Wednesday, October 29, 2014

TAKE OFF to the Great Cheesy North!



Oh, for exciting!

Thanks to everyone who chipped in to the Frogdonut Alliance Indiegogo campaign, we raised enough funds for me to drive over 1900 miles, going from 90 F to 40 F in three days. So, I’ll undoubtedly be blogging with a sniffle next time, but I’ll be OUT of the horrendous Tucson oven and in beautiful, cloudy Cheeseland! Presumably Richard Cheese hails from there, or is at least a big tourism promoter.

No comment is necessary.

My brain has been crazed for a few weeks, organizing every possible detail of the trip and forgetting to sleep, but they tell me the swelling in the left temporal lobe definitely looks a little less puffy today, so here I am. Most of my belongings are packed, the car is repaired and spiffyclean, motel reservations are confirmed, and today I learned that the very Santa-paradey store where I work is approving my job transfer, so I’ll have cash coming in almost immediately. w00t!

Yes, dear, there IS a job opening!
But try to take mine and I WILL
cut a bitch.

I’ll be driving through territory unfamiliar to me. I promise to stay off the goddamned moors, and not to feed the inmates. Sadly, I won’t have time to stop for giant fiberglass chicken statues or the Hair Museum, but I promise to take pics along the way. Maybe I’ll document how many items of clothing I’m forced to don as the trip progresses and the ambient temperature drops. Departure date is a week from today!

For anyone reading my steampunk serial novel, I WILL resume storytelling as soon as I’m settled in with my gorgeous, brilliant, lusty fiance...well, as soon as I have time! For anyone who just wants steampunk cereal, a word of advice: don’t add those cute little gear-and-sprocket beads to your Lucky Charms. Not even encased in marshmallows. Too crunchy.


See you on the other side, Ray!

Happy Halloween, and may the full power
of an unlicensed nuclear accelerator
be with you!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

All Hallows' Road Trip!

"Seriously? Candy canes?"
Nearly Halloween! I’ve begun wearing my googly-eyed skeleton earrings and grinning-pumpkin socks...nah, I lie: I wear those all year. Still, the impending festivities have me giddy despite the stupendous and continued misery of the Arizona Easy-Bake Oven weather. Spooky props and pumpkin-spiced-meats in all the stores! Fake leaves decorating shelves of corporate-sponsored sugary cholesterol builders! Trees and bulbs and...what the utter FUCK who put their Yule in my Halloween?!


Just a couple of points here today. First, if you’re participating in All Hallows' Read, check out these FREE, deliciously morbid and creepifying posters by Sabrina Zbasnik! She makes new designs every year, and they’re killer. Why not hang a few over the mantel with your dirty socks, so that He Who Walks Behind the Gourds will leave extra candy for you this year?

BOW DOWN TO YOUR DARK LORD, CHARLIE BROWN!
(art from http://www.darkhallmansionstore.com/)

You DID remember to say your prayers to the Great Pumpkin, yes? He Who Must Not Be Seeded? No? Heathens. You’re all heathens, and I wash my bloody smock of you.

The other item I wish to hold up for inspection like a freshly severed spinal column is also the reason why I’m extra giddy about Halloween this year: ROAD TRIP!!

You can view all the steps through the link above,
but here's a general idea of my route.
Before the snows drench all of Cheeseland in cold curds, I intend to journey from Tucson to Appleton to be with my soulmate. This is the route I’m planning to take. There’s a slightly shorter one, but that travels through more barren wastelands, which I dislike; IF anything should go wrong, I’d rather it was within reach of a town than in the middle of East BFE. If any of you know parts of this route well and have any tips, suggestions, etc, please let me know: comment here, tweet at me, or email. Planning on stopping overnight in La Junta, CO and West Des Moines; don’t want to have more than 12 hours drive time on any one day.

Our fundraising campaign, the Frogdonut Alliance, still needs your help, and let me emphasize that even small contributions really DO make a difference in this case! Five bucks? You just bought me lunch on the road one day. Ten? Change of oil before I go. The more we can raise, the better off we’ll begin our Cohabitation of Excellence! And please keep spreading the word. Two weeks left to chip in!  

THE COUNTDOWN TO SEXYTI--HALLOWEEN, I mean Halloween, HAS BEGUN! WOOOOO!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

FROGDONUT IS GO!

We are finally LIVE with our fundraiser! The FROGDONUT ALLIANCE is up and running, and needs support at every level! No, it’s not charity: we’re giving away cool perks aplenty, from Scott’s awesome kitbash mech sculptures and my jewelry to our pro skillz at a slight discount. Everything we raise goes toward moving me to Cheeseland, where my fiance and I can collaborate in person, raise the dead, bring about the zombie apocaly--- er. I mean, make cool art together. Yeah.

We understand many of our friends and family are in the same financial suck-it-in position as we are. But hey, please pass on the link, and talk up the cause for us, huh? It’s good karma. Plus, you’ll get to see us create wonderful weirdness together. It’s hella better building skeleton props, freaky collages, and writing songs and stories together when you’re RIGHT THERE to bounce ideas back and forth.

Not to mention, you really do need more than two tentacles to perform the Elder God Raising Ceremony...

So please, spread the word! Chip in a buck or five! Snigger at how goofy we look on camera! (No, we’re not buying you popcorn to rewatch it again.)

More regular weirdness and updates soon. Excuse me. Something’s banging on the walled-over well in the basement again...have to go get some tuna from the store...


SANITY CHECK!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Your Argument Is Invalid

I’ve been wondering a great deal lately about the intertwined concepts of time and happiness. I know folks who fill their schedules with all kinds of activity, work or classes, things they believe they need to do and, all too often, very little they want to do. Until a few months ago, I was in that rank. And believe me, it is pretty rank, that feeling of being trapped in your own life.

"And who told you to screw over all your contributors?
Could it be, I don't know...SATAN?"
Aw, fuck, you say: don’t tell me she went and became born-again!

HELL NO. However, my outlook has changed. I’ve written very little this summer, partly due to the lack of an air-conditioned, noncrowded environment (I am not one of those lucky souls who can write on a bus, or really anywhere populated by loud, moving distractions), but partly because I’ve been engrossed in other pursuits. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this is the first time in my life that I haven’t sensed the Reaper standing behind me, looking at his watch and then at my (lack of) personal publication credits. I’ve done a little editing for others, some reading, some art...and this is the first time in years I’ve been inspired to DO and to MAKE stuff, and have done so. So, I haven’t been creatively idle, and I’m happy with that, even though my writing has lagged.

Also, much of my time has been involved in dreaming and planning for a future with my fiance. As he’s fantastically creative in ways I’ve never considered before, he’s a marvelous inspiration; we toss ideas back and forth like a deranged game of badminton every day. A great deal of time and creative effort has gone into our Indiegogo campaign (which, fingers crossed, launches later this week). So again: productive and enjoyable.

