Tag: dark fiction

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

Vanessa Ravel, Author – Four O’Clock Alice

 

 

A little girl. An ancient enemy. A shared past.

Alice Davies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but death seems to follow her everywhere. And as the body count rises, people in Dolwicke start to whisper.

If you like ancient myths and portal fantasies, you’ll love this surreal tale that will pull you down the rabbit hole for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for the interview!

I just finished Four O’clock Alice and I have so many thoughts. I found it suspenseful with Alice Davies one of the most fascinating, engaging, and endearing characters I’ve read in a long time.

Now, most of us know the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but yours is a different kind of Alice and I’m still not sure of the reference between the two stories. Would you please explain?  And also, if you don’t cover this, I’d love to know where you got the idea for this amazing story!

Vanessa – Thank you for inviting me to chat, Ingrid! I’m so happy to hear you liked Four O’clock Alice. It was my first novel—my baby, if you will—so I’m really pleased to know that she turned out okay! Like most first-time parents, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing (I’m still learning with this next one, but I like to think I’m getting the hang of it!)

The relationship between my Alice and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is nuanced. I wanted to create a character with the same kind of curiosity and wonder as Lewis Carroll’s Alice, so I peppered my book with allusions to Carroll’s story. I also wanted to use Alice in Wonderland to establish exposition and setting (Edwardian England) and to show that the book was contemporary (though Carroll published his work 50 years earlier).

As it turns out, those superficial allusions opened a Pandora’s box of hidden connections between mine and Carroll’s story that, thanks to your great question, I just noticed. For example, both stories can be considered coming-of-age stories. In each story, the girl learns about herself and the world around her, and experiences fabulous and frightening things. She physically grows (and shrinks!) and for better or worse, Alice goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s all subjective—some may see Alice in Wonderland as a political allegory and my book as a paperweight, but that’s what’s fun about literature analysis, isn’t it? The meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of people have asked me where I got the idea for Alice, and unfortunately, the story is really not that interesting! I don’t know how often this happens to other authors, but in 2012, I sat down to write a completely different book (I’m not really an “outliner”). Yes, the main character was a little girl. Yes, the genre was gothic/dark fantasy. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended.

What happened was I wrote myself into a rabbit hole and instead of trunking my beloved first novel, I dug deeper and found Alice on the other side. Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!

– I really like that! “Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!” Kind of reminds me of your field “epidemiology” where you must dig through all the cases to find the “clay” so to speak. Right? Or am I way off base here?

Vanessa – Nope, you’re spot-on, that’s what epidemiologists do. They dig through a bunch of data to uncover the hidden associations between exposures and diseases. And then they write papers about it! (Clearly my favorite part about being an epidemiologist is writing the papers)

I – And like all readers who enjoy getting lost in the next big adventure, I’m not going to ask you about the ins and out of your story or your characters. Though I must say, I did marvel at how your story unfolds. Well done!! It was a crazy and wild ride and I’m so very glad I had the pleasure!

Vanessa – So glad you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole!

I – I must ask why gothic/dark fantasy?

Vanessa – I didn’t choose this genre; it chose me. Judging by my reading track record, I would probably have chosen something more steeped in horror (which is what I’m writing now) or at least supernatural. However, that isn’t to say I don’t like dark fantasy; most of my favorite films fall into this genre (Pan’s Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands, The Devil’s Backbone, etc.).  The Gothic part kind of snuck up on me too. Even though I don’t have much experience reading those kinds of books, for some reason the Edwardian setting really spoke to me for Alice. There’s a certain romantic appeal to the period around the time of the Great War, something about not having antibiotics I guess, that’s both horrific and enchanting. It would be cool to visit that period—though not without a pocket full of Azithromycin.

 I – Okay, so can you give us a sneak peek at what’s next for Alice?

Vanessa – Alice is a standalone novel, although now that you mention it, maybe there’s more story to tell…

I -I certainly hope so! Alice is truly a great character. So, what’s next from Vanessa Ravel?

Vanessa – Speaking of series, I do have one planned down the line. I’m hoping to start on it after my upcoming release, Demon Dance. This gritty short horror story collection is a big departure from Alice, and came from somewhere completely other within me. I think the strangeness of Alice is still there, though, and if you dig deep enough, so is the heart, but it’s surrounded by a lot of barbed wire.

 I – Sounds great! I love a good horror story!

