Friday, June 29, 2012

Frequently Asked

With each year I spend as a writer and each new story I have published, it seems that certain questions are asked of me more and more, especially by people who don’t write. I thought I’d share some of those questions and my answers to them on today’s blog.
If you write all these books, why do you have another job?
Because most writers do! Writing, unless you’re one of the few lucky drops of water in a sea of scribes, does not pay a tremendous amount of money. Yes, I make some. I get royalty checks, sometimes a lump sum for a story, and sometime a combination of advance payment and royalties. It all depends on the project. But it’s not enough to write and do nothing else, as much as I wish it was. Besides, if I could just write and not work anywhere else, I think I’d still keep a day job of some sort. I’d become a hermit if I didn’t and being out in the world and observing and interacting with other people can be a great source of ideas.

Where do you get all these ideas from?
There really is no simple answer to this, except maybe to say that they just happen! Ideas come from life, from dreams, from memories, from combinations of different concepts, from those great moments when a question beginning with the words, “What if…” pops into my head.
            I think that once the part of the mind that creates stories is activated (and why this happens to some people and not to others, I do not know), it can’t be turned off. Experiences or thoughts or wishes turn into the raw seeds of stories and they have to be made into something, pushed out into words, solidified into a form that can be read and shared and put out there for the world to see.
            In some ways, writing is an addiction, but a very good one. Anything can set off an idea: a stray phrase overheard in a restaurant, a memory that hasn’t resurfaced in twenty years, a news story, or even the weather on a particular day.
            Ideas just come to me (and to most writers, I suspect), and I can never predict when one will happen! But…that doesn’t mean writing is easy. An idea is only the beginning of a very long process. You can have the idea, but that’s only the start of the work.

Aren’t you embarrassed writing sex scenes and knowing that people read them?
No, not at all. Why would I be embarrassed? I’m not having sex in front of the reader, the characters are! And sex is part of life, thus it has a place in some stories.

Why did you write a vampire book? Everybody writes vampire books!
Because an idea came to me that could only be done in a vampire story. I think there’s room for as many vampire novels as people can come up with. Why not? Vampires are a concept that can be interpreted in so many ways and can be appealing in many types of stories. In fact, I’m not done with vampires. If 100,000 Midnights gets a good response, there will be a sequel. Plus, I have another semi-vampire book written, for which I’ll be looking for a publisher soon, and this one is much, much darker and nastier!

Now you’ve written a horror book? But you wrote mysteries…and that jungle story…and a western. Why can’t you stick to one thing?
Why would I want to do that? Working in different genres is too much fun! I enjoy reading books of different genres, watching movies from different categories, being in different moods on different days, so it’s natural that I would want to write about different things. And also, my mind tends to go where the work is, and I’m happy to be the type of writer who can adjust to various genres. This way, if a publisher wants a mystery, or a horror story, or a piece of science fiction, or whatever, I’m pretty sure I can deliver.
            Of course, that doesn’t mean that every genre comes easily to me or that I enjoy each one equally.
The Sherlock Holmes stories I wrote came quite quickly to me because I was so familiar with the characters of Holmes and Watson and their supporting cast that writing in Doyle’s world was like revisiting an old friend. After Holmes, mysteries in general come to me pretty easily, at least as far as coming up with a basic concept goes. Ironing out the details isn’t always so simple.
Horror comes pretty fast too, as fantasy also does because those genres allow a writer to create a world in which almost anything is possible (as long as he consistently sticks to his own rules once he’s established them!). Science fiction is a bit more difficult since it has to focus more, at least to some degree, on how things work rather than just the fact that they do work.
And then there are certain genres that I deal best with under pressure. A couple years ago, I was asked to write a western story for inclusion in The Masked Rider Volume 1, from Airship 27 Productions. I agreed to do the story, but wondered if I had done the right thing since westerns have never been a favorite genre of mine and I wasn’t sure if I could come up with something good enough. But it happened! The fact that I was obligated to do that story forced the mental wheels to turn and I came up with an idea and finished the story and, to my surprise, that story, “The Long Trail of Vengeance,” got one of the best reviews I’ve ever had written about one of my works. But, considering how well that turned out, I’ve tried, a few times, to write another western, but I can’t seem to get it to work! Apparently, that’s one genre where pressure is needed to provide inspiration.
But my point is that I love jumping from genre to genre and I don’t think I could ever stick to just one type of story any more than I would want to eat the same thing for dinner night after night after night. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

