Tag Archives: Frazer Lee

Giving Thanks: What it’s All About and Writer Friends I’m Thanking!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, fellow writers, book lovers, friends. So many of you make my day so much brighter and this weekend, I give thanks to you! I suppose to me it doesn’t really matter if you live in America or not, we all have something to celebrate with this holiday: coming together, working together through differences, and being thankful for what we have, especially when many people might not have as much as us. That is a world-wide sentiment, is it not?

Of course, most know (or at least I hope!) that the pilgrims came across the sea on the Mayflower from Britain. If you didn’t, I suggest watching Snoopy in his Mayflower cartoon at the very least!  As I see it, several kind First Peoples helped the Pilgrims through a time that they might otherwise not have lived through. Squanto (who had quite the story of being kidnapped to Spain, escaping to Britain, and then back to North America…whew) taught them to plant corn and fertilize with fish, and others taught them how to clear and build. It was a peaceful time in history that is far from highlighted. A year later, as the crops grew to be abundant and life of a settlement had begun, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans feasted together, giving thanks for what nature and the land supplied in order tfor them to survive. Wha-la! Thanksgiving!

First Thanksgiving

‘The First Thanksgiving’ Painting Source: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

We can all take so many lessons from this, can we not? How extending a hand is sometimes still advantageous (and worth it) as there are still people who truly will be thankful (look at how hundreds of years later we are still celebrating the Native American kindness) or how we can find a peaceful way to get along and work beside people who are different from us whether that be race, religion, beliefs, or what not.  It’s all what is in your hearts, so stop judging and start living! Live in thanks, not in fear!

I hope this Thanksgiving that you not only give thanks for those people closest to you, but for the rest of the people all over the world. For people who are making a difference by forging alliances with those different from us so that one day seeds will be planted and the fruit of kindness will grow further into the world. Where love for others in not only their similarities but in their differences will be had and we will all sit at one big world table learning about each other and GIVING THANKS that we have meals on our tables when so many others do not.

Blessings to you and yours on this day. It’s why it’s one of my most favorite holidays. To quote my 10 year old daughter, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is the day I get to be thankful for all I have.” That blew me away….!! Which is true as it reminds us, amid food and football and games, during the Christmas tree decorating or the fervent shopping, to remember how good most of us have it compared to many others who will spend the holidays freezing in gloves with holes on the street, begging for a piece of turkey bone from the trash.

As far as books and writing goes, I am so very thankful for so many like-minded people in my life. You all are the source of my best smiles and days (outside of my children) and my inspiration. I love to write and to read and I am so happy that there are so many of us to share our joys in with out there in the online world. I appreciate my readers of this blog and hope you’ll grow that with me this next year. I appreciate the authors who contact me and send me books for review and who offer to do posts and take on my lengthy interviews. It is my complete pleasure to review what I can as I can. You are mostly all so patient and understanding about my time-table and my life.

I appreciate those authors who want my thoughts on a first glimpse of their books, those who hire me to do work for them, and those that I brainstorm for and with. It is the best part of my life, outside of writing my own stuff and being a mom. I am passionate for you to succeed each and every day.

I have complete gratitude for my writer friends who encourage and motivate me each day, even if it is something they don’t realize they do, and how much they truly mean to me. To my friend circle of Hunter Shea and Kevin Sheehan, W.D. Gagliani, Craig Schaeffer (Jonathan Janz), Brian Moreland, Kristopher Rufty, Ronald Malfi, Russell James, David Berenstein, Sandy Shelonchik, and Frazer Lee…I couldn’t get through a week without your amazing personalities. Thanks to many of you for being there for me in so many ways with my crazy life, my intense personality, and for encouraging my writing (both pointedly through emails and by example of what you do). Never would I have though I’d write anything near horror (just had the YA and history going) but then you all landed in my lap (not literally..lol). Hugs to Keith Rommel for his friendship and trust. Thanks further to David Searls and John Everson for always making me laugh or making me hungry and to Jonathan Moore, for his ability to remind me how to find calm in order to write. And to Glenn Rolfe for always writing WAAAAAAY too much so that I pound my head wondering if I can keep up. Great authors, great writers, great people. SERIOUSLY, THANK YOU!

I love my historical author friends who lead by example as well and especially those women who I admire like Nancy Bilyeau, Sherry Jones, Jennie Fields, Eva Stachniak, Cathy Buchanan, Ania Szado, D.J. Niko, Jennifer Epstein. For making me laugh and giving me so much to enjoy is Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Stephanie Thornton, Kris Waldherr, Susanna Calkins.  For Melika Lux and her never ending friendship and chats! To Christopher Gortner and David Blixt for their passion and lively Facebook posts. To Amy Bruno, owner of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, for her organizational skills, friendly emails, and making it easy to feature authors here on my blog.  There are too many wonderful historical writers to name in this post and they all make me want to learn more, be more, write more, and even better, research more. I would be eternally grateful to one day finish my historical novel and be published beside them.

To Dandi Mackall, for first encouraging me to continue my quest to write novels and teach me how to learn from my surroundings. For igniting my spark during college and for continually impressing me with her kindness and her writing. To Tracy Higley for her exotic historical adventures, trust in me to read her novels, and her pursuit of spirituality which makes me think.

To lovely friends Matthew Turner and Linn Halton who makes me transcend beyond every day life and death with their thoughts and insights. And I am so thankful for so many British authors who truly give me emotional connections to books and write the best new adult, mystery, and historicals out there.

