Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Starting a new novel

It was little over six weeks ago that the first idea came to me. I had just sent Escaping Life to the editors and I was out on a hike in the mountains of Cyprus that following weekend. It can be a lonely place. On a given Saturday in Cumbria in the UK when I was out hiking in rare fine weather you could almost guarantee some passing company.  I could collect good morning greetings that were offered out in warm northern English accents as people appeared from the persistent mist that invariably clung to the summits. But in Cyprus it's quiet. Twenty two kilometres of forest and ridge walking, and the only company was our own.

So this is always a good time to think. Ideas spring out from nowhere, whole characters and plot lines, infantile and in need of work, but rich and varied ideas. It is a chance to day dream and let my mind run free until there is something tangible to snatch at and keep. Once that first idea is there, the process to mould it into something workable can be all consuming, taking that early primitive idea and turning it into something grander and more refined. This is my very favourite part of writing. Starting a new novel. The buzz and the fresh feeling will last at least until 20,000 words, when you can feed off the excitement and adrenaline of the new beginning and the birth of new characters and plot. It's the honeymoon period of a new relationship, when all you see are the good things. In this time you don't see the faults and flaws.  At this point it is almost impossible to see the reality of the future.  It is unthinkable to consider that it will ever feel like hard work.  You don't see this until later on, when everything feels more comfortable and stops trying so hard. My characters are still trying hard. I have at least another 15,000 words until the work begins and choices have to be made. Is this right? Is this what I want? Can this work long term? The compromises begin, the apologies too, and all of the other ingredients that are neccesary to make something last.  To make something real.

The new beginnings are there to be enjoyed. They should be cherished and cared for. It is the foundation that without it, nothing else can be built. But it is the reality that comes afterwards that keeps things strong. It is coming through the tough times that makes, or breaks. Right now I am just going to enjoy this new beginning because it is these happy memories that when it gets tougher and difficult days present themselves they will keep me afloat. Buoyed by these moments of ease, I will write my way through the darker days and remember that it is these times that make something stronger.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Following the writing rules

There are certain things in life that always follow the rules. I know for example that when I open my blinds every morning the sun will be there, supposing that I didn't wake up on the other side of the apocalypse. I know when I take the washing out of the washing machine there will always be an odd number of socks. I also know no matter how hard I support 'the other team', Manchester United will always score at the last minute and win the game. When I first self published The Loss of Deference I was faced with all sorts of rules: get a website, write a blog, forum this, and read that. Books it seems are no different.  There are rules for genre, rules for plot, and rules for characters. Some of them are obvious and don't need stating.  For example, making Michael Myers the love interest in the next Bridget Jones instalment is heaving with difficulties. There is suspension of disbelief, and then there is just plain stupid. Some leave us feeling baffled (yes formatting, I'm talking to you) but to avoid them is futile. Others, it seems are like breathing. They are as important as the physical laws of the world, and without them there is a potential for that world, whichever one it is that we as writers have created to simply stop spinning.

I read a review of a horror movie this week. Horror happens to be my movie genre of choice (my second favourite genre would be Matthew Mcconaughey, and there are some great rules in this genre too). So when I read that ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ was a veritable thesis in horror movie creation I was sold.  It did, I will agree follow the rules. It had the young blonde cheerleader type who is too willing and too quick to lose her clothes. It had the jock, the weirdo, the smart underrated cute guy, and the virgin. All dead, and all killed in that order, until of course somebody never really quite died and makes a bloody come back to almost save the day. It also threw in every horror movie ghoul that the sick mind could create. Add in the subtlest pinch of humour and you've got yourself a winner, right? Wrong. Perhaps I missed the point. Perhaps I was supposed to put my tongue in my cheek and get in on the joke. But I didn't. When I went to bed there was no quick check in the cupboards. There was no plan to stay facing the outside of the bed just in case something invisible tried to lift up the sheets. In fact, I haven't thought about it once since I pressed stop/eject.

So what is it that makes a book or a movie that seems to have all of the right ingredients, which follows all of the rules, somehow fails to hit the mark? I think it comes down to the fact that it doesn't matter how many prescriptive tools you adhere to there is something fundamental that no movie or book can do without. It has to come from the story. The creation of plot. How many books have I read, or movies have I watched where generally, they haven't been that well polished. But I finished them. Why? Because I couldn't not finish them. Because I had to know what happened. The story outweighed everything else. Conversely, how many beautiful written books or visually stunning movies have I tired of?  Too many to count.  

