Wicked Women Writers Challenge – Rebecca Snow

On September 7th the recordings and written versions of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge were released via the host HorrorAddicts.net. This year’s challenge to the ladies was “How Will You Survive?” and the Norns gave each of the brave women who tossed their pens into the ring 4 things they had to incorporate into their tales: an apocalyptic disaster, a location, a helpful item and a disability.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast which contains all thirteen of the stories, you can find it here.

If you’d also like to read the stories, you can find them here.

I’m pleased to present short interviews with the Wicked Women during the voting period. Next up is Rebecca Snow who wrote ‘Hazard’ for this year’s challenge!

What possessed you to sign up, knowing that your fate would be in the hands of the Norns?

I live on the edge…of a teacup.  A very small teacup.  Actually, the possession may have been a bit of boredom mixed with the fact that sometimes I like to push myself to do things that make me a bit uncomfortable.  And “public” speaking isn’t my strong suit.

Out of the 4 criteria you were given, what did you think would be the hardest to work into your creation?

The most difficult thing I had to do was decide on a biological weapon.  I was given free reign as to what it would do, so I had to pick something that would seem to work on a golf course.  I toyed with sand fleas, but every time I tried to write the story, I just started itching.

If you had to choose a Wicked Woman to vote for this year, who would you choose?

All of them.  They’re awesome.  Seriously though, I’m going to have a hard time picking one.  Every story had wicked elements and really creeped me out on some level.  And yes, this may seem like a cop out of an answer, but I haven’t chosen yet.

What would like listeners and readers to take away from your story?

THIEVES!!!!  Nothing!  Leave my stories alone!  Just kidding.  I’d like them to get a feeling that creeps up on them when they least expect it and makes their skin crawl just an eensy bit.  Or a lot.  I’m not picky.

Five Line Friday: The Rematch

Howdy! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while and then finally broke down and did it. I’m starting a new segment here on The FlipSide where I’m going to give anyone out there who’s interested a peek at some of the fiction I’ve been working on. I figure, what better way to entice readers than to get them salivating over a tidbit each and every week.

When I do post, I will post only five lines. That’s it, that’s all.

So here are five lines from a story I’ve recently finished called ‘The Rematch’…

Eventually the memory of that race faded into the background for most, but not Hare. No, he always remembered his folly of taking that nap and allowing his smug friend to best him. From the first taunt, he set himself to plotting. To scheming. Oh, he’d make Tortoise pay alright.

Intrigued? I’ll let you know when it’s published!

Blog Tour: Four ’til Late by Eric Garrison

Today I welcome Eric Garrison to The FlipSide in support of his newest release Four ‘til Late. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Eric and his body of work, let’s take a moment to learn a little more about him…

ericgarrison-PhotoEric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and four cats. He also enjoys gaming and homebrewing beer.

Seventh Star Press published the first of his Road Ghosts trilogy, Four ’til Late, in July of 2013. The other two are expected to come out later in 2013.

Eric’s novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. This book reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon’s Kindle store during a promotion in July 2013.

Eric’s short story, “Drag Show” appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine and Volume 2 of that magazine’s anthology series. His flash piece, “Dark Reflection”, appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology. He’s competed twice in the Iron Writer Challenge with two 500-word flash pieces, “Killer Cure” and “Moby Me”.

And without any additional fanfare I turn The FlipSide over to Eric…

Hi, I’m Eric Garrison, author of Four ’til Late. Brett, the main character of the book, is an amateur ghost hunter, and that’s no coincidence. My wife and I spent 7 years ghost hunting nearly every month as a part of the Indiana Ghost Hunters and other groups and on our own. I got to be known as a sort of gadget specialist, and often served as the group’s skeptic. I was known as “the Simon Cowell of ghost photography”.

We visited quite a few haunted locations in our time, and so I’ve been asked by my gracious hostess to talk about the 10 scariest places I’ve been!

#10 – Rotary Jail Museum, Crawfordsville, IN

This place is amazing. The jail cells are literally part of a gigantic horizontal wheel, two floors tall. The whole thing rotates on its axis like a sandwich vending machine, except instead of serving up tasty sandwiches, it rotated to expose different cells to put prisoners in, and take them out.

I think old jails are always scary, but this place had a certain energy in the air.  It was here that I first actually saw something I couldn’t explain. All of us had stopped in the area below the cells where great gears turn the structure around, in a curved hallway. A trifield EMF meter went off when no one was near it, and I saw something bright white peek around the bend in the darkness, just for an instant. I didn’t freak out, but I did curse under my breath and felt a thrill of fright. My curse was recorded and played back to me over and over later.

#9 – American Legion Park, Fortville, IN

Out past the bandstand area, even past the campsites of this park, you’ll find trails, and deep in the woods, atop a hill, you’ll find Doty Cemetery. One of the smallest cemeteries I’ve visited, Doty’s oldest grave is from 1832.