I am GRATEFUL for the talent of writing I’ve had my whole life. When I thought I’d lost it, when I got too busy with my former job and life, when I was told I couldn’t write, I didn’t listen. I kept fighting to write because you know what? I CAN. And I am THANKFUL. So very thankful to be free through my writing. The more I read, the more my muses swirl around me–the more I write, the more they whisper.

This Thanksgiving Season, be thankful for your talents, your support circles, your writing friends, the authors you like, and for the ability to read, and if you write, to write!

Eat lots of pumpkin pie and enjoy a good book or do some writing over the weekend!

Snoopy-Woodstock-Thanksgiving-Dinner

GRATEFUL for YOU! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Interview with Jonathan Moore about His Debut of Redheads, How He Writes, and His Love of Sailing

Today, I finally have my interview up with Jonathan Moore, author of Redheads, after technical difficulties last week during his launch! I’ve been dying to share it with you, as I feel Jonathan is a new author who is one to watch! If you like horror, crime, thrillers, serial killer dramas, supernatural twists, or just great literature, this book is one you must read for yourself.

You can read my review HERE if you’re curious about my thoughts on the book! But set aside some time this weekend and check out our interview, we get in-depth about his work and genres and he shares some beautiful photos of his boat in Hawaii…oh, we went sailing, didn’t you know? *in my dreams*

Redheads

 

Hi, Jonathan! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so excited to have you here to talk about your debut novel, Redheads, as well as to introduce you to other authors and readers! What did it feel like for you to release your first book last week (Nov. 5, 2013)?

Jonathan:   Hi Erin, thanks for having me.  This is a great blog, and I’ve been following it for a while now.  Watching my book release felt great—it was something I’ve been working towards for a long time, so seeing it come together was thrilling.  The whole publishing process, in fact, has been great fun.

Erin: Thanks for following and I’m so glad you enjoy it! It’s snowing and cold here, so I definitely want to come where you are!  Let’s take a ride on the boat, drink some coffee, and discuss while I get tan in your warm Hawaii environment! I need some sun about now (Ohio doesn’t have that every day!)!

Jonathan: Get yourself settled in.  If you want something stronger than coffee, I keep cold beer on the boat, and there may be a bottle of rum in the freezer.  The boat’s name, by the way, is Pez Vela, and she’s been a good friend for a while now.  In fact, she helped me get this novel going.  Here’s a picture of her in Pokai Bay:

boat

Erin: The boat is lovely and the water inviting! Ah, I’ll have the rum with some coke, or if it is coconut rum (my fave) I’ll have with Sprite! *smile*

Q:  I know you’ve been a man of many talents career wise over your young life. Normally, knowing you now work as an attorney, I’d ask how you made the switch to writing, but I also know you used to be an English teacher! So how about you tell how writing started for you, why you chose to become a lawyer, and then why you took the dive back into a creative profession?

A: This is going to be a really long answer, so if you haven’t grabbed a beer yet, now would be a good time.

Erin: Thanks for pouring me a second of that rum…I’m all ears!

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  From the time I was a kid—in fact, before I could spell—I’d write stories.  My first stories, when I was in kindergarten, were about a dog and a snake who were friends.  I’d like to think my stories have gotten better, or at least more complicated, since then. 

In high school, I bugged out of Central Texas as soon as I could, and went to Interlochen Arts Academy, in Michigan, where I majored in creative writing.  Interlochen is mostly known as a music school, but its creative writing program was top notch—I mean, seriously, what other high school even has a full-fledged creative writing major?

In fact, Interlochen was so great, it almost set me up to fail in college.  I dropped out of more undergraduate colleges than I’d care to mention before I found one in San Francisco that left me alone and let me write.  That was the New College of California, which sadly no longer exists.   

I graduated in 2001 with a degree in creative writing, and (unsurprisingly) no job prospects whatsoever.   I had this half-baked idea that if I studied a foreign language, I might improve my writing style by getting a different perspective on language.  So I moved to Taiwan and found a job teaching kindergarten, and spent my spare time studying Mandarin.  On the side, I tutored adults, taught high school classes, and started a Tex-Mex restaurant.  It was all good fun, but at some point I realized that with my particular skill set—i.e., making stuff up and writing it down—I’d be a great lawyer.  I went to Tulane Law School, in New Orleans.

I met my wife in law school, and she and I moved to Honolulu together after we graduated, in 2007.  Eventually we both got great jobs in the same law firm, and as things settled down, we bought the boat you and I are sitting on now—Pez Vela.

I hadn’t written anything creative in years, but Pez Vela unlocked something in me.  Here was this vessel that had been floating around the world’s oceans for years—when we bought her and cleaned her out, Maria found Thai bahts from the 1970s in the bilge—and whenever I stepped aboard and sat in her saloon, I felt this sense of history and adventure.  I’d felt  the same thing before, when I was writing regularly.  I wanted that again.  So eventually, I’d stop by the marina on my way home from work, light the oil lamp in the saloon, and sit at the table to write.

Redheads came out of that.

Erin: That is amazing! I love how your connection with the water and your boat, annd your love of books probably too, helped you reach inside yourself to challenge and pursue your writing dream!

Q:  Redheads is your first novel to be published and went live Nov. 5, published by Samhain Publishing. In your own words, can you tell us what your novel is about and where you came up with the idea of such a dastardly killer?

