Author Spotlight – Justine Dimabayao

anthology, vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Justine Dimabayao

 is the author of the short story

BORN OF THE EARTH

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

justine headshot

Excerpt from:

BORN OF THE EARTH

The pebbled balustrade is cool against my hands, which look ghostly against the moonlight. The moon at the zenith is waxing–due to reach fullness by tomorrow. Like myself, my family’s vineyard–at least, what is left of it–is practically a ghost of its former self. The leaves have fallen, and the branches have shriveled up.

I close my eyes and inhale the nocturnal air. I could almost smell those fresh grapes as my family’s employees picked them bunch by bunch. Then I imagine daylight glowing through my eyelids as I oversee this vineyard myself.

Mama would have been proud. Or perhaps not–she was conventional, to say the least.

My family ran a vineyard in Cotnari, Bukovina, and we were considerably wealthy. Being the only daughter among seven children, I had little idea of what was to become of me. My mother was contented with having a man to support her and sons to follow their father’s footsteps. Unfortunately, I shared my brothers’ adventurous spirit.

Time and again, I would listen in the shadows of our mansion as my oldest brothers bragged about how many women they had taken and the youngest ones dreamed about going across the Carpathian Mountains to see the rest of Romania and if they could, cross the Black Sea and explore Constantinople before sailing into the Aegean.

Every other time, my mother would find me in the hallway leading to the bar and reprimand me, claiming that what I heard from my brothers was not meant for a lady’s ears. Often, she would pull me out of the dark and put me back in my bright bedroom. She would put me in front of the mirror and brush my luxuriant golden locks. In order to take my brothers’ ambitions off my head, she would praise my beauty and call it my greatest asset.

“You are lucky, Aranka,” she would tell me. “Most girls are happy to have one man running after them. But you will have many. You will be free to choose which one would make the best husband. He will provide for you, as your father has done for me. You will never have to work or worry. …”

My mother’s words were prophetic: as soon as I turned fifteen, boys of varying degrees of boldness offered me almost everything from love notes to jewelry in exchange for my attention and companionship. Having many suitors made me rather pleased with myself. For the first time, I truly acknowledged how beautiful I was. For once, my parents and the household servants weren’t the only ones telling me so. No matter how much I dreaded seeing myself as a wife doing nothing but admire her husband’s marvelous work, I liked being pampered. I delighted in being showered with gifts and compliments–by rich and handsome young men, no less.

In return, I did my best to be a respectable young lady. My mother taught me everything I needed to know about etiquette. Learning punctilious manners was exceedingly boring, but I practiced them all in my eagerness for favor. My father, on the other hand, valued intelligence as much as manners; he would instruct me to read one or two books every week. He would make me read everything from the Bible to Romantic novels. I found this activity surprisingly enjoyable. I liked reading anthologies of Slavic myths the most. Once or twice, when I would join my three youngest brothers in exploring the forest, I would imagine Rusalka waiting for us in muddy ponds, or the hauntingly beautiful Iele dancing among the trees. We were also careful not to stay out past sunset. Vampires were not easy to hide from; they were also talented shape-shifters; they could appear harmless or enticing if they pleased. They could appear as the mist settled on the forest floor, the shadows between the trees, or the bats hovering over our heads. READ MORE


 

Born April 16, 1988, Justine Dimabayao came into the world with a flair for the arts. An introverted bibliophile who grew up in an Air Base in the Philippines and was educated in a Catholic school, Justine was exposed to a wide array of reading materials. It was not until she saw Bram Stoker’s Dracula when she was 7 years old and read the movie’s source material when she was 13 that she became fond of vampires and the mythology surrounding them. Inspired by Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, Justine aspires to be a novelist.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Justine Dimabayao

Age: 25

Where are you from: Philippines

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

I’ve always been artistically inclined. I am lucky to belong in a family that encourages my penchant for the arts. The Catholic school I was educated in also encouraged my talents for drawing and writing. I was raised bilingual (English is the second language), and by the time I was in elementary school, I was among the best to express myself in English. I also love drawing and singing, and I’m also pretty good at both.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I’m currently working on my first novel. It’s been in progress since I was about 13 years old. I’m glad I didn’t hurry too much to get it published; it’s gone through several revisions at this point, each better than the last.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve had a good grasp at writing with good grammar in both English and Filipino by elementary school, but I didn’t know I can make a career out of writing until I was 11 or 12, when my best friend encouraged me to write Harry Potterfan fiction.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I decided to make an original works of fiction.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

“Born of the Earth” is actually part of a larger story telling the life of the blonde “bride” living with Count Dracula in his castle. It was initially my response to the whole Twilight craze, but when the pop culture obsession with vampire fiction died out on its own, it’s just simply my take on the vampire mythos and my expression for my love of vampire fiction.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t quite know how to describe my writing style. My writing style can shift slightly depending on the setting and/or the main character. However, I make it a point to strike a balance between simple and concise and elegant and elaborate.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

I am fond of the version of vampirism where the new vampire literally rises from the grave, so I used that image in the story itself. “Born of the Earth” is also a reference to the main character’s name Aranka, which means “golden.” It comes from the same etymology (aurum) as the names Aurelius, Aurelio, and Aurelia. READ MORE

Author Spotlight – Sarah I. Sellers

vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Sarah I. Sellers is the author of the short story

BLOOD TIES

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

Sarah I. Sellers

Excerpt from:

BLOOD TIES

“Death has found me…” Toby whispered as shivers racked his small, malnourished form. The rain came down in sheets, wind blowing furiously, showing no mercy. The boy was obviously ill, with abnormally pale skin, his cheeks were gaunt, and his eyes almost life-less. He cowered in an alley, trying to escape the relentless storm. He was small for his nine years, and maybe forty pounds soaking wet.

“It is only me, young one,” A man’s voice, like gravel, rough and uninviting, startled Toby. A cold hand grabbed the boy’s shoulder. A dark robe cloaked the man’s body, and shaded his face. Rain seemed to avoid him, as if each drop feared the hooded monster.

“All things considered, you may wish for death to come next.” He paused with a grin. “To hell with you!” He boomed with cruel laughter, tightening his grip on the boys shoulder. Toby cringed. Tears joined the rain cascading down his sunken cheeks. He coughed. His throat was dry, and his heart was beating rapidly.

“Why are you so cruel? Who are you” The boy’s voice shook as he spoke, and he was trying not to look at the man who had tormented him relentlessly. He whispered horrid things about hell into Toby’s ear and stabbed at him with bony fingers. Only when Toby slept did the jeering cease. Exhaustion had gotten him now, and he was slumped against the alley wall.

“That is of little consequence;” He sighed, “but you can call me Legna.” He took a step away from Toby. “I knew there was something wrong with you. I never wanted-” he paused. “I saw that vile creature and I want no part of it.”

Legna held up his cane and whispered into the air, “You’re a monster, not a protector. And you cannot protect this one. He’s not yours to protect.” He spat the words. “Parasite.”

As the cane struck his legs, Toby thought he felt a soft hand on his shoulder and was grateful he’d seen his friend this morning.

