Q&A

Interviews with Writers

I did this thing. An interview. There were questions, and I answered them. Now they’re out there, just sitting, waiting for someone to read them. Go on now… read them.

Interviews with writers: Kelli Owen 

 

And then I sat back and thought about it, and it all felt so familiar. So I did a little digging, and it turns out, I’ve been there before! Here’s the previous interview, from when it was posted under bookgoodies website (the two are attached), from several years ago.

Scares That Care 5

Scares That Care convention weekend (5) is coming very quickly. For those unaware, Scares That Care is a wonderful, awesome, fantabulous charity, staffed by a crew of loving, amazing volunteers. Needless to say, I love them and it, and you should too!

Scares That Care (the org) raises and donated monies to three chosen recipients each year. For more on the people we’re trying to help this year, or to donate directly through the site, please visit them at scaresthatcare.org

Scares that Care (the convention) brings together authors, actors, special effects, independent movies, vendors, and a hotel full of fans for a fun weekend designed to raise money for the charity. That weekend is quickly approaching:

» » » August  3-5, 2018 at the Doubletree by Hilton, in Williamsport VA « « «

More information on the convention, guests, programming, tickets, etc. can be found on the website at scaresthatcareweekend.com. No plans for the weekend? Live close by? Come on over with a day or weekend pass and enjoy yourself while helping others!

I will be there… my schedule is as follows:

Friday
5:00pm – 9:00pm (celebrity room) My home for the weekend unless otherwise noted
9:00pm – 10:00pm (author reading room) Panel: Lost Highways w/ D. Alexander Ward (moderator), and authors Rio Youers, Jonathan Janz, Rachel Deering, Kelli Owen, Robert Ford, and Matt Hayward.

Saturday
10:00am – 7:00pm (celebrity room) except where noted below
12:15pm – 1:15pm – (author reading room) Panel: Creative Couples w/ Frank Edler (moderator), Elizabeth Massie and Cortney Skinner, Jeff Strand and Lynne Hansen, C.V. Hunt and Andersen Prunty, Kelli Owen and Robert Ford.
8:45pm – 9:45pm – (author reading room) I am not on this panel, but am in the anthology and will be in the audience for it. Welcome To The Show w/ Matt Hayward (moderator), Jeff Strand, Mary SanGiovanni, Rachel Deering, Matt Serafini, Adam Cesare, Glenn Rolfe, Patrick Lacey, and Somer Canon

Sunday
11:00am – 3:00pm (celebrity room)
3:15pm – 4:00pm (podcasting room) recording the BUTTERCUP OF DOOM finale. Come play—bring your final questions, your wrapping up an era thoughts! This is the very last episode, taped live as the last podcast of the weekend. Check out of your room, pack your car, grab snacks, and come be part of the end of everything…

and what will I have with me? Well… This year’s Scares That Care sees the debut of my vampire novel TEETH, as well as a fun coloring book The Atrocious Alphabet based on my ABC poem with amazing illustrations by Chris Enterline

(click images for larger views, titles for information pages)

        

Scares That Care… awesome, all year, but inviting everyone to gather in their awesomeness for one weekend a year. See you there!

Inside the Isolation Tank

When Rebecca Snow isn’t working on her own writing, she interviews other writers on her website. Here is one such interview, with me!

I discuss Jack Ketchum, Kealan Patrick Burke, Stone Temple Pilots, Queens of Dogtown, and answer some fun new questions that made me think… really think… about things I don’t normally think about! Check it out here.

Last Rites

The Occult Detective, Bob Freeman, asked me to play along and I gladly agreed.

He said, “The premise is simple. My guests face their final rest, but before Death claims them they are granted a few earthly pleasures, the memories of which will travel with them into the great unknown.”

Last rites, the last wishes… your last meal, last book, last movie, last song. And then the twist I didn’t see coming, the first ______ after the fact. Interesting…

Come check out my answers

 


 

Wag the Fox and FLOATERS

I did an interview. I talked about stuff. And as sometimes happens, the website is no longer available, but I have the backup and am able to post the content for you. Here you go… a nice warm chat with Gef Fox of the old Wag the Fox website.


 

What was the spark behind Floaters?