It’s not the cemetery that’s the scary part. In the area between the campsites but before the hill to the cemetery, out in the woods at night, my friends sighted shadow people, silhouettes of figures that make no sound or any trace of their passing, other than a glimpse of movement. I doubted this, since I’m a skeptic, but as we tested out K-II EMF meters,

#8 – Mansfield Reformatory, Mansfield, OH

A famous old prison, “Shawshank” is huge and has such history. There were many times that we heard voices, saw shadows and had unexplained EMF readings. I felt exhausted after only a couple of hours here, and while I’m glad I went, I’m not sure I’d go back.

#7 – Royal Theater, Danville, IN

We recorded two strong voices in different locations. Backstage, a voice said, “go away” and it appeared on two different voice recorders held about 6 feet apart. The other was in the seats, where a deeper, growling voice said, “get out!”.

#6 – G C Murphy Building, Indianapolis, IN

We had no specific evidence here, but the basement can only be reached by freight elevator, and several people sensed presences and had the feeling they needed to leave immediately.

These days, I like to go to this building to find a different sort of “spirit” in the Red Lion Grog House that’s moved in as part of the building in more recent years.

#5 – Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville, KY

I’ll say that when Amy and I went to Waverly Hills, the groups were too large, and so the potential for quiet ghost hunting didn’t happen until the wee hours of the morning. There were a few moments when we felt out of place, and the shadows held menace and movement. I rank this one higher, more for its reputation and grand scale than any personal experience.

#4 – Hannah House, Indianapolis, IN

We’ve had numerous cases of voice recording evidence (EVP), and some with freaky correlations. In one case, the same phrase, “find me” is recorded in the same spot in the basement, six months after it was first caught, and 10 seconds later, one of the ghost trackers is heard to say, “Isn’t this where you got the ‘find me’?”. Another case involved a recording of “keep away” coinciding with two compasses changing from North to East and back again.

Grandma’s room always seems to have thick air, hard to describe, and a forboding energy that makes me feel unwelcome.

Another time, as I climbed the stairs alone in broad daylight, a voice whispered, “go away!” in my right ear. At first I thought it was a prank, but no one was near the stairs.

#3 – Bobby Mackey’s Music World, Wilder, KY

All I will say about this old roadhouse, former slaughterhouse, and site of a murder, is that it’s called Hell’s Gate for a reason. It scared the daylights out of jaded ghost hunters. We had to go outside after an intense personal experience to calm down.

#2 – Central State Hospital, Indianapolis, IN

Now being demolished and repurposed by the city, this notorious old place stands out among haunted places in Indiana. We went late one November night, following oppressive underground passageways of the steam tunnels, poking around in the eerily quiet abandoned dormitories, and investigating the paranormally active administration building. Amy and I got our very first EVP in the admin building, as one of our group stated a “do not enter” sign on a door made her want to go in there more, a loud whispered voice asked “WHY?”. A flashlight bulb didn’t just burn out, it flashed and popped. Batteries drained. In one basement, we all felt like the stone floor was moving in waves and one nauseated woman was forced to leave.

#1 – Steel Forge Cemetery, Greenfield, IN

No link for this one, since I’m not able to find it on a map by that name. We were out ghost hunting at this little rural cemetery outside of Greenfield, when some members of the group thought they saw a shadow dog, or a ghost dog, a big one, coming at them.

Not long after, a real dog crept up on us and barked to try to scare us away.

Finally, four police cars pulled up, lights flashing. Several policemen came up to meet us with trained canines. I just about panicked. The police were nice, and just asked us to leave, since the neighbors near the cemetery thought there were a bunch of drunk teenagers vandalizing, when it was only us weirdos who go looking for ghosts in the dark!

Thank you Eric! Some of those locations sound truly terrifying! Now let’s take a look at Eric’s book, Four ‘til Late

Click on the cover! It takes you to Amazon!!

Click on the cover! It takes you to Amazon!!

In Four ’til Late, amateur ghost hunter Brett and his friends Gonzo, Jimbo, and Liz are on a road trip with dangerous detours, dreadful dreams and dire warnings. But that won’t keep them from reaching their goal: New Orleans. Along the way they discover that some spirits leave you with more than a hangover and regrets. Can they get there in one piece, or will they be stopped and rest in peace? The bags are packed, the engine’s running. Turn up the radio and get moving because the road ghosts are waiting, and it’s Four ’til Late. Four ’til Late is the first book of the Road Ghosts Trilogy.

If you would like to connect with Eric and learn more about him and his works, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and his blog.