So here I am now on the very cusp of writing the first words for book three and I have been trying to work out what genre it is. Trying to consider what elements that sort of book might need. Short of not yet knowing how I will categorise it on Amazon, I'm not sure it matters. What matters is the plot and the characters, and how these elements interact with each other. So before I write anything, I am going over the plot again, and again, and again.  My only rule: make the story kiss ass. The rest of the rules I'm just going to skip.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The end of traditional publishing

When I was thirteen I bought a lot of CD's. I would spend time flicking through the alphabetically lined racks for Madonna, Guns and Roses, or the soundtrack for Days of Thunder (actually that was on LP - oh God, I am old enough). I would turn it over and look at the pictures. I would pull out the little booklet and pray that the lyrics had been printed inside so I could learn them and prove that I was a real fan by singing along when it came on the radio. I loved the whole process of CD buying. I still love music, but yet I haven't bought a CD in at least three years. Why? Because instead of going out to the shop, I download all the music that I want. I open up my computer and within five minutes and five clicks the album is there.  No wait, no petrol, no crazy shoppers, and no temptation into Zara to buy clothes that I have no need for.  I also love reading the newspaper, but I don't buy those either. I have the internet for that too.

So what about books? I might buy the occasional book, but the last seven that I read were all on the Kindle, and the only time I went near the bookshelf lately was to dust it. So in a world where we are craving our information and our products instantly, the question for a writer like me is this. Is traditional publishing and the way we used to purchase our books dead?

According to one online source, yes. They even gave me a date, and for your information it happened sometime in 2008, just in case you missed it. I however am not so sure. When I go to the local store there are plenty of books. When I go to the beach, there are plenty of people reading books too, and I mean paperback ones that trap grains of sand and that by the time you get back home they emit the smell of coconut sun lotion and spilt mojito. I too worshipped at the house of the literary agent when I first finished my manuscript. I eagerly got myself a copy of the Writers and Artists yearbook and duly sent the 'finished' work to as many people I could. They sent it back too, along with a rejection letter which at first hurt like hell, but by the time I had read the twentieth didn't sting quite so much and at least made me re-edit. Now I thank the anonymous agents for the nudge in the right direction, but at the time all I wanted was their approval.  I wanted them to love me.  How needy I once was.

So why are so many people claiming that the world of traditional publishing is over? Well, for starters, people believe that publishing the traditional route is so elusive. Of the hundreds of manuscripts they receive only a few will be read, and out of those even less will get picked for reading by ‘a higher power’. Where does that leave hundreds of writers who want to be published? Ten years ago it left them on the doorstep with sore knuckles and a head full of broken dreams with their only hope self publishing, which at that time was considered almost as bad as remaining unpublished. Oh the shame of having a self published book back then. It was like beating Linford Christie when you knew you had only got through the dope test by sheer luck. It was tainted. Actually, it was worse.  It was more like losing to Linford Christie and knowing that you had only got through the dope test by sheer luck.  It was tainted, and it was failure.  Now however it leads us directly to the door of Amazon, or Smashwords where there is no shame in self publication. Everybody knows now that there is quality to be seen in the indie publishing world, and the only people who don't want to say it out loud are the traditional agents and publishers.

It might also be because we see previously well respected traditionally published authors stepping over onto our side of the deal and releasing their own work and representing their own brand. And by this what I really mean is taking their own cut and making their own money. Why in a world where publishing electronically or print on demand is so easy that a ten year old could do it would a writer that stands to sell, let's say a million copies of his or her book willingly hand over a significant chunk of the profits to an agent, another significant chunk to the publishers, and only take the money that's left once everybody else has got paid.  The alternative is to publish themselves, let Amazon take it's acceptably small chunk, and then keep the rest in their own overfilled pocket.  Maybe we should ask Amanda Hocking.  She is a great example of a writer who absolutely and undeniably made it on her own, and now she is happily signing a deal with St Martin’s Press.  Why?  Probably because it’s a damn sight easier than doing everything yourself.

