“Diamond Sam LaValerie” is a colorful radio personality who hosts a weekly Internet radio show on the Evil Broadcasting station each Friday night at 7:00 p.m. EST. The musical focus is indie music, particular indie metal music. He has a loyal bevy of followers, and the show features a live chat room that allows listeners to communicate with each other and with Sam.
Here’s the text of my recent interview with Sam.
Tamworth Grice: How did you get started in radio? Did you ever study broadcasting or work for a radio station?
Diamond Sam: (Laughs) As in formal training? God, no. I got my start and never saw it coming.
T.G.: Can you explain?
Sam: I met a girl online named Angel Clark. We would talk from time to time, and she told me I had a good voice and I should be on radio. It turned out that she owned a station named Distant Thunder Radio. I remember at first I didn’t really want to do it, so it took her a little while to talk me into it. And to be honest I didn’t know I wanted to do it until about 3 or 4 days after my first show.
T.G.: What’s your Evil Broadcasting show like?
Sam: The most dissident show on the Internet.
T.G : Can you describe it for us?
Sam: Not sure I can. (Laughs) I never really have a plan when I go on air. I just wing it. So it’s kinda like one big party for the people listening and especially for the people in chat.
T.G.: What do you think is the main appeal of your show?
Sam: I think the appeal of the show is that I’m not one of those DJs who makes the show all about himself. I never really wanted a fan base; I wanted listeners and friends. Most of the people who listen to the show have my Yahoo IM. Some even have my phone number. So I think that’s the appeal: it’s more than just a show; it’s kinda like a club or--better yet--a big love affair with each other. Did that sound cheesy?
T.G.: You’ve openly said that “Diamond Sam LaValerie” is a stage name. How did you choose it? “LaValerie” sounds similar to Satanic cult leader Anton LaVey’s surname. Was that a factor in your choice?
Sam: I got the nickname “Diamond” from a bunch of wiseguy gangsters in the Bronx when I used to run to the store for them. I was like 8 years old buying beer for them while they played cards on the sidewalk. I had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, so they started calling me “Diamond” because they said I always shined. The name just stuck.
T.G.: And what about LaValerie?
Sam: After I was done with college, I got a job tending bar for high-profile parties. My booking agent said that if I wanted more jobs and bigger jobs my name had to have more “flair.” I figured that if I was going to name myself I was going to name myself after my grandfathers, Samuel and Charles. The problem was that the 2 names are very strong-sounding, so we needed to soften them by using a female first name for my last name. At first, we tried Adrian, but I wanted to be more true to my Italian ancestry. Plus Sam C. Adrian wasn’t sitting well with me. That’s when my book agent’s daughter, Irene, came in to tell on her sister, Valerie, for doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing. Irene had a real bad stuttering problem, so the first thing out of her mouth was, “V, Va, Va, Valerie.” I started to play with that and came up with LaValerie.
T.G.: You’re a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe. When or how did you discover Poe?
Sam: I grew up in a part of the Bronx where he was somewhat of a hero. There was a park named after him, and he had a cottage on the Grand Concourse when he was alive. I went to kindergarten through the 2nd grade at the Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School. Back then the school had his image all over the place. I remember there was this big picture of him in the lobby that scared the living shit out of me every damn morning. (Laughs) So he was kinda like the first legend I knew of.
T.G.: What’s your favorite Poe story or poem, and why is it a favorite?
Sam: To pick a favorite from the works he did is kinda hard. For the risk of argument I’d say “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Not to mention “The Raven.”
T.G.: You’re very supportive of indie bands. Why? Why should anyone listen to indie music instead of long-established metal bands such as, say, Black Sabbath or Metallica? Are the indie bands ever better? If so, how?
Sam: The reason I support them is that music is an art form and just like any art form, sometimes it needs new blood. Black Sabbath and Metallica are great bands; I still listen to them. But if you wake up everyday looking at Michelangelo’s David, eventually you’re going to get tired of it and want something more, something fresh.
T.G.: At the risk of playing favorites, would you be willing to name some of your favorite indie bands?
Sam: This is going to be a long list! Killcode, Tanadra, Break 9, Fatal Kaliber, King Whack, Motorband, The Black 13, That Killed Crimson, Jean Cabbie, No One’s Mercy, Davie Reese, Big Black Novel, Black Haze, ElectroNomacon, Deathalizer, and Death and Taxes.
T.G.: What is your absolute all-time favorite song, and why?