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Blog Tour: The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill

In support of her tour for The Boxcar Baby, J.L. Mulvihill is stopping by the FlipSide to share her top ten steampunk inspired inventions. But before we get to her list, let’s take a moment to get better acquainted with her…

JLMulvihill-PhotoBorn in Hollywood and raised in San Diego, CA, J.L. Mulvihill has made Mississippi her home for the past fifteen years. Her debut novel was the young adult title The Lost Daughter of Easa, an engaing fantasy novel bordering on science-fiction with a dash of steampunk, published through Kerlak Publishing.  The Boxcar Baby, the first novel of her Steel Roots Series, was released by Seventh Star Press in the summer of 2013.

J.L. also has several short fiction pieces in publication, among them “Chilled Meat”, a steampunk thriller found in the Dreams of Steam II-Of Bolts and Brass anthology (Kerlak Publishing) and “The Leprechaun’s Story”, a steampunk urban Fantasy found in the anthology Clockwork, Spells, & Magical Bells (Kerlak Publishing)

J.L. is very active with the writing community, and is the events coordinator for the Mississippi Chapter of Imagicopter known as the Magnolia-Tower.  She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), The Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG), as well as the Arts Council of Clinton, and the Clinton Ink-Slingers Writing Group.

And without further ado, I turn you over to J.L…

J.L. Mulvihill’s Top Ten Steampunk Inspired Inventions

1.         Steam Cars – Yes I know they really do exist and I would love to see one and ride in it just to say I did it.  The Stanley Steamer we all know and love because they get our carpets so clean once began as a motor carriage company and manufactured what?  Yes you guessed it steam-engine vehicles.  Before Stanley I think the earliest steam carriage came out in the 1800s and there were several companies who produced them.  However, Stanley Steamer and White are the two that predominantly stick out in my mind.  I think the invention of the steam carriage really put us forward in our evolution, a miraculous achievement.  Sadly there are not many old cars left due to WWI and WWII because the government sought out every scrap of metal they could find to melt down for ammunition and bombs.  I have seen some owned by collectors and in museums.  I believe I read that the UK recently came out with a steam car too in an effort to experiment with alternative environmentally friendly vehicles; it of course is a proto type and has not been released to the public to use.

2.         Dirigibles – Though there are zeppelins, blimps, and hot air balloons, I have dreamed of riding in one of those incredible flying machines you so often see designs and schematics for.  Sometime they are described so detailed in novels and short stories, that I feel as if they truly exist and often find myself gazing into the sky, hopeful to see one flying by.  “Those magnificent men in their flying machines . . .”

3.         The Wanderer – Does anyone remember what that is?  The Wanderer is the steam train from the original Wild Wild West TV series.  I used to watch that show when I was a kid, they were reruns of course I’m not that old.  I loved that cool train that had everything West and Gordon needed to protect America from the bad guys.  From the secret gun compartments, buttons and switches that did this and that, to explosive billiards, to a stable for the horses, not to mention the luxurious accommodations.  Wow what a cool ride that is.  By the way if anyone wants to give me a present I would love a replica of the Wanderer, small though, I don’t think I can fit a big one in my yard.

4.         The Nautilus – Oh my goodness do I have to say anything else.  I mean how awesome would it be to ride around under the sea in the steampunk version of the Nautilus.  Ok yes the man was certifiably crazy, but who cares with such an amazing ride, The Little Mermaid and King Titan have nothing on the Nautilus.

5.         H. G. Wells’ Time Machine – So if I am going to mention the Wanderer and the Nautilus, I have to mention the Time Machine because who would not want a time Machine.  I so wanted to get a copy of the round part of the Time Machine and put it up as a headboard for my bed but my husband was afraid we would pick up sound with it because of the design and be able to hear the neighbors across the street.  Hey maybe that is not such a bad idea, (snicker, snicker).

6.         Steam-Powered Robots or Windup Walkers – I’m not sure how the robot in Metropolis worked, and I know that in the Wizard of OZ the Tin Man only lived without his limbs and heart because of magic and love, but if you have ever read Tik Tok of Oz by Frank L Baum (1914), you would know he is the absolute wind up, steampunk, fella.  In my short story The Book from Dreams of Steam IV-Gizmos, I have a robot by the name of Ramses who is wind up and runs on steam.  I simply adore the concept of this invention.  I also would not mind the Coin Operated Boy referenced in the song by the Dresden Dolls, one of my all-time favorite songs.

7.         Clockwork Owl – I think that these really do exist and someone makes them and I have always wanted one.  Like the owl in the old version of Clash of the Titans, remember Bubo the owl?  I would really love a clockwork owl that would be my friend and go everywhere with me and save me from witches.  Alas, I think my cat would not appreciate the thing since a real owl tried to attack her once.  Maybe a smaller version would not be such a threat.

8.         Snake Venom Pump Gun – ok I cheated, I invented this one, and you have not seen it yet because it comes out in the second novel of the Steel Roots series.  I love it when I see Stempunkers create their own weapons so of course I had to create my own weapon which is a very simple air-pump gun that shoots out real snake venom which is very deadly and/or damaging depending on the potency of the snake venom.  I don’t suppose this is a very cost efficient weapon and if you run out of venom you better know where to get more or how to milk a snake, that should be interesting.

