Saturday, January 31, 2015

Progress Report: February 2015

Where does the time go? Here it is February already and it feels like New Year’s Eve was last week.  I suppose that is a true sign of aging when a year appears to go by like that *snaps fingers* Or it could just be that because I stay busy all the time I honestly am not aware of the passing of time. In any case, here I am back with another Progress Report. Here’s where I bring you up to date on what I’ve been doing and assure you that I’m not just laying about watching Netflix and drinking champagne. Although that don’t sound like a bad idea once thought of, now don’t it?

First off, let me direct you to my series of author interviews “Kickin’ The Willy Bobo” in order to inform you that in the coming months that I intend to update many of those interviews since some of them were done two or three years ago and those writers have done an exceptional amount of work since then that you really need to be brought up to date on. So while I’ll be concentrating on doing that but that won’t mean I won’t be doing new interviews. Two gentlemen who I’ve been meaning to interview for the longest time are next on my list: Ron Fortier and Bobby Nash. And if you don’t know who they are by now then you’re definitely in the wrong place.

There’s a brand new Dillon project that I’ve just finished up but in order to read more about that you’ll have to bounce on over to the DILLON blog. See how that works?

I’ve been busy with quite a few things for Pro Se Productions as that mollyfoggin’ Tommy Hancock just won’t leave me alone.  One of those projects you’ll see in February is the first in a series of Single Shots running under the blanket title of TALES OF FORTUNE.

Fortune McCall as you all well know (and if you don’t then what’s wrong with you?) has six faithful companions in adventure who assist him in not only running his floating casino “The Heart of Fortune” but also in nemesising evil as well. THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL got exceptional reviews but one of them stood out as it was from Perry Constantine, a longtime friend and outstanding writer in own right. Perry pointed out that he really didn’t get to know as much about Fortune’s companions as he would have liked. And he was right. Some of  Fortune’s supporting cast didn’t get as much wordage and “screen time” as the others.

But thanks to Pro Se’s Single Shot program I was able to figure a way to give Fortune’s companion the room and wordage necessary to round out their characters. So each one of them will be having their own solo adventure in the TALES OF FORTUNE series. The first one: “For Violent Fires That Soon Burn Out” will feature none other than Fortune’s bodyguard and cousin Tracy Scott. I haven’t yet decided who will get the spotlight next but if you have a suggestion then please feel free to cast it in my general direction.

Last time we got together here I spoke about a special project I had undertaken. Tommy Hancock came to me and asked me to write a novelization of a movie. Now what’s such a big deal about that you may well ask. I mean, novelizations of movies are done all the time. The difference is this: with the blessing of the star/director and the encouragement of Tommy, my novelization was to explore, amplify and extend the story and characters beyond what the movie was. In other words I was given a free hand to indulge myself and go nuts. 

Now we’re not talking about an Academy Award winning movie here. But it was a lot of fun to do as it took me out of my comfort zone and let my stretch my creative muscles in a new direction. You’ll be hearing more about this as the last I heard we were looking for it to be published in March. And what exactly is “It” you ask? The name of it is SEARCH FOR THE BEAST and to give you an idea of what it’s going to be about, check this out:

I think that covers what you can look forward to from me in the immediate months to come. Once I’ve solidified a few things here and there I hope to be able to give you a firm date on the SEBASTIAN RED anthology and a couple of other things I have in the planning stages. Until next time, watch some good movies, read some good books and be good to yourself and others.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

12 Months Later With...Tommy Hancock

It’s been a while since the original Kickin’ The Willy Bobo Interview with Tommy Hancock. In that time, the flamboyant and outspoken Mr. Hancock has been hard at work doing what he does best: being the spokesman of Pro Se and the public face of New Pulp. So I thought it about time we caught up with him on the anniversary of that first interview and here he is 12 MONTHS LATER…

Derrick Ferguson: Have there been any major changes in your life personally and professionally since we last talked?

Tommy Hancock: Nothing major, other than dealing with a few health issues that seemed to get in the way of creativity and spreading the word of Pro Se some.  But overall things have remained much the same.  Still have a great wife, three kids I totally do not deserve, and enjoying every day - and this has been happening daily for a while- hearing from a writer, artist, or fan about their interest in Pro Se and the work that everyone involved is doing.

DF: How do you feel Pro Se has grown in the past 12 months?

TH: Pro Se won’t stop growing.  Not only are we adding titles and creators right and left, but our numbers on all levels are on an upswing.  More importantly, though, I think Pro Se’s greatest growth has been in its appeal to more readers and different audiences. We spent 2014 laying a lot of groundwork for expanding our readership and, although much of that won’t see fruition until this year, we’re already finding that what we do appeals to an extremely broad base.  Being identified both as a Genre Fiction and a New Pulp Publisher has helped open up several titles that have sat dormant for months, even years to readers, that we always knew were there. And now we are finding them or, in a lot of cases, they are following all the bread crumbs Pro Se’s left in various ways and finding us.

DF: How do you feel that you personally as an editor and publisher have grown in the past year?

