Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Writer's have that AHA moment when they realize they were meant to write novels in a certain genre. We're going to take a closer look this week at some MuseItUp authors and their revelations.

We begin with Ivan Blake, author of the dark fiction novel, DEAD SCARED, book 1 in his The Mortsafeman series.

I was born in Figheldean in Wiltshire, a village as old as time, but a mile from Stonehenge, in the upstairs bedroom of a grim little place called Blake House next to the Wheatsheaf Pub. My father had grown up in the same house and village and loved to tell me chilling tales of the Grey Lady in the churchyard, of nights hunting phantoms up on the Downs, of the skull he’d once found in the roots of an upturned tree after a windstorm, and of the decrepit mill on the river bank and the strange old professor who lived on its top floor.

In turn, I loved to tell my own sons stories about each of the crumbling buildings in the abandoned village near where we always summered. When a few years ago I decided to write novels, I tried my hand at different genres until my sons in exasperation one day said, “write what you’ve always been good at...scaring the wits out of us!” And so I did.

I suppose my aha moment came when I discovered how easily I could weave actual memories and images from my own experience—a lost girlfriend, a strange neighbour, a sad old house, a moment of mortifying embarrassment--into an outrageous and fantastical tale.

That’s what I now enjoy most, taking the mundane, the ordinary, the familiar, and twisting it around, dimming the light, exploring its shadows, listening for the whispers behind the noise, catching the images out of the corner of my eye. With roots in the land of Stonehenge and its burial mounds of ancient kings, I suppose the macabre may indeed be in my DNA.

Dead Scared
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Meet Mystery/Suspense Author, Kevin R. Doyle

 I had the privilege of interviewing 
Kevin R. Doyle, 
mystery/suspense author of THE GROUP.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

When I was younger, Arthur C. Clarke, Lester Dent, Don Pendleton and Edgar Rice Burroughs, among others. In later life, Lawrence Block, Robert B. Parker (his earlier stuff), Richard Matheson and Bill Pronzini. There are several others, but those are the main ones that come to mind.

What motivated you to become a writer and at what age?

I actually started one day when I was nineteen and I was sitting home bored with nothing to do. On an impulse, I got out my mom’s typewriter (this was several decades back) and began hacking away.

What 3 words describe you as a person?
Conservative, introverted and frugal

What 3 words describe you as a writer?
Developing, learning and stretching

When not writing, how do you spend your time? Hobbies?

Writing is the hobby framed around work. I teach high school, so nine months out of the year I’m doing nothing but work. I do, however, spend quite a bit of time during the summer on the road, not going any particular place, just seeing where the highway takes me.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Not the first I ever read, but one of the earliest that had a real impact, and is still my favorite short story of all, is Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Star.”

Describe your desk.

It’s an old, kind of flimsy computer desk. Kind of weathered, but I’ve had it for almost two decades, ever since graduate school.

Who is the main character in The Group?

Ronald Green.

What’s his story?

He’s a professor at a local college who falls into a dalliance with a young woman. His wife finding out leads to a rift in his marriage, which is only the beginning of his troubles as, a couple of months later, his lover is found dead.

Where/when does the story take place?

Current time in an unnamed larger city.

How did the story come to you?

One night I was watching a cable news show that employed a focus group to give their opinions about a political debate. As I watched and listened, it struck me that none of those people on that panel had any connection to each other, and that after that night would probably never see each other again. It only took a couple of days of pondering that to come up with the basic premise for The Group.

Where do you get the inspirations for your book(s)?

From all over. You just need to walk around with eyes and ears open for ideas. The Group, for example, came about from watching a cable news political discussion show. A few times, ideas for short stories have come to me because of particular sites. For example, one of my creepiest stories, “Visage,” came about because of an abandoned wall I saw in an Iowa farm field. 

Any advice for new writers just beginning this trek down the wonderful world of publishing?

Don’t get too full of yourself. Don’t automatically assume that what you produce is the greatest thing ever and don’t ever assume that the world owes you a living just because you believe you’re talented. 

A high school teacher and fiction writer, Kevin R. Doyle’s short stories, mainly in the horror and suspense fields, have appeared in over twenty-five small press magazines. In 2012, Vagabondage Press released his first e-book, a rock fiction novelette title One Helluva Gig. In 2014 Barbarian Books released his first full-length mystery novel, The Group. And in February of 2015, Night to Dawn Magazine and Books released his horror novel, The Litter. Doyle has a BA in English and an MA in communications, both from Wichita State University, and teaches English and public speaking at a small rural high school.   

