Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Heather S. Ingemar

Heather S. Ingemar doesn’t tie herself to one creative outlet.  She’s a story teller, songwriter and musician.  Echelon Press released her horror short story “Middle of Nowhere” in February.  It’s available at Omnilit and Amazon.  You can follow Heather on Twitter.

Heather S. Ingemar

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

Probably 2006. That was when I began seriously considering publication.


What draws you to speculative writing?

I’ve always been drawn to the fantastic, the what-if scenarios that could happen. For me, it’s always been castles-in-the-air. (laughs) I guess it’s only natural that would show up in my prose…!


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

“Write EVERY Day.” Nope, never really followed that one… Kinda hard to when you work part time, musician part time, and help run the family farm full time… I’m more fond of “quality over quantity.”


In the September 2009 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Cold Too Long“.  Is there a story behind how it came about?

I just had this yen to write a story featuring a skeleton. I’ve never written anything dealing with bones; it’s always been monsters and fantastic beasts. No bones. I wanted to experiment with that. And then, the first line of the story came to me and I was sold!


What have you been working on lately?

I have been working to get several pieces ready for publication, and then this year, I’ve decided I want to work on writing in verse. I feel like I want to try something new, something challenging, and verse is both of those things. We’ll see how it goes!


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

I’ve got several stories now available for Kindle and Nook, and I’m keeping busy getting others ready for publication. I invite you all to stop by my website, http://heatherthebard.wordpress.comfor the latest news, and ‘fan’ me on Facebook – look for Heather S. Ingemar. I love hearing from people. 🙂

Niteblade Contributor Interview with F. J. Bergmann

F. J. Bergmann is presently living and writing in Wisconsin.  To learn more about her and her work, visit her website at

F. J. Bergmann
When did you first recognize yourself as a poet?

Probably in high school. I wrote a few poems then, one of which was published in a national anthology, and a few in college. And then I quit writing for 20 years (busy doing other stuff).

What draws you to speculative poetry?

The same things that draw me to speculative literature, which I’ve been reading all my life: boredom and a need to escape.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

“Write from the heart.” With “Write what you know” coming a close second. I totally agree with Oscar Wilde, who said “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.”

In the December 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your poem, “The Book of Goodnight Stories.”  Is there a story behind how the poem came about?

Sure. I was at a poetry open mike in the bargain section of Barnes & Noble, sitting opposite the children’s books. Every sentence in that poem is one of those book titles. I like to use a lot of structural devices and appropriated material in my writing. Spam is especially useful.

What have you been working on lately?

I finished a chapbook of conflated-fairy-tale poems, Out of the Black Forest, due out from Centennial Press in 2011 or 2012, and a book of travel-related speculative poems, Travels in the Antipathies, which is under consideration with a UK press. I also have a collection of first-contact poems, originally chapbook-length, but becoming increasingly unwieldy. Recently I learned letterpress printing, and am hoping to start a press that will publish chapbooks by other sf authors.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

Writing notably different, unusual work within the context of a speculative publication is always more of a challenge than in mainstream literary magazines. I hope that my poetry will continue to explore the unexpected, with interesting and entertaining results.

Niteblade Contributor Interview With J. A. Tyler

J. A. Tyler’s debut novel(la) Inconceivable Wilson (Scrambler Books) was released in late 2009 & was followed in 2010 by two chapbooks: The Zoo, A Going: The Tropic House (Sunnyoutside) & Our Us & We (Greying Ghost). He has several books slated for release in 2011, including A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed (Fugue State Press), In Love With a Ghost (Cow Heavy), &, with John Dermot Woods, the text / image novel No One Told Me I Would Disappear (Jaded Ibis Press).  You can learn more about J. A. at

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

I recognized myself as a writer during the first year I began submitting, when I had a half-dozen pieces accepted and starting to appear online and in print – though whenever I see a book of mine reviewed or discussed outside of my own circles, I still have a bit of enjoyable disbelief at being one.

What draws you to speculative fiction?

I believe people perhaps miss, or mistake, that speculative fiction can work great magic on surreal and realistic works alike. Brian Evenson is a prime example – he does not really write speculative fiction, but so many elements of this genre are evident in his writing, and it is often those elements that keep you pinned to his words.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Some say that you need to write each and every day, but honestly, some days I don’t have time, can’t find time, or am at a place in my writing where it needs to sit, to stew, where it needs a day of rest. I prefer to think of it as baking bread: you work hard, sweat with the dough, then leave it to rise and run, come back later for the oven, to finalize it.

In the September 2007 issue of Niteblade (and the Lost Innocence anthology), Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Shine On”.  Is there a story behind how it came about?

At that point in time I was extremely focused on placing a single outside factor in front of a character and then writing to see what happened. In the case of ‘Shine On’, I started by turning off all the lights. What happened from there was what came from the impetus of darkness.

What have you been working on lately?

I just recently finished a surreal novel called Water, about the loss of water and then the flood and then a drying out again, a boy and a girl lost among the chaos, the static hum of a land broken down and burning. It is my longest book to date, something that was a beast to write, and something that will hopefully be a beast to read for people sometime down the line.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

Read as much as you can; in my opinion, that is what makes good writers great.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Linda Addison

Linda D. Addison grew up in Philadelphia and began weaving stories at an early age. She moved to New York after college and has published over 200 poems, stories and articles. Ms Addison is the author of “Being Full of Light, Insubstantial” (Space & Time Books) and the first African-American recipient of the world renowned Bram Stoker Award. She was honored with her second win in April 2008 for her latest collection. See her site ( for the latest information.

