The Perfect Research Subject
A Transformed Man details an astonishingly prolific man with unbridled passion as an actor, writer and director with a zeal for mystical life. Why was this an important book for you to write?
I have always been interested in personal transformation and how a person’s beliefs influence their actions. After working with Shatner, I realized what an amazingly energetic and prolific man he was. As his career progress, he was always very open and public with his beliefs and feelings. For me, he was the perfect research subject the perfect example of a transformed man.
This biography is very detailed. What kind of research did you do to ensure accuracy of the subject?
I interviewed people who knew him personally, including the cast and crew of Star Trek, and researched hundreds of public sources and media. Then, I organized everything chronologically, and published a thousand annotated credits of his acting career in a book in the Greenwood Press Performing Arts series called William Shatner: A Bio-Bibliography. That made it much easier to compose an in-depth biography of him that was concise and accurate.
What is one thing that surprises you the most about William Shatner?
His passion for life. He is totally engaged in everything he does. People have no idea how perceptive and sensitive he is. He is also an athletic guy, who stays very active even at the age of 87.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am working on a biography of the Elizabethan alchemist Dr. John Dee that focuses on his mathematical and scientific contributions.
Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website
This biography of William Shatner adds some surprises beyond the all the stories of his eccentric behavior. It reveals what really makes the man tick. The author has done his footwork, talking to all the cast and crew and sifting through sixty years of archives, and he has come up with many amazing insights, including the shocking source of the Star Trek franchise. This is a moving portrait of a fascinating man, an in-depth and often unsettling biography of a modern icon. This is a book for people who don’t give a damn about Star Trek.
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Just How Sordid
Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters. How did you decide on the starting point for this novel and how did that help create the rest of the story?
Thank you for asking. I based the novel on current reality based on in-depth study of foreign policy and traditional patterns of involvement by intelligence agencies who use propaganda to skew public opinion toward a military agenda.
I began the book inspired by the guys who go through my recycling bins to take what they can sell; I made a recycler character who has a clever scheme to take what he learns about the people in the neighborhood that way. The idea made me chuckle, and I wanted to see what kind of goofy brilliance he might display. I also had often joked around with a housemate about the empty buildings across the street which are owned by the church. We’d see people go in and never come out. I was also inspired by our jokes about the counter-intuitive business choices of the local ice-cream truck driver. The truck indeed broadcasts the recording of a scolding woman’s voice, just like in the novel.
Though entertainment is the ultimate point of the book, my main serious goal with the book is to balance the propaganda about the White Helmets, though characters in the United States who had hear the stories about a group like them on the nightly news or watch the Hollywood movie about them.
This novel follows the introduction to Nancy and her relationship to the Agents of the Nevermind in book one, Glossolalia. Nancy has done sordid things in her past, but she was forced into it. In this book, she’s again given the chance to be a hero and make amends for her role in political intrigue, even if it means using the dirty skills she was raised with. Some methods are so dirty, she hardly even lets herself know just how sordid she can be. But like all the other POV characters, she has a good heart.
I chose the beginning scene because it was cinematic, with the dramatic contrast arising from Nancy relaxing at her unusual dwelling, chuckling at the anomalous sound of the ice-cream truck that never seem to make any sales. That prepares us for dark humor in the book. She’s being startled by the loud sound of a hard snowball smashing the glass of the window beside her head. She puts on her costume when she realizes someone outside might be looking at her, so we see how she’s been living “underground,” hoping no one recognizes her, in a somewhat primitive location, but someone mysteriously is communicating with her.
She finds a painted rock inside the snowball and the image reminds her of herself and her one friend, a lovely artist named Becky. Nancy has followed another such anonymous note to lead her to Becky in the past. So that beginning creates questions about the dynamics of some major characters, as it sets in motion Nancy’s sleuthing, and involves the reader in the mystery.
I remember the excitement of thinking of the snowball, with ice-cream and a rock inside, at the beginning. Most of the book was already written, but that image created a colorful motif that I went back and inserted through the novel. It was gratifying the way it drew a lot of elements together.
