StarkLight 5 Winners!

We are pleased to announce that the winners of our latest, StarkLight  contest have been chosen!

This well-known anthology features an array of speculative fiction from authors around the world- including first time authors with special merit.

The winners are:

Chris Scott

Sergio Palumbo

Jason Pere

Neri Kemraj

Will Norton

Van Fleming

L.E. Caine

Tara O’Neill

Maude Welles

Alfie Elkins

Nicholas Vincenzi

Delaney Murdock

Alex Benitez Talks Superheroes

This week’s interview with one of the authors of The Irregulars is with American author, Alex Benitez. He took some time out of writing his epic vampire saga to talk about his Irregulars character, Kevin Parker- the teenager who can move faster than the eye can see.

You can watch Alex’s interview with StarkLight Press’ Tony Stark here:

Thanks again to Alex Benitez for taking the time to talk to us- and for his awesome T-shirt!

 

Blue Moon Season Release Date!

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Our first were-themed anthology is set to hit bookshelves in stores across North America on August 21, 2016!

This rollicking read features stories about transformation into anything… wolves, fossas, lamps… this anthology is filled with spine-chilling misadventures of people who tangled with the light of the full moon, and the monsters that emerge from it.

Featuring a bevvy of new authors, as well as StarkLight Press favorites, Blue Moon Season is perhaps our most horrifying, entertaining anthology to date!

Check into StarkLight Press all this week for interviews with our winning authors, including:

Piper Tadwell                                     Van Fleming

Mod Welles                                         Will Norton

Tara O’Neill                                        Jeren Nethers

Alfie Elkins                                        Virginia Carraway Stark

Nicholas Vincenzi                            Leanne Caine

Cathy Illes

and more!

Congratulations to all of our winning authors!

Look for Blue Moon Season Anthology August 21 on Amazon and Scribd, as well as in bookstores in British Columbia, Ohio, Ontario and California!

 

– Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.

 

Outermost Magazine July Reading Spree!

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To celebrate our monthly paranormal magazine, Outermost: A Journal of the Paranormal, StarkLight Press is happy to announce that all 8 titles are FREE for the month of July!

Kick back in the sun this summer and enjoy over two hundred pages of gripping, spine-tingling paranormal facts, articles and fiction short stories about topics like:

UFOs

Aliens

Angels and Demons

Psychics and Psychic Powers

and more!

You can find them online here, for FREE, only for July. Look for Issue 9, (also free for July) coming out on the 15th of this month!

https://www.scribd.com/document/317471527/Outermost-Vol-1-Issue-2

Blue Moon Season Contest Winners!

An official StarkLight Press congratulations to the winners of our were-being anthology, entitled Blue Moon Season!

This anthology features stories of transmogrification- each one has a transformation into something were… sometimes a wolf, sometimes a giant worm, sometimes a lamp. Each story will be certain to send chills down your spine; the entire anthology will make a gripping summer read!

Here are our winners:

Maria Gonzalez

Van Fleming

Jenn Spaulding

Alfie Elkins

Leanne Caine

Will Norton

Anna Brown

Leo McBride

Nicholas Vincenzi

Piper Tadwell

Cathy Illes

 

Congratulations to our new StarkLight Press contest winners!

– Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.

Virginia Carraway Stark and Her Posse of Great Ladies

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Virginia Carraway Stark has a diverse portfolio and has many publications. Getting an early start on writing, Virginia has had a gift for communication, oration and storytelling from an early age. Over the years she has developed this into a wide range of products from screenplays to novels to articles to blogging to travel journalism. She has been published by many presses from grassroots to Simon and Schuster for her contribution to ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible’ as seen on ABC. She has been an honorable mention at Cannes Film Festival for her screenplay, “Blind Eye” and was nominated for an Aurora Award.

She has written short stories in well over twenty anthologies as well as magazines, novels, poetry, poetry anthologies, blogs, journals and many other venues. She is Editor-in-Chief at StarkLight Press as well as for Outermost: Journal of the Paranormal. She formerly worked writing medical papers into language for the lay person and worked on scientific papers for numerous platforms and did professional editing as well.

https://virginiastark.wordpress.com/about/

https://www.facebook.com/Virginiacarrawaystark/?fref=ts

https://virginiastark.wordpress.com/contact-me/

Hi, Virginia, thanks for spending some time sharing insights into your writing today. The Great Ladies Anthology was impacting for everyone who worked on it, how did it impact you?

