Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jay Wilburn, Wet and Wordy

Jay Wilburn Wet and Wordy
We had a bit of a water leak at the Blog Mansion. The dishwasher was installed incorrectly. I’d hooked it up to the water main instead of a feeder cable. I thought it’d clean things better. Live and learn. The flood didn’t stop me from having Horror Writer Jay Wilburn over for a chat.

Johnny: I called another plumber. The city cut the water off at the pump station. Ignore the phone. I’m sure it’s the aquarium again. They’re so testy.

Jay: Something moved there.

Johnny: Keep your hands and feet inside the boat at all times.

Jay: What was it?

Johnny: Something from Miskatonic University, I’m sure. I lease storage space to them.

Jay: Why don’t we go outside?

Johnny: It’s too hot. Plus we’re close to the fridge here.

Jay: Oh, right.

Johnny: Have a cold one and tell me how many books you have in print?

Jay: I'm in a number of anthologies. SHIFTERS is a charity anthology of which I am quite proud. HORRIFIC HISTORY represents some of my best work. I'm in a shared collection THE DRAGONFLY AND THE SIREN with T Fox Dunham. My novel LOOSE ENDS: A ZOMBIE NOVEL is doing well at the conventions. TIME EATERS will debut at WorldCon, The World Science Fiction Convention, in San Antonio at the end of August.

Johnny: Do you have a favorite?

Jay: LOOSE ENDS represents me well. If only one work survived me, I'd want it to be that.

Johnny: Do you really give yourself a target of three thousand words a day, a million words a year?

Jay: When I started doing this full time, I wanted to be prolific to give myself the best chance of sticking with it. I started getting up into my head and the work suffered a little. I kept getting stuck and falling short. I set my computer to track my word count without me keeping track through Google docs. I check occasionally and I'm staying above 3k most days when I don't think about it. I guess the short answer is yes and sort of.

Johnny: Impressive. How do you do that exactly? What’s your day like?

Jay: I wake up each morning to the sound of a screaming baby. I feed both kids and see my wife off to work. I play with the kids and clean up. I write once they get tired of me and settle into TV. I put the younger one down for a nap and write some more. I get everyone fed for lunch. We play outside, go to the park, go to the beach, or go to the aquarium some days. We come home and the little one will usually take another nap. I write. We do dinner once my wife gets home. I write. We do games, books, baths, bedtime. I write some more. I hang out with my wife. If she watches TV or reads, I write. After she goes to sleep, I write. I look up and it is two in the morning. I go to bed and repeat. Some days I take a nap or go grocery shopping.

Johnny: Before we get into your documentary, what do you think about the state of the industry right now? Specifically the role of the small press, independent publishers, self-published and the dying book chains?

Jay: I benefit greatly from an age when I can write, submit, sign contracts, sell, network, and promote without leaving my living room. It is also tough to stand out from the sea of other authors. Good, small, presses are noble institutions with small, under-rewarded staffs that serve the written word like missionaries in the wilderness.

Johnny: Tell me about your documentary Dark and Bookish.

Jay: We have had a rough year in terms of losing some legendary authors in the dark fiction universe. It has come to light from a few well-known authors, and in some cases their widows, how much of a hand-to-mouth industry writing has become. Even the most successful make less than some of their readers in some cases. With traditional publishing shifting so dramatically in the Internet Age, there seems to be a new paradigm at play in the writing world that most people, including readers and writers, don't fully know. Dark and Bookish is going to focus on five featured authors including myself, Max Booth III, Derek Deremer, Jessica McHugh, and Adam Millard. We will tour part of the United States in the summer of 2014 including conventions, bookstores, and other events. The tour will serve as a stage to gather the stories of writers, publishers, book sellers, and readers to uncover this full story. I believe there is an important story to be told about the storytellers and the written word.

Johnny: You should swing by the Blog Mansion, or my house in Utah. I’ll be out in September with BEATRYSEL. (shameless plug)

Jay: We want to hear from everyone willing to tell us their story. In the next few months, we are going to pinpoint the window of the actual tour and where those stops will take us. We are also going to be producing a few unique publications to help fund the tour and documentary. Those announcements will be coming soon.

Johnny: So, do you think it’s possible to make a living in this business?