 Professor Ronald Green never saw any of it coming. He never expected to meet Diane Brewster, begin an affair with her, or nearly destroy his marriage and family. More than anything, though, he never imagined Diane’s death, or that he would become the main suspect in her murder. Then, just when Green felt his life had become as twisted and insane as possible, he discovered that Fate had at least one more turn in store for him. For Diane’s death had only been one of many, and the killer had several more people in his sights, including, quite possibly, Ron Green himself. 

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Interview with dark fiction author, Ivan Blake

We had the pleasure of an exclusive interview with author, Ivan Blake. Thank you, Ivan, for taking time off and answering our questions.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Wilton Barnhardt, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kate Mosse, Michael Gregorio, Edward Rutherford, and of course, Edgar Allan Poe.

I would have been surprised if Edgar Allan Poe wasn't on your list, Ivan. Having read Dead Scared, I see some influence there.

What motivated you to become a writer and at what age?
A professor in university once challenged me to critique my own writing as if I were reading a stranger’s work. And what horrible writing I discovered it to be. The experience taught me to be truly self-critical, and was critical to making me a writer.

What 3 words describe you as a person?
Curious, imaginative, and enthusiastic.

What 3 words describe you as a writer?
Compelling, at times poetic, and a pretty good story teller.

When not writing, how do you spend your time? Hobbies?
Travel, pottering around the house, enjoying our patio and fish pond, and spoiling my granddaughter.

Ah, spoken like a true and passionate grandfather. As a new grandmother, I totally understand the 'spoiling' part. 

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Just William books by Richmal Compton. I chuckle to this day at the antics of William Brown. The book that made me want to be a writer was Murders in the Rue Morgue by Poe which I read in Grade Nine. Poe’s language was intoxicating.

Describe your desk.
My computer stands on a tiny desk that belonged to my wife as a child. There’s no room on the desk for anything other than the keyboard, monitor and a printer. I don’t mind the cramped workspace because I can’t imagine being confined to one room to write. I wander all over the house as I’m working out ideas. Getting them into the computer is only the last stage in the process.

Who is the main character?
Christopher Chandler

What’s his story?
Chris is seventeen and a half and an embittered loner whose father travels from town to town across America closing factories for his employer, Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. Chris’s mother suffers from acute depression, and his siblings are too young to mean much to him   In whichever hellhole his dad’s job drops the Chandler family, Chris’s survival strategy is to keep a low, brooding profile and shun the company of anyone. Then one fateful day he makes two mistakes. He discovers his neighbour is stealing corpses from the local funeral home, and he attracts the attention of the most popular—and the cruelest--girl in town, and all hell breaks loose.

Where/when does the story take place?
In Bemishstock, Maine, a dying factory town at the mouth of the Roan River on Maine’s North Coast in 1985.

How did the story come to you?
I’ve written radio documentaries, a TV Christmas special and a vampire stage play, all of which I’m pleased to say have been performed, but I’ve always wanted to write a novel. My first effort was a romance but my sons said, “Dad, you always told us terrific ghost stories as kids. Do that.” So I did.

Who is your target audience?
Young adults certainly, since the hero is a young man struggling to find his place in the world, but there are also issues and themes in the book that should appeal to readers of any age. 

What makes your book different from other similar ones?
For one thing, I deliberately set out to write a story in which the dead are not the shambling zombies of so many other horror novels. The dead in my tale are to be pitied, protected even, from the living who would disturb their slumber. I’m not aware of another novel in which the hero is a defender of the dead.

What do your fans mean to you?
I write because I love telling stories. I can only hope my readers find my tales as engrossing as I do cooking them up. I try my very best not to be predictable. I want my readers to be surprised at every twist in my stories. Only my readers can tell me whether my efforts have succeeded.

Where do you get the inspirations for your book(s)?
I’m always on the hunt for strange news stories and odd beliefs. I can’t recall where this particular tale originated but authors often say, ‘write what you know’. So perhaps something in my own past prompted this story.

Any advice for new writers just beginning this trek down the wonderful world of publishing?
First, read your work aloud, read it as though you’d never read it before, and forgive nothing. If it sounds awkward and confused to your own ear, then it probably is. And second, the story is everything. Don’t waste a word in needless lyrical flourishes or working out your own personal issues. If a passage doesn’t move the story forward, then don’t use it.

Thank you once again, Ivan, for your time. 

Don’t miss Ivan's chilling series: The Mortsafeman, Book 1, DEAD SCARED, now available. Perfect read for those fall windy nights.
Who knew the dead have more to fear from the living than the living have to fear from the dead? Certainly not seventeen-year-old Chris Chandler, not before his family moved to Bemishstock, Maine in the autumn of 1985.

Kirkus review:
"Fans should claw at Blake’s windows for more graveyard tales after this delightful series opener."

Dead Scared by Ivan Blake
Book 1 from his The Mortsafeman series

Paperback available at AMAZON | B&N | POWELLS | BAM |
Ebook available at: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo |