An interview with Hemanth Gorur

As part of the awesome Indie Block Party, I had the opportunity to interview Hemanth Gorur, a paranormal thriller author! Say hi to my zombie and sci fi loving entourage, Hemanth! This is the first interview I’ve ever given, so please forgive me if the questions are weird. I wanted to delve into the nature of speculative fiction, and have some fun.

What draws you to the thriller genre in particular? When does a guy wake up in the morning and say, “You know what, I’m going to write a paranormal thriller. This is the best idea ever!”?

It’s the opportunity to set the pulse racing in your reader. Especially in the paranormal genre, there is immense scope for portraying the fictional as real, the supernatural as something that can have an impact in material life. There is scope to stretch the definition of ‘fiction’.
You’re clearly quite drawn to the psychological elements of your genre. How does adding a paranormal element to your stories complicate this? Are there cases where it gets easier?
Normally psychology as we know it extends to the here and now. We probably use it to understand human beings living in our lifetime, or in some cases dead ones. When I add psychological elements to a paranormal thriller, especially in themes like reincarnation, there is suddenly a vast new sphere of psychological profiles you can draw up. There is a certain tartness, a certain tanginess when you can get your story to revolve around the psychology of living beings but from a vastly different era.
What are the biggest challenges facing you as an author?
I think the issue facing most authors, including me, is that, suddenly you have everybody writing. Not that that’s bad in itself, but what that has done is create a huge slushpile out there in the market. Add to it the various self-publishing mechanisms you have today and suddenly it’s difficult to pick out the good stories from the bad. There is no single policy or policy-making body to my knowledge that is the universal gate-keeper of writing quality, wherein if your writing sucks you have no chance of drowning out that one good story by a deserving author by just dumping 20 badly written stories out there into the market.
What author do you draw the most inspiration from?
That would be two of them actually: Robert Ludlum and Dan Brown. Yes, they’re not paranormal authors, but they do know how to tell a story!
What’s your favorite and least favorite paranormal entity? Would you ever willingly join the realm of the paranormal?
My favorite would be the character in X-Men who shapeshifts to imitate people she sees. I don’t think I have a least favorite. And yes, I would join. It would be fun to be there yet not be there and things like that!
Pick your two favorite authors. Who wins in a barfight?
That would be Ludlum again and Arthur C Clarke. I’d place my money on Ludlum (he was a US Marine!).
Would you live in any of the worlds you’ve created?
I’ve created just one so far – the world in Aymaran Shadow. Though there is a dip back into 18th Bolivia, the world centers around modern India and of course the travel paths of the two antagonists who come South America and England to India. So, I guess I would.
What’s your dream writing location? Coffee shop, bar, library, writing shack, the moon?
I like the last one – moon! But, that sounds dramatic sitting here. I don’t think you could actually write there. I’d go for the beach – a moderately warm sunny beach, with people frolicking around in the distance, while I’m under the shade of beach groves in a recliner, sipping my apple juice and pounding out those pages.
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Book review: The Green-Eyed Monster by Mike Robinson

I was asked to review Mike Robinson’s new book “The Green-Eyed Monster.” It’s a paranormal horror/mystery that twists through the interlinked lives of two men: Martin Smith and John Becker.

This is a mystery laced with metaphysical and philosophical questions. You start off at the end–the final battle in the war between two competing giants. Much of the rest of the book is presented in flash-back, where the characters who had been influenced by the tendrils of chaos that emanate from the two boys tell their story.

The two main stories are those of Mrs. Chatsworth, their first grade teacher, and Harry Zweig, a classmate of theirs. This makes up the real meat of the book. Each character had a distinctive voice, and even though you knew in advance what happened to them, their stories were fascinating. They felt like real people–or as real as possible when their reality is rapidly approaching insane. These stories take up the majority of the book, which is good, because they’re what I most enjoyed.

The monster/philosophical part never takes concrete form–the “grandfather” can always been identified by his butterflies, but he seldom communicates directly with the characters. What is interesting is how both Becker and Smith appear to be two halves of the same soul–their books are almost identical, as are their life stories. They don’t really seem human–too lost in some other world to interact with the other characters well. It makes them seem mysterious and a little dangerous–especially after Mrs. Chattsworth’s story is told.

