Hey, Shawn! Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. I’m so excited to have you on one day to start this whole thing out!

Meghan: What Is your favorite part of Halloween?

Shawn: It has to be Slappy’s Escape. Slappy is a ventriloquist dummy from the Goosebumps series. He’s super creepy but so much fun! Every year at our Halloween/Birthday Bash, we set up this really cool trick or treating circuit. The premise of the game is that the group stops at each station in an attempt to find where Slappy has stolen all the birthday gifts to. Don’t tell anyone, but this year Slappy is going to be stealing the gifts by trying to ride the lawn mower to get away. At each station, a costumed person will read out a clue and then treats are handed around. The clue leads them to the next station. Setting this up is sooo much fun! We hand out Ramen noodles and fruit snacks and bath toys and all sorts of silly stuff. I get so much joy out of planning this! Last year Slappy tried to steal my car! It was such a blast taping his hands to the steering wheel and peaking at him through my windshield throughout the entire party!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Shawn: It’s easily The Sorting of the Ramen. Do you know just how many flavors there are?! Invariably, when the kids reach the ramen station at trick or treating, they rifle through to find their favorite flavor. Ramen noodle packs fly everywhere and people get whacked on the head. Last year I’m pretty sure somebody threw elbows over a pack of shrimp lime. It’s like Halloween Hockey!

Meghan: If Halloween is your favorite holiday, why?

Shawn: It used to be my second favorite. Since the pandemic that has changed. For me, it’s all about the magic factor. Christmas used to be top of the list. I spend the entire year preparing for Christmas and then my entire family shows up to my magically lit home to open magically wrapped gifts and I get to see the magic release itself as they open each gift. Now I send boxes of stuff for people to open whenever they open them. Halloween gets to retain its magic. I get to dress up in costume and be someone else and throw joy and intrigue at people. Halloween is magical. You get to live in another dimension for a short time where pumpkins and blood and a little fear are at the core.

Meghan: What are you superstitious about?

Shawn: I enjoy canning food. I only have one superstition. When the jars are lining the counter, while they’re cooling, they make a pinging sound as each one seals. Every time a jar seals, I yell out ‘Thank you for your service!’ If I don’t do this, the other jars will feel like I take them for granted and they won’t seal and I’ll be wading through rotted food up to my hips. No way! Thank you for your service!

Meghan: What/Who is your favorite horror monster or villain. 

Shawn: I gotta tell you, I don’t even remember his name but the guy that Jeffrey Jones played in Ravenous. Okay, yes, he’s a vampire. He’s gonna eat my brains with a spoon and that kind of stinks. But! What does he plan to use his eternity for? Knowledge! He just wants to eat a little flesh and study all the great philosophers and figure out the meaning of life. Who wouldn’t respect that?!  

Meghan: Which unsolved murder fascinates you most?

Shawn: Honestly, I can’t go here. This is a world that I don’t let myself get into. I’m obsessive and I know that somebody would end up writing a cozy mystery series about a crazy woman and her paper dolls that tour the country solving unsolved murders.  

Meghan: Which urban legend scares you the most?

Shawn: My older son and I were talking about this last week. Final Destination. When Death wants you, it’ll get you one way or another. Oh you took the wrong flight? Didn’t die when you were supposed to? Guess what? Now rabid dogs will be eating your entrails.  

Meghan: Who is your favorite serial killer and why?

Shawn: I can’t pick a favorite specific one. I just really love cannibals. If you’re gonna kill people, at least be productive.

Meghan: How old were you when you saw your first horror movie?

Shawn: Story time!!

I have this aunt, we’ll call her Aunt Smelley. You know, anonymity and all. So Aunt Smelly has me spend the night with her when I’m 8. I had no idea she’s a horror junkie. She knows I love Santa though. So we get our cappuccino and some cookies to nibble on and sit and she begins the movie. Silent Night Deadly Night. I’m doing just fine, thinking how cheesy it is. Then it reaches the scene where the guy peeks through the door and sees the couple getting intimate. I was even alright then. He walks in with his knife. I’m still alright. He plunges it into the woman’s side. Still, heh, not so bad. Then there’s the moment he’s sawing down her side and you can see the knife halting momentarily in the more gristly areas and you can hear that sound! Oh that sound! I still have nightmares.

