Interview with author Gabrielle Faust

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Today, I am pleased to be interviewing Gabrielle Faust, author of the acclaimed vampire series ETERNAL VIGILANCE, three collections of poetry entitled BEFORE ICARUS, AFTER ACHILLES, CROSSROADS and THE BEGINNING OF NIGHTS, the horror novella REGRET and the celebrated new dark fantasy adventure novel REVENGE. Her short stories, illustrations and editorial commentary have appeared in a variety of online and print publications such as SciFiWire, Blaster, Doorways Magazine, Girls & Corpses Magazine and Fear Zone. She was the Guest of Honor at the Queen of the Damned Vampire Ball in 2008. In 2009 she was crowned “New Orleans Vampire Royalty” by the Vampire Lestat Fan Club at the Tru Blood & Gold vampire ball and was a Special Guest and performer at the House of Blues for the 2011 Endless Night ball. In 2011 Faust was awarded the Texas Social Media Award by the Austin American Statesman. More information on Gabrielle can be found at www.gabriellefaust.com.

Your latest novel REVENGE comes out soon. What’s it about?

GABRIELLE FAUST: My co-author, Solomon Schneider, and I are absolutely thrilled to see this project finally finding its way into the hands of our readership. It was a project that was born of chaos, in chaos and has experienced a rather turbulent road to publication over the past year. That said, we feel strongly that it is some of the finest work we have produced. This will be my seventh book I have had published. However, it will be Solomon’s first foray into the world of novel writing as he has primarily been a poet, philosopher and musician up until this point. Or, as he likes to say, a “wandering wizard”.

As for the tale itself, here is a brief synopsis to give you a bit more of an insight into the epic dark fantasy tale, which I like to describe as “Lord of the Rings” meets “Dante’s Inferno” — “When Marcus Glenfield committed suicide, he took his place among the Legions of Hell as the Demon of Regret. When he learns that the Prince of Wickedness, Belial, is planning to take his former fiancé, Brenda, as his consort, Marcus’ newfound belief in a second chance is quickly shattered in a fit of all too human rage. Incensed by the new demon’s disrespectful hostility, Belial plunges Marcus into the deepest pits of Hell.

But Lucifer has other plans for Marcus. For in the tormented lands of Purgatory, a strange and powerful uprising has gathered to form a new plane of existence—one that would break the ancient caste system of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Limbo and Earth, thwarting both God and Satan’s permanency within the universe. Not only have these brash metaphysical pirates kidnapped the powerful child born of Brenda and Belial’s union, they have also guided Marcus out of the prisons of Hell to their new realm.

When they promise Marcus freedom in return for his help, he realizes that he will finally have to choose a side. But can he find one that he can truly believe in?”

VENTRELLA: This is your first collaboration. How did that work out? Did you share the writing equally or was there some other method?

FAUST: Yes, this is the first time I have collaborated with another author on a project for the novel itself. Prior to this, I teamed up with Michael Marano to complete a series of illustrations for his collection “Stories From the Plague Years” in 2010.

The collaboration with Solomon Schneider came about in 2010 when I came across an ancient cryptic blog post he had posted in 2005 which ended up inspiring me for the sequel to a novella I was working on. Solomon is a masterful storyteller and I saw it as an opportunity for us to mesh creative minds and really produce something otherworldly. The first 5 chapters of REVENGE are actually the original novella REGRET, which I combined with this manuscript to give it a true “first book in a series” beginning. After that, we divvyed up the chapters based on the characters we felt most passionate about. There were particular characters who were solely Sol’s invention and vice versa. After the creation of these separate chapters, however, it was up to me to take everything and make it mesh so that it sounds like one cohesive author’s voice throughout the book. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!

VENTRELLA: Your work has been distributed mostly through mid-sized publishers (like me!). What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

FAUST: The advantage to mid-size publishers is a personal connection with the publisher and an ability to, usually, contact them directly about issues. However, as all authors know, there are a lot of untrustworthy publishers out there in the mid-size world and, unfortunately, an author must keep their wits about them at all time. There is also the issue of a lack of marketing budget. Thus, the author must be prepared to pay for their own book tours, organize most of their own publicity, etc. I feel quite blessed to be with my current publisher, Barking Rain Press, as they have been a true breath of fresh air! I’m just thrilled to be working with them.

