Karina Fabian: Author Interview

Karina FabianGood morning! Karina Fabian is over here today, talking about her new book from MuseItUp Publishing, Live and Let Fly. Welcome, Karina!

1. Tell us about yourself, and what drew you to writing.

I’m a pretty ordinary person, living a quiet, contented life with a loving husband and four great kids. However, I have a brain crowded with characters who live far more interesting lives than I ever will. (Mind you, they also experience a lot more pain and stress, so I am not looking to trade.) I write their stories in order to get them out of my head before it explodes, and because I love their adventures so much, I want to share them.

2. Tell us about your latest book, Live and Let Fly.

For those that don’t know Vern: Vern is a dragon who had a run-in with St. George. As a result, he’s serving God and His creatures to earn his dragon powers and prowess back. Right now, for reasons God only knows, he’s doing that in our world as a private detective. Sister Grace, a nun and mage from Faerie, is his partner. They do everything from find lost cats to save the Mundane and Faerie worlds from demigods seeking to gain power in the Mundane.

This time, however, they face their biggest challenge. When the mugging of their friend, Herald Charlie, points to interdimensional intrigue, they are co-opted into a secret government agency to uncover and stop the plot. Vern’s excited to play dragon-oh-seven, but they will have to face manaical middle managers with attack robots and killer board games as well as the darker side of the Norse pantheon. Even more fun, they will have to do so where their magical abilities are limited–and Vern will have to do some of the mission as a human.

Live and Let Fly spoofs the super-spy genre with outrageous villains and complex schemes, damsels in distress, exotic locations, and as many twisted cliches as I could pack into a 98,000-word novel.

Live and Let Fly3. You’ve said in other interviews that your characters drive your stories. Having been through one book with this crew of characters (2009’s Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem), were you more prepared for the directions they would go, or did they still surprise you?

They always surprise me–and sometimes, they get stubborn. Remember Rhoda Dakota, the child star in Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem? (Vern gets her autograph for Charlie, who is a big fan.) Charlie and Rhoda are getting engaged in Live and Let Fly. She was supposed to be the plucky get-it-done sidekick; the shtick I intended was Vern and company bumble around because they don’t understand all the Mundane technology, but since she does, she gets the job done.

She absolutely refused to play sidekick. She wanted to be damsel in distress for “her Charlie.” I could not write the scenes that would make her helpful. Once I gave up, she got herself kidnapped, while wearing a silver sequined dress and $500 shoes, and was handcuffed to a bed, trying to be brave and confident that “her Charlie” would rescue her. How cliche is that?

It worked out great! Charlie and Vern made a great team–very different from Vern and Sister Grace–and once he’d save her, she showed some pluck, and even turns around and rescues them later in the book.

4. What are your thoughts on the future of books?

They will be legion. They will be funny–and serious–and fun…

Or did you mean “books” in general? Electronic books will continue to take a bigger and bigger share of the market. Bookstores are going to dwindle, though I don’t see them disappearing entirely. It’s going to be harder to find the real gems among all the books being published. I’m wondering how people will be doing that, other than word-of-mouth or big campaigns.

5. What do you find toughest about being a writer, and how do you get past it?

I have difficulty getting started and doing visual scenes. I get over this by giving myself permission to write lousy prose at first, knowing I can fix it later once I have it written down.

6. Beyond writing, you also conduct seminars on various aspects of writing and marketing. What of these topics has drawn the greatest interest, and what important areas are most overlooked?

People are always looking for the magic spell of marketing (or of writing really well). Problem is, there isn’t one. It’s a combination of skill, talent and perseverance. I think perseverance is the most overlooked area. Some people submit their work to a hundred agents or publishers before getting a contract. Marketing has to be done consistently. I had started a newsletter on my website, 30-Minute Marketer, which breaks marketing down into weekly tasks. I was doing it for donations, but they dried up, so I may make it into an e-book unless I can learn to automate it for subscription. The first eight issues are up at http://30minutemarketer.karinafabian.com. If donations start up again, I’ll resume publishing them.

7. Who would be the perfect reader of Live and Let Fly?

If you loved Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or the MYTH, Inc., books you’ll it. If you like the spy genre and enjoy a spoof, you’ll enjoy it. If snorting drinks out your nose bothers you…don’t drink while reading it, but highlight parts to read aloud when your friends are drinking. 😉

8. What’s next for you, if you can share it?

The next DragonEye, PI book will be Gapman, in which mild-mannered entertainment reporter, Ronnie Engleson, gets superpowers after falling into a vat of magically created toxic waste, being bitten by a radioactive fairy and getting struck by lightning. (It was a really tough day for him.) Vern gets the annoying duty of training him. I have some of the scenes written, but am still working on the big villain.



For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the US government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap–secrets the US would like to keep to itself, thank you–Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.

No human spy, however, ever went up against a Norse goddess determined to exploit those secrets to rescue her husband. Sigyn will move heaven and earth to get Loki–and use the best and worst of our world against anyone who tries to stop her.

It’s super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho–exotic?), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords and more!



If there’s such a thing as ADD of the imagination, Karina Fabian has it–in spades. Craft books, devotionals, serious science fiction, comedic horror and chilling fantasy–she follows her interests and the characters that tell her their stories.