A:  Redheads started as a story about love and loss, and ended up as a revenge tale.  That’s probably a natural progression of human emotions, so I’m happy with it.  It’s about a man whose wife was murdered six years before the book begins.  The murder was brutal—Cheryl Wilcox was raped and eaten alive—but the police never even came close to solving it.  So Chris Wilcox rededicates his life to finding the killer.  Along the way, he discovers a bloody trail of similar, unsolved crimes, and he teams up with two other people who have lost loved ones.

When it comes to the killer in this story, there’s a bit of a twist.  I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and write something I’d never written before—and maybe in the process create something other people would pay to read.  So yes, the killer is dastardly.  This isn’t your grandfather’s Silence of the Lambs—which, by the way, is a great novel, but Thomas Harris already wrote it, and it didn’t need to be written again.

Erin: Yes, definitely for those who like the Hannibal story, but I think even MORE scary with a great twist! I also noted that in your love story within the book, I found myself thinking, even in something so bad that happened to those two, they still found love and happiness, so that out of something horrible came something good…

Q:  Your book is loaded with technical information, from police procedure, criminal behavior, technology, surveillance, etc. How did you research or come to know all this information in such a precise manner? Did you mean to write the book in this format or did it just happen this way naturally?

A:  The technical information in Redheads was a lot of fun to write.  Most writers probably have a panel of go-to people for asking all kinds of weird questions.  I’m truly fortunate, because my dad is a top-flight computer scientist, my mom worked in pharmaceutical design, my sister has a Ph.D. in ecology, my stepbrother is a commercial pilot, and my best friend is a cardiologist.  From my own job, I had easy access to learning all kinds of things about police and F.B.I. procedures, and legal issues that came up.  It was a lot of fun.

It was also totally unexpected.  My two favorite writers are Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway.   But I challenge you to imagine either Hemingway or McCarthy ever writing anything that involved DNA sequencing, computer hacking, or biometrics. 

It’s not that they couldn’t do it—clearly, either of them are capable of writing anything—it’s that those things aren’t (or weren’t, in Hemingway’s case) a part of their particular aesthetic.  When you read McCarthy and Hemingway, the natural world has huge, beautiful resonance, and comes at you uncluttered by modernity.  High tech information would just look like litter on the mountain trail.

But to tell this particular story, I couldn’t ignore that stuff.  DNA, computers, biometrics and joint intelligence task forces might not have been part of Hemingway’s artistic universe, but these were all necessary to the palette of Redheads.  And when I started writing about them, I discovered my own voice.  It was a great feeling.

Erin: So many men who write action and horror tell me they are Hemingway fans (me, I just was so tired of the bullfighting and prefer Fitzgerald)! My friend, horror author Hunter Shea, said that Hemingway helped him learn to write his action sequences. But yes, modern technology is so far advanced beyond anything anyone (other than some sci-fi authors) might have envisioned. You certainly did seem to take all the elements of things you enjoyed or were knowledgeable about and turn them into a thrill ride of a book.

Q:  How long did it take you to write Redheads? How many drafts to make sure all that detail was sewn up and loose ends completed? It seems when you get precise with details it lends also to find more fault, though in your book I didn’t seem to catch any. Did you find yourself revisiting the draft often to ensure all the technical aspects were logical?

A:  I spent thirteen months writing Redheads.  A lot of that was down time, where I was caught up with work and not writing anything at all.  I then went through several drafts while I was trying to get the thing published.  One editor, Mallory Braus, was interested enough to send me a detailed letter suggesting revisions and inviting me to resubmit.  I made the changes, but she still felt it wasn’t right for her line.  After that rejection, I took another look at her letter and did some further revisions, and that was when I found Don D’Auria, my editor at Samhain.

Erin: Honestly, I would have guessed it took you much longer! There is so much technical detail!

Q:  How did you decide to put in the supernatural element (without giving too much away of course!)? It felt very gothic by the end? That was a cool mixing of styles.

A:  Thanks!  You can call it supernatural, or science fiction, or anything else you want.  I’m not too concerned with labels.  But I decided to take the story in this direction because I wanted to push some boundaries and write something that was out the ordinary.  It was a question of “What if…?”  So it was an experiment for me, but I think it worked.  I sincerely hope readers think so, too.

Erin: I try to label everything, I am in marketing…haha! People like to identify with a product before buying it. Putting a science fiction label on it would be wrong and probably turn readers away who would normally buy it! You’re right though, it worked. So I’ll just call it what I want to….a crime thriller with a gothic twist.

Q:  Your works have been compared on some level to some very best-selling authors. Though I know everyone is an original, who do you feel best aligns with your own writing on this novel? Who are your own favorite authors and why?

A:  I love those comparisons.  Please keep them coming.  Some other super-popular writers I wouldn’t mind being compared to are: Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Elmore Leonard and Dennis Lehane.  Tell me I write like one of those guys and I’ll spend the whole day gloating over it and posting it on Facebook.

Q:  Do you consider yourself in the thriller, crime, suspense, or horror genres? Or all? Explain your answer please.