You’re able to weave together the intricate lives of a ragtag group of characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
I focused on the theme of the heroism of examining and exposing social engineering, and the difficult choices, nobility and sacrifice that can entail.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
I appreciate that. I’ve been writing all my life, as well as studying the form, not only for my benefit but for my students, as I teach fiction writing and edit manuscripts. I’ve explored a variety of genres; psychological suspense, which is the overarching category all the diverse books in the series fall into, fascinates me because of human psychology making propaganda and other forms of deception easy and bewildering, creating the need for answers. I love the feeling of figuring out the answers to such mysteries, such a rush, a shudder. It’s the perfect genre to dramatize the ability of intelligence agents working behind the scenes to gaslight the public. So, I read and watch movies and TV shows in that genre a lot, to understand what works best. I’m always studying more about fiction and screenwriting techniques. I learn as much from the screen as the page, and organize my books like movies.
This is book two in the Agents of Nevermind series. Where will book three take readers?
It continues the theme of the Agents who combine deception, mind control, blackmail, and occult practices. I’ve been including history about that intersection in the books, returning to certain historical figures such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, and their use of Enochian language as a spy code as well as an attempt at magick.
The novel is called Encore, and is Gothic. A highly-acclaimed performance troupe has a special requirement to make their shows work: the audience can’t be aware if any of the actors are replaced by a standby (similar to an understudy.) Their resident hypnotist, Dune, who is rumored to be an Agent of the Nevermind, accomplishes that by hypnotizing the standbys to believe they’re the actors they’re mimicking, and even coat their own auras with the residuals of their actors.
His wife is the star, but must leave the troupe due to cancer. Her standby and Dune have strong chemistry. He kidnaps her while she’s hypnotized to believe she’s his wife, and takes her to an alchemist’s castle. Underlying the story is the real history of a few powerful countries’ competing mythologies meant to gain supporters for them in wartime.
I hope this book will move readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.
Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website
What if the homeless men going through your recycling know more about your life than you do? Like who is going to die. One of the recyclers, Dave, wearing disguises he keeps under a bridge, memorizes the information in people’s bins. He, like many others, idolizes the Rescuers, a supposedly neutral, unarmed humanitarian aid group in a Balkanized country, as the possibility of WWIII looms. The Nevermind Agents lie on the evening news to garner support for proxy wars. They say the Rescuers are unarmed, neutral, and giving humanitarian aid to a Balkanized country. Their movie about them is a blockbuster. Rescuer costumes are the bit hit for Halloween. But it’s time to unmask them. And that requires a plan so ingenious, even the planner can’t know how it’s done. Living not far away from Dave’s bridge, Becky donates generously to the Rescuers, making her finances even more insecure. She doesn’t know what to think when she finds things in her apartment moved slightly. The toothbrush is wet. There’s a stain on the ironing board. The cat food is nearly gone. Is it her imagination? Is someone messing with her mind? Could it be Stan, breaking in because he loves her? He certainly loves putting her body into mysterious BDSM contortions for their videos. But what’s that muffled moan she hears in the background when she calls him on the phone? Becky hires her friend to spy on Stan. The woman has gone underground since escaping from the Nevermind; she wears a wig, and a mask meant for burn victims. She has traveled across the country to befriend Becky, taking a chance on an anonymous message recommending she do so, though she doesn’t yet know the reason.
A Thriller for Thinkers
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Complicated, Strange, and Fun
Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances follows the lives of a vampire, fairy and mummy as they try to escape the wrath of a paranormal group bent on revenge. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
This was a follow up to One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. In that story, the main character is hunted for her wings. The otherworldly world I created, opens up and you get a glimpse inside. In this new novel, I wanted to show a much deeper look insider. And I wanted to show how complicated, strange, and fun, some of the lives of these otherworldly creatures can be. My initial idea was to have something very large for all of them to be afraid of. But then I wanted something even larger to be out there to make the original big thing look small. Imagine if you were afraid of Godzilla and then an alien that could swallow the planet showed up. Yeah, something like that. J
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I always enjoy writing Sabrina London, the female lead. She is constantly growing and learning from her mistakes….her many…many mistakes. I also enjoyed writing for Joe, the new guy. The sentient slime character. He’s fun and funny. He also provides good contrast to the other characters and otherworldly races.
