Boo! Authors – Ann Cathey #Horror

Who are you?

I write under the name Ann Cathey, and have been doing so since my teens.


Tell us about your Boo! story:

Which one? I have two, this time around. One is a completely silly bit of fluff about a spooky jello mold that spawned out of nowhere. The other is a little ghost story that belongs to my Hidden Souls tales that is loosely based on personal experience.


What else have your written?

In the past few years I’ve been features in all the Boo! anthologies, Music Speaks, and have one short novel currently available, “Wolf in the Fold”, that’s part of the aforementioned Hidden Souls universe. All of those projects are from Lone Star Book Works. I’ve also got a few short stories coming out in anthologies from Fantom Press in the near future.
In the far past, I’ve had poetry and short stories published in a variety of small press publications, though there’s been very little fan-fic. I’ve scripted for comic books and cartoon scripts, written training and technical manuals, played at journalism, helped write a couple of RPGs, and have articles all over the internet through a couple of content websites.


What frightens you the most?

Nothing, really. Oh, I get startled in haunted houses, and I don’t care for contemplating death outside of a story, but I’ve worked long and hard to let go of fear in my life. It’s counterproductive in most circumstances in today’s society.


Have you ever seen a ghost?



What are you reading at the moment?

The Vampirates series by Justin Somper. It’s not really my preferred flavor, but the approach to the subject matter has my attention. And as it’s title implies, the story arch is about vampires and pirates in a young adult setting.


If you could meet any living famous person for dinner who would it be and what would you eat?

I think I would pass that along to a friend, actually. I’ve been fortunate to meet a LOT of writers, actors, comedians, bands, and artists, and hang out with them, through various conventions and other gatherings. The places I have worked have also given me great opportunity to meet and interact with numerous people that are considered famous in their fields.


If you could meet any dead famous person who would be and what would you have to eat?

I honestly don’t know. There are many I admire, but i’m not sure I would want my vision of them shattered by the reality of them. Besides, who would believe me?


Which book do you see as the most influential in your life?

Cat’s Cradle by Vonnegut – It came to me at an early and easily influenced age, making me see the world around me with a very different view. It warped me and I’ve been a little off ever since.


In the zombie apocalypse what would be your weapon of choice with which to defend yourself?

My absence. If the zombies can’t find me, they can’t eat me.  Seriously, though, being able to physically defend myself is not one of my current strengths. My accumulated knowledge and my ability to think outside the box would stand me in good stead, however, bringing protectors to me. My knowledge can keep them fed, clothed, armed, etc. and I’m not afraid to be cut loose if I’m determined to be dead weight. I’ve already been scouted by a couple of survivalist groups if the world goes to pot.


Social media links etc.

I’m only available on Facebook and at this time, both under Ann Cathey.  I’m also part of a blog on travel and cooking (who isn’t these days?) that I share with a few other folks.


I’m also part of a blog on travel and cooking (who isn’t these days?) that I share with a few other folks.


My freelance online articles are available for pay-per-use currently via Constant Content.






Back into Hell – Hell Week 2015 – John Milton

The Jack O’Lanterns are carved, and the marshmallows are toasting over the hellfires. Pull up a pitchfork and join me once more in the devilish domain of His Satanic Majestic.

Characters and authors aplenty for your infernal entertainment.

Character Spotlight: John Milton

About yourself: I am the author of Paradise Lost, the English epic in blank verse, and other reflections on life and immortality, including Areopagitica, a blow stuck against pre-publication censorship. Free speech and freedom of the press were my passions while alive.

*Who are/were you? A poet, a revolutionary, a sentry guarding the gates that kept ignorance at bay. Samuel Johnson called me an acrimonious and surly Republican. Perhaps. I did fight with my tutors, who felt need to tame my mind’s adventurism, put caution in my heart. Caution has no part in an honest heart. I was born in 1608. I was eight years old when Shakespeare died. In 1660 I hid from the restoration lackies, avoiding a warrant calling for my life and the burning of all my works. In 1674 I died, blind and destitute, of kidney failure – to escape such pain, I welcomed death.

*Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? Paradise Lost brought me to Hell, for taking Satan’s part. I tried to make Christianity classical, make freedom the birthright of any soul on Earth, and failed because politics have no part in the true struggle, against death itself.

Who are your friends/allies here? You jest. The Great Deceiver finds me useful, and that puts me on the opposite side of Cocytus from most penitent souls. Nor am I penitent -, nor will I ever be. But no fool, these days, with an infernity around me. The fallen angels enjoy my company.

Describe your home/environment in Hell. I make my home in Pandemonium – a term I thought I coined, for a place I thought a product of my own mind. Pandemonium is a vast breath of foul air and brimstone, a citadel whose spires scrape the heavens, with adamantine walls and filled with Satan’s legions, both doomed souls once men – full of mischiefs and hardier souls who’ve never been men. Some days I have comfort, more than most, when I’m sent with messages or punishments to this damned soul or the other. From Pandemonium ‘tis a long walk to anywhere, but a short flight when the angelic wings of the Devil’s stalwarts wrap me round.

Do you have any enemies here? Do I have anything but enemies? I brought the underverse to life, made infernity real and inescapable. The damned duly hate me.  I have peers – quite a different story; an innumerable lot, including Kit Marlowe and his wittol, Will Shakespeare. These two love words for their own sake – and each other. I find them too full of greatness self-proclaimed, chasing after this clever turn of phrase or that rhythm:  they forgive all for tragedy and comedy, and naught for the true fight: the fight for freedom of the mind. But the devil doth love his Bard of Avon – more than me, so until obliteration comes to pass, I suffer them, and fool upon fool, so every realm of hell is littered with their wrongs.

Come on be honest, what do you think of HSM leadership? Honest?  About the Prince of Darkness?  About the Father of Lies? About my hero – whose glorification brought me here to waste away and away?  The Adversary allows me my sight, so I can see all the evil done and blamed on me; he allows me my youth, so I can go among the damned from one hell to another – except for Tartaros, so far: even a glimpse of the afterlife of Hellenes is denied me, who wanted so to put a Christian face on Homeric odes.

So, this plague – who’s responsible? The damned themselves: the selfish, the foolish, the overly bold and the bloody. The plague seeks the damned, who in their turn seek escape, every dumb brute among them. Satan’s so-called rulership of all the New Damned fell to laxity: the problem with the devil is he’s not devilish enough, by half, to suit the Maker. So those who rule Above sent down Erra and his Seven personified weapons, to put the punishment back in hell that Satan’s sly courtship of the doomed eschews. Satan’s plan is too clever for those punishers from Above: his ever antic calculated to prove the damned are damned by their flawed nature, by all they do and all they say, and Satan’s soft-seeming leadership forces the Almighty into the role of Overlord of Evil. This, Satan watches, and bides his time, and proves again and again that humanity’s flaws are intrinsic, and not the fault of the stars or of hellfires where their souls finally abide. Thus, call humanity the bringer of plague, not the Babylonian god who brings pestilence only on orders from higher powers. And call the devil the greatest of poets, who brings this tragedy to life and light.