That’s nice, you say. Now what does that have to do with the price of slaves in corporate America? Well...everything. The point is, I’m not worried about meeting self-imposed deadlines anymore. I’ll get to it all. And I’ll enjoy it. Even if I never hit the bestseller lists, even if we have to scrounge for bill money, even if we hold several odd jobs simultaneously. Because the majority of my and my fiance’s time will be spent making art, exploring the world around us, and enjoying each other. And this is what life should be...for everyone.

Yeah, right, you say. That’s sweet and all. But some of us have to live in the REAL WORLD.



What makes you think the real world has to be full of Mostly Shit You Don’t Want to Do But Have To?

But...job security! Retirement! Bills! Success!

The asshole of Success.
Wait. Face of.
I get those confused.
Yeah...fuck that. I’m not saying some of that isn’t important. I’m saying people place far too much emphasis on things they honestly hate. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, we only have one shot at this life. So many years between gaining some education and watching our bodies decay. Decades are nothing. WHY ARE YOU WASTING SO MUCH TIME DOING THINGS YOU DISLIKE? Why take classes you don’t enjoy, just to “pad out” your schedule? Why toil at a job where your work isn’t appreciated – or worse, is largely meaningless? Why fill up a day with so many things that you have “no time” for stuff you actually enjoy? That’s madness. It’s a madness that sucks us all in. The great lie of our society, for centuries, has been driven like concrete pilings into the once-fertile swamps of our imaginations: DO WORK YOU HATE BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU WILL STARVE. (Variations: Work Hard No Matter What Because if You Don’t You’ll Go to Hell; and If You Don’t Have Tons of Money You’re a Failure.)

A truth, which I realize is far from new, but which only hit me recently: it’s far better to be happy than wealthy. I barely get by. But this is the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m able to let bullshit dealt by others mostly slide off, whereas before I would’ve brooded for weeks. I’m impatient to move, but not worried. It will happen, and soon. Oh sure, I’m in love; the endorphins in my brain blah blah yakety schmackety blah blah. You know what? That’s not what this newfound contentment is about. Love is certainly part of that, but the overarching theme here, guys, is possibility. My misanthropy, twisted imagination, and weirdness is of such a particular curve that I believed a “soulmate” impossible for me. Yet we found each other, and within two days of talking, knew we’d found The One. Odds were so against this, that it’s made me reevaluate my beliefs about everything.
 
Except this. This still sucks ass.
 It’s made me realize I don’t need to slave at anything I hate. I don’t need to get this creative project done like yesterday what the hell is wrong with you lazy cow. I have perhaps 30 years of health left to me. Why the fuck would I waste them doing things that don’t make me happy?

Why does anyone? What's that? You have REASONS, you say?



So, from a neophyte neoVictorian writer and happily creative weirdo, take this and chew on it a good long while, peoples: Stop thinking you HAVE to do ANYTHING. You ALWAYS have the option of not doing it. Are there consequences? Sure. Now weigh those against how fucking miserable you’re making yourself.

Is misery really the sane choice? How many years do you have left? Forty, twenty, ten? Tomorrow?

Stop that shit right now. Do what makes you happy.


Don’t make me turn this thing around.

Monday, September 8, 2014

WATCH THIS SPACE




Wicked cool announcement coming soon about the fundraiser my fiance and I have been determinedly crafting for several weeks! Yes, that’s where I’ve been: mired in uncooperative WinDoze programs, discussing plans with my love, and realizing my tonguetip still sticks out of my mouth when I’m coloring intently.

I had hoped to have this campaign running a couple of weeks ago...but things have repeatedly proven trickier than anticipated. However, we WILL persevere! We will edit on the beaches! We will mix them in the towns! We have nothing to pumpkin spice but PUMPKIN SPICE ITSELF!


Coming soon. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Steampunk

Sabrina Zbasnik, author of scifi/fantasy/humor novels Terrafae and Dwarves in Space, has niftily invited me to participate in a bloghop about my fiction. (Yes. Niftily. All this woman does is fucking nifty!) I’ve chosen to focus on my steampunk work-in-progress. If anything you read below intrigues you, please do hop over to my storyblog to read more! Constructive criticism always welcomed. 



1. What is the name of your main character? Is she a fictional or historical person?
Holly Autumnson, last member of a formerly well-off merchant family. Though she is clearly fictional, I’ve read a fair amount of Victorian social history (American in particular) to get a feel for the society which has shaped her existence before the story began. She’s been raised as a proper young lady, although her father allowed considerably more scholarly education than is typical for a Victorian girl, delving into the natural sciences, languages, and philosophy where her peers would stop at arithmetic, grammar, and crochet. At a bit over twenty years of age, she is well on her way to spinsterhood, according to those peers...

2. When and where is the story set?
In the fictional city of Concordia, State of Columbia Pacifica, 1899. Concordia stands where the prior city of Portland, Oregon, was wiped out in a firestorm similar to the Great Quake and Fire in San Francisco. After a deadly rain of meteorites over the earth, progress in steam engineering and electricity has been superseded by technology based on “Dust” deposited in the Cataclysm. So picture mutations, bizarre new engines of destruction, people trying to impose Victorian social mores on a world gone freakish...oh, and flying kraken. With pilots who bond with them.


No kraken, and the hats are wrong, but yeah, pretty much.

 3. What should we know about her?
Holly refuses to  conform to the placid, submissive role which polite society insists she ought to assume. She doesn’t believe she’s inferior of mind to the men around her. And she resents every attempt by allegedly well-meaning men to shield her from the awful things happening. Horrible things are going on below the civilized surface of Concordia, and although Holly was dragged into it unwittingly, she’s now determined to expose the truth.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?
Her grief for the recent loss of her explorer-scientist brother is interrupted by the brusque, enigmatic Dr Vonken, who barges into her home and insists Holly is in danger from the founder and patron of Concordia, Henry Villard. This sets off a series of frightening new experiences for her, with powerful intrigues exposed, freakish abilities uncovered, and strange friendships forged. Suddenly Holly sees that people she formerly regarded as pillars of the community are more akin to monsters in the cellar, and no one is what she thought they were...including Holly herself.

5. What is her personal goal?
To learn everything she can about the power of the Dust: how it’s used, how dangerous is truly is, why a benevolent politician would kill for it...and what it’s done to her!

No no no. DUST, not Spice.

 6. Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?
This will likely change, but at present the title is Autumnheart Stories, available for free and in progress on my storyblog. Please do read AND comment! I welcome feedback to improve successive drafts.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?
Frog only knows. Summer heat trying to fry my laptop at home (and repeatedly broiling my brain) has led to an hiatus in my writing and posting chapters, but as soon as the whole tale is complete online (and yes, it is all in my head), I’ll be revising, editing, rewriting, and epublishing. My goal is to have it available in toto within a year.