Jay: It's possible to live on the streets. On the other end of the spectrum, a few scratch out a true living. Others have a hybrid superhero career of office worker by day and word villain by night. Most people think my version of quitting my job and writing is stupid or insane. My son was sick and one of us had to stay home. I took my shot. Without daycare and after school, I only need to make half as much as I used to require. I have a little time to etch out next year's paycheck. I may be stupid or insane. One truth is that everything in this business worked for someone right up until everyone started doing it. This pattern repeats over and over because there are a lot of people scrapping. I discovered the author ranking feature on Amazon Author Connect recently. I've zig-zagged between 11,000 and 40,000. Not bad for the millions of would-be writers. Probably need to move up a bit if I want to pull down a check.

Johnny: What are you working on now?

Jay: Argh, something hit the boat.

Diver appears and takes off his mask.

Diver: I got the dishwasher hooked up but I can’t test it until the water’s back on.

Johnny: Can't you see I’m busy?

Jay: Why don’t you open the door and drain the water out?

Johnny: You have no appreciation for decorating. The first floor is now a “water feature." So what are you writing now?

Jay: I'm creating an entry for the Jim Henson Company's Dark Crystal contest, I'm outlining a novella for a joint release from the Dark and Bookish authors, I'm hammering out a fourth novel, I'm fixing a completed third novel, I'm getting ready to deal with the edits on TIME EATERS, my second novel, and I'm always answering short story calls of every stripe.

Johnny: Why horror?

Jay: Darkness reveals truth in a sharper way than any other tool. To me, it is like asking why irony, why symbolism, or why dialogue. What people fear tells a lot about their entire person. What makes people angry reveals their motivation. What people do when they suffer tells their story. Horror does all this best. I appreciate light more when it shines through darkness.

Johnny: My patented question: how did you first go from writing a story to getting it in print?

Jay: I entered a zombie story contest with what would become Dark Moon Digest and I came in third. It was enough to make me believe my own myth.

Johnny: Has it gotten easier?

Jay: I'm better. My moments of greatness are popping through my stretches of pretty good more often. The ugly moments of average are showing up less. I see my problems more easily and that has made it tougher. I'm trying to recapture that raw edge I find in my early stuff when I reread it. I want to use that without losing any of the skill I've picked up through my million words of practice.

Diver: I patched the water main. You can tell the city to – Ughhhh –

Jay: Was that a tentacle? We should help him!

Johnny: I’m not getting in there.

Jay: You’re ruining your carpets. Is that blood?

Johnny: I hadn’t thought of that. Help me paddle over to the door. Where on the internet can my peeps find out more about you?
TWITTER @AmongTheZombie
PUBLISHERS: Hazardous Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Cruentus Libri, Angelic Knight, Dark Moon Books, and many more.

Diver: If there’s nothing else, I’ll be leaving. Sorry about your octopus.

Johnny: I doubt it was an octopus.

Jay: Are you okay? Who’s leg is that?

Diver: Not mine.

Johnny: So that’s what’s happened to the other plumber.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tommy B. Smith's poisonous interview

Tommy B. Smith (right)
is treated to poison
Horror writer Tommy B. Smith drops by the Blog Mansion for some Poisonous talk.

Johnny: I have to admit I don’t know much about Arkansas. I think my great-grand parents are from there. Oh, and I was in Li’l Abner in school.

Tommy: Western Arkansas is much like eastern Oklahoma — lots of trees, unpredictable weather — but without the casinos.

J: I mail ordered some moonshine for your visit. It came in a burlap sack addressed to the “Blog Mansion.” No address, just “Blog Mansion.” Go USPS. Have a swig.

T: Once upon a time, I might have loved this, but right now I think it’s beginning to burn a hole in my stomach.

J: Maybe it’s the crowd I hang around, but what is it about the South that makes people want to write horror stories?

T: There is a lot of dark history in the South, and many locations which are evocative of it. “Southern Gothic” is a loose sub-genre explored by some who are familiar with what some of these settings can convey, for example, but I wouldn’t classify much of my own work as gothic even if some others have referred to it as such. I have explored some of the local history here in the border town where I live, and it offers some interesting possibilities for my writing. Not long ago, I wrote a short story which was based here (something I have never done before), but set almost a century earlier, when it was a much different place and a far more unpredictable one.

J: I read Poisonous, but my reader (Hi Mom) has not. Tell her about it:

T: Poisonous is the story of the Living Poison, a force which pervades a girl, Lilac Chambers, and warps her to commit acts of violence while lending her the heightened physical abilities to accomplish them. Others who come into her life often suffer for the destructive entity inside her, and Lilac’s path is often one of isolation. Other central characters include a retiring detective and the ringmaster for a traveling circus, both of whom become ensnared in the havoc and must scramble for some way to defy the Living Poison.