What is the WORST thing about being here? The worst thing about being in hell is that mankind creates it every day, anew and worse. As I said in my poor play, obliteration is the cure.  Sad cure.  And yet the animal within each soul wants only to live to struggle on, and on…

Erra and his Seven – what’s going on there then? I said all I should need to say about the lackeys from Above, those ministers of due punishment and undue suffering alike. Erra’s forte is plague and mayhem, and hell is, truly, where he doth find his place.

What are your best tips for surviving in Hell? Keep eyes averted.  Write and say the truth. Hell is no worse than Reformation England, really – with faults aplenty to fight and fools to spare.

Before you arrived here did you actually believe in HSM and his fiery domain? Bet that was a shock! I thought…I’d dreamed Paradise Lost. Yet when I wrote it, each day was a summoning of His Infernal Majesty. So here I came, and am, and will be until obliteration can be mine – and sleep.

Eternity – that’s a damned long time. How to you spend the endless years here? I foment what discontent I may, and take commissions from the lords of hell when warranted.

What do you miss most about your old….life? Nothing. My life turned out to be practice for my sentence here. If what I publish here is bowdlerized, at least to some those words strike true and ring the knell all the damned so crave:  their final rest.

What is the technology level of the culture you chose to write about? Technology provides amusement for the shallow and ungifted, who’ll proliferate inanities until we slog waist deep in the dimmest wits ever born. What humanity does is no better or worse now than before technology – yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s. All gadgets reproduce, but ne’er make anything unknown become known – or knowable. I wrote about infernity, about humanity’s reality – about what we are: our wizened souls, our selfish lusts, our need to break others to our will. Now I can be anywhere among the manifold mistakes of the Almighty’s cruelest jokes:  they are no better in the future than in the past. I wrote about this hell in which I stand, and now here I am.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Janet Morris.  Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 40 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. Her debut novel, written as Janet E. Morris, was High Couch of Silistra, the first in a quartet of character-driven novels with a female protagonist. According to original publisher Bantam Books, the Silistra quartet had over four million copies in print when the fourth volume, The Carnelian Throne was published. Charles N. BrownLocus Magazine, is quoted on the Baen Books reissues of the series as saying, “Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure.”

Morris has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes.

She created, orchestrated, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris.

Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Her 1983 book “I, the Sun”, a detailedbiographical novel about the Hittite King Suppiluliuma I was praised for its historical accuracy; O.M. Gurney, Hittite scholar and author of “The Hittites,”[2] commented that “the author is familiar with every aspect of Hittite culture.”[3]

Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of non-fiction, as well as papers and articles on non-lethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.

*Tell us about your story for this edition. In Doctors in Hell, with Chris Morris, I wrote about the underworld’s single volunteer angel, and a wager he made with the Price of Lies. Chris then wrote about Milton, who is sent on a mission for Satan. Then together Chris and I wrote about Shakespeare and Marlowe, to whom Milton is sent with the true ‘cure’ for the plagues in hell. Hearing this ‘cure’ gives Marlowe the malady an author most dreads when facing an infernity never-ending: writer’s block. And Shakespeare tries to help Marlowe by taking him to the most fearsome and famed witch doctors in New Hell… so they think until they cross a certain threshold…

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? I wrote these characters almost accidentally: I was doing an introductory story for Rogues in Hell, and down came a clutch of new characters, into my story which was called Babe in Hell. One I’d had a taste of Shakespeare and Marlowe, they found enticements against which I was helpless, including the introduction of John Milton. Milton is daunting to portray, and his voice complex, so Chris and I waited as long as we could to introduce him – first in walk-on roles, and now finally, in an entire story that’s worthy of such a character, therefore a story that begins to turn hell on its collective and pointy ear.

How did you become involved with this project? Serendipity, truly. I had a multibook contract with Baen Books, and proposed the Heroes in Hell series, since at that time my parents were dying and death and what may lie after were much on my mind.

Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge? Writing for a shared world is challenging, yes; but editing one, and writing the introductory and final stories for the volumes, tests me every time I do so. But in HIH I can try things, do stories I wouldn’t try to do elsewhere.  Hell is, in its way, liberating.

Tell us why you chose this story to tell out of so many possible options? This ‘story’ is actually a group of three:  one an introduction, followed by Chris Morris’ characterization of Milton, then in turn followed by Chris and my final story for the volume, in which the final story “Writer’s Block” sets some groundwork for later volumes while bringing our several strings of plot together.  Writing this way is difficult but great fun.

What drew you to these characters? These characters came because I wanted to rewrite and use the first story, which was the only HIH story that Jim Baen wouldn’t publish because the content offended him, and so we sold it to be published in different form for the current version in an a literary sf quarterly, Argos.  Since that story would have been the first in a different volume, it was already structured properly to be an introductory story, so we updated it and rewrote it into the current HIH moment, where it worked very well. SO we had had Altos the volunteer angel for a very long time, and it was a good time to re-enter him.  As for Milton, he’s a bit daunting but in Hell, we choose a story we want to tell, then we find characters who would be the best a telling that story. For the story we wanted to tell that would wrap the Doctors in Hell volume, we needed to end with Shakespeare and Marlowe – and a few others….

What are you currently working on? A novel.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Euripides, The Rhesos, Lattimore translating; Aeschylus’ Suppliant Women, A. J. Bowen.

One is directly for the book I’m doing, Rhesos of Thrace, in which the Euripedes version figures;  the Aeschylus is part of my rereading of Greek tragedies, as much to recover the sensitivities of this period as to clarify what concerned the writers and protagonists.

I really always write the book I want to read, and to write Rhesos the way I want to read it I need to be deeply seated in his culture, both while alive and what Euripdes made of him.

What are your views on authors offering free books? In general, I think that people don’t value what they do not pay for.  In the book business, however, there is a long tradition of giving books to people to read who may talk positively about what they’ve read.  The numbers of copies involved now are simply greater.

What marketing tips/writing advice can you offer other authors? Write what impassions you:  you’re trading away your real daily life for time spent in an imagined construct:  make sure it’s worthwhile for you to do so.

If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?

“Hell is just a frame of mind.” – Marlowe in Faustus.

What other books/short stories have you written?