Linda Addison with her two Bram Stoker Awards

Linda Addison with her two Bram Stoker Awards.

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer or poet?

It’s going to sound funny but the first moment I knew I wanted to be a writer was when I held a book in first grade and realized that a person wrote it. I remember thinking I wanted to make something like that one day. Even though at that age I didn’t know what that meant.

My mother was an amazing storyteller and would make up stories to entertain the nine of us. I grew up thinking it was natural to make up stories. I would create tales for my brothers and sister about fairies and magical adventures at night before they went to sleep.

I had a couple of poems published in my high school paper but it wasn’t until my first poem was printed in Just Write magazine in 1994 that I felt like a published author.

Since then I’ve had over 200 poems, fiction and non-fiction published, but I still remember the thrill of that first publication and seeing my name in print.


What draws you to speculative fiction and poetry?

Reading fables in elementary school was the best part of the day for me. I’ve always loved reading fantasy and science-fiction. I would daydream about having wings. My imagination is constantly unfolding in non-real ways, it wasn’t something I chose as much as I was wired for speculative writing.

Poetry is a very natural form for me. It’s always singing in the back of my mind. No matter if I’m watching nature, or science or devastating news in the world around me, I hear poetry in everything. I don’t know if there’s an explanation for that, it’s certainly not by choice; it’s just how my brain works.


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Hmmmm, can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I like trying new ideas. I’ve read about the writing process and taken writing workshops. More often than not a new approach makes me create in a way I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own.

I will say I’m not great on outlining. When I do an outline, it is a brain-storming exercise, but then I don’t feel that I have to follow my outline once I start writing. I’m perfectly comfortable with the story moving in a different direction.


In the June 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your poem, “Star Seed’s Arietta”.  Is there a story behind how the poem came about?

Stephen M. Wilson and I have been working on a collaborative book of poetry called ‘Dark Duet’. He wrote a superb poem called ‘Lonely Starseed’ (published in Star*Line magazine) that touched me so deeply I wrote “Star Seed’s Arietta” in response. Both poems will be in ‘Dark Duet’, along with many new poems, some we wrote together.


What have you been working on lately?

I’ve been enjoying collaborative work. Tim Flynn and I finished a poem, ‘Phoenix Awakens in the Blood of Nightbird’ which was great fun. Besides ‘Dark Duet’  with Stephen Wilson, I completed a book of poetry, ‘Four Elements’, with Marge Simon, Rain Graves and Charlee Jacobs; three poets who are a constant inspiration to me. It was wonderful creating work for the book, we each took a different element, and mine was Air.

And there’s a list of new projects that I’m working on, another poetry collection, a science-fiction novel and a non-fiction book. I need a couple of clones to help out.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

You can find my latest work in Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction, Dark Faith and New Blood anthologies. Check my site,, for the latest information.

I’m crazy excited about having a new collection of poetry and fiction, “How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend”, coming out with Necon E-Books ( in 2011.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with J.E. Taylor

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Today I’m interviewing J. E. Taylor whose novel, End Game, is now available on Amazon in Kindle format.

End Game by J. E. Taylor
When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

I wrote my first story in sixth grade and continued writing short stories and poetry through college.  When I got married, I put aside my writing while I cultivated a career and raised my kids.  Then, when I was restless with my day job, my daughter asked me if I could do anything, what would it be.  The answer was as easy as breathing.  I wanted to write a book and have it published and I haven’t looked back since. 

What draws you to speculative fiction?

I’ve always been drawn to the macabre – even that first story I wrote and gave to my father had a morbid ending.  I’ve always had pretty vivid dreams and nightmares and love the rush of adrenaline that comes with a healthy dose of fear.  Growing up I read everything Stephen King put out, sometimes underneath a blanket with a flashlight, and I wanted to write as effortlessly as he does. 

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Get an agent.  I submitted query letters to agents before I knew what a query letter really should be and in doing so, I burned the bridges for my top choices of agents.  As I’ve gone from looking at the big publishing players where you’re required to have an agent to get your foot in the door, to the smaller indie publishers where no agent is required, I’ve reconsidered my need for an agent. 

In the December 2008 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Nightmares”.  Is there a story behind how it came about?

This is an easy one – it came from a nightmare within a nightmare and it ended up being my first sale.  I wrote it for a monthly short story contest on the Backspace forum ( and after some shrewd feedback and serious re-writes, I decided to submit it to Niteblade.   I was jazzed when I got that acceptance email. 

Hunting Season by J. E. Taylor
What have you been working on lately?

I’ve been working on my next thriller in my FBI series – Hunting Season which is scheduled to be published in May.  I’m also gearing up for the release of my third book in my erotic thriller series – End Game, which is coming out on Valentine’s Day.   

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

I’d love to share a blurb for both Vengeance, which is the predecessor to Hunting Season and available now on Amazon. 

Living large in New York City as a corporate lawyer for the most savvy drug lord on the East Coast, Special Agent Steve Williams carefully plots Charlie Wisnowski’s downfall.  His plans go to hell when his wife Jennifer survives an attack by a serial killer.  With her life in jeopardy and his undercover guise threatening to unravel, he orders Charlie’s arrest.  But the sting goes woefully wrong and Steve becomes the target of a mafia assassin hired by the biggest crime boss in America. 