Everything went black and the pain was insufferable. This couldn’t be death, Toby thought, for death would have been a gift. He felt as if his lungs were being torn from his chest while hands clutched at his throat. Toby was falling endlessly through the darkness. When he hit the solid ground, the impact didn’t hurt as bad as it should have. His back only ached dully. He actually felt stronger; more alert.  He felt… alive. Wherever he was, it was dark. Only the light of twin moons illuminated the gravel road.

He didn’t know where he was or why, but he felt unusually calm, considering the circumstances. This was a strange place, somewhere other worldly. Toby felt Legna’s presence before he heard his cane tapping the ground. His sense of calm vanished.

“Welcome to your new home,” Legna cackled. His words sent shivers down Toby’s spine. “You will soon meet your master.” He tapped his cane menacingly on the ground, “Until then, stay put. Beasts dwell in this area. Beasts that will not hesitate to rip your head off.” Then he vanished, not allowing the frightened boy to comment.

Under any other circumstance Toby would have fled, but here, in this unfamiliar place, he had no advantage. No familiar street corners or secret hiding places. He sat at the edge of the dirty road and cried. As a small consolation, Toby realized that he wasn’t as skinny as he had been. He was still small, of course, but his skin didn’t hang on his bones like it once had. His face and clothes were covered in grime from the city streets, but despite his exhaustion and some soreness, he felt better physically. He wasn’t starving. The joy of this discovery didn’t last long though. He still had no idea where he was or why. He cried himself to sleep in the dark of night, on the side of the road, in an alien world. READ MORE

Author Interview with Fiona

Name-   Sarah I. Sellers

Age-    15 (Almost 16!!)
Where are you from-  Fairview, North Carolina
A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect-
I was raised with my two older sisters and my parents, until I was 9. Tragic events occurred, and I was sent to live with my grandparents- while my 2 sisters went to other family. When I was 13, I moved in with my best friend’s family. I now have 3 more sisters, two dogs, and a pig (Plus my recently passed Sugar Glider). My new parents own a local restaurant in Fairview.  I’m in the 10thgrade. I enjoy writing and drawing, I also enjoy the ROTC program at my school.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first published work is Blood Ties, in the Wrapped In Red Anthology- which came out today (10/29/13)
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I guess I began writing when I was almost 10, and I started writing to deal with everything that was happening in my life at the time.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About a month ago!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I just decided ‘Why not?’ The opportunity came up, so I took it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Not really sure, It ties into the story- I suppose. It made sense in my head, at least.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The book The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. It makes you think differently about life and friends and family. The book A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah (I’d like to thank my 10th grade English teacher for this one)- It also makes you think greatly about life- makes you look at what you have, and appreciate it… rather than just wanting more.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading two- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Shack by Paul Young
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I can see it as a hobby, but not as a career. But you never know what could happen.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always enjoyed reading and if I wanted to read a certain kind of book- and I couldn’t find one, I could write it instead. It was also a way for me to escape my reality, and go into a world of my creation- where anything I want to happen, will happen.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
S.E. Hinton is one of my favorite authors. The way her books are written, you become part of the book, you feel what the characters feel. I would also call John Green one of my favorite author- Why? Well, have you read his books? READ MORE

Author Spotlight – Chantal Noordeloos

vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Chantal Noordeloos is the author of the short story

THE BLOOD RUNS STRONG

in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

She is also the author of COYOTE: The Outlander and DEEPLY TWISTED

chantal pic 2Excerpt from:

THE BLOOD RUNS STRONG

“It is all about blood,” the Master preached to his followers, who kneeled around a stone casket, dressed in grey hooded robes. Their heads bowed in reverence.
“The blood gives us strength, it gives us power. The blood runs strong.”
“The blood runs strong.” The followers hummed in agreement, their voices echoed slightly through the damp cold tomb.
One of the robed figures moved towards him and kneeled, head still bowed. Delicate white hands presented the Master an ornate silver ceremonial knife. He took the slender blade from her hand, and touched it to his lips, the cold silver a stark contrast with the warmth of his skin; then he returned the knife to her hands.
“Master. My blood is your blood,” a husky female voice said. One dainty hand took the knife and cut into the soft white flesh of the opposite palm. Her blood welled up from the cut, gathering in a dark pool in the center of the palm. Several drops escaped, trailed down the pale arm and disappeared in the wide sleeve of the robe. She offered him the blood covered hand, and with a cruel smile he bit into her flesh, sinking his sharp teeth further into the skin. He could hear a slight hiss as she inhaled from the pain, but she was brave and loyal. When he was done, he licked the blood off with his rough tongue. He released her hand, the blood still specked on his lips, and she recoiled slightly. The Master licked his lips, and the hooded girl handed the knife to another of the followers. The ritual repeated itself. Each time a new subject would offer a bleeding hand.
He spoke to them, his words filled with fire, his message was about blood and death. As he spoke he directed his face towards the light of the many candles, so that the sharp canines in his mouth glistened. He was aware of his body, and every move he made, every word he said, was deliberate. The followers chanted the words of the ritual in his name, chanted praise for the blood, and – he imagined – dreamt of immortality.
The ritual ended in darkness, the many candles that illuminated the tomb were extinguished, casting the interior of the stone building in pitch black. Only the musty smell of ancient stone and death remained, and a vague odor of the extinguished candles.
The Master made his exit from the tomb with two females, one clung to each of his arms. The air outside was fresh and cold. A million bright stars greeted them from a velvet sky.
“Draco,” said one of the girls. “Will you take us home with you tonight?”
He looked down on her. His eyes glanced over the vivid red hair with dark roots showing underneath. She was a short girl with small breasts; her body was lithe and thin, resembling that of a young boy.
“I will take you home with me.” He spoke with an accent, which he hoped was Transylvanian. READ MORE

Chantal Noordeloos (born in the Hague, and not found in a cabbage as some people may suggest) lives in the Netherlands, where she spends her time with her wacky, supportive husband, and outrageously cunning daughter, who is growing up to be a supervillain. When she is not busy exploring interesting new realities, or arguing with characters (aka writing), she likes to dabble in drawing.

In 1999 she graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she focused mostly on creative writing.

There are many genres that Chantal likes to explore in her writing. Currently Sci-fi Steampunk is one of her favourites, but her ‘go to’ genre will always be horror. “It helps being scared of everything; that gives me plenty of inspiration,” she says.

Chantal likes to write for all ages, and storytelling is the element of writing that she enjoys most. “Writing should be an escape from everyday life, and I like to provide people with new places to escape to, and new people to meet.”

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name

Chanti: My name is Chantal Noordeloos (try to pronounce, that one, hahaha. –Nor-duh-lows- ) *throws hands in the air* say it with me now… lol, sorry, just kidding.

Age

Chanti: Never ask a lady her age… good thing I’m not too ladylike. I’m 37. I was born in 76.