I ended up writing several stories for this anthology. A lot of people had a hard time with it as an assignment so I ended up with the whole spectrum of what could be considered, ‘great’. Great is a word we throw around without thinking about it much and when it is aptly applied to people, particularly historical people, it is a word with a lot of power to it. “Great Ladies” aren’t often very ‘nice’ ladies and that’s part of how they worked to become great. They had the will and the determination to manifest their light into a world that was predominantly ruled by men. That wasn’t an easy job and nice girls need not apply.

Some of the great ladies were truly great in their time, but Hitler was truly ‘great’ during his time too. He made a HUGE impact on the world and as we counted the toll after the war his ‘greatness’ grew and grew. He caused great horror, great death and great trauma. Nevertheless, he was still ‘great’.

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Queen Isabella of Spain was the great lady that I wrote that impacted me the most. She was strikingly like Adolph Hitler in how dogmatic, brutal, bloody and racist she was, and yet we owe much of the modern world to her impact on it. She shaped the world in her image and that is in the end greatness whether we want to admit it or not. Great also doesn’t mean likeable, politically correct or ethical.

Greatness is also influenced by the fashions and beliefs of the era. Isabella is the perfect example of this. She was following the ethics and morality of the Catholic Church and she obeyed the Pope in everything he told her to do. She came to the throne at a morally degenerate stage in Spain’s history. The country was in anarchy and her half brother had been weak willed but worse yet, far worse by Isabella and the Church’s standards, her half brother had also been gay.

Isabella honestly believed that she had to do anything the Church told her to save her brother’s soul and she didn’t care who she had to kill, invade or exile to do so. She invented the Spanish Inquisition, overran the largely peaceful area of Grenada that had been home to Muslims, killed or exiled all the Jews and then started in on heretics and witches.

But it gets worse.

Unlike Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Regime, there was a clear-cut beginning and an end to the horrors he caused. There was an end to the death and to his political power. Isabella, on the other hand, not only had a long and bloody rule but her standards for the Inquisition continued for HUNDREDS of years after her death. Isabella was buried and people were still being tortured, maimed, hunted and killed for their religion, their beliefs or just on the accusations of people who were afraid themselves of being burned at the stake and tortured. Or maybe having a finger pointed at you because someone, somewhere, doesn’t like you.

This is another area where Isabella’s ‘greatness’ smacked me hard in the face. She didn’t look for a way to kill millions as painlessly and efficiently as possible, she looked for ways to torture the human body to its utter limit to make the pain last as long as possible.

As I researched her I realized that she was great, but not in the way I had thought. Not in that way at all. She was a great killer and the most terrifying thing is that I’m positive she died believing she had done the will of God and would go to her reward in the afterlife for how incredibly great she was. Even now when we describe history’s greatest monsters I have never once heard Isabella of Spain referenced even though I’m sure she earned the title.

So, I guess to answer your question, the impact on me of Great Ladies was that first of all, I was thoroughly educated in the history of many women that I had a less than complete understanding of and second of all, I had to completely re-evaluate my concept of what the word ‘great’ was. I had to do this without being reactive and disgusted. I had to think about things from Isabella’s perspective and I had to most of all, not judge her, but be her. It was a queasy feeling but I think it made me a legitimately bigger person to learn and understand these less than desirable qualities of greatness.

What Ladies did you end up writing about?

Great Ladies was an invitation only event and we had a lot of people who just couldn’t do the job and so they dropped out. Some people found the lady that they had been given wasn’t a good match for them. If I could find a good match for the lady I would replace the person but the ones that were ‘lost’ I adopted and took onto myself to write. We also had a few people who had last minute problems and so I had to re-write stories after the fact to make up for this.

great ladies aphra behn virginia

The Great Lady that I actually drew was Aphra Behn. I had never heard of her before. I had looked up names of great ladies on the internet and wrote down their names, usually based off of how often they were listed. Aphra Behn was mentioned repeatedly and was a compatriot of Charles the Second of England. I was surprised I had never heard of her since this is a period in history that I have researched relatively thoroughly. She was truly amazing and after learning about her she became a hero to me. She was fearless, creative, beautiful and utterly loyal. I enjoyed the definition of ‘great’ much more in reference to Aphra Behn than I did to Isabella of Spain!

