Thursday, May 29, 2014

Aurelio Rico Lopez III - Thirdy at the Blog Mansion

Aurelio Rico Lopez III

Aurelio Rico Lopez III had a reservation for the Blog Mansion months ago but got bumped by the Shriners, then the Shower Curtain People, Cinco de Mayo and that unfortunate addiction addicts intervention. (You’ll be happy to know that Marge is recovering well and is still working her steps.)

Aurelio Rico Lopez III’s friends call him Thirdy, by the way. I’m going to try it.

Johnny: Sorry it took you so long to get in, Thirdy. You know how it is.

Thirdy: How is it?

J: I’m lazy.

T: That would explain why you’re talking to me in your underwear.

J: And I had to dig these out of the hamper before I opened the door.

T: You mean while you opened the door.

J: Yeah. More eye bleach?

T: Nah, I‘m good.

J: You write scary stories. I’m sure you’ve seen worse than me in my underwear.

T: Not much worse.

J: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?

T: That’s a tough one. Probably my short story Black Coffee. I don’t know what it was about that tale, but writing it gave me goosebumps.

J: For me it was the confession that I answer the door in my underwear.

T: I can see that.

J: Sorry. I’ll adjust. More bleach?

T: Maybe just a touch.

J: So you’re doing werewolves. Tell me about Cry Wolf.
T: Cry Wolf was a novella I wrote for Crowded Quarantine Press. It’s a werewolf apocalypse tale set in Iloilo City, Philippines. In my novella, the world is overrun with werewolves. Only a few men who call themselves hunters, stalk and kill the beasts, but it’s a battle that mankind is losing.

J: It’s a short book. Do you always write short books?

T: I have found that my comfort zone falls between ten thousand to fifteen thousand words. Perhaps someday, I will write a piece that’s longer.

J: Madness Inherent is a little longer. What’s it about?

T: Madness Inherent was published by JWK Publishing early this year.  The book is actually two novelettes: Wretched, which is about a demon slayer, and Easier Dead Than Done, a story about a vampire.  Don’t you worry.  My vampires don’t sparkle.

J: Food for the Crows. Zombies. Zombies are cool. Tell me about your zombies. Are they fast or slow, brains or muscle diet? My zombies move depending on the amount of decay and damage their bodies have sustained.  Personally, I prefer fast zombies to the ones that are reduced to shuffling around.  As far as diet goes, the zombies in Food for the Crows will eat just about anything with a pulse.

J: How long do you think underwear should last? I think you wear them until they disintegrate on their own, others say longer. What’s your opinion?

T: I think once the flies start buzzin’, it’s time for a changin’.

J: Well who asked you?

T: You did.

J: Touché. Tell me, do you set your books in the Philippines?

T: So far, all of my novellas and novelettes have been set in the Philippines, but most of my short stories haven’t. Once, I had to set a story in the Wild West for an anthology.  I’ve never met a real cowboy, never worn a pair of boots, and never fired a gun before. I spent an entire week watching cowboy films for research. Thankfully, I pulled it off, and my story was included in the anthology. Boxers or briefs?

T: Boxers.

J: Interesting.

T: Really? Umm... Do you have a robe or something?

J: Are you cold?

T: I was thinking of one for you.

J: Oh. Nope. Speaking of horror. What attracts you to write it?

T: The first novel I remember reading was The Vision by Dean Koontz. After that, I was hooked. Horror is like a trip to a funhouse. You scare yourself senseless, but you keep coming back.

J: Have you tried any other genres? Middle grade picture books perhaps when not fighting zombies and werewolves and such?

T: Back in college, I wrote a couple of children’s stories for local magazine. It didn’t last though.

J: I always ask. Tell me about your journey from writer to author.

T: My mother was an English teacher, so growing up with her was like being in a classroom 24/7.  All the mid-sentence corrections were a pain, but my mom is the reason I got into reading and writing. I joined the school paper (in high school and again in college). Many of my friends enjoyed hanging out and doing the silly things kids do. I did a lot of that too, but a large portion of my time was spent reading and writing.

When I finally had access to the Internet, I sent some of my stories to online zines and print publications.

