StarkLight Press Makes Book Launches Shine!

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Many thanks to our intrepid, sociable authors who helped to make the Merely This, Poe Goes Punk book launch sparkle over the weekend!

 

In addition, StarkLight was pleased to take part in a second charity book launch on Sunday, Stardust Always, a compendium of David Bowie/Alan Rickman centric fiction. While Stardust Always is a charity book with proceeds that go to Cancer Research, Merely This proceeds go to Paws for a Cause.

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Each anthology began with a short story contest with open submissions from authors all over the world. Both works featured excellent tales by Virginia Carraway Stark, and Merely This included a tale by Tony Stark as well. These two StarkLight authors were joined at the launch parties for both books by a bevvy of fellow authors, including:

Jenn Spaulding

Van Fleming

Krista Michelle

Will Norton

Leanne Caine

Alfie Elkins

What a turnout for our fellow anthology-makers! StarkLight Press wants to thank all of our authors who took the time to chat with fans and drop-ins at the launches. In addition, our authors took time to host great contests that included e-copies and print copies of StarkLight Publications!

Winners for our plethora of contests will be announced in the coming week as results are tabulated.

Congratulations to all the authors, editors, layout artists, artists and publishers who took part in the crafting of these two fine anthologies!

Thanks again to all the great talent that makes StarkLight Press The Center of the Media Galaxy!

Proud to have you all on board 🙂

-Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.

Christopher Ryan Talks with StarkLight Press

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Christopher Broom is an award winning author, freelance fiction editor and host of Writing Without Limits video series available on YouTube. He is well known for his support of other authors on his facebook writer’s page https://www.facebook.com/groups/611602735649133/ where he and collaborates with Brian Paone to mentor and support writers in all different stages of their careers.

You can find Christopher on the Internet at the following locations:

Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ChristopherBroom-Author
Twitter: @Cbroom_Author
Here’s his interview with Virginia Carraway Stark below:

Hi Christopher, thanks for joining us at StarkLight Press!

I understand that you are best known for your mentoring despite the fact that you are a prolific writer yourself. How did you first get involved in the mentoring process?

Thank you for having me! I’ve always loved education. I’ve felt if I can do one thing it would to be help people by educating them. Mentoring the aspiring writers on Facebook through the Fiction Writing page allows me to do just that. My partner Brian and I spend an inordinate amount of time showing new writers not only the structural nuances of writing but also the technical aspects as well. By doing so and watching those writers succeed by finding publication outside of the Fiction Writing page I get a feeling of great pride and it’s that feeling that keeps me going.

What do you feel you get out of the mentoring? Do you learn from it?

I learn from it every day! I get to meet so many amazing writers, I get to understand their process, what makes them tick and why they write what they write. Mentoring is one of the best things I could have done with my life.

Do you ever get frustrated that in assisting other authors it takes away from your own writing time or are you able to find a balance?

You know it’s definitely a balancing act that takes a lot of work to get right. While I love mentoring I do find that it monopolizes my spare time quite a bit. Sometimes I wish there were more hours in my day so I was able to do everything I want to do without having to put something aside but it is what it is.

What is the most common thing you notice about new writers?

So many new writers believe they can write the next big trilogy blockbuster akin to The Hunger Games or Twilight or even a series like Harry Potter. I have to constantly remind them that the narrative has to be worthy of continuing and most books, even famous trilogies and series could have been reigned back in to one or maybe two books. They don’t always listen and firmly believe their books will break the mold. It’s almost heartbreaking to watch them realize their fantastic trilogy simply won’t work.

What is the biggest mistake, in your opinion, that a new writer can make?

Believing they know more than those that have come before or they don’t have to follow standard rules of fiction simply because Stephen King doesn’t. I have to remind them they are not Stephen King or V.C. Andrews or Issac Asimov or any number of famous authors. I can only hope they listen but more often than not they have to fail and learn the hard way.

What is your best advice to new writers?

Read in your genre. Absolutely. So many new writers want to write science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical reinterpretations or any number of genres but they don’t read current or classical works in those genres. How can one write science fiction if they’ve never read anything from Asimov or Bradbury or Updike? The same can be said of any genre. If you want to write, read.

Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Fiction Writing‘ Facebook page and the atmosphere you and Brian have created there?

