Interview with Horror Author and Editor Armand Rosamilia

1.     You seem to like zombies.  Any one movie or book that ignited that passion?

The Rising by Brian Keene. Before that book I was a big fan of zombie movies, but never read anything. I didn’t think it would be something I’d like to read about, since most zombie movies follow a pretty strict format. I was pleasantly surprised when I read Keene’s book, and then devoured the rest of them. Then I went looking for more…

2.     Do you find it easier or more enjoyable to write male or female protagonists?  If you have a preference–why?

Strangely (and I blogged about that not too long ago), I don’t have a preference. I used to write strictly male characters because I’m a male and didn’t think I could do justice to a female main character. When I started writing the Darlene Bobich stories (Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days 2) she flowed and it was so easy to write her. I’m interested to see going forward how many male vs. female leads I write.

3.     If you could pick one weapon for a zombie fight, what would it be?

Isn’t the machete the go-to weapon? It’s quiet, easy to carry, and lightweight. Using rifles and pistols draws too many zombies. Either that or a blunt toothpick… now that would be the true test of a zombie killer.

Personally, all I need are these guns right here [flexing and kissing my biceps].  But I respect your choice, Armand.

4.     What monster was under your bed or in your closet as a child?

Great question! Every weird, evil and/or alien creature in Dean Koontz books. When I was ten or eleven I started reading all of my mom’s horror books, especially Koontz. Then I’d be under the covers in bed hoping The Ancient Enemy from Phantoms wasn’t in the closet.

I cut my teeth on Koontz, too.  Good times.  Good times.

5.     Any tips or insights into your writing/editing process that you think are unique or worth sharing with us?

I use index cards each day. I pull a fresh one while the coffee is brewing and make a reasonable list of what I need to do that day, either a word count (2,000 word goal) or finish a story or another chapter, read some submissions for an anthology, check e-mail, things like that. As I finish things I cross them off the index card and feel like I’m getting somewhere, instead of huge goals like ‘write a 50k book’. If I can hit 2,000 words a day on the first draft I’ll have that in 25 days.

6.     Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

Death Metal, because it was the first great moment I had in publishing where a publisher simply loved it and didn’t want to change a thing about it. It was my first real release through another publisher besides anthology stories. Even after 40+ releases, it’s still my favorite. The publisher called it urban horror, but it’s really just a thriller. Very graphic, lots of violence, drug use, profanity, and (I think) a unique plot.

7.     Fast zombies/smart zombies—some traditionalists think that they shouldn’t be done.  How about you, Armand?  Is there anywhere you “won’t go” when it comes to zombies?

I’m not a fan of fast zombies, yet my favorite zombie movie is the Dawn of the Dead remake with Ving Rhames and they’re fast. I’m more into the traditional zombie, although having some twists is always good for the genre. In my “Dying Days” extreme zombie series, there’s the added pressure that the zombies don’t just want to eat you, they want to sexually violate you. I never cross the line into graphic rape but the threat is always there. In “Dying Days 2” I added yet another twist, which I won’t spoil.

8.     What is the most compelling reason you can give someone who has yet to read your work to pick up one of your books?

I have bills to pay. Actually, I think my zombie stories are more than just survivors constantly being attacked by undead. A reader recently pointed out how many pages in between zombie mentions in a couple of my books, which is a good thing. It’s about the people thrust into this situation and what they do. Sometimes the worst enemy is still living.

9.     Do you use a common mode of transmission for the zombie disease in all of your books, or do you switch things up?  Care to give us a peek into how your zombies began, your patient zero, as it were?

Nope. I’ve purposely left it wide open. In the Darlene Bobich short story “Rear Guard” I have some characters talking about the various rumors they heard on how this all began, offering widely varying accounts. I never mention how it started, and I might never give the one solid reason. I think it adds a bit of mystery to the story.

10.     If you were conducting this interview, what question would you be dying to ask yourself?

Easy question. Armand, why are you so damn sexy? Oh, wait, wrong interview. I would ask myself ‘if you were conducting this interview, what question would you be dying to ask yourself?’ and then just keep looping it over and over until I passed out.

The Sexy Beast Himself

The Sexy Beast Himself

11.     Who is your favorite serial killer?  Doesn’t mean you like the person—I just want to know the case you are most curious about.  I think we all have at least one.  Something about trying to see into the mind of someone so grotesquely twisted to see if anything in there makes the tiniest bit of sense.  Who’s your Jeffrey Dahmer, Armand, and why?

