Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jenniffer Wardell
Proof that great books
can come from fake music
Jenniffer Wardell, funny, clever, witty, musically-challenged debut author drops by the Blog Mansion to discuss her new book Fairy Godmothers, Inc.

Johnny: Seriously? The Monkees over The Beatles? Were you dropped as child or what?

Jennifer: Sorry, but “I’m a Believer” found me early. I didn’t care who sang it – I just loved the song. Besides, I have a nasty habit of falling for the band/book series/food product/TV show that no one else likes. If I’d loved the Beatles, Paul McCartney would have had such a disastrous late-career popularity slide that he’d have to get a second job at the local Tesco.

Johnny: I'm underdog fan too. But “The Pre-Fab Four” versus “The Fab Four….”

Jennifer: Hey, there’s not an ounce of genuine food product in spray cheese, either. That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.

Johnny: Okay, I can Let it Be, We Can Work it Out. Let’s forget about music for a minute and talk about books. I’ll just put the stereo on shuffle.

Jennifer: “Paperback Writer?”

Johnny: Seemed appropriate. So you write about fairies. Are yours the Disney cleaning, wish-granting type, the Labyrinth pest type, or the sword-wielding dangerous type like in Wizards?

Jennifer: Depends on the personality of the individual fairy. I’m sure some of them wield swords, but there are also others who feel that a “true” fairy needs to be out in nature communing with the flowers. Since no one’s figured out what “communing” actually entails, these fairies tend to embarrass themselves pretty frequently.

Johnny: Tell me about Fairy Godmothers, Inc.  

Jennifer: Why do fairies randomly hunt up poor girls and send them off to royal balls? Because they get paid for it. Kate Harris is one such Fairy Godmother, and actually tries to help her clients find a little happiness in the middle of the sparkles and slow-mo dance sequences.

When she meets Jon, a nice guy who understands all about paperwork, she thinks she might have found her own happily ever after. Then an inappropriately-placed self-help book sends her current assignment sliding straight toward disaster, and Kate has to figure out how to make everyone’s wishes come true.

Johnny: What genre is it?

Jennifer: Fantasy/romance/comedy. If I’d stuffed in one more genre, I would have had to pay a fine. 

Johnny: It’s a great premise. Funny and clever. I Got a Feeling The Two of Us can Come Together Here There and Everywhere about funny books. Where did you develop your sense of humor?

Jenniffer: It’s all my family’s fault, really. When we get together we mostly speak in witty one-liners, and if you can’t keep up it’s really hard to get a word in edgewise. Also, I think we’re a little bit competitive about being able to make each other laugh. I’m especially proud when I can get one of my brothers chuckling.

"Look, George, Hey Hey, They're the Monkees..."
Johnny: It’s All Too Much. Tell me about being an entertainment journalist. Is that your day job?

Jenniffer: Yes. I’m a arts/entertainment/fun feature-related stuff writer for the Davis Clipper. Since it’s a weekly newspaper, I’ve become an impromptu expert in everything from painting to museum exhibits to gardening tips. I love every minute of it, though I could probably get more money by getting myself a nice cardboard sign and setting up shop in a corner of the Walmart parking lot. 

Johnny: It’s my patented question: How did you get from writer to author? What was your Long and Winding Road to publication?

Jenniffer: Writing. Lots and lots and lots (repeat for about 50 more pages) of writing. Sending out query letters and manuscripts to pretty much every publisher and agent on the planet. Cry when I got the rejection letters back. Plot a lot of painful deaths. Consign my first novel to the pits of shame. Rewrite the first half of the second one from the ground up. Repeat the first five sentences 30 or 40 more times. Get the e-mail from Jolly Fish. Try not to hyperventilate from joy.

Johnny: That's how I did it. How long did it take you to write Fairy Godmothers, Inc.? 

Jenniffer: I stopped counting after a decade. I promise my current novel won’t take me as long.

Johnny: I Want to Tell You that your book is great. I know Money Can’t Buy Me Love, but It Won’t Be Long until you’re famous, and Baby, You’re a Rich Man, When I’m Sixty-Four, will you still be In My Life?

Jenniffer: *Snoring sound*

Johnny: Okay, that was a long one. 