From Wikipedia:

Science fiction novels ·         High Couch of Silistra

·         The Golden Sword

·         Wind from the Abyss

·         The Carnelian Throne

·         Dream Dancer

·         Cruiser Dreams

·         Earth Dreams

·         Threshold

·         Trust Territory

·         The Stalk

·         ARC Riders

·         The Fourth Rome

·         The 40-Minute War

·         Active Measures

·         Outpassge

·         Target

Heroes in Hell ·         Heroes in Hell (book)

·         Heroes in Hell (series)

Fiction ·         I, the Sun

·         Medusa

·         Warlord

·         Kill Ratio

·         Afterwar

Historical fantasy ·         Beyond Sanctuary

·         Beyond the Veil

·         Beyond Wizardwall

·         Tempus

·         City at the Edge of Time

·         Tempus Unbound

·         Storm Seed

·         The Sacred Band

Short fiction ·         Raising the Green Lion

·         Vashanka’s Minion

·         A Man and His God

·         An End to Dreaming

·         Wizard Weather

·         High Moon

·         Basileus

·         Hero’s Welcome

·         Graveyard Shift

·         To Reign in Hell

·         Power Play

·         Pillar of Fire

·         Gilgamesh Redux

·         Sea of Stiffs

·         The Nature of Hell

·         The Best of the Achaeans

·         The Collaborator

·         […] is Hell

·         Moving Day

·         Sea Change

Nonfiction work ·         Nonlethality: A Global Strategy

·         Weapons of Mass Protection

·         The American Warrior

If you could have a dinner party with any man and woman from anywhere and anywhen who would invite and what would you eat? Heraclitus of Ephesus, Homer, Sappho, Harold Bloom, Suppiluliumas 1 of Hatti, Kit Marlowe.

Which 10 books would you save to keep you sane after the apocalypse? (Only 10 allowed). Oxford Classical Dictionary, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, Complete Shakespeare (RSC), Lattimore’s Iliad and Odyssey;

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? Don’t, unless some specific review was important to your development and you’re commenting in the course of an interview that includes something salient to say about a review/reviewer.

Which books/movies/plays have influence your life? Too many to list.

In these days of movies and video games are books really influential? I hope so.

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Twitter: @uvmchristine


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A Week with the Dragon Eaters – Alexandra Butcher/Ilsa

At the risk of being self serving I thought I’d join in the fun of Heroika week.

Heroika: The Dragon Eaters

Character questions (choose from):

*Who are you?

I am Ilsa, of the Order of Blood Sisters. My past is my own concern, the Order do not ask such questions and most of us tell no such answers. My kind know the wisdom of the old ways, we know the power of blood, and the old gods.

Why are you embarking on this quest?

Why? Because the Followers of Arun have brought us to this. The Archduke Darrin is dead, murdered, his sons are dead. The only hope we have is a dying girl-child of his line and her noble mother. If the Ivory Throne does not hold the pure blood there will be civil war as the nobles squabble over it. Not a worthy man among them to rule this land, puppets and sycophants all.  War striped this land of its dignity and the return of war will ruin it.  I embark on this quest for love, for love of this land, of what it once was and could be again and for the love of the peace which is so fragile.

*Tell us about dragons in your world.

The dragons are ancient creatures, from a time when the world was free. Thus they are of the world, far more so than humans, who merely live on it until such time as it is cleansed. In the old times they were revered as the primal beasts they are. Now the people forget, but the land does not. The dragons do not. Their blood hold much magic, the ancient magics from before the coming of Arun, that fool. Do not think them kind, or noble, or even possessing the morals most people claim they have. Dragons are killers, the ultimate killers. They once ruled and may do so again when the time of Mankind is done. Dragons have the hunger which drives all creatures and none of the illusions with which we fool ourselves.

They fly, they fight, they hunger. They kill with caustic breath, claws and fangs like blades and sheer power. Not many dare fight them, and of those who do most die.

What is the best way to kill a dragon?

With courage, luck and a very good plan. If any of those fail….

Do you see yourself as a hero? What is a hero?

I am merely a Bloodsister, no greater or lesser than my sisters who share my skills.  I would not say I was a hero, for those are far too few these days.

What is a hero? One who will risk all for what is right. One who will stand and do what must be done. One who does not turn from the job in hand and one who will speak for the voiceless.

Author questions (choose from):

*Who are you?

  1. L (Alexandra) Butcher, fantasy author, poet, lover of history and nature. I’m a scholar, a dreamer, a lover and a writer.

How do you define a hero?

Someone who does not think about their own wellbeing when faced with a dangerous challenge. A person who will defend what they see is right, and those who often cannot defend themselves. A person who is selfless, brave and modest about it, they simply do what is needed without expecting any thanks, indeed sometimes despite criticism.  There are many heroes in our world.

How much research did you need for your story?

Spear usage, flying creatures, and mountain terrain. I tend to do quite a bit of research for novels.

Have you written for anthologies before?

I have an anthology of mythic-style tales, plus another short story set in the world of my novels. I also have several poems and short fantasy and/or horror tales in anthologies with the Indie Collaboration and a group of Smashwords authors.

How does it differ from writing a novel?

Telling a tale in, say, 5000 words instead of 50000 has a number of challenges. One needs to be a lot more succinct and there is a lot less room for character or complex world building. In many instances it depends on the length and style of the story. For example I have some short tales about the Kitchen Imps – pesky little creatures that steal socks, knock food from shelves and generally get up to no good unseen by people. There is not enough material for a novel but they work well for short tales.  Another example – the tales of lore for my Tales of Erana are good ‘fireside tales’ of monsters, myth and legends of the world of Erana, but again only as part of a novel or short story.

A novel, at least for me, needs a lot more background, more character building and a continuous level of action and excitement.  I hate books with little or poor world/character building. Make me care what happens.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished re-reading the Odyssey, I read it some years ago when I was studying Classics, and I’d forgotten what a gem it is. This time the read through was for a course on Greek and Roman mythology. I’m about to start the Aeneid, which I’ve not read before.

I’m also reading the other Dragon Eaters stories, plus a fascinating book about pirates. Oh and an account of true crime in the 17th Century (which is hard going).

How important is the fantasy genre to our society?

I believe fantasy, myth and folklore are core to our cultures. Why? Look around you – it’s everywhere. In Britain we have a rich mythic heritage – George and the Dragon, fairies, elves, Welsh dragons, Scottish monsters, imps, sunken towns, ghosts, goblins, witches, King Arthur. Even Robin Hood – the outlaw who robbed the rich to give the money to the poor. The Heroic mythic is all over the place.  There are influences from Scandanavia, Rome, Celts, Christian, Pagan, Indian, Chinese and many more. In such a diverse country the folklore is rich indeed. Storytelling is vitally important – be it via books, movies, even games. This is how we learn about ourselves, dream, adventure, and seek the past – albeit a fantastical one. How many kids dress up as St George? Fantasy Princesses? Fairies? Monsters? As adults perhaps we lose a lot of the wonder of fantasy – but it’s there in the background. Novel reading is an escape from real life, it’s a way to find a new world and meet new people.