Hmmm...whom to afflict next? *waves rubber voodoo snake around threateningly*

I'm picking three, not five. Because it's fucking hot, goddammit. I tag Andy Click (of American Werechaun  fame), from whom I’ve heard mutterings of sequeldom; Sophie Coulombeau, avid 18th century traveler and award-winning YA scribe; Marty Ketola, screenwriter, podcaster, and fellow MSTie! Check back here for updates and links to their responses.


Now...slogging into the heat...  *takes two steps, melts into gooey wax*

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sledding with the Dead

Sorry for the long delay in posting...it’s been a chaotic few weeks, with changes in the household, job changes, and other projects taking precedence. But at last I give you: Fun with Dead People!


No, not quite THAT much fun. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about never being able to get the stench out of your Members Only jacket.

During my college years, I lived in Montgomery, Alabama, a city in the sweltering armpit of that fine regressive state. Though it does have a good art museum and the Shakespeare Festival theatre – and AUM, my alma mater – the coolest thing, by far, is the antebellum graveyard right in the heart of the city, Oakwood Cemetery. Burials date from before the Civil War through modern years, including the grave of Hank Williams, Sr., and a sobering 299 “unknown” soldiers from the south’s most bloody conflict. (I know. I personally counted them.) Kind of strange to think of that many unidentifiable bodies each given a headstone. I always wonder if their ghosts were pissed off at the irony of being reburied with honors, but anonymously.

Among the park-sized grounds which sprawl over two very full hillsides one may also discover a crowded, old-world-style Jewish burial section; imposing mausoleums; and more Victorian sentimentality than you can shake a mourning hair-ring at.

This was my absolute favorite hangout. I would frequently take a book there to read for hours, or explore the seemingly endless headstones on foot...the best way to “collect” a graveyard, as very little of it will ever be accessible by hearse-roads. I preferred to roam among the Victorian burials, as they often have the most elaborate memorials. Not for nothing did Ambrose Bierce label mausoleums “the final and funniest folly of the rich.” Certainly, the amount of marble, personalized statuary, wrought-iron, and stained glass which make up whole neighborhoods of the snootily deceased at Oakwood stagger the mind and the wallet. And yet I felt an affinity for these crumbled husks, most of them forgotten in their family plots as later generations married off and moved away. I’d scatter wildflower seeds, take photos of the most elaborate (or most bizarre) statuary, and talk to them.

What? Yes, I enjoyed being alone in a fine and private place, thank you. Hmf.

A Weeping Angel surveys her favorite magnolia tree

One March, a freak snowstorm blanketed the city...well, okay. Drew a soft fluffy knit throw over the city and made it some cocoa. It was only a couple of inches. But SNOW! In the DEEP SOUTH! While most denizens ran around seeking firewood, s’mores, and condoms, I had one purpose: to see how my beloved cemetery appeared in the clear air and whispering snowdrifts.

And it was stunning.

The wind had crafted beautiful paintwork with the snow all night, and in the grey daylight, all was still, cool, and delicately iced. Headstones bore caps like petit-fours. Wrought iron fencework boasted new fretworking of purest white. Angels beseeched heaven for some gloves and scarves, is it too much to ask since they have to keep watch over some schlep’s grave forever until the acid rain eats them, for crying out loud. Everywhere, snow coated trees, graves, monuments...and the hillsides.

The really, startlingly steep hillsides, terminating in a ravine you’d have trouble climbing back out of if you missed the footbridge, assuming you didn’t trip and hit your head on one of the granite stones on your way down and solve the problem of ever getting up the hill again. And on these scary-steep hills...kids were sledding. I have no idea who the hell in Montgomery, AL even had the prescience to own a sled, but there they were, dodging graves, whooping and laughing. Despite my love of the overblown artifice of the Victorians, this use of the graveyard was the best I’ve ever seen.

Hey you dadgum kids! Keep it down up there! We're tryin' to discuss the War of Northern Aggression!

 My advice to any of you within reach of an amazing cemetery, be it on sacred grounds or secular forty-five-degree slopes: become familiar with the place. Walk its paths, learn its names. Sow flowers, and take photos, and know every weird statue and tragic lamb by heart. Make it yours.

That way, you’ll know exactly which spots to drag your sled to when it snows. Not to mention the best escape routes when the dead claw their way up to express their annoyance with all that dadgum laughing.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Like a Cool Breath of Freak Air

Ah, summer. The time every year when my thoughts naturally turn to cooler weather, changing leaves, and pumpkin-flavored-everything. Unfortunately, for over a decade now, I haven’t been able to enjoy the first two items on that list without traveling; Tucson doesn’t have autumn. (It doesn’t have seasons, either. Sorry, “hot/dry, warm/dry, hot with occasional showers” don’t count as “seasons,” sandpeople.) I’ve always loved Halloween, but every summer I obsess over it even more, as a means of temporary mental escape from Arrakis. (And not a wormsign for months.)

I collect books and magazines featuring Halloween projects, but not the cutesy 2.5-Kid-Family Surburban-Dweller crap. Weird shit is what grabs my attention and whips it around like a nightgaunt with a new chew toy. Today I’m sharing a bit of that with you, Lucky Readers. We’ll start with old-timey crap which must have been quaint in the day, but now comes off more like wtf were these people even thinking.

Silly hats optional.

 Halloween Merrymaking: an Illustrated Celebration of Fun, Food, & Frolics from Halloweens Past by Diane C. Arkins is valuable not only for the tons of photos of old-school decorations crammed into it for the wonderment of any Halloween ephemera collector, but also because it features a number of photos which prompt thoughtful reveries on just how stoned our grandparents must have been every October. This features chapters on home decor (think more corn than Children of, and enough pumpkins to stock your trebuchet for a week’s siege), costumes (who knew crépe paper could be made to look so ridiculous?), teacup fortunes and more. Covering the period from the late Victorian era through the turn of the century and into the 1930s, the cards, decorations and paper goods reproduced in the book’s many illustrations prove once and for all that our ancestors’ celebrations were indeed as cheesy as we thought and then some.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for this brand of cheese. I love that vintage-style decorations are back in vogue (á la Martha) simply because I find them adorably strange. A popular party help text from the 1910s through the ‘30s, Dennison’s “Bogie Book,” showed hausfraus of middle America how to use its crépe paper products to make their own honeycomb-tissue pumpkins, pipe-cleaner-armed goblins, and cutouts of black cats and witches to haunt their laundry rooms and dinner tables. Much of the festivities shown have a decidedly amateur-crafty flair, like a precocious but not-yet-skilled four-year-old exhibiting on Etsy. Especially fun when you realize that extant items from the period sell for fantastic prices to collectors. Not that I would ever buy them. (I can’t afford any...)