Jenniffer: I Want To Tell You You Know my Name (Look up My Number).

Johnny: Oh Darling! Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and Monkey.

Jenniffer: Help.

Johnny: Okay, I’ll stop. This is The End.

Jenniffer: Johnny B. Goode.

Johnny: Will there be sequels to Fairy Godmothers, Inc.?

Jenniffer: Glad that’s over.

Johnny: Tomorrow Never Knows. 

Jenniffer: Ahh. You better Run for Your Life.

Johnny: Sorry. So sequels?

Jenniffer: I’ve currently working on an outline for the sequel for “Fairy Godmothers,” but at the moment I’m finishing up Dreamless. Think of it as Sleeping Beauty, Jenniffer style.

Johnny: Who, besides me, are your favorite authors?

Jenniffer: I bow before the awesome majesty that is Terry Pratchett. I’m not worthy to kiss his boots.

Johnny: What books would you say are like yours?

Jenniffer: Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles.

Johnny: Where on the internet can the cool people who read my blog find more information about you?

Fairy Godmothers Inc. at Jolly Fish Press
TWITTER @wardellwriter

Fairy Godmothers, Inc. on Amazon 
Jenniffer Wardell on Tumblr
Johnny: Thanks for coming to The Blog Mansion.

Jennifer: I Should Have Known Better.

Johnny: You are a Daydream Believer.

Jennifer: I gotta go. I have to catch the Last Train to Clarksville.

Johnny: Do you have a Ticket to Ride?

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Charles Day and an Evil Jester
Artist, Author, publisher, teacher, jack-of-all-trades, and Bram Stoker award® nominee Charles Day dropped by the Blog Mansion the other day to help me clear a sink.

Charles: Really? We’re doing plumbing?

Johnny: Hand me that bucket quick.

Black brackish water - none dare call it sludge - oozed out of the open pipe into the plastic bucket.

J: So Charles, you’re the biggest name I’ve ever had to the Blog Mansion. Can you hold this? Yeah, just like that. I’ll see if I can find a rag.

C: What’? Are you kidding? Me? Have you read my bio? Here read this.

J: Okay, I’ll read, you stick your arm up there and see if you can find the clog.

C: Ah….

"Bram Stoker Award®-nominated author Charles Day A.K.A, the evil Jester, is the Mentor Program Committee Chairperson for the Horror Writers Association and co-chair for their NY/Long Island chapter. He is also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association.

"His biggest success to date is the recent sale of his first YA western horror trilogy Kyle McGertt, Destroyer of the Indian Curses, Book One: The Hunt for the Ghoulish Bartender (Blood Bound Books, Spring 2013)

"He's written the Bram Stoker Award®-nominated YA novel, The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief (Noble YA Publishers LLC,) which has garnered tons of praise from both young and old. His mystery novelette The Plan: A Mystery (Naked Snake Press) and his horror novella LOCKDOWN (Included in Hannibal's Manor, Wicked East Press) which received an endorsement from four-time Bram Stoker award winning author, Lisa Morton, is also available.

"He's also edited his first anthology Tales of Terror and Mayhem: From Deep within the Box (Evil Jester Press, August 2012) compiled with 23 terrifying stories by amazingly talented authors, including four-time Bram Stoker nominated author Jeremy C. Shipp. Includes the debut, never before told story of just how his alter ego, the evil little jester became so damn evil, titled THE GIFT, by Charles Day, edited by Hollie Snider & Jessica Weiss.

He is the founder/owner of Hidden Thoughts Press- Nonfiction collections where the primary focus involves mental wellness and recovery.

"He is also the owner of Evil Jester Press and Evil Jester Comics & Graphic Novels.
 He's proud to mention that owes much of his success to the little guy in the Jester's box, his alter ego, his muse, his best friend. Welcome to his twisted world. You can visit them at or on facebook."

J: That's a long CV, sorry it got wet. Wait. No. That's not water really, is it? I think I ruined it. Here.

C: Keep it.

J: Thanks. How did The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief get a Bram Stoker nomination? Who’d you have to kill?