TH: As a publisher, I have gained a tremendous amount of focus on just what Pro Se Productions is capable of.  When I started out, I was like a wide eyed kid at a candy store, not only wanting to taste every little thing I could, but working up ideas on how to make it all even better.  I’m still that kid, but I understand what I have the privilege of managing now isn’t candy, but little bits of magic.  Not my magic, I’m not the wizard, I’m just the guy who gets to pull them out of his hat.  And that’s not only a blast, but it’s a responsibility. One that I feel like I understand better than I ever have before. 

It’s also one that all publishers approach in different ways.  Some aren’t big fans of how I do what I do, others have said they think it’s the best way to go.  Me, it’s what works for me.  Pro Se Productions is a publishing company, but we’re a company with intentions, with various plans that all boil down to one mission- getting the best stories out to as many readers as possible.

As an editor, I think I’ve matured as well.  And a lot of that I owe not only to having so much wonderful work that I get to help edit, but to one man.  Joe Gentile, the mad genius behind Moonstone Books, has taught me more in five or six sentences over the last few years concerning editing than any course, seminar or book ever could.

DF: Is the direction Pro Se heading in now the same as it was a year ago?

TH: Yes, most definitely. I think we’ve discussed before that I sort of had a five-year plan for Pro Se from 2011 forward.  It is moving exactly the direction I wanted it to when we started publishing novels and anthologies in 2011.  Could things be better? Well, sure, every book could sell thousands and millions of copies.  But we are heading in what I consider the right direction for what we want to do long term. And that, simply put, is to be around for many years to come and to be a defining voice in New Pulp and Genre Fiction.

DF: Where do you see Pro Se in five years?

TH: Well into the next phase of our plan to be around awhile.   We are building a catalog now and have done quite well at that.  Five years from now, I hope to see us still adding to that catalog, but also to have several properties that readers are just seeing debut now or in the last few years, to have a collection of flagship titles to rival any company out there.  We’ve grown at an amazing speed intentionally and that may level off beginning in the next two to three years, but growth won’t stop.  We’ve been building the house from the ground up so to speak, hopefully in five years we’ll be expanding, adding on bells and whistles to our many rooms.

DF: What’s the best thing about dealing with writers? The worst?

TH: This can be answered with the same answer.  Their excitement about their work.  It is thrilling and invigorating to bask in and be a part of the fire that burns in a writer, or any creator for that matter.  It is one of the major reasons I do this.  

And as for that being the worst thing, let me explain.  Sometimes writers, and being one myself I have been guilty of this, believe that what they have is the best possible work ever and nothing can make it better and the world has to have it now.  And all of those are wonderful emotions and feelings and attachments to have.  But when a work comes to a publisher and the writer cannot let go of those feelings, then it becomes somewhat problematic at times.  I’m proud to say that issues arising because of this have been few and far between at Pro Se. And also, I believe every writer should commit to that passion should stand up for their works.  But there has to be a willingness to compromise when working with a publisher and although most every writer we have understands that, not all do and find their way to self-publishing or other avenues that are just as valid as what we would provide them.

DF: How do you see the New Pulp Community these days? Is it still a community?

TH: I am told on a regular basis that I’m one of the organizers of the New Pulp Movement, and I suppose I am. Not that I invented New Pulp, as I didn’t, or that I was the first to envision the concept, because again I was not. But I did have a hand in organizing several publishers and creators under a unifying ‘New Pulp Movement’ banner of sorts. 

So there’s my answer.  No, I don’t think New Pulp is a community and I really haven’t ever seen it that way.  A community denotes a group of people all existing together and working in concert to better the group as a whole on a consistent, regular basis.  And although New Pulp publishers and creators have done that and continue to do that every day – if one of us succeeds, then all of us float a little bit closer to the top is a concept I believe in – I do not see New Pulp as cohesive conceptual village all having the same goal.   There’s a reason why I suggested calling it ‘The New Pulp Movement.’

Movements move, and hopefully forward.  And not only that, but Movements grow and change and rise and fall…and the people, the movers, they change also.  Sometimes the faces change, other times the place the movers have in the Movement shift for better or worse, but everything in a successful movement continues evolving, expanding, becoming something different.  And just about the time you think it’s matured into one thing, it pushes even harder and is on its way to being something else. That’s what New Pulp is to me.

DF: Do you think that New Pulp will ever have respectability?

TH: It sort of depends on what you mean by that.  I think New Pulp is very highly respected within a particular niche, that being that cadre of fans that identify themselves as New Pulp fans.  Now, there’s at least one other niche that hasn’t always had the highest regard for what we do, but even that has changed in the last few years.  If you mean do I think we’ll ever have the respectability of being considered ‘proper’ literature and completely mainstream, God, I hope not.    

One of the great things about New Pulp, and in a larger sense specific Genre Fiction, is that there’s a roughness to it, a rawness that allows each writer to come at it individually, to put in appropriate elements shared by others, but also to leave a mark on a story, on a genre, on a reader that is uniquely the creator’s own.  I would argue that being mainstream and literary, that that sort of respectability requires creators to give up that edge, that individuality to a large degree.  So, no, in that sense, I hope New Pulp is never respectable.

DF: Are you working on any writing projects of your own?