The rest, I guess, is history.
J: How’d you hook up with Crowded Quarantine Publications? How are they to work with?

T: I think I first discovered them on  I sent Adam Millard a query, telling him I’d recently finished writing a zombie novella (Food for the Crows).  He emailed me a few days later, saying he’d love to see it, so I sent it along.  A month or so later, I got another email from Mr. Millard.  He said he’d love to publish my novella. I was ecstatic! This was the first time I’d ever sold a book. I was smiling for days.

J: What are you working on now? What’s your next book?

T: My latest book is a collection of short stories called Nothing’s Fine (JWK Publishing).  Currently, I’m working on a new novella entitled Crawlers.  I can’t tell you what that’s about yet.  Hehehe.

J: Where on the vast and powerful, soon to be extinct because of greedy corporate monsters and the NSA, internet can peeps find out more about you?

T: I’m on Facebook, so if anyone wants to talk about horror movies, books, music, coffee, tarantulas, anime, etc., just send me an invite.  I also have an author’s page on

J: Hey I just noticed, there’s a hole in my underwear.

T:  Yeah, about that... I’m gonna need more eye bleach.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN Autographed Book Giveaway!

I'm giving away at least one, possibly more autographed copies of ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN. These will come from my personal collection, will be first edition and loving signed by yours truly.

No purchase necessary, but I will remember you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, May 22, 2014

L. K. Hill - Citadels of Fire & Rocket Cats

L. K. Hill
16th Century
Today The Blog Mansion welcomes L.K Hill, who I will call Liesel, because that’s her freakin’ name - what’s with all the initials lately? Anyway, her new book is CITADELS OF FIRE an historical fiction set in medieval Russia at the time of Ivan the Terrible. It was the perfect chance to walk her through the hall of portraits. I don’t get there nearly enough. It’s hard to find.

Liesel: Are all these your relatives?

Johnny: Mine or somebody else’s.

L: These look are very old.

J: This is the 16th Century corridor. I thought it the most fitting since that’s the setting for your book. The 16th Century, not my corridor of pictures.

L: I knew what you meant.

Ivan the Terrible
J: Why was Ivan called Ivan the Terrible?

L: Terrible actually didn't have quite the same connotation in the 16th century as it does now. Back then, it meant awe-inspiring or amazing. It's like in old English when they talk about great and terrible deeds. His name came from all the great things he accomplished for his country. His subjects were in amazement of him.

J: Is he a character in your book?

L: Yes. He's a secondary character, but the story is set against the backdrop of his reign, which was often quite bloody.

J: That one is Jason the Miserable. He was miserable. And that over there, that’s Susan the Big Boned. But I don’t know. Could have been carbs.

L: Agreed. They weren't big on nutrition when these people were alive. Hopefully she had a big husband, unlike Agatha the Bigfoot who married Pipin the Short.

J: What’s the attraction of 16th Century Russia for a fiction?

Barbara the Loose-Bladdered
L: It's such a different time and culture. There are things that will be quite alien to readers, but also the same human problems that many face today, which they will be able to identify with.

J: Yeah, okay. So tell me about it.

L: This is a world where there are profound extremes. The nobles lived in gluttonous excess while the poor were ground into the mud. Saying one wrong thing could get you killed, and nowhere and nothing is safe. Just surviving was a grueling feat, and nothing was fair. Yet, people still lived, loved, raised their children, and tried to make lives for themselves. They still battled themselves, their enemies, and other people around them, trying to make their lives better. Meanwhile, battles were fought around them, and the great Kremlin wall overshadowed them all.

J: Cool. Do you like that one there? That’s a portrait of Larry the Liver-Spotted. And that one next to it is of Barbara the Loose-Bladdered. He never married. That’s Neal the Plague Breath. Hey is there plague in CITADELS OF FIRE?

L: No. It's mentioned because it was a part of life back then, but it's not a huge part of the plot. There are other things, though. Namely fires, wars, illness, and other deadly situations.
J: Tell me about the characters in your book. Do they have cool titles too? Inga the Protagonist maybe? Or Taras the English Dude in the Russian Court?

