Today’s entry into my “Friday 5 Questions with…” series comes from K. Anthony Pagano. With his Lion in the Dark series, Pagano is helping bring back the lost art of serial novels. K. Anthony Pagano has a lot to say about the art of writing and the challenges of being an independent author, so instead of wasting time with a bulky interview, I’m going to let his answers to my questions do the talking. So, without further ado, I give you K. Anthony Pagano!
New York Times Bestselling author Michael Spradlin is most known for his books for younger readers and zombie song and poem parodies. This week, with the release of his latest novel, Blood Riders, Spradlin can now add accomplished adult novelist to his resume as well.
I’ve been friends with Michael since 2004 during my time with Borders, and through that time, I’ve been able to see how passionate he is about the book world. Spradlin is a book person’s person and it shows every time I talk with him.
Enough about Mike though…onto Blood Riders!
Blood Riders, set in the late 1800s,tells the story of Civil War vet Jonas Hollister, a man who was falsely accused of perjury when it comes to the disappearance of his 11 men. His group was ambushed by a band of “flesh eaters” and Jonas was the only survivor. The only problem is that there is absolutely no trace of a scuffle or his team anywhere, so Jonas is sentenced to prison at Fort Leavenworth.
After four years of prison, Jonas is pardoned by real-life detective Allan Pinkerton because another attack had occurred and as the survivor of the previous attack, Jonas is uniquely talented for the task of hunting down the perpetrators in exchange for a full pardon. From there, Jonas is paired with the likes of Pinkerton, Oliver Winchester, and a familiar face to all horror fans, Van Helsing. Aside from Jonas, another person is also pursuing the vampiric Archaics who joins Pinkerton’s hunt. Her story just makes Blood Riders even better.
Spradlin’s novel is an intense blend of horror and western (with a little steampunk thrown in for good measure). If Borders were still around, I would be the buyer for this book and I would have definitely promoted it because I want everyone to know about it. Since I can’t do that, I can do the next best thing. Mike has decided to give away THREE Amazon Kindle eBook copies of Blood Riders!
Stay tuned after our 5 Question Interview for details on how you can get a chance to win a free copy of Blood Riders.
So, without further delay, here’s our interview.
Before Blood Riders, your main writing focus has been with books for young readers. What was it like to switch gears and start writing books for adults – especially a novel that blends so many genres?
Obviously writing for children is different in terms of language and themes. But the essentials of the novel are the same. You still have to tell an entertaining story. Paying too close attention to the who the audience is, can sometimes get you in trouble. It’s better to think about making the story as fun and interesting as you can.
The narrative weaves real-life people like Allan Pinkerton with famous literary figures like Van Helsing. Do you feel some sort of responsibility when using them in your book?
I try to be as accurate as I can to who they were and how they are described in my research or in Van Helsing’s case in Dracula. But it’s also fiction so I get to ‘make up the rules’ to a certain degree. Obviously it’s a little easier with a character like Van Helsing as there is only one source. But Pinkerton was a very interesting man and digging into his life added a lot to Blood Riders, I felt, even though he’s a relatively minor character.
What is it about vampires that make them so ingrained in popular culture? What are the vampires in Blood Riders like?
I think they’re ingrained in popular culture because they’re scary and we like to be scared. There is an element of the idea that a human being is taken over and only the darkest side of us remains. That’s a pretty frightening proposition. In Blood Riders my ‘vampires’ are a bit of a hybrid of a couple of different myths. I wanted to explore the idea of an early race of vampires. I wondered if, in the fictional realm, did vampires and werewolves and other monsters evolve and adapt to their environment the way humans did? And what would happen if this group of vampires made a conscious decision hundreds of years ago, to isolate themselves from humanity? In order to insure they were not overwhelmed by the sheer mass of human beings and humans greater use of technology, their cleverness, their ability to band together in a way that a race of beings whose soul purpose is to hunt and feed. They don’t invent, they don’t ‘civilize’ beyond a basic tribal structure. In order to ensure their survival they must remain hidden. That becomes a double edged sword. By remaining hidden they don’t grow, if they don’t remain hidden they risk decimation. It was an interesting question to delve into.
With Halloween just around the corner, do you have any recommendations for scary reads to get us in the mood?
I highly recommend the Richard Kadrey Sandman Slim series. And I’m constantly amazed at the number of people of who’ve never read Dracula. One of the truly scary novels of all time. And it’s always a good idea to read or reread ‘Salem’s Lot around Halloween. You know, just so you’ll be scared to take the trash out in the dark.
Any last words?