Meghan: Which horror novel unsettled you most?

Shawn: This is an easy one. There has only been one horror book that upset me so much I had to stop reading it. Spilled Milk by Paul Dale Anderson. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I couldn’t make it past chapter three.  

Meghan: Which horror movie scarred you for life?

Shawn: You probably think I’m going to say Silent Night, Deadly Night. I’m not. Big Trouble in Little China. Scariest movie I’ve ever seen. They don’t die! It doesn’t matter what you do, they just keep coming! And the fingernails! The fingernails! They want you dead and they’re not gonna stop when the movie ends. Oh no. They’re still coming. They’re still after me. They won’t stop until they get me!  

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween costume?

Shawn: These are such fun questions! Okay so a few years back we went to a special needs trunk or treat event. It was amazing! I, in my infinite wisdom, chose to be She-ra: Princess of Poweeeeeeerrrrr! I bought these amazing gold knee boots. I bought this great costume to go with it. I went all crazy and got this wretched blonde wig that really finished off the look. We’re walking along and I’m having the time of my life. I’m She-ra! Then this sweet girl came over and started stroking my wig. I smiled at her and she scowled at me. “Is this a wig?” “Yes it is.” “I don’t like it. Take it off.” It’s such a fun memory! She-ra is awesome! I got to be her until this sweet little pumpkin told me to stop.

P.S.  I kept the dang boots.  I like to sit in the bottom of the closet and hug them sometimes.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween-themed song?

Shawn: It’s a toss up between Rockwell and Alice Cooper. Somebody’s Watching Me or Feed My Frankenstein. Until they have a sing off, I’m gonna have to pick both.

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween candy?  What is your most disappointing?

Shawn: I love candy corn!  Love it! Gobble a hand full and I’m Spider-man bouncing off the walls and ceiling. Love it! Sugar high! Anybody wanna send me some? 

As for my most disappointing, wow I don’t even know if they make them anymore. My grandma always bought them and everybody gave them out back in the 70’s and 80’s. They were these wretched peanut butter taffies and they were rapped in the prettiest papers of orange and black. They were the epitome of what a Halloween treat should be, until you took a bite. Peanut butter dust on the inside and since it was mostly a taffy texture, you couldn’t get it out of your mouth.

Meghan: Top Halloween movies/Books.  

Shawn: That’s like asking me which kid is my favorite! (It’s the smartass one) Okay so I don’t have a favorite Halloween book or movie, but I do have a favorite Horror book that is terribly underrated. It was a gift from one of my kids and I treasure it so much I keep it in the bathroom where I keep all my extra girly stuff. That way, if I wanna do a face mask or have a bubble bath, this book can keep me company.  

Bon Appetit: Stories & Recipes for Human Consumption edited by Hydra M. Star and Alder Strauss. It’s an anthology of short stories about cannibalism. Some of them are meh, but most of them are pretty dang good!  Plus there’s a mystery to solve!

I’m Shawn and I began reviewing books about 20 years ago. I’ve been a blogger off and on for nearly as long. Though I started off reading everything, I really found my niche in the horror community. These days most of my time is spent teaching, learning, and arting. I’m still a part of the book community, but for medical and personal reasons I’ve had to really pull back. Most of my recent work has been behind the scenes as well as throwing up the random review on Goodreads. I think the hardest part of being a book blogger came a few years ago when I began losing my eyesight. In an electronic world, it’s difficult to be productive when you can’t see things very well electronically.  

Halloween holds a really special place in my life. I have a special needs teenager with severe cognitive delays. It was only a few years ago that he began to understand what a birthday was and that he had his very own. At that time, he was an avid Goosebumps fan. He still is. His birthday is in October and Halloween is his favorite holiday. We began throwing Halloween themed parties for his birthday and it’s been a huge success! The entire family shows up in costume and we have a rollicking good time!  