J: Did the idea of a living poison come to you from drinking moonshine?

T: No, that was mostly gin.

J: How does this compare to the whiskey you make at home?

T: Moonshining isn’t really my forté. If I did try to make some of it, it probably wouldn’t be drinkable. It might even be poisonous. That’s what happened when I wrote a book.

J: I thought everyone made moonshine in Arkansas. I thought it was like scrapbooking out here.

T: We have liquor stores now, so many people don’t bother anymore unless they live, say, way out in the hills or something.

J: I heard you were musical. Can you play me something? Here’s a jug. Or are you more a washboard kind of guy?

T: Years ago, I played the keyboard and worked on some musical projects, while at some point I became the lead vocalist of a couple of different bands. I enjoyed the creative process and appreciated the musical end of it but encountered numerous issues which overwhelmed those aspects. By around the early 00’s, things weren’t working out and I fell away from it, weary of swimming in a sea of disappointments. It wasn’t so long afterward that I returned to my writing, which I had done for many years before, although previously for myself rather than for publication or for the public. I made a sort of tribute to those years when I wrote the short story “Bottled Rituals,” which was featured a few years ago in the Heavy Metal Horror anthology.

J: How’d you get into writing?

T: I’ve been consumed by creative energies for as long as I recall. It’s easier for me to find an outlet for it than to try to resist being who I am. In the beginning, picking up a pen or a pencil provided this outlet. These years later, it’s a computer keyboard. My experiences have, over the years, shifted my writing to a darker angle, resulting in the material that everyone has seen from me in the past years until today.

J: Tell me about your short stories.

T: As far as writing goes, it’s all I did for years. I write horror, but I also write fantasy. I wrote a short story called “Walls Between Worlds” which is more of a psychological thriller. Years ago, I wrote a story called “Mechanized,” the only science fiction-styled story I have ever written. I’m apt to genre-hop at any given second, but there are certain tendencies in the direction of my writing which indicate “dark fiction” as an accurate reply when I’m being asked what I write.

J: I can’t feel my hands. Nuts, I spilled some on my notes. Is it supposed to burn the paper like that?

T: Should we be drinking this? I hope it isn’t kerosene.

J: It’s melting the plastic clipboard.

T: It isn’t kerosene then.

2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners.
Neither Tommy or I are among them
J: It’s ironic. Last year the Horror Writers Association meeting was in Salt Lake City and I didn’t even know it. I could have walked there. This year, when I really wanted to go, it’s too far, but a corn-cob pipe throw for you. I’m envious. Tell me about the World Horror Convention. Was it as cool as I thought it would be?

T: A large portion of it is something of a writer’s conference with horror as its focus; there are panels, workshops, readings, interviews, book signings, and much more, including parties and of course, this convention was held in conjunction with the Bram Stoker Awards. In attendance you’ll find a variety of the genre’s fans, authors, artists, publishers, and other contributors from those new to the business to those who have been in it for quite a long time. It’s useful to plan from the programming schedule, I’ve found, because there is always something going on.

J: Gossip. What really happened in New Orleans? Give me the dirt.

T: But...if I spill all of the dirt in this interview, I won’t be able to blackmail anyone. I will say that I enjoyed meeting those familiar and new alike, and taking in the various and differing perspectives from those in the business. I enjoyed the opportunity to have a drink with some of my fellow creators and engage in some entertaining and sometimes ludicrous conversation, also. On Friday night, I was present at the mass signing along with many of the other authors who were at the convention, all signing copies of our books for not only those attending the convention, but the general public as well. On a few occasions, my wife and I took opportunities to wander through the city and absorb what we could of it, although there wasn’t as much time available as we would have liked. We hit Bourbon Street just about every night, and somewhere in the middle of everything we found time to visit the St. Louis Cemetery #1, the (supposedly) #1 most haunted cemetery in the United States, which houses the tomb of Marie Laveau, the “Voodoo Queen” of New Orleans.

J: I feel sick. How is this stuff made?


J: I’m always curious how people first get their works in print. What was your journey to a published book?

T: As mentioned, I wrote short stories for years, and the very concept of Poisonous began with a short story of mine published several years ago, around 2007. About a year after that, I revisited the events of the short story and began to expand on its outcome, to write another Living Poison story. The outcome was the novella, Poisonous.