Escaping from the city, Steve and Jennifer settle back into their quiet life on the banks of Mirror Lake. Their peaceful existence shatters with a crippling loss and Jennifer’s visions escalate, forecasting a brutal assault on their family.    

Armed with scant details from her dreams, Steve trudges through a litany of past connections, searching for the key to stop the course of fate. 

What he uncovers chills him to the core – a brother with a grudge, a serial killer and a mafia assassin are all on his trail.  The hunt begins . . .

Vengeance by J. E. Taylor
For more information about me and my writing habits, Niteblade fans can shoot over to my website:

Tina Hall Interviews Thomas Bonvillain

Thomas Bonvillain attended Davidson Fine Arts in Augusta, GA while in high school. He later attended Augusta State University majoring in Fine Arts, before taking a break from college to learn more on illustration. He moved to NJ where he graduated the Joe Kubert School in 2009. Since he as worked contributing colors on several pages for comics, like Black Dawn, Blood Work, and  Hexxen Hammers. His own work has a dark style all it’s own.

When did you first take an interest in art?
Hmm, that’s hard to say exactly. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember, I don’t know that I can say where it started for certain. I had my first serious art class when I was in 3rd or 4th grade I think, and I would always take classes when they were available at school. In high school, I tried out for Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School in Augusta, GA and started there my sophomore year. That was great, each year I had more and more art classes. In my senior year, I think half of my classes were art courses.

What did you like to draw most as a child?
I guess that depends on my age at the time. In elementary school, I did a lot of really weird comics that I drew on line paper. They weren’t even superhero things, though… they were just odd comics about Super Mario Bros. and other random things. In middle school I started doing more superhero type drawings and characters, but also started to do more dark drawings. Demons, monsters, stuff like that. By high school, it was a pretty even mix of superhero comic stuff, and really gruesome, gory drawings… I used to show them all proudly to my parents, and, oddly enough, they never seem put off by it.

Are you originally from Georgia? Do you ever miss the South living in Jersey?
My dad was in the army, so I was born in Germany, but spent most of my life in Georgia until moving to Jersey. There are definitely things that I miss, but it’s a bit of give and take. I miss the less frigid winters, but the summer is murder. I miss the open spaces and breathing room, but then you have to drive further to find anything worth doing. For every thing I miss, it seems something else makes up for it. I suppose the only thing I really miss are my friends and immediate family that still live in the area. I try to get back at least twice a year, but it’s a big change from seeing them almost every day.

What was it like to train at the Joe Kubert school?
Intense. I loved it. I’ve never drawn so much in my entire life as I did at that school. I feel like I improved so much just from the sheer amount of work that we had to do. It pushed me to do so many things that I might have been afraid or too lazy to try on my own. I also really enjoyed the company of the other students, and having other people into the same things as myself really helped drive me forward. It was also interesting to have Adam and Andy Kubert as teachers, since I grew up on their X-Men work from the 90s. All the teachers were great, but they were the artists that I was most familiar with as a kid.

Do you have any advice to the artists of tomorrow?
I don’t know? I’m sure there are better people for them to ask that question of than me, ha. I don’t know that I have anything particularly insightful to tell anyone. Just keep drawing and learning. Some people, myself included, benefit from going to school, but others do just fine being self taught. Do whatever works for you, but either way you just have to keep at it.

You work on independent comics, which comic characters are your favorites? What other comic artists do you look up to?
I’ve only worked on a few smaller projects so far, but I’m still a fan of a lot of Marvel stuff, and DC to a lesser extent. I guess Spiderman would have to be my favorite character. I liked that, usually at least, they don’t take things too seriously with his stories, and even the 60s stuff holds up pretty well, in my opinion. I also like Batman, but I’m more a fan of the character than the comics. I think I will always view him as he appeared in the animated series. To me, Kevin Conroy is Batman. But hey, I even like the cheesy, 60s series. Some people seem to hate it for not taking the character seriously enough… but he’s a guy who dresses up like a bat and punches people. I think if you try to take any of these characters too seriously, it ends up seeming sillier than if you acknowledge the inherent ridiculousness of the idea. Anyway, I just see that series as a different take on Batman, and I like it for what it is.

As far as artists… I’m all over the place. In comics, my two biggest influences as a kid were probably Greg Capullo and Joe Madureira, who couldn’t be more different. I would kind of fluctuate between the super detailed, bendy characters that Capullo drew, and Madureira’s cleaner, anime influenced style at the time. It was a weird balancing act, and I would tip back and forth a lot. Currently, I still like a pretty wide variety of comic artists. Berni Wrightson, John Romita Jr., Stuart Immonen, Tony Moore, Goran Parlov, Ashley Wood, Eduardo Risso, and plenty of others I’m sure to forget.

Do you enjoying working to color the independent comics? Does it remind you of coloring as a kid?
Ha, well I do enjoy it, but no, it doesn’t remind me at all of coloring as a kid. It’s a lot more technical, so it’s not as simple as sitting down and just going at it with crayons. I don’t know that I really even colored in coloring books that much as a kid. I got into colored pencils for a while, and that might have influenced me a bit, but the process doesn’t really bring back those same feelings.

As far as coloring comics, I do really enjoy it. Flatting is pretty tedious, and can take a while. You’re basically setting up the lineart with flat colors, but you have to meticulously trace and separate all the different areas of color. But once that’s out of the way, the coloring is really great. A lot of times, this doesn’t even take as long as doing the flats! I really like experimenting with different color interactions. It’s also a different process depending on the style of lineart. Sometimes you don’t do a lot of rendering with the more graphic lineart, and then there’s the really open, linear stuff that requires more from the colorist. It’s a nice break from illustration sometimes, although I’d like to do more of that as well.