Scariest Fact: this party was BOOZE FREE!

 Honestly, the only gripe I have about this book is that although there are hundreds of great photos, many of them are reproduced in tiny size on page sidebars. What’s up with that? Sure, the history lessons in each chapter are informative and cool, but really, what we wanna see are big goofy photos of our great-gramps frolicking with pretty gals, all of them dressed as rejects from a Halloween taping of The Price Is Right. MOAR PIKSURES!

The next two books are both by marvellous sicko Tom Nardone: Extreme Pumpkins and Extreme Halloween. Yeah, get those lame Mountain Dew X-Games analogies outta your heads: this stuff is fun. You’ve undoubtedly seen the cannibal pumpkin and the puking pumpkin by now, as these have been around a few years. Nardone’s the guy who invented them, as well as a host of other screwed-up projects designed to freak the hell out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who stop by your house during October. The projects he presents are creatively twisted, and best of all, he outlines steps and materials needed with a sense of humor and even a nod to OSHA. (Though only a passing nod, like, Hey, bro, gonna douse this pumpkin in kerosene and light it up like a Tiki torch, cool?)


 All the jack-o’lanterns in this book are worthy of sitting on your doorstep (or maybe the front yard...some are pretty gooey, watch your step through the guts there), but my faves are the “Property Defender Pumpkin” (who stands like Mad Max over the corpses of those he’s slain to emerge the bloody champion of all pumpkinkind), and the “Moldy Beard Pumpkin.” The latter is simple but gruesomely effective: half-carve it, and let parts of it grow mold. Display proudly! Each of these spawns numerous other ideas, as all good creative weirdness ought to. (Ooo...rotted cannibal zombie pumpkin...)

In his followup book, Extreme Halloween, Nardone shows off more creepyfun pumpkin designs, many of them on a grand scale (pumpkin yard Nessie! Scorpion pumpkin!) and also shares time-honored pranks great for creeping the hell out of neighborhood kids (or adults with harvest corn too far up their butts). At least two of these involve a jump-out-n-scare, but they’re inventive and well-presented. There are instructions for making a pulley-operated yard ghost and a block-party-sized BBQ’d dead body (formed of enough meats to make your local butcher love you). Party food more disgusting-looking than anything you’ll find in cutesy grocery-store magazines. And, again, inspiration for your own creepdom on every page.


 Nardone has a site with more of this freakshow stuff. Great for haunters on a budget and those who like to dream big but don’t want to simply buy pre-made stuff from Fright Catalog. (Yes, I’ll do a post on home haunt sites soon! This one’s about books. Deal.) I personally would love a big glossy coffeetablebook full of pics of home haunt projects from hundreds of artists; if anyone knows of such a book, please drop a comment to let me know!

Sorry for the long delay in posting, guys... I recently took on a second job, so now I work two with completely irregular schedules. But it’ll all be worth it to get up north, where I can indulge my fetish for falling leaves and cool winds for real instead of having to rely on my imagination! Now... *turns fan on high and eats a cinnamon donut* back to the pumpkin orgy...

*************
UPDATE: Rick Gualtieri has a new Bill the Vampire book out! Goddamned Freaky Monsters is now available for purchase! WTF are you doing here still? Go BUY IT AND SUCK IT DRY!


Next time on Victorian Zombies: fun with dead peeps!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Process? I'm supposed to be able to PROCESS?

Last week, Sue London generously invited me to participate in a bloghop about my writing. I know I’ve fallen behind on everything the past couple of weeks, but I was determined to apply the crop smartly, tuck and roll, and lurch back into gear in a bold melange of happy mixed metaphors! So here goes.

1. what am I working on?
Currently, I am heading into the second act on my serial steampunk novel, Autumnheart (which I’ve been offering on my storyblog as I write it, in an experiment to see if I can stay far enough ahead of myself); also a dark-comedic horror novel, Wendigogo. One or the other of them (dare I hope both?) WILL be finished this year, no matter what!

Also, editing The Haberdashers series more...when Sue finishes Robert’s book! And my new association with the insanely brilliant (and possibly, delightfully insane) love of my life, Scott, promises a burst of creativity and very likely collaboration, as he’s an astounding author among other things. No, you haven’t heard of him (unless you've recorded music in Hotlanta). You will. Ohhh... *evil chortle* you will.

2. how does my work differ from others of its genre?
Autumnheart is steampunk less reliant on mechanical marvels (though there are a few coming in, especially once the war factory really gets rolling) than character relationships. Sure, there are a few conventions strolling through its pages: mad science, Victorian social mores, actual history woven into sheer fiction. There’s also a healthy mongrelizing dose of dark fantasy, political corruption and rebellion, sexism and prejudice of the era tempered by protagonists rising above these smog-laden clouds.



Wendigogo started out as comic horror but is veering into darker territory...funny, but in the way that the original “American Werewolf in London” is funny. Although it's bloody, it's unpretentious, a bit silly in premise, and it certainly doesn't feel like either straightforward shock-horror or comedy-forward work. Ultimately, it may be compared to the old saw about life handing you lemons...except the hero may decide the best way to deal with that is to be the blender.

3. why do I write what I do?
It amuses me. It lifts me. It’s goddamn fun! Granted, I hope it's commercially successful, once it’s polished. (Insert .gif of Sam Sykes mouthing BUY MY BOOK here...) But I wouldn’t even be bothering with these genres if I didn’t enjoy reading them as much as writing them. I grew up feeding voraciously on darker tomes. Then my parents took “The King in Yellow” away and banished the Undergrubs, and although my life was substantially less entertaining, at least the neighborhood fauna was safe to come out of hiding again. However, my gaping soul was then free to be filled with the likes of Bradbury, Poe, Bierce, and Shel Silverstein. I have no illusions about matching the masters. I’m just having fun writing what I want to write.

4. how does my writing process work?
Ideally, well after dark, I set up my laptop on my bed, with a drink at hand and usually a nom of some kind. (Rarely alcohol; my drunk writing is for shit. Screw you, Hemingway.) I pull up notes and photo references, and start my playlist over my headphones. I reread the last chapter at least; if it’s been more than a couple of days, I’ll skim back through the story, especially scenes pertinent to what I’ll be tackling next. Then it’s crack the knuckles, pet the badger skull for luck, zone out in the music and off to the races!

Ungh. Erk. Edits. Grammar. BWAAAHHHH!


I dislike formal outlines, but I do make extensive plot notes, which helps me keep track of the cast as I begin moving them around the board more. I have ultimate motivations and objectives of the major players in mind at all times, but remembering just how I intended them to clash or resolve is easier with notes! Right now, for Autumnheart, I have several files of tidbits of Victorian history from the 1860s-1880s, a ton of Oregon and Portland-specific history, research on several real persons of the era in the Pacific Northwest, and photos, photos, photos. Oh, also notes on giant squid, planetary catastrophe on an extinction-level scale, steam and early electrical technology, and lolcats. Because F.U. I like lolcats.