Ed Gein, because he influenced so many authors and filmmakers (Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, Bambi – OK, maybe not Bambi). This dude was sick, and did some crazy stuff. I’ve read several books about him, watched every movie they made about him, and “Dead Skin Mask” by Slayer is one of my favorite songs ever. Fascinating.

I was always partial to Blind Melon’s “Skinned” for my personal fave Ed Gein anthem.  It just makes killing sound so happy and carefree!  There aren’t many songs that can really work a kazoo.  Slayer makes me want to jump into a pit and come out with random teeth imbedded in my elbows. 

Both are good in their own way–just depends on what mood you’re in and how much vodka is in your system. 

For our collective listening pleasure, I will provide both.  🙂

I had to pick that version because Scooby Doo is at the concert.

And on those ass-kicking notes, I would like to thank Armand Rosamilia for stopping by and sharing a little bit of his crazy.  It was a pleasure.

Don’t forget to check out his books, boys and girls.  Much like Slayer, they are fast and furious–and a guaranteed good time!

Writing For the Love (of Pete)

Today I was thinking about how I don’t really offer up the “I’m an author” line to many people.  Generally speaking, I keep it to myself unless it comes up.  I was wondering if I made a living writing (which I do not—I couldn’t feed my cat with money from my writing, let alone a family of five) would I be more inclined to pony-up the information? 

Not that I am ashamed of how I spend my free time.  Hell, I’d like to let people know that my house gets cleaned even less lately because I’m “working” in my free time.  This place isn’t a pig sty because I’m watching Vampire Diaries and eating bon-bons for the eight hours a week all three of my kids are in school. 

I don’t suppose I can call it work if I don’t really make any money doing it, can I?   

But it is work.  It’s a time-consuming job trying to crank out enough coherent words strung into sentences, glued into paragraphs and sandwiched together with a layer of literary bubblegum to create a short story.  Forget about the bigger projects I try to make time for.

When you think about the time spent simply daydreaming up an idea–which is usually during dinner or while your Lego master is explaining his latest creation, or while you are driving a bus of wild animals to choir practice—already you are looking at hours and hours spent on a short alone.  Again, a full novel takes weeks of thinking, planning, outlining, note-taking and people-watching before you even sit down at a computer.  Then you get there and realize you know nothing about the California Gold Rush and the research begins.  Think term papers without direct quotes, only on a major scale.

Have we started writing yet?  Maybe you are a fly-by-your-seat kinda author.  Cool.  I salute you.  That could save you a bundle of time.  Or it could burn you alive with re-writes once you get half way done and realize you have plot holes the size of Jupiter.  Me, I outline.  The carefree method that would seem to be my style superficially, just doesn’t pan out for me when I’m sifting for gold nuggets.  In California.  In 1851.  With the help of my time machine.  Just tying that back together.

Okay, so all of the homework completed, we move on to the writing part.  Now, I’m a fast typist, so essentially, this doesn’t take all that long provided I am not distracted by squirrels, or bon-bons, or laundry, or singing karaoke to Breaking Benjamin songs that are too R rated to play at full blast while the kids are home.  So let’s say I rein in my ADD for the time it takes me to hammer out a 5,000 word piece.

And then saunters in my arch enemy of the writing world—editing.  I’d like to punch this guy in the face, but I can’t.  He is the most important piece of the puzzle (or so he thinks, the conceited bastard).  Editing takes a number of days, if not weeks, and a number of reads. 

All the while, an equal number of hilarious squirrels are jumping around my lawn like little clowns, waving their bon-bons at me and flipping me off to the tune of Shallow Bay.  I ignore them.  I hope.  And I get it done.

Oh!  Lest we forget, I must check the submission guidelines and format my work to the specifications of my chosen market.  Busy work, but, like editing, a necessary evil.

Now, what was my chosen market again?  In all likelihood, especially for newer authors, the publisher may have a cute little sentence under the title PAYMENT.  It could very well, and very often does, read “For the Love.”

For the love of Pete.  This is why I cannot feel comfortable saying “I’m an author.”  Like, “I work from home.  I write.”  And I do.  But non-paying markets, or token payments, for—how much time did it take me?—they don’t add up to a living. 

Therefore, this is not my job.  It is my hobby (cringe).