Even before she could write, Karina strung tall tales about everything from making human pyramids in Kindergarten to visiting alien worlds. Her first attempt at novel writing was in fourth grade; she completed her first novel in college. However, her first published work was an anthology of Christian science fiction, Leaps of Faith, an EPPIE finalist for best anthology in 2006. Her next anthology, Infinite Space, Infinite God, featured Catholic characters and themes and won the EPPIE for science fiction. The second Infinite Space, Infinite God anthology came out in 2010.

Watching the comedy improve show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway, inspired her noir-style dragon detective, Vern. Vern and his partner, Sister Grace, have solved mysteries and saved the Faerie and Mundane worlds numerous numerous times in the DragonEye, PI stories and novels. Their serial story, World Gathering, won a Mensa Owl; and the novel, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (Fabian’s first published novel), won the INDIE for best fantasy in 2010.

At a friend’s request, Karina wrote a funny story about a zombie exterminator, which grew into the Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator novels. The first, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, won the 2011 Global E-Book award for best horror.

She also writes serious science fiction. Her first SF novel, Discovery, is currently under consideration, and she’s working on a second on, The Old Man and the Void, based loosely on Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but taking place in the accretion disk of a black hole.

Karina has a strong faith, which she explored in her devotional, Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life, which she wrote with her father Steve Lumbert, and which won the 2011 Christian Small Press Publisher Award. She also writes Catholic school calendars and has written three craft books for the Little Flowers/Blue Knights clubs.

Fabian is married to Colonel Robert A. Fabian of the USAF. They have four children, a dog and a cat. When not writing, teaching writing, or chatting about writing, she’s hanging out with her kids or swinging a sword in haidong gumbdo.



Charlie started to close the door behind us, his other hand gripping the handle of his dagger so tightly I could hear the leather wrap on the handle strain, as we listened to the footsteps coming our way, slow, bored. My predator’s instincts rose; then I had a great idea. I shook my head at Charlie and winked, and he shuffled out of my way, leaving the door ajar. I settled myself with my back to the door, just inside the shadows and let the script play itself out:

CLUELESS MINION enters Stage Left. He pauses, hearing a noise, but does not report it. Instead, he fondles the stars on his nametag and moves toward the empty hallway, his mind on adding another. (Probably saying, “I was proactive today!”)

CLUELESS pauses at door, hesitating. He stands and, back to the door, reaches for his walkie-talkie.

Suddenly, a well-muscled and gorgeously scaled tail whips out from the crack in the door and wraps itself around his neck. He only has time to grab ineffectively at the tail before he’s drawn into the darkness. The door shuts behind him.

Pan shot of the empty hallway.


I slammed my victim on the floor and pinned him with my forelegs, then I leaned my face in nice and slow, making sure he got a good look at my fangs before he saw my eyes. “Where’s the girl?” I growled low and menacingly.

“Wh-What g-g-girl?”

Charlie crouched down by Stutterboy and glanced at his nametag. “Look, Philip, we’re in a bit of a hurry. We know Rhoda Dakota’s being held captive somewhere nearby. Now you can be a good survivor and tell us where…or you can be dinner.”

“I-I don’t–”

“Phil A. Minion.” I mused and drooled a bit for effect. I live for these moments, I really do. I licked his cheek and asked Charlie, “Can I have fries with that?”

“Why not? This is Idaho.”


Find Karina at:

Website: http://fabianspace.com, http://dragoneyepi.net
Blog: http://fabianspace.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian
Google +: https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212

See the book trailer: http://youtu.be/-mqTplSrGuE

Find Live and Let Fly at: http://dragoneyepi.blogspot.com/p/live-and-let-fly.html

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: The Story Behind Blood Forge

Kathryn Meyer GriffithThe Story Behind Blood Forge (Author’s Revised Edition)
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

1985. I’d just published my second paperback novel, The Heart of the Rose, an historical bodice ripper (remember those?) about a suspected witch in 15th century England amidst the War of the Roses political intrigues, with Leisure Books of Dorchester Publishing and my editor there asked me if I had another novel to show them yet.

It just so happened that, yes, I’d been working on a third novel; another romantic horror similar to my first book with them, Evil Stalks the Night (which will for the first time in 29 years also be out again, revised and updated, on July 1, 2012) I was tentatively calling With This Gun. The story centered around a scandalous love triangle/murder between police officers that had taken place in our small town years before and that I had firsthand knowledge of. Some of them had been my friends, as my first husband had been a police officer in town as well. The police force, their wives and families, had been a tight knit group, but the murder still came as a great shock to most of us. One of my husband’s coworkers had been seeing another coworker’s wife and the two were thinking of splitting up their respective marriages, both with children, to be with each other. The problem was, the cop being left didn’t like it and shot the other cop dead in his house one day after being told what had been going on. It was terrible situation.

Well, I’d let the whole matter age for over a decade and was finally writing about it, sort of, as a way to free me of all the bad memories.

Now to the horror aspect. I’d use a possessed gun as a device to explain the killings the gun would be responsible for. Now I wasn’t exactly a lover of guns, but I was married to a cop. Guns were part of our lives. Always in the back of my mind was what I’d say to people who didn’t like the idea of me writing about a gun or hated guns: It isn’t a gun that kills people… it’s the person using the gun.

In this book, I gave an even better motivation. The gun made people kill because it was evil. This theme was what made it a supernatural story. A Colt Python would be possessed by an ancient demon; that the weapon had been forged from tainted iron or metal from the bowels of the earth centuries ago connected to that ancient demon-god. So the title Leisure eventually came up with was: Blood Forge (though I begged the editor to call it With This Gun or at least, Blood Forged, which made more sense, but no the publisher was determined to call it Blood Forge and in those days the author didn’t any say so on that or the cover).