Fiction Writing came about as a new home for writers who simply enjoy the challenges inherent in writing fiction no matter the genre. When we first came together as a community we simply wanted to support each-other but over the past year we’ve exploded in growth and now we’re both an educational community where Brian and I educate new writers in every facet of writing and we’re also an independent publishing house through Scout Media Publications. Through Scout Media, owned and operated by Brian Paone and supported by me, we highlight the best authors on the Fiction Writing page and publish them into an anthology of short stories every year. Last years A Matter of Words anthology has been well received and several authors have gone on to promising publishing careers. We’re hoping for similar results with A Journey of Words releasing this fall.

How did you and Brian meet? How do you work together?

I met Brian through a similar writing community on Facebook and once we realized we were spending so much time helping others we decided it was something we wanted to continue. When some Facebook drama happened that forced us to create our new page, Fiction Writing, we continued with the lessons we had begun on the previous page. Since then we’ve gone from a scant 350 members to well over 3,000 and growing!

Christopher is well known not only for his mentorship but also for his own fiction, in particular short stories. Below is an excerpt from a short piece:

‘Sometimes, high among the clouds, I forget about the Tick Tock Man and the picture books. Sometimes I simply circle the sky reveling in the gifts of the Splicers. I see my parents from on high. My mother with her powerful legs straining against the weight of the old iron plow. My father, his tail wagging, dances alongside her ever vigilant towards those who may slink or slither by seeking an easy meal. Carnal instincts often overpower good judgement. ‘

-Excerpt from, ‘Mechanical Me, Mechanical You’.

Can you tell us a little bit about, ‘Mechanical Me, Mechanical You’? What inspired it?

I took a fairy tale course during my time at Arizona State University and I was enthralled with the different styles of fairy tale adaptions from well-known current authors. When it was my turn to create my own original tale I wanted to create something visually striking while bending traditional rules of fiction. So I did away with traditional dialogue in favor of something a little more streamlined as well as classical, to adhere to fairy tale conventions. I ended the piece on a dark note because classic fairy tales were not the Disney versions we’re used to and I wanted to stick to tradition as much as I could. When the course ended I took Mechanical Me, Mechanical You and made some subtle changes to its core mechanics and then released it to my blog where it has and continues to receive, rave reviews.

About how many short stories have you published?

Over a twenty-year career I have published nearly one every year. Unfortunately, many of my earlier works have appeared in magazines that are no longer in print, the companies no longer exist so it’s been a challenge to track them down. Currently I have a collection of short fiction available titled, Through the Eyes of Another, available in paperback and eBook. You can also catch one of my stories in the upcoming Scout Media anthology, A Journey of Words to be released this Fall to bookstores everywhere.

Where is the best place to find your fiction? Do you have any anthologies of fiction or plans for anthologies in the future?

My current anthology, Through the Eyes of Another is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon and you’ll find me in the upcoming Scout Media anthology, A Journey of Words this fall. I also have plans for a second full anthology titled Where Light Refuses to Shine to be released hopefully sometime in 2017.

What are some of your favorite pieces of short fiction and why?

So many and you’re making me choose? I suppose my favorite pieces have been ‘For a Breath I Tarry’ which is a science fiction adaptation of the western creationist tale. While it may have religious undertones, and I’m not religious in the least, I felt the story was beautifully penned and you’ll be hard pressed to find better prose. ‘Those Who Walk Away from Omelas’ by Ursula LeGuin is dark and beautiful and makes one think about our own lives and what we sacrifice in order to achieve it. Lastly, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins has to be in my top five favorites. The way Perkins writes about feminine struggles during a time when a woman’s period was thought to be a sign of the devil is something I will never forget about.

Find the rest of Christopher Broom’s short story and more free and more about his other short stories, other writing as well as blogs and reviews at his author page:

http://christopherrbroom.wix.com/author

Christopher Broom’s upcoming ‘God Killer Chronicles’ is his first major novel:

Rian, weary of the road, sighed in relief as the dim lights he had spied earlier, partially hidden by a copse of tress became brighter highlighting his dusty face and the elongated muzzle of his hashuan mount, Wyndameir. Tossing a rope about the beast’s neck and tying the loose ends around a sturdy tree trunk Rian had to pat the animal’s neck as it kicked its six powerful legs into the dirt. Wyndameir continued to whine and protest as Rian pushed against a large wooden door and strode inside the only establishment between the port city of Corvega to the south and the Bashalian controlled lands to the north and beyond.