Tell us one unusual fact about yourself.

I am claustrophobic and caulrophobic.


Hot and Sour Dragon Soup

Prep time 10 mins (plus however long it takes to kill the dragon) Cooking time 30 mins- 1 hour depending on size of cauldron.

1 large cauldron spring water or watered wine or ale as preferred.

1 small goblet fresh dragon’s blood (for stock)

2 large handfuls St George’s mushrooms (if in season)

1 small handful Penny Bun Bolete

Selection of bamboo shoots

2 cloves chopped garlic

3 slices fresh ginger

1 spoon chopped dragon’s breathe chilli (size of spoon according to taste –mild to certain death as required)

1 dragon cullion per person

1 dragon’s egg – lightly beaten

2 table spoons of cornflour

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Sesame oil and herbs to flavour

Cooking instructions

  • In large cauldron combine the dragon’s blood, water (ale) mushrooms, ginger, garlic, and crushed chilies. Bring to boil then cover the pot, settle on the heated stones or reduce the heat to simmer.
  • Place the cullions in a bowl, toss in sesame oil to coat and roll in the herbs. In a separate bowl stir together cornflour, wine vinegar (or wine) and set aside.
  • Bring stock back to boil as add the coated cullions, drizzle in the beaten egg until long strands are created. Add in the beaten cornflour and vinegar. Simmer until the stock is thick and the cullions cooked through.
  • Serve with ricebread, hardtack, bread or noodles.


 Paperback UK 

Paperback US

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Darker Places – Horror and Dark Fantasy Anthology – Author Interview Dani J Caile

Today I welcome one of my fellow authors involved with the Indie Collaboration Halloween anthology – Darker Places. 

Name: Dani J Caile

Please tell us about your work with the Indie Collaboration. I became a member of the Indie Collaboration some time ago, but it kind of passed me by. I wanted to write stories for these anthologies but I was so busy elsewhere that it never seemed to happen. Until now. I caught a Facebook post by Donny and I thought instantly that “Hey, it’s time to tell that story.” I will surely be more involved as the months go on. The IC can only be a good thing for all of us, including writers and readers.

Where did the idea for these stories come from? This is the first one I’ve written for the IC and as with all my stories, it came from my experience. Without some reality, a story isn’t real. Everything I write, from novels all the way down to a zhong, has a reality. This particular story in Darker Places is very close to the truth.

Do you have short stories in other anthologies? Only outside IC at the moment but I hope to be in more. There’s a Steampunk anthology “Circuits & Steam” by Three Fates Press which sells well at US fairs and conferences but has yet to be set up on Amazon, and 2 future anthologies with the same publisher to come, one anthology about strange passengers on a desert bus and another in honour of 50s/60s horror movies.

I’m also a longtime member of the Iron Writer Challenge (, a Flash fiction writing ‘competition’ which is excellent for tuning your writing skills. I have stories in their first anthology, “Ironology”, the first year of Iron Writer Winners. That will come out in a few weeks, hopefully, and almost 10% of the book are my stories. I also write up everything and anything in the Iron Writer, both the weekly challenges and any other extras and have created 3 six-month anthologies so far on Smashwords for free, ‘Dani’s Shorts3’ being the latest.

Please tell us about your other works. I’m waiting for some cover art for my latest novel, “How to build a castle in 7 easy steps”, also from Three Fates Press, though they say 2015 is the foreseeable release date. I do, however, have a self-published back catalogue which is on Amazon. There are almost 1000 copies of “Manna-X” out there…somewhere…

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

Solid plot – you need a framework to hang your ideas.

Great characters – these speak to your reader, communicate what you want to say.

Great world-building – your characters and plot need a believeable place to live.

Technically perfect – when everything else is done, get it right.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

1. Write what you want to write. If you’re writing to a set genre/agenda given to you, try and keep it ‘you’. No one wants yet another clone.

2. Improve. Never sit there and think you can write. Write better.

3. Have fun. Make friends, make contacts, have a laugh, but above all, write.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’m an ex-pat in Hungary and I’m a little out of the mainstream. I read “God is not Great” by Christopher Hitchens the other week and I’ll be reading it again and again for the rest of my life. It’s such a good book. I also read a few ebooks from some Indie authors I know and I’m reading Laurie Lee’s “As I walked out one Midsummer Morning” at the moment. I’m a sucker for a smooth classic. Enjoying every page.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews, in your opinion? Reviews are bread and butter to an author, especially an Indie author. Without them, there’s no opinion as to the quality of your work. Some have to be taken with a pinch of salt, those written by friends and good-wishers, and that’s why I always read the bad reviews. Among those you’ll find the truth.

Do you think Indie authors get a bad press? Why do you think this might be?I’ve been reading ebooks from Indie authors since 2011, I’m probably getting close to 500 or so now. Unfortunately, with most of them I didn’t even reach the second chapter, I couldn’t. The quality was atrocious. Once in a while I’ll find an Indie author who can write and sometimes I come across one who can also write something ‘different’. My readers say I’m in that last group, but those who aren’t in either of those two I’ve just mentioned destroy the image of the Indie market and bring down any chance a quality Indie author has of breaking into the limelight. Usually they’re the ones with the loudest voices, too.

Who are your influences? Too many to name. Readers say I’m a cross between Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, which can’t be a bad thing, though I have a more classic background, for example I love Aldous Huxley’s work. Hemingway is also a hero of mine, as is Shakespeare, Donne, Beckett, Chekhov, Milligan…the list is endless, as I said. I am influenced by everything I sense and experience.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Well, “How to build a castle in 7 easy steps” is coming soon, that’s going to be big. I’m also keeping up with the Iron Writer Challenge, perhaps even get to the Annual Final again this year, and I hope to write some stories for other IC anthologies. The thing for a writer is to write, but your stuff needs to get out there and be read…thanks for the interview!

DAniSShorts3full2Manna-X FRONT


Book links, website/blog and author links:





Smashwords (free books):

Other posts about the Indie Collaboration:

Anthology Author Interview – Wyrd Worlds – Zach Tyo


Name: Zach Tyo

Please tell us about your work with the Wyrd Worlds books: I actually reviewed the first edition of Wyrd Worlds on my blog, and fell in love with both the concept and all the authors. Each one provided a wonderful story that was thought out and fun to read.

Where did the idea for these stories come from? For my anthology story “My Last Day” I really drew from an emotional place, and tried to convey that. As a father, being helpless to protect the ones you love is a real fear and made it a story that was surprisingly easy to tell.

Do you have any phobias? Though my current occupation forces me to interact with them almost daily, I still have a fear of spiders. Every house spider is a brown recluse, and every small hairy spider is a tarantula.