C: No one actually. It started when my book was placed on the Horror Writer Associations (HWA) “Recommended Reading List” and received a bunch of votes. It was then pulled over to the preliminary ballot with nine other “first novels,” and then was voted by the active members to be pulled over with four others and placed in the “Final Ballot,” which awards you a certificate for a” Bram Stoker award® nominated author,” title. Now I have to wait until the red carpet for horror author’s event and see if my book is in “the envelope,” at the Bram Stoker Award night down in New Orleans on June 15th, 2013.

J: What is it like to be a Co-Chair of the NY/LI Chapter of the New England Horror Writer’s Association? Does that mean it takes two people before anyone can sit down?

C: Too funny. Actually James Chambers and I held our first informal meeting last October while we were in NYC for the NY COMIC CONVENTION. We are looking to hold our next meeting in May. We have some great ideas for our fellow New York/ Long Island region writers.

J: Your KYLE McGERTT series is a “young adult, western, horror.” I heard they had to invent a new Dewey Decimal just for it. What do you have against librarians?

C:  Again, you got me. It’s a trilogy that will be released by Blood Bound Books soon. It is also in the process of being developed into a comic book series.  Here is a working synopsis, but this is not set in a gold nugget.

“A NEW LEGEND IS BORN! Spawned in the Old West from the discovery of a magical gold medallion, now in the hands of a vengeful Indian tribe known as "The Redeemer's." They've summoned a new curse, a terrible evil using a lowly bartender as their bait. However, they only have a piece of this magical gold. The other half is in the hands of eighteen-year-old, Kyle McGertt, who's just taken over responsibility of the medallion since the untimely death of his father, killed in a gunfight by a ruthless gang of marauders, The Dark Riders. Will he take what his Pa taught him to stop this latest curse? Or will the Ghoulish Bartender continue to grow his army of ghouls, destroying and killing innocent townsfolk in their path of destruction? Hell, Kyle's just a boy, still wet behind the ears, weeping and shouting revenge on those who killed his Pa. Can he take on the rule of his father, destroyer of the Indian curses?”

J: That sounded rehearsed, but okay. Crawl a little further under the sink there and see what that gray thing is. Don’t get any in your eyes. Here’s a wrench. When did you start writing?

C: I started writing years ago as a teenager, but only wrote stories that were never completed. My first real writing occurred while employed on a psychiatric ward for 12 years, the last couple of those I would spend my evenings while most of the patients slept, penning my psychological horror Deep Within, which was sold to Alter Press, and hopefully will be out this coming fall, 2013.

J: So you spent twelve years in a psychiatric hospital. What was that like? Why’d they let you go?

C: I’ve been employed in the mental health field about 25 years now (need to feed the family with a good day job) and I’ve met so many interesting people, so it’s easy for me to come up with some characters for my novels. But the years I spent on a secured psych ward where at times, seriously dangerous. When people are at their worst, they tend to do bad things. If not for the big burley male nurses, and the female nurses on my shifts, I may not be here writing and talking. Some of the patients were extremely dangerous when they were first admitted to our floor.  However, most were quickly medicated and there were many enjoyable moments as well, watching people recover from their illness or at least become stabilized so they can go back home.

J: What I always want to know is how you went from young handsome, sexy, handy with a wrench surprise plumber to author. How did you get your first work noticed? What was your path to print?

C: I spent the first two years getting tons of rejections but I also got me 14 acceptances, where my stories were placed in various small press anthologies. It was then I wanted to write, and began penning The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief .

J: That’s bleach. I wouldn’t drink that.

C: Oh, okay. I’m thirsty. Do you have a beer or some juice in your fridge, over there?

J: Might be some beer left over from Jessica's visit. Or shampoo. I'll see. Do you have an agent?

C: Not yet. I have a few bites though.

J: Yeah, I don't know what's in that sludge. I'll get you some lotion.

C: A tetanus shot too.

J: Okay, so not only do you write horror, young adult, western, mystery, blogs, posts, letters and to-do lists, you also edit anthologies, are half a chair and a writing teacher. On top of this you are also a publisher three times over, if I’m counting right, you have your fingers in Evil Jester Press and Evil Jester Comics as well as Hidden Thoughts Press, a non-fiction publishing company. How do you have enough time for all this and what’s next, a movie studio?

