Interview: Horror & YA Author Brian Rowe

Author Brian Rowe

Author Brian Rowe

Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He’s written nine novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. He is one half of the blog Story Carnivores, where he reviews the latest in books and film. He is currently pursuing his MA in English at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his next novel. You can also visit his Website or find him on Twitter @mrbrianrowe.

Haunted Eyeball: Welcome to the Haunted Eyeball, Brian! We’re very happy to have you here today and we really enjoyed reading your horror novel Townhouse.

Brian Rowe: Thank you for having me today!

INSPIRATIONS

HE: Let’s get started right at the beginning, Brian. Tell us, which authors did you enjoy while you were growing up?

BR: My favourite author growing up was Stephen King, who I’ve looked up to for probably twenty years now (and I’m only twenty-eight!). I also loved Roald Dahl, Dean Koontz, and, of course, J. K. Rowling. My favourite novel I’ve ever read is Boy’s Life, which I read as a sophomore in high school.

HE: Who are your favourite authors now?

BR: Stephen King remains my favourite author, but lately I’ve been focusing on young adult fiction and have turned to many of these authors for inspiration. I particularly love John Green, David Levithan, Stephen Chbosky, John Corey Whaley, and Emily Danforth.

HE: Which films, TV and music influenced you in your writing and daily life?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: Stinkypaws by Dennis Green

Stinkypaws by Denis GreenYoung Badger is the town outcast, not least because he exudes a rather overpowering stinky smell that he can’t ever wash away. Following the tragic loss of his mother, Badger and his put-upon father seem to be facing a tough lifetime of poverty and loneliness, until an act of kindness for a small dirty cat brings poor Badger some much-needed luck, and may just give him a chance to fix all his problems.

It’s not often we look at children-orientated books here on the Eyeball, but Dennis Green has proved that you’re never too old for a whiff of extreme silliness, or to enjoy watching gruesome bullies getting their comeuppance. The wickedly surreal spirit of Roald Dahl is in full flow, and it’s greedily eating slug and rhubarb jam and taking names. Tapping into everything great about all those darkly funny books we grew up with, some deceptively cute illustrations enhance its gleefully off-key sense of humour. You can see a few of these drawings further down the page.

Irreverent enough to enthral both adults and children, Stinkypaws is a fantastic story which keeps the giggles and the ‘eeeews’ coming thick and fast. Great fun for any age, this is highly imaginative, sweet, hugely disgusting and utterly hilarious.

From April 22nd to May 22nd 2012, Dennis will be giving any royalties from Stinkypaws to Great Ormond Street Children’s HospitalFull details on the Stinkypaws facebook page. You can also visit Dennis Green’s Goodreads page, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter

Below: Evil bully Dinger Dredgeworth; cute kitty ‘Stinkypaws‘ himself; and A Dying Sasquatch – which the Eyeball imagines very probably would make this noise. Probably. Perhaps. Almost surely.

Stinkypaws! A magical blue cat with a striped tail

A Dying Sasquatch.

Also of interest:

Lovecraft: You know, for Squids

Review: Howard and the Undersea Kingdom & Howard and the Frozen Kingdom

Review: Aberrations edited by Jeremy C. Shipp

Aberrations
Aberrations by Jeremy C. Shipp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strong and all-too short collection here, with Aberrations ranging from shocking and surreal, to scary and even heart-breaking. Not a duff story among them, although particular standouts were, ‘Bug House’, ‘The Hounds of Love’ and ‘Bus People’. ‘Goat Boy’ by Jeremy C Shipp also requires a re-read or two, as he continues to push the boundaries of surreal and disturbing storytelling. Most of these would also make excellent TV episodes, along the lines of the much-missed Masters of Horror. Strongly recommended for any fan of the frightening, horrific and bizarre.

Also, that cover is brilliant.

Money Well Earned by Joseph Nassise
The notorious Mothman is a very usual case for a professional hitman, and his hunt doesn’t pan out quite how he expects. An effective and genre-bending story with a slick resolution.

*Bug House by Lisa Tuttle
Eeeew. Gross, horrible, and excellent. Some deeply unpleasant, squelchy body horror gets superbly carried off, more by suggestion than graphic detail, and it’s all the more icky for that. You came here for uncomfortable, and now you’ve got it. Shudder.

The Thing in the Woods by Nate Kenyon
The first of two ‘couple hit monster with their car’ stories in this collection. With its domestic abuse aspects, there’s a dash of Stephen King in its DNA, but this is very much its own beast. Fighting to survive can bring out the best and the worst in people. It also refuses to easily answer who you should think the real monster is. Great writing.