Bloghop RSVP
Continuing the chain letter to the next four people who must write a blog post using these questions or suffer a rain of frogs for the next forty days (and believe me, though that sounds cool, after day twelve you’re thinking Fuck, there just really aren’t enough ways to cook frogs), I hereby pass the torch to:

1. Troy Blackford: author of "Booster & Reeves: Night of the Revenants", an insanely good zombie story AND Jeeves & Wooster parody; Strange Way Out; and numerous other novels and short stories. I once traded him a signed copy of his novel Critical Incident (and a gruesome fictional death in another book) for some Joe Hill ephemera.

2. Sabrina Zbasnik: talented comic fantasy author ("Terrafae"; Dwarves in Space) and gifted painter of haunted trees. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you are seriously missing out. The snark levels in her everyday commentary have destroyed three Soviet Geiger counters already.

3. Rick Gualtieri: he of Bill the Vampire fame (Sunset Strip; Hunting Bigfoot; et alias). Recently, also has proven his mettle in single combat versus the Deep Ones in his cellar plumbing.

4. Derek Springer: host of The Ugly Couchcast, humor author, appreciator of fine Lego art. More twisted than he appears.

Their entries to be up before or on the following Monday (the 19th). I’ll post links to theirs in the comments for this entry once they’re up. *readies batches of Colorado river toads for delivery*




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IT'S ALL HOT AN IT HURTS N STUFF




As a kid, I watched the UHF station channel 44 in Tampa many a summer afternoon and evening, and the highlight for me was a show called Creature Feature. A dapper older gent, made up like Bela Lugosi trying really hard to be a Cure-loving goth with slicked-back hair and an opera cape, hosted it under the name Dr Paul Bearer. I loved this guy, and this show, well before I grasped the joke. He played piano, sang Tom Lehrer songs, and made painful puns about the movies he showed. But the best part was that the featured film almost always involved horrific giant somethings, often in the cheesiest possible black and white. I was enraptured. My dad obtained Bearer’s autograph for me at some local function they both attended, which was cool, but the monsters were cooler. Not that I like giant spiders or hideous misshapen Things lurching out of my closet –


HIDEOUS MISSHAPEN THING: Youuu raaaaannng?

Get back in there. Or at least take that muumuu off, it doesn’t go with those heels!

Anyway. Being scared was delicious fun, but even better for my eight-and-nine-year-old psyche? Being able to laugh at the scary fuckers.

I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but I can tell you that the first Mystery Science Theatre 3000 epsiode I watched was Earth vs the Spider, and I was immediately hooked. This was like watching Creature Feature again, except with amazingly culturally literate best buds who could make me laugh so hard I had to run to the bathroom. Often. While sober.

Of course, only a portion of MST3K episodes involved hideous monsters (unless you count Coleman Francis or Richard Kiel, who up the ante).

"Oh my god you're huge."

For those of you already devoted MSTies, you’ll have your favorite eps, and unless one of them is Pod People you’re dead to me. But for those of you who’ve never seen the show, it ran from 1988 (on public-access TV in MN) until 1999 (dying a sad death on the channel formerly known as SciFi). Many episodes are available on DVD; many more on Youboob. The premise: a mild-mannered janitor with a knack for inventing odd devices works for some mad scientists, who send him unwillingly into space on a satellite in order to force him to watch horrible films and gauge his reactions. Joel Robinson (Joel Hodgson, creator of the show) fights back by building some robot friends: Crow, Tom Servo, Gypsy, and Cambot. They survive the horror of forgotten flicks like Hercules vs the Moon Men or Fugitive Alien by riffing on them nonstop. Dr Forrester (Trace Beaulieu, who also plays Crow T. Robot) and TV’s Frank (Frank Conniff) try to outdo their experiments every week with worse films, drawn from sewers full of Japanese monsters, cheap bargain basements of Sandy Frank imports, and justly-ignored “classics” by directors such as Bert I. Gordon. Joel (later Mike Nelson, after Joel left to explore other projects), Servo (Kevin Murphy), and Crow throw back every ounce of spunkiness that a guy and some robot puppets can muster. While the contest between the Mads and the Satellite of Love crew was a continual stalemate, the viewing audience always won. There were cast changes as the years went on, for good or ill; me, I’m a Joel-and-the-Bots fan. Still have my fan club mug and pins bought at the ConventioConExpoFest-o-Ramas (I attended both...I got stories, yo).


Now, I know there’s folks who hate it when someone talks over the film...even if the film smells so bad even the roaches have left the room. If this is you, leave now. Go watch The Notebook or some other wussy, watered-down crap as punishment for being boring. If I’m bored, or very down, or even gathered with close friends having a blast, there is no better time than now to watch me some MST. Because nobody else can, in the course of one not-quite-two-hour episode, have me sprawled on the floor laughing several pounds off my ass with a skit about death and ruin, the most creepyshit dogfood commercial ever, a Gulf War joke, a pot joke, and a line about Tet (all in "Mighty Jack", one of the marvellously craptastic efforts dubbed and dragged into the US from Japan by Sandy Frank). It also has one of my favorite songs:


"Slow the plot down, laddies, sloooow the plot down..."

That’s right, you little operetta-loving hairgelled monkeys: songs. The guys came up with an original song every few episodes. Even put ‘em on an album. You ain’t seen nothin’ til you’ve been in a group of completely unrelated fans waiting for a bus at the convention who all spontaneously break out singing: “This is the bus, to take us to the hotel...This is the stop, to wait for the bus... He TRIED TO KILL US WITH A FORK LIFT...”



The con, you ask? How was it? Either of them? Oh, well, apart from touring the Best Brains studio and seeing This Island Earth as a LIVE SHOW with the guys in an historic theatre and the PARADE OF TORGOS, I guess it was okay...

Smug? Me?? Huh huh huh...

I put the 'smug' in 'mugshot,' bubbe!

The best thing about MST3K was that, even now when I rewatch it, it allows me to be a grown-up child. I can appreciate the truly awful SFX in the films, the lackluster directing, the lack of plots or subtext or really any redeeming storytelling feature. I snigger at obscure references to literature or music or cult films of better quality. And I am still allowed to feel utter joy at the lair of the giant spider (Carlsbad Caverns) full of desiccated mummies of victims or a pack of rabid Giant Shrews gnawing through a stockade wall, despite the just plain stupidity of both. I can laugh at love again. I can be the best human I can be with this show, and really, isn’t that what life’s all about?


"You're not my REAL father!"