What is it like to have your work featured at the Spiderwebart Gallery?
It’s very cool. I’ve been familiar with Greg Hildebrandt’s stuff since I was young, probably first with the Marvel cards he did with his brother Tim in the 90s. I also saw a lot of their illustrations on Magic cards, back when I was really into the game. Anyway, it’s pretty great now to have some of my work alongside theirs, as well as the other artists on the site. Hopefully, sometime soon, I can do more.

Your work has a rather dark styling. Why do you think people ingeneral tend to like the darker elements?
I’m not really sure why, even speaking just for myself. I grew up with this kind of stuff, and I’ve just always had sort of an affinity for it. As a kid, I probably took it way too seriously. Even a lot of comics at the time were trying so hard to be dark and edgy, but looking back on it, it seems so ridiculous. I think it had a big influence on me as a kid and as a teenager, along with a lot of horror movies. So, I did all this gruesome and dark stuff, and now it seems so over the top. I still like dark and sometimes even gory stuff, but I try to play up the craziness of it now. When I was younger, I took things to such an extreme in order to be dark, that it stopped being disturbing, and it started being funny. I guess I’m still trying to do the same thing, except now that I’m aware that it’s kind of stupid, and I like that, and try to play it up when I can. Also, I never really liked drawing pretty things. For some reason, it was always so much more fun to draw something, weird, crazy, and ugly. That kind of stuff just lends itself so much better to dark subject matter.

Since this a horror/sci fi/dark fiction publication, are you yourself a fan of the horror/sci fi genre? What are your favorite horror and sci fi  flicks?
Oh god, yes… More horror than scifi, but I enjoy both. Horror is, hands down, my favorite movie genre. There are so many to list, that I don’t even know how to approach this question.

So, my biggest influences are mostly 80s horror. John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Fly, The Blob, were great for their gore and makeup effects, as well as enjoyable movies. I think those three heavily influence my attraction to drawing weird, distorted monsters. Funny how all three were remakes. There were also so many movies from this time that were just gory, silly, and crazy with a sense of humor about themselves like Return of the Living Dead, ReAnimator, Evil Dead 2, Little Shop of Horrors, Gremlins, and Dead Alive/Braindead (90s, but still). Some others, from various times, that I’m a big fan of would be the original versions of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, George Romero’s Martin, Alien and Aliens, Nightmare on Elm Street, Pet Semetary, and Silence of the Lambs. There’s way too many horrible, B movies from that time to mention, but stuff like The Toxic Avenger, the Basket Case movies, Troll, and the prize jewel of bad movies: Troll 2.

There’s also some more current horror movies that I enjoy. I really liked Slither because it seemed like such a throwback to those 80s horror movies that I enjoyed. Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Frailty, and The Devil’s Rejects I enjoyed quite a bit. A movie not many people seemed to have seen that I really like was Leslie Vernon: Behind the Mask. About 2/3 of the movie is filmed documentary style following a typical horror movie slasher styling himself after Jason, Freddy, etc, except he’s basically just a normal, likeable guy. He shows the filmmakers exactly how he does all the unexplainable, or illogical, things that happen in slasher movies, and it’s a great satire of that subgenre of horror movies.

I also have to give Robocop it’s own mention. I keep thinking back to this movie as I answered these questions. It just exemplifies so much of what I was trying to say about taking gore or violence to an extreme, until it becomes almost funny. It walks the line so perfectly between satire and serious action/scifi. It even touches a bit on the body horror theme in a lot of the other movies I mentioned with Murphy’s transformation into a monster/machine. They took what sounds like a stupid idea on paper, and made this great movie that takes itself just seriously enough to work, but retains a sense of humor.

I am almost certain I’m forgetting other movies I love, but I should shut up now.

On your own personal projects, what do you hope to bring your fans next?
Oh, I have fans!?! To those two of you out there, I’d love to do more coloring work on some bigger projects. I have enjoyed working on everything I’ve done so far, but I’d like to reach a larger audience with my work.

I also want to move onto doing some published illustration work of my own. Right now, I’m thinking along the lines of drawings or digitally painted horror/fantasy themed work. I just have to figure out where my work would be a good fit. As far as comic art, that’s more of a wait and see thing. I enjoy superhero stuff, but I don’t know how interested I would be in drawing it myself. I’d prefer to work on something more offbeat, or horror/fantasy related. I’m kind of interested in working on my own ideas in comic form, but I don’t know how much of a writer I am.

Where would you like to see your career go?
As I mentioned, I’d like to do more coloring work. It’d be great to do work for some of the larger comic publishers. I’d like to get more into illustration, either for illustrated books, and maybe comics at some point. I’m pretty open to many different paths right now.

Anything to say before you go?
I think that about covers it. Thanks so much for taking an interest in my work.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with William C. Burns Jr.

Today’s Niteblade Contributor Interview is with William C. Burns Jr.  I hope you enjoy it!

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

I’ve been a poet forever.  My mom tells a story of when I was four and we were going past my favorite drive in restaurant, the Gold Dome, named such because of the Gold Dome of the capitol building in Charleston WV.  Mom is driving our two tone Ford and I asked if we could stop for a hotdog.  She said, “Not today, its the day before payday.”  To which I apparently replied; “The day before payday / not a penny to spend / wait til tomorrow and we’ll all eat again.” She tells me she had to pull off the road.