A:  I’ll follow the story wherever it goes, so I guess I’ll write in any genre that fits.  I don’t dislike genre labels—they can be very useful for marketing—but I don’t consider myself as belonging to one group and not another.  That said, I think Redheads is right at home in all sorts of genres.  It is a crime story, because there is a crime at its heart, and it delves into the procedures of solving it.  It’s a thriller, because there is so much at stake for the characters, and there is a ticking clock to find the killer before he devours the next victim (or one of the main characters).  It’s a horror novel because—let’s face it—when you have young women getting eaten, that’s a horrible thing no matter how you tell it.  It was published by a horror publisher, but I don’t think that limits this story in any way.

Erin: Your answer was what I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to fit you into one genre only, just trying to allow readers to get a feel on if they’d enjoy this type of book. Many people say to me that they could never read horror, but then they’ve been reading books on serial killers, crime, and the like. Readers get confused and I’m on a mission to inform them better so that more authors get more books sold to the right people. *smile*

Q:  Do you feel that more of the aforementioned are crossing boundaries with each other? Is horror being redefined?

A:  I honestly don’t know.  Like I said, I don’t mind genre labels, but I’m not attached to them in any way, so I don’t think a lot about definitions.  Does Stephen King write horror?  It depends who you ask.  He’s a beautiful stylist, and his novel It is a great example of a literary novel disguised as a horror novel.  Or take Cormac McCarthy—Child of God is probably the creepiest horror novel ever written, but establishment critics like Harold Bloom (who are paid to know these things) say McCarthy is the heir to William Faulkner.  So my feeling is that genre labels are simply useful for marketing—they tell you this is a book you might like, because it is sort of like other books you liked.  But that’s all they tell you; they don’t say anything about what a book actually is.

Q:  What other kinds of writing are in the works for you? Do you have another novel for us to look forward to?

A:  My agent recently sold my second novel to Random House.  That novel is called Close Reach, and will be released on May 6, 2014.  I just dissed genre labels as a way of telling you about a book, but forget I said that.  Close Reach is a thriller.  A very dark thriller.  It’s set aboard a sailboat in the Drake Passage, between Antarctica and Chile.  Terrible things happen to my characters, and I am still apologizing to them for what they had to endure.  Some scenes in that novel were so hard to write, they followed me around for days afterwards. 

I also have a third novel, which is a murder mystery set in San Francisco.  My agent and I are discussing the ending to that book now, but I hope to have it fixed up and ready to go soon.  I’m confident a publisher will like it.

Erin: I can’t wait to read both of them!

Q:  How hard is it to find time to write creatively with your busy career schedule?

A:  It’s not too hard to write, even though my schedule keeps me very busy.  Hawaii has a nice saying: we stay on island time.  So although I’m busy, I don’t have it nearly as bad as my attorney-friends in New York.  I can usually write on the weekends, and when I’m really cranking on a book, I’ll write at night when I get home from the office.

Q:  Are you a person who uses an outline or are you a “pantser?” If you don’t know what I pantser is, it is a term some of us recently identified with since we “write by the seat of our pants.”

A:  I am a panster—or a shortster, since this is Hawaii and it’s always warm.  I have a hard time writing outlines for legal briefs, so I’d never be able to do one for a novel.

Q:  You live in a paradise in Hawaii. How does this help or hinder your writing career? I would imagine it would spur creativity, but with so much nature to enjoy it would hard to be so dedicated! Ha!

A:  Happiness and comfort are totally undervalued as artistic motivators.  For me, Hawaii is extremely comfortable, and I’m lucky.   There are a few breakfast spots in Waikiki where you can usually find me with a laptop on the weekends, and I’ll be having the time of my life.  Plus, the coffee here is fantastic.

Erin: Sounds so lovely….

Q:  What are your hopes for your writing career? Do you plan to write more crime novels in which you can utilize your investigative strengths?

A:  I’d like to write and publish a novel every year, if I can.  Though Redheads took thirteen months, my second and third novels took three months each.  Like I said, I can’t write from an outline, so for me, writing is really a matter of getting hit with a whole book at once and then trying to get it all down before I lose it.  A lot of great sculptors talked about the idea of not actually creating their works, but just uncovering them from the marble.  I’m not comparing my works to Italian masterpieces, but I do feel the same way about the process: the stories are already there, and my only job is to dig them up once I find them.  Finding them is sometimes hard, but once I kick around and know there’s something there, it’s just a matter of bringing it to the surface. 

But this is all a fancy way of saying: I have no freaking idea what I’m going to write next.

Erin: HA! But I bet your subconscious does, even if you don’t think so!

Q:  Have you ever thought about writing a different type of novel, or am I putting the cart before the horse so to speak?

A: My last answer probably addressed this.  But to reiterate, I’ll write anything if I think I can get it done, and if I love it.

Q: What do you like best about writing?

A:  The whole process is fun, except for the first ten pages.  I enjoy having a project to work on, and I love the research.

Q:  Do you have any advice for any aspiring or upcoming authors? What motivation or words of encouragement can you give?

A:  Yes, I do have a little.  The writing community is a lot more friendly and giving than I ever would have imagined.  If you are a budding writer, go ahead and start reaching out to writers you admire.  You’d be surprised how many of them will reach back, and how generous they can be with their thoughts, their time and their contacts.  There are some truly wonderful people out there.  I met my agent because I met an author I’d admired for a long time at KillerCon, in Las Vegas.  I’d gone to Vegas to meet Don D’Auria, after he’d agreed to acquire Redheads for Samhain.  But then I met Jack Ketchum, who read Redheads, liked it a lot, and put me in touch with his agent.  Things really started to fall into place after that.