What have you learned from your experiences with this anthology? Well the main thing I’ve learned is Steph Bennion is a work horse. As a fellow contributor, editor and publisher she put more blood, sweat and tears into the overall work then anyone realizes….hopefully not too much blood though.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Never stop writing. Don’t do it unless you love it. When rejection is up and sales are down, only someone who truly loves the industry has a prayer of longevity. Finally, get a account, read, and pick the brains of every author who will listen. You can never fully understand the business until you get into it, but the authors on the site can give you the best chance for a positive experience.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Reading has always been something I’ve been passionate about. The only difference now is what I read. Fantasies were always my “wheelhouse”, which later evolved into thrillers. For the past year, or so, I’ve been reading indies of every genre. I still pick up the occasional Dean Koontz book, but mostly I stick to my indies that I’ve become a fan of. My most recent book is a collection of Poe’s short stories.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews, in your opinion? Honest reviews are invaluable to an author. When you’ve received enough it gives you an idea of what the general public thinks of your writing. As far as a reader goes, at least from my experience, they matter a little less. So many people pay for 5* reviews that now when a reader sees an indie story with a dozen 5* reviews they automatically think that they could not possibly be as good as they seem.

Who are your influences? I take my influences from many of the usual. When I was younger I imagined writing epic fantasies like R.A. Salvatore, and as I grew I feel in love with Dean Koontz’s style of sprinkling supernatural traits into thrillers. Now that I’m actually writing, I find myself taking a lot of inspiration from Poe.

What can we expect from you in the near future? I recently released my first book The Reaper’s Opus which is a short story collection following mortal’s interactions with the Reaper at the end of their lives. I’ve currently been working on my next book that follows a man working at a private hospital for plague victims.


Character Interview Twenty-Four Diana – Bellator Fantasy

As part of the Bellator Promotion I am pleased to welcome character Diana to my blog.

Name (s): Diana.  I never give my family’s name to those who don’t know it already.

Age: I am a woman, but I do not know my exact age.  I left my family to train with my master when I was around 18, but the years have blended some since then due to the nature of my training.

Please tell us a little about yourself.   I live in the woods, I love the trees and mountains and the wind.  I love my knife.  It is a part of me.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less.  Tall, my hair matches the tree branches, fair skinned.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it?  If you carry evil in your heart, I will seek you out.  I will make you disappear, before you realise I am there.  That is my ‘moral code.’

Would you kill for those you love? Yes.

Would you die for those you love? Of course.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?  My strengths involve the ability to kill when necessary.  I’m fast, and a rather good huntress.  My weakness….*looks down at the ground* is that I cannot bear to be around people, even those I love for a particularly long time.  I depend upon solitude and secrecy.  The best way I can show love to those I care for is to destroy any evil that threatens them.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? One of my brothers…*heavy silence*….and my sister.  We are connected by blood, and they always showed me love, accepted me for what I am.  Not everyone is so lucky with their blood relations.  Sometimes those ties turn out to mean little.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions?  I do like innocent animals, I respect all creatures.  I rely on animals in the wild for some of my nourishment.  I do not have any animal companions.
Do you have a family? Tell us about them. *silent but visible sigh* Yes.  I mentioned before.  I have parents.  My father is an honorable man.  My mother is a good woman who, did the best she could for all of us.  I have a beautiful, loving little sister and a very honorable, strong brother – only one year apart from me in age.  I…have another sibling.  But for many reasons, I do not wish to discuss him now.  *jaw clenches, eyes glaze and she strokes the hilt of her knife*

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you?  Many things.  But I suppose my siblings inspired in me the desire to protect.  My father and brother let me hunt with them. Because of my speed, and sense of smell, I was allowed to go ahead.  I made sure there were never any large predators that would threaten them.  They are both big, capable males but I will look out for them where they cannot look out for themselves.   And my loving sister with her warm spirit, *eyes fill up as she looks away to regain composure* how could I not desire a life entirely devoted to ensuring her safety?

Do you have any phobias?  No.  There are things I find unpleasant, and I do not wish for pain.  But I will let nothing stand in my way of doing what I must.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.  *Barely there smirk* If I sensed you had invited unholy ones to reside within you?  I would destroy your very soul with my bare hands.

Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live.   My world is…beautiful.  I know of small villages like the one I grew up in, where we live by farming and  some hunting.  The villages are in the flat land between the mountains and the forest. There have always been warriors, for protection, though…until lately there hasn’t been quite as great of a need for their services. I love the woods of course, that is where I live – for protection.  But I do love standing alone in the vast open tall grass field that exists between the mountain, forest, and the village.  It makes me feel free and connected to all things.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour.   I suppose you could say we believe in good and evil, and quite simply – we embrace one or the other. There is a higher, benevolent Power, but that gigantic entity does not step in and sort every little problem.  There is a Netherworld King and he has many servants.  I suppose, for me…ultimately passion is power.  How passionate you are determines how far you would go to be good…or evil.

Do you travel in the course of your adventures? If so where?  Of course, I travel mainly in the woods and the outskirts that lead to other villages.  I scour the moutain sides.  I will go to any little nooks and crannies where evil thinks it can hide.

Name and describe a food from your world.  *smiles* I do love my mother’s chicken roasted with butter.  *then smile fades*. But where I am, I find wild birds suitable for roasting.  The meat is juicy and pleasant enough.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world?  It does have magic.  My world is…or was…very innocent.  Most know that magic exists, but to see those who can wield aspects of it…it does not always make for a contented community.  *puts her head down again* it is part of the reason I had to leave.  Not all people can do what I can, and I did not wish to call any unnecessary attention to my family.

What form of politics is dominant in your world? (Democracy, Theocracy, Meritocracy, Monarchy, Kakistocracy etc.)  Politics?  I suppose this ‘Meritocracy’ is the closest to what we have.  In the villages, those who are best at leading, at dealing with people, those who possess intelligence, and sometimes retired great warriors, like my father, those are the ones who have a stronger voice in the communities.   At the moment…’goodness’ is valued….

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another?  Races?  Different family histories you mean?  Different shades of flesh?  Yes, there are.  But I don’t see why that would make people not get on…*pauses for a longer period of time*.  What makes us, ‘not get on’ in our world involves those who are willing to conjure entities in order to gain power.  *clenches jaw and fists again*…someone who holds the same blood that runs through your veins can ‘not get on’…*swallows and looks up* yet I suppose a stranger could share warmth from their own heart.