For anyone curious, my all-time favorite eps are as follows(in order as I jot them down here, because really, can you argue the merits of Richard Kiel in a sofa cover over, say, Trumpy the Alf knockoff?). WATCH THEM. WATCH THEM ALL. For KICKS, man.

Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (sorry...no full ep link for this one)

The MST guys went on to do some fantastic projects after the show ended. Mike, Kevin, and Bill Corbett continue to make Rifftrax of movies current and forgotten, and will have a LIVE RIFFING of SHARKNADO in July! (Hell YES I plan to go!) Joel, Frank, Trace, Mary Jo Pehl and Josh Weinstein all riffed under the banner of Cinematic Titanic. But for me, the best snark in the universe remains in these cherished episodes. Watch them. Love them.

Think about it, won’t you? Thank you.

"Frank? Did you leave the tunnel hatch open again?"



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WENDIGOGO

Horror drinking games are easy: sip when the teenagers/friends/soldiers split up to look around the creepy old cabin/mansion/space station. Sip when someone goes outside to see what that noise was. Cat jumps out at someone seconds before the actual Big Uggy grabs the frightened idiot? Finish your drink. There are so many horror tropes and overused cliches in both horror film and fiction that for a long while the genre went through a slump that became easy to mock. Then it was mocked (“Scary Movie” et al), then came roaring back with some damned original writers. (e.g: Joe Hill, Dan Simmons, Chuck Wendig, Rick Gualtieri, tons more I haven’t had the pleasure of being scared shitless by yet!)



Yeah, this is how I react to people bugging me
while I'm researching, too.

I wish I could say I’m one of those writers. I have no such pretensions. But can I entertain you and keep it from veering into shotglass-friendly territory? Prooooobably.

Inspired a couple of weeks ago by Rick Gualtieri, Chuck Wendig, and my uberlaidback friend Derek Springer, I launched into my first horror novel: WENDIGOGO. (I'm still working on my steampunk story, but this idea captured my enthusiasm, tied it up, tossed it in the trunk of a Lincoln and drove like hell.) I’d originally intended more dark humor, perhaps equal to the grue, but my characters have other ideas. I know where it’s heading, but not precisely what route it will take. The damned thing’s a drunken badger and will go where it wants to, thankyousoveryfuckingmuch. As the Wendigo myth hasn’t yet been beat to death (and, yes, I couldn’t resist the pun since one of those inspirations has also employed it a few times), I’m playing with it. Cannibalism! Greed in a time of famine and want! A dick joke or two! (Are you happy, Derek? Yes. There will be dick jokes.) And plenty of geektastic references and humor. Some of that humor involves cannibalism. If you enjoy the series “Hannibal,” you already know that eating humans can be hilarious. So hey! Let’s take a look, shall we?



I think I'd prefer to be served au jus, but to each their own.


Mild-mannered everygeek Dave...no. Screw that. Insecure, booknerd snark cannon of ineptitude Dave Wending accompanies his wealthy girlfriend Darcy Mueller to an archaeological dig within a prehistoric burial mound. He doesn’t want to be there due to his allergies to rich assholes and oil company sponsorships, and general angst regarding his relationship status. He’s not the most balletic goob ever to tromp around a priceless Native American site. Oh, and it’s really fucking cold. This is what happens:


*****


Darcy gave her father a plaintive look, and he turned to the archaeologist. “Is it possible we could take a peek?” Mueller asked Lightfoot. “We’ll be careful not to touch anything.” His smile was that of a man who believes himself entitled to anything he desires.

Lightfoot paused, silent, then gave one nod to the grad student. A frown scrunched up the young man’s dark brows, but he grudgingly peeled back the top sheet and turned on a large worklamp perched beside the grave. Darcy started back as if slapped. “Ugh!”

That’s gotta be good, Dave thought, and quickly moved to join her, Mueller and Lightfoot following more slowly as they crossed the maze of rectangular holes in the dark earth. Dave glanced up again at Darcy as he neared the grave; her expression was one of disgust, and she seemed unable to look straight at whatever lay there. She saw him, and suddenly cried, “David, be careful!”

His sneaker slid on what felt like a frozen slab of rock. Oh for fuck’s sake, way to go, Mr Graceful! Desperately he thrust his hands out as the slide turned into a full stumble, his feet unable to find a stopping point. Oh fuck don’t land on anything don’t land on anything don’t—His knees and elbows slammed onto the hard dirt. With a yelp of anger and pain, he scrabbled back from the edge of the grave. He banged sideways into one of the tarp walls; it gave, but not before bouncing him toward the hole again. Dave threw both hands down, trying to brake, knowing it was going to shred his palms, but better that than destroying a millennium-old set of bones. His right hand bore the brunt of his weight; he grunted as the rough-packed earth cut into his skin. The lip of the pit crumbled suddenly under his left hand, and as another jamming pain shot up his arm from the elbow, something slashed his fingers. “Oww! Motherfucker!”

Hands went under his armpits and hefted him up immediately. Dave blinked away tears, glasses askew, grimacing at the myriad of hurts competing for his attention. He bit back more curses, trying to salvage some dignity, though he knew it was a lost cause. “You all right?” Mueller asked. Dave sucked in a breath, trying to take stock of himself. The grad student was on his other side. Together, he and Mueller walked Dave back a few steps and sat him down on a trunk. Darcy approached fearfully, her eyes flicking from his knees to his face.

“David, are you okay?” she asked. He settled his glasses on his nose with smarting fingers, and looked at his left hand. Blood trickled steadily from two fingers, and the palm was scraped red.

“No, I am not.” He calmed his breathing, angry at himself. A dirt floor full of holes, so of course, you just have to rubberneck at whatever is making your chicken-little girlfriend go all squicky. “Please tell me I didn’t just obliterate a priceless archaeological discovery.”

“I think both of you will live,” Lightfoot said, a tinge of amusement in his gravelly voice.

Dave shot him a wry look; the poker face he saw in response made his appreciation of the dry old archaeologist go up a notch or two. Mueller appeared far more unhappy, and the grad student’s face said This is why we don’t let you cattle around our priceless discoveries, moron. Dismissing the kid, Dave checked his elbows and knees. His jeans had held up, though he was sure he had more scrapes and definitely bruises on his shins; red gashes marked his forearms when he gingerly rolled up his sleeves. Darcy paled, looking away. Dave squeezed his left fingers in his right hand to staunch the flow of blood, and finally peered into the grave to see what the hell had cut him.