So my belief is this.  The world of publishing has changed.  Anyone that thinks it hasn’t is clinging onto outdated ideas, and probably the arms of their editors or agents chair by their finger nails. My other belief is that traditional publishing is still alive.  Maybe it’s not quite as healthy or powerful as it once was, but it is still there.  Anyone who disagrees is probably (bring on the bad comments) an aggrieved self published writer who wants to dance on its grave.  Would I still love a publishing deal? Maybe, if only to avoid the look of pity on people’s faces when they ask who my publisher is and I tell them me.  But as a self published author who is sitting averagely comfortably in the 1,490, 779 books that are currently in the Kindle list on Amazon I’m pretty happy so far with the process.  I’m not a millionaire yet, but I’m working on it.  Traditional and self publishing are never likely to form a symbiotic relationship.  But perhaps rather than spending our time trying to belittle each other we should as authors accept that the love of literature and books still exists.  It is cherished by many, and as long as that remains true any decent author stands a chance.  I’m happy to take my shot in whatever form is available to me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Loss of Deference is now a feature length film!

Ok, let’s start off by clearing up the rather misleading title.

1.      I did not have dinner with Cameron or Spielberg

2.      I have not been lured by a Hollywood executive with the promise of fame or fortune

3.      Julianne Moore is not clambering for the part of Molly (but more about that in a minute)

4.      And rather importantly, there is no movie offer in the pipeline.

So why the big fat lie?

It is very simply because I made a trailer, and that trailer happened to be rather well received. It was my first foray into the digital world of film (besides a very heavily poorly edited bachelorette weekend of a good friend). But it was a lot of fun, and gave a wonderful visual representation of the mood that I wanted to set in the book. So this got me thinking. If there were to be a movie made, who would play the characters?

We talked about the ultimate bad guys in the last post, and I easily knew then who I wanted to write about. But who, if I got the pick of Hollywood would I put in my own film?

So in the style of IMDB, here is my cream of the crop, my ultimate casting list. And Sorry Kutcher, I wish you were on it I really do as I would love to spend a few months on a movie set with you.  But you're not.

Will Moreton

We'll I am starting local. He was born just up the road from my childhood home, the brilliant Clive Owen. He was the face of Will in my mind the whole way through writing the book, because he has a quality of kindness in his face, and yet you know just underneath that surface there is that personal strength that it would take to carry a terrible secret his whole life, and somehow remain unburdened by it and loyal to Daniel.

Daniel Fox

A simple choice. The best friend of Will, he must be able to hold it together when his world is caving in around him, and be able to cope with the loneliness of his life.  But when necessary, he also has to find that cold and calculating streak to betray those who are closest to him. For me there is only one actor in Hollywood at the moment that can inspire empathy and hatred and any single moment. Stand up Christian Bale.

Molly Moreton

She was loyal for years, a dedicated wife and ultimately good person. She has stood by Will's side with strength as her life collapsed into the pieces in which she now finds herself. It is only then that she slips, once she sees what her life has become and covets her lost dreams. In a cold world of loneliness, she will not let her life fall apart. There is a resistance to her, a streak of self serving selfishness. She is not to be walked all over. She is also a sexy redhead, and so welcome to your new role Julianne Moore.

Dr. Robert Carter

Described to me by one reader as the ultimate ‘bad’ in The Loss of Deference he is the key holder, he is the big player. He is the nut that turns the screw. But yet he is almost secondary, his deeds going on in the background. Is he too just following orders? Is he too just a man trying to save his family from reality or is he really the cold blooded criminal that history would lead us to believe him to be? Whatever he is, he has the ability to turn his back on morality, on life. He has a conviction that far outweighs that of the other characters. He is not driven by emotion or anger. He made a very calculated choice. Should I be able to wave a very magical and wonderful wand I would welcome Ralph Fiennes wholeheartedly into this pivotal role.

The Loss of Deference is currently free for download from Amazon.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Loss of Deference is free for download

I remember thinking on the day that I first loaded The Loss of Deference into the Amazon KDP program that I had ages to use the free days of promotion.  About six weeks ago I had my first free weekend of downloads which was very successful.  Now here we are again with the final promotion and the very last three days that are available, and all of the time since the first book upload has simply whizzed by in a flash.

So todays post has a simple message.  My book is free!  Please help yourself to a copy if you haven't already done so, and if you have please excuse my blog posts, facebook, and twitter behaviour until Saturday draws to a close. 