Where are you from:

Chanti: I was born in The Hague, which is one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands. I live in a suburb there now, but I’ve moved around. I even lived in the UK (Norwich) for three years during my time as a student.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

Chanti: I don’t know why it’s always so difficult to tell things about myself. I struggle to find the words (that really doesn’t do me credit as a writer, now does it… in my defence I write fiction) So let’s see. First and foremost, I’m a mom. My daughter, Elora (6) is amazing, and I try to keep her on the path of good, because I think she has the makings of a diabolical genius. My husband and I have been very happily married for 9 years. We met each other at this LARP (live action role play) event I used to organise. I think I need to warn you that I’m a bit of a nerd (or geek, or whatever). I always loved comic books, role play and games. And of course, books are my passion. Besides writing I do a little bit of drawing. I even draw for some of my projects too.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

Chanti: Hmmm latest news, I have so much. I think my most exciting news is that the first novel in my COYOTE series, called “COYOTE: THE OUTLANDER” is now out on most platforms. I loved working on this project because it has a second screen. Basically that means it has its own website with extra content, and even music, to make reading the book a more engaging experience.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Chanti: I’ve been writing since I knew how, but always for a bit of fun. As a small kid I made up a lot of stories, and when I became a teen, I decided writing sucked, until I met my English teacher Mr. Harrison at age 15. He gave me a picture to write about and I knew then that I loved it above all other things. It took me a while to grab the courage to really start writing for an audience. I wrote just for me. In June 2012, I had a novel finished (it was terrible, really terrible) and I met another writer (Mike Jansen) who said I had potential. He urged me to get out there, get myself published, and I did. It went really fast after that. I’ve been very spoiled with getting most of my work accepted.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Chanti: I don’t remember, it sort of happened gradually. It took some time though, even when I was holding a copy of the first anthology I was published in, it didn’t sink in. But I know I feel like a writer now.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Chanti: Let’s ignore the crap books I wrote, and only acknowledge the first one I published. Coyote was an actual role play character of mine, about 15 years ago. It’s a character I’ve always loved and wanted to write a story about. There was an anthology I wanted to write for and it asked for a science fiction story. I thought: This would be a great opportunity to write a Coyote story. And so I did… only, what I wanted to say didn’t fit in a short story. So I wrote something else (in the same setting) for that anthology, and kept Coyote to myself.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Chanti: I think I do, but I’m not sure. I’m too close to my own writing to tell. However, I know I tend to write stories with a bit of a twist. So, I guess that’s my style ;)

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Chanti: Confession time: I am terrible with titles. I mean: DREADFUL. The choice to call the whole series “COYOTE” was easy; it’s the name of the main character. The Outlander… well, there is a good reason for it, and it’s in the book. I should explain: Outlanders are creatures from other worlds in my novels.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Chanti: I’m not sure I have a clear message, but I do work with ‘tolerance’ in my novel. Coyote is a female bounty hunter, which isn’t a common thing. Her partner, Caesar, is a freed slave. I liked working with characters that are meant to be ‘the underdog’ yet rise above that. Coyote demands a lot of respect and I liked writing about a strong woman.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

I did research to make it as realistic as I could. There is some guess work in there too, because I could only work with what Google provided me with. I have made up a lot as well, because that’s part of the charm. Don’t worry, there will be no Rips in Indiana, and no Outlanders will come tumbling out! ;)

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Chanti: I might use reactions of people in my novels. I didn’t use real life experiences, but I would use examples of friends (or myself) in my head when characters would respond to certain situations.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Chanti: I am a very big fan of Neil Gaiman, and almost all his books have influenced me greatly. His book Neverwhere is still my favorite book.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Chanti: If I got to choose any writer? Because you’ll see this one coming: I’d get Neil Gaiman, lol. But if you mean who do I consider a mentor? That would be Apple Ardent Scott. She’s my editor (and a very dear friend), but she’s taught me so much about writing. Working with her has been amazing.

Read more HERE

Author Spotlight – Billie Sue Mosiman

short stories, vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Billie Sue Mosiman is the author of the short story YE WHO ENTER HERE, BE DAMNED in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

She is also the author of the New

SINISTER –  TALES of DREAD 2013

Billie Sue Mosiman

Excerpt from:

Ye Who Enter Here, Be Damned

As he opened his eyes the dark thickened, and grew as black as the bottom of a barrel. He lay in the depths of a grave. Swaddled in rotting clothing from a former century, his long nails clawed patiently at the shredded satin padding of the coffin. He had been at it even in his sleep-dream.
His heart beat slow as an African drum he’d heard once as a young man in Uganda. It came from a tribe he stalked, a group of primitives who wore carved sticks over their penises and sported black tattoos on their shoulders. He had drained dozens of them before he was done. The memory of blood made him lick his lips. His stomach was flat, his veins collapsed, but his brain festered with atoms sparking and igniting in the center of each brain cell.
Now he listened to his heartbeat, as he clawed away stinking satin and clots of cotton stuffing pressing down inches above his head. Only when he was free and fulfilled would his heart beat with new energy enough to carry him through into the future.
They had pushed the stake through his unholy heart, but as soon as they closed the coffin lid he’d withdrawn it. It had taken every ounce of his remaining strength. The pain, excruciating, left him faint and weak. But not dead. It had taken nearly a hundred years for the damage to correct itself, for it was his black heart that propelled him. With it punctured he had lain like the corpse they thought him for years, dreaming.
His nails reached the wood of the lid, having gotten through the batting. He methodically scratched at it, imagining it clarified butter, imagining it as cloud. The wood gave and rained down bits of damp splinters onto his chest. Finally earth filtered through the cracks. It smelled rank and full of worms, fertile as a river delta. He forced his right forefinger nail into the split wood and pushed it down and down, widening the gulf between him and the ground holding him hostage.

He came forth in darkness -a lucky matter for him. He hadn’t seen the sun for a hundred years, even as a shadow cast on a wall. That great orb’s beam would have rendered him blind for some time. It was not always true they could not take the sunlight. He was a creature living beyond all myths, even the deadly stake through his heart.
He sat beside his own grave, noting they had left a stone marker holding a warning: DO NOT ENTER HERE, FOR THERE BE DRAGONS.
He smiled. He was more powerful than any dragon and longer-lived, for the dragons had long gone from the earth even before mankind swam through the mud puddles as tadpoles.
He raised his head to see the moon and it was full. He arched his neck, letting the light bathe him in silver essence, renewing his soul. For he did indeed have a soul, though a black one. It responded to the celestial body circling the earth to bring reflected sun to those like him, who could not bear the brighter star for too long at a time.
He stood, shucking the tatters of his suit, leaving him a skeletal and naked man. He brought up his hands and ran his fingers through long raven hair, knocking loose dirt. He brushed his face down and clapped his hands to be rid of what earth still clung to him.
He put a hand over his heart, judged it strong enough to animate him for at least a while more, and set off into a lope out of the lost graveyard for the plantation house belonging to his murderer.
He -Charles Highgood -would not still be alive. No. It had been too many decades and taken him too long to release himself from the deep grave. But Highgood’s descendants…they might still be in the big house, unaware he was coming.
For he was coming. READ MORE

Author of more than 50 books, Billie Sue Mosiman is a thriller, suspense, and horror novelist, a short fiction writer, and a lover of words. In a diary when she was thirteen years old she wrote, “I want to grow up to be a writer.” It seems that was always her course.

Her books have been published since 1984 and two of them received an Edgar Award Nomination for best novel and a Bram Stoker Award Nomination for most superior novel. Billie Sue has been a regular contributor to a myriad of anthologies and magazines, with more than 150 short stories published.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name – BILLIE SUE MOSIMAN

Age- What? Oh no. No, no.