TH: I have several things that are due, some a long time now, for Pro Se and others.  Thankfully, I have patient publishers and can only hope the readers are as patient.  Running a publishing company, especially one as aggressive as Pro Se has become, takes a lot of time.  Writing has taken a back seat and will have to for a bit longer, probably through March.  But, yes, there’s several things on the burners…and, of course, new ideas brewing as well.

Derrick Ferguson: What is the one thing above all others we should be eagerly looking for from Pro Se in 2015?

Tommy Hancock: The best damn Genre Fiction and New Pulp on the market between the covers of every single book bearing the Pro Se logo.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...RAYMOND EMBRACK

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Raymond Embrack?
Raymond Embrack: Escritor independiente de la ficcion

DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
RE: Currently in Los Angeles with years in an unnamed position in an unnamed industry.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.
RE: Some film, some theater, some science fiction. Nothing much. Planning to start a new background in the future.

DF: How long have you been writing?
RE: Since 1978.

DF: What writers have influenced you?
RE: Harlan Ellison. Ernest Tidyman. James Ellroy. Hunter S. Thompson. Iceberg Slim. Andrew Vachss. Quentin Tarantino. Walter Mosely. Elmore Leonard. Robert B. Parker. Mickey Spillane.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
RE: Never be boring. Leave out the slow parts. Write books that are non-stop pleasure. Write like books have to compete with video games, blockbuster movies, strippers and cocaine.

DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?
RE: Always. But I’m learning the critical instinct to question everything, including my instincts.

DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?
RE: Of my stuff? Your criticism helped me rewrite my first superhero novel. I don’t think a writer can improve without criticism. But that opinion is subject to change too.

DF: Do you crave recognition?
RE: Anything that hard to get deserves to be craved, hunted down, taken, beheaded then eaten. It has taken a long time.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Raymond Embrack?
RE: I write for outlaw bikers and Japanese strippers. I made the mistake of writing the work before defining the audience. Maybe I’ll do better next time.

DF: How do you use social media to promote your writing?
RE: That’s something I’m still figuring out.

DF: One of the things I love about your writing is that it so fearlessly non-PC and for me that’s refreshing. Was that a conscious decision on your part or did your writing just develop that way over time?
RE: Why does the best stuff tend to be anti-PC? It just is. For better or worse I have always gone for that in my writing. To me there’s no point in holding back.

DF: Who is Peter Surf? Where did he come from and why does he make you want to write about him?
RE: Surf has been around since the 1990s. He got his name from the music in “Pulp Fiction”. From there my action hero took shape. Surf is a comedian, a badass, a killer. Surf is not an anti-hero, he is my version of the most interesting man in the world. That is a guy who does all things with swagger. Is he a male fantasy? I can’t pretend he’s a realistic character. The action hero exists to hit that sweet spot just short of the mask & cape.

DF: I love the concept of Blonde City. Where did that come from?
RE: For me there was more escapism value in making up a city than using an existing and probably over-used setting. It gives me way more to play with. This is America’s newest city, one made of sudden wealth, gloss and hype. It only hires policemen who are hot. It gives the homeless lipstick.

DF: Which Peter Surf novel was your favorite to write?
RE: Has to be The Guns of Tony Franciosa. I took it off the market just so I could keep rewriting it.

DF: What is the future of Peter Surf?
RE: He seems a few books short, so more Surf will happen.

DF: Perhaps my favorite book of yours I’ve read so far is EL MOROCCO.  It’s the swingin’ 60s on crack. What was the inspiration for that story and the characters?
RE: The inspiration was John Ridley’s “A Conversation with the Mann” his comedian/swingin’ 60s novel. Had to write my own version, plus I’m a fan of the “Mad Men era.”

DF: How much of a superhero fan are you?
RE: I’m an unfrozen fan. I have to work my way up to “nerd.” Real nerds read and watch everything and know all. After years focused on crime fiction, I’m returning to the thing I started with. I now get that the superhero can be as ambitious a character to write but one even closer to the brain’s pleasure center.

DF: Marvel or DC?

DF: Who are some of your favorite comic book writers?
RE: Howard Chaykin. Alan Moore. Neil Gaiman. Ed Brubaker. Scott Snyder.

DF: Your five favorite superheroes?
RE: Batman. The Hulk. The Black Panther. Rorschach. Black Canary.

DF: Explain the concept behind the AXIS Superhero Novels.
RE: Typically superheroes exist in a world where comic book superheroes never existed. In the AXIS world they exist in this world with its same comic book culture. That is only possible when somehow the reality follows the archetype. I took that premise and fused it with my older sci-fi concept of an alien that takes the form of an Earth city.  That formed the AXIS concept.

I wouldn’t call it “alternate history” more like “alternate present.” In 1970, from nowhere the city of Brutalia appeared in one day. It is the only city where superpowers exist. Outside the city superpowers cease to exist. There, three major organizations are at war, AXIS, the superheroes who seek to keep superpowers from reaching the outside world; the OGD (Order of Global Domination) the supervillains who seek to export superpowers to conquer the outside world; O.U.T.S.I.D.E., superheroes seeking to export superpowers to benefit the outside world.