Anyway, in the book I’d follow that gun after its creation from unfortunate human to human as it made people crazy and murderous; created havoc in everyone’s lives it touched. Until two people deeply in love have faith that they can defeat it…with the help of a mysterious priest (who may or may not be a priest at all). There are ways to get rid of a demon, no matter how strong it is.

Blood ForgeThat plot about following a gun on its deadly rampage has been used many times since in television shows and stories, but I’d began thinking about the book as early as 1983, so, perhaps, I was the first. Who knows?

Which brings me now to what happened after I turned the book in to the publisher. My editor for my first two books, Jane Thornton, read it and refused to editor it. Turned it down flat, saying she despised guns. They killed people. Guns bad. They scared her. She wouldn’t edit such a story, sorry.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. It was a long time ago. I think either Jane Thornton left Leisure or she gave the book to another editor, a man called John Littel.

Anyway, he liked the book, gun or no gun, and they offered me a contract on it anyway. I was thrilled. Wasn’t thrilled with the title, as I said, though, and I wasn’t impressed with the cover, embossed or not. Too dark. A snake coiling around the barrel of a menacing gun on a black background. Along with the title, I felt it didn’t portray what the book was entirely about. The novel was a love story, a survival against great odds, a parable of faith, tale. A story of a man’s fight with alcoholism and how his wife’s love helps him beat the insidious influence of the alcohol as well as the gun. It was about cops, their lives and their families. But, as with the title, I had no choice on the cover and had to take what they gave me. That’s just the way it was back then. I still feel that’s part of the reason the book never did well in its first incarnation. I was still an unknown writer and when that’s the case I’ve found that the cover and title–how compelling they are–makes a difference in the sales.

At this point, I must admit, after having just finished rewriting it…it was a very dark book written at a very dark time of my life. The darkest, I think, of all my books. I had gone through a divorce, remarriage and was juggling a full time job and a family. Trying to write at night. It was actually difficult for me to relive most of it. I was still in that early part of my career, still young without enough life experience, where I’d embed what I’d lived through and saw around me into my stories. I didn’t have the maturity yet to write anything too layered.

Anyway, the book came out in 1989 and didn’t do as well as my first two books. I noticed that the publisher turned cool towards me after that and, seeing the way the wind was blowing, I went on to get an agent and she helped me jump up another rung of the ladder when she sold my next four books to a bigger publisher, Zebra Books (Kensington Publishing). And I left Leisure behind; and my three books there went out of print long ago.

But now, 23 years later Blood Forge-Revised Author’s Edition (wish I could change that title but it wouldn’t be fair to people that already read the original book) is coming out again in print, and in eBooks for the first time ever, in March 2012. I love the cover this time. My fantastic cover artist, Dawne Dominique, who did eleven of my other new covers, did this one, too. It’s stunning.

So that’s the story of Blood Forge. My second published novel. It, along with my older novels (12, plus a novella and a short story) will all soon be out again. And when the last old book from 1984, Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition, comes out in July 2012, my forty year writing career will have come full circle. It’s amazing. I guess a book never dies, huh? I guess not.


A writer for 40 years I’ve had 14 novels and 8 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, and the Wild Rose Press, since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author’s Edition is a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books (most out again): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)



Blood Forge–Author’s Revised Edition

An ancient snake-demon lays trapped behind the stone walls of an Incan prison, for centuries demanding blood sacrifices and scheming to escape. Then it discovers a pathway into the world of men, forging itself into a malevolent 357 Colt Python, and making itself capable of incomparable destruction and misery. Through decades it torments, decimates, the unfortunate people whose lives it comes into until a loving married couple, Emily and Sam Walters, have enough love and faith–and the help of a mysterious priest who’s much more than he appears to be–to fight against and destroy it forever…and to send it back to hell where it belongs.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: The Story of Don’t Look Back, Agnes

Kathryn Meyer GriffithThe Story of Don’t Look Back, Agnes and In This House
More Backstories
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

The older I get, the more I like to reminisce and write about what I’m going through at any particular time. I guess it’s an age thing. So many of my stories and novels come about because of what I’m actually experiencing in my real life at the time. Not all, but some.

But my novella, Don’t Look Back, Agnes is definitely one such story.

At the end of 1998 my beloved father, the very heart (along with my mother’s mother, Grandmother Fehrt, who was also much loved) of my large family, passed away after a short but heartbreaking battle with lung cancer. He’d been a cigarette smoker his whole life so it wasn’t a complete shock that it ended up killing him. Yet the suddenness and the swiftness of his departure devastated my six siblings, my mother, grandmother, and me. It was a very dark time for us.

To complicate the matter, my brothers and sisters, myself included, were in our forties and working hard at our lives, our families and jobs, but my grandmother and mother were left living alone together and neither one drove; so both needed constant care and attention. My grandmother was in her eighties and my mother in her late sixties; though my grandmother was fairly healthy (she was spunky lady, with a zest for life, who’d emigrated from Austria as a child) my mother was already in a wheelchair, crippled from bad ankle surgeries, debilitating osteoarthritis and a host of heart related problems.