VENTRELLA: Aspiring authors often seem to think that writing a book is easy and your first one is sure to be a huge hit…

FAUST: HA! Writing a book is never an easy task. In fact, many an author have compared it to childbirth. However, if it is your passion, you will embrace the process, which may very well drive you insane by the words “THE END” are typed, and revel in all of its glory and madness. There is no guarantee your first book will be a “huge hit”. In fact, that is a very rare anomaly. As with all artistic processes, we learn about our strengths and weaknesses with each project. We learn what our audience gravitates towards with zeal and, at times, we cringe at the mistakes we made.

VENTRELLA: What was the biggest mistake you made when first starting out as a writer?

FAUST: I’d say I made two big mistakes when I first started out: as aforementioned in the above question, I truly believed my first book was going to make millions and I was going to galavant around the world riding trains and living the romantic dream of the author of old. It was a brutal awakening to realize that the world just doesn’t work that way and, no matter how many stellar reviews I received, it was still going to be a very hard road to true success. As I like to say, “You can’t eat critical acclaim.”

The other mistake I made was to trust blindly that your editor is going to catch every single typo. That’s just not the case. The editing process is a two-way street and each time an editor sends you a PDF to review you have to carve out a week and comb over each and every page with a magnifying glass. Editors, no matter how amazing and detail oriented they may be, are still human. That said, every book I have ever come across has had at least one typo in them and, so long as there are just one or two, it’s simply not the end of the world.

VENTRELLA: I admittedly don’t read much horror so I’m not sure where in ones inner self you would find these ideas… What’s your process in developing a story?

FAUST: Everyone has their inner demons. We wrestle with darkness on a daily basis. The human species is only one step away from their animal instincts at all time and it really and truly takes very little push someone to their breaking point. It’s terrifying but true. For me, that is the true “evil”. Not hell-spawned demons or other mischievious paranormal and supernatural entities, but our fellow human beings. One simply has to turn on the evening news to find inspiration for a horror novel.

VENTRELLA: Do you tend to outline heavily or just jump right in? What is your writing style?

FAUST: Lately I have begun outlining more and more for the initial stages of my novels. This is primarily because the plotlines are becoming more intense involving multiple levels and dozens of characters. It’s really the only way I can keep track of them all. However, I always like to leave at least a little organic process to my writing. I may know all of the key points that need to happen throughout the book to get from A to Z but what happens between A and B is still a mystery even to me.

VENTRELLA: Do you enjoy the labels people have put on your work or do you think it may limit your audience?

FAUST: I actually find it highly amusing when people try to label my work because they always do it with a slight degree of confused uncertainty. The fact is that my work can’t really be pigeonholed because there are multiple elements running throughout. However, people do adore their labels.

VENTRELLA: When I have discussed the current novel I am working on (BLOODSUCKERS, about a vampire who runs for President), many agents and editors roll their eyes and say “Oh, not another vampire book.” Yet vampire books continue to sell. Do you think the market is oversaturated or will people always be interested in this?

FAUST: Vampires will always sell because people identify with the vampire on a primal level. The vampire is also the penultimate escapism in the supernatural world. Right now, I do believe there is an oversaturation of the “paranormal romance” vampire story which has basically, in my opinion, defanged our beloved predators and turned them into GQ playboys. However, I will always remain true to my own vampire mythos and will never feel in the least bit threatened. When people tire of their frolicking, sparkly playthings, they know where to find vampires with real “bite”!

VENTRELLA: What’s your opinion on self-publishing? Do you think this is a good idea for first-time authors?

FAUST: Honestly, unless you already have an established, widespread fanbase before you even release the book, you should try to publish traditionally first. Self-publishing is very expensive, time consuming and most bookstores will still not carry your work if they know it’s self-published because of the reputation that industry has for low-quality work.

VENTRELLA: What does the future hold for you? What projects are in the pipeline?

FAUST: I am currently working on the fourth ETERNAL VIGILANCE book, which I hope to have completed by the end of 2012. I will also begin work on the sequel to REVENGE next month. I will be touring extensively throughout the year to promote REVENGE.