Mulvars had benefitted greatly from the unification of the four ruling houses of Immur. The House of Automata of Hymbari, The House of the Mystic Craft of Anuar’Bashal, The House of Sovereigns of Sika and The House of the Silver Sword of Corvega. Rian saw the effects of the unification in the patrons of the two-story watering hole. A group of hooded Bashalians mingled openly with three Hymbari hybrids. The Hymbarian women were showing off their implanted automata including limbs that had been replaced with an amalgamation of colored metals, wires and in the joints where the elbow connects the upper and lower arm, a ball of swirling colored energy bounced back and forth in its crystalline enclosure. Their upgrades tripled their strength, Rian overheard one of them say as he passed by and then one of the women grabbed her companions body length polearm and bent the thick metal until it resembled the letter ‘L’ and then she bent it back leaving it as it smooth as it had been before.

In exchange, the Bashalian’s showcased their talents. They began by levitating one of the thick and heavy tomes they carried with them. The books turned their own pages until it settled somewhere in the middle. Of the two Bashalians, a woman whose face was kept partially hidden underneath her thick cowl began to trace her finger along a line in her floating book. She then uttered a series of guttural noises that emanated from deep within her then slowly at first but quickening in pace she began to split apart. Her skin popped and tore but instead of blood or entrails her separation of self brought on three identical images. All four versions of the young woman mimicked the motions of the others much to the delight of the Hymbarian women as well as the rest of the patrons around Mulvars who erupted into a cacophony of applause and shouts.

Soldiers of the Silver Sword, guardians of Corvega, laughed and swallowed large gulps of chilled tipik alongside well-dressed men and women, sovereign bankers of Sika.’

-Excerpt from The Godkiller Chronicles by Christopher Broom


Wow, that’s quite the start to a story. Can you tell us a little bit about the plot of
‘The Godkiller Chronicles’?

So The Godkiller Chronicles follows the tale of Rian Cor’Va’Shar, a lone mercenary travelling the wilds of Immur in search of personal redemption for creating an entirely new race of people. I would say more but hopefully that little teaser and the excerpt will whet your appetites enough.

What was your inspiration for this book?

I take inspiration from everything. But, the stories of Avatar: The Last Airbender and its heavy use of Asian mythology helped me to build the backbone of the Godkiller Chronicles as well as the powers found in the book. I also take inspiration from author R.A. Salvatore and more specifically his Dark Elf series of books.

Why did you decided to make the leap from short stories to novels? How does it feel to be making a novel versus a short story?

Novels are so much harder. I think I’ve written upwards of sixty drafts for The Godkiller Chronicles, I wish I was kidding. Balancing each act and building towards a dramatic climax is something not typically found in shorter works so having to bring those elements, which aren’t something I’m used to, into this new endeavor has been a challenge but I think the results are paying off!

What has been your favorite thing about having the longer medium to write in?

I have so much more room in which to build my characters which is a nice change. I also have more freedom in in the pace of the book. Instead of rushing towards the action in order to come to a respected conclusion like I would in a short story, I can now add in slower scenes that do nothing more than expand on my characters.

When will ‘The Godkiller Chronicles’ be available and how can we buy it?

Hopefully soon! In all seriousness I have been in contact with several agents from DAW Books and they too are anxiously awaiting the final draft.

In addition to mentoring, short stories, interviews, reviews, blogs, you also have a YouTube Channel where you address issues related to writing. Can you tell us about what inspired you to go in front of the camera and start teaching other from what you had learned?

I’m always seeking new ways to reach my students. Whether I’m in front of 30 people in a classroom or 30 million on Youtube, the premise is the same. Educate. The videos have taken a back seat while I shift my focus to more pressing matters, preparing for the final stages of the A Journey of Words Anthology but I have ideas for around ten videos that I hope to record in the next 6 months to a year. Beyond that? I’m currently undecided. I have a Udemy.org course where I will be teaching the basics of story editing beginning in September so maybe after that I’ll return to the video series.

Where can people go to find your channel and subscribe?

Exclusively on Youtube first and then on my professional blog a week later. Simply search for Writing Without Limits on Youtube.

So far, we’ve learned a lot about your writing, but what about you as a person? Who is Christopher Broom away from the keyboard?