The first thing the family had to do was move them into town, nearer to some of us, and out of the country where they’d been living in the new sprawling house my father had built them just the year before. It was too hard caring for them way out there and the house was too big, too expensive. Boy, that was fun. They had so much stuff, so many memories to dispose of and cry over. We settled them in a small ranch house in town and life went on. Or tried to.

Now, I loved my mother and grandmother dearly but taking care of them was often difficult. Each needed concentrated care, love, endless visits to the doctor, prescriptions fulfilled and, as time went on, housekeeping and grocery shopping help–and finally, someone to do their bills, my mother becoming too disoriented and sick to any longer do any of those chores. For a long time, years, my grandmother stepped up, even at her age, and became my mother’s constant nurse and helper. Their two Social Security checks combined were just enough for them to live on. It was a thin line they had to tread and we tried to help them every step of the way.

So, with love, sometimes desperation, and some bickering every so often between us siblings as to who would do what when, we took care of them and their whole household, their house. There were many late night runs to hospital emergency rooms, or long stays, and rehab centers for my mother, who steadily over the next nine years grew worse. By the end of 2005 it seemed we were always at the hospital with mom or grandma. My mom had her heart troubles, high blood pressure and medication problems, and my grandmother broke her hip. One thing after another. It was exhausting at times. Who’d ever think two sick old ladies could need so much care?

Then my grandmother got really ill and was rushed to the hospital. She needed emergency surgery and afterwards was in intensive care for a month…never recovered…then sadly joined our grandfather in the next life. We were all so broken hearted.

That left our mother, all alone, without enough money to live on (her Social Security meager; no savings), and unable to care for herself or her three cats. Born an only child, she was a demanding sort of woman, almost childlike in her unending need for attention and devotion. She was terrified of going to a nursing home so the family did what we could to keep her in her own home as long as possible. My brother got her a reverse mortgage on her house and we all chipped in financially whenever and however we could. We fought the good fight but there came a day where mom got so sick, was rushed to the hospital so often, needed so much constant supervision, couldn’t get out of bed and some of us couldn’t lift her, that my siblings and I had to admit defeat…mom had to go into a nursing home or one of us had to move in with her, which wasn’t feasible. We were married with families and mom needed too much nursing care.

So a nursing home it was. We picked out a newly opened one in town, the nicest we could find, and the next time mom got sick we moved her into it for her recovery. Then told her the truth. The house was up for sale and the cats had been placed in new homes. I even took one, Patches (the cat in the story), because it was old and no one wanted her. My husband and I already had two cats but it was something I had to do…for mom. She really loved that cat as she’d really loved her home. But poor Patches, probably pining for her mistress and her old life, only lasted five months. I lied to my mother for months afterwards, afraid to tell her that the old cat had died (mom had always said that when Patches died, she’d die) and it tore me apart when I finally had to tell her. Mom had come to our house for a family Thanksgiving and I couldn’t hide the fact that Patches was no longer there. Oh, that was hard. Telling her.

If anyone has ever put a parent or relative into a nursing home, they know the heartbreak it causes all around. My mother was inconsolable and my guilt was awful. But, as sick as mom had become, with so many prescriptions each day, hospital visits, and how most days she couldn’t even get out of bed or get to the bathroom, clean or feed herself…we had no choice. She stayed in that nursing home – although it was a bright cheery place with kind people running it – until she died two years later. The hardest two years of my life. I visited her often, shopped for her and kept her company. Decorated her room so it looked like a home. Brought her special lunches and little gifts. Fancy quilts and stuffed cats. It still broke my heart.

I began writing the novella, Don’t Look Back, Agnes, while she was there. A ghost story centered around a young woman who’s forced by grim circumstances into returning to her haunted, and deadly, childhood home because her mother is ill in a nursing home and needs her. Looking back now, I can see it was also my way of dealing with the nursing home guilt…of wishing for a different ending to mom’s life than what had occurred. Writing the story was my therapy. I cried all my sorrow out into those words and prayed to be forgiven for putting my mother into such a place.

Even In This House, the bonus short story included because it’s also a ghostly tale, deals with old age and the passing of all a person (or a couple in this instance) ever knew or loved as time and their lives slip away, as it must always do. At the same time I was writing the Agnes story I read an article in the newspaper about this old man who was the last resident of a neighborhood that had been systematically bought out and emptied by an iron smelter plant. He was the last one living there in the last house. He spoke of his loneliness since his wife had died; about her. Their past. It sparked the idea for In This House. Both stories deal with responsibility, sacrifice and…love. Love for a mate, for an aging parent, children, and a way of life or the loss of one’s independence that we all in the end have to relinquish in one way or another. Life’s sorrows faced with a brave smile to cover the tears.

I hope the two stories help anyone going through what I was going through in those difficult years. If they do, then the words have done their job.

Written by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith this nineteenth day of December 2011


A writer for 40 years I’ve had 14 novels and 8 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, and the Wild Rose Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author’s Edition is a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books (most out again): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)



1) Don’t Look Back, Agnes.

Agnes Michaels is coming home. Home to her childhood town of Fairfield and the house her father lovingly built for her mother. A house surrounded by the woods where Agnes’ two childhood friends and her boyfriend, Tyler, were all murdered twenty summers ago when she was just seventeen. She was the only one who escaped, but not without emotional and physical scars. Agnes knows that the woods and the evil entity that lives in it have been waiting for her all these years but she has no choice but to return to Fairfield and her mother’s house when her mother falls very ill and needs her care. Agnes can no longer avoid her destiny. Because the killings have begun again and she’s the only one who can stop them. And with the help of a new friend and Tyler’s ghost, she’ll defeat the evil and save another child’s life.