 

Okay, time for some fun! You can answer any questions below you want to answer:

Where would you love to take a hot-air balloon ride real or imaginary?

Vanessa –Assuming you could tranquilizer dart me and drag me into said hot-air balloon (not a fan of heights), it would be nice to visit the past. Back when I was five and my only worry was how long I was going to get to play on the swings before it was time to go home.

I – I love your attitude, your strength, reading your bio on your website you really are amazing! Aside from writing, what are your other creative pursuits, goals, dreams, what have you?

Vanessa – I do declare, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! I don’t have much time to do anything creatively but write nowadays, but I do like to draw and make stuffed toy animals. I used to make them as Christmas gifts. I should get back to doing that!

Vanessa w Dudley before he passed in 2014

I – Stuffed toy animals, what a great gift idea!

What are your other passions?

Vanessa – Aside from writing, I’d say my passion is animals. Specifically, dogs, if my Facebook profile is any indication. I have five at the moment, but there’s always room in my heart (though not necessarily in my house) for more. I’d love to have a big plot of land to build a rescue or sanctuary. Better get working on that next book…

I – Please do! I think your readers and the homeless dogs of this world would much appreciate it.

Favorite genre to read? A genre outside your norm that you’d like to read?

Vanessa – Definitely horror! I’m a major fan of Stephen King. I actually love how boring his books are. It sounds strange, but I think the true King fans will know what I’m talking about—at least I hope so… for all I know, they’ll want to burn me at the stake for calling their idol boring. In any case, what I mean is that for me, the best parts of his work—short stories and novels alike—are the exposition, where basically nothing happens. Gives you a chance to fall in love with the characters before you even get to the story. It would be interesting to read a science fiction book, but I’m afraid I just wouldn’t ‘get’ it!

I -I totally get what you mean about the “boring bits” in Stephen King books. I LOVE those!! Mainly because you know he’s introducing you to his characters and then there’s the sudden buildup that you just weren’t expecting but, “Bam,” it hits you square in the face like a really scary snowball. I LOVE Stephen King with John Saul a close second, oh, and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was awesome. And my absolute favorite book ever so far is “IT.”

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?

Vanessa –That would have to be pistachio

I– Flip flops or sandals?

Vanessa – Flip flops all day long. I’m an L.A. girl, after all!

I– Favorite place to veg?

Vanessa – Being a vegetarian, it’s hard to find “acceptable,” let alone edible food at non-vegan restaurants apart from side salads and French fries and mozzarella sticks. We just discovered that Fatburger sells the Impossible Burger, which is an impossibly awesome meat-free, plant-based burger that tastes exactly like meat. So, my boyfriend and I have kind of been living at Fatburger on the weekends. Don’t judge.

I – I asked where you like to veg? Sorry, that’s probably a generational thing. I meant relax, hangout, unwind, but the food thing was awesome, didn’t know you were a vegetarian until then. 🙂 I’d like to include both if that’s acceptable to you.

VanessaOh, LOL to the generational thing. You know, I should know what that means. The first time I heard that was in the movie “Clueless” when they were talking about “vegging” out on the couch all day long. Duh. It’s actually what I thought about when I read your question! But circuitously, what I replied with actually makes sense, because I really don’t veg out except when I go out to eat. I’m kind of a shut-in! Since I’m super shy, I don’t really go out and do things apart from car rides and walks and hiking in the forest and desert (not really “vegging out” – kind of the opposite LOL). So I guess Fatburger and the local vegan place is where we kind of loiter/”veg.” And the couch with the dogs, of course!

I – Your earliest happy memory?

Vanessa – Seeing Santa in my house! I know now that it was a false memory, that there was no fat man in a red suit in my house (no wonder my mom kind of freaked out when I told her). But it sure made my four-year-old self happy!

Your favorite horror movie actor?

Vanessa – Interesting question! I’ll give two answers to this one: my female favorite would be Sigourney Weaver (gotta love the Alien movies) and the male favorite is Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs is in my top 5 movies and is my favorite book!). Of course, there are a ton of great character actors that totally make the genre but those are my two big-name actors.

I – Your favorite horror author(s)?

Vanessa – In case you hadn’t noticed… Stephen King, I also like Dean Koontz. Sadly, I don’t read enough to be able to scrape up a real list.