What draws you to the fantasy genre? When you start writing is this where your stories go naturally, or do you have the intention of writing fantasy?
I am drawn to the fantasy world. Totally. I prefer writing in a realm where anything and everything is possible. But I think my writing is secretly fueled by things more…steamy. When I watch a fantasy show on TV and it is devoid of sex or sexuality, I tend to feel empty. But when you give me something like Game of Thrones or Spartacus, which are filled with all sorts of naughtiness…then I feel like the story is complete.
If Hollywood came knocking, who would you cast to play your characters?
I love to cast my books. I do so on all my blogs and on my FB pages. For Sabrina, I think of Joanna Krupa as being exactly what she looks like. But as an actor I would cast Beth Behrs from Two Broke Girls or Jessica Sipos from Ascension. I would pick Beth because she is pretty and statuesque and funny. AND she pretty much already knows how to play a spoiled rich girl who had a fall from grace. So it makes total sense. I would pick Jessica because she has the sex appeal to play Sabrina.
For Moselle there is only one choice: Priyanka Chopa, from the TV show Quantico. When writing the books, I imagined a Sofia Vergara type of woman. But I think Priyanka is an even better fit now, and could pull off looking like an ancient Egyptian in flashbacks.
Cade…well, I have a image of him in my head. Slight built. Looks out of time. Like one of those classic Hollywood guys; James Dean at his peak. I always say it would be hard not to pick Ian Somerhalder, but he has already done this role. Still, I like him as an actor and he is the right body type and look.
Hollywood rang my doorbell once. But I was not dressed, and by the time I got to the door they were gone…
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing book three in this series. THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. It will be released in late 2018.
Author Links: Website | GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook
Welcome to Los Angeles—but not the LA you know. Here, humans coexist with vampires, mummies, fairies, and other nonhuman entities. Everyone’s just trying to get by for the most part—but some are having more difficulty than others.
A vampire named Cade, a fairy named Sabrina, and a mummy named Moselle are on the lam after exposing the existence of the Otherworldly Assembly, a shadowy organization of paranormal beings. The assembly has sent terrifying assassins called wraiths to exact revenge. The nonhuman trio is in for a real horror show, and they don’t know the half of it—another threat looms, and its destructive ambitions are vast.
Meanwhile, a human named Jackson is recovering from a near-death experience. Old memories and new loves flood his brain, and he’s having trouble finding an outlet for all these feelings—that’s when Sabrina the fairy catches his eye.
Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances, a fast-paced adventure filled with high stakes and unexpected twists, continues the action-packed saga that began with One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. When unimaginable dangers threaten the planet they all share, humans and nonhumans find a common cause and must work together to prevent disaster.
Posted in Interviews
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Descendent Darkness was Born
Stirring is a thrilling supernatural novel that sets a towns families against nightmares and tortured souls of evil that will pull them into the depths of their darkest days. What was the inspiration for the setup to this suspenseful novel?
I grew up watching monster movies – vampire movies in particular – with my mom. We especially liked the Hammer film series, starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and The Night Stalker films and TV series, starring Darren McGavin. Also highly influential on me was the Salem’s Lot miniseries that aired in 1979, starring David Soul and James Mason. Dark Shadows and other such films and television series also played a role in developing my take on the genre.