2) In This House.

Bernard and Althea have lived their whole lives in the neighborhood, in the same house and have grown old there. But Deer Run’s lead smelter plant has been buying out the houses around them because of lead contamination fears and now the lots are empty weeds and only their house remains. Their neighbors are gone. They’re alone. Althea’s been sick and Bernard cares for her even as he remembers how lovely she once was, all the friends they once had and all the good times they enjoyed when they were young. He loves her and he’ll never leave her. They’ll never leave their home. But they can’t stop time and they’re only waiting for their lonely daughter, Jenny, to make one last visit so they can say goodbye to her and introduce her to the man they know she’s meant to be with…then they can leave this earth happy.


Excerpt (from Don’t Look Back, Agnes):

“Okay,” she announced, as she yanked the car to the side of the road and spun around to him, “who are you really? I know you’ve been lying to me. My mother doesn’t know you and you don’t work for the hospital’s ambulance service. No one knows you.”

He seemed hurt by her anger. “They weren’t all lies,” he said, bowing his head. “And I had to think of something to tell you, so I could speak to you. I knew that if I just walked up and knocked on your door, you wouldn’t open it.”

“What made you think that?”

He lifted his strange eyes that appeared to have no depth and met hers. His face was shadowed, even in the car’s overhead light, indistinct, but again so frustratingly familiar. “Because I know who you are and what you went through that summer. I know how much you hate being back here and how scared you are of the woods and what exists in it.”

Fear crowded in around her and she felt dizzy. “Who are you?”

She thought the sound that came from his throat was a chuckle but she wasn’t sure. “It doesn’t matter.” Then in a much lower voice she barely caught, “And you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Why is that?” Her voice just as low.

“Never mind. I’m sorry. But I do know your mother and I do take care of her cat. Sometimes. I only wanted to talk to you. See you.”

“Why?” She was becoming more suspicious every second, and a little frightened, though she sensed the man besides her meant her no real harm, that he was only hiding something. But what happened if she was wrong?

“I’m here to help you.”

“Help me what?” She’d switched the car’s engine off. Outside, the night fog surged against the windows and cut them off from the world. She was alone with a crazy man.

She knew she should kick him out of the car and drive like a launched missile straight to Ida’s. She’d be safe there. But something, the poignant begging in his gaze or the hopeful smile on his lips, kept her from doing that. It was as if he’d enchanted her.

“I’m going to help you find Lottie.”

Shocked, she exclaimed, “You’re kidding? You want to help me find the missing girl? That’s the police’s job. I have no idea where she is. Besides, she’s only missing. There’s no proof she’s even been taken or is in danger.”

“Ah, Agnes, you know better than that.” His voice was firm but melancholy. “She’s in the woods where you were and if we don’t find her tonight she’ll be dead.”

“How do you know that? Why are you doing this to me?” She realized she was infuriated with him because he was trying to make her do something she really didn’t want to do.

“Because you know where she is. You know and you can save her.”

“I don’t have a clue where she is. I’ll tell you what, you go save her.”

“That won’t work, I’m afraid. Alone, I can’t do it. I need you. You’re the one. We can’t find it. And it won’t show itself unless you’re there.” He tilted his head and his dark hair, somehow longer than the last time she’d seen him, brushed against his shoulders. Tonight he wasn’t wearing a uniform or a dirty T-shirt. Dressed in an old-fashioned collared shirt with buttons down the front and frayed jeans, she thought he looked even younger than last time.

Agnes had had enough. “Herb, or whatever your name is, would you please get out of my car?”

“It’s Herb, kinda. And, Agnes, you’re never going to be able to live with yourself if you don’t try to save Lottie. I mean you tried and couldn’t save Sophie and the others and you’ve had to live with the guilt all these years. You don’t want to go through that again, do you? No, you’re coming with me.”

He reached out his hand, touching her, and suddenly the car was gone and they were standing at the edge of the night woods, the mist churning around their feet. Her mother’s house was behind them, so she knew where she was. A sliver of moon shone its silvery light above, just enough to see what was surrounding them. Thick night trees. Undergrowth and bushes. The woods.

Oh, hell.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Greg Chapman: Author Interview

Good morning! Greg Chapman is over here today, talking about his new novella, The Noctuary. Welcome, Greg!

1) Tell us about yourself, and what drew you to writing.

I’ve always enjoyed creating new characters and worlds in both written and illustrative form, ever since I was a boy, but it wasn’t until after I started studying journalism at university in the late 90’s and read the work of Edgar Allan Poe in a literary theory course that I first got an appreciation for horror. In 2009 I joined the Australian Horror Writers Association and the rest, as they say, is history.

2) Tell us about your latest book, The Noctuary.

The NoctuaryThe Noctuary centres on writer Simon Ryan, who discovers that he is destined to become a Scribe for a group of hellish creatures known as The Dark Muses. Simon finds that his soul is literally on the line unless he uses his gift to write evil into the lives of humans. To prove himself he has to go back and rewrite a tragedy from his past.

3) How did the experiences of writing, editing, publishing, and promoting Torment and Midnight Theatre affect your approach on The Noctuary? Were there any ‘lessons learned’ that you were able to apply?