Oddly enough, I see these characters with the realism I don’t see Peter Surf. These are not anti-heroes or anti-supervillains, they are multidimensional people redefined by gestalt myth made reality. Their superpowers are their career. Both AXIS and the OGD have Washington lobbyists. Like real people, they don’t all automatically invent new super identities, they become existing fictional superheroes, as when one of them attempted to become a real Wonder Woman. The leader of AXIS becomes the (fictional) KM Comics brand superheroes of his teens.

The novels are themselves a process as, from an amnesiac fog, Brutalia, its people, their memory, its mysteries, and the culture around it evolves, mutates, take shape. There is room for years of this to come.

DF: The AXIS Superhero Novels are quite explicit when it comes to sex and violence. Again, was this a conscious decision on your part or did the novels just develop that way over time?
RE: That’s what they are, adult content in comic book terms. The superheroes and supervillains are adults at play with real weapons. The sex and violence are unleashed id. I see the art by Howard Chaykin with splattered heads and “Black Kiss” nymphos.

DF: Are there graphic novels or comic books based on characters from the AXIS Superhero Novels planned for the future?
RE: In 2015 AXIS will start going visual. The plan involves art, graphic comix and novels and animated films. And merch. In the future there will be action figures. Someday, a Taco Bell tie-in.

DF: Have you thought about opening up the AXIS Universe to other writers in a fashion similar to the “Wild Cards” series?
RE: That never occurred to me. I don’t think other writers want a piece of this.

DF: What is the future of the AXIS Universe?
RE: There will be more new superheroes and supervillains. The Carousel will change his name to Spinrax. There will be more like Bag of Green Army Men that take place in the multiverse of KM Comics. I have a thing for steampunk, so I see an AXIS steampunk series.

DF: What are your plans for your writing career? Where is Raymond Embrack going to be five years from now?
RE: Going full time writer. Five years from now: even more full time with extra full time.

DF: What are you working on now?
RE: Planning the next Surf novel and the next AXIS novel, both to write in 2015.

DF: What’s a typical Day in the Life of Raymond Embrack like?
RE: It begins in the compound known as Embrack Wonderland. Report to the day job, which is at home, at a desktop. Maybe lunch at Fat Sal’s. Whistle blows. Return to Wonderland. When an Embrack novel is in production, writing may occur.

DF: Recommend a book, a TV show and a movie.
BOOK: The Storm Giants by Pearce Hansen
TV SHOW: The Pleasure (Playboy TV Latin America)
MOVIE: The Raid 2

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?
Raymond Embrack: This has been boss. Thanks for letting me kick it with you, Derrick.

Friday, December 5, 2014

PulpWork Christmas Special 2014 (Volume 4)

Herein, you’ll find a septet of holiday tales in which the poor characters come to grisly, gory, and sometimes gruesome ends. Pay close attention, and learn from their fates, so that you might not make the same mistakes as they. 

You may find it safer to eschew the holiday tradition of the Christmas tree, for at least two stories in the coming pages warn of coniferous killers of the most sinister variety. Just when you’re getting comfortable with the idea of deadly flora, Josh Reynolds and Joel Jenkins turn things topsy turvy by swapping characters. Jenkins tries his hand at a tale of the British Royal Occultist, Charles St. Cyprian and his intrepid and sometimes bloodthirsty apprentice Ebe Gallowglass—both characters created by Reynolds. Not to be outdone, Josh Reynolds borrows Jenkin’s Native American gunfighter, Lone Crow, and teams him up with St. Cyprian and Gallowglass as they hunt down a wendigo in the Canadian wilds. 

You’ll also find masterful and unnerving Christmas tales by Robert Mancebo and Thomas Deja. 

Then Derrick Ferguson treats us to a full-blown novella, in which the global instigator, known only as Dillon, takes on the malign entity called the Krampus--drawn from one of the most malign Christmas legends ever recited to frightened, shivering children.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...TRACY ANGELINA EVANS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Tracy Angelina Evans?

Tracy Angelina Evans: That kid you saw get picked on at school, but never really paid much attention to, ‘cos she seemed to strive for invisibility.

DF: Where do you reside and what do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?

TAE: After “serving time” in South Carolina for almost 33 years, I am now residing in San Diego. Cheese and crackers are in abundance, since seven of her roommates are birds.

DF: Tell us something about your background.

TAE: I was born in Asheville, NC in 1967, but moved to  Duncan, SC at the age of 13.  My entire family were artists of some sort, but most were in love with writing or music.

DF: How long have you been writing? 

TAE: Between the ages of 4 and 7.  I was told by my paternal grandmother to go draw flies. Taking her literally, I began to draw flies, then flies in spider webs, and then I had to give a reason why they ended up in such a horrible position.  The writing of such a terrible tragedy was my first attempt.

DF: What are your influences? 

TAE: Music is my primary influence.  As for writers, Clive Barker is at the top.  His work is what eased me into the idea I’d always wanted to share:  The Monster Is the Beautiful One. Tolkien’s obsession with language is what drew me to him. Others include Carl Jung, Stephen King, Salvador Dali, Leonard Wolf (in particular), Russell Hoban, historical mysteries about the Cathars, the Great Mortality, the Dyatlov Pass, and a variety of “expert” books on Shamanism, prophecy, divine madness, and alchemy.

