The Sam Stone Interview

Good Morning readers.

Today I would like to introduce you – if you’re not already familiar with her work – to Sam Stone; horror/fantasy writer. Another hugely prolific author with an impressive resume of novels, novella’s, short stories, a screenplay and editorials under her belt. Winner of multiple awards; including the 2011 British Fantasy Society Awards for Fool’s Gold. She writes poetry and prose and is even a radio host on SirenFM. Modest and polite, even if she does write of horror and occasional gore, just don’t cut her up on the motorway – you may end up in her next story!

Award winning author Sam Stone began writing aged 11 after reading her first adult fiction book, The Collector by John Fowles. Her love of horror fiction began soon afterwards when she stayed up late one night with her sister to watch Christopher Lee in the classic Hammer film, Dracula. Since then she’s been a huge fan of vampire movies and novels old and new.                                                                                                                        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1681383.Sam_Stone

 

Hi Sam, Welcome, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog; Flailing Through Life…

A: And talking about flailing; do you ever find yourself ‘flailing through life’?

S: All the time! That’s what being a writer is all about! We don’t just make up fiction, we’re all winging it in the real world too. 🙂

SS KatOnAHotTinAirship

A: What were you like as a child?

S: I guess I was a quiet, studious child. I was always hiding in a corner somewhere reading a book. But for all that, I hated reading aloud to my teachers. I found it embarrassing and I stumbled over my words. As a result they thought I couldn’t read well and gave me extra reading lessons. All of which I really enjoyed!! I also loved to sing, and my sister Adele and I used to sing together all the time. I was always too shy to actually get up and perform and usually avoided being involved in school plays because I would just get too nervous. I hated feeling like that and so I always stayed in the background as much as possible.

 It would probably surprise you to know that most of the time I still feel like hiding!

 

A: We have met a number of times now; through Steampunk, and you are always polite, always smiling, always giving of your time to fans of your work. Are you ever angry? Do you ever swear? And what would it take to make you do either of those things?!

 S: I love to talk to people and meet them at events. I’m eternally grateful for anyone continuing to buy my books and support my work. As any creative person should be. So when I hear about how obnoxious other writers or media celebs can be that makes me angry. Without their readers or fans they wouldn’t be anywhere would they?

I get a bit angry whenever I’m not having time to write. I find writing cathartic and so when I’m not writing for any length of time I become a little bit moody and frustrated. Even a bit depressed to be honest.  Writing makes me happy. I’m a very sociable person but I love my own space.

 I do sometimes suffer from road rage. My husband, David, says I have ‘driving’ tourettes!! Other drivers can be bad-mannered and they really annoy me!! I dislike someone tailgating me. I detest them using bullying tactics to shove you out of the way. It’s just so rude. It makes me cross that some people think that their journey is more important than yours, and that you have no right to be using ‘their’ road.

 But real anger – rude people. Ignorance. I hate it when people criticise other people without actually knowing anything about their circumstances. Bullies make me angry. Cyber-bullies especially because they usually hide under false names. Some things that people say online is totally inappropriate – the way they treat others is unacceptable. They would never say or do these things face to face. But it’s okay for them to do it behind their computer screen. Cowardly for sure.  No one person is better than anyone else and everyone deserves to be treated with respect no matter who or what they are.

SS Whats Dead Pussycat

 

A: What does literary success look like to you?

S: Success is always somewhere way above my head and out of reach. Even the most successful authors think this. All you can do is strive to write the best you can. Reading should be fun and as long as people continue to buy and enjoy my work, then I have all of the success I need.

SS zombiesinnewyork

 

A: Sam, you’re well-known for writing in the horror genre, you have ‘Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings’; a collection of short stories and poems that walk firmly on the dark side, and ‘Killing Kiss’, amongst others. What draws you to this genre and what kind of horror do you prefer to read (or watch) yourself?

S: Growing up I loved Hammer horror movies. This led onto me reading horror, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice. I enjoy a good Zombie movie now. Love watching horror that’s fun rather than bloody. I’m not into torture porn at all, even though I’ve written some pretty gruesome stuff in the past. I don’t really like non-supernatural horror much either. So no home invasion films for me! I think horror should be something that you can use to help exorcise and face fears and phobias but, for example, the claustrophobic The Descent was a bridge too far even for me! Which is why I personally prefer supernatural horror, because it’s easier to have the scare thrill but you don’t carry it with you for long afterwards.