I started writing stories in earnest when I was a young teenager, and that’s really when Descendent Darkness was born. It was one of the first ideas that I began developing, and was partially born out of a weird experience I had. I got up early one summer morning, well before sunrise, and went out for a walk near a wooded area of our neighborhood. From a distance, I saw a man walking under a street light, and not far behind him, coming up quickly, was a woman with a very creepy expression on her face. Being the imaginative sort, I thought: What if she were a vampire? What if she was stalking the guy and about to jump him and drag him off into the woods? From there, I started down the Night Stalker/Salem’s Lot path, thinking on the subject of how vampires would operate in the modern world.
As for the setting, my family is from the Shenandoah Valley. It’s such an old area, and so full of history, that it seemed a natural location for a story of this type. The mountains have a mysterious quality to them that isn’t easy to put into words.
Stirrings is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a mystery, crime, and drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
It was definitely an organic thing. I had a basic story outline formed in my mind, but it changed many times after I started writing and getting to “know” my characters. I had to figure out how to bring vampires into the real world, and that meant dealing with real world issues in an unreal situation: How would the murders be explained? How would law enforcement deal with the situation, given that outsiders would never believe the truth? How would real people react to genuinely encountering the supernatural? What effect would keeping secrets about these things have on people over time? How would relationships change? How would a real vampire seek to protect itself and take victims in the modern world?
All of these considerations caused the story to branch out in many directions and develop a number of layers.
The relationship between the siblings Holly and Mike is intricate and relateable as they battle together, sacrificing their souls to save their family. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Their parents raised them with a strong sense of family loyalty, but the tragic loss of their mother drove them together in a particularly strong way. They share a bond, not only as siblings but also as survivors. Books two and three reveal more of their background and illustrate why they have the relationship they do. This is a key aspect of the story as it moves forward.
Stirrings is book one in the Descendent Darkness series. Where does book two, Legacy, take readers?
Legacy picks up immediately where Stirrings leaves off. The curse the men of the town hoped they had buried forever has finally been set free, and the number one item on its agenda is vengeance. A game of cat-and-mouse is set into motion, with the mice unaware of the game until they’re already caught up in it. We learn something of the true extent of a vampire’s powers and even delve into their origins.
Legacy contains more action and further develops the main characters. The reader also meets some new characters who will factor heavily into the events of the final book. It’s here that everything blows up and the secrets come out, setting up the end game.
Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Blog
In 1982, three men in rural Clarke’s Summit, Virginia, faced an ancient terror, a curse that reached for them from out of the distant past, threatening to destroy them and to draw everyone they loved into everlasting darkness. Together, they paid the ultimate price and drove the shadows back, burying the secret of Clarke’s Summit for what they hoped would be all time.
Now, twenty-one years later, Richard Gaston, deputy sheriff Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett fear that the power they once defeated may be growing strong once again, ready to break free of its prison. For another amongst them – a tortured soul who was once the bondservant of evil – there can be no doubt. A familiar voice is taunting him, calling him back into the service of darkness.
And for Richard’s son and daughter, Mike and Holly Gaston, the nightmares they’ve had all their lives are about to take shape in the real world.
Posted in Interviews
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For Beau: The Sarah Ashdown Story
The story begins in 2009, where an old woman is being interviewed to tell the story of her history as a fighter in the French resistance to the German army in the 1940’s. In the narrative told by Sarah Ashdown, the character that this history revolves around, readers are bounced seamlessly back and forth between the two eras, and listen as Sarah gives detail about the progression of her life. Simon Gandossi, the author of the story, allows readers peeks at Sarah’s life now as an elderly woman in a nursing home with friends and memories to pass the days with.
England marks the setting for the beginning of the story, but most of the events take place in France or other war zones. By following the reflective narrative of Sarah Ashcroft, an elderly woman being interviewed by a TV reporter about her actions in the war against the Nazis, you’ll learn about the horrific events that took place during the bombings and raids of World War II.
While the majority of the story focuses on Sarah, as she is the one re-telling it to those interested, you also get peeks into the lives of those of both in her past and present. A friendly nurse Patty makes a frequent appearance, and the disorganized reporter himself Daniel Warwick provides a sturdy companion to her as she gives him the story.