As Torment was my first published book-length work, the entire process of publishing and promotion was new to me. Thankfully I already had entered the various horror fiction networks via the AHWA. Ultimately I think I was selling myself as an author rather than the book with Torment, whereas The Noctuary is something completely different and truer to my voice. The collection Midnight Theatre: Tales of Terror mostly comprised stories that I’d already had published and the only reason I published it was as a support to Torment at the time. I thought that if readers liked my collection they might like Torment. The fact MT:TOT was free was also an obvious incentive.

4) What drives your stories?

I like to play around with themes and challenge my characters at the psychological level. Mostly my tales are supernatural, but I like to inject them with a strong sense of humanity to make the impossible or fantastical elements seem more real. I also love building dread and suspense in my stories – that core requirement with horror fiction.

5) What are your thoughts on the future of books?

The future is already happening. E-books are simply another tool for authors and publishers to release their work and I’m all for it. Paperback books will always be with us and thankfully many small presses are still releasing the odd collectable hardcover. I believe that if readers continue to support the small horror presses then there will always be exceptional horror stories to be told.

6) What do you find toughest about being a writer, and how do you get past it?

The toughest part of being a writer is the fact, that at the moment, I’m not doing it full-time. I still have a day job and although I’ve had a lot of success over the past year with my writing and drawing, I’m still determined to work towards mainstream publication.

7) You’re a member of the Australian Horror Writers Association. How has that helped you develop as a writer?

Considerably. After joining in 2009 I applied for the AHWA’s mentorship program and I was selected. Under the tutelage of Brett McBean I saw my first short story published and started writing Torment and The Noctuary which would eventually be published two years later. Apart from that I have made numerous connections with many great authors, including the likes of Rocky Wood, president of the US Horror Writers Association, whom I later collaborated with on the graphic novel Witches!

8. Who would be the perfect reader for The Noctuary?

The Noctuary is a homage to author Clive Barker, one of my favourite authors, so any Barker fans would get a lot out of it I think. Fans of dark fantasy and the “fantastique” would also enjoy the book.

9) What’s next for you, if you can share it?

I’ve got two novellas in the works and I’m going back to rewrite a novel to turn it into a trilogy, but all that depends on where my imagination takes me. The next published work will be the graphic novel tentatively titled Witches! which will be published by McFarland Publishers early in 2012.


For more on Greg and his projects, visit him on the web here.

Gary W. Olson is the author of the dark fantasy novel Brutal Light and several previously published and forthcoming short stories. He can be found via his website, his blog A Taste of Strange, as @gwox on Twitter, and in many other far-flung places on the Internet.

Sean A. Lusher: Author Interview

I’d like to welcome author Sean A. Lusher to A Taste of Strange. His new novella, Liberation Road, is now available from Amazon.com. His previous novella, Stricken was published in September.

1) Tell us about yourself, and what drew you to writing.

Sean A. LusherI hate to sound cliche, but I feel like there isn’t much to tell about myself, honestly. Besides the fact that I write on a daily basis, I feel pretty average. I’m married, I live in Missouri. I like movies, video games and books of high quality, but occasionally of low quality, too. I tend to get immersed in whatever I’m experiencing and mystery writers must love me because I almost never see the twist coming. Hell, I was so completely involved in The Dark Knight that when Harvey Dent became Two-Face, I was surprised.

But as for what drew me to writing? I can safely say I have no idea. At least originally. I can remember writing as early as sixth grade, making up fake newspaper articles and chronicling Lego adventures I had with my cousins. It’s just always been something that I’ve done, until I realized that it might be possible to do it for a living.

2) Tell us about your latest book, Liberation Road.

Well, it’s a horror/mystery novella heavy on the atmosphere. Some people have likened my books to H.P. Lovecraft, not in quality or originality, but more because of the fact that I write ‘atmospheric horror’. The book opens with your average twenty something shut in named Jared making his way across Kansas to meet a girl he’s been dating online for a while now. Nervous enough by everything that could go wrong during the meeting, he doesn’t even consider running out of gas. That soon becomes a reality, however, and Jared is forced to pull in to a very lonely and isolated rest stop. There’s only one problem, though: he can’t find anyone. Not even someone manning the register. Tense apprehension quickly becomes raw terror when Jared becomes trapped here and it becomes obvious that something decidedly inhuman is hunting him.

3) Have you ever had a real-life experience like the kind that sets up Liberation Road?

I haven’t.

4) What drives your stories?

Liberation RoadThat’s an interesting question. While I didn’t start out as a horror writer, nor do I intend to be just that, I do have a couple of motivations for writing horror. The first is that it’s fun. I love setting up the situations, building the tension and the mystery. But the main reason? Well, I’m kind of pissed off.

Pick fifty horror pieces at random, movies or books. How many of them feature a human antagonist? The serial killer, the deranged psycho stalker, the crazy hillbillies. Now, of those that don’t feature a human antagonist, how many feature monsters that fall into the ‘safe zone’? Vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons?

See, once I began to notice this trend, I set out to add more non traditional monsters to the mix. I wanted something more unique, I wanted something that didn’t fit into the rigidly defined confines of what a ‘monster’ is. This has been, and will continue to be, motivation for most of my horror. It’s why I wrote Stricken and Liberation Road.

5) What scares you?

A lot. Spiders scare the crap out of me. I’m better about it now than I used to be, but my wife still makes good on her wedding vow to ‘kill the spiders’. Sometimes, being alone scares me. Though not in the way you might think. It’s hard to explain. There’s this drain in my laundry room full of black stagnant water and green moss that scares me. Man, that thing is creepy and actually inspired a new novella. The police scare me, because there’s too much opportunity to abuse power there.