 I do enjoy watching a variety of different types of fiction these days. Horror is something of a busman’s holiday to me sometimes. But I love  IZombie, Santa Clarita Diet, Outlander (Historical Romance – but quite gruesome in places!), Lucifer (Comedy) and I recently bought the box set of a series called Revenge.

SSThe Descent
So exploring caves is NOT on Sam’s To-Do-List. The Descent 2005.

 

A: You also write Steampunk novels, Kat Lightfoot being the eponymous heroine of many of these. Can you tell us how Kat came to be, and did anyone in the ‘real’ world influence her character development?

S: My daughter, Linzi Gold, was actually the basis for the personality of Kat in the first book. They were both the same age and Linzi is funny and strong and really sparky. Naturally Kat has evolved and become completely her own thing now. But how the character was initially created came from the title of the book Zombies  At Tiffany’s which David suggested to me. It shaped all of the characters: Kat was Audrey Hepburn in looks for example.

SS Zombies at Tiffanys

A: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

S: Writing definitely energises me. Although when I’ve had a particularly busy day and I’ve written 5-8000 words, I’m a little bit spaced out! David gives me a glass of wine and I’m soon back to normal, and back in this world and not in the one I’m creating.

SS Darkness Within CreateSpace

 

A: What is the first book (another author) that made you cry? And have you ever shed any tears when writing your own pieces?

S: As a teen I loved the Angelique series of books written by Sergeanne Golon. They were epic historical romances and I did cry when one of the main characters died in that series.

 

A: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? And why?

S: A wolf. Wolves are pack animals when they need to be but like solitude too. They always protect their young, and I am by nature a very nurturing person. I always look out for others – even when I know they wouldn’t do it for me.

SS wolf
The Wolf : a symbol of guardianship, ritual, loyalty,

 

A: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

S: Oh yes! I often kill off people that have done something vicious to me, and believe me it has to have been bad for that to happen because I’m a very forgiving person. The clue to who they are would be in the description I give of them. But there are also lots of hidden meanings to things too because I do reflect on human nature quite a lot.

SS The Vampire Gene Book 1 Killing Kiss

A: And finally, what is your favourite childhood book?

S: I don’t really have one. I didn’t enjoy young fiction at all when I was young. The stories we were forced to read were all fairly boring. I only enjoyed reading once I discovered adult books. The Collector by John Fowles was the first one I read. Then after that it was anything I could get my hands on that was grown-up or scary.

 

Thank you, Sam, for taking part.

 

 

*You can find Sam at www.sam-stone.com, and her books in all good book stores, and online retailers or visit www.telos.co.uk for signed copies.

 

 

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The Mehitobel Wilson Interview

Hello! And welcome, this sunny Monday morning, to another post. Today, I am very excited to have American author, Mehitobel Wilson, lover of coffee, whiskey, ‘stompy boots’ and BJD’s! She is also responsible for introducing me to Electro-Swing music!

I grew up in very rural South Carolina, where I listened to the Dead Kennedys on headphones while exploring the woods and being chased by livestock, wild animals, and imaginary monsters. 

I chased them back.  Still do.   

https://necropublications.com/collections/mehitobel-wilson

BlueAliceHouse
The Blue Alice

 

Hi Mehitobel, may I call you Bel?  Welcome, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog; Flailing Through Life…

Thanks so much for asking! Fair warning: I made a huge pot of coffee, got into my comfy socks, and settled down to talk your ear off. Talk your eyes out? I hope not, but you understand. The caffeine made me chatty.

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  1. And talking about flailing; Do you ever find yourself ‘flailing through life’?

I have the exact opposite problem: I move very, very slowly because I’m terrified of wrecking things, literally and figuratively. This is not a state of being that I advise, if you can avoid it. It becomes a bit of a cruel vortex, though: being afraid of doing things wrong to the point of not doing them at all IS doing things wrong! So, hurray. At least flailing is motion.

A couple of years ago I built a dollhouse as a writing exercise (this made sense to me at the time) and it was very helpful for a lot of reasons. Among other things, it reminded me that the world didn’t end if I made a mistake. If I broke something, I could repair it, or find another approach. If I glued something in the wrong place, I could chisel it off again and put it right. Something being “wrecked” isn’t always a negative outcome.