Sam: There are way too many to list.
T.G.: What would be your advice to indie musicians today who want to gain exposure and succeed in the music business?
Sam: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Hit every Internet radio station. Be sure the station will announce all your shows, Web sites, and CDs. Record some of your shows and stick them on YouTube. Use Facebook, Twitter, Yearbook, MySpace, ReverbNation, and any other social network you can find.
T.G.: You were present in lower Manhattan during the September 11th tragedy, and there’s been some controversy about whether you really were present. Why do you think there is this controversy? Are your detractors just looking for a way to take pot-shots at you?
Sam: Pretty much. See, when you put yourself out there you attract 2 different kinds of people: the cool kind and the haters. The asshole who made these claims [that I wasn’t there in lower Manhattan on September 11th] was a DJ who had worked with me on another radio station. He attacked me with the hopes, I think, to get my spot. He made all kinds of claims about me.
T.G.: Such as?
Sam: That I abused children, raped a bus full of nuns, killed puppies then boiled their blood and drank it. (Laughs) I ended up going down the legal avenue and contacted the police in my city and his. Then I called my attorney, who provided my insurance papers, medical records, results of my lung tests, and the booking slip for the job I had to do that day with the address, date and time on it. The FBI began looking into this jerk, and they found out that he was doing the same thing to other people. He had a history of being a cyber bully—one of those tough guys behind a computer keyboard. . . .
T.G.: What finally happened?
Sam: Eventually he was told that if he continued he was going to be facing some big legal problems. So after that, he backed off. But in a strange way I kinda wish he was right about his story about me--maybe it would make the nightmares of that day go away.
T.G.: During each show, you do what fans call a “rant,” when you stop playing music and discuss an issue of personal or national importance, and this has become one of your trademarks. How did the practice of doing a “rant” get started? Was the first “rant” planned, or did it just happen by accident? What’s the importance of the “rant” to you?
Sam: The first one started out as just a goof. It was me acting as if I was going to run for President of the United States, and I made a speech that I thought was going to be funny. But my friends and listeners found it thought-provoking. The next day I had a ton of emails asking me to do rants about this and that. The problem is that I can only do a rant if I’m passionate about an issue. If I do one that’s half-assed, my friends and listeners can tell, so I try and keep it close to home.
T.G.: Tell us something about your producer, Mistress Tara. How did you two meet, and how did she become your producer?
Sam: We met in the Distant Thunder chat room, chatted a few times, built a friendship. And just like any good friend, when you’re in trouble your friends are there for you. I was busy with other business ventures, and I didn’t have time to get my show ready, and Tara asked if she could help. So she got the music for me, the plugs, ads, and sound bites. A few weeks later she was working for me.
T.G.: You broadcast on Internet radio. Other than using a different technology, how do you think Internet radio differs from regular radio? What do you think is the future of Internet radio?
Sam: Internet radio is just normal people having a good time. We play what people wanna hear, not what they are told to listen to. I think there is a very good future for it. With Internet radio, people can get what they want; they’re not dictated to. So for that reason I, my listeners, and my friends are happy to be a small part of it.
Sam: Yes. On Saturday, October 29, at 1:00 p.m. EST I’ll be hosting a Kiss tribute show that will be like no other. Over 10 hours of KISS with King Whack, No One’s Mercy, The Black 13, Careless, and Break 9.
In this blog post, I interview gay writer Nick Navarre, who writes dreamy romance fiction and steamy erotica. His books include Threesome at the Gym and Cowboy Up!
Tamworth Grice: What inspired you to write?
Nick Navarre: That’s a great question because I really just started writing a few weeks ago!
My first book, Threesome at the Gym,was written as an exercise. My writer friend Destiny Drake wrote an M/F/F threesome erotica story. Just for fun I took that story and turned it into a gay M/M/M threesome story. Ms. Drake encouraged me to put the result up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords as an ebook, so I did. I guess I got bitten by the “writing bug,” because I began writing a second book, Cowboy Up!
TG: Tell us more about these two, especially about Cowboy Up!
NN: The first book, Threesome at the Gym,is a sexy, fun, and exciting erotica story. A peeping Tom in a gym spies on two gay men having an encounter in the shower room. When he gets caught spying, he’s invited to join in the fun.
After that book, I wanted to write something with more psychological conflict, and something where the readers could get to know the main character a little better. I wanted to write in the romance genre. So I created Cowboy Up!, a gay erotic romance, in which Clinton, the main character, is going through a bad time in his life, and his problems are resolved in the course of the book.