I guess that was more ‘publishing advice’ than ‘writing advice.’  For writing advice, I’d just say this: read as widely as you can, and then sit down and write the novel you want to be reading—not the novel you think you should be writing.

Erin: I think you were extremely lucky to get Jack Ketchum on board your work!

Q:  Your favorite place for dinner or your favorite type of food?

A:  There is a sushi place in Waikiki called Chiba Ken.  They know me well there, and usually pour the Otokayama sake before I even sit down.  And their uni nigiri is delicious.

Erin: I have no idea what any of that even is!! Go ahead, laugh…

Q: What else do you enjoy doing besides writing?

A:  I love sailing.  Readers who buy Close Reach in May will probably pick up on that.  And in December, Maria and I are going to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  That will be fun.  I also read a lot.  I just bought The Jack in the Green, by Frazer Lee, and I got books from Brian Pinkerton, W.D. Gagliani, Mick Ridgewell and Brian Moreland and this year’s KillerCon.

sail

Jonathan sailing!

Erin: That sounds like so much fun for Maria and you! I bet you find a story there! I like to read too, can you tell? I have Jack in the Green from Frazer too, and those other guys, well they are pretty wonderful too!

 Q:  I know you don’t have too much up online yet, but is there a way readers or fellow writers can contact you?

A:  I’m ashamed at how little I have online.  About six months ago, I hired a great website designer to build a site for me—I have the domain already: www.jonathanmoorefiction.com.  But I’m sure I’ve been the worst client this web designer has ever had.  He asks me to do stuff, and I just don’t do it.  He has been waiting for months for me to supply content, and patiently sends me an email and calls me every Monday morning.  At first I didn’t get him anything because I was finishing my most recent novel, and I could only think of that.  Then two of my cases started gearing up towards trial, and I just bought a new house and had to move…and….and I’m running out of excuses.  I need to get it done.  In the meantime, people can always find me on Facebook.  I’m friends with you, so if people see my post’s on you pages (Erin Al-Mehairi or Hook of a Book), they’ve got the right guy.

Erin: I’d say yes, probably should. Your book is going to be huge and people will want to connect with you and you’ll want to grow your fan base. If you need help, I’m raising my hand!

Q:  Where can your book be purchased?

A:  My book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and wherever ebooks are sold.  It is also available on the Samhain website, and can be ordered as a beautiful trade paperback, or in any electronic format.

Erin:  Thank you so much, Jonathan, for the wonderful boat ride.  I can smell the island flowers and feel the warmth of the sun in my hair. Almost makes me forget what a scary book you just published!! Kidding!  I had a great time discussing your book and your life with you. Hope to have you back in the future and best wishes your writing!

Jonathan: Thank you, Erin, for the chance to come here and talk. 

For a last comment—there is a scene in Redheads when two of the characters escape by boat to Haleolono harbor, on Molokai.  Here’s Pez Vela in that harbor:

sunset

Erin: BEAUTIFUL!!!

Redheads, Synopsis~

RedheadsA killer far worse than insane.

Chris Wilcox has been searching for years, so he knows a few things about his wife’s killer. Cheryl Wilcox wasn’t the first. All the victims were redheads. All eaten alive and left within a mile of the ocean. The trail of death crosses the globe and spans decades.

The cold trail catches fire when Chris and two other survivors find a trace of the killer’s DNA. By hiring a cutting-edge lab to sequence it, they make a terrifying discovery. The killer is far more dangerous than they ever guessed. And now they’re being hunted by their own prey.

Author Jonathan Moore, Biography~

JMJonathan Moore and his wife, Maria Wang, live in Hawaii. When he’s not writing, or fixing his boat, Jonathan is an attorney. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, a whitewater raft guide on the Rio Grande, a counselor at a Texas wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. He is working on getting his information up online!

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Accomplished Screenwriter, Director, and Author Frazer Lee Discusses His Newest Novella, Writing, and His Pesky Eating Habits

Today I have an interview with the amazing screenwriter, director, and author Frazer Lee. Straight from England, he and I had an amazing time talking about books and writing…and we laugh….alot! It’s one of a couple of my favorite interviews so far. Whether you’re a reader, writer, or film buff, I recommend making time on your agenda to read this one and leave us some comments.

Frazer’s The Lucifer Glass, the first novella in a series, just published yesterday from Samhain Horror (June 4, 2013) and you can get it for a couple bucks. Here’s the cover. You can read more about it and click links at the end of the interview. You’ll also get to view the cover for his upcoming Fall title, The Jack in the Green! Enjoy!

LuciferGlass-The72lg

Hi Frazer! So happy to have you by Oh, for the Hook of a Book today and look forward to a rousing interview of epic proportions (no pressure or anything –  ha!) I jest, but really…glad to have you hear to discuss your newest novella series (The Lucifer Glass), upcoming novels, and whatever other questions come up!

Frazer: Thank you Erin. It’s a rousing pleasure of epic proportions to be here, and feel free to apply the pressure!

Erin: Get ready then….Let’s plop back with a cocktail of choice (find any good ones from that cocktail contest you had for readers?) and discuss…

Frazer: Sounds good to me. I’ll mix a couple of Frazizors, a brutal cocktail of my own devising – though neither of us may live to tell the tale. The last one i made melted the glass…

Q:  You’re an author, director, screenwriter, and I believe give college lectures as well! When you aren’t scaring students into major creative breakthroughs for the screen, how do you divide your time to accomplish it all?