C: Shit, I’m still trying to figure all that out. How do I do it? You forgot to add, I have a sweet little four- year-old girl who loves to paint, draw, play pretend, and write. I also need to keep the wife happy too, you know.

J: That slime just moved. Burn it with your flashlight before it gets away.

C: Got it!

J: Besides me, who’re your favorite authors? Who inspired you in your career?

C: Stephen King and Tolkien were big for me in my younger years. Today, I have so many authors who I love, if I had to name a few, I would say Joe Hill, Joe McKinney, Gary Braunbeck, Jonathan Maberry, etc.

J: Do you want to get into the whole “state of the industry” thing? Self-publishing, eBooks, Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble vs. mom and pops?

C: All I can say is the writer has soooooo many choices today to see their work published. No longer does an aspiring writer have to mail out queries to publishers and editors and wait months for an answer. The explosion of small presses, self-publishing opportunities, and more awaits an eager writer. However, I will say this. Do your research, go to conferences, meet people, and fall in love, woops! I meant connect with fellow writers who have done some of the research already, and strategically plan your career.

J: What’s your writing process? How much do you edit? Who gets to give you input?

C: I write the first draft, sometimes with an outline first, or scenes written down on paper, and then its two full edits at least, before I send it off to beta readers.  I also have like four mentors, key to your survival as a new writer.

J: What’s the best thing you ever wrote?

C: I really feel this whole ADVENTURES OF KYLE MCGERTT series is my best. I have so much I want to do with this. The comic book series will take us to new frontiers beyond my book trilogy, and the reader will be introduced to some cool new creatures as well. I’m in the process of getting some great artists to work with me on this. I am an artist too, but want to bring in top talent to bring this imaginary western horror/fantasy world alive. I’m also in discussions with a co-writer.

J: What scares you?

C: The bullshit that’s going on in this world. Terrorism, global warming, mass killing. This is the real horror.

J: Do you know how to do drywall?

C: Not really.

J: Well, there's one thing. What else?

C: I’m not a swimmer, I can’t do interior designing, I leave that to my wife.

J: So where on the interwebs can my faithful readers find out more about you?

C:  I’ll post some here, but I’m an addict of Facebook, so you can find my page, and many of my author pages here. I do need to get a website going . . . someday.
FB: Legend of the Pumpkin Thief
FB: Kyle McGertt Ghoulish Bartender
Evil Jester Press
Evil Jester Comics
Hidden Thoughts Press
J: I think you fixed it. This thing hasn’t worked in years - never actually. You got the faucets to work, you cleared the clog. What was wrong?

C: You had a serious clog!!

J: We should get you to a shower and maybe a safe room.

C: I need it!  Look at me, I’m drenched in slime.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jessica McHugh
author and beer connoisseur
drops by The Blog Mansion
Johnny Worthen: I understand you’re a beer connoisseur. Try this it’s an aged beer.

Jessica McHugh: Beer’s best fresh.

W: Oh? Really? I paid a fortune for this just yesterday in your honor. It’s from 1538.

M: It’s tar.

W: That’s what they drank back then.

M: No. It’s actual tar. How much did you pay for this bucket of tar?

W: Let’s not talk about that right now. MGD?

M: I brought a selection. Let’s drink those.

W: Works for me.

First Beer: Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

W: This is good. Strong. So Song of Eidolons is being re-released this month. Are you changing the dedications to include me this time?

M: I included you in the first dedication. I went on at length about how I love the cozy perch I've made outside your bedroom window and how the binoculars don't do you justice and---I mean, no, all dedications are for my mom.

W: Tell me about Song of Eidolons.

M: "Song of Eidolons" is a story about a 22 year old girl named Delaney Lortal who has never left her grandfather's house. She was raised believing it was normal. When she discovers her grandfather's deceit and finally leaves the house, she starts down an incredible path that reveals many secrets, including why she's been the lifelong target of a group called the Orisanima.

W: How does a re-release work in this day and age?

M: I'm rewriting a lot of the book. Or rephrasing, at the very least. I've gotten great reviews on the book as is, but having grown as a writer since its original release in 2009, I can't stand a lot of the narrative. It's not surprising. I went from writing a fantasy series to writing an Arthurian Legend novel to writing "Eidolons." Everything sounded way too...epic, for lack of a better word. I'm in the auditory revision stage right now, and I hope the book will be released within the month. I'm letting eTreasures Publishing deal with all of the other wackiness.