But what scares me the most? Well, I actually wrote an article on that. Since I don’t want this to get really long, I’ll just provide a link instead.

6) What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?

Whoa, boy…Well, first of all, make damn sure this is what you want. Because this job sucks as much as it wins.

Two: Be ready to sacrifice. A lot.

Three: Get a good editor, and cover artist. And marketer.

Four: Go indie. The Kindle can offer you 70% royalties. The publishing industry is going the way of the dinosaur and offers an average of 17% royalties.

Five: Write all the time, you need to do it to get better at it and the more you do it, the sooner you’ll be great.

7) What’s next for you, if you can share it?

Well, of course I’m going to completely contradict myself and write about zombies. My next novella is going to be titled The Necropolis Chronicles: Isolation. It’s to be the first in a series of novellas detailing a Sci-Fi/Horror adventure where zombies invade a distant planet. The biggest problem being that the zombies aren’t going to be just zombies for very long.

I’d like to thank Gary for having me on his blog and listen to me ramble on.

If anyone is interested, you can find my blog here, my Facebook Author Page here, and my latest novella, Liberation Road, here.


And here is an excerpt from Liberation Road:

Some bizarre cocktail of throaty noises escaped Jared’s mouth as he regained consciousness. It happened all at once, very abruptly. Not like waking, some part of his mind observed with a detached apathy. No, not like waking at all. When coming out of regular sleep, Jared found himself doing it in stages–provided there was no alarm clock.

Being unconscious was a completely different thing. His eyes snapped open as terror surged through his veins. He had a sideways view of a dim, dusty floor. Something was incredibly wrong, of that he was certain, but he couldn’t tell what.

At least, not at first. Jared sat bolt upright, nearly hitting his head on the counter. He blinked, desperately wanting to make some kind of movement, for some reason certain that he must get up and run. But some semblance of logic held him at bay as he attempted to reconstruct his memories.

He could remember the road. He knew he’d been driving down it for some time. And the gas station. Stopping there, nobody was home…Jared felt a gasp escape his throat as everything tumbled back into place.

He snapped his head around, hunting for someone, his attacker. He was alone in desolate gloom. That thought seemed to register something, but Jared couldn’t figure out what. All he knew was that he had to get out alive. As he began to pull himself up, a glint caught his eye. Something stashed behind and beneath the counter: a pistol. Almost without thinking, he grabbed it. Fear was a physical thing, screaming through his head, drowning out his sanity and reason. It put him on edge, sent tremors through his muscles.

He stood and quickly inspected the lobby of the gas station, six shooter firmly in hand. He’d never fired a gun before, but found himself ridiculously open to the concept of shooting someone. If it meant staying alive, then so be it. All those endless debates, spoken over at length in the daylight with friends, about how far you’d go to stay alive…all the philosophical what-ifing…all the moral ambiguity and legal ramifications…

Jared quickly discovered it was all a very moot point as he hurried for the door. He would kill to stay alive. There was now no question in his head. Shivering, he stepped outside and then froze, rooted to his position in absolute horror.


Thanks to Sean A. Lusher for stopping by!

Kathryn Meyer Griffith: The Story of Egyptian Heart

Kathryn Meyer GriffithThe Story of Egyptian Heart
A backstory and other tidbits from an old writer’s life

Let me start with this: I have always loved ancient Egyptian stories since I was a child. I remember I wrote one of my first school papers at around eleven years old in pencil on the ancient Egyptians after dragging home an armful of musty smelling books from the library. I don’t recall exactly why I loved this particular time period and the people that lived in it but it might have had something to do with the movies The Ten Commandments (I was raised a Catholic), the horror mummy movies of the 1960’s and the early TV shows on Nefertiti and Cleopatra. I just had this affinity for the period.

It was February 1994 (I noted it on the outside of the manila folder where I keep a running book history on each novel) when I began Egyptian Heart. Originally I called it The Cursed Scarab. Later, I retitled it Egyptian Heart because I wanted it to more reflect the romance tale it had become.

I still had my agent, Lori Perkins, who’d sold four earlier novels for me to Zebra Books (Vampire Blood, 1991; The Last Vampire, 1992; Witches, 1993 and The Calling, 1994…after I’d sold my first three novels on my own to Leisure Books: Evil Stalks the Night, 1984: The Heart of the Rose, 1985; Blood Forge,1989) and she’d told me about a new romantic horror line that Silhouette was starting called the Shadows Line. They wanted to tap into the darker romantic paranormal market. Lori said they wanted the kind of story I wrote but with more romance. It was Silhouette after all. I’d been labeled as a horror writer from the get go, though all my novels blended genres; usually I wrote a romantic horror mixture with dashes of adventure, suspense and sometimes threw in a little history or mystery as well…but in those days the big publishers felt the need (and I think they still do) to squeeze a writer into one narrow slot. So I was a horror writer.