11/10/2012 12:00 AM PDT, until 13/10/2012 11:59 PM PDT.  Just to avoid any confusion with my English dates.........that's NOW!

To make it even easier for you, here is the link to Amazon.co.uk and here is the link for Amazon.com.  Do I ask anything in return? Not really, but if you feel in the mood you could always swing by and leave me a review on Amazon and visit me on facebook.  I would be very very grateful.

Who says nothing ever comes for free?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Miror Mirror: who is the worst one of them all?

As a self published author, it is sometimes difficult to get feedback on the work that I put out there. Getting comments on a blog is always difficult, and there is no agent to massage my ego, or a publisher out there demanding more excellent material. So when reactions come my way, either in the form of an email, blog post comment or even better, a review, I love it.  What I am enjoying about my reviews is the reaction to one of my main characters, Daniel Fox.

Daniel Fox is the anti-hero, the antagonist, and the schmuck who you wish would disappear, find a hole to crawl back into and stop quietly destroying people’s lives. Or is he? Could I really have created somebody so one dimensional, that simply walks around Terminator style reaping havoc upon those around him? Could he really have no discernible or redeeming character trait that could help explain his torturous ways? The simple answer is no. Yes, he has a lot; let's repeat that, a lot of traits that mean anybody contemplating a relationship/friendship/employment contract of any kind with Daniel Fox should run for the hills screaming faster than you can say put that needle down. But there is another side to him. A tortured side built out of misfortune when life conspired against him and where love and luck failed him. I don't want you to hate Daniel Fox when you read his story. OK, OK, you might at first. But I hope eventually you might come to understand him. You might just come to find his fatal flaw and see, if time travel were a reality where you might be able to put things right.

So this got me thinking. Who is my favourite of all time? Which characters have I seen on screen or in print that make me feel this way? I'm not talking ultimate bad guys like the Alien of Ridly Scott, or Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. These are the destroyers of life. There is no other side to these charaters, just pure conviction in their actions. I'm talking about the guys and girls where you can see how it happened: the ones that never got to make that choice. The ones that were not as the saying goes, 'born this way'. So let’s meet the characters where either nurture or illness is everything to blame.

Michael Corleone

Possibly, but still questionably (thanks to Goodfellas and Joe Pesci) my favourite of all gangster characters. The impact of nurture is easy to explain as he regales the story of his father holding a gun to the head of Jonny Fontane's manager to 'help him with his career' in The Godfather: Part I. As the son of Vito, husband to a murdered wife, brother to the murdered Sonny, was it not inevitable that eventually he would one day be received as The Godfather?

Norman Bates

In the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch, Norman is a tortured boy and teenager, tormented incessantly by his mother. When she intends to remarry and open a motel, he kills her and her partner, and yet unable to live without her he steals her corpse. His mother continues to 'live' inside of him manifesting in his own actions, and when she rises to the surface he becomes the monster that she in no small part created.

Annie Wilkes
It could not possibly be the blog post of a writer, or a post about bad guys without a mention of this woman. As writers we strive for fans and recognition, people who follow us on blogs and websites, and people who can't wait to buy our books. Sound familiar? Undoubtedly struck by more mental illness than her cheery exterior could conceal, who can possibly forget the scene with the mallet and the ankles. I am shuddering at the thought. Come to think of it, who are you and why are you interested in reading this..............

Hanibal Lecter

The subject matter of my year eight school prize and subsequent horror of the presenting head teacher as she picked up the book, Lecter is one of the all time scare-you-senseless bad guys. His dramatisation by Sir Anthony Hopkins did nothing to quell that slow steady burn of creepiness of his long lingering desire before it erupts into an act of all out and somehow surprisingly unexpected rage. He can at first be thought of as little more than a cannibal best off locked away to suffer next to Miggs in the soulless dank corridor of confinement, but as we flesh out the story (ahem) we eventually learn his tortured and Nazi-destroyed childhood, his failings become very, and all to perfectly clear.

Michael Myers
At this point I have lingered for some time. How can this list be summed up in five characters. Struggling to get into this last spot was one of my personal favourites: the chillingly calm John Doe from Se7en. Kevin Spacey, I salute you.  Plus, Robert De Niro's wonderful portrayal of Max Cady deserves a mention: his malevolence in the simplest of acts was astounding, let alone when he proceeded to chew off a cheek.