W: Will you be having a sale on Song of Eidolons?

M: I certainly hope so! But I'm just happy that it will finally be released on Kindle. Song of Eidolons, despite the required prose tweaking, is my favorite story. It was the most effortless writing experience of all of my books.

Second Beer: Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager

W: Cheers! You’ve been writing your whole life. How old were you when you had first book published? What was it? Who published it?

M: Despite many years of childhood, and then drunken, writing, I didn't try to get published until I was 24. My first novel Camelot Lost was released when I was 25 by PublishAmerica. Yeah, yeah, I know.

OW!!! You don't have to throw bottles at my head! I said, I KNOW. PublishAmerica is not a reputable place, and they'll accept anything. Shut up.

The thing is, no one would give me a chance on my Arthurian Legend book. Everyone kept saying it was Mists of Avalon, which proved to me that they didn't bother reading it. Camelot Lost is more about Arthur's sons, Mordred and Amr, than the women in his life. I really loved the story and felt it was original, but I kept getting rejection after rejection. So, despite everything I knew about PA, I decided to submit. OF COURSE they accepted it. The price is too high, and it's not in ebook, but I believe having that one publication helped me get my next one. I finally had "experience." I didn't mention it was a PublishAmerica book in any of my query letters, though. With good reason.
"Five Hundred Year-Old Beer" spilled in Arkansas

W: So do I get a dedication?

M: I'll dedicate my brain damage to you. "For Johnny: thanks to you, I can smell purple."

W: Give me another bottle. You call yourself a speculative fiction author. Why?

M: Speculative Fiction was the only label I could find to describe what I do. I like to dabble in every genre, and I find that my stories are often answers to wacky questions I ask myself. What would happen if a mysterious man showed up in 1600s London with a brand new, super advanced science? That's how my alternate history novel "The Sky: The World" began.

W: Tell me about your alternate history, The Sky: The World.

M: The world is changed by Dr. Azaz, who introduces a crystalline science/technology called Picoepistemology. It allows for the production of planes ahead of the real timeline, as well as regenerative material, but the biggest change is that children are no longer conceived through intercourse. Instead, women bathe in Fertilization Pools filled with programmed picocrystals that allow them to have children with longer, stronger lives. Those who still conceive through the old methods are looked down upon. Captain Jack Racine and his brother are such offspring, known as "triaps." At the start of the book, Jack's brother is killed in a plane crash--under mysterious circumstances. As a lush, cad, and laudanum addict, Jack isn't the noble man his brother was, but he sets out to find out why his brother was killed. The journey leads him and his aerobatic team, The Sherwood Six, down many dangerous paths, including one that leads to Dr. Azaz's door.

W: What should we drink now?

Third Beer:, I mean, how about some Flying Dog Raging Bitch?

W: PINS is now out. I bought a copy for my six year-old niece and got a terrible phone call from my thirty-three year-old sister-in-law. Would you like to tell me why?

M: Hmm, I'm not sure. When I was young, my mom bought me a book called What's Happening to My Body: Book for Girls, which contained just as many euphemisms for "vagina." I used it as research, actually. But I guess descriptive nudity, sapphic scenes, and brutal murders involving malfunctioning pinsetters aren't quite as tame as Goodnight Moon. A horror novel set in a strip club might be more for 6th graders than 6 year-olds.

W: This one is my favorite. I can’t feel my feet anymore.

M: They’re still there.

W: Excellent.

M: We should make some nachos.

W: Buzzkill. You do some acting right? What’s that about?

M: I haven't done any in a while because I didn't think I could juggle a full-time "real" job, a full-time writing job, and a play. But I still feel like an actor as a writer. I think creating compelling characters and dialogue requires some acting ability--in solitude, at the very least. Writers have to live as their characters, speak in their voices, and make realistic decisions based on each one's personality and past decisions. I tend to speak aloud as I write dialogue, usually in an inexplicable British accent. Although I loved my time on the stage, I've come to realize that I'm much better as a playwright, hence winning "Best New Play of 2011" from Baltimore Broadway World for my play "Fools call it Fate."