9.         Steampunk Boots, with Gadgets – Ok, I don’t know if I made this up or not but how neat would it be to have a pair of steampunk boots that had rockets in the bottom of the heals, and shoot out spikes from the toes.  Maybe have all kinds of wild things they could do just like the cartoon, (not the movie) of Inspector Gadget.  So maybe that is not steampunk but I swear I have seen something like that in the steampunk genre, if not then consider it another one of my inventions.

10.       Propelling Parasol – It stops the rain, it blocks the sun, and when you have to go, push the button and propellers come out and spin around.  The next thing you know you are flying over the city like Mary Poppins.  Yes, I know hers did not do that but there are some that do, it depends on the model you buy.

So there you have it, these are my top ten choices, at least for now.  I hope that you enjoy reading The Boxcar Baby and when you have finished feel free to let me know your thoughts on the Steel Roots Facebook page.  If you are interested in obtaining a signed copy of the book my next event will be taking place in Louisville, MS at the Backwoods Comic Festival.  After that event I am scheduled for CONtraflow in New Orleans October 18-20 and then November 15-17, I will be attending the Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention.

Thank you for having me on The Flip Side of Julianne and until next time remember, to Dream in Steam.  J L Mulvihill

Great list J.L.! Now let’s take a quick look at The Boxcar Baby

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Click on the cover! It will take you to Amazon!

Born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia. At least that is what Papa Steel always told AB’Gale. But now, fifteen years later, the man who adopted and raised her as his own is missing and it’s up to AB’Gale to find him. Aided only by a motley gang of friends, AB’Gale train hops her way across the United States in a desperate attempt to find her papa and put her life and family back the way it was. Her only guide is a map given to her by a mysterious hobo, with hand written clues she found hidden in her papa’s spyglass. Here is the Great American Adventure in an alternate steampunk dystopian world, where fifteen-year-old AB’Gale Steel learns that nothing is as it seems, but instead is shrouded in secrets and mysteries … and that monsters come in all shapes and forms. 

The Boxcar Baby is the first book of the Steel Roots series.

Thank you J.L. for taking the time to visit the FlipSide. If you would like to connect with J.L., you can find her on Facebook in three places: her personal page, the Steel Roots Fan Page, and the J.L. Mulvihill Fan Page; as well as her website and Twitter.

JLMulvihillTourBadge

Blog Tour: Sometimes in Dreams by G.L. Helm

Today I welcome author G.L. Helm to the FlipSide. For those of you unfamiliar with G.l., he’s just released his new contemporary romance called Sometimes in Dreams. Now let’s get everyone acquainted. Welcome G.L., why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience you now have before you.

Gary_HelmOK then.  Greetings blog travelers. My name is Gary, though I write under the name G. Lloyd Helm. The reason I do that makes sense to me, but mostly not to anyone else so I am not gonna try to explain.  I am a classic ne’er-do-well scribbler who lives at sufferance from my remarkably patient wife.  I went to college and got my Bachelor’s degree in History which was training for seeing the world with frightening accuracy, but not for making me useful anywhere.  Consequently I have held a few different jobs down the years while continuing my literary ways, including dish washer, Taxi driver, department store clerk, mail handler, brick layer, ditch digger, house builder and house tear-er downer, but most importantly I have been house husband and father to my two sons. They were the bane of my existence when I was trying to write when they were young but I miss them terribly now they are grown and off on their own adventures.

Tell us about your writing process?

I am always puzzled when people ask me what my “writing process” is. I sit myself down in front of the computer and try to tell the story that has been buzzing around in my head for days or sometimes weeks or even years. Some days that story just rolls right out. Most days it has to be dragged kicking and screaming from my psyche and thrown onto the page which makes writing difficult for me, but I caught the literary disease a long time ago and I can’t seem to shake it so I just keep sitting down in front of the computer. When I am working good I manage to write at least a little everyday, or at least I try to fool myself into that belief. Sometimes though the process is sitting down and writing the word THE followed by a long pause before I finish the sentence with “HELL WITH IT.” And go for a walk.  Still, I have managed to write several books and reams of short stories so I guess the method sort of works.

Is there a genre other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I would like to write mysteries where the hardened private eye with a heart of gold solves murders that no one else can solve, or mysteries like John D. McDonald wrote. I’d like to create a new Travis McGee but I probably won’t. I write in the fantasy genre but my fantasies are not like everyone else’s. The only magic in anything I write is the magic of the moment. I create people who have power thrust upon them though most of the time they don’t want anything but to be left alone. Now that isn’t true in my book SOMETIMES IN DREAMS. It is pretty much a romance set in the fantasy world of Venice Italy, but it is fantasy cum tragedy.

