Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Interview: Scotty Weeks ~ Purgatory, NY

Author interview: Scotty Weeks
Purgatory, NY

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Henry Sera just defaulted on a loan, now the guys he owes money are threatening to take the difference out of his hide. Using a cheese grater. Valuing his good looks and un-grated face, he skips town to stay with a friend in New York.

Everything is looking up for a bit—he lands a bartending job and he's offered a lease that's too good to be true. Henry's not the type to read things though, and the lease contains something called an "immortal soul clause", not to mention that the landlord is a demon.

All Henry wants is to find a nice place to stay where nobody will shred his face with kitchen implements. And maybe a date with the hot one-legged girl that does porn. He just has to decide if it's worth selling his soul, or worse—moving to Brooklyn.

Into The Fire is part one of the four part series Purgatory, NY.

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Purgatory, NY is a series of eight short stories in two-part bundles, with the final part yet to be released. When Henry comes to New York, angels and devils battle for his soul, making bets on the sins they can or can't push Henry to commit. With one-legged porn stars, a slip-and-slide full of fake blood, drugs, booze, and an angry man that wants to run a cheese grater along Henry's face, NYC is the ultimate stomping ground for sin.

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Brie: What inspired you to write Purgatory, NY?

Scotty Weeks: Two of my favourite things: New York City and moral relativism. I love New York as a backdrop, there are so many amazingly strange little vignettes that play out every day in this city—some of which are far too unbelievable to put into fiction form. As a densely packed international city it shoves people from all over the world into a tiny space and forces them to get along. I wanted to capture some of that.

I also wanted to explore right and wrong. To have an angel that didn’t mind a bit of porn. To have a demon that cringed at the idea of one of his potential tenants choosing to forgo a Manhattan apartment for a Bushwick artist’s commune. I enjoy playing around with what it means to be a moral person in the grand scheme of things. The world is complex and simple rules of right and wrong don’t account for that complexity.

Brie: You include profanity in your stories, but I felt like it was intrinsic to Henry’s journey into the underbelly of New York. What are your thoughts about profanity in literature?

Scotty Weeks: My biggest literary influences are Henry Miller and Louis-Ferdinand CĂ©line. Neither of which shied away from sex or profanity. Colourful language is a part of every day life—among children and adults alike—and it strikes me as artificial to shy away from it. That said, profanity for its own sake is about as interesting as sex or violence for their own sakes. Sure, sometimes you want to gorge on them, but they’d better be bloody good. If I could write swears half as well as Armando Iannucci does with Malcolm Tucker then my books would be 80% profanity by volume.
   
Brie: Can you tell me anything about the theological component between Micki and Dan... without spoiling the next book?
   
Scotty Weeks: Dan and Micki are introduced as being two sides of the same coin—the classic picture of devils and angels hanging out on some poor saps shoulder and whispering into his ear. As the story progresses we start to see a shift in the power dynamic between them. Micki gets a lot more introspective and Dan gets a lot more detached. Micki is a powerful creature, but she’s also a very fallible one—this part of her personality and the implications of those imperfections are explored in the last two episodes.

Brie: Ever been to a bare-knuckle boxing match?

Scotty Weeks: I’ve been to a few “fight club” style matches, as well as seen more than my fair share of street fighting when I was a kid. Though there aren’t any BKB matches that I know of in Brooklyn right now, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them in the future. Up until recently I had a bunch of friends that would regularly attend model boxing (exactly what it sounds like, but totally illegal and underground) and I piggybacked off of those matches for the atmosphere.
   
Brie: Why did you choose to craft Jenny’s character the way you did?
   
Scotty Weeks: I adore Jenny as a character. She’s a no-bullshit type that owns her sexuality and isn’t up for playing victim to anybody. She’s a great counter-balance to Henry who is still searching for his identity. There’s this tendency to treat very sexual women as somehow damaged and victimized. She’s anything but—a girl who lost a leg in a foreign country and just kept on truckin’. She’s got a big soft spot for Henry and it bugs the shit out of her, she’s fighting her internal ambition which is telling her to ignore those feelings.

Brie: Do you have a real-life Craigslist horror story you’d like to share?
   
Scotty Weeks: Sadly I don’t. I’ve always wanted to be cuddled by a powerful Russian woman though.

Brie: I’m hooked after the first three installments and desperate to read more! What are your plans for the series?
   
Scotty Weeks: There are two more episodes (one volume) that are away with my editor. They continue the general darkening tone of the series as they move to the conclusion. The backdrop of Purgatory, NY will survive the series, as well as some of the characters. There have been cameos in a few short stories and my next book takes place in the same New York that Purgatory does. So glad you are enjoying them, they are a blast to write!