W: Wow.

Fourth Beer: I feel fat. Let's drink some Bud Light Lime.

W: Your bio says you write short stories and poetry and plays too? Gawd… what don’t you write?

M: Blog posts. I'm terrible at that kind of stuff. I'd rather write about my thoughts and feelings through characters than as myself.

W: What’s your favorite genre, Miss do it all?

M: Don’t get surly.

W: I’m sorry. I’m just envious. I love you, you know? You’re tha bethst. I really love you.

M: Stop crying. Thanks. I do love writing horror. For some reason, I really enjoy describing blood and broken skulls. It might stem from that time I broke someone's skull with my Playskool record player and rolled around in their blood while listening to "Bert & Ernie's Sing Along". But I'm no psychiatrist. I'll leave that up to the pros.
Accidents happen.
It was the dog, I swear

W: I gotta tinkle.

M: Hurry back.

W: No. I'm done. What’s our next beer?

Fifth Beer: Back to good stuff. Flying Dog Woody Creek White.

W: With all your writing I’m surprised you have a day job. Is that necessary or just to keep you plugged in?

M: Actually, this is my first week sans day job. It's terrible. Oh, wait, did I say "terrible?" I meant: IT'S THE BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORRRRRLLLLDDD. My beer bottle is an awesome microphone, by the way. I learned that since quitting my day job, too.

W: Word.

M: It was so tough working a full-time biotech job and jumping straight into writing as soon as I got home. I did it because I had to, but after my husband scored a new, better paying gig, we decided this was the perfect opportunity for me to go freelance. I will have to get a PT job eventually, but right now, I'm just enjoying getting tons of work done. With 7 active works-in-progress and 12 on the back burner, I really needed it.

W: Who helps ya’ with promotion, networking, editing and all that stuff?

M: Well, there's Evil Jess, Funny Jess, Drunk Jess, Honest Jess, and Attention-Whore Jess. And, believe it or not, they're all super hot.

I have an active official Facebook page where I post "DeepThoughtsys" and "McTruths," along with lots of other fun stuff for my fans. I think engaging the audience is extremely important, so I try to keep my posts entertaining and helpful. As far as editing, I usually revise a book/story at least 3 times before I even think of submitting. I also have a few friends who have helped as beta readers and editors in the past, and the publishers' assigned editors are a huge help, but on the whole I do a lot by myself.

I write my stories by hand, type the pages into the computer, print out the manuscript, edit it by hand, type in the changes, lather, rinse, repeat, and lastly, I do an auditory revision on the computer so I can hear the mistakes my eyes missed. It's a long process, but it's worth it.

W: I hear you’re looking into self publishing. Why would ya’ do tha’? Are you drunk?!
Da' Nile


W: Then why are you lying on the floor.

M: For inspiration.

M: Face down? Works for me. Okay, embracing the self-publishing monster. Really?

M: Yes, I'm jumping into self publishing with my collection, "Virtuoso at Masturbation, and More McHughmorous Musings." The collection will contain DeepThoughtsys from my Facebook page, creative prose/poetry prompts inspired by those DeepThoughtsys, AND fan-submitted illustrations. If anyone would the chance to submit, please send me an email at or check out the guidelines at

W: I athume you’re a Lovecraft fan, but who else, besides me, are your favorite authors?

M: Roald Dahl is my favorite author. Of course I love Matilda and The BFG and all of the other kids books, but his macabre short story collections are the best. I love a brilliantly twisted short story, and to me, he's the master.

I also love Bret Easton Ellis. He's a prick, but he's my prick. And how can you *not* love my prick?

W: So, uhm… like, yer links and stuff… what are they?
TWITTER: @theJessMcHugh
Post Mortem Press
Reliquary Press
eTreasures Publishing

Sixth Beer: I think this might be shampoo, but let's go with it.

W: are my feet still there?

M: Nope, now you have meters.

W: Do you like to write drunk?

M: Does a bear shit in the woods for Charmin royalties? OF COURSE.

W: wahgrgbul imtoble?

M: You have a phone contract with Warg Mobile? Tsk tsk, it's prepaid Virgin Orc all the way. Heh, virgin...all the way...this shampoo is good.