Interesting. I have an idea for a murder mystery but I’m not sure I could make it engaging enough… What are the five books that have influenced you most and why?

I read voraciously and across boundaries. The only thing necessary to make a book interesting to me is that it have words in a line, but having said that I’ll try to narrow it down a little. Hang on cause this may shock and worry you, but the book that has most influenced my writing and my life is the Bible. I’ve read it cover to cover several times, believe some of it, disbelieve some of it, practice some of it’s lessons and pointedly do not practice some of its teachings. The stories in it are so good. They are so human. The good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys are sometimes bad at the behest of good intentions. Next I would say THE GRAPES OF WRATH, because my people were some of the Okies that came to California in the second wave that happened after WWII so I really identify with the Joads.  Then would come any of the novels by Robert Heinlein. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. I like his independent characters who seem law abiding until it doesn’t suit their purposes anymore. Next would be Ray Bradbury’s stories, especially THE ILLUSTRATED MAN. His mind had so many dark fascinating alleys and his words were so magical that I was just sucked in from the first.  I’m down to the fifth book and I’m stuck because there are so many.  Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES because I know about Spain, since I lived there for three years.  Kurt Vonnegut’s CAT’S CRADLE and SLAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE.  But understand that any of these is interchangeable and they rise or fall in the list depending on my mood.

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

I must say straight out that I don’t know. I know the people in the books as themselves. I would have to leave it to someone else to decide who could play them.

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?

If I woke to find SOMETIMES IN DREAMS on the NY Times Best Seller list the first thing I would probably do is cry with relief. I have struggled so hard and so long that such recognition would lift me to the heavens. The next thing would probably be to buy a full page ad in the Times that said “THANKS TO MICHELE Who believed. My epitaph will no doubt read HE MARRIED WELL.”

Do you have any vices you turn to while you are writing?

Don’t really have any vices anymore. I quit smoking twenty plus years ago and have never been much of a drinker. I like a beer now and again, but I have to be careful with that now because I am diabetic. I like naked women so I sometimes chase down pictures of same on the internet.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

See the above answer about pictures of naked women which tells you what I do when I’m not writing. And, as I also said above, I read voraciously. I also tend to just mind dump in front of the TV sometimes.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work in progress.

First nine lines—first paragraph actually—of what I am working on… it’s called

SERPENTS AND DOVES

“I started out to be a minister.  That’s what I went to college to do.  Learn how to preach the gospel.  Learn about God and his will and how I fit into same.  The first part was a bust.  I didn’t make it to the ministry and I thank God everyday that I didn’t because I’m pretty sure I didn’t belong there.  The second part, the learn about God part – we’ll see how that works out as I go along.  I’m really torn about God.  I’m of several minds about the creator stretching from profound faith to atheism, to thinking that he is some writer of sadistic comedy existing in some other dimension.  I’ll have to wait until they pat me in the face with a shovel to really find out if I have learned anything about the creator of course, but that is still part of what I am working on in this life.”

Of course none of that is written in stone. It has already been changed a half dozen times and will probably be changed another half dozen before I finally quit fiddling with it.

Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration?  Beats me.  I think it comes from still being a little boy who likes to play pretend in my heart of hearts.  A lot of my stories are really just wish fulfillment.  Isaac Asimov told me that he wrote because he liked the worlds he created better than he liked the real world. I can’t say that. A lot of the worlds I create are not wonderfully nice places but they are my worlds and I feel responsible for the creatures in them which makes me like God in those worlds which sorta inspires me to find gentler ways of dealing with my creatures. So I guess in a way we are back at the first question. I have found inspiration in the Bible. I mean one of my books WORLD WITHOUT END is a plain rip off of the Rebellion in heaven and other New Testament ideas so… yeah, put that down. “He is inspired by the Bible.” Makes me sound much classier than I actually am.

Thank you Gary for taking the time to answer all of my questions. Now let’s take a look at Sometimes in Dreams

SometimesInDreams_FrontCover_FullSizeDaniel Pentland is a broken man; torn between the two women in his life. He is tormented by guilt over his love affair with a beautiful English girl he met while living in Italy, and the loyal devotion of his wife, Amanda.

Two years after the tragic death of his lover Kit, he is continually haunted by her memory. Across the sands of the Mojave Desert, her voice calls out to him, pulling at his heart and his memories.

Each night as Daniel wakes screaming and fighting against the phantom of Kit’s killer, his wife does her best to soothe his pain and help him overcome his grief.

Sometimes in Dreams is a story of redemption through a love that simply refuses to die.

Purchase Links:

Amazon: US, UK, CANADA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SPAIN, ITALY, JAPAN, BRAZIL, INDIA

CreateSpace

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Wicked Women Writers Challenge – Leigh Lane

On September 7th the recordings and written versions of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge were released via the host HorrorAddicts.net. This year’s challenge to the ladies was “How Will You Survive?” and the Norns gave each of the brave women who tossed their pens into the ring 4 things they had to incorporate into their tales: an apocalyptic disaster, a location, a helpful item and a disability.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast which contains all thirteen of the stories, you can find it here.