But there’s no flailing when building dollhouses, either. You’ll end up with wood glue in your hair and splinters in your neck. Ask me how I know.

  1. Before we go any further, I just have to ask about your name (no, not Wilson!). Mehitobel is very unusual; where does it come from, which of your parents chose it, and do you think a name has any bearing on how a child will turn out later in life?

My mom was a flower child. First, she named me Mehitobel. Then, she named me Moonbeam. Finally she was convinced to name me something more mainstream and/or comfortable to pronounce. I never used that name, either – nicknames or my middle name (Jo) my whole life, until I legally reclaimed Mehitobel. Still, it’s easier for everyone to call me Bel.

I do think names can matter to how a personality develops. A name has meaning, and you want to live up to it, make it your own, shed it entirely, or stick an “e” on the end, because it looks so much more distinguished.

  1. Mehitobel, you’re well-known for writing in the horror genre, you have ‘Dangerous Red’, a collection of short stories that walk firmly on the dark side, and a number of short stories in such publications as ‘Apex Magazine’. And if not out-and-out horror, then psychological horror. What draws you to this genre and what kind of horror do you prefer to read (or watch) yourself?

I haven’t really been in the mood to read much horror recently. I didn’t think I wrote it any more, either, but then I wrote “Brisé” for Apex, which surprised me. I consider Last Night at the Blue Alice a fun fantasy, but bunches of characters die, so it gets categorized as horror.

So, let’s see. I really like stuff about alternate dimensions and hidden populations, and populations can be hidden in alternate dimensions/timelines, so it’s all part and parcel. But that covers the gamut from Faery, to cults, to feral clans. My own psychological horror stories are often about discovering a hidden personality, or suspecting one and causing damage while searching for it, or not noticing something that’s present: hiding it from yourself. I like reading and writing unreliable narrators, both because they’re fun, and because they’re really difficult to do, craft-wise.

I’m hella into series these days, because I can just live in another world for ages. Stuff I really enjoy: Cherie Priest’s Maplecroft books, V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, and Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May books. My grand all-time favorite, much-revisited batch of books is F. Paul Wilson’s Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack.

I love Tana French, and am completely crazy for Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffery series, which is dark, brutal, and features incredibly well-studied characters.

Anyway, series also mean that my TBR pile is a mile and a half deep.

I watch so. Many. Movies. I’ll drop everything for Ben Wheatley, Neil Marshall, Guillermo Del Toro, and Lucky McKee. Really excited for Del Toro’s  A Killing on Carnival Row and also for the forthcoming Dark Tower and It adaptations.

dangerousred

  1. What is the first book (another author) that made you cry? And have you ever shed any tears when writing your own pieces?

Oh, man. I can’t even guess what book made me cry. Probably Where the Red Fern Grows, which was also pretty gory, so grief and gore got linked in my head pretty early on.

The first time I cried while working was during Last Night at the Blue Alice. One of the characters just broke my heart, which was bad enough, and then I had to kill her. I was surprised to catch myself weeping, though. Hadn’t happened before, but there’s a very obvious reason for that: Blue Alice is the first story (novella) I’ve written in which I actually truly liked the characters.

That’s not exactly true; there are one or two short stories with protagonists I liked, but for the most part, the main or POV characters in my shorts are people that frighten or repulse me. So, when I was given the opportunity to write a novella for Dave Barnett at Bedlam Press, I was stumped for a while: it’s one thing to invent and inhabit the minds of awful people for 4000 words, but 30,000?

Funny. It took me longer than it should have to realize that I could just make up characters I liked. Goddamn if I didn’t end up loving them, and crying over them. So that was a revelation.

  1. You have a fair sized collection of ball-jointed-dolls (BJD), they’re stunningly and eerily beautiful; tell us about them; how did the collection start, do you have a favourite, do you name them and, do you miss them when they’re gone?! (And do they appear in any of your stories?)

Oh, thank you! Okay, so in 2004 I was researching a (real life) murder case, which led me down various internet paths and into these dolls that were popular among the Gothic Lolita crowd. “Holy hell,” said I, “those are outrageously ugly, and so expensive I could puke. What is the matter with these people?”

