Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Elizabeth Donald author of Nocturne Infernum Guest Post

It’s No Good to Anybody In Your Head

If you haven’t seen the film Amadeus, you are instructed to stop reading and go rent it right away. You won’t regret it.

Still here? Great. Amadeus is a biopic of the flamboyant Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose flame flared brightly enough to burn him out at a young age and still echoes in concert halls today.

Toward the final chapters of Amadeus, an opera director comes to see him and asks to see the pages for The Magic Flute, the opera Mozart is writing for him.

“There aren’t any pages,” Mozart says.

The director is upset, thinking of payrolls and schedules, and says, “I asked you if we could start rehearsals next week and you said yes!”

Mozart nods. “It’s all here,” he says, pointing to his head. “The rest is just bibbling and scribbling, scribbling and bibbling.” Mozart is quite drunk, of course. And we hate the opera director for his next line, because we’ve come to care quite a bit for Mozart and his creative craziness by this point.

“Finish it,” he snaps. “Write it down. On paper. It’s no good to anybody in your head.”

I think of that scene when speaking to aspiring writers. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was hoping to land my first book contract, asking questions and listening intently to the authors. Now I’m the one they ask about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, or how I find time to write with a day job, or where I get my ideas. It’s a thousand questions that boil down to, “I want to write. Tell me how.”

Sometimes, I tell them about my friend Joe. Joe was a wonderful storyteller. We’d have lunch, and he’d tell me the latest story he’d concocted: dark fantasies full of drama and angst, color and magic. I’d listen, and then start grinning until he asked me what was so funny.

“Did you write it down?” I’d ask, and he’d give me the half-smile that says, “I know, you’re going to tell me about Mozart and the opera director again.”

The turning point for me was an issue of Writer’s Digest. The cover article was an excerpt from Stephen King’s memoir titled On Writing. The cover showed King’s face, a little less lined than it is now, and the title: “Stephen King on how to get ten pages a day.” Elsewhere on the cover was the title of an unrelated article: “What’s keeping you from success?”

I cut out that cover with King’s image and those two sentences only. I knew what was keeping me from success – on what still keeps me from success, as I measure it. King writes every day of the year, and I do not. Life intervenes, as does the day job, the requirements of being a wife and mother, the other thousand obligations that nibble at the hours.

But that keeps me from success. One day off turns into two, turns into a week, and suddenly the dust has fallen in the mind as well as the keyboard.

You see, the opera director was right – you knew I’d get back to him. He was harsh and selfish, but he was right. If Mozart had never put pen to paper, none of us would ever have heard The Magic Flute. It would have vanished into the ether with his untimely death, and all his songs would be unsung.

What are your songs? What are the stories you have to tell? Why do you keep them locked inside you where no one can see them? What is keeping you from success, whether it is commercial, critical or creative? What is required to get you what you want, and why do you let it slide one more day?

At the risk of sounding like a harsh opera director, I can only tell you what I have learned. Write it down. On paper. It’s no good to anybody in your head. Your stories will be unheard and your songs unsung as long as you let that hard work of putting pen to paper slide for another day, and another, and another.

It is the only answer to “how do you write those books?” I’ve ever come across.

As to where the ideas come… well, if you listen closely enough, in the dark place between awake and asleep, your ideas will speak to you, in what dreams may come. Please, share them with us.

Elizabeth Donald is a dark fiction writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction and author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire zombie series, as well as other novels and short stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld author cooperative; an award-winning newspaper reporter and lecturer on journalism ethics; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She lives with her husband and her son in a haunted house in Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time. Her latest release is Nocturne Infernum, a trilogy of vampire mysteries set in a dark alternate Memphis.


Twitter: @edonald

Monday, September 21, 2015

Interview with Peter Welmerink author of TRANSPORT: HUNT FOR THE FALLEN, book two in TRANSPORT series

TRANSPORT: HUNT FOR THE FALLEN, book two in your TRANSPORT series, continues the adventures of Captain Billet, his crew and their big armored personnel carrier, the HURON. What can we expect in this next book?