The skull gaping sightlessly back wasn’t what he’d expected. Instead of mummified remains, or a ceremonial mask, the mud-darkened skull of a stag lay at the top of a humanoid figure. Animal-skin robes covered the stark ribcage, and a necklace similar to the one Darcy had been admiring lay heavily on its chest. More unnerving than the hybrid corpse, however, was the wet gleam of red on a pointed antler-tip. He leaned forward, squinting. “Holy shit...”

from WENDIGOGO (work in progress, KA Silva 2014)

*****


Oh yes. There will be blood. Tasty, slather-it-down-your-beard-like-BBQ-sauce blood. And Star Wars jokes. Possibly together.

I have no projected finish date yet, but I’m determined and charging at this thing like a blind rhino with a confused egret stuck up its ass. It will be bloody, it will be funny, and with work and luck it will be fun.

Because, well, hell...life’s too short not to vicariously savor human flesh.

Keep your shot glass out. I’ll tell you the rules. And I’ll tell you when it’s fucking soup!



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Getting Old Is Hell

{Note: a bit of a different post this time. This small glimpse of Hell is in response to a flash fiction challenge at Chuck Wendig's blog.}

Getting Old Is Hell

Richard couldn’t pinpoint the day the zombie took over his body.

It was more of a gradual descent: he would be fine, just unable to recall the name of the person who said hello to him at the supermarket. Moments of uncertainty in the midst of a task he’d done a thousand times. It seemed like after Millie died, these increased. Then one morning, staring in the mirror, feeling groggy, he’d seen the zombie start picking at his teeth with his finger. Richard started fully awake, and tried to still the movement, but the thing in control of his body just kept staring with vacant brown eyes, and obsessively scratching a bit of last night’s dinner from his crooked teeth. Stop that, Richard thought. The finger kept picking. He could hear it, faintly, a bare branch on an eave: skritch skritch. He tried to tear his gaze away, but he wasn’t in charge of his eyes anymore.

And then suddenly he was fine. He jerked his hand out of his mouth, gasping. He blinked, moved; his reflection paced him. Everything was fine.

Except a few days later it happened again: in the middle of driving, he felt frightened, lost. While he dithered over which turn to take, the zombie blithely drove on. The zombie turned on the car radio. “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Richard couldn’t make his hand switch it off again. That had been his and Millie’s song and he couldn’t bear to hear it now. The zombie nodded happily. “Yowza,” it said. Then it sang along, fumbling most of the words. Two towns past his exit, the zombie went away and Richard was just Richard again.

The zombie forgot to pick up milk. The zombie wandered the house in the middle of the night, and once stood in the street yelling at the dumpster until the cops showed up, leaving Richard unable to explain why he’d felt the need to disturb the entire neighborhood cursing at “Phil.” “I don’t know any Phil,” he told the officer, and looked longingly at his house. “Please, I just want to go back to bed.” The house belonged to a neighbor. The cops walked him to a door he didn’t recognize, until he saw framed photographs of himself and Millie inside.

He wasn’t happy about Jenny moving in. When she carefully explained it would save them both some money, the zombie snapped at her to get a job. She looked surprised. “But, Dad...I work downtown. At St Joe’s Hospital. Remember?”

“Of course,” Richard said. He knew that. Of course he did. He’d never been prouder than when she walked across that stage to receive her medical school diploma. “That was a wonderful day,” he said aloud. 

“Yowza,” the zombie agreed.

Jenny laughed. “You always used to say that! How funny.” She teased him with stories he could almost recall, stories about a little girl and her parents at the beach, hunting the sand for shells. They were good stories.

But Richard skulked about the house, peering around corners, never knowing when he would be imprisoned while that Other pottered off and left the soup burning on the stovetop, or carefully dressed in suit and tie and walked out to a job Richard retired from twenty years ago.

Over months, the balance shifted in the zombie’s favor. Jenny found them at the mall once. The zombie was arguing over an umbrella in a department store which he insisted he’d brought today because of the rain. Richard had never seen it before. He left it behind at Jenny’s coaxing, and meekly went with her outside, where the summer sun burned his bare head. Fixing dinner for them, he fell to weeping when Jenny insisted Mom wasn’t coming home tonight, that Mom was dead.

He knew that. Of course he did. But the zombie sobbed and had to be put to bed, where he became entranced by the sound of the ocean. Richard knew it was a false sound, from a little box. After awhile, the white-noise waves irritated him. The zombie let it drone all night, gazing raptly at the closed curtains.

The doctor prescribed Aricept. Fish oil. Then catheters; something about his bladder not emptying fully. Jenny had to help every time; the zombie couldn’t remember how to use the damned thing. Richard watched helplessly through his own eyes while the zombie hummed and swayed, frustrating Jenny’s attempt to insert the catheter. When she barked finally, “Dad, hold still!” he let loose. Urine sprayed the walls, the floor, his daughter. Richard keened, and strained to apologize. The zombie snapped.

“You stupid bitch look what you did! Clean this up! You’re fired!” he howled. Jenny gaped, then fled. The zombie resumed humming that damned song, that doo-wop. Richard struggled to regain control, piss soaking his pants. Jenny shut her door; he heard her crying softly. Then she spoke on the phone for a while in a low voice.

Richard forced all his will into his right hand. He picked up her shaving razor. His fingers shook, but he brought it slowly to his throat. He could thwart the zombie. He could save his daughter this hell. Save them all.

“Oh Jesus, Dad, what are you doing?”

“Shaving,” said the zombie. “When’s lunch?”

The nursing facility had a beautiful façade, wide shady arcades with well-ordered gardens. The zombie tottered beside Jenny, serenely greeting attendants in white shirts. The sunroom was all long thin windows and quiet babbling. Jenny listened to the litany of activities: music therapy, fingerpaints, sorting exercises. She nodded. She said goodbye and left. The orderlies strapped Richard’s body in a chair. Mustn’t wander off. Isn’t it nice here? A nurse offered him a drink of water, and a pill. The zombie took them.
The sunbeams stretched long across the wood floor. Someone creaked and giggled as she drifted by. It was all lovely. Richard begged, cried unheard, screamed inside his skull.


“Yowza,” said the zombie.

******

{Author's note: This is the worst hell I have personally witnessed.}

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blood and Poop Jokes: an Interview with Rick Gualtieri

Because this blog is as much about what I’m writing and reading (says so, right up there on the banner, yep), I thought I’d take this week’s post to talk a little with one of my favorite authors, Rick Gualtieri, about his horror-comedy series The Tome of Bill, aka the Bill the Vampire books.

Image of Rick Gualtieri

Doesn't LOOK like a guy who'd rip your throat out, does he?
Also, thank god, no sparkly emo crap.


I met Rick through Twitter, and soon after discovered his wonderful books: Bill the Vampire, Scary Dead Things, The Mourning Woods, Holier Than Thou, and Sunset Strip so far in the Bill series. He’s also the author of the horrific Bigfoot Hunters; The Poptart Manifesto, a collection of shorts; and some thoughtful occasional rants on his website, www.poptartmanifesto.com. Here, he’s kindly agreed to let me pick his brain a bit on the juxtaposition of funny and bloody things we both enjoy.