A: I’m guilty on all counts – Jack of all trades, master of none, ha! It is difficult to cram it all in, but somehow I stretch the days (and sometimes nights as well) to hit my deadlines. A lot of my novel-writing happens on train journeys and in hotel rooms, and when I’m working on screenplay commissions concurrently I often split the day – so I do half a day on the novel and the rest on the screenplay. The craziest time of year for me is when all the grade marking comes in from the Universities, I have to put my own creative work aside for a few weeks during that period as the coursework submissions are in the hundreds. Then, as is the case right now, I get straight back into it.

Q:  When did you first decide you wanted to become “a writer?” What inspired you and guided you on your creative course?

A: I started telling stories when I was a kid, in school I helped other kids with their reading as I was just blazing through as many books as I could read. When I had homework assignments to write stories I really enjoyed them, and just became hooked.

Q:  What type of creative outlet did you first begin with and why?

A: The story writing and my love of movies converged when I started writing and performing little radio plays – sequels to the movies I was a fan of at the time – and recording them (with music and sound FX) on my little mono tape recorder (I’m a child of the 1970s and was seven years old when Star Wars was released). Luckily none of the tapes survived! But in retrospect I do think that was a very early, very naive attempt at screenwriting.

Lamplighters72LGQ:  Your debut novel, The Lamplighters, came out last year (published by Samhain Horror) and you immediately felt writing success by being bestowed as a Bram Stoker Award Finalist for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. How did you decide to take the plunge into publishing a novel? What inspired you to do so?

A: The Lamplighters was one of these ideas that just wouldn’t let go of me. It was wriggling around in my brainpan just insisting to come out. At first I thought of writing it as a screenplay, but I just knew somehow that it had to be a novel. I’d had some short stories published, which boosted my confidence, and author friends of mine encouraged me to read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. I did so, and found it to be hugely inspiring, I highly recommend it to anyone starting out. I wrote chunks of the novel at The British Library in London, and did a lot of my research there. Getting into that routine helped discipline me to treat novel-writing as a job of work.

Erin Comments: That’s great advice as well for others looking for inspiration.

Q:  Has the positive reviews and acknowledgment caused you to say you’ve done enough, or has it propelled you into further writing challenges?

A: Well, I never really stop working, so by the time that praise and the award nomination came in I was already well underway on other things. Anything positive like that really helps of course, you need as much energy as you can get to keep going. But the bad reviews keep you on your toes too, there’s always so much more to learn. All I can hope for is to learn more from, and keep growing with, each project. If it ever stops feeling like a challenge, then I’ll stop too.

Q:  Your newest publishing adventure, again with Samhain Horror, is The Lucifer Glass (Daniel Gates Novella #1). It’s the first part of a novella series. With all the serials emerging, as well as short stories and novellas, how did you decide to create a series of novellas, and why?

A: The character, Daniel Gates, drove me in that direction, toward writing a series. I found that when I’d completed a series of drafts of The Lucifer Glass, Daniel Gates was still present in my mind, vividly so. And I realised there were story elements I’d edited out of earlier drafts that might later pave the way for future installments featuring the character. So readers can expect two or three more Daniel Gates novellas at least, and I really hope they enjoy them as much as I am enjoying writing them.

 Erin Comments: Since I’ve been promoting it as a three-part series, I think you’re stuck. *wink*

Q:  What is the basis for The Lucifer Glass? What inspired it? What’s it about? Why might readers enjoy it?

A: The Lucifer Glass is inspired, in part, by the ‘derring-do’ adventures I read as a teenager by the amazing author Dennis Wheatley. That cigar-smoke scented world of gentleman’s clubs, ancient artifacts and occult rituals – I was a sucker for all that, and still am. I think any writer must have obsessions, and the novella draws on many of my own. If you like what’s loosely termed ‘weird fiction’, with a robust dash of the occult, then this might be the one for you.

Erin Comments: I like what you said about obsessions (or interests), as that is what makes writers unique.

Q:  Did you have to do much research for The Lucifer Glass novella series? If so, what and how extensive was it? If not, make something up to fill the space. Kidding….

A: Well, I had to fill that damned glass with plenty of single malt whisky as part of my ‘extensive research’ (hic!) And when I’d sobered up… Just kidding!? (Erin Comments: Ha!)

I’ve been reading about the occult since…well, since I could see basically, so a lot of it was stored up just bursting to be used somehow. It’s fun working little references and in-jokes into the text, I so enjoy that aspect of writing this particular series. For the next novella I’ve been reading up on my demonology and a few other dark and nasty surprises that lie in wait for Daniel Gates.

 Erin Comments: Sounds awesome, really! The realm of the occult is frightening, but such a vast space to draw from for writers who are intrigued with the topic.

Q:  How does your mind come up with such creative ideas? Do you think of them anywhere and everywhere or does it take quiet, peaceful moments alone concentrating on an idea?

A: Thanks for calling them creative – not all ideas pass muster, I can tell you that. They come to me as images, sometimes fragments, and sometimes entire scenes. Often when I’m travelling, or walking/running in the woods – or taking a shower! I really have to focus and hold onto the ideas so I don’t forget them before I can write them down. Sometimes I leave myself voicemail, and I once text-messaged a passage from The Lamplighters to myself. Oh, the pre-Smartphone era! 🙂

Erin Comments: Funny thing about the shower…..I always do my best thinking there too! And what did we do without smartphones? Write on napkins, I guess.

