25 Questions with Author Stephanie Ayers

Horror, Interviews, Publishing

 

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Stephanie Ayers  (pictured right) is currently circling the book community on tour for her latest novel, The 13: Tales of Macabre!

Steph

Pre-orders are available here: The 13: Tales of Macabre.  As of this interview, The 13 is available at a special price–just $0.99–as an e-book on Amazon!  The 13 will officially release on October 26, 2018, just in time for Halloween.

Visit Stephanie’s website to connect and checkout what else she’s working on: Stephanie Ayers. 

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1. What is your latest book project?

I am currently working hard at wrapping up the first novel in my Destiny Defined fantasy series, Elven Games. Tribba runs a B&B for her dwarven village. The problem is all her potential clients keep choosing the elven castle next door. More than ready to be rid of them, she challenges them to a series of games, the Elven Games, winner takes all, loser packs up and leaves.

2. Which story is your favorite in The 13: Tales of Macabre? Why?

It’s “Send in the Clowns.” I enjoyed writing this one because I put on the music and really got into the characters and the story. I creeped myself out with it and that made it extra fun.The 13 Macabre Clowns

3. What are your future projects?

I am planning to release 11 more volumes of The 13 for a complete series of 13. I have a 7-book fantasy series planned, along with keeping my writing skills sharp by entering contests and submitting to anthologies.

4. What else have you written? What else do you write?

I have a lot of short stories written, some unfinished. Most of my Amazon page contains 5-6 anthologies I have stories featured in. “Endless Darkness has Gloria,” a sci-fi kind of horror about a woman who accepts a new job position but gets a lot more than she bargained for. Monsters is an anthology put together by a group I’m in on Facebook. The story there, “Headlines,” talks about those headlines where families are killed by other family members. It’s scary in the very true sense. Precipice holds my fantasy story, “Fear,” which is about a princess who must face her greatest fear before coronation. I have about 17 poems contained within Ambrosia, which is a poetry anthology we dedicated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. When I’m not writing fiction, I freelance as a content creator.

5. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

No, not intentionally.

6. In your opinion, what is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Those who take authors in, publish their stuff with grand promises of marketing and etc., and then don’t do anything they say they will. I’ve seen it happening a lot in small presses.

7. What are common traps for aspiring writers?

There are a lot of them but the one that sticks out most in my mind is vanity presses. Never pay to be published. Use that money for a good editor instead.

8. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It validated my writing. It also slowed it down. Somehow I got in the frame of mind that I accomplished that goal, so let’s do something else. I regret it now. I’m working hard to make up for it.

9. When you’re not writing, what do you do?

I tend to use my creativity in other areas, like graphic design. I have found that it is one of the biggest commodities I can help other authors with. Sometimes, they need quality work on a very limited budget. That’s where I come in.

10. What inspires you to write?

Everything inspires me. Usually while I’m driving, which isn’t always a good thing. 😉

11. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

It is someone’s story. Ursula Le Guin once said, “stories aren’t alive until a reader reads them.” I believe there is an audience for any book. It is bringing that story to life that is the most important thing.

12. Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

I don’t know that it really is. Readers have told me I remind them of Stephen King, Poe, and Lovecraft. I suppose it’s in the way that a lot of my writing is about stuff that could happen, an answer to all the what ifs you could possibly dream up about anything.

13. What books have influenced your life the most?

I read a lot of Stephen King growing up. I definitely think he has influenced my writing the most.

14. What is your favorite genre to read and why?

High Fantasy, hands down, especially if its based on Celtic legends and mythologies. I find fantasy writing has more description. It really takes me to the world I’m reading in more than others.

15. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing, where would you choose?

Ireland. No question.

16. Do you have any writing buddies?

I have a few.

17. What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?

I’m always poor, but I’m always creative, too.

18. Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?

Stephen King, John Sandford, Dean Koontz

19. What does your writing space look like?

It’s a cluttered mess but I know where everything is. It has room for everything I need within “hands distance.” And there’s always a unicorn, a few fairies, and a coffee mug around.

 20. What are your top three favorite books of all time?

The Stand (King), Inkheart (Funke), and Alice in Wonderland (Carroll).