I – First movie or first book, both 😊

Vanessa – My first book was a picture book called Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema about an African shepherd boy that must find a way to end a drought that threatens all the wildlife in the plain. I think first movie that really left a mark on me was Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I was about four and already into scary stuff. Easy to do when your sister is ten years older than you and it’s the late eighties, i.e., the era of bad horror films!

I – Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Hysterical!

Any question I didn’t ask during the interview that you want me to ask?

Vanessa – I can’t think of anything… you were very thorough, Ingrid!

Thank you, Vanessa, for the interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

You can follow Vanessa on the following social media sites!

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Review: LULLABY of the DEAD

Review: LULLABY of the DEAD

LULLABY of the DEAD by Author Lynn Lamb –

I finished Lynn Lamb’s LULLABY of the DEAD and am reminiscent of my first Stephen King book, DUMA KEY, and my first Dean Koontz book, WATCHERS. With both of these books, I felt like I just returned home from the most extraordinary adventure. And upon doing so, my bags packed with a fresh set of clothes, I was ready to go again. This is how I feel after reading LULLABY of the DEAD. I want more!

If a bibliophile like me is lucky, they stumble upon an author who captivates them in such a way that each story transports them into another place, mesmerizing them until they lose all track of time and everything else seems commonplace. This is how I feel. My mind still consumed with Ms. Lamb’s main character, Landry, her nemesis, Ashton, and the cast of strange and ghostly characters that Landry eventually comes to know…for good or bad.

What I found the most remarkable is that even in Ms. Lamb’s life-after-death universe, there is still potential for change in all it’s forms… And as much as I hated the evil that lurked within LULLABY’s pages, I kept wanting to go back. I had a vested interest in Landry and her friends, their health, their safety and their future. Like all good books, LULLABY is a world unto itself.

Now, book one of the series is over and I must await book two… BUT, the good news is that Lynn Lamb has written other books!

Next stop, MECHANICLISM… See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Writing, One Should Never

About Writing, One Should Never

Tweet or Comment While Writing…

Because one just never knows who’s in the driver’s seat –

When I started writing this morning, this great quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald appeared on my desktop. Seconds before, I had vowed to stay off social media and get serious about finishing my novel in progress. When I saw this quote I realized the wisdom of my decision.

I mean with all these characters running around inside my head, I never know who’s tweeting or commenting. And to be honest, some of “them” are just plain scary…

A good example would be from my novel, MY FATHER’S MAGIC..
Would you really want this guy to respond to your post?

“Hmm, yes. Fear me, Esme. Good, be very afraid.” His voice seemed to vibrate.

What is he doing? He sounds like— What the—

Okay, Esme, calm down. This isn’t good. Panicking won’t help. Deep breath. Okay, what is the last thing you remember? I was at the penthouse, trying to find my father’s—

No. Not the Book of Spells. If Geoff has that book—

I’m not a praying person, but at that moment I prayed to whatever powers existed, please save me. In the background, I could hear heavy breathing and that squeaking noise Geoff makes when—

Or what about?

“Natasha.” The harsh, graveled voice confirmed my worst fears as I turned to face the drooling mass before me. “What have you been up to, Natasha? I could taste your emotions from down the hall.”

I will not be afraid. I will not be afraid. I will not—

Would you really want either of these two villains responding to your tweets or Facebook posts?

I mean, this guy (below) has responded for me in the past and I had some serious explaining to do afterward:

From my upcoming novel, working title REVENGE:

“With that I heard a chirp, much like I once heard a parakeet do in a pet shop. I glanced over at the large onyx eyes. “Was that you?” My eyes once more on the road, I switched lanes to pass a truck, another chirp and telepathically I heard, “Yes.”

“Wow, you are full of surprises. Aren’t you?” Another chirp made me smile. I was glad for the company.

Nothing like a little “chirping” to your friends…

 

 

 

Interview – SJ Hermann’s SPLINTERED LOVE

Interview – SJ Hermann’s SPLINTERED LOVE

Please welcome SJ Hermann, Author of  the MORIUM Trilogy and SPLINTERED LOVE –

 

SPLINTERED LOVE

Thank you, SJ, for joining us. The anthology Splintered Love is brilliant, but quite different from your Morium Trilogy with its focus on school bullying, I’m wondering where the concept for your collection of short stories came from?

Thank you, Ingrid, for having me on your blog.