Brie: Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone who hasn’t found their place in the world yet?

Scotty Weeks: Keep doing weird shit. There’s this notion that there is a universal path to life—school, work, retirement, death. And you know what? That works great for most people. There are a lot of us that it doesn’t work so well for and it can feel pretty nasty to be set adrift amongst peers that are so self assured of their place in the world. Ignore all that. Do what makes you feel fulfilled and find a way to support yourself while you do it.
   
Brie: Have your parents read your books?

Scotty Weeks: Funny enough, just recently I posted a status update on Facebook. My mother replied:


The post was about some NY Strip steaks that I had purchased from an illicit butcher (a buddy of mine who buys insanely high quality dry-aged wholesale meat and sells it drug-dealer style where you dial number and he makes a drop in Chinatown). I love this city.

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Start reading Purgatory, NY!
Amazon

Check out Scotty's blog

Monday, October 28, 2013

Author Interview: Kristen Duvall ~ Femmes du Chaos

Author Interview: Kristen Duvall
Femmes du Chaos

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They messed with the wrong girl this time.

From heroes to villains, Femmes du Chaos sets out to show the world what the fairer sex is really made of. You’ll meet women of all ages and from many different walks of life... Warriors and schoolgirls, side-by-side in one place. One thing connects them all, and that is their ambition. Whether they use their ambition for good or evil, well that’s for them to decide. Gritty, fantastical and sometimes uncomfortable to read, Femmes du Chaos is a tour de force that holds nothing back. There will be violence and there will be blood.

Here are a few of the femmes you'll meet in this thrilling collection:

Sylvia: The bounty hunter with a dark past who is hellbent on revenge. When the justice system fails her, she sets out to correct their mistakes.

Layla: The ballerina who wants to be a star who's spent her life being overshadowed and under-appreciated. What happens when she stumbles across magic that makes her sister the star she's longed to be for so long? Let’s just say, you’ve never seen sibling rivalry like this before.

Mallory: A young girl who can see the future in her dreams. She’s saved lives in the past, and her dreams are warning her to not return to the world they all left behind. Faced with starvation, no one wants to believe her about the multitude of horrors that wait for them above. After all, monsters don’t exist... Or do they?
Some will survive and come out stronger in the end... And some will let the darkness consume them. After all, no two girls are ever alike.
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Femmes du Chaos is on my VSTBR (Very Soon To Be Read) list of books, and was just released today! Author Kristen Duvall was kind enough to visit my blog and share some thoughts about girl power and the dark side.

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Brie: All the stories in Femmes du Chaos feature female protagonists. What was your inspiration for writing a collection of stories like this?

Kristen Duvall: Honestly? I wrote the stories before settling on that theme. It only occurred to me as I was compiling them that I tend to write mostly from a female perspective, even when most people would traditionally assume male. I write female characters because I like seeing strong females, both heroes and villains. I like seeing female characters in traditionally male roles. It's just something that interests me and my writing happens to show it.

Brie: What, in your opinion, constitutes a strong female character?

Kristen Duvall: I like flawed characters, so anyone who is too perfect, too beautiful, too sweet is not for me. I like seeing flaws. And when talking about strength, it doesn't always mean they win or that it was easy... it means they handled it and never once buckled under the pressure. They never asked for someone to step in and save the day for them. It's not always easy and some of the characters struggle a great deal with their inner demons, but in the end, they have an inner strength that comes through. That being said, I also wrote a few few female villain pieces... and in those cases, a strong female character meant that they could be just as ruthless as any male can be.

Brie: Which character’s story was your favorite to write, and why?

Kristen Duvall: I wrote most of these stories in the span of three years for an online writing content called The Real LJ Idol (therealljidol.livejournal.com). I wrote many more pieces than I included, and I mostly picked my favorites. So all of them are special to me in their own way. My favorite is probably Sylvia though and that's because her and I are a lot alike. I can't say much more without giving away the ending, but let's just say that if I were in her shoes, there's a good chance I'd be in jail for murder because I'd be tempted to do exactly what she did too. I also loved writing a truly bad-ass female bounty hunter killing the men who wronged her, it was way too much fun and I'd love to play in her world some more if given the chance.

Brie: Which character’s story was the most challenging?

Kristen Duvall: Teacher's Pet includes a woman who is a psychopath. She was challenging because I've never written from the POV of a villain like her before. In fact, I tend to prefer writing from the protagonist more often than not. Not to mention, one scene with her is just... uncomfortable and will probably push a few buttons.

Brie: Why did you choose to explore challenging territory in this book?