So then I Googled them more, just to gawk at how ugly they were. I’ve always collected action figures. I finally came across a BJD that made me think I could buy him, paint and costume him as a 2-foot tall, fully articulated Voldo from Soul Calibur. And if I ever got bored, I could just repaint him and he’d turn into something else.

Within a few years I had 17 full dolls in my “keeper” collection and a bunch I bought, painted, and sold. So, yeah.

Now I’m down to five full dolls – three SD (large) size and two mini – and four heads on ice, waiting to be provided with new bodies. All the ones I’ve kept are my favorites, as are some of the ones I’ve sold. Argh!

I do name them, and I do miss them when they’re gone. They’re a bit like pets, except I can ignore them for years if I need to. I ascribe personalities to them, but nothing in-depth, no backstories or worlds or anything. One “likes” schlumpy sweaters, another’s very judgemental and Over It All, and one’s a death ballerina.

I haven’t written them as characters, or as present in a setting for another character (yet) and I haven’t written about dollcraft, either – painting them, organizing the eyeball collection, sorting hands, etc. Still might though.

violet-and-harold      iambe

Violet and Harold                                                 Iambe

 

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

The writing itself happens, if I’m lucky, during a kind of fugue state, and I feel refreshed afterward, like I’d been dreaming. If I’m unlucky, it’s this terrifying slog. There’s your flailing! I feel like I’m in brain-quicksand and I panic.

Editing, though, that energizes me. I love it. It’s a vast puzzle and a total thrill.

  1. Which authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

This is a really hard question! It’s usually the other way around: authors I once liked & no longer do. I won’t disclose who those are, though. I don’t think I can answer this one. If there was someone whose work I disliked, but I kept reading it anyway and eventually changed my mind, I’ve forgotten the initial dislike.

  1. Popeye ate spinach for strength, Kryptonite deprives Superman of his powers; what is your writing spinach and Kryptonite?

Spinach: Fear! Fear I’m going to blow a deadline turns into panic as I get down to the wire, and there suddenly becomes no room for doubt or second-guessing or anxiety. I have to just FUCKING GO, and there’s always this sense of breaking through, and whether the story’s good or bad, at least it’ll get done.

Kryptonite: Fear! Fear of getting caught writing something terrible stops me in my tracks for long periods of time, and it sucks.

Other more mundane spinach varieties are whiskey, a dark room, and my mechanical keyboard; Kryptonites include music with distracting lyrics and my tea going cold.

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? And why?

My guiding thing would be the Strength tarot card; I have Karen Mahoney’s art from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot tattooed on my right arm. The classic Strength card depicts a woman alongside a lion. She’s sometimes gripping the lion’s jaws, sometimes fully battling with him, sometimes simply present with him, the battle done. To me, this represents finding a way to incorporate & utilize the strengths of the roaring parts of my psyche: depression, self-doubt, ego, anger – whatever’s loudest that day, whatever’s jaws are widest.

That applies to writing, too, so I have a lot of lady-and-lion artwork on the walls around my desk. Also a jillion ravens, because it’s a writing desk and I’m Goth and I dig corvids.

  1. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

The most important thing would be this: sometime in your 40s, your shoe size will start to change, because your feet start to spread out, and your whole glorious collection of stompy boots will no longer fit quite right, so get ready for that. Nobody told me that and I’m very pissed off about it.

I’d also give little me a heads-up about ebooks and e-readers, and how amazing it’ll be to have a library in your pocket. I’d suggest that Young Self therefore ought not cling to every book, because moving thousands of books from house to house for years absolutely sucks.

 11. And finally, what is your favourite childhood book?

Can I cheat here and give a few? Little kid: Anne of Green Gables – just the first one – meant so much to weird little rural me. And I loved The Whispering Sea by Howard Goldsmith, superb murderous-ghost and creepy-house action. From there I went to Jane Eyre, which has stayed a top-five all-time favorite, as has The Talisman, which I first read when I was eleven and am re-reading yet again right now.

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed

psychos      damned

 

deepcuts      zombies

 

sinsofthesirens       Blind in the House

 

*You can find Mehitobel at Mehitobel.com and you can find a good roundup of her books at my Amazon author page, http://amazon.com/author/mehitobel

 

Next time: Jonathan Green, prolific writer on the ‘gaming’ scene.