INTERVIEW: Kevin J. Anderson

I think every avid reader has a short list of authors that they would love to talk to. A few months ago, I was lucky enough to have a conversation (online) with one of mine. Even HE will admit that I fangirled a smidge, no matter how professional I tried to behave. Just a few days after posting that interview, I took a break from my book blog while I worked on creating my next adventure. As far as I was concerned, it was the best way that I could have ended that part of my story, getting the chance to do that. When I sat down to start planning my future blog posts here, I wanted something that, for me, would be epic, but I couldn’t imagine topping that. It wasn’t until one night, around 3 am (when I seem to always get my best ideas), I just happened to wonder if he would be interested in coming back for a second interview – close that blog out with him, and then open this blog up with him. He agreed… and here we are.

Kevin J. Anderson is an incredible writer, and anyone who hasn’t take the time to read one of his Star Wars and Star Trek books or the continued saga of Dune is truly missing out. But for me, it will always be The Last Days of Krypton. It’s definitely top ten in my most favorite books of all time… and one of the few on that list that haven’t changed over the years. I came upon it… almost by accident. My family was getting prepared to evacuate for a hurricane, and we were in Walmart picking up some last minute items. This was back when the book area was in the front of the store, up near the registers, and my sister and I would go to that section every chance we got. My mom told me I had “exactly one minute” to pick something, so I just grabbed a book – one of several that I was trying to make my mind up on – not even looking at what it was. I read almost the entire thing in the car, and have read it several times since. You don’t have to necessarily be a Superman fan to pick this book up. It’s… before Superman. How his parents met and got together, why General Zod is such a jerk. The important stuff haha. It really is quite good.

Since that time, I had lent the book out a couple of times, until one day it didn’t come back. In a conversation with an old friend a couple of years ago, talking about favorite books, I mentioned that book and how much it meant to me. For my birthday, he purchased a hard cover copy and, knowing he was going to be at a convention that Kevin was at, he had him sign it for me. It is one of my most treasured items.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you… my second interview with THE Kevin J. Anderson.

Meghan: Hi, Kevin. It’s been a little while since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

Kevin J. Anderson: Plenty, as usual. Many books released – Spine of the Dragon (epic fantasy) and Kill Zone (high-tech thriller) just in the past month, and a vampire thriller, Stake, coming out from Audible in October. And I’m a professor running a brand new grad-program for a Publishing MA at Western Colorado University, and I’m involved in the big Dune feature film and TV series. So, yeah, busy.

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

Kevin J. Anderson: Well, writing is an integral part of just about everything I do, and even the other parts of my life are related to my writing – as a teacher, a dedicated hiker in the mountains of Colorado (I dictate my writing while hiking), a publisher. And I’m also the grandfather of three great boys, and an appreciator of fine craft beers.

Meghan: How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?

Kevin J. Anderson: I hope my friends and close relatives want to support me by reading my books! (Though, if I do have a the occasional graphic sex scene, that can be a little embarrassing.)

Meghan: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Kevin J. Anderson: A gift – I love writing, making up stories, creating worlds, playing with my imaginary friends. I can’t conceive a job that would be more satisfying for me.

Meghan: How has your environment and upbringing colored your writing?

Kevin J. Anderson: I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, so I have a Midwestern sensibility and work ethic, and that “isolationism” kept me from being exposed to exotic cultures and foods. I didn’t even have Chinese food for the first time before I was in college. But now I pursue all sorts of experiences and foods with great gusto.

Meghan: What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for your books?

Kevin J. Anderson: When you write big SF and Fantasy, you have to research many strange things. Sometimes, when writing modern-day high-tech thrillers, you can step into dangerous territory. In one of my novels, Virtual Destruction, I had to interview many security experts about the best way to poison a prominent weapons researcher (that raised some eyebrows), and for another novel, Fallout, I toured the Hoover Dam complex and asked a few too many questions about how a terrorist might blow up the dam (turns out, you can’t), and that also raised some suspicions.

Meghan: Which do you find the hardest to write: the beginning, the middle, or the end?