Do I enjoy it?  Yes.  Do I love to see my name in print?  Absolutely.  Do I want to do it for free just to spread my creativity like an infection to the masses (or the few, as the case may be)?  No, I don’t.  I can blog for free to reach out and grab someone.  I can make pointless, but ultra-funny, nonsense flyers and staple them all over town in the middle of the night.

I loved working as an RN.  Would I go pull an eight-hour shift sans pay just because helping sick people is so rewarding?  Ah, no.  Florence Nightingale I ain’t.  And she probably got paid anyway.

So why is the “For the Love” trend so prevalent?  Could be the saturation of the market.  The name in print scenario I mentioned so enough people are willing to work for free, perpetuating the problem.  All the free e-books on Amazon from self-pubs and fledgling indie publishers that make people think that the written word shouldn’t cost a penny.  It’s possible. 

But these little anthologies that are just getting their foot in the publishing door could still offer a small royalty payment.  That way the authors are more vested in promoting the material.  The publishers don’t have to come up with up-front payment.  And the authors don’t have to feel like someone is bending them over and…I’ll keep it clean, but you know where I was going.

But when I spend more money than I earned to buy a copy or two of “my” book, it hurts my heart a little.  I end up paying more than I was paid.  That is essentially paying to have your work published, which is a number one no-no, as everyone knows.

Can I be one of those working writers?  Go get a day job like so many and write in my “spare” time?  Yup, and I just may one of these days if my Sugar Daddy gets tired of supporting my pipe dreams. 

Or I may decide that my massive amounts of time are better spent elsewhere and give up the authorial ghost.

I hope that day never comes, because as much as “For the Love” is a gang of rude squirrels defecating in my sandbox, I still love to write.  For now I’ll throw my bon-bons at them and power through. 

I don’t need the empty calories anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cannibalism story that needs to be written.  Twenty-five bucks and a zombie t-shirt riding on this one, baby.  Woo hoo!  They had me at zombie.  And again at t-shirt. 

Take that, you stupid squirrels!

All the News that’s Fit to Blog + Zombies

First of all, I want to let everyone know that 100 Horrors: Horror in the Blink of an Eye is now available in good old-fashioned dead trees.  I just ordered my copy (and of course a copy for my parents–ever the thoughtful daughter, I know).  You can find it right here:

https://www.createspace.com/3781610

And the e-version is still available on Amazon

(<——– see the link over there).

What else? What else?  Ah, yes.  Childhood Nightmares: Under the Bed is due out on April 21st, so that is exciting!  I am currently reading Julianne Snow’s Days with the Undead.  She is a fellow contributor to the Childhood Nightmares anthology and wrote a zombie book that reads like daily journal entries written by a survivor.  So far, so good.  I plan to post a review when I am done.

Onward–but in keeping with the zombie subject–at the end of the month I am slotted to interview author Armand Rosamilia.  His new book Dying Days 2 was just released and chronicles the zombie troubles of one of his favorite heroines, Darlene Bobich–zombie killer extraordinaire.  As luck would have it, the digital Dying Days 2 is free on Amazon.  I believe the freebie is for today only, so scoop it up and you can read the interview on March 31 and nod your head the whole time.  Armand is hoping people who pick it up during his deal will be kind enough to leave a review on Amazon.  Be a sport, will ya?

That’s all for now, folks.  Keep it tuned here for more scarelicious news in the near future!

My Interview with Author Noah Mullette-Gillman

Ding-dong the Merry o; I am an interview virgin no longer!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to interview author Noah Mullette-Gillman.  I had a lot of fun coming up with questions and Noah did not disappoint me with his thought-provoking answers.  So tie your plastic bibs around your necks, ladies and gentlemen, and read on to sample a small portion of Noah’s brain.  Mmmmm.  Brains.

1.       Did you always want to be an author?

Yes. But there were other things I wanted to be first. What I mean is, I imagined writing a novel to be such a huge and cerebral task that it would be something I would only be able to undertake when I was near the end of my life. I believed and knew it would be my most important work, but I thought it was a long way off.

In the meantime, I really wanted to be a rock and roll singer. Not much in life makes me as happy as standing up on stage and singing in front of an audience. I remember there was a time when I lived in Boston when I went years working in customer service. I didn’t have much money. I couldn’t think straight, and I was pretty much miserable. The parties didn’t cheer me up. I knew some wonderful women during that time, but they weren’t enough to keep me going.