21. If someone is brand new to your work, what book do you think they should start with or what should they know?

I think they should start at my blog, then probably read my newest work available, and then work backwards. I’m a coffee guzzling, word whispering creative ninja and unicorn disguised as a human being. I may or may not have fairy wings.

I’m a coffee guzzling, word whispering creative ninja and unicorn disguised as a human being. I may or may not have fairy wings.


22. What do you want readers to take away from reading your book(s)?

I want them to stick in their heads, come to mind when they see something out and about that makes them think of the story.

 23. If you could live in the story of a book, which one would you live in?

Wonderland of course.

24. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer and how long have you been writing professionally?

Growing up, I always waffled between author, journalist, actress, and singer. I got serious about writing in 2010, even though I had tons of writing from my earlier years, dating back to 4th grade.

25. Where do you think book publishing will be in 10 years from now?

I am a little worried about the future of book publishing to be honest. All the new rules and regulations the biggest book vendor in the world is mandating, makes it much harder for an indie author to rise to the top. I fear it will become elite, allowing for only certain people to publish and only out of certain places.

A review on The 13 will be posted soon. Happy October!

 

-E

 

 

 

 

 

To Scoff or Not to Scoff: A Review on Jay Anson’s “The Amityville Horror”

Book Reviews, For Book Lovers, Horror

There are definitely clashing opinions on this book, evident by scrolling through the internet alone. After reading the inconsistent reviews on GoodReads recently and the sheer fact that my family and I are in the middle of a “no TV” hiatus for the next two weeks, I decided to finally read it myself. Such a shame that I hadn’t read it before as it’s an incredibly popular story that was first published well-before I was born–1977.

AM_coverThough the cover of my copy–a ragged thing I found at a library sale a few months ago– boasts that it is an “incredible, bestselling true story,” there’s no real and consistent evidence to support anything the Lutz family claims. But even if the family told their truth, there would naturally be both skeptics and believers. And well, honestly, no one who didn’t live in the house during the Lutz family’s crazy 28 days in the house, will ever really know the truth. But, maybe–just maybe–we aren’t supposed to! I mean, some of the events that supposedly take place according to Anson and the Lutz family are a bit over the top for a non-fiction if it is one; a house is essentially physically destroyed without anyone ever hearing the damage being done, a woman’s face molds into an old stranger’s, phantom welts appear, secret unmapped rooms are found, a burial ground compounds the problem, levitation, unbearable temperatures, invisible marching bands, a Catholic priest, a well-known local story about a boy who murders his family, giant pig demons, and more. That’s a whole lot of nope to deal with.
Anyway, the storyline is good to really good–true or not. Anson wrote the book in a reporter’s tone so depending on your taste, it could be dry or just acceptable. If you’re an editor like me, page 114 is a good place to skip because it will probably kill your soul a little:
“Kathy came out of the house with his light and his parka” (114). (You mean George!)
I have to give Anson credit for how he constructed the book though; it goes back and forth between characters a lot and flows day by day until the family eventually flees the house. This construction allows the reader to be able to really dig in to the details that finally push the family out.
I think this story will forever be popular because of the anomaly that it is. No matter how much skeptics scoff at the “based on the true story” stamped boldly across the cover, it’s still a scary read–disturbing even. This is definitely a book to read in broad daylight…with friends around.
-E

An Interview with Horror Novelist Alistair Cross

Horror, Interviews

“The idea for this book hit me hard and fast, and the characters came at me full-force, demanding that their stories be told.”

–Alistair Cross on writing Sleep, Savannah, Sleep

Q: Tell me about Haunted Nights LIVE and what inspired you to start this radio show? How can people listen in?

Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! came about when the show’s producer, Pam Stack, approached me via Facebook, asking if my collaborator, Tamara Thorne, and I would be interested in hosting a weekly horror-themed show. Haunted Nights LIVE! is part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network which has more than 3 million listeners worldwide…so naturally, I said y

es without hesitation.

Through Haunted Nights LIVE! I’ve met some of the most fascinating people alive today and I don’t take that for granted. Many of the guests we talk to each week are authors I grew up reading and loving, the ones who inspired me to become a writer. And I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be a part of this show because it allows me to spend time with many of the writers who will be remembered hundreds of years from now.