TG: Tell us more about the plot of Cowboy Up!.
NN: Clinton is a gay man from Boston who’s in a terrible partnership with a cheating lover named Steve. To help heal their relationship, they go off to spend a few days together at a dude ranch in Wyoming. Ironically, instead of working on improving his affair with Clinton, Steve immediately hooks up with another guest. So Clinton is sitting around feeling depressed, but then he meets Travis, a cowboy ranch hand who helps him regain his self-respect.
TG: What inspired you to write this book?
NN: I think cowboys are incredibly sexy. And I think there’s been an interest in gay cowboy romances ever since Brokeback Mountain.
TG: What are you working on now?
NN: I’m working on another gay cowboy romance! It takes place in Nevada. One character is a rodeo rider, and the other one is a gay man from the Midwest who’s completely outside the “cowboy world.”
TG: Romance continues to be a hot genre. Lots of agents are eager to represent romance writers, and several highly successful publishers specialize in this type of book. So why did you go the self-publishing route?
NN: As far as I was concerned, there was no other route! I mean, why even bother with agents and editors? I don’t know why any new writer would want to go through that.
I’ve never submitted anything to an agent or a publisher, but I know how that system works. You send some agents a preliminary email about your book. And then you wait forever for the agents to respond. Next, assuming someone wants to look at the book—and usually no one does—you send the manuscript. And again you wait forever hoping for acceptance. But more often than not you’ll be rejected.
If the agent does accept you as a client, you wait again until the twelfth of never as the agent sends the manuscript around trying to land a publisher. And maybe it’ll never find a publisher! But if it does, you grow old as you wait months and months for the publishing company to edit your book, and then to print the book, and then to get it into the stores.
The whole process can take years, and I wasn’t willing to wait that long.
Author Waiting to Hear Back from an Agent
Plus, at the store the book will go straight to the bottom shelf and get no publicity because you’re an unknown author.
These days a new and unknown writer is expected to have a “platform,” a base of readers who will buy the book, and is expected to do his or her own promotion, and pay for it all. Publishers have little or no money for publicity for new writers. So why even bother with them?!
Also, ebooks are now outselling print books, so why bother with print books? You don’t need an agent and a publisher to get an ebook into the marketplace. So I decided to “take the bull by the horns” to use a cowboy metaphor [laughs], and self-publish my work in ebook form.
TG: And your readers are glad you did. That’s all the time we have for this interview, Nick. Any final words?
NN: Thank you for interviewing me. And I hope all GLBT people around the world will forever be proud and happy!
Readers can buy Nick Navarre’s books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
There seems to be a trend for self-published writers to share their sales figures in blogs.
I don't care what other writers do, but for myself, I don't want to share my numbers, and here's why.
First, I value my privacy. I don't tell people on the Internet where I live, I don't give out my phone number to strangers, and I don't leave the curtains open when I get undressed.
Second, I want the interest to be focused on my books, and not on how many copies my books sell. I'd rather have people say, "That character is really compelling" than "I can't believe she sold (or only sold) x copies last month."
Third, I see only limited benefits in sharing sales figures. Yes, if my books are selling really well, this fact might inspire others. However, I think it's equally possible that if my books are selling well, this fact might discourage others whose books are not selling as well. Different people react differently to others' success. Some applaud it and some are encouraged by it; but some are depressed by it, some disdain it, and some feel a need to disparage it. In my experience, people in general--especially on the Internet--are more likely to deride someone else's success than to offer congratulations. On the other hand, if my books are selling poorly, this fact might discourage other indie writers. And it might cause potential readers to be dismissive: "If the books are so good, why aren't they selling?"
Again, I can't--and don't want to--tell other writers what to do. But for myself, I don't believe in sharing my numbers.
Of course, that might change when I've sold a million books!
Having written extensively in my last post about formatting a book properly so as to achieve Smashwords' "premium status," I wanted to add some information.
"Premium status" on Smashwords means that besides being for sale at http://www.smashwords.com/, a book will be listed in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. Acceptance into this catalog means Smashwords distributes the book to major online retailers such as Apple, Sony, and Diesel eBook Store (Smashwords also used to distribute to Borders and the Borders' ereader company, Kobo). These retailers require that the book conform to requirements, such as a quality cover image, a copyright notice at the beginning of the book, and an ISBN (which you can get free from Smashwords).