J: Who are your favorite authors? Who’s influenced you?

T: I have numerous favorites. I enjoy the classic works that are thought to have molded much of genre fiction (i.e. Lovecraft, Blackwood, Howard, Tolkien, Dunsany, Poe as well although I’m not such a fan of poetry in general but I certainly enjoy the short stories; I’ll throw Richard Matheson in also) and when we slide into the matter of “modern” fiction my tastes branch into numerous works and authors wherein my favorites might shift by the week. When asked of their influences, I’ve noticed that many authors smack down a list of anywhere from five to thirty authors’ names. You probably won’t see me give this precise of an answer. Although my reading habits have held some influence on a few stories I’ve written in the past, my primary influences are experiences, discoveries, the world, and my world.

J: What are you working on now?

T: I’m always writing new short story material. Regarding longer works, I’m actually writing another story set in the city of St. Charles, where the events of Poisonous take place, although this is not a sequel to Poisonous.

J: What are your links?

My author website is at

I’m on Facebook at

Anyone interested in what I’m doing is welcome to find me at either or both.

J: I can’t finish this. It's Poisonous. Are my eyes turning yellow?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Magical interview with Teri Harman

Teri Harman plays with magic
Teri Harman, author of Blood Moon drops by the Blog Mansion just before summer solstice to talk about witches.
Johnny: That K’Apta Cremp. He’s a homunculus and he bites. Be careful.

Teri: Where did you get it?

J: I’m a practicing Magician. He’s on loan.

T: From whom?

J: I’d tell you but it could get dicey. It’s part of the contract, “must not be named” and all that.” Don’t step out of the salt circle, by the way. The room is charged.

T: I’m afraid to ask.

J: Oh, look out K’Apta Cremp is on fire again. He does that all the time to get attention. Ignore him.

T: Shouldn’t we put him out?

J: I honestly don’t know how. You’ve got to be excited. Your book’s to be released in just a couple of days. Tell us about Blood Moon?

T: Us?
(is this a great cover or what?)

J: There are others watching.

T: Well, hello Others! Blood Moon is a witch fantasy for teens and adults. It’s the story of Willa and Simon, a young couple, who’ve had strange abilities all their lives, but never known why. Willa sees real events in her dreams and her best friend is a ghost. Simon can sense others’ emotions, intentions and heal with a touch. One night, prompted by one of Willa’s bizarre dreams they rescue a woman held prisoner in the basement of an old Victorian home. This catapults them into the alluring, but dangerous world of witchcraft. Answers to all their questions are in reach, but there’s a seriously evil Dark witch eager to destroy the Light witches.

J: Magic and Witches, huh? Do you use the Agrippa, Waite, Crowley or Dr. John Dee Enochian system’s as source material? Or are you influenced by Gerald Garnder’s post-modern paganism?

T: The magic in the Moonlight Trilogy is based on Wicca and Natural Magic, specifically the techniques and lore found in Scott Cunningham’s books.

J: Where did you get your training in witchcraft?

T: I was born a witch ;) Oh, and I read a whole bunch of books.

J: Are you worried about upsetting real witches?

T: I hope not. I hope they appreciate the history and references to their culture in the book.

J: What’s your background? Where’d you go to school?

T: I have a BS degree in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Utah. Yeah, I know – that has nothing to do with writing books or witches. What can I say – I thought I was being more practical. Turns out being practical can’t squash a dream. However, my first published articles, how I started in my writing career, were about fitness. So it all worked out.

J: What’s the setting of Blood Moon?

T: Blood Moon is set in the fictional town of Twelve Acres, Colorado. A small town in the mountains, not far from Denver.

J: How does the Magic system you invented work? What are the Six Gifts, or is that too many spoilers?

T: Most of what I read in my research referred to the roots of magic being in the earth, in the elements. All trees, flowers, plants, stones, everything in the earth, have specific magical properties. I used that as my jumping off point and created The Six Gifts: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Dreams and Mind. Each witch is born with one dominate talent or Gift. They can work magic of all kinds, but are always the strongest in their Gift. A True Coven, or a powerful coven, is created by having one of each of these gifts all the same sex. Binding two True Covens, one male, one female, creates what I call a Covenant. The Covenant is the most powerful of witch circles and the battle in Blood Moon is over whether the Light witches or the Dark will be able to Bind these powers.