Listeners can check out the show at our Facebook page: Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights Live! Or at the guest page on my website: Allistaircross.com.

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Q: What would you say is the best thing about hosting Haunted Nights LIVE?

Meeting my heroes. Through Haunted Nights LIVE!, I’ve met folks like Laurell K. Hamilton, Andrew Neiderman (V.C. Andrews), John Saul, Charlaine Harris, Preston & Child, Kim Harrison, Christopher Rice, and The Walking Dead author, Jay Bonansinga, just to name a few. Getting to know these great writers is a pleasure beyond anything I could have imagined.

SavannahCoverQ: So, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep is your latest novel. What inspired you to write this book? What do you want your readers to take away from reading your work?

The inspiration for Sleep, Savannah, Sleep came from no place I can identify. It was one of those ideas that struck late one night as I was trying to fall asleep. I just began wondering, “What if,” and as these things often go, I was up for the rest of the night plotting it out, and by the time the sun was rising, I had the book mapped out in its entirety–which has never happened before. Usually, plotting happens as I go along, but this time, it came to me all at once, fully-formed.

The main thing I want readers to get from my work is entertainment. I want them to enjoy spending time in the world I’ve created, with the characters I’ve come to love so much myself. My only real goal as a writer is to pull readers into the story and make them a part of it.

Q: How long did it take to finish writing, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

Unlike my previous works, which often take between nine and fifteen months to complete, the first draft of Sleep, Savannah, Sleep was written in just 25 days! The idea for this book hit me hard and fast, and the characters came at me full-force, demanding that their stories be told. As a result, I pulled many, many all-nighters, sometimes writing well into morning the next day. This, of course, created a strong need for serious revisions later, but it’s very first telling came out in under a month.

Q: Did you do any special research or take any literary trips to finish Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

While I often end up doing some minor traveling for research, Sleep, Savannah, Sleep did not require me to leave my writing studio. But I did have many conversations with a massage therapist, an attorney, and someone in the cemetery business, all of whom were instrumental in helping me get my facts straight–and all of whom were incredibly generous with their time and very kind to me.

Q: Did you consider any alternate endings for Sleep, Savannah, Sleep?

No, because the ending was the first thing I knew when I began plotting out this book. For me, it couldn’t have ended in any other way–which is not to say that at certain times along the way, I didn’t wish I could change things. Sometimes, the villains grow on you and you want to absolve them of guilt…but no, there was no way Sleep, Savannah, Sleep could have taken a different turn. I think the difference with this book is that it’s a whodunit–and that requires knowing the ending from the very beginning.

“The characters know themselves–and the story–better than I, and it’s only when I set them free that the narrative comes to full life.”

Q: What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Without question, the absolute worst advice I was ever given was to never allow my characters to take full control of the story. I was told to “keep them on a tight leash,” and always “insist they do my bidding.” I have since learned otherwise. The characters know themselves–and the story–better than I, and it’s only when I set them free that the narrative comes to full life.

Q: What does your “writer’s studio” look like or where do you feel most inspired to write?

My “writer’s studio” is a tall corner desk in a bedroom surrounded by plants, my favorite framed paintings, and all the books I love the most. As for feeling inspired to write, I don’t believe in waiting for that. I don’t want to be at the mercy of such a fickle emotion as inspiration, and instead, I set writing hours and am militant about spending that time writing and I protect that time fiercely.

Q: When you’re not writing, what do you do? How do you spend your spare time?

The truth is that I really don’t have much spare time at all, but when I do, I like to go driving aimlessly, stereo blaring, the open road ahead. There are also a few shows on Netflix I enjoy watching.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?

The very weird–but very real–truth of it is, I don’t. The characters tell me their names, and if I try to change them, the characters simply stop working for me. It’s a strange phenomenon, but until I “know” their names, the story just doesn’t work–and, apparently, it isn’t for me to decide what they should be named.

Q: In your opinion, which is the greatest book ever written and if you could choose to, would you live it out?

Violin by Anne Rice. And no, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I don’t have that much guts.

Q: Of all the characters you’ve created, which would you say is your favorite?