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Interview with David Niall Wilson

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing David Niall Wilson today. David has been writing professionally since the 1980s. He has more than sixteen novels and 200 short stories published and has won the Bram Stoker Award for poetry and for short fiction. He is an ex-president of the Horror Writer’s Association and an ordained minster. David lives and writes on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp in North Carolina with the love of his life, Patricia Lee Macomber, their children Stephanie, Billy, Zachar, Zane, and Katie, two brainless Pekingese and a chinchilla named Pook Daddy. David is CEO and founder of Crossroad Press, publishing e-books and professional level audio books. His personal web page is http://www.davidniallwilson.com/ and the publishing site is http://www.crossroadpress.com/catalog

Vampire novels began your career, with White Wolf. Were these stories based on the vampire LARP games? Were you limited in any way because of this?

WILSON: First off, my career (at least by publication date) started with the sale of my stand-alone vampire novel, THIS IS MY BLOOD, followed by the actual publication of CHRYSALIS, my Star Trek Voyager novel.

To answer the question, yes, the White Wolf novels I wrote were all written in their “World of Darkness” and were always intended as companion fiction to their games. The vampires were required to be part of a known clan, to have the proper abilities, and in many cases the novels – while I plotted them – had a particular outcome that was required to further the overall story arc the publishers / editors had in mind. Yes, it was a bit restrictive, but I had a lot of fun with it. Recently I wrote the novel VINTAGE SOUL, which came out in hardcover this past December. It’s the first in a series titled “The DeChance Chronicles” that is written in much the same style and “feel” of my White Wolf novels.

VENTRELLA: You’ve used religion in your writing. What sort of research did you do to prepare?

WILSON: Well, just about every biographical note concerning me will mention that I’m an ordained minister. While that’s a bit tongue in cheek, I spent many years of my youth studying for just that purpose. It wasn’t until about my second year in the US Navy that I determined most (if not all) organized religion was merely an excuse for a small group of people to take control of a larger group by making crazy rules and blaming it on supernatural entities. I left the church behind, but not before I was pretty well versed in The Bible and most denominations who claim to live by it.

VENTRELLA: For the benefit of those unaware, can you describe the plot to THIS IS MY BLOOD?

WILSON: It is a retelling of the gospel from a very different perspective. When Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted by the devil, there is one temptation added. One of the fallen is raised as a woman to tempt him with the flesh. Instead, the woman, named Mary, falls in love with Jesus and his promise of returning her to Heaven.

Cursed to follow him and drink the blood of his followers, Mary walks a fine line between her desire to love and support the Christ, and her burning need to return to Heaven. This novel takes the world of faith, which was the world of men, and of the apostles, and shows it through the eyes of a fallen angel – one who has, in her own words, walked the roads of both Heaven, and Hell. She doesn’t believe there is a God … she knows.

Faithful to the storyline of the original gospels, only weaving in new things when there are gaps in the old, this is a novel of faith, redemption, and ultimate sacrifice.

It’s also my shot at that aforementioned organized religion. In this novel Mary knows that there is a Heaven, and a Hell. She has no need of faith, and this frees her to comment on the lack of belief, harmony, and strength in the apostles … not to mention I’ve always thought Judas got a bad deal, and had fun correcting that as well.

VENTRELLA: Have you received any negative response to your books which use religion as the core?

WILSON: Not a bit. In fact, more than one person (recently, even) has told me that the work has given them new perspective on the Christian faith. So far as I know the only time it’s been an issue was when a German publisher said they could not publish it because they were backed in great part by The Vatican.

VENTRELLA: Have you ever had an idea that bit at you but you couldn’t make work?

WILSON: Not so far. I have had moments where I had an idea I knew to be very, very good, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. The first time this happened was when I sat down to write THIS IS MY BLOOD. Oddly, the project I’ve just started feels that way, though after all the years and words, I’m less worried whether I can do it than I am whether I’m ready to do it…I guess time will tell.

VENTRELLA: Writing a short story is much different from writing a novel. What are the difficulties you have found?

WILSON: I’ve always been good with short fiction (I suppose that explains the award). I have noticed, though, that if you spend most of your time writing novels, it can be more difficult to go back to short form with success. You have to change your focus – sort of like the difference between a snapshot and a movie. A short story usually winds around a single conflict, while a novel can have multiple related plots that wind in and around one another. You have to be a lot more careful with your words in the short form and waste none of them.

VENTRELLA: Why do you think some authors specialize in one or the other?

WILSON: Part of it is a difference in career focus. It’s not impossible to make a living with short fiction, but it’s almost as rare as making a career of being a poet. If you want to reach larger audiences and make a mark, it’s necessary to move into longer forms at some point.