Survivors by Joe McKinney
This deals with the human cost and emotional fall out following a worldwide zombie holocaust. A soldier revisits old and painful memories of someone he tried to save. Emotional stuff that doesn’t skimp on the gore, as well as adeptly handling the character’s post traumatic stress and survivor’s guilt.

The Hounds of Love by Scott Nicholson
The toughest, most rewarding story here. Disturbed, nightmarish, and extremely sad, it’s very hard to read (content-wise) and yet utterly compelling. You’ll need a strong stomach for the quite graphic description of animal cruelty, yet if you stick with it the payoff more-than compensates. Deftly delivered and brilliantly written, with complex layers of darkness. Love is truly all around.

Goat Boy by Jeremy C Shipp
It’s about a goat boy. Who, er…well, he….look, just read it, ok? I’ll get back to you. Maybe you can explain it. Because this was great. Yes, I liked it. Huh? No, I did. Supreme surrealism as always, recommended despite the inevitable head-scratching. I may have to re-read again. And again. Strange relationships get pulled through every possible dimension. There’s a goatlike-man, who…look, let’s just go with it.

Tested by Lisa Morton
The second ‘couple hit a monster with a car’ story from a very different viewpoint. This time it’s all from a male perspective. After a dreadful car crash in an isolated spot, a mild-mannered husband has to dig for his long-buried courage in order to make it through a terrifying ordeal. A very solid survival story.

Bus People by Simon Wood
A totally accurate portrayal of the population one generally encounters when using public transport, albeit taken to gruesome extremes. Marvellously grotesque, displaying a fine eye for the freakishly uncomfortable. Bus journeys really are just like this. Highly recommended.

Beggars at Dawn by Elizabeth Massie
A former soldier confronts his guilt and trauma after surviving the trenches, receiving support from an unexpected quarter. This is a gentler story about the healing of the human spirit, and it feels noticeably different to the rest of the stories in this collection, but it’s effectively written and well worth a look.

From Hamlin to Harperville by Kealan Patrick Burke
A very famous fairy-tale gets a disturbing modern update, although it’s really more of a ‘what happened next’ piece. Can a monster really live as a human? Can they ever escape what they are and what they did? Creepily effective, and fully in the spirit of the original children’s story.

View all my reviews

Lovecraft Week! Video: Lovecraft’s Pillow

And finally….we end the Haunted Eyeball’s Lovecraft Week with a look at a fantastic short film inspired and part written by Stephen King, and directed by Mark Steensland (who also made the terrifying Peekers).

It’s the kind of situation that every aspiring writer could have to face, and hopefully empathise with (OK, part from the actual pillow thing). Don’t be fooled by its low-key approach, this is a great short about the boundaries between reality, madness, and beating the crap out of writer’s block. There’s also a bit of a ‘magic beans’ aspect to it all.

***

While the unfortunate wife probably doesn’t deserve to suffer this fate, this is really an exercise in writerly wish fulfilment! This guy isn’t quite starting with a Stephen King career, you get the sense he’s on his path to success. Just wait until he starts self-publishing…

More info about this short film can be found over here, on IMDB.

The rest of Lovecraft Week on the Haunted Eyeball

Short stories: Two Bite sized Lovecraftian stories by James Pratt

Graphic Novels: “Howard Lovecraft and the….” by Bruce Brown

Anthology: Future Lovecraft by Innsmouth Press

TV: The Real Ghostbusters ‘Collect Call of Cthulhu’

Also check out:

Short horror film: Peekers

Review: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Review: Innsmouth Press Magazine Issue 8

Graphic novel: You Know, for Squids?

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 3 of 3)

Black Scarab picture, James Pratt,

Meet James Pratt (disguised as The Black Scarab)

Welcome to the final part of the Haunted Eyeball’s interview with horror author James Pratt. Today we discuss Inspiration & Publicity.

Part 1: Writing Process

Part 2: Inspiration and Publicity

Part 3: Lovecraft and Horror! – TODAY

James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn’t already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the distant past, others in the far future, and still others somewhere between eight minutes ago and twelve minutes from now. Whether sci-fi, adventure, or straight-out horror, the running theme is that the universe is very, very big and we are very, very small.

His books are available on both Smashwords or on Amazon. You can also follow James on Goodreads and Twitter.

Lovecraft and horror! 

Haunted Eyeball: What’s the first H P Lovecraft story you remember reading?

James Pratt: The Shadow Out of Time. I found it confusingly fascinating.

What drew you to Lovecraft? Why are you still a fan?

I was drawn to Lovecraft by the vast scope of his imagination and ability to convey an absolute sense of cosmic wonder and dread. I now read his works with a more mature and critical eye, but I’m still a humongous fan. His contribution to modern horror is undeniable and the sheer ambition of his stories has yet to be matched.