After leaving her English hometown and abandoning her family and friends after the disappearance of her husband and the loss of a dear friend, Sarah makes her way to France to help fight the German’s and do her part to end the war. Sarah is met with many difficulties, since she is a woman, but she is a beautiful character, full of strength and wit, and consistently her own worst critic.
Throughout the story, you get to see Sarah’s life in the present setting play out in her nursing home, and the toll of telling the gruesome tale of her war experiences is slowly made evident to the readers. Gandossi takes you on a thrilling, heart-wrenching ride of what life as a soldier in the 1940’s was like, and compels those to feel deeply for Sarah as she agonizes over her decisions.
This isn’t a cheerful story; as few stories about war are. In fact, it’s a heavy read, full of history and heroic deeds. I enjoyed it, but I’ve never liked stories that are sad even until the very end. It made me really think about how hard life was for those suffering through the war in the 1940’s, and it gave me unique insight I’ve never read before. The way Gandossi narrates the story through the voice of Sarah is inspiring and gives an intimate touch.
Pages: 435 | ASIN: B01N6JGBQK
Posted in Book Reviews, Three Stars
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My Disdain For Reality TV
Mystery, suspense, reality television and revenge all come crashing together in this entertaining story. Where did the idea for Thawing A.C. Nielsen originate and develop into a novel?
The idea for the book originated with, frankly, my disdain for reality TV and the self-importance of the people on those shows, as well as the show producers making fortunes. When I began the book I thought, who better to take down reality TV than an icon from the past–namely, the real A.C. Nielsen. Of course, once you read the book, you will realize that my original goals shifted quite a bit (can’t say more–spoiler). Savvy readers will notice clues as to the real-world reality TV celebrities that the characters Khail Santana and Dimi Konstantos are based on!
The protagonist joins up with ExitStrategy, a facility devoted to cryogenics and the revival of the dead. Did you do a lot of research into cryonics for this book?
Ah, but they’re not dead- they’re just really cold, haha! I did a lot of research into the strange world of cryonics. There are a handful of cryonics companies and I combed their websites and read a few books. Probably the best resource was a massive website with a lot of scientific detail by a cryonics expert who is a bit of a screwball. Once I read more, I realized I could have a lot of fun with this scenario. I also made sure that just about everything in the book is based on reality. Some of the strangest things in there, the things people may think I made up, are totally fact-based. Also, I had a lot of help from my brother, who teaches medicine at University of Southern California, on the medical-based chapters where test animals and people are revived. I couldn’t have made those seem realistic without his help
When writing Thawing A.C. Nielsen, did you want the novel to be satire first, or science fiction first?
Great question! It is satire first, for sure. The sci-fi cryonics was just a means to a satirical end. Genre-wise it is a mix of sci-fi, satire, medical mystery, and plenty of humor. Overall, I think the mixing of genres makes the book unique. As far as the scifi category goes, I am proud that the book is not one of a million books categorized as dystopian. There also are no spaceships or aliens, but I do work David Brin’s bestseller Startide Rising into the book in a significant way.
I find that good authors have an ear for speech and dialogue. What’s the best way you find to capture natural prose?
I have to believe the characters are real people and I am just eavesdropping on their conversations. I sort of see them in my head and learn their personality from them. I also have to get inside their heads and spy on their secrets, their weaknesses, and then tumble them out to the reader at appropriate times.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?
I’m 75 percent done with a middle-grade wacky scifi yarn called “The Grandma Apocalypse”, an alien invasion story set in a sleepy central Illinois town during the 1960s. There are humorous threads relating to “The Princess Bride” which tie things together in an odd way. It’s all about DNA-stealing aliens, snickerdoodle cookies, cats &goats, sweet tea, mind control, multiple dimensions and so on. After that I am writing a sequel to “Thawing A.C. Nielsen”, which will be quite a bit darker. The working title is “The Mozart Murders”. Mozart is in the book in sort of a Voldemort way, and he’s a pretty bad dude–not the wacky Mozart of the film Amadeus. I don’t have a publication date yet for these two new creations.Thanks for the great questions!
Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads
Brilliant young microbiologist and self-professed lab rat Kate Pearson has just landed her dream job, although she worries it might turn into a frozen nightmare. She’s been hired to discover a way to successfully revive people who have been in cryonic deep-freeze stasis for years at the Chicago firm ExitStrategy, a company founded by scientist Mike “Cold Smokey” Burgess, holder of dozens of major patents. Kate is succeeding Dr. Enzo Saltieri, Mike’s partner for years, who has died suddenly under strange circumstances. As Kate sifts through mountains of Saltieri’s scribbled-upon legal pads she finds paths that lead nowhere. Was Saltieri on the verge of great discoveries or just sinking into the illogical world of dementia? Along the way, Kate has to deal with Miles Coleman, a sarcastic idiot savant assistant at the lab who’s hiding his true identity; Gloria Dunham, a famous former Hollywood actress, now ninety years old and bent on taking over control of the company; plus reality show egomaniacs Dimi Konstantos and Khail Santana, megastars who’ve been polluting television’s airwaves for years. After Kate has some success reviving lab animals frozen in the 1980s such as Mr. T, the guinea pig, and John Cougar, the housecat, her attention turns to the first human subject, famous TV ratings guru A.C. Nielsen, who has been frozen at ExitStrategy for twenty-five years. Between Mike Burgess’s lofty expectations, hidden research files, secret medical procedures, switched identities, drugged drinks, randy Irish folk musicians, beefy bodyguards, plus the likes of Miles, Gloria, Dimi and Khail—Kate begins to realize that reviving A.C. Nielsen and stumbling upon a major medical discovery may actually be a stroll in the park.
Posted in Interviews
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Thawing A.C. Nielsen
Mystery, suspense, reality television and revenge all come crashing together in this entertaining story written by Paul Carey. Thawing A.C. Nielsen starts off with dated entries, much like a diary, as we gain very little backstory on what is to be a wild ride. It opens to a nameless man being rescued from the depths of a frozen body of water. This revival is short lived, but is important to the rest of the story. Flash forward to Kate, a young and intelligent woman who wants nothing more than to stare into a microscope for the rest of her life. At the urging of her friend she goes for a job interview at the one place that will make her desires reality. Our fierce protagonist gets a little more than she bargained for when she joins up with ExitStrategy, a facility that is devoted to cryogenics and the revival of those who should be dead.
One of the best things about Thawing A.C. Nielsen is how the characters talk. There is a fair bit of dialogue but each person sounds real. They communicate like they would if they were to stand in your living room. This makes reading this tale a lot easier on the mind. Many mystery novels or those who pride themselves on suspense get caught up in setting a ‘mood’ that makes their tales very unrealistic. The fact that the reader can identify with the characters not only through their speech, but through their actions, makes the entire tale feel like something you could read about in the news tomorrow.
This can be a double-edged sword, however. Because the characters speak so ‘modernly’ it’s quite grating to read some of the speech and hear it in your mind as you read. There are some slang words that should never be printed and it does a very good job at showing how reality television stars need to work on their linguistics.
Having a strong female lead who works in an area where women are underrepresented gives this tale a special place in the world. Not only does Kate work in a science-driven industry, she is respected by her male colleagues and never once is she demeaned or demanded of due to her sex. These types of tales are few and far between.
It’s clear that Carey did his research before writing his book. There is a scene where knowledge of medicine and medical terminology is paramount to understanding what is happening. Carey doesn’t skimp on the language and has obviously done more than just do an internet search or watch television. It’s not so in-depth that the average reader with no background would be lost but just realistic enough to bring the characters on the page to life, quite literally.
If you’re looking for a fun adventure with wily manipulative old women and socially challenged geniuses, you will find all that and more in the pages of our tale. Hold on to your hearts and keep your eyes peeled as you try to figure out the mystery of Thawing A.C. Nielsen.