J: What do you think makes a book “Young Adult,” how does Blood Moon fit into that definition?

T: Traditionally, it’s the age of the main character. Blood Moon kind of hangs out in-between categories, a little too old for standard young adult, but too young for adult. It fits in a new category called New Adult. Willa and Simon are 18 and 19, struggling to make the transition from teenager to adult while discovering the magic. So the book can be enjoyed by teenagers AND adults.

J: This is the first book of a trilogy. How goes the work on the next ones?

T: Great! I’m almost done with book 2, Black Moon. The story has taken some exciting turns and I can’t wait to hear what readers think.

J: What’s your writing process? Do you light a candle, burn incense to your muse?

T: Ha, ha! No. I have three young children, so there are no open flames allowed. My kids are 7, 5, and 3. I write in constant chaos, interrupted every few minutes. But I’ve learned to work in the craziness and still be productive. Somehow everything gets done.

J: I met you once before at a book signing do you remember?

T: Of course. Adrienne Monson’s launch for Dissension. You showed me your cool little writing notebook and wore a tie-dye shirt.

J: You clipped your fingernails in the back do you remember? I wonder what ever happened to those fingernails?

T: I properly disposed of them so that no Dark witch could use them to cast a spell against me.

J: You know it’s possible for an industrious Sympathetic Magician not afraid to dumpster dive to use fingernails in a spell. That’s the basis if the Voodoo doll you know.

K’Apta Cremp
T: Well, obviously. That’s what I just said.

J: So how are you feeling?

T: Tired – things are super crazy right now. But it’s also because I’m super excited. This has been a long, hard journey and I can’t wait take the next step. I think I’ll do a few energy spells.

J: You have promotional advantages most authors don’t have. Tell me about your connections to the media.

T: I started writing articles and doing book reviews for KSL and Deseret News, two big news outlets here in Utah, a little over two years ago. I was given a bi-weekly book column for shortly after I started and I also do regular book segments on Studio 5, Utah’s #1 lifestyle show. Both of these opportunities I asked for, proposed to the editors and producers, and was fortunate that both said yes. Never be afraid to ask.
J: Tell me your journey from writer to author, how you hooked up with a publisher.

T: It took me six years, three books and enduring over 100 rejections. Blood Moon was the third book I wrote and the one that got me a literary agent and a publisher. In the spring of 2012, my brother attended a publishing fair at BYU. Afterward, he told me about Jolly Fish Press, a brand new publisher, eagerly accepting submissions. I passed the contact info onto my agent and she submitted my manuscript. A few weeks later I finally had a publishing deal – and a trilogy at that. It was fate.

J: Where can people find out more about you?



TWITTER @TeriHarman



J: So with so much fame and publicity power, I’m sure your book will be a hit.

T: Thanks. I don’t know about ‘so much fame and publicity power’. But I sure hope it helps.

J: Here take this.

T: What is it?

J: It’s an amulet. It’ll ward off the evil eye.

T: Thanks.

J: Or it’ll attract demons to you.

T: Which is it?

J: Witch indeed. Can I count on your help when my books come out?

T: Absolutely. A true witch shares the magic.

J: Here sign this contract. K’Apta Cremp has a pen for you.

T: There’s no ink in the pen.

J: Use your imagination.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Terron James is a HOT new author

Terron James is a HOT new author
Tooele resident and author Terron James’s young adult series, Beholders, is about to kick off with INSIGHT. I invited him to the Blog Mansion to talk about it, but took proper precautions.

Terron: (waving his hands wildly)

Johnny: You have to push the button to talk. I can’t hear you.

Terron: (pushing the button) Why am I in this room? Why is the door locked?

J: Calm down Terron you’re in an annihilation room. I have three in the mansion. This one is red, see? For the University of Utah - go Utes! I thought you’d like it.

T: What’s an annihilation room?

J: It’s basically a flash furnace. Can you see this red button here through the reinforced glass window? If I push it, the room fills with fire. Gets up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 1300 degrees Celsius, if you’re all metric.

T: Why would you do that?

J: Civil Defense. You live in Tooele. There’s nerve gas in Tooele and other nasties because of that army base. You could be and probably are contaminated. I have sensors in there measuring your respiration and radiation levels. Can’t be too careful.

T: I don’t feel safe in here.
The Red Annihilation Room

J: Come on, you’re from Tooele. This is everyday for you. Let’s talk about your book. The oxygen supply in there won’t last forever.

