Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Jonathan Edward Ondrashek

Meghan: Hi, Jonathan. Welcome back to the Halloween Extravaganza… and welcome to the new blog. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Hi, Meghan! Thanks for having me back (and for finally dropping that restraining order against me). Since we last chatted, Books 2 and 3 of The Human-Undead War trilogy have been published, I’ve co-edited two more anthologies, have had over a half dozen more shorts accepted (mostly in paying markets), and recently appeared with both Stephen King and Guy N. Smith in It Came From the Garage!, an anthology of automotive horror from Darkwater Syndicate, Inc. In addition, I’ve edited two stand-alone novellas and a novel (with professional credit on the cover, finally!), lost my day job, and became a fur-father to a massive brown wiener (dog). Oh, and masturbation. Lots of masturbation.

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Please see the final sentence in my answer to Question 1. Yep. I’m a sick weirdo in every way, in and outside the writing realm.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I love it when they do, but I’m especially nervous anytime they mention wanting to read certain works. My stuff has progressively gotten more extreme and sexual and moral-bending, and some friends and relatives are too conservative to be the intended audience. But, at the end of the day, I want every reader I can get. Sometimes you just gotta bite down on the red ballgag and let friends and family find out how truly deranged you are.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: A bit of both. It’s a gift – any level of mastery over a skill is, whether it be writing or bagging groceries or laying brick. But it’s also a curse in that it permeates every aspect of my life even when I need to focus on other things. Work at the day job? Interrupted every 5 minutes for a random story idea, or a plot twist I hadn’t thought up before. Errands after work? I better give that character a more meaningful name while I’m waiting at this red light. Oh, and I should probably – Shit. Someone’s honking. Gotta roll.

It can also be a curse in that it affects my mood: If I know I can’t find time to write today, I’m miserable all fuckin’ day. If I’m able to write, I’m humping everyone’s leg whether they like it or not, goddamn it.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: My past has eked into my last few stories in greater proportions than it used to, so I’ve found my work morphing to incorporate my environments and upbringing – almost subconsciously. It’s made for some interesting settings and situations, and I plan to continue cultivating my past for horrors to exploit.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: For a scene in Patriarch (Book 2, The Human-Undead War), I had to do extensive research on blood transfusions. I had to use legitimate science and dormant math skills to figure out exactly how many liters of blood a person of X weight would have, how quickly blood flows inside the body, how quickly it can be pumped into arteries without blowing them out, the exact routes of the human circulatory system, what was a high enough blood pressure and heartrate to maintain life, what blood types meshed, and a lot more medical shit that was strange yet exciting to learn.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I tend to have an idea of the beginning and end early in the process. However, that bridge between the two doesn’t always connect as I’d envisioned it, and that’s where my frustrations surface. Those middles, for me, can sometimes be as painful as these goddamn hemorrhoids.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’m not a good pantser, so outlining works best for me. I also don’t have a specific regimen for starting. The idea generally originates with a theme, which leads to plot, and then to character for me, though several of my works started with the character first – all depends on what impact I wish to leave on the reader. I’m not good at just sitting and writing, either. That evil fucking demon who resides within my gray matter requires me to reread and edit the previous day’s work before I can vomit new ink onto the page. He’s a mean SOB, so I listen to him, and that seems to work well for me.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I break out the cat o’ nine tails and beat the shit out of ‘em, until they stop moaning in pleasure and screech instead in pain!

In all seriousness, a few have gone rogue on me before. Rather than reel them in to fit my preconceived mold, I let them breathe on their own. It’s led to many interesting character meetups and romantic interests, twists and turns. (It has also led to many an unplanned death, so maybe the defiant bastards shouldn’t have strayed, huh? THAT’S WHAT YOU FUCKING GET, KAREN!)

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Motivation to sit and write has been my bane for the past year. My productivity has halted due to the daily grind of life. However, recent fan adoration has rekindled a fire. Perhaps not working for a greedy corporation and spending most waking hours embedded in their bullshit might be the final spark now . . .

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I used to be, but have found my free time severely limited. And instead of novellas or novels, I’ve transitioned toward anthologies. I enjoy being able to rip through a short here and there without having to remember plot points or characters and whatnot when I pick the book up again. I’ve also been discovering more and more authors this way, which is always pleasant.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I don’t stray far outside horror these days, and the darker and more hardcore, the better.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I think they’re mostly great. Yes, the adaptation from page to screen often requires plot or character changes (sometimes major, too), but movies based on books inject creativity and originality into the Hollywood atmosphere, which is currently drenched in remakes (and remakes of remakes, or remakes of movies already once adapted from books). This can also drive sales for authors who write in the same or similar genres, which is great for the writing community. I just wish Hollywood would look at the indie scene more, especially in horror. There are some stellar fucking works out there that don’t have Big Name on the cover but would make for mind-blowing, action-packed gorefests on the big screen.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Yes, I’ve killed many. Sometimes the acts of the main characters – including their deaths – are necessary elements regardless of how much I or a reader may love them.