L: Those sound like awesome titles to me. Because Inga is a maid, she isn't in a lofty-enough position to hold a title. In fact, at one point she has a conversation with Taras about how she doesn't even really have a surname. She refers to herself as Inga Russovna, which simply means 'daughter of Russia.' It's a fitting title for her. Taras doesn't have a formal title because he's seen as a foreigner, but he's ambitious and quickly moves up in the Russian court.

J: How did you mix your fictional characters into actual historical events without altering the current time-line and throwing us all into a trans-dimensional paradox?

L: Very carefully, Johnny. Actually, I do mess with the timeline a bit. I collapse it. Many of the events I cover in the trilogy take place over 20+ years of Ivan's life. I wanted my characters to go through them as well, but I didn't necessarily want them to age that much. So, I collapsed the timeline, making it so that instead of five years passing here and twelve years passing there, it was only one or two in each case. Because of that, dates and important events won't necessarily match up with history, but that's okay with me. I tried to keep all the actual events as accurate as possible. I didn't give much thought to the trans-dimensional paradox, though. *shudders* Hopefully the universe doesn't implode when my book hits shelves. How will I ever make the NYT Bestseller list if it does?

Tad the Compensating for Something
J: CITADELS OF FIRE is the first book of the KREMLINS Trilogy. I didn’t know you could plural Kremlin. That’s how much I know. Anyway, how’re the other books coming along?

L: Other than the famous place, a 'kremlin' in Russian is simply a wall. This is a story about people who cripple themselves by putting up walls that keeps them from being happy. That's why I pluralized it. Not sure if it's grammatically kosher, but that's why the term "dramatic license" was invented, right?

Book 2 is written and in the capable hands of my publisher. It's coming along great. Book 3 still needs some work, but I've got plenty of time. No worries. I'll have it out exactly when people need it.

J: That’s Pat the Dubiously Gendered. She, er uh, he that one there was an inspiration for an old Saturday Night Live Skit. What inspired you to write Kremlins now? Did Vladimir Putin put you up to it?

Pat the Dubiously Gendered
L: Er, No. In college, I was a history minor. To accomplish my degree, I simply had to take so many credit hours of upper level history classes. I stumbled upon Russian history and thought to myself that I knew very little about it. I sort of fell in love with it, taking three full semesters. It was those classes that inspired the story. The depravity of the country's history simply fired up my imagination, and my story was born. Putin may be a big part of Russia's present, but I give him no credit for her past, or my imagination.

J: Tell me your tale of publishing success. How did you go from writer to author?

L: Perseverance. Plain and simple. I took me several years to write my first novel. Incidentally, it was this one. Of course, being my first full length book, it was terrible. But I continued to learn and grow as an author. Every time I learned something new, I would go back through the manuscript and revise. You hear a lot of authors say that their first books fell by the wayside because they were crap and when they realized it and moved onto something better, it's the best thing they could have done for themselves. Not so with me. I loved this story. I fully recognized that my writing needed honing, but it's a story I desperately wanted to tell. So, after several years and many, many revisions, Jolly Fish Press picked up the book, split it into three volumes, and put me on the road to publication.
In the meantime, I've also published a dystopian book, Persistence of Vision, and put out a crime fiction novel, Street Games. Becoming an author has less to do with talent and more to do with hard work and perseverance. You just have to keep working hard and moving forward.

J: Here’s Riley the Slightly Annoying, Eric the Butler, Susan the Threatener,

L: Riley the Slightly Annoying?

J: We can’t all be terrible. How terrible is Dr. LaRae Larkin? I’m calling her LaRae the Forward because he wrote your forward. Think she’ll like that?

L: She's amazing. Incidentally, she's the one who taught me Russian history, so I'll always be in her debt. This book wouldn't exist without her. Which is one of the reasons I asked her to write the forward.

J: We’re about done here. Where can people find out more about you?

J: And lastly here’s Tyrone the Sedentary, Mas the Dyslexic and Fluffy the Adorable and Flammable Military Device.

L: You have cat pictures? From the 16th Century?

J: I have a whole wing dedicated to 16th Century Rocket Cats.

L: That was a thing?

J: Yes. The Rocket Cat was a real thing.

Fluffy the Adorable and Flammable Military Device

CITADELS OF FIRE: Book Description:
In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth.