What do you most enjoy about mixing up genres and mixing in Lovecraft and horror?

I like the idea that the Cthulhu mythos has always been there, subtly infiltrating and influencing history and providing the foundation upon which many myths are legends were unknowingly built. The desolation of the mythic Wild West is a perfect setting for Lovecraftian horror. And the mythos’s fluid nature and resistance to continuity makes it extremely flexible for use in unconventional settings and genres far removed from traditional horror, like say for instance Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood. Not that anyone would be sick enough to write a Lovecraftian Winnie the Pooh story, of course.

How do you feel about ‘torture porn’ and other labels ascribed to modern horror films and books?

Unfortunately, in many cases it’s an accurate label. Personally, I find horrors movies that are essentially pretend snuff films extremely boring. I like monsters and supernatural weirdness, not women being raped with chainsaws. Being explicit for its own sake isn’t the same as pushing the envelope. That being said, I have to admit I was fascinated by the wonderful grotesqueness of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.

What’s the last horror film or book you read or watched?

I’m ashamed to answer this one. I think it was ‘The Convent’, a movie about demonic nuns. It was pretty cheesy, but on the plus side Adrienne Barbeau was in it.

Horror writers can get jaded! What film or book (or picture!) last really scared you?

I found the first ‘Paranormal Activity’ movie genuinely creepy. ‘Insidious’ also had its moments. I loved the demon. And I can still watch ‘The Exorcist’ and feel a bit uneasy. I really wish it was possible to ‘delete’ experiences so you could see a film or read a book for the first time over and over again.

Do you have a survival plan for the end of the world? Which end of world scenario – zombies, bunny overcrowding, owl infestation, would you rather end up facing?

I’ve mapped out which neighbors would be easiest to handle in case I have to resort to cannibalism. My favorite end of the world scenario would of course be the return of the Old Ones. I won’t have to face it though. As a worshipper of Cthulhu, I’ll have the honor of being eaten first.

Which character you’ve created is your favourite (so far)?

I really like my version of Elvis in ‘Cthelvis’ but he’s based on an actual person and to be honest it didn’t take much work to turn the real thing into a wonderfully weird character. If I had to pick one, it would probably be Horton the rockabilly vampire from ‘Horton Hits a Ho’, closely followed by the brothers Sanjay and Umesh from ‘Incident at the 24-7’.

Are vampires losing their bite? (y’know…Twilight…) or is more variety a good thing?

As fictional creatures, vampires can be whatever a given writer wants them to be. That said, I HATE what vampires have become. Dracula wasn’t a love story, it was about ego and obsession. And what happens when you piss off Vengeful God (as opposed to Loving God). When the monster becomes the cool kid, he’s no longer the monster. Or maybe he’s just a different sort of monster, and definitely not the kind you want to root for. To me, Christopher Lee’s Dracula was the quintessential vampire. He wasn’t a hopeless romantic trapped in an immortal body but a monster whose human appearance was just a disguise. Vampires are supernatural parasites. They can’t give, they can only take. But that’s just my opinion. If somebody can make a living writing schlocky romance stories about star-crossed (undead) lovers, more power to them.

The future!

What are you currently working on (scary, I know)?

Trying to finish a fantasy novel with Lovecraftian overtones, sort of a cross between The Lord of the Rings and The Shadow Out of Time.

Are there any other writers you’d like to work with?

Yeah, but they’re all dead. I’m sure there are plenty of writers out there, indie or otherwise, that I would love to collaborate with but like I said, I haven’t even begun to tap the full potential of social media and connect with any of them. I’ve got to get my act together.

And finally…

 Any message you’d like to give to the lovely readers of the Eyeball?

If you wish there were more non-conventional books and films out there, then support what you like. YOU determine the market, not the other way around. If you want to make a living doing something creative, don’t wait for the world to come knocking at your door. Go out and create.

Thank you for reading this interview with the wonderful James Pratt, you awesome Eyeballers.

Don’t forget, all of James’ books are available right now at Smashwords, Amazon and check him out over on Goodreads and Twitter.

Also of interest:

Part 1 of this interview.

Part 2 of this interview.

James Pratt’s work has already been reviewed right here on the Haunted Eyeball!

5 Stories That Bite by James Pratt

When Dead Gods Dream by James Pratt

Other Author interviews:

A recent Eyeball Interview with urban horror writer Chris Davis

Author Interview: James Pratt (Part 2 of 3)

Black Scarab picture, James Pratt,

Meet James Pratt (disguised as The Black Scarab)

Welcome to the second part of the Haunted Eyeball’s interview with horror author James Pratt. Today we discuss Inspiration & Publicity.

Part 1: Writing Process

Part 2: Inspiration and Publicity

Part 3: Lovecraft and Horror! 