A massive gamer and a goofball. I love playing with my kids and my German Shepard, Zelda. I’m also a husband who adores his wife. When I’m not writing, teaching or editing you can find me lost in some digital world or another. One of my favorites lately has been the Witcher series of games which follows the story of Geralt the White Wolf. The games are of course digital adaptations of the Polish novels of the same name. Seems no matter what I do, I can’t escape books.

How do you feel about your real life versus your writing worlds?

My real life is actually pretty normal and unassuming. I work a full time job (not creative related), I spend time with my kids and wife, I take my dog for walks, I listen to music and play video games. Out in public you’d be hard pressed to find anything outrageous about me.

How much do you draw from real life?

Not much to be honest. I find reality to be fairly mundane in the “everyday” aspect.

Do you feel your writing affects how you deal with your personal relationships and your general outlook on the world?

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. There have been several instances in which I would see something on the news or have an argument with my wife or the kids are driving me nuts and would turn to the pen to vent my frustrations in some fictional world through the eyes of some fictitious character. This has led to some interesting conversations with people who assume some stories have been written expressly about them. Even if they were right, I wouldn’t admit to it.

Tell us something that you’ve never told anyone ever before?

I’m massively jealous of people who can dance.

If you had a small duffel bag and had to fill it with everything you would need to live happily on a deserted island with a thriving ecosystem, what would you bring?

A Nintendo 3DS with an everlasting battery and Wifi, a bottle of everlasting scotch, my collection of science fiction (hardcover, 1200 pages), a series of pens and a stack of notebooks.

You’re told in addition to your backpack, at the last minute you’re allowed to bring anyone with you that you want, or 200 lbs of books. Which would you choose? Who would you bring or what would be the top books to start taking up weight (and no, you can’t put them on your kindle ;))

Tough question to answer! If I didn’t say my wife and she read this interview, I think she’d be quite peeved so of course I’m going to say my wife. However, if I couldn’t bring my wife I would take all 200lbs of books simply to preserve my own sanity.

Any final thoughts?

Thank you for having me, it’s been a pleasure. For those aspiring to stand where I’m standing now, keep writing, keep reading, always plug away at your projects and never lose sight of why you’re writing. It isn’t about the money or the fame or the million-dollar movie deals, it’s about the literature.

~Keep writing for writing is sustenance for the soul~

Quality Time with L.E. Caine

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L.E. “Leanne” Caine is a recalcitrant author who has submitted some truly remarkable work to StarkLight Press. Her classic tale of a LoveBot who gets self-determined during Valentine’s Day is no exception.

Leanne Caine is from Kamloops, British Columbia. She has been a ghost writer for a number of years. Recently, she has started working under her own name and has published in various magazines as well as from Starklight Press. Her day job is in the world of customer service which is why she generally avoids all human contact when not at work. She has a young daughter who is the center of her world. Other than that she is a practicing pagan and eccentric witch. She practices herbology and has a garden that she has learned to use intensively to provide safe, healthy vegetables and herbs for her and her daughter.

You can read an excerpt of her story for Hearts Asunder here:

He put it on and I traced the profile of the woman on the cameo with my fingertips. I had glanced at her briefly but I pulled up the details in my inner screen and looked at the optic footage again. She was a lady, her head held high and her bearing one of dignity.

“Thank you, Del, it’s nearly perfect.” It was more somber than anything else I owned, my belongings were few and mostly designed for the bedroom. It was a grown up thing too. Oddly respectful of the man who had given me a ‘Mrs. Clause’ Corset and panty set with Santa hat for Christmas a few months before.

“Nearly?” He went and got another bottle of wine. He liked fine wine but always struggled with getting the cork out.

“Yes, I had imagined for a moment that it would be a ring,” I said.

He stopped his struggle to look at me, “You thought I was asking you to marry you?” He asked, his voice shocked.

“I didn’t really, because you only think of me of a thing, but I had hoped, just for a minute, that maybe you loved me.” I returned to my now cold lobster tail. It was nearly plucked clean now anyway but it was my new favorite food.