Where are you from- Alabama originally.

A little about your self `ie your education Family life ect

I’ve been writing and publishing for thirty years. It’s been my life, along with raising children and being a wife to my good husband. You’ve heard of a life well-spent? Mark me down for that.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My collection of all new short stories was just published. The title is SINISTER-Tales of Dread. Fourteen short stories, many of which will be in anthologies too. I just sold my fifteenth novel, a suspense, to Post Mortem Press, for publication in April/May 2014.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing in journals and diaries as a kid. I began writing (trying to write) short stories when I was eighteen. I’m not sure why except I always knew I wanted to be a writer.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I wrote my first short story. Writers write and that’s what I was doing. I worked at it with dedication and finally began to sell my work.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

I hadn’t written a vampire story since DAW Books published my trilogy of the Vampire Nation novels. I wanted to try one and in my mind I saw a swampy, foggy area in the South and a house where gene4rations of vampires had lived.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Lately I’ve been called a “quiet horror” writer, meaning the opposite, I guess, of “extreme horror” writer. I am also known for realistic suspense novels.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

It came from the quote to the entrance to hell “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

Not really.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

The setting, and I hope the emotions.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some are, but not in this story. The last vampire I knew made me promise not to speak his name in public.

Read more HERE

Author Spotlight – Domyelle Rhyse

short story, vampires, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Domyelle Rhyse is the author of the short story

PROMISES in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

Domyelle Rhyse

Excerpt from:

PROMISES

“He’s dying.” She watched surprise pool in Anthony’s old, mud colored eyes.
“How do you know this?” Anger and suspicion, tangled with his possessive jealousy, chilled his voice, and Amelia resisted the desire to step back. She couldn’t risk being locked away. Not now.
“You think I’ve learned nothing from you all these years?” She brushed her hair back over her shoulders, letting it fall into a stream of blue-black to her slim hips, with a hand too slender, too pale. “I want to go see him.”
He glared. “You promised to remain with me, Amelia.”
“And I have, and you spared his life. But now he’s dying. I need to go to him.” She softened her voice and knelt with her hands on his knees, pleading with the blue-gray eyes he claimed to love. “Anthony, please? I’ve stayed for so long, never seeing him, never going to him, not even asking about him, but always here with you, just like you wanted. Please let me go. Give us this one night.”
He rose, his body lean and hard, and crossed to the window to peer out into the night. His porcelain skin paled in the moon’s fullness, turning to unshadowed ice. “You wish to turn him.”
“No!” She took a deep, ragged breath against the shock. After so many attempts to escape, to die, after forcing her to promise to stay with him by threatening Nathan, how could he believe she would want to bring the man she loved into this life? “No, I would never imprison Nathan this way.”
Anthony turned and studied her, sucking her into the depths of his gaze. “You will return.”
She heard the hint of desperation he tried to hide. Nodding, she kept her tone even, playing the game that had kept Nathan safe all these years. “I will return.”
“Then go.” A sly smile carved into his marble face. “Give him my regards.”
She controlled her anger. Soon enough she would be free. But she couldn’t leave him thinking he held the upper hand. “You may have stolen me from him, but he has always held my heart.”
She left before he could respond, back stiff with her pride. There was only so much time before dawn, and she had to speak to Nathan before the sun rose. Taking nothing with her, not even a coat to ward off the new winter chill, she fled into the night, racing to the man she would have married if Anthony had not come into their lives.
Anthony. Pale skin, cinnamon hair, regal, flawless, amusing for the first few hours of their acquaintance with him. They had met the night Nathan proposed, on the patio of a tiny bistro. So many had come up to congratulate them, strangers who showered them with well wishes. Anthony waited until the crowd dissipated and ended up spending most of the evening with them. That was a part of his power. He became woven into the moment, subduing all objections without a single word.
He had taken her while they danced, one cool hand in hers, the other wrapped around her slender body, and promised to leave her fiancé alone only if she stayed with him. To keep Nathan safe, she had given her word.
But it was a hard promise to keep. Amelia was unsuited to the life Anthony had given her, the blood distasteful, and she missed Nathan more than the beating of her now still heart. She tried to starve herself, but he threatened her beloved, warned her that death would not save her lover. She had given in, hoping to keep herself pure from what she had become, always knowing that Nathan’s natural death would release her.
The biting air scraped against her skin, but it was nothing against the desire, the need, to get to Nathan. She reached the rest home just shy of midnight. Age and despair touched the sick-laden air surrounding the low, red brick building, bringing a sour taste to her mouth. She stood in the shadows of an old oak, hesitant, uncertain. Nathan would be over 90 now. Did she want to see him elderly and weak, or did she want to remember him as the man she had said yes to on a cool, spring night? She wandered the yard, seeking his scent, stopping outside his window when she still didn’t have an answer.
Her last memory of him was the night Anthony had found them. Handsome despite his too large ears–he kept them hidden under his thick, ash-blonde hair. His eyes, a hazel green, always hard to meet in their intensity, had been one of the first things to draw her to him. She could feel his calloused fingertips and smooth palms sliding over her skin, sending a shiver through her the like of which she hadn’t felt in years.
It didn’t matter if she saw him now. What could have been, should have been, would remain with her forever. READ MORE

Domyelle Rhyse, or domy (as she prefers to be called), started writing at the age of 10 and fell in love with fantasy when a fifth grade teacher read The Hobbit to the class. She started annoying friends with weird stories in high school but didn’t take her writing seriously until after earning a college degree in English and having a family that took pride in interrupting her every minute. Her short stories and articles have appeared in several online and print magazines and anthologies, including Aoife’s Kiss, Beyond Centauri, Golden Visions, and Distant Passages:  The Best from Double-Edged Publishing Vol. 1. As an editor and an admin of Dreaming In Ink Writers Workshop, she’s had the honor of working with a number of authors whose works have been published by both small press and trade publishers. Denyse is the mother of four children and lives in Georgia with her chef husband, her autistic son, and three cats.

The  INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Denyse but I only answer to domynoe these days

Age: 25…again

Where are you from: All over the US and Puerto Rico, but most recently settled in Georgia.

A little about yourself: Bachelor’s in English with a Creative Writing Concentration, Associates in Early Childhood Studies, self-trained baker. Been a teacher and an editor, about to go into baking to help the hubs get his name out therehe does the savory, I do the sweet, which pretty much defines our relationship…mostly. I get the spicy in there sometimes. I have four kids, three girls and one boy, and three kitty kids named after X-men. I also run Dreaming In Ink Writers Workshop, a free crit group/workshop that takes all levels of writing and all genres that just turned 11 this year. Also, I’m not as scary as some people seem to think, not a redhead, and am lots thinner than I was 3 years ago.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

The Hobbit. Prior to that, I read all the standard classics for my age: 101 Dalmatians, Black Beauty, etc. A fifth grade teacher read a little of The Hobbit to the class every Friday, and I’ve never been the same. I immersed myself in fantasy, and now my brain defaults to that genre, even when I dream. Some of my biggest fantasy influences are Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, the  Raymond E. Feist/Janny Wurts pair up, Melanie Rawn, Katherine Kurtz, Marion Zimmer Bradley:, and most recently Patricia McKillip (I want to grow up and be like her). Because of these authors, my writing is more visual and has more details in everything from description to culture. I love the beauty in McKillip’s writing and hope one day that mine will be as eloquent, richly textured, and lyrical.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Out in the wilds are Assassin’s Choice, an epic fantasy on the small press circuit, and Blood Charms, an urban fantasy still being looked at by agents. I’m working on the second book for the Charms series, another epic fantasy in the same world but at a much later time than Assassin’s, and another urban fantasy in the same world as Charms but on the opposite coast and with a different main character. I can’t stop at just one….