DF: What is your philosophy of writing? 

TAE: It’s kind of Quantum theory, I guess, since I lean toward the science that thought cannot happen without having happened before or happened in complete reverse.  That would certainly explain the similarities of Vampires from one culture to another.  But, to take it a step further, your mere thought of a thing brings it into existence.  It may seem to be fantasy to you, but in some spot in the multiverse, someone if fighting a real fight, and probably losing, against a spectre calling himself Cadmus.  Probable?  Don’t know.  Possible?  Maybe.  I’m not a Physicist.  The Vampire books I’ve written aren’t typical horror fair; rather, I consider recycled Faery stories, and folklore from around the world, with the added luxuries of electricity and social media.  Trying to combine the ancient and the modern is why I never give an actual time that anything in the books happened.  Also, I deliberately moved around the dates of actual events in our reality, so it would be difficult to place the narrative of the story with a calendar of any sort.

DF: What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TAE: Both!  No, it really depends on what the story is wanting.  If I can outline it, I try to remain to true to that, in typical Virgo fashion.  But there are many times where I’ve seen the story go off the rail and refuse to budge.  This can be rather painful, especially when it involves Cadmus Pariah being needlessly cruel.  One of my editors, Jill Rosenburg, gave me the title of “method writer,” because I tend to go too deep, feel too much, and leave with wounds that may not heal.

DF: How do you use social media to promote your writing? What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Tracy Angelina Evans?

TAE: I try to mention it and sample it as often as possible, everywhere I linger online, and do so in all social formats all at once, or at least close to it.  Our Internet is no longer a giant web, or an endless sea, it’s grown to the proportion of universe itself; as a result most everything gets lost in the miasma.  The more a worf, a phrase, or hashtag comes closer to the surface, the more like it will be to get noticed. 

Anyone who grows weary of Hemingway’s Iceberg Style of writing may enjoy these.  Those interested in Vampires, not so much the American version, but the earlier European version may appreciate this.  George Gordon Lord Byron’s groupies may also love Thiyennen.  Folks who like to read a book or story, then get to say near the end, “So this is why that happened!  Well, hootdang!”

So, yeah, I’d like to think I had an audience.  That would be great!  But I have no such delusion I will ever be a subject at the dinner table.  That’s okay.  The books were as much for my own understanding of the Great Ineffable as they are for others’ enjoyment, horror, or WTF moments.

DF: Two more questions before we get to discussing your trilogy. First; why the obsession with Shriekback and where did it begin?

TAE: Oh, where there is a story and a half for you.  I’d heard the name of the band over the years but growing up on the buckle of the Bible Belt with few record stores around, and even less money with which to buy them, I remained tight to my Electric Light Orchestra roots.  It was only until after cable finally made its way to my area that I finally got to see MTV, before it became the joke it is today.  I began collecting music videos, a lot of which would be more prevalent at night.  Since I was working 1st Shift at BMG, I would ask Aunt Tudi is she’d put my tape on record before she went to bed.   One night, after taping the Cure’s ‘Lullaby,’ which I been dying to have, she decided to leave the tape recording as she watched the video.

When I got up the next morning, she told me she got the vid I had wanted, but she also had a video I may be interested in, because it looked a little like “that Fellini movie you like so much.”  She was referring to Satyricon.    So ‘Nemesis’ was the first song I intentionally heard by the band.  It turned out years later, that I’d been listening to them four years before I saw ‘Nemesis,’ because one of my first VHS movies was the first Hannibal movie, Manhunter.  


It turned out that their music would have a large part in creating the essence with which I wanted to blanket the stories.  Between European Classical (mostly Czech in nature), Romani music, South African music, Klezmer, and Shriekback, I had before me a musical Nirvana I really couldn’t explain.  But I can say that the ebb and flow of The Relics are very closely tied to Shriekback’s songs.  That’s the primary reason a portion of their lyrics are offered as each chapters’ lean-in.

DF: And what are The Tim Roth Tutorials?

TAE: I started the Tim Roth Tutorials as a way of dipping my foot in the video-making process, because I wanted to create lyric videos for Illuminati’s songs, which have so far only been released once via the Shriekback Digital Conspiracy back in the early 2000s.  I didn’t know diddly about WSFTP, so this was practice for me.  Then it got some attention of some of Tim Roth’s “Hooligans” – his fans – who wanted more tutorials.  I think I have around 200 now?  I don’t know.  When I switched to Mac, I’ve been trying to learn iMovie, so I can continue them, ‘cos it’s a fun hobby, and some folk seem to like them.

DF: Why write about vampires?

TAE: I write about Vampires because I was raised on a steady media diet of vampirism, thanks to watching ‘Dark Shadows’ in my playpen whilst the mother unit toodled about.  Then came Shock Theatre on Saturdays, followed by reruns of the original ‘Star Trek.’  Being an only child, Vampires and space men became my siblings.  During college, I decided to study Vampiric origins and discovered that every culture describes almost the same thing, when asked about Vampires.  The great thing about 30 Days of Night is that it’s the most accurate account of Vampires, according to folklore.  Even if they are accurate, they still aren’t my favourite.  Neither is the modern, buddy-buddy attitude so many have to day.  Vampires do not sparkle. 