But Michael Myers, The Shape from the Halloween series is terrifying in his sheer emptiness. There is no second dimension to see with Myers. There is no fatal flaw. His is simply a personification, the walking evil, and yet is the son of a normal couple. A normal boy, it would seem, until he dons a clown mask and goes rooting around in the kitchen. There is no identifiable flaw in his nurture. His is just a boy.

So perhaps this is the point worth making when we construct our anti heroes. It is not the act of evil that makes our characters unlikeable. Or indeed the brutality of their crime. It is only in the juxtaposition of that evil against the good that provides us a basis upon which to judge them. It seems after all, that it is the normal elements of our characters that allow us to experience, witness, and withdraw from their cruel and monstrous side.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I decided at the beginning of today, that no matter what I would achieve two things. The first was to complete and publish my book trailer for The Loss of Deference. The second was to finish and publish my website. However simple these tasks seemed at the start of the day, plain sailing it was not.

Let's start with the trailer, and what I thought would be simplest. After 'completing' the trailer last night, and pulling back the big red imaginary drapes and counting down 5-4-3-2-1, I waited as the short film of two minutes, but which constitutes no less than ten hours work played out in front of me.  What did I get in response from the other side of the sofa?  'I don't like it.' After a weekend of work, hours of internet trawling, hours of fiddling around with a music mixing program that I had no idea how to use, especially since I somehow managed to download it in Greek despite selecting English, and all I got was a big resounding 'hum, not sure about that bit'.  So I set to it at nine this morning undeterred making the changes suggested, and after three hours and a selection of bilingual swear words later, I had something of a finished project: 'Operation Book Trailer' was complete.

Next step, website. I had already purchased the website domain, and I had over a week ago unveiled the WIP at another impromptu settee conference and made any amendments suggested by the household critic. After the changes and the tweaks, I had what seemed like quite a nice website. So I clicked the big orange publish button, and I was away. No less than a minute later I had joined the other six hundred and twenty million websites and was officially part of the World Wide Web. So I merrily sent out my emails to family and friends, gave myself a little pat on the back and sat down for lunch.

It didn't even take an hour before the first phone call came in. 'I can't get on your website', was the reply. Silly fool, I thought, so I tried to load it myself. I saw the briefest flash of my name, but then instead of my carefully crafted book cover, something else was starting back at me: a pretty blonde woman wearing a nice selection of clothes that would likely get you arrested if you went out in them, and her retail price was certainly a lot more than the one dollar sixty cents required to pick up a copy of The Loss of Deference. As friendly as she seemed, she was fulfilling an entirely different purpose than was intended when I purchased www.michellemuckley.com.

After another hour of button pressing, website verification, computer scans, and un-publishing of the website for malware checks, I have once again been able to publish my site minus the sultry and unexpected additions.  You can follow the link above to check out the site, but the trailer is also here for you now.

So twelve long hours later, I have indeed finished with the day.  I got my website and my trailer published, albeit with quite a few unexpected twists and turns.  But then again, that just about sums up self publishing.  When you do everything yourself like we do, you learn on your feet.  You find the problems and learn the remedies as you go.  It’s a long task, but at the end of the day, I can sit here with my cup of tea and know that what I see before me is my own craft, as I intended it.  I don’t have a team, unless you count the critic sat on the other side of the settee and the thousands of people via twitter.  Well, and today I guess, some geezer who thought he’d drop a bit of porn on my nice shiny new website – thanks for the blog post.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back in the Hot Seat

They say a change is as good as a rest and the past month is certainly no exception.  It is so long since I have written a blog post of my own, I have almost forgotten how to do it.  Not literally of course, but a whole month away after surrendering my blog over to sixteen other writers who have appeared over the course of the month is certainly enough to throw you off course.