 

Leanne answered our interview questions below:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    So many. I’m a single mom and honestly so jaded by the dating scene, I hate it. I’m not saying that I will never have a meaningful relationship, but I am thinking it. Seriously, I’ve met so many nuts out there that after a point I have to wonder how anyone is ever compatible ever. I had one guy break into my house in some sort of ‘grand gesture’ and scare the hell out of daughter. Thank gods he was just a needy freak and not a knife wielding psycho, or lobster fork wielding psycho.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    Because love sucks. It gets you all excited and if it fails it’s already that they’ve ripped your heart out and thrown it at feet. How to explain that to someone who has never experienced it?? You almost wish they’d kill you if you actually fall in love and then they leave you. Love is a horror story waiting to happen, writing one was more a matter of ‘which one’ than of finding inspiration for it.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    Blind dates. Or just dates. I’ve been on so many and yes, I have had violent fantasies about doing horrible things to the person who just ate my evening. Fortunately I’ve written them down to avoid doing hard jail time (I’ve got a daughter to think about).

    If you’ve gone on a bad date you know how it is. You have the awkward. You have the weird. You have the sudden declarations of the bizarre, frightening or messed the hell up. I think that dating is traumatizing and to deal with it I’ve had to learn to disassociate. It’s not healthy.

    I’ve felt this way on dates, I’ve felt like a robot on dates, I’ve felt like a cake on a platter waiting to be gobbled up by the wolf across the table from me.

 

Will Norton: Roughneck, Writer, Historian

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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 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.

 

In addition to writing, Will enjoys looking into the history behind our current holidays, customs and society. It was through his researches that he developed his story for Hearts Asunder, which is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the death of St. Valentine. Here’s an excerpt:

 

September had wandered into October by this time and Constantine treated Valentine as he would one of his own sons. He was impressed by the boy’s quick mind and envious of his charisma. Boniface had been charismatic as well and the boy orated and lectured in his father’s cadences. Valentine wasn’t the only one sending letters. Constantine had sent letters to Boniface, telling him of his sons poor situation and the fate that the one god had felt fit to thrust upon him. Boniface agreed to take him back as his heir if Constantine could get rid of the boy’s silly notions and get him agree to come home and to marry.

In a fit of genius Constantine negotiated with Boniface that Valentine would take his blind daughter has his bride if he succeeded in returning Boniface’s only son and heir to him. Constantine could see how badly Boniface missed his son when the man agreed to this term. If Constantine could only show Valentine the error of his ways, all would be well.

Lucy had noticed Julie’s prowess at finding her way around but even she underestimated how well Julie could find her way through her home when she chose.

It was late in October and her infatuation had increased. She had many conversations with Valentine and knew he was obsessed with the one god but she still wanted him for her own. Much of their conversations had been about the man on the cross. Valentine feeling that if he could convince the daughter he would have someone to help him convince Constantine to come around to the true faith.

The conversations bored her but his voice was what she listened to, not his words. Other times he would sit in the garden with her and they would talk about the flowers. He taught her to name them by touch, taking her small, childlike hands in his to guide her to their petals. He described their beauty and their colors, laughing at himself when he discovered how hard it was to explain these things to someone who had no sight.

He took to comparing them to textures. Pale blue was the cold water from the well and dark blue was the warm water of a bath. Red was the stones around the hearth. Brown was the feel of the bark of an olive tree.

Will also answered our interview questions:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    I’m not sure if you’d call it a horror story, more misplaced intentions and a lot of ‘can’t believe my good luck’ and then shit went down. I met this girl at a local bar, took her home with me and she stuck around. I was pretty excited when I found out that having girl in the house meant I got sex way more than without girl in house. Having made this realization I made to effort to make her leave and then left for the bush. This happened a few more times and then one time I came home and we had been together long enough to be considered common-law. I was only at home for three weeks of the six months but never mind that. Legally she could claim we were ‘married’. I came home out of the bush and found all my stuff on the front lawn and she called the cops on me when I tried to come in and find out what the hell was going on. That was the most expensive girl I ever met at a bar and I still have to pay her some of my pay check. Bitch. (I hope she reads this because I’m petty), is this a horror story? With the oil industry slow down it’s sure starting to be. I miss my house.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

Trust. Like I said up above. You trust someone, I don’t pretend that I loved her. She was a girl I met at the bar and she did things to my body that I liked. Stupid. That’s it, love makes us stupid and because we all forgive stupidity in the name of love we are more stupid than usual.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

I almost wrote a vicious story about my ‘ex’ but then this idea was suggested to me by Leanne Caine. The cover for the book was screaming out for someone to write this story and for some crazed reason she thought of me. This story was completely out of my comfort zone, usually I write up close first person and the lead character is always just me letting my imagination and fear get free reign for what could happen or might be. Leanne’s cute though so I said I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did it but I hope people are forgiving of my many historical inaccuracies and other mistakes. I took a lot of liberties with a legend that has almost no information about it. I don’t know much about 5th century Rome and did a lot of research that a half-assed historian could probably poke a lot of holes in.