For some, creating short stories is the focus. They love theme anthologies, magazines, and collections, and I admire authors who can maintain that focus. As for myself, I write short fiction when time allows, but my focus has largely shifted to novels and screenplays.

VENTRELLA: Do you think the public is sick of vampire stories yet? Will there be a saturation point? (As an aside, I hope not, given my next book…)

WILSON: I don’t think vampires are going anywhere soon. They are very versatile, shifting to fit whatever the fiction style du jour might be. Today they are mostly just characters in bigger stories. In the old school vampire novels, the fact that there were vampires WAS the story. Now they are just characters with a different set of needs, powers, and goals. They’re not going to disappear on us in the foreseeable future.

VENTRELLA: What work of yours would you advise as a starting point for your books and why?

WILSON: It depends entirely on what sort of fiction you enjoy. My most enduring work is THIS IS MY BLOOD, while my personal favorite so far is DEEP BLUE. My latest is VINTAGE SOUL, and I’m hoping that will launch a series that sort of falls halfway between White Wolf and Harry Dresden. I’ve written science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, dark fantasy, and horror. There’s something available out there for nearly everyone.

VENTRELLA: I note that you do not limit your blog to your writing only, and instead discuss whatever you want. What sort of feedback do you receive? Do your fans appreciate this, skip past it, or does it matter?

WILSON: I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the blog, and I have to say, I can’t imagine the purpose of a blog other than to share what’s on your mind. There’s only so much one can write about their work, and if you want to actually create rapport with readers, you have to be willing to give something in return. I am personally turned off by and uninterested in blogs that cover nothing but a writer’s work. It feels like an advertisement rather than a connection.

VENTRELLA: And finally: What advice would you give to an aspiring author that you wish someone had given you?

WILSON: Not sure that it was not given to me and ignored, but I’d say the best advice in today’s writing world is to not get caught up in blogs, websites, hunting for agents, worrying over markets, self-publishing, and “branding” to the point that you forget the most important thing. If you don’t write, write well, and then write some more, all the rest is a waste of time.

Interview with author David Wellington

David Wellington is the author of seven novels. His zombie novels MONSTER ISLAND, MONSTER NATION and MONSTER PLANET form a complete trilogy. He has also written a series of vampire novels including (so far) THIRTEEN BULLETS, NINETY-NINE COFFINS, VAMPIRE ZERO and TWENTY THREE HOURS, and in October of 2009 began his new Werewolf series, starting with FROSTBITE. His web page is www.davidwellington.net.WellingtonAuthorPictureWeb

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Welcome David! You’ve gathered quite an impressive array of degrees from prominent universities having to do with creative writing. How has your education influenced your writing?

DAVID WELLINGTON: Only indirectly, really. The main reason to pursue a graduate degree in Creative Writing is to be surrounded by other writers–you learn a lot more from your fellow students than from the instructors. The focus is on workshops, and I’ve found you can get that from an informal writing group. I suppose there may have been occasions when someone took me more seriously because I had an MFA, but really, the work needs to stand for itself.

VENTRELLA: Do you believe good writers are “born” or is education and training essential?

WELLINGTON: It’s all about hard work, unfortunately. It took me thirty years to get to the point where my work was worth being published. Exceptional talent might cut down on how long it takes–but the only way to improve as a writer is through trial and error. You need to write, a lot, and learn from your mistakes.

VENTRELLA: How did you get your “big break”? Aspiring writers want to know!MonsterIsland_LoRes

WELLINGTON: I tried everything, of course. I tried selling short stories to magazines. I tried submitting manuscripts to publishers, completely unsolicited. Nothing worked. I was actually ready to give up — when a friend of mine suggested that I publish a book on his website. The book happened to be MONSTER ISLAND. He set up a blog for me and I posted a short chapter three times a week. At first it was just for fun — I had no reason to believe it would lead to anything. Then people started reading it. A lot of people. By the time I had a couple of thousand people reading each new post, a publisher came to me with an offer. I used to say I got into publishing through the back door — but I’ve since come to realize there really isn’t a front door. If you want to be published today, you have to get creative. Luckily, if you’re a writer, you’ve already got a well-developed imagination!

VENTRELLA: How did you get involved in the Marvel Zombies series?