Kevin J. Anderson: Probably the middle. I write massive books, 160,000 words or more, and when you hit the middle, you’re getting tired from all the work already, and the end seems very far off.

Meghan: Do you outline? Do you start with characters or plot? Do you just sit down and start writing? What works best for you?

Kevin J. Anderson: I outline very carefully. I feel that if you want to build a big, complex skyscraper, you better draw a blueprint first, rather than just digging holes and throwing up walls wherever you like. I really don’t like rewriting and throwing out chapters, so I prefer to plan ahead. This is doubly important if you collaborate, so you and your writing partner both have the same road map. Also, if you write media tie-in books, you must outline carefully, so the licensor can approve ahead of time.

Meghan: What do you do when characters don’t follow the outline/plan?

Kevin J. Anderson: I develop the characters as I develop the outline, so the plot itself is natural to the characters. If I reach a point where the characters really insist on doing something else, my subconscious is already retooling the storyline.

Meghan: What do you do to motivate yourself to sit down and write?

Kevin J. Anderson: It’s fun to write. I don’t need to trick myself.

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

Kevin J. Anderson: I used to be a voracious reader, but now I WRITE so much, my days are filled with writing, editing, and proofreading my own prose. When relaxing, I prefer to sit back and enjoy a good movie or show. I do consume audiobooks a lot, though.

Meghan: What kind of books do you absolutely love to read?

Kevin J. Anderson: Great epics that are not necessarily in my genre. I read outside of SF/F because I learn a lot of new tricks that way.

Meghan: How do you feel about movies based on books?

Kevin J. Anderson: Since I’m working on the new DUNE movie, I certainly think that’s a great idea and I am confident with the cast and crew involved, it will be excellent. When a book is made into a movie, it’s beneficial to the author in almost all instances. Sometimes authors gripe about changes, but even a mediocre movie sells a lot of copies of the original book.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

Kevin J. Anderson: Dozens and dozens of times. Very sad…

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Kevin J. Anderson: I don’t enjoy it, but you do want to throw them into terrible and challenging circumstances, which makes the story compelling. When characters suffer great tribulations, we hope it shows the reader how they might cope with their own difficulties.

Meghan: What’s the weirdest character concept that you’ve ever come up with?

Kevin J. Anderson: I had to create a shape-shifting alien prostitute who worked on a space station and never knew what sort of customer would come in next. That was pretty weird.

Meghan: What’s the best piece of feedback you’ve ever received? What’s the worst?

Kevin J. Anderson: Best piece of advice was from an otherwise useless writing instructor when he told me “No bad guy ever THINKS he’s the bad guy.” Made me rethink antagonists completely. Worst piece of advice was when my agent suggested I should write medical thrillers, like Robin Cook, because they sold well. Since I know nothing at all about medicine or hospitals or doctors, that was not a good idea.

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

Kevin J. Anderson: As I write this, I spent five days at DragonCon (about 100,000 people) then came home for one day, then flew off to spend four days at Salt Lake FanX (another 100,000+). I do a great many conventions where I meet fans face-to-face, take pictures, sign their books. I also interact with them daily on social media. Without my fans, I wouldn’t be able to sell stories.

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why? If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about? If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Kevin J. Anderson: These last three questions… I just don’t even think like that. I have so many projects in the works, and so many already planned out in my head, that I simply don’t spend time considering what series I might like to do or what writers I would work with. I already do my solo books, and my collaborations with Brian Herbert, Doug Beason, and my wife Rebecca. I don’t have brains pace for any more!

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Kevin J. Anderson: Kill Zone just came out in hardcover from Forge Books. Stake will be out from Audible in October. From my own WordFire Press, I just published Saga of Seven Suns: Two Short Novels, and I will be releasing new editions of my novels The Dragon Business, Captain Nemo, and The Martian War.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Kevin J. Anderson: Twitter ** Facebook ** Instagram ** Website (alas, a website interminably under construction)

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview or the last?

Kevin J. Anderson: I’ll keep telling stories. I’m glad a lot of people like to read them.

Kevin J. Anderson is the author of 160 novels, 56 of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists; he has over 23 million books in print in thirty languages. Anderson has coauthored fourteen books in the Dune series with Brian Herbert, over 50 books for Lucasfilm in the Star Wars universe. He has written for the X-Files, Star Trek, Batman and Superman, and many other popular franchises. For his solo work, he’s written the epic SF series, The Saga of Seven Suns, and a sweeping nautical fantasy trilogy, Terra Incognita, accompanied by two progressive rock CDs (which he wrote and produced). He has written two steampunk novels, Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, with legendary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart from the band Rush. He also created the popular humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI, and has written eight high-tech thrillers with Colonel Doug Beason.

Anderson holds a physics/astronomy degree and spent 14 years working as a technical writer for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is now the publisher of Colorado-based WordFire Press, a new-model publisher using innovative techniques and technologies to release books worldwide in print and eBooks. They have released over 300 titles. Anderson is also one of the founders of the Superstars Writing Seminar, which has been one of the premiere professional and career development seminars for writers. He is also an accomplished public speaker on a wide range of topics.

He and his wife, bestselling author Rebecca Moesta, have lived in Colorado for 20 years; Anderson has climbed all of the mountains over 14,000 ft in the state, and he has also hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail.

The Last Days of Krypton
Before there was Superman… there was Krytpon, a doomed world, and two parents who gave us their only son…

Everyone knows how Kal-El – Superman – was sent to Earth just before his planet exploded. But what led to such a disaster? Now, in The Last Days of Krypton, Kevin J. Anderson presents a sweeping tale of the pomp and grandeur, the intrigue and passion, and the politics and betrayals of a doomed world filled with brave heroes and cruel traitors.

Against the spectacular backdrop of Krypton’s waning halcyon days, there is the courtship and marriage of Kal-El’s parents, the brilliant scientist Jor-El and his historian wife, Lara. Together they fight to convince a stagnant, disbeliving society that their world is about to end. Jor-El’s brother, Zor-El, leader of the fabled Argo City, joins the struggle not only to save the planet but also to fight against the menace of the ruthless and cunning General Zod.

The diabolical Zod, future archenemy of Superman, avails himself of a golden opportunity to seize power when the android Brainiac captures the capital city of Kandor. As Zod’s grip on the populace tightens and his powers grow, he too is blind to all the signs that point ot hte death of the very civilization he is trying to rule.

Through all of this, Jor-El and Lara’s love for each other, their history, and their son allows for Krypton to live on even as the planet is torn apart around them. For in the escape of their baby lies Krypton’s greatest gift – and Earth’s greatest hero.

The Last Days of Krypton is a timeless, groundbreaking exploration of a world that has never been fully defined, and reveals the extraordinary origins of a legend that has never ceased to amaze and astound generation after generation.

Wake the Dragon 1: Spine of the Dragon
Bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson’s triumphant return to epic fantasy, Spine of the Dragon, is a politically charged adventure of swords, sorcery, vengeance, and the rise of sleeping giants.

Two continents at war, the Three Kingdoms and Ishara, are divided by past bloodshed. When an outside threat arises – the reawakening of a powerful anceint race that wants to remake the world – the two warring nations must somehow set aside generational hatred and form an alliance to fight their true enemy.

Kill Zone: A High-Tech Thriller
Power duo Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason team up in Kill Zone, a perilous disaster thriller for the modern age.

Deep within a mountain in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Cold War-era nuclear weapons storage facility is being used to covertly receive more than 10,000 tons of nuclear waste stored across the U.S. Only Department of Energy employee, Adonia, and a few others, including a war hero, a senator, and an environmental activist, are allowed access to perform a high-level security review of the facilities. But Hydra Mountain was never meant to securely hold this much hazardous waste, and it has the potential to expolde, taking with it all of Albuquerque and spreading radioactivity across the nation.

This disaster situation proves all too possible when a small plane crashes at a nearby military base, setting off Hydra’s lockdown and trapping Adonia and her team in the heart of the hazardous, waste-filled mountain. Now, the only direction for them to go is deeper into the mountain, through the tear gas and into a secretive area no one was ever supposed to know about.