T: Alright, I’ll play along, but don’t try to keep me locked up in here or I’ll go all True Sight on your silly compound and this ridiculous annihilation room. I’m surprised, really. I thought someone as quick-witted as you would see through the government lies about Tooele.

J: What lies?

T: About the contamination. It’s all a cover up for the real danger lurking out there.

J: Real danger?

T: Yup, and you’re looking right at him. Yours truly spontaneously combusted last fall after reading a bad essay about Animal Farm from one of my junior high students.

J: (fingers the red button): Really?

T: (laughs): Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya. That is the case with Pree, though. It’s a small village on the outskirts of Appernysia. There’s a 17-year-old boy living there named Lon Marcs who especially likes to cause people pain with his magic. Not on purpose, though, and it hurts him worse than it hurts them.

J: Oh, ho! You got me with that one! I’m guessing that we’re talking about your book, right?

T: Now you’re catching on.

J: So, anyway, how does Appernysia compare to other fantasy worlds? Will your readers be surprised or find familiar friends?

T: That’s a good question. Open the door and I’ll tell you.

J: Nah. You look good through the glass, like an antique in a display window.

T (sighs): I suppose I had that one coming, even though I am half your age.

J: Touche. (fingering red button).

T: Ok, let’s get back on topic. Appernysia… it’s a fantasy world, built around the magic system True Sight. It is a little different, though. There aren’t any elves or dwarves in Appernysia. Just humans, with some fascinating creatures hinted at around the edges of the story.

J: No elves or dwarves? Wouldn’t that get a little boring?

T: Of course not! Didn’t you read Chronicles of Narnia ?

J: That's the one with the talking cat and the TARDIS right?
T: No, it's the – Wait. Yeah, I guess that's the one.

J: I read the first one. There were no elves or dwarves so it got boring. What were you saying?

T: I was saying that Appernysia is built around two groups of humans, the Kingdom of Appernysia and the banished Rayders.

J: Awesome! Like Rayders of the Lost Arc?

T: What? I thought you were an author. You totally spelled that wrong. It’s Raiders of the Lost Arc, not Rayders.

J: Spelled it wrong? We’re talking to each other. How could I spell it wrong?

T: Ah, riiiiigggggghhhhht. Well, either way, these Rayders were named after their leader, Bors Rayder, who led them in a catastrophic rebellion at the end of the First Age of Appernysia.

J: (yawns): Man, that was a total data dump. I hope your whole book isn’t like that.

T: Actually, not at all. Jolly Fish Press really helped me clean it up. Now INSIGHT moves faster than a chicken with a donkey and a fish!

J: Another book reference?

T: Yeah. That was a quote from Mumbling Myron, the crazy guy who protected Lon and his family.

J: You’ve mentioned Lon a couple times, so let’s focus on that. Lon Marcs, youthful, strapping, young adult protagonist. Tell me about him. How much like me is he?

T: Nothing at all. He’s young, kind, compassionate, good looking, thoughtful, and especially dangerous with the sword and with True Sight.
J: Ouch.

T: You asked.

J: Didn't you say he hurts people sometimes?

T: Touche.

J: Moving along, how long did it take to write INSIGHT?

T: Two years to write, three years to edit. It’s been a long road since 2008, but I’m glad to be here. Well, not HERE, but at this stage in my life. I still want out of this room.

J: All in due time. How goes the work on the next installment of Beholders?

T: I’m finished with the rough draft of book 2. I just need to clean it up. The faster people buy book 1, the faster book 2 will come out. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until June 1, 2014.

J: Done already? What’s your writing process to pump these bad boys out so fast?

T: Good tunes through sound-reducing headphones, while sitting at my computer in the wee hours of the night, when the world is void of noise, responsibility, and distractions.

J: That was very poetic. Have you been working on that response for a long time?

T: Yup.

J: What authors influenced Insight? 

T: Hrm... INSIGHT has been compared to the writings of Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Robert Jordan (my neighbor on the bookshelf), Brandon Sanderson, and even a few obscure references to Larry Correia. Perhaps Correia was thrown into the mix because he had a similar “rise to fame” story as mine, starting out by trying to market his own books. Either that, or Corriea and I both like to blow stuff up, in our own respective genres, that is.

J: What was your journey to finding a publisher?

T: Short or long version?

J: (motions toward red button): Let’s keep it short. I have a life outside of this compound, you know.