In short, don’t accept favors from anyone’s grandfather. Ever. Bad idea.

Cover Reveal: Paradise Earth by Anthony Mathenia

It gives me great pleasure to lend my blog to a great title’s release. I was a proofreader for this story, and it will move you, shake you to the core and sucker punch you in the gut while you’re down. Mark your calendars, it’s coming on December 21!

The book is Paradise Earth by Anthony Mathenia. Now, feast your eyes on the cover, and don’t forget to read the blurb.

 

When the ground quakes and blazing balls of fire fall from the sky, a religious sect interprets it as the fulfillment of long-held prophecies foretelling the end of the world. The members flee to their religious sanctuary, believing that this global cataclysm is the portent of a new paradise of eternal happiness.

Inside, one cold and starving man struggles to hold onto his hope for the future. He’s sacrificed everything for his faith in the prophecy, including his family. As the tortuous night drags on, he struggles to hold onto his hope for the future and grapples with a lifetime of beliefs, and expectations.  If he survives to see the paradise earth, will it be worth it?

Paradise Earth is a deconstruction of faith at the end of the world and beyond. The first volume of the trilogy, Day Zero, will be published by Curiosity Quills Press on December 21, 2012. Week One and Forever After will follow.

Anthony Mathenia is a novelist and freelance writer. He has a weekly romance serial titled Happiness: How to Find It published on curiosityquills.com and a weekly offbeat travel column on Vagobond.com. Paradise Earth: Day Zero is his debut novel. He was raised in a religious cult and sincerely apologizes for waking you up on Saturday morning in order to recruit you.  www.anthonymathenia.com

Cover reveal! 18 Things by Jamie Ayres

I love book covers, cover reveals and being supportive of the great Curiosity Quills community. I’m happy to help announce Jamie Ayres’ cover reveal for her novel 18 Things. Look out for it in late November–the premise looks fascinating!
Synopsis:
Can eighteen things save a life? Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. Then Conner is killed in a freak accident and Olga feels responsible. The sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost and unable to deal with the emotional pain. When she downs an entire bottle of pain pills, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. Olga enlists the help of her friends and becomes a catalyst for healing in their own lives as they eagerly offer suggestions. Alls she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. Maybe it’s time to put into practice the lessons her list has taught her. Just as she’s finally embracing the joys of YOLO, her therapist reveals a big secret and Olga’s world is shaken. In the past year it took eighteen remarkable things to change a life, but nothing she believed about her mission is true. Now she doesn’t just risk losing her true soul-mate forever, she risks losing her very soul. There’s only one thing she knows for certain. Her choice will affect their future for all eternity.
Author Bio:
Jamie Ayres writes young adult paranormal love stories by night and teaches very young adults as a public school teacher by day. When not at home on her laptop or at school, she can often be found at a local book store grabbing random children and reading to them. So far, she has not been arrested for this. She lives in southwest Florida with her prince charming, two children (sometimes three based on how Mr. Ayres is acting), and a basset hound. She spent her youthful summers in Grand Haven, Michigan and this setting provided the inspiration for her debut novel, 18 Things. She really does have grandmothers named Olga and Gay but unlike her heroine, she’s thankfully not named after either one of them. She loves lazy pajama days, the first page of a good book, stupid funny movies, and sharing stories with fantastic people like you. Visit her website at www.jamieayres.com.

A Tale of Two Novels – a guest post by John Abramowitz

I’m pleased to re-introduce my friend and fellow writer John Abramowitz! John wrote Atticus for the Undead, and now he wants to talk about his latest upcoming release, The Void. I’ll let John fill you in on the rest:

It is fitting that The Void is a tale of two characters’ coming of age (One of the characters is Alex Cronlord, the protagonist. I won’t say who the other one is to avoid spoilers. For purposes of this blog entry, we’ll refer to that character as Bob. Yes.). The Void is the second book in my young adult Weaver Saga, and the story of the Saga’s creation is the story of my coming of age as a writer. After all, its predecessor, Weaver, is the first book I ever published. Together, the two novels bookend my writing career (ba-dum-ching).