It’s almost “where do your stories comes from” but not quite, which is usually very difficult to explain because it’s like asking a crazy person what’s wrong—but this time, I can actually answer that. The “spark” for Floaters came directly from a twisted childhood memory of the local graveyard floating away in the high waters of a spring thaw. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as that, but when you’re a kid, you imagine this crazy visual. I wrote that visual, and asked the question, what else was buried in there. And then I broke the riverbank free and let it all float out into the general public and cause havoc.

What was it about this book, if anything, that you approached differently from your previous titles?

 For starters, it’s closer to horror than some of my other works. Not quite the red shirt blood bath of Live Specimens, but definitely more than White Picket Prisons or Six Days, which are often called and generally considered thrillers with horrific elements, rather than horror. This is a monster, with tentacles, there’s no sugar coating that—it’s horror. Also, because it was based on a real graveyard with a twist on some real history, I had google maps printed and bodies plotted and my table looked a bit like a strategic war room.

Other than that, I knew from the very beginning that I never hated the monster. I loved it. I loved what it was, what it stood for, the pain and suffering it had gone through, and the general agony of its history and current situation. This monster was my nod to Frankenstein, and *spoiler alert* I didn’t want it to die but knew it had to, or I’d get yelled at for open endings and setting up sequels, neither of which this story needed.

What was the allure to Lake Superior as your setting?

I grew up on Lake Superior. I’m intimately familiar with her temperament, cold weather, bad attitude, and ability to change moods like a hormonally raging teenager. And yes, she does occasionally cough up her dead. Dotted along her shores are remnants of Indian settlements, mostly relocated by will or force to large reservations and other communal gatherings, but I know they’re there. In my wanderings, I’ve stumbled across the old foundations and forgotten grave markers. My bloodline includes Ojibwe Chippewa from the Bad River Tribe thick enough that I’ve had relatives on the council, and been to a powwow or three. Between the lake, the Indians, and the topography, there’s a rich history in that area just waiting to be tapped and given some monster to come crawling up from the depths.

I can’t say there’s been any “floating” mishaps with the graveyards in my neck of the woods. Well, there is the legend of Charles Coghlan’s coffin getting washed out to sea by a hurricane that hit Galveston, which floated all the way up from the Gulf of Mexico to his home of Prince Edward Island. So the story goes. Any odd local legends that compare in your stomping grounds?

No legend, there really were bones poking out of the ground at that mass grave on the hillside. They were still disrespectfully left exposed last time I was there doing research with my mom and taking pictures for the book, long before it even had a title. I’ve heard they’re planning on transporting them back to Wisconsin Point and I hope that actually happens.

Other crazy things? Well, I grew up being told horrible campfire tales my mother later pulled me aside to explain were real and based on Ed Gein, so there’s that. The lake has sunk a damn lot of ships, boats, and small craft other than the famed Edmund Fitzgerald and there was always the panic of something touching your foot in the water being not a fish. And then we had the Fairlawn Mansion (which is supposedly haunted), and the abandoned orphanage (haunted) I spent way too much time at as a teen that has now been torn down, and many tales of “bad things” in graveyards. Creepy area, deeply supernatural people, lovely fodder for a young overactive imagination.

How intensive does the research process get for you on a story like this? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Each project requires a different kind of research. If it’s completely fictional, fantastical, then you can just make up whatever you want. But if it’s specific, or touches on reality, then it’s a different story. Then it needs to read like reality. It may be location, it may be a people, tribe, or nationality you’re unfamiliar with, or it may be historical information to twist into a legend of your creation. Trick-wise, I try to do the research I think I’ll need before I even start, but there are times when you’re happily typing along and all of sudden you need a three hour lesson on Blah. Off to the internet you go, careful of rabbit holes and unnecessary side visits to social media, and you get through your on the spot research. It’s quicker than the days of stopping everything, packing up, going to the library, digging through the aisles and tomes, and then going back home—but there was something romantic about the library that the internet lacks.