W: Tequilla?
Become a Fan of Jessica McHugh on Facebook!

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A member of the Horror Writers Association and a 2013 Pulp Ark nominee, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. Jessica has had twelve books published in four years, including the bestselling "Rabbits in the Garden," "The Sky: The World" and the gritty coming-of-age thriller, "PINS." More info on her speculations and publications can be found at 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Neil Davies didn't want any Thin Mints™.
Author Neil Davies dropped by the Blog Mansion the other day. It was a lovely spring day, the daffodils were popping up in the garden and the peacocks were doing their peacock thing. The free range scorpions were scavenging for grubs under the play structure, while the wolves rolled in the sun. The snow was gone, revealing the winter’s ravages upon the property. I set the servants to pull the bodies out of the maze, swimming pool, wading pool, shark pool, dolphin pool, snake pit, worm pit, bottomless® pit, moat, wall, fence and minefield. It was a perfect day for yard work.

They had a pretty good pile going by the time Neil showed up and I was worried we’d run out of kerosene. I offered him a mint julep and sat with him on the veranda.

Johnny: I hope you didn’t have trouble finding the place.

Neil: No I followed the smoke from those burning bodies and drove right to it.

J: Unexpected benefit; Spring in a nutshell.

N: Are those people in costume?

J: Those must be the Schneiders. I wondered what happened to them Halloween.

I called down to Trevor, my snake master, to make sure he check those clown pockets for eggs before adding them to the pyre. Baby rattlers are pricey, but restocking the Cobras could break me.

Ain't he cute?
J: So your book is called Hard Winter, the Novel, As apposed to what, Hard Winter, the Breakfast Cereal?

N: It started life a few years ago as a short story, published by the Canadian publisher Eternal Press. Then people started wanting to know what happened next so I ended up expanding it into "The Novel".

J: Oh, so you stole the idea. It’s plagiarism. Are you not aware of copyright law? Intellectual Property restrictions? For god’s sake man, have you no respect for others’ work?

N: If it makes any money I'll be sure to sue myself.

J: What is Hard Winter, the Novel about?

N: It's about an average guy, Norman Leonard, who's just trying to get by with his wife in this new ice age when the shit hits the fan, or the ice hits the blizzard or whatever analogy works! Basically there's a tidal wave and something's coming, something other than the glacier that already covers Scotland, and he has to make a run for it. From there things just get worse and, without giving too much away, there are more dangerous things than blizzards and glaciers chasing him.

J: Do you see it as a political book, global warming issues being so hot right now?

N: I'm not big on 'message' books. This is an adventure, with a bit of horror and science fiction thrown in for good measure.

J: Man versus nature. Your villain is a glacier. Not a lot of dialog I take it.

N: It's slow, but it gets its point across eventually.

Across the croquet field, beyond the badminton courts, a crane lifted a brown UPS truck out of the pond. Its sides were crushed and pockmarked by ragged circular bites.

N: What’s in your pond?

J: I don’t know. Miskatonic University leased if for an experiment, somebody mentioned ducks, I think.

N: If Spielberg had called it "Beaks" back in 1975, he might not be the big name he is now.

J: Tell me about being a short story author? Does it pay? What are the benefits?

N: I'm sure it can pay but I've just not been doing it right. Actually I find short stories difficult to write, good ones anyway. I can turn out as many crap ones as you like no problem.

J: Tell me about transitioning from short stories to fiction?

N: You do know Hard Winter: The Novel is my fifth novel? In fact writing novels has always been my first love, but short stories tend to be quicker and are good to start getting your name out there.

J: Yeah, but you've had so many short stories published: twenty-eight according to your site. That's, like a lot. Tell me how you got to be published in the first place. Did your short stories lead you to a publisher or did you have to query. Tell me your journey from writer to author, having a story to having it in print.