************************

Kris Silva: When you first had the idea to write Bill the Vampire, were you considering a more traditional horror approach at all, or was the comic tone your first choice?

Rick Gualtieri: I envisioned Bill the Vampire as a horror comedy from the very start, but one with serious undertones. In other words, I never saw Bill as slapstick.  The situations he was thrust into were always supposed to be deadly serious with real consequences. It's the characters who create the main comedic focus - spending more time mocking their circumstances than screeching in terror.

KS: Are there other comedy-horror works which influenced you in writing the Tome of Bill series?

RG: From a writing standpoint, there's a lot of urban fantasy out there with comedic elements. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files is probably the foremost example of this. The difference is that in series like these the comedy is a typically an add-on.  For mine I wanted it to be one of the major focuses.  Because of that I'd say film has been a greater influence on me.  We're talking movies like “Ghostbusters,” “Army of Darkness,” and “Big Trouble in Little China.” These are all films that could have been traditional horror with a more straight-laced cast, but instead are played for laughs due to the attitudes of their heroes. 

KS: Those are all great films. I can think of scenes in each that echo the dark humor in your books. However, you also work in a LOT of really...beg pardon ...juvenile silliness. The scatalogical Bigfoot jokes in The Mourning Woods come to mind. Yet those jokes are in the midst of a deadly serious situation. Tension breaker or pure love of silly jokes?

RG: A little of both, but I have to admit that, of all the books I've written, The Mourning Woods is the one most played for laughs.  That's both a positive and negative.  I think it's easily the funniest of the series, but at the same time probably trades off a bit of character development for the sake of the jokes. That's really the fine line I walk with this series: how to keep it humorous without the characters devolving into complete morons.  I am constantly worrying about that balance.  That was one of my biggest fears with Sunset Strip.  It takes place in the same world, but focuses on different characters. The end result was a dark urban fantasy rather than a comedy.  Switching genres in the same world is nerve-wracking because you want people to enjoy the story, but have to accept the reality that many won't because you're not meeting their expectations. 

KS: Do you have a favorite scene or scenes among these influential films which just kills you every time you watch?

RG: Bruce Campbell just utterly kills me up in “Army of Darkness.” He has so many great scenes in that movie it’s hard to pick just one – albeit I am particularly fond of the line, “Good, bad...I’m the guy with the gun.”

Tome of Bill Compendium

The Tome of Bill: Now available in Family Snack Size!


KS: Horror-comedy, or comedic horror, seems to have a more narrow audience than either genre separately. I've always wondered why more people DON'T find the juxtaposition hilarious. For instance, in your books, Bill's coven operates a suicide help line in New York City in order to lure in fresh meals. As horrible as that sounds, it's also deeply funny! Any thoughts on why some people don't relate to that sort of sardonic humor?

RG: All humor is subjective.  That's the reality of writing comedy - you are absolutely guaranteeing that a percentage of the population will find you about as funny as a train wreck.  Trying to appeal to everyone is probably a surefire path to failure, leading to watered down jokes that will offend none and mostly likely earn you a few pained chuckles at most.  I write the types of humor that would make me laugh and hope that I'm successful in targeting it to like-minded people. If I fail...well, one has no business writing comedy if they can't laugh at themselves when they get properly smacked down.

KS: My favorite scenes in your books are the ones with that blend of horror and humor, especially when in the midst of something deadly serious, a desperate joke by one of the characters pops up like an offering to the Humor Gods. In Bill the Vampire, for instance, Bill's backtalk to Jeff, the vamp who turns him, is clearly as much of an instinctual response out of dread as anything else. Bill’s obvious desperation makes it even funnier! The use of a vintage Transformer toy as a holy weapon is hilarious, too, and every geek guy or girl who's ever treasured a mint condition action figure enough to imbue it with its own aura of holiness will definitely cheer Tom during the climactic fight scene!
I know you collect Transformers. Have you ever repelled the undead with one? 

RG: Forget the undead. I’m more worried about my kids getting their hands on them. Vampires would be a vacation.

KS: What are your favorite scenes in each of the Tome of Bill books? The ones you personally found the most fun to write?

RG: I’m fond of any times I get to drop snippets of history into things: vampires at Troy, Beowulf as an Icon, and other stuff like that because it gives me a chance to add some fun backstory to this world.
Specifically, though, I think my two favorite scenes in the series so far were from Scary Dead Things and The Mourning Woods respectively. In the former, it’s Gan’s first meeting with Sally. It sets up their dynamic going forward and I loved introducing a character who could crack Sally’s veneer a bit. Bill’s first meeting with the Sasquatch chieftain in The Mourning Woods is my other favorite. Just visualizing that scene from within the main character’s head quite frankly cracks me up – as sad as it might be to laugh at my own jokes.

KS: That scene IS hilarious. What better time for poop jokes than when you’re in danger of being squashed by a Sasquatch, after all...
What books do you currently have in the works, ready to unleash upon the unsuspecting?

RG: I’m nearly finished with Goddamned Freaky Monsters, book 5 in Bill’s series. Following that I’m working with Tim Greaton on a collaborative story which is shaping up nicely. From there, we’ll see. I have no shortage of ideas in the pipeline, but whenever I try to schedule too far in advance it becomes a near guarantee that I’ll work on something different.

KS: I know you also write straight horror (Bigfoot Hunters) and even erotica. Each of those has its own appeal, certainly; is there a genre you find most comfortable to write in, and is it easy for you to switch between them?

RG: I don’t write erotica, but Cole Vance does. Whether he has any connection to me, I really can’t say. [smiles]
Seriously, I’m probably most comfortable with urban fantasy, but I don’t have much trouble switching to a different genre for a new book. It’s all about getting into the character’s heads. If I can do that then all is well. If I can’t then that probably means it’s not the right story for me to be working on at that moment.


Many thanks to my guest, Rick Gualtieri, whose Bill the Vampire books give hope to geeks everywhere! Rick’s books can be found for purchase on Amazon.



Rick Gualtieri lives alone in a dark, evil place called New Jersey with only 
his wife, three kids, and countless pets to both keep him company and 
constantly plot against him. When he's not busy monkey-clicking out 
words, he can typically be found jealously guarding his collection of 
vintage Transformers from all who would seek to defile them - 
Defilers Beware!
His upcoming works include:
GODDAMNED FREAKY MONSTERS
DEVIL HUNTERS

Visit him at:
Blog - www.poptartmanifesto.com
Facebook - facebook.com/RickGualtieriAuthor
Twitter - twitter.com/RickGualtieri

Or just drop him a line at rickg.author@gmail.com.
Don't be shy. Unlike the creatures in his novels, he doesn't bite. :)