None except thanks for giving me a chance to speak to your audience and I hope they’ll buy and read Blood Riders and tell 10,000 of their closest friends!
If you’re like me, that interview grabbed your interest to see what Blood Riders is all about (thankfully, I’ve read it already so I know exactly how much fun you’re in store for). Well, now’s your chance to get an opportunity to win a copy of the ebook in Kindle format directly from the author himself!
Interested in winning a free copy of Blood Riders?
Here’s how: From now until 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, September 30th, 2012 all you have to do is comment on this post and let me know what your favorite horror novel is. Simple, right?
BUT, if you want some bonus entries, here’s what to do:
For one extra Bonus Entry, like Michael Spradlin on Facebook
For two extra Bonus Entries, follow Michael Spradlin on Twitter
For three extra Bonus Entries, follow me on Twitter
For four extra Bonus Entries, share this blog with Facebook and Twitter (there are easy to use sharing buttons below)
That’s right, you could potentially have five total entries into the free Blood Riders ebook contest.
I will randomly select three winners based on the above criteria on Monday, October 1st, 2012. If you are going for the bonus entries, please don’t forget to mention which ones you’ve completed in your horror novel comment to this blog.
Good Luck Everyone! Let the games begin!
Also, Blood Riders is currently available now at all major bookstores and online book retailers.
Day Twelve: 5 Questions with author Chuck Wendig
I came across Chuck Wendig’s upcoming horror novel Double Dead in the early summer. One of my colleagues told me about it when he saw it mentioned on Jim Butcher’s website. After I checked it out, the first thing I thought was “why didn’t I think of that?” The next thing I thought was “I need to read this immediately!” Here’s the basic premise: a vampire wakes up in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and has to resort to protecting a group of survivors from the zombie menace. The book is filled with great characterization, witty dialogue, and intense action. I read it over summer vacation and was immediately sucked in. So much so that Double Dead is easily in my top five books of the year (and top five covers too). Because Borders isn’t around for me to promote the hell out of this book like I planned, I invited Chuck to participate in my “5 Questions with…” feature during my 31 Days of Halloween Hijinks.
Before I get to Chuck’s answers, I also wanted to take a minute to plug his website. As an aspiring writer, I find his blog absolutely essential in my quest to hone my craft. Sure, his advice is sometimes rated R, but it’s sound advice (and super helpful).
Also, the blog post Chuck put up yesterday is fitting given the month we’re in and the theme of my 31 Day Blog Challenge. In his post, Chuck offers up advice for writing in the horror genre.
Now that I’ve treated you to a picture of a creepy eye, here are Chuck’s answers. Enjoy!
1) I was able to read an advance copy of Double Dead and absolutely love it. Where did you come up with the idea?
Why thank you! Abaddon contacted me, said, “You should totally pitch something to us,” in particular, to the TOMES OF THE DEAD line. Which is, of course, zombie-themed.
And yet somehow my brain kept going to vampires. I don’t know why. My brain’s a dick. (Which is better than my dick being a brain, I guess.) Somewhere along the way it kept turning this over and over until I thought, “Hey, you know what would suck? Being a vampire in the zombie apocalypse.” It’s like living in a grocery store filled only with spoiled food.
2) How does your experience with game designs and RPGs help your writing?
Whenever I encounter a plot problem or a character conflict, I just whip out the old d20.
Okay, not really.
I did a post about this at terribleminds recently, but the core of it is, running a game at the game table is about being in the moment and learning how to create and ease tension in order to create entertainment through conflict. And that’s what fiction is, really, and so you can learn a lot about writing fiction through playing or writing games.
3) Your website is quickly becoming one of my favorite websites to check each day, mainly because of your writing advice. What made you want to offer up all this advice from all of your freelance experience?
In a way I was just hoping to chart my own writer’s journey and weird penmonkey questions — it’s like writing down a recipe so I can remember it later. It’s good to chart my path this way, and if others can come along for the ride, so be it.
Sometimes, though, it’s just a blister I gotta pop. I want to yell at my 18-year-old writer self and all the writers who are stuck in that mind-set. One’s spleen sometimes needs venting lest it explode.
4) Now that you’re a dad, what are you looking forward to the most about Halloween with a youngster?
Dressing him up in costumes that only I understand and then stealing all his candy. No, I dunno — right now he’s four months old so we’re just trying to navigate the teething-pooping-drooling-grabbing phase. I will say that costumes for infants are pretty much, “Dress him like a banana or a hot dog!” And that’s it. I have more costume choices for my dog.
5) Any last words or plugs?
BLACKBIRDS. Angry Robot Books. May 2012!