It was getting up on stage for about 15 minutes every Sunday night at The Kells’ open mic with my band, and then reading poetry with a jazz band behind me at the Lizard Lounge on Monday nights that kept me waking up and going to work.

It was maybe a half-hour total every week when I really felt alive, but it was enough.

Of course, being in a band is tough. People argue. And some people start to get very strange when they can actually imagine their dreams really coming true, so my bands didn’t last and I had to find something else to make life worthwhile.

2.       How much of your writing is based on past experiences/people?  Give me an example (no need to use real names).

A friend of mine once commented that in each of my stories I seemed to be fighting against a different problem in my life. I wrote a cowboy zombie movie because I was terrified of zombies – absolutely phobic. Afterwards, I wasn’t quite so scared.

Luminous and Ominous was a quasi-autobiographical work. Just a few people in the book were 100% people who I know. I borrowed exact dialogue and scenes from real friends to create many of the characters, but most of them were not meant to actually be those people.

http://www.amazon.com/Luminous-Ominous-Noah-K-Mullette-Gillman/dp/1456387456/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_2

For example, I visited my friends Andrew and Amanda. The scene in the book when Henry first visits his friends Barney and Samantha was heavily influenced by an afternoon I spent with them in their apartment. Some of the dialogue came right out of their mouths. But Andrew wasn’t meant to be Barney. Amanda wasn’t Samantha. The characters were very different from my friends. Some characters in the book borrowed pieces from more than one real person that I know. And I’m not Henry. Henry and I are actually very different people.

I spent about three years trying to write Magic Makes You Strange. I had the initial ideas in Los Angeles. Later, I wandered the streets of Prague trying to make the pieces all make sense and fit together. Originally, it would have featured a man and a woman who had a lot in common with me and one of my exes. Then I created Nevil Dever and Edward Whistman. These characters were so vivid and real to me that I didn’t have to make it a story simply about myself and my friends. Using magic as a metaphor for art, the narrative, the action, was so powerful that the story didn’t need me and it didn’t need my friends.

3.       How would you describe your writing style/tone of your stories to someone who hasn’t read you yet?

One of the reviewers for Magic Makes You Strange commented that this was the third one of my books she had read, and that the three of them couldn’t be more different. This is intentional. I feel the need, for the sake of professional pride, to reinvent the wheel every time I drive. The White Hairs really couldn’t be more different from Luminous and Ominous, and Magic Makes You Strange is again a new style. Yes, I hope I am growing as a writer, but I think the differences between these books are more a matter of choices that I’m making rather than limitations in my skill.

Some people have told me that they think Magic Makes You Strange is much better written than Luminous and Ominous. Some prefer the style of Luminous and Ominous. When I release a sequel to Luminous and Ominous, it will be in the style of the first book, not Magic Makes You Strange. It’s not that I’m changing, it’s that I’m doing different projects and approaching them in the way I feel fits.

Song writers are expected to write different songs and different albums in different styles. I don’t think authors should get it easier.

http://www.amazon.com/Brontosaurus-Pluto-Society-Magic-Strange/dp/1463770901/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1#_

4. Do you like happy endings?  In your stories, that is?

In my stories?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There’s a place for happy endings. Certain kinds of stories demand them, but I am more concerned with what the ending of a story reveals.

I used to say that the difference between American movies and European movies was that the American movies ended when the story was done, while European movies ended when the portrait was complete. To an American, the European story can seem to climax too early.

5. Which of your books is your favorite and why?

No. I don’t have an honest answer for that. I’m especially proud of Luminous and Ominous because of the structure; both with the two timelines and also the interlocking duality of meaning all the way throughout. The construction, the geometry of it, impresses me more than the content of the book. It’s worth thinking about, and worth re-reading.

Many people tell me that The Confessions of Zeuspater is my best work, and I am very proud of it. A lot of research and serious thought went into the comparative mythology of that book. At times, I felt more like I was finding the connections, rather than being creative at all.

I think Magic Makes You Strange is the one with the most potential. If the number of readers justifies it, I’d love to write a whole mess of books in that universe. I’ve spent a lot of time and thought figuring that whole world out.

6. Do you ever write yourself into your book, whether it be little pieces of yourself into the main character, or an authorial walk-on role a-la Stephen King?  If so, which of your characters most closely resembles you?