N: Okay, so you want the boring stuff. I can do that. I've always written for as long as I can remember. When I was about 9 or 10 years old my teacher used to get me to read out the stories I'd written in class to the other children because she thought they were good. That was the first time I realised other people might actually like some of the stuff I was writing. I taught myself to type on my Dad's old typewriter (because my handwriting has always been appalling) and when my parents bought me my very own typewriter (I think it was a Petite model in its own little carry case) I set up in the garden shed and wrote in there. What I never had was any real self confidence so I never did anything with all those stories. It really wasn't until I met my wife and she started pushing me that I started to send stuff off. No one was more surprised than me when people actually liked it - in fact the very first short story I sent off was to a competition and it won! That was The Midnight Hour. Sorry, this is going on too long. Let's quicken it up a bit. So, some of my stories were published in a free PDF magazine called Estronomicon published by Screaming Dreams in Wales. Steve Upham of Screaming Dreams then decided to go into book  publishing as well and approached me about doing a collection of short stories to be the first Screaming Dreams book. That was the book The Midnight Hour, published in 2005. Since then I've had more short stories published and have put out some work through Amazon's kindle publishing myself. My latest release, as you know, is Hard Winter: The Novel, published by Omnium Gatherum.

J: Like me, you’re working with several publishers. Who’s your favorite?

N: Because I have the strange desire to continue being published I will gracefully decline to answer that.

J: Specifically, how’s Omnium Gatherum?

N: I've found working with Omnium Gatherum to be a really interesting and enjoyable experience. Kate Jonez worked with me as Editor on Hard Winter: The Novel and I have no doubt that her input improved the book. That said, she was always gracious enough to step back if I felt strongly enough about something. That's the kind of Editor I like to work with - one who has some great ideas and suggestions but never forgets whose book it is in the long run.

J: You know they’re going to publish my debut, BEATRYSEL in September. How excited are you to read it?

Neil at this point only smiled. Rather than add him to the pile, I took his expression to mean: “I am so excited that I am speechless with anticipation. The blood circulation in my legs and head has ceased to send blood to other areas which more aptly describe my feelings toward your upcoming book release. It will shake the very pillars of literature for generations to come.”

J: Who besides me are your favorite writers?

N: Well, I keep adding to the list as I like to try different authors every now and then, but these are the main ones (old and new) - Richard Laymon, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, Brian Keene, Graham Masterton, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dennis Wheatley, H Rider Haggard, Steve Gerlach, James Blish, Douglas Clegg, H G Wells, Guy N Smith, Connie Willis, Bram Stoker, John Wyndham and probably a few others I've forgotten at the moment.

J: Do you have an agent?

N: No - although if one's reading this...?

J: I love your book trailer. How’d that happen?

N: I'm very lucky to have as a good friend Mr. Tony Longworth, who as well as being an award winning film music composer, multi-instrumental solo performer and founder of and bass player in Morbid Symphony and Flesh-Resonance, also makes amazing book trailer videos. He was kind enough to put this one together for me. He also did the one for my first short story collection, The Midnight Hour. Don't you hate people who do all sorts well? Pay a visit to to find out more.

J: What’s your writing process?

N: I need quiet and solitude. I envy people who can sit in a crowded room/bar/café and write. I can't even READ in places like that, let alone write! I have to lock myself away upstairs in front of the computer and make myself start writing. Once I've started it's usually okay, but I'm a past master at prevarication. Anything to put off actually having to think of the words. Sometimes I have notes or a rough plan to work to, but mostly it's held in my head and happens as I type. If I'm lucky I'll have an idea where it starts and sort of know where I want it to go, the rest is where the fun comes in.

J: What is it about living in the north of England that makes people write scary stories?

N: Have you ever been to the north of England? Scary stories come naturally! Plus we can people them with well-off people from the south of England and kill them off without the police getting upset. In other words, I've no idea.

J: Man that pile is getting high. Those Jehovah Witnesses, Mormon Missionaries, canvassers, and lawn care guys I don’t care about, but a whole troop of Girl Scouts? That hurts. Maybe we can recover the cookies. It’s never been this bad before. Don’t people read signs?

N: I didn’t see any signs coming in.

J: No? Nothing about “Danger Deadly Blog Mansion Ahead?”

N: No. Only a mailbox.

J: Oh. Well that explains it.

N: It was a hard winter.

J: I see what you did there! Tell me few but growing minion readers where they can find you on the internet

Nate Davie's Digits:
Omnium Gatherum
Amazon - US
Amazon - UK
J: Would you like a Thin Mint?

N: No. There’s blood on the box.

J: They’re still good. They’ve been frozen.