Pablo Neruda says that poetry found him one afternoon.  It found me in the     pre-air conditioned, cinder block hardwood floored terrain of post sputnik American education, Mrs. Wolfitt’s class to be specific.  We were studying chapter 14, poetry, and she hated poetry. 

I’ve always had a knack for song lyrics and music was one of my windows on the world outside the hollow where I was raised (the other was Chiller theater on channel 13).

What draws you to speculative poetry?

What can be more alien than poetry?  The xeno aspect of speculative fiction seems to fit so nicely with the often mythic and sometimes wonky mechanisms of poetic expression.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Yes, at a reading in November of this year, a former teacher advised me to start writing my poetry in ways that are more accessible to the general public.  I asked that she elaborate.  She explained that my craft was good, but too much of my content was buried in my work, and the average reader would never exert themselves enough to uncover it.  As she went on it became clear that she has a very low opinion of the comprehension of most of the American public.

I’m sorry but I can’t take her advice.  I think it best to continue working my craft in a way that never ‘talks down’ to my reader.  It may sound trite, but I love my readers, and I shall never intentionally insult their intelligence by offering them less than my best work.

In the March 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your poem, “Goddess in Training“.  Is there a story behind how the poem came about?

I was working with a protegee (who has asked to remain unnamed).  She had asked me to teach her poetry.  The shear impossibility of the task appealed to me.  How do you teach someone poetry?

It came to me that it was a lot like teaching demis and goddesses.  So in true Neil Gaiman style, I set out to build a series of poems around the idea of training gods and goddesses.

What have you been working on lately?

I am working on ‘The Nine Strange Muses of Regwin’ (alternate universe with a higher predisposition for magic),  ‘The Museum of Arcane Objects’ (kinda Merlin and Nimue thing) and ‘The Wholly Visible Man’.  Honest I have lots of projects at any time, but there are always a few in the process of precipitating out.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

My turn to give advice to spec/fic poetic types.  Learn the rules before you break them so that you know what you’re doing.  Write, right now.  Don’t wait for the lightning bolt of inspiration to strike you.  To badly paraphrase Louis Pasteur, ‘Inspiration favors the prepared pen and journal’.  Get one of those Moleskine Notebooks or Journals, a good G4 Pilot Pen  (no endorsements intended) and set aside at least an hour a day to use them.

Find your favorite author and read everything they ever wrote, but don’t try to copy them.  Don’t try to be a Freudian, be the next Sigmund Freud.

I would like to thank Niteblade for existing.  They way you folk love the written word is reflected in every aspect of your publications.

Tina Hall Interviews Ian Graham

Ian Graham wrote his first novel, Monument, in 2002. The prequel is currently in the works. He resides in Manchester, England. Ian has First Class BA (Hons) in Literature from Bolton Institute and an MA in British Romanticism from the University of Manchester.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where are you from? How has your background influenced your writing style?

I grew up in Bury, in the northwest of England. Nowadays, I live a couple of miles up the road in Ramsbottom, a small town crouching at the edge of the West Pennine Moors. After leaving comprehensive school, I pretty much failed my A-levels, then had an abortive attempt at becoming a computer programmer. During this time, I began to read, primarily for escapism; gradually, I realised that I would like to try my hand at writing. I set about getting a literary education, studying Literature at Bolton Institute, then moving on to a Master of Arts at the University of Manchester. The Masters in particular was hard work. But incredibly nourishing.

Since childhood, I’ve lived in areas that are fairly green and, if not directly rural, were at least in close proximity to areas of farmland. This, I am certain, has had an impact: I suspect that I was drawn to the fantasy idiom because of the vast natural landscapes popular within the genre. I walked to and from school through farmland every day during my adolescence. During my dinner break, I’d wander through the overgrown ruins of the local cotton mills which, reduced to rubble, struck me as being less the residue of an industrial age as something leftover from a far more distant era – an era existing before electrical gadgets, street lighting and other modern day paraphernalia. No doubt, this got my imagination working. I think, too, there was something in the air where I was raised: for many years, my next door neighbour was the artist Vinnie Chong and, unbeknownst to me, the SF/F writer Andy Remic lived a few hundred yards down the road.

When did you first become interested in writing?

The creative writing classes were the only remotely pleasurable lessons at school; yet I never considered writing with any dedication until much later. I spent my teenage years attempting – and failing – to learn to play the guitar. I rarely read; I rarely watched television, or did anything other than make a ghastly, ear-popping racket with my electric guitar and deeply unimpressive 5 watt amplifier. When it became apparent that I was never going to give Ritchie Blackmore a run for his money, I tried to find something else to do. Computer programming seemed the sensible choice at the time but I hated the subject and the jobs it led to. As I mentioned above, I began reading earnestly at this time, primarily to take my mind off the dissatisfying aspects of my life. The more I read, the more I gave thought to writing. In December 1992, I attended a 5 day creative writing course, in which the writer-in-residence was the late great David Gemmell. He said that I showed some promise, and took me under his wing. From then on, writing was a serious concern.

What was the first story you ever wrote?

Like many writers, I began innumerable stories that never reached a conclusion. The first story I finished, and submitted, was a short horror/fantasy piece, whose name I cannot recall. I sent it to Interzone; they replied with a courteous, and encouraging, rejection letter. After the David Gemmell course, I dashed out a 250,000 word novel in about three months. It was written with more vigour than ability, but it was a start. The book, incidentally, was called Monument – though it bears no resemblance to the published novel of the same name.