Honestly, though, I think I write about Vampires for the same reason many others do, if I may make such a bold assumption:  I write them because they allow me to be something on paper what I can never be in “reality.”  Going to that place where philosophy is uttered whilst a mage-like individual carefully vivisects his victim, because death would just ruin the moment, frees me to be kinder in real life, whatever that may be.

And then there’s this whole legendary vibe, where Vampires come into a story that has nothing to do with them and, if you read between the lines, you can almost sense how some of the earlier legends manifested.  Some of the greatest moments of archetypal panic are of the Great Mortality, heavenly events (that we can now explain), even crib death.  I believe everything is cyclic, and I believe in the ability to create Tulpas, and when enough energy is focused on one thing or belief, that thing acquires power.

DF: Do you think that popular culture is oversaturated with vampires? 

TAE: More often than not, considering the Twilight franchise.  But we humans, as a whole, prefer the presence of thought forms in our lives.  They’re familiar, they answer questions, especially about ourselves.  As such, every generation experiences a saturation of sorts.  We need it, to carry on the stories, satiate the monster with the blood of our imaginations.  It would be a much more depressing world, if we weren’t afforded that tinge of possibility that the succubus is right around the corner.

DF: What makes your vampires and your conception of vampires different from those we’ve seen recently in books, movies and television?

TAE: Well, they all owe their existence to a race that inhabited the planet before humans ever walked the surface.  So the first ten Vampires were of alien origin.  There is a science-fiction feel to the books, as a result, as well as a mythic/legendary vibe, especially in the second book, The Blood CrownVampires are mostly just like us, some can even withstand the sun.  Believe it or not, not all traditional Vampires would perish by sunlight.  One, called vrykolokas, from Greek legend, would often go to his job after he’d died, and go home to his family.  There were just those inconvenient times of drinking so much blood, he’d turn ruddy and look like a barrel.  That gave him the name “drum-like” – vrykolakas.  I haven’t been reading or watching much Vampire media in years, because I tend to soak things up and I don’t want to inadvertently steal something from someone else.

DF: Give us an overview of The Vampire Relics Trilogy.

TAE: The Vampire Relics Trilogy concerns three sacred objects that hold the entire nation of Vampires (the Great Hive) sway.  Each book is named for a relic and, even though it is the relics that drive the story, it is how the character behaves during and after the hunt.  More about the origins of the relics, the Vampires, and their maker comes to light with each book.

DF: Did you conceive of The Vampire Relics as a trilogy right from the start? And if not, when did you know it was going to be a trilogy?

TAE: The Chalice was supposed to be one book, ending with the imprisonment of then-villain Kelat.  At that time, in 1987, it was my attempt to come to grips with the idea of “soul mates,” how so many people find a kind of psychic completion when they meet that one, the one who finishes your sentences or shares memories of things that never happened to either of us.  This was when I started reading A Dream of Dracula by Leonard Wolf and Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln.  Those books, combined with my life-long fascination with Arthurian legends, along with learning about “alternative” religions, where a cup was the most sacred of tools to have on an altar, because the cup represented the feminine force, life, and immortality.  I left it open-ended, not because I was planning on writing another book, but because I thought I might one day revisit those characters.

When I wrote a little drabble on my Live Journal about Cadmus interrupting Kelat as she meditated in what she thought was a secret temple, that gave rise to the second book of the Relics, The Blood Crown.

DF: Is it accurate to say that The Vampire Relics began with Cadmus Pariah? Who is Cadmus Pariah and why does he fascinate you so?

TAE: The stories that came to light in the three books were, some of them, decades old.  In the first bones of the story, Kelat was the antagonist, the image of beautiful evil so reviled by her hero brother Thiyennen, who happened to be a Vampire himself.  Character-building and story construction began in 1987.  I knew what I wanted to tell, but I didn’t know how I could tell it.  Also, I was very uncomfortable making Kelat out to be the antagonist, based upon all I’d then read about Goddess worship and attempts of the patristic tribes to wash any shred of history she had from human brains then and forever.  I wanted to mart of campaign.  But I was without a villain again, so the story and its mythologies lay dormant for almost three years.  When I listened to ‘Deeply Lined Up’ by Shriekback in 1990 that was the last straw.  It was that song that gave birth to the Pariah.

But it’s Rob Dougan’s ‘Clubbed to Death’ that has consistently aided in defining the character.  That piece possesses a quiet menace that is only magnified by the piano solo.  It’s a song of one-ness and alone-ness, and being perfectly all right with both states.  Almost everyone believes that Cadmus was born from one inspiration.  True to his nature in the books, he has several parents, and belongs to none of them.  

DF: You’ve taken great pains to create an entire mythology for your trilogy. How difficult is it to create a universe?

TAE: A lot of the mythology I used in The Vampire Relics is material I could never make fit into a proper book, and I perceive that “over” story to still be telling else.  The mythology was there so the trilogy could be born. 

DF: Which book was the most fun and easiest to write? Which one was the hardest?