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Does a paraplegic wish she could diddle herself while watching Fifty Shades of Grey?

Fuck. Yes.

Suffering – pain – makes us remember that we’re alive. Everyone must suffer in some way to transform. As for why I enjoy it, I guess I’m just a sick fuck who gets off on putting my characters through the wringer when possible. Increases the tension, makes the character come to life, and gets the blood pumping to extremities I haven’t seen in over a decade.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: The sole female jackal from The Human-Undead War series was a strange one. The jackals themselves are genetic pieces of gorillas, boa constrictors, hyenas, and human mashed into one giant two-legged undead freak closely resembling a troll-werewolf hybrid, and the female jackal had to stand out from them. She’s larger, has protruding nipples that dribble at will, is protected fiercely by the primary antagonist, and her sole purpose is to breed and produce. She is able to procreate and birth a human-sized jackal within a couple hours, and then she is ready to do it all again. Since she had to have a penchant for the horn and vampires needed to evolve, she required a (somewhat vague) bestiality scene at one point, which got really fuckin’ weird.

Did I mention that she rips off her victims’ cocks and swallows them whole when she is finished with them? I didn’t? You’re welcome.

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: The best feedback was from an editor of a recent published story. She had commented, “NOOOO… This is so cliché in contrast to otherwise fantastic writing!” This from someone at a place who saw my work as worthy enough to pay me pro rates for it, and it was the only thing she really called out in the piece. Made my day knowing that she found it fantastic otherwise, given the caliber of the press.

I can’t recall the worst feedback, so it must not have been that bad. I either ignored it or learned from it.

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: There have been many moments in the past year where I wanted to bow out of the writing scene entirely due to depression and anxiety, slumping sales, and whatnot. But then I attended a couple conventions as a vendor and got to meet my fans face to face like I have in the past, and it pulled me out of my funk, to a degree. Seeing their sparkling eyes, their genuine interest and excitement in my work – it gives me a massive heart-on (also known as “the feels”). It reminded me of why I do this and has brought me some sanity again, so I thank the few I have!

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’d yank the original concept of Dracula away from Stoker and turn him into a true horrifying creature of the night, not some lamenting, compassionate elf that hisses every once in a while but otherwise does little or no harm to others. (I know Dracula helped horror go mainstream, but come on – Dracula is a bit of a pussy, ain’t he?)

Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’d write the next book in The Human-Undead War series that I had planned to do years ago. It would pick up 20 years after the events of the first trilogy with some familiar faces and many new, and with new apocalyptic turmoil brewing beneath the surface.

Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: David Owain Hughes. We’ve co-edited and appeared in many anthologies together, but we have yet to co-author anything. We’ve entertained the idea, and if we do, it’ll be a bizarro novella of orgasmic proportions

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

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: I’ve been promising a short story collection for a few years now and have finally amassed enough to make it happen, so hopefully 2020 will be the year for it. I’m also working on a novelette and short story collection that are all tied together in a series tentatively titled Plumb Fucked Conspiracies. (Get your tinfoil hats ready!) In addition, I’ll have a racially charged revenge story in Shadows & Teeth Volume 4 from Darkwater Syndicate, Inc (release date TBD), and my overseas bearded brother from another mother David Owain Hughes and I will be unleashing Deranged, a horror/bizarro anthology that explores fucked-up sexual kinks (cover photo below), later this year.

After that, who the fuck knows? I may not be a bestseller, I may not be a household name, and my output may have dwindled to a GRRM-esque drip, but I’ve been around for years and ain’t goin’ nowhere. You’ll see me around, ya poor suckers.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Website ** Amazon ** Facebook ** Twitter

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?

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek: Said it last time and I’ll say it again: Fuck the rat race. No point in toiling away for a greedy prick in a suit if it means giving up your passions. Live while you can.

Jonathan Edward Ondrashek is a horror/dark fantasy writer and editor who hisses and screeches at sunlight. He’s the author of The Human-Undead War trilogy (Dark Intentions, Patriarch, and A Kingdom’s Fall). His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the highly acclaimed VS: US vs UK Horror series, Nothing’s Sacred Volume 5, and It Came From the Garage!, which featured Stephen King and Guy N. Smith, among others. He also co-edited Deranged, F*ck the Rules, What Goes Around, and Man Behind the Mask, boundary-pushing anthologies featuring work from established and new voices in the horror genre. If he isn’t reading, editing, or writing, he’s probably drinking beer and making his wife regret marrying a lunatic. Feel free to stalk him on social media.