I wrote Splintered Love after I finished the book of the Morium Trilogy, Dark Horizons. I wanted to try my writing skills on something more mature. Something that everyone deals with at some point in their life, and that is love. Most romance novels today all end in happy endings. I wanted to turn that around. All but one of the stories in Splintered Love have a happy ending.

As far as the concepts for each story, I just sat down in front of the computer and started typing, not really knowing where each one would go. All I knew was that they would have a supernatural / paranormal theme. I wrote them by the seat of my pants and wanted them to each leave a questions for the readers or having moral questions.

Leap of Faith – Could one find true love again and if you can, what if it came from an unusual place.

Inner Beauty – Today’s society is based on a person’s looks and not what they carry on the inside.

Desperate Souls – What would you be willing to give up for love?

Reckless Thoughts – You find your true love, then you carelessly throw it away.

Forever Love – Love is eternal.

I was lucky enough to have a great group of romance writers help me through my first stint as a romance writer. It’s their quotes you see at the beginning of each story.

Thanks, SJ, you answered another question I’ve had for the longest time. “What about those quotes?”

So, did the writers read your short stories before writing their quotes?

Yes. They were an important part in bringing each story together.

You certainly seem to have a knack for writing the darker side of love. I enjoyed them all, each so different and every one with surprise twists and turns.

Thank you.

I also noted what you said about moral questions, this seems to be an ongoing theme for you. May I ask where that comes from?

I have no idea, lol. When I start writing, I don’t have the idea to toss in morals into my stories, they just seem to evolve with the story. I shouldn’t say that. Inner Beauty was written for anyone who sees only what’s on the outside, and not the beauty of a person within. The other four in Splintered Love just came to be morality tales by the time I finished writing them.

Well, this formula definitely seems to work for you! I sincerely hope to see more of the same in the future. Speaking of which, haven’t you just put out a new book based on one of your Splintered Love stories?

Yes, it’s called Eventus and it follows the same formula as, Reckless Thoughts. Actually, Eventus came before Reckless Thoughts. I reworked the ending to follow the romance theme of the anthology. To go further, the book I am currently working on titled, Perfect, is about a teen who is born nearly omnipotent. As he gets older, he gains more abilities. He suppresses his powers until a tragic event happens. After that, he doesn’t give a damn about anything and he uses the powers for his own amusement. It goes into depth about the main character in Eventus / Reckless Thoughts as we watch him grow from an innocent child into a monster.

It’s something about having godlike abilities that can make one hell of a story and that’s why I’m drawn to it.

THE MORIUM TRILOGY

Speaking of topics you’re drawn to, I recently got a chance to listen to your interview with Laney Smith on BlogTalkRadio from October of last year. Such an emotionally powerful interview.

I especially enjoyed the discussion on the Morium Trilogy and how you’ve used it to encourage a focus on bullying. As someone who was bullied most of her school years, I must ask, how do you feel being bullied has changed you?

Thank you for listening. I thought really hard if I should bring out my demons for all to hear. Laney is such a fantastic host it made it easier. For the longest time, even after the bullying had stopped, I would say my Junior year, the emotional scars stayed with me. My self-esteem was in the toilet. I had no confidence in anything I did. Thirty years later, I still suffer from depression and anxiety with bouts of self-harm. Writing has become a tool for me to release some of what I’ve kept locked away, which is probably why my writing is dark in nature.

In what ways do you feel your writing has helped you?

It’s an outlet to convey how one (myself) deals with emotional problems. I can write about it and yet, I hope, don’t come across as being preachy. Devin is Desperate Souls was/is essentially me. Living in darkness waiting for a glimmer of light to shine through the darkened skies. Now, in the story, it was Moira that’s the glimmer of light. Where in me, it’s the writing.

And what reactions have received to your “bringing out your demons”? I hope supportive!

They have been positive. The main reason I decided to come out was to show that men do suffer from depression and self-harm and not solely focused on women.

We all have our demons. Without my going into specifics and as one who has revealed his demons, what advice would you offer people like me? People who’ve been buried under this crap, afraid of their “shadows” so to speak?

Find a creative way to step out from the shadows. For me, it’s not only through writing, but with art as well. I understand how difficult it is to express your inner feelings for fear of being called weak, especially if you’re a male. There are so many great resources to turn to for help.

Thank you, SJ. I appreciate your advice.