With this one I did a bit of google image mapping for the area so I could logically plot out the creature’s feeding grounds and radius of travel, as well as have a visual for the line between the mass grave and Wisconsin Point, and know Granny’s house and trek to the cavern. There was a lot of research into the truth of that mass grave, rather than relying on my childhood memories. And there was a ton of fun research into Indian mythologies, because I had a monster I needed to be able to slip into that mythology logically and smoothly. Floaters, overall, probably had more research into different things than most. In comparison, my next project will have no research, as it can be located anywhere and relies on the people rather than the environment.

What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Kill your babies. Meaning, if you’re writing and you find you really love a turn of phrase, or a sentence strikes you as poetic and beautiful, you should immediately rewrite it because if you feel that way you’re not being objective and there’s something wrong with it. No. There’s more to it than that, but I wasn’t told that and it wasn’t explained to me properly, and there was no google way back when.

Horribly, I listened to that incorrectly and followed it for years, but it’s wrong when explained as just that. I think when it comes to the overly pretty turns of phrase, sentences, etc., if anything you should notice them and question what about it is so pretty, and why isn’t the rest of the work as attractive. What makes it stand out. It’s not an automatic death sentence, but rather a call to examine it. If it’s purple upon closer inspection, kill it, but if it’s not, then appreciate it came from somewhere inside and keep going. I have a couple I like. Not many, but a couple.

The phrase is talking about killing off prose that will improve your story. Not killing of a sentence here or there that you are fond of, but rather, overall improvements and admitting and willingly axing those things that drag the storyline, slow an arc, or otherwise do not further the story on a whole—even when you really like the sidebar, random character, offshoot, or whatever it is that requires a literary guillotine. Take it out. And for those new writers who don’t fully understand this phrase, please research it and get a full idea of what it means before you start randomly rewriting sentences just because they’re pretty.

Who do you count among your writing influences?

I’m actually technically influenced by what works for me, what scares me, because I wanted the ability to do that to others. So I would actually try and figure out why one thing scared me but another didn’t, and sometimes from the same author. But if I looked at what did work for me over the years, at what things I was drawn to, or authors I continued to return to, well then it becomes the broader definition.

And in that case, my influences go way back to kindergarten and Mary Shelley, then they bounce around my dad’s bookshelf full of HP Lovecraft and Dean R Koontz (note there’s still an R in there when I think of that time). Edgar Allen Poe and Emily Dickenson were discovered on my own and requested for Christmas and birthdays. I’m fairly certain I had the complete set of Nancy Drew at one point. A countless number of school bookclub purchases, including one I remembered only the cover for and spent twenty years tracking it down. And then there were the horror paperbacks of the 80s, my teen years and a time when my tender sensibilities didn’t always appreciate my horrific imagination, especially after sundown.

I remember some very specific books to this day, which can only mean they had an impact on me and influenced something: The Amulet (omg the laundry scene!), Baal, Howling 2 (which is completely not what the second movie was, so if you didn’t read the books, go do that), The Keep, Nathanial, Pet Sematary, Mirror, Phantoms, and probably more if I thought about it. Oh and the novelization of Halloween—that messed me up for a bit and led to a whole month at the library learning everything I could about the Celts.

When I started making friends with my mentors and becoming colleague to my influences, the lines began to blur, and my adult influences are mostly found on my friends list at this point.

What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Cooking? Projects? Well… I am currently working on Forgotten, a wonderful little tale about a young woman found with no memory and an empty car seat, but I have to finish it to know how much I can say after that without spoiling it. That will be the next thing out, and should be released in time for Christmas. After that, in no particular order because they’re all currently battling for alone time with the muse, are: The Man in the Moon (my coming of age tale), Magic Man (yeah supernatural ghouls), and a sequel to Wilted Lilies with the current working title Passages. We’ll see who wins…

My shenanigans are everywhere! www.kelliowen.com is a good place to start. From there you can reference any and all of my books and where to find them, as well as get to my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, find info about the podcast Buttercup of Doom, and for those paying attention, now there’s Wattpad as well.

Thanks for having me!

 

Wag the Fox interview – Wilted Lilies

Sadly, the website for this interview is no longer with us. Should you ever see that on this site, shoot me a note through the contact page so I can give it a proper burial—like this one. The website, the wonderful Wag the Fox, is kaput but the interview is not. I save everything. Remember that when passing me notes…

Here you go, an interview with Gef Fox


 

1. So Wilted Lilies was first presented as a four-part serial in Lamplight. Was it originally crafted as a serial?

In a word: Nope.