That said, there is no better place to start this post than by thanking all of those writers who have appeared on my blog.  Between them they shared a wealth of writing knowledge, opinions, talent, and of course collectively years and years of experience.  I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing their work, and judging on the viewing figures that my blog has been getting so have my readers.  The indie publishing world is alive and well readers, no matter what the big publishing houses will have us all believe. One of the most interesting viewpoints to me that came through in a number of the interviews was the competition experienced between indie authors themselves.  This in all honesty goes against anything that I have experienced since the release of The Loss of Deference.  I have encountered nothing but warmth from other writers who have offered me advice and guidance, help and blog space.  This was really where the whole idea of having other guest bloggers came from, so to hear that other writers have had their dreams beaten down by other writers in the same position feels like a bitter pill to swallow.   But we should remember that a wise man gets more use from his enemies, than a fool from his friends.

It has also been a very busy month for me behind the scenes.  I held the first giveaway of The Loss of Deference and had a considerable amount of downloads.  I say considerable having no real understanding of what an impressive figure might be, but it feels good to know there are now almost a thousand copies out there being read and that somewhere in that there might just be a few people who liked it enough to bother to write an Amazon review.  There will also be a second giveaway this coming week starting on 9th and finishing on 11th October.  This really will be the last chance to get yourself a free copy, and this event will be much better publicised that the first (thanks T.S. Welti for all the advice!).  As for book two it is now firmly in the hands of the editors.  I have proof read it three times, and I am hoping that this time when it comes back I won't make any last minute changes that let in undetected mistakes prior to release.  The release date in mind is 1st December 2012.  OK, OK, I know it's a Saturday but in the world of Facebook and Twitter does it really matter?  These worlds never sleep!

I have so many other things I want to type, but in the interests of not writing enough to constitute the first chapter of book three, I will save something for next week.  I am excited already about Monday and what I am going to post!

I hope you like the new look blog.  I find the colours and the layout less monotone and less depressing.  I decided I was taking myself far too seriously with the black and white photos and all grey scheme.  Thoughts on the new look please!!

Have a great weekend. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Post: Rashaad Bell

I write because I have a story to tell. Its not the most concise story and its not the best edited story in the world, but its a story nonetheless. This offends people. It offends traditional publishers because it is a threat to their way of doing business. It signifies that I no longer need them and their antiquated business practices to find my audience. It proves to them that in fact, I don't need them anymore. I can create my own online presence. I can create my own paperbacks and distribute them. I've, in essence, taken the power that they have held over traditional publishing and proved that it is now obsolete. I can kick down my own doors and place my books firmly in the hands of people that desire them without the need of Big Six approval.

It also offends the elitist of indie authors as well. How dare I attempt to sell something that is nowhere near the perfection of their fully vetted, professionally edited manuscripts? To them, my poorly written, continuity error filled novel, with it's homemade cover design and dated pop culture references and lackluster editing even attempt to try and carve out a little niche for myself? I need to do it their way or not at all. More importantly, since it's not of "professional grade quality", I need to crawl back into whatever hovel I came from and not show my face until it meets their merit of perfection. To them, I am a threat to everything they stand for. I am going to ruin indie publishing. I'm going to turn off their readers with my incoherent ramblings that I pass off as a novel.

I also write about Vampires. This offends people.  People are sick of Vampires! They suck, pardon the pun. It's not a real book. I'm just flooding the market place with my Vampire crap, stopping readers from finding their masterpiece. Nobody wants to read it anyway. Your destroying indie publishing with that nonsense, go write a real book!

I never imagined that by sitting at the keyboard and typing, I would offend so many people. But do you want to know a secret?

I don't care.

I'm not writing my books to gain the attention of the Big Six and I sure as heck don't write to gain the approval of other indie authors. I write because I have a story to tell, plain and simple. I'm just a guy, with a keyboard and an idea. I never claimed I was anything other then that. I'm not here to give you that great, all American novel. I'm not trying to create something that will go down in history as one of the greatest things written since Tolkien sat down at a typewriter. I'm just here to tell you about a girl named Madison Amber Rose who is destined to open one of the Boxes of Pandora. Vampires want her dead, Werewolves are hounding her every step and ancient Gods have suddenly reappeared in our dimension with plans on destroying reality itself.

Who am I?

I'm just a guy with an idea, a little bit of writing skills and the ability to get that idea on your Ebook device. I'm not here to give you that perfect masterpiece you've been waiting on, but I'm trying. I get better ever day. Right now, I'm not that author that I always dreamed of being, but practice makes perfect. The funny thing is, if they think I'm a threat now, they oh boy, I've got a surprise coming for them in the future.