Pages: 368 | ASIN: B01LOHEP7G
Posted in Book Reviews, Four Stars
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The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen | Podcast
The Hungry Monster was given the opportunity to interview JR Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak, the hosts of a horror podcast. We discuss the horror genre, how Queens NY is not the quietest place to record a podcast, and I find out where I can get a 5lb plate of artisanal nachos.
What inspired you guys to start a podcast about horror culture?
Derek: I had always wanted to do a podcast about weird movies, and separately always enjoyed the horror genre, so when one of my favorite authors asked me if I wanted to do a horror podcast I said “Yes Stephen King, more than anything.” That podcast never panned out because he was too busy, so later when JR came to me with the same idea I thought the second time would be the charm, and here we are today.
J.R. Well, I’ve written a couple of dark fiction collections now and have had my hand in editing some others. I felt a bit burned out on writing horror and have been pursuing other subjects, but still want to keep a toe in the genre, so to speak, and, honestly, see if I could rekindle my interest. Also, Derek’s a pretty cool guy and it was an excuse to hang out in some capacity.
How do you two know each other? How did you two meet?
Derek: I was reading JR long before I ever met him in person, becoming enraged upon reading his bio that he was so much younger than me and writing such excellent stuff. When years later we met at a convention it turned out that he was wasn’t so young anymore and a pretty radical dude in general, so I let my rage go. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a magical friendship to blossom.
J.R.: We met at the NecronomiCon Convention in 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. We were both separately friends with Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and we all went out to lunch. Then the sparks flew. A couple handjobs later and here we are.
You are now 13 episodes into the podcast, what is one thing that you’ve learned about the podcast process that you never considered before?
Derek: Unfortunately a podcast is not as easy as pressing record and shooting the shit for an hour. As part of the Faustian bargain I made with JR at the crossroads at midnight under a full moon I do the tech side of the operation, which involves the editing, syncing, posting, website stuff, and all the other various jazz that a “real” podcast has interns do for them, which was all more than I bargained for. BTW, we will be announcing the Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen internship contest shortly, and Max Fun or Earwolf, we we are eagerly awaiting your call.
J.R.: This might be the height of spoiled laziness, but fitting in two movies per week or reading a book in a week and trying to think of interesting commentary or insights is harder than I thought it would be. Also, one thing I never noticed before is that it seems a lot of other podcasts pick out or select things that they already know they might like, whereas we don’t, so there’s a decent chance we will dislike what we are commenting on and rag on it. Also, I live in Queens, New York, and it seems the ambulances, taxis and people who hang out on my block must have advanced notice of when I’m recording so they all gather in full force to be as loud as fucking possible. One time while we were recording there was literally a goddamn whistling noise coming out of my pipes. So editing those sounds out has been a challenge (and by that, I mean a challenge for Derek, since he’s the tech guy).
What is your favorite decade for the horror genre?
Derek: The 80’s. I think a lot of the stepping stones for horror these days was laid then, along with the greatest wave of horror movie icons since the Universal Monsters. All my initial horror reading forays in the early 90’s were of books from then as well; King, Koontz, etc, and those are as solid a foundation to get yourself into the genre as you could ask for.
J.R. I don’t really know the answer to that. I’m inclined to say the 70s or 80s for horror movies, but there are enough things I’ve liked over a large enough expanse of time that I can’t commit myself to a decade. Maybe even in the 1920s, when Lovecraft was writing the Call of Cthulhu and a lot of “weird fiction” was of high literary merit.
A question for both of you: XBOX One or PS4?
Derek: PS4, but I grew up in a PS family so I might be biased. I’m not sure if for the most part it matters anymore rather than for a few games, and realistically a good PC is probably the best and most versatile game playing platform out there. It is a lot harder to sit on your couch and kick back with your keyboard and mouse rather than a controller though. I will always gives props to the Virtual Boy though.
