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominees Lawrence C. Connolly and John Edward Lawson, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur award winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Reader’s Award winner Timons Esaias, Rhysling Award nominee K. Ceres Wright, and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner, Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.

It’s available on Amazon.

You can also read about Q’s WIP – The Flatulent Adventures of Dr. Stench and the DC Underground on her website:

Check back with me Next Wednesday when Aaron Marcusson stops by for a visit.

Coming Soon!!

Well you’ve heard it here first! I will be launching an interview series with authors in a multitude of genres! If you’re an author and you’re interested in being featured – send me an email at JulianneMSnow(at)gmail(dot)com. I’m looking forward to this!!

And just a few funny things to leave you with… from Doug Savage of Savage Chickens!

And The Winner Is…

Okay, so there were only two entries for the AiZ: Alice in Zombieland contest to win a free digital copy, but I still input them into the random name picker that I found on the internet. Here’s the great news!!

The winner is…

fuonlyknew (otherwise known as Laura Thomas!)

All you need to do Laura is email me at CdnZmbiRytr(at)hotmail(dot)com and I will give you all of the details!