There's a Sucker Born Every Minute

No, not that kind of sucker. I'm talking about bloodsuckers. I'm talking about vampires! They're everywhere: all over the bookstore shelves, in the movies, on TV. You'd think the world would get tired of them, and yet their presence in fiction seems to be unstoppable. Just this week, my vampire novel, 100,000 Midnights was released, so now I've added to the abundance of vampire fiction out there.

What is it that makes vampires so appealing to the readers and viewers of the world? I can't say I'm exactly sure. Maybe it's the horror of it all, the fear of physical violation, of which the idea of someone piercing your flesh and drinking the fluid that keeps you alive is certainly part. Or maybe it's the idea of living forever, wielding great power, the fact that a vampire is a dark, morbid sort of superbeing. There's also a definite sensual, if not always completely sexual, aspect to it too. 

Okay, so I'm not really sure what makes the audience want more and more vampires and the creators want to keep writing about them, but I do know that the seed of my interest in vampires was planted when I was very young and has stuck with me all my life, like a stake that became a persistent splinter in my imagination and has made the idea of writing about the undead irresistable.

Where did it start? That I first encountered the idea of vampires at a very young age is certain, though I don't remember exactly when I first became familiar with the concept.

I think my grandmother might have started it. She used to tell me bedtime stories about Dracula when I was about five. She really did. I think Jack the Ripper was mentioned in there too, but that's another subject. That's one way to wake up a kid's imagination, by scaring him. I'm grateful for that. Maybe I wouldn't have become a writer if not for that jumpstart!

And there were other early childhood vampire moments too. In a town near where I grew up, there's a World War I memorial monument. It's a large rectangular block of stone with a carved eagle perched on top. But if you drive past it at dusk, it looks an awful lot like a gravestone with a bat about to take flight. I saw it when I was small and made up my mind that it was Dracula's grave, right there in New Jersey!

Then there was Gene Colan, one of my all-time favorite comic book artists. One of the first comic books I ever read, drawn by Colan, was an issue of Batman where the hero is bitten by a vampire. That one scared me good! And, if anyone reading this remembers the late 70s Buck Rodgers TV series with Gil Gerard, you might recall the episode about the space vampires. That show left a mark on my imagination too.

As I grew older, I encountered more and more vampire fiction. Bram Stoker's Dracula is certainly on the short list of books that might be my favorite novel. Marvel Comics' Tomb of Dracula is probably the best comics depiction of vampires and was drawn, for all 70 issues, by the aforementioned Gene Colan. I loved Stephen King's Salem's Lot, I enjoyed the vampire fiction of Poppy Z. Brite and some of Anne Rice's work. I've lost track of how many vampire movies I've seen. Bela Lugosi was great as Dracula, as was Christopher Lee. Max Schreck as Nosferatu is perhaps the eeriest of all cinematic vampires and is best watched at midnight with the lights off and in total silence (turn the soundtrack off and the experience gets even more surreal!).

I think my favorite film adaptation of Dracula is the 1977 BBC version (entitled Count Dracula)with Louis Jourdan as Dracula and Frank Finley as Van Helsing. That one comes closest to being fatihful to Stoker's novel, although a few minor changes were made. I highly recommend it.

Of current vampire fiction, I've been enjoying the TV series True Blood although I haven't read the books on which it's based. Christopher Farnsworth's novels are great too. They're about a vampire secret agent working for the president of the United States (Blood Oath and The President's Vampire) and I look forward to the next installment.

And, in case anyone's wondering, no, I have not read Twilight!