Deranged

Most of us have sexual fantasies. They are normally harmless, but what if the status quo wasn’t enough? What if your proclivity for climaxing tipped over the edge and into the extreme?

Would you fancy shagging a mermaid, or an otherworldly creature from another dimension or planet? Would you seek sexual revenge if some thing raped you? Maybe you’d let a ghost have its way with you, if the mood struck? Perhaps your penchant for asphyxiation would bleed over into guerrilla interrogation tactics?

What if you weren’t a necrophiliac but found yourself sopping wet after gazing into the milky white eyes of a pristine, hunky dead man?

The ten tales in this horror/bizarro tome will shock, disgust, and make your toes curl in unexpected ways.

Everyone has a kink. Some are just more deranged than others . . .

The Guilty Sickos:
Antonio Simon, Jr ** Sarah Cannavo ** Jonathan Butcher ** Colleen Anderson
Sidney Williams ** John Paul Fitch ** W.T. Paterson ** Annie Knox
C.L. Raven ** Suzanne Fox

It Came From the Garage

Shift your fear into top gear. 

Set your pulse racing with this collection of automotive horror that fires on all cylinders. This bad boy comes fully-optioned with fifteen tales of classic cars and motorcycles behaving badly; and the star-studded lineup is sure to provide all the nightmare fuel you can handle. 

So strap in and hold on, because we’re going pedal to the metal. It’s blood-soaked horror or bust, and we aren’t stopping for anything. You’re in for a ride. 

The authors who contributed to this anthology are: Stephen King, Guy N. Smith, Antonio Simon, Jr., Apara Moreiya, Stephanie Kelley, David Owain Hughes, Paige Reiring, R. Perez de Pereda, Sarah Cannavo, Alana Turner, Douglas Fairbanks, Jonathan Edward Ondrashek, Richard Ayre, Michael Warriner, and Nicholas Paschall.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Paul Heatley

Meghan: Hi, Paul. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

Paul Heatley: Well, I’ve been keeping busy. I always try to keep busy. Books two and three in the Eye For An Eye series were released by Close To The BoneThe Runner and Violent By Design – I released a Christmas novella called Christmas Stockings, and this year has seen the release of Guillotine (All Due Respect) and, most recently, Bad Bastards (Fahrenheit 13).

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

Paul Heatley: Pretty boring. When I’m not at the day job I read a lot, I watch TV – standard stuff.

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

Paul Heatley: I really don’t mind. In fact, I wish more of them would do it! (And tell all of their friends and relatives in turn, and so on.)

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

Paul Heatley: It’s a bit of both. When it’s going well it’s the greatest thing in the world. Then, when block strikes or something in a manuscript just isn’t quite working out the way you want it to, it remains the best thing in the world but with added frustration. I make sure to write in some capacity every day, and if I don’t I get incredibly restless and agitated, which is what makes it a curse I suppose. I don’t mind, though. I’d rather have this than nothing else.

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

Paul Heatley: I’m not so sure it has a great deal. I set most of my books in America and I wasn’t raised there, and the Eye For An Eye books which I’ve set in the north east England don’t contain a great deal of my background – not that I can see, anyway.

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

Paul Heatley: I’m not sure I’ve ever researched anything particularly strange. Like I said above I tend to set most of my books in America, so sometimes I just look up words to see if they have different meanings in America to how we use them in England.

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

Paul Heatley: Probably endings. Even just chapter endings, sometimes. You want to make sure you finish on just the right word or phrase. When it comes to the very end of the book, that’s what people are going to remember most of all so it’s important to try and nail it just right. Of course, sometimes beginnings are hard, too, especially if it’s something brand new that you’re going into and you need to work your way through the setting and get to know your characters.

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

Paul Heatley: I do a mix of all! Primarily I outline, but sometimes I do just sit down and start writing. I prefer to have an outline as I prefer to go in to a work knowing that I have all the Gordian knots already unravelled, rather than lose time trying to find out how to cut through them. I don’t think there’s anything worse than writing yourself into a corner and having no idea how to get out of it. When it comes to characters and plot, I tend to have the plot first, then I introduce the characters to it, work out their own background and traits which in turn influences and sometimes expands the plot.

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

Paul Heatley: I follow them and see where they go. I outline, but I’m not afraid to change it on the fly. I’ve rewritten entire sections of work in the past if the characters find a new direction to go in.