 

DIGITAL ARTISTRY

Before this interview I did get a chance to check out your artwork on your website and FineArtAmerica.com . I really enjoyed your digital art pieces, especially Spring Serenity and Calm and your use of color in By Dawns Early Light is amazing. Just briefly, because are running out time, how did you get started in digital art?

Thank you. I actually started art back in, I would say, sixth grade when I started drawing hockey logos. From there my drawings became of cartoon and animated characters. It was during those times that my eye got trained to draw what I saw. I slowly drifted into landscapes with charcoal and graphite, then to pastels. It wasn’t until the last few years that I moved into digital art. Some say that digital art is not truly art. I beg to differ. It’s using your creativity to create a painting. The same rules apply whether it’s by traditional, or digital.

One last question, aside from your next novel, Perfect, are there any other upcoming projects you’d like to mention?

I am currently working on the screenplay for the first book in the Morium trilogy. Once that is complete, I send it off to my producer and the long process of having it turned into a movie begins.

A movie? How exciting for you, SJ! I think it’s every author’s dream to see their “baby” on the big screen.

In closing, Thank you, SJ Hermann, for joining us.

Thank you, Ingrid,  for having me.

Readers, to learn more about Author SJ Hermann, please check out the links below.

Also, as a special treat, SJ has given us an excerpt from his short story, “Leap of Faith.” One of my favorites from his book, SPLINTERED LOVE.

 

LINKS FOR SJ HERMANN

Website: www.authorsjhermann.wordpress.com

Twitter: @Writing_Novel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SJ-Hermann-250758318466659/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.j.hermannwriter/

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SJHermann

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9784255.S_J_Hermann

 

 

 

An Excerpt from SJ Hermann’s Leap of Faith

An Excerpt from SJ Hermann’s Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith 

A splintered love story

Coming soon to Amazon

He reached under the bed and took out a small silver box graced with a darker shade of a silver band just above the opening. For a fleeting moment, she pondered how many times he had rehearsed this scene in his head, but as soon as he flipped the lid open the thoughts vanished. Wishing she could see the ring through the tears, she fell to one knee.

“Lisa Fielding. My devotion. My love. My soul is yours, and I would be honored if you take my hand in marriage and be my wife.”

Author S.J. Hermann

 

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

Confessions of a Dark Fantasy Writer

In 1994, I had a horrific car accident almost ending my life, since that fifteen-day stint in the hospital I have vowed to live my life fully which includes facing my fears. My first confession, I am afraid of things that don’t go bump in the night.

Seriously, I can handle the occasional “bump.” Like when you hear a click in the night that wakes you up only to hear the next sound being the heater starting up. Or the loud thud that scared me so bad I caught my breathe and wanted to wake my sleeping husband. No, he was not in bed beside me and yes, he was the originator of the thud as he moved around the house in the dark.

These things have explanations and I can handle them. What I can’t handle are the noiseless things that move in the night or the unseen things that a part of you senses, but you cannot physically see or hear them. These are the things that totally freak me out. Sure, they may be part of my overactive imagination, but what if they’re not?

My husband has spoken a few times about going to California for a week on business. I would be left home alone to write to my heart’s content. My second confession, I really don’t want to be alone at night in this big house. Because of the design of this room I call my office; I must sit with my back to the doorway. Last night when I couldn’t sleep and sat here diligently working at my desk, every once and while I would look up at the open door leading to the rest of the house. Just in case. You never know what lurks silently in old houses.

My third confession is that when I was a child and yes sometimes still, I would fear cars and trucks Car Grillescoming up the road by my home.  Don’t ask me the origin of this phobia; it really makes no sense. All I can think is that the grill on the cars from the 1950s and 60s left a deep, tortured impression upon my psyche. Anyway, to this day I sometimes fear a vehicle “sneaking up” on me.

So why do I love scary stories enough to write them, am I in some subconscious way a masochist desiring to scare myself into insanity? No, probably not.

I think it’s for the same reason that as a child I use to love reading ghost stories or as a teenager babysitting my niece I read the THE AMITYVILLE HORROR in one setting. Reading horror does for me what other books don’t. It entertains me and at the same time forces me to face my fears.

And so I continue writing my own dark fiction, The Gathering, based on a place I once lived. My last confession, I am so glad we moved because in a certain point in the story my heroine, who is roughly based on me, has a near fatal fall… Yes, my own writing really does scare me!