Isabella, I have, of course mentions, I also wrote Eva Peron, Catherine the Great and we will be editing in a new version of Joan of Arc that I will write for the second edition of this collection. If I have time I may also include Elizabeth Woodville. We lost both of those stories, one to plagiarism and one to grumpiness of the writer involved.

great ladies marie curie virginia

How did you deal with those last minute re-writes?

Everyone was shocked to find the original author for Elizabeth Woodville had plagiarized her story. When it was run through a plagiarism checker it came up as 99% plagiarized! I think the one percent that wasn’t was probably just the author putting her own name on the story. The author denied the accusations vehemently even when she was shown the results of the checker and an interview that clearly states what Phillipa Gregory made up and what was on the historical record. The author had just read Gregory’s novel and counted it as historic research and claimed fictional thing from Ms. Gregory as her own creation.

We were mortified! We had trusted the woman involved and when we ran her other stories through checkers the worst came up as 15% plagiarized so, she could write, she just decided that she liked Phillipa Gregory’s story so much that she would take it for herself. How she thought she would get away with it? I have no clue. Pure delusion is the only conclusion I can come to. Gregory’s book The White Queen (which I had read and lead to us running it for plagiarism), is being turned into a mini-series so stealing from it was beyond self destructive. The fact that she thought she wouldn’t get caught out when it was not only from an extremely well known and respected historical novelist but also a mini-series suggested to me that their may have been some mental instability involved.

As for the Joan of Arc story, the author of that one made it plain that he wasn’t happy and then demanded free books and I think was looking for a position as an editor. It was unpleasant and rude and that’s why my husband started a press, so we wouldn’t have to work with jerks. So we cut his story from the second edition and my story will be made available instead.

We don’t like people who undermine and make power grabs at our press. When it comes down to it I would rather help a new writer blossom than a more experienced writer whine and moan at me about every little thing. There comes a point where if you are that critical of the people you work with, then you should spare everyone (including yourself) and just go somewhere else where hopefully you can be happy. Some people, however are happiest when they are miserable lol!

What are your thoughts on doing a sequel to Great Ladies? Who would you pick?

I would definitely like to be involved in a sequel. As for who I would pick for a great lady this time around, I have no clue. There are so many women who are largely unacknowledged or who were in the firs anthology and such a small slice of their life was written about that it would be great to write more about them.

Women come from an angle in history that is totally different from men. There are these huge hurdles that come up before they even get to the meat of the problems of life. With men there is a problem and they can either attain success or not. With women, there is this whole other aspect to things where you have to prove that you even belong on the chessboard before you can start to play.

How did this contrast with the ‘Game Changers Anthology’ due to come out for Labor Day?

I answered some of this one earlier, of course. When writing about men you can kind of cut right to the chase but with women there is always the ‘proving’ stage. It’s kind of assumed that men belong while with women, in nearly any situation you have to make room for yourself.

I chose Leonardo Da Vinci for the Game Changer’s anthology. He’s a fascinating historical figure and had a lot of ideas that seemed to be utterly out of time and space. He was like a time traveler to the era. I think that’s why I chose him, in a way, he starts out of place like a woman does. He had ideas that couldn’t be enacted because they just didn’t have the technology to measure up to what he believed was possible. He was a dreamer and he was out of phase with the rest of the world.

In this way, I find my choice for Game Changers similar to the Great Ladies Anthology because unlike most men, he didn’t fit in with the other men around him. The way he thought, the way he acted and his beliefs in the impossible made him an outsider who had to bend himself out of shape to play by the established rules of the time.

As a mother’s day gift, how do you think ‘Great Ladies’ measured up?

I think that it’s a pretty cool mother’s day gift. It’s hard to express to our mothers how deeply they impact us for good and ill in our lives. Even if a mother dies during childbirth or if a child is given up for adoption, ever action their mother takes is ‘great’. They are our creators and for all the amazing things they do they can mess us up too.

This anthology, as an actual mother’s day gift makes a statement that is deeply profound and possibly, just a little bit insulting but mainly aggrandizing. It is a way to say to our mothers that they are everything to us, their actions affect us on a cellular level from the very start and they can be queens, commoners, monsters or a combination of all three. They can be any thing to us and accepting our mothers as human beings that are capable of evil as well as good is both a high compliment and acknowledgment as well as a realization that they are human and capable of destroying us more than anything else.