Name a couple of myths and legends particular to your culture/people.  When I was a child, my father, he told me about a group of ‘warrior witches’ who lived in the forest.  They never stayed together, never in the same place.  But they were aware of all forms of existence within their world.  They knew darkness so well, what it tasted like, smelled like and so forth that they recognised it and could overpower even the strongest of entities.   Because, they had been so close to evil…there was no way for it to hide from them.  They didn’t fear it.   My master…Master Aaron.  Frederick, he is my brother *sublte but proud smile*.  He told me how Master Aaron lost part of his arm, and came to walk with a limp by taking his sword against the Netherworld King without fear.  No one knows how old Master Aaron is,  but Frederick says that he fears nothing, he desires no power or glory despite constant temptation to rule all. He lived in seclusion…until he came to train me.  It was an honour to be chosen by him.

What is the technology level for your world/place of residence? What item would you not be able to live without? Technology?  *confused look*  We have…tools and make good use of water.  My mother’s stove was wonderful at cooking chicken.   But for me, I could not be without my knife.

Does your world have any supernatural/mystical beings? Please tell us about some.   *stills completely* We have demons, different levels of mischevious entities.  I’ve mentioned the Netherworld King.

Within your civilisation what do you think is the most important discovery/invention?
 At the moment, the most important ‘discovery’ is that someone is conjuring spirits, seeking the one from below to enter the souls and hearts of others. There is a sorcerer who desires great power.  I am hunting everywhere for evidence of him.  

Name three persons of influence/renown within your society and tell why they are influential (Could be someone like Christ/Mandela/Queen Elizabeth or a renowned figure from a non-human/fantasy world.) 
Master Aaron.  He is very special because even though it is known he has, ‘abilities’ he is allowed to live in peace.  He was a great, fearless warrior who would stand up against the most loathesome of enemies simply to protect the goodness in our world.  Few warriors can lay claim to his level of bravery and skill.

My father:  He is a humble man, but a great one and he was a great warrior in his time.  He is very large, rather like a bear.  He is terrifying, but full of warmth and love. *smiling again* I’m not sure who Frederick will be more like – Master Aaron or my father.  But my father is respected for his quiet wisdom in our village.  But he is devoted to my mother, to his children.  He has fit into whatever roles necessary to benefit his family, to be a good part of his community.  I’ve never seen any decent person look at him with anything but respect.  I will always honor him by protecting what he loves in the best way I can.

The warrior witches:  I do not know their names, but I know they are there.   They are the unknown,silent force that the evil ones fear.   To me, they are influential and renowned.  Though I never see them, it is the closest thing to constant companionship I know.  Because I know…I know I am one of them.


Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links.  Diana appears in a short story entitled ‘With Our Own Blood’ in the Bellator anthology.

Author name Jessica Nicholls

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.




nicholls quote art bellator anthology - wounded warriors

A Week in Hell – Day 3 – Jack William Finley/Frank Nitti

It is getting rather warm down here! So welcome to Day Three of Hell Week. Today I’d like to welcome Jack William Finley and his character Frank Nitti.

Welcome Jack.

How did you end up writing for Heroes in Hell? I’ve known Mike Williamson who wrote for Lawyers in Hell for more than twenty years.  He recommended me to Janet.

How do you deal with writing in a shared universe? I don’t think I’ve ever really put much thought into that part of it.  I think with any story you need to be familiar with the environment/setting your story is in.  That could mean the real world, a fantasy or historical world whatever beyond that you tell a good story like always.  The only difference here is that some of the environment is created by other writers.  Be respectful of what they are doing in the same way you’re respectful of reality or artificial rules you yourself would create for some fantasy world.  It’s just a matter of situational awareness, which you should always practice.

Why did you choose the characters you are using? Ness and Nitti just seem to offer endless possibilities for good story telling drama.  Dorothy Parker just seemed a reasonably good icon to hang this stories hat on.  As always use the elements that best serve to tell the tale.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised for about twenty years in Logansport, Indiana and have spent the better part of the last twenty-six in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I started doing Twilight Zone sort of stories and now I think they are primarily character driven, hopefully thought provoking pieces that leave the readers with something to chew on mentally.  I’ve written in almost every possible genre except possibly westerns.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere.  I suppose the thing that drives me as much as anything is a story by someone else that could have/should have been good or even great if only that hadn’t swerved off the path at some point and gone in what I feel like it a totally wrong direction.  A lot of what I do is about screaming in written words and those writers-What were you thinking?  You should have done it this way.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I do not.  I hope I’m equally passionate about any fictional person I create.  (Or did you mean someone else’s?  Terry Moore’s Francine Peters and Katina choovanski might qualify if that was the question.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Oh my own?  No.  I think that’s very dangerous ground when you let yourself dislike a character rather than their actions you loose touch with them.  You need to be sympathetic to all the fictional people you make in order to keep them rationally motivated and believable, especially the villainous ones.  (Of others?  Yes, far too many to list.)

Are your characters based on real people? Some especially in my “Hell” stories are based on historical figures.  Mostly I base things more on is this the way people I’ve known and know of act in a real life setting and extrapolate from there.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off?  So far I’ve only done that with people I like.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I think building a proper setting can be very valuable, but it’s easy to get lost in it.  I’ve had that happen too many times, spent so much time making a world I lost sight of the story.  As for resources…I’m a book guy.  The internet is great for pointing you in the right direction but nothing beats a book unless you can talk to a real human expert who knows the subject you’re researching.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? I think most writers want people to be passionate about their work and that’s hard to do without a theme that really says something about the world and or the human condition, but you can never forget that the first duty of fiction is to entertain and it’s poison to let that take a backseat to any kind of message.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…).As a rule I don’t like thinking of any one element as more or less important, but if you must look at it that way I think, Characters-if people don’t care about the characters it’s much harder to get them to care what they do.  Plot-Even the best characters can become boring if their actions are not meaningful, if nothing is at stake.  The setting can add a lot or can hurt a lot if handled badly but it very rare indeed for a setting to be able to carry a story that doesn’t have have compelling characters engaged in meaningful actions and you can kill a piece with bad writing but no matter how well you tell bad story, good, even the very best technique can’t save a bad, boring story.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? So far that’s the “Heroes in Hell” books which are available as E books and in print.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?  I never, never, ever try to be sole editor of fiction I write I think it is one of the most catastrophic mistakes any writer can make.  I think a second set of eyes and more if possible are essential to…even decent, let alone good writing.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the publishing world has changed and is changing and no one really knows where it’s going or where it’ll end up.  I think there is a lot of social politics between Indie/Self published writers and traditional writers.  I avoid that sort of plague as much as I can.