The longer version: I knew the story (had the outline) and had just started writing it, when I decided to read the opening at the local bookstore. Jacob Haddon from Lamplight Magazine was in the audience—he and I had been discussing me being his next serial novelist. After the reading he simple grinned at me and said, “yes, that one.”

Each section was to be between four and five thousand words per issue, so I just needed to cut the action somewhere in that area as a teaser for the next installment. It didn’t change the storyline at all really, though it may have changed the pacing of individual scenes just a touch.

2. If there’s a supernatural entity that trumps vampires and zombies in horror fiction, it’d have to be ghosts, I figure. Would you agree? What’s the allure for you to ghost stories?

I would absolutely agree that ghosts trump vamps and walkers. Because vampires and zombies are monsters, born of something else. But ghosts? They’re scarier than monsters, because ghosts were once human. If you listen to my podcast about ghosts (Buttercup of Doom ep 10) you know I also think demons and devils and such were once human as well. The fact they used to be human adds a touch of terror to the idea of a haunting or possession. This isn’t some spell or a monster dredged up from the pits of whatever. This was a person. Born, raised and died.

The other sketchy thing with ghosts is that they’re unknown, and there are no rules with the unknown. There is no lore or superstitions that carries across beliefs. Oh sure, some believe this or that to be rid of them, but it’s not universal. Ask someone how to kill a zombie: shoot them in the head. A vampire? Stake in the heart. A ghost? Well… if you believe in god, you can call a priest. If you’re Wiccan you do this. If you’re agnostic you do that. If you’re atheist you don’t believe in them in the first place (usually). No set rules for destroying, vanquishing, etc. Which means there’s no set way to fight them. And all that leads me to my favorite saying for the unknown and ghosts: how can you hope to fight that which you do not understand?

3. What kind of considerations if any did you have to give the story’s pacing in serial format, as opposed to it now being released in its entirely?

I’ve only experienced this once, with WILTED LILIES. The pacing wasn’t really changed so much as it was more carefully controlled by word count location. For instance, I knew Tommy was going to show up in the beginning of the tale because he’s important to the whole story, but to serialize it properly and leave that gulp in the reader’s throat, I needed to make sure his appearance landed after that first break.

I don’t use a true outline. I use a notepad file with thoughts, scenes, dialogue bits, etc. put into the order they’ll appear. Usually I follow that. For this one, those were broken into four larger areas, and I planned the breaks based on what was there. Then I gave each area a header, so I would know what story notes were in each section. I thought about putting them in here for you, but there’s no way to do it without spoiling storyline. In the end, the only thing that really changed was pacing near a break.

4. You’ve got quite a few novella notches on your gun belt now. While you don’t concern yourself with story length as you’re writing, once you have a novella in your hands, how have you found the internet age lending itself to selling and publishing that length of fiction?

I don’t know if it’s the internet age or not, but I’m glad they’re popular. In truth, most of mine were planned to be novellas, by request of the publisher—the four to Paul at Thunderstorm Books for the Waking The Dead collection (Grave Wax, Survivor’s Guilt, Buried Memories, and Crossroads), Wilted Lilies to fit the format of Lamplight, Deceiver was requested for the novella line of Dark Fuse, and The Hatch was expected to be a novella (as a sequel to a novella: Waiting Out Winter) but went longer than the rest to tell the story naturally. The only two to naturally land as novellas on their own were the first two: Waiting Out Winter and The Neighborhood.

The audience is obviously out there as the length was repeatedly requested, but I also personally enjoy the length. It’s a good way to tell a simple story concisely, without purple prose or forcing it to stretch to novel length. Most of the time an author can tell from the idea what length they “think” it will be based on the complexity or scope. When they get to the outline (if they use any type of method at all) they have a more solid idea as things start to twist and turn and unravel. At that point, some will decide to chop some and make it a short story, or add to it and bring it up to full novel. Once I get to outline, I just write. The characters tell me how long it will be. And the audience seems to be okay with me doing that, so I’ll stick to that.

5. In the acknowledgements preceding the actual story, you mention you’re not done with Lily May. Was she a character you saw yourself returning to from the get-go, or did she kind of impose herself on your imagination as you went along?