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

Paul Heatley: I repeat mantras to myself that I’ve heard over the years to make sure I get in the chair and write. Sometimes they’re harsh, but sometimes that’s what it takes – ‘Every day you don’t write is another day you’ve wasted.’ ‘Do you want results, or do you want excuses?’ etc.

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

Paul Heatley: I am, though not a particularly fast one!

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

Paul Heatley: I’ll read anything, so long as it interests me. At the minute I’m reading the first book in the Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan. I haven’t read any fantasy for a while and I was eager to get back into it. I tend to mostly read things on the crime side, though. I read The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain for the first time recently, so you can probably guess I’ve still got a lot of the classics to catch up on. I’ve never read Raymond Chandler or Patricia Highsmith, and I’m eager to get round to both of them. I only started reading Richard Stark in the last year and now I can’t get enough. Mostly I’ve read James Ellroy, Jim Thompson, and Chester Himes. They are my main three.

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

Paul Heatley: I don’t mind them, though if it’s something I’m interested in I always prefer to have read the book first.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

Paul Heatley: Yes, quite often. Going back to your earlier question about when characters don’t follow the outline, there’s a death at the end of Violent By Design that I didn’t originally plan on, but I’m quite glad it got worked in.

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Paul Heatley: Yes. It’s necessary to the story – without their suffering, there is no story. Especially in noir. And when you consider noir tends to be the stories of bad people doing bad things, it’s hard to not want to make them suffer.

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

Paul Heatley: My most colourful characters probably appear in my Motel Whore books (collected together in The Motel Whore & Other Stories). There’s a wide array of outcasts and oddballs in those stories.

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

Paul Heatley: I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve had a bad piece of feedback. It’s only really bad if you perceive it as such, and if I read a bad review I pay attention to WHY the person didn’t like it. That way, you’ve got something to learn from and improve upon. In terms of the best, I got a great review recently from David Nemeth for my book Guillotine where he said ‘Heatley is becoming a master of American noir in the vein of Jim Thompson and James M Cain.’ That’s great, and that’s the blurb I’m gonna use on every future release.

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

Paul Heatley: They mean a hell of a lot. I appreciate everyone who buys and reads my books, and who gets in touch with me to tell me what they thought of them. Without them it’s me just screaming out into a void.

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Paul Heatley: Parker by Richard Stark. He’s simultaneously the perfect noir hero and villain. Tough and unrelenting, and cares only about himself.

Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Paul Heatley: This questions follows on perfectly from the last as I guess I’d have to go with Parker. Naturally the story would be about a heist going wrong, he gets double-crossed, then he comes back for revenge! I’d have to read every single one of his past appearances to make sure I was able to work in something new and didn’t just repeat an earlier caper.

Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Paul Heatley: Stephen King, and we’d put together some From Dusk Til Dawn-style thing – it starts off as a gangster story, then it becomes something totally unexpected and over the top.

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

Paul Heatley: Like I said at the top, I keep busy! I write every day and the intention is to always be building up forward momentum, so hopefully you’ll see a lot more books coming your way!

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Paul Heatley: I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. My website is here.

Paul Heatley is the author of The Motel Whore & Other Stories, Fatboy, Guillotine, Bad Bastards, and the Eye for an Eye series, as well as more than fifty short stories published online and in print. He lives in the north east of England.

The Motel Whore & Other Stories

A dying town on the edge of nowhere. Misfits, outcasts, losers and loners, making their way through their aimless lives. The Motel Whore. The Vampire. The Boy. They will crawl inside your skull. They will live beneath your skin. They will stay with you forever. Featuring two previously unpublished tales.

Fatboy

After his girlfriend leaves and takes their young son with her, Joey Hidalgo is left alone in the trailer they formerly called home with nothing to do but get drunk and contemplate her reasons. Is he really as angry, as volatile, so close to constant violence, as she claims he is?

No, Joey thinks, of course not, the real problem is money–or lack thereof. Joey’s a bartender, always struggling to make ends meet, unlike his most vile regular customer, the rich and racist fatboy. So Joey hatches a plan to get his family back by taking him for all he’s worth. 

But the fatboy isn’t going to make it easy for them. Neither is Joey’s temper. Things are going to get messy, and it’s gonna be one hell of a long night.

Guillotine

After suffering a lifetime of tyranny under her father’s oppressive rule, when Lou-Lou sees a chance to make a break with the man she loves, she takes it. Problem is, daddy’s also known as Big Bobby Joe, a dangerous and powerful man in the local area—powerful enough to put out a sixty grand bounty on the head of the man she’s run off with, who also happens to be one of his ex-employees.