I've been helping a few other writers, notable Destiny Drake, format their books for Smashwords. Destiny's books have all achieved premium status. However, Destiny says that although 16% of her total sales are coming from Smashwords, not a single sale has come from outside http://www.smashwords.com/. In other words, no sales from Apple, Sony, Diesel eBook Store, etc.
To me this says, "Don't waste your time trying to conform to the rigorous formatting requirements of the Smashwords Premium Catalog." And especially, don't waste your money paying someone else to do the formatting, unless you're just a perfectionist, and unless you're rich, and unless you're confident you will sell to the "major online retailers."
I'm working to put my books on Smashwords.com. Smashwords has an 87-page formatting manual. To make things easier for myself, I made up a checklist.
An expanded version of this blog entry is now available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc. under the title
"Basic Formatting & How to Create a Hyperlinked Table of Contents for Smashwords." I hope you will buy it and find it helpful!
I just finished doing some research into the history of the Borders Bookstore chain, which of course began liquidating its stores last Friday.
I learned that it was founded by two college students as a single small independent used-book bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI, in 1971.
I LOVE small indie bookstores--the ones that still survive and haven't been driven out of business by retailing giants (like Borders!)--there's always such a good feeling about them.
Anyway, the business grew and grew until it was bought by KMart in 1992 and then spun off as its own company, Borders Group.
Although for the most part I despise the traditional brick-and-mortar American publishing establishment, I've got a soft spot for retailing giant Borders, because I always liked their stores.
The one in LA in Westwood, in particular, was just such a nice place to browse, work on my laptop, sip coffee and eat snacks, and just generally hang out. The people in the stores I visited were always friendly and knowledgeable, and I liked the fact that, unlike Barnes & Noble, Borders carried music CDs (with headphones and listening kiosks) and software.
Now that's all history, with the last of the stores expected to shut down in September.
Most folks are attributing the fall of Borders to ebooks and sites like Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. Borders didn’t change with the times, they say, and so the company went the way of the dinosaurs—which is what happens when you don’t change and keep up.
When I heard someone on the radio say Borders was still operating in 2011 with a pre-Internet 1990s business model, I wondered why its executives didn’t follow the lead of Barnes and Noble and get into ebooks. But then I learned that in 2008 Borders signed an agreement with Lulu to distribute self-published ebooks through the Borders Web site. And in 2010, Borders opened an online ebook store and provided ebook readers and apps in conjunction with Kobo.
Apparently this was too little, too late.
Would getting into epublishing sooner and creating its own ereading device have saved Borders? I don't know. But I do suspect its execs had a head-in-the-sand attitude about the danger presented by ebooks in general and self-published ebooks in particular. I suspect they thought we self-pubbing authors were a fad, and would fail, and would just go away. If so, obviously they were wrong.
One online blogger positively cheered at the demise of Borders, saying the stores were poorly organized and the employees were idiots.
That's the exact opposite of my experience. I don't like the fact that Borders' cut-rate prices contributed to the deaths of many indie bookstores, but I did like Borders.
I'm sorry to see the stores go, and I especially feel terrible that all those people at Borders lost their jobs, especially the nice friendly people who worked for low wages in the stores.
Tamworth Grice: Tell me about your earliest memory of doing some kind of art?
Heidi Sutherlin: When I was little they used to celebrate May Day in schools (at least here in Oregon) and my first memory of creating was making May Day baskets in kindergarten. We wove strips of colored construction paper together to create the baskets and then filled them with big beautiful crepe paper flowers. I remember being fascinated and delighted by the idea that I could create something so beautiful from nothing. That’s been a defining theme in my life, the drive to create something from nothing, whether it is art, writing, or repurposing garage sale and thrift store finds.
TG: When did you really know you wanted to become an artist?
HS: Oddly, it wasn’t until college that I really became involved in art and design. I was originally a journalism major at the University of Oregon. My first semester, I took a “Media and Design in Journalism” class which required that we learn about the more creative aspects of journalism, especially in magazines and newspapers.
I was hooked.
I switched schools the very next term. I studied art and graphic design at Oregon State University. While there, I was able to immerse myself in not only graphic design but painting, sketching, sculpture, color theory, and art history. Of course, I can never just do one thing, so I added in literature as a major course of study and off I went, indulging my love for humanities in general.