Do you have any advice to offer others who would like to pursue a career as an author?

Brace yourself! Most writers, when describing their writing lives with complete honesty, sound as if they are whingeing. But, in truth, it is incredibly hard work. You’ve got to be resilient, self-disciplined, self-critical and generally quite tough. As a breed, writers tend to be sensitive and neurotic; these may well be the traits that drive a writer to write. But they also lead to much agonising, self-doubt, sleepless nights and host of other self-inflicted woes. The key is to be persistent, I think. Labour on, day after day, no matter how low your confidence is or how badly the writing seems to be going. Encouragement from others can be helpful; but ultimately, it’s all down to you.

Certain practical things are important. To begin with, read. A lot. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose; consume as much as you can, think about what you’ve read, pay attention to the techniques other writers employ. And read beyond your chosen genre, too. If you write fantasy, don’t read only fantasy; gobble up the classics and stuff from other genres. The most unexpected sources can provide some of the best inspiration. You mustn’t be afraid of rewriting, either; first drafts rarely emerge fully formed. They usually need revising, to various degrees. Don’t expect to enjoy writing as you would, say, watching a movie or going on holiday; it tends to provide long-term gratification rather than short-term thrills – though they do crop up from time to time.

Can you tell our readers a little about Monument?

Monument is set in the medieval world of Druine. Politically, Druine is a theocracy, governed by the Pilgrim Church. On the whole, it is a thoroughly unpleasant place, and getting worse by the day. Anhaga Ballas, the story’s protagonist, is a drunk, vagrant and thief. When he steals an unusual gemstone-encrusted oddment from a museum, he suddenly finds himself pursued by the Church for reasons he cannot fully comprehend. He decides to take refuge in Belthirran, the fabled Land Beyond the Mountains. But the journey there is long and Ballas, never the most wholesome of fellows, gets up to some very nasty things indeed . . .

You are currently working on the prequel. What can your readers expect from that? When do you think it will be available?

In the prequel Ballas is, of course, much younger. He is yet to acquire the potentially murderous alcoholism of his later years; consequently, he is stronger, faster and more quick-witted. He also exhibits a few faint traces of decency, which seldom appear in Monument. But I must be careful: if I say too much, I might reveal information best disclosed after having read Monument . . .

Who are some of your favorite authors? Why?

Crikey. There are so many! Within the genre, David Gemmell was a huge influence. I don’t know of any writer who can write a fast-paced, emotionally engaging story as well as David could. Tad Williams is also an influence: his prose style is amongst the powerfully evocative I’ve encountered. Philip K Dick is consistently mind-bending; he had a rare knack of changing the way a reader views the world.

Amongst the current crop of genre writers, I have an (albeit grudging!) admiration for my friend, Andy Remic. He produces first rate fiction, in several genres, and has a workrate that is simply astonishing. The horror writer Gary McMahon is dazzling; his debut, Pretty Little Dead Things, is one of my favourite horror novels of all time and has an emotional impact seldom found in fiction of any sort.

Outside the genre, I have too many favourites to list. Dostoevsky, Graham Greene, Dickens, Shakespeare, Conrad, Nabokov, Cormac McCarthy . . . I also read a lot of poetry. Ted Hughes’ work was particularly affecting. So too Wordsworth and Keats . . .

What one subject that you have yet to cover would you most like to bring the public next?

Oh gosh! There’s a question . . .! For myself, writing tends to be a largely instinctive endeavour, and the subject – that is, the theme underpinning the narrative – only becomes apparent during the latter stages of writing any piece. There tends to be a moment when the clouds part, the sun shines, and I think, Ah, that’s what I meant! So don’t have any predetermined subjects as such. I just plod on and see what emerges . . .

Are you yourself a fan of the horror/sci fi genres? Did you have any favorite monsters as a kid?

When I was growing up, I devoured pretty much any horror VHS I could get my hands on. And during the summer holidays, I ploughed through James Herbert’s works at a rate of knots. I was inordinately fond of the movie Hawk the Slayer too. At primary school, I manufactured little Hawk comic books on pink paper towels plundered from the toilets. Nowadays, I read a lot less fantasy than I used to. No doubt, this is because I spend so much time writing it. And I don’t tend to read a huge amount of fiction, at least when I’m working on my own stuff. I like to keep my head clear, as far as I can; I suspect I am missing out on a great deal of excellent material, which saddens me a little. At present, I tend to read non-fiction, either for research or general enlightenment!

I can’t recall having a favourite monster. But I do remember being chilled by a trailer for The Blob. The thought of being smothered by that ghastly ooze was intolerable; maybe it connected with my childhood fears of drowning and asphyxiation . . .

What is the best advice anyone has ever offered you?

As hackneyed as it may be, Work hard, play hard is a pretty sound philosophy. If you work too hard for too long, you dry up; the joy vanishes, and the work itself suffers. So you have to cut loose now and again. Equally, you must know when the time for play has stopped and the hard graft must resume . . .

What are you planning to work on after the prequel to Monument?

There will be another fantasy novel, set in a different world to Druine. Also, I am working on a piece of contemporary fantasy/horror; a bit of a departure, but we’ll see how it goes . . .