Maybe one day I’ll work on a more accurate version but my goal with this was to breathe life into a story that is so dusty and uncertain that even the catholics gave up on it as an official part of their calendar. I hope people will enjoy it for the story’s sake because in the end that’s what I did. It’s not meant to be a history of the era, just a story and I hope people can enjoy it that way.

Virginia Carraway Stark Chats about Tentacles and Romance

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The illustrious Virginia Carraway Stark is a prolific and popular author with a plethora of short stories and novels to her name. She turns her attention- and her pen- to the idea of romantic getaways with a Lovecraftian twist in her short story for Hearts Asunder.

Here’s a disturbingly titillating excerpt from Willows’ Corner:

He was against one of the filter output jets and the water pushed against him in a pleasing way. Elphonse smiled again and put her arms around him and the her legs wrapped firmly around him. If it wasn’t for his shorts he would have been inside her. She kissed him, he returned her ardor. Damn, he was starting to think he wasn’t going to get laid at all this Valentine’s weekend, at least that part was turning around.

He tried to wriggle out of her intensely strong grip to undo the velcro fly of his swimshorts but she held him too tightly to move. He wanted her so badly but the layer of material between them was driving him nuts. He was so caught up in the problem of his swimshorts that he almost didn’t notice that there was a second pair of legs wrapped around him, or something that felt much like legs. He looked into the murk of the dimly lit water and saw the pink and purple tentacles that started at Elphonse’s waist and made up the lower half of her body. One small tentacle crawled up his swim trunks and he shuddered, he shuddered and pulled away but what the tentacle sought and found was hard and ready.

Solomon Burke continued his song and Elphonse started to sing to him as she toyed with him:
You see now what you’ve caused
And I know just what I lost
And I know what the price
I paid, I paid, I paid
For loving someone like you

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

    Yes. Yes in so many ways. I’m prone to stalkers and some strange people have come after me. One of the creepiest ones that isn’t a whole long story all on its own was a guy who drew pictures of some demon he said was following him and made him do bad things sometimes. There were swords and apparently his dad and his friends dressed up in robes and did things sometimes. I made sure not to be alone with him much after that. I felt like I was one dimension away from things getting really nutso.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination

    People who love you will do anything for you, I mean anything. People have a weird and twisted idea of both what the ‘anything’ might be and what love is. Love is intimately connected to the idea of possessing someone and having ownership of them. Love gives us all a sense of belonging and for people who things don’t go right for or for people who came with faulty wiring this can go from, ‘I love you, I brought you roses,’ to, ‘why are you trying to leave, I want to be inside your skin’.

    Love is the most powerful emotion we feel (I think) and it lives on a teeter-totter with hatred. If you try to jump off your end when someone has you on this teeter totter they hit the ground with a tooth jarring pound of hatred.

    It’s not just love that we’re talking about here either, it’s eroticism. Sex has always been associated with death. The idea of the orgasm being le petite mort. Like a sword he penetrates her and yet she does not die. The imagery of this is the basis for endless ‘secret’ brotherhoods and springs in the modern era from Crowley. The idea of penetration equaling death is an old one and it speaks powerfully to you no matter your gender. In my story it was the man who got penetrated, these things happen and for many it is understandably the greatest horror of all.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

    I didn’t really have an inspiration for mine except that I got it into my head that a couple should have a horrific experience at a bed and breakfast. Those places kind of creep my out, the idea of walking into a strangers home and having no clue what sort of experience you’re going to have is akin to picking up hitch hikers in my mind. In fact, it’s more frightening because it’s in their demense. Who knows what traps or horrors they could set up for you in there? Maybe it would just be bed bugs and an unhygienic kitchen, I think I’d rather stay in a hostel than go to a B and B. I’m a private person and wouldn’t want strangers in my house and then be made to make breakfast for them. It seems like the sort of person who would be into that would be likely to have an ulterior motive.