Not directly. There’s never been a character who WAS Noah in one of my books, but they all have a part of me in them. I have a lot in common with Farshoul (from the White Hairs) or, I did at that time in my life. Henry and I (From Luminous and Ominous) are similar in a number of ways, but also very different. I’d like to think I’m a lot like the great and handsome Nevil Dever (From Magic Makes You Strange.) Maybe on my best days…

When I write, when I create a character, I do actually ask myself how my protagonist is different from me and I consider it a goal to make sure they are. I don’t think anyone is interested in just reading my fantasies and wish-fulfillment. I’m trying to be more interesting than that.

http://www.amazon.com/White-Hairs-Noah-K-Mullette-Gillman/dp/0557482844/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_5

7. In “Magic Makes You Strange” you do a significant amount of world-hopping/time travel, and your creepy antagonist in “Luminous and Ominous” is an extraterrestrial flora/fauna.  Is it safe to say you have a firm interest in space studies and sci-fi in general?  Any particular book or movie that really fueled that interest for you?

I’m usually not a fan of Physicist Neil Degrasse Tyson’s. I really do think that Pluto’s degrading from a planet to a dwarf planet was done on less than logical grounds, and really just as a publicity stunt. But I’ve seen him on TV lately arguing fervently about the real reasons why we had, why we no longer have, and why we need a real space program.

The first space program was there to compete with the Soviets. That’s why we dropped it immediately when the Soviet Union fell apart. It wasn’t intended to give us inventions, or something to believe in. Those were bonuses.

But when we have a space program, we have a culture of innovation. Why did electronics need to start miniaturizing? So we could fit them on a space shuttle. What effect does it have on a culture, when we all believe we’ll get to stand on the moon one day? I believed that when I was a kid. I no longer do. And look at how our culture has changed. America doesn’t do anything new or exciting now. When we dream about the future, we don’t dream of advancement and imagination, now we dream of how many ways the world can end.

In business they say that if you’re not growing you’re dying. We need to be a culture which is exploring, or we are a culture in decline. And I think right now we are a culture in decline.

http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Zeuspater-Noah-K-Mullette-Gillman/dp/1468003771/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_6

8. You have a 100 word story in the newly released anthology “100 Horrors-Horror in the Blink of an Eye.”  What kind of gear-shifting did you need to do to go from a novelist, to a drabble writer?

It was an incredibly difficult task. I spent an evening sitting down watching horror movies, one after the other and writing multiple 100 word stories until I got one that I liked.

Imagine how hard it is to actually say something in so few words. Now make sure you have a story, you have some sort of movement and action. Make sure your 100 words starts in one place and ends in another. It was really hard, and a lot of fun!

9. I detect a lot of spirituality and mysticism in your books.  Explain how such concepts play an important role in your work/life.

I’m not religious, but I do and have spent a lot of time thinking about life. I have seen very strange things in my day. I have experienced the supernatural. I am the son of two Astrologers. When I was a boy, my mother ran a program out of our home called the “Pleroma Holistic Health Center.” Every month she would have a different guest speaker. One month it might be a past-life reader, the next a numerologist, the next a specialist on hand-writing, or a psychic. Some of them were more impressive than others. I was left with a higher impression of some of these disciplines than others. But it went a long way towards opening worlds for me. I think a lot of things are normal which seem outlandish to others.

My brother was too young, so I was the only child who would sit in on these events.

Like any writer, my understanding of what the world is influences my work. I remember reading 95% of Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars” before putting it down. I was maybe 10-20 pages from the end, but I decided I didn’t want to finish it. She offered a vision of what it would be like to live in an alien world completely devoid of anything spiritual or sublime or unexpected. Her view was apparently that our understanding of the universe would in no way be changed by terraforming a new world. It was utterly mundane. I found that laughably implausible. That was, to me, more ridiculous than aliens, ghosts, Gods, or time travelers, or the wondrous things we haven’t thought up yet.

10. If you were writing this interview, what question would you be dying to ask yourself?

Why are you so damn sexy?

11. If you could be an X-man, which one would you be (either actual, or one of your own creation)?

Nightcrawler was always my favorite.

Thanks for your time, Mr. Mullette-Gillman!  Keep on rockin’!

All in a day’s work, M’am

Find more about Noah Mullette-Gillman at these fine internet establishments:

 

www.luminousandominous.com

Twitter: @Noahlot

http://www.facebook.com/thewhitehairs