So, after all those years of being interested, to varying extents, in vampires, I've now joined the list of those who have contributed to the body of bloodsucking fiction! I suppose it was inevitable. I hope my work is a worthy addition to the legend of vampires and I'm pretty sure I won't be stopping with one book. While I can't quite define why, for me at least, vampires are so interesting, I predict that they will continue to attract audiences for as long as there are books and movies and scary stories told when people sit together surrounded by shadows.   

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome to the Jungle

As if the release of my new novel yesterday was not good news enough, I'm pleased to announce that another of my short stories was released last night in the latest anthology from Airship 27 Productions, JUNGLE TALES Volume 1! Featuring the classic pulp character, Ki-Gor, the book includes my story, "The Path of Life and Death," along with stories by Duane Spurlock and Peter Miller, illustrations by Kelly Everaert, and a cover by Bryan Fowler. Here's Airship 27's official press release with information on ordering the book and a look at the cover.


Airship 27 Productions, a leader in the New Pulp Fiction movement, is thrilled to announce the released of their latest title, JUNGLE TALES Vol.One.

One of the most popular sub-genres of the classic pulp magazines were those with jungle settings. With the success and popularity of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan stories, editors began clamoring for similar tales featuring jungle heroes. Soon dozens of cheap loin-cloth wearing imitators were popping up everywhere, including a few jungle queens to add spice to the mix.  By far the most successful of these Tarzan clones was the blond-haired Ki-Gor, the Jungle Lord whose adventures appeared regularly in the pages of Jungle Stories magazine.

Now Airship 27 Productions offers up this new collection with three brand new adventures of Ki-Gor and his lovely, red-headed mate, Helene, as they travel into the mysterious, uncharted jungles of Africa.  Penned by Aaron Smith, Duane Spurlock and Peter Miller, here are a trio of fast paced tales that have the Jungle Lord discovering a hidden village of Vikings, crossing paths with dinosaurs in a lost valley and battling cannibals to save the life of a benevolent jungle princess.  This is the pulse-pounding action and thrill-a-minute adventure fans have come to expect from the classic jungle pulps. 

“It’s hoped,” said Managing Editor, Ron Fortier, “that each new volume of this title will shine the spotlight on a different classic pulp jungle hero.  Maybe even a jungle queen or two.”  This premier features a stunning cover by painter Bryan Fowler with magnificent interior illustrations by Kelly Everaert.  JUNGLE TALES Vol.One kicks off another new series pulp fans are sure to appreciate and enjoy. 

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – Pulp Fiction For A New Generation!

$3 PDF digital copy available at –

From Amazon at –

And coming soon from –

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I am very, very happy to announce the release of my new novel, 100,000 Midnights. This book is my first release from Musa Publishing, a major new publisher of e-books run by a fantastic group of very experienced editors and designers. Working with Musa has been a wonderful experience and I'm thrilled that this book is finally available.

100,000 Midnights is my first vampire novel, and is available in e-book formats for use with Kindle, Nook, and various other e-readers. The book can be purchased for $4.99 at

Or on Amazon at

When destiny calls from the darkness, will you embrace the shadows?
At twenty-two, Eric feels older than he is. His fascination with the past makes him something of an eccentric and he spends most of his time alone. But then he meets Siobhan. A nearly three-hundred year old creature of the night, she desperately needs Eric’s help. He comes to her aid, just barely surviving the experience, but soon realizes that he cannot go back to living without her.
Together with Siobhan, Eric goes deeper into the strange nighttime world inhabited by vampires both good and evil, towns trapped in bubbles of time, savage beast-men created by crazed scientists, and deadly mechanical angels manufactured by magic to slay the undead.
Side by side with Siobhan and her supernatural allies, Eric must go from being a normal man to becoming a warrior, facing dangers out of humanity’s darkest nightmares and wondering if he has a chance of surviving to see each new dawning of the sun.

To read a short excerpt, go to    or find a longer sample on the Amazon page!

And here is a look at the great cover designed by Kelly Shorten