With every criminal affiliate out looking for them, making good on their getaway doesn’t seem promising. Even their so-called friends are on the take, willing to pull a double-cross if that’s what’s going to turn them a quick buck. But Big Bobby Joe hasn’t counted on his daughter’s resolve to distance herself from him. No matter what he throws at her, no matter what he does, she’s going to get away—or die trying.

Bad Bastards

Falling in love might just be the dumbest move Patton has ever made. 

Patty Dawson is beautiful – tall, with most of her length in her legs – and Patton has fallen head over heels. Patty is also Bobby Hodge’s daughter and that means she’s off-limits to guys like Patton. 

Bobby runs the Bad Bastards Motorcycle Club with an iron fist – he runs his family the same way – and when he finds out about Patton and his only daughter it was only ever going to go one way, badly. 

Beaten to a pulp and under threat of death, Patton is determined to find a way to be with the girl he loves no matter what the cost, but as the stakes get higher he has to decide just how far he’s willing to go in the name of love. 

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Dean H. Wild

Meghan: Hi, Dean. Welcome back to my annual Halloween Extravaganza. It’s been awhile since we sat down together. What’s been going on since we last spoke?

Dean H. Wild: On the writing front, I will have a short story published in CrashCode, an anthology of technology-based horror tales to be released by the end of 2019. My story is called “The God Finger.” I’ve also been working with The Horror Zine on an anthology of ghost stories and I have started another novel.

Meghan: Who are you outside of writing?

Dean H. Wild: Some people call me “organized.” Some call me “thorough.” I recently had someone refer to me as “gentle.” I suppose you need to have most of your marbles in the can to do what I do, and I have quite the soft spot in my heart when it comes to the animals of the world. A lost and lonely kitten can nearly break my heart in two. But I’m mostly your typical introvert with a tenacious commitment to the comfort of guests in my home and a gentleman’s appreciation of a fine whiskey.

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

Dean H. Wild: I have no trouble with it. They already know about my dark and twisted core, so if some of that leaks into my work (and it always does) I have no shame or concern. They are aware of what they’re getting into.

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

Dean H. Wild: The answer is Yes. Ha-ha. I love the organic feel the flow of ideas brings when I’m in writing mode. It is an experience that defies words. And to have someone read the work later and relate to it is an author-reader connection that is rewarding and precious. However, the drive to put words to paper, especially when those words are coming hard, spurred on by the need to move forward with a piece and bring it to fruition can be brutal. It consumes all thought, making the rest of your life a state of distraction. Performing any other task, however menial and/or necessary, becomes a source of guilt. And there is no escape from the misery, because once the manuscript-at-hand is complete, there is utter helplessness against taking up the pen and starting another.

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

Dean H. Wild: I grew up in a very colorful blue collar environment populated by some very hard-smoking, hard-drinking adults. This was offset by the honest, peaceful, almost idyllic lives of some kind and nurturing relatives. Therefore I was exposed to two very contrasting lifestyles, and being the quiet, introverted and nearly “invisible” child that I was, I often observed how these two groups interacted with their chums and, more interestingly, how they intermingled. I feel this gave me a very up-close view of how people interpret, judge and play off of one another. How they speak differently when in the company of their cohorts vs. in mixed company. It gave me a good sense of character, I feel.

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

Dean H. Wild: Aside from the usual weird stuff (how to pick a lock, various homemade explosive devices, other things that have, no doubt, landed me on some sort of watch list or other) I would have to say it would be the decay and anaerobic gases produced by our garbage as it breaks down in the depths of our landfills. Pretty savory stuff, right?

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

Dean H. Wild: Most often, for me, it is the end. I know far in advance where the book is headed, so “what” is going to happen isn’t too much of a challenge, but I find it critically important “how” the ending falls into place. I require the ending to be satisfying in relation to the story and in regard to the characters as well. It needs to be more than a finish. It must be to be significant, and the prose needs to be just right. I often struggle with endings to get them fine-tuned to suit my needs.

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

Dean H. Wild: I’m a pantser through and through. No outlines here ever. I will make notes as I go along to make sure I hit a desired plot point or include an incident that has popped into my head while working on the story, but that’s about all the preplanning I do. At the very, microbial level, when I’m first hatching a book idea, my main character is typically the starting point. Certainly not every minute fact about them, but basic characteristics that make them relevant as a protagonist. Plot follows closely, to be sure that character’s relevance applies. Day to day, it is a butt in chair/pen in hand method.

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

Dean H. Wild: Sit back, shake my head and figure out how to write myself (and them) out of the predicament. Or sometimes I follow them down that new path. It’s scary when a character’s intuition is stronger than mine, but I love it.

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

Dean H. Wild: Sometimes the story calls out to me. Sometimes I need to seek it out. But it all comes down to the fact I think about the current work-in-progress all the time. No matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing at the moment. The story/novel/whatever is always working in the back of my mind like a perpetually running machine. It makes me ready, at a moment’s notice, to sit down and get to work on it, whenever those precious moments are available. I guess, with me, it’s not motivation as much as it is staying in an “always ready” state.

Meghan: Are you an avid reader?

Dean H. Wild: I read as much as I can. Not sure that makes me “avid.” But I’ve always got two books going at once, sometimes three. I still can’t keep up with my TBR pile, however!!

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

Dean H. Wild: I prefer fiction over nonfiction, and I like to invest for the long haul, so I prefer novels over story collections or anthologies when I read. Horror makes up the bulk of my reading choices, but any novel with striking, memorable characters faced with obstacles and challenges hold my interest. Especially novels with good pacing.

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

Dean H. Wild: For me, the two mediums are vastly different, with their own unique methods of storytelling. I do not compare book to movie since what works for one might fall flat for the other. I consider each on its own merit and don’t trouble myself with picking nits over why the book’s blonde protagonist is a redhead in the film or why the dragon was fought on a rickety bridge instead of on a mountain spire.

Meghan: Have you ever killed a main character?

Dean H. Wild: In a novel, no. In short stories, yes.

Meghan: Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?

Dean H. Wild: I do not. I do, however, understand this is an element of storytelling which must remain present. Often, my characters come with a lot of built-in anguish so a lot of their suffering comes from within. That being said, a character who remains unchallenged can be a largely uninteresting character, so I have learned how to make the going rough to enrich the story.

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

Dean H. Wild: An ancient, soul-hungry entity that takes the form of a huge, rolling, wooden wheel. It’s in a novel I’m shopping around right now, something I wrote back in 2012. Watch for it one day!!

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

Dean H. Wild: I will relay the best in the form of an anecdote. I submitted a manuscript to be professionally edited, and the editor was very helpful and very knowledgeable. One thing she pointed out (and I realize now that deep down I was aware of this but never gave it any real thought) was my overuse of the letter “C” when it came to character names, place names, etc. Almost every character had a “C” either in their first name or last. Restaurants, street names, towns, contained “C’s” without number. One character even drove a Camry, for crying out loud. It was a bit jarring for me to rename most of my beloved characters after spending so much time with themand knowing them so well as Cora, Cassidy, Clark, Charlene, etc. But the editor was right. And I came to realize in the piece I was currently working on, the same thing was occurring again, this time with the letter “T”!!! I’m not sure why my brain works that way, but it is something I am cognizant of now and avoid without fail.

As for the worst feedback, I was advised by an editor to get rid of a secondary character because he didn’t like her. Well, she may have been secondary but some of her actions and predicaments were pivotal to the plot any my main character would have zero motivations to learn or to act upon his intuitions without her presence (she was his ex-wife) so I’m not sure if the editor actually read the whole book and was aware this or not. To excise her would mean monumental rewrites and a huge change to the entire storyline. I didn’t do it. (I did, however, change her name so it didn’t have a “C” in it)

Meghan: What do your fans mean to you?

Dean H. Wild: To those who’ve read something of mine, said “this was pretty good” and look for more work with my name on it, I say a thousand thank you’s. The need to write is the throbbing heart and the driving conscience of an author’s craft, but the constant reader is the surging blood. Would I continue to write even if no one read my creations? Of course. But knowing there is someone out there experiencing the tale I created and realizing at least a little enjoyment from it is a reward all its own. I write for that unseen audience (readers, fans, whatever name you want to give them) as much as I write for myself, and in the act hope I am creating a connection. “Here is my story, stuff I like to read. I hope you like it, too.”

Meghan: If you could steal one character from another author and make them yours, who would it be and why?

Dean H. Wild: That would be Ben Mears from Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. He is everything I find intriguing in a main character. He’s troubled, yet sincere. Levelheaded yet unsure. He’s an every-man philosopher, impassioned and humble. I think you’ll find snips of him in most of my main characters.

Meghan: If you could write the next book in a series, which one would it be, and what would you make the book about?

Dean H. Wild: To be honest, I don’t often read many books that are part of a series. I’m a fan of the stand-alone novel so I’m not sure how to answer. Most of the series I have read are such broad-scope endeavors I would not presume to step in and attempt an installment of my own. It would feel like trespassing.

Meghan: If you could write a collaboration with another author, who would it be and what would you write about?

Dean H. Wild: I’m usually entrenched up to my eyeballs in my own work—I’m in it all or nothing—so it’s difficult for me to imagine collaborating. What I have thought about is a sort of “tag-team” story collection, perhaps something with a theme, where two authors, or perhaps three, take turns weaving their tales; one by me, one by author #2, then one by author #3, then back to me again, round and round. As to with whom I might collaborate—the list is endless. There are so many talented folks out there. I would like to see some dark humor threaded into this fantasy tag-team. Jeff Strand or Larry Hinkle come to mind.

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

Dean H. Wild: Now that The Crymost is on the shelves and selling, I have begun to work on a new novel. I also have a nearly-completed novella which I need to finish, but since I’ve been away from that tale for a while, it will be a challenge to get back into the groove with that one. And I have notes on two other novels which I would like to tackle after the current one is done. Lots of irons in the fire or ready to be consigned to flame. We’ll see what comes of it.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Dean H. Wild: My website is the cleanest, clearest path.

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?

Dean H. Wild: Only that I appreciate every reader who picks up a book, however briefly, and finds enjoyment within its pages. To write is a fulfillment of a striving energy greater than the soul. To be read is a validation beyond words.

Dean H. Wild grew up in east central Wisconsin and has lived in the area, primarily in small towns surrounding the city of Fond du Lac, all his life. He wrote his first short horror story at the tender age of seven and continued to write dark fiction while he pursued careers in retail, the newspaper industry, and retail pharmacy. His short stories have seen publication in various magazines and anthologies including Bell, Book & Beyond, A Feast of Frights, Night Terrors II, and Horror Library 6. His novel, The Crymost, is an exploration of tradition, superstition, and encroaching horrir in a small Wisconsin town. He and his wife, Julia, currently reside in the village of Brownsville.

The Crymost

There is a place just outside of town where the people of Knoll, Wisconsin take their sorrows and their worries. They don’t talk much about it, and they don’t discuss the small tokens they bring as offerings to the place known as the Crymost. After all, this is Knoll, where certain things are best left unsaid. The Crymost, however, will not remain quiet for much longer. Something ancient has awakened in that remote, sorrowful place, and time is running out for its inhabitants. Long-kept secrets will need to be unearthed before the entire town succumbs to the will of a powerful, dark stranger who works hand in hand with a hungry entity crossing Knoll’s borders, invading its homes and executing a soul-draining grip on its citizens.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Steve Thompson

Meghan: Hi, Steve. Welcome to the new Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Steve Thompson: I live in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada with my girlfriend, Lisa. I recently retired from my day job as a housekeeping supervisor at our city hospital after 30 years of service. I’m now dunking my foot into the unknown depths of the publishing world and hoping I don’t drown. I have 8 pets at home, 4 dogs and 4 cats that take up a large part of my day. 3 of those dogs are Boston Terriers and one is a Chorkie, and never in my life did I ever think I could love any animal as much as those dogs; the cats, well, they’re just evil.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Steve Thompson: 1- I never graduated from high school because I was given the choice to quit or get kicked out 3 months before graduation. 2 – Most people know I am scared of heights, What they don’t know is if I get into a situation that I am up too high, I need to get down ASAP, even if it means jumping and I don’t know what is the greater fear, the heights or wanting to jump to get out of that situation. 3 – When I was 15, I broke into a portable classroom and peed in the desk drawer of a teacher I didn’t like because he bullied a lot of his students. 4 – When I was nine or ten years old I loved to burn things with a magnifying glass; plastic car models, the long grass in the fields next to our house and insects, I burned a lot of insects, and I didn’t turn out to be a serial killer. Got 4 out of 5.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Steve Thompson: The Stand by Stephen King

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Steve Thompson: Finishing up In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland with Jeff Strand’s Five Novellas on deck.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Steve Thompson: Jackie Collin’s Hollywood Wives. I read this back in the 80’s because it was the only book in the house at the time that I hadn’t already read.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write?

Steve Thompson: Reading Stephen King books is what turned me on to reading and writing.

Meghan: When did you begin writing?

Steve Thompson: About 25 years ago, but mostly it was just farting around, writing short stories for myself and some friends. I only started to take writing seriously about 6 years ago.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Steve Thompson: In my computer room/library.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Steve Thompson: Nope.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Steve Thompson: Everything, but mostly it’s the show don’t tell I struggle with but it is getting better the more I write. Also keeping my focus on one story at a time. Right now, I have 7 short stories that are half done and I keep jumping back and forth between them, writing a line or 2 on one story than a line or 2 on another.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Steve Thompson: That would be my short story “Kill Point Club” from the anthology When the Clock Strikes 13. It was a fun story to write and I had a great time with it. I used the names of some of the other authors in the anthology as characters and then killed them off. Fun Times.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you?