As I moved Alex and Bob through their journeys in roughly parallel action, I often felt like the novel was a case of art imitating life — Bob’s story arc was a metaphor for writing Weaver, while Alex’s story symbolized writing The Void. Just as Alex and Bob must make similar choices at various points during the novel, I confronted many of the same choices while writing The Void that I faced while writing Weaver. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the second book is better than the first (though I hope it is), but I would like to share with you some of the lessons I learned:

#1.) Don’t try to rush through your plot. Before I wrote Weaver, I made serial fiction, not novels. Serials allow a writer to be very ambitious, since they provide a lot of time to stretch out the plot and character arcs. When I started writing novels, I was determined not to dial back my ambitions — but I had less space to tell my story. I think the final product still turned out well, but I definitely tried to cram too much into too few words. As I re-read the first book in preparation for writing the second, there were some scenes that I definitely looked at and said, “I wish I had gone into more detail about this.”

I’m happy to say that I didn’t make that mistake this time around. In fact, I altered my original plan for the book to avoid making that mistake. My initial outline called for me to essentially tell Bob’s entire story in this book, but as I got down to writing, I saw that it wouldn’t work. After all, I wanted Alex’s progression to parallel Bob’s, and Alex’s story would not end with this book — the rest of the series would be very boring if it did! Since I knew how far I wanted to take Alex in this book, I decided to stop Bob’s story at the same point. This was painful for me, since I’d been looking forward to writing some of the scenes that didn’t make the cut. On the other hand, now I can torture my readers with the suspense!

#2.) Keep up with your characters. This wasn’t an issue for me in the first book, since I only had one set of characters to contend with. But by the time I wrote The Void, I’d also self- published Atticus for the Undead, a totally different type of story with a totally different cast of characters. By the time I finished Atticus, I’d bonded so thoroughly with Hunter, Kirsten, and Sabrina that I’d completely lost touch with Alex, Moira, and James. I didn’t know what was going on in their heads. I’d lost track of their motivations.

And then Michael, my friend and beta reader, suggested that I write one-page sketches of each of the characters before writing another word of the manuscript, which I did. I cannot overstate how much easier those sketches made the writing process. They forced me to define the characters and their motivations in my own mind. They also served as a “cheat sheet” I could use when writing the scenes, to make sure I didn’t forget details that might influence their decisions.

#3.) Listen to your critics. Well, not all of them. Don’t listen to the ones who just want to call you names, for example. There are also some people whose tastes in reading will differ from your taste in writing. That’s okay. But I highly recommend reading any review offering constructive insights into issues or problems the reviewer had with your book. Detach your ego and ask yourself if there’s a kernel of truth in their criticism, or something you might use to build on your own work.

This is how I learned Lesson #1, above. A kind reader e-mailed me to say that, while she had enjoyed Weaver, she felt that the book had pacing issues, and hoped I would take that into consideration in writing future books. When I thought about it, I realized she was right. As a (terrified) first-time novelist, it was hard to read criticism of my book, but if I’d ignored or dismissed her criticism, I would have done myself a disservice. I truly believe that both Atticus for the Undead and The Void are better books because I took what she said to heart.

The Zombie Bedtime Stories blog tour marches on!

We’re about halfway through the month. There are plenty more interviews and guest blog posts coming up. I’m very excited about them all, of course. I have to be! Here’s the quick run-down of my latest guest blog adventures:

Last weekend, I outlined my Quest for a Crochet Zombie on SM. Robertson’s blog. She and I talk about crochet, rescuing birds, writing and all other good things on Twitter, so I was so happy when she offered to host me.

Today, a post called Zombies In Disguise came out on Mercurial Musings. It’s kind of funny, I expand on the “ha ha, mall patrons are zombies” logic. To make us all zombies.

This weekend, I have a packed itinerary. It’s going to be great.