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Dreaming In Ink. I’ve grown a lot, not just in my actual writing but also in how I perceive it, because of the input from other members. And it allows me to be social while still focusing on what I want to do, which is write. And having others believe in you, others who don’t say something is cool just because they know you, when you’re having trouble believing in yourself is amazing. And watching them grow and develop their careers makes me proud to have been a part of their lives in even a small way. Past and present members have all been an amazing group of people.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d like to. I just need writing as a career to see me.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I’ve always dabbled in the creative, so probably an artist, an actor, possibly a musician. But never a singer. I’d couldn’t subject people to the torture. That’s reserved for characters.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Strangely, revising. I go through this phase when I absolutely hate what I’m working on. I only keep at it because I’m a glutton for punishment…and I refuse to let anything defeat me. The good news is that coming out of that phase and falling in love again is when I know a novel is about ready for that final polish.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Experiment and find what works for you as a writer, the process that will enable you to complete what you start, then don’t let anyone tell you that your process is wrong. When I started taking my writing seriously, I had people tell me how I was writing wasn’t the “right” way to do it, and it hung me up for years. Don’t get hung up on right or wrong when it comes to process. Do what works for you. On the flip side, if you’re not finishing projects, you probably need to try a different process, so feel free to experiment. And sometimes a book needs a different process than worked before, so again, experiment. Bottom line: it has to work for you and a pox on all those nay sayers. Read more HERE

Author Spotlight – Bryan W. Alaspa

Bryan W. Alaspa, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Bryan W. Alaspa is the author of the short story VERMILION in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED

He is also the author of Strange Fruit and the Slender Man and Sapphire 

Bryan W Alaspa headshot

Excerpt from:

VERMILION

They say the town of Vermilion, Illinois is cursed. If you were to see what it has become, you might be willing to agree. Like so many things that happen around these parts, it goes back to a story about Native Americans.
The tale goes that the town of Vermilion was once on the fast track to becoming one of the biggest cities in the entire state. That much is known fact, as there was even a time when the city became the capital of the state of Illinois. Sitting high on the banks of the Mississippi River, Vermilion was a transportation hub for the steamboats of the time.
As my great-grandfather told it, there was a thriving community here and in that community lived a wealthy man who ran most of the town. He had a daughter, and that daughter was willful and wouldn’t listen and she fell in love with a Native American fellow back in a time when Native Americans were still called things like Featherheads, Cochise and Injuns.
Needless to say, the father did not take too kindly to this and he forbade his daughter to ever see the “Scalper” again. Of course, like most of these tales go, she didn’t listen. She and the boy went sneaking around and it was only a matter of time before the father confirmed his suspicions. He then paid some men to find the young Native American boy. And do you think he turned the boy over to the police claiming some false crime, or just ushered the kid out of town, threatening him never to return? No, he did neither.
The father had the young man beaten and then tied to a large log. The young man lay there, bleeding, arms outstretched like a familiar religious symbol, and the father pushed the log off into the rushing waters of the Mighty Miss. This is where the curse comes in.
Reportedly the Native American boy cursed the whole town of Vermilion, proclaiming the river would eventually swallow the wanna-be metropolis like a giant serpentine devil, wiping it from the face of the earth forever.
Whether or not there ever was a Native American boy, bound by love and killed by hate, no one knows for sure. But there certainly seems to be an air of doom around this place.
Vermilion did go on to become a thriving city, but there came a flood one day and most of the town was washed away. See, when the water receded a bit, it didn’t recede the rest of the way, essentially turning the city into a small island in the middle of the Mississippi River. We are now a tiny township with rushing water on all sides, technically part of the state of Illinois, but with the only bridge taking us into Missouri.
So go figure.
The town has flooded several times since then. The Ole Miss is one mighty bitch when she wants to be. The last time I remember it being completely flooded was back in ’93. The entire town was covered in something like nine feet of water. Those of us that were left, just about 30 people at that time, were evacuated. We all came back and many of us said we would stay here until the island was gone, but most of the young families that had been away on vacation moved away permanently, and several of the evacuees decided they’d had enough.
These days there are just fifteen of us, all of us descended from those founding families of long ago. There are a couple of young folks, but most of us are older, like me. Heck, I’m one of the younger of the older folks being only in my fifties. And the rest of the town looks like something out of a museum.
There’s the downtown area with a small store and a restaurant that barely does any business. Thank goodness for the legend of the curse or we’d have no tourists at all. There’s a few houses and there’s even a park, complete with playground equipment, even though there are no kids to play on them anymore. There’s also a small city hall with mostly empty offices, a library and a church at the far end, with mostly empty pews. It’s a pretty town, with lots of trees and green grass, but it is also very quiet, with empty houses where there were once families. Quiet that is, except for the always constant rushing sound of the river when you’re outside. People live in fear each spring when the rains come and wonder if this will be the year when the curse finally hits for the last time.
I awoke in absolute darkness the night the stranger came. The weather people had been predicting a bad storm all day. The year before, we’d had a drought in the area and people joked that maybe Vermilion was going to become part of Missouri and join the rest of civilization again. Then came the hard winter, with lots of bad snow storms, one after another after another and the town stayed buried in snow. Then came the rains that spring. READ MORE

Bryan W. Alaspa is a Chicago native and published author of over 20 works of fiction and non-fiction. He has written books in the genres of horror, thrillers, suspense, true crime, history, mysteries, young adult, paranormal and even romance.

When he’s not writing, Bryan enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Melanie, and their two fur babies, Gracie and Pippa.