She’s a noisy one. I can actually her voice, little dirty twang and all. And I could from the first sentence. But worse than that, I started to hear the other characters she meets after the end of Wilted Lilies. One in particular, Caroline, is especially chatty.

Over the years I’ve heard requests for continued stories or the return of specific characters—Ryan from Survivor’s Guilt, Mark from White Picket Prisons, The Neighborhood, and Six Days are the most often mentioned. In truth, there are tidbits for some stories or characters among those requests, but I don’t know which will ever truly solidify enough to happen. Six Days probably has the best chance for a sequel. But outside those, Lily May jumps up and down in a place all her own.

Lily May had a sequel brewing before she was halfway done telling us Wilted Lilies. And if I’m to be truly honest, there’s more than just a chance she could turn into a serial character… it all hinges on what goes down in McMillan Hall.

6. I’ve seen you tinkering with Periscope. How has that experience been so far interacting with readers and others?

Outside of the fans with names I can see who interact directly with me, it’s creepy. Really. There’s no way around that fact. A little bit on the “skin-crawling, need a shower in bleach, new blackout shades, and maybe move to a new town and get a different name” side of creepy. It’s inviting stalkers to not only talk with you, but to look directly at you, or your eyes, hair, neck, whatever it is that gets them going, screenshotting their little creepy hearts out—and if you’re not careful, see your house, or surroundings, wherever you are at the time. Ack… creepy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the program is interesting and could be used for good. I watched a sunset in Rome, saw a man play piano in Australia (his own music), and giggled at the yelling at a fish market in Japan. But I also ran away from other things, which felt mildly voyeuristic if not downright stalkery. I don’t need to stare at strangers doing private personal everyday things, like eating, or watching television.

I could see using it for a Q&A or live reading again sometime, maybe. But considering a couple things that happened on the tail of me using it, I won’t ever do a public session again. I’ll invite everyone who’s following me and they can use the app where they have a name and face and aren’t an invisible stalker. Because *shudder* eww. Just eww. The idea of people clicking a link to log into the web and just watch anonymously, with no name, and without even having the ability to interact, is beyond creepy. I think it’s a huge flaw in their program, and it’s one of the reasons I won’t do publicly open sessions again. (Read as: if any of your readers ever want to periscope with me, they’ll have to follow me so I I can invite them)

7. You also have your new podcast up and running. With fourteen episodes of Buttercup of Doom in the can, do you feel you’ve found your footing and a feel for what you want the podcast to be about?

I would love to say “yes” or “god, I hope so” but I think those would both be lies. I never truly find my footing in anything—life, writing or otherwise. I’m in a constant state of movement and growth. I don’t expect the podcast to be any different. Also, I’m my own worst critic, so I’m constantly striving to be better than myself. I like to think they get better as you go, but I don’t want to think that will stop and they’ll just plateau. That sounds so boring!

I’m having fun with it. I’m still humbled anyone listens, but am delighted people are enjoying it.

8. Now, last time we talked on the blog, you had mentioned the projects coming to pass this year, including Wilted Lilies as well as your Waiting Out Winter sequel, The Hatch. But you also mentioned you were working on a novel or two. How is the progress on your Lovecraftian homage, Floaters, coming along?

Floaters is coming along. It will be done and handed in by Christmas, and out sometimes early next year. I really like this one, and I think the fans will, too. My patreons will get a sneak peek of it before it goes to print, so if any of your readers are interested there’s that tidbit.

Did I say Lovecraftian? I may have. Usually I say “love letter to Frankenstein but most people will think it’s a Lovecraftian thing.” Time will tell what people try to compare it to or call it as they analyze my thought process while writing it.

It’s monster horror, like Live Specimens. Maybe not as red-shirt and gory, but definitely more of a monster horror than quiet thriller. Much more.

And after that, another monster… though I’m not sure in which order. It’s either time for coming of age, the end of the world, voodoo, or those damn vampires. And then Lily can tell me all about Caroline.

And Thank you, for asking me to participate. Always a pleasure. 

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Travel Plans

—· Scares that Care ·—
August 2-4, 2019

—· Killer Con ·—
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—· Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival ·—
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