WELLINGTON: Marvel actively sought out the authors of zombie novels to come up with some new ideas for the franchise. They approached three of us to each write one issue of Marvel Zombies Return. I absolutely jumped at the chance — I’d been a fan of comics my whole life, and had always dreamed of writing one some day.

VENTRELLA: How does writing for comics differ from writing novels?

WELLINGTON: It’s much more like writing a screenplay. You’re writing something that will never be seen. Your script is going to be interpreted by an artist, so you give up a certain measure of control. You have to trust your artist to interpret your vision. Luckily for me I was matched with Andrea Mutti, whose art really brought my story to life. The guy’s a pro.

VENTRELLA: You have already tackled several classic horror monsters: werewolves, vampires and zombies. All of these takes were fairly unusual in their descrpition of the monsters’ qualites/appearances, yet retaining a lot of the classic elements at the same time. How did you come by that decision?

WELLINGTON: Whenever I start a project, I want to do it my own way. Otherwise where’s the fun? I start with the traditional version, and think about how I can play with it. That way I can add something new, and hopefully something fresh. My zombies don’t just eat brains — they eat anything organic. They peel gum off the street and eat it if there’s nothing else. They’re the ultimate consumers. My vampires were a direct reaction to the romantic vampires you see so often these days. I wanted my vampires to be scary — predators in a world where we would have a very hard time fighting back. And so on.hair ablowin

VENTRELLA: What’s next? Any plans to give us a fresh take on another horror creature?

WELLINGTON: There will be two books in my new werewolf series–FROSTBITE, out now, and OVERWINTER, which will come out next year. I’d like to do a fifth vampire book, to finish the series.

VENTRELLA: The protagonist of your vampire series, Laura Caxton, is lesbian which is quite unusual for mainstream horror. Anything specific that prompted you to that decision?

WELLINGTON: There wasn’t a lot of decision-making involved. When I created Laura, I knew I had a scene where she comes home after a very nasty day at work and gets into bed. I knew there would be someone in the bed waiting for her — when I got to that scene, the other person just happened to be another woman. The character was partly based on my sister, who is gay. Beyond that I gave it very little thought–and nobody ever gave me a hard time about it. My editors never blinked. My readers have accepted it without making a big deal out of it. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

VENTRELLA: What are your favorite books in the horror genre? Favorite horror movies?

WELLINGTON: My favorite books in horror are the classics — Lovecraft, Poe, Arthur Machen. As far as movies go, I like any horror movie that plays with the genre or expands a story in an interesting way. “Near Dark” is a great film, as is “Let the Right One In,” for this reason.

VENTRELLA: Have you ever considered writing in any other genre?

WELLINGTON: When I started publishing, it was with a horror novel. But I’ve never considered myself just a horror writer — I’ve actually written far more science fiction novels than horror novels, they just never got published. I write fantasy, mystery, even literary fiction — whatever idea comes along, I pounce on it.

VENTRELLA: What’s your favorite monster?

WELLINGTON: Frankenstein’s Monster, definitely. There’s something about that character — both in Mary Shelley’s book and in the Universal films — that really speaks to me, an existential loneliness that demands answers. What am I? Why was I created? What am I supposed to do now? The monster asks all these questions, and gets no answers. That’s how I feel every morning when I wake up. Then I eat my cereal and get to work and I feel a lot better.

VENTRELLA: Do you have any specific advice you would give a writer trying to make it in the publishing business that they may not have heard before?

WELLINGTON: Keep writing — it can seem pointless, but it’ll work eventually. Something will catch somebody’s eye. Or you’ll improve as a writer to the point where people can’t ignore you any more. Try to tell stories, rather than creating great art. Keep reading books — every book, good or bad, has something to teach you.frostbite

VENTRELLA: What are you most proud of? For What would you like to be remembered?

WELLINGTON: A book that hasn’t been published yet. One I haven’t written yet. Every book I write is better, in some way, than the last. I don’t want to be one of those writers who publishes one good book and then can never catch that fire again. I want to be the guy who’s best work is always his latest one, like Terry Pratchett.

VENTRELLA: What are you working on now that we can look forward to?

WELLINGTON: FROSTBITE, my werewolf book, is out right now–you can get it at Amazon or in any bookstore. There will be a sequel called OVERWINTER, out next year. I hope you’ll like them!

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