If you’s also like to read the stories, you can find them here.

I’m pleased to present short interviews with the Wicked Women during the voting period. First up is Leigh Lane who wrote ‘Enter the Corruption’ for this year’s challenge!

LMLaneWhat possessed you to sign up, knowing that your fate would be in the hands of the Norns?

I love pushing myself beyond my comfort zone with my writing, always striving to set the bar a little higher with each piece.  I knew the Norns would put me in a difficult spot, and I looked forward to finding creative ways to meet their challenge.  It looked like a lot of fun, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Out of the 4 criteria you were given, what did you think would be the hardest to work into your creation?

The “extreme itchiness” disability was a tough one because I knew it would take a moderate level of tact to pull off without making that aspect of the story campy or awkward.

If you had to choose a Wicked Woman to vote for this year, who would you choose?

I’m torn between Chantal Boudreau’s story “A Wing and A Prayer’ and Amy Marshall’s “Paternoster’.

What would like listeners and readers to take away from your story?

I’d like readers and listeners to walk away with an appreciation for new variations of old tropes.  “Enter the Corruption” follows the apocalyptic zombie pattern, but I cut the story’s pieces from an altogether different cloth.  The corrupted are far from traditional zombies, having lost their souls rather than their minds, and although zombies were one inspiration behind their development, equally so were elements of cyberpunk and hard sci-fi.

Wicked Women Writers Challenge – Rebekah Webb

On September 7th the recordings and written versions of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge were released via the host HorrorAddicts.net. This year’s challenge to the ladies was “How Will You Survive?” and the Norns gave each of the brave women who tossed their pens into the ring 4 things they had to incorporate into their tales: an apocalyptic disaster, a location, a helpful item and a disability.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast which contains all thirteen of the stories, you can find it here.

If you’s also like to read the stories, you can find them here.

I’m pleased to present short interviews with the Wicked Women during the voting period. First up is Rebekah Webb who wrote ‘Prey’ for this year’s challenge!

RebekahWebbWhat possessed you to sign up, knowing that your fate would be in the hands of the Norns?

I was possessed by the ghost of Writeovia, a demon who roams the land, tricking writers into challenging situations. I got off rather light, seeing as some writers Writeovia has gone after end up trying to write a hundred thousand word fantasy epic while chained underwater.

Out of the 4 criteria you were given, what did you think would be the hardest to work into your creation?

The allergy part. If I had gone with one of the people having an allergy, then it would have seemed to convenient to have both what they were allergic to present and have them come in contact with it. So, I had to come up with a way for it to fit naturally into the story.

If you had to choose a Wicked Woman to vote for this year, who would you choose?

Whoever scared me the most.

What would like listeners and readers to take away from your story?

A little bug of a thought, something that nags at them for days after they read the story, bringing new fears and psychological twists that keep them up at night.

Wicked Women Writers Challenge – Sumiko Saulson

On September 7th the recordings and written versions of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge were released via the host HorrorAddicts.net. This year’s challenge to the ladies was “How Will You Survive?” and the Norns gave each of the brave women who tossed their pens into the ring 4 things they had to incorporate into their tales: an apocalyptic disaster, a location, a helpful item and a disability.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast which contains all thirteen of the stories, you can find it here.

If you’s also like to read the stories, you can find them here.

I’m pleased to present short interviews with the Wicked Women during the voting period. First up is Sumiko Saulson who wrote ‘A Birthday Present’ for this year’s challenge!

sumikoManulFestWhat possessed you to sign up, knowing that your fate would be in the hands of the Norns?

I thought it sounded like fun. As an English major, I am quite used to writing with prompts, and some of my best writing has come from assignments that involved writing prompts. I enjoy the creative challenge that incorporating specific elements into a story involves. I thought it would spark my imagination and perhaps even lead me to write about things I would not ordinarily think of if I were coming up with all elements of the story on my own. I guess the bottom line is: I like a challenge, and I have a love of language that makes me particularly enjoy writing and word games. They make you think.

Out of the 4 criteria you were given, what did you think would be the hardest to work into your creation?

I was given a pool cue as my helpful item, but my locale was a bowling alley, so my initial reaction was to think I would have trouble integrating the pool cue into a bowling alley: I mean, people don’t usually play pool in bowling alleys. I decided to make it a Rock n Bowl, which is a bowling alley with a bar in it. I’ve been in Rock n Bowls before, although never one with a pool table: yet pool tables are frequent fixtures in bars, and some bowling alleys have bars, so it made sense to me. Besides, it was a fun idea. I could totally visualize it.

If you had to choose a Wicked Woman to vote for this year, who would you choose?