Heidi's Cover for My Upcoming Nonfiction Book
TG: Your Web site says you’ve “followed a crooked but unbroken line from college, through a myriad of positions in seemingly unrelated fields.” Would you like to elaborate on this?
HS: I’ve had every job one could think of, from food service, collections, and call centers to even a very short stint as a car salesperson. I hate being told what to do and frankly doubt I would make it in the cutthroat environment that makes up most design firms. Even so, in most of the positions that I held, I would eventually find myself creating some sort of product using my design skills.
Then, the opportunity arose for me to work online. I started out part time while working a day job. I was finally able to go out on my own full time. And after two years of freelance design work and virtual administration, I started my own business, launched my Web site—and the rest is history.
Heidi's Cover for the Second Volume of My Upcoming Nonfiction Book
TG: How did you get started doing book covers?
HS: I became a part of the writing community on Twitter two years ago. As I pursued my own writing projects and then eventually became interested in self publishing, I realized that there are limited options for affordable cover art for self-published authors. As time went by, I realized that I wanted to give all authors the access to affordable, professional cover art that would allow them to compete with more traditionally published books and their more expensive covers.
TG: You’re a novelist yourself, so tell me something about your novel?
HS: I’m actually working on three at the moment. My romantic suspense novel, Brothers in Betrayal, is currently in that last editing phase and I’m hoping to have a late summer/early fall release. Warning: the following contains a shameless promotional blurb filled with comma abuse and run on sentences.
“When Special Agent Noah Jeffries’ investigation into an arms smuggling ring leads him to his best friend’s business partner, software designer, Grace Mason, his suspect quickly becomes the target of a mad man. When ties from his childhood affect a brotherhood in the present, Noah, his younger brother and his best friend must keep Grace one step ahead of a threat they cannot see from a man who shouldn’t exist.”
I have various other projects percolating, but two other novels—a category romance and a paranormal romance—are currently in process.
TG: Does being a novelist help or hinder you in designing book covers?
HS: It definitely helps. But what helps even more is being a voracious reader. I’ve been gulping down books for as long as I can remember. Having a clear understanding of character and the author’s voice is important to create a cover than speaks directly to the story.
For some covers, I work very closely with the author, while for others I need just an email with my basic questions answered to craft the cover that will represent months, if not years of work.The process is successful because the author will give you not only the detailed character information but also the tone and the “feel” of the story in each conversation, even in a short email.
Covers are fairly simple, and the key is to not attempt to over-complicate. It’s always interesting to see how my interpretation of the author’s work translates through each successive draft. With the exception of two books that a friend wrote, I do not read any of the stories before beginning the cover art.
TG: What’s the single most important thing a writer should look for in a cover artist?
If you do not feel comfortable communicating with your cover artist, then that person is not going to get the most accurate “read” from you, which is critical to creating a cover that you are happy with. Working online creates some interesting challenges, one of which is a nearly exclusive conversation through email, IM’s, images and social media. If you don’t feel like you connect with the artist, move on and keep looking until you find someone that you feel understands what you want and need for your cover art.
TG: Thanks for the interview, Heidi!
HS: Thank you for having me. The world of self-publishing is evolving, and every day introduces new challenges and benefits to self-pub authors. As one of them myself, I know how intimidating it can be to jump in. We have so many wonderful success stories as examples, and with access to affordable editing and cover art services, the gap between self-publishing and traditional publishing gets smaller and smaller every day.
Here's the transcript of yesterday's interview with Berkshire DuRoc:
Berkshire DuRoc: I'm here once again with author Tamworth Grice. Your next book is called Nasty Disposition. What’s it about?
Tamworth Grice: It’s about a 23-year-old Goth girl whose older brother’s ghost wants her to avenge his murder.
BD: Where did you get the idea of making the main character a Goth?
TG: First of all, I’m kind of on the edge of that world myself. I love the Goth fashion sense and can go for months wearing all black all the time. And of course as a horror writer I have a fascination with all things macabre. But I also like to show characters who are outsiders. They’re way more interesting to write about than mainstream conformists.
BD: But the girl’s brother is a mainstream conformist, right?
TG: That’s right. He’s nearly ten years older, and while she never met a law she didn’t want to break, he went in the other direction and became a cop. So there’s been a lifelong friction between them.
BD: Does the title Nasty Disposition describe your main character, then?
TG: Yes. At 23, Carmen has already had a hard life. The mother was a totally dysfunctional alcholic, and so she was raised by Frank, who's nearly ten years older. She got into drugs early in life, then ran away at 15 and stayed away for eight years.