Vampire Manifesto is out now on Amazon:

Fledgling (Vampire Manifesto Book Two):


Monday, October 1, 2012

Interview with Rashaad Bell

Well it has been a long old month of author interviews and guest blogging.  We have seen almost twenty authors sharing with us their thoughts on what it is to be a writer and what journey they took to get there.  Today we are meeting our final author, Rashaad Bell.  He will also be joining us tomorrow for a special guest post that I really think sums up our month of indie authors perfectly.  Here is Rashaad, in his own words.

My name is Rashaad Bell. I'm a former United States Marine and old school comic book nerd. I love movies and video games. More importantly, I'm just a guy with a story to tell. Check it out, it might be kinda awesome.

Tell me a little bit about your latest book?

Fledgling is my most current novel. It continues the tale of Madison Amber Rose and deals with the ramifications of what happened in Oakland, California in the previous book. The Translucent Man is still hot on her heels and his acolytes, the Marauders are still tracking her every step. The Prophecy concerning the Boxes of Pandora has yet to come to pass and a new enemy, the United States Government, has entered into the equation. They have now labeled her dark haired savior, the Vampire Connor, a terrorist and are attempting secure his location.

How did you come up with the title?

I chose the tittle Fledgling because not only Madison, but a number of her associates go through a transformation of some sort and are inexperienced in their new found abilities. It doesn't mean that everyone becomes a Vampire however. There are other things that go bump in the night that you can transform into.

When and why did you begin writing?

After reading The Lord of the Rings in middle school, I knew that one day, I wanted to write. Of course back then, it was this big, sword and fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons epic, but I've dialed it back in scope somewhat. Not that I don't still have plans to do something like that, I've got a nice little idea on how to work that in the current storyline I have going.

Do you write in the same genre you like to read?

Sure I do. I read lots of comics and I love Anne Rice. So I've got a nice blend of both. Just because Vampires are involved, doesn't make it a Vampire story. It's just a story that happens to have Vampires in them. There is also the looming return of the Gods of old popping back up, genetically engineered government agents, humans being illegally modified to gain Post Human abilities, not to mention a dash of time travel and alternate dimensions thrown in. Don't ask me what genre this would fall in cause I have no idea. The kick ass genre maybe?

Do you plan your work or just go with it and start with the initial idea?

Well I plan out the big action set pieces. If somebody is going to die, I plan that out as well. The overall plot is there in my head, so I know where it's going, but the other stuff, I don't plan ahead for. I sit down and write and the characters create their own voice. Maybe that villain, isn't really a villain at all. After hearing his voice come alive on the page, maybe his doing something that my appear villainous, but there is something going on behind the scenes that he knows about that he's trying to stop, something evil, something horrible. On the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe that person who you thought was good, was that shady person lurking in the shadows all along.

How do you deal with writers block?

I walk the street like a beat cop. Put some music in my ears, take a walk and work it out.

What inspires you to write?  Where do you find your influences?

Grant Morrison, who writes for Action Comics is a big inspiration. He wrote All star Superman, which is considered the quintessential Superman story. Also Scott Synder who is working on Batman. Love that guy, Court of the Owls is just the best. Not to mention Anne Rice, who gave me my man crush on Lestat. If I can be even half the writer that they are, I would consider myself blessed.

What are your current projects?

Right now I'm working the book three of the Vampire Manifesto series and I'm also putting together the Temporal War storyline that's going to run through that and my new Agent 13 series that's under development.

How do you come up with your characters?

A good death scene. Nothing says a new character to me then how they are gonna die.

Are the names of your characters important?

Sometimes they are. If I can't come up with a really cool name, I'll end up using a place holder name in the book so I can keep writing. More often then not, the place holder name becomes their name because it's just been ingrained in the character for so long that I don't want to change it once the story is done.

Favourite/worst book to movie?

Well, does the Game of Thrones count? It's not a movie, but I think that's the best book to film that I've seen. If we are going for just straight up movie then The Lord of the Rings. As for the worst, I'm going to go with the Green Lantern movie. I watch that and think, out of all the Green Lantern stories you could have picked, this is what your running with?

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just do you. Don't look for approval. Haters are always gonna hate. You have your dream, then stick to it. Take baby steps if need be, but don't let negativity dethrone your dream.