TAE: The Blood Crown was the most fun, but the parts about what Cadmus does to Faust weren’t very fun at all.  Otherwise, it was a joy, because I got to study Orphaeus and Cadmus much more intimately than before.  Their travels, to me, took on a Hope/Crosby vibe, so that was a great deal of fun.

The Chalice was the first, and it was the one that hibernated for the coming of the Shrieks into my life.  After that, it was written pretty fast. The Augury of Gideon has been most difficult, because “real life” was taking up not only my time, but challenging the belief system from whence the books came.  There were some days I struggled with not blurting out what Gideon’s augury really was.

DF: I know you have a deep interest in conspiracy theories. How much of that went into and/or influence you while writing The Vampire Relics?

TAE: The back-story of the Apostate came almost wholly from the arcane legends of ‘The Brotherhood of the Snake’, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar.  The man, the human, who brought the curse of blood down on the ten Tarmi, was in the Brotherhood of the Snake, and a student at the Tarmian college of Khemeth.  As you can see from just that, conspiracy theories and ancient aliens take up a lot of my time.

DF: What have you got planned next? And where do you see your writing career five years from now?

TAE: Right now, I’m writing what I think will be a standalone book.  It will feature Cadmus, of course, as well as Orphaeus,Rebekah, and Mephistopheles.  It’ll introduce Cadmus’ rival, Flint.  The working title is TAE: The back-story of the Apostate came almost wholly from the arcane legends of ‘The Brotherhood of the Snake’, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar.  The man, the human, who brought the curse of blood down on the ten Tarmi, was in the Brotherhood of the Snake, and a student at the Tarmian college of Khemeth.  As you can see from just that, conspiracy theories and ancient aliens take up a lot of my time.

DF: What have you got planned next? And where do you see your writing career five years from now?

TAE: Right now, I’m writing what I think will be a standalone book.  It will feature Cadmus, of course, as well as Orphaeus, Rebekah, and Mephistopheles.  It’ll introduce Cadmus’ rival, Flint.  The working title is The Harming Tree, which actually exists, and was a musical instrument of sorts made by Barry Andrews. which actually exists.

DF: What’s a Typical Day In The Life of Tracy Angelina Evans like?

TAE: Get up, if I ever got down.  Get down, no matter what state you’re in.  Getting down is never a bad thing.  Attempt breakfast.  Clean the cat box.  Follow cookie crumbs and connect dots ~ kind of a synchronistic Yoga to help with sanity-management.  Research, research, research.  Promote, promote, promote (not me).  Read the latest news and let the anger flow through me.  Read the latest in space and physics news, and let the wonder flow through me.  Try to respond to all communications.  Then write, to music.  If there’s no music, there is no writing.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Tracy Angelina Evans: Everything you ever imagined might be in that scary closet in your is, is.  And it’s your fault for imagining it, in the first place.  Rest well, tonight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...TOI THOMAS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Toi Thomas?

Toi Thomas: I am a big kid, a scared little mouse, a super hero, and a number of other things when I let my imagination soar. At the very core of me, I’m a God fearing wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend; my family means a lot to me. But for the most part, people know me as a teacher, writer, blogger, comic book lover, music lover, and movie lover. 

DF: Where do you reside and what do you do for a living?

TT: I live in what most people know as the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, formerly the Tidewater area. I live in a nice little city called Chesapeake which is located right in the middle of all the action. It’s just down the road from all the high life and tourism of Virginia Beach and the night life and commerce of Norfolk. I currently work as a special education teacher’s assistant and use my spare time to take on other interests and challenges.

DF: Tell us something about your background.

TT: I was born and raised in Texas so there’s part of me that still belongs to the southern mid-west and the good and bad that comes with that. All my life I’ve been a bit adrift. Everyone who’s spoken to me on a frequent basis will tell you that I seemed to have been born in the wrong time because of my maturity and my appreciation and affinity for things of the past.

DF: What are your influences?  

TT: I am influenced by life. Everything I come in contact with and am exposed to influences me in one way or another. While there’s no denying the confidence that facts and relative truths can offer, I often find that the challenge of fiction makes more of an impact on my perceptions. I like knowing, figuring out, and or determining for myself just where fact and fiction collide.

DF: Which do you like better: writing fiction or reviewing movies and books?

TT: This is a tough question; it’s almost not fair. I like all these so much. Writing fiction is a creative process that breaks you down and tests your limits. Reviewing books and movies dares you to speak your mind and leaves your opinions vulnerable to challenge and critique themselves. I guess if I was forced to only dedicate my time to one, I’d choose writing fiction. I don’t think I could give up my habit of creative expression.

DF: What is your philosophy of writing?

TT: Most writers would probably look at my philosophy as self-torture, but it’s the way I work. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to limit myself to specific genres, techniques, and tropes. I write what comes to me, but I also keep notes of inspiration that often lead to the intentional development of a story. I have a very methodical approach to my writing process, but my philosophy is quite loose and unstructured.

DF: How have you grown as a writer from five years ago to right now?