I will always have a particular fondness for Gretchen VanTreese, the four-foot-eleven, blonde-haired villain in my vampire novel, The Crimson Corset. She’s wicked in delicious ways and I can’t wait to get back to her.

Q: If you could turn one of your books into a movie, which would it be and who would play the leading character?

I think The Angel Alejandro would make a good movie because it would have to be pretty visually stimulating. And I’d like to see all those quirky townspeople committing their many nefarious little crimes in the flesh. But as for who would play any of them, I wouldn’t dare say. Books and movies are such different entities that I feel it’s best to leave casting to the casting directors, who have a far better idea of what they’re doing than I would.

Q: Where do you think the publishing industry will be in 5 years? What would you change if you could?

I have no idea, but I firmly believe in changing with the times, so wherever it may end up, I’ll be there.

Q: How can readers stay connected with you and stay up-to-date on what you’re working on?

The best way to stay up-to-date on my upcoming work is to join the Thorne & Cross monthly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ckaBrr.

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Stay updated on Alistair’s work by going to his website: alistaircross.com. Need something chilling? Tune in to Haunted Nights Live!

-E

MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Book Reviews, Horror, Other Genre

Erotic horror with a culinary twist? Is it possible to do well? Apparently so because Grivante Press just pulled it off. When I was approached to review this book I was immediately intrigued because the theme of this collection is pretty rare. I was craving something new and unique to read and I wanted to see how well this could be done. If not done right, the theme could make the collection a gaudy mess.

Grivante Press did not disappoint, however, and it shows that they really took the time to select stories that would shine. They also have some really creative editor floating around up there because the titles to the chapters are smart and cheeky! “A Woman’s Corn” was pretty clever! I really appreciated the length of the stories, too. It would be easy enough to take the few minutes to read a short story every day over about twenty days.

Most of all, I found Deven Rose’s Succubus’s Parting Gift, Breakfast in Bed to be the most twisted and fun to read. It’s a story about acting when you think it doesn’t matter and it really does. When the main character is dreaming they do something they normally wouldn’t do in real life and wake up to find that the dream won’t be ending–ever.

Sex, food, violence, and stories to get your heart beating! If you’re looking for something different, this might be for you, though I know that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

5

 

Learn more about Grivante Press here: Grivantepress.com.

 

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Book Reviews, Horror, Other Genre

I was lucky enough to stumble across this book while adventuring in East Oahu. I found it in the forgotten corner of a used bookstore on top of a column of other books.  As soon as I noticed the vibrant, red cover I was immediately drawn to it and once I learned it was written by a Russian author, I was only further intrigued. I’ll add that the book is beautifully designed inside and out.

5

This collection of short stories is dark, weird, and fascinating! The work responded to my nerdy love for literature and reminds me of something that would’ve been popular with my peers in college while I was getting my degree in English. Albeit, some stories in the book are better than others, there are a few that will become your favorites. An example of a story that I didn’t particularly care for is, “The Shadow Life”. It’s not badly written, it was just way too similar to any standard ghost story.  To get the most out of them, I suggest you take your time to really read them–please don’t just skim through; really think deeply about the story you’re reading, like you should with every book you read. My favorite story in this collection is, “Hygiene”, where a mysterious disease has forced a family to isolate their own daughter to keep the disease contained, or so they think.

You can get a copy at any regular book store like Barnes and Noble or on Amazon.

-E

Your Halloween Read: Satan’s Fan Club by Mark Kirkbride

Book Reviews, Horror

I’d like to start by saying that I had a lot of fun reading this book! Five big fat stars !

5

If you’re looking for a Halloween read, this is a great choice. This would definitely be a good book club pick because there’s plenty to talk about and when you learn about a few secrets, you’re going to want to talk to a friend.I even got on Twitter to see if anyone else was reading it because I wanted to share about the part I had just gotten to but wasn’t successful.

The way Kirkbride wrote the transitioning scenes kept me turning pages; I was dying to know what would happen to the characters next!  This would also be a great pick for someone looking to write a screen play. Maybe Kirkbride will be open to it.  Kirkbride has drama peppered all over the place, outside of the fact that the devil is hanging around town inviting people into his group/club and people are being picked off by a serial killer.