The INTERVIEW with Fiona

Name: Bryan W. Alaspa

Age: 42
Where are you from: Chicago, IL
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.:  Well, I grew up in the Chicago area. I am the oldest of two brothers. I have always had the support of my parents, who always encouraged me to write. In fact, I never would have discovered my love of writing without their love of reading and the fact that my mom left out her electric typewriter once when I was in the 3rd grade and I wrote my first short story. I went to Webster University, where I ended up studying communications and falling in love with broadcasting, particularly radio. I spent quite a few years trying to get a full time job in radio, then spent 8 years working in human resources, before going back to writing and what I loved back in 2006.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just published a horror novella called Strange Fruit and the Slender Man, which is my take on the Slender Man phenomenon. This past year also saw the publication of my first YA Novel – Sapphire, which has garnered some of the best reviews of my career. I just had a vampire short story published in an anthology called Wrapped in Red. This Christmas, the third novel in my Sin-Eater series is due to be published. I plan to publish the first novel in a four-novel Young Adult series next year. I am currently also writing TWO novels, both of which I intend to release in a serialized format. Whew…
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I remember loving books for as long as, well, I can remember. I was fascinated, as a kid, by sharks and during my young days (in the mid-70s) everyone was reading JAWS. I remember being fascinated by the cover, with that big shark on it, fascinated that someone had written this story. I wrote my first short story when I was in the third grade – and it was a total rip-off of Jaws. I loved the feeling of creating my own characters, my own world.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 Probably after I self-published my first novel. This was back in 1998 and it is still out there – lurking. It is an overly-ambitious sci-fi action novel called The Ballad of the Blue Denim Gang.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, my actual first novel was handwritten in high school and my early years in college. It will always stay forever in a binder on my bookshelf because, well, it’s awful. It’s a murder mystery called Among Friends and all of the characters are based on friends I had in high school. The murderer kills off all but a couple characters, this making the mystery not quite mysterious.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not that I am aware of. I like to vary my style. I wrote my thriller novel After the Snowfall during my Cormack McCarthy days and didn’t put any quotes around the dialog. I have done first person and present tense. I always like trying new things to keep myself intrigued and interested.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I wish I knew. The titles just come to me – much like the stories. When my brain settles on a title, however, it is virtually impossible for me to change it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I write to entertain. I don’t usually have a message. In my novel VICIOUS I did try to convey a message about cruelty to animals, in particular dogs, but I also wanted to just entertain and scare people.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I try to set my books in reality so that the audience can relate. However, most of my horror involves a supernatural element introduced into the real life part.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are quite  a few characters based on real people in my life. The events in the novel are usually wholly fiction.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Gosh, that is hard to say. Jaws, obviously, since it was the first thing to inspire me to write. Stephen King’s work in general has been the biggest sole inspiration. Some of my other big inspirations: HG Wells’ War of the Worlds, Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life, Blake Crouch’s RUN, Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home and The Other. I am sure there are more – and I discover new authors all the time.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Stephen King.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now it is Scott Nicholson’s novel After: The Shock.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Blake Crouch, Iain Rob Wright, Ian Woodhead, Patrick Greene, JA Konrath, Scott Nicholson, Bryan R. Dennis, Ronald Malfi – to name a few.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
See above!  I have so many, and I still work a full-time day job. I hope I can get to them all.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My teachers. I had two great teachers in my life: my six grade teacher Mr. Tatone, and my high school Composition teacher Mrs. Rundio.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I dream of it every single day. I long and ache for the day when I can spend my days just doing my stories and writing my novels. I write both fiction and non-fiction, and I would love to write my books all day instead of the day job, you know?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
 No.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Mostly finding the time. These days I get up very early to work on my writing before I have to start my day job.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My current novella cover was designed by a friend named Tim Bliznick. The covers to my novels Sapphire and Vicious were designed by Stephen Bryant. My covers for One Against Many and RIG were designed by Erin Engelmann.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Always write. Never give up and never let the world tell you that you cannot do it. Even if you write for just a few, write. Write even if you just put your work in a drawer for now.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Always remember that indie writers, like me, rely on feedback and reviews that you find on Amazon. Word of mouth is so key to us achieving any kind of success, so telling others about a writer and work that you like is key. READ MORE

Author Spotlight – Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams, Wrapped Authors, Wrapped In Red

Michael G. Williams is the author of the short story DADDY USED TO DRINK TOO MUCH in the

NEW Vampire Anthology

WRAPPED IN RED.

He is also the author of PERISHABLES and TOOTH & NAIL  (The Withrow Chronicles).

Michael G. Williams

Excerpt from:

Daddy Used to Drink Too Much

Percy came to me for the first time when Mama had been dead for sixteen days.
She’d waxed and waned like some consumptive moon for years, chasing normal life just like a cat after a string. One day in the middle of what had been a pretty good spell she said she felt real weak. That night I watched her eyes go blank while the sun set. She let out a long breath like a chain clanking and that was that. I’d never seen a person die but I could feel her go when she did.
Daddy walked over the hill to town for a preacher. When they returned the next afternoon I’d washed Mama and wrapped her in a sheet. Daddy dug the grave that night while the preacher and I sat with her. The reverend fell asleep eventually but I stayed awake all night listening to the shovel strike earth, out in the clearing beyond the creek, down a hole that could never be big enough to contain our grief.
I was sixteen so I basically ran the house already with all the time Mama spent sick. Daddy and I went through the motions for a few days without saying much, following our habits in heavy silence. Mama and Daddy grew up together in a little town over the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina. There’d been bad blood between their people so they ran away. Mama and Daddy went southwest along the ridges, up and down old logging roads, until they found a place without any opinions about them at all.
Town was most of a day’s walk on deer trails and abandoned mining or logging roads. Times were bad all over in the Depression but worse than anywhere up in Appalachia. Daddy found work for a while with a logging operation but it closed so he was stuck doing odd jobs. Mama would sew now and again. When her hands were steady she’d tat lace flowers twice as pretty as the real things. Mama would mail them to a store in Asheville; a few weeks later the store would mail her a little money after the tatting sold. Sometimes they’d send colored thread and a special request. Mama would always fret over those custom orders the most but she’d be so proud when she was done. We were all good with our hands, good at making things and doing for ourselves. I learned as much as I could from her as a little girl, before sickness crept in one bloodied handkerchief at a time until Mama was frail and tired. I read, too. Every Christmas and every birthday I’d get new shoes and books. Sometimes Mama would get books mailed to her from that store in Asheville. On warm evenings I’d sit out front under a tree and read of things that could never happen set in places far away.
Mama and Daddy were both pretty free with how I was permitted to spend my time, what I could read, how I could think. They ordered me books from all over, grownup books from distant places. Mama said they didn’t want to keep me ignorant the way they’d been kept. There was one thing absolutely forbidden me: Daddy was always clear that he wouldn’t have spirituous drink in the house. Sometimes he’d get worked up and rant about it. When he wasn’t around once, I asked Mama why. “Daddy used to drink too much,” she said. Her voice was quiet even though he was down the hill working in the corn. “He gave that up when we got together. Him and me, we saved each other from a lot of things by coming here. He’s trying to save you from it, too.”
I went to a school down the hollow, an hour’s walk away, when Mama was doing well and they could spare me. Daddy would always ask me when I got back if there were boys at school who were “troublemakers or drunkards”. He’d warn me that most young men only want one thing and they’d use liquor to get it from me. He never said what it was but I had books aplenty to tell me that.   READ MORE

Michael G. Williams is a native of the Appalachian Mountains and grew up near Asheville, North Carolina. He describes his writing as wry horror or suburban fantasy: stories told from the perspectives of vampires, unconventional investigators, magicians and hackers who live in the places so many of us also call home. Michael is also an avid athlete, a gamer and a brother in St. Anthony Hall and Mu Beta Psi.

Michael’s INTERVIEW with Fiona Mcvie

Name Michael G. Williams

Age     Physically 39, mentally 23.

Where are you fromI was born near Asheville, NC, and live in Durham, NC.