BD: You went through several name changes for the title character in your last book, Listening to Ian Magick. Did that happen with this one?
TG: Not character name changes, but title changes. I went through several titles. Each time I thought I had a good one, I discovered there was already a book with that title or a very similar title. At one point in the book someone tells Carmen she has a nasty disposition, so I chose that. Hopefully no one else will have it by the time I publish the book on August 1!
BD: So who’s the bad guy in the novel?
TG: Actually, the book plays around with the whole idea of “the bad guy.” The local mob boss, a Japanese Yakuza crime lord, is actually one of the kindest characters Carmen encounters. Another “bad guy” in the traditional sense is the dealer and fence--now an ex-con--that Carmen bought drugs from as a teenager, but he, too, is a good-hearted guy who helps her out.
BD: The book’s cover shows a young woman who looks like she’s been horribly beaten. Is that Carmen?
TG: Yes, it is. But I don’t want to give away too much about how she gets that way! You’ll have to read the book.
BD: And we will! This concludes our interview with Tamworth Grice. Her novel Nasty Disposition is due out August 1st as an eBook released in conjunction with Dusty Raven Publishing and available for Kindle via Amazon.In the meantime, Tamworth’s current novel, Listening to Ian Magick, is available at Amazon
Tamworth Grice: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jack Wallen: I was an actor for a very long time. I performed on Broadway, off Broadway, in various Shakespeare companies across the country, and everything in between. I have a BS in theatre and communications and an MFA in acting. If I could afford it, I’d be a professional student for the rest of my life. I’ve also been a hair stylist, a computer engineer, and just about everything in between. My truest career love is creating on an emotional and artistic level.
TG: What inspired you to write in the horror genre?
JW: I’ve been a fan of horror since I was a young boy. I love to be scared and to scare. And I’ve found no better way to connect to the primal or get to the truthful core of existence than with fear.
TG: You’re known for writing about zombies and serial killers, and your next book is something very different. Tell us what it's about.
JW: My next book to be released is Shero, and it’s a departure from what I normally write. Shero is a superhero satire about a transgendered super hero. The book has camp, fashion, and a smart-mouthed narrator. It's pure fun. But after that will come the second in the I ZombieI series, called My Zombie My.
TG: What inspired you to write Shero?
JW: Shero was inspired because I know a lot of transgendered people who need a hero to prove to society they are nothing more than misunderstood people.
TG: Your books are available as print-on-demand paperbacks, and also as ebooks. How did you decide to publish in the eBook format?
JW: I love the creative process so much that it made sense for me to go the epub route. This way I can do my own covers and have the final say over everything. On top of that—I don't have to worry so much about being so narrow-minded about genre.
TG: What do you mean by that, by not worrying about being narrow-minded about genre.
JW: The thing is, the traditional publishers only ever make room for specific (and fairly narrow) genres. When titles crosses genres, the traditional publishers have trouble marketing them, so they turn them down. As an indie author I can cross genres all I want and even create new genres, if I feel so inclined.
TG: You mentioned that you do your own covers. I’ve had many people advise indie authors to hire an artist, unless they have training in art or graphics. Do you have an art or graphics background?
JW: When I was in undergrad working on a BS In theatre and communications from the University of Indianapolis, I had to study design. Between then and now, I became quite adept with various desktop publishing applications, which included graphics applications. But I would say the design classes I took in undergrad really helped a lot, because I learned quite a bit about space, use of space, and translating emotion to design.
TG: What are you working on now?
JW: I’m waiting for my beta readers to finish with My Zombie My, which will then (once I do some rewrites) go to the editor. At the same time I’m three-quarters of the way done with Die Zombie Die, which is the final book in the trilogy. I’ll be sad when this one is done, because I’ve enjoyed writing it immensely.
TG: Aww, don’t be sad. To make you happy, we’ll buy your books!
Jack Wallen’s paperbacks, I Zombie I, A Blade Away, and Gothica, are available at Amazon.com . They’re also all available as ebooks on Amazon,Barnes & Noble, andSmashwords.
Here’s my interview with the talented horror and dark fantasy writer Patrick Rahall, author of Cycle of the Hunter and Mist and Shadow:
Tamworth Grice: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Patrick Rahall: Well, I was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts and currently live just outside the city with my fiancée Ashleigh. I’ve been writing stories for most of my life due to an overactive imagination. But I always thought my ideas were too far-fetched or stupid to be of any interest to anyone but myself or maybe close friends.