T: Fair enough. I wrote about 35 queries to literary agents, all of which were rejected. Gave up on the whole traditional publishing idea, but then I met Jolly Fish Press at monthly meeting for the Tooele Chapter of the League of Utah Writers. The Executive Editor and I hung out for an hour after the meeting, swapping publishing ideas and chatting about my book. He invited me to query them, and we signed a contract two months later. Ta da!

J: You seem like a stable, well-adjusted University of Utah English major graduate.

T: (coughs) With an emphasis in Creative Writing. (coughs)

J: Uh, ok. Well, congratulations on finding the only two careers you were ever prepared for: writing and teaching. Tell me about teaching.

T: Love it! It took me a couple months to learn all their names, but now I’ll never forget them. I’ve added 130 new children to my own 4 boys. Inspiring youth to love and read literature is one of my biggest focuses, in both careers.

J: How about the U of U? Who influenced you there?

T: I made a lot of friends, considering that it took me 10 years to earn my BA, but one that stands out above the rest is Lance Olsen. He’s made quite a name for himself in the literary world, and was just given a Guggenheim Fellowship last spring. If you haven’t heard of the G-word before, it’s a very prestigious writing award. Google it. Anyway, Lance is one of those guys who loves his red pen. If you can handle his intense feedback, you will learn oodles of info about writing. One of his popular sayings is, “Your writing is only as good as the best book you’ve read in the past six months.” Totally true.

J: Social networking has been a key element in the publicity leading up to your book launch. Can you speak to that?

T: Yeah, look me up on FaceBook, Twitter, and Goodreads to catch up on the fun. I especially love embarrassing myself on FaceBook. Actually, just today, I posted a funny video of a—

J: Uh, huh. How long have you lived Tooele?

T: Six years this summer. Before that, West Valley City, Holladay, West Jordan, and Kearns. All Utah cities.

J: Does Tooele still conduct regular tests of their warning siren?

T: You bet! (How did you hear about that?) Every Wednesday at 4 pm, “This… is a test… of the… Tooele… Emergency… Broadcast… System…”

J: Are you immune to nerve agents or just tolerant?

T: Addicted. Next question.

J: Ooh, I got a reading when you said that! An actual spike!

T: Told you.

J: Are your affairs in order?

T: Are yours?

J: Oh, hey, another jump on my readings. Radiological this time. You are a man of many poisons.

T: Does this have something to do with my book coming out before yours?

J: Why would it? I mean we’re both U of U alumni, we’re both YA writers in the same state, with the same publisher. I’m a little older than and wiser than you, why shouldn’t your book come out first? I’m not bitter. I’m not jealous. How dare you suggest such a thing. That really pisses me off.


J: Ooh another jump. A big one that time. What were we talking about?

T: Umm… we were talking about the blurb, the “hook” as you sometimes call it.

J: Were we? Okay, what is it?

T: Of my book? (clears throat) INSIGHT follows Lon Marcs, a 17-year-old boy who discovers he is the first Beholder in over a thousand Appernysian years. Everyone with political power is hunting him, but his biggest concern is his own safety. Because he’s the only person in Appernysia who wields the power of True Sight, he has no idea how to control it. As a consequence, the magic itself starts to kill him. Unlike other epic fantasies, INSIGHT is not typical, “Gain the power and save the good guys!” type of novel. In fact, it’s often hard for readers to decide who the good guys are. INSIGHT blurs the lines separating right from wrong.

J: Impressive, and intriguing!

T: Thank you.

J: What do you think makes a book Young Adult versus Adult?

T: With INSIGHT, it’s appropriateness of content. Nothing in my book will make a parent uncomfortable sharing with their children. However, even older folks love this book. I wrote INSIGHT in a way that it can be enjoyed at the reader’s level, be it fourth grade or collegiate. It will challenge you no matter who you are.

J: Speaking of challenges, just in case things go badly for you here, and posterity wants to study you, where on the net can my readers find your tragic history?







J: My people say you can have human contact provided you’re in a lead suit with a respirator.

T: No they don’t.

J: (eyeballs red button) What was that?

T: Okay, okay. Good idea. I’ve been meaning to buy a suit. 

J: Good.

T: You know, Johnny, when your book comes out, I’ll do all I can to help you.

J: You will?

T: I promise.

J: Okay. Thanks. You can come out now.

J: … oh, oh my… who mislabeled these buttons?