As a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers.

Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Jane Isaac – At the Crime-Scene (in progress)

Jane Isaac
English Crime Writer
I invited English Crime Writer Jane Isaac over to the Blog Mansion for an authentic English spring cocktail party to help celebrate her new book The Truth Will Out. To make her feel at home, I arranged the guest list and props accordingly.

Jane: Is that a flapper costume?

Johnny: Yeah. There’s going to be a Charleston competition later if there’s anyone still standing.

Jane: The drinks are strong.

Johnny: That too.

Jane: I feel under-dressed.

Johnny: You are, but no matter. Drink up. Those olives aren’t going to pickle themselves. Let’s go to the parlor. Tell us first about an Unfamiliar Murder.

Jane: When I started writing psychological thrillers I quickly decided that I wanted to weave the machinations of a police procedural in with the viewpoint of a victim in the case to create suspenseful, page turning storylines with an original twist – something I’d like to read myself.

Although An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially a murder mystery, it’s also the story of two women, one fighting to prove her innocence, the other trying to prove herself in the senior echelons of a competitive profession, whilst juggling the demands of parenting teenage sons. Let me share my blurb with you:“Is this what it feels like to be buried alive?”
Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…

Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When Anna’s boyfriend is kidnapped and Anna herself disappears, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

Johnny: And now DCI Helen Lavery lives and is now in The Truth Will Out (SPOILERS - she survives An Unfamiliar Murder!) Tell us about The Truth Will Out.

Jane: The Truth Will Out sees DCI Helen Lavery face her toughest case yet. Here’s the blurb:

“Everything’s going to be okay.”

“What if it’s not?”

Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.

“Naomi, what is it?”

She whisked back to face Eva. “There’s somebody in the house... ” is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins.
Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.

Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?

Johnny: Watch your step.

Jane: There’s a knife in that man’s back!

Johnny: Yeah, that’s probably why he’s on the floor.

Jane: Is he dead?

Johnny: Hope so - I’m going to bury him tomorrow.

Jane: Who killed him?

Johnny: I don’t know. Just like home though right?

Jane: What are you talking about?

Johnny: You’re from England. You write crime thrillers. I’ve seen enough of them to know that if you’re a crime writer in England people are dropping like flies around you. I’ve read my Agatha Christie. I’ve seen Morse and Lewis. It is my objective opinion that England, is the murder capital of the world. No cocktail party is complete without at least one body.

Jane: There’s another.

Johnny: Yep. Looks like someone hit her with a candlestick. If you’ll notice there’re several in every room, all conveniently located for quick bludgeoning access.

Jane: Quick move!

Johnny: A spear. Nice. Old school. So what was the inspiration for DCI Helen Lavery? An actual detective perhaps? One you met in you daily life in body-strewn England?

Jane: I interviewed police officers at many different levels of the UK police force to establish a believable DCI that we can all relate to and to make her feel real, so I guess she is made up of fragments of lots of different people. I wanted to avoid the tired, divorced, alcoholic detective. This role had been delivered many times and very brilliantly by numerous authors. Helen is ambitious, but not in the sense of chasing recognition that comes with rank. Her motivation is to make a difference to society, to follow in her father’s footsteps by managing the homicide and major crime team and putting the really bad guys away. For this reason, occasionally she adopts unorthodox methods in order to achieve her aim.

Johnny: How is she fixed romantically?

Jane: Ha! Now you’ll have to read the books to find that one out.

Johnny: What terrible demons haunt Helen from her past?

Jane: Helen was widowed ten years ago and left to raise two boys whilst carrying out the demands of a responsible job. What makes her unique is the fact that she feels real; most of us know somebody in similar circumstances.

Johnny: You’ve had formal training in writing I see. Being English, you obviously didn’t need any for murder. How was the Writers Bureau and the London School of Journalism? How many students died by foul play every year? On average.

Jane: Was that a gunshot?

Johnny: Sounded more like a grenade. That, that was a gunshot.

Jane: It barely missed us.

Johnny: You, I think. I hope. Anyway don’t change the subject: Writing school.