Do you read work by self-published authors?  Yes

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Any interaction with readers can be tricky business.  It can be constructive or a waste of energy and a distraction.  I suppose it depends on what the author is looking to gain by it.  I know people who have. I kid you not, fan bases for their arguments with their enemies.  Different things work for different people.  It’s about knowing what you want to accomplish and knowing knowing if that is a good and useful way to accomplish a meaningful goal.  Sometimes it works but it’s a risk, so if you do it tread carefully.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? Mostly if I don’t know the writer I look at what people complain about.  I look to see if they seem to have valid complaints and surprisingly few of them actually do in my experience.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I’m a firm believer in-do what works for you.  I have trouble switching from nit picky editor and finding the good things to say about a lot of what I read, but I have done a handful of reviews if I thing I can help a writers who’s worth it get more positive attention.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book will, I think always give your imagination far more room to personalize a story.  Book for that reason I think, can be far more intimate.  Books are also as a rule, better at conveying stories that care more characters/thought driven.  You could conceivably-although I wouldn’t recommend-do a story solely on characters thinking about a situation, where as visual media must, by their nature be more kinetic to keep the audiences attention.  In a book you’re freer to flow back and forth between the characters inner thoughts and feelings and their physical actions.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Write as much as you can.

Read as much as you can and remember you can learn as much or more from the bad stuff you read as you do the best stuff.

Don’t let a desire to be better hobble you.  Write the best you can at the time you’re writing then move on to the next thing and do that a little better than the last thing.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Marketing is not my strong suit.  I think the best thing you can do is be who you are and figure out what does and doesn’t work for you not what works for somebody else.  The worst thing you can do is try to force yourself to be what you thing other people want you to be.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?  Just Finished Grunt Life by Weston Ochse which I liked very much and some stuff by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin that was also very good.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author?, not really.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Promoting your work is a very tricky complicated business.  It works for some and is …maybe not disastrous but…it does seem to work better for some than others. (Shrug) If it works I don’t rule much of anything out, if I’ve reason to believe it will be beneficial in the long term.

Do you have a favourite movie? I have preferences far more than favourites.

Do you have any pets? Not at the moment.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?   Maybe a day as telemarketer.  It’s hard to imagine any of those few hours ever being of use to anyone.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?   Yes. Yes I could do that.

As a writer of erotica have you encountered any prejudice?  How have you dealt with it? Do you write under a pen name?I’ve done a lot of writing that would fall into that category somewhere I think.  So far all of it’s pre-publication as of right now, but it’s been surprisingly well received by both Editors and readers who’ve seen it.  Not much of a pen name sort of person.  I see the reasons for it and wouldn’t rule it out, but I tend to be the sort who does put anything on paper I wouldn’t put my name on.

Where do you think the lines are drawn between romance, erotica and porn?  I’m not sure that’s a writer’s question.  I just write what the muse says write and let other people label it. I used to guess where certain lines are and I generally turn out to be wrong, so I stopped guessing how I just write and leave that sort of thing to others.

Book links, website/blog and author links:



Poets in Hell, The Kid With No Name by Jack William Finley, from Poets in Hell, copyright (c) 2014, Janet Morris.

“Why so glum, G-man?” Frank Nitti asked his partner.

Ness had stopped typing and was staring at the Cleveland Safety Director badge on his desk. “Nothing ever changes,” he mumbled, as much to himself as to Nitti. “Even in hell they cling to the same sins that brought them here. Vanity. Pride. Nothing ever changes, not even in hell.”

“You think too much,” Nitti chastised him.

“I’m not like you. I don’t know how to turn it off and just not care, not even now.”

Nitti shrugged, “You’re makin’ it easy for them. They want us miserable. You should at least make them work for it.”


Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.

Name (s) Frank Nitti

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain). 57

Please tell us a little about yourself. There’s not much to tell.  Bosses never like to get their soft precious hands dirty.  Not there and not here.  They need people like me to do the dirty work for them.  To keep the rabble in line and I do it, because being useful to the bosses makes my damnation, such as it is, just that much easier and, it might not sound like much but it’s really all that’s left to us down here.  The saps don’t get that.  I do and that’s really all you need to know about me.

Who were you in life?   I was a Boss in Chicago.  I helped Capone run things.

How do you think you ended up in Hell? I killed myself.  It’s a tough sin to ask forgiveness for.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Like some tough guy actor-Michael Madsen. That amuses them.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. When not working I live in a in a Spartan room over a bar and brothel.  It’s a re-invention of Chicago when Capone ran things.  It amuses the powers that be for me to be around all the sights and sounds of the old world, to be reminded of all the pleasures I lived and died for and can never taste again.  Shouldn’t surprise anyone that I work a lot.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life?Morals?  It’s just a word.  An idea they use to control you.  This world isn’t that much different than the other and I do pretty much what I did there.  I figure out who’s in charge and a figure out how best to stay on their good side.  The want us miserable and fighting the current just makes that easier.  I’m not going to make it any easier that I have to.  I make myself as useful as I can to the people who run things.  Is that morals? A Code? I don’t know.  Ask someone who reads a lot more than I do.  Those people always think they know the answers to everything.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! Love is for saps.  Love is just another way for them to punish you and twist the knife a little deeper. We’re stuck here and can’t do much about that but, love…no, that just makes you that much easier to torment.  I do what I can to get by and expect everyone else will do the same.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term…. You seem like one of them wordy intellectual types, what do you think?

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? Phobias? Sounds like one of those pointless words the intellectuals invent to make themselves sound smarter than the rest of use.  What am I plagued by?

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? The worst punishment in this place or any other wasn’t created by HSM.  It was created by Humanity.  They just don’t know when to give up and quit.  This is for keeps.  This is the end.  If they’d just give in and stop fighting, if you could surrender completely and just not care at all I think you could maybe beat this damned place.  I’ve been trying to do it for …I don’t know, as long as I’ve been here I guess and I haven’t quite got it right yet.  Hope, humanity, the need to struggle even in the face of impossibly unending damnation, that’s the worst poison in the universe and we can any of us seem to shake it.  Damned fools, all of us.

Who are your friends here? Who are your enemies? I’m gonna answer two questions at once if that’s Ok.  Friends and enemies?  I don’t have any, not the way you mean.  There are people who make it easier down here.  I stick with those people. And people who make it harder for themselves and sometimes for the rest of us.  Those people are the closest things to enemies I have but they can only make them tougher for you if you let them.  I don’t.

If I recall relationships are… difficult, is this the side of humanity you miss the most?No.  Relationships are weaknesses.  We’re all puppets down here one way or another. The more strings you give them the more they control you.  I miss pleasure a lot, but I miss control more.  I don’t give the powers that be any more strings to control me than I have to.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. At the end, I shot myself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol.  It took three tries to get it done. I’ve always wondered if we don’t mention was trying to tell me something.  I make it a point not to wonder what might have happened if I’d listened.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

Author name

Jack William Finley

Website/Blog/Author pages etc. Jack William Finley: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Indie Collaboration Author Interview 2 – HALLOWEEN – Peter John

Some of you may have seen the post titled “Indie Collaboration Presents.”