Niteblade Contributor Interview with Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones doesn’t limit his writing.  He writes short stories, novels and screenplays.  You can learn more about him at

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

The easy answer’s the first time I got a check for something I’d written. Which would have been a contest I won in undergrad days, I guess. But, really, the next check, it was for a story I actually submitted, an unlikely story that had to fight its way upstream, find some room in the Black Warrior Review. Too, when that editor called, I distinctly remember there was a full moon, and my hand was still on the phone then—this was 1995, when my phone had a cord—because I’d just got news that my mom had been in a head-on crash right in front of the hospital I was born at. So then, this editor talking to me, saying he liked the story could he have it we can pay, all that, it was like he was at the end of some long tunnel. But I said yes. However, my first publication, I remember that too. I was in elementary, fourth or fifth or sixth grade, and my little brother had forgot to do his homework, so I did it for him over cereal: make up a myth, an origin story. Seemed like nothing, except then he won some contest with that, got published in the paper. His name on it, not mine, but so it goes. About that same time, too, I read Where the Red Fern Grows—this is probably the real answer—and the way that rusted axe head’s planted in that tree at the end, that lantern hanging from it, I remember I closed the book, nodded, said to myself that I can do that. I think that’s when it started.

What draws you to speculative fiction?

It’s that it can make the reader feel like she’s ten years old. Some stories, they’re so alien, so out there, yet so easy to identify with, so hard not to engage, that at the same time you’re seeing yourself in the story and wondering if this story’s even remotely possible. The world becomes bigger, I guess I’m saying. Speculative stuff can make it bigger, make you feel like you’re in a balloon that’s being inflated. Everything’s changing all around you. It’s the best feeling, I think. And, man, to share that with a reader, to get the chance of sharing that with thousands of readers, some themselves remote in time already, centuries away still—if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Yeah, that ‘make a schedule and stick to it’-one. But all the established writers seems to make it work, I guess. Maybe I should get established too. I guess I also suck at the ‘write what you know’-one. I mean, I like to write about werewolves, about civilizations in other galaxies, and, got to say, I’m making some of it up, anyway. But, too, I firmly believe the writer can render no emotional landscape he hasn’t to some degree walked through himself. So, no, I’ve never been nor never known—so far as I know—a werewolf, but I have gone through several transformations, I suppose. As we all have. From kid to not-kid. From son to dad. From lost to found. But those stories tend to be completely boring to listen to, as we all start overwriting them with our own halfway through, so just really needed the story as a triggering device, not as something to lose ourselves in. Condense that experience down, though, give it fur and fangs, and then you’ve got something. And, if you’re lucky, it’ll make you reluctant to turn the lights off at night. The best stories make you feel the most alive, and you’re never more alive than when you’re terrified.

In the June 2009 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Monsters.”  Is there a story behind how the story came about?

That’s one (more) of the stories I sat down to write with the stupid, destructive, shoot-myself-in-the-foot pie-in-the-sky idea that I was just going to do something small and Chekhov. That, since I so resist kiddie first-kiss stories—which really probably means I love them, I know—I should crawl inside one, see what the allure is, and try try try to keep it as boring (and Chekhov) as possible. So I could do characters instead of ‘cool stuff,’ which, cool stuff, that’s always my first impulse. Why write about a cousin when you can write about a pirate, right? Why set it on Earth when you can float it off into time? So, with “Monsters,” I tried, anyway. But then there was this dog that could smell dead people, and, I mean, what use is a dog in a story like that if there’s no dead people to smell, right? Story kind of just wrote itself after that.
It Came From Del Rio by Stephen Graham Jones

What have you been working on lately?

Just had two books come out. It Came from Del Rio(Trapdoor Books), a bunny-headed zombie novel (with chupacabras, of course; they’re the essence of ‘cool stuff’) and a collection of horror stories from Prime, The Ones That Got Away (“Monsters” is in it). Each beautiful books, anyway, though of course you can’t trust what I might try to say about the writing. And, now: just wrote a short film script this weekend for a director friend, to make the festival circuit. It’s horror, of course. Way bloody. Why write something if there’s not a knife in it, right? And why have a knife if it’s not going to cut just a lot of people? It’s simple, yet so many people keep missing it. And, I got hit up to do a baseball story, so I’m doing a baseball zombie story, because zombies make everything better. And, I’m currently on draft three of this zombie novel I love love love, The Gospel of Z. Trying to make it perfect. We’ll see. Then have a couple more novels coming out (from Dzanc), Flushboy—lonely kid working the window of his dad’s drive-thru urinal place—and Not for Nothing, a small-town, second-person noir. Hopefully a book or two before them, though. I need to kick out the second Del Rio, really.
The Ones That Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones
Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

Just that they’re reading the good stuff, the stuff that matters. And probably writing some of it as well. But they don’t need me to tell them that. Um, um, I know: Engage. Make it so. First star on the left and straight on till morning.

Tina Hall Interviews Kinuko Y Craft

A graduate of Kanazawa College of Art in Japan, Kinuko Y. Craft came to the United States to continue her study of Art at the School of Art Institute of Chicago in the early sixties. Her work has graced publications like Playboy, Time, and The New York Times Magazine to name a few. And on books by Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, C.S. Lewis, Tanith Lee and Andre Norton. Kinuko has works in the permanent collections of The National Geographic Society, The National Portrait Gallery at The Smithsonian, The Cornish Colony Museum in Windsor, VT,and The Museum of American Illustration, New York City. Craft’s work has gained her numerous awards in her field. Her works appear on countless licensed products. Influenced by the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, the Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolist painters, she is without a doubt one the best and most well known fantasy artists of the day. Her works offer serene comfort and remind people to take time to appreciate the beauty in all things.