Jane:  I’ve always been a perennial student. Over the years I’ve taken many courses from law to pottery, but when I started the fiction side of my creative writing course I fell in love. Writing school gave me structure, a chance to try out different styles and encouraged me to write my first novel. And if I didn’t like my tutors, I could always kill them off in my work.

Johnny: I always have to ask how it went for you, how you went from writer to author; how you broke through. Tell me about your journey and don’t drink that. Martini’s shouldn’t have bubbles.

Jane: The road has been a little rocky. I used to write freelance articles for newspapers and magazines and gave that up to write my first novel. When I finished An Unfamiliar Murder I was still studying creative writing and it was my tutor who encouraged me to submit it to agents. I didn’t expect a positive response (you get so used to receiving rejections in this industry) so you can imagine my surprise when two literary agents expressed an interest.

I signed with a London agent and we worked on the novel to edit it before he submitted it to the major publishing houses. It was an exciting time but, although the feedback was very positive, nobody signed the book. The rights reverted to me and I decided to try my luck with the independent publishers and very quickly signed with US based Rainstorm Press who published it in February 2012.

For my second book I decided to pursue a UK publisher which meant I had to plunge myself back into the submissions process once again. It’s a strange time when you are waiting to hear, especially as many of them quote reading times of 4-6 months. Luckily it was picked up by the lovely Legend Press team in London.

Johnny: Rainstorm Press brought out your first DCI Helen Lavery book, An Unfamiliar Murder, but Legend Press is handling The Truth Will Out. How and why the change?

Jane: My first book was only made available in my local stores and online, so the main motivation for the change was to help with distribution in the UK. Since I joined Legend Press I have been supported by a lovely publicity team who are so helpful and work tirelessly for their authors which certainly helps on the promotional side.

Johnny: What are you working on now?

Jane: My latest work in progress is a thriller based in nearby Stratford upon Avon. I’m presently undertaking lots of research field visits which I am enjoying immensely.

Johnny: Promotion is the real trick. What are you and Legend Press doing to push your book?

Jane: We are working together on a combination of online interviews and guest blogs, and real events like author signings and panels to get the word out there.

Johnny: And the band falls silent.

Jane: Only after that terrible gurgling chorus of choking sounds.

Johnny: Yeah, that was pretty good. Poison or garrote you think?

Jane: What was that?

Johnny: Oh come on. You know the sound of a body falling to the floor. You’re from England. There what about that one.

Jane: It was softer.

Johnny: Duh. It was a woman. You must have jet lag.

Jane: Yawns.

Johnny: I need your digits. Give me your links before that lion sees us.

Jane: A lion?! Really?

Johnny: Right there.

Jane: It’s covered in blood.

Johnny: Not it's own I’ll wager.

Jane: Why?

Johnny: To make you feel at home. Stay with me Jane. Don’t show fear. Links.

TWITTER @janeisaacauthor
Legend Press

Johnny: It’s gotten eerily quiet hasn’t it?  Are all English cocktail parties always over this quickly? We didn’t even get to sample the hors d'oeuvres.

Jane: You mean the ones over there by the dead cat?

Johnny: Yeah.

Jane: No thanks.

Johnny: Do you smell gas?

Jane: That’s it. I’m outta here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

F.J.R. Tichenell - Of Zombies and Jalapenos

F.J.R. Tichenell
aka Fiona Carter
There’s no better way to start than summer than a Cinco de Mayo. Actually it’s required. You can’t get to June without passing through May, and Cinco is definitely on the road. But there’s also no better way to start a writing career than with a book. Maybe one called Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). That’s where F.J.R. Titchenell comes in, who I’m going to call Fiona because that’s her bloody name. That confused me forever on FaceBook — that FJR stuff. WTH? Well, I’ll find out.

We actually didn’t get the interview done on Cinco de Mayo. We were otherwise engaged. The following exchange occurred Seis de Mayo. The day after. Late in the afternoon.

Johnny: So what the hell? What’s with the initials?

Fiona: Don’t talk so loud.

Johnny: Ouch. You either... and don’t duck the question.