Any closing thoughts to share?

This was to date the most challenging of all the anthologies I have been involved with. Other than novels, I have never had to bend my mind around so many corners to understand the essence of people. The histories of these women, their childhoods alone were remarkable. The heights that they rose to were astounding and doing it in the past, where the world was even more of a ‘man’s world’ than it is today makes everything they accomplished exponentially remarkable.

I still think about what I learned from writing about these women frequently even still and I think for everyone involved that these women moved into our heads in a lot of ways. 

Will Norton and Boudicca

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StarkLight Press author Will Norton has penned some truly gripping tales of horror, science fiction and historical hypothesis for us over the years. For Great Ladies, he wrote a piece about Boudicca. Here is a bit about Will Norton, and his interview with Virginia Carraway Stark.

William Norton grew up in Vancouver B.C. And has spent the past few years working in the oil industry north of Fort Saint John. He usually writes stories that are uniquely and specifically from his perspective, his characters often share his name. He writes when he has time but spends most of his time working and being filthy. His hobbies include sleeping to catch up with sleep when he’s not working. Based off the current trend he suspects he will soon have more time for writing and social media than in the past which would be great if he didn’t have truck payments.

Hi Will, Thanks for being with us today for this live interview!

Thanks for having me, I give no guarantees on anything I do ‘live’. Editing is my friend.

That’s ok 🙂 Why don’t you start by telling us how you felt about writing Boudicca when you drew her as ‘your’ Great Lady?

Well, at first I was given Catherine The Great and I thought that one would be really easy to do. There was so much to her story and of course, there was so much scandal around her. When I started researching Catherine I had only really heard that she loved horses so much that she died fucking one. That turned out to be complete bullshit, by the way.

There turned out to be so much information on Catherine that I got overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start with her so I hung my head in shame and asked for a redraw. When I got Boudicca I knew nothing at all about her except that everyone says her name differently. When I started to look into her I found out that Boudicca is the most modern understanding of the interpretation of her name and how it is (they think) supposed to be pronounced.

I found out that most of what we know historically about Boudicca is from the Roman records so everything was pretty biased. She planned all theses battle campaigns and caught the Romans with their pants down time after time. No one really knows how she died in the end, but after she started to lose wars her daughters died and she died shortly after, there was speculation that maybe Boudicca poisoned them all to save them from being raped (again) by the Romans.

I still had a lot of choices to write about but I decided almost right away that I didn’t want to write about the battles. Battles are hard to write and it’s the before and after part of them that really matter. When you’re having a fight you’re so hyped on adrenaline that you don’t know what happened until after when you try to figure out where all the bruises and broken bones came from. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience, of course.

That left me with the beginning or the end of her life to write about and the idea of writing about either her or someone else poisoning her and her daughters made me queasy. Dying from poison is usually slow and I’m pretty sure that right after doing it there’s a lot of, “What did I just do? Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” Then that’s followed by, “This hurts way more than the bottle said it was going to, holy shit, yep, this really hurts.” Then comes the crapping and puking and the realization that you’re going to be found covered in your bodily fluids and you realize that this really sucks and it’s really too late to do anything about it. There, I just wrote the end of their lives. Now imagine that is slow motion, I’m not that sadistic so I wrote about a mother watching her daughters get raped instead.

The concept of writing about women getting raped as an ‘inspiration’ point has a lot of criticism behind it. How did you feel about writing that part of things?

I thought, well, it happened and it was what made Boudicca go ape shit and who can blame her. People can talk about ‘tired tropes’ all they want but that sort of thing happens and I think that its a good reminder that ‘hell hath no fury than a woman who you rape her daughter in front of’.

I get it that people are tired of hearing about and want more complex back stories and for that I should have stayed with Catherine The Great. The thing is, I know women who have been raped and I’ve seen the devastating effects on their psyches from it. I’ve seen women get revenge on their rapists, I’ve known guys (I don’t want to get into trouble here so lets leave it at, ‘I’m talking about friends, not me’) who have gone after rapists. I also know that the women involved aren’t happy if someone else goes and makes the guy pay, they want revenge for that sort of thing in an up close and personal way.