Steve Thompson: The Stand by Stephen King, Animosity and Odd Man Out by James Newman. These are the only books I can remember ever pissing me off to the point I almost threw the books across the room and to make me shed a tear.

Meghan: Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Steve Thompson: Stephen King, James Newman, and Richard Laymon to name a few.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Steve Thompson: Believable characters that grow on you and you care what happens to them, because if you don’t care the story just feels flat and lifeless. If something happens to a character, I want to be able to feel something for them and not just Johnny fell off a bridge and drowned and think who cares I wish they would all fall off a bridge and drown so this story would end.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character?

Steve Thompson: Again, I’ll say believable characters. Characters you can relate to and it doesn’t matter whether you love them or hate them as long as you feel something.

Meghan: How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Steve Thompson: I try to make my characters as real as possible, I use characteristics from people I know or myself and then throw in a few quirks.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Steve Thompson: There’s a little piece of me in all my characters, so there really isn’t just one that is most like me.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover?

Steve Thompson: No, bad covers don’t turn me off. There’s a ton of great books out there with crap covers. It’s what’s inside that counts.

Meghan: To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Steve Thompson: I had pretty much full control on my book covers for better or worse, except for When the Clock Strikes 13. I wanted all the authors involved to be ok with the cover before I finalized it.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Steve Thompson: I learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Steve Thompson: There was a rape and torture scene in my short story “Pearl” that was hard to write and I ended up cutting most of it out because it was too graphic. I still got some flak for it from a few readers telling me they didn’t like what happened to the girl and I would just reply well, you’re not supposed to like it and if you did, I’d think there was something wrong with you.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Steve Thompson: I don’t really know, but all my stories are written in a very simple form that anyone can understand. You definitely don’t need a dictionary beside you to read one. Nothing takes me out of a story faster than not knowing the meaning of some words.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Steve Thompson: The title is very important and can sometimes be hard to choose the right one. I try to make the title reflect what is inside the book.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Steve Thompson: I have never written a novel or novella for that matter; I love short stories. Reading them and writing them.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Steve Thompson: My short story collections are a mix of sci-fi and horror with one collection having a few non-fiction stories in it from periods of my life that have stuck with me. I just hope readers will enjoy the stories. If only one person likes the story, I still call that a win.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Steve Thompson: I tend to ramble on at times and then delete most of it.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

Steve Thompson: Body parts. Just kidding. Or am I. Actually, I’m thinking about turning one of my short stories (Johnny Dewitt) into a novella.

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

Steve Thompson: Right now, I am working on a short story collection and hopefully going forward with a signed limited-edition chapbook with one of my favorite authors.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Steve Thompson: Amazon, Facebook, and In Your face Books.

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?

Steve Thompson: I would like to thank you for doing this interview with me, my very first one, and thanks to everyone that read it until the end.

Steve Thompson is the author of two short and flash fiction collections. You can check out his 2 latest short stories “Kill Point Club” in the anthology When the Clock Strikes 13 from his In Your Face Publishing that he started in June 2019 and “Malignant” which he co-wrote with Kenneth W. Cain which is in the Shallow Waters 2 flash fiction anthology by Crystal Lake Publishing.

When the Clock Strikes 13

Tick – tock 
Tick – tock 
Tick – tock

Your time is running out. When the clock strikes 13, all manners of hell will break loose.

When the Clock Strikes 13 is a collection of thirteen short horror stories by some of the best horror and dark fiction authors writing today. Inside, you will find stories to frighten, shock and gnaw at your inner fears, and take you places that belong only in the dark recesses of your mind. There are monsters on these pages; some are human, some are not. 

Table of Contents 
Introduction by Joe Mynhardt 
“The Boy in the Pond” by Mark Allan Gunnells 
“Open Waters” by Richard Thomas 
“Memories” by John R. Little 
“Detrition of War” by Kenneth W. Cain 
“Comes the Red Man” by Tom Deady 
“Mommy’s Girl” by Somer Canon 
“Taking Up Carpentry” by Justin M. Woodward 
“Kill Point Club” by Steve Thompson 
“Calm Down Time” by Richard Chizmar 
“Carrion: My Wayward Son” by James Newman 
“Bear” by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason 
“When Arachnids Attack” by Sheri White 
“A Song Above” by Glenn Rolfe 
Afterword by Steve Thompson