Fiona: Okay, fine. They stand for Fiona Jane Robin, and Titchenell is my maiden name. I kept it as a pen name as sort of my compromise on the whole changing my name or not changing my name marriage debate. Husband’s name for legal and personal use, father’s name for professional use. Problem solved. Plus I already had some short stories out under Titchenell when I got married, and unlike Carter, the Titchenell name is nearly dead and has never been famous yet, so it’s really easy to Google without finding a bunch of stuff you’re not looking for. Very useful for an author.

Johnny: But what’s with the initials?

Fiona: Getting to that. My mother insisted on giving me two middle names, because multiple middle names are common in Australia, where she grew up, and she didn’t have any middle names and was jealous. My father wanted me to be an author right from the beginning, so the multiple middle names grew on him when he connected the idea with J.R.R Tolkien. Hence “J.R” as my middle initials. How could I not use the initials as my author name when that’s what I was given them for, and then in spite of everything we know about how parents’ plans necessarily go awry, I actually did grow up to be an author?
That is a worm in the
bottom of a Tequila bottle.
They do that on purpose!

Johnny: Eh, my head. You don’t talk so loud.

Fiona: ’Scuse me for gathering the wherewithal to answer a question. How much did you have, anyway?

Johnny: I remember shots. Did I eat a worm at the bottom of a bottle? I don’t remember much after that.

Fiona: You’re asking me? I’m a lightweight… relatively. Did we split that whole bottle? Feel dead on my feet. Or at least like something dead on its feet scooped out most of my brain.

Johnny: Speaking of zombies, tell me about your book, what’s it called?

Fiona: I told you yesterday! Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)!
Johnny:  Ha! Gotcha! Wouldn’t that be Van Helsing?

Fiona: No, he’s a Vampire slayer. Big difference. No vampires in my debut novel.

Johnny: Oh. Well okay. So, tell me about it. Funny? Sad? Scary? Heart-warming?

Fiona: All of the above, I’m told. It’s about a group of teenagers who take a road trip across zombie-infested America to rescue one of their friends who got stranded in New York when the apocalypse struck. It’s about them working out their problems with themselves, with each other, and learning to keep their sanity, remember to laugh, and build new lives. And yes, there are some scares and tragedies along the way.

Johnny: Near future dystopia, zombie infested America? Check. What caused the zombie-near-apocalypse?

Fiona: It’s not dystopia! Why do people keep saying that? “Dystopia” isn’t synonymous with “YA with Sci-Fi elements,” you know. To have a dystopia, you have to have an organized society to criticize. Apocalyptic chaos is the opposite of organized society. Anyway, apocalyptic chaos also makes it pretty tough for a bunch of kids to know why a disaster of global proportions is happening. It’s not like they can get on their iPhones and look it up. If there is any organization left looking into it, they don’t have any way to broadcast the answers. Besides, we’ve all heard all the different explanations for zombies already. They’re here, okay? Does it matter why?

Johnny: Okay, okay. Damn can you stop that cat from stomping around, like that? My poor head.
My cat.

Fiona: Shhhhhh…. Don’t yell at me. It’s your cat.

Johnny: Yes. I definitely ate a worm. Why do they put worms in bottles? Hell of a Happy meal toy. Do your zombies eat worms? Brains? Brains polluted with tequila worms?

Fiona: Brains. Flesh. They’re not picky. And I don’t think the worm could have made that much difference by the time we got to it.

Johnny: Tell me about Cassie Fremont. Is she like you? Does she leave tracers when she moves, like you?

Fiona: No, no tracers, not even on the morning after a particularly epic night she and her friends spend barricaded in Graceland with a full bar cart and a collection of Elvis movies no one could be expected to sit through sober, which for some reason springs readily to mind today. She’s got almost all my ladylike refinement, though. And my habit for sarcasm.

Johnny: Did I eat a cactus?

Fiona: Got spines in your tongue?

Johnny: I was thinking the tracers.

Fiona: No, wait, that part I remember, you couldn’t have! I thought it was weird how you padlocked the desert garden before opening the bar.

Johnny: But I gave the key to the DJ. And the DJ’s still passed out in the bathtub. Do you think she still has it?

Fiona: Uh…

Johnny: What’s the age group for Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)?