But by 1994 I’d lost my sweet editor at Zebra and a new one took her place…and over the next year he didn’t like anything I wrote for him and later that year Zebra unceremoniously dropped me and my latest book (Predator, a story about a dinosaur in Crater Lake…which never came out but still lingers like some weird ghost book in every computer on the global Internet) only six weeks away from going to the bookstore shelves. I’d begged the new editor not to call it Predator, bad title since there was a popular movie out of that name and it was nothing about a dinosaur, and the cover was awful, an empty boat on a lake…what!!! Having that book – my first ever – dumped like that was a crushing experience, let me tell you. I had a stack of finished, printed covers and had already done my final edits! I got to keep my advance but the book was officially dead. The new editor-that-didn’t-like-my-writing explained: “No one wants to read a book about a dinosaur.” And six months later Jurassic Park came out! The book

is still sitting in a drawer somewhere and perhaps one day I’ll resurrect and finish it as well).

At that point, my agent wanted me to branch out so I wrote two manuscripts for the Silhouette Shadows Line or tried to. Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road (a romantic suspense about a woman truck driver driving a dangerous wintry route with a murderer on her tail, and a hitchhiker in her cab that she feels she’s falling in love with…and fears, at times, he’s the killer; which later I retitled and sold as Winter’s Journey). To make a long story short, Silhouette Shadows turned both down. Seems I had too much horror in them; not enough sex. I didn’t follow the formula. Sheesh. I’ve never liked depending too much on sex in any of my books or writing a book too predictable. The originality of the novel and the characters make the story for me.

After that my agent dropped me. Ah, the life of a writer.

So, then life (as it has many times in my 39 year writing career), family and job problems, and my other novels (I was into murder mysteries for years and sold two to Avalon Books), got in the way and Egyptian Heart and Shadow Road went into drawer hibernation until, oh, about 2004, when I rediscovered them, dug them out, rewrote them and began trying to sell them again. Sometimes, I’ve found, a book left alone in a dark cubbyhole ages like good wine. (Or sometimes it just turns to vinegar.)

Fast forward three years to 2007 and a new e-book (e-books still being considered a risky new-fangled craze at that time!) publisher called The Wild Rose Press contracted both and eventually a third called The Ice Bridge, a ghostly romantic murder mystery set on Mackinac Island, and published them. Good publisher. They treated me well. But in 2010 when I contracted my two newest novels, Before the End: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson (both romantic horror) my new publisher wanted to bring out all my old out-of-print novels again (going back to those early Leisure Books from the 1980’s) in print – and e-books for the first time ever. Seven old paperbacks. I’d rewrite them all, get new covers and they’d all live again. I was thrilled. And grateful. It would take a lot of work on both our parts but when we were done ALL my old novels would be in print again and in electronic form out in the world. I jumped right in.

Then when my two year contract (I was lucky, e-books still being new, it was only for two years; now most e-book publishers contract for five years or longer) ran out with The Wild Rose Press. I happily switched Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge and a novella Don’t Look Back, Agnes to the new publisher. Realms of Fantasy Magazine had just been brought into the fold, as well.

So. Egyptian Heart has had a very long history. Simply put, it’s a time travel paranormal romance set in the ancient times of Nefertiti and her heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton. It’s more romance than history, though I did a lot of research in 1994… originally for my 1994 Zebra horror paperback The Calling. I thought: why waste all this hard worked for research on just one novel? So I also used it for Egyptian Heart and an erotic short story, The Nameless One, one that Zebra had placed in their 1994 horror anthology Dark Seductions and now it’s available.

Egyptian HeartThe new cover for Egyptian Heart by Dawne Dominique is amazingly beautiful. Thank you.

So from a child’s love of ancient Egypt to the finished book, it’s been a long journey and goes to show all you writer’s out there that, yes, persistence does sometimes win out. And a good book never dies. It just ages like wine in a dark drawer.

I hope you’ll give Egyptian Heart a look and a read. The best way to describe it is through its blurb and so here it is:

Maggie Owen is a beautiful, spirited Egyptologist, but lonely. Even being in Egypt on a grant from the college she teaches at to search for an undiscovered necropolis she’s certain lies below the sands beyond the pyramids of Gizah doesn’t give her the happiness she’d hoped it would.

There’s always been and is something missing. Love.

Then her workmen uncover Ramose Nakh-Min’s ancient tomb and an amulet from his sarcophagus hurls her back to 1340 B.C – where she falls hopelessly in love with the man she was destined to be with, noble Ramose, who faithfully serves the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton and his queen Nefertiti.

She’s fallen into perilous times with civil war threatening Egypt. She’s been mistaken for one of Ramose’s runaway slaves and with her light hair, jinn green eyes and fair skin she doesn’t fit in. Some say she’s magical and evil. Ramose’s favorite, Makere, tries to kill her.

The people, angry the Pharaoh has set his Queen aside and forced them to worship one god are rising up against him.

Maggie’s caught dangerously in the middle.

In the end, desperately in love, will she find a way to stay alive and with Ramose in ancient Egypt–and to make a difference in his world and history?

Because Maggie has finally found love.


And thank you for having me on your blog! Kathryn Meyer Griffith


A word about Kathryn Meyer Griffith, August 2011…

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21 and have had fourteen (nine romantic horror, one historical romance and two mysteries) previous novels published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, and The Wild Rose Press.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-three years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have two quirky cats, Sasha and Cleo, and the four of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die.


Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; July 2012)
The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Author’s Revised Edition out Nov.7, 2010)
Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Author’s Revised Edition out February 2012)
Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Author’s Revised Edition out July 2011)
The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Author’s Revised Edition out October 2010)
Witches (Zebra, 1993; Author’s Revised Edition out April 2011)
The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Author’s Revised Edition out February 2011)
The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Author’s Revised Edition out October 2011)
Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003)