Kristen Duvall: It wasn't really a choice I made intentionally, it's just the way my brain is wired. In real life and with my nonfiction, I am very lighthearted and friendly. But my fiction has always been darker and I can't explain why. My brain comes up with some of the most disturbing ideas, and they are often ideas that make others uncomfortable. Finding that balance is important though as I do want to make sure the reader enjoys themselves too.

Brie: What draws you to write horror, dark fantasy and dystopian-flavored stories?

Kristen Duvall: It's what I like to read. I like pure escapism when I read. I like different worlds, things which aren't possible in the here and now. There's a part of me that's still very much a child... I like make-believe and world building where everything and anything is possible. The dark side, well... I'm a twisted person and always have been. Just ask my family ;)

Brie: Do you have any more titles planned in the future?

Kristen Duvall: Yes, I do! I have a novella that will be released as soon as I can finish editing it called The Devil's in the Details. It's about the devil's right hand man and explores what his job might be like stealing souls and whatnot. It's dark, but also a bit more fun than a typical horror story. A bit more whimsical, perhaps.

I also have one novel completed that I need to edit called The Caged Girl. It's the first in a series. I like to describe it as a romantic story between a boy, a girl and decapitation.

I'm writing another novel which doesn't have an official name, but I jokingly call it The Princess and the Piper because it's accidentally similar to The Prince and the Pauper only set in a utopian future and features lesbians. It's a lot lighter than my usual fair, but still has hints of darkness beneath the surface.

And far off in the future... I have Here There Be Dragons which is YA or perhaps middle-grade fiction. It's fantasy and about a girl on an adventure to prove that she has what it takes to be on the Royal Guard. Again, much lighter than my other works and probably intended for a younger audience too. 
 
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Grab a copy of Femmes du Chaos!


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About the author:

Kristen Duvall is a writer of tales both real and make believe. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in Southern California with her boyfriend, her Great Dane and her rescued calico kitty. She's been writing and sharing her work online for several years now, and has decided to take the plunge into publishing her work for the world to read. She dabbles in horror, science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction. She enjoys both Adult and Young Adult fiction and loves to write strong female characters.  You may follow her on Facebook  or visit her website. 

Coming Soon

The Princess and the Piper (title may change) - A utopian version of The Prince and the Pauper, only with lesbians.
The Caged Girl - A romantic tale of a girl, a boy and decapitation. First in a forthcoming sci-fi/dystopian series.
Here There Be Dragons - YA or possibly middle-grade story of a girl on a mission to do the impossible.
The Devil's in the Details - A horror novella about the devil's right-hand man.
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Author interview: Blake Rivers ~ The Assassin Princess




Author Interview: Blake Rivers
The Assassin Princess
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She paints a bleeding meadow, a burning sunset over a valley of unicorns...

...But when Ami is stolen from her world, pursued by the dark and powerful Adam, saved by the hooded Hero, she finds out she is no mere girl. Deep within her is a dormant magic with the strength to lead a people and save a land.

She is the heir to Legacy, a mountain city in the far off Edorus Mountains, and Hero of the Guard is to lead her there, revealing secrets and unravelling histories along the way; but always in the shadow is her dark foe, biding his time.

Soon Ami's will is tested against him, and in the battle a darkness unfolds that leaves the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Will Ami choose the light, or be tempted by the darker path of death, destruction and the seductive power of Adam?


An adventure of magic, unicorns, swords and dark forests. The Assassin Princess begins.
  
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I loved reading The Assassin Princess because it carried me away from the feeling of contemporary, popular, battle-hardened fantasy cliches, like orcs, axes, and enormous armies (as epic as those may be!), and transported me into the fantasy realms that enthralled me during childhood, with glowing crystals, dreams, and unicorns. The Assassin Princess is a magical and ephemeral, cover-to-cover read. Mr. Rivers was kind enough to join me on my blog to answer some questions about what I thought were the most intriguing parts of the story. 

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Brie: Ami’s journey to Legacy was magical. Can you tell me more about the painting?

Blake Rivers: At the beginning of the book, Ami is finishing off a landscape painting for her university art course. It is of a lush green valley, bordered by a forest and tall mountains, and is being painted at sunset; the sunset is a bleeding red, as if ink has been spilt across a canvas. Grazing in the valley are pure white unicorns.

Ami thinks that this is from her imagination only, one of many visions she has dreamed of since she was little—that part of girlhood that has never left her. However, the dreams she’s had her entire life are from a real place, a real land she has never been to, though is destined to be a part of. As she finds out later, it is her connection to Legacy that enables her entry into it.
           
Brie: One of the most emotional passages in your book involved the unicorn. The hardships of the unicorn struck me really hard because unicorns are such a powerful image of innocence and purity--it drove home the extent of Adam’s evil. Can you tell me more about your inspiration for writing about unicorns?