James Pratt likes to create realistically flawed but basically decent characters and have them cross paths with serial killer angels, redneck vampires, slithering horrors from other dimensions, and the end of the world. He also likes to write stories that demonstrate how the ever-present darkness threatening to wash over the world like a wave of endless night can be held back with a little courage and a big shotgun (assuming one hasn’t already used both barrels, of course). Some take place in the distant past, others in the far future, and still others somewhere between eight minutes ago and twelve minutes from now. Whether sci-fi, adventure, or straight-out horror, the running theme is that the universe is very, very big and we are very, very small.

All of James’ books are available right now at SmashwordsAmazon and check him out over on Goodreads and Twitter.

Inspiration & Publicity 

Haunted Eyeball: Who were your favourite author(s) while you were growing up?

James Pratt: That’s a tough one. When I was younger, I didn’t make a point to read any one author. I did discover  Kurt Vonnegut,  Stephen King, and Roger Zelazny in high school. If someone had told me I could only read the works of one of them back then, I probably would have chosen Stephen King because he gave me my first real taste of modern horror.

Favourite author now?

It would be a toss-up between Kurt Vonnegut and H.P. Lovecraft.

Does any art or artist inspire you to write?

Not consciously. I do like the creepy, haunted house vibe of Berni Wrightson’s work though, and the desolate, end of the world quality of Brom’s illustrations.

Any favourite comic books and writers and artists?

Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Berni Wrightson, and Mike Ploog off the top of my head. I really liked Grant Morrison’s run on ‘Animal Man’, and Garth Ennis’s ‘Preacher’ was pretty entertaining.

Do any TV shows or films inspire you?

Everything science fiction, fantasy, and horror TV show and movie I’ve ever seen has contributed in some way to every story I’ve ever written. I was a big fan of the gritty sci-fi of the tragically short-lived TV show ‘Space: Above and Beyond’. That’s the only one that readily comes to mind.

 Publicity

 How do you think social media has helped ‘indie’ writers?

Social media is a great way to market yourself and if you do a good enough job, you can write the stories you want to write and make a living doing something you love on your own terms.

Which ‘social media tools’ do you think connects you most successfully with fans? I.e. from Twitter to Goodreads and Facebook, blogs etc.

I’m not sure. I haven’t done a very good job of using their full potential. Twitter has put me in contact (more or less) with the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, but I’m not sure just how effective it’s actually been. Each of my tweets is just one among millions.

Explain a bit about your ID picture. Why have you chosen an illustration over a photo of yourself?

My ID picture is the Black Scarab, a pulp superhero-style character from a story I wrote called The Black Scarab in “The Sad, Strange Fate of Evil Eye”. I used that because I think it’s a cool illustration plus I believe that when you get your picture taken the camera can steal your soul. (We think he’s joking… – H.E.)

How do you pick your book cover designs?

A good cover is important, but the amount of thought and effort I put in really depends on how motivated I’m feeling at the time. If the story features a visually striking character there’s a good chance he’ll make it on the cover, otherwise it’s probably going to be just text. I use a program called HeroMachine to create the covers. It’s pretty versatile but primarily for illustrating characters so when designing a cover, its limitations are also a consideration.

How seriously do you take reviews, be they good bad or indifferent!

Pretty serious. I have low self-esteem so I crave validation. Ironically, when someone gives me a good review, I assume they’re just being generous. On the other end of the spectrum, somebody gave all the free stories I had listed on the Barnes and Noble website one star so I had the stories removed. Childish, I know, but if you just want to bash me you should have to pay me first. I also tend to view indifference as a polite way of saying “I didn’t care for it.” I’m a big baby.

Sounds like a reasonable response to us, James. 

Thank you for reading Part 2, you awesome Eyeballers.

Part 3 of this interview, where James discusses H P Lovecraft and Horror, is coming up tomorrow!

Don’t forget, all of James’ books are available right now at SmashwordsAmazon and check him out over on Goodreads and Twitter.

Also of interest:

Part 1 of this interview.

Part 3 of this interview

James Pratt’s work has already been reviewed right here on the Haunted Eyeball!

5 Stories That Bite by James Pratt

When Dead Gods Dream by James Pratt

Other Author interviews:

A recent Eyeball Interview with urban horror writer Chris Davis

Writer’s Block? See my guest post with Chris Davis

Pennyspy, Joanna K Neilson

Me, myself, and my writing at Chris Davis' blog today

It was all Chris’ idea, so after subtle amounts of vodka and the scribbling out of many Moleskine pages, I am happy to present a post about how I deal with Writer’s Block and the stress that comes with it.

You Eyeballers can read it over at Chris Davis’ blog right now!

Now for a lie down. It’s been a busy week!