    BUT in all honesty I have heard nothing but good feedback about B and Bs. I have friends who use them and plan entire trips skipping from one to the next and say they have the loveliest time you could imagine. I think probably my brain did the writer thing where it threw the ‘what if’ into the mix and I’m thinking the worst of a group of people who are some of the most social, extroverted morning people on the planet.

    Perhaps there should be a name for a fear of Bed and Breakfasts… or maybe there already is one. I’ll get back to you on that, whatever it is, I think I have that phobia.

Jason Pere discusses Love and Blood

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Jason Pere is a native New Englander, currently residing in Connecticut with his wife and two rambunctious cats. He has had a long standing passion with the arts. 

Jason discovered CWC early on in 2015 and has been a passionate member since, diving into multiple collaborative fiction projects with other authors. He has work published with CW Publishing and Starklight Press. He also has solo work self-published and published by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Incorporated. When not writing or enduring his “Real World Job” Jason enjoys, Netflix time with his family, breaking out obscure board games and dorking out with friends, firing up the his game console and surviving a Zombie Apocalypse or indulging in baked goods and sleep.

 

Jason wrote a chilling short story, Star Crossed, which appears in our Valentine’s Day horror anthology, Hearts Asunder. Here’s an excerpt:

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They were stepping into the elevator when the high heel of Hailey’s shoe caught in the gap between then floor and the inside of the elevator. It took Brady fully by surprise. It was the first time that he had ever seen Hailey be anything other than graceful. Without thinking Brady’s hand shot out and stopped his friend from going down.

Ow!” Hailey exclaimed as Brady’s hand grasped her upper arm. He let go once her feet were stable on the floor of the elevator. The short sleeve of her shirt had been rolled up onto itself when Brady had come to her rescue and it revealed a sizable bruise.

Oh I am so sorry! I didn’t think. I just didn’t want you to fall down. I am so sorry. I didn’t think that I grabbed you so hard. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Brady blurted out as he look at the bruise on his friends arm.

No. No. No. It’s not your fault, it’s mine. This is nothing. I just bumped this on a towel rail in the shower the other day. I really should be more careful,” Hailey said embarrassedly as she rolled her sleeve down and coved up the bruise again. “Now let’s go and get something yummy.”

Ok. I’m glad you’re alright but that bruise did look pretty bad,” Brady said trying not to sound too skeptical. He had worked in sales and customer service for long enough than he had a strong enough sense of when he wasn’t getting the full story form someone.

Thank you but it’s nothing. It really is. Don’t worry about it. I’m fine,” Hailey said in a way that seemed like she was trying to convince herself as much as her friend.

 

Jason had some revealing answers about his inspiration for his story in his interview questions:

  1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

Yes I do but oh which one to pick. I suppose the best example would be the story of a young woman I met online may years ago. A friendship rapidly turned into a long distance relationship. We saw each other in person on weekends and over the span of a couple months were convinced that we were destined to be together. I had the wonderfully horrid idea to leave my home in Connecticut and visit some friends in Georgia for an extended stay. I invited her to make the move with me and she said she would be happy to follow me. I should have realized that moving across the county with someone I hardly knew and never lived with before would end in disaster but I thought that we were the exception to the rule. We broke up nearly as soon as we got to Georgia and she then began dating and later marrying one of my friends that I moved down there to visit. Oh and that’s not the end of this little tale it gets better. After a very turbulent period things settled down for a while and I started dating someone else (Who I would later marry) until one day my ex-girlfriend and her husband orchestrated an armed home invasion, assault and kidnaping of myself and my current girlfriend. It was a poorly executed crime and all guilty parties were in custody in a matter of hours. So not only did this woman break my heart but she also held me at gunpoint. Still I cannot fully condemn knowing her because if I had not ever known her then I don’t know if I ever would have met the amazing woman that I went on to marry.

  1. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination?

I think that love is probably one of the most profound and indescribable emotions that lies within the human spectrum. It would stand to reason that the greatest emotions we are capable of feeling can lead to the greatest pain, fear and sadness when they are gone, misinterpreted or twisted in some kind of perverted fashion. Love can be a powerful motivator for someone to do horrible things.

  1. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentine’s Day Horror story?

I wanted to do a tragic love story. I went to Romeo and Juliet for inspiration. I wanted a story of two people who really should have ended up happily ever after but just couldn’t get out of their own lives enough to make that happen.

3. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentines Day horror story?

Thanks for the great story and interview, Jason Pere! You can find Star Crossed in Hearts Asunder, available from StarkLight Press in Feb.

Mandi Millen on the Black Rose

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Words have always been AJ Millen’s friends. She started telling stories young, and she’s still at it. During the 1980s, she worked as a reporter in England, but in 1989, she left for a six-month semester in Greece. That was the plan, until a brown-eyed boy from Samos persuaded her to stay. Today, he’s her husband and father to their 19-year-old son.

Today, she lives in Athens and works in Corporate Communications. To date, AJ has participated in two collaborative novel writing projects and had stories published in three anthologies. Her work also featured in evenings of tales performed at independent theatres in Brighton, and she was a winner in the AuthorTrope “I Made The Darkness” writing contest.

Read more of her words at http://shemeanswellbut.blogspot.com

Here’s an excerpt from Mandi’s story, The Black Rose:

Susie didn’t say much at dinner. She didn’t need to. Will ordered for her, like he always did. She didn’t dare defy him by saying she didn’t fancy steak tonight.

She chewed diligently at the meat, trying to ignore the twinge of her bruised jaw, just as she had tried to avoid Will’s critical glare as she picked at the prawn cocktail starter he’d chosen for her. The lemon juice in the dressing had made her lip smart, and she really didn’t like prawns all that much. She looked up to see Will staring pointedly at her.

“Eat up, princess,” he said. “I’m spending good money on that sirloin. For you. You need the iron. Got to look after yourself, and my boy.”

“It might be a girl,” she murmured under her breath. She made sure it wasn’t loud enough to be heard above the tinkling piano in the corner of the candlelit restaurant packed with couples dressed up to the nines, desperate to convince themselves that they were all madly in love.

The thought flitted across her mind that Will’s treatment before they left the house probably did more harm to the child inside her than a slight iron deficiency that would be easily corrected with a prescription from the family doctor. She dismissed it before she acknowledged it, fearful that Will could read her conscious thoughts and take revenge for her imaginary betrayal. Again.

Her eyes strayed down to the single red rose laying on the linen tablecloth next to her dessert fork. It had come with a card, obviously dictated by Will to the florist, in a curling baroque script that bore no resemblance to his practical heavy hand:

Forever mine.

Will.

Susie shuddered inwardly as she read it again. No doubt, others would find it romantic in its simplicity. To her, it sounded like a life sentence.

Mandi also has some thoughts about love and horror:

1. Do you have a real life horror story of love gone wrong in your life?

Doesn’t everyone? Perhaps not in the “Hammer Horror” sense, but I’ve had my share of romantic disasters: a boy threatening to kill himself if I didn’t come back to him (he didn’t); being stood up on my birthday; the fun and games of my marriage breaking down when I was just 22 (yes, I know. We married at 19, I thought I was mature. I wasn’t.)

I’m a little cynical about the whole ‘heart & flowers’ romantic package, though I do believe in love in all its forms. It just worries me that so many people seem to accept “love” at any cost, for fear of being alone. Sometimes, alone is what we need to be to figure out who we are and what we really want. In fact, my best ever Valentine’s Day was when I was single, and it involved jumping fully clothed into a pool…. but that’s another story.

I believe the best love is not about fireworks and passion, it’s mundane, everyday, in it for the long haul. If you can survive seeing each other at your worst and bickering over the practicalities of daily life, and still feel at home when you look across the table at ‘your person’, you know something is right. Fortunately, that is what I’ve had for the past 26 years.

2. What do you find makes the combination of love and horror such a potent combination?
I think it is the juxtaposition of our high expectations for the ideal romantic scenario, usually fed into a frenzy by the media and commercial interests, colliding head-on with reality in all its dirty, sordid, painful glory. And the lengths we will go to the name of love.


3. What was the source of your inspiration for your Valentine’s Day horror story?
Again, we come back to why some people put up with the unacceptable in the name of love, and what it takes to break that habit. I was also inspired by a friend who spent some time in prison after attacking her then husband with a knife after years of systematic abuse, both physical and psychological. Strangely enough, her crime and her punishment were what finally freed her.

 

Thanks, Mandi!

Tony Stark,

Publisher and CEO,

StarkLight Press.