Then I read “The Mangler” by Stephen King, about a haunted laundry machine that kills people. After that I didn’t think that anything I wrote would be any more far-fetched than that.
TG: How would you describe the genre you’re writing in? Speculative fiction? Fantasy? Other?
PR: When Mist and Shadow came out I was informed that it was “contemporary urban fantasy,” which I didn’t know was a genre. I refer to myself as a horror and dark fantasy writer.
Patrick Rahall in a Festive Mood
TG: What inspired you to write in this genre?
PR: Believe it or not it was Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.
When I was a kid my brother and my dad and I watched the “Making of” video probably a hundred times and I got wrapped up with zombies and werewolves and the like.
I made it my goal to publish a vampire, werewolf, and zombie novel.
Cycle of the Hunter is the vampire novel, and I am currently working on the other two. I like to take the genres in different directions than they have been taken in before. Like in Cycle of the Hunter, in which vampirism is passed on as a genetic trait, like blue eyes, and most people don’t even know what they are.
TG: What is your latest book called? Tell us briefly what it’s about?
PR: The newest ones are untitled at this point but I am thinking of Reckoning for my zombie novel, which I am co-writing with Alyn Day (@Z0mbieGrl on Twitter). She’s doing the prologue, called “Onset Apocalypse.” It focuses more on the struggle people have adjusting to both zombies and the real danger—other survivors.
The other is a story that Jack Ketchum thought was a great idea; when I asked him what he thought he signed a book simply “write the book.” I don’t want to get into too much detail but it is a werewolf novel involving a series of murders, a young boy, and his dog.
TG: What inspired you to write these books?
PR: I am so tired of seeing the same ideas paraded by Hollywood over and over. I am trying to bring some originality into the world.
It seems that writers are the ones who have to good ideas, but movie producers only want to show us the same damn things over and over. It’s frustrating.
Patrick Rahall with His First Novel
TG: How or why did you go the selfpub route?
PR: I went the selfpub route because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone. I got a few offers from publishers who wanted anywhere between $750 and $14,400 for publishing packages. I can’t come close to affording that.
TG: Your publisher, PublishAmerica, has gotten a bit of a bad rap in the publishing world. For example, Wikipedia says: “Disgruntled authors told Publishers Weekly that PA did not pay royalties owed to them, sold books it no longer had any rights to sell, set unreasonably high list prices and lower-than-average discounts for authors to buy their own books, and either neglected or failed to place books into bookstores.” But Wikipedia also says, “Other PublishAmerica authors have spoken out in support of the publisher.” Would you care to comment briefly on this controversy?
PR: The one good thing I can say about them is that they will publish without charging you. It was that philosophy that allowed me to get my work out there. And they did a really good job on the cover art for Mist and Shadow.
As far as the other stuff, yeah it’s true.
They pushed the price of my softcover books from $19.99 to $24.95. Then they said they were discontinuing the softcovers and that I had one last chance to order some before they were discontinued forever. So I did. Then a week later they announced that they were NOT discontinuing them but now offering a new format. Instead of the 8x5.5 inch format, they would look more like trade paperbacks, but in order to get them in that format you had to pay something like $49 per title, and I had to order some books as well.
Then they offered to turn the book into an eBook, but that was going to cost $199 per title. It’s ridiculous. They say they will do PR work for you, but then they charge ridiculous amounts of money in order to do so, and they are no longer offering discounts on the books I order myself.
TG: Your books are hard copies and not eBooks. Do you have any plans to go the eBook route in the future?
PR: I plan on doing both. I know the eBooks are very popular, but I also know that people cannot have those signed by the author. I love signing books!
TG: What are you working on now?
PR: Like I said above I am working on both my zombie and werewolf novels as well as a couple of other minor projects that may or may not end up being a collection of short stories.
And I am always looking to collaborate. And I’m not afraid to ask people who are way more successful than I to team up! I asked Jack Ketchum and director Adam Greene (Frozen, Hatchet, Hatchet 2), but they said no. I was not surprised, but I still felt confident with my skill and talent level that these guys would be impressed. Jack was very impressed with my werewolf story idea. That gave me a confidence boost.
Author, Adventurer, Anarchist. My books are available at the bookstores for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Smashwords, and so on. I hope you'll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them--if so, please leave a review. Thanks!