A little about your self…

I grew up in a very rural area surrounded by shadowy woods and oddball characters and, though I moved as far away as I could manage the second I had the opportunity, I am extremely grateful for that upbringing. The middle of nowhere is both sheltering and smothering. In college I became a brother in St. Anthony Hall and a brother in Mu Beta Psi, both of which did a lot to encourage creativity. I have a degree in Performance Studies from UNC Chapel Hill and work in information security. I’m a professional geek, which is a lot like being a very specialized type of plumber. It demands a type of creativity very different from writing, which I find is important to having anything left to devote to my work.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

My very latest is that my short story “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” will be featured in Wrapped in Red: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror from Sekhmet Press. This has been an extremely productive year for me overall: I published a short story on my own, published Tooth & Nail (the sequel to my first novel,Perishables) and have a short story titled “The Several Monsters of Sainte-Sara-La-Noire” in the recently-released Theme-Thology: Invasion from HDWP Books.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Storytelling is highly valued in my family and in traditional Appalachian culture in general. I was listening to people relate oral histories as a tiny child and wanted to get in on the action. I tried to write a novel in third grade. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have some teachers who really encouraged me, very early on in life, so by the junior high school I was really trying to mimic my favorite writers and explore different ideas. Again, I’m not saying they were great – I was no savant – but I was doing my adolescent best.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered it an important hobby by age 14 or so. I started calling myself a writer, however, when I started doing National Novel Writing Month and was really working to accomplish long-form stories and challenging myself to work across different genres. That was in my late 20’s. Prior to then it was something I enjoyed but not something I considered myself always to be doing. NaNoWriMo really put me in a mindset of always being preparing for the next project. That made a huge difference in my thinking.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?

“Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” is based in part on a desire to see the other side of a vampire story: the perspective of the people who are victims, the people who have to try to put their lives together once the Count is sated and goes on his merry way. Vampire tales are often encrypted stories of abuse, of personal relationships (sexual or otherwise) fouled by power disparities and of the corrupting, intoxicating nature of that power. Lots of works derive their horror from a close study of the monster and I wanted to focus instead on the humans who may find themselves just as monstrous in their own way.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Almost everything I write is genre fiction, usually some flavor of vampire or detective story or, when I’m really feeling it, vampire detectives. I also write the occasional science fiction story. I enjoy literary fiction but genre fiction is also literature and it’s way more enjoyable to write. I also write almost exclusively in first-person. It’s much easier for me. It lets writing be a role-play exercise and I find myself just as surprised by the ending as the characters are.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

Titles are very, very important to me. I almost always have a title before I have a story. The title is something about which I’ll do a little brainstorming and then I’ll let it bake until one pops into my head. The rest of the story is informed by that title. I knew for this anthology, for instance, I wanted to write a vampire story set in Depression-era Appalachia. It was a setting I hadn’t explored but of which I’d heard many stories from relatives. I knew right away I wanted the title to feel a little colloquial to reflect the rural setting and to give it the right ambience. The word “daddy” occurred to me right away so I let that sit for a day or two as various phrases cropped up: “Daddy Won’t Wake Up” was one that came to mind but for which I didn’t have a story; “Daddy Darkness” was another; “Fetch Daddy a [Something?]” was another. Eventually the phrase “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” came to mind. I liked it, and it immediately suggested the question of to whom it could be attributed. That got me thinking about a narrator and the story blossomed from there.

Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?

We are not the sum of our errors, nor are those we love cursed to bear them for us.

Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?

A great deal of it, actually. The notion of a family tucked away high in the mountains in a stagnant economy with little but one another and their overshadowing past is no feat of fantasy. There are elements drawn from my own ancestors’ biographies.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Hmmm. Given the content of my story, I think maybe I should plead the fifth on this one. Heh.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?

Reading Dracula in seventh grade was absolutely life-changing. The epistolary format and the notion of friendship and trust overcoming the looming darkness were incredibly important to me. It made me seek out close friends with whom I could create strong bonds and it made me want more stories about how big concepts or larger-than-life characters could impact the individual experiences of baseline humans. It’s a very personal novel, in terms of the characters and the narrative arcs they experience, and that gives it its power.

On the other hand, reading Foundation in college was also perspective-shifting. It’s a story about how whole societies can be affected by one small person at a time. Over and over again, Asimov’s stories are about how the fates of entire civilizations are decided in small moments by exceptional but entirely believablepersons. They are amazing reading and they definitely inspired me to activism.

Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

If I could attend a writing workshop with any writer, it would be Terry Pratchett. He creates such compelling characters and his stories are so driven by their motivations rather than by arbitrary events, but he has this incredible ability to keep the world alive and changing and tell a huge, overarching story over many, many novels. I could read his books over and over again for the rest of my life.

Anne Rice has to be the substitute teacher on days Sir Terry is under the weather, however.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

Real talk, here’s my currently-reading list:

Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast (Jay M. Smith): non-fiction about a completely real werewolf scare in early-Renaissance France.

Food for the Dead (Michael E. Bell): non-fiction about completely real vampire scares in 19th century New England.

The Black Knight Chronicles (John Hartness): humorous and adventurous vampire fiction set in NC.

Pirate’s Honor (Chris A. Jackson): fantasy adventure fiction set in thePathfinder world and written by a really nice guy who lives on an actual boat.

House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski): exceptionally good multi-format literary horror.

Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy (Peter Carlson): non-fiction about two journalists who traveled south during the Civil War.

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane (Robert E. Howard): classic tales of the renegade Puritan on a mission to scrub the world of injustice, mostly by stabbing it.

Operation Trojan Horse (John Keel): delightfully crazy ideas about the nature of all sorts of paranormal phenomena, UFOs and other bits of weirdness cropping up in the experience of humanity to exhibit highly irrational behaviors. Excellent reading for anyone who needs to refill their tanks with the truly weird.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m usually “currently” reading anywhere around a dozen books. It takes me forever to finish one, yes, but I have to be able to flit between them. We don’t get our ideas from nowhere. We get our ideas from what we consume and digest and so we must always be consuming if we want always to be producing.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

Right now I’m mostly working on editing Deal With the Devil, the third novel inThe Withrow Chronicles, my vampire series set in the small-town and small-city South. It’s a five-book arc in which I tackle different genres by inserting into them a misanthropic gay vampire from the 1940’s who lives in suburbia. I love writing Withrow and I love getting to play around in suburban fantasy (as opposed to urban fantasy). It started with Perishables (a zombie story), thenTooth & Nail (vampire novel) and now Deal With the Devil is a superhero book. The fourth will be a spy novel titled Attempted Immortality and the fifth will be a war story titled Nobody Gets Out Alive.

I’m also crazy excited about the anthologies I’m in this autumn. Wrapped in Redand Theme-Thology: Invasion both consist of really incredible stories.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

St. Anthony Hall (also known as the Fraternity of Delta Psi), hands down. My brothers and sisters are a community of people who believe in one another and the ideas of one another. It challenged me to think for myself, to defend my conclusions and to seek new ways to present myself.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

No, I see it as a vocation. It isn’t just what I do, and I’m not sure it will ever pay the bills, but it’s what I feel I should do.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Only a couple of hundred thousand things, I’m sure. I have never met the writer who was truly satisfied with a story, no matter its publication status. That’s one of the skills we have to develop as part of our craft: we have to learn when to type THE END and let it go so we can move on to the next idea. Some creators never figure that out. It was one of the first big unexpected temptations I experienced in self-publishing: realizing I could go back and “fix” the Kindle edition of a novel any time I felt like it. I’ve had to be very strict with myself.