I think the most scandalous part of the story is the fact that the sinners in this book should be the saints.There’s forbidden love, dancing with the devil (literally), hypocrisy, and family secrets. Now, as with my other reviews, if you want the grand experience, read the book yourself! Don’t count on me for spoilers.  I will say a few things though. When you find out what’s going on beneath the layers of that family–a family that outwardly shines with Christian Doomsday light–your jaw will drop. Or maybe you’ll be a little sad like I was. I actually felt bad for the father in the story sometimes because his son, James, could be a plain jerk.  The scene where the high-ranking police officer comes to their house for a meal will make you want to slap James for being so rude. Sure, it’s natural to have a separate mainstream opinion and no one likes hypocrites, but did he have to embarrass his dad like that? The whole scene I was screaming, “oh my god, shut up James! Stop airing out that dirty laundry!” in my head. The little sister, Harriet, is pretty isolated, too. Everyone is so busy shacking up where they shouldn’t or putting on a face to hide what they’re doing, no wonder Harriet starts talking to mysterious shadow figures in her room instead of flipping out like a normal person. She has to talk to someone and since no one else really pays her any attention, she finds someone who will. When you find out who she’s really talking to, you’re going to be repulsed. I was caught off guard and I was disgusted.

The overarching question in this book is very deep: what are you willing to do to be happy and at what price? I actually thought about it for a while after reading Satan’s Fan Club. I’m still processing it. If I were put in James and Louise’s situation, what would I have chosen? First of all, if Nick kept popping up on me like that at the club (he pops up like a ghost) I wouldn’t have stayed long enough to even get an offer, but let’s pretend for a second that the question applies to me (hahaha). James and Louise are put in an impossible, unnatural situation but is it worth doing what Nick/Satan asks of them? This time, the “no chance in hell” idiom doesn’t apply, because there is a chance in hell. Who’s to say?

Buy a copy hereLearn more about Mark Kirkbride by visiting his website at http://markkirkbride.com/ and follow him on Twitter @markkirkbride! If you enjoyed this book, he’s writing another story about the apocalypse, coming out TBD. Check out his interview with me.

– E

Review of Nicholas Paschall’s The Ghost of O’Leary House

Book Reviews, Horror

This book is about a young guy named David and his transformational journey after he finds out that he has witches in his family. Intrigued? Well, you should be! This is a book about witches, family secrets, and stalking phantoms! There’s intrigue and drama everywhere!  I gave this book: 4/5. You should get your copy here.

 

4

Here’s why.

Can we just get the bad stuff out on the table first, so, we can focus on the good stuff? The only tiff I have is that there were issues with content, grammatical errors, and a need for proofreading. Sometimes the inconsistency in the content had me going in circles.  Here’s just two examples, that drove me nuts. First, the main character is described as a preteen (117) but the reader is lead to believe that he’s in college early on (7). If he’s gifted and skimming through academics, that’s cool, but it would’ve been nice to know. Second, the misuse of a foreward. Forewards are written by someone who’s not the author. A preface, though most commonly used in nonfiction pieces, is written by the author. Hence, the loss of stars! It sounds more dramatic than it really is.

Anyway, there’s a lot of good stuff to focus on in this book! Paschall is definitely talented at forcing his readers to keep reading. There’s no denying that Paschall is a great storyteller. Each chapter ends with a cliff-hanger! It’s cruel, but it’s true. Honestly, I really enjoyed this book. The horror factor won’t completely plague your dreams if you’re used to the hardcore gore stuff, but, there’s total creep value here. A few things the spectre does in the book made me cringe! There’s a bathroom scene where the ghost is crawling up a wall–I had to look away. There’s character complexity! You’ll be shocked to learn what’s been going on with this family over generations. If you like stories about transformation, witches, ghosts, and secrets, Nicholas Paschall won’t disappoint!

Purchase your copy here.

Notes:

  • I personally contacted the author to get a copy of his book to review it.
  • I hate reviews that reveal too much, leaving nothing else to discover. If you want deep details, you can read the book yourself!
  • The book is 288 pages with short, 3-4 page chapters so it’s great for busy people!
  • This review correlates with electronic versions of this book.