Fiona: Probably younger than this conversation. I’ve had some parents read it and call it utterly inappropriate for young adults and others recommend it to their twelve-year-olds. It’s YA, I’d say early YA. I consider it quite restrained, especially compared with the much edgier YA Horror I’m working on down the line, but I don’t want anyone saying I misled them, so I’ll just tell you what’s in it like they do with movies. It’s got hard PG13 language, yeah, including the one permitted F word, underage drinking, plenty of zombie violence, but very little human-on-human violence and no sex more explicit than the vaguest of implications. Readers and parents, make your own choices. I really don’t feel so good. Is this carpet important to you, Johnny? Johnny?

Johnny: I heard you. You remember when I woke up and ate those jalapeño buttons?
Jalapeño buttons?

Fiona: Yeah?

Johnny: I don’t think they were jalapeños.

Fiona: Oh.

Johnny: Stop wiggling. Tell me about your path to publication. I’m always interested in how writers become authors.

Fiona: Well, I’ve been writing all my life, started getting serious about publishing in my late teens, got some short stories out in anthologies and and wrote a few novels that never got off the ground, including the start of a Paranormal Romance-y YA Fantasy epic that was the first one I finally got the nerve to send out. A long string of agents told me it showed promise but was phenomenally poorly timed for the market. So I went back to the drawing board with the next idea that grabbed me, which was Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). Because zombies are cooler than fairies, and because I’d had more writing practice by then, and mostly because I’m sublimely lucky, that manuscript caught the eye of Jennifer Mishler, my super amazing agent. She placed it with Jolly Fish Press, and-

Johnny: What’s that freakin’ noise? That incessant mind-crushing clamor?

Mexican Zombie.
Seemed appropriate.
Fiona: My phone’s on vibrate. Wait a minute. Is today the 6th?

Johnny: Yeah. I said that in the intro.

Fiona: The intro you gave the audience two days from now? Sue me, my time-displaced Spanish is rusty. Today’s the launch date for Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)!

Johnny: And…?

Fiona: And I’m hungover at your blog mansion covered in piñata paper and margarita salt.

Johnny: And….?

Fiona: And I’ve got book things to do.

Johnny: And….?
Fiona: And I had some of those jalepeño buttons too.

You can find out more about Fiona, F.J.R. Titchenell and Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of) by following the links below. Just keep your voice down. We can hear colors right now.

Amazon listing

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Jo Schnieder – of addicts and magic

Jo Schnieder
Addicted to things.
I took debut author Jo Schnieder fresh off just releasing her first book New Sight, to an addiction addicts anonymous meeting. I love going to them. I can’t stop.

Johnny: You ever been to one of these before?

Jo: Nope. But I’ve been to Comic Con a couple of times. Feels pretty similar.

Johnny: This one is a little different. It’s for addiction addicts.

Jo: Did you stutter? Because sometimes you say crazy stuff, Johnny. I have to verify.

Johnny: People here are addicted to being addicted to things.

Microphone: I’m Perry and I’m addicted to sepia.

Crowd: Hello Perry.

Perry (crying): I had a relapse. Last thing I remember, was that I was at lunch and the next thing I know, I’m at the library in the rare photos collection surrounded by civil war daguerreotype.

Crowd: gasps.

Johnny whispering in the back: Your book’s about addiction isn’t it? And magic. Two things near to my heart. Tell me about it.

Jo: Well, the main character, Lysandra, is consumed by the need to rip people’s eyes out of their sockets. She thinks she’s crazy—pretty logical conclusion. Turns out she’s a magic user (which is all hush-hush in the world) and that magic is more than a tiny bit addictive. Magic is connected to one of the users senses, and  Lys’ sense is sight. Thus the eyeball fetish. Creepy? Why yes, it is. Thanks for noticing.

Johnny: Have you any experience with addiction? Drugs? Cleaning? Sepia tones? Any family in rehab for Otter Pops?
Jo: I don’t really have an addictive personality. Maybe chocolate? But I think that one’s so wide-spread that it’s been taken off the addiction list. More like a societal need. You know? Back me up on this or I whip out my Kung Fu and make you cry like a little girl.  Er, I mean, did I answer your question?

Johnny: Is New Sight a standalone? Is there a series planned?