What was it like growing up in Japan?
I walked to school every day so I could feel the seasons change. The only “violence” I knew was fighting with my siblings by pulling their hair or throwing sticks at each other. Small town life in Japan was peaceful, safe and the streets were always filled with people walking. Almost no one had cars. We all rode the train or a bus when we had to go to the next town.

Did you always have a love of art? What led you to pursue a career in the field?
My grandfather was an art lover and a master calligrapher. He had a collection of books on Western Art. They fascinated me and I poured over their pages endlessly. He also had a print by Maxfield Parish called “Stars” which I fell in love with. I painted and drew when ever I could and even stole my sisters set of Craypas once while she was in school and painted a mural on a sliding door in the living room when nobody was there.

What was going through your mind your first day in the United States?
I arrived by passenger ship in San Francisco in January of 1964. That part was exciting and invigorating. The City was beautiful as I had expected. However the American Cultural Center in Kanazawa (The city where I went to Art School) had recommended that I take the bus from San Francisco to Chicago to better “See America.” The cold, bleak landscape, miserable food and the uncleanliness of the bus terminals were nothing like anything I had expected. There was and still is nothing like it in Japan that would have prepared me for the experience. It was terribly disappointing, but once I arrived in Chicago I knew I had made the right choice.

Did you ever think back then you would have become as successful as you have?
First of all, I don’t think I am successful. I don’t know what it is in my case. I only knew then that I wanted to paint and would let
nothing stand in my way to make that happen. Besides, I have never thought I have achieved anything bright artistically. All I can do is what I do. It’s like trying to climb to the top of a ladder that has no end.

A lot of your work has involved fairy tale/mythological themes. Were you always drawn to those things? Do you have a favorite story from either of those genres? Why do you think such tales are timeless in their appeal?
They are the culmination of human wishes, dreams and hope. I feel the imagination expressed in them is something we must have to go through life. As a pre-schooler, I always asked for anyone around to tell me stories. I heard folk tales, legends; and ghost stories so scary they made me afraid to go to the bathroom at night. After I started school and finally could read, I found a book titled “Greek Myth for Young Readers” in my father’s pile of old books. About the same time, a grade school friend loaned comic-book versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. It opened me to a dreamworld I had never known. They have guided me into a world of literature and imagination which fuels my soul as an artist.

You have produced covers for such authors as Tanith Lee, Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, and Andre Norton. What is it like to see your work complement the works of such talented authors?
I don’t really think about it. I’m not into fame. They are all phenomenal writers who’s stories offer plenty of fodder for visual interpretation. Fortunately, I pretty much do what ever I like. So far none have complained, thankfully. They make wonderful reading in the bathtub.

What it is like to work with your husband Mahlon F. Craft and daughter Marie Charlotte Craft? Do you find yourself more inspired when working with your family?
Mahlon does everything I don’t. I paint, do the laundry and dishes and cook for our dog. Mahlon does everything else. We enjoy working together on books because we can collaborate as author/designer and artist. There are no bruised egos if I ask him to change a scene so it better fits what I want to paint. My daughter was coached by editors when writing Cupid and Psyche and King Midas and the Golden Touch. She has a degree from Columbia University in Literature. I hoped writing professionally might be something that would take on her, but it didn’t.

You have contributed to several children’s books. Do you enjoy that?What does it feel like to have the chance to inspire future generations to dream and create?
I’m not sure what you mean by “contributed.” In all of the books I have illustrated, mainly I am left on my own and my charge is to
create art that does justice to the story, while entertaining me as a painter.

What one subject have you yet to cover that you would most like to?
A ghost story–something mysterious, dark and beautiful.

What is one little known thing about yourself you’d be at liberty to share with our reader’s?
Nothing, really, except that I am insanely fascinated with big canines..

What advice would you offer the artists of tomorrow?

Be prepared for the world you know as a student to change in ways you can’t even begin to dream of. Drawing skills are basic to all forms of visual art. They are the tools of the trade, and being facile as a draftsman will allow you to adapt your output and nurture your imagination to move with markets that are sure to change in the future.

What do you think you would of been if not an artist?
I don’t know. Maybe I would have been born as a sea shell, or plankton, a cloud, or wind.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Just moping around aimlessly, or picking ticks off of my dog Wolfgang and some reading.

What projects are currently working on?
I have two mural designs to complete as paintings which will be enlarged into glass mosaics. It’s been a trying assignment because there are many people involved on the client side and their opinions had to be considered as the designs evolved. After that I will
complete the work on illustrating a Christmas story Mahlon wrote about 11 years ago for publication in 2012. And I have to provide enough finished drawings for an exhibit at my gallery sometime next year. Next I have to finish Beauty and the Beast which I started 8 years ago and haven’t touched since.

How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?
As an artist inspired by beauty who’s best painting will always be the next one. On the other hand, I live and think for the moment. I don’t much think about what will happen after I’m gone. I won’t hear it nor care, perhaps, but I do hope to meet all of my dogs there.

Where can your fans go for the latest on your career?
So far, just my web site. I’m not a computer user, nor am I interested in social networking. Posting to a Facebook page or on
Twitter would be pure drudgery for me–and that’s the truth. If I ever do either of these things, it will be through Mahlon, though he’s
already overloaded with work.