Thursday, June 5, 2014

In the mind of Kate Jonez

Kate Jonez
Lets get into her mind
It’s not every day an author gets to literally put the screws to his publisher, let alone drive spikes into her skull. What’s a little re-programming and brain-damage among friends?

Kate Jonez is not only a prolific dark fiction writer she’s also my publisher. I brought her into the Blog Mansion to search her mind for tips and tricks of the trade and plumb her dark fiction secrets.

Johnny: The helmet really is comfortable after you wear it a little while.

Kate: Are those nails?

J: Spikes really. Think of them as long needles.

K: What do they do?

J:  They’re to hold the helmet in place and connect the sensors to your inner brain.

K: How deep do they go?

J: No more than eight inches. I’ll use the little mallet.

K: Okay. I’m beginning to feel a little weird.

J: Probably the sedative I snuck into your coffee. Or the massive electric shocks through your frontal lobes. Who can tell? As the soothing stabbing slows, tell me about dark fiction. Why do you like it?

K: Dark fiction is a way to explore fear. I think fear is a contender for the strongest human emotion. It’s definitely an interesting emotion. Fear drives people to do all sorts of things from washing their hands to building spaceships.

J: I like the term dark fantasy better than horror. What would you say is the difference between dark fantasy and horror?

K: For many readers, horror fiction, to be good, has to generate a feeling of fear. The only other genre with similar requirements is erotica. No one ever puts down a book and says I didn’t get that science fiction feeling. Even though horror is actually diverse and ever-expanding, the requirement of the spine-tingle and the fallout from the torture porn in film has tarnished horror as a genre. Hopefully, all the exciting new books coming out will improve horror’s image.

The distinction between horror and dark fantasy has more to do with point of view. Horror stories, traditionally, begin with normal people leading normal lives in familiar cities or towns. When the supernatural element is introduced into the story, the normal people fight the evil because they love their normal lives and don’t want them to be destroyed. They might win or lose, but they, and by proxy the reader, are always on the side of good. In dark fantasy the morals are usually more ambiguous. The point of view character could be a supernatural being with an agenda of his or her own, or it could be an evil or immoral character or it could be a recognizable character that transforms into something else. Both types of stories can be interesting. I think dark fantasy offers more opportunities to explore non-traditional ideas.

J: What drew you to the dark side? Terrible childhood trauma perhaps? The helmet knows all!

K: I had a very happy childhood. My sister and I each had our own cage in the basement. We used to decorate them by making daisy chains from cockroaches. Just like other kids, we looked forward to seeing our parents once a week on feeding/hosing day. Oh to return to the salad days of childhood. Good times.

J: Don’t touch the slugs. I know they tickle, but they’re an integral part of the helmet.

K: Ummm

J: Congratulations on your Bram Stoker® award nomination for Candy House. How has that affected your life?

K: Being nominated for the Bram Stoker® Award was a great honor. I’m not sure it has changed my life much, but it is a nice accomplishment to list in cover letters. It helps get my foot in the door.

J: I want you to know I’m not even remotely envious of you any more. Do you believe me?

Psychic Slug
K: No.

J: Oh? Well let me tighten this clamp a bit. How about now.

K: Still think you’re envious.

J: Okay, and now?

K: What were we talking about?

J: Good. Good. Let’s talk about Omnium Gatherum Media now. How did you get into publishing? Give me the whole sordid history.
K: Several years ago, I was hearing about all the changes in publishing and after doing quite a bit of research, I could not find any evidence that starting a small press was a bad idea. I looked for reasons not to do it. Every business takes investment of money, time and ability. I was lucky to have a workable combination of those three elements.

J: I have to say that OG has excellent taste! Besides publishing BEATRYSEL what other huge honors has the press received?

K: Omnium Gatherum, which means “this and that” in Latin, has had three titles nominated for Shirley Jackson Awards. (28 Teeth of Rage by Ennis Drake and Knock Knock and Delphine Dodd by S.P. Miskowski) All OG authors deserve prizes. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

J: Do you like editing or writing better?

Keep or chuck?
K: Writing and editing seem similar on the surface, but  are actually two completely different jobs. They are both really hard. Each causes its own variety of stress and anxiety. Writing requires tapping into emotions that are often best left buried

J: What’s the worst part of being an editor/publisher?

K: Saying no to a manuscript is the most painful part of the job. Second is working with an author who takes each and every comment I make as a personal insult.

J: What is the best part?

K: Nothing is more rewarding than when a book I’ve helped bring into the world gets the recognition it deserves. Whether it’s an award nomination or a reader review or piece of fan art, there’s no better feeling.

J: What will publishing look like in ten years?

K:  Ten years from now, once society as we know it has collapsed, stories will be written in excrement on salvaged Big Mac wrappers. We will still be arguing about whether using  our own or someone else’s excrement produces a superior product.
J: Ceremony of Flies. I haven’t seen a final copy yet. Did I get an editing credit

K: Thank you for beta reading Ceremony of Flies. Your insights were invaluable. You’ll find yourself listed in the Acknowledgments. Thank you, Johnny. You’re an excellent beta reader.

J: Well we’ll make up for that in your next book. Wait... what? Acknowledgments... really? Cool. I'll reward with a happy interlude of colorful lights and licorice scent. I’ll just tighten a couple more screws, swish on some more slug slime and hammer another spike in. There. All done. Good?

K: Blublablaugah.

J: Oh, sorry. Too tight.

Eel kind of looks like a slug
K: Goarwe uff.

J: Oh… I had an eel there instead of a slug. How’s that. better?

K: Yes.

J: So for my readers, tell us about Ceremony of Flies.

K: In Ceremony of Flies, two petty criminals find themselves inextricably linked when a stop at a roadside bar leads to murder. On the run and out of options, they reluctantly rescue a stranded boy and his dog from a lonely crossroads in the Mojave Desert and decide for the first time in their lives to do the right thing. This one selfless act unleashes a terrifying onslaught of demonic trouble as they struggle to save the boy—and themselves—from an evil far greater than they ever imagined.

Release day for the hard cover and ebook version of Ceremony of Flies is July 8th. The ebook is available for pre-order here.

DarkFuse, my publisher is doing wonderful things. You should check out all their authors.

J: Where on the internet can people find out more about you?

J: Now let me just tweek this so you’ll like long dialog passages.

K: That’ll never happen. No one speechifies like that in real…

J: How about now.

K: Gugbagaos.

J: I think we’re there.

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