Q: Are you a writer that writes quickly and without outline or are you methodical, planning it out and staying to your notes?

A: For novels I rough out an outline, but if the characters take me off in another direction I just go with them for the ride and see where it takes me. My screenplay work always follows the methodical 1-pager, treatment, beat sheet/scene breakdown approach as that’s usually contractually required by the producers anyhow. Best of both worlds.

Q:  How do you describe your writing style in regards to books? If it varies by book, go ahead and describe each and why?

A: I don’t know if I even have a style! If I did, then what I would hope for is for it to be visual, sensory, and above all else – unsettling. But that is really not for me to say. I just write ’em how I see ’em.

Q:  How does your writing style for books differ from your writing style as a screenwriter? Also, how are the various styles different in general and how can authors use the skills of screenwriting to create better books?

A: Technically, the styles of screenwriting and novel writing are vastly different, and the word counts are insanely different too. But the voice is always mine, so in one project I might be dragging you screaming into the darkness and dumping you there alone, to claw your own way out. In another project I might be gently coaxing you, leading you gently by the hand into a dark place. That tone of voice varies project-to-project, whether for page or screen. Both forms are immersive in their own way, but I think both can benefit from hard editing – “kill your darlings” as The King once said.

Q:  When you lecture on screenwriting, without giving a course I’ll need to charge for on my site, what are a couple main things you urge them to remember? Might be good advice for aspiring or current authors looking to improve their novels?

A: Some of my post-graduate students are working on debut novels for their final project. A couple of them in the past told me that the advice I gave them in class regarding screenwriting, namely ‘show don’t tell’ and ‘less can be more’, along with the overall main character focus, was invaluable to their novel rewrites. And a couple more decided to adapt their own novels into screenplays during the course. I think the discipline of writing and rewriting (whether for the screen or books) can only come with hard work and a willingness to try things out, even if you ultimately change them back afterward.

Reading material aloud is a great way of cutting the crap – there are always sections that come across as “too much”, or are simply too convoluted and difficult to read aloud. I believe experimentation is also key to writing what you love, and then you’ll maybe love what you write. But hey, what do I know? Just write!

panic_button_novelQ:  What are some of your director or screenwriting accomplishments you’d like to share? I’ve heard you have a great book novelization on your hit movie Panic Button?

A: I had a lot of fun working on Panic Button. The producers had read a spec script of mine and invited me in to talk about their story idea. I turned that idea into a screenplay for them, several drafts, and they went and raised the finance, got a director, cast and crew on board real quick. While the movie was in post-production they floated the idea of me writing the novelization for them, but the deadline was insane. Never one to turn down a challenge, I went for it and had an absolute blast revisiting the material. Both the movie and the book have had some great reviews so I’m real pleased about that. I’ve been a rabid fan of movie novelisations since I was a kid, so it’s an ambition fulfilled for me to have my name on one. I would definitely do more.

Erin Comments: That’s so interesting. I didn’t think many books started as movies first. I’m interested in reading one. I should have asked you what some other good ones are…

Q:  Some of your favorite all-time films?  What are some of the best films ever made, in your opinion?

A: Ah, we could be here for weeks if I went into all of them. I have to enthuse about Robert Wise’s The Haunting, because it teaches us how to do so much with so very little. Clive Barker’s Hellraiser stopped my in my teenaged tracks because I thought I knew all I needed to know about horror at that point – but how wrong I was. I stayed in the theatre and watched it a second time – it was a real game-changer for me, that film.

I also obsess about Argento, Carpenter, Cronenberg, Del Toro, Bava, Von Trier, so many greats – like I said, we could be here for weeks! I used to dream of buying an old crumbling cinema so I could curate endless film festivals. But I’m lucky to have attended a lot of film festivals through my work, and to have seen so many classics old and new on the big screen.

Erin Comments: I would so help you run that restored cinema and maybe attach a bookstore to the side of it….ah, dreams…

Panic-Button

Q:  Do you feel that horror related movies and books are becoming more main stream and more widely accepted (I suppose I am speaking from a US perspective)? Why?

A: I think the YA market has perhaps helped open the genre up to younger readers and viewers, but there are always people for whom horror is just too much, and they say they “can’t even look at it”. But if a car crash happens, we’re all taking a peek. If the rolling news has some atrocity with “images we might find disturbing” we all watch through our fingers. The genre is so vast, so wide, with everything from dark psychological pieces, through brutal pain and gore, to romantic fantasies about gym-bodied werewolves – there really is something for everyone right now. Perhaps even for those people who say they “can’t look” at horror.

And hey, show anyone a picture of a guy in a cape with pointy teeth and they’ll know he’s Count Dracula, right? When I was studying, I wrote a paper on the popularity of the Freddy Kruger character and I remember how shocked a lot of my fellows were when I projected images of Freddy lunchboxes and pillowcases during my presentation! That trait of being fascinated by a villain runs deep in so many of us.

Erin Comments: So true, so many facets of horror. The word gets a bad rap sometimes. It’s like my mom said about  sprouts…don’t knock it till you try it. You might find you like something you never thought you would….

JackInTheGreen72lgQ:  You have another full-length novel coming up at the beginning of October as well, called The Jack in the Green, which encompasses a village with green rolling hills (I am picturing) and their strange pagan ritual. How did you come up with the idea for this novel? It sound like it’s based on a legend.