J.R.: I was a Nintendo fanboy growing up, so I lived in denial about how superior the PS2 was compared to the Gamecube. I eventually got a PS2 and realized the error of my ways. I currently have an XBOX One that I bought on the advice of a friend, but if I were being honest with myself I should have gotten a PS4. Graphics are marginally better, there are more Japanese RPGs, some exclusives I want to play, and the controller is better.
Do you enjoy horror movies that are more campy slashers or thought provoking mind benders?
Derek: A campy slasher will always have it’s place in my heart, and on my TV if I’m in the mood for something I don’t need to really pay attention to. If I have the time for sitting down and giving something my full attention though, I’ll go for the provoking mind bender any day.
J.R.: I’d like to say thought provoking mind better, but in reality, the campy slasher is more of a safe bet in terms of enjoyment. If we were talking fiction, then of course the mind bender, but movies are a visual medium and there’s more room for error in a visual medium with something that – such as a nuanced, interior, contemplative work – might be better suited for fiction.
I find that horror is different in different cultures. For example, Japanese horror, I find, focuses more on psychological horror and poltergeists. What is your favorite horror culture and why?
Derek: I really like the whole Coffin Joe series and ultra weird and violent horror movies that came out of Brazil in the 60’s. Extremely subversive for the time in Brazil and 10 times that compared to what was going on in America at the same time. Even today if they would be considered a bit much for American audiences.
J.R.: that’s a good question, one that I don’t know if I have any answer to. Unlike Derek and his nacho-loving ways, I don’t know much about horror from Mexico, Central or South America.
Derek, your the author of The Field Guide to Nachos. If you were to create a bucket list of nachos to eat before you die, what would be on the top of the list?
Derek: The two best nachos I’ve ever had are the Big Foot’s Nachos Ur Way pulled pork nachos at Bigfoot Food and Spirits in the Seattle-Tacoma airport (I almost missed my plane getting those, but it would have been worth it) and Mount Nacheesmo at Tios in Ann Arbor Michigan. Mount Nacheesmo is the largest order of commercially available nachos in the US coming in at 5lbs, and while a lot of places would just throw together a bunch of cheap ingredients and try to pass that off, Tios artfully crafts an order that is delicious as you eat it, and while you munch on the leftovers for the next few days. Plus, if you can eat it all in an hour there you get a shirt and your picture up on the wall which is one of the greatest glories one can achieve in this life.
J.R. you’re the author of, You Shall Never Know Security. What do you find appealing about short stories?
J.R.: I suppose I write mainly short stories, though I’ve been working more on novellas recently. My second collection, “With a Voice that is Often Still Confused but is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer,’ is largely novellas. I write short stories because I think that’s the idealized form for horror and dark fiction. I don’t really need many horror novels, and most of the ones I have seem padded, or would have worked better as shorter pieces. Also, realistically, when I am pressed for time with my day job and side jobs, so short fiction has just been more realistic and manageable. I want to get in and get out.
What are the subjects for upcoming episodes. Are there any that you’re really excited about?
Derek: Our culturally mandated Christmas episode is going to be something really special, but you won’t be able to experience that for some months yet. OR WILL YOU? No. No you won’t, but there are a bunch of pretty cool ones coming up as well.
J.R.: I enjoyed our nostalgia episodes, which we recorded but hasn’t been released yet. We both picked two horror movies we enjoyed as kids and re-watched them with our jaundiced, cynical eyes. I chose Demon Knight and Scream, and Derek chose Evil Dead II and Dead Alive. Surprisingly, we still both liked our selections.
Join marginally popular dark fiction author J.R. Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak as they discuss the world of horror in a light-hearted, frivolous and irreverent way. Expect horror fiction, horror movies, horror culture, and interviews / hang-out sessions with authors and creators in the field.
Listen to The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen podcast available every Wednesday of the month streaming on their website thehorrorofnachosandhamantaschen.com or on:
Posted in Interviews, Special Postings
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