Jo: New Sight can stand alone, but I have a two other books planned for the series. If only I can convince the publisher that they’re awesome…

Microphone: My names Shannon and I’m addicted to lint.

Crowd: Hello Shannon.

Johnny: Tell me about your setting, the modern era with fantasy and magic. What’s urban fantasy exactly?

Jo: Urban fantasy is basically magic in the big city. Not much of my book takes place in the big city (unless you count to seedy sewers under Las Vegas) so maybe mine is more rural fantasy? Naw, I just call it a YA contemporary fantasy novel. Our time, our setting, our world but magic is lurking in the shadows. My favorite “setting” is the climax of the book at Druid Arch. The place is awesome. I tricked a couple of friends into hiking there with me. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
Druid Arch

Johnny: You’re getting some press about addressing modern day issues. Is that addiction or is there more?

Jo: Mostly just the addiction. I admit that I’ve taken years to perfect my chocolate need. It would really suck to end up like Lys, addicted to something you’ve never gotten to try, abuse or make a bad habit out of. She doesn’t really have a choice, the rest of us do. Even if we can’t see it.

Johnny: Tell me about the eye-patch promotion.

Jo: Well, before the story starts Lys actually attacks someone to get their eye. She uses a spoon. When she realizes what she’s doing, Lys stops and tries to take her own eye out. So she’s wearing an eye patch when the story starts. No pirates involved. Sadly.

Johnny: What books and authors besides my debut occult thriller (upmarket horror) Beatrysel, now available from Amazon and at The King's English Bookstore in Sugarhouse and my much anticipated Young Adult paranormal Eleanor (The Unseen) coming July 1st, have influenced you?

Jo: Well, I classify it as an X-Men-ish story. But the local paper said that if people liked Michael Vey and the Hunger Games that they would like New Sight. I do admit that it’s fantastical, full of action, cool technology and powers. Everybody wants powers, right? But mostly your novel. Of course.

Two people sitting in front of us: What are you two talking about?

Johnny & Jo: Football. What are you two talking about?

The two, in unison: Shopping.

Microphone: I’m addicted to salt water taffy hair gel with red number 7.

Johnny: So where you from?

Jo: I’ve lived in Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Washington (the state). But I’ve traveled all over the place. That was my consolation prize (which I pretty much loved) for not being married for 38 years. I’ve been to China, Israel, Peru, Russia, all over Europe, England several times, Toronto, Mexico, Aruba…but never the Grand Canyon. Gotta get on that.

Johnny: How was your journey to publishing? How did you go from writer to author?

Jo: I made up my mind to get a book traditionally published. I took a year writing it before pitching it to an agent who rejected it. So I re-worked it again and sent New Sight out into the scary world of editors and agents. After about 25 rejections Jolly Fish Press picked it up! Mostly I wrote my guts out. That first year of really writing I spent every free second I had writing and re-writing New Sight.

Johnny: 25 whole rejections huh...

Microphone: I’m Peter and I’m addicted to eating.

Crowd: Hello Peter.

Peter: I can’t stop. I can’t go more than a couple days without food before the withdrawals drive me to eat again.

Crowd: sympathetic clucks.
Food: an insidious ultimately fatal addiction.

Peter: I’m doomed. I’ve learned through my extensive research that no one who has ever had my addiction survived. It has killed them all. I’m on a clock. Sooner or later, whether I eat or not, I’ll die.

Crowd: gasps.

Jo: Wait? Eating? He’s addicted to eating? Maybe I’m addicted to eating too!

Johnny: Yeah. Marge over there will get up and talk about her addiction to oxygen in a minute. It’s tearing her apart. She can’t even come to a meeting without breathing right in front of us. She's hopless.

Jo: Yeah, oxygen would be a tough one. I can stop anytime, by the way. Why do you come here?

Johnny: I’m addicted. Oh. right.

Johnny: What are you digits? Where can people find you on the net?

Jo's links:
Barnes & Noble

Johnny: Grab a pillow. Here comes Marge.

Jo: What's the pillow for?

Johnny: We're making Marge go cold turkey tonight. Kind of an intervention.

Jo: With pillows?

Johnny: She's the one addicted to oxygen, remember?