TT:  I still have much more growing to do. I never set out to become a writer, but it just became who I am. If I had known this was I path I would travel someday, I would have prepared better. I would have taken more classes and immersed myself in the writing and publishing culture during my youth when I was embracing classic films and literature.

DF: Tell us how you created the ETERNAL CURSE series

TT: The series started out as self-therapy, though I didn’t know it at the time. I had a reoccurring dream that I decided to start taking notes on and write out, but I couldn’t always remember what I wrote. That’s where my creativity was sparked. 

Something compelled me to fill in the blanks of this dream and create this story and the characters. The whole process was time consuming and calming during a time in my life when I was going through some social, emotional, financial, and other personal struggles. Writing the first book in this series saved my life and when it was done, I knew I needed to keep it going. There was still so much more to share.

DF: Tell us about GIOVANNI’S ANGEL

TT: Giovanni’s Angel is a subheading or installment title. The whole first book is centered on the understanding of who or what is Giovanni’s Angel. Many different answers have been concluded about what the title actually means and like leaving it open a bit so readers can decide for themselves what Giovanni’s Angel really is. I will tell you that what most people quickly figure out is that while Giovanni is the hero and star of this series, the first book isn’t truly about him. It’s about another character’s discovery of him.

DF: What are your future plans for the series?

TT: I’m working to release the second book in the series by 2016 at the latest, but hopefully sooner. There is already a manuscript in the works for a third book and I’m looking and thinking of ways to diversify the book’s reach. I have dreams of doing a graphic novel, but at this point they are just dreams.

DF: You have your own YouTube video channel where you read excerpts from books you like, review movies or just goof around having fun. How did that start?

Well the truth is, I just got tired of not sharing some of the other crazy stuff that goes on in my head and thought that the visual media would be a good way to let it all out. There’s only so much I can share on my blog that won’t scare people away, so I figured this might be a good way to attract a different kind of audience. I was actually hoping to work with and promote some authors along the way, but apparently authors are camera shy.

When it comes to my content and my line-up, I decided that I need some original TV-like content or shows people could hopefully get into. I’m small potatoes now, but one day someone will get a greeting card covered in glitter and will go to You Tube looking for solace, where they’ll find a video of me ranting about why I hate glitter…Hey, a girl’s gotta dream.

DF: You’re a writer I admire for the way you’re using social media to aid your writing career. Why don’t more writers use social media to be…well…social?

TT: That’s a very good question and I wish I had an answer. I’ve tried to reach out to the writing community, but it seems that anything that veers too far from actual writing is looked upon as “sketchy” and or “gimmicky”. I guess some writers don’t feel they need to be social outside of their blogs. If they have a pretty big and loyal following I can’t argue with them, but it just seems like there are opportunities slipping away.

Another dream, or perhaps fantasy, I have is that there would be an emerging writer community on You Tube with its own shows, content, and fan-base. It’s not likely to happen at the current rate. I have this philosophy that “authors are just as important to the world of entertainment as music groups and movie stars”, but unfortunately there’s not enough of them out there acting like rock stars. I think they are all waiting to become New York Times Bestsellers first.

DF: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

TT: Definitely a plotter. I have been jokingly called “O.C.D.” by some, but I’m really not that bad. I just believe in always having a plan whether it be for a road trip or my next book.

DF: You’re quite the comic book geek as well. What comic books are you currently reading?

TT: I’m currently reading some back issues of Guardians of the Galaxy, The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles graphic novel, before the turtles had different colors and distinct personalities, and I’m also reading some Martian Manhunter.

DF: Name your three favorite comic book characters.

TT: Batman is my number one. Hulk is my number two. I have a tie for number three between Wonder Woman and Storm, but Storm- Princess of the Amazons from the Amalgam Universe is pretty sweet (She a mix of Storm and Wonder Woman.) I’m mostly a DC fan in terms of comic books, but in audio visual media it’s hard not to give Marvel the credit they are due.

DF: You ever thought of creating/writing comic books yourself?

TT: All the time; sometimes it keeps me up at night, but I don’t have the sketching talent for it and need training to developing good panel story plotting.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Toi Thomas?

TT: This is also a good question. I think my writing philosophy is holding me back a bit. I think there are definitive audiences for my individual works but as a whole, they are contradictory and confusing to consumers who just want to read a good book with no hassle.

I’m currently considering taking on some pen names to distinguish and promote my varied works to genre specific markets. It’s all a work in process.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Toi Thomas like?

TT: Sweet question; I like the way you’ve honed in on one of my monthly blog posts. A Day in My Life is not very exciting. I have a day job that is challenging and never boring. When I come home, my life becomes a balancing act. I scramble each day to find time to write, blog, read, exercise, cook, and spend time with my best friend (this dude I picked up ten years ago who likes to call himself my husband). For the most part, I wouldn’t change anything about my life. I like my struggles, but if I could opt out of my day job I totally would.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?

Toi Thomas: I don’t think there’s anything else I need to share though I could go on talking about myself if I felt like it. It’s a good thing I don’t feel like it most of the time. I’d rather talk about someone else, a good book, or a good movie. I am working to release a new book outside my Eternal Curse series in the months to come and will be starting my marketing strategy soon. 

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this lovely interview. It has been a pleasure.

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