I haven’t had a chance to listen to all 13 stories yet, and I intend to: I intend to listen to them all and I do intend to vote for someone (other than myself, of course). I’m about halfway through reading the stories, and let me tell you I am impressed with and more than a little intimidated by the competition. I would have to say it’s anybody’s game this year, and I am really honored to be counted among such a talented group of women.

What would like listeners and readers to take away from your story?

The story really plays around a lot with body image; the central protagonist is an overweight, nearsighted, acne-plagued African American teen girl who finds herself suddenly forced to cope with the dangers inherent in this freaky showdown with demonic creatures crawling out of the Norn-fated sinkholes emerging throughout the ill-fated Rock n Bowl. The take-away should be that a girl doesn’t need to look like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of your other traditional leading-lady types to take names, kick ass, and reach out and grab that coveted bubblegum pink bowling ball with the glitter in it.

Wicked Women Writers Challenge – Chantal Boudreau

On September 7th the recordings and written versions of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge were released via the host HorrorAddicts.net. This year’s challenge to the ladies was “How Will You Survive?” and the Norns gave each of the brave women who tossed their pens into the ring 4 things they had to incorporate into their tales: an apocalyptic disaster, a location, a helpful item and a disability.

If you’d like to listen to the podcast which contains all thirteen of the stories, you can find it here.

If you’s also like to read the stories, you can find them here.

I’m pleased to present short interviews with the Wicked Women during the voting period. First up is Chantal Boudreau who wrote ‘A Wing and A Prayer’ for this year’s challenge!

CB B&WWhat possessed you to sign up, knowing that your fate would be in the hands of the Norns?

I’m a masochist at heart and a sucker for chaos – what can I say?

Out of the 4 criteria you were given, what did you think would be the hardest to work into your creation?

The rubber tubing – but the cruel streak in me won out and it proved to be a handy weapon.

If you had to choose a Wicked Woman to vote for this year, who would you choose?

All of them – seriously, I haven’t made my mind up yet.  I’ll vote when I do.

What would like listeners and readers to take away from your story?

I don’t like the fact that women are often portrayed as screaming, cowering victims in horror/thriller tales.  Some of us out there are tough cookies willing to spit in the face of disaster.  The question was “How Will You Survive?” so I wrote in a survivor rather than a victim.

Book Tour: North Dark by Lane Kareska

Today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with Lane Kareska, the author of the recently released North Dark. I’ve worked closely with Lane on this project for Sirens Call Publications and am thrilled to see it come into fruition. So let’s take a moment and introduce you all to him…

LaneKareska_AuthorPhotoLane was born in Houston, studied writing at Columbia College Chicago and his MFA is from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he was awarded a Fellowship to live and write in Ireland. He traveled Europe and South America to research his graduate thesis. Lane teaches creative writing and work in technology and new media. His fiction has shown up in Berkeley Fiction Review, Sheepshead Review, Flashquake and elsewhere.

Lane is deeply addicted to comic books, thrillers in all forms, and the most lethal Chicago cuisine.

Welcome Lane. Tell us about your writing process?

My writing process is basically writing a painfully appalling first draft, and then trusting that through the next hundred or so drafts, the true story will emerge.

It really is an iterative process. I’m not sure how many “drafts” North Dark went through but I know the number was crazy high. I basically locked myself away, put my head down, and hacked away at it for a winter. Writing is one thing, but rewriting is where the knives come out. A high draft volume is critical. My feeling is that anyone who has ever produced a perfect first draft is probably either divine or a liar.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

The majority of my favorite books are actually spy novels; however, it’s not necessarily the spying that engages me. More often than not, what grabs me in spy novels is a combination of the travel, the propulsive motion of the plot, and the sex and action.

My graduate thesis was a spy novel and I’m actively researching and working in that genre. North Dark is not, in any real sense, a spy novel. However, there is common blood: the rogue protagonist, the driving momentum, the swift and concussive nature of the violence, and maybe even the dry gray moral center. But I dunno. When I think of North Dark and its genre, the conclusion I always come to is Dark Fantasy—which is to say people get hurt with bladed weapons.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuinn is a phenomenal novel that can be read at almost any age. That’s a book I’ll always have on my shelf and I expect to learn something different from it every time I return to it. In addition to being a deeply instructional fantasy text, it’s also an exceedingly proficient hero’s journey. It’s one of those books that could be stripped of all the cool stuff—the dragons, the invented history, the naming systems—and you’d still have an exact and perfect template of a hero’s journey, because of that, it is a book that would speak to almost anyone, from anywhere, from anytime.

Doctor No by Ian Fleming was the fifth book featuring the character James Bond and it’s also probably the most outlandish. Bond fights a man-eating squid at the end. This novel in particular is probably the best example of the difference between Spy Fiction and what’s called Spy-Fi. Bourne would be Spy Fiction, Our Man Flint would be Spy Fi. Doctor No is rife with absurd action, exotic locales, barely clothed women, it’s an utter blast. Pure fun.