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

From “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much”:

It was a high, lilting tune and in my mind I always saw a lonesome figure tracing some far horizon as they made their way from this world to the next. The boy’s voice was as pure as an angel’s and I barely breathed as he neared the house. I hadn’t thought on that song in years but it seemed to have been written just for me.

The singer–Percy–emerged from the woods singing one of the last lines:I want to shout salvation’s story in concert with the blood-washed band. He looked about my age with long orange hair and pale skin gone silver in the moonlight. He wore dark clothes and an old gray cloak called an Inverness coat. It had a coal company logo on it in bright white stitching. Percy was thin, like he’d snap in a strong wind. He smiled at me. His canine teeth were bone white, sharp and long as the blades on a pair of sewing scissors.

I knew exactly what he was, from books.

From Deal With the Devil:

A couple of other vampires and I were watching the local youth ballet perform Dracula in hypnotic slow motion when a perfectly pleasant autumn turned into a whole heap of trouble. It started with a scent: the faint but distinct sickly sweet bloodstench of a fellow predator – another vampire, one I didn’t recognize – in an auditorium I’d expected to hold only humankind. One sniff sent the hairs on the back of my neck straight to standing and I groaned to myself in over-privileged complaint. I’d gone there to get a little culture and found politics in its place.

The ballet performance was good but not great. To be honest, that’s one of the things I liked best about it. At human speeds of perception it probably looked fine enough, maybe a little rickety in the way of every event staged for proud parents and nervous instructors. Ground to a supernaturally slow pace, that same ballet performance took on a poetry improved by its imperfections. A child – a teen, but gods: a child! – was skillfully yet inexpertly donning the mantle of that classic monster and I loved every second of it. The best art speaks to something universal and at the same time to something deeply felt and personal: Faulkner’s tales of familial claustrophobia, a lasting pop song, painted landscapes that snare the viewer’s mind by rearranging all the colors and textures of their local palette into somewhere familiar they’ve never been. These kids were doing the same with the archetypes of predator and prey.

The teenager in the title role was depicting a monster we’d all seen a hundred times, sure, but he was also showing us himself as a monster: how it would look one day when he would stalk one or another type of prey. That probably didn’t occur to the average mom or pop in the audience but their children were on stage hunting and fearing and slaying one another to the applause of those who loved them and it was important – it was art – not just because of the skill or the time they’d invested in it but because they too would one day face monsters and chase each other and they would maybe kill or be killed. These children were dancing us a dream of the nightmares that kept them awake into the gray hours and so too their society. In wide arcs and graceful swoops – and trembling embraces and slightly staggered tempos – their frail vitality contrasted the inevitability of vitality’s end and I reveled in that irony.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I’m terrible at outlining and at plotting things out in advance. I tend to jump into the idea, mid-scene, and see what happens. I’m always terrified my story is going nowhere as a result but so far it’s worked out and it seems to be a necessary part of my process. The occasions on which I’ve tried to outline have large been exercises in measuring in how many syllables of written text I would utterly diverge from the planned outline.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Favorite? As in, one? Oh, I can’t. Let’s try three:

I am in constant awe of William Faulkner for his incredibly personal and unflinching stories of the good and the bad of life in a small town. The Sound and the Fury is a book every writer should read. Every single writer, bar none, even if they don’t like him, needs to read that book. It has taught me volumes about getting inside the heads of different characters.

Another of the ties for first is Anne Rice. Again, she specializes in the intensely personal and the passions of individuals bound together by fate and circumstance. She figured out how to talk about people whose lives are dangerously lived on the fringes of society: people whose loves or families or other priorities are inescapable by them and intolerable to society. If that isn’t compelling character design, I don’t know what is. Her descriptions are just to die for.

The third tie for favorite is Isaac Asimov. Lots of people find him dry and scientific but that’s part of what’s so amazing about him: his characters have passionate motivations derived almost entirely from their own intellectual pursuits. He didn’t write novels about people who come into conflict and meet with successes or failures just to provide events in a soap opera: his characters are chasing ideas.

Last, H.P. Lovecraft was just amazing. He’s considered to be incredibly creative, but it’s actually possible to see lots of earlier authors’ work in his own output. That isn’t to say he wasn’t creative, though. He worked slavishly to combine his own ideas and interests with a highly concentrated selection of the best and most intriguing ideas he encountered – as every writer does – to come up with something entirely new. I think there’s an argument to be made that he invented the horror/sci-fi crossover. Without him, our shelves would be much thinner, much less interesting. There would be no Alien, no X-Files and countless stories in between.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

I do very few in-person events, though I would love to do more. I love traveling and I love sharing my stories with new people and getting to seek inspiration from those places. Every time I go somewhere I find myself seeing it through my characters’ eyes. Withrow loves Scotland; his cousin Roderick prefers Key West.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

The covers for The Withrow Chronicles have all been done by John Ward.

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

In the case of “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much”, it was definitely editing it down to the word count limit Sekhmet Press placed on submissions! Ha! I tend to be verbose. (Can you tell?) On the other hand, that was good, important work. It helped me come up with a voice I hadn’t used much before. Withrow is a rambler but the narrator of “Daddy Used to Drink Too Much” is much more terse.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Do not let yourself get caught up in anything that is a distraction from writing. Lots of writing groups and writing circles and meetups and the like exist for writers and they are all, in my experience, a way to prevent one’s self from doing actual writing. They are a way to talk about writing and pretending that’s as good as writing. Avoid that trap.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

It’s my hope that my work makes them a little uncomfortable and a little intrigued and a lot entertained. I want my readers to like my characters enough to follow them into the darkness so I can show them something new once we’re there. It is so flattering when that happens: when a reader connects with my work and makes me feel it was worthwhile. I cannot overstate my appreciation for the generosity they show by giving me their time and attention and I sincerely thank them.

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WRAPPED IN RED: Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror

anthology, horror, New Release, Reviews, Sekhmet Press LLC, vampires, Wrapped In Red

Wrapped In Red Master PromoThirteen crimson concoctions sure to tempt your teeth,

from the ancient to the modern,

from the Carpathian Mountains

to the Atlantic Ocean

to the Wild West,

you are sure to find your… type –

Wrapped In Red.

13 Authors.

13 Stories.

Unlimited Vampire Nightmares.

Sekhmet Press Logo 2013

Presents

MASTER eBook Cover

“Wrapped in Red is an anthology that includes not one or two great stories, but all thirteen stories in this collection are strong and well written. These vampires are old school, without a bit of sparkling in sight, for which I was truly grateful. From authors I love (i.e., Billie Sue Mosiman, Patrick Green, Suzi M and Chantal Noordeloos) to authors I’ve never read before, I enjoyed every story in this book.

Just plain good old fashioned horror, well written, well edited and worth a read. When I was asked to review this by the publisher, I wasn’t really sure. But in the end, I sat down and read the entire collection in a day, so if that isn’t a collection worth a 5 star rating, I’m not sure what is.” Kat Yares Vine™ Voice reviewer.