Billet is ailing, mainly due to that nasty forehead wound he received during the events of the first book. All the soldiers had been vaccinated back in the day, but some people’s systems burn it out sooner than others. No one’s sure at the time, if his vaccine is wearing out or if he is having a heart attack. There’s a lot of stuff weighing on our captain.

During a heavy rainstorm that’s been literally flooding the area, some of the local, protected zombies have fallen into the nearby churning river. One of Billet’s peers, a tank commander by the name of Jeremy Pike, wants to round them locals up quickly, mainly because the biggest rotter has a canister of black market drugs stitched into its belly. As people, even local militia, defect from city to city, village to village, Pike seems to be taking his big Abrams tank and crew out of the city, possibly going AWOL.

Billet won’t stand for this and gives chase. Though the HURON outweighs the 68 ton main battle tank; the tank greatly outguns the Heavy Transport Vehicle—a 120mm cannon on Pike’s DEVASTATOR versus a new 25mm cannon on the HURON. Still, the vehicles are going to end up dueling out in the rain-slogged gravel pits out beyond the city limits.

The fighting nuns of the West Side Apostolate, and Bob the 1950’s gas station attendant zombie, also makes another appearance.

And there is an Undead assassin pursuing Billet.

What makes your zombies different than everyone else’s?

First, there are a lot of writers who write different zombie material. They (the zombies) are an exciting lot to write about as they offer so much versatility depending on where, when and how you write them.

I feel what makes MY zombies different is that I introduce their presence as everything is in a POST-Post zomb-pocalypse state. The viral pandemic that “created” them was in 2013, and the storyline in the series is set in 2025-2026. We’re still here, and rebuilding. They (the Undead) are still here. They are like one of those INVASIVE SPECIES…you don’t like them but kind of live with them.

Until you can eradicate them, or try without getting arrested, fined and possibly jailed. The local zombies who are held in the city’s retention area on the west side of town are protected by law, from harm. They are fed doped “meat byproducts” and cared for within the enclosure. When the military has to go in there (a shitty job for sure), they have to be careful not to run over, shoot or damage these poor shambling folk as they are “the poor, afflicted family and friends of the city.”

Yeah, it’s an effed up POST-Post Apoc world for sure.

The “Feral” ones outside city limits are kind of your usual Undead fare. They’ll bite your face off if you let them.

You have a lot of military jargon, military acronyms and such in your books, and thankfully give us a glossary at the back of the book for us non-military types. Have you served?

I have been asked that before. No, I have never served, but I have family and friends, and many, many books and reference material I utilize for my information. My first TRANSPORT editor, before I submitted it to a publisher, had served and was kind enough to straighten me out if I was making things FUBAR’d. I know several military folks, either currently serving or those who had served, who have read and enjoy the books. And so far, no one has said, “Um, Welmerink, you’re going a little bit out of bounds there.”

Considering the TRANSPORT series is fictional, I try to shoot for some technical authenticity.

Do you consider the TRANSPORT series a Horror series, or what?

There are definitely Horror elements in the storyline obviously, but I have always viewed the whole thing as a Military Action-Adventure, or a Military Thriller I guess you would call it. I even think of it as kind of an Alternate History tale. I don’t expect the story events to actually happen so I am seeing the city and areas in the series (most of them actually, in reality, exist) as portrayed in a future Alt History light.

Who is your favorite character in the series?

I love all the characters, but I have to say Rebecca Regan, daughter of the leader of Reganshire, was a grotesquely entertaining character to write. The young woman is rotting from the inside out and you are not quite sure if she realizes it or not the way she often with, say, Captain Billet. She is a nasty character that makes me cringe and chuckle (insanely) at the same time.  

Any current projects you are working on you can share with our readers?

I have a short Action-Adventure novella out, RETURN TO STRANGE HOME, by a local (Michigan) publisher, and the third and final book in the TRANSPORT series is out now. I am hoping to begin work anew on the Viking berserker novel, BEDLAM UNLEASHED, with author Stephen Shrewsbury, and may have some other shorter TRANSPORT-related pieces in the near future…between day job, family and breathing.

Where can people find out more about you? and are the best online spots. I also support other authors and Creatives via