This is a collection of short stories by some of the most talented indie authors around. Tales from Dark Places is the first of these offerings, hopefully to  be followed by a few more. To celebrate its release I have interviewed some of the authors…

Welcome to Peter John

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was born in Bromley Kent, England in 1973. I gained an interest in creative writing at the age of 14 and was published during the 1990s in several poetry anthologies. I have been happily married to Jo since 1996 and I am currently living in Sidcup Kent, not so far from the tree.

Please tell us about the story you are offering for the Indie Collaboration anthology? It’s a short physiological chiller about an unseen evil.

Is this your normal genre? Tell us a little about your other works. It’s not exactly my normal genre. I have been mainly writing comedy. My book ‘Dead Medium’ is a paranormal comedy.

Do you find shorter stories more difficult to write than a novel/novella? The shorter works take less time generally yet fitting everything into a restricted number of works can be rather tricky at times.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? For Dead Medium I drew mostly from experience but I did score the internet clarification on some issues that arose.

In what formats are your other books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these? (If applicable) Dead Medium is available on Kindle and paperback. I have no plans as yet to expand on these but I would love to produce an audio book sometime in the future.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do self edit, however, I believe that nobody should edit their work solely by themselves. I have yet to meet anyone who can successfully locate all and every error in their own work no matter how deeply they delve into it. Professional edits can be costly and not always comprehensively thorough. I would always advise authors to get their work proof read by as many people as possible prior to publishing.

How important is a high quality cover to you? It is the shop window of your book and a poor cover can make readers baulk before even turning the first page so yes a well thought out and good quality cover is very important. We at The Indie Collaboration are very lucky to have Book Birdy Designs ( producing our anthology covers.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? I don’t think it is advisable to comment on the reviews of your own book. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and, no matter how good your book is, not everybody in the world will like it.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? No, silence is oh so golden.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? When you read a book your own imagination mixes in with the authors words to make it a completely unique and personal experience.

What advice would you give new writers? Never give up, never surrender.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? Get your work out there and in as many places as possible. Most readers won’t buy a book until they have first seen it mentioned in several different places.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? Science fiction and fantasy. It was Piers Anthony’s Xanth series that turned my opinion of reading from being a school-time chore into a pleasure to behold.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? Ask me a question and if I don’t know the answer I generally respond by saying “Cheesy beans”.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Other book links:

Wyrd Worlds anthology author interview – Barbara G. Tarn

Barbara is one of the Smashwords publish authors who collaborated on the Wyrd Worlds sci-fi and fantasy anthology mentioned in an earlier post (see links below).  I must say the calibre of the author is great and they were all a good deal of fun to work alongside. The stories are much like the writers themselves, a diverse bunch.

Welcome to Barbara G.Tarn

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a compulsive and prolific writer from Italy, unpublished until the indie revolution. I wrote 500+ stories in my mother tongue in 30+ years – most of them unpublishable, but they allowed me to learn the craft. I started writing in English with the new millennium. After a failed attempt at conquering Hollywood by writing screenplays, I went back to my first love, prose. And then the e-book explosion happened.

Can you tell us a little about your anthology story? I had submitted a short from my science fantasy series, but it didn’t seem to fit the guidelines, so I chose this story from my fantasy world of Silvery Earth. It’s been out on Smashwords since 2011, but I submitted an edited version to the anthology. Originally called Conall’s Sons, it dealt with both of his sons, Sun and Giordano/Jordan. For length reasons, I cut out Sun’s part and revised the “bastard” son’s story. Silvery Earth is a medieval fantasy world, mostly, but since stories cover many centuries of its history, you have from India/Persia –inspired kingdoms and ancient Romans (the Amazons use triclinia) to the invention of print in the later books.

Why did you decide to become involved with this project? To spread the word about Silvery Earth and join a group of very talented writers! (That’s us… in case you were wondering!)

Do you thinks Smashwords is a good site on which to self-publish? Is so why? Did you have any problems. It’s the first site I published with. I tried Amazon a few months later. The first year (2011) Mark Coker replied personally to e-mails, now he has a staff of 20 and communications got worse anyway. I’m using only half of the premium distribution at this time, since I go direct to Kobo and use another distributor to get into B&N and Apple. But Smashwords is still my favorite site to buy from, even if I have a Kindle!

Do you also publish elsewhere? Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, B&N and Apple through Draft2Digital and DriveThru (which specializes on genre fiction and has a “comics” division, which fits Silvery Earth that has both novels and graphic novels).

How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? My first official story is from the summer of 1978. It’s been “recycled” in Silvery Earth – actually Conall is the revised version of that first story. I’ve written in most genres but settled in the SFF area, since I like telling stories, creating worlds and mostly making up stuff!

Who or what are your inspirations/influences? Inspiration is everywhere. Influences… not sure. I started writing in a style much like Brunella Gasperini’s, who was my original inspiration, but I’ve moved on since. I take a lot of inspiration from movies (and TV until the 1990s), so sometimes I write very episodic fiction.

Can you name both a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? Positive is being in control of when and how to publish, choose the cover and/or cover artists (I do most of the covers myself, since I have to pay editors, but sometimes I like having a good artist paint a cover for me) and joining in the indie community on Goodreads.

Negative: some uploads or distributors, some unprofessional behavior on the internet (on the part of both readers and writers – some readers went into reviews only to get free e-books, IMHO) and the fear that sometimes overcomes you that you’re doing everything wrong. Luckily I bounce back quickly from that one, since it’s something I can control!

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well?  The longer novels yes, but I haven’t sold any. I’ve used Lulu until last  year,  this year I’m giving a shot at CreateSpace, especially since Amazon introduced MatchBook. I also have a graphic novel in both PDF and POD with DriveThruComics – but again, I’m not selling any print books yet.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? I have no idea… I write down the movies in my head!  And I’ve read a lot of comics in the past, so my prose is very fast and geared to readers of comics more than high literature!

What advice would you give new writers? Follow Heinlen’s rules (apply butt to chair, write, submit/publish, apply butt to chair, write etc in a loop). Write what you want to read. Follow your heart.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? Any genre except horror and erotica. And mostly of indie authors – cheap books that I can load to my Kindle. Traditional Publishers leave their e-book prices too high. I still go to bookstores, though – but I live in Italy, so it’s not easy to find English bookshops!

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m the creative goddess of Silvery Earth with the biggest ego of the universe – but also the most humble author of the universe… How’s that for an oxymoron?

Where can your books be found? my Smashwords author page

My Amazon Author Central page, my Nook page on Barnes&Nobles, my Kobo page, the Sony US store, and I’m also on XinXii and Unicorn Productions is a registered publisher on DriveThruFiction and DriveThruComics. And here’s the link to my US Apple i-Bookstore!

Facebook: here’s the author’s page

Barb the Artist is on DeviantART!