Blake Rivers: My inspiration for the unicorns, and indeed Ami herself, comes from my girlfriend. She is that magical young woman to me, and she loves, above all creatures, unicorns. They have always been a part of her life, and so when I included them in the story, I wanted to do something profound with them. Unicorns have been portrayed in many different forms throughout history, and being a mythical creature, they have no set traits anyone can pin down. With my unicorns, I made them very powerful, serious and generous. They are guardians of their own domain and their own herd (or blessing), but wish to be fair with all who come across them. The powers they have are the basis of all power/magic within the book, though the true source of this is revealed later.

The hardships of the unicorn Talos, and his mate Florina at the hands of Adam’s evil intent are integral, for they give the stark contrast needed to outline how ruthless Adam’s quest, how twisted he can be even against such an inoffensive creature.
           
Brie: The fracturing of Ami’s different selves and the transitions between them was interesting. Can you tell me more about Ami’s different selves, and what made you write them the way you did?

Blake Rivers: Ami goes on a journey in this story, in every way possible. Ami the art student traveled only a short way before power inside her began to take hold, and Adam’s influence began to infiltrate her mind. She was confronted with a choice of three selves, represented physically as mirrors…

This idea occurred to me when thinking about how some people see themselves differently in the mirror all depending on what they are wearing and how they are feeling. Ami sees three reflections. One is as she truly is at that moment, just the art student in a strange land. The second is of the stereotypical princess, dressed in pretty pink, gracious and elegant, but ultimately a slave to her lands and people—an archetype. The third is the person she could be, using the magical powers to become stronger, more dangerous; able to take on the world (worlds) and beat any who opposed her. In such a strange land, her psyche chose the strongest reflection, the one who would carry the art student—out of place, out of reality—forward through the trauma she was soon to face. They represented the potential of the girl, to be as others wanted her to be, to be only all she ever had been, or to be something she could be.
           
Brie: What was your inspiration for the style of magic used in The Assassin Princess?

Blake Rivers: Where do I start? There are so many representations of magic in the world, but the truest one is the one that everyone has, yet only a select few know how to express. Imagination, and the power to create. If that power could be physical, could be harnessed and used and focused upon specific subjects to create a lake from dry land, to raise a castle from grey rock and stone, to kill at will with a thought… That was what I had in mind. The power to destroy and to create, transferred from the mind to matter.
           
Brie: I liked the way you created a world, drawing on powerful fantasy archetypes, like the pristine castle of Legacy, the male protector named Hero--and then when chaos tests the world, things aren’t what they seem. Would you care to share more about how you crafted Legacy, and how it was transformed by Adam’s evil?

Blake Rivers: I think the best answer I could give to this is something I once watched in an interview about the writer Stephen King. It was an interview with Tom Hanks while he was filming the lead role in Stephen King’s film The Green Mile. He said that King was able to create good characters, who were flawed, and not so good characters, who were also flawed; King doesn’t create outright evil characters (at least, not in The Green Mile for sure.) With this in mind, take a male protector with the actual name, Hero. Now make him only a man who can fail. Take a girl who finds out she is a princess heiress in parallel existence. Now make her corruptible, and only human after all. Take a man who is evil and cold and powerful. Now make him a shunned son, jealous and envious and jaded by his father, just a man gone-bad. If you take everyone and everything as fallible, the truth of most things, then it is a more honest way to represent this world, and any other, and our people and theirs.
           
Brie: The Mortrus Lands creeped me out! Can you tell me more about the history and inhabitants of that place?

Blake Rivers: The history and inhabitants of the Mortrus Lands are addressed in my next book, A Step into Darkscape. It is the direct sequel to The Assassin Princess, and explores more fully the origins of what lies within.
           
Brie: Why do you like to write fantasy? What inspires you to write?

Blake Rivers: My inspiration to write this particular fantasy is my girlfriend, the most magical and surprising, most talented person I know. Why fantasy though? It was the best platform for me to discuss human beings, people in general, without having to look too closely at the world directly around me, a way of organising my thoughts in a place separate from daily struggles. I wanted it set far away, in a place I could landscape and make from the very start, one that was totally my own.
           
Brie: What other books do you have planned in the future?

Blake Rivers: As mentioned, my next book is called A Step into Darkscape. As of this interview, the first draft is done, and the redrafts shall commence shortly. It is expected to be published in Spring 2014, and shall be available on Amazon in paperback, and for Kindle.

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Grab a copy of Assassin Princess! 
http://viewbook.at/assassinprincess (redirects to Amazon store of your country)