A: You pictured it just right! The Jack in the Green is partly inspired by old rites and ritual and my travels to pagan sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, along with some dodgy political moves here in the UK where the government tried to sell off some of our ancient forests to big business. Those two worlds, paganism and commerce, clashing together in my fictional forest village setting of ‘Douglass’ made me excited about the possibilities for some good old-fashioned rural horror. Bottom line though, I am just a little bit too obsessed by trees and forests and needed to put that somewhere.

Erin Comments: I am SO EXCITED about this book!!! I want it to be a movie too.

Q:  Why do so many nightmares we have as children transform into stories in our adulthood? Are they planted there as seeds for aspiring authors? Or are dreams phenomenons without explanation?

A: Great question. I think dreams, nightmares maybe help prepare us for the real traumas in our lives. And as we grow and experience those traumas, our dreams and nightmares help us to siphon them off, to process them. They become parables, cautionary tales – or else a way of expressing the idea that, “Hey, it could always be worse. Much, much worse. There was once this dark old house where…” And that’s where us authors cynically come in and try to make a quick buck out of them!

Q: How do you make time for all your writing in your life? What advice do you have for other authors?

A: There are times when other things, like a social life, have to be neglected while you write. I would advise, if you want to write then just get to it and keep at it. Write, and read, as much as possible. And then switch the bloody internet off and write and read even more. Concern yourself less with what the other guy is doing and focus on your own shit. Have a sense of genre, yes, but write characters and their stories first and foremost, paint pictures, build sensory worlds. Let it come out of you how it comes out. Then be prepared to alter some, or all, of it. And if you don’t drink coffee, I’m sorry but you are probably not going to make it.

 Erin Comments: I couldn’t survive without coffee…

Q: What has been your biggest challenge? Why? And in contrast, your biggest success?

A: Completing the first draft of The Lamplighters was gruelling. There was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life, a lot of death and madness and pain that took my eye off the target. My biggest success was to have The Lamplighters to channel all that stuff into. It just took me a little while to figure that out.

Q: What else are you doing to keep busy? Any summertime plans?

A: Well I have a couple of books and screenplay projects on the go, along with post-production on my new short film The Stay. Oh, and moving house!

Q:  Share with us something not many people know about you….strange habit? Hobbies?  Just don’t freak us out too much.

A: Some people are surprised to hear that I’m a vegetarian (well, pescetarian actually – I started eating fish again about 4 years ago). “A vegetarian horror author?” they ask, incredulous. “Sure,” I say, “you mean you’ve never heard of Count Duckula, the vegetarian vampire duck?”

Count_duckula_titles

Erin Comments: My children were cracking up when I told them this one! LOL 😉 Very funny. In our house we only eat things with feathers or fins. We’d prefer to be herbivores.

Q:  If you’ve done any reading this year, some of the best books you’ve read recently…or if not, some of your all-time favorites for us please.

A: I have to say Redheads by my new Samhain Horror labelmate Jonathan S. Moore is a fantastic debut novel. But be warned, if you’re a redhead it’ll have you eating your fingers down to the bone… As far as all-time favourites go, look no further than Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It has everything you could possibly need from a book and I am yet to find its equal. Probably never will.

Q:  Where can people connect with you at?

A: When I’m not writing and I switch the modem back on, my website/blog is at http://www.frazerlee.com and I’m on Twitter http://twitter.com/frazer_lee and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AuthorFrazerLeecome say Hell-o!

Erin:  Frazer, I am honored and happy that you’ve joined us today and really enjoyed our discussion. Look forward to talking to you again soon and best of luck with your writing! Thank you!

Frazer: Erin, it has been an absolute pleasure and I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my cold, dark heart. Now, about that Frazizor cocktail…

Erin: Another? You’ve made me at least five and I’m barely able to see straight……

Author Frazer Lee, Biography~
 
Frazer-LeeFrazer Lee’s debut novel, The Lamplighters, was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist. His novella, The Lucifer Glass, published June 4, 2013 and his next full-length novel, The Jack in the Green, publishes in October 2013, both from Samhain Horror. His short stories have appeared in anthologies including the acclaimed Read By Dawn series.  Also a screenwriter and filmmaker, Frazer’s screen credits include the award-winning short horror movies On Edge, Red Lines, Simone and the horror/thriller feature film (and movie novelization ) Panic Button.  Frazer resides with his family in leafy Buckinghamshire, England. When he’s not getting lost in a forest he is working on new fiction and film projects.
 
The Lucifer Glass, Synopsis~
‘The Lucifer Glass’ is the first in the ‘Daniel Gates’ occult series by Frazer Lee
 
LuciferGlass-The72lgIt may cost you your soul.
 
Daniel Gates is a fixer. Whatever his client wants, he can get – for a price. But the price of his latest assignment is a high one indeed. He is to travel to Scotland to exchange a rare demonic text, a grimoire, for a consignment of even rarer whiskey. Reading the grimoire, Gates learns of the legend of Lucifer’s Glass and the unholy trinity of green-eyed demons who protect it. As he does battle with the demons, Daniel realizes too late that there is much more to his assignment than meets the eye. He is locked in a struggle to save his very soul from damnation.
 
 
 
 
 
Buy from Samhain Horror (at 30% off for limited time which makes it less than $2):  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/lucifer-glass-p-7277.html
 
 

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