It’s a ‘tired trope’ to talk about rape and the effects it has on women and that makes me sick. It’s only tired because it keeps happening. It keeps happening only because some guys seem to think that it’s something that is either their right or that ‘it’s just sex, what’s the big deal’. I’ve heard guys say that, I work in the bush and some of those guys are really rough characters, the sort of thugs most people will only meet briefly or in prison. Or at least, that’s the way it should be. Rape is still talked about so much because it happens so much. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away and I find calling it a ‘tired trope’ kind of like saying, “I’m tired about hearing about your problems so go away”. Rape isn’t going away and it’s still hard to prove and even harder to prosecute.

I think you only get to call something a ‘tired trope’ when it’s no longer a common part of society. It happens a lot. It happens to women and sometimes to men as well. I think that putting it out there that there are consequences is a good thing.

You wrote your story from the first person. How hard/easy was it for you to see things from the eyes of a woman?

I’m not sure about that one. I thought about what women I know have told me and I’m a pretty good listener, or I like to think I am.

If I saw something like that happen to my daughters I would like to think I’d have the courage to act even a little bit like Boudicca did. I don’t have any kids but its not hard to imagine how I would feel about it, even a little bit. I’m not sure that I could ever capture the rage Boudicca must have felt, I don’t think anyone who did see her rage lived long enough to talk about it.

The good thing is that Boudicca’s revenge was a warriors revenge and I could relate to going and making ‘them all pay’ for a crime committed against my family with violence. I hope those words are never read back to me in court, by the way.

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So you think you would have reacted like Boudicca did to the crimes against herself and her daughters?

I like to think so, I’m not sure though. It was such a fucked up situation. The Celtic laws clashed so much with the Roman ideas that women were just evil things sent from the gods to tempt men. The Celts were matriarchal in their lines and for most of the tribes it wasn’t a big deal to give inheritances and titles to their daughters or wives. The Romans didn’t just beat the crap out of Boudicca and rape her daughters, they also proved to their tribe that they were conquered as hell and that none of their culture or laws mattered anymore. That part must’ve stung almost as much as the rest.

Their tribe has successfully fought the Romans for ages and then, when they finally sought a peaceful resolution and capitulation it wasn’t enough for the Romans, they wanted to rub some salt into those wounds and make their point clear. That point was that: You guys are our bitches.

It wasn’t a civilized response (to make the understatement of a couple of millennium). The symbolism of the act was the point of the act and it was to tell the Isceni tribe that they didn’t have any culture anymore. They didn’t have anything. It was the real start of the eradication of Celtic laws and traditions. The beginning of the end in many ways. I guess they call those watershed moments. The Romans paid for it big time but there were too many of them for Boudicca to win against ultimately and when her rage stopped carrying her the Roman war machine ran her and her army over. It was sort of the style of the day.

Any final thoughts on Boudicca and what you wrote? Anything you would change?

It’s a haunting story. It stuck with me after I was done writing it, I guess all tragedies do that. It was a fucking tragedy and it brought home the fact that for all the glamorizing of Roman civilization they had all they had through taking it from others and slavery. The fact that so much of our civilization is modeled after their civilization just goes to prove that there is a real streak of monster in humanity. There is a part of us that still believes that ‘might makes right’ and that it’s ok to make someone your slave. It’s ok to conquer and that the most heartless and cruel are the ones that rise to the top. If you aren’t willing to be a corrupt piece of shit, chances are you won’t ever be in a position to make change and that means that we aren’t a nice species at all.

It also explains the ‘tired trope’ of rape. It’s I’m stronger than you so I can just take what I want, errr, what my dick wants, that is.

It’s not going to go away while any part of our mind or civilization thinks that might makes right. It’s never going to go away unless people are punished for believing that these things are anything like ok. We’ve got a lot of problems and this is the root of a lot of them. Women are the ones who make all of us and so long as they’re treated like less, or like strength over women gives anyone the right to do what we want to them, we are hurting the sources of life, the sources of our whole species. It’s so self destructive of us as a species to hurt the women who are the only ones who can continue our species that it messes with my head.

This ‘tired trope’ is the basis of so much of human history that it has to be talked about because if we ever get tired of talking about it as something wrong, a way we are scarring our very species, it’s never going to go away. That’s leaving the individual element of the human herself who hurt in this way out of it and trying to appeal to humanity on a global level.

I don’t think writing about Boudicca is going to make that element of society go away but it made me think and I think about the things I hear the other guys say in a new light. I guess I’m hoping that Boudicca will hear them and come back to show them what ‘some bitch’ could do to fuck them up.