Now that you’ve read Chuck’s interview, make sure you go out and get Double Dead as soon as it comes out!
Day Ten: Vampires Suck
When I initially started writing this blog, it turned into a Stephenie Meyer rant. While there’s plenty I have to say on the subject (more on her portrayal of Bella than vampires and werewolves actually…especially now that I’m a father to an amazing baby girl), at this point hating on the Cullens seems so passe. Besides, Stephen King did a pretty good job of speaking about Meyer when Breaking Dawn came out. If you really want to hear what I have to say about Stephenie Meyer and the whole Twilight saga, let me know in the comment section below.
Speaking of our friend Stephen King, he wrote the following in the introduction of the American Vampire graphic novel (which should be required reading for all you vampire fans):
While I find myself agreeing with Mr. King in part, I’ve read plenty of non-Twilight vampire novels where the vampires don’t necessarily fit his depiction. For instance, Christopher Moore has written a trilogy of wacky vampire novels that are also great yarns. He’s right though, vampires aren’t brooding pansies. They’re bad ass killers. They aren’t romantic, they’re mysterious, sexy, and dangerous (did I really just write that?). They’re the guy in the leather jacket and motorcycle that your dad doesn’t want you to date. What I’m trying to say is that while my preference is for the dangerous, blood thirsty, stone-cold killers Mr. King references, as long as my vampires have some sort of an edge to them, I’m all in.
Besides, for those of you who say Stephenie Meyer ruined vampires for you, I offer two previous examples for your consideration.
Since it’s that time of year, I want to close with essential vampire movie viewing for this Halloween season (in no particular order):
1) The Lost Boys – my first introduction to vampires and still one of my favorite movies.
2) Let Me In - full disclosure, I’ve only seen the American remake, but it’s disturbing, heartbreaking, and well-made.
3) Blade - not your typical comic book movie – full of blood, vampires, and awesome one-liners.
4) Near Dark – the bar scene alone makes this movie worth it – plus Bill Paxton is so damn underrated.
5) Monster Squad – The Goonies meet the Universal Monsters. Lots of fun, with a legitimately freaky Dracula…plus you learn that Wolfman does in fact have nards.
So, what are your favorite vampire movies?
Day Nine: Peach Street’s Blog
When I look at the 31 Days Participants, I noticed that I wasn’t the only blogger with a 31 Day Halloween theme. So, since I’m not the only one on the block, I wanted to use today’s post to give a little shout out to… Peach Street’s Blog!
There’s lot of fun stuff on her blog, so please check it out!
Also, stop back tomorrow when I discuss VAMPIRES!
As you can see by the above image, I’m getting ready for my 31 Day Challenge. As extra motivation, I’m linking up with a collection of blogs filled with folks who are also doing other types of 31 Day Challenges. Check out The Nesting Place linked over on the right in my blogroll (or click here – )
As you look to follow along my 31 day journey, use this page as your one-stop shop for everything. While I’ll be adding each day of the challenge to my blog, I’ll also be direct linking all 31 Days to the bottom of this original post to make sure there’s an easy way to keep track of everything.
Based on my poll results, it looks like my readers want everything but book recommendations (too bad, I’m a bookseller, so you’re getting some of those too….), so expect a very diverse month of posts inspired by the Halloween season. You’ll get everything from reviews, recommendations, recipes, craft ideas, costume ideas, interviews, and posts about all things that go bump in the night (among other things).
I’m very excited about this undertaking. Thanks for supporting me in my efforts to make this October a spooktacular one.
Also, if you like what you see and want to link up with me on your blog, feel free to use the image below -Happy Horror…Happy Haunting…Happy Halloween!
We are fast approaching my favorite month of the year – October! Why? Well, if you’re a horror buff like me, it’s only fitting for October to be such a wonderful month right? It’s the only month of the year that most people are prepared (and willing) to get scared. Because of that, I’m going to be participating in a very intense undertaking during the month of October. For every day of the month, I will post something on this blog. One day it could be a movie review, the next a picture of my daughter in this year’s Halloween costume. Who knows. You’ll just have to keep coming back each day for that day’s October offering. My intention is to cover as much as I can in terms of things that go bump in the night as well as things that fall in line with the spirit of Halloween. Also, with NaNoWriMo right around the corner in November, this will get me in writing shape to knock out those 50,000 words!
A post a day is a pretty daunting task, so before I get started, I was hoping to get some reader feedback. What types of things do you want to see this month? Take the poll, and let me know. That way, I can gear most of my content to the highest vote getters!
Happy Horror! (boy do I feel lame for saying that…)