Dune by Frank Herbert was a book I had to force myself to read, but I was very glad I did. It’s similar to A Wizard of Earthsea in some respects, but a key difference is that Herbert is never content to suggest or imply anything in his world-building. He follows every line of thought, every stream of invention and explores thoroughly the universe he has envisioned. My style is probably starker than that, veering toward minimal, however, Dune inspired me to try to explore the world of North Dark as comprehensively as a sociologist would a new culture. Very little of that content is in the text directly, but it’s encoded in the spirit of the book, it supports the narrative, and hopefully its presence is felt, and the world of North Dark is more persuasive for it.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck reads like a thriller, disguised as a parable, and it clocks in at, what, less than 200 pages? This is the book that I think of when I consider the term “novella.” If it were any longer—if it was overstuffed—the tension would probably just erode. But as it’s written, it’s swift, totally engaging, and in the end, fist-to-the-nose concussive.

X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, this isn’t a book necessarily, but a comic book crossover event from the mid-1990s that just utterly blew my mind. It’s collected now in a series of trade paperbacks, I think over four volumes, and I can’t say if it still stands up, but when I read it as a kid, it was like I was discovering Star Wars for the first time. Age of Apocalypse reimagines the entire history of the Marvel Universe as an apocalyptic wasteland in which Charles Xavier never formed the X-Men. The results are unpleasant: Africa is an irradiated black hole, Manhattan is a devastated blight-kingdom, and all of the character motives and relationships are reshuffled in sometimes disturbing ways. That was my first introduction into Post-Apocalyptic fiction.

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

The main character of North Dark is a young man named Two Crows who—and this is the truth—I think has more in common physically with Jack Skellington than any actor I can think of. He’s a wiry, resilient guy who takes more than a few beatings throughout the story and by the end he’s a vastly different Two Crows than the one we meet at the beginning. He takes some beatings, but he gives as good as he gets.

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?

Check my bank account.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I drink a lot of liquids, listen to a lot of music, I talk to myself. The act of writing is itself a little vice-like: it’s private, weird, best done at night, in the dark, alone.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My favorite things in the world are reading, writing and traveling. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. And also, for me, those activities are cooperative; they feed into one another. Reading and travel are symbiotic, and the more I do of either, the more I want to write.

And now here are the first 9 lines of North Dark:

Treesplitter sees that his sons neither hear nor understand him, so he waves his whipping torch and they all spread out to search the ice caves. His sons are capable, not useless. His gloved hand clenches the stalk of the torch as he enters the ribbed blue socket of a nameless tunnel he played in many times as a child and teenager. The windhowl shuts off as he passes into the low slung shaft. The light of his torch flaps on the icerimed ceiling and walls. Once he is far enough within to no longer feel the sharp scrape of wind on his face, he throws back his foxfur hood, searches the ground for footprints in the frost, and sees none. That does not mean he is in no danger. That does not mean the fugitive is not just ahead of him, hiding in the dark, blade drawn. Treesplitter grips his sharpest knife and advances quietly.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I’m inspired by place probably more than anything. When I was writing my graduate thesis, I got to travel Europe and those six months were at least as beneficial to me personally as any one year spent in the classroom.

Walking around a city—especially a new city—is about the most inspirational thing I can do. I’m lucky now because I live in a part of Chicago that’s really conducive to walking around. After work, I walk to my bar, walk to the library or a café to write, walk back home to write some more, take another walk to figure out whatever problem I’m having with the writing, then walk back home. Writing is pretty sedentary, so it’s good to move and get some blood in your brain. But the larger issue of inspiration is, for me, deeply associated with place. The setting of North Dark is a frozen wasteland, a horrific tundra in the grips of a second Iron Age, and that is very much reflective of the place where it was written: Northwest Indiana during a long, cold winter. It’s a landscape that pretty neatly mirrors the world of North Dark; shuttered industrial compounds, thick expanses of woods, waves frozen in heaps on the shoreline. A lot of that—I suppose all of that—was inspiration that made its way into the book.

Now let’s take a look at the book – North Dark

NorthDark_Cover_FinalSet in a lonesome and barbarous failed state, North Dark is the story of a lone man traveling by dogsled across a frozen wasteland in pursuit of the fugitive who destroyed his family.

Haunted by predators both physical and spectral, the musher’s journey takes him across a deadened tundra, tortured cities and the remains of civilizations long-lapsed into madness. All the while, his enemy slides in and out of striking distance, always one step ahead, always one act of violence away.

Should you decide you’d like to pick up a copy, they can be found here:

Amazon: US, UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, Japan, India
CreateSpace
Smashwords

Thank you Lane for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect with Lane, you can find him on Twitter.